Just men reading, memorizing and studying the bible together!

Reading Plans
Bible Order: Esther 1–4
Chronological Order: 1 Kings 1-2, Psalms 37, Psalms 71, Psalms 94
Old Testament Only: 1 Kings 22
New Testament Only: John 7:53–8:11

Joel 2 12Daily Verse: Joel 2:12

Bible Study

Trust And Obey

Passage: Genesis 49

Well we are closing in on the end of the book of Genesis. I promise you I did not plan for this to take almost half a year to get through this book. I wanted to mosey through the thing but I had no idea it would take so long. This is, however, a result of how much God has to say to us in this amazing book. We’ll look at chapter 49 today and finish up with chapter 50 on Monday. We’ll start the book of John on Tuesday.

So, in Genesis 49 Israel/Jacob meets his maker. Before he died he gave each of his sons a blessing that also told them what would happen to their descendants in the days to come. What Jacob said to his sons is the first instance of a human being speaking prophecy in the Bible.

Jacob began with the sons born to him through his first wife Leah – Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Zebulun, and Issachar. Jacob said of his first born Reuben, “turbulent as the waters, you shall not have preeminence”. As the first born he should have been preeminent among his brothers. Sin, however, robbed him of his preeminence. The prophetic aspect of this is found in the historic record of his tribe, or should I say the lack of a record. The tribe of Reuben has very few names that pop up in the biblical narrative. Whereas the first born could typically count on being the royalty and priesthood of the family, Reuben was neither. Only the tribes of Simeon, Ephraim, and Gad had fewer people when they came into the Promised Land. Remember that the size of each tribe’s inheritance was based on the number of people in that tribe at that time.

There is an important message here. Jesus said the first would be last and that is the case with Reuben. This is the sad consequence of sin. The sin of the father can set a sad example for the sons which can be passed on generation after generation. The problem of alcohol comes to mind. There are generations of families that are enslaved to the destructive consequences of alcohol. While there may be some evidence that there are genetic issues concerning alcohol that can be passed on to younger generations, it still leaves the issue of the example the father sets. If the father sets the example of staying away from alcohol, and teaches his children to do the same, there is a greater likelihood that they will stay away from alcohol. If, however, a father is a drunk he will set a bad example that history shows is often repeated generation to generation.

Simeon and Levi were similarly condemned. They sinned and killed an entire village of men. Just like Reuben, the sin of Simeon and Levi flowed from their flawed character, and character determines one’s destiny. In Jacob’s prophecy he said that they would be scattered in Israel. This came to be. The Levites became the priestly clan. When they came to the Promised Land they had no separate contiguous land to call their own. They were given cities within the territories of the other tribes. They were definitely scattered. Most Bible maps indicate tribal areas for the tribe of Simeon around Jerusalem, south and southwest of Judah. It may seem like this is a true tribal area for Simeon but this area actually belonged to Judah.

Joshua 19:9 ESV

[9] The inheritance of the people of Simeon formed part of the territory of the people of Judah. Because the portion of the people of Judah was too large for them, the people of Simeon obtained an inheritance in the midst of their inheritance.

As Jacob’s prophecy stated, both Levi and Simeon were scattered within Israel. This was all the consequence of sin. While sin has its consequences, one can still be blessed going forward. The Levites did not have their own tribal territory but they were the priestly clan. Moses, Aaron, Phinehas, Eli, Ezra, and John the Baptist are some of the significant Biblical figures who came from the tribe of Levi. Sin does not have to define our future if we are willing to change our ways and submit to Christ.

I won’t go through all of the blessings and prophecy for every tribe, but let us end with a word about Judah. Having heard the prophecy concerning his brothers which was based on their sinful behavior, Judah most likely felt like the hammer was about to come down upon his head as well. He was the one that suggested they sell Joseph into slavery. He slept with his daughter-in-law when he thought she was a prostitute. Here we see that one can change; one can confess one’s sins and be changed. Judah was not condemned but rather praised. Jacob spoke not of punishment but rather praise, preeminence, and prosperity for Judah.

In some ways Jacob had already given the preeminence of the first born to Joseph when he ensured that two of Joseph’s sons would each have a portion of the inheritance in the Promised Land. Joseph received the double share of the first born. This was the physical blessing due the first born. Judah received the spiritual blessing of the first born. He also received the blessing of being the ruling clan of Israel. Saul, the first king, was of the tribe of Benjamin, but the rest of the kings from David on to the division of Israel into two kingdoms were of the tribe of Judah, as were the kings of Judah.

More importantly, however, is the fact that the Messiah, Jesus, would be born of the line of Judah and this is hinted at when in the prophecy concerning Judah Jacob says “the scepter will not depart from Judah”.

