BSF Study Questions The Life of Moses Lesson 14, Day 4: Leviticus 11-15

Introductory Note:  Leviticus 8-10 is studied in Lesson 15.  There’s some good lessons in there especially Chapter 10 where Aaron’s sons are killed by God when they do not follow His instructions.

Summary of passages:  Leviticus 11:  God tells Moses and Aaron that the people may only eat animals that have a split hoof completely divided and chews the cud.  They may eat any animal that has fins and scales.  God lists the birds to not eat.  The people may eat only those winged insects that walk on all fours and have jointed legs for hopping.  God lists the ground animals that can not be eaten and says do not touch carcasses of dead animals or you will be unclean.

Leviticus 12:  A woman who gives birth is ceremonially unclean afterwards.  She must wait a certain number of days so that she may quit bleeding and then offer a sacrifice to make atonement and be clean from her flow of blood.

Leviticus 13:  If anyone has a spot on their skin, he is to go to Aaron to have it examined and diagnosed.  Aaron will decide if the person needs to be quarantined or cleaned.  If the disease is infectious, that person is to cry out “unclean, unclean” and live apart from others as long as he has the disease.  If any clothing is contaminated by mildew, it must be shown to the priest who will determine if it is destructive mildew or not and burn it if it is.

Leviticus 14:  If a diseased person with skin disease is cured, then he must be ceremonially cleaned by the priest who will sprinkle him with eh blood of a bird.  He must then wash, bathe, and shave and bring two male lambs and one ewe lamb to the Tent of Meeting as offerings or doves or pigeons if he cannot afford the others.

The priests are to inspect homes infected with mildew and remove the infected stones and areas.  If the mildew returns, then the house is unclean and most be torn down.  If there is no mildew, then the house will be considered clean and purify it with the blood of a bird.

Leviticus 15:  God lays down regulations for a man with a discharge, for anyone made unclean by an emission of semen, for a woman in her monthly period, for a man or a woman with a discharge, and for a man who lies with a woman who is ceremonially unclean.  If you become unclean, you must atone by bringing a sacrifice to become clean again and wait seven days after the ceremony.

Questions:

8 )  11:1-47:  Clean and unclean food and animals.  Eating of dead carcasses could have bacteria that can kill people or make them sick.  Pork carries many parasites.  Dead animal carcasses lying around attract disease and can spread disease (think Bubonic Plague here).

12:1-8:  Purification after Childbirth.  I see this as a protection from the woman’s husband who may try to have sex with her too soon after childbirth.  This regulation is to allow the woman to fully heal before sex again.

13:1-46:  Regulations about Infectious Skin Diseases.  To protect the people from contracting infectious diseases.

13:47-59:  Regulations about Mildew.  This was to prevent the spread of disease through the clothes people wore.

14:1-32:  Cleansing from Infectious Skin Diseases.  The only practical benefit I see here is this allowed the cured person to be accepted back into Hebrew society.  It does reflect Jesus’s ritual sacrifice for us however, which may have been the point by God.

14:33-57:  Cleansing from Mildew.  To ensure no one gets sick from mildew from the home.  If we use the translation of mildew, this is true as mildew can sicken us today if left in the home.

15:1-33:  Discharges causing Uncleanness.  These rules would help the Israelites avoid venereal diseases that plagued their neighbors.

9a)  Jesus explains in Mark that it is what comes out of a man that makes him unclean, not what goes in–for the heart is what is reflected by evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, slander, etc.  Acts says God makes things impure or unclean.  They were for spiritual health and to help the people follow God’s laws for their lives.  Jesus declares that all things are clean.  And if you believe in him, you are clean.

b)  That God is holy and His desire was for them to be holy as well, to be separate from other peoples.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  We are to be mindful of what we ingest since our body is a temple to God.  We are to be mindful of what comes out, so we are clean which includes words, actions, and good works.  As long as I remember God’s purpose for my life and His ways, I will try to do my best to be more and more like Jesus every day.

Conclusions:  For Question 8, I just used the titles my Bible had given these sections.  Seemed to sum it up pretty well.  Most of us cannot imagine leading such lives where we’d become unclean and have to avoid such items and people and purify ourselves with sacrifices.  Yet, the lesson to learn is we must watch our own lives with just as much care and attention.  God is watching us with no less.

Keep reading the Mark passage.  Jesus goes on even further with specifics.

End Notes:  Dietary laws were meant to keep the Israelites apart from their neighbors.  Pigs were prominent in Canaanite worship; therefore the Israelites were not to eat pigs.  A different dietary standard would keep the two groups from mixing socially, for a meal was always part of Middle Eastern hospitality.

