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Free Daily Bible notes by Rev Stephen Thompson

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December 2018

Daily Bible thoughts 1827: Tuesday 18th December 2018: Genesis 49:8-13: Kingdom come

Genesis 49:8-13: Kingdom come

‘Judah,[a] your brothers will praise you;
    your hand will be on the neck of your enemies;
    your father’s sons will bow down to you.
You are a lion’s cub, Judah;
    you return from the prey, my son.
Like a lion he crouches and lies down,
    like a lioness – who dares to rouse him?
10 The sceptre will not depart from Judah,
    nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet,[b]
until he to whom it belongs[c] shall come
    and the obedience of the nations shall be his.
11 He will tether his donkey to a vine,
    his colt to the choicest branch;
he will wash his garments in wine,
    his robes in the blood of grapes.
12 His eyes will be darker than wine,
    his teeth whiter than milk.[d]

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

In these days of political turmoil, it is good to remember that the unshakeable Kingdom of God has already come, is coming, and one day it will be here in all its fullness. This remarkable prophecy may have been partially fulfilled in the reigns of kings David and Solomon, but it finds its FULL- filment in Jesus. Looking back, with the perspective of history, we can clearly see that Jacob was talking about the Lord Jesus, even if he didn’t know it at the time.

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

 This is Jesus (see Matthew 28:18; Philippians 2:9-11; Revelation 5:5, 9; see also Daniel 7:13,14).

One day we will have the Leader we desperately need. In fact, we already have Him, but we don’t all want Him.

Prayer: Lord, in these politically turbulent days, we pray for the coming of your righteous Kingdom here in our land. May your will be done on earth even as it is in heaven.

 

Daily Bible thoughts 1826: Monday 17th December 2018: Genesis 49:3-7: Bad company.

Genesis 49:3-7: Bad company.

“‘Reuben, you are my firstborn,
    my might, the first sign of my strength,
    excelling in honour, excelling in power.
Turbulent as the waters, you will no longer excel,
    for you went up onto your father’s bed,
    onto my couch and defiled it.

‘Simeon and Levi are brothers –
    their swords are weapons of violence.
Let me not enter their council,
    let me not join their assembly,
for they have killed men in their anger
    and hamstrung oxen as they pleased.
Cursed be their anger, so fierce,
    and their fury, so cruel!
I will scatter them in Jacob
    and disperse them in Israel.” NIV

 

In Jacob’s words we have some of the earliest prophetic material in the Old Testament. Primarily, Jacob was speaking about the future of the tribes which would grow from his sons. In reading about ‘’Simeon and Levi’’ I recall the words of Psalm 1:1:

‘’Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers.’’

 Bad company can corrupt, and although we should love everyone, and forgive all those who have hurt us, there are some people we shouldn’t get too close to, or allow them near us, because they will pose a danger. We can end up like the good apple in a bowl of rotten fruit. Certain forms of contact will lead to contamination. May God give us the wisdom to sniff out the peril, and the resolute courage to say:

‘’Let me not enter their council, let me not join their assembly…’’

 When you think it was their dad distancing himself from them, that’s quite something.

Simeon and Levi’s anger erupted into the massacre of the Shechemites (34:25-31). God arranged it that the two tribes would not be able to ‘assemble’. The tribe of Simeon was eventually absorbed into the tribe of Judah (Joshua 19:1,9), and the tribe of Levi was given forty-eight towns to live in across Israel. So they were scattered ‘’in Jacob’’ and dispersed ‘’in Israel’’.

Daily Bible thoughts 1825: Friday 14th December 2018: Genesis 49:1-4: Consequences.

Genesis 49:1-4: Consequences.

” Then Jacob called for his sons and said: ‘Gather round so that I can tell you what will happen to you in days to come.

‘Assemble and listen, sons of Jacob;
    listen to your father Israel.

‘Reuben, you are my firstborn,
    my might, the first sign of my strength,
    excelling in honour, excelling in power.
Turbulent as the waters, you will no longer excel,
    for you went up onto your father’s bed,
    onto my couch and defiled it.” NIV

 

In ‘extra time’ Jacob scored a few ‘goals’! Some of them were prophetic.  As Jacob addressed his sons, he followed the birth order, beginning with Leah’s six boys (3-15).

Warren Wiersbe says, ‘…Jacob’s words were a revelation of human character and conduct as well as of divine purposes. Three of the sons learned that that their past conduct had cost them their future inheritance (vv.3-7), for we always reap what we sow.’ ‘The Wiersbe Bible Commentary (OT)’, p.136.

Actions have consequences! May the Lord cause us always to consider our ways. Although fresh application to the blood of Jesus can be made at any time for cleansing from sin, we may well have to live with the painful results, even of forgiven sin.

Daily Bible thoughts 1824: Thursday 13th December 2018: Genesis 48:21-22: Confident to the end.

Genesis 48:21-22: Confident to the end.

“21 Then Israel said to Joseph, ‘I am about to die, but God will be with you and take you back to the land of you  fathers. 22 And to you I give one more ridge of land than to your brothers, the ridge I took from the Amorites with my sword and my bow.’ NIV

Jacob was a dying man but his final words exuded confidence in God and belief in His presence. He knew that the Lord had been with him all through his life, and he was confident that Joseph would experience the Lord’s faithfulness to the end.

Dr.Alan Redpath, wrote an article for a Christian youth magazine when he was in his 70’s (does anyone remember ‘Buzz’?!!). In it he said something like this: ‘I know I’m in injury time; but I’m aware that a goal scored in injury time can make all the difference!’               I think old Jacob scored a few in ‘injury time’, don’t you?

PRAYER: Lord, even in old age, make me a ‘striker’ for your Kingdom.

Daily Bible thoughts 1822: Wednesday 12th December 2018: Genesis 48:15, 16: A dying prayer.

Genesis 48:15-16: A dying prayer.

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 harm
    – 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.’

 

Before we consider the blessing of Ephraim and Manasseh, I want to highlight the words of Jacob found in the middle part of the blessing ‘ceremony’. There are many gifts age can convey to youth, but today’s short passage highlights two:

  1. The gift of testimony: In his dying words, Jacob testified to the fact that ‘’the God’’ who had been his ‘’Shepherd’’ all his life had been a good shepherd to him. He had been through much, but he had come through. The Lord had brought him through many a deep, dark valley. So Jacob could testify to the faithfulness of God. I became a pastor at the age of 21, and over the years it has been my privilege to sit with many a seasoned saint. How often my heart has burned from hearing their stories;
  2. The gift of prayer: Let us pray blessing over them; let us pray they will grow greater than we have been and achieve more than we have done. Let’s ask that the church of the future – the church some of them lead – will be bigger and stronger than the church of today. May we sincerely desire their success.

 

PRAYER: Lord God, You who have been so kind to us; we thank you for our children and young people. We pray for your Hand of blessing upon them all through their lives. We ask that there will be ‘giants’ among them, who will achieve more in their day than we have done in ours. We ask this for the glory of your Name

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!

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