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Free Daily Bible notes by Rev Stephen Thompson

Daily Bible thoughts 1813: Wednesday 28th November 2018: Genesis 47:13-26: Salvation and service.

Genesis 47:13-26: Salvation and service.

“13 There was no food, however, in the whole region because the famine was severe; both Egypt and Canaan wasted away because of the famine. 14 Joseph collected all the money that was to be found in Egypt and Canaan in payment for the grain they were buying, and he brought it to Pharaoh’s palace. 15 When the money of the people of Egypt and Canaan was gone, all Egypt came to Joseph and said, ‘Give us food. Why should we die before your eyes? Our money is all gone.’16 ‘Then bring your livestock,’ said Joseph. ‘I will sell you food in exchange for your livestock, since your money is gone.’ 17 So they brought their livestock to Joseph, and he gave them food in exchange for their horses, their sheep and goats, their cattle and donkeys. And he brought them through that year with food in exchange for all their livestock.18 When that year was over, they came to him the following year and said, ‘We cannot hide from our lord the fact that since our money is gone and our livestock belongs to you, there is nothing left for our lord except our bodies and our land. 19 Why should we perish before your eyes – we and our land as well? Buy us and our land in exchange for food, and we with our land will be in bondage to Pharaoh. Give us seed so that we may live and not die, and that the land may not become desolate.’20 So Joseph bought all the land in Egypt for Pharaoh. The Egyptians, one and all, sold their fields, because the famine was too severe for them. The land became Pharaoh’s, 21 and Joseph reduced the people to servitude,[a] from one end of Egypt to the other. 22 However, he did not buy the land of the priests, because they received a fixed allowance from Pharaoh and had food enough from the allowance Pharaoh gave them. That is why they did not sell their land.23 Joseph said to the people, ‘Now that I have bought you and your land today for Pharaoh, here is seed for you so you can plant the ground. 24 But when the crop comes in, give a fifth of it to Pharaoh. The other four-fifths you may keep as seed for the fields and as food for yourselves and your households and your children.’25 ‘You have saved our lives,’ they said. ‘May we find favour in the eyes of our lord; we will be in bondage to Pharaoh.’26 So Joseph established it as a law concerning land in Egypt – still in force today – that a fifth of the produce belongs to Pharaoh. It was only the land of the priests that did not become Pharaoh’s.” NIV

‘’You have saved our lives…May we find favour in the eyes of our lord; we will be in bondage to Pharaoh’’ (25).

‘They were willing to serve their saviour…Meditate much on the love of Calvary, and you too will feel that his empire should begin within your heart, and hasten to subdue the kingdoms of the world…We shall never know the real blessedness of living, its peace and joy and strength, till we have utterly surrendered to Christ’s supremacy.’ F.B. Meyer.

I find Gordon Wenham’s words in the ‘New Bible Commentary’ helpful at this point:

‘Modern readers of this section tend to view Joseph’s approach to the hungry Egyptians as cruel exploitation. Why did he not just give them food instead of demanding they exchanged their herds, land and freedom for grain? This is not the way the OT views the situation. Lv.25:14-43 shows that it was regarded as a great act of charity to buy the land of the destitute and make them your employees (‘slaves’). Indeed such ‘slavery’ under a good employer was regarded by some as preferable to the risks of freedom (self-employment), and when offered freedom, some slaves refused to take it (Ex.21:5-6; Dt.15:16-17). Slavery in OT times was very different from the harsh exploitation that was involved in the Atlantic slave trade of more recent centuries. OT slavery at its best meant a job for life with a benevolent employer. Certainly, this was how the Egyptians viewed Joseph’s actions…(47:25)’

PRAYER: Thank you Lord Jesus that in service to you we find perfect freedom.

Daily Bible thoughts 1812: Tuesday 27th November 2018: Genesis 47: 11, 12: Detailed provision.

Genesis 47: 11, 12: Detailed provision.

