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Lesson 1 in the series
Miscellaneous Lessons
Dr. Joe Temple

Introduction

Recently an individual said to me, “What is God like? How do you picture Him?” I could have answered from a theological standpoint, quoting John, chapter 4, verse 24:

John 4

24God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

It is true. God is a Spirit; but a wonderful thing that I have discovered as I have studied the Word of God is that though God is a Spirit, in order for us to understand what He is like, He speaks of Himself in human terms with human characteristics so that we might be able to understand exactly what He is like. I have discovered that of all the physical characteristics of God which are used in the Scripture, His hands have spoken to me the most. So I want us to think together today on the subject, “The Hands of Our Lord”. Generally speaking, the hand of God resting on a person meant His blessing. The success of both Ezra and Nehemiah in rebuilding the wall in the temple of Jerusalem was explained over and over again with the phrase, “according to the good hand of God upon him”. So at the end of this year and the beginning of a new year, it seemed to me appropriate to recognize God's blessing in the past as we seek His blessing in the future by examining what the Word of God has to say about His hands, for much of the interest in the Lord Jesus in the needs of man is manifested with and through His hands.

Safe Hands

The first thing I would like to think about is that His hands are safe hands. His hands are safe hands as described in John, chapter 10, verse 28:

John 10

28And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.

You see, what He was saying is, “I give them eternal life.” Then He described what He meant by that; “I give them a place of safety in My hands, and no one is able to pluck them out of My hands.” His hands are safe hands.

How safe they are we are reminded when we read from the book of Isaiah, chapter 49, verses 15 and 16:

Isaiah 49

15Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee.
16Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me.

Think about that for a moment. God says that the greatest example of love that the earth is able to comprehend, generally speaking, is the love that a mother has for her child. It is a very rare thing for a mother to desert her child. Occasionally it happens, but it is very rare. Mother is there after everyone else is gone. God says, “Though a mother may occasionally desert her child, I will never desert you.” Then to help us to understand how safe we are, He said, “I have graven you on the palms of My hands.” An engraving cannot be removed as far as the meaning of this particular word is concerned. His hands are safe hands today.

I learned a long time ago, and I try to follow through with it consistently, that anything I commit into His hands is safe. So many problems that I have and many situations that I don't have a solution for, I just commit them into His hands. I know they are safe. God has been very, very good to my wife and me, as I have mentioned to you before. He was good to give us seven children. They are grown; they are serving the Lord. I am grateful for them. But there were those periods of time with them, as all parents have with all children, when we weren't really sure what was happening, and we weren't really sure what was going to happen. We would kneel together and say, “Lord, we just commit them into Your hands. We know they are safe there.” His hands are safe hands.

Straightening Hands

Another thought that comes to mind is that His hands are straigthening hands. In chapter 13 of the Gospel of Luke, a beautiful illustration is given to us:

Luke 13

10And he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath.
11And, behold, there was a woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could in no wise lift up herself.
12And when Jesus saw her, he called her to him, and said unto her, Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity.
13[Notice] And he laid his hands on her: and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God.

Do you see what I am saying to you? His hands are straightening hands, not strengthening–we'll get to that by and by–hands; He is able to take crooked things and straighten them out. Isaiah expressed it very well again, for these are the words of the Savior recorded by Isaiah in chapter 42, verse 16:

Isaiah 42

16And I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known: I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them.

Isn't that wonderful to know, that God can make crooked things straight? Think with me for a moment. I wonder how many crooked things there have been in your life during the past year. I am not using the word “crooked” in the sense that there is something criminal, something against the law. I am thinking of the word “crooked” simply as things that are messed up, things that are all awry, and you have wondered what you can do about them. Why don't you just turn them over to the Lord and let His hands straighten out those things? I have seen Him straighten out so much. Just as He touched that woman who had been bent double and she straightened up and stood tall, He has taken marriages and relationships that are all twisted and turned and crooked, and He has straightened them out. His hands are straightening hands. They can be straightening hands for you.

Sustaining Hands

Another thought that comes to mind is that His hands are sustaining hands. They are able to hold you up. A beautiful illustration of that is found in Matthew, chapter 14. It is Peter's experience of walking on the water.

Matthew 14

25And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea.
26And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear.
27But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.
28And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.
29And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.
30But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.
31And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him [sustained him] , and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?

His hands are sustaining hands. Picture Peter, ready to sink beneath the waves, and the Lord Jesus put His hands under him and supported him just as if he were on some kind of lifesaver.

In the book of Isaiah, chapter 41, verse 9:

Isaiah 41

9…Thou art my servant; I have chosen thee, and not cast thee away.

God has chosen you. You are His servant.

Isaiah 41

10Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.

None of us know what faces us during this coming year; there is no way for us to know. In a way I am rather glad. If we knew for sure what was going to happen, we would wait for the hammer to fall. We would be miserable. God is good to keep us in the dark. This much we do know: Whatever happens, if we begin to sink, His hands will be there to sustain us, to uphold us. So often, I think, you have been treading water, all on your own, afraid you are going to sink. Stop doing that and just let His hands uphold you.

Sympathetic Hands

A very touching thought comes to mind now. In the midst of all the sorrow there is in the world, I would like to suggest to you that His hands are sympathetic hands. In the Gospel of Mark, chapter 1, verses 41-42, there is an interesting story:

Mark 1

40And there came a leper to him, beseeching him, and kneeling down to him, and saying unto him, If thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.
41And Jesus, [notice now] moved with compassion, put forth his hand, and touched him, and saith unto him, I will; be thou clean.
42And as soon as he had spoken, immediately the leprosy departed from him, and he was cleansed.

