Each week we webcast Lord's Day Sabbath School at 10a, morning public worship at 11a, and p.m. singing and sermon at 2:30p (sermon at 3:30); and the Weds. Prayer Meeting at 6:30p

Saturday, March 27, 2021

2021.03.20 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 49:1–28

Read Genesis 49:1–28

Questions from the Scripture text: Whom did Jacob call in Genesis 49:1-2? What did he say he would tell them? What does he call Reuben in Genesis 49:3? But what does he say will come of him (Genesis 49:4a)? Why (verse 4b–d)? Whom does Jacob name together in Genesis 49:5a? What does he say about them in verse 5b, Genesis 49:6 c–d? What does he warn against doing with such people (verse 6a–b)? What does he pronounce upon them in Genesis 49:7 a-b? What, specifically, is that curse (verse 7c–d)? Whom does he bless in Genesis 49:8-12? What will his brothers do to him (verse 8a, c)? What will he do to his enemies (verse 8b)? What does Jacob call Judah in Genesis 49:9a? How does he describe his strength and victory (verse 9b–d; cf. Revelation 5:5)? What will not depart from Judah (Genesis 49:10a)? What else (verse 10b)? Until what (verse 10c)? What will come to Him (verse 10d)? How is this King and Lawgiver from Judah described in Genesis 49:11-12)? What will happen to Zebulun (Genesis 49:13)? What does he call Issachar in Genesis 49:14a? But what is this strong donkey doing (verse 14b)? Why (Genesis 49:15 a-b)? What will come of this (verse 15c–d)? What will Dan do (Genesis 49:16)? What do Genesis 49:17 a-b call him? What does he do with what effect (verse 17c–d)? What does prophesying this cause Jacob to exclaim (Genesis 49:18)? What will happen to Gad at first (Genesis 49:19a)? But with what outcome (verse 19b)? Whom does Genesis 49:20 bless and how? And whom Genesis 49:21? Who receives five verses of blessing in Genesis 49:22-26? How is he described in verse 22? Who has done what to him in Genesis 49:23? How does he survive this (Genesis 49:24 a-c)? What else comes from the Mighty One of Jacob (verse 24d)? What four blessings is Joseph to receive from God Almighty (Genesis 49:25)? What does Jacob say about the strength of these blessings (Genesis 49:26 a-c)? Upon whom did he save such strong blessings (verse 26d)? What does he call him (verse 26e)? Whom does he bless in Genesis 49:27? What does he call him? What will he do, morning and night (verse 27b–c)? What does Genesis 49:28 call them? What does it point out about the blessings?

While this is the blessing of a nation that is about to be redeemed by grace (cf. Exodus 1–15, 2 Samuel 7:23), it yet includes a number of earthly blessings and curses—outcomes of actions and gifts of mercy.

From Reuben, we learn not to presume. He should have had the first place (Genesis 49:3a), but loses it for his sin (Genesis 49:4). Simeon and Levi teach us the consequences of wickedness (they are divided and scattered for their violence (Genesis 49:5-7), but also the amazingness of grace—that the Lord would take one of these tribes to be His priests!

Because the blessings are in order by birth mother, Judah appears here among the sons of Leah (but the prophecy about Judah is important to consider in the context of a chapter as a whole, and we’ll return to him). This is why instead of Dan, Zebulun and Issachar appear at this point. Issachar is older, but Zebulun goes first and has a good blessing (Genesis 49:13), while Issachar goes second and is prophesied to squander his strength by laziness and end up in slavery (Genesis 49:14-15).

Dan is a reminder that deliverers (Genesis 49:16) might come by cleverness instead of raw power (Genesis 49:17), but that regardless of human mechanism, salvation comes from Yahweh (Genesis 49:18). Gad (the raided raider who raids back, Genesis 49:19), Asher (the ‘happy’ one who enjoys and provides rich food and delicacies, Genesis 49:20), and Naphtali (sure-footed and sure-breeding, Genesis 49:21) all receive brief but desirable blessings.

