If you’re as old as dirt like me, then you probably remember that old gospel favorite ‘I Surrender All.’
All to Jesus I surrender, Humbly at his feet I bow,
Worldly pleasures all forsaken, Take me, Jesus, take me now.
I surrender all, I surrender all,
All to thee, my blessed Savior, I surrender all.
The question is, are the uplifted hands a sign of surrender? Absolutely, you say. Don’t the police scream, “Hands up?” Of course they do!
But we’re not talking about surrendering to modern law enforcement. We’re talking here about surrendering to our Lord and Savior… surrender of our heart and soul to God. And we’re not talking about modern day practices and customs. We’re talking about things that pertain to God’s written word, and how it is and should be understood IN THE CONTEXT in which it was written. Jesus wouldn’t have talked about tazers… because people in His day would never have understood that!
Today police use uplifted hands so that they can get a quick view that suspect has no weapons at the ready. Unless you can fire a gun with your feet, this police move is highly effective. We have a tendency to carry this modern day reasoning into the House of God. We think: surrender is surrender, huh?
Is surrender to the cops, the same as surrender to God? Of course not! Because there is a difference, consider that there is also different sign of surrender then than now. We want to get surrender to God correct, don’t we?
Scripture was written so that people could understand the meaning of what that written word says. Jesus taught in parables so that it would be difficult not to understand!
In those days, warriors fought with knives, swords, bows and arrows, and spears. Battle was up close and personal. Today, armies (and police and villains) battle it out with pistols, rifles, and machine-guns… usually far removed from one another.
The sign of surrender in Jesus’ day was to drop down to your knees and on your face. One cannot yield a sword or shoot and arrow while down! Today, it’s the opposite. Any marksman will tell you that your body is much steadier, and your aim much better, when kneeling, or lying prone!
When a common citizen in Jesus’ time was taken before the king, the person never raised his hands to show his surrender, subservience, or devotion to that person of royalty. No, it was always bowing down, on the knees, face toward or on the ground! And so it was with defeated armies before their victor.
Hands were lifted when heroes were cheered and celebrated when they were being praised for their victory.
But that was then, now is now you say. True. But let’s go back to a modern-day police arrest. The hands in the air is only the first step! Yes, the hands are told to go up to reveal that they are empty. But ‘small arms’ can and are all too often still being carried! The prisoner is next told to turn around, with hands on their heads, and to walk backwards toward them. Then told to get on their face, prone on the ground, hands behind their backs, and are handcuffed. That’s the completion of the modern-day surrender process. The hands in the air was only the initial step.
Going back to the original question: Are the uplifted hands a sign of surrender? The answer can only be no.
As scripture says, and as that beloved old gospel song says,
All to Jesus I surrender, Humbly at his feet I bow.
Praise is a celebration of victory, both then and today. Worship is reverence and submission to our God, both then and now.