Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The finger of God

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Daniel 5:1-10

"In the same hour the fingers of a man's hand appeared and wrote opposite the lampstand on the plaster of the wall of the king's palace; and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote." Daniel 5:5

The scene of reckless partying with guests toasting their gods and getting drunk from wine served in the consecrated gold temple vessels is a sharp contrast to what happens next. When the disembodied fingers of a man's hand begin writing on the wall, King Belshazzar becomes instantly terrified. His body shakes and his knees give out under him. He cries for an interpreter to read and explain what the fingers have written.

The phrase "finger of God" occurs in several places in the Bible. The Thompson Chain Bible explains: "Finger of God - Symbolism for God's detailed interaction with His creation" -Thompson Chain Bible NKJV, p. 1765.

In most places it is symbolic.

  • Pharaoh's magicians attribute the third plague to the "finger of God" when they can't duplicate the sign - Exodus 8:19. The sense is of something unexplainable and supernatural.
  • Moses describes the two tablets of the Testimony (the Ten Commandments) as "tablets of stone, written with the finger of God" - Exodus 31:18, see also Exodus 32:16, Deuteronomy 9:10. The sense is that these were no ordinary instructions but a divine imperative (and perhaps Moses did witness God's actual writing of them).
  • The psalmist calls nature "the work of your fingers," implying that the work of creation is effortless to God—something for which He doesn't need to raise more than a finger - Psalm 8:3.
  • Jesus, talking with the multitudes, speaks of casting out demons "with the finger of God." Again we get a sense of something God finds easy to do - Luke 11:20.

However, in Belshazzar's case the finger of God is not symbolic but real and visible. It is a terrifyingly "detailed interaction" for sure, driving him to beg for someone to tell him what the message means.

Have you ever experience the "finger of God"—an interaction with Him so targeted and personal that you were filled with worship, awe, or fear?

When that happens to you or me, we need to recognize it, acknowledge it, and learn from it.

Holy God, the way Your presence, in the form of fingers electrified this blasphemous king convinces me of Your power and otherness. Please forgive me when I have been casual in my treatment of holy things. Amen.

MORE: Temple vessels

The Temple Institute website has photos of reproductions of the temple vessels, the like of which may have been desecrated by Belshazzar.

Silver vessel for wine libation

Silver cup for water libation

Silver libation vessels

(Note: this link to the Temple Institute site is for information only and does not imply support for the principles or mission of The Temple Institute).


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