The Supernatural Manifestation of the Kingdom - Matthew 12:28

 

By George N. H. Peters

 

The kingdom being a manifestation of the supernatural, miracles are connected with it.

 

Miracles are not to be regarded simply as evidences of the truth - this it indeed subserves - but as necessary parts of revelation itself, evincing with a fulness, stronger than language can impress, that the supernatural is indispensable for the establishment of the kingdom, and that it will be exerted in miraculous power whenever required. It is plainly declared in numerous passages, that before this kingdom is set up, events of an astounding miraculous nature, far exceeding the ordinary power of nature, directly occurring through Divine agency, shall be witnessed. In a book recording such anticipated occurrences, there would be an evident lack, a sad deficiency - which infidelity would eagerly seize if it existed - if it contained no statements of miracles. Especially would this be the case, when He who is the King of the promised kingdom appears. The grave question then, if no miracles were given, would inevitably arise: What assurance have you that those miraculous events predicted to take place in the future - so intimately connected with the highest welfare and happiness of man - shall ever be realised, when we have none heretofore displayed and described, and none combined with the previous personal coming of the King? The cry would be triumphantly raised: Your King once came, and as He performed no miracles, although they are so intimately blended with His kingdom, none can be reasonably expected.

God in kindness accommodates himself to human weakness - foretelling us that the supernatural is closely allied with the natural in the kingdom; that the kingdom itself shall be pervaded with a power above nature in order to control, recreate, and make nature subservient to the Divine purpose. He, knowing that if direct testimony is not given, a serious flaw will remain, bestows us evidences, through miracles, of the all-pervading supernatural. These are so related to the kingdom that they cannot be separated from it without mutual defacement. Thus it is represented by Jesus himself (Matthew 12 28), "But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto (or as some, upon) you."

 

Here we have:

 

I. The relationship existing between the kingdom and miracles; without the latter the former cannot be revealed.

 

2. That miracles are a manifestation of possessed power, which Jesus will exert when He establishes His kingdom.

 

3. That the miraculous casting out of devils, or Satan, is an event connected with the kingdom, and its accomplishment through Jesus is thus verified as predicted, e.g., Revelation 20: 1-6.

 

4. That the miraculous casting out of devils by Jesus is a premonition, anticipating, foreshowing, or foreshadowing (The Greek conveys the idea of anticipating.. etc.), like the transfiguration, of the kingdom itself.

 

The miracles then are assurances vouchsafed that the kingdom will come as it is predicted. The miracles of Jesus are so varied and significant in the light of the kingdom that it can be readily perceived how they give us the needed confidence in its several requirements and aspects. The resurrection of dead ones is connected with the kingdom, that the keys of death hang at Christ's girdle is shown in the miracles of the raising of the daughter of Jairus, the widow's son, and of Lazarus, when just dead, carried out to burial, and already in the corrupting embrace of the tomb. Sickness and death are banished from the inheritors of the kingdom; the numerous miracles of healing various sicknesses and of restoring the dying establish the power existing that can perform it,

 

The utmost perfection of body is to be enjoyed in the kingdom; this is foreshadowed by the removal of blindness, lameness, deafness, and dumbness. Hunger, thirst, famine, etc., give place to plenty in the kingdom; the miracles of feeding thousands attest to the predicted power that will accomplish it. The natural world is to be completely under the Messiah's control in that kingdom; the miracles of the catch of fishes, the tempest stilled, the ship at its destination, the walking on the sea, the fish bringing the tribute money, the barren fig-tree destroyed, and the much-ridiculed one of water changed into wine, indicate that He who sets up this kingdom has indeed power over nature.

 

The spiritual, unseen, invisible world is to be, as foretold, in contact and communication with this kingdom; and this Jesus verifies by the miracles of the transfiguration, the demoniac cured, the legion of devils cast out, by passing unseen through the multitude, and by those of His own death, resurrection, and ascension. Indeed there is scarcely a feature of this kingdom foretold, which is to be formed by the special work of the Divine, that is not also confirmed to us by some glimpses of the Power that shall bring them forth.

 

The kingdom - the end - is designed to remove the curse from man and nature, and to impart the most extraordinary blessings to renewed man and nature, but all this is to be done through One who, it is said, shall exert supernatural power to perform it. It is therefore reasonable to expect that as part of the developing of the plan itself. When He first comes, through whom man and nature are to be regenerated, a manifestation of power - more abundant and superior to everything preceding - over man and nature should be exhibited, to confirm our faith in Him and in His kingdom. This is done, and an appeal is made to it.

