Forthright Magazine http://www.forthright.net Going straight to the Cross When someone tells you, "You can't miss it," you probably will. But not this. The Finger of God by J. Randal Matheny Unmistakable. No way to confuse the two. That was Jesus' answer, and Luke's phraseology, to answer a slanderous accusation against the Lord's work. Jesus had cured a mute by driving out a demon. Some of the Jews assigned the power behind the cure to Beelzebub, a name for Satan. But the devil would be shooting himself in the foot were he to do that, answers Jesus. And besides, he continues, your disciples purport to expel demons, so they must be doing it by some "good" power. They are your own judges. And then he says, "But if I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come to you" (Luke 11:20 NIV). Luke's choice of the phrase "by the finger of God" draws us closer. Matthew used the phrase "by the Spirit of God" (12:28). Both phrases mean the power of God at work in Jesus' ministry, so we shouldn't trot off too quickly to yell contradiction. Luke probably takes his phrase from Exodus 8:18. In previous plagues, Pharaoh's magicians had replicated to the king's satisfaction the miracles performed by Moses' hand. But they failed at the plague of the insects. "Then the magicians said to Pharaoh, 'This is the finger of God.'" The next time they are mentioned, they cannot appear before Pharaoh because they were covered with boils (9:11). They then disappear from the picture. In the Expositor's Greek Testament, A. B. Bruce thought Luke's choice of phrase emphasized "the immediateness of the Divine action through Jesus" (1:549). But if we take Exodus 8 as the background, I would think Luke wanted to emphasize the obviousness of the divine power behind Jesus. The magicians were quick to acknowledge there was no mistaking the power of God evident in Moses' plagues. His power was clearly far beyond the powers of evil. So what does that mean for us? First, in something of a reverse situation, plenty of people want to use the power and blessing of God as a blanket for supposed miracles and good works. Just as Jesus didn't let the Jews get by with confusing minds about the source of his power, neither should we let go unchallenged assertions that people and religions operate by the power of God, when in fact the divine curse rests upon them for negating Christ. Second, the finger of God is not only a symbol for the power of God, but also for the word of God. Moses received two tablets of stone "written by the finger of God" (Exodus 31.18). When we insist upon objective truth and full obedience to the gospel, people sometimes label us as "legalists" or worse. While we refuse to get into a mud fight, neither should we let them get away with calling light darkness and darkness, light. Third, identifying the power and word of God just isn't that difficult. A hardened heart like Pharaoh or the self-righteous Jews could look at the working of the finger of God right in front of their faces, but not because they couldn't recognize it. Because they didn't want to recognize it, because it didn't fit their ambitious plans. For when God speaks, when God works, it's unmistakable. The finger of God. When it moves, you can't miss it.