NOTE: This teaching was originally a lengthy thesis for one of my master’s degrees I earned at Oral Roberts University graduate school in Tulsa, Oklahoma. This teaching is a shortened, simplified, more readable version of that thesis. The thesis had numerous footnotes, endnotes, and other scholarly types of information, but we deleted all of those from this teaching. If you want to study my original thesis with all of that additional background information, you may request a copy for $20 including postage.
In addition, this teaching cannot really be fully understood outside the context of the Kingdom of God. I encourage you to read our other teaching on this website titled “The Kingdom of God.” It’s vitally important we understand the “divine connection” between miracles, signs, and wonders and the Kingdom of God.
Miracles, signs, and wonders are defined as: “God-caused events beyond human logic and reason, defying comprehension, explanation, expectation, and experience—for God’s main purposes in lovingly drawing all people to Himself through Jesus.”
Miracles, signs, and wonders are evidence of the proclamation and presence of the Kingdom of God by the power of God the Holy Spirit. He demonstrates miracles, signs, and wonders as an essential part of his ongoing, day-to-day “management” of the Kingdom of God. When such wonderful and mighty acts of God spill over into the lives of people, they are drawn by God the Holy Spirit into the Kingdom of God and are born2 (born again) as citizens of that Kingdom.
God began to offer the Kingdom of God in a new way to humanity during the events in the Book of Exodus in the Bible and continued that event through the birth, life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus; all humanity will fully experience that Kingdom when Jesus returns to earth in the power of God the Holy Spirit to consummate his kingly reign—first upon this planet and then throughout the universe. Meanwhile, God the Holy Spirit continues to demonstrate Kingdom miracles, signs, and wonders through the worldwide Church (part of the Kingdom of God), the Body of Jesus, which as a whole is endued with his mighty power.
To write about the Kingdom of God is difficult because it is one of the “mysteries” of the New Testament (see, for example, Matthew 13: 11). Also, to write about the Kingdom of God as portrayed in the Bible is difficult because in the Bible a mingling of the present and future, the earthly and the heavenly, and the tangible and intangible are always found. The Kingdom of God is an elusive (not illusory) concept, not lending itself easily, if at all, to human languages and thinking.
First, let’s try to define “Kingdom of God.” In the Old Testament portion of the Bible, the English word “Kingdom” was translated from more than one Hebrew word, all stemming essentially from the same root word. The words are all abstract nouns carrying the idea of reign, sovereignty, dominion, the sphere of God’s rule, and royal power. In only a few instances are these words concrete nouns. Although not originally carrying the idea of “realm” or “domain” in a geographical sense, such concepts did come to be part of the Jewish (Hebrew) understanding by the time of Jesus.
The New Testament writers used only one Greek word for “kingdom”: basileia. It carries the exact meaning of the Hebrew words in the Old Testament.
The Kingdom of God in the Bible normally means God’s active reign in the world. Perhaps the Lord’s Prayer comes closest to the exact definition when it equates God’s Kingdom with the doing of his will. The Kingdom of God is further defined as God’s saving sovereignty. The Kingdom of God, then is a wide-ranging concept, including whatever God the Holy Spirit is sovereignly doing as He manages his Kingdom.
I am examining the concept of the Kingdom of God first because miracles, signs, and wonders cannot be understood except in the context of the Kingdom of God. Many definitions of the Kingdom of God by various students of the Bible can be summed up completely by George Eldon Ladd, who has probably spoken and written more material about the Kingdom of God than any contemporary scholar:
“The very complexity of the biblical teaching about the Kingdom of God is one of the reasons why such diverse interpretations have arisen in the history of theology. Isolated verses can be quoted for most of the interpretations which can be found in our theological literature. The Kingdom is a present reality (Mathew 12: 28), and yet it is a future blessing (1 Corinthians 15: 50). It is an inner spiritual redemptive blessing (Romans 14: 17) which can be experienced only by way of the new birth (John 3: 3), and yet it will have to do with all the government of the nations of the world in the future (Revelation 11: 15). The Kingdom is a realm in which people enter now (Matthew 21: 31), and yet it is a realm into which they will enter in the future (Luke 12: 32), and yet which must be received in the present (Mark 10: 15). Obviously, no simple explanation can do justice to such a rich but diverse variety of teaching.”
God’s Kingdom once prevailed in heaven, throughout the universe, and upon the earth, the latter being before the “fall” of Adam and Eve, the first of our human species. Since their fall, God’s Kingdom has not totally prevailed upon earth, and all the universe has been affected adversely. However, various occasions have arisen during the history of humankind when God’s Kingdom has once again “descended” to earth and has been offered anew to those who would accept such an offer.
The Kingdom of God is not something yet to be created and offered to humankind in the distant future. As long as God has been King over all creation, there has been a Kingdom of God. On the other hand, until God the Son personally consummates his throne and dominion on this planet, from a human perspective the fully realized Kingdom of God is always future, transcendent, and mystical. However, in another sense, the Kingdom of God has always been “parallel” to the kingdoms and other governmental systems of this world.
In that sense, the events of Exodus were a time when the mighty miracles, signs, and wonders of the Kingdom came near to earth and to human experience; a time when the King of kings sought to re-establish his Kingdom upon earth, planning to do so with a group of slaves in Egypt who were descendants of the ancient patriarch, Abraham.
In the Old Testament, the Kingdom of God was composed of the nation of Israel, a major prevailing theme of the Old Testament, the writers of which anticipated a reality that later came to be called specifically the Kingdom of God or Kingdom of Heaven in the New Testament; both phrases mean the same thing.
If, as some claimed, the nation of Israel peopled the Kingdom of God, when did that Kingdom “descend” and have its beginning? It was during the events of Exodus. That was when God began to re-establish his Kingdom upon this planet, the laws of which He gave to his Kingdom’s subjects through his chamberlain and spokesperson, Moses. Another way of putting it is that the laws of God created a theocracy in which God was King.
A final summary statement about the Kingdom of God occurs in the Bible. Interestingly, such a statement is not found in the last book of the Bible as readers might suspect. Rather, it is found in the Paul’s first letter to the Church at Corinth. In 1 Corinthians 15: 24 – 28, Paul wrote about the telos, the final consummation of all things. He stated that a final consummation will come when Jesus “delivers the Kingdom over to God the Father after rendering inoperative and abolishing every [other] rule and every authority and power.”
Paul went on to state that Jesus would continue to reign as King until that final consummation. Upon delivering the Kingdom over to God the Father, God will then be “All in all, Everything to everyone, supreme, the indwelling and controlling factor of life.” These verses clearly indicate that the King of the Kingdom of God is Jesus and that He rules with authority and power. How does He rule with power? The power comes from God the Holy Spirit.
Bible research about the vital “connection” between the Kingdom of God and miracles, signs, and wonders has been weak in one crucial area, with only a few exceptions: that area is the role of God the Holy Spirit. The crucial connecting link between the Kingdom of God and miracles, signs, and wonders is God the Holy Spirit. It is not Holy Spirit as mere power or divine influence, but Holy Spirit who is one of the three Persons of the Trinity.
Throughout the Bible (especially the New Testament), the Kingdom of God was not present simply due to the fact that Jesus was present, but because God the Spirit was present in and through Jesus. The reign of God the Holy Spirit in his unlimited, unbodied form makes the Kingdom of God what it is.
His presence and, thus, his reign are all-powerful and not limited to time and space. This is the key to understanding the Kingdom of God and miracles, signs, and wonders in relation to that Kingdom. One of the clearest biblical references to this concept is the familiar one found in Romans 14: 17:
[After all,] the Kingdom of God is not a matter of [getting the] food and drink [one likes], but instead, it is righteousness—that state which makes a person acceptable to God—and heart-peace and joy in Holy Spirit (Amplified Bible). To compare this reference with the familiar discourse of Jesus in Matthew 6: 25 – 34 is extremely interesting. In Romans 14: 17, Paul was echoing and condensing the words of Jesus as written by Matthew, clearly linking the Kingdom of God with Holy Spirit.
Concerning the interrelationships of the Kingdom of God, Jesus, and the early Church, someone once said that neither Jesus, nor the Church, bore witness to God and his Kingdom. It was not that they bore witness and Spirit helped them; it was Spirit bearing witness through them. Remember the Book of Acts (about the early Church) is actually titled the Book of the Acts of Holy Spirit. The Spirit was not “domesticated” and localized within Jesus and the Church, but leads both by his sovereign rule. Jesus and the Church are not the author or controller of Spirit’s witness to the Kingdom, but are the means by which God the Spirit rules his Kingdom.
The reason Jesus in his earthly life and ministry could perform miracles, signs, and wonders was that Spirit was Jesus’ dominant “partner.” Throughout the New Testament where the writers wrote of the totality of the experience of a follower of Jesus—including his experience of the Kingdom—in every case Spirit is the decisive factor.
There is in one sense the Kingdom of the Father, in another sense the Kingdom of the Son, and in yet another sense the Kingdom of the Spirit—all being one and the same. The Kingdom of Spirit is experienced when those who have been “liberated” by the Son receive the gifts of Holy Spirit’s supernatural power.
Note that in the first chapter of Acts, the resurrected Jesus and the disciples were discussing specifically the Kingdom of God. Jesus’ summation of the discussion is recorded in the eighth verse: He told the disciples that Holy Spirit would come upon them and empower them to be his witnesses. He did not say “witnesses about Me,” necessarily, but “witnesses who belong to Me.”
Interestingly, whereas most Old Testament miracles, signs, and wonders involve changes in the natural order, and few healings, the reverse is true of the New Testament, where by far, most of the miracles involve healings. Nowhere in the entire biblical record, nor in any writings about the Bible, can be found any definitive, concrete, and suitable answer to why such a reversal occurred. For now, it must remain unexplainable.
Now, as we begin to arrive at some understanding about miracles, signs, and wonders, we will employ two broad categories: 1. Those in the Old Testament, specifically those in the Book of Exodus, and, 2. Those in the New Testament in a more general sense.
As we turn to the Old Testament to begin to look more closely at miracles, signs, and wonders, we must attempt to slip inside the mind of an ancient Hebrew or Israelite for a few moments and try to comprehend how that person perceived miracles, signs, and wonders. An ancient Israelite did not comprehend the world and nature as being autonomous, running according to its own “laws.”
Instead, that person simply would have recognized God’s direct control over all creation. The ancient Hebrews did not see miracles, signs, and wonders as God’s overruling the natural or breaking into nature. They had no conception of a “natural order” which could serve as a basis for distinguishing between the miraculous, and the merely wonderful, but natural. Among God’s works, they saw only degrees of the wonderful.
They never focused on the external sign, no matter how striking it might be. Their attention always focused on the presence of Him who freely chose to reveal Himself in the wonders. For the ancient Israelite, the miracles, signs, and wonders merely served to cause them to focus their attention upon God; what He did signaled who He was.
Centuries later, the Greek and Hebrew mindsets were different from those of the earlier Israelites. The Greeks always sought for cause and effect. The ancient Israelite did not face that difficulty. As he saw it, everything that happened was either an act of God, or deed of man, or both. He saw the world not as a physical structure, but as a power structure. He did not seek for a cause, but simply asked, who is responsible? For the Israelite, mighty works fell within the natural scheme of things. What could be more natural than that some of the acts of a mighty God should be mighty? The ancient Israelite did not marvel at miracles, signs, and wonders because they were unexplainable, but because they were mighty wonders performed by a mighty God.
