Miracle All The Way

by Joseph Hunting

Last month in the February issue of THE VINEYARD we printed MIRACLE ALL THE WAY by George Spall, a study on the miracles God performed when He brought His people Israel out of Egypt. Now we turn our thoughts to the wonderful way God used the matriarchs, Sarah, Rebekah, Leah and Rachel, as well as Elizabeth and Miriam in the New Testament to demonstrate His great power as once again it was MIRACLE ALL THE WAY.

The word 'miracle' could mean many things to many people. I remember the collapse of the Berlin Wall being described as a miracle, as was the overthrow of Communism in many countries. Some readers may have experienced something beyond natural explanation such as healing or some personal experience that has no natural explanation. I like the definition of 'miracle' in my dictionary: "An effect in the physical world which surpasses all known human or natural powers and is therefore ascribed to a supernatural agency."

Miracles are commonplace in the Bible. The first chapter of the first book, Genesis, describes a series of miracles so majestic and aw-inspiring that mankind has difficulty in accepting them and has had to invent the theory of evolution as an alternative to believing God's Word. On the other hand the Bible also refers to a series of miracles that mankind just has to accept as such because an entire race of people attests to their miraculous origin. I refer, of course, to the nation Israel.

Miracle One: in Sarah

During their sojourn in Chaldea Abraham married Sarah who was his half-sister. As events subsequently turned out Sarah was barren and it was a physical impossibility for her to have children. This situation apparently didn't concern Abraham until God made a covenant with him after he had taken up residence in the land of Canaan. Why God chose Abraham is not stated; we just have to accept the fact as the Bible states it: "Get out of your country, from your kindred and from your father's house, to a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing.

"I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed" (Genesis12:2,3).

No doubt by this time Abraham knew that Sarah was barren; he also knew that she "had passed the age of childbearing" (Genesis 18:11); it would require a miracle if only one family were blessed as a result of her seed. God made it clear to him that he was going to have children with the promise: "For all the land which you see I give to you and your descendants for ever. And I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth ..." (Genesis 13:15,16).

I find it fascinating indeed that in spite of Sarah's inability to bear children God continued to confirm to Abraham that he would not be childless: " ...one who shall come from your own body shall be your heir ... Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them ... So shall your descendants be" (Genesis 15:4,5).

It was nearly twenty-five years since God had made His covenant with him and fourteen since Ishmael had been born to him through Sarah's maid Hagar, when Abraham "was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to him and said to him, 'I am Almighty God; walk before me and be blameless. And I will make my covenant between me and you, and will multiply you exceedingly ... As for Sarah your wife ... I will bless her and also give you a son by her'" (Genesis 17:1,2,15).

And so the Lord performed a miracle in Sarah and she bore Isaac, the child of promise. Thus the nation of Israel beginning with Isaac was the result of a miracle.

Miracle Two: in Rebekah

Just to make doubly sure that the nation Israel got away to a miraculous start, God repeated His demonstration of power in Isaac's wife Rebekah. "Isaac was forty years old when he took Rebekah as wife ... Now Isaac pleaded with the LORD for his wife, because she was barren; and the LORD granted his plea, and Rebekah his wife conceived" (Genesis 25:21). Isaac and Rebekah had been married for twenty years before this occurred as "Isaac was sixty years old" when she bore twins to him.

It is in the nature of a miracle, too, that God chose to re-iterate His covenant with Jacob rather than with Esau who was the elder of the twins -- God indeed looks on the inward part where man looks on the outward: "Was not Esau Jacob's brother? Says the LORD. Yet Jacob have I loved; but Esau have I hated …" (Malachi 1:2); " ...when Rebekah also had conceived ... the children not yet being born ... that the purpose of God according to election might stand ... it was said to her, 'The older shall serve the younger.' As it is written, 'Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated'" (Romans 9:10-13).

Miracle Three: in Rachel

What of Jacob's wives Leah and Rachel? Although it is not specifically stated that Leah was barren it is certainly implied as we read: "When the LORD saw Leah was unloved, he opened her womb; but Rachel was barren" (Genesis 29:31).

RACHEL WAS BARREN! Wouldn't you know it! God was making sure in quadruplicate that the nation could not miss the fact that they were MIRACLE ALL THE WAY. It was not until Jacob's wives had borne him ten sons that "God remembered Rachel, and God listened to her and opened her womb. And she conceived and bore a son ..." (Genesis 30:22,23). Rachel later bore Jacob's twelfth son, thus completing the sum of the twelve tribes of Israel.

Miracle Four: in Elizabeth

We turn to the New Testament for our next two miracle births. Zachariah and his wife Elizabeth were descendants of Aaron: "And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. And they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were now both well stricken in years" (Luke 1:6,7).

Whilst Zachariah was serving as a priest burning incense an angel appeared to him and said: "Fear not Zachariah, for your prayer is heard; and your wife Elizabeth shall bear a son, and you shall call his name John ... And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah" (Luke 1:13-17).

Elizabeth 's baby grew "and waxed strong in spirit and was in the deserts until the day of his showing unto Israel" (1:80). He fulfilled the angel's announcement that his ministry would be in the power of Elijah, and also Isaiah's prophecy: "the voice of one crying in the wilderness. Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight" (Isaiah 40:3-5).

Miracle Five: in Miriam

The angel Gabriel, who had appeared to Zachariah, also appeared to Miriam, a descendant of David through his son Nathan. This was to be the last of the biological miracles recorded in Scripture.

There is no more breathtaking and majestic announcement in all Scripture than that made to the virgin of Nazareth: "Then the angel said to her, 'Do not be afraid Mary for you have found favour with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call his name Jesus (Yeshua).

'He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of his father David. And he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever, and of his kingdom there shall be no end'" (Luke 1:30-33).

For the nation of Israel to this last of all the supernatural births it has been MIRACLE ALL THE WAY! Beginning with Sarah and the Matriarchs God has revealed to the world through Israel that it is no big deal for God to intervene in the mystery and wonder of childbirth. When He told Isaiah that "the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel" it would be something that Israel was accustomed to God doing, simply revealing to mankind that "nothing is too hard for the Lord."