Prayer Requests for Week of October 4th, 2015

Hey all!

Happy Fall!!!

Please leave a comment below for prayer requests or email them to me at

Mine: Guidance in writing, protection over my husband’s job, and guidance in weight loss for my husband.

God bless your week!

BSF Study Questions Revelation Lesson 5, Day 3: Revelation 2:18-29

Summary of passage:  Jesus says the church in Thyatira is improving but they are tolerating Jezebel and her teachings, which lead to sexual immorality and idol worship.  Jesus intends to make those who commit adultery with her suffer and will kill her children.  Those who haven’t followed her Jesus encourages to hold fast to him.  If they do, he will give them authority over nations and the morning star.


6)  The Lord commended their improvement in deeds, love, faith, service, and perseverance of him.

7a)  Thyatira and Pergamum both were susceptible to false teachings and prophets, sexual immorality, and idol worship.

b)  She was impudent, shameless, evil, wicked, ruthless, unrepentant, murderer, a thief, and a bully.  She abused her power to gain what she wanted.  She pushed her religion upon everyone.  She was a false prophetess.  She almost brought down God’s people (see End Notes for her history).

c)  She will suffer and her children will be struck dead.

8 )  Personal question.  My answer:  Jesus is just (punishing according to deed).  It challenges me to do right always, to know I will be judged by Jesus, even in the little things.  To remember Jesus is not just the “warm and fuzzy” Jesus some churches portray him as; he’s also the final judger of deeds and a healthy fear would be good to imbed in my soul.

Conclusions:  The questions themselves weren’t challenging; the commentary and meaning behind it all especially in relation to the other churches was.  I would encourage all of you to take your time here.  Read more than the passage.  Really study what Jesus is saying here.  Imbed it in your soul.  Read commentaries.  Ask questions.  Investigate.  I promise you will be rewarded if you do.

That being said, be cautious of commentaries especially ones online.  One commentary I read said the children of Jezebel was the Roman Catholic Church and the commentator went on to chastise the church.  Obviously, Catholicism did not exist in the first century so this interpretation is extreme.

Use common sense and prayer.  If something is way out there, don’t believe it.  If it doesn’t line up with your beliefs of what is right or what the bible says, then disregard it.  Remember, gathering ideas is a good thing; but we also cannot know God’s ways.  Man’s interpretations and analysis is not God’s.  But we can learn from those around us.  Hence, our time sharing our answers in BSF!

With practice and God’s guidance you will be able to decipher the good versus the junk out there and you will grow in unbelievable ways.

End Notes:  Jezebel’s name is synonymous with evil.  She was a princess of the Phoenicians and was married to Ahab, king of Israel for political reasons.  She worshipped Baal and brought her religion with her (hence God forbid the marriage of foreigners).  She convinced Arab to build a temple to Baal in the capital of Jerusalem and set out to exterminate the worship of the One, True God.  She installed 850 priests of Baal and slaughtered God’s prophets.

In the end, she died as she deserved–thrown out a window and driven over by a chariot.  Her body was left to be ravaged by the dogs, fulfilling Elijah’s prophecy (1 Kings 21).

Thyatira was the most insignificant of the 7 cities.  It was the smallest and no persecution or suffering of Christians is even recorded in history occurring in this city.

Map of Thyatira

Still, it was a city of trade and Acts 16:14-15 mentions Lydia who traded in cloth, a good Thyratira specialized in.

To say “son of” something meant to the Jews you had the nature of that something.  Here, Jesus purposely uses “Son of God” to emphasize his deity to the people.  Revelation 1:14 and 1:15 is repeated here as well when Jesus describes himself with “eyes like blazing fire and feet like burnished bronze.”

Again, fire is judgment here and bronze is pure and steadfast.

Jesus picks this insignificant church in the ancient world to show that no one is insignificant in his eyes.  He cares for all and watches all.  He praises their love, faith, service, and perseverance–4 qualities that mark a good Christian.

Praises BUT…

The people were following a woman who was leading them astray, a false prophetess whom Jesus warned about in Matthew 24:11.  Whether her name was actually Jezebel or not, scholars are unsure.  Some even speculate she was the pastor’s wife as the Greek words could be indicative of that translation.

What is important here is the significance of the name; every Jewish person would have known immediately who Jezebel was and how evil she was in the eyes of the Lord.

Her sin was leading others to sin (Mark 9:42).  In the ancient world and beyond into Medieval times, a craftsman had to be a member of a trade guild in order to prosper and gain work.  Here, in ancient times, trade guilds were closely associated with the pagan gods which would entail sexual immorality and the eating of foods in the people’s worship ceremonies.

