In Exodus 7-8, God sent a wave of plagues against the land of Egypt because Pharaoh would not release the Israelites from slavery. First, all of the major waterways of Egypt were turned to blood. The fish in the Nile died and smelled so bad that the Egyptians couldn’t drink the water (7:21). But Pharaoh’s magicians seemed able to replicate the miracle.
Then frogs invaded the land. They got into every nook and cranny; every home, everywhere. When they died they were piled into heaps, and the land reeked (8:14). Once again, Pharaoh’s magicians replicated the miracle, and Pharaoh would not relent.
Then something interesting happened. God turned the dust of the ground throughout Egypt into gnats; swarms of them, settling on all the people and animals. But the court magicians (spiritualists) could not copy this miracle, and they said to Pharaoh, “This is the finger of God.” At last they were beaten, and these sorcerers admitted the truth. But “Pharaoh’s heart was hard and he would not listen.” (Exodus 8:19)
When we refuse to acknowledge “the finger of God” something happens to our hearts.
This cuts two ways. Pharaoh refused to acknowledge the judgment or discipline of God. But how often do we ignore or refuse to acknowledge the blessings of God?
In Mark 3, the scribes accused Jesus of “casting out demons by the ruler of the demons.” They accused Jesus of being Satan’s puppet, and were willing to give Satan credit for the work of God (delivering people from bondage to demons). Jesus responded in a surprising way. He said: “Whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin.” (Mark 3:29)
An unforgivable sin?
The scribes in Mark 3 essentially did the same as Pharaoh in Exodus 8. They refused to acknowledge God, and gave credit to Satan for what God had really done.
Here’s a crazy thought: Might we do something similar when we say “Good luck” or “That was lucky” or “Knock on wood” or something similar — attributing to “the Fates” (not God) any good thing that might happen in our lives?
I wonder if our careless or thoughtless language (at times) might blind us to “the finger of God” and thereby harden our hearts just a little to His reality and presence? Are we lucky…or blessed? Fortunate…or graced?
When we fail to acknowledge “the finger of God” something happens to our hearts. Perhaps a subtle change in our language would yield a surprising change in our hearts. Will we see His hand in our lives today?
Just something to consider as “the Exodus” becomes our own story.
My final reminder: Lent starts next Wednesday. Ready? If you’d like a bed-stand or coffee-table book (a devotional guide for the 40 days) I invite you to take a look at “Reflections Though Romans.” There’s still time to get a copy. Just click this link.