I'm preaching through Exodus and this last Sunday covered the first 9 plagues which God hit Egypt with, prior to delivering Israel from slavery. Because I tackled so much content in one message I wanted to offer a couple blogs where I could touch on some things I skipped over in my message. They won't be long but they were insights which were meaningful to me in my preparation so I thought i'd pass them along.
The third plague God sent was swarms of Gnats throughout all the land, on people and animals. They were everywhere. And in the decadent culture of Egypt, that loved comfortability the way we 21st Westerners do, it was as if God was completely undermining what they cherished. Gnats everywhere are tiny but they are such a nuisance. They have the ability to ruin a good cookout, or a refreshing day by the pool, or a day playig at the park. They just make ordinary, fun, every day relaxing routines miserable.
This was the first plague which really grabbed the attention of the Egyptians, particularly Pharaoh's diviners and magicians. They were confounded because they could neither duplicate the sign nor undo the sign. They were just stuck living in it and could do nothing about it. It exposed their helplessness and God's power over whatever power they imagined they had. The world’s system is to worship comfort and pursue comfort. God’s design is to use discomfort in order to reveal our need for him so that we might lean more fully on the Comforter… and find our peace and rest in him.
The gnats had such a profound impact that Pharaoh's own magicians - who until now were complicit and allied with him in their rebellion against God - that they confessed to Pharaoh that "This is the finger of God."
What they were saying was that God's is making a divine mark, an undeniable imprint that clearly reveals something of existence and nature. Gnats weren't being used to reveal God's plan for redemption in Jesus by any means, but they were revealing that He is real; He is powerful; He is present; and He is to be taken seriously. They were essentially saying to Pharaoh that this God is not like their puny Egyptian gods... He is making himself known in a visible and tangible and even personal way. Pharaoh, as you know, hardened his heart again.
And this is what we are faced with each and every day. The evidences of God are all around us. The indicators that He is real; He is powerful; He is present; and He is to be taken seriously are everywhere. Romans 1 says that His divine attributes and invisible power can be seen clearly through that which has been made, so that we are without excuse.
We watched a solar eclipse this week. This rare moment in time and space. And yet it was preditcable. We've so advanced in science that we could accurately identify down to the minute, when it would occur in every different place that it would occur. It's really quite remarkable. So here's this moment. Is that in ode to science? Is it a time that we just marvel at the wonder of creation and the wisdom of men? Do we magnify science? Or do we, in worship, see and declare, "This is the finger of God?"
Moses would later receive the 10 Commandments “on tablets of stone inscribed by the finger of God.” David writes in the Psalms, that Creation is the work of God’s fingers. The evidence of God is everywhere. His fingerprints are all around us, if we will open our eyes and be willing to see them. The alternative is to follow in Pharaoh's footsteps and harden our hearts. When the finger of God is visible around us we will either give him glory or deny him glory. There is no third option.
Creation isn't the only place to look either, by the way. 2 Corinthians 3 says about the church that “you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.” The finger prints of God are not just all around us, they are all over us. You are evidence of God’s grace and power, which testify to his glory and supremacy in all things. Your brothers and sisters in Christ bear witness to the infinite wisdom and perfections of Jesus. The local church exists to display the beauties and glories of Christ, which are beheld in the lives of His people as they are being increasingly conformed to the image of God's Son. It's so popular to criticize the local church, but God's desire is that we would read the lives of God's redeemed sons and daughters as letters from Christ. We are to identify and affirm and rejoice in the evidences of Christ's power at work among his people. That won't just happen. We must give ourselves to this practice and celebrate everywhere we see the finger prints of God.