BSF Study Questions Revelation Lesson 14, Day 5: Revelation 8-9

Summary of Revelation 8: Jesus opens the 7th seal and heaven becomes silent. 7 angels who stand before God were given 7 trumpets. Another angel with a golden censer came and stood at the altar and offered up prayers with incense for all the saints. The prayers and smoke went up to God. The angel took the censer, filled it with fire, and threw it at earth, causing thunder, rumblings, lightning, and earthquakes.

The 1st angel sounded his trumpet, unleashing hail and fire mixed with blood upon the earth. One third of the trees and earth was burned up and all the green grass burned.

The 2nd angel sounded his trumpet, unleashing a mountain on fire into the seas. One third of the sea turned to blood, one-third of the sea creatures died, and one-third of the ships were destroyed.

The 3rd angel sounded his trumpet, unleashing a burning star (named Wormwood or Bitterness), which fell from the sky onto a third of the rivers and springs, turning the waters bitter and killing people who drank the water.

The 4th angel sounded his trumpet, striking one-third of the sun, moon, and stars, turning them dark, eliminating one-third of the day and night.

Then an eagle flew over the earth, calling out to the inhabitants warnings that the last three angels were about to sound their trumpets.

Summary of Revelation 9: The 5th angel sounded his trumpet and a star that had fallen to the earth opened the Abyss from which smoke rose which darkened the sky and unleashed locusts who tortured those without the seal of God on their foreheads. They suffered severe agony–so much so they wished for death but were not granted it.

The locusts had human faces, wore crowns, had hair and lions’ teeth. They wore breastplates and their wings were loud. They had tails like scorpions and tortured people with them for 5 months. Their king was Abandon or Apollyon or Destroyer.

The 6th angel sounded his trumpet, releasing 4 angels who were bound at the Euphrates and killed 1/3 of mankind. Troops came forth with breastplates. The horses had lions’ heads and they spewed fire, smoke, and sulfur. They had snakes’ tails.

The rest of mankind who survived this still did not repent.

Questions:

12a)  Trumpets are associated with the theophany at Sinai (Exod 19:13-19; 20:18). The first trumpet judgment is similar to Exodus 9:13-25, hail and fire fell upon the Egyptians. The third trumpet resembles the plague of the freshwater in Exodus 7:20, except that there the waters turned to blood.  The locust in Rev 9:3 is an apocalyptic version of the eighth plague (Exod 10:12-20).  The fourth trumpet and the ninth plague both use darkness on the earth.

b)  The obvious difference is the number:  10 in Egypt and 7 here.  Egypt’s Plagues:  Nile to blood, frogs, gnats, flies, livestock, boils, hail, locusts, darkness, firstborn.  Revelation:  Hail and fire mixed with blood, mountain thrown into the sea, bitter water, darkness as well, demons unleashed for torture, demons unleashed for death, and a dragon unleashed.  The Exodus plagues are mostly using God’s creations on earth to send a warning.  The Revelation judgments are using supernatural forces such as demons and are bent on destruction.  All initiate from heaven.  The Exodus judgments are perpetrated by Moses and are of the earth.

God is saying, “This is it, guys.  Take heed or forever pay the penalty.”

c)   Pharaoh of the Exodus refused to repent (Ex. Ex. 7:13, Ex. 7:23; Ex. 8:15, Ex. 8:19, Ex. 8:22; Ex. 9:34), the earth dwellers will refuse to repent during the Tribulation (Rev. Rev. 2:21+; Rev. 6:16-17+; Rev. 9:20+; Rev. 16:9+, Rev. 16:11+, Rev. 16:21+)

13a)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Don’t like the wording of this question.  I don’t believe my heart was “hard” to begin with so therefore it hasn’t softened.  I have, however, grown in my relationship with Him as my knowledge of the End Times has increased and my love for Him and others has increased.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Flippant words, hasty actions, selfishness

Conclusions:  Not the best lesson.  Could have done without question 13.  Admittedly, I was lazy on Question 12.  I just didn’t feel like doing it myself, so I googled the answer.

End Notes:  See HERE and HERE for Revelation 8 and 9 respectively.

