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Free Daily Bible notes by Rev Stephen Thompson

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November 2018

Daily Bible thoughts 1806: Monday 19th November 2018: Genesis 46:1-7: Keep in step with God.

Genesis 46:1-7: Keep in step with God.

“So Israel set out with all that was his, and when he reached Beersheba, he offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac. And God spoke to Israel in a vision at night and said, ‘Jacob! Jacob!’ ‘Here I am,’ he replied. ‘I am God, the God of your father,’ he said. ‘Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for I will make you into a great nation there. I will go down to Egypt with you, and I will surely bring you back again. And Joseph’s own hand will close your eyes.’Then Jacob left Beersheba, and Israel’s sons took their father Jacob and their children and their wives in the carts that Pharaoh had sent to transport him. So Jacob and all his offspring went to Egypt, taking with them their livestock and the possessions they had acquired in Canaan. Jacob brought with him to Egypt his sons and grandsons and his daughters and granddaughters – all his offspring.” NIV

 

An effective missionary was asked, ‘What is the secret of your success?’ He replied, ‘I just watch what God is doing and go and join Him.’ It is important to try to keep in step with God. At one time, God had told Jacob’s father, Isaac, not to go down to Egypt (26:2, 3). But this was now a different day. As someone observed, the times and seasons (and purposes) differ, but whatever God says is to be obeyed. We are not to copy other people or live in the past. Of course, we may; we must imitate good examples. But Jacob has to walk with God for himself; he cannot live off Isaac’s experience.

As we journey through life with God, let’s be worshippers. (Note Jacob stopped to worship in the very place where Abraham and Isaac worshipped: 21:33; 26:23-25).

This time it was God’s purpose to make Jacob ‘’into a great nation there’’ (3). This was a confirmation of God’s original promise to Abraham (12:2). F.B. Meyer comments: ‘…who would have thought the promise would be realised amid the pressure and persecution of Egypt!…faith is led by very uncommon paths. Trust and obey.’

Jacob would come back to the land of promise, but not alive. He would die in Egypt, and later his body would be carried back to Canaan, and buried in the cave near Mamre where Abraham and Isaac had been buried years earlier (50:12, 13).

Just note that they brought their livestock and possessions with them, contrary to Pharaoh’s advice (45:20).

PRAYER: Lord, I thank you so much for the ‘Abraham’s’ and ‘Isaac’s’ in my life story. I’m grateful for their examples – for every memory of them. But although I learn much from them, and I see principles at work in them I need to apply, help me to walk with you myself, in my day.

Daily Bible thoughts 1805: Friday 16th November 2018: Genesis 45:25-28: By word and by sign.

Genesis 45:25-28: By word and by sign.

“25 So they went up out of Egypt and came to their father Jacob in the land of Canaan. 26 They told him, ‘Joseph is still alive! In fact, he is ruler of all Egypt.’ Jacob was stunned; he did not believe them. 27 But when they told him everything Joseph had said to them, and when he saw the carts Joseph had sent to carry him back, the spirit of their father Jacob revived. 28 And Israel said, ‘I’m convinced! My son Joseph is still alive. I will go and see him before I die.’ NIV

 

The brothers ‘witnessed’ to Jacob concerning Joseph.

‘’They told him, ‘’Joseph is still alive!’’ ‘’ (26);

‘’…they told him everything Joseph had said to them…’’ (27a);

‘’…he saw the carts Joseph had sent…’’ (27b).

The result was the conviction dawning on Jacob: ‘’I’m convinced! My son Joseph is still alive’’ (28). This parallels the New Testament witness to Jesus. It is by word and by sign.

I think of these words about our Lord:

‘’After his suffering, he showed himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive’’ (Acts 1:3).

Daily Bible thoughts 1804: Thursday 15th November 2018: Genesis 45:21-24: The discerning word.

Genesis 45:21-24: The discerning word.

“21 So the sons of Israel did this. Joseph gave them carts, as Pharaoh had commanded, and he also gave them provisions for their journey. 22 To each of them he gave new clothing, but to Benjamin he gave three hundred shekels[a] of silver and five sets of clothes. 23 And this is what he sent to his father: ten donkeys loaded with the best things of Egypt, and ten female donkeys loaded with grain and bread and other provisions for his journey. 24 Then he sent his brothers away, and as they were leaving he said to them, ‘Don’t quarrel on the way!’” NIV

 

Reading about Joseph, my mind turns again to Jesus. John records this about Him in his gospel: ‘’But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all men. He did not need man’s testimony about man, for he knew what was in a man’’ (John 2:24,25).

