Biblical Numerology: NUMBER FOUR & FORTY– Part VI

Forty Years: The Longest-running, Uninterrupted Miracle

Miracle comes from the Hebrew oth, “sign,” “omen,” “token,” “pele,” “wonder”; Greek dunamis, “power,” “deed of power,” “wonder,” semeion, “sign.” The English word “miracle”  is from the Latin miraculum, “an object of wonder, “ “a wonder,” “a wonderful thing” “a strange thing” “a marvel, “a marvelous thing,”  from mirari, “to wonder at,” “to be astonished at,” “to be amazed at.”

      A miracle is a supernatural intervention in human affairs that cannot be explained on the basis of known natural laws, or one that would not be expected in the normal course of events. An examination of the miracles performed by our Lord clarifies the nature and purpose of miracles. Jesus never [emphasis mine] exercised divine power for His own benefit, or merely to satisfy idle curiosity (cf. Matt. 16: 4; Luke 23: 8, 9).

     Each of Christ’s miracles seemed to answer a specific material or physical necessity. By meeting these needs He assured recipient and observer alike of the love, sympathy, and care of their heavenly Father, and simultaneously of His desire and ability to meet their spiritual needs as well. Each miracle illustrated some aspect of spiritual truth (see Mark 2: 9-11; John 6: 11, 12, 27; 9: 5-7, 39, 41: 11: 23-26, 37, 44), and was calculated to inspire faith in Him as the Son of God (John 11: 27, 45; 15: 24).   

     Again and again Jesus pointed to His “mighty works” as evidence of His Messiahship and divine authority (Matt. 11: 20-23 John 5: 36; 10: 24, 25, 32, 37, 38; 14: 10, 11) and sincere-hearted men recognized divinity operating in and through Him (Luke 9: 43; 19: 37; 24: 19; Jphn 3: 2; 6: 14; 9: 16, 33). Of the recipients Jesus required faith (see Matt. 17: 20; mark 9: 23, 24; John 4: 48, 49), active cooperation (Matt. 17: 27), willingness henceforth to order the life in harmony with the principles of the kingdom of heaven (see John 5: 14), and acceptance of the obligation to tell others of God’s love and power (see Mark 5: 19).

     The power to work miracles is a gift of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 12: 4, 10, 28), not one that a human being can assume or appropriate to himself (see Acts 8: 18-22).  Jesus promised His disciples that they would do “greater works” than those they had seen Him do (John 14: 12), not greater in power or value, but in extent and number. The gospel commission carried with it the promise of power to work miracles (see mark 16: 16-18; 1 Cor. 12: 10), and there is no evidence of a time limit on the promise.

     The same divine power is available today as in New Testament times when needed, and the same prerequisite conditions must be met, both by the recipient and by the human agent.

     Satan also has power to work miracles that closely resemble the true (see Exo. 7: 11, 22’ 8: 7, 18; Acts 8: 9-11; 2 Thess. 2: 9; Rev. 13: 14; 19: 20).  If Satan has the power to bind men in physical infirmity (Luke 13: 16), he can also, at times, release them when it suits his purpose. Accordingly, the alert Christian will not fall a prey to satanic deceptions, but will heed the instruction to test, or “try the spirits whether they are of God” (1 John 4: 1).”- SDA Bible Dictionary, Commentary Reference Series, Vol. 8, art. “Miracles,” pp. 722-23.   

Healing Can Be From the Devil

     “The fallacies of Satan are now being multiplied, and those who swerve from the path of truth will lose their bearings. Having nothi9ng to which to anchor, they will drift from one delusion to another, blown about by the strong winds of strange doctrines. Satan has come down with great power. Many will be deceived by his miracles.