Though the highest place ends up going to Judah in the prophecy of the Messiah, Joseph’s blessing is indeed a double portion (Ephraim/fruitful, Genesis 49:22, cf. chapter 48) and Manasseh (forgetful, with Genesis 49:24 making him forget the griefs of Genesis 49:23) … 

but far more than just double. The turnaround comes by the hands of the Mighty One of Jacob (Genesis 49:24c), the Shepherd Who is the Stone of Israel (verse 24d), the God of Jacob (Genesis 49:25a), the Almighty (verse 25b). With such an One giving the blessing, it’s not surprising that the blessings are as exhaustive as possible. “Heavens and the deep” (verse 25c–d) are bookends that mean “blessings everywhere.” And “of the breasts and of the womb” focuses especially on how the Lord will multiply Joseph to be able to employ and enjoy all this blessing. Comparing blessings has been a major theme in Jacob’s life (cf. chapters 27–28), and he announces that Joseph’s blessing has been better than them all (Genesis 49:26). Certainly, the brevity of Benjamin’s blessing (Genesis 49:27) seems to bear this out by contrast.

And this brings us back to Judah. His blessing begins with a play on his name (Genesis 49:8a) and victory over his enemies (verse 8b) before implying that Joseph’s dreams/fulfillment were a foreshadowing of something that would belong to Judah in a fuller way (verse 8c). The combination of the lion illustration (Genesis 49:9) with the prophecy of the forever-king (Genesis 49:10) leads to the idea of the Lion of the tribe of Judah, which is ultimately fulfilled in Christ (cf. Revelation 5:5). 

The word Shiloh (Genesis 49:10c) may refer to the place where the tabernacle was for a time, in which case it would be a prophecy of God tabernacling among His people, ultimately in Christ as Priest. Or, it could be two Hebrew words which mean “tribute to Him,” in which case it would refer to the wealth of the nations being brought to Christ as King. 

As is often true in Scripture, both may be implied at the same time, though the same ideas about the kingship of Christ appear in close connection in Psalm 72, where his enemies’ defeat (Genesis 49:8b, cf. Psalm 72:9), the bringing of tribute (Genesis 49:10c, Psalm 72:10), and the bowing of the nations (Genesis 49:10d, Psalm 72:8–9, Psalm 72:11) all appear. Genesis 49:11-12 may sound odd in our ears, but they are a description of royal splendor—he will be so wealthy, he’ll use wine instead of water to wash his clothes; and, they’ll describe the beauty of his appearance using images from the abundance of his wealth (verse 12).

O how great can be the earthly consequences of our sin, and how great can be the earthly blessings of God’s grace! But how infinitely greater is the blessing the comes from the priesthood and kingship of Christ!

What are you doing to avoid sins of lust and violence? What earthly blessings have you received? Why is the blessing of Christ’s forever-kingship infinitely better than these?

Suggested songs: ARP72B “Nomads Will Bow” or TPH421 “Christ Shall Have Dominion”

Friday, March 26, 2021

2021.03.26 Hopewell @Home ▫ Philippians 2:1–4

Read Philippians 2:1–4

Questions from the Scripture text: What do they have in Christ (Philippians 2:1)? What do they have from love? What do they have with the Spirit? What other two things do they have? What does the apostle ask them to do (Philippians 2:2)? By what four things? How should nothing be done (Philippians 2:3)? What kind of mind should they have? And what should they do to others? What should not be the only thing they look out for (Philippians 2:4)? What else should they look out for? 

Unity (Philippians 2:2) is produced by humility (Philippians 2:3) and expressed in service (Philippians 2:4)—both of which are dependent upon grace and a grateful response to it (Philippians 2:1).

