An Editorial Comment -- By: Bryant G. Wood
BSP 12:3 (Summer 1999) p. 65
An Editorial Comment
It appears that Bible and Spade has finally arrived! We recently received our first Biblical Archaeology Review-type “cancel-my-subscription” letter. Why? Because we are weak on the Bible! The letter-writer took us to task for suggesting that God used natural means to accomplish miraculous aims. In particular, he was concerned about our suggestions on the Biblical accounts of Jericho and Sodom and Gomorrah.
Archaeological and geological evidence at Jericho and Sodom and Gomorrah suggest God may have used an earth-quake to destroy each city. While this is not the place to discuss all the evidence, I do believe it is a proper forum for discussing miracles.
Dr. James Hoffmeier is a leading Christian/conservative/Bible-believing Egyptologist. In his book, Israel in Egypt (1997: 146-149), he chronicled the Ten Plagues in Egypt. Taking them literally, he noted plagues one through six form a natural sequence of interdependent events resulting from a high Nile infected by microorganisms. Plagues seven to ten, not naturally connected to the first six, are also natural occurrences known in Egypt. Only the tenth belongs entirely to the category of the supernatural.
Hoffmeier quoted the Jewish scholar Nahum Sarna’s salient assessment of the plagues: “From a theological perspective they are instances of God’s harnessing the forces of nature for the realization of His own purpose” (Hoffmeier 1997: 149).
I agree. God using a particular phenomenon in a specific place at a precise time for a special purpose is very much a miracle. Henry Morris, of the Institute for Creation Research, had a lecture about what he called “Grade A and Grade B miracles.” From both the Bible and modern experience, he demonstrated that certain events of purely natural phenomenon can absolutely be called miracles—but he considered them only Grade B miracles! Creation and turning water to wine, miracles which superseded the laws of nature, he called Grade A miracles. Thus, when God works within the frame-work of natural processes which He established, it is miraculous, albeit Grade B.
To bolster his position, Morris cited another Biblical earthquake. God caused an earthquake to hit a specific place at a precise time to accomplish particular purposes. At mid-night, in the Greek city of Philippi, God sent an earthquake that destroyed a jail. All the locked doors were broken and the chains came off each prisoner. Yet, no one was injured (Acts 16:25-28).
This event resulted in Paul and Silas leading the P...
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