Sunday, January 15, 2012

When God Uses One Finger

One hand held the morning's three Cheerio cups, yesterday's mail, my Bible study book, a few crumpled church bulletins from under the seat, and the empty purple lunch pail. The other gripped handles of as many grocery bags as I could heft without dropping the house keys. With no hands left, I stuffed my winter coat under my left arm and my cell phone in my mouth before starting a lop-sided hobble towards the door.

I hadn't even lowered the bags to the floor before hearing "Mommy? Can you put on my helmet?" quickly echoed twice more.

As I opened my mouth to drop the cell phone on the table, I scowled at my oldest already standing at my side with green dino bicycle helmet, completely oblivious to his pack mule mother's load.

"You'll just have to wait a minute. I only have two hands and they're busy at the moment."

Later when I told the twins to wait for something unrelated, Wyatt interrupted and said, "Yes, wait Amelia and Emerson. Remember. She only has two hands, you know.

This is a good concept for my children to learn; it teaches them patience. My problem, though, is I tend to unconsciously think of God this way--a God with His two hands full.

A student of the Old Testament will be quite familiar with verses mentioning the "hand" of God, referring to His protection, His power, His comfort, His wrath, among other things. While these references are many, only a few times does Scripture mention what God can do with just one finger.

God's finger is first referenced in Exodus after the plagues of blood, flies, and gnats. Pharaoh's magicians tried to mimic the miracle but couldn't and told Pharaoh, "'This is the finger of God'" (Ex. 8:19). While the magicians were merely using this phrase to reference God's power, it seems a fitting description of an all powerful God the Egyptians didn't understand, especially since later on in the book of Exodus, God does just that--uses His finger to write the Law: "When He had finished speaking with him upon Mount Sinai, He gave Moses the two tablets of the testimony, tablets of stone, written by the finger of God" (Ex. 31:18).

In a third reference, the Psalmist mentions God's fingers, but this time not as a writing utensil:

"When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,
what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
human beings that you care for them?" (Ps. 8:3-4).

The moon. The stars. The heavens. Creation, itself, is a work of God's fingers. Consider the magnitude of that phrasing. Whereas you and I endure sweaty, back-breaking labor, using our entire bodies including muscles we didn't know we had, all to construct some individual creation on a miniature scale, the image here is of God effortlessly sweeping His fingers through the black nothingness like a creative child let loose with finger paint, those fingers moving smoothly back and forth like an accomplished harpist, weaving the massive void into intricate being.

In the New Testament, the finger of God is only referenced twice. One echoes God's using His finger to write the Law on the stone tablets. This time, though, when the Pharisees brought forth a woman caught in adultery and read forth that God-finger-written Law of Moses, the finger of God dipped not in stone but in the dirt: "But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, 'Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.' Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground" (Jn. 8:6-8).

The part of the God-head who wrote the Law had sent One down to fulfill the Law...and to explain the concept of reconciliation to the Father through Him, an image depicted here as He wrote in the dirt and offered the woman a chance to go forth and leave behind her sin versus receive condemnation and death.

Finally, Jesus, Himself, references the "finger of God" when taking on the Pharisees. He said, "But if I cast out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you" (Lk. 11:20). Much like Pharaoh's magicians in Exodus, Christ likely used the phrase to merely reference God's power, which He personally wielded. Yet, again, the imagery is still important in describing a God who doesn't need more than a finger to cast out demons.

We Christians serve a God who at no time has His holy Hands full. It is impossible for our minds to comprehend. But nothing in the visible or invisible world will leave Him juggling or without a hand to outstretch without a moment's notice.

When you read in Scripture of what the "hand" of God can do, just imagine what He can do with one finger.

1 comment:

  1. What a beautiful concept! He is certainly able to do more than we ever ask or imagine.