Search

Home thoughts from abroad.wordpress.com

Free Daily Bible notes by Rev Stephen Thompson

Month

February 2018

Daily Bible thoughts 1618: Wednesday 28th February 2018: Genesis 11:1-5: Inspection time!

Genesis 11:1-5: Inspection time!

“Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. As people moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there. They said to each other, ‘Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.’ They used brick instead of stone, and bitumen for mortar. Then they said, ‘Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.’ But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower the people were building.” NIV

Recently, in our church Bible Studies, we’ve been looking at the letters to the seven churches in the book of Revelation. I seem to remember someone saying that the image of Christ among the churches is one of Him patrolling them. You might say, He is ‘managing by walking around.’ You can’t hide from the ‘x-ray vision’ (David Pawson) of Jesus. He sees and knows everything. We are accountable to Him. Here we have a similar picture. We may build big, impressive, splendid things, but will they pass God’s inspection? He’s going to carefully examine our building materials (1 Corinthians 3:10-17).  It’s been pointed out that the reason for placing the Babel story here may be more literary than chronological. Wiersbe argues, persuasively in my view, that it’s likely that the events of chapter 11 belong prior to those in chapter 10. So the scattering described in chapter 10 was the consequence of God’s judgment at Babel. He suggests that perhaps the story was placed here so that it could lead into the genealogy of Shem, which leads into the genealogy of Abraham, who was the father of the Hebrew race.

So God commanded the peoples to be fruitful and multiply and scatter across the earth, but they decided to move to Babel and settle there. However they were in flagrant disobedience to God’s clear command (9:1 and 7). Perhaps they were motivated by fear as well as pride – huddling together for warmth as it were. But whatever other motivations they had apart from pride, they were in disobedience to God, and He could not approve of their work.

Daily Bible thoughts 1617: Tuesday 27th February 2018: Genesis 11:1-4: ‘Hallowed be thy Name’.

Genesis 11:1-4: ‘Hallowed be thy Name’.

“Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. As people moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there.  They said to each other, ‘Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.’ They used brick instead of stone, and bitumen for mortar. Then they said, ‘Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.’” NIV

It was, apparently, Thomas a Kempis who coined the phrase: ‘Man proposes, but God disposes.’  Solomon said effectively the same thing, in slightly more words (Proverbs 19:21: “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.).

I believe it is broadly true to say that it has been the way with builders of cities and towers, ever since Babel, that they want to ‘’make a Name’’ for themselves. They want to leave a legacy to the world which has to do with their name and their fame. There is something in sinful nature that wants the glory of me! For those of us in regular ministry in the church, whatever form it may take, we could do with regularly (although not obsessively) examining ourselves: why are we doing this? Who is it for really? Whether it’s city construction or church building we can be doing it for ourselves.                            In the best of people motives can be mixed.

I have often prayed for myself, and my fellow leaders, that the Lord will write ‘’hallowed be your name’’ on our hearts – that we will not be like king Saul, who built a monument to himself, or like Absalom, who erected a pillar to himself. May we have a desire for the glory of God alone.

Let us learn the lesson of Babel, where something significant got built, but God was displeased with it.

PRAYER: Lord, please will you continually purify our hearts that we may bring acceptable offerings to you.

Daily Bible thoughts 1616: Monday 26th February 2018: Genesis 10: God’s infallible Word.

Genesis 10: God’s infallible Word.