Depend upon and respond to grace, verse 1. So it all starts with grace, and that’s where the apostle begins. If the church went to “help” (Philippians 4:3) Euodia and Syntyche (Philippians 4:2) taking their cues from our present text, they might have begun with each woman by reminding them of all that God had done for them. Look at how it is that “in Christ” God has given you everything you need! How great His love has been, and how great the comfort of that love! How great is the companionship and guidance and help of the Holy Spirit! How compassionate and gentle God has been with you! If you had just a little of these things, that should be enough to compel you to this unity, but you do not have merely a little. How great is what God has done for you!

Seek others’ joy, Philippians 2:2a. The apostle then urges them to fill up his joy. Frequently, this letter has reminded us that we ought to care about bringing delight to those through whom the Lord Jesus has been pleased to give us spiritual care and oversight. Evidently, Paul was much beloved by them already. But shouldn’t we have the same desire to bring genuine spiritual joy to our other brothers and sisters? The first part of verse 2 implies that connection.

Be united in doctrine that produces love and zeal, verse 2b. How, then, do we who have been shown so much grace seek one another’s joy? The rest of verse 2 begins and ends with being like/one-minded. It reminds us that there is no unity without doctrinal unity (cf. Philippians 1:27, 1 Corinthians 1:10). But in the middle, they are to be same-loved and one-souled. Unity must include doctrine, but it must not be limited to doctrine. It is nothing without affection and shared life.

The necessity of humility, Philippians 2:3. So, what is getting in the way of loving others more? A nasty overgrowth of love-of-self. We need to kill selfish ambition, that desire that we would be highly esteemed. We need to kill conceit, our own high esteem of self. There’s no room for these if we are going to esteem others better, we need to replace exaltedness of mind with lowliness of mind.

The fruit of service, Philippians 2:4. The proof is in the putting. The putting of others’ interests ahead of our own. Spending sacrificially of our time on them. Spending sacrificially of our money on them. Sacrificing others’ opinions of us in order to raise their esteem of others. 

What has God done for you? What are you doing for others? How are you fostering affection? Sharing your life?

Suggested songs: ARP197 “Christian Unity” or TPH409 “Blest Be the Tie That Binds”

Thursday, March 25, 2021

The Lord Whose Word Saves Us from the Wicked and Their Words (Prayer Meeting Lesson in Psalm 12)

Developments that make Yahweh’s poor ones cry out, v1, 8.
The words of the wicked, v2–4.
The words of Yahweh, v5–7.

What Our Use of Wealth Shows about Us (Family Worship in Luke 16:1–13)

For what is the wasteful steward commended? Pastor leads his family in today’s “Hopewell @Home” passage. Luke 16:1–13 prepares us for the second serial reading in the public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these thirteen verses of Holy Scripture, we see that diligence in using wealth well shows what we treasure, that the grace to use it well is indicative of where we are going, and that its place in our priorities shows whom/what we serve.

2021.03.25 Hopewell @Home ▫ Luke 16:1–13

Read Luke 16:1–13

Questions from the Scripture text: To whom is Jesus speaking (Luke 16:1)? What did the rich man have? What accusation was brought? What did he demand from the steward (Luke 16:2)? What can he no longer be? Why was this such a tough spot for the steward (Luke 16:3)? What does he hope to accomplish (Luke 16:4)? Whom does he call in Luke 16:5? What does he ask? What does one say (Luke 16:6)? What does the steward tell him to do? What does another say (Luke 16:7)? What does the steward tell him to do? How does the master respond to this (Luke 16:8)? To whom is the unjust steward compared? How do they compare to the sons of light? For what does Jesus say to use money (Luke 16:9)? Into what kind of home should disciples of Christ hope to be received by friends they gain? What does being faithful in the least mean someone will be (Luke 16:10)? What does being unjust in the least mean someone will be? What should we use well (Luke 16:11)? With what will we then be faithful? With what should we be faithful (Luke 16:12)? What can no servant do (Luke 16:13)? What are his two options? What specifically can we not serve? 