As already noted, the words “sign” and “wonder” are often used so commonly in association with one another that they mean essentially the same thing in many instances. The Hebrews had no special word for miracle in the strict sense, but used “signs” to denote natural and supernatural events. In a general sense, of course, this definition agrees with the modern English usage of the word “sign,” which is a symbol denoting or pointing to the reality of which it is but a symbol. For example, a street sign saying “Main Street” is not the street, but the sign is a symbol pointing to the reality which is Main Street. That is the reason for a sign—to point to the reality for which it is symbolic. In the case of the events in Exodus, that reality to which the signs pointed was the mighty God.
A wonder is marvelous and terrific. It represents the startling and awe-full. It is used to give prominence to the marvelous-ness of the wonders by which God would compel the attention of the “heathen.” But a sign is rather the revelation in ordinary life of some characteristic of the divine nature or work. It is a symbol of the Unseen. In the wonder there is a predominance of the Divine Power and Majesty; in the sign, of the Divine Truth and Grace. The one is awesome, the other tender.
In a general sense, signs are intended to be a form of revelation for God’s people, and wonders are intended by God to render judgment upon those who are not God’s people—to bring them to repentance and to cause them to turn to Him. And miracles are often equated with signs and wonders. The term “miracle” from a biblical standpoint is used to describe wonder-full phenomena; it is some extraordinary work of God transcending the ordinary powers of nature and wrought in connection with God’s revelation of Himself. In terms of “signs,” note that they are not always “positive” acts on behalf of God’s people, but also can be “negative” ones resulting in ultimately redemptive catastrophes and judgments.
Miracles, signs, and wonders, are all indicators of divine acts pointing to God the Holy Spirit’s sovereign and loving majesty. They serve to distinguish God from all other beings and point out his character and nature. Sometimes they serve as warnings, omens, and portents disclosing the character of a future event. On occasion, they are signs of admonition.
The point is that miracles, signs, and wonders, throughout the Bible, are designed to show something to humanity, but not for the purpose of dazzling. The signs were a prelude to the Kingdom. An understanding of such must never be removed from the context of the Kingdom of God, which is the sphere of unlimited activity of God the Holy Spirit. Miracles, signs, and wonders are (in finite human language) the ordinary, day-to-day activities of God the Holy Spirit at work in a sovereign manner throughout his universal Kingdom, including planet earth.
Most serious students of the Bible have agreed that miracles have been considered signs of the inbreaking of the reign of God. Miraculous events demonstrate in miniature what the future reign of God will be like in its fullness. A sign points to the person of God, the One who performed the miracle, whereas wonders demonstrate more the inner character and nature of the One who performed the mighty act.
In terms of the crossing of the Red Sea, but including all the other miraculous events of Exodus, it is clear that the Bible does not imply that laws of nature were changed, but that a wonderful use was made of those laws. The miracles consisted in the fact that at the very moment when they were necessary, in just the manner conducive to the achievement of the desired goal, and on a scale that was super-normal, there occurred, in accordance with God’s will, the phenomena that brought about Israel’s deliverance. The Book of Exodus tells of a God who acts, not against nature, but through it, because He is Lord of nature. The miraculous events of Exodus all have their roots in phenomena of nature upon which God imposes his sovereign will.
Then there is the timing of miracles, signs, and wonders in terms of their occurrences; the really miraculous part of the miraculous is the time—not the form—in which they are manifested. God does not shake miracles into nature at random as from a salt shaker. They come on great occasions; they are found at the great ganglions of history—not of political or social history, but of spiritual history.
Such acts of God are not necessarily God’s breaking of his own natural laws. God the Holy Spirit is simply a wonder-full God, who at sovereignly chosen moments manifests Himself more intensely, moments during which miracles, signs, and wonders quite “naturally” occur; such events mark culminations or turning points in God’s relations with the wonderful human species whom He created in his own image. Returning to an earlier point in this regard—that of God the Holy Spirit—miracles are signs of the activity which proceeds from Holy Spirit ultimately to fashion and create the world and all humanity anew. Miracles, signs, and wonders are the ongoing work of Jesus (see Acts 1: 1), the Head of his Church, through his Body, the Church, directed and energized by God the Holy Spirit.
If Holy Spirit in his Person is the power of God Person-ified, that lends further weight to a view that the underlying method by which God performs miracles, signs, and wonders is a sovereign power. It is the authority and power that the living God the Holy Spirit alone can unrestrictedly wield. It is Kingdom power (Matthew 6: 13) flowing directly from the throne of God. Granting the biblical teaching that God the Holy Spirit is the Creator and active Sustainer of the universe, there is no “natural order” apart from the activity of God, and consequently any miraculous event is in harmony with the universe.
God the Holy Spirit’s methods of performing miracles, signs, and wonders are merely to draw back the curtain of time and space “separating” his total otherness from the creation and permit some of his ongoing day-to-day flow of power to spill over into the lives of humanity. His methods of performing miracles, signs, and wonders are really that simple.
As He conducts his regular affairs of governing and sustaining his eternal Kingdom, those events are called by humans “miracles, signs, and wonders,” but are merely those customary acts of God the Holy Spirit caring for his well-loved citizens of the realm in the manner of a benevolent Sovereign, whose thoughts toward humankind are always good and in their best interests. To God the Holy Spirit, they are not miracles, signs, and wonders; they are merely acts of love bridging, for a space of time, the gulf between God and his Kingdom subjects who have already been brought near to Him in Jesus.
In a general sense, the basic purpose for the mighty works of God that occurred in the Bible—as seen most clearly at the Exodus-event as a paradigm—were twofold. First, they were for the people of God, as is found recorded most clearly in Exodus 6: 6 – 9. Second, God’s mighty acts were performed in order to answer the perfectly legitimate question posed to Moses by the King of Egypt (and which multitudes of people posed in one form or another later throughout the Bible—a question still posed in a general manner by millions of people today): “Who is the LORD, that I should obey his voice . . . ?” (Exodus 5: 2). Through Moses, God answered that question for all humankind for all time in Exodus 7: 3 – 6.
Miracles, signs, and wonders are generally in a revelatory and prophetic context. Moses saw them as “signs of rebuke,” interpreting the events and telling what God was doing in them. They were warnings for all time that disasters come to sinful humans and nations, and that in the midst of such disasters, God is at work, to call those who are at enmity with Him to repentance, and to set his people free. Not only execution of the sign, but also his mediation of its correct understanding have their origin with God. God in omnipotent grace not only performs his mighty works, but also gives the understanding of their purposes.
When miracles occur they are meant to turn us to God. To see them simply as a source of titillation is a defect. Miracles, signs, and wonders inescapably call attention to the fact that salvation is not just a theory or an idea; it is a concrete reality. Both the Egyptians and the Israelites could know and understand that God was breaking into their reality by means of his mighty acts of power. Miracles, signs, and wonders are the mighty acts of the one and only Sovereign of all creation—God the Holy Spirit—displayed to all humans who have chosen wrongfully to be “sovereign” of their own lives.
All of God the Holy Spirit’s miracles, signs, and wonders (which are perceptible and observable, and which can be experienced by humans) are designed to reveal God’s Person and nature as the Living King of the Kingdom of God. The express purpose of all God’s dealings is that He be acknowledged as Supreme God. Miracles are milestones on the road to the Kingdom of God. As previously pointed out, although various shades and nuances of meaning are reflected in all the Bible’s words for miracles, signs, and wonders, they all have one factor in common: they function as pointers and signs that, when properly comprehended, lead people to a deeper relationship with God to whom the signs point.
All wonders are pointers to God Himself, a revelation of his might and glory. In them, all people are to encounter God and to recognize that He alone is God. Since the ultimate goal of miracles, signs, and wonders is the universal glorification of God, unbelief and disobedience in the face of the demonstrative experience of such wonders are regarded as the expression of an utterly incomprehensible hardness of heart.
The story of Lazarus and the rich man teaches that more impressive “signs” are not a cure for unbelief; that even if one returned from the dead, he could not effectively preach repentance (Luke 16: 32). God the Holy Spirit’s emphasis in his performing miracles, signs, and wonders is to demonstrate his great love and care in restoring all humans to their fullest potential.
The emphasis is always upon restoring people to their rightful place in God’s Kingdom. Chapter 8 of Romans points out that fully restored humans, functioning perfectly in their proper roles in the Kingdom of God, will one day be instrumental in God’s performing miracles, signs, and wonders to fully restore the entire creation. God’s goal is always to lead all creation to full restoration of what was lost in the fall of humankind. It is to fill the entire earth and universe with his glory, and in this process miracles prepare the way.
Wherever miracles, signs, and wonders are performed by God in a perceptible manner, their prime purpose is to indicate to us, in a fashion wholly personal, his Good News about salvation. The wonders in the Bible were designed by God to be signs and attestations of God’s loving purposes for the redemption, restoration, and reconciliation of all humanity to Himself.
Moreover, miracles, signs, and wonders are always to be considered in an “end-times” context, foreshadowing the universal reign of God in the fullness of his Kingdom. Miracles, signs, and wonders in relating to exorcising demons signaled God’s final triumph over Satan’s kingdom of darkness. Raising the dead signaled the final “death” of death. Healing of sickness, illness, injuries, infirmities, and diseases bears witness to the cessation of all suffering. Occasions when God miraculously provides food are foretokens of the end of all physical needs. Power demonstrated over the elements of nature signal the final triumph over the cosmic and meteorological chaos now prevalent in the universe.
I have made an attempt to point out that the miracles, signs, and wonders performed by God at the Exodus-event were somewhat of a paradigm for all later such acts in the biblical record: demonstrations of mighty power related to the Kingdom of God. The earliest experience of God as King was in the events of Exodus. The concept of God as King and his people the Israelites as the chief subjects of his dominion continued throughout the Old Testament, but space does not permit that theme to be traced in this teaching. Suffice it to say that the miracles of Exodus became a model for future deliverance and dominion by God the King. The stage has now been set for discussing miracles, signs, and wonders in relation to Exodus.
You can study those specific events in detail in Appendix A. But the overall purpose of this teaching is to look more at the broader issue of miracles, signs, and wonders rather than at each specific event. We need to see that the mighty acts of God serve a revelatory and saving role, revealing the nature of God Himself, the nature of a benevolent Sovereign.
Miracles, signs, and wonders testify to the presence of the divine King. Although specific events will not be examined in detail, attention will be focused, however, upon some of the specific events in a general manner. As already pointed out, most of the mighty acts of God, while directed at Egypt, were for the benefit of the Israelites, who were collectively God’s “son” whom He was calling out of Egypt in order to offer “him” the Kingdom and his kingly reign upon the earth as it prevailed in Heaven (Exodus 4: 14 and Hosea 11: 1).
For example, the importance of the events at the burning bush, as noted in Exodus 3, will now be examined in a general manner. The event was to induce in the heart of Moses proper reverence so that in humility he would be willing to go forth as a messenger of the holy God who appeared to him. Moses, although a Hebrew by birth, may very well have had some lingering notion taught by many religions of the day that God dwelled in stygian darkness; for God to have spoken out of an illuminated, burning bush would have helped him understand that his God was different—a God who lived in light, not in darkness.
