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THE FINGER OF GOD AND THE KINGDOM OF GOD

Luke 11:14-11:28
Key Verse: 11:20

Thank God for the privilege to ask God our Father in heaven. Our Lord Jesus teaches that we should ask God for whatever we wish and ask boldly and persistently, seeking and knocking. He will answer our request without fail. Particularly, our Father in heaven is willing to give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him. In today’s passage Jesus speaks about a spiritual warfare between Satan’s kingdom and God’s kingdom, and between a strong man and someone stronger. He also talks about what should be our stand and evil spirit’s unceasing work and how we can prepare for it. In this study may we open our eyes to see the spiritual reality and learn how to fight this battle.

First, the kingdom of God has come to you (14-21). Look at verse 14. “Jesus was driving out a demon that was mute. When the demon left, the man who has been mute spoke.” Here is an interesting description. Luke wrote, “…a demon that was mute,” while Matthew wrote, “…a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute…” (12:22). Both descriptions are correct. According to Luke, a demon was mute. Also, in 13:11, it is written, “…a woman was there who had been crippled by a spirit.” There are various kinds of demons or spirits, a mute demon (or a deaf and mute spirit in Mark 9:25), a talkative demon (Lk 4:35), a spirit that makes one crippled, etc. Here the mute demon made a man mute, and when the demon left, the man who had been mute spoke. He became complete fine. According to Luke 8:2, a woman Mary Magdalene had seven demons in her, probably selfish demon, melancholy demon, attracting demon, fantasizing demon, lying demon, talkative demon, proud demon. But when the demons had come out, she was made holy and truly beautiful and became a follower of Jesus, supporting the ministry of Jesus sacrificially. Here we see that what matters in a person is what kinds of spirit one has. This is a biblical view of a man. Evil spirits or demons make people evil. And unclean spirits make people unclean.

When Jesus drove out a mute demon, the man who had been mute spoke. What a wonderful grace of Jesus. Although he loved his mom and dad, he could say, “I love you.” Who could understand the agony of this man who had been mute? But Jesus made him speak by driving out a mute demon. In this grace of Jesus he could also certainly sing. This was none other than the work of the Messiah as Isaiah prophesied in 35:6, “…the mute tongue shout for joy.” So the crowd was amazed. However, they were some people who were very unhappy and did not recognize this work of God. Out of their jealousy they tried to discredit Jesus and slander him the Messiah, the Son of God. According to Matthew and Mark they were the Pharisees and the teachers of the law from Jerusalem (Mt 12:24; Mk 3:22). However, Luke wrote in verse 15, “But some of them said, ‘By Beelzebub, the prince of demons, he is driving out demons.” At that time to the Jews “Beelzebub” meant “the lord of flies” or “lord of dung” applied to a heathen god, not to a prominent demon, the prince of demons. Jesus clearly understood it to refer to Satan. So what they said was really insulting and offensive, and also irrational.

But Jesus was not personally offended by the vicious religious leaders. Jesus knew their thoughts behind their words (5:22; 9:47) and appealed to their reason and conscience. Out of his broken shepherd heart to help them he said to them, “Any kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and a house divided against itself will fall. If Satan is divided against himself, how can his kingdom stand?” Here, Jesus is speaking a universal rule by talking about the kingdoms of this world, a house and Satan’s kingdom. When Alexander the great died, the kingdom of Greece was divided by his four generals and the kingdom finally was ruined (Da 8:21-22). When a house is divided by the husband and the wife or by the parents and children, it is a sad story. Such a thing can happen in this world. But Satan is not that stupid. Satan is not divided against itself until he is bound and thrown into the Abyss and then finally thrown into the lake of burning sulfur (Re 20:2-3, 10). In this world evil forces seem to be more cohesive and unified that good forces. For instance, Psalm 2:2 says, “The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the LORD and against his Anointed One.” We see that bad friends are more influential than good friends (1 Cor 15:33). Satan’s kingdom ruled by the king Satan or devil is united for a clear purpose, that is to fight against God. Satan is not divided against itself rather divides God’s people and church to destroy them, and thus fights against God and his kingdom. In this world no power can stand against Satan’s power and Satan’s kingdom.

