16 Comments

The Devil’s Hand

Guest Blogger: H.G. Ferguson

It’s October. Halloween looms. The time of pumpkins and costumes, candy and horror. It is also the time when our Enemy the Devil wants people to believe he’s greater than the One who made him.

He’s not.

But there is…the Devil’s…hand…

What then is the Devil’s “hand”? The extent and nature of his power? Does he indeed run riot this time of year, or does his reach affect the mind of man alone? For these are the two extremes of belief and practice here. On the one hand are the Calvinists and those like-minded, who believe the Devil can only affect the human mind and that’s pretty much it. He does not, indeed cannot, affect the physical universe at all. For to do so would “dethrone God”—so runs the argument. I call this Christian Rationalism, and you find both this and the idea that God no longer works miracles pretty much together in the same camp. The other extreme is best exemplified by many Charismatics, who see the Devil everywhere in everything and we’re pretty much at his mercy unless we invoke practices like “breaking generational curses” that smack more of pagan magic than biblical truth.

Gargoyle Notre Dame Paris

Gargoyle at Notre Dame de Paris. Photo by Tom Hejhal.

But what do the Scriptures say? What is the biblical worldview on this matter?

Neither of the above.

First off, God Himself declares the Devil has a “hand.” In Job 1 and 2, when Satan tempts God to act against Job, God says TWICE, “Behold, all that he has IS IN YOUR HAND…Behold, he IS IN YOUR HAND…” In the OT “hand” means “power, sphere of influence.” God acknowledges Satan has power, a sphere of influence – a “hand,” if you will. And that hand includes the ability to affect the physical world. It was not the “fire of GOD” that fell on Job’s livestock. It was the Devil’s hand. It was not God who made Job deathly ill. It was the Devil’s hand. God Himself says so.

We see this again in the context between Moses and Aaron and the Egyptian magicians (Exodus 7:10-12). God transforms Aaron’s staff into a snake. The Egyptians do likewise by their “secret arts.” The kicker here, folks, is the Hebrew uses identical words for both events. It will not do to say this was some trick or sleight of hand on the part of the magicians; if so, then God is as much a trickster as they are. No, the Devil’s hand imitated God’s. This also occurs later in the book of Exodus with the plagues – Satan imitates God. The Devil’s hand stretches out into the physical world.

But only so far.

Because the Lord’s single serpent devoured two of Satan’s. From head to tail. And the Devil’s hand was not strong enough or long enough to keep that from happening or to mimic all of God’s plagues.

This is where we must align with Scripture. Yes, indeed, there is such a thing as the Devil’s hand. But it is finite. It is limited. Both by what God expressly allows and commands (Job) and by Satan’s status as a creature (Aaron and the plagues), for he could not duplicate all of the Almighty’s miracles or overcome God’s Almighty “Hand.” Why? Because the Devil is a limited creature by nature.

Satan’s hand is curtailed by the will of God, which he dare not, indeed cannot overrule. I daresay there is much he froths at the mouth to accomplish, but God will not allow it. “I am YHWH, besides Me there is no other.” (Isaiah 45:5) This does not mean, contra the Calvinists, that God and God alone is the only real power in this universe, but that God and God alone is the ULTIMATE power in this universe. It also means we need not preoccupy ourselves with fear of the Devil’s hand either, like many Charismatics, because God is indeed Sovereign. He showed Who and What He is in Egypt. God’s serpent gobbled up the Devil’s minions. God judged the evildoers and rescued His own. That gives me comfort and hope. When the Devil’s hand collides with God’s, which one gets crushed?

Not God’s.

So what then is the biblical worldview? One that allows the Devil to have a hand in it, a hand that can indeed affect the physical world when God permits. For example, have you ever asked yourself where all the world’s monsters of folklore actually come from? From the fertile imaginations of frightened people huddled round crackling campfires or from anxious nightly vigils behind barricaded doors? Why were they so frightened in the first place? Mere superstition? Is there a physical reality behind the genesis of these stories, the Devil’s hand, corrupting and desecrating God’s creation, giving physical form to his hatred of all mankind? Perhaps there were -– and perhaps still are — reasons for frightened people barricading their doors at night and building fires to ward off what crawled snarling just at the firelight’s edge or scratched furtively upon shuttered windows…

New Blood

HG Ferguson is the author of New Blood

How far does the Devil’s hand go?