“11 So Joseph settled his father and his brothers in Egypt and gave them property in the best part of the land, the district of Rameses, as Pharaoh directed. 12 Joseph also provided his father and his brothers and all his father’s household with food, according to the number of their children.”NIV

This is the story of Joseph, not Jesus. Yet Jesus is there ‘’in all the Scriptures’’ (Luke 24). There are things in the Old Testament that picture Him, foreshadow Him, point to Him. We have seen this again and again in Genesis, that Joseph is a ‘type’ of Christ. This short passage speaks to me of how the Lord knows our needs, and provides for them in detail. It is the detail that strikes you repeatedly; it makes such an impression on you.You have a need; you don’t tell a soul, but you do talk to God about it. You pray. In time, just what you need arrives in your hands. You see it as a miracle. It strengths your faith. The Lord knows the needs of His family, and He knows them in detail.

‘’And Joseph provided food for his father and his brothers in amounts appropriate to the number of their dependents, including the smallest children’’ (12 New Living Translation).

‘This bespeaks, not only Joseph a good man, who took this tender care of his poor relations, but God a good God, who raised him up for this purpose, and put him into a capacity for doing it, as Esther came to the kingdom for such a time as this. What God here did for Jacob he has, in effect, promised to do for all his, that serve him and trust in him. Ps. 37:19; In the days of famine they shall be satisfied.’ Matthew Henry.

Daily Bible thoughts 1811: Monday 26th November 2018: Genesis 47:7-12: Blessed to bless.

Genesis 47:7-12: Blessed to bless.

“7 Then Joseph brought his father Jacob in and presented him before Pharaoh. After Jacob blessed Pharaoh, Pharaoh asked him, ‘How old are you?’And Jacob said to Pharaoh, ‘The years of my pilgrimage are a hundred and thirty. My years have been few and difficult, and they do not equal the years of the pilgrimage of my fathers.’ 10 Then Jacob blessed Pharaoh and went out from his presence.11 So Joseph settled his father and his brothers in Egypt and gave them property in the best part of the land, the district of Rameses, as Pharaoh directed. 12 Joseph also provided his father and his brothers and all his father’s household with food, according to the number of their children.” NIV

It’s been pointed out that the elderly Jacob was carried into court and helped to stand before Pharaoh (the literal meaning of 47:7). He cut a pathetic figure, but Pharaoh showed him great respect and was twice blessed by him. (Who is ‘’the greater’’ here: see Hebrews 7:7?)

We’ve grown accustomed now to speaking about someone’s ‘journey’, and here Jacob talks about his ‘’pilgrimage’’. On his ‘journey’ he had often sinned and experienced great difficulties. Yet still he was preeminently the man of blessing through whom ‘’all peoples on earth will be blessed’’ (28:14) (God’s blessing on Egypt was immediately obvious with Joseph supplying the Egyptians with grain through the famine. We will come to this in the next section).

Note 4 things:

  • Sin needn’t disqualify you from being a blessing to others – especially if you learn from it, repent of it and grow through it;
  • Your difficulties shouldn’t stop you blessing others, but may in some ways may contribute to the blessing you give. People are blessed by you because of what they see you have come through;
  • Weakness needn’t prevent you from being a blessing, for in weakness God’s strength is made perfect. ‘He turns our weaknesses into His opportunities, so that the glory goes to Him’ (Graham Kendrick);
  • We can only bless if God first blesses us – then we are ‘channels’ of His blessing to the world.

Daily Bible thoughts 1810: Friday 23rd November 2018: Genesis 47: 6b: Special ability.

Genesis 47: 6b: Special ability.

“And if you know of any among them with special ability, put them in charge of my own livestock.’ NIV

I heard someone say, ‘A man’s ministry makes room for him’. This may not be unfailingly true, but it ought to be. The local church should be a ‘’Goshen’’ where people can use the gifts God has given them, for His glory. Every Christian has the Holy Spirit (1 John 2:20,27), and therefore can make a contribution to the church (1 Cor 12:7ff). There is surely no happier place to be than where you are functioning in the sweet spot of your Spiritual gifting.

