Guest / Limited Access /
God's Quiet Signature
Hugo Infante / Government of Chile / AFP / Getty Images

First, the merriest of Christmases to the 33 men who spent two months trapped in a Chilean mine earlier this year. Your faith and prayers throughout everything inspired nations.

When you came up in October—two months before many observers expected you to see sunlight—we joined countless others, including your families, in saying, "Gracias, Señor. It is a miracle from God."

Was it, though? The families of the 37 miners killed a few days later in a Chinese coal mine might ask that question fairly. There was nothing baldly supernatural about the rescue in Chile. Improbable, maybe. But shouldn't we pay tribute instead to the courage and perseverance of the miners themselves, the skill and ingenuity of the rescue operation—and the sheer dumb luck that they didn't die on day one?

This brings to mind a story that people tell around this time of year, of a miracle God brought about in Israel long ago. No, not that one. The other one.

One holiday season, Jesus went to the temple in Jerusalem to celebrate Hanukkah (John 10:22). For well over a century, Jews had commemorated the rededication of the temple after Judas Maccabeus led a revolt that took Jerusalem back from the pagan Greek ruler Antiochus Epiphanes. In Jesus' time, of course, the pagan Roman ruler Tiberius Caesar was the more immediate concern. Many wanted Jesus to tell them plainly if he was the one who would restore Israel's kingdom.

A fair request, perhaps. But Jesus wouldn't do it. His words and works, he insisted, speak for themselves for those who have ears to hear. In this, he wasn't too different from the God of Hanukkah.

A common Hebrew Hanukkah saying is nes gadol haya sham ("a great ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Read These NextSee Our Latest
Also in this IssueA Cosmic Culmination
Subscriber Access Only A Cosmic Culmination
Recalling the earth-shaking, kingdom-sized message of Christmas.
RecommendedThe Seven Levels of Lying
Subscriber Access Only The Seven Levels of Lying
We lie more than we think. And that's part of the problem.
TrendingWhy Most Pastors Aren’t Answering Your Phone Calls
Why Most Pastors Aren’t Answering Your Phone Calls
It's one the great mysteries of ministry. Why do pastors have such a bad reputation for answering or returning phone calls? Here are 9 reasons.
Editor's PickThe Good (and Bad) News About Christian Higher Education
The Good (and Bad) News About Christian Higher Education
‘Christian colleges are as strong as they’ve been since the 1920s,’ says historian William Ringenberg. But there are challenges on the horizon.
Christianity Today
God's Quiet Signature
hide thisDecember December

In the Magazine

December 2010

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.