The “wasting” (Luke 16:1) of the swindling steward connects him to the younger brother, of whom the same verb was used in Luke 15:13. We knew at the end of chapter 15 that the older brother and younger brother had both begun in the same sin (failing to treasure the Lord Himself). It turns out that not just in parables, but in our ordinary living, how we use wealth can show us a lot.

How we use wealth can show us what we treasure, Luke 16:1-9. In Luke 16:8-9, Jesus Himself gives us the lesson of the parable (which spares us agonizing over the morality of what the steward did): “the sons of this world are more shrewd in their generation than the sons of light, and I say to you, make friends for yourselves by unrighteous mammon, that when you fail, they may receive you into an everlasting home.” 

Wealth has the same problem as your life in this world: it runs out; it fails. But when life in this world ends, there is an everlasting home. If you’re a son of light (Luke 16:8), you should be hoping that your everlasting home will be the one where other sons of light are waiting to welcome you (Luke 16:9). So that is what should set the priority for our use of wealth: we should be clever (“shrewd,” verse 8) to leverage our wealth for evangelism and for the support and sanctification of believers. Don’t slouch into worldly comforts and pleasures; wheel and deal for eternal treasures—particularly for others’ eternal treasures.

How we use wealth can show us where we are going, Luke 16:10-12. When the Lord Jesus asks the rhetorical question in Luke 16:11, “who will commit to your trust the true riches,” we realize that these true riches are not the wealth of this world but the welcome to the everlasting home to which He has just referred in Luke 16:9 (n.b. that He uses the same phrase “unrighteous mammon” in both verses). 

So, faithfulness in using money is a direct indicator as to whether we can expect to be welcomed in that home. The wealth of this world is a small thing. Either we are faithful in it or unfaithful in it. And what we do with it is an indicator of whether we will have the true riches. When God saves someone, He changes what they treasure (cf. Luke 16:1-9 and the discussion above), in order that we may see from how we use our wealth the value of the home to which He is bringing us. This should, of course, give us great pause if we do not recognize this change in ourselves.

How we use wealth can show us whom we serve, Luke 16:13. God and mammon cannot both be masters. When push comes to shove, either we will attempt to use wealth to serve God, or we will attempt to use God to serve our wealth. In that moment, we will know whom we are truly serving. 

What do you work at with your money? How are you faithful in using it? Whom does your spending say is your Master?

Suggested Songs: ARP45B “Daughter, Incline Your Ear” or TPH187 “I Belong to Jesus”

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Forming Praise, Priorities, and Prayer from the Very Words of God (Family Worship in 2Samuel 7:18–29)

What does David do with the words that Nathan delivers to him from God? Pastor leads his family in today’s “Hopewell @Home” passage. 2Samuel 7:18–29 prepares us for the first serial reading in the public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these twelve verses of Holy Scripture, we see how the very words of Scripture form our praises, our priorities, and our prayers.

2021.03.24 Hopewell @Home ▫ 2 Samuel 7:18–29

Read 2 Samuel 7:18–29

Questions from the Scripture text: Before Whom does David go sit (2 Samuel 7:18)? What two things does he ask? What kind of thing was it to bring him thus far (2 Samuel 7:19)? What has the Lord spoken of, for how long? What can’t David think of (2 Samuel 7:20)? What does Yahweh know? Why has He done all these things (2 Samuel 7:21)? What did He make His servant to know? What doesn’t exist (2 Samuel 7:22)? What makes Israel special (2 Samuel 7:23)? From what has He redeemed them? What has He made them (2 Samuel 7:24)? For how long? What has He made Himself to be unto them? What does David ask the Lord to do (2 Samuel 7:25)? What does David ask to be done forever (2 Samuel 7:26)? What does he ask would be established? What enables David to pray such a prayer (2 Samuel 7:27)? What is true (2 Samuel 7:28)? What have those words said? What does David ask that blessing his house would do (2 Samuel 7:29)? For how long? What enables him to ask for this? 

