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Free Daily Bible notes by Rev Stephen Thompson

Daily Bible thoughts 1823: Tuesday 11th December 2018: Genesis 48:8-20:Sovereign choice.

Genesis 48:8-20:Sovereign choice.

“8 When Israel saw the sons of Joseph, he asked, ‘Who are these?’‘They are the sons God has given me here,’ Joseph said to his father.Then Israel said, ‘Bring them to me so that I may bless them.’10 Now Israel’s eyes were failing because of old age, and he could hardly see. So Joseph brought his sons close to him, and his father kissed them and embraced them.11 Israel said to Joseph, ‘I never expected to see your face again, and now God has allowed me to see your children too.’12 Then Joseph removed them from Israel’s knees and bowed down with his face to the ground. 13 And Joseph took both of them, Ephraim on his right towards Israel’s left hand and Manasseh on his left towards Israel’s right hand, and brought them close to him. 14 But Israel reached out his right hand and put it on Ephraim’s head, though he was the younger, and crossing his arms, he put his left hand on Manasseh’s head, even though Manasseh was the firstborn.15 Then he blessed Joseph and said,‘May the God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked faithfully,the God who has been my shepherd  all my life to this day,16 the Angel who has delivered me from all ha   – may he bless these boys.May they be called by my name and the names of my fathers Abraham and Isaac,and may they increase greatly on the earth.’17 When Joseph saw his father placing his right hand on Ephraim’s head he was displeased; so he took hold of his father’s hand to move it from Ephraim’s head to Manasseh’s head. 18 Joseph said to him, ‘No, my father, this one is the firstborn; put your right hand on his head.’19 But his father refused and said, ‘I know, my son, I know. He too will become a people, and he too will become great. Nevertheless, his younger brother will be greater than he, and his descendants will become a group of nations.’ 20 He blessed them that day and said,‘In your[a] name will Israel pronounce this blessing: “May God make you like Ephraim and Manasseh.”’So he put Ephraim ahead of Manasseh.” NIV

The right hand was regarded to be the place of honour. As Manasseh was the firstborn, Joseph would have expected him to be given the special blessing. But in a prophetic action, Jacob, who could hardly see, crossed his hands and gave this to Ephraim. Generations later, Manasseh and Ephraim would become two of Israel’s most important tribes. But in giving the primary blessing to Ephraim, Jacob foresaw that Ephraim’s descendants would be even greater than Manasseh’s – and this came to be.  In giving Ephraim the status of the oldest son, Jacob repeated a pattern we have seen earlier in Genesis, in which the younger brother gets the blessing that ‘by right’ was thought to belong to the older one (if you recall, Seth was chosen over Cain, Shem over Japheth, Isaac over Ishmael, and Jacob over Esau). This shows that God’s choices are not based on natural descent, or on anyone’s perceived ‘rights’ or ‘merits’, but rather on grace alone. He is Sovereign and He does as He pleases.

Tom Hale, in my view, comments helpfully:

‘Therefore should anyone of us seem for a period to be especially blessed or favoured by God, we must always remember that it has come about not by our own doing but rather by God’s grace (1 Corinthians 15:10).’ ‘The Applied Old Testament Commentary’, p.199

Daily Bible thoughts 1821: Monday 10th December 2018: Genesis 48: 8-11: More than can be asked or thought.

Genesis 48: 8-11: More than can be asked or thought.

“8 When Israel saw the sons of Joseph, he asked, “Who are these?”“They are the sons God has given me here,” Joseph said to his father.Then Israel said, “Bring them to me so I may bless them.”10 Now Israel’s eyes were failing because of old age, and he could hardly see. So Joseph brought his sons close to him, and his father kissed them and embraced them.11 Israel said to Joseph, “I never expected to see your face again, and now God has allowed me to see your children too.” NIV

Warren Wiersbe makes this general comment about chapter 48:

‘It’s a good thing to be able to end your life knowing you’ve completed God’s business the way he wanted it to be done’ The Wiersbe Bible Commentary (OT), p.135.

May God help us all to end well. Yes, to live well, but also to finish well. We can live in a way that takes little or no consideration of the finish line. But one day we will all cross it. I want to run well to the end of my days, and not stumble at the last.

