Sunday, July 13, 2014

Jesus & The Finger Of God (part 4 of 4)

This display failed to make an impression on Pharaoh, with the Scriptural record informing the reader that “Pharaoh’s heart remained hard, and he did not listen to them” (8:19b).  In similar fashion, Luke goes on to point out that “As He spoke, a Pharisee invited Jesus to have a meal with him, so He went in and took His place at the table” (11:37).  So even though there is a slight change of setting, Luke wants his audience to continue to keep in mind what has been said by Jesus, which is conveyed by “As He spoke… so Jesus went in.” 

What is the conclusion of the scene at the house of the Pharisee?  Jesus certainly did not win Himself any supporters, as “When He went out from there, the experts in the law and the Pharisees began to oppose Him bitterly, and to ask Him hostile questions about many things, plotting against Him, to catch Him in something He might say” (11:53-54).  Like Pharaoh and his encounter with the finger of the covenant God, their hearts remained hard.   

How else does this story from Israel’s history fit with Jesus’ use of finger of God in Luke?  Taking another looks at what Jesus said there in immediate conjunction with the finger of God and the kingdom of God (which should probably not be allowed to be separated), He says “When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his possessions are safe.  But when a stronger man attacks and conquers him, he takes away the first man’s armor on which the man relied and divides up his plunder” (11:21-22). 

Obviously, Pharaoh felt quite secure in rejecting Moses’ requests.  Why shouldn’t he?  He was strong, fully armed, with guards and a palace full of men ready to carry out his every request.  His possessions were safe.  Of course, one does not have to move much further along within the story to find that Pharaoh truly had no power, that he was not nearly as strong as he thought he was, and that he had no ability to deal with the stronger man (the Creator God of Israel) that was attacking him.  Ultimately, his armor (his army) was destroyed after he fruitlessly chased after Israel.  The completion of the thought that is encountered later in Luke, with the Pharisees and the experts in the law revealing their hardened hearts, which casts them in the role of the Pharaoh oppressing the people of the Creator God. 

To cap it off and to complete the overlay of Jesus’ words on to the situation, as Jesus surely meant to activate this particular historical remembrance (along with the others already mentioned, which must be part of Luke’s narrative plan as well), one can see that the culminating plague of the death of the firstborn, which would result in Israel’s release from Egypt (without having to lift their hands against their oppressors, it should be pointed out, and as Jesus must have wanted to convey to those listening to Him that were suffering under Roman oppression, as the sentiment of rebellion was always seething beneath the surface), and know that “The Lord gave the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, and they gave them whatever they wanted, and so they plundered Egypt” (12:36).  Later, it would be the death of the one that would come to be recognized as the Creator God’s Son that would be the catalyst to a different type of exodus (the Resurrection of Jesus and of His people), in which a different type of strong man (death) would be conquered.   

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