Furthermore, the event must have helped Moses understand that his God was a personal God who revealed Himself to humans. To Moses, the world was no longer an alien place where cruelty and oppression held sway. It was subject to the living God. The voice of the real, living, personal God spoke to Moses out of the bright fire. Certainly, it was a revelatory sign to this man who had so much to face in coming years; he could not have done so without this great revelatory sign from God.
That the miracles, signs, and wonders performed by God in the form of the ten plagues against the Egyptians were done so in the form of attacks against the pantheon of Egyptian gods—both animate and inanimate—is well known. For information about each of the plagues, you can refer to any reliable Bible Handbook. The Egyptians were a religious people, with a vast and influential priesthood and many gods. Each of the plagues was directed against one or more of their gods, and the cumulative impact of this testimony that Jehovah alone is God was devastating.
In the ten plagues, the power of God was the major focus; the plagues were more than mere wrath or punishment upon the Egyptians for their cruel treatment of the Israelites. Miracles, signs, and wonders preceding the Red Sea crossing may be looked upon as a contest between Jehovah, Israel’s God, and the numerous gods of Egypt. The element of power is uppermost in the contest: Egypt’s gods are powerless, but Jehovah is all-powerful. The plagues were a matter of contest of powers; Jehovah manifested Himself as the unique and omnipotent God who controlled the forces of nature and the flow of history.
God’s purposes in the plagues were not merely a conflict of powers, but that God proposed to teach both the Egyptians and the Israelites that the deities worshipped by the Egyptians were not even gods at all, much less gods having any power. Their gods were not gods, nor were they godly; they were all mere creatures of the one living and true God, who condemns the whole system of idolatry, of animal and nature worship, by which the ancient world was then oppressed.
The plagues were an attempt by God to free the minds of humanity from a more cruel bondage than that of Egypt, bondage to the mere brute force of nature, and to raise them to their true place as lords of the natural world, not its slaves. The miracles, signs, and wonders in the Bible, while given to confirm the activity of God, do not in themselves have the power to convince beyond a shadow of a doubt. A sign supports or reassures faith, but never to the point that one can assume absolute knowledge and no longer need faith. The various signs performed in Egypt did not banish the Israelites’ doubts: They still asked “Is the LORD among us or not?” (Exodus 17: 7)
The specific incident of the crossing of the Red Sea has been written about in every type of work, from deep, exegetical tomes to Bible storybooks for children. And, of course, what person who has access to a movie theater or television has not seen the crossing of the Red Sea in such media! The crossing was an actual event that occurred in history, was recorded in some detail, and was based upon a series of miracles, signs and wonders. The major references to the event are listed in Appendix A, and are best summarized in Exodus 14: 31: “And Israel saw that great work (miracles, signs, and wonders) which the LORD did against the Egyptians, and the people reverently feared the LORD and trusted in Him and his servant, Moses.”
Of all the miracles, signs, and wonders that have been included in the definition of the Exodus-event, this single incident at the Red Sea has been considered for thousands of years by most Israelites as the event that climaxed and secured their redemption for all time; it is the single, most important event in their salvation history thus far. All subsequent redemptive acts by God have hearkened back to and have been based upon that event. God’s salvation and deliverance of the Israelites at that time secured the belief that in spite of all their centuries of tribulation, God ultimately will complete their redemption at the final end of all things when their long-awaited Messiah comes to earth.
From the day of the Red Sea crossing on, there has persisted in biblical religion a sense of abiding wonder at what the LORD has done, and is therefore always able to do, namely to redeem his people. The events at the Red Sea exemplify the motif found throughout redemptive history that miracles, signs, and wonders are generally performed by God to bring justice and judgment upon pre-followers of Jesus or emerging followers and to confirm the faith of the committed follower of Jesus.
They are not intended to be the means whereby faith is created in people. Moreover, such acts of God are designed to illustrate the waning or ending of the kingdoms of this world and to signal the commencement or the inbreaking of God’s Kingdom into the affairs of this world. Although miracles, signs, and wonders have been performed by God at all times throughout salvation history—beginning with the awesome wonder of creation itself—they have proliferated at great junctures in history when God’s Kingdom has been offered to humankind.
Sadly, however, thus far that offer has been refused by the majority of both individuals and nations because of human stubbornness and hardness of heart. The Red Sea event was a sign not only to Israel, but to all people everywhere and everywhen that there will yet be the climax of all redemptive events when God’s Kingdom will at last be fully consummated upon this planet and throughout the universe, with the mighty acts of God—such as those at the Red Sea crossing—being forever a part of that Kingdom.
Because for centuries so much has been written about the experiences at Mount Sinai in the wilderness, an attempt will not be made herein to add to that great body of literature other than to say the miracles, signs, and wonders at Mount Sinai were to impress upon the Israelites the tremendous truth of God’s unalterable, unapproachable holiness, and their own exceeding sinfulness and unworthiness to have any fellowship with God except at his initiative. The faith of the Israelites had grown dim in the generations of slavery in Egypt. Both the testings and the mighty acts of God in the wilderness served to strengthen them in their new relationship with God at Sinai.
I invite you to read a companion teaching on this website titled The Glory of God
Besides the events at Sinai, numerous other miracles, signs, and wonder occurred during the forty years in the wilderness. The reader’s attention is focused upon only one of those ongoing events as best illustrating God’s provision and care in calling the Israelites out of Egypt and in leading them to their new promised land of Canaan. Actually, this particular mighty act of God began in Egypt and continued right up to the time when the Israelites were to cross over the Jordan River. I am referring to the phenomenon of the pillars of cloud and fire.
The first mention of this miraculous phenomenon occurs in Exodus 13: 21 and 22. What was the significance of this particular mighty act of God? First, note that the Hebrew wording indicates that neither the pillar of cloud nor the pillar of fire were merely natural clouds bunched together, nor the intense burning of natural fires. Both pillars were actually manifestations of God, who is Light and who is Fire. They were totally supernatural and awesome.
I invite you to read 2 other companion teachings on this website: Fire and Let There Be Light
Before various forms of modern “artificial” lighting methods were discovered within the past couple of centuries, people lived literally half their lives in darkness or in semidarkness. At night, it was truly dark, the darkness driven back to some degree by the light of candles, fires, or torches, but none of them generating light to the degree that it can be generated today. Dark was very dark, and the darkness elicited all manner of fear and gave occasion for multitudes of evil deeds among humankind.
During the Exodus-event, however, for the first time in recorded history, there was a bright, constant source of light available to people—at least to the Israelites. At night, they could see clearly to travel and to perform other tasks that previously could have been performed only during daylight hours. The pillar of fire gave rise to an entirely new mindset among the Israelites—that the God who created and controlled the light could overcome darkness as well.
It was an ongoing reminder that their God had power over the Egyptian gods who previously had been set forth as gods of light—but it still became dark at night in Egypt. Now the Israelites could know their God was not only the God of light, but that He could dispel, control, or overcome darkness as well. What a wonder indeed! The fiery cloud was an imposing visible symbol of the spiritual presence of God, guiding, protecting, or speaking to Israel. The fire, being self-sufficient, self-perpetuating, and wholly unaffected by its environment, is a symbol of the transcendant, awesome, and unapproachable divine presence.
One other aspect of the fiery pillar needs to be noted. In Exodus 14: 20, note that the same fiery pillar that gave light to the Israelites simultaneously was darkness to the Egyptians. Again, a hint is made of the motif already mentioned concerning miracles, signs, and wonders: depending upon who is involved in such events, those same events can be in the form of either judgment or deliverance, light or darkness, blessing or loss, kingdoms of this earth or the Kingdom of God.
They are not two or more events occurring simultaneously in the same space; the same event is regarded and experienced in a wholly different manner depending upon the set of the hearts of those who experience the event.
The events of the Exodus serve as a model imposing its presuppositions and categories on all other such events of the Bible. Various prayers by the Israelites throughout history finally will be answered when “The Song of Moses” (Revelation 15: 3) is sung. The Exodus is the key event that models the faith of Israel. Unless we begin from this central event, neither Israel’s faith nor the formation of the Old Testament and its religious tradition are understandable. The events begun at the Exodus-event—events that are models for all future events of judgment, redemption, and revelation—will find their final fulfillment when the Israelite Messiah, King Jesus, reigns over all the earth.
The continuity of Jesus’ birth, life, death, resurrection, and return to Heaven, subsumes and extends the events in Exodus, which are incorporated in the everlasting Gospel of the Kingdom of God heralded in Revelation 12: 10 and 14: 6-7.
One of the richest teachings of the entire Bible is that Jesus of Nazareth, God the Son, was, from his birth to his ascension to sit at God the Father’s right hand, the greatest mighty act ever displayed by God to humanity. All other miracles, signs, and wonders dim to relative insignificance in the light of this greatest of God’s mighty acts. Everything about Jesus of Nazareth from his birth to being seated at God’s right hand was a clear and distinct sign (first to Israel and then to all humanity) that there is a Kingdom of God and that the one true living God is King of that Kingdom.
How is it that Jesus of Nazareth is regarded as a sign? In what manner is He a sign? To begin to answer these questions, one must first turn to a prophecy noted in the Old Testament. Isaiah 7: 14 reads, “Therefore the LORD Himself shall give you a sign, ‘Behold, the young woman who is unmarried and a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel—God with us.’” This prophecy about a coming Immanuel is not an isolated use of the concept. It appears again in chapter 8: 8 – 10. And then a mysterious and important child has to be reckoned with in 9: 6 as well as in 11: 1.
Referring to the controversy that has raged for centuries over the prophecy in Isaiah 7: 14, it is a prophecy that only the Spirit of God can make clear to those who are ready to receive his testimony because of the way in which this reference is used in connection with the birth of Jesus. In relationship of Isaiah 7: 14 with New Testament texts, Isaiah looked down the vista of years and sometimes described something quite close at hand; then saw how its lines ran out into the coming ages.
Two signs are actually referred to in Isaiah 7: 14. First, that the information was given to Isaiah in his present was a sign in itself. Second, the fact that the prophecy was fulfilled in Matthew 1: 22 – 24 and Luke 2: 12 was also a sign. Isaiah 7: 14 can be understood only in the light of New Testament texts. Otherwise, it must stand alone merely as an obscure prophecy relating only to events during the times of Isaiah and King Ahaz. However, it was not the virgin birth that was to be the sign. It was the Son who was born of the virgin who was the Sign. Therefore, when God the Spirit directed Simeon to the Temple after the birth of Jesus, Simeon prophesied to Mary, Jesus’ mother, “Behold, this child is appointed and destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign.” (Luke 2: 34)
Luke 2: 12 recounts how an angel proclaimed to the shepherds that a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger would be a sign to them that He was the newly born King of Israel. The Kingdom of God had once again “touched down” upon earth. This birth of a King was no natural event. Note that when the angel made his announcement to the shepherds, even more signs occurred: a great army of the troops of Heaven appeared, praising the triune God (Luke 2: 9 – 14)
All of the startling activity surrounding the birth of Jesus—his virgin birth, Simeon’s prophecy, angelic visitations and proclamations, moving stars in the sky, emissaries from far-off exotic lands, dreams, visions, the baby in an animal feeding trough—all of this activity was orchestrated by God the Spirit. Note the references to God the Spirit in the nativity accounts: Matthew 1: 18, 20; Luke 1: 35, 41, 67; 2: 26, 27. The charismatic activities of the Spirit of God punctuate these nativity scenes. Through the miraculous activity of God the Spirit, Jesus the newborn King was in his very person a Sign.
