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Who Sits At The Left Hand?

Someone asked: "If Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father, who sits at the left hand?"

That's indeed an interesting question. But before attempting to answer this, we need to know what it means to be sitting at the right hand of God.

The Hebrew phrase for the right hand of God is "yamin Elohim." The word "Elohim" means "God" while the word "yamin" is "right hand." As the right hand is stronger than the left hand, the "right hand of God" is an idiom for "the strength of God."

There were several scripture references about this in the Bible:

Psalm 110:1 The LORD said to my Lord,
"Sit at My right hand,
Till I make Your enemies Your footstool."
Psalm 118:16 The right hand of the LORD is exalted;
The right hand of the LORD does valiantly.
Isaiah 48:13 Indeed My hand has laid the foundation of the earth,
And My right hand has stretched out the heavens;
When I call to them,
They stand up together.
Mark 16:19 So then, after the Lord had spoken to them,
He was received up into heaven,
and sat down at the right hand of God.
Acts 2:33 Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God,
and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit,
He poured out this which you now see and hear.
Acts 7:55-56 But he, being full of the Holy Spirit,
gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God,
and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and said,
"Look! I see the heavens opened
and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!"
Romans 8:34 Who is he who condemns?
It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen,
who is even at the right hand of God,
who also makes intercession for us.
Colossians 3:1 If then you were raised with Christ,
seek those things which are above,
where Christ is,
sitting at the right hand of God.
Hebrews 10:12-13 But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever,
sat down at the right hand of God,
from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool.
1 Peter 3:21-22 There is also an antitype which now saves us--baptism
(not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God),
through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,
Who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God,
angels and authorities and powers having been made subject to Him.

In ancient times, to sit at the right hand of a king meant to have a highly exalted position in the king's kingdom.

For example, when King Solomon was seated on the throne, Bathsheba, his mother, came to meet him. Solomon bowed before her, and then brought a second throne into the palace and set it at his right hand. This was a symbol for his mother's place of authority and esteem in the country. The right handed position was a place of great honor.

1 Kings 2:19-20
Bathsheba therefore went to King Solomon,
to speak to him for Adonijah.
And the king rose up to meet her and bowed down to her,
and sat down on his throne and had a throne set for the king's mother;
so she sat at his right hand.
Then she said,
"I desire one small petition of you; do not refuse me."
And the king said to her,
"Ask it, my mother, for I will not refuse you."

In Psalm 110, the Messiah will be seated on the right hand of God. He will crush kings on the day of his wrath, and judge the nations. The right hand of God is a metaphor for the place of great authority and judgment.

Daniel 7:13-14
"I was watching in the night visions,
And behold, One like the Son of Man,
Coming with the clouds of heaven!
He came to the Ancient of Days,
And they brought Him near before Him.
Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom,
That all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him.
His dominion is an everlasting dominion,
Which shall not pass away,
And His kingdom the one
Which shall not be destroyed.

The Messiah was given all authority, glory and sovereign power - this is appropriate for the One Who sits at God's right hand.

Jesus sitting at the right hand of God's throne symbolically portrays that God has highly exalted Him to the highest place and given Him the name which is above every name.

Philippians 2:9-11
Therefore God also has highly exalted Him
and given Him the name which is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
of those in heaven, and of those on earth,
and of those under the earth,
and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

So let's get back to the original question: "Who sits at the left hand?" Well, the Bible never mentions about anyone sitting at God's left hand. Thus, we don't know. But we do know this - if the right hand symbolizes the place of righteousness, exaltation, and blessing, the usual metaphor for the left hand can be the opposite, the place of curse and judgment. This was clearly illustrated in Matthew 25:31-46:

"When the Son of Man comes in His glory,
and all the holy angels with Him,
then He will sit on the throne of His glory.
All the nations will be gathered before Him,
and He will separate them one from another,
as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats.
And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left.
Then the King will say to those on His right hand,
'Come, you blessed of My Father,
inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
for I was hungry and you gave Me food;
I was thirsty and you gave Me drink;
I was a stranger and you took Me in;
I was naked and you clothed Me;
I was sick and you visited Me;
I was in prison and you came to Me.'
"Then the righteous will answer Him, saying,
'Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You,
or thirsty and give You drink?
When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You?
Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?'
"And the King will answer and say to them,
'Assuredly, I say to you,
inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren,
you did it to Me.'
"Then He will also say to those on the left hand,
'Depart from Me, you cursed,
into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels:
for I was hungry and you gave Me no food;
I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink;
I was a stranger and you did not take Me in,
naked and you did not clothe Me,
sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.'
"Then they also will answer Him, saying,
'Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty
or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison,
and did not minister to You?'
"Then He will answer them, saying,
'Assuredly, I say to you,
inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these,
you did not do it to Me.'
"And these will go away into everlasting punishment,
but the righteous into eternal life."

Those who enter eternal life are placed on Jesus' right hand, and those who do not are placed on His left. As the Bible doesn't mention about who's sitting on the left hand of God, we should not try to speculate. Remember the mother of James and John.

Matthew 20:20-28
Then the mother of Zebedee's sons came to Him with her sons,
kneeling down and asking something from Him.
And He said to her, "What do you wish?"
She said to Him, "Grant that these two sons of mine may sit,
one on Your right hand and the other on the left, in Your kingdom."
But Jesus answered and said,
"You do not know what you ask.
Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink,
and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?"
They said to Him, "We are able."
So He said to them, "You will indeed drink My cup,
and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with;
but to sit on My right hand and on My left is not Mine to give,
but it is for those for whom it is prepared by My Father."
And when the ten heard it, they were greatly displeased with the two brothers.
But Jesus called them to Himself and said,
"You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them,
and those who are great exercise authority over them.
Yet it shall not be so among you;
but whoever desires to become great among you,
let him be your servant.
And whoever desires to be first among you,
let him be your slave--
just as the Son of Man did not come to be served,
but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many."

Instead of telling her that her sons would be great leaders, having positions of great importance, Jesus showed her the key to great leadership - true servanthood. Always remember the star of David.

Instead of asking, "Who sits at the left hand of God?", we should be asking, "Who will be a servant?" and "Who will humbly serve others?".

Written on:
4 February 2010