Have you experienced a miracle? Which was its impact in your life?
"Then Nebuchadnezzar said, “Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king’s command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God. Therefore I decree that the people of any nation or language who say anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego be cut into pieces and their houses be turned into piles of rubble, for no other god can save in this way.”
"Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the province of Babylon"
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If you have compared the translation of NIV with the original Aramaic version, you have seen that this English version is a very good one. To "say anything against God" is the translation of Aramaic "shalá" ("something wrong") which has been rendered as "blasphemy" in the LXX and other versions (Greek "blasfemía", Hebrew "neatsá") It is a word with a rather wide meaning, which encompasses every expression which despises or ofend God's Majesty and Holiness. The relationship with God should take place in a respectful manner, with reverence and worship ("fear of God") and any deviation of this conduct was blasphemous, like any wrong confession (Our Lord was accused of being blasphemous because He claimed to be the Messiah, which should be a blasphemy if it was been a lie)
This prohibition of Nebuchadnezzar of talking against Israel's God was a step in God's plan, who wanted to put in the spirit of those kings to let the Jews come back to Jerusalem and rebuild it. In Daniel 2:48-49; 3:28-30; 4:1-3; 5:11-12; 5:29; 6:26-27 we can read how God gave testimony about Himself to Babylonian and Persian kings, so that they will "fear" Israel's God and fulfil His plan for the Jews. The Lord didn't send plagues to Persia, as He did in Exodus with Pharaoh, but rather put in the spirit of some Persian kings His purpose about Israel. Observe how Nebuchadnezzar, from enemy of the Jews, who wanted to incinerate them alive, was transformed in some kind of protector, who promoted them. This transformation was the result of the miracle which God worked with them.
Let's go back to our first question, have you experienced a miracle?
We could use the biblical definition in order to answer. Sometimes a miracle occurs, and we don't see it like that, but we think it's "by chance". What does the Scripture says about miracles?
"Miracle" (and its synonyms, "signs", "wonders" or "remarkable things") is used in the Scripture with two meanings (both "natural" or "supernatural" things) The first meaning is about any Divine act; because God is Creator of the universe and Sovereign above it, every happening is God's will, and then a "miracle", God's activity. That's the way the prophets see "natural" things as rain, the seasons, storms, etc (read Job 5:9-16, Job 37:5-18; Psalms 107:32-31) Creation itself, both in the beginning (Psalms 93:3-5, Psalms 136:1-9) and thereafter - the crops in the fields, the babies in the womb of their mothers - are also "wonders" or "miracles" (Psalms 65, Psalms 139:14-16)
Observe Romans 1:20 :
"For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities - his eternal power and divine nature - have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse"
In this amazing chapter, the apostle Paul is talking about why the Gentiles are gone astray from God, when they shouldn't, actually. Nowadays we can see a confrontation between science and faith (we've talked about it in Daniel 2:1-2 in this site) This confrontation is in the eyes of many the consequence of the "increase of knowledge", as it is prophesied. But it is nothing new. Already in the old times of the Roman Empire, when science was "newborn", non-believers didn't saw God's hand at all; there were believers studying nature and physical laws, and atheists studying nature and physical laws. That's why this verse was written by that time, in a chapter which claims that creation itself with its physical laws, the "design" and "operation" which we observe in the world, should be enough as a testimony of God's hand, to us people. But "they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God", not all of them.
The second meaning of "miracle" is that which every person, believer or non-believer, prophet or non-prophet, recognise as a such one, an "inexplicable" happening. It is when God works something "supernatural", which negates physical laws. In Exodus 4:1-9 we can read how the Lord shows Moses that He will interfere with supernatural actions so that Pharao will see that God is in the businness of setting Israel free. A staff doesn't become a snake in a "natural" way, to put the hand in the cloak doesn't causes leprosy, and water doesn't become blood "naturally". The egiptians should recognise the power of the God of Israel by seeing these miracles.
There are many wonders which fit in this second meaning; we could recall Our Lord's birth from a virgin (Matthew 1:18, 25 and Isaiah 7:14) the survival of the prophet Jonah in the belly af the big fish, typifying Our Lord's resurrection (Matthew 12:39-40) and the signs which accompanied the preachers of the Gospel from the beginning, prophesied by Our Lord Jesus Christ (Mark 16:17-18)
As creation itself with its physical laws should be a testimony of the hand of God, the miracles which occur against those laws have the same function, to make people to believe. As the Egyptians should believe by seeing Moses performing miracles and signs, the hearers of the Gospel should believe by listening to people speaking in new tongues, demons leaving persons and sick people be healed through prayer. The Pharisees fear, and the joy of the believers, was that the words of Our Lord Jesus Christ were accompanied by miraculous signs by which both the people and the teachers of the law saw the hand of God upon Him (Nicodemus said to him that nobody could do such wonders but by the hand of God, and Jesus' enemies in the Council were very worried about those "many signs that He performed")
There's a way to know the percentage of purity of gold and silver, using a "touchstone". A touchstone is a very hard piece of stone that is used to rub the metal against, untill it leaves a trace. This trace is treated with chemical reagents to see - after its color - the purity of the metal, in percentage.