Do you get the picture? “Of course,” you say, “there's not much to it. It is just a man who was sick, and Jesus touched him, and he was healed.” Ah no, there is more to it than that. You see, that man was a leper, and in that day leprosy was not only considered an incurable disease; it was considered an unclean disease. You dared not get close to anyone with it. Here was this man, coming to Jesus. He recognized something in Him; he knew He would understand if no one else did. He came and said, “If You will, You can help me.” Now Jesus could have said, “Of course, be well,” but Jesus knew what he needed. Jesus put His hand out and touched him. Can you put yourself in the place of that leper for just a few seconds? Try to sense even in a small way how he must have felt, how long he had gone with nobody touching him, how long he had gone since anyone expressed any sympathy; but here was Jesus putting out His hand, saying, “I understand”–a wonderful illustration of the fact that His hands are sympathetic hands. Believe me today, Friends, our Lord Jesus is sympathetic with your problem; He is sympathetic with your need today. He understands.

It is interesting to me that the compassionate hands of Christ, the sympathetic hands of Christ are mentioned in the very last book of the Bible and as one of His last acts of all that are recorded in the Word of God. In Revelation, chapter 21, verses 3 and 4:

Revelation 21

3And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.
4[Listen carefully] And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.

Do you get the picture? Tears, coursing down the cheeks of someone whom Christ loves, and what does He do? He takes His hand and wipes away those tears. Could anything be more expressive than the sympathetic hands of Christ? Excuse this personal reference, please. I remember when my wife and I were together in the hospital room, awaiting her homegoing, about which there was no question–she was going home. We both knew it; we talked about it; we planned for it. She was weeping not at the thought of death, but at the thought of leaving those she loved. Just a short, short time before she went into the presence of the Lord, I reached up and just wiped her tears. She looked at me and said, “Honey, Jesus will do that finally some day.” Do you see what I am saying to you? The most sympathetic person in the world is the Lord Jesus, and why we want to leave Him out of our lives is more than I can understand.

Sufficient Hands

His hands are sufficient hands. There is an interesting story along that line in Mark, chapter 8:

Mark 8

22And he cometh to Bethsaida; and they bring a blind man unto him, and besought him to touch him.
23And he took the blind man by the hand, and led him out of the town; and when he had spit on his eyes, and put his hands upon him, he asked him if he saw ought.
24And he looked up, and said, I see men as trees, walking.

Let's pause for a moment. Suppose Jesus had stopped there. That man would have gone through life with poor eyesight. He wouldn't have been blind, but he would have poor eyesight. But notice, when the man told Jesus that:

Mark 8

25After that he put his hands again upon his eyes, and made him look up: and he was restored, and saw every man clearly.

You see, that is the reason I refer to these hands as sufficient hands. I mean by that that He never does anything halfway. He never leaves a job unfinished. He never leaves a task incomplete.

He has given a precious promise in Psalm 89, verses 33 and 35:

Psalms 89

33Nevertheless my lovingkindness will I not utterly take from him [you] , nor suffer my faithfulness to fail.
34My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips.
35Once have I sworn by my holiness that I will not lie unto David.

Did you notice what He said? I will not permit My faithfulness to fail. His hands are sustaining hands; they will always be there. He will not stop until He has finished the job.

Strengthening Hands

His hands are strengthening hands. A while ago I said they were straightening hands. There is a difference. Notice in Luke, chapter 24, the ascension scene:

Luke 24

50And he led them out as far as to Bethany, and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them.
51And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven.

Matthew 28

18And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
19Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
20Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

Do you get the picture? The Lord Jesus was going away. He was going back to Heaven. He held up His hands–don't forget these hands; they will always be with you–and said, “All power is given unto me, and these hands will provide it for you.” They are strengthening hands.

Stricken Hands

Everything that I have said has blessed my heart; I hope it has blessed yours, but I must remind my own heart and yours of another fact which makes all of these things about which I have spoken possible. The last thing I want to say about His hands is His hands are stricken hands. The Lord Jesus met with His disciples one Sunday. They were not all there; Thomas was missing. They said to Thomas, “We have seen the Lord.” Thomas said, “Except I see Him and the print of the nails [His hands were stricken] and put my finger into the print of the nail and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe. I have got to see those stricken hands.” You know the story. The Lord was with them the next week, and he did see those stricken hands; but long before the Lord came to earth, and long before his hands were actually stricken, a prophecy was made concerning them. In the book of Zechariah, it is recorded, in chapter 13, verse 6:

Zechariah 13

6And one shall say unto him, What are these wounds in thine hands? Then he shall answer, Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends.

You see, it was a very dear friend who betrayed Him. I am wondering today how many of us have wounded those hands. I am wondering today how many of us might be guilty of being His friend and yet hurting Him.

Conclusion

Two things I want to say to you: First, a word for the unconcerned, people who are just simply not interested. I remind you that the Bible says that it is a fearful things to fall into the hands of the living God. For those of you who are concerned, for those of you who recognize that God's hands are real, there is a word for you. In I Chronicles, chapter 4, verse 10:

I Chronicles 4

10And Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed, and enlarge my coast, and that thine hand might be with me, and that thou wouldest keep me from evil…

That is our prayer for the new year, that Thine hand might be with me.


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