God’s Righteous Right Hand Of Blessing

For the last couple of days my wife and I have been almost binge watching a video series on Youtube called, “Most Dangerous Ways To School.” It has about 14 episodes if I counted right covering countries all over the earth. The main focus of each episode is the dangers very young children face “alone” as they journey to school, often daily. Sometimes it’s wild animals, raging rivers, snow or ice, mountains and deserts but they face them, even at 4 years old to try to get an education. For some, the time they spend walking to and from school is greater than the time they spend at school. At the end of each episode I am left feeling so blessed to have been born in a country and family that I never faced a single percent of what these children endure. But more intense in my heart is the feeling that I somehow squandered that blessing by not placing the value on it from the eyes of the children of these episodes. We often hear, as most of us have said, “we are so blessed to be born in the USA.” Unless you have ever been a missionary to a foreign country or have seen these videos, you don’t really have a clue just how blessed the poorest Americans are compared to these people concerning getting an education.

The last episode we watched was about children from the Maasai tribes of Kenya,

In this episode, there was something that kept happening with the children that I thought I understood was going on but I had to check out to know for sure. Each time the children would encounter an adult, even total strangers in the plains of Kenya, they would approach them. Once they got close enough, an arms length, they would bow their head and torso towards the adult. Without fail, the adult would extend their hand and place it on the child’s head. Then the child and adult or stranger would continue on their way. With a little Google research my hunch was confirmed, they were getting a blessing from an elder. I learn some from this website, https://www.cbeinternational.org/resources/article/priscilla-papers/lessons-scripture-maasai-christianity-lessons-maasai-culture

The Maasai language has no word pair precisely equivalent to man/woman. Instead, there are numerous terms for people based on their stage of life. Each age set has distinct roles, and honor increases with age. One way this is demonstrated visually is by children (including young boys as well as all unmarried girls and young women) bowing their heads to receive a blessing from adult men. Similarly, uncircumcised boys are required to show this respect to married women.

Enkanyit: Mutual Respect in Maasai Relationships between the Sexes
“Enkanyit” (honor, mutual respect, obedience) is one of the most important cultural values for the Maasai. Children approach adult men and women respectfully. When greetings are exchanged, the child bows the head in submission to show proper respect. In turn, the adult reaches out his or her right hand and bestows a blessing by touching the top of the child’s head. By demonstrating respect to elders, the child is in a position of reception for the blessing. A position of vulnerability is sometimes a prerequisite of reception of blessing.

Where we go to church, when the offerings and the prayer requests are prayed over, usually the minister will ask the congregation to extend their hand to “bless the offering or need.”  I see so many people that extend their left hand instead of their right hand. Inside of me, I have naturally felt that I should extend my right hand even though I am a left handed person. At 65, I still have trouble using a screw driver in my right hand. It just doesn’t feel natural, but when it’s time to pray for someone or over a blessing, my right hand is the natural choice.

At times in church I have thought, “maybe it doesn’t really matter as long as you are praying from a sincere heart.” So tonight after learning about the Maasai culture and their level of respect and honor shown towards each other and the “right hand of blessing” I looked up scriptural evidence of the “Right Hands” importance,

Scientificamerican.com says that 70 -95% of humans are right handed and from 5 – 30% are left handed. As I mentioned before, I can’t use a screwdriver well with my right hand being naturally left handed. What kind of impairment would it be for me or anyone to lose use of our favored hand. What skills would be lost and how would that effect our livelihood. Keep that thought in mind in light of this scripture,

Luke 6:6-11 Now it happened on another Sabbath, also, that He entered the synagogue and taught. And a man was there whose right hand was withered. 7 So the scribes and Pharisees watched Him closely, whether He would heal on the Sabbath, that they might find an accusation against Him. 8 But He knew their thoughts, and said to the man who had the withered hand, “Arise and stand here.” And he arose and stood. 9 Then Jesus said to them, “I will ask you one thing: Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy?” 10 And when He had looked around at them all, He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And he did so, and his hand was restored as whole as the other. 11 But they were filled with rage, and discussed with one another what they might do to Jesus.

There’s a 70 – 95% possibility that the man was “right handed” and Jesus healing his right hand meant that it being “restored as whole as the other” meant he could again lead a fruitful and prosperous life, supporting himself and his possible family. Truly a “Right Hand of Blessing” is when God blesses your hand that is “skilled.”

When Babylonians wanted the Israelites in captivity to sing them one of the songs of Zion, those Hebrews who hung their harps on the willow trees said: ‘How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land? If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her skill’ (Psalm 137:4,5).

God who said He will not forsake the covenant He made with the nation of Israel says in Isaiah 41:10, ‘Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God, I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’

When God tells His children not to fear, He is telling them He is their help. ‘For I, the Lord your God, will hold your right hand, saying to you, ‘Fear not, I will help you’ (Isaiah 41:13). Yes, even today He is willing to stretch out His righteous hand and hold our right hand.

