Today's Reading: Exodus 8:16-24
Now the magicians so worked with their enchantments to bring forth lice, but they could not. So there were lice on man and beast. Then the magicians said to Pharaoh, "This is the finger of God." But Pharaoh's heart grew hard, and he did not heed them, just as the Lord had said. (Exodus 8:18-19)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. When the devil tempted Jesus, he tried to do it by throwing Bible passages in His face. Jesus out-quoted Him, though. But it wasn't just a matter of dueling Bible verses. Jesus defeats the devil because the devil doesn't really have power. We tend to imagine the devil as being like God: present-everywhere, all-knowing, and able to do just about anything. It's as if he's a sort of evil opposite of God, but that's not true. The devil's strength is in our weakness, our reluctance to hear God's Word, and our desire to live for ourselves.
When Yahweh demonstrates His power to Egypt, the false magicians can copy it for a little bit. But soon they can't, and they are forced to confess, "This is the finger of God." The same finger of God that, when God actually has fingers (Jesus), He can simply point and cast down the devil's kingdom and power.
Think about that for a moment. God actually has a finger. Ten, even. And they are on hands that were stretched out and pierced for our salvation. If you want to see the real power of God, it's not just sending lice or casting out a demon. Rather, it's defeating all sin and death and the devil's power on the cross and then delivering that salvation.
It is the finger of God when water splashes through the fingers of the pastor as the Lord baptizes someone. It is the finger of God when the fingers of the pastor trace the sign of the cross as he absolves sinners. It is the finger of God which places, by the hand of the pastor, the very Body and Blood on our tongues to forgive and save us.
Salvation from sin and death--that's the finger of God. The devil can't do that! By the finger of God, doing what it does, the devil is cast down and you are saved. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
Stay with us, Lord, and keep us true; Preserve our faith our whole life through--Your Word alone our heart's defense, The Church's glorious confidence. (Lord Jesus Christ, with Us Abide, LSB 585:6)