In this explanation Jesus wanted them to realize their contradictory claim and come back to their senses. He says continually in 18b-19, “I say this because you claim that I drive out demons by Beelzebub. Now if I drive out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your followers drive them out? So then, they will be your judges.” Apparently, some of their own followers were driving out demons. If they charged Jesus with driving out demons by Beelzebub, they exposed their followers to the same charge. The religious leaders’ irrational, subjective favoritism would be exposed sooner or later. Then, their own followers would judge them.

Finally Jesus said in verse 20. “But if I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come to you.” In verses 18b-20, the phrase “drive out demons” is written four times. Since man’s fall no one could drive out demons from men fundamentally. Then since Jesus came and overcame devil’s temptation, the work of driving out demons has been done. At this work of Jesus the Messiah, people were amazed and said to each other, “What is this teaching? With authority and power he gives orders to evil spirits and they come out!” (Lk 4:36) When demons came out of many people, they shouted, “You are the Son of God!” (Lk 4:41) They were afraid of no one but Jesus. Those troubled by evil spirits were cured (Lk 6:18). Jesus drove out even a legion of demons from a man and made sound in his right mind (Lk 8:30). Now here Jesus clearly stated the meaning of his driving out demons: “But if I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come to you.” Since Jesus drove out demons, Satan’s kingdom united and firm shook and began to crumble.

In Exodus there were ten plagues which God poured out on the land of Egypt Egyptians to liberate his people from the bondage of Pharaoh. In Luke’s gospel Jesus said, “If I drive out demons by the finger of God…” The first plague was to change the water of Nile into blood. The second was to let frogs come up and cover the land. These two plagues could done by the Egyptians magicians (Ex 7:22; 8:7). The third plague was that when Aaron struck the dust of the ground by the staff in his hand, all the dust throughout the land of Egypt became gnat and they came upon men and animals. It was like creating living things from the dust as God made men out of the dust of the ground. But when the magicians tried to produce gnats by their secret arts, they could not. They said to Pharaoh, “This is the finger of God” (Ex 8:19). In Luke Jesus said, “If I drive out demons by the finger of God”, while in Matthew, “If I drive out demons by the Spirit of God.” So the finger of God meant the power of God. Also, driving out demons by the finger of God meant God’s power is far above Satan’s power. Driving out demons was the work which no man could do but God through Jesus and thus the kingdom of God has come to mankind. This was a life-giving work like recreation by restoring the kingdom of God in men.

And in the Old Testament God gave Israelite Ten Commandments inscribed on tablets of stone inscribed by the finger of God. So the finger of God could mean the word of God and God’s message. It is true that Jesus proclaimed the message of the kingdom of God and those who accepted the good news, demons came out of them and the kingdom of God came to them. In his shepherd heart Jesus said to the Jewish religious leaders, “the kingdom of God has come to you.” If they recognized the work of Jesus and repented and accepted this good news, they could have eternal life and peace and true hope as the kingdom of God would has come to them. This applies to each person.