 

We are confident that the best, most logical defence of the miracles of Christ and of the Bible is in the line here stated, viz., regarding them as indicative and corroborative of God's promises relating to the future destiny of the Church and world. The miracles are thus found to be essential, to answer a divine purpose, to supply a requisite evidence, and hence in the Scriptures they are called "signs" of something else intended - signs that the Word shall be fulfilled in the exertion of power.

 

The Proof Of The Personal Involvement Of God

 

The number and variety of definitions given to miracles indicate the limited nature of human knowledge; we are not greatly concerned in the adoption of any one specially, seeing that from our standpoint we could accept of nearly all, even of some of those given by infidels. To oppose the attacks of unbelieving scientists, some writers oppose the old idea that miracles are a reversal or suspension of nature, contending for a higher law operating in union and harmony with nature, and that it is not requisite to insist in any case upon "a direct act of God in contrast to all agency of second causes, and by an exercise of power strictly and exclusively divine," on the ground that it would otherwise require too great knowledge both of nature and God to tell when a miracle is performed.

 

Therefore miracles are divided into immediate, mediate, and improper, and a definition, sufficiently comprehensive to include them is given: that they are "unusual events not within the ordinary power of man, nor capable of being foreseen by man's actual knowledge of second causes, and wrought or announced by professed messengers of God to confirm the reality of the message." The interesting and valuable writings of the Duke of Argyle and others take the position, undoubtedly correct, that laws exist outside of the known, and that the Divine Will can employ such laws whenever it is desirable. Others make miracles a result of physical law, being included in the predetermined scheme. The miraculous is therefore made a result of the exercise of other unknown laws superior to those known in nature. Whatever truth there is in such a position, and however admirably adapted to meet the objection of unbelieving philosophy, the biblical statement (e.g. Acts 2:22; John 3:2; Romans 15:19, etc.) does not require it.

 

The following reasons urge us to discard the commendable and suggestive efforts in this direction:

 

1. It too much limits the power of God, exalting law in place of God. For the Bible, on its face, assumes (Exodus 10: 2; Ephesians 3:20) that God is able both to work with existing, seen and unseen, means, agencies, and laws and to create and perform through His will alone (Hebrews 14; 1 Corinthians 12: 11; Daniel 4:35) all things, even, if necessary, to introduce new laws (Matthew 19:26; Mark 10:25; Luke 1:37; 18:27), etc. We are expressly told not to limit the ability of God and not to place the Creator in an attitude that binds Him subserviently to His own creation, even if the latter be law.

 

2. It in a great measure destroys the personality (e.g. Deuteronomy 4: 32-39; 3: 24; Exodus 15: 11) of Divine interference, attributing to law what the Bible represents as the result of personal Divine attributes (e.g. Daniel 2: 19-23; Exodus 7: 5; 15: 1).

 

3. It diminishes the force of scripture language that expressly asserts the immediate agency of God (e.g. Exodus 3: 20; 6: 6-7; Philippians 3: 21; Genesis 18: 19).

 

4. It is to some extent contradictory, since it in some cases shows immediate miracles.

 

5. It lowers the validity of miracles by making them the results of causes now beyond our knowledge, but which as knowledge increases may, after all, be found natural.

 

6. With all the concessions that it makes, it is unable to point out the laws through which the miracles are performed and asks us to take them for granted.

 

7. But the main reason which leads us to a rejection of prevailing theories is the following: miracles are designed to throw light upon and confirm the predictions of God relating to the final result - the glorious, miraculous establishment of the [millennial] kingdom.

 

Now in the prophecies pertaining to this kingdom, we have the most explicit declarations that Jesus Christ himself will change, renew, re-create all things; that laws of nature now existing shall be reversed, or modified, or suspended; that new laws and new forces shall be introduced that the present order of things shall give place to a renewed order; and that the power which produces all this is not found in nature or in laws outside of nature, but only in God. Jesus is represented as personally coming (just as God personally came at the establishment of the theocracy at Mt. Sinai), and directly intervening in the performance of this mighty work of restoring forfeited blessings and adding new ones, and this is claimed as a peculiar, distinctive personal prerogative.

 

Looking thus at the contemplated end, and seeing how the miraculous power then exerted is so far removed from such definitions, it is impossible to receive entirely explanations which attribute to law what the Word applies to Christ personally - thus introducing a defect which, if logically carried onward, forbids our receiving the predictions relating to the future as presented. The final manifestation of the miraculous, which includes a re-creation, a removal of law under which a sin-cursed earth groans, determines for us that the miraculous proofs given to show that it will be realised are precisely in the same category, and thus confirmatory of it. The unity of Scripture is thus preserved.

