Five chemical miracles in 2 Kings jumped out at me during a recent Bible study.
1. Remember when Elisha put salt in bad water to make it good? He went out to the spring and threw the salt into it, saying, “This is what the Lord says: ‘I have healed this water. Never again will it cause death or make the land unproductive.’” And the water has remained pure to this day, according to the word Elisha had spoken. (from 2 Kings 2:19-21)
2. In chapter 4 Elisha trusted God to multiply a widow’s jar of oil. He told the widow to ask her neighbors for empty jars. “Don’t ask for just a few.” She poured oil from her original jug into the borrowed jars until they were all full. He said, “Go, sell the oil and pay your debts. You and your sons can live on what is left.” (from 2 Kings 4:1-7)
3. Elisha had to alter the stew his servant made out of strange gourds for a group of prophets. As they began to eat it, they cried out, “Man of God, there is death in the pot!” And they could not eat it. Elisha said, “Get some flour.” He put it into the pot and said, “Serve it to the people to eat.” And there was nothing harmful in the pot. (from 2 Kings 4:38-41)
4. Elisha fed a hundred men from twenty loaves of barley bread. “How can I set this before a hundred men?” his servant asked. But Elisha answered, “Give it to the people to eat. For this is what the Lord says: ‘They will eat and have some left over.’” Then he set it before them, and they ate and had some left over, according to the word of the Lord. (from 2 Kings 4:42-44)
5. The time that Elisha made an ax float was also a chemical miracle considering the weight of the metal and its shape. They went to the Jordan and began to cut down trees. As one of them was cutting down a tree, the iron axhead fell into the water. “Oh no, my lord!” he cried out. “It was borrowed!” The man of God asked, “Where did it fall?” When he showed him the place, Elisha cut a stick and threw it there, and made the iron float. “Lift it out,” he said. Then the man reached out his hand and took it. (from 2 Kings 6:1-7)
Chemical miracles (and all miracles) in the Bible help me to know God better. Of course he can manipulate the physical laws of chemistry, because he created them. But there’s something else: who would ever dream of making a heavy metal object like an ax float by throwing a stick in the water, or of solving a widow’s financial woes by taking the oil she has and cloning it? Through these particular phenomena, I see not only the power of God, but also his creativity combined with the desire to rescue people in need. People just like us.
October 21, 2014