That Jesus was a sign in another manner is quite clear in the well-known reference where He spoke of the “sign” of the prophet Jonah (Matthew 12: 38-41; 16: 4; Luke 11: 29 – 32). How was Jonah a sign to his generation? Jonah had been in the belly of a great fish for three days and three nights (a total of 72 hours) before being spewed out in order to bear witness to the people of the city of Nineveh that they must repent or be judged by the living God (Jonah 1: 17, 2: 10, 3: 4 – 10).
Jesus said that just as Jonah had been three full days and three nights in the belly of the fish, so He would be three days and three nights in the belly of the earth. These words were spoken to some scribes and Pharisees who had asked Jesus to show them a sign or wonder to verify that He was who He was claiming to be. In addition to telling them that He would be a sign to his own generation, just as Jonah had been a sign to his generation, Jesus added that a wicked, adulterous, and immoral generation unfaithful to God seeks and demands signs.
Granted that these solemn words were spoken by Jesus to a specific group of people in a specific cultural context, a general application might be made that any generation that seeks and demands miracles, signs, and wonders is to be considered a wicked and immoral generation. No sign will be given to any such generation except Jesus was three full days and three full nights in the heart of the earth.
The clear implication contained in these words is that Jesus was speaking of his death, burial, and resurrection. The chief sign displayed by God to any generation is the atoning death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. All other miracles, signs, and wonders must be in that context and flow from that chief sign or they are invalid in terms of the proclamation of the Kingdom of God. The chief point of all Jesus’ miracles, signs, and wonders is that He declares that the one divine sign to that generation was Himself, the Son of Man, his Person and his teaching.
Note: for a fuller discussion of the full three days and three nights as noted above, I invite you to read another teaching on this website titled 72 Hours of History
In relation to the Exodus-event, which was a paradigm for all later miracles, signs, and wonders, abundant references in the New Testament teach either directly or by clear implication that the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth were the fulfillment of the Passover, and the emergence of the Church as the new Exodus-event. For example, see John 1: 29, 30 (also see Exodus 12: 3, 46, 13: 1, 18: 28, 19: 14; 1 Corinthians 5: 7,8, 10: 1-4; Revelation 5: 6, 9, 12, 12: 11. These references and others teach that Jesus was the Passover Lamb inaugurating a “second” Exodus of which the first was a prefigurement.
The events of the Exodus-event are comparable to the events recorded in the four Gospels in the New Testament. Exodus is about the historic happenings on which the community of Israel was built, as is unfolding in the Gospels the historic event upon which the Church was built. There is a clear continuity found in the Christ-event with the Exodus-event. The only true parallel to the Exodus story is found in the Gospel narratives of the death and resurrection of Jesus, which are understood by most scholarly students of the Bible as a “second Exodus.”
In what other ways was Jesus Himself a sign? He proclaimed Himself to be the Son of Man. The Jewish populace among whom Jesus largely lived, taught, and demonstrated miracles, signs, and wonders were very keenly aware of an ancient prophecy by Daniel that one Who would be known as the “Son of Man” (Daniel 7: 13) would someday come in great power in the clouds of heaven to rescue and deliver the Jews and to establish an everlasting Kingdom.
Jesus called Himself the Son of Man, performing miracles, signs, and wonders and even forgiving sin in that capacity. The Jews were mystified and perplexed: Jesus of Nazareth claimed to be the long-expected Son of Man who had come (Mark 2: 10) and who would come again (Matthew 24: 7, 30) in fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy. In what manner was Jesus the Son of Man?
The title “Son of Man” emerges in Mark. That title linked Him to other men, yet marked his relationship to God as the Self-emptied One who laid aside the powers and attributes of divine Sonship, and limited Himself within humanity as a perfect vehicle for doing the work of God.
Again, in Mark 2: 10 power is claimed by Jesus as the Son of Man, i.e., as belonging to Him in his incarnate life as the ideal Man who has received the fullness of Spirit and as Head of the “new” race of humanity.
Daniel’s visions and prophecies were about mighty miracles, signs, and wonders in connection with the coming King—the Son of Man—and the consummation of his everlasting Kingdom upon earth (Daniel 6: 26, 27; 7: 13, 14). In taking upon Himself the title Son of Man, Jesus was clearly aware that He was assuming a specific title related to the Kingdom of God and that He would need to demonstrate his sovereignty with miracles, signs, and wonders.
Jesus was a sign at his birth: God the Holy Spirit—the Power of the Most High—overshadowed a virgin and brought forth a Son from her womb. Jesus of Nazareth was three days and three nights in the heart of the earth—dead and buried. He was raised to newness of life by God the Holy Spirit (Romans 8: 11), a sign to all humanity that there is life beyond the state of death, that ancient enemy of all humanity. As Son of Man, Jesus was a sign that He was the one whom Daniel had seen in vision—one who had power to perform miracles, signs, and wonders and to forgive sins, one who was the King who was coming to consummate his everlasting Kingdom.
To stress again a point made throughout this teaching, that God the Holy Spirit and God the Son, Jesus, are “equal” Kings of the Kingdom of God as members of the Godhead (yet God the Spirit being the “dominant partner” in the life and ministry of Jesus of Nazareth), note that Jesus—the Sign—was born of Spirit (Matthew 1: 20; Luke 1: 35), anointed by Spirit (Matthew 3: 16; Mark 1: 10; Luke 3: 22; John 1: 32), lived and worked by Spirit (Matthew 12: 28; Luke 4: 18; Acts 10: 38), spoke by Spirit (John 6: 63, 14: 10, 17: 8; compare John 4: 24), died at the direction of Spirit ( Hebrews 9: 14), rose from the dead by the power of Spirit (Romans 8: 11), and, even now, although He was crucified through human weakness, lives by the power of God the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 13: 4).
Jesus is the Sign Son in one additional manner. Although not stated in the Bible, this can be inferred clearly. Jesus was a sign in his baptism/infilling/empowering by God the Holy Spirit. He knew the fullness of God the Holy Spirit in a way that no other human has known it. God the Holy Spirit poured Himself upon and into Jesus without measure (John 3: 34). His life was under the total dominion of God the Holy Spirit. All that He did was by the power of the Holy Spirit. All persons who have been subsequently baptized/filled/empowered by God the Holy Spirit should be extremely grateful for their experience, but must never believe that what they have experienced is the Spirit of God without measure or all the fullness of God…in the exact same manner Holy Spirit filled Jesus.
At best, humans have received only a down payment of their inheritance in the domain of the Spirit (2 Corinthians 1: 22, 5: 5; Ephesians 1: 14); the entire inheritance—which Jesus has—still lies ahead for us. True, Paul the Apostle prayed that followers of Jesus might be filled with all the fullness of God (Ephesians 3: 19), but John stated that out of his fullness, Jesus’ followers have received merely a portion, not the entirety (John 1: 16).
Followers of Jesus must never cease to seek being filled with all the fullness of God, but they must not believe that in this life, individuals can experience the same fullness of God Jesus experienced by Holy Spirit. His fullness was the sign to point believers in Him continually in the direction where they, too, might be filled with the same fullness. However, it is not for individuals to be filled with the fullness of God as Jesus–the individual was; rather, it is for the worldwide Church in its entirety to be filled with that same fullness, each individual “member” of the Church sharing in his or her “portion” of that fullness.
In a sense, that followers of Jesus of many eras have always associated the fullness of Holy Spirit with power for service alone is unfortunate. Some grasp eagerly for the baptism in the Holy Spirit in a vain and selfish hope that they will have superhuman power over sickness and disease as Jesus did, or that they will have a “miracles, signs, and wonders ministry,” or possess spiritual gifts in abundance. Some followers of Jesus have all too often overlooked something far more important, that is, the cleansing and purifying work of God the Holy Spirit in their lives!
All the writers of the New Testament teach in one way or another that followers of Jesus are to be changed by God the Holy Spirit (see, for example, 2 Corinthians 3: 18). That is a truth often overlooked. The fullness of the Holy Spirit is primarily that followers of Jesus might be purified and become as Jesus, the pattern and sign Son.
This type of fullness is not obtained merely by hearing about it. It comes as a result of a consuming quest to give God the Holy Spirit absolute sovereignty in one’s life, just as Jesus did. His followers must see their immense need to live and move in God the Holy Spirit, He who is the Spirit of holiness (wholeness). He was the all-powerful, all controlling Lord in the wonder-full life of Jesus, the sign Son, and He must have the same control in the lives of we who are followers of Jesus if we are to demonstrate his Kingdom on earth with miracles, signs, and wonders.
Jesus is the greatest and “final”—once-for-all Sign displayed to humanity by God the Holy Spirit. All miracles, signs, and wonders before, during, and after Jesus center in and flow from Him by means of the power of God the Holy Spirit, King of the Kingdom of God. Jesus is the living Sign of the presence of God the Holy Spirit working in his customary way throughout his Realm, the Kingdom of God.
All the events occurring in and through the life of Jesus while He was on earth begin with his supernatural conception (Matthew 1: 20) and end with his supernatural ascension (Acts 1: 9). When we consider the life and times of Jesus, we do not mean merely those three to three and one-half years of so-called public ministry. His conception was a miracle; his ascension was a miracle. As already seen, the entire life lived by Him between his conception and his ascension was a sign—the Sign. He was the Sign Son.
In a deliberate attempt to emphasize God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, we have deliberately minimized God the Father, but I am trinitarian in all aspects and in all respects. We believe strongly in perichoresis [the eternal joy-filled interplay and inter-relationships of the three Persons of the Trinity].
Miracles, signs, and wonders did not necessarily occur in the life and ministry of Jesus simply because He was Jesus of Nazareth, God the son, human and divine equally. They occurred because of the subject and nature of the message proclaimed by Him and because He was completely dominated by God the Holy Spirit.
What was the primary subject and nature of the message proclaimed by Jesus of Nazareth? It was the Kingdom of God in all aspects. One can scarcely turn a page of any of the four Gospel accounts about Jesus without encountering mention of the Kingdom of God. In fact, the expressions “Kingdom of God” or “Kingdom of Heaven” (the two being synonymous, at least for purposes of this teaching) occur 126 times in the four Gospels.
Within the context of teaching, parables, stories, explanations, and the like, Jesus focused more upon the Kingdom of God than upon any other single subject. Jesus’ public ministry began with a clear cry: “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4: 17; Mark 1: 15; Luke 4: 17). Jesus’ ministry ended with a discussion about the Kingdom of God (Acts 1: 3 – 8). The essence of his “theology” concerned the Kingdom of God (Matthew 12: 24 – 32). Jesus was literally immersed throughout his entire life in the pervasive presence and power of the Kingdom of God. The ministry of Jesus of Nazareth—including miracles, signs, and wonders—cannot be understood except in the immediate context of the Kingdom of God.
The Kingdom of God was the central message of Jesus’ ministry. He went about all Galilee preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom (Matthew 4: 23). The Kingdom of God has even been called Jesus’ “campaign slogan.”
This theme of the coming of the Kingdom of God was central in Jesus’ mission. His teaching was designed to show humanity how they might enter the Kingdom of God (Matthew 5: 20; 7: 21). His mighty works were intended to prove that the Kingdom of God has come upon his hearers (Matthew 12: 28). His parables illustrated to his disciples the truth about the Kingdom of God (Matthew 13: 11).
