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.
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.
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?
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…
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.
Much, much harder.
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.