“This is the account of Shem, Ham and Japheth, Noah’s sons, who themselves had sons after the flood. The sons of Japheth: Gomer, Magog, Madai, Javan, Tubal, Meshek and Tiras. The sons of Gomer: Ashkenaz, Riphath and Togarmah. The sons of Javan: Elishah, Tarshish, the Kittites and the Rodanites. (From these the maritime peoples spread out into their territories by their clans within their nations, each with its own language.) The sons of Ham: Cush, Egypt, Put and Canaan. The sons of Cush: Seba, Havilah, Sabtah, Raamah and Sabteka. The sons of Raamah: Sheba and Dedan. Cush was the father[c] of Nimrod, who became a mighty warrior on the earth. He was a mighty hunter before the Lord; that is why it is said, ‘Like Nimrod, a mighty hunter before the Lord.’ 10 The first centres of his kingdom were Babylon, Uruk, Akkad and Kalneh, in Shinar. 11 From that land he went to Assyria, where he built Nineveh, Rehoboth Ir, Calah 12 and Resen, which is between Nineveh and Calah – which is the great city. 13 Egypt was the father of the Ludites, Anamites, Lehabites, Naphtuhites, 14 Pathrusites, Kasluhites (from whom the Philistines came) and Caphtorites. 15 Canaan was the father of Sidon his firstborn, and of the Hittites, 16 Jebusites, Amorites, Girgashites, 17 Hivites, Arkites, Sinites, 18 Arvadites, Zemarites and Hamathites. Later the Canaanite clans scattered 19 and the borders of Canaan reached from Sidon towards Gerar as far as Gaza, and then towards Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboyim, as far as Lasha. 20 These are the sons of Ham by their clans and languages, in their territories and nations. 21 Sons were also born to Shem, whose elder brother was Japheth; Shem was the ancestor of all the sons of Eber. 22 The sons of Shem: Elam, Ashur, Arphaxad, Lud and Aram. 23 The sons of Aram: Uz, Hul, Gether and Meshek.  24 Arphaxad was the father of Shelah, and Shelah the father of Eber. 25 Two sons were born to Eber: One was named Peleg, because in his time the earth was divided; his brother was named Joktan. 26 Joktan was the father of Almodad, Sheleph, Hazarmaveth, Jerah, 27 Hadoram, Uzal, Diklah, 28 Obal, Abimael, Sheba, 29 Ophir, Havilah and Jobab. All these were sons of Joktan. 30 The region where they lived stretched from Mesha towards Sephar, in the eastern hill country. 31 These are the sons of Shem by their clans and languages, in their territories and nations. 32 These are the clans of Noah’s sons, according to their lines of descent, within their nations. From these the nations spread out over the earth after the flood.” NIV

God is in control, overseeing the development and progress of human history. Names matter to Him. People are of concern to Him.  ‘Noah’s three sons left a mixed legacy to the world, but the Lord of the nations was still in charge, and history is still His story.’ Warren W. Wiersbe.

In the previous story, as we have noted, Shem and Japheth set examples we should follow, in showing loving-kindness to brothers in their weakness. We must always bear in mind our own frailties and fallibility.  But Ham is not to be copied. Look particularly at (9:18, 22, 26 and 27), and on into chapter 10. Think about how these words came true in the later history between the Israelites and the Canaanites. Stand in awe as you consider how God’s Word must prevail. Warren Wiersbe points out that the conquest of Canaan was a victory of faith in God’s promises, and it explains why God admonished Joshua to meditate on God’s Word (Josh.1:8).

This chapter shows in more detail what was said as a general statement in (9:19; see also 9:1 and 7)  ‘The Semitic races have been the source of religious light and teaching to the world. God has been known in their tents. The Japhetic races are they great colonisers and populators of the world, overflowing their own boundaries and participating in the religious privileges of the Shemites or Semites. The progressive ideas of the race of Japheth, which of course includes the Indo-European race, have also pervaded the world. The Hamitic races, of which Canaan was one, have always gravitated downward.’ F.B. Meyer: ‘Devotional Commentary,’p.18.

‘’Nimrod’’ (8-12) is mentioned ‘in parenthesis’ because he was the founder of a great empire. His importance lies in this, that the nations he founded played an important part in the history of Israel, and one of them, Babel, will feature in the next chapter. The word ‘’mighty’’ refers to a champion – someone superior in strength and courage. (It is used re David’s special bodyguards in 1 Kings 1:8 and 10). ‘The image of Nimrod in the text isn’t that of a sportsman hunting game but rather of a tyrant ruthlessly conquering men and establishing an empire. He built four cities in Shinar (Babylonia) and four more in Assyria. Both Babylon and Assyria became the enemies of Israel and were used of God to chasten His disobedient people.’ Warren W. Wiersbe.

PRAYER: Thank you Lord that you, the Most High, rule in the affairs of men.

Daily Bible thoughts 1615: Friday 23rd February 2018: Genesis 9:18-29: Love covers.

Genesis 9:18-29: Love covers.

“18 The sons of Noah who came out of the ark were Shem, Ham and Japheth. (Ham was the father of Canaan.) 19 These were the three sons of Noah, and from them came the people who were scattered over the whole earth.20 Noah, a man of the soil, proceeded to plant a vineyard. 21 When he drank some of its wine, he became drunk and lay uncovered inside his tent. 22 Ham, the father of Canaan, saw his father naked and told his two brothers outside. 23 But Shem and Japheth took a garment and laid it across their shoulders; then they walked in backwards and covered their father’s naked body. Their faces were turned the other way so that they would not see their father naked.24 When Noah awoke from his wine and found out what his youngest son had done to him, 25 he said, ‘Cursed be Canaan! The lowest of slaves will he be to his brothers.’ 26 He also said,‘Praise be to the Lord, the God of Shem! May Canaan be the slave of Shem.27 May God extend Japheth’s territory; may Japheth live in the tents of Shem, and may Canaan be the slave of Japheth.’ 28 After the flood Noah lived 350 years. 29 Noah lived a total of 950 years, and then he died.”NIV

‘’Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins’’ (1 Peter 4:8).