No further than his status as a creature, and only then as far as God will permit it. For God alone IS YHWH, Jesus Christ having come in the flesh. Demons quake at the very thought of Him. Whatever the Devil’s hand may bring, what have we to fear?

The auld Scottish prayer instructs us, “From Ghoulies and Ghosties and Long-Legged Beasties, and Things That Go Bump in the Night – Good Lord, deliver us!”

Sometimes the Devil’s hand does go bump in the night.

But God’s Hand always bumps back.

Harder.

Much, much harder.

 

author HG Ferguson

HG Ferguson

Author, theologian, graduate of Westminster Theological Seminary and Oral Roberts University, H.G. Ferguson brings biblical truth and articulate power to bear upon matters of both spiritual arcana and his work as a writer of horror fiction from a thoroughly scriptural perspective. Always outside the box of convention, but never outside the lines of what God has told us in His Holy Word.

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16 comments on “The Devil’s Hand

  1. Great post, H.G.! Seeing the examples from scripture illustrated the points well. And while there are many, many questions unanswered, you focused on the important part: while the Devil may have a hand in this earth, the hand of the Lord is preeminent.

    Is there a physical reality behind the genesis of these stories, the Devil’s hand, corrupting and desecrating God’s creation, giving physical form to his hatred of all mankind? Perhaps there were -– and perhaps still are — reasons for frightened people…

    I am fascinated by this comment, and the references in your bio to your approach to this topic. I am very much on the same page in terms of seeking to write even my most fantastic-seeming fiction inside the lines of scripture.

    I’m currently researching various “monsters” and seeking how they fit into a biblical worldview. Would love a chance to hear more of your thoughts as time goes on. Do you have more along these lines on a blog or website?

  2. Thank you for your gracious comment. Here is one I did on the blogsite of another author friend: http://historythrutheages.wordpress.com/2013/04/27/dont-read-the-bible-its-got-monsters-in-it-part-2/

    This one deals specifically with monsters in the Bible. I’m not sure if Part 1 is still “up” or not. I obviously much prefer monsters to demons et al. Monsters are universal in human cultures and they ought to be more acceptable to Christian fiction because of that fact — and the fact that the Bible is full of them. 🙂

    Thank you again for your kind response!

  3. What a great article! Very balanced viewpoint, too. I always wonder what the folks who say Satan can’t affect the world do with African witchdoctors. I went to a sermon by a guy from South Africa who talked about how after he was saved, the witchdoctors hated him and cursed him with this massive cyst under his chin. God miraculously healed him in front of the African church. This happened over the course of about a week.

    For me, stories like that are eye-opening and terrifying. Demonic power is real and does affect the world. It’s a good thing God is bigger.

    • Thank you for your kind response and for sharing such a testimony to the Power of the Hand of our God. Christian rationalists simply don’t believe things like this are real, ever do happen, could ever happen because to them it somehow derails “The Sovereignty of God” — which is about as non sequitur as it gets. The Scriptures take the occult very seriously, and so should we — by avoiding it in practice and by standing against it by the Blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony. Soli Deo Gloria!

      Frater Haroldus

  4. I loved this, and must thank the editor too for picking yet one more thought-provoking featured/guest author to publish in a series of them since I’ve been following this blog. Chocolate cigars all around, waiter. 😉

    I’m not sure though of the point you’re making by saying that the Hebrew wording is the same when describing both events in the following verses. One might as well say that the English words are the same, for the sense is simple to carry over.

    (Exo 7:10 RSV) So Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and did as the LORD commanded; Aaron *cast down his rod* before Pharaoh and his servants, and *it became a serpent*.
    (Exo 7:11 RSV) Then Pharaoh summoned the wise men and the sorcerers; and they also, the magicians of Egypt, did the same by their secret arts.
    (Exo 7:12 RSV) For every man *cast down his rod, and they became serpents*. But Aaron’s rod swallowed up their rods.