One mark of concluding life well is when a person can look back with gratitude, rather than bitterness, disappointment and regret. Jacob was so thankful. God had done ‘’immeasurably more’’ than He anticipated (see Ephesians 3:20, 21).

And this God is our God, for ever and for ever!

Daily Bible thoughts 1820: Friday 7th December 2018: Genesis 48: 8-9: ‘…given me here’.

Genesis 48: 8-9: ‘…given me here’.

When Israel saw the sons of Joseph, he asked, ‘Who are these?’‘They are the sons God has given me here,’ Joseph said to his father.Then Israel said, ‘Bring them to me so that I may bless them.’

‘’They are the sons God has given me here’’ (underlining mine).

May we never fail to acknowledge God’s goodness to us, but always praise Him for His many blessings. Don’t boast about what the Lord has given you, but glorify Him. Take every legitimate opportunity to tell us of His goodness.

In addition, may we never fail to recognise God’s goodness to us in ‘Egypt’. At times, in life, we may be taken to places we don’t want to go – places of difficulty, trouble and pain; maybe situations where we are treated harshly and unjustly. But if we’ve ended up there in the purposes of God, He will have blessings for us there. Let’s try to be quick to spot them, and speedy to express thanks for them. With our God, we find ‘’treasures’’ in ‘’darkness’’ (Isaiah 45:3).

In the darkest valley a light will shine. Look for it.

Remember: the best place to serve is wherever God sets you down – even if it’s not where you would choose to be.

Daily Bible thoughts 1819: Thursday 6th December 2018: Genesis 48:5-7: Adoption.

Genesis 48:5-7: Adoption.

‘Now then, your two sons born to you in Egypt before I came to you here will be reckoned as mine; Ephraim and Manasseh will be mine, just as Reuben and Simeon are mine. Any children born to you after them will be yours; in the territory they inherit they will be reckoned under the names of their brothers. As I was returning from Paddan,  to my sorrow Rachel died in the land of Canaan while we were still on the way, a little distance from Ephrath. So I buried her there beside the road to Ephrath’ (that is, Bethlehem).NIV

Jacob stated his intention to ‘adopt’ Joseph’s two sons as his own.  It’s suggested that he may have had two things on his mind in doing this:

  • He was possibly thinking of the children he might have had with Rachel, had she not died in childbirth (Genesis 35:16-19; 7);
  • More importantly, he was in effect giving Joseph the double portion of the inheritance, to which the oldest child was traditionally entitled. Jacob was deliberately giving Joseph the ‘’firstborn’’ status among his brothers (see 1 Chronicles 5:1, 2).This would probably explain why Joseph is later referred to as being ‘’over’’ his brothers (22).

Tom Hale explains:

‘Manasseh and Ephraim would be just like Reuben and Simeon (verse 5), Jacob’s two oldest sons.  Indeed, because of their sins, Reuben and Simeon had lost their positions as ‘’oldest sons.’’ Now Manasseh and Ephraim – through Joseph – would have the privilege of being ‘’oldest.’’ Generations later, the descendants of Manasseh and Ephraim would become two of Israel’s most important tribes.’ ‘The applied Old Testament Commentary’, p.199.

See how a godly man’s prayers of blessings can continue to influence over a long period of time!

Daily Bible thoughts 1818: Wednesday 5th December 2018: Genesis 48:1-7: Praying in faith.

Genesis 48:1-7: Praying in faith.

“Some time later Joseph was told, ‘Your father is ill.’ So he took his two sons Manasseh and Ephraim along with him. When Jacob was told, ‘Your son Joseph has come to you,’ Israel rallied his strength and sat up on the bed.Jacob said to Joseph, ‘God Almighty appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan, and there he blessed me and said to me, “I am going to make you fruitful and increase your numbers. I will make you a community of peoples, and I will give this land as an everlasting possession to your descendants after you.”‘Now then, your two sons born to you in Egypt before I came to you here will be reckoned as mine; Ephraim and Manasseh will be mine, just as Reuben and Simeon are mine. Any children born to you after them will be yours; in the territory they inherit they will be reckoned under the names of their brothers. As I was returning from Paddan,[b] to my sorrow Rachel died in the land of Canaan while we were still on the way, a little distance from Ephrath. So I buried her there beside the road to Ephrath’ (that is, Bethlehem).NIV

When it came to blessing Joseph’s two sons, Jacob appealed to what God had already said to him (4).

