(This is the third in a series of posts on small words that provide nonverbal clues in the Bible.)
Perhaps this was the biggest surprise to me as I studied for our newest book, “Body Language in the Bible.” How many times have you read that someone was told to arise or get up in the Bible? Or, you may have read that someone got up and began a journey.
In the past whenever I read that someone arose it didn’t catch my attention. Now I realize that almost every time we read that someone’s position changed from sitting or lying down it indicates that something was going to change.
The Bible never tells you that someone is commanded to “arise” or “get up” to fill space on the page. Whenever you see these words, always check to see what is going to change. The change will often represent a transition for more than just one person, many times a family or even an entire nation will be impacted because someone decided to arise.
When we think about someone sitting down, as I wrote in a previous post, it shows they are settled, in their dwelling place. People lay down because they are tired, weak, or sick. When they move to a standing position they are no longer settled or at rest. In fact, many times in the Bible when someone stands up it shows they are ready for action, or to move on. It shows us there is a change coming.
Here are some examples of people who rose up, and in doing so signal a time of change.
1. Abram commanded by God to get up:
“Arise, walk about the land through its length and breadth; for I will give it to you.” Then Abram moved his tent and came and dwelt by the oaks of Mamre, which are in Hebron, and there he built an altar to the LORD. (Genesis 13:17–18, NASB)
2. Jacob was also commanded by God to move to another land:
‘I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed a pillar, where you made a vow to Me; now arise, leave this land, and return to the land of your birth.’ (Genesis 31:13, NASB)
3. When it came time for Joshua to lead the Israelites across the Jordan into the Promised Land, God commanded him to arise:
Now it came about after the death of Moses the servant of the LORD, that the LORD spoke to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ servant, saying, “Moses My servant is dead; now therefore arise, cross this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them, to the sons of Israel.” (Joshua 1:1–2, NASB)
Here are some examples you can try at home! See if you can identify who is rising up, and what change is indicated by their new position.
So he (Samuel) sent and brought him (David) in. Now he was ruddy, with beautiful eyes and a handsome appearance. And the LORD said, “Arise, anoint him; for this is he.” Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers; and the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon David from that day forward. And Samuel arose and went to Ramah. (1 Samuel 16:12–13, NASB)
Now when they had gone, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up! Take the Child and His mother and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is going to search for the Child to destroy Him.” So Joseph got up and took the Child and His mother while it was still night, and left for Egypt. (Matthew 2:13–14, NASB)
And behold, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared and a light shone in the cell; and he struck Peter's side and woke him up, saying, “Get up quickly.” And his chains fell off his hands. (Acts 12:7, NASB)
In this final example, it is very interesting to see how David longed for God to get up and get involved:
Let God arise, let His enemies be scattered,
And let those who hate Him flee before Him.
As smoke is driven away, so drive them away;
As wax melts before the fire,
So let the wicked perish before God.
(Psalm 68:1–2, NASB)
Body Language in the Bible