Note “my” servants.  We are all Jesus’s.

“Deep secrets” of Satan referred to the Gnostics who all claimed they knew such things.

Giving her time to repent is Jesus’s great mercy and love.  We are all given time to repent, but the time is limited.

The sin was also tolerating Jezebel.  The people needed to throw her out and now before she could corrupt others.

“Adultery” here is also spiritual adultery.  The people were betraying Jesus when they followed pagan ways.

The NIV uses “bed of suffering”, which is much closer to another translation of “sickbed.”  We know from 1 Corinthians 11:30 that God does use sickness as a method of judgment.  The word used here for “bed” in Greek is a banqueting couch.

“Suffer intensely” is also rendered “great tribulation” in some translations, which brings up THE Great Tribulation.  “Striking her children dead” and the mention of the tribulation here has some scholars saying all this is for future generations–meaning us.

Jesus still hopes for repentance “unless they repent of their ways”.  He uses punishments as a push towards him.  He never loses hope until the last second.

“Heart and minds” in Greek is “heart and kidneys.”  The heart was the source of intellect; the kidneys emotions.  God wants both.

Hold on until Jesus comes.  We are to hold fast to him until the End.

Jesus is encouraging the faithful:  “overcome and do my will to the end.”  We are to focus on Jesus despite all the immoral crap around us in the world.  If we do, we are promised the ultimate reward:  the morning Star, which is Jesus himself (Revelation 22:16).  Morning star could also be knowledge of God’s ways (2 Peter 1:19).  I happen to think it’s both–we get Jesus and knowledge all at once!

The iron scepter is a reminder that Jesus shall vanquish the unfaithful.  He alone is to worry.

Scholars debate when as always–either the millennium rule or the final rule or rule from heaven.

The Greek word here translated “rule” means to shepherd.

Again, Jesus tells us this message is for all including us.  A warning to unrepentant sinners; a ray of hope for those holding on to him.

Fun Fact:  This is the first and only time Jesus calls himself the Son of God in the book of Revelation.  Why?  Because this church is heavily engaged in idolatry.

BSF Study Questions Revelation Lesson 5, Day 2: Revelation 2:12-17

Summary of passage:  Jesus praises the church in Pergamum for its fidelity to him even in the face of  persecution and the death of Antipas.  He condemns them, however, for some following the teaching of Balaam and Nicolaitans and tells them to repent.  Jesus says those who overcome will receive manna and a white stone with a new name written on it.


3)  They remained true to his name and did not renounce their faith even under persecution and the death of Antipas. (See explanation of Antipas in End Notes).

4a)  Balaam was the false prophet hired by Balak to curse the Israelites which God would not allow him to do.  It is believed it was Balaam’s idea to subvert the Israelites by using women and sex and causing them to sin and idol worship.  (We studied this extensively last year).

b) Part personal question.  My answer:  “The sword of his mouth” i.e. the Word of God. Knowing God’s word has shown me what God says is right and wrong not what society says is right and wrong.  It is the ultimate moral code, the one we will be judged upon, infallible and pure.  It has corrected my thinking in terms of gay marriage, sex before marriage, capital punishment, etc.

5)  Part personal question.  My answer:  Those who are victorious will gain heaven as their reward. It encourages me to keep working for Him even when I am so utterly discouraged I want to quit.  There is a plan for me; I just have to believe it.

Conclusions:  Thoroughly enjoyed this lesson.  It kept to the passage and the personal questions were applicable. There is so much here packed into 5 verses.  Awesome!

End Notes:  Antipas was the first martyr of Western Asia.  Precious little is known of him.  Some say he is the same Antipas as Saint Antipas (who may not have even existed either).  You can read HERE and HERE on him.

Antipas means “against all”.  The name Antipas is a shortened form of Antipater, one of Alexander’s successful generals (c. 397-319 B.C).  Many men and even women (Antipatris) in the Greek world were named after him.  Great in-depth article on Antipas and Pergamum HERE

Pergamum was the Roman capital for the Asiatic region under Rome’s control.  It had been the capital for more than 300 years.  It was a city noted for learning and knowledge, boasting one of the biggest libraries in the ancient world.  The city of Pergamum was a headquarters for several pagan cults and emperor worship began here (having three temples to the emperors and numerous other temples to Roman gods and goddesses) and spread, possibly the meaning behind “where Satan has his throne.”

Pergamum built the first temple to Caesar Augustus 50 years prior to John’s writing.  It had a huge temple to the Roman God, Asclepius, the God of healing, and people from all over the Empire would travel here in hopes of being healed.

