"But if I with the finger of God cast out devils, no doubt the kingdom of God is come upon you." (Luke 11:20)
With the finger of God...
At what point...?
The signs are everywhere. Rewind down from the stance of anti-theism to atheism to agnosticism. Keep going through unbelief to doubt to belief to faith. To where you're actually walking with and enjoying the love and presence of Jesus via the Holy Spirit. Brought to you by God the Father. By His fingers, and hands and arms. And heart.
"When I consider Thy heavens, the work of Thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which Thou hast ordained; What is man, that Thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that Thou visitest him? For Thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him (and her) with glory and honour." (Psalm 8:3-5)
If you believe that God is the Creator, everything, then, should point back to Him. As much of what is preached and proselytized from the pulpit of Science is predicated by the belief that everything arose ex nihilo, how is one supposed to look to God when it looks like He's not there and never has been? And I'm not necessarily seeking to convert any atheists with this. I'm merely looking to shed light on some things from my vantage point. One that is unapologetically steeped in a Judeo-Christian belief system.
"The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth His handiwork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard. Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world." (Psalm 19:1-4a)
"Remove not the ancient landmark, which thy fathers have set." (Proverbs 11:28)
The Hebrew word translated "landmark" is gabuwl. Strong's terms it "territory" and "boundary". In other words, an established marker. A border holding something in and maybe, by implication, keeping other things out. The idea behind the above verse from Proverbs is that there are things done by our forbears that, far from disrespecting and disregarding, we are to build upon and learn from. To relearn a discipline from the ground up takes more time than our generation has to spare. I find that with a shallow representation of Christianity, the lack of a robust standing in society on the part of believers (really, it applies to any faith) follows. Any secular society has in every case moved from religion to myth (and magic) to science—jettisoning belief systems that aren't empirical and/or demonstrably true. If Science were to disregard the shoulders of the bygone giants on which they stand, our culture would collapse. And when the church neglects a more fundamental (yes) faith, not steeped in denomination, but in the reality of God's love and presence by the Holy Spirit, you can see why so much regarding the church seems to be in decline. More than merely a drop in attendance.
All points bulletin
"Every place whereon the soles of your feet shall tread shall be yours: from the wilderness and Lebanon, from the river, the river Euphrates, even unto the uttermost sea shall your coast be." (Deuteronomy 11:24) There's that word again, this time translated as "coast".
Every time God does something, be it an original act of creation or the recreation of a human spirit, there's the sense of a boundary. A watershed or a before-and-after marker. And when Christians don't press in to God (not just a more ardent and arduous outworking of "faith-based stuff") then the miracles and markers out of which their faith has both sprung and grown, will fade and wither. To where Christians fail to see God the way Jesus did. "If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?" says David (Psalm 11:3) Those things upon which our individual faith rests and relies which in turn take their source from the original things God did and does are the very things that ensure He continues to be seen and known. By us (Christians) and, dare-I-say-it non-believers. Each point in space has a number. You cannot remove any one. It's impossible. But in between? I think that's where God is.
"Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?" (2 Corinthians 13:5)
In other words, Paul is saying to make it real. To re-realize the things that brought you to God in the first place. If, citing secular pragmatism, you have begun to doubt whether or not the things that at first seemed like they could be God's influence have to your mind turned into something—anything—less, try faith on again. Look to God and ask Him to give you a fresh outpouring of His presence and provision. Ask and ye shall receive. It's simple as that. Paul continues in verse eight: "For we can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth." The truths of God, while just as true as they've always been, may have faded from view through our neglecting to look at them in light of Him. That's fine, but turn around. God didn't place that marker in your life (whatever it may be) for you to totally forget about it. It's almost as if, by neglecting and ignoring the things He did for us in the past, we are, by omission, omitting the landmarks. To where they seem ancient by comparison and in retrospect.
My prayer for you is that if you have somehow lost sight of God, to where you're not even sure He exists or just in doubt as to His true character, that you would receive a reigniting of your faith. Paul says this to the Romans (12:3): "For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly..." In other words, humble yourself. Am I sure God exists? Yes. And I don't mean to sound argumentative, but if you're reading this and a non-believer, are you absolutely sure He doesn't? Try it on. Humble yourself. Ask for a sign, a landmark. The rest of the verse reads "according as God hath dealt to every man (and woman) the measure of faith." There. In between the points is God. The slightest whisper of belief and God will reveal Himself to you. He loves you. That's the point.
"Failures are finger posts on the road to achievement" says C. S. Lewis. Not sure if it was him or Charles Kettering who originally said that. Depends on your source. I find that the definition of both success and failure (as they are both subjective and not mutually exclusive) really depends on what it is you're looking to achieve. Work it out. As an aside, and in closing, one ancient landmark I'd personally remove (cast out with the finger of God?) is the Roman god Terminus. He was the god of landmarks and boundaries. And he's not welcome back in my circle.