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Hands in the Bible.
Hands. We use them in nearly all we do from holding another’s in love and support to cradling a baby. We use them to wash dishes and to write words. We use them to clap and show appreciation and to eat. God created our hands to do things but also do work to advance the Kingdom. God apparently thinks hands are pretty important as the the word – hand – appears 1466 times in the Bible and the plural word- hands – appears 462 times.
Bible News write about the symbolic meaning of human hands ” God made the hands and placed His stamp of approval upon them. He gave each hand a unique identity. No two sets of fingerprints are the same. But do the fingerprints reveal anything other than strange patterns? Each hand has 5 fingers, the number for grace. Four fingers are weak, but the addition of the thumb provides strength, which is an illustration of grace, just as the Lord rules over the four seasons.
There are two hands, one to help the other. With two hands there are 10 fingers, the number for the Laws of Establishment. There are ten commandments in the Decalogue. There are 15 finger joints in each hand, the number for a covering. The hands cover objects which they grasp. The hands are used for manual labor. The fingers are used for writing, pointing, feeling, and touching”
So how are our hands used for God? Where do we find our hands in the Bible?
To do God’s will.
What is God’s will for you? Well, that is a post for another day, but we know that His will for us includes ministering to others. How do you use your hands to do His will? Here are a few ideas that don’t require you to go far from home or your home church:
- Serve as an usher or greeter
- Get involved in an area of service or ministry
- Volunteer for Sunday school or other youth ministry
- Participate in a Bible study
- Join the worship team
- Go on a mission trip
- Help in a local mission project
- Share your faith with someone you know that does not know Jesus
- Invite someone to come to church with you
- Deliver a meal to someone in need or assist a single mother with a home project
What other ideas do you have to use your hands to serve others?
To raise them in praise to Our Father
You may raise your hands in praise to God at church, or, at least see others doing it. Raising hands in church is a biblically-sanctioned form of prayer and praise. Lifting the hands is just a way of reaching up to God to exalt Him or seek Him.
In Isaiah 19:16, we see the strength of God’s hand. “In that day Egypt will be like women, and will be afraid and fear because of the waving of the hand of the Lord of hosts, which He waves over it.” The enemy retreats in fear because of an upraised hand of the Lord. So, if the enemy retreats in fear beneath the upraised hand of the Lord, then he has to cower in fear beneath our upraised hand because of our praise to Jesus Christ!
To love one another and To give to those in need
Using our hands to give to those in need include both physical needs (coats, food, shelter), financial (through tithing and supporting ministries) and spiritual (sharing the Gospel). We may think that we don’t have anything to give, but we all have something to give.
Now Jesus sat opposite the treasury and saw how the people put money into the treasury. And many who were rich put in much. Then one poor widow came and threw in two mites,which make a quadrans. So He called His disciples to Himself and said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all those who have given to the treasury; for they all put in out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all that she had, her whole livelihood.” Mark 12:41-44
If you have a roof over your head and a loaf of bread in your pantry, that is more than many have – even in your own community. Give of yourself, your time, your money and God will know your heart.
Proverbs 31:20 She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy.
[bctt tweet="Proverbs 31:20 She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy."]
To demonstrate love for our husband and family
Using your hands to serve others and give to those in need are, of course, very important and included many times in God’s instructions for us, but what about in our own homes? Proverbs 31 verses 13-19 show us several ways that the woman of noble character uses her hands to serve and demonstrate love for her husband and family:
She seeks wool and flax, and works with willing hands. She is like the ships of the merchant; she brings her food from afar. She rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household and portions for her maidens. She considers a field and buys it; with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard. She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong. …
While this verse does not specifically mention hands, physically intimacy includes holding hands and other intimate acts with our spouse involving hands. We find many references to hands in the Bible that relate to serving our husbands and our families.
Of course, the blind use their hands to read Braille and the deaf use their hands for sign language, but all of use use our hands to communicate. We use our hands to type on a keyboard or to write out a check for tithing. We communicate with our hands when we give a high-five or clap. We use them to rub our husbands back to show them how much we love them. We use them to raise them high in praise to Our Father. Of course, hands can be used for negative communication, as well. Rude hand gestures or to strike someone when angry. God designed hands to help us communicate with those around us.
To Hold onto Things
When God wonderfully created us, he created our hands to hold things: tools, writing implements, food and other hands. When children are small, they like to say “mine” and not share the toy or food or whatever is in their hands. As adults, we have a tendency to do this, too. What God has placed in our hands, we are to use for His glory.
What He places in our hands is whatever is in your care or control. This could be money, possessions, influence, talents, abilities, and more. What you withhold and won’t let go of reveals what is in your heart.What is it that you won’t let go of? When we allow ourselves to release what we are holding onto, we can see God use those things for His glory. Is it money or possessions? Are you hesitant to give more to God or to those in need?
God uses our hands for us to carry out His will.
Hands in the Bible include both our hands and the hands of Jesus. Let’s take a look at mentions of Jesus’ hands in the Bible.
Jesus’ Hands in the Bible
We find references to Jesus’ hands in many verses in the Bible. We know that Jesus was a carpenter. He must have had rough hands. When he left Nazareth and his carpentry job, He continued to use his hands and certainly understood the importance of using them placed on Him by His Father. There are so many stories showing how Jesus used his hands in the Bible that teach this.
Consider the blind man at Bethsaida? Jesus took him by the hand and brought him to a quiet and still place; Then, he spat on the man’s eyes and put his hands on them and he could then see.
Or the man with leprosy who asked to be healed. Jesus reached out to touch him and he was healed.
There are many stories of Jesus reaching out, holding, touching others during his healing ministry.
Apart from His healing ministry there were many other occasions when Jesus used his hands. Remember when on the Sea of Galilee Peter got out of a boat to walk on the water? When Peter began to panic and sink, Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. When parents brought their children to Jesus, he placed his hands on them and blessed them.
Or,when eating with his friends, Jesus have his hands in a gesture of thanksgiving, broken bread and shared it. Not just at the Last Supper; but we read that he did the same when he fed the crowd of 5,000. We also note using his hands when he appeared as a stranger to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. It was when they sat down for a meal, and this stranger blessed and broke the bread, that they recognized the stranger to be Jesus.
Jesus used his hand to show his love and servanthood, as well. For example, when Jesus knelt down and washed the disciples feet. Such an intimate, personal and loving demonstration of His love.
Yes, Jesus had been a carpenter with rough hands, but oh how He used them to bless, comfort, heal and serve others!
Of course, we also know that on Good Friday those hands were so cruelly nailed to the cross. On the third day He arose from the dead and He ascended in to heaven.
I’ve shared my two favorite books on Bible symbolism below. It’s a topic that fascinates me and I’m always looking to learn more.
How are you using your hands for God’s will? What are your favorite verses about hands in the Bible? Is the fruit of your hands honoring you or harming you? Check out my post on that here.
For more symbolism in the Bible, see this article on birds in the Bible.