We often use the word "miracle" very loosely. For example, someone might say "It’s a miracle!" when a loved one heals from a terrible sickness or is protected from harm, if a sports team makes an amazing comeback win, or something unexpectedly good happens—like running into an old friend after years apart or passing a test you didn’t study for. Even though these are popular uses for the word "miracle," these are not miracles.
A biblical miracle is a rare act of God that is different from everyday events or from what would naturally happen. For instance, when Jesus turned water into wine at a wedding (John 2:6-11), that was a miracle. When Jesus and Peter walked on water (Matthew 14:22-33), that was a miracle. Physics and nature cannot naturally be defied like that!
The purpose of miracles is to provide a sign or proof that a message or messenger came from God, because only God can perform miracles (Acts 2:22; 2 Corinthians 12:12; Hebrews 2:4). He made the laws of nature and only He can defy them. We can kind of think of a miracle like a wax seal.
In medieval times, when a king wanted to prove that a message or decree came from him, he would put his royal seal on the message. This seal/stamp was unique to him so it was easy for the people to authenticate that the message came from him and not an imposter. His seal was also complicated and hard to forge, so there was no "faking" it. Only the king could create that seal.
In biblical times, when people saw miracles, they recognized them as special signs (or "seals") from God, signifying that the messenger was speaking on God’s behalf. The things this messenger could do were things that only God had the power to do. For example, after Jesus fed over 5,000 people with just two fish and five loaves of bread from a young boy's lunch, the people acknowledged that this miracle meant Jesus was truly sent by God (John 6:1-15).
We may get the impression that miracles happened all the time in the Bible because we've read about so many. And that begs the question, "Why don't miracles happen all the time today?" But remember that miracles are, by definition, extremely rare—so they actually did NOT happen all the time. In fact, there are only about 250 recorded miracles in the Bible, and most of them occur during small windows of history in three distinct time periods: Moses and Aaron, Elijah and Elisha, and Jesus and the apostles.1
During the rest of biblical history, God did very few miracles. In between these three periods of time, there are hundreds of years when no miracles from God are recorded at all. So what was unique about these three time periods?
These were all times when God wanted to communicate a specific message to humanity, and He used miracles to authenticate the fact that the messengers He sent were delivering His messages with His authority.
The main reason God does not still perform miracles today like He did in the Bible is because the purpose for which He did the miracles is no longer needed. Remember, the reason that God performed miracles was as a sign that a certain message or messenger came from Him. During biblical times, the message of God was currently being conveyed and recorded, so miracles were necessary as validation of those messages. Today, the message of God (a.k.a. the Bible) is complete, so key miracle workers performing miracles are no longer needed. While God still speaks to us today, He does so through His Word, the Bible, and often through His people. This is the main reason why we do not see the same kind of biblical miracles today.
Of course, we're not saying that God does not or cannot do miracles today. He certainly can! You may have experienced or heard of such possible miracles. But today, God may not have a reason to publicly display His power the way He did during biblical times. All the truths He wanted to reveal have already been revealed and confirmed. As with a house, the foundation only needs to be laid once. Biblical miracles were special acts of God that laid the foundation for His permanent revelation to mankind.2
REFERENCES: 1. Geisler, Norman L, and Frank Turek. I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist. Crossway Books, 2007, p. 216. 2. Geisler, Norman L, and Frank Turek. I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist. Crossway Books, 2007, p. 216.
A miracle is a rare act of God that is different from what naturally happens. In biblical times, God performed miracles to authenticate the messages He communicated to humanity through His messengers. Miracles were a sign that a certain message or messenger came from Him because only God can perform miracles. Miracles were necessary as proof or validation of God being the source of His Word. Today, the message of God (a.k.a. the Bible) is complete, so key miracle workers performing miracles are no longer needed.
Hanna loves spending time with kids and teens. She enjoys being detectives with them to investigate God's Word to discover truths to answer any questions. She is the co-author of a newly published apologetics curriculum for children and teaches one online for highschoolers-adults. To learn more about her ministry you can visit networkerstec.com. For fun, she likes to play Ultimate Frisbee, read historical fiction, and paint.