We've partly covered the foundations of the faith as listed in Hebrews 6:1-2:Repentance from dead works, of faith towards God, doctrine of baptisms, laying on of hands, resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.
The laying on of hands - overview
There are 3 reasons scripture provides for this foundational teaching to be applied:Blessing, setting apart for God's work, and healing.
These 3 are for the laying on of hands person to person. In the Old Testament, sacrifices for sin were made by the priest laying hands on the head of the sacrificial animal and confessing the sins of the person or nation. (Leviticus 1:4, 16:21, etc) That practice is a picture of the Father spiritually laying hands on Jesus to carry the sin of the world on the cross, so is not covered in this study, having ended with the cross. (II Corinthians 5:16-20, Isaiah 53:10-11)
In Genesis 27 the aged Isaac lays hands on Jacob and Esau to transfer blessing and birthright. In Genesis 48 Jacob (Israel) laid hands on Joseph's two sons and prophesied over each. In Mark 10:14-16 Jesus laid hands on little children and blessed them. The Greek word 'bless' is 'eulogeo'. It is where we get 'eulogy' and is from the word 'logos' meaning 'word' and 'eu' meaning 'well or good'. It means to speak good things over a person.
That is why the Spirit of the Father will often cause a person to prophesy over the person they are 'blessing', speaking good words over. If we were to study this use of the laying on of hands we would see it is a special event, not something common. In each situation mentioned in scripture, both the person laying their hands on and the receiver of the blessing knew it was special.
The person laying hands on the other should realize there is a transfer, a blessing spiritually that (can) happen if the 2 involved will involve a 3rd - the Lord.
Setting apart for ministry or service in the Lord
In Numbers 8:10-11 the whole nation of Israel came forward to lay hands on the members of the tribe of Levi who were chosen to be God's priests.
In Numbers 27:18-20 Moses is instructed to lay hands on his successor, Joshua, who would lead Israel after Moses's death. Deuteronomy 34:9 tells us Joshua was "...full of the Spirit of Wisdom because Moses had laid hands on him..."
This shows us there can be a deposit or impartation during the laying on of hands. In the blessing part above I focused on the person laying hands on another prophesying. But here we see Joshua actually receiving an impartation from the Lord through Moses laying hands on him.
This is where I want to stop and emphasize something:Moses laid hands on Joshua by command from the Lord. All too often we rush in and our mouth starts going as soon as we touch that person. I have found through decades of experience, to hold back, not to lay hands on the person right away, but to linger in prayer before putting my hand(s) on them. I do this to get the mind of the Lord, for we have no power in and of ourselves, it is all Christ in us the hope of glory. So we need to wait and get His mind, His leading, His words before we put our hand on someone.
In the New Testament we see a group of 5 men from several nations* gathering for fasting and prayer in Acts 13:1-4, when the Lord prophesies through one or more of them to 'Separate Paul and Barnabas for the work whereunto I have called them." *Barnabas (Cyprus), Simeon (Niger), Lucius (Libya), Manaen (Israel), Paul (Turkey).
Verse 3 says after He told them that they fasted and prayed a little longer, then laid hands on them and sent them away. Note again they were told by the Lord to do so. They didn't just think it up, they followed instructions.
In I Timothy 4:14 Paul tells Timothy "not to neglect the gift that is in you, which was given by prophecy by the laying on of hands of the elders (old men, leaders, presbytery)."
And in I Timothy 5:22 Paul cautions not to lay hands on someone for ministry too quickly, lest they fall into sin. Earlier in chapter 3 he tells Timothy a leader must be experienced, and lists traits of their lives which are seen in 3 categories:Stable in life, stable in Christian character, stable in family relations. (Some leaders were single, so this admonition has to do with the larger reputation of godliness. Paul was single, for instance, yet certainly a leader.)
This doctrine of the laying on of hands is so commonly practiced, as I said above, most have diluted the power due to having little faith in the Lord in this practice.
When I was a teenager, the very first thing the Lord taught me about healing was from Mark 1:40-42, where the Lord touched the leper and 'the leprosy departed from him'. He instructed me about the power of the touch, how the power in my spirit would flow to a person's body to accomplish the Lord's will. (Sometimes that would be healing, sometimes it is something deeper, like dealing with them about why they are in that condition in the first place.)
The main reason I avoid the classic auditorium style prayer line is because before I lay hands on a person I pause to see what the Father wants to do. That takes time. And very often when I lay hands on a person's head, they are praying in tongues or praying in their known language, or they want to tell me all about it, which actually hinders them receiving in that moment.
I have found the Lord is a gentleman and as long as they are talking He won't. I tell people to stop praying, stop explaining to me what is going on, just shift into 'neutral' and be still...only then can I sense the anointing leave my hands and flow into the top of their head and into their body or soul. It is at that moment they receive what He wants for them. Sometimes healing, sometimes a grace for something else, sometimes it is something personal He hides from me as it is just between them and Him.
In Mark 5:23 Jairus recognized how special the laying on of hands is, telling Jesus of his sick daughter:"Come and lay your hands upon her and she will live..."
Why have we lost our confidence in this teaching, in this practice? You can help yourself stir up this gift and practice if you will not rush to put your hands on someone, but linger to be led by His Spirit first, THEN put your hands on them for the heavenly outcome.
In Mark 16:16-20 we have the Lord saying, "These signs will follow those who believe, in my name...they will lay hands on the sick and they will recover." Or as I read it:"These signs will follow those who believe in my name...they will lay hands on the sick and they will recover." I have found results happen with those who believe in His name, not just those who simply believe in Him.
The word 'signs' is in the Greek, 'signs'. A sign is given to confirm, authenticate, or corroborate something communicated. In other words, the sign of healing by the laying on of hands is given not for our well being, not to bless us, but rather as a confirmation, authentication, or corroboration of what we teach about the Lord.
I've often observed that a sign appeals to the mind, a wonder to the imagination. This sign of healing as we lay hands on someone is given first as a confirmation of all we know and believe about Jesus. I would add a key element to healing by the laying on of hands can be seen in Acts 3:1-8 when Peter pulled the lame man up and commanded him to walk. He later explained in 3:16 the man was healed 'by faith in the name of Jesus'.
The laying on of hands without faith in the name of Jesus, very often results in nothing accomplished. It is not our faith in the practice of the laying on of hands, but faith in the power of the name of Jesus. Use His name sparingly, don't dilute so to speak, the power by tossing His name around 20 times in a prayer - in the context of today's study, refrain from using that most sacred and holy name until it is needed to bless someone, or to set them aside for the Lord's use, or healing.
Resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment next week...until then, blessings,
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