‘God had promised him two things, a numerous issue, and Canaan for an inheritance (Gen. 48:4); and Joseph’s sons, pursuant hereunto, should each of them multiply into a tribe, and each of them have a distinct lot in Canaan, equal with Jacob’s own sons. See how he blessed them by faith in that which God had said to him, Heb. 11:21. Note, In all our prayers, both for ourselves and for our children, we ought to have a particular eye to, and remembrance of, God’s promises to us.’ Matthew Henry.

These boys were now not to see themselves as heirs to worldly power and wealth in Egypt, but as members of the despised, but divinely chosen people of God (cf. Hebrews 11: 25,26).

 

Daily Bible thoughts 1817: Tuesday 4th December 2018: Genesis 48:1-7: Blessed to bless.

Genesis 48:1-7: Blessed to bless.

Some time later Joseph was told, ‘Your father is ill.’ So he took his two sons Manasseh and Ephraim along with him. When Jacob was told, ‘Your son Joseph has come to you,’ Israel rallied his strength and sat up on the bed.Jacob said to Joseph, ‘God Almighty[a] appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan, and there he blessed me and said to me, “I am going to make you fruitful and increase your numbers. I will make you a community of peoples, and I will give this land as an everlasting possession to your descendants after you.”‘Now then, your two sons born to you in Egypt before I came to you here will be reckoned as mine; Ephraim and Manasseh will be mine, just as Reuben and Simeon are mine. Any children born to you after them will be yours; in the territory they inherit they will be reckoned under the names of their brothers. As I was returning from Paddan,[b] to my sorrow Rachel died in the land of Canaan while we were still on the way, a little distance from Ephrath. So I buried her there beside the road to Ephrath’ (that is, Bethlehem).NIV

 

‘’When Jacob was told, ‘’Your son Joseph has come to you,’’ Israel rallied his strength and sat up on his bed’’ (2).

Most weeks, on a Monday morning, I pray about the meetings I’m going to have during the week, asking God to both bless me and make me a blessing. I want my pastoral visits to have a strengthening effect on people, as in the case of Joseph here, with Jacob. I ask for that kind of positive impact. Some pastoral encounters are far from easy, and will stretch you out of your ‘comfort zone’, but you want to be a ‘channel’ of blessing.

However, even when sick people get well, they must eventually die. We are all mortal. Jacob ‘’rallied’’, and was able to say and do some important things at the last. But he was soon to die (49:33)  Christianity is not an inoculation against sickness and dying; nor is it a vaccination against loss (7).

‘The removal of dear relations from us is an affliction the remembrance of which cannot but abide with us a great while. Strong affections in the enjoyment cause long afflictions in the loss.’ Matthew Henry.

That is a true observation. Jacob felt the loss of his beloved Rachel deeply.  However, in all of life’s ‘ups and downs’, we can affirm that God is working for our good in all things, and that nothing can separate us from His love (see Romans 8:28, 38 & 39).

 

Daily Bible thoughts 1816: Monday 3rd December 2018: Genesis 48:1-4: Respect for the elderly.

Genesis 48:1-4: Respect for the elderly.

“Some time later Joseph was told, ‘Your father is ill.’ So he took his two sons Manasseh and Ephraim along with him. When Jacob was told, ‘Your son Joseph has come to you,’ Israel rallied his strength and sat up on the bed.Jacob said to Joseph, ‘God Almighty[a] appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan, and there he blessed me and said to me, “I am going to make you fruitful and increase your numbers. I will make you a community of peoples, and I will give this land as an everlasting possession to your descendants after you.” NIV

Christian parents desire blessing on their children and not just on themselves. Joseph brought his boys to his father to be blessed. Ephraim and Manasseh also got to hear something about their grandfather’s experience with God.