David turns God’s words over to Him in astonished praise, 2 Samuel 7:18–24. He has no good reason for why the Lord would choose him (2 Samuel 7:18). The Lord’s answer is just that He chose him (cf. 2 Samuel 7:8). And he has no good reason for why the Lord would bring him thus far (verse 18). The Lord’s answer is just that He did (cf. 2 Samuel 7:9). And he has no good words of praise (2 Samuel 7:20) for such an astonishing promise as he has been made (2 Samuel 7:19, cf. 2 Samuel 7:12-16). And he has nothing to which to compare Israel (2 Samuel 7:23-24), since the Lord has been pleased to make permanent promises concerning them as well (2 Samuel 7:10-11). 

In all of this, David’s astonishment and response flow directly out of what God has just said by His prophet. That teaches us something about how to receive and respond to the Word of God: that we ought to be amazed by what He says concerning His people and that His own words should form our praises unto Him.

David turns God’s words back over to Him in earnest prayer, 2 Samuel 7:25-29. He makes it clear that this is what he is doing by the introduction to the “petitions” portion of his prayer, “Now, O Yahweh God, the word which You have spoken […] do as You have said” (2 Samuel 7:25).  And what Yahweh of hosts has revealed (2 Samuel 7:27a) is what puts it into His servant’s heart to pray (verse 27b).

When our prayers request what God has promised, we are helped to pray them for the sake of His glory. “Let Your name be magnified forever” (2 Samuel 7:26a) is the ultimate purpose of “let the house of Your servant David be established” (verse 26b). Because God is infinitely glorious, His righteousness demands that He infinitely exalt His glory. There is no greater argument that we can make in prayer, and no greater encouragement to ourselves as we pray, than that God is accomplishing His glory by this.

When our prayers request what God has promised, we are enabled to pray with absolute confidence. “Your words are true, and You have promised this goodness” (2 Samuel 7:28). What a glorious thing to be able to say! And, dear believer, when you are praying Scripture back to God, you can always say it!

When our prayers request what God has promised, we are enabled to pray with pleasure. We can pray “let it please You”  (2 Samuel 7:29a) “for You, O Lord Yahweh, have spoken it” (verse 29b). And as the Spirit conforms us to Christ, what pleases Him will also please us. Such is His mercy that what pleases Him in verse 29 is “to bless […] with Your blessing […] blessed forever” (cf. verse 29). This was God’s disposition toward David in Christ, which means that it is His disposition toward all who are in Christ.

How have you been developing the skill of praising and praying directly from the words of God in Scripture?

Suggested songs: ARP119G “Keep Your Promise to Your Servant” or TPH521 “The Lord’s Prayer”

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

2021.03.23 Hopewell @Home ▫ Romans 3:21–4:8

Read Romans 3:21–4:8

Questions from the Scripture text: What is revealed apart from what (Romans 3:21)? By what is that righteousness witnessed? Whose righteousness is it (Romans 3:22)? Through what in Whom? To whom and on whom? How many of them? Why (end of verse 22)? What two other things are true of all, and all who believe (Romans 3:23)? What happens to believers (Romans 3:24)? At how much cost? By what? Through what? In Whom is this redemption? Who set forth (exhibited) Him (Romans 3:25)? As what? By His what? Through what? To demonstrate what? What had God previously done? What does the justification at the present time demonstrate (Romans 3:26)? What two things is God here? Whom does He justify? What does this do to boasting (Romans 3:27)? What forces this exclusion? By what is a man justified (Romans 3:28)? Apart from what? Of whom does this make God the covenant God (Romans 3:29)? How are each of the two groups in Romans 3:30 justified? What question does Romans 3:31 ask? What is its answer? What question does Romans 4:1 ask? What would give Abraham something to boast about (Romans 4:2)? Even if so, before Whom would he still not be able to boast? What question does Romans 4:3 ask? What is its answer? As what are wages counted (Romans 4:4)? What does the person in Romans 4:5 not do? What does he do? Upon Whom does he believe? Whom does God justify? As what is faith in this God counted? Who else talks about his (Romans 4:6)? Whom does he describe as blessed? Apart from what does God impute righteousness? Who are blessed in Romans 4:7a? Who in verse 7b? Who in Romans 4:8?

