“And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.” (2 Peter 1:19)
Someone once asked me whether or not I believed the age of miracles was over. In the Bible, accounts of miracles tend to be bunched together around a few historical characters: Moses, Elijah, Jesus, and the Apostles. But I don’t know if there ever was an “age of miracles.” God’s power has always been at work in the lives of his people. From time to time he still works in our world in ways that can’t be explained naturally.
The miraculous is an indispensable part of Christianity. Just think about how much of the Christmas account describes things miraculous, or what would be left of it without them. But our faith does not depend on being eye witnesses of miracles. We have something better in the word. We have “the word of the prophets made more certain.” All by itself, God’s word has always been 100 percent reliable. There has never been a problem with God’s word.
But there has been a problem with me. You and I might not be like those who consider the Bible a collection of myths. We don’t dismiss miraculous events as fantasies. But we still have subtle ways of showing our lack of trust. Even Christians mistrust God’s law. The Bible clearly forbids sex outside of marriage. That didn’t prevent unmarried Christians I know from claiming they prayed to God about it, and insisting that in their case God was making an exception. Jesus equates hatred with murder. Yet many Christians try to justify hateful feelings because they believe their situation is somehow unique or exceptional. I have heard adult Christians propose that “he started it” was a valid reason to treat someone else unkindly.
Sometimes we just don’t think God’s word is sufficient for our faith, or enough to convert someone else, and we yearn for a visible demonstration of God’s power. But what does Jesus say about that sort of thing? “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign.” In such ways we demonstrate our own lack of trust in God’s word.
Peter shores up our flagging faith when he promises, “We have the word of the prophets made more certain.” Is it just a coincidence that the events surrounding Jesus’ birth, and life, and death, and resurrection fulfill so many prophecies made hundreds and even thousands of years before he lived? We read the prophecies of Moses, or David, or Isaiah. We find that these are not vague generalities like your horoscope that might fit the lives of dozens of people you know. They describe exactly the specific places and events and circumstances in Jesus’ life. They demonstrate a reliability which has never failed.
It’s no wonder that Peter encourages, “…you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.” Why listen to the Word’s witness? The words of Scripture are so much more than just “God’s Little Instruction Book” or “Chicken Soup for the Soul.” A simple message like, “Jesus so loves you that he died for your every sin. Dear Child of God, your sins are all forgiven,” are filled with the miraculous power of God. When people hear them, a little miracle takes place in human hearts. A bright beacon of faith, and hope, and love begins to shine where there was only uncertainty, and despair, and loneliness before.
We don’t need to see the events of the first Christmas, or Jesus’ death and resurrection, or his shining in all his glory on the mountain (the event Peter is referencing in this context). When we listen to the Word’s witness, Jesus himself lives and shines in our hearts. By faith he is closer to us than he ever was to those who saw his physical body but never put their faith in him. His word makes me so sure that he loves me, so sure that he forgives me, so sure that now I belong just to him, that my hearts is filled with faith.
That is all the miracle we will ever need.