by Barry Newton
At one time or another we have all heard it. Perhaps we have even said some version of: “With all of God’s demonstrations of power during biblical times, it was easier then to have faith. Why did God’s people become unfaithful?”
A common assumption seems to be that throughout the period of biblical history miracle upon miracle broke forth among God’s people. Nothing could be further from the truth. Except for some relatively brief clusters of miraculous activity, Bible history is largely devoid of extraordinary miraculous events.
We do discover during the life of Moses and the birth and early years of Israel God repeatedly demonstrating his sovereignty over creation. And while God continued to act in less dramatic ways after this, hundreds of years would pass before Elijah and Elisha arrived, when God would once again break forth with the miraculous. History then largely falls silent with such powerful events until Christ comes and the subsequent birth and early years of the church.
Biblical history reveals God’s people largely living without the miraculous constantly being showered down all around them. Even so, when we return to Israel having witnessed the ten plagues and the splitting of the Red Sea, how could she so quickly fall into unfaithfulness? To us it can seem so short-sighted.
Perhaps we need to stand in their shoes to gain a better perspective. It must be thrilling to stand on the shore watching God’s power split open the sea.
Yet, when you wake up the next morning what kind of a day is it? The miraculous is a memory. What confronts you are tangible problems. The stomach becomes hungry. It is what we would call an ordinary day.
Standing in the shadow of the miraculous, each person is faced with determining how will I handle my challenges today? The day after the amazing is a completely new day where faith must be born anew. To be sure, a person has good reason to place confidence in God and his promises, but this is still an ordinary day with real problems.
Truth be told, we are probably in a better position to be buttressed by faith and faithfulness than those who lived long ago. After all, we know what God did in Egypt, at the Red Sea, and how he overthrew the peoples of Canaan. We know about the contest between baal and the LORD on Mt. Carmel. We understand how the prophecies regarding the Messiah were fulfilled in Jesus of Nazareth. We not only know about Jesus’ miracles which were accomplished through the power of God, but also that Jesus was declared with power to be the Son of God with his resurrection.
And yet, as we live in the shadow of God’s mighty power, how many times today do people lean on pursuing their own solutions and sources of security doubting God’s promises? As God looks down, do people today look so very different from those described in scripture?