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The finger of God

Luke 11:14-28

Pastor David Ernst

Third Sunday of Lent
Epiphany Lutheran Mission of La Caramuca  
Barinas, Venezuela

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Sun, Mar 19, 2017 

Grace and peace in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Some of you will remember the story of the ten plagues. In her afterschool tutoring, Luz Maria now is telling the story of the liberation of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, of which the ten plagues are a part. God sent Moses to free his people, Pharaoh did not want to free the Israelites, God sent the ten plagues, then the Israelites crossed the Red Sea and much more in this long history.

But in the Old Testament reading (Exodus 8: 16-24) we find a phrase that we also find in our gospel: the finger of God. Exodus 7: 8-11 says, "And the Lord spoke to Moses and to Aaron, saying, If Pharaoh shall answer you saying, Show me a miracle; Say to Aaron, Take your rod, and throw it before Pharaoh, that it may become a serpent. And Moses and Aaron came unto Pharaoh, and they did as the LORD had commanded. And Aaron cast his rod before Pharaoh and his servants, and it became a serpent. Then Pharaoh also called wise men and sorcerers; The sorcerers of Egypt also did the same with their enchantments.

Also with the first plagues, the plague of blood and the plague of frogs, the sorcerers duplicated the works of Aaron and Moses. But with the next plague, something changed:

And the LORD said unto Moses, Say unto Aaron, Stretch forth thy rod, and smite the dust of the earth, that it may become lice throughout all the land of Egypt. And they did so; And Aaron stretched out his hand with his rod, and struck the dust of the earth, which became lice, both in men and in beasts: all the dust of the earth became lice in all the land of Egypt. And the sorcerers did so also, to remove lice with their enchantments; But they could not.

The sorcerers of Pharaoh had the same work as sorcerers or sorcerers today: supposedly to control supernatural forces for their master. By tricks, they could imitate some of the miracles of the prophets of God. But, in this instance, no. They shouted, then, this is the finger of God.

Our gospel says thus: Jesus was casting out a demon, who was dumb: and it came to pass that the devil departed, the dumb spake, and the people marveled. But some of them said, In Beelzebub, prince of the demons, cast out the demons.

Beelzebub is a name of the devil. It literally means "The Lord of the Flies," because the flies are in the excrement and the dead. Then, Beelzebub is the lord of decay, destruction and death.

But Jesus said to them, "Every kingdom divided against itself is desolate; And a house divided against itself falls. And if Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom remain? So you say that in Beelzebub I cast out the demons. For if I cast out the demons for Beelzebub, your sons by whom do they cast them out? Therefore they shall be your judges.

The sons of the Pharisees tried to cast the demons in the name of the Lord, so why did they denounce Jesus for casting demons successfully? Our Lord continued: But if by the finger of God I cast out demons, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you.

Only God has dominion over demons. The Pharisees meant that Jesus cast out demons by the power of the devil because they did not want to believe in Jesus as the Son of God. They knew the Scriptures that pointed to Christ, but they did not want to believe in Him.

The term to cast out demons is exorcism. There is a well-known film called "The Exorcist". In this film, two priests confronted a demon and after a great fight, they threw him out. But in the accounts of the New Testament, a great struggle can not be found when Jesus Christ cast out devils. He only gave the order and it was so. This is evidence that Christ is our Lord and God. The sorcerers of this world do not have this power.

Moses lived about a thousand years before Christ, as long as we lived two thousand years after Christ. However, there are still sorcerers. People are always looking for signs and wonders and by tricks the sorcerers fulfill their desires.

I met a man in college. He was Catholic, but not a faithful Catholic. After a few beers and whiskey, he would start speaking in tongues. First, to impress women. Second, to mock the Pentecostals. Because it was very difficult to distinguish between his spectacle and that of the Pentecostals who claim to be filled with the Holy Spirit.

Therefore, St. Paul says no one should speak in tongues publicly if no one can interpret (1 Corinthians 14: 12-13). Because if someone speaks in an unknown language, how can we assess what he is talking about, or what spirit is speaking? According to St. Paul: But in the church I want to speak five more words with sense, so that I may also teach others, than ten thousand words in an unknown language. (1 Corinthians 14:19). To speak in n tongues is not a sure sign of the presence of the Holy Spirit. Many of the sorcerers and spiritualists are more dangerous than my friend in college. They do not do their tricks to impress women or for mockery, but to deceive people for their money or to divert them from the Word of God. Most sorcerers are frauds, but if a spirit actually speaks through them, it is not the Spirit of God.

The finger of God today is in the preaching of the Word and the sacraments. Baptism is the great exorcism. Those who have not received the new life in Christ are slaves to sin and the father of sin is the devil. Then the devil is his master. But in baptism, the Holy Spirit casts out the devil and frees us from the power of sin and Satan. Only God has this dominion over the devil. We are free from the condemnation of sin, the power of the devil and the fear of death for Christ's sake, his death and resurrection. There is no other name given to men. In this, we have peace that surpasses all understanding. Amen.

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