Laying on of Hands (addendum)
Hebrews 6:1-3 - Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. And this will we do, if God permit. [Emphasis added are mine]
At this point, you may be wondering why I listed verses with “Negative (Left)” and “Positive (Right)” in the previous section.
This latter addition to this study is to be explain the idea of left hand being a curse (or something less than a full blessing) and the right being the blessing or full blessing.
Genesis 48:1-19 - And it came to pass after these things, that one told Joseph, Behold, thy father is sick: and he took with him his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim. And one told Jacob, and said, Behold, thy son Joseph cometh unto thee: and Israel strengthened himself, and sat upon the bed. And Jacob said unto Joseph, God Almighty appeared unto me at Luz in the land of Canaan, and blessed me, And said unto me, Behold, I will make thee fruitful, and multiply thee, and I will make of thee a multitude of people; and will give this land to thy seed after thee for an everlasting possession.
And now thy two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, which were born unto thee in the land of Egypt before I came unto thee into Egypt, are mine; as Reuben and Simeon, they shall be mine. And thy issue, which thou begettest after them, shall be thine, and shall be called after the name of their brethren in their inheritance. And as for me, when I came from Padan, Rachel died by me in the land of Canaan in the way, when yet there was but a little way to come unto Ephrath: and I buried her there in the way of Ephrath; the same is Bethlehem. And Israel beheld Joseph's sons, and said, Who are these? And Joseph said unto his father, They are my sons, whom God hath given me in this place. And he said, Bring them, I pray thee, unto me, and I will bless them. Now the eyes of Israel were dim for age, so that he could not see. And he brought them near unto him; and he kissed them, and embraced them. And Israel said unto Joseph, I had not thought to see thy face: and, lo, God hath shewed me also thy seed.
And Joseph brought them out from between his knees, and he bowed himself with his face to the earth. And Joseph took them both, Ephraim in his right hand toward Israel's left hand, and Manasseh in his left hand toward Israel's right hand, and brought them near unto him. And Israel stretched out his right hand, and laid it upon Ephraim's head, who was the younger, and his left hand upon Manasseh's head, guiding his hands wittingly; for Manasseh was the firstborn. And he blessed Joseph, and said, God, before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac did walk, the God which fed me all my life long unto this day, The Angel which redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads; and let my name be named on them, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth. And when Joseph saw that his father laid his right hand upon the head of Ephraim, it displeased him: and he held up his father's hand, to remove it from Ephraim's head unto Manasseh's head. And Joseph said unto his father, Not so, my father: for this is the firstborn; put thy right hand upon his head. And his father refused, and said, I know it, my son, I know it: he also shall become a people, and he also shall be great: but truly his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his seed shall become a multitude of nations. [Emphasis added are mine]
In the Jewish culture, it was not uncommon for the father of the family to lay hands on his children or his children’s children to impart and invoke a blessing upon their lives,And so it was with Jacob (Israel). Before he died, Joseph went to see his father and brought his own two sons with him. Israel at this time in his life could not see very well and was speaking to Joseph when he noticed two other people with him. Joseph told his father that they were his sons, so Israel requested them to come to him so that he could bless them.
In Jewish culture, the firstborn was usually the one to get the greater blessing. The rest of the children would also get a blessing, but usually the firstborn got the greatest blessing. Joseph expected this so he placed his children before his father, the firstborn to the right of Israel and the second child to the left of Israel. In the Jewish culture, special significance was given to the right hand. To give you a brief explanation of the significance of “the right hand” in the scriptures, David Bernard in his book entitled The Oneness of God says this,
“In the Bible, the right hand signifies strength, power, importance, and pre-eminence just as it does in the English phrases, "He is my right hand man" and "I would give my right arm for this."
“Some biblical examples to show this association of the right hand with power are interesting and instructive. Exodus 15:6 proclaims, "Thy right hand, O LORD, is become glorious in power." Psalm 98:1 and Psalm 110:1 associate the right hand of God with victory over enemies. When the Bible speaks of Jesus sitting at the right hand of God, it means Jesus has all the power and authority of God. Jesus Himself made this clear in Matthew 26:64: "Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven." (See also Mark 14:62; Luke 22:69.) Jesus thus claimed to have all the power of God; by this implication He declared Himself to be God. The Jews understood these claims and because of them the high priest accused Jesus of blasphemy (Matthew 26:65). Apparently, the high priest knew the symbolic meaning of the right hand in the Old Testament, and he therefore realized that Jesus was claiming to have God's power and to be God. First Peter 3:22 further demonstrates that "right hand" means Jesus has all power and authority: "Who is gone to heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him." Similarly, Ephesians 1:20-22 uses this phrase to say Jesus has pre-eminence over all principalities, powers, dominions, and names. This passage also links the right hand with the exaltation of Christ. In this connection, Acts 5:31 states, "Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins." (See also Psalm 110:1; Acts 2:33-34.)
Acts 5:31 indicates that the right hand of God or the arm of God sometimes specifically refers to God's power in salvation. Many other verses of Scripture speak of the right hand of God as representing the deliverance and victory God gives to His people (Exodus 15:6; Psalm 44:3; Psalm 98:1). Isaiah 59:16 says, "His arm brought salvation." It appears, therefore, that the description of Jesus on the right hand of God connotes that Jesus is the expression of God's saving power. This concept harmonizes with the association of the position of Jesus on the right hand of God with His mediatorial role, particularly His work as our intercessor and high priest (Romans 8:34; Hebrews 8:1).”