Next week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, Song of Adoration, and Prayer of Confession all come from Romans 3:21–4:8, so that we will see that we are singing God’s thoughts after Him with Just as I Am, without One Plea

One of the great corrections that the Reformation made to Roman Catholic theology is that the righteousness with which a believer is right/just before God is not at all righteousness that he has worked, but only Christ Himself (and all the righteousness that Christ worked). We see that truth throughout this passage. 

It is “the righteousness of God” (Romans 3:21). It is “apart from the law” (verse 21). It is “the righteousness of God” (Romans 3:22). It is “through faith in Jesus Christ” (verse 22). It is “on all who believe” (verse 22). Among these righteous “there is no difference” (verse 22). All of them “have sinned” (Romans 3:23). All of them “fall short” (verse 23). The standard of which they fall short is “the glory of God” (verse 23). Believers are “justified freely” (Romans 3:24). Believers are “justified by His grace” (verse 24). Their redemption “is in Christ Jesus” (verse 24). Boasting is “excluded” (Romans 3:27). A man is justified not only “by faith” but very specifically “apart from the deeds of the law” (Romans 3:28). It is “by faith” and “through faith” that God justifies both the circumcised and uncircumcised (Romans 3:30). Abraham was justified not by indebting God for wages through works (Romans 4:1–2Romans 4:4), but rather by grace (v4) through believing (Romans 4:3, cf. Genesis 15:6). Justification is “to him who does not work” (Romans 4:5). God is the One “who justifies the ungodly” (verse 5). The believer’s “faith is accounted for righteousness” (verse 5). The blessedness of Psalm 32 is for those “to whom God imputes righteousness” (Romans 4:6). This imputation is “apart from works” (verse 6). This blessing is for those who have contributed “lawless deeds” that they would be “forgiven” (Romans 4:7). This blessing is for those who have contributed “sins” that would be “covered” (verse 7). This blessing is for those who have contributed “sin” which the Lord does not “impute” to him (Romans 4:8).

Behold how many times, and how many ways, the Holy Spirit here demands that we see that justification is not at all, not even a particle, upon the ground of what any of us has done! It is true that the verdict on the last day will have an accord with what else God has done in us by grace—producing from Christ, by His Spirit, His own character in our lives (cf. Romans 2:6; Revelation 20:12–15). But these works that He re-creates us to walk in are not even the smallest part of the ground of our worthiness.

This is why we must reject all Roman Catholicism and Arminianism—not to mention our own false ideas that we must reform ourselves a little bit before we come to God in repentance. How can we? Surely, we must come repenting and not clinging to our sin.  But it is only the righteousness of God in Christ that can be counted for us in our justification. And again in sanctification—that process by which those who are already justified are made more and more holy—it is only the power of God that can do it, and it is only the righteousness of Christ from which it can be produced. 

He doesn’t accept us the way we are. He accepts us the way that Christ is! For, He accepts us on the basis of making Christ ours, and making us Christ’s. And He doesn’t leave us as we are. He makes us like Christ. But we mustn’t think that any of this means that we must get the slightest bit better before we come to Him. Indeed, we cannot do so, and the idea that we can is a lie of the devil to keep us from Him.

For what do you need to come to Christ? Of what do you need to repent? What is keeping you from coming to Him?