Map of Pergamum:

In Revelation 1:16, John introduces the double-edged sword coming from Jesus’ mouth and repeats the idea here.  This would become a popular image as the writer of Hebrews uses this as well (Hebrews 4:12).  It stands for the Word.  Jesus is holding the Word here as His weapon.

The people did not deny Jesus’ faith.  Key point.  His faith, not our faith.

Notice Antipas and Jesus are both called “faithful witness.” (Revelation 1:5)  The word witness here used to be translated martyr and here the NIV is right.  The original Greek word (martus) meant witness.  Only in the first century AD did the word begin to take on the meaning of martyr in the English sense.

Nothing is known about Antipas except what is recorded here.  History forgot him.  But Jesus didn’t.

Balaam (his story is in Numbers 22-24 and again in chapter 31) encouraged sexual immorality and idolatry.  In the ancient world, there was no concept of sexual immorality except with the Jews.  The Romans married but were not faithful.  If they wanted to sleep around, they did.  And they saw nothing wrong with that.  These are people who had sex in temples remember.  It was their culture.  It wasn’t until the spread of Christianity that God’s way became the standard.

Here we see the Nicolaitans again (Revelation 2:6).  Again, not much is known of the Nicolaitans.  Some scholars say they were followers of Nicholas who was ordained by the apostles and who believed in revelry, adultery, and indulgence to the extreme. Other scholars say they were more gnostics who believed a physical body was intrinsically evil and denied the fact a pure, omnipotent God would take such a form. Hence, some claimed Jesus was a phantom or that God left Jesus before he was crucified. The Greek root words of Nicolaitan means “to conquer the people.”

Best explanation of Nicolaitans HERE.  Best brief account HERE

God’s people here allowed these practices to continue.  They were complicit in the sin, doing nothing to stop it.  Hence, Jesus’ rebuke.

5 of the 7 churches are commanded to repent or face judgment using the Word.

Hidden manna is God’s perfect provision–Jesus (John 6:41, 51).

In the Roman world, a white stone was known as tessera and it was a form of currency if you will. It was used as tickets to banquets, signs of honor and friendship, and even as a sign of acquittal in court.  Stones were also used in voting methods.  Citizens or those eligible to vote were given two stones:  a white one and a black one.  A white one meant “yes” and a black one meant “no.”  Citizens would drop only one stone when they voted.  This method was mainly for enacting laws.

Interesting historical note:  these stones were used to vote for the Nicene Creed.

Another interesting historical note:  this is where the colors also became associated with good and evil in the secular world (besides the use in the Bible).

Further interest:  This system of using black and white balls was carried over to the modern world for electing new members to clubs, fraternities, and guilds.  This is also where the term “blackballing” comes from albeit the meaning of the word has changed in modern times.  Cool short summaries HERE and HERE.

People’s names were carved on these stones, or more accurately, pebbles in the Greek.

Here, the white stone serves as the ticket to heaven, the “new name” probably the believer’s new name engraved on it.

Gilgamesh the Hero

Gilgamesh the Hero

Gilgamesh the Hero

The Epic of Gilgamesh is the oldest recorded story in the world.  Composed by the Sumerians (later the territory would be Babylon) between 3200-2700 BC, this story is about a real king who ruled in Mesopotamia.  Carved on 12 stone tablets, this tale has all the elements of a great story.

Gilgamesh the Hero is retold by Geraldine McCaughrean for kids.  We meet Gilgamesh, a king unloved by his people for always going to war and putting his people to work on huge building projects for his main city, Uruk.  He is strong and powerful.

One day Gilgamesh meets one just as strong and powerful, a man named Enkidu.  Deadlocked in a battle, the two become best friends.  Gilgamesh, eager for adventure and fame, decides to hunt down a monster named Huwawa.  Reluctantly, Enkidu follows and Huwawa is defeated.

Ishtar, the goddess of love, notices Gilgamesh in this battle and asks him to marry her.  Gilgamesh refuses, knowing Ishtar has a history of disposing of her lovers.  Ishtar, upset at the spurn, releases the Bull of Heaven upon Uruk.  Both Enkidu and Gilgamesh kill the Bull, but it does considerable damage to the city beforehand.

For killing the Bull of Heaven, Enkidu is struck down by the gods and eventually dies.  Gilgamesh is distraught and afraid of dying himself.  He mourns for his friend and sets out on a quest to find Utnapishtim, a man who has immortality since the flood of the world.