Some scholars think these rules fit into what the Israelites already thought was unclean–creeping insects, scavenger birds, bodily emissions, and skin diseases.

The point was not if you became clean or unclean since it was unavoidable in life.  The point was to watch your life with care in order to prepare themselves to meet God.  Clear standards were laid out about what was acceptable to God and God demands purity.

Jesus declared all things clean (Mark 7:19 and Acts 10:9-16).  He healed the lepers, made a bleeding woman clean.  Still, God may not be approached carelessly.  Your life must make sure God’s purity is not violated.  Jesus is the only thing that makes clean the unclean–forever.

Leviticus 11:  None of these rules are new.  Noah discussed them as well (Genesis 7:2, 8:20).  God was merely putting them on paper.  The birds listed are either predators or scavengers, both of which eat meat that is already dead.  The Jews largely avoided the plague because of their removal of dead rats.  Pigs are known for tapeworms.  Shellfish carry a lot of mercury in their bodies and are the more likely to be improperly stored for food and thus make one sick.

All of these laws promote cleanliness which in the ancient world no one understood germs or viruses or how diseases spread.  But God did.

And all these laws set the Israelites apart from everyone else who ate whatever they could find no matter how diseased.

With Jesus, these laws are nullified as well and Christians are under no obligation to observe the kosher diet (Acts 15; 1 Timothy 4:1, 3-5).  Does that mean we eat junk food all the time?  Everything is permissible but that doesn’t mean it’s good for you!  (1 Corinthians 6:12)

Leviticus 12:  The idea is that children are good but are born sinners and God wanted the Israelites to know this and remember this.  Scholars say the woman here is symbolically responsible for brining forth more sinners in the world.

The girl child was usually not wanted or valued.  The extra time gave the family more time to bond with the child.  Girls were also more likely to be smaller than boys, so they needed extra care.  Plus, again, the mother brought forth a child who will bring forth more children/sinners.

Jesus was poor.  Luke 2:22-24 tells us Mary and Joseph only brought 2 doves for Mary’s atonement.

Leviticus 13:  Old versions of the Bible translated “infectious skin diseases” as “leprosy”, which was wrong.  Leprosy is barely contagious.  Think such diseases as smallpox, measles, mumps, scarlet fever, etc.  There was no cure for such diseases back then.

Leprosy was feared because it did result in the eating away of flesh, was slow and painful, and did lead to death eventually.  However, the Israelites believed it was inflicted as a punishment for sin and was thus feared.  The people were outcast as they believed they were sinners and unable to stand before God as such.  People’s fears led to discrimination and the lepers took the brunt of it.  Today, leprosy is unknown in the modern world due to drugs to cure it, but does still exist in third-world countries.

For a great synopsis I did of Leprosy last year during our study of Matthew, click HERE for Definition of Leprosy and how lepers were treated in ancient times.

Scholars say the Hebrew people were the first to practice isolation of victims suspected of being contagious in order to stop its spread.

Most Bibles have “mildew” translated as “leprosy” and thus these two sections go together.  If you read it with this translation, then it makes more sense.  The Israelites wanted to make sure the clothes were not contaminated with the disease as well.  Today we know clothes do carry disease and because washing was so infrequent back then it was feared the clothes could spread the disease as well.

Debate about how many people get sick from clothes goes on especially in hospitals when doctors wear the same scrubs for operations.  However, the transmission rate is small but possible.  Here, God says to make sure the clothes are clean as well.

[Side Note:  Anyone remember The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams?  The Velveteen Rabbit was the favorite toy of a boy.  But when he contracted scarlet fever, the boy’s doctor orders the room to be disinfected and all of the toys burnt.  He was thrown out by the boy’s nurse for fear he contained the dreaded disease.  Hence, he was unwanted and turned into a real rabbit and lived in the forest next to the boy’s home.

I thought of this story.  In the case of scarlet fever, it can only be spread through bodily contact and cannot survive very long outside the body so the bunny here was safe.  Back in 1922 when the book was written though no one knew that.  However, germs and diseases can survive outside the body for quite some time so it’s better to err on the side of caution God says.]

Leviticus 14:  The regulations for ceremonial cleansing seem to reflect Jesus.  One bird was killed and its blood was applied to a living bird and then the living bird is freed to live out its life, which is what Jesus’s blood does for us on the cross.  Even cedar wood is mentioned which scholars say reference the cross.  Hyssop as you may recall from last year in Matthew 27:48 was offered to Jesus while he was on the cross.  The shaving of the hair was like a rebirth like a newborn babe and live began all over again.