Both the Word of God and the signs are "touchstones" to believers and ungodly ones, to prove their faith. When John teh Baptist was in jail, where he should be executed, he was attacked by doubts about his Messiah. He sent some disciples to ask Jesus about it, to get a confirmation. The answer of the Lord was that those signs He had performed in the power of the Spirit of God gave testimony of His ministry (see Matthew 11:2-6)
Observe this passage also (John 9:30-33) :
"The man answered, “Now that is remarkable! You don’t know where he comes from, yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly person who does his will. Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.”
These are the words of a (from birth) blind man who was miraculously healed by the Lord Jesus, and he was defending his healer before the Pharisees, which wanted to convince him that Jesus was a sinner. The ex-blind man, a man with no studies, was preaching to the teachers of the law about God, with a total and indestructible logic, "I believe in Jesus, because he healed me"; "if He should be a sinner, he shouldn't receive from God that power, to make the blind to see"
The church, born in Pentecost, not only preached the Word to save the souls of men - which is a miracle itself - but healed the sick, rebuked demons and performed other supernatural signs which confirmed the power of God to those hearing the message. Read carefully the book of the Acts of the Apostles and you'll see many examples.
Unfortunately, the "touchstone" reveals not only those with a "faith 100%", but 0%, too. Pharao saw his country devastated by plagues which - even when people should try to explain them in a "natural" way - had some miraculous traits: they came over Egypt by Moses command or prophecy, and they attacked just the Egyptians, not the Hebrews. Even seeing this, he hardened his heart, and didn't set the Hebrews free until his fistborn son died (and even so, he pursued them all the way to the Red Sea) Nebuchadnezzar exalts Israel's God in this chapter, after seeing such a miracle, but in Daniel 4 we see him sinning again, boasting in his pride and ignoring the prophecy and advice of Daniel. Gehazi, servant of Elisha the prophet of God, saw his master miraulously healing the Aramean commander Naaman from leprosy, and he followed him to get some reward - in flagrant rebellion against the prophet's will - and he became leper because of his sin. The priests and soldiers which came to take Jesus as prisoner, they saw Him to heal Malchus' ear, but even so they took Him away to judge Him and condemn Him. The ones who heard the apostles and other brothers that had been praying in the upper room talking about God in different languages, were divided. Some of them listened to Peter's sermon and became Christians, but other ones said that the brothers were drunk (When did alcohol became language teacher?)
Do you believe that God has performed something supernatural in your life?
Or... something "almost" supernatural?
Or... something that is hard to believe it's a "coincidence"?
Or leastways, do you believe that God has done "something" in your life, at He has taken action in your favor once in your lifetime?
If your answer is "no", let me tell you that there is a God, and the fact that you are reading this page is because He wants you to receive Jesus Christ and be save. That's why He makes it possible that His Word is preached in every possible way. Receive Jesus as your Lord and Savior! You will get a new life in Him, you will be born-again (a miracle) and you will serve God instead of the Evil one.
In a previous message you can read that I call this blog a miracle that the Lord has done in my life. I was raised as an atheist, and I received every testimony of supernatural things with scepticism and incredulity. Consider what a miracle has the God of heaven performed in my spirit to witness about my salvation and healing, and to heal people by prayer, rebuke demons, speak new tongues and preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, I, who was a sinner and ungodly person until my 30.
If your answer is "yes", but you don't give testimony of these miracles, let me tell you that a reason for God's miraculous intervention in your favor is to make Himself known among those who are without God, without faith and without hope. Share the things God has done in your life! Do not be a Pharao, or a Gehazi, or one of them who, seeing the hand of God acting, refused to change their lives! God's salvation makes us, or should make us God's instruments, to reach the lost ones. God wants to use you with power, to say "back!" to Satan's dominion and and to extend the kingdom of God on earth! Don't think God has forgotten you. Don't think He has a different purpose with you. God's call and God's gifts are not only irrevocable; they are permanent, too. Believe me, God is waiting for your repentance and your disposition to serve Him.
May the Lord bless you!
In the love of Christ, your brother
PS. Jesus comes quickly!