Genesis 49:10 ESV

[10] The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until tribute comes to him; and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.

God has had a plan from the very beginning. He works not through perfect people to achieve His plan, but rather through those who have turned their back on sin and truly submitted their life to His authority. He isn’t look for perfection. He is looking for obedience. Our character does determine our destiny. A character built upon ourselves as the greatest authority in our life is weak and destine for an ignoble end. A character built upon humble obedience to God is solid and destine for glory.

Men, Genesis has been teaching us about how a man’s life affects his descendant’s destiny. What you do is not only of vital importance to your life but to the lives of those who come after you. If Genesis has not shown us our desperate need to trust and obey God, nothing will. Brother, I implore you; make your life not about yourself but about God. Trust and obey!

Have a blessed day!

Your brother and servant in Christ,

Bill

Dying to self, living to serve!

Reading Plans
Bible Order: Nehemiah 12–13
Chronological Order: Psalms 111-118
Old Testament Only: 1 Kings 20–21
New Testament Only: John 7:32–52

Daily Verse: Daniel 12:3   Daniel 12. 3

Bible Study

A Greater Inheritance

Passage: Genesis 48:3-6

In Genesis 48 we find Israel on his deathbed, speaking to Joseph. He has decided that he will arrange for Joseph to receive the physical blessings of the first born. Rueben, the true first born was disqualified because he had sex with one of his father’s wives. Simeon and Levi were disqualified because they murdered all of the men of an entire town for the sins of one man who raped their sister Dinah. Judah, who was the fourth born, would actually receive the spiritual blessings of the first born; Jesus would eventually be born from his descendants.

The physical blessings of the first born, by which I mean the amount of wealth or property given to the first born compared to the rest of his brothers, was a double portion. Since Israel had twelve sons, at his death his wealth and property would typically be split up into thirteen portions. Usually the first born would receive two portions and the rest of the brothers would receive one portion each. Now God had promised Israel that the land of Canaan would belong to his descendants. In Genesis 48 Israel tells Joseph of this promise and then that his two firstborn sons would become Israel’s.

Genesis 48:3-6 ESV

[3] And Jacob said to Joseph, “God Almighty appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan and blessed me, [4] and said to me, ‘Behold, I will make you fruitful and multiply you, and I will make of you a company of peoples and will give this land to your offspring after you for an everlasting possession.’ [5] And now your two sons, who were born to you in the land of Egypt before I came to you in Egypt, are mine; Ephraim and Manasseh shall be mine, as Reuben and Simeon are. [6] And the children that you fathered after them shall be yours. They shall be called by the name of their brothers in their inheritance.

Israel (Jacob) here tells Joseph that whatever children Joseph has after these first two will receive their inheritance not under the name of Joseph but rather under the name of their brothers Ephraim and Manasseh. If you look at a map of Israel showing the territory of each tribe you will notice that there is no area named “Joseph”. That is because the areas of Ephraim and Manasseh are the tribal areas of Joseph. Now if you count up those tribal areas you might realize that there are only twelve such areas not thirteen. You might think that this blows my theory out of the water. Well, not exactly. You see the tribe of Levi became a priestly clan and as such had various towns throughout all of the tribal areas assigned to them rather than one contiguous territory. In the end all the brothers got an inheritance in the Promised Land but Joseph’s was double that of everyone else.

The Promised Land is an analogy for Heaven. All of God’s children, everyone who submitted their life to the authority of Jesus Christ, will have an inheritance in Heaven. The Bible also teaches, however, that there are crowns to be gained. In fact the New Testament tells us that there are five crowns that Christians can earn. Now please understand me; you cannot earn your way into Heaven. Christ has paid the entry fee for all who accept His gift and submit their life to Him. What we are talking about here is the size of ones inheritance in Heaven. Please look at this, however, from God’s sense of value not man’s sense of value. Here are the crowns.

1) The Crown of Righteousness

2 Timothy 4:7-8 ESV

[7] I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. [8] Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.

2) The Imperishable or Incorruptible Crown

1 Corinthians 9:24-27 NIV

[24] Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. [25] Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. [26] Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. [27] No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

3) The Crown of Life or Martyr’s Crown

Revelation 2:10 ESV

[10] Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.

4) The Crown of Rejoicing

1 Thessalonians 2:19-20 NKJ

[19] For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming?

The Crown of Glory

5) 1 Peter 5:1-4 ESV

[1] So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: [2] shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; [3] not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. [4] And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.

