Summary: A fascinating study is how the Bible speaks of God having hands, and how this terminology teaches us metaphorically about God's character and attributes. This sermon examines God's fearful hands, saving hands, keeping hands, helping hands & strong hands.
August 11, 2013
NOTE: A PowerPoint is available for this sermon upon request by requesting it at firstname.lastname@example.org.
TEXT: Turn to Hebrews 10 (to be read later)
Illus. – When I was a small child, I remember a song that was very popular, called “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands.” For some crazy reason, a while back, that song popped into my mind and I couldn’t get it off of my mind. Then I got to thinking—wait a minute, God doesn’t have hands! But yet I remembered that the Bible actually speaks of God’s having hands—which led me into a word study of hands in the Bible and specifically, God’s hands.
Now when you and I talk about hands, we’re usually referring to those literal five-fingered appendages hanging on the ends of our arms. But in the English language we also use hands in a symbolic or metaphorical sense.
For instance, we say:
• “He got the upper hand,” meaning someone got an advantage over someone else.
• “I’ll have to hand it to you,” meaning you feel that you should give someone credit for something.
• “Can you give me a hand with this,” which is not a call for you to provide someone with a chopped off hand, but rather it is a metaphorical way of asking for help.
I looked up the word hand in the American Heritage Dictionary and was surprised to find THIRTY-SIX definitions and TEN variants of those meanings for the word hand, only one of which means the literal word we use for our physical hands.
To the Hebrew and the Greek, the word hand also had many varying metaphorical meanings and was used to represent a number concepts. For instance, there were several common phrases in which the hands were used as a symbol of power. – For example:
• Psalms 31:15 – “My times are in thy hand: deliver me from the hand of mine enemies, and from them that persecute me.”
• Mark 14:41 – “…it is enough, the hour is come; behold, the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.”
There are many other ways that hands are used in the Bible:
• The “dropping of the hands” symbolized weakness or lack of resolution.
• To “strengthen the hands” indicated the opposite of dropping of the hands—to show strong resolution and decisive action of the will – as in Isaiah 35:3 – “Strengthen ye the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees.”
I could go on and on with many other examples in the Bible.
But there’s another very interesting thing in the Bible—which is how it uses hands as a symbol for GOD’S attributes and characteristics. Very frequently, the Bible refers to God’s hands.
Of course, as I said a few minutes ago, we know that God has no literal, physical hands, because in John 4:24 Jesus said, “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” A spirit doesn’t have a body and hands are a part of a body.