There is nothing worse than a dead tree. Dead trees attract pests and termites. Dead trees carry disease that spreads to other trees. Dead trees may fall and cause damage, but what about dead hands? Withered hands?
It has been a while since I have written about the 5-fold structure mentioned in the Torah and the Newer Testament by Paul (Sha’ul). In this writing, we will look at the man with the withered hand mentioned in 3 out of the 4 Gospels and how we, His Body (the church), may have a withered hand that needs healing. Also, the bookends connected with this story give it more meaning.
And He said to them, “Is it right to do good on the Sabbath, or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they remained silent. And having looked around on them with displeasure, being grieved at the hardness of their hearts, He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored as healthy as the other. And the Pharisees went out and immediately plotted with the Herodians against Him, how to destroy Him (Mark 3:3-6).
The story is told in Matthew and Luke, but we do not feel the grief of the Messiah as we do in Mark. The first time we read “Stretch out your hand” is in the Garden.
Then the LORD God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil; and now, he might stretch out his hand, and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever (Genesis 3:22, NASB).
The word hand in these verses also means phallus and being sent out. Are we spreading seeds that are the spiritual seed of Abraham?
Yeshua tells a man to stretch out his hand. Instantly the man’s dried up, dead hand is restored. Picture each finger representing leadership in the Body of Messiah, the Ten Sayings, and the first five books of Moses. The Father calls, He equips, and He sends out. The Hebrew word for hand is Yad. This noun means hands but also counting fingers. The hand denotes ones strength or power–weakness.
I have read the verse from Genesis 3 above multiple times and questioned why the Holy One would NOT want Adam to take from the Tree of Life and live forever. Isn’t that what we are hoping and waiting for? Eternal life? Adam does not immediately die after eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. He lives until he is 930 years of age. Of course, Adam is no longer in the garden (Paradise), he has been kicked out, and flaming swords guard the tree of life. If the fleshly nature of the tree of knowledge of good and evil is not dealt with, then man may think he has the power of life and death in his hands. I assure you, we do not.
The seduction of the tree of knowledge of good and evil is evident. Eve (Chavah) saw that the tree was desirable to look at and good for food and wisdom, yet it left her naked. What if we think we are gaining clothing, but we are naked? Some of the religious rulers during the healing of the hand thought they had multiple layers of clothing, which they called fences. Fences are not harmful until, well, they are. What if His Body has a dead right hand and a hard heart? We are one loaf.
When the man was healed it was Shabbat, a joyful day. Messiah was NOT trying to get anyone to break His Father’s Set apart day, but He was trying to show them that our Father desires mercy and compassion for weightier matters– like the man seated among them with a hand that no longer worked. If we were to look at everyone Yeshua healed and name each miracle, we would notice something hearybreaking– they all represent our own spiritual conditions in the past or present. Yeshua healed the blind eyes. He opened deaf ears. He healed the lepers. He healed the lame. He raised the dead. He sent demons into swine, and he quenched a woman who had bled a long time. Are we bleeding? Blind? Naked? Deaf? “You say, ‘I am rich; I have grown wealthy and need nothing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked.” Revelation 3:17. One church mentioned in Revelations thought they were well fed, wealthy, and needed nothing.
Are we armed, each knowing his rank and position, and yet, not able to count together from 1 to 50? Are we running from teacher to teacher and place to place looking for someone to lay hands on our eyes? To place mud and spit? Do we need someone to tell us to stretch out our hands? The Master?
The world can be seductive, but ministry and gatherings can be too. The right hand has 5 fingers. The Father sent them out of Egypt in ranks of 50. In Ephesians, we read about the 5-fold. This is something we need, but I do not see congregations doing this. Even after 3 years. Even when the fruit is bountiful. There is fear. The same fear people had when others told them they were to keep His Feasts. What is the result of no leadership? A very guarded pulpit. No one is held accountable to another. No other Elders qualified to teach. No eye of the prophet to correct. We do not need prophetic itching ear words, but we need the eye that sees and says, we must repent of this or that. No apostles. No one checking on congregations as Paul did. No music except the same few people every week. The term “shepherd,” erroneously translated as “pastor” in Ephesians 4:11, is a spiritual endowment to care for Adonai’s sheep. Answering to the Great Shepherd. When will we be in order as His camps were?
And He (Messiah) Himself gave some as emissaries (Apostles), and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as shepherds (pastors) and teachers for the perfecting of the set-apart ones, to the work of service to a building up of the body of the Messiah, until we all come to the unity of the belief and of the knowledge of the Son of Elohim, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the completeness of Messiah, so that we should no longer be children, tossed and borne about by every wind of teaching, by the trickery of men, in cleverness, unto the craftiness of leading astray but, maintaining the truth in love,…(Ephesians 4:11-15).
Even children know how to count from 1 to 50 together. Even children can be unified about certain elementary beliefs. Even children learn how to follow the leader or line up for lunch. When the camp broke, and the tribes moved out, Judah, Issachar, and Zebulon headed the line. They all followed Judah. Judah is not going to see Messiah or look for Him in their Bible, our Bible, if we cannot follow and count unified. How is Judah going to see the Messiah from the tribe of Judah if we not following His Word? If a person leaves home and is scattered abroad and doesn’t see his or her family for years then suddenly comes home, do they have a right to tell the family to change what time they have dinner? What dates they keep every year for a family reunion? Ponder. Think.
In the story of the withered hand, we read of no joy, no dancing, or awe over a miracle? We know this man must have come every Sabbath to sit and listen to the Torah Portion, pray, and fellowship. He was part of the body there, but the leadership was more worried about breaking the Torah or the oral Torah than healing a man who could not use his right hand. How’s our spiritual ride side? Do not think of physical sickness, think of a spiritual malady.
