There are many unbelievers who reject the existence of God and the deity of Jesus because there are supernatural events recorded in the Bible. As Hume defined the argument, miracles are a violation of the laws of nature, but the laws of nature cannot be violated, therefore, miracles cannot occur. This would in effect negate the validity of the Scriptures since it records miraculous events.
While we can (and we will in a future post) address the logical fallacies of Hume’s particular argument, I want to take up this discussion from a position of a person who does in fact believe the New Testament. There are many believers who do believe the miraculous works performed by Jesus as a means of verifying Jesus’ claim to be God. In Jesus’ own words in John 14, you can believe His claim that He is God or you can believe on account of the works themselves. In other words, He works miracles and does things that only God can do, thus He must be God.
However, there are many who believe these miracles of Jesus yet search for natural answers to the miracles of the Old Testament. For example, people have often searched for a naturalistic explanation for the Red Sea crossing by suggesting it occurred during a season of drought that allowed the Israelites to cross through the water. But this doesn’t explain how they crossed “as if on dry land,” and it certainly doesn’t explain how the Egyptian army was then drowned in the water after the Israelites crossed safely to the other side.
I can anticipate skepticism about the Old Testament from an unbeliever, but hearing the same kind of skepticism from a believer is a little more difficult to receive. But we will still hear those questions: “How can you believe Jonah was really swallowed by a fish? Did Moses really meet God in a burning bush? What natural even would have allowed the Israelites to cross the Red Sea on dry ground?”
It seems many believers want to find a naturalistic explanation to those things. And that usually results in the search for some new understanding of Scripture or some new finding in science. Or somewhere there is the decision to believe in New Testament miracles, but not Old Testament ones, as if you can separate the two.
But Jesus said Himself that He came not to abolish the law or the prophets but to fulfill them (Matthew 5:17). If He is here to fulfill something, then that something must be a real thing. Jesus fulfilled the law given to Moses and He fulfilled the prophecies given by the prophets. Therefore, if you begin to unravel the reality of Moses, the Prophets, and the rest of the Old Testament, you start to unravel part of the identity and purpose of Jesus. You cannot separate the Old Testament from the New Testament.
After all, if we believe in the virgin birth of Christ, that Lazarus was raised from the dead, and that the lepers were healed from leprosy, why do we doubt the accounts of Jonah, Daniel, and Noah? If Jesus could change water into wine, calm a storm with a word, and walk on water, why can God not part the Red Sea, cause a donkey to speak, and specifically create Adam and Eve as the first humans?
If we as believers have confidence in the New Testament, then maybe we should consider what the New Testament has to say about the Old Testament.
The author of Hebrews describes how God made this universe and everything in it out of nothing, ex nihilo (Hebrews 11:3) which takes us to the opening line of the Bible; that in the beginning God created everything. In the genealogy of Jesus, Luke lists Adam as the first man created, describing him as the “son of God” (Luke 3:23-28). Jude, the half-brother of Jesus, in his book uses Adam as a reference point in the genealogy of Enoch. Both of these men view Adam as a real, historical person, the first man created by God from whom all others descended, including Jesus.
Throughout many of Paul’s writing, Paul refers to Jesus as the “second Adam,” which only makes sense if there were a “first Adam.” In 1 Corinthians 15:45, Paul refers to a literal person of Adam as the first man and the literal person of Jesus as the life-giving spirit, or the last Adam. He says again in his first letter to Timothy, “For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.” He explains it more fully in Romans 5:12-19. Paul considers Adam and Eve as literal, physical people formed in the beginning as we find written in Genesis.
In 1 John 3, the apostle John reaffirms Adam and Eve by discussing the sin brought in the next generation. He discusses the sin of Cain when he murdered his brother. And he discusses these as real historical events as recorded in Genesis.
If we accept that Paul, Luke, John, and Jude were writing words inspired by God and that they had apostolic authority to preach the truth of Jesus Christ and provide sound doctrine for us to follow, then we must accept their teachings of Adam and Eve as literal, physical beings that were the first male and female specifically created by God.
This ought to rule out any origins theory that includes any of type of evolutionary progression of man – whether it’s from apes or just from a Neanderthal pre-historic semblance of man. If that is still difficult to accept, then consider what Jesus Himself says about the creation of man and woman.
•Matthew 19:4 And Jesus answered and said to them, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?
•Mark 10:6 Jesus said, “But from the beginning of the creation, God ‘made them male and female.’ For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’; so then they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, let not man separate.”
Jesus uses the phrase “have you not read” referring back to the Words of the account of this creation which is found in Genesis. Jesus refers to the creation description in Genesis as a literal account of actual events that occurred – and He expected his audience to have read and understood those writings. Jesus reiterates that God made them male and female in the beginning. It rules out any other interpretation for the origin of mankind and genders. God uniquely made them as male and female, and Jesus affirms that for us in the New Testament.
Jesus even talks about the account of Cain and Abel. As recorded in Matthew 23:34-35, “And Jesus said, ‘Therefore, indeed, I send you prophets, wise men, and scribes: some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city, that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar.’” You can read the same account in Luke 11:49-51. And the event is affirmed again in Hebrews 11 and 1 John 3.
Jesus also affirms the account of Jonah. In Matthew 12:39-41 he states, “For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and indeed a greater than Jonah is here.” Luke also mentions this statement in Luke 11:29-32
In the book of Mark, Jesus upholds the prophecies of Daniel. In Mark 13:14 Jesus says, “So when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not” (let the reader understand), “then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.”
Jesus refers to the life of David as he is fleeing from the rage of Saul. “But He said to them, “Have you never read what David did when he was in need and hungry, he and those with him: how he went into the house of God in the days of Abiathar the high priest, and ate the showbread, which is not lawful to eat except for the priests, and also gave some to those who were with him?” (Mark 2:25-26).
What about Noah and the ark? Did the flood really destroy things and was it really over the whole earth? In Matthew 24:37-39, Jesus said, “But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.”
Jesus references the flood of Noah’s day to illustrate His Second Coming. And just as the Second Coming will be global and catastrophic, we can see the same happened in the days of Noah. Jesus said that the flood took all of them away just like the coming of the Son of Man will do.
Peter makes the same comparison in 2 Peter 3:1-7. Peter says in the days of Noah that “the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water.” Peter also says in 1 Peter 3:18-20 that only “eight souls” were saved through water, meaning all other souls perished who were not on the ark. And he affirms again in 2 Peter 2:4-10 not only the global judgment of Noah, where only Noah, “one of eight people, a preacher of righteousness” was saved, but also the judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah, “condemned to destruction” where God only “delivered righteous Lot.”
All of these people and their real histories are recorded first in the Old Testament, honored for their faith in Hebrews 11, spoken of by Paul and Peter in the founding of the early churches, and most importantly, reaffirmed by Jesus in the New Testament.
Therefore, if we do believe the writings and miracles of the New Testament, then these attest to the miracles and writings of the Old Testament. If we believe Jesus cast out demons, and Peter made a lame man walk, then why we can believe that God conquered Jericho through Joshua marching around the city, took down Goliath through David’s slingshot, judged the sinful world saving only the righteous through a flood, and God spoke every living thing into being out of nothing, uniquely made reproducing each according to their kind, and formed man from the dust of the ground in His own likeness and image and breathed life into him.