On December 15, 2009, healing evangelist Oral Roberts died at age 91 from complications related to his pneumonia. Some were grieved by his death–and others were relieved. But everyone who knew anything about him could agree on this: Roberts was a lightening rod of controversy.
For years, every Sunday morning on his nationally televised program, he proclaimed, “Something good is going to happen to you.” Roberts believed that God can enter our everyday lives and change them.
He later founded a university that drew thousands of students who agreed with him. And etched on the floor of the basketball court in his university arena was this phrase: “I believe in miracles.”
Do you believe in miracles? And if so, what role do they—or should they—play in our lives?
Yesterday, our guest blogger Mike Mullin, began a discussion on miracles and our faith. This morning, we’re going to continue where he left off.
INSIGHTS AND EXPLANATIONS
Exodus 15:25. Immediately after crossing the Red Sea, we read that God tested the Israelites. After the thrill of watching God inflict plagues on Egypt, then securing their release, and then parting the Red Sea, God wanted to determine their commitment to him. Remember, Israel had spent 430 years of bondage in Egypt with little or no instruction on following Yahweh. The rest of Exodus reveals the deep roots of Egypt that still existed in Israel.
Exodus 16:1-3. One month into the wilderness, Israel was already grumbling and ready to return to Egypt. Apparently, they suffered from short memories because in Egypt they lived as slaves, barely eking out an existence—and they certainly didn’t sit around pots of meat, eating all the food they wanted. This tells me that miraculous signs and wonders aren’t enough to win our devotion to God—which yesterday’s guest blogger, Rev. Mike Mullin, explored.
Exodus 16:16. An omer is equivalent to about 2 quarts in volume.
Exodus 16:34. The “Testimony” is a reference to the Ark of the Covenant.
Matthew 22:1-14. Jesus was referring to himself in this parable (as the king’s son), and the resulting destruction of Jerusalem which occurred in 70 A.D.
A few other thoughts hit me about Jesus’ parable: First, in this parable, Jesus was referring to religious people. Second, many of the people who turned down the king’s invitation weren’t opposed to the son, they were just too busy to squeeze his invitation into their plans. We live according to our priorities. Some, however, responded much more violently. Thirdly, I’ve always wondered why Jesus concluded this parable by kicking out a man who wasn’t properly dressed for the occasion. This tells me that being invited to the banquet doesn’t mean I can attend under my own terms. Following Jesus means following him–not expecting him to follow us.
Matthew 22:15-16. The Pharisees were religious conservatives and the Herodians were Roman Empire supporting “liberals.” To get them to work together required extreme measures.
Matthew 22:17. The Bible Background Commentary explains Jesus’ dilemma: “If he publicly takes the view characterized by those later called Zealots (no king but God), the Herodians can have him arrested; if he rejects that view (which he does), he may compromise his following.”
Matthew 22:18-21. I love this. By asking his detractors to show him a coin—which included Caesar’s image—Jesus exposed their hypocrisy, since any “good” Jew would refuse to use Roman currency.
Matthew 22:30. People who romantically assume that they’ll be married “forever” are sadly mistaken. Marriage only lasts as long as both parties are alive.
Psalm 27:1-6. What a great passage on perspective. In the midst of life-threatening stress, David understands where to revive his hope and his strength: by dwelling the house of the Lord.
If you’ve found A Daily Bible Conversation helpful, share it with your friends! Forward your daily email or send them a link to the website: http://www.bibleconversation.com.
THE WORD MADE FRESH
I grew up in a religious culture that placed a high value on miracles. Oral Roberts was an icon for many of us. Although some of the miracles I saw were merely the product of hype, and really not miracles at all, others were legitimate. Some even happened to me.
True story: in high school, some friends and I prayed for a girl who broke her pelvis in seven places due to a car accident. She walked with crutches and was told that she would never be able to have children. But by the grace of God, she was healed. The next day she and I ran through the school hallways, praising God. Her friends were utterly astonished. But a year later, she had no interest in following Jesus.
Most of my life I sought that one miracle that would take me over the top in my walk with God. Something that would deliver me once-and-for-all from my sinful tendencies. But it never happened.
Israel witnessed some pretty amazing miracles. Imagine walking through the Red Sea on dry ground. Yet in today’s reading, they complained and grumbled incessantly, longing to return to their lives of bondage. This was only 6 weeks into their journey!
As much as we want God to miraculously change our lives, those miracles he may graciously give us will never be enough.
Miracles are good. Asking for them is good. They’re like glimpses into God’s heart and his extravagant love for us.
But our faith must rest on more than miracles. Our faith must rest on a relationship with God through his son Jesus and a commitment to follow him.
At times, I get frustrated reading about Israel’s grumbling and irritability in the desert. They loved Moses’ miracles…in the moment. But learning to follow him? That took a lifetime.
Just like us.
- What spoke to your heart in today’s reading?
- Have you ever experienced a miracle? What happened? How were you changed? What difference does it make in your life today?
- What does “dwelling in the house of the Lord” look like for you? Share a time when it made a difference in your life.
If you’re reading this blog on FaceBook and you’d like to join the conversation, click here.
Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, Colorado.