If you have submitted your life to Christ you will enter the Kingdom of God. As a Christian each of us is called to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Christ. God has a plan for each of us. We each have a role to play in the Body of Christ. Let us each run the race we have been given to run. Let us each press on to the goal, to the end, to our reward in Christ. Let us win the crowns God has promised for those who are faithful. Let us earn, like Joseph, an even greater inheritance.

Have a blessed day!

Your brother and servant in Christ,

Bill

Dying to self, living to serve!

Reading Plans
Bible Order: Nehemiah 9–11
Chronological Order: 1 Chronicles 26-29, Psalms 127
Old Testament Only: 1 Kings 18–19
New Testament Only: John 7:1–31

Daily Verse: 1 Corinthians 3:22-23   1 Corinthians 3. 22-23

Bible Study

No Commentary Today

Sorry guys. Last night was a mess for me. I wasn’t going to have time to do commentary anyway but when I went to just put up the verses for the four different reading plans I couldn’t get a connection. I’m sorry I couldn’t get the verses to you earlier. I hope it hasn’t messed up your reading plan too much. Let us not get discouraged by these kinds of disruptions. Let us keep pushing forward, devouring God’s Word at every opportunity.

I don’t believe my brother Bryan reads this blog but I would like to give him a shout out on his birthday. Happy Birthday bro!

Have a blessed day!

Your brother and servant in Christ,

Bill

Dying to self, living to serve!

Reading Plans
Bible Order: Nehemiah 7:5–8:18
Chronological Order: Psalms 131, Psalms 138-139, Psalms 143-145
Old Testament Only: 1 Kings 15:25–17:24
New Testament Only: John 6:60–71

Daily Verse: John 6:48   John 6. 48

Bible Study

Corruption And Power

Passage: Genesis 47:13-26

John Dalberg-Acton wrote “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely”. As we read Genesis 47:13-26 we might have to ask ourselves if that saying applies to Joseph. He had absolute power and in circumstances described in these verses we may feel that he exploited the tragedy of the famine to enslave an entire nation. Is that what he did? Was this corruption?

God had given Joseph the insight to know that seven years of abundance would be followed by seven years of famine. Pharaoh made Joseph the de facto ruler of the country, Prime Minister if you, because of his knowledge. His power was so great that people could not raise a hand or foot without his say so (Genesis 41:44). Joseph used this power, and the years of abundance, to store up grain in Pharaoh’s granaries for the coming famine. Once the famine hit, people all over the region ran out of food in a hurry. Even Joseph’s family over in Canaan had to come to Egypt to buy food from Joseph.

In the verses in question we find that at first people spent all of their money buying food from Joseph. When the money ran out they sold Joseph all of their livestock. Eventually they had nothing left but themselves and their land. When it was all over Joseph owned, on behalf of the Pharaoh, pretty much everything and everybody. By today’s standards we might think of Joseph as having committed a great evil driven by greed and a lack of regard for the suffering of others. A politician not too long ago expressed a sentiment that governmental powers should never fail to take advantage of a crisis for political gain. Is this what Joseph did?

First off, it would have been impossible for Joseph to hide his gathering of grain during the abundant years. I don’t think the prophecy of a coming famine was a secret kept from the people. They too could have made efforts to prepare for the coming lean years. Of course the famine was of such duration that it would be hard for a lot of people to have put away enough to get them all the way through. Still, back then democracy, socialism, and communism were concepts thousands of years in the future. To expect government so long ago to conform to modern governmental theory is a bit absurd if you ask me.

This famine was an earth shattering experience for every person of the day. Their entire economic system and society was collapsing. Do you recall images of the Ethiopian famine a few decades ago? Have you seen fundraising commercials for starving people around the world? My heart broke at the sight of skin and bones children with distended bellies. The effects of famine are devastating. These people needed relief; so much so that it wasn’t Joseph’s idea that they sell themselves and their land but theirs.

Genesis 47:18-19 ESV

[18] And when that year was ended, they came to him the following year and said to him, “We will not hide from my lord that our money is all spent. The herds of livestock are my lord’s. There is nothing left in the sight of my lord but our bodies and our land. [19] Why should we die before your eyes, both we and our land? Buy us and our land for food, and we with our land will be servants to Pharaoh. And give us seed that we may live and not die, and that the land may not be desolate.”

Do you know that the phrase “real estate” comes from a Spanish phrase that means “royal estate”? If you’ll recall, a few millennium after Joseph, there existed something called the feudal system. This system was based on the idea that people belonged to the land and the land belonged to the king. People worked the land and provided a large percentage of the produce to the king through the aristocracy to whom the king had given stewardship of the land. This system of working the land and giving a percentage of the produce to the governing authority is with us today in the form of property taxes and even income taxes. The government owns all of the land; we just rent it. If you don’t think this is true see what happens if you don’t pay your property taxes. You’ll find out who owns it then. Even your labor today belongs to the government. Try earning a living and not paying taxes. How is this different than the system Joseph put in place?