I believe today’s short story from ‘Genesis’ is a fine illustration of the above principle.

Speaking personally, I can’t see that the Bible takes a line against alcohol. (Although I understand, and respect, that many Christians choose to be teetotal for good reasons). However, it does not encourage drunkenness – even when it may be an accidental state (as it appears may have been the case here). The loss of control can lead to shame in many forms, even if it’s not intended.

‘The best of men are men at best.’

F.B.Meyer’s comments on this passage are, as ever, instructive:

‘Noah’s sin reminds us how weak are the best of men; liable to fall, even after the most marvellous deliverances…But if our brethren sin, let us not parade or tell their faults, but cover them with the mantle of divine love. We may abhor the sin, but let us restore such a one in the spirit of meekness, remembering that we also may be tempted. See Gal.6:1-4.’ ‘Devotional Commentary,’ p.18.

Daily Bible thoughts 1614: Thursday 22nd February 2018: Genesis 9:8-17: God is love.

Genesis 9:8-17: God is love.

“8 Then God spoke to Noah and to his sons with him, saying: “And as for Me, behold, I establish My covenant with you and with your descendants after you, 10 and with every living creature that is with you: the birds, the cattle, and every beast of the earth with you, of all that go out of the ark, every beast of the earth. 11 Thus I establish My covenant with you: Never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood; never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.” 12 And God said: “This is the sign of the covenant which I make between Me and you, and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: 13 I set My rainbow in the cloud, and it shall be for the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth. 14 It shall be, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the rainbow shall be seen in the cloud; 15 and I will remember My covenant which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. 16 The rainbow shall be in the cloud, and I will look on it to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” 17 And God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant which I have established between Me and all flesh that is on the earth.” NKJ

rainbow la palma

This photograph was taken on La Palma – one of the Canary Islands – on 6th January this year. Thousands of miles away from home we saw rainbows, just as we see them here in the United Kingdom. Wherever you are in the world, you may see God’s bow in the clouds. It is a perpetual reminder that there is a God, and He keeps His promises. He is trustworthy. He is also the Creator – the Divine Artist who paints beautifully on the canvas of His world.

Most people still, I think, are given pause to stop, and look, and point, and wonder when they see a rainbow. I believe God is giving us a nudge; reminding us He is there, and He will always do exactly as He says.

Daily Bible thoughts 1613: Wednesday 21st February 2018: Genesis 9: 1-7: No substitute for God’s blessing.

Genesis 9: 1-7: No substitute for God’s blessing.

“9 So God blessed Noah and his sons, and said to them: “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth. And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be on every beast of the earth, on every bird of the air, on all that move on the earth, and on all the fish of the sea. They are given into your hand. Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. I have given you all things, even as the green herbs. But you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood. Surely for your lifeblood I will demand a reckoning; from the hand of every beast I will require it, and from the hand of man. From the hand of every man’s brother I will require the life of man.

“Whoever sheds man’s blood,
By man his blood shall be shed;
For in the image of God
He made man.
And as for you, be fruitful and multiply;
Bring forth abundantly in the earth
And multiply in it.” NKJ

 

F.B. Meyer makes the point that God is always ready to stand with us in a new start. It was a new beginning for the world. But apart from God’s blessing, where would they be? Indeed, where would we be?

As in the natural, physical, biological realm, so in the spiritual, growth comes by the blessing of God. Apart from Jesus we can do ‘’nothing’’ (John 15:5). It’s ‘Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit’ (Zechariah 4:6). Yet we so often act like we can do this in our own strength. We’re gifted and talented and bright and hard working. We have great confidence in our ability to get the job done. Many church leaders, if they are honest, will admit that they spend very little time in prayer. What does that say about where their confidence lies?

I listened to a discussion between three ‘high-powered’ church leaders this morning. One of them admitted that there was a time when he was ‘living off the fumes’ of a previous experience of God. He said that in his late teens he had a powerful encounter with the Lord. He then got in to church leadership quite early on, and saw some some success. Then one day, several years later, he realised ‘the tank was empty’ – but he was still leading a ministry.

A well-known evangelist, who travels widely, wrote about coming back home for a week, and he very much wanted to attend a church prayer meeting. He said that he was unable to locate one anywhere in his city. He was quick to add that this didn’t mean Christians weren’t praying. It was probably now happening in small groups in many places. But clearly, he believed there was something to grieve in this lack of a whole church prayer gathering. I rather agree with him. I do believe that the pulse of a church can be read at a prayer meeting; its temperature can be taken there. How hungry and thirsty are we for God? How aware are we of our need for Him? What drives us to our knees?