The leper was consecrated the same way as a priest and also anointed.  This meant he or she had a special calling on his life.  However, since the cure for leprosy was unknown in ancient times, this ceremony was undoubtedly rarely performed.

Scholars say here leprosy and mildew are related in the Hebrew word used here.

Leviticus 15:  We are to understand this as not any discharge from the body but an abnormal one.  In the case of sex or masturbation, both men and women had to cleanse themselves.  God is not saying these discharges are sinful, just made you ceremonially unclean to be in His presence.  He also made the distinction clear that sex was not to occur in His tabernacle or as a means of worshipping Him.  This was important because in pagan cultures sex was often associated with worship of gods and occurred quite frequently.  Remember the golden calf?  The people engaged in sexual revelry all in the name of worship.

Semen and menstruation are connected with the seed and the blood of man.

In Mark 7:1-9, Jesus emphasized the need for internal cleanliness, not external.  Our outward cleanliness does not make us right with God.  Only Jesus can cleanse us spiritually.  If you have him, then you are clean.  Period.

About these ads

BSF Study Questions Matthew Lesson 14, Day 4: Matthew 13:47-50

Summary of passage:  Jesus tells the parable of the net where he says the kingdom of heaven is like a net that catches all kinds of fish.  After the catch, the fish must be sorted and the good will be kept but the bad will be thrown in the fiery furnace at the end of the age by the angels (the fishermen).

Questions:

8a)  God’s word or law (verse 47)

b)  believers (verse 48)

c) non-believers (verses 48-50)

d)  Angels (verse 49)

e)  The good fish will be separated from the bad fish who will be thrown in a fiery furnace (verse 49-50)

9a)  Angels are harvesters and here they are the fishermen (the sorters if you will).  The weeds are burned in the fire as are the bad fish.  Both mention this will happen at the end of the age.  The angels will separate the wicked from the righteous in both.  Verse 42 & 50 are identical “they will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

b)  To convince unbelievers to believe for the picture is so gloom for them.  And as a warning to unbelievers.  As encouragement to us that one day sin will be eradicated from our world.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Believed in Jesus and witness to unbelievers.

Conclusions:  Question 9c would be more for unbelievers who don’t know their future.  This one is very clear on its meaning:  you believe or you don’t and if you don’t you burn.  Simple.

End Notes:  Jesus reveals that the world will remain divided up until the very end; that he will not bring about peace to all.

BSF Study Questions Genesis Lesson 14, Day 4: Genesis 15:1-11

Summary of passage:  Abram received the word of the Lord in a vision:  Do not be afraid for I am your shield and your very great reward.

Abram questions God as to where is this promised heir.  God assures Abram he will have a son from his own body and his offspring will be as numerous as the stars in the heavens. God also reiterates to Abram that He brought him from Ur to give him this land.

Again, Abram questions God, asking for reassurances of this promise.  God tells Abram to bring him a heifer, goat, ram, dove, and a pigeon.  Abram cut these in half (except the birds).  As Abram awaits God’s arrival, birds of prey come to feed on the carcasses so Abram drives them away.

Questions:

8 )  No.  Justification is being right with God.  We achieve this through faith in Jesus Christ who eradicates our sins and allows us to be clean, right, and thus justified before God.  We are given works by God to do while here on earth that James says proves our faith.

Here’s the crux:  when you are justified you have the Holy Spirit within.  When you have the Holy Spirit, you have no choice BUT to do good works for you are changed and now desire to do good works, which are a sign of your faith and your justification.

We discussed this James passage last year (see HERE) and my opinion is you can be justified with no good works for all that is required is faith.  There is no “work” we must do to get to heaven and be justified for this is a gift from God.  All we must do is accept Jesus as our Savior and we’re there.

As I have seen in the study of Genesis, everything is a gift from God.  Man does absolutely nothing nor does he deserve what he gets.

9a)  We are all dead unless we accept Jesus as our Savior.  Then we are reborn with the Holy Spirit and only then will be have eternal life.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Life is meaningless without a purpose.  If I didn’t have God, my life would be empty.  It would be full of “busyness”, things to distract me, and an inner peace would not exist.  Working for God’s-given purpose, gives life to the mundane, life to the evil, and life to the dead.

All those diapers are for a purpose.  Those long days at a dead-end job are serving a purpose.  When the most horrific thing happens to you such as the death of a loved one, rape, bankruptcy, abuse, loss of a job and every other evil, unfair thing in life and God is the only thing that remains, you have life–even if all you feel is dead.