Basically, Joseph created a type of feudal system that saved the people of the day from starvation while rebuilding the economy and society. Today we know there are better forms of government, but it was a helpful innovation at the time. There is something else to consider here. Joseph only imposed a 20 percent tax in exchange for saving their lives. I for one would be dancing in the streets if our government reduced taxes to that level. When you consider all the taxes we pay, income taxes, property taxes, sales taxes, wheel taxes, and on and on and on, I’d be surprised if our real tax rate wasn’t north of 50%.

Joseph consistently did good unto others throughout his life. Trying to condemn the past by modern standards is silly, let alone unfair. Joseph was not corrupted by the power he wielded. He made the best out of a bad situation and saved hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of lives in the process. Before you judge him tell me how many lives you’ve saved. Now, I don’t mean to suggest that power doesn’t corrupt but rather, that the only thing that can keep a man from falling into corruption is a right relationship with God. Corruption from power comes when we wield that power as we see fit rather than as God sees fit. It is our self-centeredness that leads to corruption not power. Power is simply a catalyst for corruption when joined with our self-centeredness.

Our representative democracy was built with the understanding that right relationship with God is essential for our success. As our nation and our leaders have wandered further from God we have seen an ever growing tide of corruption sweep the land. The power wielded by politicians and bureaucrats corrupts because their hearts are corrupt. Joseph is yet again a model for emulation. He put the wellbeing of his master and the people above his own. Let us find the Joseph’s in modern America and vote for them.

Have a blessed day!

Your brother and servant in Christ,

Bill

Dying to self, living to serve!

Reading Plans
Bible Order: Nehemiah 4:1–7:4
Chronological Order: 1 Chronicles 23-25
Old Testament Only: 1 Kings 14:1–15:24
New Testament Only: John 6:22–59

Daily Verse: Psalm 59:17   Psalm 59. 17

Bible Study

The Incubator

Passage: Genesis 46:31-34

Let’s finish up Genesis 46 shall we? There are just a couple of things I want to point out here. First we need to look at the number of people who went into Egypt as part of Israel’s clan. Then we need to look at where Joseph arranged for them to live.

Genesis 46:26-27 ESV

[26] All the persons belonging to Jacob who came into Egypt, who were his own descendants, not including Jacob’s sons’ wives, were sixty-six persons in all. [27] And the sons of Joseph, who were born to him in Egypt, were two. All the persons of the house of Jacob who came into Egypt were seventy.

Including Jacob and his family, the total number of the clan at this time was 70 people. This is the beginning of the four hundred year period of which God told Abraham back in Genesis 15.

Genesis 15:12-16 ESV

[12] As the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell on Abram. And behold, dreadful and great darkness fell upon him. [13] Then the LORD said to Abram, “Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for four hundred years. [14] But I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, and afterward they shall come out with great possessions. [15] As for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried in a good old age. [16] And they shall come back here in the fourth generation, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.”

I have always found this bit of Scripture fascinating. The iniquity of the Amorites, or Canaanites, was not yet complete. As I’ve said many times before, God gives people the fullness of time to return to Him or to be irretrievably lost. God knew the Amorites would eventually become irretrievably lost, just as had Sodom and Gomorrah. Still, knowing how it would end, God didn’t rush the clock. He let the fullness of their time play out. Of course there were only 70 Chosen People at this point. They were in no position to take the Promised Land from the Amorites as part of God’s judgment upon them. After four hundred years, this small group would grow to an estimated 2.5 to 3.5 million people. This number is based on the Bible telling us that there were 600,000 men who left Egypt. Obviously there had to be women and children as well. This was as force large enough to take the Promised Land.

God had a plan and the plan required that the descendants of these 70 people have a sheltered place where they could safely grow to a significant number and prepare for the next phase of God’s plan. This brings me to my second point concerning Genesis 46.

Genesis 46:31-34 ESV

[31] Joseph said to his brothers and to his father’s household, “I will go up and tell Pharaoh and will say to him, ‘My brothers and my father’s household, who were in the land of Canaan, have come to me. [32] And the men are shepherds, for they have been keepers of livestock, and they have brought their flocks and their herds and all that they have.’ [33] When Pharaoh calls you and says, ‘What is your occupation?’ [34] you shall say, ‘Your servants have been keepers of livestock from our youth even until now, both we and our fathers,’ in order that you may dwell in the land of Goshen, for every shepherd is an abomination to the Egyptians.”

