By Drew Zuverink
"Have Aaron your brother brought to you from among the Israelites, along with his sons Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar, so they may serve me as priests. Make sacred garments for your brother Aaron to give him dignity and honor. Tell all the skilled workers to whom I have given wisdom in such matters that they are to make garments for Aaron, for his consecration, so he may serve me as priest."
I'm fairly confident that almost every Christian has wondered at some point in their life, "Where did all of God's miracles go?" Scripture is full of supernatural miracles. God parts the Red Sea, demons are cast out of people, blind people are given their sight back, lame people are healed and walk again, sick people are cured immediately by prayer, and a couple of dead people are even raised from the dead. From the beginning to the end, the Bible tells one miraculous story after another - so where are those miracles now?
Miracles were often evidence that the God of the Bible was real and active in their world. In the story of the Exodus where God frees the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt, God uses various miracles to show that he was more powerful than the Egyptian gods. It was his way of showing that their gods were inactive but the God of the Israelites was a God who is actively involved in the world. In 1 Kings chapter 18 there is a famous showdown between the prophet Elijah and the prophets of the god named Baal. Elijah proposes a contest between God and Baal. Both sides will slaughter a bull as an offering and place the dead bull on top of a wooden altar. Neither side is allowed to light the offering on fire but instead they are to call out to their God and whichever God answers - he is God. Spoiler alert; the prophets of Baal cry out but nothing happens and Elijah cries out to the God of the Bible and he miraculously sends down fire onto the altar.
Underneath our desire to see a miracle is not just a desire to see someone relieved from pain or sickness, but we have a longing to see evidence that God is alive and active today just like he was in Bible times.
We don't see God because he is invisible and so we look for other forms of evidence that would prove to us that God is not just real but that he is acting in our lives and in the world around us. After all, it can be difficult to trust that God is truly active when we see our loved ones dying from various illnesses and no matter how much we beg and plead and pray - nothing changes. It becomes especially difficult when we are in a situation like that and then we read of Jesus miraculously healing people in the gospels. God you were active then, where are you now?
In Exodus 25-30 God gives the Israelites various instructions in order to build a tabernacle where God would come and cause his presence to dwell more fully with them. Along with the tabernacle they are to make specific garments for the priests who would make sacrifices to God on behalf of the people. Now God has already proven to the Israelites that he is alive and active and immensely powerful, so he could just make his own tabernacle and he could do it better than they could, but he gives instructions for people who are skilled in various ways to do it for him. He also could have made the priestly garments himself like he made clothes for Adam and Eve in the garden, but he says, "Tell all of the skilled workers whom I have given wisdom in such matters to make garments for Aaron and his sons."
Human beings made the priestly garments but was God involved? Yes he was because he had given wisdom to certain skilled workers who had the knowledge and the ability to make the garments and to make them well.
Have you ever thought about how many blind people there must have been thousands of years ago? Before there were glasses or contacts or surgeries there were a lot of people who went blind. Sadly people still go blind today but not as many as back in Jesus' time - at least not in America. It is a wonderful thing that less people have to go through life blind today than thousands of years ago but what changed for that to happen? Did God perform millions of miracles to cure blindness? No, humans advanced and one person learned something that might help keep someone from losing their sight, and then another person built upon that person's wisdom, and then eventually enough people learned enough things to come up with glasses and contacts and surgeries that could help prevent people from going blind. Humans did that. Humans did a good thing and prevented a bad thing from happening - but was God involved?
Due to thousands of years of continued studying and learning humans have advanced in wonderful ways and with certain medical advancements the world becomes a better place for many people. It is a good thing that far less people die of sicknesses today than thousands of years ago, and God was just as involved in curing a person from cancer today as he was when Jesus miraculously healed a dying man thousands of years ago.
It's tempting to believe that God was more active in the world thousands of years ago when people were healed through miracles, but the reality is that he is just as active today, and one could argue that he's active in an even more widespread way. We want to see God act in our world to make it a better place. We want to see him do good and stop bad things from happening, but sometimes we tell him how we want him to do that as well.
The truth is that from the beginning of scripture all the way to the end, almost on every page, God prefers working with the humans that he has created as opposed to just doing things all by himself. We would like to see God cure sicknesses through lots of miracles but God probably prefers working with humans to cure sicknesses through medical learning. This is why it's devastating to me when I hear of families refusing medical treatment because they believe God will miraculously heal them. God works with humans, guiding their learning and giving them wisdom, in order to do good in the world. This might seem like he is less involved, and we might prefer for him to just do things himself, but that doesn't seem to be God's preference.
I understand that it's difficult to believe that God is as active in our time as he was in Bible times, and in painful situations his lack of miraculous involvement can really hurt, but God does not only work through miracles. Do you know of anyone who has been cured of a life threatening illness? God was just as active in that as he was in curing the Centurion's friend in Luke 7. Do you know anyone who wouldn't be able to live a normal life without glasses or contacts because their eyes don't see well on their own? Humans helped them with that, but so did God. Parents have you had the horrible experience of rushing your child to the hospital because something just isn't right? Hopefully the doctors knew exactly what to do and were able to help your child, maybe even before it got really serious. Praise God for that.
You see God is still involved and he's working with his image bearers all over the globe to help people and to make the world a better place. Sometimes he might act through a miracle, but often times he works with humans instead. I know we'd like to see a miracle instead of a doctor, but often our motivation for that is not to see a good thing happen but it's to quiet that little voice of doubt in our heads that wonders if God is really out there. I can assure you that he is, and he's working with millions and millions of people all over the globe to do wonderful things - things that people thousands of years ago could only describe as miracles.
All of this makes me think of how I cannot wait for heaven because then we will be able to see God with our own eyes, but I have to wonder - will heaven have many miracles - or will God continue to do what he loves, and work with humans to creatively enjoy, sustain, and cultivate a good world? My guess is some kind of mixture, just like in our world today, but who knows ... I guess we will one day see.
I pray that this will encourage you and open your eyes to be able to see God acting in your life through the various people that you come across.