25 December 2017

Who says this is a miracle?

The year: 1980. 8,500 people screaming in the arena. According to Wikipedia, "The "Miracle on Ice" refers to a medal-round game during the men's ice hockey tournament at the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, New York, played between the hosting United States, and the defending gold medalists, the Soviet Union. Here is the last 60 seconds video to watch.  The announcer asked, "Do you believe in miracles?"

Mario Chalmers is an Alaskan basketball player whose career at Kansas University was stellar and launched his continued career in the NBA. In the 2008 championship game, KU played Memphis in San Antonio. With 10 seconds left, Memphis had the lead and Derrick Rose was shooting 2 free throws. Easy, no problem. Except Rose as the entire Memphis Tigers team had done all evening, missed another free throw. KU had 10 seconds to get a 3-point play to tie. They had shot only 2 3-pointers all game. But Mario sank his with 2 seconds left and sent the game into overtime. Here's the video of the last 10 seconds of regulation.  The next day, the papers called Chalmers' shot a miracle.  (I disagreed, but that was another blog)


The word 'miracle' is often misused, even abused. Every breath is a miracle, some say. If Susie will notice Larry at the year 9 dance, it will be a miracle. They sell miracle cures for hair loss and any number of other first world troubles on late-night television. 

Ultra-Orthodox Jewish rabbi Shmary Brownstein of Chabad writes about miracles quoting Maimonides and Rabbi Tzvi Ashkenazi (1660-1718) among others. Brownstein explains that what we refer to as nature is actually miraculous and “unnatural.” It is only because “natural” events happen all the time that we take them for granted.

But how is nature and above nature or unnatural all the same? Philosophically that doesn't work.

He says, "In the words of the Talmud, “The one to whom the miracle is happening, does not recognize the miracle.”... Extraordinary miracles wake us up to the fact that all of life, down to the minute details, is one big miracle...Maimonides, in his Guide for the Perplexed, writes that all supernatural events were “programmed” into the world at the time of creation...In our daily prayers, we thank G‑d “for Your miracles that are done for us daily.”"

If it's supernatural, then it's not natural. If it's extraordinary, then it cannot be ordinary. Right?

Think about it. When men on ice skates slap a puck into a net 4 times, and their opponents do the same only 3 times, the 4-times men win the game. That's not a miracle. When Chalmers hit the 3-point shot with 2 seconds left, it wasn't a miracle; it was a great shot. 

But miracles do happen. 

Kris Samons of Probe Ministries quotes C.S. Lewis well in this answer:
"It’s very interesting that a common word used for miracle in the New Testament can also be translated “sign.” A miracle is a sign that God uses to point to Himself; the same way we follow signs to find a museum or an airport.
An interesting question may arise. Does something have to break a natural law for it to be a miracle? C.S. Lewis defines a “miracle” in his work by the same name as an interference with nature by a supernatural power. Obviously, to interfere with natural law may not necessarily mean to break the natural law. In fact, nature and “supernature” become interlocked after a miracle occurs and nature carries on according to the change wrought by that event. A science example: the law of inertia (Newton’s first law of motion) states that an object will remain in rest until an external force is applied. Nature can only move from event to event through supernatural intervention.
Deists believe that it was only at creation that the supernatural and the natural related. But we Christian theists believe that God has intervened in nature by its inception, sustained it by His preserving power, and will redeem it through the final act of intervention. The creation and incarnation of Christ are the perfect examples of supernatural inertia (another way of referring to a miracle), not to mention their conclusion as well, in His second coming. God is still in the business of working miracles. And we wait eagerly for that greatest miracle of them all–the redemption of all creation."
Sign-- the Hebrew word is "OAT." Like in Isaiah 7:14. "Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel." Virgins don't have babies. So when a virgin walks around the village insisting she has not had relations with a man, and brings a child into the world, that would be miraculous. And Samons' words are true again as this sign God used to point people to Himself. 
That's the story of Christmas. Mary, Joseph, the baby, Bethlehem. It's all there and it's all a sign. Have you seen the sign? Do you know which direction it's pointing you?

The birth of Messiah was like this: "When His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. and Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly. but when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”

Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet (Isaiah): “Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which translated means, “God with us.” 

And Joseph awoke from his sleep and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took Mary as his wife, but kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son; and he called His name Jesus."(as recorded by Matthew in chapter 1:18-25)

That's a sign.
Where is it pointing?
Where is it pointing you?

Merry Christmas.


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