Now usually, when people meet a head of state, they want to make a good impression. Pharaoh was a person who could have a positive impact on their future and Joseph told them to tell the king they are something the king viewed as an abomination. The land of Goshen is a nice area to raise livestock. It is also a bit out of the way. God, through Joseph, caused things to work in such a way as to isolate His Chosen People so they could develop as a cohesive unit of significant size. They were pulled away from the worldly influences that could cause them to be diluted and dispersed through intermarriage and migration.

Egypt became an incubator that grew 70 people into a couple million people; people who had a special relationship with God. Brother, sometimes we don’t understand what God is doing in our life. There are times when we feel like we are just marking time; that we have been forgotten by God. I think it is a mistake to jump to such a conclusion. God’s plans take time. His plan for you is mapped out over your entire life time. In whatever situation you find yourself God is growing you into the man He intends you to be. Where ever you find yourself, on the mountaintop or in the dark valley below, be assured that God is with you and orchestrating things to achieve His incredible purpose for you and for all of Creation.

Have a blessed day!

Your brother and servant in Christ,

Bill

Dying to self, living to serve!

Reading Plans
Bible Order: Nehemiah 1–3
Chronological Order: Psalms 108-110
Old Testament Only: 1 Kings 12–13
New Testament Only: John 6:1–21

Daily Verse: Isaiah 54:17   Isaiah 54. 17

Bible Study

Memorial Day

Brothers, just prior to sitting down to write this Memorial Day post I watched the movie “American Sniper”. The movie is a Hollywood take on the autobiography of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, the most lethal sniper in U.S. military history with 255 kills during four tours in Iraq, 160 of those kills are confirmed by the Department of Defense. Towards the end of the film Bradley Cooper, playing Chief Petty Officer Kyle, is seen talking with a V. A. psychologist. The following exchange is what I feel was the main message of the film.

Navy Doctor: Would you be surprised if I told you that Navy has credited you with… over 160 kills?

Chris Kyle: [Hums]

Navy Doctor: Do you ever think that… you might have seen things or… done some things over there that you wish you hadn’t?

Chris Kyle: Oh, that’s not me. No.

Navy Doctor: What’s not you?

Chris Kyle: I was just protecting my guys, they were trying to kill… our soldiers and I… I’m willing to meet my Creator and answer for every shot that I took.

Chris Kyle: The thing that… haunts me are all the guys that I couldn’t save.

Many in our society today have a great deal of difficulty identifying right and wrong. They don’t seem to know the difference between good and evil. It was rather refreshing to hear of a man who knew the difference and stood confidently on the side of right. It is true that our politicians often make bad decisions that send our men and women in uniform into harm’s way, but those brave people go not for the politicians but for our country. As a group they tend to love God and America. They serve our country and are often asked to make impossible decisions concerning life and death. Some give, as Abraham Lincoln said in his Gettysburg address, the last full measure of devotion.

There is much for which America can be taken to task. In my view the most pernicious and negative influence America dumps upon the world is its toxic, godless, culture. As I consider the filth that pours out of our entertainment industry I understand why many in the world hate us. I can say all of that and yet I can still say that America is the best country in the history of the world, mistakes and all. To me, one of the last vestiges of a once godly country can be found beating in the hearts of our service men and women.

In some ways Chris Kyle was unique; a cut above. In other ways he was representative of the men and women who stand against the darkness protecting the light that remains within America. I want to provide you one more quote; this one from his book “American Sniper”.

“I am a strong Christian. Not a perfect one—not close. But I strongly believe in God, Jesus, and the Bible. When I die, God is going to hold me accountable for everything I’ve done on earth. He may hold me back until last and run everybody else through the line, because it will take so long to go over all my sins. “Mr. Kyle, let’s go into the backroom. . . .” Honestly, I don’t know what will really happen on Judgment Day. But what I lean toward is that you know all of your sins, and God knows them all, and shame comes over you at the reality that He knows. I believe the fact that I’ve accepted Jesus as my savior will be my salvation. But in that backroom or whatever it is when God confronts me with my sins, I do not believe any of the kills I had during the war will be among them. Everyone I shot was evil. I had good cause on every shot. They all deserved to die.”
? Chris Kyle, American Sniper

Today let us remember men and women like Chief Petty Officer Chris Kyle. They were not perfect. They just did what had to be done. May God bless and keep the men and women of our armed services, living and dead, and may He bless their families and those they left behind. They have been, and continue to be, a light in a dark world. We remember and honor their sacrifice.

Have a blessed day!

Your brother and servant in Christ,

Bill

Dying to self, living to serve!