    I could put the whole Hebrew text here for those who could read it, but there’s no cause. The salient difference is the source of the power involved – and how God’s power proved to be superior to what the magicians did “by their secret arts (בלהטיהם)” – which I believe is what you’re saying anyway. 😀

    • THANK YOU for your kind response, the marvelous story excerpt and for the reblog! My point in the Hebrew is that this was no sleight of hand as in THE PRINCE OF EGYPT nor was it a touted “once for all redemptive-historical” kind of thing the Calvinist Christian rationalists assert. This event was not something the magicians did and was real this one single time to keep the Israelites in Egypt. Had this been the case the magicians would have fled shrieking from something that never really happened before.

      Thank you once more!

      Frater Haroldus

      • Yes, at least Cecil B. DeMille got it right by comparison in THE TEN COMMANDMENTS, didn’t he? No sleight-of-hand there, save in the special effects! 😉 I’ve never seen THE PRINCE OF EGYPT, believe it or not, and you make me rather glad I haven’t to a point. At least I’m used to where DeMille falls short himself. I don’t like adding other… well, inexcusable… literary shortfalls to my memory.

        I’m glad you like my story except. At the moment I’m writing out a story line which has been percolating in my head these past two weeks… in which I hope to “give the Devil a really good tune”, for all the good it will do him in the end… 😉

  5. What I liked best is the following, which I condense into one line:

    > Sometimes the Devil’s hand does go bump in the night. But God’s Hand always bumps back. Harder. Much, much harder.

    I hope I may be indulged here: this is a text from a story which I hope will be published next year in THE CROSS AND THE COSMOS. Your line reminds me of it and it summarizes well my general approach in speculative fiction. Here the Old One and storyteller named Eli Lamdan speaks to fifteen-year-old Alain Harper, whose powers are just beginning to awaken:

    “Here in my Realm, people want to hear stories about the eternal struggle between Good and Evil, just as they do everywhere else. But as in most Realms, here people don’t think a story is worth hearing unless Good is weak, incompetent, or otherwise handicapped, and Evil is overwhelmingly strong, competent, self-confident and well-supplied. That way Good has to win through sheer determination, or through a diversionary tactic, or sometimes simply by dumb luck.

    “But you and I, young Lightchild—we come from a Realm where Evil can rage and fret and snort and breathe fire and wreak all the havoc it wants, because it’s already lost. Its death warrant is already written—it just hasn’t been signed.” Eli chuckled, and it was a sound of pure joy emitted by someone who knew how much he was loved and valued. “Good has won already; it only allows Evil so as to build Goodness in those who resist Evil. The Hooded Man has ordained this… just as He’s ordained you to be the spearhead of His personal crusade against Evil, back home and everywhere else in the Metacosmos.”

  6. Reblogged this on Tales of the Undying Singer and commented:
    A thought-provoking bit of theology from a creative writer whose general philosophy in speculative fiction seems to be very close to my own…

  7. One of the many things I appreciate about Harold is his balanced Christian world view. So often a book — and hence the author — is strongly either Christian or world view — rarely both. I’m looking forward to reading book 2 of this series, and to having him post again soon at HiStoryThruTheAges. His blog was our top draw of last year, and for a very good reason.

  8. I guess I meant that many books written by Christians either have the characters being or getting saved, attending church, and reminding each other about how various scripture verses apply to their situation, OR the book doesn’t mention Jesus or Christian faith at all, but has the characters making good choices because they are good people. Not all books, mind you, but many. Harold’s book is written from a balanced Christian world view, wherein the characters aren’t always reciting scripture but their actions are based on Biblical authority.

  9. Your ending is killer Harold! Those of us who have spent our lives under the protective hand of God don’t realize Satan’s power as much as those who haven’t. Yet even we are not immune from his hand.

    I love Kessie’s story. When we turn to God in our extremity, he saves us from the devil’s hand. =)

  10. […] October 2013 I posted a piece on “The Devil’s Hand” where I discussed the reality of this truth, i.e., that the Devil does actually indeed possess […]

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