Prophecy and the reality of the supernatural

Cyrus and the Hebrews

The clemency of Cyrus / Jean Fouquet, ca. 1470-1475.

For the past 150 years or so, some so-called biblical scholars have assumed that everything has a natural explanation, that the supernatural cannot be real, and that therefore the prophets of old could not possibly have predicted the future. In a recent post, Idolatry and redemption today, I mentioned a temporary redemption that came through the Persian emperor Cyrus, as predicted in Isaiah 44.

He reversed the long-standing Assyrian/Babylonian policy of removing conquered peoples from their homeland. He ordered the restoration not only of Jerusalem, but every other identifiable ethnic group in his empire.… Read the rest

Jonah the disobedient prophet

What I find utterly fascinating about the book of Jonah is that everyone and everything else in the story obeys God except his prophet. God told Jonah to go to Nineveh, which is east of Israel. So Jonah decided to go to Tarshish, which is roughly modern Gibraltar, or as far west as anyone at the time could think to go. If he’d been able to find a boat going to New York and change to one bound for Buffalo, he would have bought a ticket there.

And so a storm came up. The weather obeyed God. The sailors, figuring some god was up to something, cast lots to find out whom to blame.… Read the rest

Fear and unbelief while Jesus slept–and more fear when he woke!

Most of the fourth chapter of Mark is devoted to a sample of Jesus’ parables, along with his private explanation of one of them, the Parable of the Sower. The closing narrative amounts to an illustration of that one.

In demonstrating Jesus’ mastery over the natural world, this passage explicitly asserts his deity. Mark has already shown him as healer, as someone with authority over demons, and even recognized by them as the Holy One of God. (See, for example, Mark 1:32-34)

So when Jesus said, “Let’s go across the lake,” the disciples should have known enough to take it as the word of God.… Read the rest