 

By this attitude it is not denied that God may and does also work through higher laws already established and beyond our present domain of knowledge, but with this it is insisted that He may and does, independently of established law, exercise His power in the suspension, reversal, or removal of existing law, or, in other words, that His power as Creator, in the domain of the miraculous, is not limited by what He has done or has established but is exercised according to His own pleasure. It seems to us, according to the biblical idea, a low estimate of God, which would make, either in nature or in that beyond it, all things under fixed, invariable, unchangeable laws, through which alone the Divine Institutor of them can work.

 

A Full Revelation Of The Kingdom

 

Miracles are necessary to a revelation pertaining to the kingdom, a kingdom that is to be set up by an astounding miraculous display. They become parts, essential parts of the revelation, exhibiting the earnests of power that is ultimately to accomplish it. If they were missing, an important link would be gone.

 

God engages to establish a kingdom and one in which the supernatural shall introduce mighty changes. He promises a Messiah who is to perform this work and who, consequently, must possess miraculous power. The forces now at work in nature, instead of tending toward it, cannot possibly accomplish what is foretold of the future, and so long as they remain unchanged the promises of God continue unrealised. When Jesus comes in accordance with Divine purpose, He must necessarily, not only in person, life, etc., but in actual exerted power, exhibit His ability to be the fulfiller of prophecy. His attestations of the possession of such power are sustained by their connection with the Divine plan, past and future prediction, moral aim, lack of self-contradiction, public performance, etc. The power displayed is of a character corresponding with that required by the predictions, power over nature, over evil, over all things.

 

The unity of the Word, promising restoration from evil now suffered under natural law, makes these miraculous representations essential, so that we can have faith and hope in the promised [millennial] kingdom, in His being the promised Messiah, who shall set it up, and in the certainty of a future miraculous demonstration in our behalf in that kingdom - all which is again corroborated by the fallen condition of man requiring Divine interposition, by the necessity of its possession to constitute a perfect Redeemer, by the personal experience of believers in receiving a moral and providential "earnest," and by reason conceding that a Divine purpose, extending from creation into the eternal ages and embracing restitution as its glorious end, cannot possibly do without them.

 

The general sentiment of mankind has always expressed itself as favourable to the idea of the miraculous, because deliverance from evil, now entailed by natural law, has ever been felt as the special work of the supernatural. Hence the miraculous incorporated, more or less, with all religions.

 

Looking Forward To A Restitution Of All Things

 

The solution of miracles is found then in their connection with God and His expressed will. This Will is especially noticeable in the doctrine of the kingdom. The kingdom, as the product of the supernatural, demands miracles; so that faith and hope in the kingdom, as covenanted and predicted, requires belief in the miraculous. Faith in miracles is embraced in an intelligent utterance of the prayer, let Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven," and the assurance that the same will ultimately be realised is expressed in Yours is the power."

 

The believer gratefully acknowledges his indebtedness to miracles; for proceeding from the Divine Will they teach us in the most forcible manner that in this Will all forces, all life, all things exist; that in this Will is found an overruling, all-pervading Providence capable of general and special energy and supervision; and that in it will be found the most ample resources to meet the requirements as predicted and promised, of the blessed kingdom itself. The miracles strengthen faith, enliven hope, and, amid the pressure of natural laws that entail evil, cheer the heart of the pilgrim with joy at a coming miraculous restitution.

 

The Scriptures can never, never be fulfilled without miracle; the earth can never, never be freed from its curse without miracle; man can never, never be delivered without miracle; and, therefore, the Redeemer in whom we trust for redemption is, as history today attests in the minute and wondrous fulfilment of His miraculous words, a miracle-working Saviour.

 

Let infidelity separate God and the world from each other (and even deny that the latter had a Creator), so that the one is not directly interested in the other, it may content itself with the unreasonable, cold, cheerless, dark prospect that this view imparts, its darkness only deepened by the loudly sung deceptive praises of "cosmic force" and a death-devoted humanity. Faith, in preference, takes the soul-inspiring Biblical conception of a creation that has its origin and continuance in a personal, intelligent, loving, all-powerful God - that this is sufficiently indicated in the Word, in miracles of knowledge and work, in history indicating a progressive plan, in the personal experience of the believer, in the person, doctrine, and works of the Messiah. This will ultimately be visibly manifested in the [millennial] kingdom of God, when God again dwells with man, when man is rescued from his ruined condition and placed in a renewed creation where no (unalterable) natural law shall exist to burden him with evil.*

 

* George N.H. Peters, taken from The Theocratic Kingdom (Volume 1). This excellent three-volume work has recently been reprinted by Kregel Publishers, P.O. Box 2607, Grand Rapids, MI 49501-2607 USA.*

-------

 

[Obtained from "The Coming Day" - a publication of Searchlight. For information concerning other literature, contact: Searchlight, P.O. Box 5206, Newark NG23 6YL. England. E-mail: searchlight@onet.co.uk or Tel/Fax: +44 (0)1636 821322]