Joseph knew what was (potentially) still in his brothers, so he said to them, ‘’Don’t quarrel on the way!’’ (24b). It sort of makes me smile in its humanity, and knowingness. He knew them well -knew what they’d been, and what they might still be capable of.

I wonder, was it another test that he gave Benjamin more? (22). Possibly. Or was history repeating itself to some degree? Was this a blind spot for Joseph? Was it a family trait with potentially damaging consequences?

In the light of Joseph’s words in (24b) I’m left thinking it was probably another test. But I’m not sure.

However, here’s the thought that challenges me today: if I see a characteristic in someone that could potentially sabotage them, will I have the courage to call that out? Do I love them enough to endure their anger, or misunderstanding, when I tell them? Such warnings need to be well-timed, and delivered in wise and sensitive ways, but they do need to be delivered.

Prayer: Lord, please help me to be honest when I need to be. May I not let anyone just fall into a pit because I’m too afraid of their anger when I warn them.

Daily Bible thoughts 1803: Wednesday 14th August 2018: Genesis 45:8-20: Conscious Of God.  

Genesis 45:8-20: Conscious Of God.

~8 “So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God. He made me father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household and ruler of all Egypt.Now hurry back to my father and say to him, ‘This is what your son Joseph says: God has made me lord of all Egypt. Come down to me; don’t delay. 10 You shall live in the region of Goshen and be near me—you, your children and grandchildren, your flocks and herds, and all you have. 11 I will provide for you there, because five years of famine are still to come. Otherwise you and your household and all who belong to you will become destitute.’12 “You can see for yourselves, and so can my brother Benjamin, that it is really I who am speaking to you. 13 Tell my father about all the honor accorded me in Egypt and about everything you have seen. And bring my father down here quickly.”14 Then he threw his arms around his brother Benjamin and wept, and Benjamin embraced him, weeping. 15 And he kissed all his brothers and wept over them. Afterward his brothers talked with him.16 When the news reached Pharaoh’s palace that Joseph’s brothers had come, Pharaoh and all his officials were pleased. 17 Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Tell your brothers, ‘Do this: Load your animals and return to the land of Canaan, 18 and bring your father and your families back to me. I will give you the best of the land of Egypt and you can enjoy the fat of the land.’ 19 “You are also directed to tell them, ‘Do this: Take some carts from Egypt for your children and your wives, and get your father and come.20 Never mind about your belongings, because the best of all Egypt will be yours.’”NIV

‘’For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God’’ (1 Peter 2:19).

Joseph’s God-centredness is striking.

Note these words:

‘’…it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you’’ (5b);

‘’But God sent me ahead of you…’’ (7a);

‘’So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God. He made me father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household and ruler of all Egypt’’ (8);

‘’God has made me lord of all Egypt’’ (9b).

There’s a difference between Sunday religion and walking with God. When you seek to do the latter, you have a different perspective. Joseph’s brothers had previously dismissed his God-given dreams. They had abused him and disrespected him, to put it mildly. He was now this great success. But he did not brag. There’s not a whiff of boastfulness in his words. He recognised that he was where he was, doing what he was doing, and that he had what he had, because of God. Is God the great reality in your life? Do you see everything (or try to) in the light of Him? What an example Joseph is.

One of the many things that God had done for Joseph was to put him in a place where he could abundantly bless his family. He was in a position to settle them in ‘’Goshen’’ (10) – the most fertile part of the whole of Egypt.

Joseph again reminds us of the Lord Jesus, who wants us near’’ Him, and, who in that relationship of intimacy will provide for all our needs (10,11; see also Romans 8:31,32).

PRAYER: Lord God, please help me to live every day of my life with a deep consciousness of your reality and presence, and then, I know, I will see all things differently.

 

 

Daily Bible thoughts 1802: Tuesday 13th November 2018: Genesis 45:1-7: Seeing God in the details.

Genesis 45:1-7: Seeing God in the details.

“Then Joseph could no longer control himself before all his attendants, and he cried out, ‘Make everyone leave my presence!’ So there was no one with Joseph when he made himself known to his brothers. And he wept so loudly that the Egyptians heard him, and Pharaoh’s household heard about it.Joseph said to his brothers, ‘I am Joseph! Is my father still living?’ But his brothers were not able to answer him, because they were terrified at his presence.Then Joseph said to his brothers, ‘Come close to me.’ When they had done so, he said, ‘I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt! And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will be no ploughing and reaping. But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance.” NIV

Joseph’s brothers must have been ‘’terrified’’ (3). They had thought their sibling was dead, but now here he was, this rather strange and scary Egyptian ruler, talking to them in their own language. At least, he had been frightening and slightly unpredictable at times. But now they saw deep emotion overflowing from him, like a huge waterfall, and they felt his love wanting to enfold them (2,4).

