Do you sometimes wonder if scientifically advanced people like us should believe the miracles of the Bible? After all, few of us have seen a fortified city collapse with a shout or a prophet’s prayers calm hungry lions. If God didn’t really do what his word says he did, how do we know he can do today what he promises? If biblical accounts of miraculous events were myths rather than history, is our faith based more on superstition than fact?
Take the story of Samson. In Judges 14 we read that “suddenly a young lion came roaring toward him. The Spirit of the Lord came upon him in power so that he tore the lion apart with his bare hands as he might have torn a young goat” (vs. 5-6). Is it plausible that a man could tear apart a lion? Before we dismiss this as legend, consider an amazing discovery just announced by archaeologists: a penny-sized seal depicting a man fighting a lion. The seal was unearthed at Beth Shemesh, about 12 miles west of Jerusalem. Many scholars believe it to be an early reference to Samson.
Why does it matter? Because archaeologists date the seal to the 12th century B.C. This was precisely when Samson’s miracle would have occurred. Here we have independent verification of an event when it happened, not generations later after a natural phenomenon had time to morph into a supernatural myth.
Here’s another Samson story. According to Judges 16, after Samson had been blinded and imprisoned by the Philistines, he “reached toward the two central pillars on which the temple stood” (v. 29) and pushed them, bringing down the temple and killing the Philistine rulers and people in it (v. 30).
Legend or history? Archaeologists have found two ancient Philistine temples, one just north of Tel Aviv, the other 21 miles south of the city. In both, the roof was supported by two central pillars made of wood and resting on round stone bases. A man of supernatural strength could have done to them precisely what the Bible says Samson did.
God doesn’t change. Anything he has ever done, he can still do. His omnipotent strength and omniscient wisdom are as available to his people today as in the days of Scripture. But there’s a catch: Samson killed the lion by the power of God’s Spirit (Judges 14:6) and destroyed the Philistine temple only after praying to God for strength (Judges 16:28).
If you’re not experiencing God’s power in your life today, ask yourself: am I self-reliant or Spirit-dependent? Do I pray for God’s strength before trusting my own? I’m convinced that God wants to raise up Samsons in our day, men and women who are supernaturally empowered to advance his Kingdom through their influence and gifts. But James warned us, “You do not have, because you do not ask God” (James 4:2). Is God waiting on you?