If this is inevitable from a human perspective it is obviously of massive importance when God chooses to tell us that a particular task of his is the work of his finger. We are meant to notice the personal priority and power of God in any action that he performs. We are to attribute the initiative to him, recognize his immediate involvement, and deduce what the occurrence discloses concerning him. His “fingers” are an index to his character and qualities.
As the people of God we acknowledge him as Creator and Redeemer. This is the sum of our worship of him. We marvel at all that he has made. We are inebriated with wonder. Everywhere we look his glory is displayed. We are set on a trail of unending investigation into his wisdom. We witness the exertion of his power. We know God first as Creator. The creation in its vastness and variety is acknowledged by the psalmist to be “the work of your fingers” (Psalm8:3). Such an assertion is stupendous. The scale of the cosmos is enormous and immeasurable to man and yet to God it is the small achievement of the majestic Modeller who specializes in intricate detail. He holds our globe in the palm of his hand (Isaiah 40 12 ff). The span of the universe is as nothing compared to the span of his arms that enclose everything. We are meant to capture from the words of Scripture some faint notion of his greatness but our slightest glimpse is so fleeting. We are meant to scale down our own pride and self importance and yet enlarge his compassion and care towards us. “What is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?” (8:4). Creation is his concern and he sustains and guides it. It is his decision to create that makes us of consequence to him. We and all that is has been fashioned by his own hand.
Familiarity with Holy Scripture permits us to know that creation has been damaged. The fall of angels and men has degraded and depraved their natures and the shock of the ruptured relationships with the Sovereign Lord has extended to the whole created order where everything is askew and inharmonious. Nature registers our breach with God and writhes and groans. God became incarnate to rectify and restore creation and deliver it from the forces that oppress and destroy it. God looks at human hearts enthralled by evil, at human nature disfigured by sin, at our habitation degraded by our revolt and says, “An enemy has done this” (Matthew 13:28). He sent his Son, “To destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8), redeem mankind through an act of deliverance, and renew creation, this comprehensive renovation constituting the kingdom of God. The entire process of eliminating evil and expelling its source, thus freeing its captives and victims, is attributed to the Lord Jesus who has demolished the reign of darkness and manifested the reign of God bringing relief and joy to those whom he has reconciled to the Father. “But if I drive out demons by the finger of God then the kingdom of God has come to you” (Matthew 11:20). Putting creation right, Redemption, is the next greataccomplishment of the Lord for which we praise and admire him. His finger has touched the centre of our infection, healed our disease, and driven away our death. We are uplifted by his own hand which will delve into the mire to grasp us. His “manual labour” rescues us.
One of the intriguing enigmas of the New Testament is as to what Jesus wrote on the ground with his finger when he was dealing with the accusations levelled at the woman caught in adultery (John 8: 1-11). The most attractive conjecture is the one that suggests that Jesus was inscribing the words of the seventh commandment in the dust. “But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger” (v6b). When Jesus shamed the members of the censorious crowd with a sense of their own sin and they drifted away he prompted the woman to participate in that moment of inclusive self examination – for all are sinners when confronted with the law in any or all of its parts – and proclaimed freedom from condemnation and a turning away from sin. Her guilt had been erased. His finger, along with his speech, was instrumental somehow in pointing to personal salvation. It quickened the consciences of the self righteous and quietened the conscience of an offender.
The three references to the finger(s) of God point to the personal, intimate, and intense involvement of the Lord in the great work of creation, the gracious work of redemption, and his gentle work of restoration. Creation, salvation, and the comfort of the individual heart are all spheres of the Lord’s concern where he works his sovereign and gracious will through his near presence.
Whatever we think, and whatever we say of him, should savour of his excellence, correspond to the sacred sublimity of his name, and tend to the exaltation of his magnificence.
No figures of speech can describe God’s extraordinary affection toward us, for it is infinite and various.
Christ is the ladder by which we ascend to God the Father.
Nothing can raise us up to God, until Christ shall have instructed us in his school. Yet this cannot be done, unless we, having emerged out of the lowest depths, are borne up above all heavens, in the chariot of his cross.
The kingdom of God is nothing else than the inward and spiritual renewal of the soul.
On the Spirit:
When God shines into us by his Spirit, he at the same time causes that sacred truth which endures for ever to shine forth in the mirror of his word.
We are partakers of the Holy Spirit, in proportion to the intercourse we maintain with Christ; the Spirit will be found nowhere but in Christ.
John Calvin – died 27th May 1564