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2 Kings 6:1–7

“[Elisha] cut off a stick and threw it in there and made the iron float” (v. 6b).

Divine providence tells us that God actively rules over His creatures, directing their actions and decisions to bring about His purposes (Prov. 16:33; Acts 17:26–27a; Eph. 1:11). But as we have seen, the Lord does not typically govern His creation by overriding the skills, talents, personalities, and other aspects of human beings. Furthermore, in ruling and directing the universe and all that is in it, God does not usually suspend the various natural laws and processes that He has established in creation. He does not often work against the order He has put in place but normally works out His plan in and through the structures He created.

Yet, God has worked against the parameters of the created order in select instances. Any such act is known as a miracle. In today’s passage, for example, we read about the iron ax-head He made to float during Elisha’s ministry (2 Kings 6:1–7). Established rules of density and buoyancy mean that an iron ax-head cannot normally sit on the surface of a body of water. For that ax-head to float, God had to suspend certain natural laws, and thus a miracle happened.

It is important to distinguish between bona fide miracles and the Lord’s governing His world in and through ordinary means such as physical laws. Many people will talk about the miracle of a sunrise or of childbirth. Such references are generally well-intentioned, and individuals who say such things are certainly correct that God—because of divine providence—is involved in every sunrise and childbirth. But in the normal course of things, a sunrise or childbirth is not a miracle. God established the regular movements of planets and the process of human conception and childbirth, and any sunrise or birth occurring within such parameters is the result of God’s ordinary providential working through means, not the extraordinary providence of miracles.

Of course, there have been miraculous conceptions and births in history—the most notable being the conception and birth of Jesus, who was born to a virgin, a woman who according to the ordinary course of creation could not conceive because she had not known a man (Luke 1:26–38). That Jesus had a miraculous conception and birth is also notable because God does miracles only during periods when He grants special revelation. The Lord continues to answer prayer and act in His creation, but He does not do miracles today because He is not revealing Himself through prophets and Apostles.

Coram Deo Living before the face of God

Because God is sovereign over His creation and can direct it to whatever ends He desires, we can be confident that He can answer our prayers. Though God in His sovereignty retains the right to say yes or no to us, He is nevertheless able to heal the sick, change hearts, and do other things that we pray for. If we are confident in God’s sovereignty, we will be confident in our prayers.


For Further Study
  • Exodus 4:21
  • Hebrews 2:1–4

Providential Governance Through Means

Speaking the Truth in Love

Keep Reading Secularism

From the March 2017 Issue
Mar 2017 Issue