The Hand

Pointing from Esp Lane to Edge Lane in Barnoldswick is a rather unusual sign. Unlike the higher, round yellow arrow denoting a public footpath or right of way, there is in addition a hideous green hand with its fingernails painted red. Quite why someone went to the trouble of carving a wooden hand and then painting both it and its finger nails, I cannot tell. It is like something from Hansel and Gretel.

The hand in the book of Genesis is often mentioned in the context of judgment:

Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever”— Genesis 3:22

Surely for your lifeblood I will demand a reckoning; from the hand of every beast I will require it, and from the hand of man. From the hand of every man’s brother I will require the life of man. Genesis 9:5

But he said, “Far be it from me that I should do so; the man in whose hand the cup was found, he shall be my slave. And as for you, go up in peace to your father.” Genesis 44:17

Readers may investigate the different contexts for themselves. We might also be reminded of the even more famous supernatural hand of judgement which appeared to Belshazzar, king of Babylon.

The hand is usually the means by which sinful designs, commissioned in the corrupted heart, are enacted. The incarnate Son of God was specifically punished on the hands when he was crucified, offering atonement for our race (alternatively, the nails went through the wrists, but these are the parts connecting the hand to the body). With our hands we murder, we steal, we fashion idols. Therefore, the Sin Bearer’s hands were particularly marked by God’s righteous anger. It is also worth recalling a statement of Isaiah’s regarding the hands of God:

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. (41:10)

By His nailed hands are we saved; by His powerful hand are we upheld.