But Joseph’s compassion did not let them off the hook (5a). He didn’t whitewash over their sin, but he pointed to the higher reality that God was at work in the bad stuff that took him to Egypt. This did not condone the wrong, but it helps when you can see God’s Sovereign Hand in the details.

Joseph saw two parts to God’s purpose. In the short term this was ‘’to save lives’’ (5); but in the long term it was ‘’to preserve…a remnant’’ (7) – a remnant of Abraham’s descendants who, during their time in Egypt, would grow into a great nation (Exodus 1:6,7).

In Timothy Keller’s book, ‘Walking with God through pain and suffering’, he says that during Joseph’s years in Egypt he must have often prayed prayers which seemed to go unanswered. However, God was not ‘missing in action’. He was hidden, but He was in control. If Joseph had not been taken to Egypt, numerous people would have died; his own family would have been wiped out by starvation. Furthermore, his family would have been a spiritual disaster: Joseph himself would possibly have been corrupted by his arrogance and pride, and his brothers would have destroyed each other in their anger. Jacob would have self-destructed with his ‘idolatrous’ and ‘addictive’ love for his youngest sons. I think Keller makes good points. It was sin that dumped young Joseph in Egypt, but God had a great purpose in him being there. It was bigger than even Joseph could see at the time.

Daily Bible thoughts 1801: Monday 12th November 2018: Genesis 45:1-4: Revelation.

Genesis 45:1-4: Revelation.

“Then Joseph could no longer control himself before all his attendants, and he cried out, ‘Make everyone leave my presence!’ So there was no one with Joseph when he made himself known to his brothers. And he wept so loudly that the Egyptians heard him, and Pharaoh’s household heard about it. Joseph said to his brothers, ‘I am Joseph! Is my father still living?’ But his brothers were not able to answer him, because they were terrified at his presence. Then Joseph said to his brothers, ‘Come close to me.’ When they had done so, he said, ‘I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt! And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you.” NIV

What a day it will be when the Lord Jesus reveals Himself to His brethren, the people of Israel. There is coming a day when ‘’All Israel will be saved’’ (Romans 11:26). We may not fully understand all that Paul writes in Romans chapters 9-11, but he seems to indicate that one day there will be a large-scale turning of the Jews to their Messiah, and what a blessing that will be for the whole world, when He brings them close to Himself. We can prayerfully and eagerly look for that day, with joy.

PRAYER: Lord, I pray for the peace of Jerusalem.

Daily Bible thoughts 1800: Friday 9th November 2018: Genesis 44:14-34: Guilty.

Genesis 44:14-34: Guilty.

“14 Joseph was still in the house when Judah and his brothers came in, and they threw themselves to the ground before him. 15 Joseph said to them, ‘What is this you have done? Don’t you know that a man like me can find things out by divination?’ 16 ‘What can we say to my lord?’ Judah replied. ‘What can we say? How can we prove our innocence? God has uncovered your servants’ guilt. We are now my lord’s slaves – we ourselves and the one who was found to have the cup.’17 But Joseph said, ‘Far be it from me to do such a thing! Only the man who was found to have the cup will become my slave. The rest of you, go back to your father in peace.’18 Then Judah went up to him and said: ‘Pardon your servant, my lord, let me speak a word to my lord. Do not be angry with your servant, though you are equal to Pharaoh himself. 19 My lord asked his servants, “Do you have a father or a brother?” 20 And we answered, “We have an aged father, and there is a young son born to him in his old age. His brother is dead, and he is the only one of his mother’s sons left, and his father loves him.”21 ‘Then you said to your servants, “Bring him down to me so I can see him for myself.” 22 And we said to my lord, “The boy cannot leave his father; if he leaves him, his father will die.” 23 But you told your servants, “Unless your youngest brother comes down with you, you will not see my face again.” 24 When we went back to your servant my father, we told him what my lord had said.25 ‘Then our father said, “Go back and buy a little more food.” 26 But we said, “We cannot go down. Only if our youngest brother is with us will we go. We cannot see the man’s face unless our youngest brother is with us.”27 ‘Your servant my father said to us, “You know that my wife bore me two sons. 28 One of them went away from me, and I said, ‘He has surely been torn to pieces.’ And I have not seen him since. 29 If you take this one from me too and harm comes to him, you will bring my grey head down to the grave in misery.”30 ‘So now, if the boy is not with us when I go back to your servant my father, and if my father, whose life is closely bound up with the boy’s life, 31 sees that the boy isn’t there, he will die. Your servants will bring the grey head of our father down to the grave in sorrow. 32 Your servant guaranteed the boy’s safety to my father. I said, “If I do not bring him back to you, I will bear the blame before you, my father, all my life!”33 ‘Now then, please let your servant remain here as my lord’s slave in place of the boy, and let the boy return with his brothers. 34 How can I go back to my father if the boy is not with me? No! Do not let me see the misery that would come on my father.’ NIV

