In the Old Testament (OT), the laying on of hands was a cultural practice signifying transference of power or guilt, blessing, inheritance, honor, authority and leadership. In the New Testament (NT), the laying on of hands was a function of impartation, identification, confirmation, ministration of blessing and commissioning for ministry. This 2-part study will look at eight areas of impartation.
Areas of Impartation:
1. To Impart Sin to a Sacrificial Offering. (OT only)
This was performed by the person making the offering – priests and elders, (on behalf of the whole congregation).
Leviticus 1:4 (NIV)
(4) You are to lay your hand on the head of the burnt offering, and it will be accepted on your behalf to make atonement for you.
Exodus 29:10-11 (NIV)
(10) “Bring the bull to the front of the tent of meeting, and Aaron and his sons shall lay their hands on its head.
(11) Slaughter it in the Lord ’s presence at the entrance to the tent of meeting.
Why did they lay hands on these animals and sacrifice them?
(25) God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished—
(26) he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.
(27) Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. Because of what law? The law that requires works? No, because of the law that requires faith.
(28) For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law.
Why don’t we lay hand on animals and sacrifice them today?
2. To Impart Wisdom and Honor or Authority (often to the next generation).
Numbers 27:18-23 (NIV)
(18) So the Lord said to Moses, “Take Joshua son of Nun, a man in whom is the spirit of leadership, and lay your hand on him.
(19) Have him stand before Eleazar the priest and the entire assembly and commission him in their presence.
(20) Give him some of your authority so the whole Israelite community will obey him.
(21) He is to stand before Eleazar the priest, who will obtain decisions for him by inquiring of the Urim before the Lord . At his command he and the entire community of the Israelites will go out, and at his command they will come in.”
(22) Moses did as the Lord commanded him. He took Joshua and had him stand before Eleazar the priest and the whole assembly.
(23) Then he laid his hands on him and commissioned him, as the Lord instructed through Moses.
Deuteronomy 34:9 (NIV)
(9) Now Joshua son of Nun was filled with the spirit of wisdom because Moses had laid his hands on him. So the Israelites listened to him and did what the Lord had commanded Moses.
What was passed on to Joshua?
How was this done?
3. To Impart Anointing.
In Hebrew anointing means to “smear oil with the hand.”
1 Samuel 16:1 (NIV)
(1) The Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and be on your way; I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem. I have chosen one of his sons to be king.”
1 Samuel 16:13 (NIV)
(13) So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon David. Samuel then went to Ramah.
1 Kings 19:16 (NIV)
(16) Also, anoint Jehu son of Nimshi king over Israel, and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel Meholah to succeed you as prophet.
Luke 4:18-19 (NIV)
(18) “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free,
(19) to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
What anointing was imparted in each of these examples?
4. To Minister Healing.
2 Kings 5:11 (NIV)
(11) But Naaman went away angry and said, “I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy.
Mark 16:17-18 (NIV)
(17) And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues;
(18) they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.”
Luke 13:10-13 (NIV)
(10) On a Sabbath Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues,
(11) and a woman was there who had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not straighten up at all.
(12) When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.”
(13) Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God.
Acts 28:8 (NIV)
(8) His father was sick in bed, suffering from fever and dysentery. Paul went in to see him and, after prayer, placed his hands on him and healed him.
Who can lay hands and pray for healing?
Should we expect people to be healed?
5. To Minister the Baptism in the Holy Spirit.
Acts 9:17-18 (NIV)
(17) Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”
(18) Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized,
Acts 19:6 (NIV)
(6) When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied.
What happened during the laying on of hands in these examples?
Have you received the Baptism in the Holy Spirit?
If you have never received the Holy Spirit power on your life, ask your leader to lay hands on you to impart the Baptism in the Holy Spirit.
Based on your understanding of the laying-on of hands, how can you serve those who are sick and hurting?
Lord Jesus, thank You for Your anointing and for the Holy Spirit that lives in me. Please use me. Use my hands and my life to impart blessing to others, and especially the next generation.
“This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you. For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.”
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