John T. Willis

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Lift Up Your Hands

The gesture of lifting up the hands permeates the Bible--Old and New Testaments. This gesture contains several rich and deep connotations. The way in which godly people lifted up their hands was by lifting up the palms of the hands upward to God. Anyone who knows Hebrew recognizes immediately the significance of the palms of the hands. There are at least TEN meanings of lifting up the hands. This blog sketches these meanings briefly.

1. To do something; to perform an action. Genesis 41:44:
"Pharaoh said to Joseph, 'I am Pharaoh, and without your consent no one shall LIFT UP HAND or foot in all the land of Egypt.'"

2. To be hostile toward; to triumph over. 2 Samuel 18:28:
"Then Ahimaaz cried out to the king, 'All is well!' He prostrated himself before the king with his face to the ground, and said, 'Blessed be the Lord your God, who has delivered up the men who LIFTED UP THEIR HAND against my lord the king.'"

3. To make an oath; swear. Genesis 14:22.
"Abram said to the king of Sodom, 'I have LIFTED UP MY HANDS [that is, sworn] to the Lord, God Most High, maker of heaven and earth.'"

4. To summon. Isaiah 49:22:
"Thus says the Lord God,
I will soon LIFT UP MY HAND to the nations,
and raise my signal to the peoples;
and they shall bring your sons in their bosom,
and your daughters shall be carried on their shoulders."

5. To Praises. Psalm 63:3-4:
"Because your steadfast love is better than life,
my lips will PRAISE you.
So I will BLESS you as long as I live;
I will LIFT UP MY HANDS and call on your name."

6. To show need and dependence. Psalm 143:6:
my soul thirsts for you like a parched land."

7. To entreat. Psalm 28:2:
"Hear the voice of my supplication,
as I cry to you for help,
toward you most holy sanctuary."

Psalm 141:2:
"Let my prayer be counted as incense before you,
and the LIFTING UP OF MY HANDS as an evening sacrifice."

8. To bless. Luke 24:50:
"Then he [Jesus] led them out as far as Bethany, and LIFTING UP HIS HANDS, he blessed them."

9. To confess. Ezra 9:5:
"At the evening sacrifice I [Ezra] got up from my fasting, with my garments and my mantle torn, and fell on my knees, LIFTED UP MY HANDS to the Lord my God, and said . . ."

10. To claim consistency of profession and daily living. Isaiah 1:15:
"[God says to hypocritical worshippers]
I will hide my eyes from you;
even though you make many prayers,
I will not listen."

Lamentations 3:40-41:
"Let us test and examine our ways,
and return to the Lord.
Let us LIFT UP our hearts as well as OUR HANDS
to God in heaven."

1 Timothy 2:8:
"[Paul says to Timothy] "I desire, then, that in every place the men should pray, LIFTING UP HOLY HANDS without anger or argument."

These texts are only samples of MANY BIBLICAL texts throughout scripture. Good a good concordance and you will find many examples of lifting up the hands for various reasons.

Share YOUR insights and experiences and failures and confessions and desires with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis


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