In our modern age, many people are skeptical of claims of healings, miracles or any supernatural events. The miracles of the Bible are looked at as quaint fairy tales developed by primitive cultures to explain the mysteries of nature. Today, science claims to give man the godlike ability to explain those wonders, and the rational mind believes all phenomena can be explained by nature—without God.
Yet there remains something just below the surface of the modern psyche that is tantalized by the mysterious and unexplainable. UFOs, ghosts, magic and witchcraft are still incredibly popular. And the mystical elements of various religions attract myriad new converts every year. Sites like Fatima, Lourdes and Medjugorje draw millions of pilgrims each year.
The Bible foretells a time when religion will play a major role in places like Europe, where religion was written off many decades ago. How can church again dominate state in such a secular wasteland? It seems the prophesied miracles will play a major part in bringing about this change in the "zeitgeist" (spirit of the times) of the Continent.
First, can supernatural wonders really come from a source other than God?
Even those with a passing knowledge of the Bible have heard of the Exodus and the parting of the Red Sea . Before the pharaoh was willing to let his Israelite slaves go, the Bible records 10 devastating plagues God brought on the stubborn Egyptian ruler and his people.
Interestingly, the pharaoh's magicians were able to duplicate, on a smaller scale, the first two plagues, making water appear as blood and making even more frogs appear on Egypt than those God had sent (Exodus 7:22 and 8:7). They were also able to make their rods change into snakes (Exodus 7:11-12). Whether these were tricks and illusions or actual supernatural miracles from an evil spiritual source, they had the intended effect. They hardened the pharaoh's heart, meaning they cemented his resistance to the demands of the Israelites.
Eventually, though, the magicians admitted they were outclassed and could not duplicate God's third plague. "This is the finger of God," they said (Exodus 8:19).
Because of the existence of false miracles and false prophets, God warned Israel to reject any miracle worker who denies Him or speaks contrary to His laws and teachings (Deuteronomy 13:1-3). God says just because someone's prophecy happens or a miracle occurs doesn't mean we should follow that person.
These warnings continued to apply in the New Testament. "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits," Christ warned (Matthew 7:15-16).
Those fruits obviously went beyond whether the prophecies occurred or the miracles happened. Christ described some who cast out demons and did many wonders in His name. "And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness" (Matthew 7:23). Denying God's laws remains a fruit of the way of darkness (Isaiah 8:20).
In a prophecy for the end times, Jesus the Christ warned, "False christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect" (Matthew 24:24).
The apostle Paul expands on this in 2 Thessalonians 2, with a warning about "the lawless one" who comes with "all power, signs, and lying wonders" (verse 9). Paul says it takes a love of the truth—the Bible and God's law—to avoid being deceived by this man of sin, this lawless one (verse 10).
The apostle John also expands on this warning in Revelation 13. This chapter starts by talking about a "beast" representing a great end-time empire—a government that will rule much of the earth. Then in verse 11 it talks about another beast with two horns like a lamb—meaning he tries to appear like Christ, the Lamb—but who speaks like a dragon, Satan. This is the same one who is called the False Prophet in Revelation 19, who we believe will be a religious leader in Europe.
Revelation 13:13-14 says: "He performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men. And he deceives those who dwell on the earth by those signs which he was granted to do in the sight of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who was wounded by the sword and lived."
For more about the meaning of this prophecy and the framework of end-time prophecy, read or request our free booklets The Book of Revelation Unveiled and You Can Understand Bible Prophecy at www.wnponline.org/litreq.
What this means for us
Someday in the not-too-distant future, miracles will occur that will be widely publicized and that will convince even many of the skeptical people of our day. Perhaps supernatural fire will destroy enemies, or other spectacular miracles will occur. Will they convince you to follow the ones who perform them?
The antidote to lying wonders is to know what the Bible teaches and be prepared. Those who fall for the "unrighteous deception" of the "lawless one" are those who "did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved" (2 Thessalonians 2:9-10).
God's people, on the other hand, are those "who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ" (Revelation 12:17). But even to the Church Christ said, "Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain…Hold fast what you have…anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see" (Revelation 3:2, 11, 18).
Examine the fruits. Are the miracle workers teaching God's laws and fulfilling His will? Or are they using miracles to trick people into supporting a government and a religion that are actually opposed to God's law and His plan? Many people will believe that the miracles they see are of God. Study God's Word; examine the fruits.
Don't be deceived! WNP