And when He taught his followers to pray, at the heart of their petition were the words, “Your Kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven” (Matthew 6: 10). On the evening of his death, He assured his disciples that He would yet share with them the happiness and fellowship of the Kingdom (Luke 22: 22-30). And He promised that He would appear again on the earth in glory to bring the blessedness of the Kingdom to those for whom it was prepared (Matthew 25: 31, 34).
If one wishes to understand more fully why miracles, signs, and wonders occurred in the ministry of Jesus of Nazareth, such an understanding can come only in relation to the Kingdom of God. Jesus did not appear at an arbitrary point in human history. He came when God the Holy Spirit—in the counsels of the Trinity—determined it was once again time for the Kingdom of God to draw near to humanity (Luke 9: 27 – 31), and not merely to draw near, but to draw near with power (dunamis, Mark 9: 1)—the power of miracles, signs, and wonders.
It was not merely a time for the Kingdom of God to draw near with the power of God the Holy Spirit, but rather it was the time, the final time, for the Kingdom of God to be presented to humanity. In Jesus of Nazareth, the Kingdom of God began to manifest itself in a unique way as the beginning of God’s final action. Jesus of Nazareth came with the principal purpose of beginning to consummate once and for all and finally the Kingdom of God among humankind.
Most of the teachings and proclamations of Jesus were veiled in parables or in other ways so only those who had ears to hear and eyes to see could perceive and comprehend their meaning (Matthew 13: 15; Mark 8: 18, 19: 42, 24: 16,31; John 12: 40). Not so, however, with his miracles, signs, and wonders; they were the most obvious characteristics of his ministry. Although sometimes his teachings and sayings were obscure, there was never any obscurity about the miraculous. He performed them because the Kingdom of God had come with power.
The coming, imminent Kingdom of God is already present in Jesus. The claim that God’s reign comes in the present was raised by Jesus, to begin with, in the context of his ministry of miraculous deeds and works. The concept of the Kingdom of God is no longer merely a theological phrase. There is now a human name and face to it. If Jesus had simply taught about the Kingdom of God, his impact would most likely not have been much more than that of any previous prophet whom God the Holy Spirit had sent to humanity.
What made the difference? The power of the Kingdom: the miracles, signs, and wonders demonstrated by God the Holy Spirit through Jesus of Nazareth. One must not minimize the role of God the Father in the life and ministry of Jesus, but maximizing the role and power of God the Holy Spirit is crucial to our understanding.
The Gospels do not reflect a deliberate “healing campaign” by Jesus. But Jesus had power over both physical and spiritual evil, and a sympathy for those in need, which naturally moved Him to heal those who came to Him as He preached, taught, and bore witness to the Kingdom of God.
Was Jesus fully aware of who He is and whether He was the Kingdom of God incarnate? Surely the words of Jesus in Luke 11: 14 – 16 speak to that question. His onlookers were seeking a sign from Heaven (Luke 11: 16). Jesus’ response was to tell them that his casting out of demons by the finger of God was a sign that the Kingdom of God had come to them. The unifying principle that explains the mighty acts of Jesus was that they were intended to be signs of the Kingdom of God; contrarily, that the Kingdom of God had come was the unifying principle that explains the miracles, signs, and wonders. They were synonymous.
Note in this regard that this incident in the life of Jesus of Nazareth immediately followed some of Jesus’ clearest teachings about Holy Spirit (Luke 11: 5 – 13). God the Holy Spirit is related to the Kingdom of God, which is related to miracles, signs, and wonders. Jesus’ might acts, and especially his exorcisms, testify to the fact that God’s sovereign rule is breaking in upon humanity (Matthew 12: 28).
In what other ways did miracles, signs, and wonders in the life and ministry of Jesus bear testimony to the fact that the Kingdom of God had come to humanity? A common Jewish view at the time of Jesus of Nazareth was that when Messiah came, the present age would begin to end, and as the Kingdom age dawned, a final battle would take place between God and the evil powers of the universe. When Jesus cast out demons, it showed the Jews that his authority was Kingdom authority, extending over the unseen forces of the universe.
For example, when the 12 and 70 were sent out by Jesus they were instructed to heal the sick and cast out demons, and to proclaim that the Kingdom of God had come near: Matthew 10: 7; Luke 10: 9, 10, 11, 17. Here there can be no question of exorcism being a sign of the presence of the Kingdom. Rather, the exorcism of demons, like the preaching of repentance, was a task of the utmost importance in preparation for the coming of the Kingdom of God.
In the context of the seventy being sent out, Jesus clearly indicated that their commission was as “ambassadors” of the Kingdom of God (Luke 10: 9 – 11). When the seventy returned from their successful ambassadorial tour, they exclaimed, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” (Luke 10: 17). Jesus’ immediate response to their exclamation was to say, “I saw Satan falling like a lightning flash from heaven” (Luke 10: 18).
Jesus’ remarks following that statement clearly imply that what the seventy disciples had experienced in the subjugation of demons was Kingdom authority over all the power of the enemy. Scholars have debated much about exactly when Satan fell (or will fall) from heaven, but there can be little question that for Jesus’ disciples to have had power over the enemy was for them to have experienced a measure or taste of Kingdom power, the same type of power that they would experience in a fuller, more abiding measure when God the Holy Spirit would later fill them (Acts 1: 8, 2: 1 – 4).
If one reads clearly the text just referenced in Luke chapter 10 (and related texts such as Luke 9: 1 – 6), the reader finds that the disciples had a sense of amazement and excitement to find they had power to do good they never had known they had. Also, those to whom they went received a ministry for their ills and mental torments. The disciples, as well as the general populace, were amazed at the display of such power.
Such amazement was due to a generally prevailing belief throughout the Jewish world at the time of Jesus of Nazareth that the inbreaking of the Kingdom of God would be recognizable by mighty acts of God, just as had been the case at the beginning of their salvation at the Exodus-event. The Jews who experienced Jesus’ ministry and acts of supernatural power were simply seeking to know if what was occurring—what they were seeing and experiencing—meant that the Kingdom of God had come.
True, some were seeking signs for signs’ sake, but some were inquiring legitimately if what was happening meant that somehow the Kingdom of God was coming in their generation. To Jesus’ hearers something new was happening. The Kingdom of God seemed a reality. Nor was this mere announcement. There were signs that God was at work in a manner not experienced since the events of Exodus of long ago. The populace who were seeing Jesus at work and hearing his teachings were feeling that in some real sense God’s Kingdom came into history in the person and mission of Jesus.
Miracles, signs, and wonders during the mission of Jesus could not be understood apart from the awareness that they were in the context of the Kingdom of God and the power of God the Holy Spirit. Jesus seemed to know that the mere display of miraculous power in and of itself served no real purpose. He knew the futility of signs, per se, in bringing people to legitimate belief in God. This in one reason why He chose to call his signs “works” on a number of important occasions (see John 3: 21, 5: 17, 9: 4)
In these texts, the Greek word for “works” is one not referred to previously in this teaching; it is the word ergazomai and means “one’s customary labor or toil.” Jesus saw miracles, signs, and wonders as being merely the customary activity of God the Holy Spirit in blessing and healing people. They were simply part of the complete revelation of God the Holy Spirit and the nature of the Kingdom of God. Jesus of Nazareth was sent by God to witness to the Kingdom in words and deeds. He does so by establishing physical and spiritual signs of the Kingdom’s presence among people, particularly the needy. Jesus of Nazareth came to show the poor and needy that God the Holy Spirit bursts history asunder and offers them the opportunity to be subjects of his Kingdom.
There does remain, however, one important matter. It concerns how one becomes a citizen in the Kingdom of God. How does one enter the Kingdom of God? Jesus addressed that very question in the familiar text found in the third chapter of John’s Gospel. No attempt will be made to exegete John 3: 1 – 21, but some pertinent comments are in order.
Nicodemus, a leader of the Jewish Pharisees, told Jesus that he understood that Jesus had come from God because of the miracles Jesus had been performing (verses 1 and 2). Jesus’ response was twofold: (1) that miracles were somehow an inherent, intrinsic, and integral part of the Kingdom of God seems clear (verses 3 and 5), and (2) such miracles had to do with being born of God the Holy Spirit (verses 5, 6, and 8). The motif of God the Holy Spirit’s relationship to the Kingdom of God and its relationship to miracles, signs, and wonders is seen again.
Entrance into the Kingdom of God is made possible by God the Holy Spirit alone; the process of gaining entrance is a spiritual birth, and it is somehow related to miracles. Of course, the matter of one’s being born from above is another subject entirely, not within the purview of this teaching, but one that deserves just the few remarks made in light of the Kingdom of God.
The demonstration of miracles, signs, and wonders leads quite naturally (just as mortal human birth is quite natural) to people being born from above—born into the Kingdom of God—by the power of God the Holy Spirit “overshadowing” one and causing divine conception to occur in that person. If one being born has parents who are citizens of the United States of America, that person being born is also a citizen of the United States of America.
If one is born whose Parent is God the Holy Spirit, King of the Kingdom of God, then that person who is born is also a citizen of that Kingdom. This is a simple concept, but one that must not be overlooked in terms of the Kingdom of God and miracles, signs, and wonders. When one is born from above, that person does not become only a child of God, or only a member of Jesus’ Church; that person becomes a citizen of the Kingdom of God.
Jesus began his ministry by a clear proclamation about the Kingdom of God; his ministry itself was merely to work under the guidance, direction, and empowerment of God the Holy Spirit as the latter involved Himself in the ordinary circumstances of his Kingdom and performed the typical works necessary to rule throughout his Kingdom. In the process of these two Divine Persons working together, ordinary humans become the recipients of those works and, upon experiencing such, were then put in a position where they could choose or not choose to become subjects of that Kingdom.
Simply to enumerate and then to comment upon all the mighty works performed by Jesus, no matter in what form such a list might be set forth—chronologically, categorically, or contextually—would serve no useful purpose in this teaching. Any student of the Bible can pursue such a study using an exhaustive concordance. However, to facilitate such a study, included in Appendix C is a listing of the majority of miracles, signs, and wonders performed by Jesus.
I don’t want you to think I am perversely enamored of miracles, signs, and wonders. I agree with most New Testament scholars who have concluded that persons must not misunderstand and feel that Jesus’ sole activities were to perform startling displays of power. Rather, Jesus made use of miracles, signs, and wonders to authenticate his mission, but his chief emphasis was always upon his word and character rather than upon his mighty acts.
The primary emphasis of Jesus of Nazareth in terms of his lifestyle, his teaching, and his preaching was to model Himself as the exemplary citizen of the Kingdom of God. He wanted his audience and his followers to see how a citizen of God’s Kingdom was to appear and act—how such a person should conduct himself. Of course, in discussing such an emphasis, I hasten to add that Jesus’ saving and atoning work as God the Son is not being discounted in any way. An attempt is being made to stress how much Jesus wished to emphasize again and again by his lifestyle and by his teaching and preaching how a model citizen of the Kingdom of God should live in the power of God the Holy Spirit.
For example, if the famous Kingdom parables of Matthew 13 and Luke 8 teach anything at all, they teach that the Kingdom of God is first and foremost proclaimed by preaching and teaching, and secondarily by signs of power that result from the teaching and preaching. The signs of power serve only to authenticate the teaching and the preaching about the Kingdom of God. The mighty acts were simply the “ordinary” occurrences that inevitably followed in the wake of the teachings and lifestyle of Jesus, who was the chief citizen of the Kingdom of God that had broken into the stream of humanity for the final time.
