The Bible is a book filled with wonders, all of which point to God. Why is it that given all we’re shown He can do, that we still try to limit Him? How is it that we can accept some supernatural aspects of God and His kingdom, yet are loathe to believe others? What is it about the paradigms of God’s ways that we readily welcome certain ones in our Christian faith, but can’t swallow others that go against our fleshly sensibilities?
As true, Bible-believing Christians, there are several non-negotiable doctrines the majority of people, regardless of denomination, take for granted. Among them are the virgin birth, the resurrection of Jesus, and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit upon our salvation. These are miracles. They are supernatural aspects of God that make no sense in the natural – in fact, are an obstacle to belief for some – but because we know that God is a being far above and beyond us, we who are His receive with open arms.
But, let’s be honest. Does a woman getting pregnant by a Spirit rather than a man make any sense at all? Someone rising from the dead – seriously? A transcendent God living inside people? What’s with all these far out ideas? Christianity is a wacko religion – right? Well, not so much. Through the Bible – the inerrant, infallible Word of God (another obstacle to the supernatural-averse) – the Lord tells us these past events happened and that being born-again is a real phenomenon. More than that, it’s experiential; many of us know the Holy Spirit lives within us because we also experience His presence.
This is all well and good. As Christians, we’ve got this supernatural, miracle working God thing all figured out. We can attend church, know these things, and go home in our little, comfortable, ideological cocoons.
Then we come to verses in the Bible that challenge us. During the Exodus, God did many miraculous things to convince the Israelites He was real and greater than the gods they’d known in Egypt. One of the most incredible was the evidence of His constant presence among the people, as summarized by Numbers 9:16:
So it was always: the cloud covered it by day and the appearance of fire by night.
During the entire forty years the Israelites wandered in the wilderness, God was there. He never left them. Upon His direction, they constructed the tabernacle, i.e. the ark of the testimony, as the reminder of God’s covenant with them. On the days they traveled, a supernatural cloud hovered above them and led them in the direction God wanted them to go. When they camped for the night or for an extended period, the cloud turned into a fiery plume directly over the ark.
Can you imagine? I don’t know how dramatic the cloud by day was, but certainly the nighttime flame of fire – always there – always catching the eye wherever anyone was in the darkness of the camp – had to make an impression on people. “Yes, Yahweh is here. He never leaves us nor forsakes us.” (Of course, despite these visible reminders, the Israelites were a stiff-necked people, who still many times somehow thought God had abandoned them.)
The question becomes: How much of these supernatural occurrences will we in our comfortable Christianity accept? One of the big ones that significant numbers of Christians have problems with is the account of the sons of God (bene Elohim) in Genesis 6:1-4 coming down from their heavenly abode and having sexual relations with human women, who then birthed a race of hybrid beings known as Nephilim. As the pushback goes: Not possible; angels can’t procreate. Didn’t Jesus say that in Matthew 22:30? This account must really be referring to the sons of Seth. It was an all human interaction.
Actually no. Briefly: Jesus said that angels while in heaven don’t marry; He said nothing about what happens when they leave heaven and the capabilities they have on earth. Additionally, the text in Genesis says what it says. What was Moses, the ancient Israelite, thinking when he wrote this? What was in his head that he knew about God’s kingdom? What was the context? Wouldn’t Moses have tried to communicate something commonly known among others of the day so they’d understand it? The thought of Seth in this account certainly never entered Moses’ mind.
One other issue of many that’s contentious from a humanistic versus supernatural perspective is the pre-Tribulation Rapture. For some reason, those who don’t believe this is God’s intent apparently think that Jesus didn’t pay the full price for our redemption when He hung on the cross. Just like Catholics, they think we whom Jesus saved still need to prove something in our flesh to earn our salvation. For the Roman Catholic Church, salvation only comes through a Jesus “and” faith, e.g. Jesus and attending Mass, Jesus and consuming the Eucharist, etc. For the anti-pre-Tribbers it’s almost like a badge of honor that they have to enter the Tribulation. “I’m prepping and I’m ready. Got my guns; got my food supplies. When I see Antichrist, I’m going to kick his sorry rear end from here to Kingdom come. Plus, I need to be present to make sure people get saved.”
Aside from the overwhelming textual evidence of the pre-Trib Rapture, an attitude similar to the above certainly smacks of pride. It also evidences a serious lack of understanding as to how horrible times will be during the Tribulation. Prepping won’t get people through. Antichrist will be far more powerful than these people imagine. God doesn’t need their help in saving people; He’s got it covered.
So, what’s the problem? Perhaps it’s a lack of trust in God – that He loves His Bride, the church, so much He wouldn’t think of allowing us to suffer in the same way unbelievers must who have chosen to reject His free offer of salvation. Or, maybe it’s that a supernatural event that suddenly disappears millions of people from the earth is too much for them to swallow. A virgin birth, the resurrection, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit; but the catching away of believers into the clouds? No way.
God’s wonders and what He does are unfathomable to our human ways of perceiving. Yet, if we let God be God, and the Bible speak for itself, we can more likely come to the point of believing Paul as he wrote in 2 Corinthians 2:9:
“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
nor the heart of man imagined,
what God has prepared for those who love him”—
God loves us. Let’s rejoice in that. And, let’s give Him more credit for the supernatural than we seem inclined to believe. It may even increase our faith!