Have you ever broke your hand? A finger? I once had my right arm go entirely numb. It was very frustrating and scary. I had to get my husband to help me with multiple things. I had to be hospitalized for a week. If we are to be unified and one, shouldn’t we be able to hold a sword in one hand and work with the other?
All congregations and religious communities have unspoken rules and things they believe to be done in a certain way. Yeshua healed, and men said, “Don’t heal on the sabbath.” The followers of Shammai, at that time, were the most powerful of the Pharisaic Schools. The two primary schools were that of Shammai and Hillel. It was said during that time that the school of Shammai binds; the school of Hillel looses. Yeshua loosed that day, and a man’s hand was restored. Shammai made the Sabbath so strict; he sucked all the joy out of it. This is why Yeshua told Peter what you bind on earth shall be bound in Heaven. What you loose shall be loosed. Freedom was coming! He who the Son sets free is free indeed. Are you free? Not free from obedience but free to heal on the sabbath? What about free to pick grain and eat it?
If the Body has a problem with dead hands right now, could it also involve laying hands on those equipped for service?
Yeshua did not touch the man with the withered hand. He told him to stretch out his hand, and it was restored. We can stretch out our hands to help the sick, poor, orphans, widows, etc. We can stretch out our hand to minister in many ways, but what if our hand is withered? Shriveled dried-up grapes on the vine are no good to anyone. Dead things don’t grow or produce fruit. What if our hands keep grasping on to dead things? Dead works? Dead objects? What if our hands are reaching for addictions, material things? People pleasing? What if our hands (mouths) are speaking death in the season of life? Do our hands follow our hearts? Or does our heart condition direct our hands/words? Out of the abundance of our hearts, our mouths speak. Imagine two hands, one belongs to the religious rulers, and the other hand belongs to Yeshua and His disciples. One hand has life and brings forth life. One hand ties heavy loads on people’s backs and does not lift a finger/ hand to help. One hand sets people free, and one hand keeps them in bondage. One mouth speaks great boasting, and one mouth humility. One mouth divides, and one joins. If Yeshua was grieved over their hearts, shouldn’t we check ourselves?
We read about hands often without realizing it.
Stretch out your hand, Noah, and take the dove back into the ark. Stretch out your hand, Moses, and part the sea. Stretch out your hand, Yacov/ Israel and lay it on the head of Ephraim and bless him.
Hands are curious things with significant meanings in the Bible. Right before Yeshua heals the man’s withered hand on the sabbath, His disciples are being pointed out to Him by the Pharisees for breaking the Sabbath. This too involved hands:
The story told in Luke is inserted between two other stories. The first story is about Yeshua’s disciples picking grain on the sabbath. The text says, “ His taught ones were plucking the heads of grain and were eating, rubbing them in the hands” (Luke 6:1, ISR). Yeshua’s disciples are eating life and rubbing it in their hands (Wheat Harvest). They were hungry on the Sabbath. Being hungry on the Sabbath is a good thing! The second story is about the man who had a withered hand who was sitting in the congregation. Right after Yeshua heals the man whose hand is withered (dried up), Yeshua goes out to the mountain to pray all night. When it became day, He called near His taught ones and he chose from them twelve. Yeshua had more students, but he prayed and appointed 12. Now the hungry men will have power and authority.
When we read of appointing men for office or service to the Lord, we learn that they laid hands on them. This is why Paul warns Timothy not to lay hands on any man suddenly. This verse has nothing to do with prayers and demons jumping onto a person.
Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double respect, especially those who labour in the word and teaching.
For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain,” and, “The labourer is worthy of his wages.”
Do not receive an accusation against an elder except from two or three witnesses.
Reprove those who are sinning, in the presence of all, so that the rest also might fear.
I earnestly witness before Elohim and the Master יהושע Messiah, and the chosen messengers, that you watch over these matters without prejudice, doing none at all with partiality.
Do not lay hands on anyone hastily, nor share in sins of others. Keep yourself clean.
(I Timothy 5:17-22, ISR).
This laying on of hands is about looking at a man’s character and integrity before anointing him and putting him in a position of eldership. Paul is saying don’t lay hands too quickly just because the man is your friend. Elders were equipped to teach. This was not just men in charge of tithes and offerings and running the sound system or online computer for Livestream. These were part of the 5-fold offices. I am praying will come forth for maturity and unity in the Body of Messiah according to Ephesians 5.
Every so often my gut is grieved over this because I know the things people fear the most are what brings order. Not like the Nicolaitans. We have that already and Yeshua said He hated it.
(Numbers 27:18) “So the Lord said to Moses, “Take Joshua the son of Nun, a man in whom is the Spirit, and lay your hand on him;” No withered hand here.
(Deuteronomy 34:9) “Now Joshua, the son of Nun, was filled with the spirit of wisdom, for Moses had laid his hands on him; and the sons of Israel listened to him and did as the Lord had commanded Moses.”
“. . .they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch. These they set before the apostles, and they prayed and laid their hands on them” ((Acts 6:5-6, ESV).
(II Timothy 1:6) “For this reason I remind you to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands.” No withered hand here.
(Judges 5:26) “She reached out her hand for the tent peg, And her right hand for the workmen’s hammer. Then she struck Sisera, she smashed his head; And she shattered and pierced his temple. May we pierce the “temple” of Sisera, take our tent pegs, stretch them out, and expand our territory! May our right hands be whole and holding the workman’s hammer. Joining prophetess Deborah–Bee/ Word and mantle to rise up and be unified. Milk and Honey and meat.