Gospel Message & Recording
A brief review of the history of the world shows us that there has always been a tradition of “the hand” in Middle Eastern culture, which signified the protection of God from evil (people). This tradition is also found in Jewish culture. It is not rooted in Biblical proofs, rather as an adoption of cultural norms prevalent in the Middle East.
Biblically speaking, the hand of God (1 Peter 5:6, Psalm 110:1) signifies the following: creating the universe, protection from evil people and dire situations, healing, and comfort from pain and sorrow. There are more but these are the most significant.
Theologically speaking, St. Gregory of Nyssa, one the of the three “official” theologians of the Orthodox Church, defines the hand(s) of God as Jesus Christ (right hand) and the Holy Spirit (left hand).
In the Gospel reading today we witness the birth of St. John the Baptist, after he is born, the Gospel of Luke 1:66 recorded that people were saying, “What kind of child will this be? And the hand of the Lord was with him.” What does it mean that the hand of the Lord was with St. John? We reviewed the historical, biblical, and theological mean of “the hand.” Now let us reflect on its mean in the Gospels. In Jewish tradition, the hand of God usually meant protection from harm. In the Gospels, and further into the age of the early Church, the hand of God mainly meant that the full purposes of God were fulfilled in a person’s life and that no evil scheme of “the enemy” or “evil people” could divert that. Therefore, whatever plans God has for a person who is in Christ, will be fulfilled. There is, of course, a certain level of foreknowledge that God has in seeing the outcome of our life, that is, the good and the bad that we will do. So, the Gospels state that the hand of God is with St. John because God knew that St. John would be faithful until the end. I say this because a Christian should not become comfortable in thinking that since God’s hand is with him or her, sin is permissible, or take the grace and mercy of God for granted. In other words, we must always seek after the hand of God. The evidence of this is an ever-growing love for Jesus Christ and for other people.
Whenever we keep the Lord Jesus first in our lives, His hand will always be with us. The following are the five ways that the hand of God is with us:
1) Protection from harm: God does not desire that we are harmed in any way if we live. This is the plea at the end of every evening prayer: “Lord remove from the rods of wrath…from famines, from fears, from socks, from all unbearable punishments.” One the ways that we can ask for Gods protection from harm is by reciting Psalm 91 anytime we leave the house or are entering an unknown situation.
2) Protection from evil people: In many situations in life, if we are on track with loving God and following his commandments, the enemy will send evil people to cause havoc in our lives. If we detect such a thing occurring, it is imperative to recite Psalm 140 & 103. Nevertheless, if a person is following God, no plan of the enemy will come to fruition. And such evil person will end up in destruction and you will stand as the victor.
3) Protection from evil/demonic spirits: This is the one area that many Christians are unwilling to accept or understand. The reality is there are evil spirits all around us. Evil or demonic spirits, or demons, are sent by the enemy to divert us from living a Christian life in its fullness. Demonic spirits attack our families, ministry, and our personal spiritual growth. If we are involved in gross sin that goes untreated, then demonic spirits could control our lives. Further, demonic spirits, through what we watch or the people that we associated with, could influence us. It is good to read Ephesians 6, which deals with the armor of God, to ward off demonic spirits.
4) Healing from sickness: God’s hand is also associated with healing. Whenever we are sick or ill, we should immediately confess our sins and seek repentance. Seeking medical treatment is up to the choice of the ill person. After seeking repentance, and if needed seeking medical attention, we should rest on the fact that God could heal us. The imagery of the hand of God coming down from heaven and healing the sick is apt here since Jesus laid His hand(s) on the sick and healed them. For healing, it is good to read Psalm 103.
5) Protection of the family: As a Christian when you look at mainstream American culture, there is an ardent attempt to break down the family. Divorce is on the rise. The culture is changing or has changed. The traditional father, mother, and children family is pushed to the side for a new same-sex model. Further, children are taught not to listen or learn from their parents but form their own opinions. Parents are asked not to teach morals or religious values to their children because it is seen as a form of abusive indoctrination. For us to stand against such cultural and government encroachment, we should pray for our country and pray for our family. Reading Psalm 25 is good for the protection of the family.