I believe the old hymn is correct to say, ‘There’s a work for Jesus none but you can do.’

Daily Bible thoughts 1809: Thursday 22nd November 2018: Genesis 46:31-47:6: Not ashamed.

Genesis 46:31-47:6: Not ashamed.

“31 Then Joseph said to his brothers and to his father’s household, ‘I will go up and speak to Pharaoh and will say to him, “My brothers and my father’s household, who were living in the land of Canaan, have come to me. 32 The men are shepherds; they tend livestock, and they have brought along their flocks and herds and everything they own.” 33 When Pharaoh calls you in and asks, “What is your occupation?” 34 you should answer, “Your servants have tended livestock from our boyhood on, just as our fathers did.” Then you will be allowed to settle in the region of Goshen, for all shepherds are detestable to the Egyptians.’47 Joseph went and told Pharaoh, ‘My father and brothers, with their flocks and herds and everything they own, have come from the land of Canaan and are now in Goshen.’ He chose five of his brothers and presented them before Pharaoh.Pharaoh asked the brothers, ‘What is your occupation?’‘Your servants are shepherds,’ they replied to Pharaoh, ‘just as our fathers were.’ They also said to him, ‘We have come to live here for a while, because the famine is severe in Canaan and your servants’ flocks have no pasture. So now, please let your servants settle in Goshen.’Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘Your father and your brothers have come to you, and the land of Egypt is before you; settle your father and your brothers in the best part of the land. Let them live in Goshen. And if you know of any among them with special ability, put them in charge of my own livestock.’ NIV

 

Gordon Wenham, writing in the ‘New Bible Commentary’, suggests that the expression:’’…for all shepherds are detestable to the Egyptians’’ (46:34), conveys the suspicion of the settled urban population for the more nomadic peoples (e.g. somewhat like the negative feeling towards gypsies and travellers we sometimes still encounter today).

Although Joseph’s brothers were ordinary working men, who would be despised by the cultured Egyptians, Joseph was not ashamed of them before Pharaoh – not ashamed to speak up for them to the king. In fact, he coached them in what to say: they were not looking for jobs or food, just pastureland for their livestock. Our God is a generous God, and we are surely meant to see His providential Hand yet again in that Pharaoh gave instructions that they should live in ‘’the best part of the land’’ (6). See the abundant goodness of God.

‘The Egyptians detested shepherds (verse 34); the highly civilised Egyptians preferred not to mix with rustic country folk. This contempt on the part of the Egyptians would work to the advantage of Jacob’s family, because once it was known they were shepherds they would be left to themselves in the countryside around Goshen, where they could prosper and multiply without being exposed to the idolatry of Egypt.’ Tom Hale: ‘The applied Old Testament Commentary’, p.197.

I read this story and recall that Jesus is ‘’not ashamed’’ to call us His brothers (Hebrews 3:11). I would be ashamed to call me my brother (!!) knowing what I do about myself. But Jesus is unashamed of any who trust Him. We are clothed in His righteousness, and that is how He sees us.

PRAYER: Thank you Lord Jesus for the difference trusting you has made in my life, and that I am now ‘’accepted in the Beloved’’.

Daily Bible thoughts 1808: Wednesday 21st November 2018: Genesis 46:28-30: Tears.

Genesis 46:28-30: Tears.

28 Now Jacob sent Judah ahead of him to Joseph to get directions to Goshen. When they arrived in the region of Goshen, 29 Joseph had his chariot made ready and went to Goshen to meet his father Israel. As soon as Joseph appeared before him, he threw his arms around his father[a] and wept for a long time.30 Israel said to Joseph, ‘Now I am ready to die, since I have seen for myself that you are still alive.’ NIV

God had said to Jacob: ‘’And Joseph’s own hand will close your eyes’’ (4), so it’s not surprising, then, to read his words in verse 30. It’s important to remember that God keeps His promises.

