The “Finger of God”

Pyramid with Sphinx

More than 3,000 years have passed since Moses demanded that Pharaoh let God’s people go … and still the power of ancient Egypt astonishes us. ( photo)

It’s hard to imagine the intimidation facing Moses when he returned to Egypt with a God-given message for Pharaoh, but let’s give it a try, anyway.

Imagine a horse-drawn carriage parked below the Sears Tower in Chicago, or a mule-drawn wagon in front of the Stock Exchange in New York City. The man descending from the wagon is neatly dressed in his overalls and starched white shirt, but clearly out of touch with modern times.

Would such a man demand that the Sears Tower be moved, or the Stock Exchange be closed? If he did, would anyone pause long enough to even chuckle?

Moses walked past skyscraper-sized pyramids that had been built 2,000 years before he’d been born. The economy of Egypt ran the world. Sixty-foot-tall statues of Pharaoh dwarfed even the statues of the Egyptian sun god, and the best military force in the world made sure that no one spoke a word against the dictator. Some of the ancient inscriptions in Egypt show piles of tongues, and mounds of right hands in front of the throne, severed body parts of those who’d been punished for speaking out against Pharaoh.

Nevertheless, tongue and right hand in tact, Moses walked past the intimidation, into the courts of the most powerful man on earth, and demanded freedom for Egypt’s enslaved labor force.

You know the story, I’m sure. Pharaoh reacted harshly, and Egypt was soon covered with plague after plague after plague. But the more Egypt suffered, the harder Pharaoh’s heart became.

Remember a phrase that came about in the midst of the plagues? The magicians of Pharaoh ran out of steam quickly, and urged their ruler to concede the battle. “This is the finger of God!” they said (Exodus 8:19), but Pharaoh wouldn’t concede the battle. In a short period of time, Egypt was destroyed so completely, it never recovered its position of world dominance, even to this day.

It’s that “finger-of-God” statement that caught my attention. If God can destroy the reigning world power with only the flick of His finger, what would happen if He used His fist, or even His arm? There’s no need, of course, but concentrate on the imagery.

With our fingers, we flick away gnats, flies and an occasional caterpillar. With barely any effort at all, God flicks away world powers.

It’s that same “finger of God” that inscribed the Ten Commandments, the Bible tells us, words that are still the basis for an ethical standard of conduct the world over.

And there’s only one other time when the phrase appears again in the Bible. Having just performed a miracle, Jesus said, “If I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come to you.” (Luke 11:20)

So maybe I’ve got the picture. There is enormous power represented by the Bible’s image of God’s little finger, the weakest digit of them all. But God’s smallest finger isn’t weak at all. There’s no power that could come against it, and no power that could overcome it.

It’s a really, really strong finger.

God’s hands, then, must be indescribably strong, and unquestionably secure.

Are you hurting today? Isaiah saw a hurting people, and relayed this message from God:

So do not fear, for I am with you;

    do not be dismayed, for I am your God.

  I will strengthen you and help you;

    I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10)

Perhaps this isn’t the best day you’ve ever had. Perhaps there’s an attack of stress coming, the way Pharaoh’s army took aim on the escaping Hebrews. Disease can feel that way to us, and grief only increases the fury of the battle. Financial pressures can be exhausting in their attack. In fact, the list of potential stress points is endless. There are enemies around every corner!

We must not miss this picture. With the tiniest flick of a finger, God can do away with the largest army on earth. And yet with great tenderness and concern, God chooses to hold you in His entire hand.

It’s the safest place to be, in the hand of God.

So trust Him. Rest in Him. And stay as close to the center of God’s hand as you possibly can.