The relationship between Spirit and the Kingdom is the key to understanding much of the Kingdom proclamation in the three Gospels, Matthew, Mark, and Luke. The Kingdom and the Spirit are alternative ways of speaking about the disciples’ highest good. Jesus had seen a vision of the victory of the Kingdom of God over Satan in heaven. This heavenly victory released a great tidal wave of power which swept down to earth. Jesus felt Himself caught up in this surge of power. This power was the Kingdom power of God the Holy Spirit dominating the life and ministry of Jesus of Nazareth. The Kingdom of God = overcoming the reign of Satan = equals miracles = the presence and power of God the Holy Spirit.
As any student of the New Testament is aware, the baptism in water of Jesus by John was critical to Jesus’ ministry. Of course, God the Holy Spirit was “present” at this event in a unique manner (Matthew 3: 16; Mark 1: 10; Luke 3: 22; John 1: 32). As a result of that baptism, all the significant deeds of Jesus are a result of the activity of Holy Spirit, who fell upon and empowered Jesus with Kingdom power from that very moment on.
In this regard, please note that Jesus sometimes used the same words for his miraculous works as He did for the simple good deeds of others (see Mark 14: 6). He was a citizen of the Kingdom of God, and knowing how God the Holy Spirit conducted his “everyday” and “ordinary” affairs and good works throughout his Kingdom never distinguished between his “ordinary” good works and his extraordinary good works.
They were all alike to Him. Miracles were not “higher” than ordinary good works. This is why, on the one hand, Jesus spoke so harshly to those who claimed to have done many mighty works in his name (Matthew 7: 21 – 23), implying that such might not enter the Kingdom of God. Yet, on the other hand, in Matthew 25: 34 – 46, Jesus spoke of the King who commended those who did “ordinary” works of kindness and benevolence to others. Jesus simply did not distinguish between “mighty” works and ordinary acts of kindness toward people. He perceived them as being one and the same, both being simply the works performed by God the Holy Spirit through people in administering the affairs of his Kingdom.
Let’s now examine the miraculous events in the young Church founded by Jesus and commissioned to carry on the work and ministry begun by Him (Matthew 16: 18, 19, 28: 18 – 20; Mark 16: 15 – 20; Luke 24: 45 – 51; Acts 1: 1 – 11). Honest scholarship must concede that the proclamation and teaching about the Kingdom of God, per se, diminished quickly and markedly in the New Testament after the close of the earthly life and ministry of Jesus of Nazareth. As previously mentioned, the phrases “Kingdom of God” or “Kingdom of Heaven” occur 126 times in the four Gospels. The phrase “Kingdom of God” occurs only eight times in the Book of the Acts of the Holy Spirit, nineteen times in the Epistles, and seven in the Book of the Revelation–for a total of only 34 after the 126 times in the four Gospels.
What happened? Why the diminished emphasis? Why such a drastic change in the content of God’s proclaimed message? I’ll take some time now to explore these and other questions, while still focusing upon miracles, signs, and wonders, the main theme of this teaching. For a listing of the miraculous events that occurred in the Book of Acts, see Appendix D.
The references listed in the second paragraph above are generally considered to be references about Jesus’ commission to his disciples to carry on the work and ministry begun by Him. He told them about something new called the “Church” of which they would be members and participants. He told them that when He was gone, they were to continue to proclaim his word, to preach, and to teach. As they did so, miracles, signs, and wonders would occur quite “naturally,” just as they had in his life and ministry.
Jesus told his disciples that God the Holy Spirit would empower them to be his witnesses. Of these very basic facts, the Bible is clear. However, what of the ongoing proclamation about the Kingdom of God that had been so prominent in Jesus’ teaching and ministry? Jesus did not say to his disciples in so many words, “When I am gone, go into all the world and proclaim the Kingdom of God just as I have done. In so doing, you will experience God the Holy Spirit’s performing miracles, signs, and wonders through your lives and ministries just as He has done through mine as I have proclaimed the Kingdom of God.” Jesus did not make such an explicit statement concerning the Kingdom of God. He did make an implied statement, however.
Notice, for example, that in the first chapter of Acts, the third verse states that between his resurrection and ascension, Jesus discussed the Kingdom of God with his disciples for a period of forty days. What an intense period of teaching and training that must have been. Imagine, forty days spent with Jesus in discussing the Kingdom of God! As stated previously, this intense period of teaching also included the topic of power that Jesus’ disciples would receive from God the Holy Spirit.
For forty days, a major topic of discussion between Jesus and his disciples was about the Kingdom of God and about the power of God the Holy Spirit. What was it that the now risen Jesus then taught to his followers about the Kingdom of God? The plain fact is that we do not know. But those intense discussions must have been extremely critical to both Jesus and his disciples, pointing out God’s continuing revelatory focus upon the Kingdom of God.
Are there other references to the Kingdom of God during those critical days of Jesus’ commissioning of his early disciples? Arguments from silence can never be conclusive, but an important point can be made in this regard, nonetheless. If the theme of the Kingdom of God occurred over and over in Jesus’ ministry, and if He spent forty days discussing that theme with his disciples just before his ascension, then can the assertion be made somewhat safely that when Jesus spoke his words of commission (even though the Kingdom of God was not specifically mentioned), the disciples likely might have “decoded” those words of Jesus in their own thinking in terms of the Kingdom of God? That seems to be a somewhat logical conclusion.
Jesus told his disciples that He had all authority; He told them to teach everything that He had commanded them; He commissioned them to preach his message to the entire world and that He would confirm their message by attesting miracles, signs, and wonders; He admonished them to preach repentance, just as He had done; He encouraged them by promising they would receive the same power received by Him from God the Holy Spirit.
Were not all those words of Jesus spoken to the disciples within the overall context of the Kingdom of God as then understood by them? Was not the Kingdom of God fresh in their minds and hearts? It is a point that cannot be overlooked, although admittedly it is an argument from silence. When the events of the Day of Pentecost occurred in the lives of the disciples, such events occurred within their new, “other-world view” about the Kingdom of God.
On the other hand, proclaiming the Kingdom of God clearly diminished very early on in the message of the early Church. A number of views are held by New Testament scholars about this shift in the proclamation of the early Church as contrasted with Jesus’ clear emphasis upon the Kingdom of God. The first view (which is merely mentioned and to which no credence is given herein) is that God’s clear intent was for his message to change from that of the Kingdom of God to that of the Good News about the person of Jesus; this is the view generally held by those regarded as dispensationalists—such as H. Ironsides, L. S. Chafer, J. N. Darby, C. I. Scofield, and others.
The opposite view (again, which is only mentioned and to which no credence is given herein) is that held by such “incomplete” biblically based groups as the United Church of God (formerly the Worldwide Church of God) and those known as Jehovah’s Witnesses; their view is that for the early Church to have replaced the proclamation about the Kingdom of God with the Good News about the person of Jesus was a clear mistake. They hold that Satan deceived the early Church in this regard and that the Church has been in error through the centuries until these groups came on the scene in the twentieth century to recover the pristine purity of the Church and once again to proclaim the Kingdom of God as God had originally intended. In between the extremes of these two views are other, more moderate views.
One such view holds that the early followers of Jesus were so tremendously empowered by God the Holy Spirit that proclaiming the Kingdom of God was subsumed into the experience of Spirit, Who had come to empower them as He had Jesus; now they were simply experiencing the power of the Kingdom of God and miracles, signs, and wonders to such an extent that proclaiming the Kingdom of God as such was no longer necessary because they were, in fact, fully immersed in it. Nevertheless, they did continue to proclaim what they held to be the one essential ingredient of the Kingdom message proclaimed by Jesus: repentance! (Compare Matthew 4: 17 with Acts 2: 38, 3: 19, 5: 31, 8: 22, 11: 18, 13: 24, 17: 30, 19: 4, 20: 21, 26: 20; Romans 2: 4; 2 Corinthians 7: 9 – 10; 2 Timothy 2: 25; Hebrews 6: 1; and 2 Peter 3: 9).
Writing about this transition from Kingdom to Good News about Jesus occurred in quite a natural manner in the early Church. After Easter, another summons took its place alongside the petition for the coming of the Kingdom, namely, “Our Lord, come!” (1 Corinthians 16: 22; Revelation 22: 20). For this reason Paul proclaimed the Good News about Jesus and hardly spoke at all about the Kingdom of God.
The concept of the Kingdom was still connected with Good News in the post-resurrection Church. Later on, however, it disappeared and was replaced by other ideas such as “in Christ” and “in Spirit.” Because of its political overtones the term “Kingdom” was not suitable for the Church as it expanded into the Roman Empire. And when the term “Church” came to dominate the vocabulary, the term “Kingdom” was limited to the Kingdom or reign of Jesus in the coming new age.
Concerning this same concept, with the power of God the Holy Spirit in their lives, the early believers in Jesus discovered how to interpret Jesus in varying ways to meet varying needs—they were not hidebound. Neither were they “syncretists”: they did not say that other religious insights were equally true and could be merged with their new faith. But early believers in Jesus succeeded, as Judaism never did, in giving great flexibility to the expression of their faith.
For instance, Jesus’ preaching of the “Kingdom of God” might be meaningful in a Jewish constituency but could be politically inflammatory elsewhere. So the early preachers preferred to use Jesus’ other expressions “eternal life” or “salvation.” The early Church saw the continuity between Jesus’ proclamation and demonstration of the Kingdom of God with miracles, signs, and wonders to be in the Person of Jesus rather than in the Kingdom of Jesus. There is the aspect, too, that the diminished use of the term “Kingdom of God” in the apostolic writings is probably due to the heavily Jewish coloring of the term, which was not easily intelligible to Gentile believers in Jesus.
It is basically true to say that with the application of the messianic title “the Anointed One” to Jesus, the proclamation of Jesus as King of Israel faded eventually into the background, giving way to a Jesus-centered, salvation-centered concept of Good News about Jesus which focused on the cross and the resurrection of Jesus. Jesus was still considered King by the early Church, but never called King of the Church. The Kingdom of God receded from emphasis, but not from focus; it came into focus again in the Book of Revelation written in the mid-sixties of the first century.
Preaching and teaching in the early Church changed from preaching and teaching about the Kingdom of God as such to the Person of the risen, glorified Jesus, who is the King of that Kingdom. The Kingdom of God came to be bound up in the very person of Jesus. In modern missions terminology, God had simply changed an ethnocentric group of early believers in Jesus into cross-cultural disciples who maintained emphasis upon God the Holy Spirit and miracles, signs, and wonders while properly enculturating the message of the Kingdom of God into more easily understood terms for people of other cultures.
Emphasis began to be placed on the Church as being the earthly representative of the Kingdom, just as Jesus had been its earlier representative. However, the Church is not the Kingdom of God; rather, in the long-range history of Spirit the Church is a way and a transition to the Kingdom of God. The Church is Jesus living in the citizens of the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom did come in power—in the person of Jesus, in his ministry, in the coming of Holy Spirit. It has not yet come in a final consummation, but it may be that the revelation of God in Jesus which resulted in the Church and its witness is more of a final consummation than we are sometimes aware. Whatever the case, the future is in the hands of God.