     “I am instructed top say that in the future great watchfulness will be needed. There is to be among God’s people no spiritual stupidity. Evil spiritsd are actively engaged in seeking to control the minds of human beings. Men are binding up in bundles, ready to be consumed by the fires of the last days. Those who discard Christ and His righteousness [and set up their own self-serving standards and interpretations] will accept the sophistry that is flooding the world. Christians are to be sober and vigilant [not reckless, boisterous, and self-confident], steadfastly resisting their adversary the devil, who is going about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour [1 Pet. 5: 8].   Men under the influence of evil spirits [not the Holy Spirit!] will work miracles . . . .

     “We need not be deceived. Wonderful scenes, with which Satan will be closely connected, will soon take place. God’s Word declares that Satan will work miracles. [How?] He will make people sick, and then will suddenly remove from them his satanic power. They will then be regarded as healed. These works of apparent healing will bring Seventh-day Adventists to the test . . .

     “If those to whom cures are performed, are disposed, on account of these manifestations, to excuse their neglect of the law of God, and continue in disobedience, though they have power to any and every extent, it does not follow that they have the great power of God. On the contrary, it is the miracle-working power of the great deceiver. He is a transgressor of the moral law, and employs every device that he can master to blind men to its true character. We are warned that in the last days he will work with signs and lying wonders. And he will continue these wonders until the close of probation, that he may point to them as evidence that he is an angel of light and not of darkness.” – E. G. White, Maranatha, p. 148.

Miracles and Parables. Out of the 35 recorded miracles of Jesus in the New Testament, 23 were healings; in 3 the dead were raised; 3 provided food or drink, and 2 large catches of fish; the other 4 were: stilling a storm, walking on water, bringing a curse on a fig tree as an acted parable of the fruitless Jewish nation, and providing tax money coming from a fish.  The first of His miracles, in the New Testament, was changing 12 big jars of water into premium quality fresh wine at the wedding feast in Cana of Galilee, thus honoring the sacredness of the marriage institution, the first wedding ceremony of which He performed between Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.

This weekly column’s title, Friday Morning Manna, is based on the longest-running, uninterrupted three-fold miracle (PP 296; SR 130-1) of the manna gently falling from heaven before the break of day upon ancient Israel throughout their 40-year wilderness wanderings until they reached the borders of the earthly Canaan. Typically and antitypically, it teaches invaluable, soul-saving lessons for all who are hoping and planning to inherit heavenly Canaan!

Patriarchs & Prophets, pp 293-296, says: :

     “The history of the wilderness life of Israel was chronicled for the benefit of the Israel of God to the close of time. The record of God’s dealings with the wanderers of the desert in all their marchings to and fro, in their exposure to hunger and thirst, and their relief, is fraught with warning and instruction for His people in all ages. The varied experience of the Hebrews was a school of preparation for their promised home in Canaan. God would have His people in these days review with a humble heart and teachable spirit the trials through which ancient Israel passed, that they may be instructed in their preparation for the heavenly Canaan.

     “Many look back to the Israelites, and marvel at their unbelief and murmuring, feeling that they themselves would not have been so ungrateful; but when their faith is tested, even by little trials, they manifest no more faith or patience than did ancient Israel. When brought into strait places, they murmur at the process by which God has chosen to purify them. Though their present needs are supplied, many are unwilling to trust God for their future, and they are in constant anxiety lest poverty shall come upon them, and their children shall be left to suffer. Some are always anticipating evil, or magnifying the difficulties that really exist, so that their eyes are blinded to the many blessings which demand their gratitude.

    “Do we well to be thus unbelieving? Why should we be ungrateful and distrustful? Jesus is our friend; all heaven is interested in our welfare; and our anxiety and fear grieve the Holy Spirit of God.  We should not indulge in a solicitude that only frets and wears us, but does not help us bear trials. No place should be given to that distrust  of God which leads us to make a preparation for future want the chief pursuit of life, as though our happiness consisted in these earthly things.