Verse 29 speaks volumes. Joseph had shed many tears in recent weeks, but now the banks of his heart fully burst, and the pent-up flood broke loose. It almost feels too sacred to stand and watch this scene. But God wants us to see it and learn from it. Don’t be ashamed of tears. In the main they are therapeutic and they are precious to God:

‘’You keep track of all my sorrows. You have kept all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book’’ (Psalm 56:8 New Living Translation).

I know self-pity is not good, and we should want to avoid it. But as I once heard a minister say, many people just need to have a jolly good cry.

Daily Bible thoughts 1807: Tuesday 20th November 2018: Genesis 46:8-27: Jacob and sons.

Genesis 46:8-27: Jacob and sons.

“8 These are the names of the sons of Israel (Jacob and his descendants) who went to Egypt: Reuben the firstborn of Jacob.The sons of Reuben:Hanok, Pallu, Hezron and Karmi.10 The sons of Simeon:Jemuel, Jamin, Ohad, Jakin, Zohar and Shaul the son of a Canaanite woman.11 The sons of Levi:Gershon, Kohath and Merari.12 The sons of Judah:Er, Onan, Shelah, Perez and Zerah (but Er and Onan had died in the land of Canaan).The sons of Perez:Hezron and Hamul.13 The sons of Issachar:Tola, Puah,[a] Jashub and Shimron.14 The sons of Zebulun:Sered, Elon and Jahleel.15 These were the sons Leah bore to Jacob in Paddan Aram,[c] besides his daughter Dinah. These sons and daughters of his were thirty-three in all.16 The sons of Gad:Zephon,Haggi, Shuni, Ezbon, Eri, Arodi and Areli.17 The sons of Asher:Imnah, Ishvah, Ishvi and Beriah.Their sister was Serah.The sons of Beriah:Heber and Malkiel.18 These were the children born to Jacob by Zilpah, whom Laban had given to his daughter Leah – sixteen in all.19 The sons of Jacob’s wife Rachel:Joseph and Benjamin. 20 In Egypt, Manasseh and Ephraim were born to Joseph by Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest of On.21 The sons of Benjamin:Bela, Beker, Ashbel, Gera, Naaman, Ehi, Rosh, Muppim, Huppim and Ard.22 These were the sons of Rachel who were born to Jacob – fourteen in all.23 The son of Dan:Hushim.24 The sons of Naphtali:Jahziel, Guni, Jezer and Shillem.25 These were the sons born to Jacob by Bilhah, whom Laban had given to his daughter Rachel – seven in all.26 All those who went to Egypt with Jacob – those who were his direct descendants, not counting his sons’ wives – numbered sixty-six persons. 27 With the two sons who had been born to Joseph in Egypt, the members of Jacob’s family, which went to Egypt, were seventy]in all.”NIV

Some of us may struggle with reading lists of names in the Bible. But they show us that God works through people; He loves people. He knows all about us; the many details of our lives. He even works through our sins and failures. He is not responsible for them; He does not desire them; but in His sovereignty He can use them. We are names to God, and not just numbers. He knows our (God-enabled) contribution to the story.

A further thought from Tom Hale is worth recording here:

‘Seventy seems like a very small number compared with God’s promise to Abraham that his descendants would be like the stars in the sky (Genesis 15:5; Deuteronomy 10:22). But God has no problem multiplying numbers. No matter how small our number, no matter how tiny our offering, God will multiply it (Isaiah 60:22). Indeed, there is only one number God can’t multiply:zero. God can create something out of nothing, but He can’t ‘’multiply’’ something that does not exist. We may think that our labour or our offering is insignificant, but it is not insignificant to God; He will multiply it. But He will not multiply what we do not offer Him.’ ‘Applied Old Testament Commentary’, p.197.

If you’re in the middle of a day of (apparently) small things, don’t despise it, but remember this truth and be encouraged.

PRAYER: Thank you Lord that you still take the five loaves and two fishes sincerely offered to you, and you use them to feed a multitude.

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).

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