Jesus explains this work of God more concretely. Look at verses 21 and 22. “When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own house, his possessions are safe. But when someone stronger attacks and overpowers him, he takes away the armour in which the man trusted and divides up the spoils.” Here the words, “armed”, “guards”, “attacks”, “armour” and “spoils” remind us of a battle. A fierce spiritual battle is going on between two forces, Satan’s kingdom and God’s kingdom. In this world the concept of the kingdom is land, and the king wants to expand his territory to rule and the battle is done in the land. However, in the spiritual warfare, the battleground is in each person. A strong man who refers to Satan, is fully armed to guard his own house and keep his possessions safe. Satan regards each man as his own house and all the possessions in the house as his. So he guards his house with full armament. Since no one was stronger than Satan, all men were crying and groaning in helplessness and powerlessness under Satan’s occupation, losing the house of their own, as the Israelites groaned in their slavery under Pharaoh and cried out for 430 years (Ex 2:23). Then at God’s time someone stronger, who is Jesus the Son of God, came to attack and overpower Satan. He took away Satan’s armour and began to rescue them one by one from Satan’s occupation. The author of Hebrews expressed it this way, “Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death” (Heb 2:14,15). Here we see how someone stronger rescues people one by one from the power of sin and death, that is, the devil, Satan. The rescuing work is through his own death on the cross. His strength and power is in the cross, where he died as a ransom sacrifice for man’s sin. So Colossians 2:15 says, “And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.” And Paul said in 1 Corinthians 1:18, “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”

In this part we thank and praise God for the kingdom of God that has come to us through Jesus, who drove our demons by the finger of God. He is stronger than Satan and his power is in the cross through which he disarmed Satan. Thank God for his rescuing work in each of his people. May we participating in his rescuing work for his kingdom by clinging to the cross of Jesus and engaging in Bible teaching and prayer and share the joy of diving the spoils.

Second, the spiritual battle is going on (23-28). Look at verse 23. “He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me, scatters.” There is no neutral zone (no neutrality) in the spiritual world. There are only two zones, God’s kingdom and Satan’s kingdom. When a man sees what the kingdom of God means he must be either for it or against it. Anyone who does not side with Christ in the battle against evil is against him. If anyone does not gather with Christ he scatters. Paul said in Philippians 3:14, “For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ.” God wants us to be actively with Jesus and positively gather with him, who died on the cross for our sins.

When we strive to be with Jesus and gather around him, we can come to know how to stand. Our life in this world is an ongoing battle against the powers of this dark world and the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. So Paul said in Ephesians 6:13-17, “Therefore put on the full armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”

Why should we stand closely with Jesus? Further reason is here. Look at verses 24-26. “When an evil spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that man is worse than the first.” Here Jesus vividly portrays a poignant spiritual reality. When one believes in Jesus, the person’s life can be better with quitting a sinful habit like smoking or drinking and with a certain morality, and even with good grades in school and with a proper job and improved social status. His house of life becomes like a house swept clean and put in order. The reason why God rescued us from the evil one is so that we may serve him without fear in holiness and righteousness before him all our days (Lk 1:74,75). But when a believer does not commit his life to Jesus, letting him the Lord of his life, and continues to live a selfish life for the ease and glory of the world, he becomes the target of evil spirits’ returning. Evil spirits really like a clean empty house and easily and joyfully enter in the house and live there comfortably. The once-possessed individual became repossessed. Again, a man is determined by what kinds of spirits live in him. So Jesus said, “the final condition of that man is worse than before.”

Look at verse 27. “As Jesus was saying these things, a woman in the crowd called out, ‘Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you.’” She seemed to side with Jesus, praising his mother. Probably she was a mother and wanted to have a son like Jesus. How did Jesus reply? Look at verse 28. “He replied, ‘Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.’” God chose Mary to be the mother of Jesus. This was God’s favour, a great blessing upon her. At the same time this great blessing of God demanded her obedience. At this favour of God Mary responded, “May it be to me as you have said” (Lk 1:38) although it meant to sacrifice her human desire and her own marriage plan. Indeed Mary was shown to be a woman of obedience and thus was truly blessed. Through one’s personal obedience to the word of God the word can be on the tablet of his heart inscribed by the finger of God. The heart of obedience to the word of God is the place where evil spirits cannot come in but God dwells in increasing measure.

Thank and praise God that the kingdom of God has come to us through his Son Jesus. May we know the spiritual reality that Jesus is stronger than Satan and the spiritual battle is ongoing and engage in the spiritual warfare with Jesus for God’s kingdom in personal obedience to the word of God.

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