With this understanding of the biblical significance of the right hand in Jewish culture, it is understandable why Joseph would place his firstborn at the right hand of Israel and his second born at the left hand of Israel. However, when Israel went to lay hands on his grandchildren, he stretched his hands out to lay hands on them knowingly and willfully crossing them so that his left hand would touch the firstborn of Joseph (Manasseh) and his right hand the second born of Joseph (Ephraim). This resulted in Israel purposely giving the greater blessing to Ephraim (the second born), altering what was normally expected when giving and receiving a blessing. Israel refused to uncross his hands and told Joseph, “I know it, my son, I know it: he [Manasseh – the firstborn] also shall become a people, and he also shall be great: but truly his younger brother [Ephraim – the second born] shall be greater than he, and his seed shall become a multitude of nations.” [Emphasis added are mine]
With this idea of the left and right hand in mind and its significance lets jump to a peculiar event in the New Covenant.
Matthew 20:20-28 - Then came to him the mother of Zebedee's children with her sons, worshipping him, and desiring a certain thing of him. And he said unto her, What wilt thou? She saith unto him, Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on thy right hand, and the other on the left, in thy kingdom. [Emphasis added are mine]
At this point, knowing the idea from the Old Covenant of the right and left hand, someone is going to get the lesser blessing. Who is it going to be? The one on the left hand side.
But Jesus answered and said, Ye know not what ye ask. Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? They say unto him, We are able. And he saith unto them, Ye shall drink indeed of my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with: but to sit on my right hand, and on my left, is not mine to give, but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father.
First, Jesus said to them that they did not know what they asked. It was not for him (being a man) to place people at His right or His left, at this time. That position is prepared beforehand by His Father, God.
And when the ten heard it, they were moved with indignation against the two brethren. But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many. [Emphasis added are mine]
Then Jesus doesn’t elaborate on why they don’t know what they are asking, except to say that it is prepared for by the Father. Because the disciples were indignant with each other over the request, Jesus seeing the heart of his disciples addresses the issue of their heart. They were fighting for a position of eminence and greater blessing then others. But Jesus said that if any of them want to be the chief among them let them serve. Jesus exemplified that statement in that He was God clothed in the flesh (humanity) and came to serve, not to be served, even though He was the Mighty God and Eternal Father. He did this to give His life a ransom for a great many. To sacrifice Himself for His beloved.
The next passage is a parallel passage of the one just read.
Mark 10:35-45 - And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, come unto him, saying, Master, we would that thou shouldest do for us whatsoever we shall desire. And he said unto them, What would ye that I should do for you? They said unto him, Grant unto us that we may sit, one on thy right hand, and the other on thy left hand, in thy glory. But Jesus said unto them, Ye know not what ye ask: can ye drink of the cup that I drink of? and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? And they said unto him, We can. And Jesus said unto them, Ye shall indeed drink of the cup that I drink of; and with the baptism that I am baptized withal shall ye be baptized: But to sit on my right hand and on my left hand is not mine to give; but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared. And when the ten heard it, they began to be much displeased with James and John. But Jesus called them to him, and saith unto them, Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them. But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister: And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all. For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many. [Emphasis added are mine]
To be placed in a position of greatness or distinction in the kingdom of God in His glory, you must first humble yourself and serve all. It’s not about climbing the ladder of success and stepping on anyone who gets in your way. That is the way of the world and is born of pride and self-exaltation, but the man of God is not so. He is humble and meek and lowly of heart, putting others before himself and sacrificing his own life for the good of many. Sound like the ministry of Jesus? This is us being conformed into the image of Jesus. Now, let us find out why the disciples did not know what they were asking in sitting at His right hand and left hand in His glory.
Matthew 25:31-46 - When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal. [Emphasis added are mine]
When Jesus returns in His glory, He shall be on the throne of His glory. Before him will be gathered all nations and He will separate them from one another, like a shepherd will divide his sheep and his goats. The sheep will go to His right hand and the goats will go to his left hand. Are you realizing the significance of sitting at His right and His left hand now?
He will say to those on His right to come and inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. Jesus was speaking to them that it was already prepared for them. Just like when He told His disciples that it was already prepared about who would sit on the right or left of Him. Jesus is the Father sitting on His throne of glory. He had it prepared for them from long ago.
They were the ones that fed Him when He was hungry. They gave him drink when He was thirsty. They took Him in even when He was a stranger. They gave him clothes when He was naked and when He was sick and in prison they came to Him and visited Him. These sheep that He set on His right are considered righteous in His eyes. Even the righteous did not understand when they had done these things. Jesus tells them, “Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” This is the humility and servant-hood attitude that Jesus was teaching the disciples to walk in in the previous scripture references. This is what it is to serve each other laying down our own lives for the sake of the brethren. These on the right hand will inherit life eternal – the kingdom prepared before the foundation of the world.
On the other hand, Jesus tells the goats on His left hand to depart from Him. In contrast to the righteous, the goats lived for themselves and exalted themselves to the death of those around them. They neither gave food or drink, nor clothes to Jesus (to His people – the body). They did not clothe Him when He was naked or visit Him when He was sick or in prison. They were too busy climbing up the ladder of self-exalted success to even stop and help out a brother. It was all about them and obtaining a place of eminence or distinction that was not freely given to them for they trusted not in the Lord. These on the left hand will be cast into everlasting fire and punishment for the error of their ways.
What the disciples didn’t realize is that in the question they were asking, they were really asking Jesus to place one to inherit eternal life (on the right hand) and to place another into eternal fire and punishment (on the left hand).
Revelation 20:11-15 - And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.
What was given in an analogical description of the Son of man coming in His glory is really the great white throne judgment depicted in Revelation. The great white throne (“the throne of His glory”) will be the great judgment of all the dead (see Resurrection of the Dead). Those that are found in the book of life inherited the kingdom (eternal life) and those not found therein were cast in to the lake of fire (eternal fire and punishment). This leads us into the Resurrection of the Dead.
© copyright 2001 Jesus M. Ruiz