My daily Bible reading plan has directed me through the book of Deuteronomy over the past couple of weeks. As I read through the 34 chapters that recollect the stories of Moses and the Israelites while they journeyed to the Promised Land, a simple phrase caught my attention. Multiple times, Moses directs the people to remember God’s MIGHTY HAND AND OUTSTRETCHED ARM. One of those passages is Deuteronomy 5:15: “Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the Lord your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm.”
The imagery of God’s arm/hand was a powerful one for the Israelites. They had lived for 400 years under the hand of Pharaoh, but had also witnessed God having the upper hand and defeating this earthly leader and redeeming His people.
So what picture comes to mind when you think about God’s arm or hand in your life? Maybe you hear the words of the timeless Sunday School song “He’s got the whole world in His hands…” Or do you imagine God holding you in His arms like an NFL football player clutching a football and barreling down the field of life? Perhaps you view God’s hand raised in a position to strike, or like a reprimanding parent shaking their finger at you. Maybe you see God’s arms as a place to find shelter like a mother hen tucks in her chicks.
One of my views of God’s arm/hand stems from when my children were little. When we would go for a walk, we went hand in hand. Sometimes the grip was loose; sometimes we held pinkies; sometimes I increased the strength of our connection when we were getting close to a busy street. But often times, as their hands were in mine, we would encounter a crack in the sidewalk or some other obstacle and they would begin to stumble. At these times, I would tighten my grip and raise my hand in the air, pulling their little body upward to prevent their tender knees and nose from scraping along the sidewalk. Likewise, I see my hand in God’s, sometimes just walking along enjoying the company of one another, and sometimes getting yanked off my toes to prevent a greater calamity.
There are many scripture passages that refer to the hands and arms of God. Here are a few:
Isaiah 41:10 “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Jeremiah 32:17 “Oh, Lord God! You have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you.”
This week, I challenge you to focus on the Lord’s mighty hand and outstretched arm. See them stretched out on a tree, bloodied and torn apart for you. See the outstretched arms of God who loved you so much that he gave his one and only Son as a ransom for your soul. See them raised in victory; he has conquered the grave and reigns with all authority in heaven and on earth.
Like the psalmist, let us raise our voices in praise of the Lord our God! “Sing to the Lord a new song, for He has done marvelous things; His right hand and His holy arm have gained Him the victory. The Lord has made known His salvation; His righteousness He has revealed in the sight of the nations. He has remembered His mercy and His faithfulness to the house of Israel; All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.” (Psalm 98:1-3 NKJV)