by Lois Tverberg
But when the magicians tried to produce gnats by their secret arts, they could not. And the gnats were on men and animals. The magicians said to Pharaoh, “This is the finger of God.” …. Exodus 8:18-19
When Pharaoh’s magicians convincingly imitated the first two plagues of turning the Nile to blood and producing frogs, Pharaoh had reason to be confident that he could defeat the God who produced these signs. But at the third plague, the magicians were confounded when they saw gnats created from the dust. They declared. “This is the finger of God!”
They meant that this was the sign of a power far, far greater than they could conjure up. Often God’s power or intervention is described metaphorically by using words like God’s “arm” or God’s “hand.” God’s “finger” also refers to his power or intervention. God is so mighty that all he had to use was his littlest finger to defeat the powers of the magicians in Egypt!
Interestingly, this phrase also comes up in the life of Jesus, and it is in a similar context. Jesus was being challenged by what means he was casting out demons, with the accusation that he was using satanic powers to do so. He replied:
…But if I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come to you. “When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own house, his possessions are safe. But when someone stronger attacks and overpowers him, he takes away the armor in which the man trusted and divides up the spoils. Luke 11:21-22
Why did he use the phrase “finger of God”? The situation here is similar to that in Exodus. Moses was in a battle against the gods of Egypt and they were defeated by the “finger of God.” Similarly, Jesus was in a battle with the powers of darkness and was defeating them by God’s power. God’s kingdom was arriving with such great power that with its littlest finger it could vanquish Satan and set people free.
Artist of photo: John Martin