Thursday, November 17, 2011

"Biblical Proportions"

While reading a New York Times article on the unusual weather we've been having this year, I came across the phrase "biblical proportions." This phrase was used to describe the October 29 freak snow storm that knocked out power to over 2 million homes on the East coast.

So what are "biblical proportions"? They are huge, gigantic, enormous and immense. When something happens on a massive scale, the word "biblical proportions" describes its immensity.

I wonder what events from the Bible qualify for this two-word adjective. Certainly, the creation of the world decribed in Genesis would qualify, as would the Flood Story. Perhaps the deliverance of the Hebrews from Egypt in the Exodus might also be an event large enough to evoke a response of "biblical proportions."

In modern times, we would probably use "biblical proportion" to describe large-scale catastrophes such as the 2005 southeast Asian tsunami or Hurricane Katrina in 2006. Surely, the explosion of an atomic bomb would also qualify.

Yet, I wonder if this phrase causes us to focus too much on visibly spectacular events and causes us to miss significant things that happen on a small scale. Some believe that, when God acts in our world, massive displays are the result. However, we need not be so impressed by largeness of scale that we forget the "still small voice" in which Elijah heard God addressing him.

Our world and our lives are changed in both large and small ways. To limit God to events only of "biblical proportions" is to overlook the subtle ways that God is present in our world.

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