My summary view of the Kingdom of God and the early Church is not yet fixed, but it can be stated as follows at this point in time. The concept of the Kingdom of God was very much in the minds of the early disciples, including Paul and Peter and the writer of the Book of Hebrews. It remained foremost in their minds and hearts, but was not proclaimed as simply and as clearly as Jesus had done. (Can any single human or group of humans proclaim something as simply and as straightforward as Jesus is capable of doing?)
The risen, ascended, glorified Jesus continued to proclaim the Kingdom of God through the Good News of the early Church with miracles, signs, and wonders following the proclamation of Him as Lord. Repentance continued to be proclaimed as necessary for entrance into the Kingdom of God. The early disciples were so caught up in the experience of the empowering of God the Holy Spirit that they were living witnesses of the Kingdom; they were seeing fulfilled in their very lives what Jesus had introduced to them.
By way of introduction, the miracles, signs, and wonders in Acts and those written about by other writers of the New Testament do not vary from the definitions already furnished earlier in this teaching. The motif holds true that the occurrences of miracles, signs, and wonder in the New Testament following those recorded in the four Gospels are more in the nature of physical healing and relief from human suffering and pain rather that the great miracles, signs, and wonders of nature as recorded in the Old Testament.
Again, no explanation can be furnished for such a shift in the essential nature of the mighty acts of God; the Bible is silent, and no satisfactory answer for that shift has yet been furnished. That they continued to occur in the New Testament within the broader context of the Kingdom of God and the power of God the Holy Spirit there can be little doubt; although the Kingdom of God was not proclaimed by the early Church as much as Jesus had proclaimed it (at least it is not recorded that the early Church proclaimed the Kingdom of God as much).
However, if the earlier working formula holds true that the Kingdom of God is directly related to God the Holy Spirit, who performs miracles, signs, and wonders, then one can logically assume (for purposes of this teaching, at least) that behind the scenes in the Book of Acts and throughout the remainder of the New Testament was a clear comprehension—if not clear proclamation—of the Kingdom of God as well as of the power of God the Holy Spirit.
For example, as I previously indicated, at least twenty-seven clear references to the Kingdom of God are found in the Acts and in the Epistles. Scattered throughout the same texts are at least twenty-two clear references to miracles, signs, and wonders. Within the same texts, too, are at least twenty-six occurrences where God the Holy Spirit performed some type of mighty acts of power.
Clearly, one cannot exclude the miracles, signs, and wonders of God the Holy Spirit in the New Testament record about the early Church from the context of the Kingdom of God. When the Kingdom of God is proclaimed (or “practiced”), miracles, signs, and wonders will attest to the “nearness” of that Kingdom. Where God the Holy Spirit is honored and given his proper place as being the King (and the power) of the Kingdom of God, miracles, signs, and wonders will occur, just as they did in the New Testament.
The early Church kept in mind at all times the Kingdom of God. It was broader and more comprehensive than their concept of the Church. The early disciples remained universal and holistic in their understanding of the relationship of the Kingdom of God, miracles, signs, and wonders, and God the Holy Spirit. Yet they never separated those concepts from the Person of the Living Jesus, the Kingdom incarnate.
They never regarded either God the Son or God the Holy Spirit as being off in a heavenly antechamber waiting to usher in the Kingdom of God when the time was right in the distant future. The Kingdom of God was always present in the person of Jesus, in their experiencing of God the Holy Spirit, and the ongoing occurrences of miracles, signs, and wonders. The first believers in Jesus were called upon to celebrate continually not only the words but the mighty deeds of God (Acts 2: 11).
Also, I will not discuss the controversial issue of whether or not miracles, signs, and wonders ceased with the apostolic era, as some scholars claim, whether they have continued through the twenty centuries of Church history, or whether God the Holy Spirit has chosen to performs signs and wonders in this modern era. That, too, is a subject far too broad for this teaching. I have taken the position, however, that legitimate miracles, signs, and wonders do occur today wherever and whenever the Kingdom of God is proclaimed and whenever and wherever God the Holy Spirit is recognized as the power Source for miracles, signs, and wonders.
Throughout this teaching, the point has been made that miracles, signs, and wonders occur only in the context of the clear proclamation of the Kingdom of God. That means that a good “standard” by which to evaluate the demonstration of miracles, signs, and wonders in today’s world is to ask the question, “Is either the person or the ministry through whom the mighty acts of God are purported to be occurring living a lifestyle consistent with that of a citizen of the Kingdom of God and is that person or ministry clearly proclaiming the Kingdom of God?”
If the question can be answered in the affirmative, the miracles occurring most likely can be considered to be legitimate, God-caused miracles. What is meant by legitimate miracles? Are there illegitimate miracles? Yes, there are. We’ll approach that subject in a moment.
If the central subject of Jesus’ teaching was about the Kingdom of God why do not modern teachers and preachers have much to say about the subject? A few sermons are preached about the parables of the Kingdom, but not about the Kingdom as such. Bible-based teaching and preaching does seem to be more about Jesus and the Church than about the Kingdom of God.
The Church must not be first in the faith of the follower of Jesus. The Kingdom of God must be first, and the Church must furnish the truth about the Kingdom of God. The Church is not the Kingdom of God; it is the vehicle for proclaiming the Kingdom of God. We have no excuse for avoiding the message about the Kingdom of God because it does not seem to be at the heart of the evangelical Gospel or because the phrase has been misused by others such as some of the major cults.
Followers of Jesus must seek first the Kingdom of God—the rule and reign of God the Holy Spirit in their lives (Matthew 6: 25 – 34). They must not seek first the Church or any other aspect of their ongoing relationship with God through Jesus!
The Trinity is a mystery that cannot be fully understood nor described in finite, human languages. Ample biblical evidence is available that God the Holy Spirit is inseparably related with the Kingdom of God and with miracles, signs, and wonders. When an emphasis is made upon any one of the three Persons of the Trinity while minimizing the other two, an imbalance is created, especially if the Holy Spirit is not proclaimed to be fully God.
As long as a balanced emphasis is maintained, legitimate and power-full acts of God the Holy Spirit will occur. The presence of Spirit is the “already” of the Kingdom; the inadequacy of humanity’s recognition of Spirit’s presence and submission to Him explains the “not yet” of the Kingdom. The more God the Holy Spirit is recognized and honored as an equal Person of the Triune God, the more the Kingdom of God will be manifest or “come.” The more the Kingdom comes, the more miracles, signs, and wonders will be the natural outflow of that coming.
Followers of Jesus must see this vital and indispensable close interpenetration between God the Holy Spirit and the Kingdom of God, which results in a “natural” way in the occurrences of the miraculous; they just “spill over” from the Kingdom of God as emphases upon God the Holy Spirit, the Kingdom of God, and the miraculous are kept in balance.
Many “high profile” followers of Jesus today advertise the occurrences of the miraculous just as an upcoming movie or an auction might be advertised—as though God the Holy Spirit can be programmed or manipulated to perform on command at a certain time or place. What kind of God’s rule is it whose coming depends upon the activity of humans?
If God the Holy Spirit is not sovereign throughout his domain, and if He can be manipulated to perform miracles, signs, and wonders on demand, then is He truly God the Holy Spirit? We cannot program God the Holy Spirit! He cannot be programmed to perform on demand. Only a balanced proclamation of the Kingdom of God and an enlightened emphasis on the Person and work of God the Holy Spirit will bring legitimate miracles, signs, and wonders to a needy and hurting humanity.
Miracles, Signs, and Wonders During the Exodus-Event
- Moses’ birth and rescue from death: Exodus 1: 15 – 2: 11.
- The burning bush: Exodus 3: 1 – 22; Acts 7: 29 – 35.
- The rod: Exodus 4: 1 – 30, 7: 8 – 12; Numbers 17: 1 – 11; Hebrews 9: 4.
- Moses’ leprous hand: Exodus 4: 6, 7.
- First plague—blood: Exodus 4: 9, 7: 14 – 25; Psalm 78: 44, 105: 29.
- Second plague—frogs: Exodus 8: 1 – 15; Psalm 105: 30.
- Third plague—lice (or gnats): Exodus 8: 16 – 19; Psalm 105: 31.
- Fourth plague—beetles (or flies or mosquitoes): Exodus 8: 20 32; Psalm 105: 31.
- Fifth plague—death of livestock: Exodus 9: 1 – 7; Psalm 78: 50.
- Sixth plague—boils: Exodus 9: 8 – 12.
- Seventh plague—hail and fire: Exodus 9: 13 – 35; Psalm 78: 47, 48; 105: 32, 33.
- Eighth plague—locusts: Exodus 10: 1 – 20; Psalm 78: 46, 105: 34.
- Ninth plague—darkness: Exodus 10: 21 – 29; Psalm 105: 28.
- Tenth plague—death of Egypt’s first-born: Exodus 11: 1 – 12, 36; Numbers 3: 13, 8: 17; Psalm 78: 51, 105: 36, 136: 10; Hebrews 11: 28.
- Obtaining gold, silver, and jewelry from the Egyptians: Exodus 3: 22, 11: 2, 12: 35 – 36.
- Pillars of cloud and fire: Exodus 13: 21 – 22, 14: 19, 20, 24, 16: 10, 40: 34 – 38; Leviticus 9: 23; Numbers 9: 15 – 23; Joshua 24: 7; Nehemiah 9: 12, 19; Psalm 78: 14, 105: 39; 1 Corinthians 10: 1, 2.
- Crossing of the Red Sea: Exodus 14: 21, 15: 19; Deuteronomy 11: 4; Joshua 2: 10, 24: 6, 7; Nehemiah 9: 11; Psalm 66: 6, 74: 13, 14, 77: 19, 78: 53, 106: 7, 22, 114: 3, 5, 136: 13 – 15; Hebrews 14: 29.
- Water healed at Marah: Exodus 15: 22 – 27.
- Manna: Exodus 16: 14 – 36; Numbers 16: 14 – 36; Deuteronomy 8: 3, 16; Joshua 5: 12; Nehemiah 9: 15, 20; Psalm 78: 20, 22 – 25, 105: 40; John 6: 31, 49, 58; Hebrews 9: 4.
- Quails: Exodus 16: 8, 11 – 13; Numbers 11: 18, 23, 31 – 34; Psalm 78: 26 – 30, 105: 40.
- Water from the rock(s): Exodus 17: 1 – 7; Numbers 20: 1 – 13; Nehemiah 9: 15, 20; Psalm 74: 15, 78: 16, 17; 105: 41, 114: 8; 1 Corinthians 10: 4.
- Victory over Amalek: Exodus 17: 8 – 16; Numbers 13: 29; Deuteronomy 25: 17 – 19; Joshua 24: 8; Psalm 83: 7.
- Miracles, signs, and wonders at Sinai: Exodus 19: 16 – 25, 20: 1 – 26, 24: 9 – 18, 33: 9 – 23, 34: 10, 28, 33 – 35; Deuteronomy 4: 5, 5: 1 – 26, 9: 8 – 11, 10: 1 – 4; Nehemiah 9: 13, 14; Psalm 68: 8; Hebrews 12: 18 – 21.
- Miriam’s leprosy: Numbers 12: 10 – 15; Deuteronomy 24: 9.
- Opening of the earth and fire of judgment (Dathan, Abiram, and Korah): Numbers 16, 26: 9 – 11; Psalm 106: 17,18; Jude 11.
- Fire of judgment (Nadab and Abihu): Leviticus 10: 1, 2; Numbers 3: 1 – 4, 26: 61; 1 Chronicles 24: 2.