Full comparison of the plagues of Egypt with all of Revelation HERE

The Plagues Compared
Plague Egypt Tribulation
#1 – Water becomes blood. Ex. Ex. 7:20; Ps. Ps. 105:29 Rev. Rev. 8:8-9+; Rev. 11:6+; Rev. 16:3-6+
#2 – Frogs Ex. Ex. 8:6; Ps. Ps. 105:30 Rev. Rev. 16:13+3
#3 – Lice Ex. Ex. 8:24; Ps. Ps. 105:31 Rev. Rev. 11:6+?4
#4 – Flies Ex. Ex. 9:6 Rev. Rev. 11:6+?5
#5 – Food source (livestock) destroyed Ex. Ex. 9:6 Rev. Rev. 8:9+6
#6 – Boils Ex. Ex. 9:10 Rev. Rev. 16:2+
#7 – Hail Ex. Ex. 9:23; Ps. Ps. 105:32 Rev. Rev. 8:7+; Rev. 16:21+
#8 – Locusts Ex. Ex. 10:13; Ps. Ps. 105:34 Rev. Rev. 9:3+
#9 – Darkness Ex. Ex. 10:22; Ps. Ps. 105:32 Rev. Rev. 8:12+; Rev. 9:2+; Rev. 16:10+
#10 – Death of Firstborn Ex. Ex. 12:29; Ps. Ps. 105:36 –

Taken from http://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/revelation/introduction/the-plagues-of-egypt-and-the-tribulation.html

Conclusions  to Lesson 14:  We see God’s mercy.  He has the right to destroy us for our sin; yet, He never gives up and keeps trying to bring back his creation.  We see God’s wrath as justice and judgment must come.  Yet God preserves the faithful and gives us hope in the midst of destruction.

Overall, good questions.  Would have like to have seen more questions in Revelation 9 on the angels, the star, the army, the locusts, and more possible meanings thrown in.

BSF Study Questions Revelation Lesson 14, Day 4: Revelation 9:1-21

Summary of passage:  The 5th angel sounded his trumpet and a star that had fallen to the earth opened the Abyss from which smoke rose which darkened the sky and unleashed locusts who tortured those without the seal of God on their foreheads.  They suffered severe agony–so much so they wished for death but were not granted it.

The locusts had human faces, wore crowns, had hair and lions’ teeth.  They wore breastplates and their wings were loud.  They had tails like scorpions and tortured people with them for 5 months.  Their king was Abandon or Apollyon or Destroyer.

The 6th angel sounded his trumpet, releasing 4 angels who were bound at the Euphrates and killed 1/3 of mankind.  Troops came forth with breastplates.  The horses had lions’ heads and they spewed fire, smoke, and sulfur.  They had snakes’ tails.

The rest of mankind who survived this still did not repent.

Questions:

9)  The first four seals and trumpets are judgments against the earth.  In the first four seals, these were the four horsemen bringing tyranny, war, famine, and death on the earth.  In the first four trumpets, these were ecological destruction of the vegetation, seas, fresh waters, and sky.

The last three seals focused upon heaven: the cry of the martyrs, cosmic disturbances, and the heavenly prelude to the seven trumpets.  The last three trumpets will speak of hell and the demonic.  These judgments are against man himself.

10a)  The people who had the seal of God on their foreheads.  Believers marked for salvation or the remnant.  “Servants of God” Rev (7:3).

b)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  They were to be tortured for five months and the agony would be like the sting of a scorpion.  Unbelievers need to repent now or face misery ahead.

11)  They were worshiping demons and false idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone, and wood.  They were killing others, doing magic arts, being sexually immoral, and stealing.  It’s everywhere today.  People worship themselves, other people, material items, their jobs, their kids, spouses, or other religions and their gods.  We still have murder, black magic, the occult, immorality, and stealing.  Man’s nature does not change.  This includes his sin nature as well.

Conclusions:  Surprised on questions on the identity of the Star or the king.  No questions on what the locust represent or the Abyss or the demons.  From previous lessons and this one, BSF is only asking questions that probably have a straight-forward interpretation.  They are avoiding any questions that are up for debate or speculation.

In one way that’s good because it simplifies the study and avoids conflict amongst different viewpoints.  However, in another way it’s bad because it’s good to think about these things, their possibilities, and what exactly is God saying through John.  Knowing God’s Word and Him is the point of bible study and trying to figure out what He is trying to tell us enables our growth with Him.

Please see all of my End Notes which explore the passage and possible explanations.  I do my best to include all the possibilities but feel free to add more if I miss something.

One more caveat:  Beware of commentaries that assert something absolutely.  That is more likely the writer asserting his point of view than exploring the whole text.  Remember a lot of these symbols have different interpretations.

End Notes:  This is the 5th and 6th Trumpets.

