Hands

Scripture often uses the image of ‘Hands’ as a symbol of authority or an illustration of activity (work).

The right hand of God symbolically speaks of His might and power (Ps 118:16; Act 7:56, Rom 8:34; Col 3:1). “All control will finally be given into Jesus hands”, and although Satan has been given limited freedom to run riot in the world the time is coming when this will be stripped from him forever (Jn 3:35; Rev 20:3,7-10). “The king’s heart is in God’s hands” (Prov 21:1). God is ultimately in control even over those who think they have absolute power and in rebellion, unknowingly carry out His plans (Gen 50:20; Act 3:17,18, 4:28). Jesus was delivered into the hands of sinful men and Pilate mistakenly thought by washing his hands it would release him from the guilt of condemning Jesus to death (Mt 27:24; Lk 24:7).

“Who can approach God?  Those with clean hands…” (Ps 24:3,4; Jas 4:8). It is our job to live a pure life signified by clean hands. “Humble yourselves under God’s mighty hand” speaks of voluntarily submitting or putting ourselves under His authority and protection through obedience to fulfill His purposes (1 Pet 5:6). Jesus and Stephen both said, “Into your hands I commit my spirit” as they died (Lk 23:46; Act 7:59). As we commit ourselves and times into God’s hands in surrender it indicates trust and confidence in His ability to keep that which is valuable to us (Ps 31:5,15, 143:6; Jn 10:28,29; 2 Tim 1:12).

“Let us lift up our heart and hands to God” (Lam 3:41). There is a significant correlation often expressed between the inner attitude of our heart and the outward posture of our hands. Hands are lifted up in blessing others and in allegiance to God (Lev 9:22; 1 Kgs 8:22,54; Lk 24:50). David lifted up his hands in praise and calling on God to help (Ps 28:2, 63:4). We are instructed to praise and pray like this too, “I want men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer” (Ps 134:2, 141:2; 1 Tim 2:8).

The Bible instructs us to have generous, pliable hearts that will make an open-handed response towards those in need rather than closed fists indicating mistrust, defiance and a reluctance to share (Deut 15:7-11). However, when giving gifts to the poor ‘don’t let your left hand know what your right hand does’, indicating good works are to be done without attracting attention (Mt 6:3).  “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, as unto the Lord” whilst remembering that “Putting your hand to the plough is a commitment that should only be made after considering the long-term responsibilities involved (Eccl 9:10; Lk 9:62; Col 3:23). 

We are instructed to lift up the ‘hands’ that hang down, bringing comfort and encouragement to others who are feeling weak and ready to give up (Heb 12:12). During

    Put your hand into Christ's

the battle at Rephidim when Moses held the rod up in his hands the Israelites gained the advantage, but when he lowered his arms, the opposition started to win.  Aaron and Hur, realising the significance of hands raised to the throne of God, held up Moses’ arms and the opposing army was defeated (Ex 17:8-16). We need to support our spiritual leaders too, by figuratively lifting up their ‘hands’, helping to carry some responsibility, praying for them and giving words of encouragement. God asked Moses “What’s in your hands?” – referring to his rod or shepherd’s staff (Ex 4:2-17).  He would say this to us too because He wants to show His power through what we are involved with if we give it to His purposes so do not discredit or minimize its potential.

After He rose from the dead Jesus said, “See my hands and feet” (Lk 24:39,40). The resurrection was a reality and the scars from the cross that purchased our salvation will be visible throughout eternity.

The laying on of hands is an ancient symbolic gesture of ‘transfer’ with the specific intention to pass on blessing (Gen 48:13,14; Mt 19:15); a commissioning for service (Act 6:6, 19:6); when imparting the Holy Spirit and spiritual gifts (Act 8:17, 9:17; 1 Tim 4:14; 2Tim 1:6; Heb 6:2). Jesus placed His hands on children and blessed them (Mk 10:16). One of the signs accompanying believers will be they “Place their hands on the sick they will recover” (Mk 16:17,18; Jas 5:14,15).  There are numerous examples of Jesus and the apostles laying their hands on sick people and they recovered (Mk 6:5, 7:32-35; Lk 4:40; Act 28:8). Reaching out and touching Jesus released faith for healing (Mk 5:27-34; Lk 6:19, 8:46). However, there were other times when the sick were either not in the vicinity of Jesus or He did not touch them and they were healed (Mt 8:5-13, 12:9-13; Jn 11:43-45). When praying for another, this physical connection often becomes a trigger point that releases faith in the recipient (Mt 9:21,22). Touching another with the hands is the most common form of interpersonal physical contact, yet when ministering to others, particularly of the opposite sex, do so with integrity. A hand on top of the head or shoulder is considered appropriate, however even then, it is courtesy to ask ‘May I place my hand on your shoulder or head?’ The laying on of hands can be a physical transfer point through which God communicates His life giving power; it is not a magical Biblical formula or system, rather the Divine miraculously intervening in the affairs of humanity in response to the prayers and faith of His children. As it is a significant act, especially when commissioning church leaders, this solemn responsibility should not be done in a hurry (1 Tim 5:22).

In Jewish culture the right hand represented a place of significance or first place. In the Bible, whenever the right hand is specifically mentioned, it means a place of honour and authority, thus Jesus is seated at the right hand of God (Mk 16:19; Heb 1:3).

"The right hand of fellowship" indicates trust, mutual agreement and being partners in a common undertaking (Gal 2:9).

See also: bless/blessed, palm reading, touch.


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