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Free Daily Bible notes by Rev Stephen Thompson


December 2018

Daily Bible thoughts 1836: Monday 31st December 2018: Genesis 49:22-26: Fruitful

Genesis 49:22-26: Fruitful

“‘Joseph is a fruitful vine,
    a fruitful vine near a spring,
    whose branches climb over a wall.
23 With bitterness archers attacked him;
    they shot at him with hostility.
24 But his bow remained steady,
    his strong arms stayed supple,
because of the hand of the Mighty One of Jacob,
    because of the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel,
25 because of your father’s God, who helps you,
    because of the Almighty, who blesses you
with blessings of the skies above,
    blessings of the deep springs below,
    blessings of the breast and womb.
26 Your father’s blessings are greater
    than the blessings of the ancient mountains,
    than  the bounty of the age-old hills.
Let all these rest on the head of Joseph,
    on the brow of the prince among  his brothers.” NIV

A life of depth and breadth, such as we see in Joseph, often has its periods of suffering. (God made Joseph ‘’fruitful’’ in the land of his suffering in more ways than one – see 41:52). Jacob uses the image of archers shooting arrows at him. His life came under intensive fire. He suffered unjustly at the hands of his brothers; he suffered unfairly in the house of Potiphar, and in the land of Egypt, before things began to turn for the better. What keeps a person going through such times of adversity? It is God alone who provides the strength. This was Jacob’s experience (48:15,16), and it was also Joseph’s. Note the repeated: ‘’…because of…’’ (24, 25).

The idea of ‘’blessings’’ recurs throughout this section. Jacob counted himself such a blessed man and he longed that’s his boy might be blessed also. This is the desire of every godly parent for his/her child.

Daily Bible thoughts 1835: Friday 28th December 2018: Genesis 49:22: Fruitful.

Genesis 49:22: Fruitful.

‘Joseph is a fruitful vine,
    a fruitful vine near a spring,
    whose branches climb over a wall.” NIV

Joseph models for us the intensive and extensive life – one of depth and breadth. He was deeply, and securely, rooted in a refreshing relationship with God (see Genesis 1), and he bore fruit prolifically, even over the ‘’wall’’ – in the foreign country of Egypt. Someone noted that he was the founder of a tribe, ‘Ephraim’ (‘fruitful’) which grew and grew and could not be hemmed in.  With roots in God, no ‘walls’ can stand in the way of your godly influence.

This is a complete change of image, but, if you have a mobile phone, you will take it as a given that it requires constant re-charging. If it isn’t regularly replenished, it won’t be able to ‘give out’. So it is in the spiritual life: we must draw up nourishment in order to bless others.

PRAYER: Lord, please may my roots go deep in you, and may my life grow out in widespread, fruitful influence. May no ‘walls’ prevent the work you want to do through me.

Daily Bible thoughts 1834: Thursday 27th December 2018: Genesis 49:21: Freedom

Genesis 49:21: Freedom

‘Naphtali is a doe set free
    that bears beautiful fawns.‘ NIV

There is something beautiful about these two lines. It’s interesting to me that the lovely land of Galilee lay in this territory.  The people of Naphtali would be a free-spirited and poetic people. Warren Wiersbe explains:

‘The image of “a hind [doe] let loose” suggests a free-spirited people, not bound to tradition. The tribe was located in the hill country. So this image was chosen wisely. Moses said they were “satisfied with favor, and full of the blessing of the Lord” (Deut. 33:23 nkjv). The last clause–“he gives beautiful words” (Gen. 49:21nkjv)–suggests that they were a poetic people who could express themselves well. Possessing the abilities to run like does and speak beautiful words, the people of Naphtali would make ideal messengers.’

Matthew Henry makes this excellent point:

‘Among God’s Israel there is to be found a great variety of dispositions, contrary to each other, yet all contributing to the beauty and strength of the body, Judah like a lion, Issachar like an ass, Dan like a serpent, Naphtali like a hind. Let not those of different tempers and gifts censure one another, nor envy one another, any more than those of different statures and complexions.’




Daily Bible thoughts 1833: Wednesday 26th December 2018: Genesis 49:20: ‘Blessed’

Genesis 49:20: ‘Blessed’

‘Asher’s food will be rich;
    he will provide delicacies fit for a king.” NIV

‘’Asher’’ means ‘blessed’ or ‘happy’.  The land where Asher settled was good and fertile land. It had rich soil. They were able to produce an abundance of olive oil.

