The Finger of God

Hand of a god-like creature pointing with finger.

When Jesus spoke to the Samaritan woman at the well, He told her, “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (Jn. 4:24).  This is a fundamental truth about our Father in heaven.  He is not bound by physical limitations because He is spirit.  This enables Him to be everywhere present in time and space.  Theologians call this omnipresence.

However, as we read through scripture we often see references to the face of God, the ears of God, and the hand and arm of God.  Such references are not intended to suggest that God has a physical form.  Rather, they are descriptive ways of illustrating the actions of God toward mankind.  For example, He turns His face and ears toward the righteous (2 Chr. 7:14, 15), but He sets His face against the wicked (Lev. 20:5).

Another interesting description of God is what is said about the tablets of stone on which the Ten Commandments were written.  In Ex. 31:18 the scripture says, “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 (emphasis added).  This is the only place in scripture where this description of God is found, and I wonder if we fully appreciate the significance of it.

In the 1996 move, “Twister,” a group of storm chasers is discussing the relative strengths of tornados, and they mention an F5 tornado.  Someone asks what an F5 is, to which one of the storm chasers replies, “The finger of God.”  Too often, it seems, this is the only way in which some people think of God’s power.  If God acts, it must be a destructive thing.  How sad it is that for many people the finger of God can only refer to something terrible.

This is not at all the idea conveyed in Ex. 31:18, however.  The finger of God reached down from heaven and wrote the ten words (the literal meaning of the Hebrew word that is translated “commandments”), so that Israel would know how to please Him.  In Deut. 10:13 Moses said that the commandments and statutes of God were given for Israel’s good.  In other words, the finger of God was wielded in order to help His people receive His blessings and to avoid His wrath.  What a contrast from the world’s view!

In 1956 Cecil B. DeMille created the definitive film portrayal of the deliverance of Israel from Egypt by the power of God.  His film, entitled, “The Ten Commandments,” depicted the finger of God as streaks of flame that etched the commandments into the stone tablets.  While we cannot say with certainty that this is how God wrote upon the tablets of stone, it graphically portrayed the fact that God’s commands came directly from His hand to mankind.  This was not the last time, however, that the finger of God revealed His will to mankind.

In 2 Tim. 3:16, 17 Paul said that all scripture is inspired (literally, God-breathed).  In 2 Pet. 1:20, 21 Peter said that men spoke from God, having been moved by the Holy Spirit.  This was the finger of God at work writing on the tablets of our hearts, so every person in every generation may know how to please Him and how to avoid eternal punishment.  Far from being the destructive force that is envisioned by the unbelievers, the finger of God is gracious and loving, showing us the way to eternal life through the word which He Himself inspired.  How grateful we should be that the finger of God has touched the world for our good!