10a)  Abram believed in God’s promises and they were all fulfilled.  He was strengthened by these promises and gave glory to God while he waited.  He had faith.  He obeyed.  He acted.  He took steps out of obedience.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  The same.  Believe in God, who He is, in His promises, and have faith they will come true in God’s timing.  Have patience.  Give God the glory.  Be strengthened by my knowledge in Him.  Obey God and what He is telling me to do.  Take those little steps of faith.

Conclusions:  I feel as redundant as when I teach my kids their letters but I’ll say it anyways:  Didn’t like this lesson either.  We didn’t once refer to the passage at the beginning, instead exploring Romans and James and we explored James last year.

That being said, I did like re-reading works and faith.  And I did like the reminder we are not dead even though at times I feel dead, indifferent, lost, and immune to the world around me.

My qualm is this:  if this is a study of Genesis, then let’s study Genesis.  If it’s a study of works and justification in the Bible, then don’t bill it as “Genesis 15:1-11″.

End Commentary on Faith and Works taken from Zondervan Illustrated Bible Dictionary by J D Douglas and Merrill C Tenney:

Being made in God’s image, human beings perform works as they live in God’s world. These deeds are based on the condition of the heart.  Works can be done out of evil motivation or even done in order to earn favor with God.  These are unacceptable to Him.

True works arise out of an inner gratitude to God for what He has done for us.  These naturally spring from our faith in Him.  Thus, Paul in Romans emphasized the need for faith in God for good deeds, James stresses that good works are evidence of true faith.  (P. 1532)

I believe the point is this:  you naturally do good works because God dwells inside of you. Works is not a requirement set forth by God in order to be loved, cherished, and accepted by Him.  This is where history went awry in the Middle Ages with indulgences, the Crusades, and earning your way to heaven.

Works is a gift from God that we as Christians just do without thinking.  We’re not trying to prove how Godly we are (for all of us would fail in that realm).  We’re merely following the Holy Spirit and doing what Jesus would do.  Because of our faith in Him.

It’s a simple as that.

Intellectual faith is not what God is seeking; He is seeking faith of the heart.  It’s the difference between saying and doing something.  Many say they are Christians; but is God in their hearts?

Salvation is a gift from God that is by faith alone.  Yet we are created to do good works (Ephesians 2:10).  It’s a two-fold process.  One, you accept Jesus.  Two, good works are produced.  And if you truly have Jesus in your heart you have no choice:  good works will follow.  A life lived for Jesus.

The notes from BSF of Acts Lesson 27 have a great explanation on the James’ passage.

BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 14, Day 4: Acts 17

Summary of passage:  Paul next went to Thessalonica where as was his custom he preached in the Jewish synagogue, explaining and proving Jesus Christ using the scriptures.  Some were persuaded and joined him as well as some Greeks.  But the Jews were jealous so they rounded up some ruffians and started a riot in the city.  They went to Jason’s house where Paul and Silas were staying, and not finding them there, arrested Jason and some others instead.

That night, Paul and Silas left and went to Berea where they preached in the Jewish synagogue as well.  The Bereans were of more noble character and compared what Paul was saying with the scriptures.  They were eager to know God more so many were converted as well.  But the angry Jews from Thessalonica trailed Paul and stirred up trouble in Berea as well.  So the brothers sent Paul away to Athens.

In Athens, Paul was met with idols everywhere and meeting harsh resistance with the intellectual culture of the Athenians as he preached in the synagogue and the market places.  He got into a dispute with a group of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers and was dragged off to heh Areopagus (council) to make his case.

Paul told them about what they referred to as “the unknown god” who was the One, True God.  God who made everything in the world, who does not need anything from mankind, who controls nations and time, who is near to us, who commands people everywhere to repend for one day they will be judged, and who had given proof by raising Jesus from the dead.

Upon hearing the raising from the dead (something the Greeks balked at:  they were big on the spirit living on but believed the body to be merely a physical medium), Paul was cut off but invited to speak again.  Only a few were converted.

Questions:

11)  Converting and saving of souls because that’s what’s most important to God.

12)  Similarities:  Paul preached in the Jewish synagogues and converted people–what he does every place he goes.  The difference is in the people.  We are told the Bereans are of “more noble character” and they searched the scripture every day.  This means that the Bereans did not just accept what Paul was saying or were persuaded by his speaking ability.  They turned to the word of God to see if what he was saying lined up with God’s word.