Of course, we have a real part to play in the growth of the church, and we must play it to the full (as these human beings did in re-populating the planet). But without God’s blessing we are nothing.

THOUGHT: ‘Do not confound work and fruit. There is much work for Christ that is not the fruit of the Heavenly Vine.’ Andrew Murray.

Daily Bible thoughts 1612: Tuesday 20th February 2018: Genesis 8: It came to pass.

Genesis 8: It came to pass.

Then God remembered Noah, and every living thing, and all the animals that were with him in the ark. And God made a wind to pass over the earth, and the waters subsided. The fountains of the deep and the windows of heaven were also stopped, and the rain from heaven was restrained. And the waters receded continually from the earth. At the end of the hundred and fifty days the waters decreased. Then the ark rested in the seventh month, the seventeenth day of the month, on the mountains of Ararat. And the waters decreased continually until the tenth month. In the tenth month, on the first day of the month, the tops of the mountains were seen.                                    So it came to pass, at the end of forty days, that Noah opened the window of the ark which he had made. Then he sent out a raven, which kept going to and fro until the waters had dried up from the earth. He also sent out from himself a dove, to see if the waters had receded from the face of the ground. But the dove found no resting place for the sole of her foot, and she returned into the ark to him, for the waters were on the face of the whole earth. So he put out his hand and took her, and drew her into the ark to himself. 10 And he waited yet another seven days, and again he sent the dove out from the ark. 11 Then the dove came to him in the evening, and behold, a freshly plucked olive leaf was in her mouth; and Noah knew that the waters had receded from the earth. 12 So he waited yet another seven days and sent out the dove, which did not return again to him anymore. 13 And it came to pass in the six hundred and first year, in the first month, the first day of the month, that the waters were dried up from the earth; and Noah removed the covering of the ark and looked, and indeed the surface of the ground was dry. 14 And in the second month, on the twenty-seventh day of the month, the earth was dried. 15 Then God spoke to Noah, saying, 16 “Go out of the ark, you and your wife, and your sons and your sons’ wives with you. 17 Bring out with you every living thing of all flesh that is with you: birds and cattle and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth, so that they may abound on the earth, and be fruitful and multiply on the earth.” 18 So Noah went out, and his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives with him. 19 Every animal, every creeping thing, every bird, and whatever creeps on the earth, according to their families, went out of the ark. 20 Then Noah built an altar to the Lord, and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird, and offered burnt offerings on the altar. 21 And the Lord smelled a soothing aroma. Then the Lord said in His heart, “I will never again curse the ground for man’s sake, although the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; nor will I again destroy every living thing as I have done.

22 “While the earth remains,
Seedtime and harvest,
Cold and heat,
Winter and summer,
And day and night
Shall not cease.” NKJ

 

‘It came to pass.’

The greatest storm, the biggest flood in the history of the world ‘came to pass’. A day arrived when Noah, and his family, and all the creatures with him, were able to vacate the ‘boat’ they’d been living in for, it seems, a little more than a year. The predicted storm ‘came’ – and it was cataclysmic, as I said yesterday – but it ‘passed’.

God brought Noah and his family through that storm. They didn’t avoid it. They had to face it. But they were kept safe through it, as they trusted God and obeyed His Word.

The Lord never forgets His own (1). He remembers; He cares for those with whom He has entered into a covenant relationship. He brings them through.

The ‘storm’ you are currently facing; the flood of difficulty buffeting your life – ‘this too will pass’. God will bring you out, sooner or later, in time or in eternity, into a brand new world. There you will worship Him (20, 21) and trust in His promises afresh (22).

It is good of God to make promises to people so utterly sinful as we are by nature (21). It strikes me how relevant these words (22) are for us in these times, when such fears exist around the issue of global warming’.

THOUGHT: ‘Difficulty is sent to reveal to us what God can do in answer to the faith that prays and works’ (from ‘Streams in the Desert).

Daily Bible thoughts 1611: Monday 19th February 2018: Genesis 7: Safe and secure.

Genesis 7: Safe and secure.

