This past week, an article appeared in the London Daily Telegraph about a television production that the British Broadcasting Corporation will be airing next month. The basic premise of this television special is that most, if not all, of the miracles that occurred in Egypt prior to the Exodus could be explained by natural phenomena. These agnostic scientists and researchers postulate that a massive volcanic eruption on the Greek island of Santorini could have created enough seismological and environmental anomalies to cause most of the plagues of Egypt, as well as the parting of the Red Sea and the drowning of the Egyptian army. The causes and effects are all scientifically hypothesized away, and a shadow of doubt is cast on the biblical record and the Inspiration thereof.
History repeats itself in the most ironic ways. The seventh chapter of the book of Exodus details the early plagues on Egypt, and Pharaoh's response to them. After each of the first plagues, Pharaoh's magicians and sorcerers imitated the miracles performed through Moses, and an unorthodox power struggle resulted. The magicians were doing their best to prove that nothing supernatural was occurring—anything Moses could do, they could do. The Bible does not say whether the magicians accomplished their replications through trickery or through the power of demons, but it does show that they were limited in what they could do, while Moses was not.
One of the fundamental principles of human nature is the abhorrence of submission. Pharaoh's magicians, and by extension Pharaoh, were unwilling to admit that there were things outside of their control or knowledge. Likewise, the researchers and producers of the BBC program are loath to concede that there is a super-natural world in addition to the natural one they adore. While this tendency manifests itself in different ways, at its core it is a futile attempt to deny the existence—and power—of God.
The BBC is not alone in this mockery. In 1996-97, Popular Mechanics published a series of articles that also "examined" some of the miracles recorded in the Bible and attempted to explain them away. The author gave rationalizations about how Sodom and Gomorrah could have been destroyed, what Lot saw that could have explained the "pillar of salt", how Christ was able to resurrect Lazarus, what caused the burning bush, what the "manna from heaven" really was, and why Jericho fell. God intervenes in human affairs, and the secular-humanist high priests offer alternate explanations that glorify their own god—the forces of nature.
The apostle Paul's words, now nearly 2,000 years old, are particularly relevant today:
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things. Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creation rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. (Romans 1:18-25)
Why is the inspired word of God rejected as myth, and the stories rationalized away as a misunderstood natural phenomenon? The same reason many Christians today concede that God exists and the Bible is true, but reject His commands in favor of their own traditions (Matthew 15:2-3, 6; Mark 7:3-13; Colossians 2:8). It is because truth is inconvenient. It hurts. We would rather retain control over our own lives than accept that Somebody just might know better than we do. Some would rather believe that there is no higher power, than be called into account by a moral law. Others would rather pay lip service to this Authority without really obeying, than be thought of as different from the rest of society.
We humans have a problem with authority—believers and non-believers alike. We simply don't want to follow commands, instructions, or even suggestions that come from a source other than our own mind. In atheists and agnostics, the result is the deification of science and the human intellect. Man, with all his corruption and degeneration, becomes his own god. In professing Christians, disunity results. Without taking God at His word and following His law, there is no standard of moral, ethical, governmental, or societal conduct. There is no universal definition of "love" when God's law is rejected (I John 5:2-3).
The Bible reveals an all-powerful, all-knowing God who has a definite plan for mankind. We have several options. We can reject the Word of God outright and make up our own rules, and reap the inevitable consequences. Or we can accept the Word of God and quarantine it safely on a shelf or coffee table so nothing uncomfortable escapes from it. Or we could open it up and start examining God's instruction manual for mankind. The carnal mind reveals itself by rejecting God's law (Romans 8:7), while true happiness comes from willingly submitting to God and His providential law:
Where there is ignorance of God, crime runs wild; but what a wonderful thing it is for a nation to know and keep his laws (Proverbs 29:18, The Living Bible).
- David C. Grabbe