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What Is Divine Intervention?

  • Sonya Downing Christianity.com Contributing Writer
  • Updated Jan 10, 2024
What Is Divine Intervention?
Brought to you by Christianity.com

Divine intervention refers to when a divine force directly and purposefully influences events in the world. It is the belief that God can and chooses to intervene in human affairs, either to guide, protect, punish, or alter the course of events in a way that is beyond the natural order of things.

There are three types of divine intervention: Big showy miracles, ordinary displays of God’s mercy, and one act of love so powerful it gave us the reason for our faith.

What is Divine Intervention?

Divine intervention is the direct and tangible involvement of God in the world. It is the belief that God actively intervenes in our time on earth to bring about specific outcomes, fulfill His purposes, or respond to the prayers and needs of His people. Divine intervention is grounded in the understanding of God's omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence—qualities that affirm His unlimited power, knowledge, and presence everywhere.

Our entire faith is based on divine intervention in the form of the Incarnation—God taking on human flesh in the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus' life, death, and resurrection are seen as the ultimate divine intervention to reconcile humanity with God and provide salvation. This was one of many times God has used divine intervention in the fulfillment of prophecies recorded in the Bible. God orchestrates events to fulfill His purposes and bring about His divine plan as foretold in Scripture.

Today, God intervenes in our lives on a personal level, providing guidance, protection, and comfort. This can be through moments of clarity, a sense of peace, or a feeling of the Holy Spirit in times of need.

Examples of Divine Intervention

1. Healing and Smiting

This type of intervention, as I said, is big and showy. Some of the most well-known examples are the 10 plagues of Egypt (Exodus 7:14-12:36), God destroying Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19:24-25), and Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead (John 11:38-44).

These acts of God showcase this belief that human actions have no bearing on His decisions. For example, Moses begged God to send someone else to confront the Pharaoh (Exodus 4:1-14) and Lazarus’s mourners didn’t believe they would see Lazarus again in this life (John 11:17-37).

That doesn’t mean that God never listens to us, though; Abraham pleaded with Him to spare Sodom and Gomorrah if there were any righteous citizens (Genesis 18:16-33) and God said He would. But in the end, events played out as God said they would because, despite Abraham’s pleas for mercy, there was no one in Sodom or Gomorrah who wanted it.

2. Everyday Grace

Most Christians only think about divine intervention in terms of healing and smiting because that’s when God’s power is the most visible. This perspective stems from the faulty assumption that God only intervenes in big ways and doesn’t interact much with everyday life.

My brother believes that God shows Himself every minute of every day. I’m inclined to agree because the Psalms says the same thing. The Lord searches and knows every inch of us (Psalm 139:1-6). He is present in every corner of the world so, we’re always in His arms (Psalm 139:7-12). He put every piece of every person together with unconditional love (Psalm 139:13-16).

If that isn’t enough to convince you, the author of Lamentations tells us that God’s love never ends, and His mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23). Oftentimes, we can’t see them because we’re looking for healing and smiting, taking the sparrows and lilies (Matthew 6:26, 28-30) for granted.

Sunrises, coffee, hugs, golden retrievers, and every other good thing comes from God, and He gave us our lives so we can experience these things with Him. The sooner we stop taking the little things for granted, the more we’ll realize how involved God is in our lives.

3. The Cross

There’s one act of divine intervention so powerful, so selfless, and so unconditionally loving that it deserves its own category: The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Jesus let himself be spat on, flogged within an inch of his life, and hung to die on a cross because it was the only way to save us from eternal torment.

Why would God do that? Why would He sacrifice His son to give liars, murderers, rapists, and thieves the chance to go to Heaven? As Chandler said, humans have done and never will do anything that could make the almighty God change His mind. So, why on earth did God intervene when He had every right to let us pay for our sins?

God didn’t save us because of anything we did (Ephesians 2:8-9), God saved us because His love is bigger than our hate. And despite everything, He knew what we would do after Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit — He wanted us to feel that love for all eternity.

Divine Intervention in the Bible

Exodus 14:21-22 (NIV):

"Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and all that night the Lord drove the sea back with a strong east wind and turned it into dry land. The waters were divided, and the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left."

Matthew 14:25-27 (NIV):

"Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. 'It’s a ghost,' they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them: 'Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.'"

Acts 12:7-11 (NIV):

"Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him up. 'Quick, get up!' he said, and the chains fell off Peter’s wrists. Then the angel said to him, 'Put on your clothes and sandals.' And Peter did so. 'Wrap your cloak around you and follow me,' the angel told him."

Daniel 3:24-25 (NIV):

"Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, 'Weren’t there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?' They replied, 'Certainly, Your Majesty.' He said, 'Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.'"

Matthew 27:51-54 (NIV):

"At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people. When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, 'Surely he was the Son of God!'"

Divine Intervention Today

Today we explored the finer points of divine intervention. Thanks to the profound insights of my little brother, we learned how people perceive this concept versus what it actually is.

Then we explored the implications of applying the right worldview to flashy miracles, ordinary mercies, and the grandest display of love in the universe.

Now that you know what to look for, I challenge you to actually look. The more you look, the more you’ll see. And the more you see, the more you’ll know God loves you.

Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/kevron2001

Sonya Downing is a novelist, freelance writer, and content editor with a bachelor’s degree in professional writing. Her freelance work has been published in Focus on the Family’s teen girl magazine Brio, The Evangelical Church Library Association, and The Secret Place quarterly magazine. She has also blogged for IlluminateYA Publishing and edited for Mountain Brook Ink. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

This article is part of our Christian Terms catalog, exploring words and phrases of Christian theology and history. Here are some of our most popular articles covering Christian terms to help your journey of knowledge and faith:

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