This was now the third time that Joseph’s brothers bowed had before him (see also 42:6; 43:26), so his dreams had been abundantly fulfilled.  As we observed yesterday, they were caught in the searchlights.

‘’What can we say? How can we prove our innocence? God has uncovered your servants’ guilt’’ (16).

The fact that these men were not guilty of what they appeared to be guilty of is immaterial. Judah seems to have this overwhelming sense of: ‘We are guilty; and we know what we’re guilty of, and, furthermore God knows, and He has brought us to this place of exposure. It’s interesting that’s the word ‘’found’’ is repeated eight times in this chapter: verses 8, 9, 10, 12, 16 (twice), 17, 24. The phrase ‘’come upon my father’’ in 24 is literally ‘find my father’ in the Hebrew tongue. These men were also being ‘found out’ (Numbers 32:23).

‘It’s when guilty sinners’ mouths are shut and they stop defending themselves that God can show them mercy (Rom.3:19).’ Warren W. Wiersbe: ‘The Wiersbe Bible Commentary’ (OT)’, p.130.  People can change. We have previously seen a hard-hearted Judah, recommending to his brothers the sale of Joseph to the Ishmaelites (37:27), and then wanting to have his daughter-in-law, Tamar, burned to death (38:24b), after he had unwittingly committed incest with her. But he had gradually been softened by God’s work in his heart, and he gives here a remarkable speech. It’s the longest by any human recorded in ‘Genesis’, and it is one of the most moving in the whole Bible. He shows a Christ-like sprit in interceding for Benjamin, and in his willingness (his desire even) to substitute himself for his younger brother. The words of Hebrews 7:14 are fascinating in this regard:

‘’For it is clear that our Lord descended from Judah…’’

 Judah was to be, in the purposes of God, the father of a great royal tribe – the tribe from which Jesus Himself would come (49:8-11). Long before Jesus came, Judah foreshadowed him in these key ways. Who would have imagined that a chapter or two ago?

The speech showed that a new Judah now stood before Joseph. He was a man with a deep concern, both for his father and his young brother. Joseph saw that he could be trusted. It was time to reveal Himself.

PRAYER: Lord, help me never to despair of anyone; but to be confident in your power to transform the worst of sinners into trophies of grace. Thank you for changing me, and I know how rotten to the core I am. You know this even more than I do, but you loved me and gave yourself for me, and I am so grateful. Thank you my Lord.

 

 

Daily Bible thoughts 1799: Thursday 8th November 2018: Genesis 44:1-13: Caught in the headlights.

Genesis 44:1-13: Caught in the headlights.

“Now Joseph gave these instructions to the steward of his house: ‘Fill the men’s sacks with as much food as they can carry, and put each man’s silver in the mouth of his sack. Then put my cup, the silver one, in the mouth of the youngest one’s sack, along with the silver for his grain.’ And he did as Joseph said.  As morning dawned, the men were sent on their way with their donkeys. They had not gone far from the city when Joseph said to his steward, ‘Go after those men at once, and when you catch up with them, say to them, “Why have you repaid good with evil? Isn’t this the cup my master drinks from and also uses for divination? This is a wicked thing you have done.”’ When he caught up with them, he repeated these words to them. But they said to him, ‘Why does my lord say such things? Far be it from your servants to do anything like that! We even brought back to you from the land of Canaan the silver we found inside the mouths of our sacks. So why would we steal silver or gold from your master’s house? If any of your servants is found to have it, he will die; and the rest of us will become my lord’s slaves.’ 10 ‘Very well, then,’ he said, ‘let it be as you say. Whoever is found to have it will become my slave; the rest of you will be free from blame.’11 Each of them quickly lowered his sack to the ground and opened it. 12 Then the steward proceeded to search, beginning with the eldest and ending with the youngest. And the cup was found in Benjamin’s sack. 13 At this, they tore their clothes. Then they all loaded their donkeys and returned to the city.” NIV

‘…sometimes God seems to deal harshly and to speak roughly; but there is no change in the tender love of his heart. It costs Him immeasurably more than it does us. Often when some unusual severity has been evinced, if we could but see his face, it would be full of pity, pain and pleading on our behalf.’ F.B. Meyer.  This quote does, I believe, have relevance for chapter 44, because we see In Joseph’s dealings with his brothers, a picture of Christ’s ways with us. At times we experience ‘tough love’, and we need to.

