MODERN, NATURALISTIC WAY
LOOKING AT THINGS
while teaching the book of Exodus, I did a little supplementary reading.
We were studying the ten plagues and the exodus of the children of Israel
from Egypt. Aside from my regular study, I casually perused this book that
had somehow gotten into my library, but had hardly been looked at over
the years. In the book, the writer gives a concise statement of his thoughts
on the plagues and Israelís exodus from Egypt. It mirrors modern manís
way of looking at things, trying to explain everything, even the Bible,
on a naturalistic basis. The supernatural and divine must be downgraded,
if not wholly left out of the picture. The Bible canít be trusted, yet
to these people there is a grain of truth behind what may have happened
(in "residuum"). The events were embellished by later generations of these
ancient and simple-minded people. This is how this writer looked upon the
ten plagues, reflecting the deep-rooted bankruptcy of modern "thought."
"That the actual events were heightened in
retrospect is obvious, but there is no need to doubt a residuum of fact.
A modern writer might say that Egypt had a run of bad luck, a common-enough
occurrence. That it happened when it did and facilitated the escape of
the Hebrews from bondage was to them a clear proof of divine intervention.
The plagues are all intensification of natural phenomena and they seem
to follow in the expected sequence. The water of the Nile, coloured by
the red marl brought down from the mountains of Abyssinia in the summer,
becomes undrinkable. It overflows and, as the flood recedes, leaves behind
a multitude of frogs. Stagnant water breeds clouds of mosquitoes. Skin
diseases break out in the hot season. The barley harvest is destroyed by
a hailstorm in January, the wheat escaping since it matures a month later.
Finally, at the beginning of spring, the time of the Pass-over, comes a
great epidemic, killing off many children, and the Egyptians, depressed
by an unprecedented sequence of disasters, are glad to let the Hebrews
go, genuinely scared by the wrath of the god who seems to have caused them."
(W. K. Lowther Clarke in CONCISE BIBLE COMMENTARY,
The MacMillan Company)
You get the picture, donít you? This mentality
is in league with how some would try to explain the miracle of Jesus feeding
the 5,000. Actually others had their food all along, we are told, but were
made ashamed when the little boy made his loaves and fish available to
all. So, ashamedly, they brought forth that which had been concealed, and
then everyone was able to eat. And thus a miracle that is found in all
four of the gospel accounts is explained away on a naturalistic basis.
So one right after another of the miracles, even the resurrection, fall
to their ax of unbelief.
We briefly mention this in passing. This subtle,
and sometimes not so subtle, way of presenting the miraculous in religion
as a naturalistic phenomenon confronts us at every turn in the public media.
Beware lest the Biblical concepts are corrupted in your mind and your faith
undermined. God being God, there is nothing unusual about the miraculous
(especially during the revelatory period of time).