- Plague in the wilderness: Numbers 11: 33, 16: 46 – 50, 25: 8,9.
- Brazen serpent: Numbers 21: 4 – 9; 2 Kings 18: 4; John 3: 14; 1 Corinthians 10: 9.
- Judgment and provision at Taberah: Numbers 11: 1 – 3; Deuteronomy 9: 22; Psalm 78: 21.
- Miracle at the well: Numbers 21: 13 – 18.
- Rebellion when scouts return from Canaan, resulting in later judgment: Numbers 14: 11, 22, 23.
- Balaam and Balak: Numbers 22: 1 – 24, 25; Joshua 24: 9, 10; 2 Peter 2: 15; Jude 11; Revelation 2: 14.
- Miraculous journey (divine health, clothing not wearing out, etc.): Exodus 15: 25 – 27; Deuteronomy 7: 15, 8: 4, 29: 5; Nehemiah 9: 21; Psalm 77: 20, 105: 37, 136: 16.
- God fills Bezalel with his Spirit: Exodus 31: 1 – 5.
- God’s Spirit put upon seventy elders: Numbers 11: 24, 25.
- Moses recounts God’s miracles, signs, and wonders before his death: Deuteronomy 4: 34, 37, 6: 21 – 23, 7: 18, 19, 26: 7,8, 29: 2, 3.
- Moses’ death and burial: Deuteronomy 37: 1 – 8; Jude 9.
- Jordan River divided: Joshua 3: 1 – 4, 11, 24: 11; Psalm 66: 6, 74: 15, 114: 3, 5.
- General references to miracles, signs, and wonders in relation to the entire Exodus-event, some of which have already been incorporated into other references under above headings: Numbers 14: 22, 23; Deuteronomy 4: 37, 6: 21, 23, 11: 3, 29: 2, 3, 34: 11, 12; Joshua 24: 5; Judges 6: 13; 1 Samuel 6: 6; Nehemiah 9: 9, 10, 17; Psalm 66: 5, 6, 77: 14, 15, 78, 105, 106, 114, 135: 9, 10; Jeremiah 32: 20, 21; Ezekiel 20: 5 – 26; Amos 2: 10; Acts 17: 17 – 45; 1 Corinthians 10: 1 – 11; Hebrews 3: 16, 11: 23 – 29.
Old Testament Miracles, Signs, and Wonders After the Exodus-Event
Listed herein are various miracles, signs, and wonders recorded in the Old Testament beginning after the crossing of the Jordan River as the closing scene of the Exodus-event. Not included are appearances of God, angels, or other supernatural beings, prophecies, visions, interpretation of dreams, and the like. Events are not necessarily listed in chronological order.
- Walls of Jericho fall down: Joshua 6: 16 – 20; Hebrews 11: 30.
- Sun and moon stand still: Joshua 10: 12, 13.
- Water flows from a rock: Judges 15: 19.
- Philistines slain before the Ark: 1 Samuel 5: 1 – 12.
- Men of Bethshemesh killed: 1 Samuel 6: 19.
- Thunder destroys Philistines: 1 Samuel 7: 10 – 12.
- Thunder and rain in harvest: 1 Samuel 12: 18.
- David kills a lion and a bear: 1 Samuel 17: 34 – 37.
- Sound in the mulberry trees: 2 Samuel 5: 23 – 25.
- Uzzah struck dead: 2 Samuel 6: 7.
- Jereboam’s hand withered: 1 Kings 13: 4, 6.
- Miracle of the ravens: 1 Kings 17: 2 – 6.
- Widow of Zarephath’s meal and oil: 1 Kings 17: 8 – 16.
- Widow’s son raised from death: 1 Kings 17: 17 – 24.
- Sacrifice consumed: 1 Kings 18: 30 – 39.
- Rain obtained: 1 Kings 18: 41 – 45.
- Miracle of the angelic meal: 1 Kings 19: 1 – 8.
- Ahaziah’s captains consumed: 2 Kings 1: 10 – 12.
- Jordan River divided: 2 Kings 2: 7, 8, 14.
- Miraculous transportation of Elijah: 2 Kings 2: 9 – 11.
- Waters of Jericho healed: 2 Kings 2: 21, 22.
- Water for Jehoshaphat’s army: 2 Kings 3: 16 – 20.
- The widow’ s oil multiplied: 2 Kings 4: 2 – 7.
- Shunamite’s son raised from death: 2 Kings 4: 32 – 37.
- The poisoned pottage cured: 2 Kings 4: 38 – 41.
- Hundred men fed with twenty loaves: 2 Kings 4: 42 – 44.
- Namaan cured of leprosy: 2 Kings 5: 1 – 15.
- Leprosy inflicted on Gehazi: 2 Kings 5: 20 – 27.
- Iron floats: 2 Kings 6: 5 – 7.
- King of Syria’s army made blind: 2 Kings 6: 28 – 30.
- Elisha’s bones revive the dead: 2 Kings 13: 21.
- Sennacherib’s army destroyed: 2 Kings 19: 35.
- Sun reverses its orbit and Hezekiah healed: 2 Kings 20: 1 – 11.
- Uzziah struck with leprosy: 2 Chronicles 26: 16 – 21.
- Three young Hebrews delivered from the furnace: Daniel 3: 19 – 27.
- Miraculous handwriting on the wall: Daniel 5: 5 – 29:
- Daniel delivered from the den of lions: Daniel 6: 16 – 23.
- Incident of Jonah in the great sea creature: Jonah 2: 1 – 10.
Miracles, Signs, and Wonders during Jesus’ Ministry
Included are the miracles, signs, and wonders performed during the public ministry of Jesus of Nazareth. Not included are the events connected with Jesus’ birth and baptism, his resurrection, his various post-resurrection appearance, nor his ascension.
- Turns water into wine: John 2: 1 – 11.
- Heals son of nobleman of Capernaum: John 4: 46 – 54.
- Causes a miraculous catch of fish: Luke 5: 1 – 11.
- Cures a demonized person: Mark 1: 22 – 28; Luke 4: 33 – 35.
- Heals Peter’s mother-in-law of a fever: Matthew 8: 14, 15; Mark 1: 30, 31; Luke 4: 38, 39.
- Heals a leper: Matthew 8: 2, 3; Mark 1: 40 – 45; Luke 5: 12, 13.
- Heals the Centurion’s servant: Matthew 8: 5 – 13; Luke 7: 1 – 10.
- Raises widow’s son from death: Luke 7: 11 – 17.
- Calms the storm at sea: Matthew 8: 23 – 27; Mark 4: 37 – 41; Luke 8: 22 – 25.
- Cures demonized Gadarenes: Matthew 8: 28 – 34; Mark 5: 1 – 15; Luke 8: 27 – 35.
- Cures a paralyzed man: Matthew 9: 1 – 8; Mark 2: 3 – 12; Luke 5: 18 – 25.
- Restores to life the daughter of Jairus: Matthew 9: 18, 19, 23 – 26; Mark 5 22 – 24, 38 – 42; Luke 3, 8, 41, 42, 49 – 56.
- Heals a woman who has been hemorrhaging for many years: Matthew 9: 20 – 22; Mark 5: 25 – 29; Luke 8: 43 – 48.
- Restores sight to two blind men: Matthew 9: 27 – 31.
- Heals a person demonized by a “speech” demon: Matthew 9: 32, 33.
- Cures an infirm man at Bethesda: John 5: 1 – 9.
- Cures a man with a withered hand: Matthew 12: 10 13; Mark 3: 1 – 5; Luke 6: 6 – 10.
- Cures a blind, speechless, and demonized person: Matthew 12: 22, 23.
- Restores blind man’s sight at Bethsaida: Mark 8: 22 – 26.
- Walks on water (with Peter): Matthew 14: 25; Mark 6: 48 – 51; Luke 9: 12 – 17; John 6: 5 – 13.
- Miraculously feeds 5,000+ people: Matthew 14: 15 – 21; Mark 6: 35 – 44; Luke 9: 12 – 17; John 6: 5 – 13.
- Heals daughter of a woman from Canaan: Matthew 15: 22 – 28; Mark 7: 24 – 30.
- Heals a man who had been speechless and deaf: Mark 7: 31 – 37.
- Miraculously feeds 4,000+ people: Matthew 15: 32 – 39; Mark 8: 1 – 9.
- Gives sight to a blind man: Mark 13: 22 – 26.
- Cures a demonized boy with epilepsy: Matthew 17: 14 – 21; Mark 9: 17 – 29; Luke 9 38 – 43.
- Gives sight to a man born blind: John 9.
- Heals a woman who had been infirm 18 years: Luke 13: 11 – 17.
- Cures a person with dropsy: Luke 14: 1 – 6.
- Heals and cleanses ten lepers: Luke 17: 11 – 19.
- Raises Lazarus from death: John 11.
- Restores sight to two blind men: Matthew 20: 29 – 34; Mark 10: 46 – 52; Luke 18: 35 – 43.
- Coin in mouth of fish: Matthew 17: 24 – 27.
- Causes the fig tree to die: Matthew 21: 18 – 22; Mark 11: 12 – 14, 20 – 26.
- Heals the ear of a man: Luke 22: 50, 51.
- Causes a miraculous catch of fish: John 21: 1 – 14.
Miracles, Signs, and Wonders in Acts After Jesus’ Ascension
The events enumerated are those miracles, signs, and wonders in the Book of Acts beginning after the ascension of Jesus.
- Miraculous events of the Day of Pentecost: 2: 1, 12, 43.
- A lame man is healed: 3: 1 – 16.
- Buildings shaken: 4: 31 – 33.
- Ananias and Sapphira struck dead: 5: 1 – 10.
- Apostles perform man wonders: 5: 12 – 16.
- Angel opens prison doors: 5: 19.
- Stephen performs signs and wonders: 6: 8.
- Philip performs signs and wonders: 8: 6 – 8, 13.
- Peter and John “transmit” the Holy Spirit to others: 8: 14 – 17.
- Holy Spirit speaks to Philip and supernaturally transports him from one location to another: 8: 29, 39.
- Paul’s conversion: 9: 1 – 39.
- Aeneas healed of paralysis: 9: 33, 34.
- Tabitha (Dorcas) raised from death: 9: 36 – 41.
- Cornelius’ conversion involving visions, tongues, etc.: 10: 1 – 46.
- Peter delivered from prison by an angel: 12: 7 – 17.
- God kills Herod: 12: 21 – 23.
- Elymas, the sorcerer, smitten with blindness: 13: 6 – 11.
- Signs and wonders through Paul and Barnabas: 14: 3.
- Cripple healed at Lystra: 14: 8 – 10.
- Paul casts out a spirit of divination: 16: 16 – 18.
- Prison doors opened by an earthquake: 16: 25, 26.
- Paul has a vision: 18: 9, 10.
- Paul “transmits” the Holy Spirit to others; speaking in tongues: 19: 1 – 6.
- Miracles, healings, and exorcisms: 19: 11, 12.
- Eutychus restored to life: 20: 9 – 12.
- Agabus prophesies about Paul: 21: 10, 11.
- God speaks to Paul: 23: 11.
- Angels speak to Paul: 27: 23, 24.
- Paul shakes off a viper: 28: 3 – 6.
- Father of Publius and others healed: 28: 7, 9.
Updated and Revised February 2023