“Exposing the Exodus”
The Power of God – (Chapter 8 Verses 16-19)
The magicians are impressed (v19). By the word finger, they mean power of a supernatural variety (Luke 11:20). However, the king is unimpressed by the magicians statement or by the sign itself. But what is meant by the magicians words is this a confession of the true and living God? What is the significance of their words? No, it is not a confession of Jehovah as God. One significance is this, it is their last recorded words, the magicians I mean. ‘This is the finger of God” (v19). And so it will be on the last day, the devil himself, his hosts, and many of their victims will confess, acknowledge in public confession, this is the hand of God (Philippians 2:10-11). They have been given a demonstration of the divine presence, and they just reluctantly acknowledge that a supernatural power superior to theirs is at work here. There is no heart change, no repentance, no faith. There are many in every age, our own too, who acknowledge a higher power of some kind. But it’s not faith, not saving faith which is the result of sovereign grace. It is with many the phenomenon of power that is the major attraction. To some, it’s like a drug. But it doesn’t bring surrender to the supreme power, almighty God. It is only the sovereign operations of God by his Spirit in grace that can heal the breach, the alienation between God and man. Man himself is sinful, impotent, it is made clear here he has no power, not even over these gnats. It is made clear here there is no power in manufactured religion. Paganism is of the earth, the earth cannot reach heaven. God in Christ had to descend from heaven to save men. So this is yet another suppression of the truth (Romans 1:18-22). Rather than acknowledge the truth about God. The finger of God is like when an insurance company claims an incident was an act of God. It is just a means of them escaping a payout. They neither believe in God or his power. Neither do these magicians. Neither does Pharoah (v19b).
He clings stubbornly to his unbelief. His heart becomes duller, heavier, insensitive, soon he will be beyond feeling, “the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared” (1 Timothy 4:2). Just “as the Lord had said” (v19b). Do you remember his request for prayer (v8)? Just a spurious, superficial reaction to a crisis. This is a warning to those who use techniques to produce a like response. The great danger is that it does not produce the fruit. In fact, it leaves the person inoculated to the truth of the gospel. Moses question (v9), was a wise attempt to test the validity of his request. Sadly, there are many today who hearing Pharaoh’s request would be running around the church in a fleshly excitement, “Pharaoh’s been converted!” We need more spiritual wisdom, Christian discernment, much more caution. We are dealing with the souls of men and women, heaven and hell is at stake. We can leave God to do his own work, with confidence. He, the Holy Spirit, is a much better midwife than any of us. If grace is present it will show itself in time, wait, I say wait, on the Lord. But Pharaoh in his discomfort, anger, wounded pride, his exposure to humiliation just grows harder by the day. The finger, the power of God is revealed in the gospel (Romans 1:16). And in that same gospel is revealed, “the righteousness of God from faith for faith” (Romans 1:17). “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age” (Titus 2:11-12). The propositions of the gospel in the word of God. If a man, Pharaoh, or any other, will not believe God’s word, they will not believe at all. “If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead” (Luke 16:31).
(© James R Hamilton, written Spring, 2015)