We live in an age where many people don’t seem to fear consequences. But the Bible says, ‘’Be sure your sin will find you out’’ (Numbers 32:23). Joseph’s brothers had sinned, and lied, and, to all appearances, they had got away with it for years. They had no reason to fear exposure because the only person who could expose them was dead (44:20) – or so they thought! Nevertheless, they had in recent times had some unnerving experiences in Egypt, and these had forced them to face what they had done. They were about to be caught in the searchlights, and it seems they maybe felt the imminence of their exposure and punishment. They were not guilty of what they appeared to have done in these verses, but they were guilty of sin, and Joseph’s strategy was to get them to the point where they honestly admitted the fact. He wanted to see what was in their hearts.

When they left Egypt that morning, the sun shone down on them, and the skies were clear. They’d got out alive. They had Benjamin safely with them. I can almost hear them whistling!! Furthermore, they’d been treated royally by this imposing official, and they were sent on their way with an abundant provision of food. But how quickly the sky changed colour, from blue to grey, to black, and a massive storm broke over their heads. They got a drenching. Again, they must have been amazed and disturbed as ‘’the steward’’ worked through their sacks, moving from ‘’the oldest’’ to ‘’the youngest’’ (12). Also, though nothing was said about it, when their money was found in their sacks, they probably felt the walls closing in. Then, when Joseph’s cup was discovered in Benjamin’s sack, they tore their clothes, as if someone had died (13). What were they to think? Could Benjamin have done this? Was it a set-up? How would they prove their/his innocence? What would Judah say to his dad if he had to return home without the youngest brother? It was a mess. Furthermore, they had gone too far in the declaration of (9) – much like Jacob himself in (31;32).

Yes, sin has consequences, whatever popular opinion may say. They were about to have a head-on collision with the results of their sin, but also with the grace and mercy of God. ‘’But where sin increased, grace increased all the more…’’ (Romans 5:20). As we shall see, they were to come out of this car wreck with their lives, and so much more, for God is good.

PRAYER: Lord, I need to confess to you today the sin of…(fill in the blank for yourself). I have carried it and hidden it for too long, and you have seen it all along. As I bring it into the light, I ask for cleansing by the blood of Jesus, who alone can forgive sin. Thank you Lord.

Daily Bible thoughts 1798: Wednesday 7th November 2018: Genesis 43: 32-34: An abundant table

Genesis 43: 32-34: An abundant table

“32 They served him by himself, the brothers by themselves, and the Egyptians who ate with him by themselves, because Egyptians could not eat with Hebrews, for that is detestable to Egyptians. 33 The men had been seated before him in the order of their ages, from the firstborn to the youngest; and they looked at each other in astonishment. 34 When portions were served to them from Joseph’s table, Benjamin’s portion was five times as much as anyone else’s. So they feasted and drank freely with him.” NIV

Jesus, our Heavenly ‘Joseph’, in His grace and mercy, invites us to eat and drink ‘’freely’’ at His abundant table. We don’t deserve to be there, but He provides for us all the same.

Note here in the text: an explanation, a source of wonder, and a test:

  • The explanation concerns the Egyptian eating habits (32). It’s a cultural note. One commentator I read said that this scruple did not simply pertain to the Hebrews; it was, he said ‘’detestable’’ to Egyptians to eat with any foreigners;
  • The source of wonder was that this high-ranking Egyptian got it right in terms of their age order (33). What was going on here? There are times, are there not, when we can feel that Jesus knows us through and through? We don’t just believe it as a theological truth, but we know it in a deep down way. (Incidentally, this makes me think about that evidence we see in the universe, which indicates the activity of a higher intelligence. At very least, it surely causes us to question);
  • As for the test – well, earlier, when Joseph was favoured, what did the brothers do? How did they treat him? So what was their response going to be to Benjamin’s special treatment? (34). Joseph set things up so that history would essentially repeat itself. It would show if these men had changed.

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