I was thinking, not every Christian lives in poverty, but those who are ‘’rich’’ have responsibilities to ‘’provide’’ for others. We should share our blessings, not hoard them.

Hudson Taylor was called to live and work in China. That entailed much sacrifice materially speaking, and in other ways. But I seem to remember that he had a wealthy supporter in the UK who undertook responsibility for the administration of the society. He gave to the work, and opened his large home to the Taylors when they returned home. Their callings were different, but complementary.

If God has made you an ‘’Asher’’, make it your aim to share your abundance; to ‘’provide’’ for others. The generous life is the ‘blessed’ (‘happy’) life. There is no joy in mean-ness.

PRAYER: Lord, as we remember the gracious gift of your Son, may our hearts become more like yours. Help us to be givers.

Daily Bible thoughts 1832: Christmas Day 2018: Genesis 49: ‘Long expected Jesus’.

 Genesis 49: ‘Long expected Jesus’.

‘Come, Thou long expected Jesus
Born to set Thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us,
Let us find our rest in Thee.
Israel’s strength and consolation,
Hope of all the earth Thou art;
Dear desire of every nation,
Joy of every longing heart.’

On this day, as we celebrate the birth of Christ, it’s good to remember that the story of the Bible is one story from the beginning to end. It is the Jesus story. As the aged, dying Jacob blesses his sons, we know that these boys are the foundation of a nation. From them will come twelve tribes, and from out of one of those tribes (Judah), the Messiah will be born. As Jacob speaks, the coming of the Christ is centuries in the future; from our position in history, it was two thousand years ago. But how breathtakingly wonderful to see afresh today that it was all planned. Furthermore, in God’s good timing, Jesus will come again. No-one can stop Him.

‘’The scepter will not depart from Judah,
    nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet,
until he to whom it belongs[
d] shall come
    and the obedience of the nations shall be his.’’ (Verse 10).

He came once; He will come again.

‘Open your eyes on Saviour’s day; Don’t look back or turn away…’

PRAYER: On this Christmas Day, Lord please open the eyes of many people to see the ‘long expected Jesus.’


Daily Bible thoughts 1831: Monday 24th December 2018: Genesis 49:19: Caught on the counter.

Genesis 49:19: Caught on the counter

‘Gad will be attacked by a band of raiders,
    but he will attack them at their heels. NIV

This short depiction of ‘’Gad’’ makes me think of a football match where one team is piling the pressure on another, but then the team under the cosh breaks out of defence in a blistering display of pace and skill, and they score at the other end – all against the run of play.  Warren Wiersbe writes: ‘Because of the tribe’s location on the east side of the Jordan, enemy troops could easily invade their territory. Jacob assured the Gadites that no conquest would be final, but that they would eventually conquer their enemies. This verse literally reads, “Troop [Gad], a troop will troop upon him, but he will troop on their heels.” An old man on his deathbed, Jacob could still make a clever wordplay out of his son’s name. The Gadites were great warriors (Josh. 22:1-6). Moses compared them to a brave lion that could rend the arms and heads of its enemies (Deut. 33:20).’  ‘No conquest would be final.’

We too need to know that although we often feel besieged by temptation, and we regularly fall, no failure need be final. In Jesus, we are ‘on the victory side’, and the outcome is sure.

Some years ago, Manchester United came back from being one down against Bayern Munich to win the Champions League. Two goals at the death turned the game around. For a long time afterwards, I watched a large section of the second half that I’d video’d. Every time, it looked like United might lose. But I wasn’t worried. I knew the final score (unlike when I was watching the game live! That was tense).

For the Christian, no matter how things appear now, we know how it all turns out ultimately. Thank God that we do.


Daily Bible thoughts 1830: Friday 22nd December 2018: Genesis 49: 16-18: ‘Deliver us from evil.’

Genesis 49: 16-18: ‘Deliver us from evil.’

‘Dan will provide justice for his people
    as one of the tribes of Israel.
17 Dan will be a snake by the roadside,
    a viper along the path,
that bites the horse’s heels
    so that its rider tumbles backwards.

