Complimentary Story
Editor, Wisconsin Christian News:

January 2023

   Symbols, correctly interpreted, often say more than many words. A drawing of a see it and you think of death. Yet, another capital punishment symbol, the cross, for many is a symbol of hope and life. Consider the open hand on crossing signals, meant to universally indicate “stop” or “wait.” Yet, in some cultures, such a symbol, an open hand, may mean “welcome” or “come.” Perhaps, to them a closed fist means “stop.” Hopefully, the poor soul from such a place would learn the intended interpretation without injury. Now, consider that closed fist symbolically in our society, over the years many “causes” have adopted it, and still do. Generally, meaning “power,” and representing the struggle of some oppressed group to attain such power. Yet, if you think about it, a closed fist is a better representation of “oppressive” power. “Do as we say or we’ll punch you.” On the playground I learned that a bully with clenched fists was not interested in peaceful dialogue. Look around today, and it shouldn’t be difficult to discern such hypocritical groups.  They say sweet sounding words like “peace” and “love,” but that closed fist symbol they display sends a different message.  Remember the mostly “peaceful” protests of 2020, when businesses were looted and burned and police buildings attacked and some destroyed?  This is ample evidence of that fact. Of course, if you point that out, they call you a “hater.” Apparently the hating of haters, is okay.

   Now, consider another “oppressed” people, the Israelites in Egypt. In Exodus 3:20 GOD informs Moses, “And I will stretch out MY Hand, ...” — note this is the first symbolic usage referring to GOD’s Hand. It should be contrasted, with Genesis 3:22, “... lest he (man) put forth his hand ...” and especially Exodus 3:8, “... to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, ...”.  This theme is woven throughout the Biblical texts, man’s hand attempting to work out his own deliverance from oppression, compared to the Hand of GOD freely offering such salvation. HIS Hand has always been open to HIS children, like that of a parent helping their child cross a busy street. We may discern that in Exodus 14:20, “Thus YHWH saved Israel that day out of the hand of the Egyptians ...”; and in chapter 15, we learn in their song, verse 2, “YHWH is my strength and song, and HE is become my salvation.” Unfortunately, it didn’t take long for the Israelites to backslide; as not long afterward they murmur against Moses, “... Would that we had died by the Hand of YHWH in the land of Egypt, ...”.  What about you, is your hand opened to The Saving Hand of GOD? Or have you clenched your fist at HIM?

     Curiously, the first two Hebrew letters of GOD’s Hallowed Name, “Yod” and “He,” express that same relationship. The open Hand of GOD reaching down from heaven for those who will welcome HIM with their open hands. The names of those letters are also Hebrew words, the first translated “hand” and the second “Lo” or “behold” in many Bibles. Paleographers studying the ancient alphabets, trace the first letter to an arm with open hand symbol. The second, however, was an upright figure with arms raised to heaven and hands open. Petroglyphs in that form have been called the Shemitic prayer stance. A similar Egyptian hieroglyph is a determinative symbol used in words of “joy,” “rejoicing,” and “praise,” though in that system it may also determine the opposite, such as words of “mourning” or “grief.” This relationship, the Hand of GOD reaching out to man from the heavens, and man reaching up to heaven with his hands, is reflected in the texts. For example Psalm 10:12, “Arise YHWH GOD, lift up Your Hand, do not forget the lowly.” And Psalm 37:24, “Though he falls he is not cast down, for YHWH lifts him up with His Hand.” For the second letter symbol consider these verses. Exodus 9:29, “And Moses said unto him, ‘As soon as I have gone out of the city, I will spread abroad my hands unto YHWH; ...’”. I Kings 8:22, “And Solomon stood before the altar of YHWH in the presence of all the congregation of Israel, and spread forth his hands toward heaven.”

   Sadly it has been more often the case that man has raised a fist toward GOD. Like haughty children rejecting their parent’s hand, and running into harm’s way. Looking for deliverance in all the wrong places. Personally, I don’t think it is merely coincidence that the first two letters of GOD’s Hallowed name, in their original forms symbolically reflect, HIS caring open Hand reaching out to us. Nor, whether they know it or not, that these “peaceniks” chose to use a closed fist. It simply shows who the real “haters” are. They hate conservatives, they hate Christians, they hate the basic founding principles of the nation, which tolerates them in the name of liberty. Worst of all they hate GOD, and try to replace HIM with anything that gratifies their lusts. Worshipping the creature more than the CREATOR. Yet, HIS Hand remains open, despite their clenched fists.

-William Behringer, Oshkosh, Wis.

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