“And the Lord said unto Joshua, See, I have given into thine hand Jericho, and the king thereof, and the mighty men of valour.”
“…I have given into thine hand…” The word, “hand”, does mean hand, but is also figurative of control, power, strength, and direction. God has given Joshua the city of Jericho and the inhabitants therein. He will have power over them.
God is also giving Joshua the responsibility for this task. He is to lead and direct the children of Israel according to God’s instruction. This is his first big battle since taking leadership from Moses. It is no small thing.
This phrase really caught my attention as I was praying about the things God had placed in my hand: the responsibilities, the accountabilities, and the directions He was giving me. At first, I trembled. Then, I began to see that God would never place anything in my hands that He had not already sorted. He would never give me anything so big that He had not already prepared for me, or decided would be best for me.
Just as when God told Joshua, “I have given...”, I must remember that God had also given me the things in my hand. They are His gifts to me. It is His plan for me. I need not fear, but rise to the challenge knowing that I am not alone. And neither was Joshua. He had a promise to claim, and so do I – “…for the Lord thy God is with the whithersoever thou goest.”
Facing some tough times? Wondering why you are being called to greater responsibility or accountability? See it as something God has placed in your hand and then claim His promise. He will take you through and the battle will be yours!
“…Is my hand shortened at all, that I cannot redeem?...” Isaiah 50:2
“Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear…” Isaiah 59:1
Isn’t it great when God answers His own questions? Is His hand shortened? Is his power and control inadequate? No. Maybe we need to have a look at this word, shortened, before we continue. I always thought of it as God’s hand figuratively not being long enough. And that isn’t necessarily wrong, but the meaning of the word indicates to be impatient or angry. It has to do with reaping and cutting down in harvest.
Israel is far from God, but God is not far from them. Though they have pushed against Him, he is still near them. He still has the power to save. He will not allow his impatience or anger to cut short His ability to bring them back.
The qualifier for Isaiah 59:1 is 59:2 – “But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.” God’s hand is not short or without power, but there is a principle here. God will not mess with sin. He will save you from it if you ask, but He will not live in it with you.
Don’t think that because you are “getting away with it” for the time, that God approves or is unable to sort you out. Don’t think that He is not aware of the sin in your life or that he is simply being stubborn in not answering your prayers. He is fully capable to move into your life at any time.
Isaiah 59:20 says, “And the Redeemer shall come to Zion…” God will show up! And he is not without power to deal with the situation.
“And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.” Isaiah 30:21
“Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established. Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil.”
Proverbs 4:26 & 27
Proverbs 4:26 & 27
“Follow the yellow brick road, follow the yellow brick road, follow, follow, follow, follow, follow the yellow brick road.” Dorothy was told. Throughout her journey to the Emerald City, these words were repeated.
The voice of our parents and other influential people also resonate in our ears. I don’t know how many times I hear their voices reminding me of instructions, warnings and encouragement. God’s Word is another voice. It, too, calls out to give direction and admonishment. These voices are guides in our lives.
Sadly, some people are guided by poor instruction, little encouragement and no warnings. Their lives are seemingly without direction due to the fact of poor parenting, the absence of Godly influences, or open rebellion. But that is where God’s Word can make repairs, restoration, and give a new confidence. God is so very interested and involved in our path.
God’s Word is telling us that we all need these voices. That little whisper in the ear to remind us of right and wrong has a part to play in our lives. If we know what is right, we should then stay on that path. If we are not sure, we should examine our path and make adjustments according to God’s Word.
Turning to the right hand or the left indicates that we are straying off the path, or that we are wandering. God wants us to make straight paths for our feet. (Hebrews 12:13) Ours is to be a path characterized by a steady and confident walk. We are not being blown about, but our eyes are to be focused and our steps are to be moving in one direction - Godward.
Are you wandering? Are you wondering? God’s Word has the instructions. Find that path, and stay on it!
“…lift up the hands which hang down and the feeble knees…”
“Strengthen ye the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees.”
These two verses read almost exactly the same, but they have two angles for us to consider.
First is the angle of our responsibility. In Hebrews 12 we have come through a lengthy passage on accepting chastisement and correction from God as his children. Having told us that such discipline is for our good and coming from a heart of love, we are instructed not to be discouraged by discipline, but to get up and go forward.
Matthew Henry explains, “A burden of affliction is apt to make the Christian’s hands hang down, and his knees grow feeble, to dispirit him and discourage him; but this he must strive against; that he may the better run his spiritual race…He must encourage and not dispirit others. There are many that are in the way to heaven who yet walk but weakly and lamely in it. Such are apt to discourage one another; but it is their duty to help one another forward in the way to Heaven.”
The other angle, in Isaiah 35, is the instruction to the prophets and ministers of God. They are charged to strengthen the weak hands and feeble knees of the people. Who have been left fearful after conflict with the Assyrian army. God’s Word had come to promise them gladness, rejoicing and the return of God’s presence and mercy. They needed to hear words of comfort. “Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold, your God will come…he will come and save you.” Such was the message of the prophet to this people.
This, too, is the design of the gospel, to strengthen the hands those that are weak and to help them stand. Christ said he was come to preach the gospel to the poor, heal the brokenhearted, deliver captives, give sight to the blind and set people at liberty. Truly, when the message of hope, preached and found in Christ, comes, our hands are lifted up and our knees receive strength.
We ought, then, to receive this message of hope for ourselves and then stand up and go forward with this message for others.
“…they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship…”
The right hand of fellowship is a symbolic phrase. In contrast to the left hand, the right is culturally considered to be the stronger and of great prestige. It is a sign of friendship, trust, and covenant.
Paul and Barnabas had just gone before the council in Jerusalem to gain approval for his mission to the Gentiles. This had been a serious dilemma for the newly forming church coming from a Jewish background, and, for the expansion of the gospel into the regions beyond and namely, into the Gentile nations. This “hands of fellowship” was a signet of their agreement and a sign of their blessing.
The shaking of hands upon greeting and at the end of a business deal in our culture comes from this same symbolic idea. It is a sign of acceptance and a sign of trust.
Let’s contrast this with a verse in Proverbs 11:21, “Though hand join in hand, the wicked shall not be unpunished…” Here we see another handshake. But this time the design is totally different. Paul and the elders in Jerusalem made a sign of trust and covenant that bound them together for the good. Here we see the wicked making covenant to continue in wickedness. God lets them know that their covenants are not beyond his intervention. Their plans for evil will be thwarted no matter how tightly bound they are in their devises.
So what does this mean for us? Let’s be careful with whom we go into league. Let’s be discerning about whom we enter into fellowship. Let’s be assured that God will bring every work into judgment and therefore honest in our dealings and forthright with our companions.