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Free Daily Bible notes by Rev Stephen Thompson


August 2021

Genesis 49:20: Container or channel?

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

‘The name means “blessed” or “happy” (30:13). Since the tribe of Asher weren’t able to drive out the inhabitants of their territory (Judg.1:31-32), they settled down to be an agricultural people, taking advantage of the fertile land God gave them (Josh.19:24-30). Moses said that Asher was “most blessed,” referring to its wealth of olive oil and the security of its cities (Deut.33:24-25). Indeed, Asher’s food was rich, and the tribe even provided special delicacies “fit for a king.” ‘ Warren W.Wiersbe: ‘Old Testament Commentary’, p.138.

In one sense, I think we could say Asher failed (and aren’t we all failures?) But this did not stop God blessing them and using them.

I believe that whatever God has blessed us with, we are to share; not selfishly hold it to ourselves. In our walk with God, if we are listening, He will tell us just how to share it with others. Maybe I can say we are not meant to be containers but channels:

“…what I do have I give you” (1 Peter 3:6);

“For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you…” (1 Corinthians 11:23).

Genesis 49: 16-19: Faith and works

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

I look for your deliverance, Lord.

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

It is interesting to note Jacob’s short prayer for deliverance coming between the two prophecies re Dan and Gad. Both these prophetic words relate to the two tribes fighting: Dan doing the subtle, serpent-like attacking; Gad responding to being attacked by fighting back. The positioning of the prayer in the middle made me think how we have to pray for deliverance, but we also have to work for it. We have our part to play in the battle. ‘Faith without works is dead.’ Someone said, ‘Pray like it all depends on God, and work like it all depends on you.’

This is not to condone certain of the descendants of Dan who would act treacherously – something alluded to here. But I’m sure you can see the general point I’m trying to make.

Jacob’s prayer, coming in the middle of his blessing and prophesying, reminds me of Nehemiah’s ‘arrow’ prayers: short, sharp requests shot up in the midst of life’s trials, needs and crises. Jacob’s prayer was uttered on his death bed. Maybe it was a prayer for strength to continue until he had completed the full series of prophecies. Or maybe he was saying something like, ‘I look for the full experience of your salvation which is shortly to come to me when I die.’ Whatever, we note the wonderful prospect of living (and dying) like this, punctuating all our days with prayer to God.

PRAYER: Lord, teach us to pray without ceasing.

Genesis 49: 14,15: A good Master

Issachar is a rawboned donkey
lying down among the sheep pens.
When he sees how good is his resting place
and how pleasant is his land,
he will bend his shoulder to the burden
and submit to forced labor.

Cyril Rollinson was one of the finest men I’ve known. He was an elder and church secretary at ‘Bridge Street’ in Leeds. He’d been a works manager, but in his retirement he largely devoted his time and talents to serving the local church. When I knew him he was a widower, but I understand his wife had sometimes joked that he ‘should take his bed down there!”(i.e. to the church building. He spent so much time working in it and on it). It seems to me he was pretty much a full time worker, but in a voluntary capacity. When someone commented on how much he did to serve the church, his answer was, ‘I’ve got a good Master!’ He loved the Lord who had saved him. That much was evident. He didn’t just work to fill his time. His service was the overflow of a loving, thankful heart. The offering of Cyril’s life laid down was, I am convinced ‘in view of God’s mercy’ (Rom.12:1).

Can you see why I thought about him as I considered these words about Issachar? When you experience the generosity of God – His lavish goodness – it surely makes you want to serve Him with all your heart.

Somebody said, ‘You can trust the Man who died for you.’ We need not fear to be fully devoted to the One who loves us so much, He gave us life for us. Don’t be afraid of full devotion to Jesus. Don’t hang on to your life. Climb on to the ‘altar’ as a ‘living sacrifice, and prove that God’s will is ‘good, pleasing and perfect’ (See Romans 12:1,2)

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