Divine intervention is, simply put, God intervening in the affairs of the world. Divine intervention can be God causing something to happen or God preventing something from happening. Atheists, agnostics, and deists can find alternate explanations for even the most clearly miraculous events. Some believers see examples of divine intervention everywhere, interpreting seemingly random events as clear instruction from God to go one direction instead of another. So, does God intervene in the affairs of the world? If so, are there any undeniable examples of this divine intervention? Has God left any fingerprints on His handiwork?
The believer can point to many examples of God’s intervention. Everything from the defeat of the Spanish Armada to the existence of modern-day Israel is cited as proof that God has intervened in history. Of course, there are also the miracles of the Bible, recorded by eyewitnesses to the events, and creation itself—"the heavens are telling," as Haydn put it.
But, for the atheist, agnostic, and deist, there is an alternate explanation for everything. There was recently a television program which attempted to explain away the miracles of the Bible. One episode was dedicated to the Red Sea crossing (see Exodus chapter 14). Scientists came up with several theories, including temporary land-bridges caused by underwater volcanic activity or an underwater earthquake which caused a tsunami, which resulted in the water depth being temporarily very low at the location Moses and the Israelites crossed the Red Sea. While the theories were scientifically possible, there was no explanation for how the event occurred at precisely the right moment for the Israelites to cross, but the Egyptians to be destroyed when they attempted to follow. Even if the event itself could be explained naturally, it stretches credulity to deny the supernatural timing of the event. But, again, for the person who denies the existence and/or activity of God in the world, any miracle can be explained away by attributing it to coincidence, hysteria, or delusion. If you look for reasons not to believe, you’re sure to find some.
At the opposite end of the spectrum are believers who view virtually everything as an example of divine intervention. A good parking spot being open is clearly a miracle from God. A sudden gust of wind or the chance meeting of a friend is clearly a sign from God to move in a different direction. While this mindset is more biblical than the approach a deist might take, it poses serious problems. Interpreting virtually everything as divine intervention can lead to very subjective conclusions. We tend to read into things what we want. It is tempting to study cloud shapes to find “proof” for what we want God’s will to be instead of truly seeking God’s will in a biblical manner (Romans 12:1-2).
Biblically speaking, God definitely intervenes in the affairs of the world (see Genesis through Revelation). God is sovereign (Psalm 93:1; 95:3; Jeremiah 23:20; Romans 9). Nothing happens that God does not ordain, cause, or allow. We are constantly surrounded by divine intervention, even when we are ignorant of it or blind to it. We will never know all of the times and all of the ways God intervenes in our lives. Divine intervention can come in the form of a miracle, such as a healing or supernatural sign. Divine intervention can also come in the form of a seemingly random event which directs us in the way God wants us to go.
But the Bible does not instruct us to seek hidden spiritual meanings in everyday life events. While we should be aware that God does intervene, we should not spend every waking minute trying to decode secret messages from above. Believers seek God’s Word for direction (2 Timothy 3:16-17) and are led by the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18). We are to obey the one source in which we know God has indeed spoken, His Word (Hebrews 4:12).