Commentary by Ward Degler
People ask how I keep my faith. There are a lot of moving parts to that answer, but whenever I waiver, I think about miracles. There are many little inexplicables occurring every day, of course, but I like the big, over-bloated indisputable ones.
In 1917, for instance, there was the Miracle of the Sun at Fatima in Portugal. Some 70,000 people witnessed that one. Think of it, it had been raining for days. Everyone was soaked, and the ground was deep mud. Then, the sun whirled toward the earth and in minutes everything was completely dry.
But the one that defies all human understanding is the Hebrew Exodus from Egypt.
Scholars have determined there were an estimated 600,000 men following Moses into the desert. The women weren’t counted. Neither were the children. The total movement obviously involved well over a million souls.
Besides parting the Red Sea, what other miracles have occurred? Here are a few estimates put together by the quartermaster general of the United States Army. He’s the guy who figures out how many loaves of bread an army needs every day.
That many Hebrews needed 1,500 tons of food every day, more than an average freight train could carry. They would also need about 4,000 tons of firewood for cooking.
For a million people to survive the heat of the desert, they would need something in the neighborhood of 11 million gallons of water each day. A railroad tank car holds a mere 35,000 gallons. You do the math.
The Hebrews traveled by day and camped at night. Our quartermaster general figured each night’s campground would cover 750 square miles, an area 35 miles long and 21 miles wide – bigger than all of our state parks combined (Brown County – our largest park – is only 26 square miles).
To revisit the Red Sea miracle, if the Hebrews crossed two abreast, the line would have been 800 miles long and would have taken 35 days and nights. Scripture tells us they crossed in a single night, which means they would have had to line up 5,000 abreast, and the path would have been 3 miles wide.
Miracles all. But the biggest miracle was Moses’ faith. If he had jotted down these figures before leaving Cairo, it’s doubtful he would have even talked to Pharaoh about letting his people go, and the Old Testament would have never been written.
Faith, of course, is belief in things unseen, so miracles aren’t required. Still, it’s nice to know they’re there whenever we’re planning a long trip, or when it’s been raining for three days.