Suggested songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH453 “Just as I Am, without One Plea”

Monday, March 22, 2021

2021.03.22 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 48

Read Genesis 48

Questions from the Scripture text: What was Joseph told in Genesis 48:1? Whom did he take with him? What was Jacob told in Genesis 48:2? What did Israel do in response? About Whom does Jacob begin speaking in Genesis 48:3? What two things had God Almighty done? Where? What two things had He promised in that blessing (Genesis 48:4)? About whom does Jacob now speak in Genesis 48:5? What claim does he lay upon them? Who will be Joseph’s (Genesis 48:6)? By what names will they be called in their inheritance? Whom is Jacob remembering in this conversation (Genesis 48:7)? What had happened to her? Upon whom does Jacob renew his focus in Genesis 48:8, to formally recognize and address them? How does Joseph describe them (Genesis 48:9a, cf. Genesis 48:5)? What does Jacob say to do with them (verse 9b)? What does Genesis 48:10 note about Israel? What does he do when Joseph brings Ephraim and Manasseh near? What does he say he hadn’t hoped to see (Genesis 48:11)? But in fact Who has shown him what? Now where does Joseph place them for the blessing (Genesis 48:12)? And how does he position himself? How does Genesis 48:13 summarize where each, Manasseh and Ephraim, were specifically placed? But what does Israel do in Genesis 48:14? How did he guide his hands? Despite what fact about Manasseh? Whom does Genesis 48:15 say Israel is blessing? What is the first thing that he calls God here? What is the second? What is the third (Genesis 48:16a)? What is the first/primary request of this blessing (verse 16b)? Whose names are to be named upon them (verse 16c–d, cf. Genesis 48:6)? What is the concluding request of this blessing? What did Joseph see in Genesis 48:17? How did he feel about it? What did he do about it? What did he say to his father (Genesis 48:18)? Why? What did his father do (Genesis 48:19)? What did his father say about himself (cf. Genesis 48:14)? What did he say about Manasseh? What did he say about Ephraim? What was the final part of the blessing (Genesis 48:20)? Thus what did he do, even in this blessing? What does Israel now say is happening to himself (Genesis 48:21)? Who does he say will be with Joseph? What will God do? What does he call the land? What additional gift does Israel give Joseph (Genesis 48:22)? Above whom? How had Israel obtained it?

As Jacob blesses his grandchildren in this chapter, the blessing points upward (in a manner of speaking) to God, backward to creation, forward to the great commission, and in all things to Christ.

The blessing points upward to God. He is God Almighty (Genesis 48:3), by Whose power we are enabled to walk before Him and be blameless (cf. Genesis 17:1). He is the promise-making God, Who has recently reiterated promises to Jacob (Genesis 48:3-4). He is the promise-keeping God, Who sustained Abraham and Isaac (Genesis 48:15 b), Who has always protected and provided for Jacob (Genesis 48:15 c), and Who has delivered Jacob from all evils (Genesis 48:16 a, even the current evils of his sickness and his imminent death).

The blessing points backward to the creation mandate. The conclusion of the blessing, “let them swarm into a multitude in the midst of the earth” takes us backward to Genesis 1:28 and a multiplication and dominion that are commanded there. 

The blessing points forward to the Great Commission. There (Matthew 28:18–20), the Lord Jesus will command the making of disciples from all the nations, using the language of being “baptized into the (Triune!) Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” Here, the blessings come in similar form. “Let my name be upon them, and the names of my fathers Abraham and Isaac.” We do the same, when a child is adopted and receives the name of his or her father. Yahweh puts His Name upon His people (cf. Numbers 6:27).

The blessing points, in all things, to Christ. In order for the blessing to be forever, and for sinners who must be forgiven, and for all the nations who fell and died in the first Adam, there is only one way such blessing can come: in the Lord Jesus Christ. Because it is in Christ, it depends not at all on any goodness in us. God is as free in His choosing whom to bless in Christ as Jacob is free to cross his arms and decide to bless the younger above the older, and to pick the two from the 11th son instead of the 1st. The blessing points, in all things, to Christ!

There is a blessing of adoption here, but it points to the ultimate blessing of adoption in Christ. The blessing points upward to God, backward to the creation mandate, forward to the great commission, and in all things to Christ!

How has God been personal to you? Faithful? Powerful? In Whom, has He been all of these to you?

Suggested songs: ARP103B “Bless the LORD, My Soul” or TPH461 “Blessed Are the Sons of God”

Sunday, March 21, 2021