5th Trumpet:  Scholars suggest this is not a literal star but a person.  Who is the star?  Suggestions are Nero, the devil, Satan, an angel, or even Jesus.  Some believe it’s an angel.  Whether the angel is good or bad depends on if the angel is the same angel at in 9:11.  If they are the same, then the angel is evil.  If not, then the angel could be a good angel sent to administer the judgments on earth.

Because the star is fallen, this suggests its Satan.  However, because the star is given the key to the Abyss, it can’t be Satan because Satan is not the ruler of Hell, God is.

What is the Abyss?  Probably Hell.  The abyss is a prison for certain demons (Luke 8:31, 2 Peter 2:4, and Jude 6).  It is located inside the earth (Eph.4:9) and as we will learn it serves as the holding cell for all unsaved disembodied spirits (Rev.20:13-15).

Fun Fact:  The Greek word means “very deep” or “bottomless” and the Hebrew word means “primeval deep”.  This word occurs 9 times in the New Testament and 8 times in the book of Revelation.

Smoke represents divine judgment used as well in the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen 19:28).

The key is the power over the Abyss.  Since Jesus possesses the key (Rev 1:18) some scholars see the star as Jesus handing over the key to Satan to unleash his demons upon the earth in judgment.  Jesus is described as the morning star (Rev 22:16).

These demons probably won’t be seen by mankind (Ephesians 6:11-22).  John sees them only because they are revealed to him.  Thus, man may only see the destruction of the demons which would be natural disasters.  Hence, it’s easy to see why at the end the survivors still don’t turn to God.  They just don’t “see.”

The locusts are symbolic as evinced by their resembling something other than locusts.  They are symbolic of the demons that will be allowed to enter earth.  Locusts are agents of God’s judgment (Exodus 10:4-14, Deuteronomy 28:38, 1 Kings 8:37, 2 Chronicles 7:13, Joel 1:4, 2:2-9; Nah.3:15-17, and Amos 4:9).  They will be an army.

The people are tortured to bring them to repentance (verse 20-21).  They will not die.  Scorpions stings rarely kill.  Why not?  Perhaps in God’s infinite grace, He is giving them a foreshadow of death in hopes some will still repent.

Why 5 months? The lifespan of a locust is 5 months.  Hence, for as long as the locusts live, they will be tortured.

The repetition of “like” means it was hard to describe and therefore not exact.  This is the time of the Great Tribulation.  Locusts have no king (Proverbs 30:27)–another reason they aren’t literal.

The king is Satan.

“Woe” is from Rev 8:13.

Preterist interpretation:  The suffering represents the Roman siege against Jerusalem from 66-70 AD.   The locusts is the Roman empire (crowns on their heads).  The beast represents the Roman Empire (Rev 11 & 13:1-8; 17:7-11).  This concludes that the object of God’s wrath is the Jewish nation and has already taken place with no future meaning.

The three woes are:

1) invasion of the locust-demons torturing rather than killing man

2)  Another demonic invasion and an earthquake that destroys a tenth of Jerusalem following the death and resurrection of God’s two witnesses (Rev.11:14)

3)  The inhabitants of the earth will experience Satan’s fury as he is banished (Rev.12:12).

The servants of God (those were the seal) are only exempt from the first woe.

6th Trumpet:  The horns of the golden altar are the prayers of God’s people.  In the tabernacle, the golden altar was of incense or the people’s prayers.  Those fleeing judgment could seek mercy by taking a hold of the  horns (1 Kings 1:50-51; 2:28).

Are these the 4 angels from Rev 7:1?  Scholars are unsure.  We do know they are divinely appointed to carry out God’s will.

The Tigris and Euphrates River was the cradle of civilization and the first place nomads settled down.  In the Bible, it’s probably where the Garden of Eden was located.  Here, the firsts occurred:  first settlement, first sin, first murder, first revolt against God, first war, etc.  Here, it marks the boundary of Babylon and was the extent of the Promised Land.  The Assyrian and Babylonian empires centered around Mesopotamia and were the historic enemies of Israel.  In fact, they still are today as Syria and Iraq are now the name of the countries.  Note the people never changed; just the name.

God works on a specific timetable (verse 15).  We just don’t know it.

Again, the horsemen are demons.  The number is meant to be infinite.  Most scholars agree this is a demon army sent to kill humans, released by the 6th angel on the command of the voice (God or Jesus).

Amazing how man never learns and keeps right on sinning.  Scary too.  How much we rely on our eyes and when we can’t “see”, we don’t believe.  Why God calls us to believe;  it’s the hardest thing we will ever have to do.