     “It is not that will of God that His people should be weighed down with care. But our Lord does not tell us that there are no dangers in our path. He does not propose to take His people out of the world of sin and evil, but He points us to a never-failing refuge. He invites the weary and laden, ‘Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.’ Lay off the yoke of anxiety and worldly care that you have placed on your own neck, and ‘take My yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart; and you shall find rest unto your souls.’ Matt. 11: 28, 29. We may find rest and peace in God, casting all our care upon Him; for He careth for us.’ 1 Pet. 5: 7.

     “Says the apostle Paul, ‘Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you and evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.’ Heb. 3: 12. In view of all that God has wrought for us, our faith should be strong, active, and enduring. Instead of murmuring and complaining, the language of our hearts should be, “Bless the Lord O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits.’ Ps. 103: 1, 2.

     “God was not unmindful of the wants of Israel.  He said to their leader, I will rain bread from heaven for you.’ And directions were given that the people gather a daily supply, with a double amount on the sixth day, that the sacred observance of the Sabbath may be maintained [even before the Ten Commandments were written by the finger of God and given to Moses on two tables of stone atop Mt. Sinai!].

     “Moses assured the congregation that their wants were to be supplied: ‘The Lord shall give you in the evening flesh to eat, and in the morning bread to the full.’ And he added, ‘What are we? Your murmurings are not against us, but against the Lord.’ He further bade Aaron say to them, ‘Come near before the Lord; for He hath heard your murmurings.’ While Aaron was speaking, ‘they looked toward the wilderness, and, behold, the glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud.’ Exo. 16: 8-10. A splendor such as they had never before witnessed, symbolized the divine presence. Through manifestations addressed to their senses, they were to obtain a knowledge of God. They must be taught that the Most High, and not merely the man Moses, was their leader, that they might fear His name and obey His voice.

     “At nightfall the camp was surrounded by vast flocks of quails, enough to supply the entire company. In the morning there lay upon the surface of the ground ‘a small round thing, as small as the hoar frost.’ ‘it was like coriander seed, white.’ The people called it manna. Moses said, ‘This is the bread which the Lord hath given you to eat.’  Exo. 16: 14, 15, 31. The people gathered the manna, and found that there was an abundant supply for all. They ‘ground it in mills, or beat it in mortar, and baked it in pans, and made cakes of it.’  “And the taste of it was like wafers made with honey.’ Num. 11: 8; Exo. 16: 31.   

    “They were directed to gather daily an homer (nearly 3 quarts) for every person; and they were not to leave of it until the next morning. Some attempted to keep a supply until the next day, but it was then found to be unfit for food. The provision for the day must be gathered in the morning; for all that remained upon the ground was melted by the sun.

     “In the gathering of the manna it was found that some obtained more and some less than the stipulated amount; but ‘when they did mete it with an homer, he that gathereth much had nothing over, and he that gathereth little had no lack.’ Exo. 16: 18. An explanation of this scripture, as well as a practical lesson from it, is given by the apostle Paul in his second epistle to the Corinthians. He says, ‘I mean not that other men be eased, and ye burdened; but by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may be a supply for their want, that their abundance also may be a supply for your want; that there may be equality; as it is written, he that had gathered much had nothing over; and he that had gathered little had no lack.’ 2 Cor. 8: 13-15.

    “On the sixth day [our Friday] the people gathered two homers for every person. The rulers hastened to acquaint Moses with what had been done. His answer was, ‘This that which the Lord hath said, Tomorrow is the rest of the holy Sabbath unto the Lord. Bake that which ye will bake to0day, and seethe [boil] that ye will seethe; and that which remaineth over lay up for you to be kept until the morning.’ They did so and found that it remained unchanged.  And Moses said, ‘Eat that today; for today is a Sabbath unto the Lord. Today you shall not find it in the field. Six days ye shall gather it; but on the seventh day, which is the Sabbath, in it there shall be none.” Exo. 16: 23, 25, 26.”

                                                                                                                                             (Continued next week)