Utnapishtim discourages Gilgamesh on this quest but says if he can stay awake without sleeping for 7 days and nights he will grant him immortality.  Gilgamesh cannot.  Instead, Utnapishtim offers him the Plant of Life, a plant that will make him young again.  Gilgamesh retrieves the plant from the bottom of the sea, only to have the plant eaten by a serpent.  Gilgamesh returns home, a changed man, no longer concerns with enlarging his borders or building monuments.  And the people love him for it.

Gilgamesh settles down, has children, and discovers a new immortality–he will live on through his sons.

So many nuggets in this book.

On immortality, Utnapishtim says “Is the rainbow any less beautiful because it’s short-lived?  Or because you can’t grasp hold of it?  Perhaps it is beautiful expressly because of that (it’s short lived).”

Gilgamesh:  “Why live if not to make a mark on the world?”

On children:  “Children.  That’s the shape of happiness.  A little hand inside yours.  Someone who thinks you’re as much a hero for killing a cockroach as a dragon.  What good would it do to live a million years unhappy?”

Urshanabi:  “Do things you can look back on with pride.  Run with the baton, then pass it on!”

Utnapishtim:  “I’ve had time to learn the important things are few.  A wife, contentment, memories, peace.”

A story every one should know.  It has a flood story as well (like most ancient cultures in the world).  Great for kids and adults.  Great lessons on what’s important in life.  Great lessons on friendship as we see Gilgamesh and Enkidu.  Can’t recommend enough.

Am I the ONLY One Bothered by the Assumption Taken by BSF that John the Apostle Wrote Revelation?

I have said repeatedly how scholars and mankind are not 100% sure that John the Apostle wrote the book of Revelation.  Yet in the Notes given by BSF for Lesson 2 they flat out say John the Apostle wrote Revelation and they cite the reasoning/proof in verse 1 of Revelation.

I’m unsure what NIV version BSF is using, but Verse 1 of Revelation in my NIV Bible says this:

“The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place.  He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John”.

I’m not seeing how “servant” is the equivalent to “apostle” because it’s not.  It’s not in the original Greek in which Revelation was written and it’s obviously not in English into which this was translated or it would say “apostle.”  Both very different Greek words and English words.

I’m irritated and a bit irate (hence this post).  It bothers me that BSF if presenting this as fact (which they continue to say throughout the notes with such things as John the writer of the book said in his Gospel and the like).

It casts doubt for me on the rest of what BSF is going to tell me.  If I can’t trust them to tell me the truth about a simple fact as John the Apostle may not have written Revelation, then how can I trust anything else they say about anything?

It’s the same argument I use with the Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, and Santa Claus.  If you lie to your kids about their existence, how can they trust you in the big things like there is a God?

This is proof you must use outside sources.  You must investigate yourself.  You must use other commentaries besides BSF (and, yes, BSF is a commentary on the Bible).  You must not believe everything you read.  You must pray and ask God to reveal the truth to you.

We will only discover the author of Revelation in heaven, and I’m fine with that.  What I’m not fine with is a bible organization that I love and cherish deceiving me.

What do you all think?  Am I wrong here?  Please leave a comment below with your thoughts on this matter and how it effects the rest of the study.

BSF Study Questions Revelation Lesson 4, Day 5: Revelation 2:8-11

Summary of passage: John’s letter to the church in Smyrna says Jesus knows their afflictions and poverty and knows of the false prophets. He says they will suffer but encourages them to be faithful and they will earn the crown of life (eternal life).


13a)  Death, torture, death

b)  Death, torture, death

14a)  Because it is just the body that suffers, not the soul.  The soul is what lives on in heaven–which is what matters.  All believers in Christ go to heaven.  There is nothing to fear in Christ.

b)  Knowing there is something beyond this realm gives hope and faith in suffering.  Our suffering turns others towards Him as we are living examples of faith.  Jesus himself suffered as we are called to do as well.

15)  Personal Question.  My answer:  We had this question last year as well.  I have not suffered anywhere remotely close to the first century Christians and living in the US has sheltered me from suffering physically.  I personally have not suffered in any life-impacting way.

Conclusions:  Not sure how any of these questions relate to the passage directly; they are extrapolations to Jesus.

End Notes:  See previous POST for commentary.

Conclusions to Lesson 4: We focused in on the first two letters John wrote to the churches of Ephesus and Smyrna.  We saw the major difference between the two is Ephesus was rebuked for turning from Christ; whereas, Smyrna was only encouraged and praised for its suffering for Christ.

A lot of repetition in questions from last year.  I suppose BSF asks these every year but it stands out to me this year.