Isaiah 41:10 Fear not, for I am with you;
Be not dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you,
Yes, I will help you,
I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’

13 For I, the Lord your God, will hold your right hand,
Saying to you, ‘Fear not, I will help you.’

If you have a mind like I have it will jump in gear reading those last verses. How can God hold my right hand in His Right Hand unless we are face to face or if He is standing behind me as a parent does, holding the hand of a young child in their hand that is directly in front of them. Thinking of being in either of those positions with Father God brings great joy to my heart. Being face to face with God could mean an embrace like at the prodigal sons return or mean being in a struggle with God as Jacob struggled with the angel who said his name was Peniel which means “face of God.”

Genesis 32:27 So He said to him, “What is your name?” He said, “Jacob.” 28 And He said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel; for you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed.”

29 Then Jacob asked, saying, “Tell me Your name, I pray.” And He said, “Why is it that you ask about My name?” And He blessed him there. 30 So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: “For I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.”

If you can prevail in prayer with God pleasures beyond earthly wealth are sure to follow,

Psalm 73:23-26 Nevertheless I am continually with You;
You hold me by my right hand.
24 You will guide me with Your counsel,
And afterward receive me to glory.

25 Whom have I in heaven but You?
And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You.
26 My flesh and my heart fail;
But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

Psalm 139:7-10 Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
8 If I ascend into heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.
9 If I take the wings of the morning,
And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
10 Even there Your hand shall lead me,
And Your right hand shall hold me.

Psalm 16:11 You will show me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Psalm 118:14-17 The Lord is my strength and song,
And He has become my salvation.

15 The voice of rejoicing and salvation
Is in the tents of the righteous;
The right hand of the Lord does valiantly.
16 The right hand of the Lord is exalted;
The right hand of the Lord does valiantly.
17 I shall not die, but live,
And declare the works of the Lord.

Psalm 17:6-8 I have called upon You, for You will hear me, O God;
Incline Your ear to me, and hear my speech.
7 Show Your marvelous lovingkindness by Your right hand,
O You who save those who trust in You
From those who rise up against them.
8 Keep me as the apple of Your eye;
Hide me under the shadow of Your wings,

Maybe after even all those Bible verses of the “Right Hand” being the hand of blessing you aren’t convinced yet. Maybe this next Bible passage will clear things up for you.

Genesis 48:8-20  Then Israel saw Joseph’s sons, and said, “Who are these?” 9 Joseph said to his father, “They are my sons, whom God has given me in this place.”

And he said, “Please bring them to me, and I will bless them.” 10 Now the eyes of Israel were dim with age, so that he could not see. Then Joseph brought them near him, and he kissed them and embraced them. 11 And Israel said to Joseph, “I had not thought to see your face; but in fact, God has also shown me your offspring!”

12 So Joseph brought them from beside his knees, and he bowed down with his face to the earth. 13 And Joseph took them both, Ephraim with his right hand toward Israel’s left hand, and Manasseh with his left hand toward Israel’s right hand, and brought them near him. 14 Then Israel stretched out his right hand and laid it on Ephraim’s head, who was the younger, and his left hand on Manasseh’s head, guiding his hands knowingly, for Manasseh was the firstborn. 15 And he blessed Joseph, and said:

blessing-Ephraim-Manasseh-768x527

“God, before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked,
The God who has fed me all my life long to this day,
16 The Angel who has redeemed me from all evil,
Bless the lads;
Let my name be named upon them,
And the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac;
And let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.”

17 Now when Joseph saw that his father laid his right hand on the head of Ephraim, it displeased him; so he took hold of his father’s hand to remove it from Ephraim’s head to Manasseh’s head. 18 And Joseph said to his father, “Not so, my father, for this one is the firstborn; put your right hand on his head.”

19 But his father refused and said, “I know, my son, I know. He also shall become a people, and he also shall be great; but truly his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his descendants shall become a multitude of nations.”

20 So he blessed them that day, saying, “By you Israel will bless, saying, ‘May God make you as Ephraim and as Manasseh!’ ” And thus he set Ephraim before Manasseh.

Jacob who’s name was changed to Israel because of a real encounter with the “Right Hand of God” knew the importance of what head he placed his right hand upon to speak a blessing over. Joseph too knew the importance. That’s why he tried to uncross his father’s hands which he cunningly placed on the head of the child God wanted it to be placed upon.

Years ago, at the church I attended for 20 years before attending Faith Cathedral, one Sunday service, we were blessed to have a group of people sing to us songs of worship in their native tongue. They were brought by missionaries our church supported. They were from the Maasai tribe of Kenya. Last night when the video started and they mentioned their name I told my wife, “that’s the tribe that came to Harvest Time and sang to us years ago.” Somehow that name was still registered in my mind.

About 45% of Maasai are Christian and of them about 26% are Evangelical but what does that mean really without the evidence of fruit. Maybe these people that will trust God to protect their children from lions, leopards, elephants and poisonous snakes on their couple hours walk to school can teach us something about trusting God ourselves.

Maybe these little children can teach us that showing respect and honor where it is due will put us also in a position of blessing. And that “A position of vulnerability is sometimes a prerequisite of reception of blessing.”

Last, maybe the elders can teach us the importance that we too should be ever watchful for the younger generation that is desiring our blessings and intercession of God over their lives.

I feel lead to say again, at each episodes end, I was left with a deep cut in my heart that lead me to prayer in repentance for how shallow the gratefulness I’ve expressed to God for the life I’ve enjoyed and for intercession for those families.

Richie Stephens – Father I Love You

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