Another difference:  they were eager to learn.  Some people before were there just because they were.  They wanted to know God with heart, mind, and spirit.

13a)  He’s discouraged.  He’s been followed by people who only want to disrupt his teachings.  He’s alone so he doesn’t have any support.  He’s probably tired (who can sleep well with a mob constantly after you?).

As Paul arrives, he is bombarded by the refined Athenian culture, full of images of gods and temples everywhere.

We must remember Athens is considered the birthplace of philosophy.  Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle all were from here and established schools of thought about 400 years before Paul’s journey.  So the Athenian people are used to thinkers roaming around, spouting ideas.  But they are also used to analyzing ideas throughly to see if they match up with the known world.

b)  The Athenians disputed with Paul (verse 18) and called him into a meeting to explain himself (verse 19).  Sounds like our political system from the local city councils to Congress.  Council after all comes from the Latin meaning and assembly for consultation, advice, or discussion.  Verse 21 describes universities to a T.

History:  The Epicurean philosophers were a group of people who believed pleasure is the greatest good and should be the pursuit of life and who believed in gods but believed they had nothing to do with man.  Based upon the teachings of Epicurus in 307 BC, pleasure was obtained by living modestly and gaining knowledge of the inner workings of the world.

The Stoic philosophers were a group of people who believed god was in everything and everything was god; however, they did not believe everything had a purpose or that things could be preordained.  Based on the teachings of Zeno of Citium in the early third-century BC, they believed in formal logic and the ability to overcome destructive emotions.  Man had a will based on nature.

So if we just compare these Athenians, then our culture has much in common with the ancients.  However, not everyone belonged to these sects of society.

c)  The resurrection of the dead

14a)  Verse 25 “He is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself give all men life and breath and everything else”

b) Verse 24 “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands”

c) Verse 27 “men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us”

d) Verse 24 “God made the world and everything in it”; Verse 25 “he gives men life and breath and everything else”; Verse 26 “He made every nation of men and determined the times set for them”

e) Verse 26 “From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live”

f) Verse 26 “he determines the times set for them and the exact places where they should live”

g) Verse 29 “Since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone–an image made by man’s design and skill”

h) Verse 30 “he commands all people everywhere to repent”

i) Verse 31 “he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed”

Conclusions:  Have you noticed the argument for God is the same?  It never changes.  It is just put in different ways and said by different people.  Choosing God is an act of faith–plain and simple–just how God wants it to be.

The Areopagus means “the Rock of Ares” in Greek and is also known as Mars’ Hill.  It was originally a court of appeal for criminal and civil cases in the times of the Greeks.  It was also where the council of elders met, similar to the Roman Senate.  Later, in Roman times, it was a philosophical council that oversaw religion and morals.

End Note:  Map of Journey from yesterday:  http://www.apostlepaulthefilm.com/paul/journey_02.htm

BSF Study Questions Isaiah Lesson 14, Day 4 Isaiah 35:1-7

Summary of passage: The desert, parched land, and wilderness will burst into bloom, rejoice, and shout for joy.  It will have the glory of Lebanon, Carmel, and Sharon and these places will see the glory of the Lord.  Be strong and steady, encourage the fearful for God will come with vengeance and will save you.  He will heal the eyes of the blind, the ears of the deaf, the lame, and the mute.  Water will flow through the desert and nourish the land.

Questions:

9) The desert, parched land, and wilderness will burst into bloom, rejoice and shout for joy.  Lebanon (the country), Carmel (hills), and Sharon (a plain on the Mediterranean coast of Palestine) will see the glory of God.  These were all places known for their beauty so Isaiah is comparing these beautiful places to the coming of the Lord.

10) Pray them and explain the meaning: God’s promise to us when He comes.

11) Jesus repeats God’s promise, telling people he has come to bring God’s Salvation which would be accompanied by miraculous power.

12) Jesus came to bring this beautiful provision of spiritual miracles into our lives and healings.  John 7:38-39  “Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.”  By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive.  Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.  There is no reason for a Christian to endure a “dry time”, not when we have Jesus.

I’ve had times closer to God and further from God like most people but I don’t yet think I’ve endured anything in life to break me spiritually.

Conclusions: I love how Isaiah has lots of nuggets in here that we can use to pray and praying scripture is some of the best prayers around.  “Be strong and do not fear…”  How many times do I need that a day? And because of Jesus we shouldn’t ever be dry but I think sometimes the trials of life brings us so far away from God that we forget about Jesus and God so we end up as such.  But, He is there, waiting for us to return, when we are ready.  And He will heal us as He’s promised.