I have also come to realize as I grow in Christ and as my knowledge grows these questions seem repetitive to me because I have answered them before and I know them.  I know more of the Bible and God’s Word and to me it’s easy because I do know it.  I’m trying to keep that in mind that BSF is appealing to all wherever their walk is with Christ so some questions will be repetitive and redundant to some of us but not others.

BSF Study Questions Revelation Lesson 4, Day 4: Revelation 2:8-11

Summary of passage:  John’s letter to the church in Smyrna says Jesus knows their afflictions and poverty and knows of the false prophets.  He says they will suffer but encourages them to be faithful and they will earn the crown of life (eternal life).


11)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  “Him who is the First and the Last, who died and came to life again.”  Jesus was, is, and will always be.  What is important about Jesus is just that:  he has always existed and he died for us.  Everything else is just icing on the cake.

12a)  Jesus knows their afflictions, their poverty, those who are of the synagogue of Satan, and he knows of their future sufferings and persecutions.

b)  Poverty is just a state of being here on earth.  What matters is after death and if you have Jesus, you have all the wealth in the world.  Jesus made himself poor (by being human and sacrificing himself) so that we all may be rich in heaven.

Conclusions:  Emphasis on Jesus’ character and persevering in this world.  Great reminder for all of us as we trudge through our days.

End Notes:  Very, very similar to the letter to the Church in Ephesus.  Smyrna was a very wealthy city similar to Ephesus.  It was a great trade city and lay at the end of the river Hermus and was a port city.  It was big and beautiful and known for its trade in wine.

Smyrna had multiple temples to the Roman gods but eventually the people began to worship the Roman emperor.  Smyrna built the first temple to the goddess of Rome in 196 BC and was the first city to build a temple to a Roman emperor in 23 AD.  It was the Roman emperor Domitian who first demanded to be worshipped as a god.  It was also probably him who banished John to Patmos.

Christians refused to worship the emperor; hence, the persecution Jesus is speaking of here.  All they had to do was burn incense and say “Caesar is Lord” once a year and be upon their merry way.  They refused and faced death.  How many of us would?

Smyrna comes from the word myrrh–the same gift to Jesus at his birth and the perfume used to cover the smell of dead bodies.

MAP of Smyrna

Jesus again echoes his appearance to John in these words he chooses to identify himself with.

Just like in Ephesus, Jesus knows their works and their hardships.  One form of persecution is economic and Christians lost their jobs and livelihoods for their belief.  The word “poor” here in the Greek means abject poverty.  They were dirt, dirt poor.

History tells us there was a large Jewish population here hostile to Christians.  Paul wrote thus they were not considered Jews in Romans 2:28-9, thus were labeled “a synagogue of Satan.”

Jesus tells them they are rich.  Rich in their eyes.  Often we don’t see this either.  All that really matters is how Jesus sees us.

We will see in Revelation 3 how the Laodiceans were rich but poor.

Jesus tells them to not be afraid; the devil (in the Greek the word is diabolos meaning accuser or adversary) will test them but only for 10 days.  God will limit their trials.  Prison in ancient times was a holding place for death.  Not like it is today.

Scholars will debate the number 10 here.  Was it literally 10 days or was it 10 years or was it 10 emperors?  The Greek word for 10 days was not literal and an expression of speech–it meant a short period of time.  The important thing here is that the persecution was limited by God.

Note:  Daniel was tested for 10 days as we’ll read in Lesson 8 Day 2.

God purpose was to test, to purify, to make His people more like Jesus.  This would prove how rich they were.  Out of the seven cities, this is the only city still in existence today (now called Izmir in Turkey).

We can be tested today and have a heart and live a martyr’s life.  Sadly, many Christians don’t.

MAJOR DIFFERENCE FROM EPHESUS:  There is no corrections here.  No rebukes.  Only encouragements and praise.  Smyrna is the first of just two churches (the other being the church of Philadelphia Rev 3:7) Jesus has only words of praise.

The Greek word for crown here means the one given to an athlete (not one a king wears).  Winners.  The crown of life.

The second death is hell or lake of fire (Rev 20:14).

This letter is about persevering through persecution.  In the Western world, we are not persecuted as the first century Christians were.  Still, in other places in the world, Christians do face life or death over their faith in Christ.  It is estimated more Christians died in twentieth century for their faith than any other time frame.  Pray for an end to persecution.

Other interesting links:  Brief history of Smyrna with photos HERE

Great explanation of Jesus’ message to Smyrna HERE

Most famous martyr of Smyrna is Polycarp, a student under John the Apostle.  His story is HERE and HERE