I am impressed by this quote from Matthew Henry:

‘Joseph took his two sons with him, that they might receive their dying grandfather’s blessing, and that what they might see in him, and hear from him, might make an abiding impression on them. Note…It is good to acquaint young people that are coming into the world with the aged servants of God that are going out of it, whose dying testimony to the goodness of God, and the pleasantness of wisdom’s ways, may be a great encouragement to the rising generation. Manasseh and Ephraim (I dare say) would never forget what passed at this time.’

I feel blessed that I have grown up in churches where the young and old mixed freely. As younger people we loved the older ‘saints’ and were eager to hear their stories of faith. We were only too willing to ‘sit at their feet’. As I write this, memories come streaming back of dear old friends who loved me, and I loved them. Many of them were not in the ‘spotlight’, but they were illuminated with the light of Christ. There influence is incalculable.

PRAYER: Father God, I want to say ‘thank you’ for the older believers whose examples inspire, and who have encouraged me along the way. As I grow older, may I be a blessing to the rising generation.

Daily Bible thoughts 1815: Friday 30th November 2018: Genesis 48:1, 2: Sick visiting.

Genesis 48:1-2: Sick visiting.

“Some time later Joseph was told, ‘Your father is ill.’ So he took his two sons Manasseh and Ephraim along with him. When Jacob was told, ‘Your son Joseph has come to you,’ Israel rallied his strength and sat up on the bed. “NIV

Visiting the sick has traditionally been seen as one of the duties of Christian pastors. It is indeed an important ministry. When I was a child I was often sickly, and I remember my pastor coming to see me. He had lost his leg in a cycling accident when he was 17, but he got around in an invalid car. My pastor was a man of God, and even now there is a special fragrance surrounding the memory of his visit.  But this ministry should not be restricted to pastors. We may not always feel equal to the task; for a hundred reasons or more we might prefer to do something else, but we should consider doing it all the same, trusting God to use us to bring comfort, company, encouragement…and maybe even healing.

‘Visiting the sick to whom we lie under obligations, or may have opportunity of doing good, either for body or soul, is our duty. The sick bed is a proper place both for giving comfort and counsel to others and receiving instruction ourselves.’ Matthew Henry.

PRAYER: ‘Oh to be His hand extended…’

Daily Bible thoughts 1814: Thursday 29th November 2018: Genesis 47: 27-31: A time to die.

Genesis 47: 27-31: A time to die.

“27 Now the Israelites settled in Egypt in the region of Goshen. They acquired property there and were fruitful and increased greatly in number.28 Jacob lived in Egypt seventeen years, and the years of his life were a hundred and forty-seven. 29 When the time drew near for Israel to die, he called for his son Joseph and said to him, ‘If I have found favour in your eyes, put your hand under my thigh and promise that you will show me kindness and faithfulness. Do not bury me in Egypt, 30 but when I rest with my fathers, carry me out of Egypt and bury me where they are buried.’‘I will do as you say,’ he said.31 ‘Swear to me,’ he said. Then Joseph swore to him, and Israel worshipped as he leaned on the top of his staff.”NIV

Ecclesiastes 3:1,2 says: ‘’There is…a time to be born and a time to die…’’

However long a life may stretch; or how great an individual may be, there will come a time to die. We are wise to make preparations for it. We have followed Jacob’s ‘journey’ through many years. We have seen his many character flaws (and identified with him!). We have watched with breath-taking wonder as God has patiently worked on him, and as he has learned to pray, to trust, to cling to God, to worship. When we come to face the end, don’t we want to be like Jacob, approaching death as worshippers? (31b; Hebrews 11:21).  The bones of Jacob’s ancestors, Isaac and Jacob, were already in the cave near Mamre, which Abraham had bought from the Hittites for a burial site (Genesis 23:17, 18). When Jacob died, Joseph and his brothers carried his body to Canaan, and buried it there (Genesis 50:12,13). He kept his word  Matthew Henry’s comment is helpful:

‘He would be buried in Canaan, because it was the land of promise, and because it was a type of heaven, that better country which he that said these things declared plainly that he was in expectation of, Heb. 11:14. He aimed at a good land, which would be his rest and bliss on the other side death.’

PRAYER: Thank you, Lord, for the hope we have in you of a better land; and thank you for the grace which gets us there.

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