Have you ever considered the varied ways in which we make use of our hands? We use them to feed ourselves, to minister to our needs, but likewise we might employ them to give a comforting touch or steadying hold to others in need. They can carefully handle intricate and delicate items but can equally be used in exerting strength. They enable us to operate machinery but can also be employed to emphasize and supplement our speech and emotions. It should therefore come as no surprise that although it is true that ‘God is Spirit’, in order that we might appreciate something of His attributes, power and work, amongst the many human terms and characteristics applied to Him,1 the scriptures frequently refer to His ‘hands’.
Sixteen verses in the King James Version of the Bible employ the phrase ‘hand of God’, but many verses, though not using that exact phrase, speak of His ‘hand’. Amongst the adjectives that are used, we read of His ‘strong’ or ‘mighty’ hand and of His ‘good’ hand and to those we might add references to His ‘stretched out’ hand, the ‘hollow’ of His hand, the ‘shadow’ of His hand, His ‘lifted up’ hand and mention of the power and accomplishments of His ‘right hand’.
In direct contrast to the popular and erroneous theory of evolution, the Bible asserts that all things had their source and origin in God.
God Himself, in speaking of His essential deity and sovereignty, said through the prophet Isaiah, ‘Hearken unto me, O Jacob and Israel, my called; I am he; I am the first, I also am the last. Mine hand also hath laid the foundation of the earth, and my right hand hath spanned the heavens: when I call unto them, they stand up together’, Isa. 48. 12, 13. Both the laying of the foundation of the earth and the stretching out of the vast expanse of the heavens are to be traced back to the hand of God, irrefutable testimony to His eternal power and Godhead.
We are probably familiar with the succinct statement ‘History is His-story’, asserting God’s control over the course and the events of each generation. It is true that in the days of Noah there were those who questioned ‘what could the Almighty do to them?’2 and likewise the Apostle Peter forewarned there would come in the last days, ‘scoffers’, saying ‘Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation’. But while such men reject all possibility of God intervening in affairs on earth, the former were taken away with a flood and of the latter the apostle says, ‘the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night’.3 A reminder of the words of David who in speaking of the wicked said, ‘Because they regard not the works of the Lord, nor the operation of his hands, he shall destroy them, and not build them up’, Ps. 28. 5.
But can we be sure that history is indeed His-story? Consider:
Isaiah, addressing the people of Judah and Jerusalem, a people who well knew the pain of oppression and captivity at the hands of a foreign power said, ‘Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear’. As he exhorts them to trust in God, he says the ability of the Lord’s hand to save was not in question; the problem lay with them, their sin and depravity had separated them from the Lord and closed His ear to their cry, Isa. 59. 1, 2.
Clear evidence of the Lord’s power to save had been demonstrated in the deliverance of the children of Israel from Egypt, in the days of Moses. Commissioning Moses to go unto Pharaoh and request the release of the people, the Lord forewarned His servant, ‘I am sure that the king of Egypt will not let you go, no, not by a mighty hand’. J. N. Darby gives a marginal reading, ‘I know that the king of Egypt will not let you go, no, not unless it be by a powerful hand’, that is by divine intervention, the powerful hand of God. The Lord saying, ‘I will stretch out my hand, and smite Egypt with all my wonders which I will do in the midst thereof: and after that he will let you go’, Exod. 3. 19, 20. Later, in the book of Deuteronomy, looking back to that deliverance, some seven times Moses directly referred to the ‘mighty hand’ of God that brought them forth out from the land of Egypt.4
In the first of the seven references, Moses, having exhorted the children of Israel to look back to ‘the days that are past, which were before thee, since the day that God created man upon the earth’, then asks, ‘Did ever people hear the voice of God speaking out of the midst of the fire… Or hath God assayed to go and take him a nation from the midst of another nation, by temptations, by signs, and by wonders, and by war, and by a mighty hand, and by a stretched out arm, and by great terrors, according to all that the Lord your God did for you in Egypt before your eyes? Unto thee it was shewed, that thou mightest know that the Lord he is God; there is none else beside him’, Deut. 4. 32-35.
The mighty hand of God was put forth for the redemption of the children of Israel from bondage, but what must we say regarding the redemption God’s hand has provided for us in the giving of His own Son?
Having mentioned the deliverance of the children of Israel from Egypt, we might, perhaps, think initially of the severe judgement God brought upon Egypt in the destruction of Pharaoh, his land, his army and his gods. Again, our thoughts go to the final night of the Kingdom of Babylon and the ‘man’s hand’ writing upon the plaster of the wall, God’s summary of and sentence upon Belshazzar and the Babylonian empire, Dan. 5. 5, 24-28. But is the hand of God judicially only applicable to God’s dealings with the wilfully unregenerate?
Doesn’t the writer to the Hebrews say, ‘It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God’? In what context does he say that? He had just lifted a quotation from the Song of Moses, ‘Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people’. Though often applied to unbelievers, contextually the quotation initially concerns God’s judgement amongst His own people, Heb. 10. 30, 31; Deut. 32. 35, 36.
In Psalm 95, the writer, having said, ‘the Lord is a great God… in his hand are the deep places of the earth… come, let us worship’ then gives the reason, ‘For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand’, a hand from which the believer can never be plucked! David, speaking of a man whose steps are ordered by the Lord, who delights in His way, said, ‘Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the Lord upholdeth him with his hand’.5
Every believer can say with David, ‘Thou art my God. My times are in thy hand’. One writer commented, ‘While the times are many, the hand is one! Our times change, as we move from one phase of our spiritual pilgrimage to another, but the hand is unchanging’.
May we, heeding the lessons, follow the example of the psalmist and cry, ‘Into thine hand I commit my spirit: thou hast redeemed me, O Lord God of truth’, Ps. 31. 15, 5.
The theological term is ‘Anthropomorphism’, a noun derived from two Greek words, the word for ‘man’ (anthropos) and the word for ‘form’ (morphe) and descriptive of referring to God’s actions and character in human terms.
See Job 22. 15-17 JND.
Read 2 Pet. 3. 3-10.
Deuteronomy 4. 34; 5. 15; 6. 21; 7. 8, 19; 9. 26; 26. 8. The seven references will repay careful study, being invariably linked to very practical issues, e.g. remembering what they had been delivered from, what they had been brought into, what it revealed concerning the Lord, and the responsibility on the part of those redeemed to obey the Lord, and to recount to their children what the Lord had done for them.
Ps. 95. 3, 4, 6, 7; John 10. 29; Ps. 37. 24.