“7 The Lord then said to Noah, ‘Go into the ark, you and your whole family, because I have found you righteous in this generation. Take with you seven pairs of every kind of clean animal, a male and its mate, and one pair of every kind of unclean animal, a male and its mate, and also seven pairs of every kind of bird, male and female, to keep their various kinds alive throughout the earth. Seven days from now I will send rain on the earth for forty days and forty nights, and I will wipe from the face of the earth every living creature I have made.’  And Noah did all that the Lord commanded him.  Noah was six hundred years old when the floodwaters came on the earth. And Noah and his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives entered the ark to escape the waters of the flood. Pairs of clean and unclean animals, of birds and of all creatures that move along the ground, male and female, came to Noah and entered the ark, as God had commanded Noah. 10 And after the seven days the floodwaters came on the earth. 11 In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, on the seventeenth day of the second month – on that day all the springs of the great deep burst forth, and the floodgates of the heavens were opened. 12 And rain fell on the earth for forty days and forty nights. 13 On that very day Noah and his sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth, together with his wife and the wives of his three sons, entered the ark. 14 They had with them every wild animal according to its kind, all livestock according to their kinds, every creature that moves along the ground according to its kind and every bird according to its kind, everything with wings. 15 Pairs of all creatures that have the breath of life in them came to Noah and entered the ark. 16 The animals going in were male and female of every living thing, as God had commanded Noah. Then the Lord shut him in. 17 For forty days the flood kept coming on the earth, and as the waters increased they lifted the ark high above the earth. 18 The waters rose and increased greatly on the earth, and the ark floated on the surface of the water. 19 They rose greatly on the earth, and all the high mountains under the entire heavens were covered. 20 The waters rose and covered the mountains to a depth of more than fifteen cubits. 21 Every living thing that moved on land perished – birds, livestock, wild animals, all the creatures that swarm over the earth, and all mankind. 22 Everything on dry land that had the breath of life in its nostrils died. 23 Every living thing on the face of the earth was wiped out; people and animals and the creatures that move along the ground and the birds were wiped from the earth. Only Noah was left, and those with him in the ark. 24 The waters flooded the earth for a hundred and fifty days.” NIV

‘…what drowns other men only lifts the child of God nearer his home. The waters bear up the ark.’ F.B. Meyer: ‘Devotional Commentary, p.17.

Some people argue that it was only a localised flood, limited to the Middle East. But the language employed seems to point to a world-wide flood. It truly was a cataclysmic event. Not only was there a deluge from above, but a bursting out of waters from beneath. Tom Hale suggests that the world must have looked pretty much as it did in the earliest days of creation.

Note:

  • Noah had the faith to believe what God said: He had a vision of the future, based on God’s Word, and he acted on it (Hebrews 11;7. This passage shows clearly that Noah’s righteousness:e.g.7:1, was not the basis of his salvation, but the expression of his faith ).
  • Noah had the courage to witness to God’s Word: (2 Peter 2:5).There is inevitably some reading between the lines going on in my saying this, but we envisage Noah preaching for 120 years, in tandem with building the ark. Ministry over the long haul takes great patience and endurance. You can imagine the ridicule he must have endured.

Noah was safe in God’s salvation: ‘’Then the LORD shut him in’’ (16). There is something so lovely about these words. The storm was outside; Noah and his family were cosy within. Those in Christ know they are safe from the judgment of God. They recognise that they are there by grace. They don’t gloat over the fact that they are inside while others are without. But they do revel in the grace and mercy of God to undeserving sinners like themselves

Daily Bible thoughts 1610: Friday 16th February 2018: Genesis 6:17-22: A covenant of a grace.

Genesis 6:17-22: A covenant of a grace.

“17 I am going to bring floodwaters on the earth to destroy all life under the heavens, every creature that has the breath of life in it. Everything on earth will perish. 18 But I will establish my covenant with you, and you will enter the ark – you and your sons and your wife and your sons’ wives with you. 19 You are to bring into the ark two of all living creatures, male and female, to keep them alive with you. 20 Two of every kind of bird, of every kind of animal and of every kind of creature that moves along the ground will come to you to be kept alive. 21 You are to take every kind of food that is to be eaten and store it away as food for you and for them.’ 22 Noah did everything just as God commanded him.”NIV

In a world spiralling downhill; a world ripe for judgment; God chose to save a people. This is God’s way, and salvation always comes at His initiative. At times, His people may be just a tiny remnant. But their presence in a wicked world is testament to the saving grace of God.

It is true that: ‘’Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God’’ (9). It is also a fact that:’’Noah did everything just as God commanded him’’ (22). But this was not the basis of his salvation. He did not earn his escape out of judgment. The life he lived was an expression of his salvation. But he did not buy God off by right living. No-one can. Noah and his family were saved because God took the initiative to save them (18); to ‘’establish’’ His covenant with them.

‘’For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no-one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do’’ (Ephesians 2:8-10).

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: