Hill Roberts' Bizarre View of Bible Miracles
by Tim Haile
Hill Roberts' science first approach to biblical interpretation is really beginning to tell on him. In his response to the Open Letter, brother Roberts commented on some of the more familiar Bible miracles. I must admit that when I saw the sub-title addressing "miracles," I was somewhat intrigued. I was curious about what Roberts might say. Given his scientific training, I expected brother Roberts to provide us with some useful insights about the relationship between these miracles and known scientific facts. I expected logical and sensible explanations that harmonized the biblical accounts of these miracles with the corresponding scientific facts. Sadly, I was wrong. Roberts' comments about miracles were just further demonstration of his naturalistic approach to the Bible. His naturalistic view of genesis has so clouded his judgment that he now views all miracles from that same flawed perspective. I certainly hope concerned Christians are paying attention to how Roberts' views are developing. In an effort to defend his false views regarding the days of creation, brother Roberts has multiplied his errors! This is generally what happens when men begin their journey down the slippery slope away from biblical authority.
It isn't necessary for me to write an in-depth, point-by-point review of brother Roberts, for Daniel King's article sufficiently answers Roberts' major points. However, there are a couple of additional observations that I would like to make. I will confine my remarks to Roberts' arguments about instantaneous miracles.
The Parting of the Red Sea. Roberts wrote, "The parting of the Red Sea was a miracle. It was not instantaneous. It was produced by forces of nature acting in accord with God's fiat over a span of six hours (Exodus 14:21)." Brother Roberts is so blinded by his scientific approach that he cannot read and quote the Bible with accuracy. The Bible says, "The Lord swept the sea back by a strong east wind all night." This miracle was not just initiated by the Lord; scripture states that it was also sustained by the Lord! Roberts has been careless in his handling of the Exodus text. God was in immediate and constant control of those "forces of nature." At "daybreak," after the Israelites had crossed safely on "dry ground," God caused the walls of the sea to collapse on the Egyptian army, thus destroying them (Ex. 14:26-28). The very second that God stopped exerting his will for the sea to be parted, it instantly closed back together. The Israelites saw these events as an exercise of God's "great power" (Ex. 14:31). Winds do not naturally part seas, nor do they naturally keep seas parted. When God parted the Red Sea, He miraculously parted the sea, and He miraculously maintained that parting. Thus, the miracle of the parting of the Red Sea was both instantaneous and sustained.
I wonder what explanation Roberts would give for Exodus 14:24-25? There we are told that the Lord "troubled" the Egyptian army by "taking off their chariot wheels." Was this just the natural result of poor maintenance? Had the Egyptians just failed to service their chariots properly and the machinery failed because of stress and overuse? Perhaps the salt caused these problems. After all, we all know how corrosive it is to metal. Or, maybe they had forgotten to grease the wheel bearings? Could it have been some combination of the above? No, it was not. These breakdowns were the instant result of the exercise of God's will. Those chariot wheels worked fine until God decided for them not to! No naturalistic explanation will suffice. (For more about this particular miracle, see Dan King's fine article elsewhere on this site.)
The Flood. Brother Roberts wrote, "How many other examples do you want?" (He means "other than" his confused version of the parting of the Red Sea.). He went on to say, "How about a flood rain of forty days?" Once again, brother Roberts wrongly appeals to a biblical example. He looks in vain for biblical support of his big bang brand of miracle; One that is initiated by God yet develops naturalistically. The Genesis flood account does not help Hill Roberts.
The Bible tells us that on the 17th day of the 2nd month of Noah's 600th year, "the fountains of the great deep burst open, and the floodgates of the sky were opened... And the water prevailed and increased greatly upon the earth" (Genesis 7:11,18). As with the parting of the sea, the flood is an example of a sustained miracle. No Bible believer denies that God has at various times, performed such miracles. But, neither should one argue that sustained miracles are not instantaneous.
