Lifting Holy Hands Amid Clenched Fists

This study is based on the sermon titled Lifting Holy Hands Amid Clenched Fists
 by Matthew Maher below.

Sermon Study

In 1 Timothy 2:5-8, we delve into the profound aspects of prayer, gospel-unity, and reconciliation. The central theme is that we are called to pray as wide as all men, as high as all authority, and as deep as the desire for salvation in all souls. This powerful passage begins by highlighting the unique role of Jesus as the "Mediator between God and men." Understanding Him as the bridge connecting humanity with God changes the way we perceive prayer. It underscores that prayer is not a solitary act but a conversation facilitated by the Son of God, reminding us of the only divine connection between heaven and earth.

Discussion Questions

1. Reflect on how the concept of Jesus as the Mediator affects your prayer life. How does this understanding of Him as the intermediary change the way you approach God in prayer and how you live for Him outside of prayer?

The passage in 1 Timothy 2:8 urges men to pray with holy hands, free from anger and argument. This emphasizes the impact of our emotional state and intellectually honesty on the effectiveness of our prayers. Anger and strife hinder the communion with God, as they reflect clenched fists of rebellion. It's essential to consider how our emotions and conflicts affect our spiritual life and our relationship with others. More importantly, the idea behind "lifting holy hands" is prompting us to live a lifestyle of holiness as we stand in the gap for others; for ours is the only message in the world that works as an intermediate between God and man.

2. Share how anger and arguments have affected your ability to pray and your pursuit of a holy life. How can we address these hindrances in our own lives and communities?

Further, the contrast between lifting holy hands and raising clenched fists is a powerful image. It signifies the difference between seeking peace, gospel-unity, and redemption, and opposing God's order and authority. We see clenched fists in today's society in various forms of rebellion and resistance against authority. Such postures of spirit, when left unchecked, can wreak havoc on social and political playing fields. Thus, wherever sinful man lifts his wrathful hands to tear down, the Church and Christian ought to lift holy hands to raise it up.

3. In what ways do you see "clenched fists" in today's society, and how can you personally lift up holy hands of redemption in response to these situations?

The message also references the interrelationship of three God-ordained institutions: Family, Government, and Church. These institutions are designed to cooperate with one another, under God's overarching authority. Considering the roles these institutions play in our lives and communities, it is that much more critical for believers to "lift holy hands" on behalf of each of these institutions, supporting them like pillars from the strong ground of truth. Without Christ as the Architect of the Family, the Administrator of Government, and the Authority of the Church, these institutions will be torn down by the rebellious hands of man.

4. How do the institutions of Family, Government, and Church interrelate in your life and society? How can the act of "lifting holy hands" promote harmony and godly influence within these institutions?

Ultimately, lifting up holy hands is the sole weapon for countering clenched fists, just as Moses did in Exodus 17:11 when he held his hand up behind the battle, leading to Israel's victory. Therefore, it is imperative for us to play our part and pray our part. Conversely, when Moses grew tired and lowered his hand, the enemy prevailed. However, the beauty of the account reveals that Moses had support. Alongside him were Aaron and Hur, who willingly assisted in holding his hands up, ensuring the success of Joshua's efforts against God's adversaries. This remarkable passage in Exodus highlights the tremendous importance of prayer in matters of life and death and underscores how the course of history itself hinges upon it.

5. How can you apply the principles in Exodus 17 to help support God's work and uphold God's Word?

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