Are the miracles in the Bible to be taken literally?


Clarify Share Report Asked July 01 2013 Mini Anonymous (via GotQuestions)

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Shea S. Michael Houdmann Supporter Got Questions Ministries
Yes, the miracles of the Bible are to be taken literally, just as all Scripture is to be taken literally except those portions which are clearly intended to be symbolic. An example of symbolism is ...

July 01 2013 6 responses Vote Up Share Report

Mini Grant Abbott Child of Father, Follower of Son, Student of Spirit
Jesus himself confirmed that Old Testament miracles are to be taken literally.

One of these miracles is very hard for many people to believe and take literally. It is the story of Jonah. 

In the book of Jonah we read that God commanded Jonah to preach against the evil in the city of Nineveh. Instead Jonah ran away. God confronted him through a raging storm. Jonah wanted to die so he had the sailors throw him in the sea. But God rescued Jonah by having him swallowed by a huge fish.

Jonah thought he was near death when he finally repented and told God he was sorry and would change his ways. After 3 days and nights in the belly of the fish, God had the fish vomit Jonah onto dry land.

So Jonah went to Nineveh and preached a simple message that the people must repent of their evil ways or in 40 days the city would be overthrown. Shockingly, the king and all citizens and even the animals repented in sackcloth and ashes.

Jesus makes direct reference to this story in Matthew 12:39-40. When the Pharisees and teachers of the law demand a sign from him to prove his authority, Jesus said the only sign they would be given was the sign of Jonah. Jesus said, “For just as Jonah was 3 days and nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man (Jesus) will be 3 days and nights in the depths of the earth. 

Jesus is proclaiming that what happened to Jonah is a true story and is to be accepted literally not figuratively. Jesus literally died on the cross, descended into hell and was resurrected on the 3rd day.

The story of Jonah was written to show us God’s compassion and mercy to the people of Nineveh in spite of their wickedness. God’s message commanded them to repent and everyone did. But why?

Let’s consider the story from their perspective. Jonah arrives there after spending 3 days in the belly of the fish. The acids in the fish’s stomach likely bleached his skin and hair white, like an albino and he would have stunk horribly (the smell of vomit).

The people of Nineveh worshipped “Dagon” the fish god. In the ancient world these religious superstitions were deeply instilled in human society. Everyone believed that if you made the “god” or “gods” happy you would have a long happy life. But if you angered the gods then disaster was just around the corner.

When the people heard Jonah’s preaching they would also have heard his story - running from God, raging storm, tossed overboard, sea calms down, swallowed by a fish, 3 days later vomited up on shore, and commanded again to preach repentance.

When the people saw Jonah, he likely looked like “the walking dead” and his story would have been very believable. This God, who was calling them to repent, was very angry and powerful. They were afraid of the pending disaster and everyone repented in sackcloth and ashes.

The book of Jonah was written to the ancient world to show them God’s righteous anger and his loving compassion.

But there are also several messages for Christians today.

1) how will we respond when God confronts us with our sin
2) when God gives us an assignment we don’t agree with, will we run away
3) do we want evil people to be punished or to we want them to receive God’s forgiveness
4) will we preach the gospel to evil people or only those we think are good enough to be saved
5) will we prefer to play God by making judgements about people’s actions or will we be his servants and deliver his grace, mercy, love and compassion to them

Each book of the bible was written to specific people, but the greatest miracle of all in the bible, is that the Holy Spirit is able to apply every word, for the specific benefit of every person who reads or hears it.

July 23 2018 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

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