18 ‘I look for your deliverance, Lord. NIV


Jacob’s face was ‘shadowed by death but aglow with the light of prophecy. How intense their silent awe as they heard their names called one by one by the old man’s trembling voice, speaking with difficulty! The character of each was delineated with unerring insight, the outstanding incidents of their past history enumerated, and their future forecasted. The scene was an anticipation of the final judgment, where men shall hear their lives reviewed and the sentence passed.’ F.B. Meyer: ‘Devotional Commentary’, p.33. (See also verse 28).

In the case of Dan, we move from the sons of Leah, to the sons of Billah, Rachel’s servant girl. ‘’Dan’’ means ‘to judge’, and Israel’s most famous judge, Samson, was going to descend from Dan. But there would also be a serpent-like craftiness in at least some of the people of this tribe.

God knows each of us through and through; knows what we are and what we will be. How we need the prayers of others for our deliverance (18). May we be everything God wants us to be, and not what we could be if the serpent has his way with us.

I’m not wanting to say that Jacob was praying for Dan in verse 18. It may have been for himself. Possibly it was a prayer for strength to continue with his prophesying. But the thought just his me now, as I write, that we very much need the prayers of others for our deliverance, just as we also need to pray for them.

So may this be the story of our lives – that we pray for and are prayed for.

Daily Bible thoughts 1829: Thursday 20th December 2018: Genesis 49:14,15:

Genesis 49:14-15:

Issachar is one tough donkey
crouching between the corrals;
    When he saw how good the place was,
how pleasant the country,
    He gave up his freedom
and went to work as a slave.’’
(The Message)

This makes me think that the ‘’good’’ and ‘’pleasant’’ place we have in Jesus causes us to gladly be His slaves.

‘ I love, I love my Master,
I will not go out free,
For He is my Redeemer;
He paid the price for me.
I would not leave His service,
It is so sweet and blest;
And in the weariest moments
He gives the truest rest.

I would not halve my service,
His only it must be!
His only, who so loved me,
And gave Himself for me.
Rejoicing and adoring,
Henceforth my song shall be,
I love, I love my Master,
I will not go out free.’  Lyrics: Frances Ridley Havergal (verses 1 and 3).

Warren Wiersbe’s comments are helpful as always:  ‘We today think of a donkey as an ignoble beast of burden, but in Old Testament times, kings rode on donkeys (1 Kings 1:38ff.). The image in Genesis 49:14-15 is that of a strong people who weren’t afraid to carry burdens. The people of Isaachar were hardworking and devoted to the soil. They were content with their lot and made the most of it. This tribe produced no great heroes, but their everyday labor was a help to others. After all, not everybody in Israel was called to be a Judah or a Joseph!  Of Leah’s six sons, three lost God’s best blessings because of their sins: Reuben, Simeon, and Levi. They remind us that purity and self-control are essential to godly character. Zebulun and Isaachar were everyday people whose tribes served others but weren’t especially known for their exploits. We need farmers and merchants if the machinery of life is to run smoothly.’


Daily Bible thoughts 1828: Wednesday 19th December 2018: Genesis 49: 13: Beside the seaside…

Genesis 49: 13: Beside the seaside…

‘Zebulun will live by the seashore
    and become a haven for ships;
    his border will extend towards Sidon.” NIV

If the boundary lines have fallen for you in ‘’pleasant places’’ (Psalm 16:6), you don’t have to feel embarrassed or apologise for the fact, or have regrets. The thing is to be wherever God calls you, whether in city, town or village; in the country or by the sea. Every bit of the world is scarred by sin. This is true even of the most spectacularly beautiful places.The thing is to be the best servant of God you can be in that environment, enabled by His grace. Live for him there. The whole world needs saving, and if you’ve ever been to the seaside you will know that it needs redeeming!

Warren Wiersbe makes this point in his Old Testament Commentary:

‘While not directly on the Mediterranean coast, the tribe of Zebulun was assigned land close enough to the sea to make the transport of goods profitable for the people. Zebulun was located on an important route that carried merchandise from the coast to the Sea of Galilee and to Damascus. Moses said, “For they shall partake of the abundance of the seas” (Deut. 33:19 nkjv; see also Josh. 19:10-16). For the most part, the Jews weren’t a seafaring people, but the tribe of Zebulun did business with the Phoenicians east of them and provided imported goods to the people west of them.’

PRAYER: Thank you Lord that you place us where you want us. May we shine for you wherever that is.


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