Laying on of Hands

3/18/2009 10:35am

Leviticus 1-5

Pericope: Leviticus 1:4-5

When people in the evangelical community think of “laying of of hands,” they more than likely will think of some sort of activity associated with prayer over a sick person or over one who is being commissioned to the Lord’s service. The original biblical account of laying on of hands comes from the Torah. In Leviticus, God graciously provides a means for his people to be in right relationship with Him. The sacrificial system was instituted as part of this means and instructions were given on who, what, why, how and where of the sacrifices. When a member of the community brought an animal (the best animal in his herd; in this scenario, a bull) for offering sacrifice, each worshiper then placed his or her own hand on the animal’s head. The laying on of hands signified a transfer of guilt from the offender to the innocent. The worshipper then had to kill the sacrifice! The life of the sacrificial animal was substituted for the offender and, in essence, God’s wrath (justice) was poured out on the animal. The implications are enormous when you think about personally having to slit the throat of an animal and to hear and see it die. Imagine looking into its eyes as you are laying your hands on its head just before you killed it- it dies because of your sin. It makes me want to cry thinking about it. The guilt would be transferred to the animal. It would die in your stead. One could not help but to be reminded of God’s mercy and grace as the penalty of sin, death, was transferred to an animal. What a miracle that, at that time, the death of an animal could take your place. If that was miraculous, then thinking about what Christ did on the cross makes my heart wrench even more. As God was sovereignly providing salvation for His people, Christ was offered as the recipient of the transfer of guilt. Every individual who desires to be part of the community of Yahweh must participate in having the guilt of his sins transferred to Christ. That this is even a possibility is truly amazing grace!

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