Even the Wind and Waves Obey Him

Talk about the Bible being historically true, and the first thing you hear is, What about Jonah and the Whale? Noah and the Flood? The parting of the Red Sea? These stories are held up as so preposterous that no one could possibly take the Bible seriously. People make jokes about them. But scientists who study these events say they are not as impossible as they might seem. Sometimes they are just special cases of perfectly normal laws of nature. Take, for example, the parting of the Red Sea. The biblical record says God used the east wind, blowing all night to push the waters back. Recently, two oceanographers decided to see if they could describe the process in more detail. They published their results in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society. It's a well-known scientific fact that a steady wind blowing over a body of water can change the water level. It happens frequently during winter storms on Lake Erie, for example, where steady winds have changed the water level as much as three feet. The two oceanographers decided to see if the same thing could happen on the Red Sea--to be precise, on the narrow sliver of the Red Sea reaching up into the Gulf of Suez where, many scholars believe, the Israelites crossed when they were escaping from Pharaoh's army. The scientists analyzed the topography of the area, using sophisticated computer calculations. They concluded that a moderate wind blowing constantly for about 10 hours could very well have caused the sea to recede a mile or two. The water level would drop 10 feet, leaving dry land for the Israelites to cross. "The Gulf of Suez provides an ideal body of water for such a process because of its unique geography," said one of the scientists. The Gulf is more than 200 miles long but only 12 to 18 miles wide. Winds channeled between the mountains on each side of the gulf could exert a powerful force on the surface of the water and push the water back from the shoreline. Later, an abrupt change in the wind could cause the water to return rapidly, in a sudden, devastating wave. It could easily have trapped Pharaoh's troops, just as the Bible describes. The study doesn't prove that the crossing of the Red Sea actually happened this way, of course. It merely shows that there are perfectly normal forces that God could have used to perform His miraculous deliverance. Now, a skeptic might argue that if there's a natural explanation, then it wasn't a miracle after all. That's how the Boston Globe interpreted the recent study. But if it was only a natural event, isn't it strange that the sea parted just when Moses held out his staff? And that it fell back just when Pharaoh's soldiers were in hot pursuit? No, God may use a natural process to accomplish His goals, but it's still a work of His hand, for His purposes, in His timing. So the next time someone tells you the Bible stories are just too unbelievable to be real history, give them a little science lesson on the laws of nature. And then tell them about the God who created the laws of nature and directs them for His purposes. The One whom "even the wind and the waves obey."


Chuck Colson


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