Concerning the flood, Jesus said, "And as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man: They ate, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all" (Lk. 17:26-27). What happened on "the day" that Noah entered the ark? Genesis 7:13 tells us that "on that very day," the flood came! The miracle had an instantaneous beginning and God sustained it for forty days. God started it, maintained it, and stopped it, all in accord with His desire. The flood account provides no support for Roberts' views.
Commenting on the abatement of the floodwaters, David wrote, "At your rebuke they fled; At the voice of your thunder they hastened away. They went up over the mountains; They went down into the valleys, To the place that you founded for them. You have set a boundary that they may not pass over, that they may not return to cover the earth"(note David's language that the waters "covered the earth") (Psalm 104:7-9). What do you think of when you think of the word "hastened?" Might this reflect an instant response?
Noah's flood was the product of the continued exercise of divine interference. In Noah's day, even normal rainfall would have been unusual (Gen. 2:5-6), but 40 consecutive days of rain, coupled with the breaking open of subterranean fountains, followed by a specially designed "wind" that God made to blow over the whole earth to jump start the waters recession (Gen. 8:1), were all miraculous. Incidentally, the Bible does not say that God accomplished all of the abatement miraculously. The scriptures tell us that the entire process, from the beginning of the deluge to the drying of the earth, lasted 1 year and 10 days (Gen. 7:11; 8:14). Nowhere does the Bible say that God began and ended the earth's drying miraculously, thus we are not compelled to believe that it was.
The Ten Commandments. Hill Roberts wrote, "How about God giving the Ten Commandments over forty days?" Yes, "how about that?" What a strange example for Hill to use! God did not "give the Ten Commandments over forty days." Hill Roberts needs to get his Bible out and do a little reading. Moses did more on that mountain than just retrieve the stone tablets that were written by the finger of God. He also received the exposition of the law. He "wrote all the words of the Lord" in a "book" (Ex. 24:4, 7; 34:27). These revelations spanned two separate 40-day stays on the mountain and cover several chapters in the book of Exodus (19-34). This story provides no comfort to Hill Roberts. It tells us of a series of miracles and manifestations that God immediately and actively controlled.
Hill Roberts suggested that it took God 40 days to write the Ten Commandments. Is he also suggesting that it the whole ordeal of Moses going upon the mountain was miraculous? Is it always a miracle when someone goes upon a mountain for forty days? I grant that the act of revelation is miraculous, but God never just initiates the revelation of his will. He begins it and He ends it. He tells us everything He wants us to know in a very thorough, complete, and controlled process (2 Tim. 3:16-17; 2 Pet. 1:3; Deut. 29:29).
The Walls of Jericho. Hill Roberts also cited the example of God "marching" the Israelites "around Jericho for 7 days." This miracle does him no good, either. Joshua 6 tells the story of the fall of the Jericho walls. What we actually read is that those walls collapsed the very instant that God intended them to. This was an instantaneous conditional miracle. That is, God conditioned the miracle upon Israel's obedience (Josh. 6:1-5). Contrary to Roberts' argument, there was nothing miraculous about the soldiers marching around the walls a specified number of times. It isn't like these men were doing as Jesus, and walking on water! Neither was there anything miraculous about blowing on rams' horns and trumpets, or shouting loudly. They were merely meeting divinely stated conditions. Once they met these conditions, God responded by exercising His will for the walls to fall, and this they did instantly.
Hill Roberts has mishandled the scriptures at every turn. What is worse is that he has done so because of his own scientific agenda. His preconceived views about creation have caused him to make his arguments on the other miracles. If Hill is merely trying to prove that God occasionally performs miracles in stages, then he will receive no argument from me. If he is saying that God sometimes accomplishes His will through a series of joint miracles, then I will not object. However, when Hill says that God merely initiated the creation, then stood back throughout billions of years of uniformitarian change and development, I must strongly object. Genesis 1 tells us that God both started and ended each day's creative processes in those 6, respective, consecutive, solar days. God's natural revelation must be examined in the light of His special revelation: Not the other way around.
by Tim Haile
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