BSF Study Questions Revelation Lesson 14, Day 3: Revelation 8:6-13

Summary of passage:  The first 4 trumpets.

The 1st angel sounded his trumpet, unleashing hail and fire mixed with blood upon the earth. One third of the trees and earth was burned up and all the green grass burned.

The 2nd angel sounded his trumpet, unleashing a mountain on fire into the seas. One third of the sea turned to blood, one-third of the sea creatures died, and one-third of the ships were destroyed.

The 3rd angel sounded his trumpet, unleashing a burning star (named Wormwood or Bitterness), which fell from the sky onto a third of the rivers and springs, turning the waters bitter and killing people who drank the water.

The 4th angel sounded his trumpet, striking one-third of the sun, moon, and stars, turning them dark, eliminating one-third of the day and night.

Then an eagle flew over the earth, calling out to the inhabitants warnings that the last three angels were about to sound their trumpets.

Questions:

6)  First Trumpet: unleashes hail and fire mixed with blood upon the earth. One third of the trees and earth was burned up and all the green grass burned.

Second Trumpet:  unleashes a mountain on fire into the seas. One third of the sea turned to blood, one-third of the sea creatures died, and one-third of the ships were destroyed.

Third Trumpet:  unleashes a burning star (named Wormwood or Bitterness), which fell from the sky onto a third of the rivers and springs, turning the waters bitter and killing people who drank the water.

Fourth Trumpet:  strikes one-third of the sun, moon, and stars, turning them dark, eliminating one-third of the day and night.

7)  Part personal Question.  My answer: God shows mercy by only striking 1/3 of the resources. These are partial judgments (Zechariah 13:8-9).  God is warning people to turn to Him before it’s too late, offering up another undeserved chance at repentance.  This shows me God’s love and compassion and mercy and grace for and to mankind.  Awesome!

8a)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Love, compassion, mercy, grace.  We see His omnipotence, His total control over everything.  We see His goodness.  We see His judgments and justness in punishing sin.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Profound gratitude.  Depth of love for Him.  My desire to do His will instead of mine grows more each day, pushing a bit more selfishness away.  Worship in awe and wonder.

Conclusions:  8 repeated 7 and made it personal.  In the immediate sense, my worship of God has not changed.  As I take in and absorb the book of Revelation and learn more about God’s goodness and grace my worship should become more meaningful and deeper.

Number of times asked in this study how our worship is affected:  Total of 7:  Once in Lessons 2, 3 & 10, Twice in Lessons 9 & now twice in this lesson.

End Notes:  Same as yesterday’s.  See HERE.

BSF Study Questions Revelation Lesson 14, Day 2: Revelation 8:1-13

Summary of passage:  Jesus opens the 7th seal and heaven becomes silent.  7 angels who stand before God were given 7 trumpets.  Another angel with a golden censer came and stood at the altar and offered up prayers with incense for all the saints.  The prayers and smoke went up to God.  The angel took the censer, filled it with fire, and threw it at earth, causing thunder, rumblings, lightning, and earthquakes.

The 1st angel sounded his trumpet, unleashing hail and fire mixed with blood upon the earth.  One third of the trees and earth was burned up and all the green grass burned.

The 2nd angel sounded his trumpet, unleashing a mountain on fire into the seas.  One third of the sea turned to blood, one-third of the sea creatures died, and one-third of the ships were destroyed.

The 3rd angel sounded his trumpet, unleashing a burning star (named Wormwood or Bitterness), which fell from the sky onto a third of the rivers and springs, turning the waters bitter and killing people who drank the water.

The 4th angel sounded his trumpet, striking one-third of the sun, moon, and stars, turning them dark, eliminating one-third of the day and night.

Then an eagle flew over the earth, calling out to the inhabitants warnings that the last three angels were about to sound their trumpets.

Questions:

3a)  “There was silence in heaven for about half an hour.”

b)  Scholars speculate the silence is so the prayers of the saints can be heard, maybe even the prayers of the martyrs from Rev 6:9-11.  Overall, the silence is to emphasize it’s importance.  How all must pay attention to Jesus’ judgments.

In the Old Testament, silence was called when God was about to act (Habakkuk 2 and Zechariah 2:13).

c)  They are accepted and judgment is rendered by the angel taking the censer, filling it with fire from the altar, and hurling it to earth, resulting in thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning, and an earthquake (all symbols of God’s judgment).  God is answering their cries in Chapter 6 here.

