So you shall bring the Levites before the Lord, and the children of Israel shall lay their hands on the Levites. (Numbers 8:10)
Most everyone understands the symbolism and purpose of the “laying on of hands.” It is an action intended to impart a spiritual benefit to one person from another. For instance, more than once, Paul reminded Timothy of the gift that was within him, initiated by those who had laid hands upon the young disciple. Near the end of his life, Moses lay his hands upon Joshua to impart unto him what he would need to lead Israel into the land of Canaan. In the text above, the entire congregation of Israel was to “lay their hands on the Levites” (most likely through representatives) as they were initiated into Sanctuary service.
In Hebrew, the phrase translated as “lay their hands” could be translated, literally, as “to lean upon them.” Frankly, in many ways, the people would have to lean upon them as it relates to interaction with the Creator, because the Levites would represent the people to God. However, the Hebrew term, סמיכה s’micha, (“lay”) actually means “to support.” In other words the people, by laying their hands upon them, were demonstrating their support of them. Though it is true that Moses imparted a spiritual anointing to Joshua by laying hands upon him, it is also accurate to say that, in this act, Moses was lending his support to Joshua in the sight of the people. In short, he was ordaining him. Similarly, the people were ordaining the Levites to be their representatives before God.
We understand there are occasions when it is appropriate to lay hands upon someone for prayer, whether it be for healing or encouragement. But understanding that the laying on of hands, in certain situations, signifies support or even “ordination,” should we pause and consider the importance of this before we do it? In other words, is this what Paul was referring to when he charged Timothy not to “lay hands on anyone hastily”? Was he alerting him to the danger of supporting or ordaining someone too soon?
So what does this say to us today? In my view, it teaches us to be certain that who and what you’re supporting has also been sanctioned by God. That is good advice for us all to live by and especially in these perilous times. Before lending your support to anything or anyone, know what you’re supporting. Take the time to know the person or cause before attaching your good name and, for that matter, God’s name to it. In a manner of speaking, God has entrusted His reputation into our hands and, so, let us be careful how we handle it. Blessings to all for a good day.
Blessings and Shalom,