4a)  Joel 2:1:  The day of the Lord, the final judgment

Exodus 19:14-17:  God’s presence

Numbers 10:2:  Moses used them for calling the community together and for having the camps set out when ready to move.

Joshua 6:2-5: As a signal for God to come and administer judgment by bringing the walls of Jericho down.

1 Thessalonians 4:16:  Signals God coming down from heaven after the judgments to raise the dead in Christ to live again.

In general, trumpets in OT times were used to announce important events and as signals in war.

b)  Coming judgments on earth and mankind.  God’s battle alarm during the Great Tribulation.

5)  Personal Question.  My answer:  When Jesus comes, the judgment and destruction will be quick but not immediate to all.  No one knows when this time will come.  Our time is limited here and every moment is precious to accomplish His work.  I have to persevere in His work and not let the devil distract me or discourage me.  I pray for my time to be stretched.

Conclusions: Love how we see the number 7, the number of completion, here and everywhere in the bible.  Love how God is so faithful up the end, giving everyone time to come to Him, giving unmerited warning after warning.  God is so good!  Revelation is heating up!

End Notes:  The first four trumpets are in Revelation 8.

The first 6 seals were opened one by one beginning in Revelation 5.  Then we paused in Revelation 7 to introduce the 144,000 sealed and the great multitude.  So there was a pause in the Bible before the 7th seal was opened by John and now a pause in heaven for the 7th seal.

30 minutes is a long time when the prayers never cease in heaven (Rev 4:8).

In the Old Testament, trumpets sounded the alarm for war and threw the enemy into a panic, or they called an assembly of God’s people.

“The” 7 angels probably refers to specific angels who surround the throne of God, or archangels as scholars say.  2 are named in the Bible, Michael (Jude 9) and Gabriel (Luke 1:19).

Some see the “other angel” as Jesus, referring to Jesus being referred to as the angel of the Lord in the Old Testament.  However, the Greek word used here means “another of the same kind” so most scholars agree this is another angel.

We talked a lot about the censer (picture HERE) last year in the study of the Life of Moses as it was used extensively by God’s people, the Israelites, in Old Testament days.  A censer is a container in which incense is burned typically during a religious ceremony.  Also known as a thurible (rooted in the Greek word meaning “to sacrifice”), it is still used in Christian ceremonies including used by Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, some Lutheran and Anglican churches, and others.

Prayer and incense are closely associated in the Bible.  The aroma of incense was pleasing to God.  The idea is as the smoke drifts to heaven, so do our prayers.  Here, before anything happens, the prayers of God’s people are heard.  Similar to David’s cries in Psalms 18:6-8, 12-13.

Note how the prayers of God’s people set in motion the consummation of history.  Our prayers are powerful and we should pray for Jesus to come (Rev 22:20) as Peter suggests our conduct as well may hasten his arrival (2 Peter 3:10-12).

Scholars say the prayers are accepted and God is responding to the saints’s prayers with the censer being hurled back to earth.  God in action is depicted as thunder, lightning, and rumblings (Exodus 19:16-19).

The sense is that the saints’ prayers are thrown back to earth with God’s judgment.

The 7 seals bring the 7 trumpets.  God’s judgment was not immediate.  Some believe John is describing the same judgments just using different images.  Some believe the judgments are listed in order.  What’s important is the judgments will happen.

1st Trumpet:  We don’t know if the hail and fire were red or red was the result of the burning.  Hail and fire are common in God’s judgments (Exodus 9:22-25; Ezekiel 38:22).  Sodom and Gomorrah experienced this.

2nd Trumpet:  Not a literal mountain.  Something LIKE a mountain.  A meteor is suggested here.  Again, the blood may either be the cause or the effect.

Here, the sea is the Mediterranean Sea.  In the first century AD, the known world was what the Mediterranean Sea touched.  China was a far off, distant place but no seas were associated with it.  America was 1400 years from discovery.

We see the Nile turned to blood as well in Exodus 7:20-21.

In Daniel 2 we see a rock striking a statue that became a huge mountain (Dan 2:35), representing God’s kingdom (Dan 2:44-45).

Is the mountain a symbol for nations?  (Jeremiah 51:25, 51:27, 51:30) Probably not.  Here, this passage is literal.

3rd Trumpet:  This could be a comet or meteor or something else altogether at God’s will.  Again, some say the star represents Attila and the Huns or the Vandals sacking Rome or any other nation destroyer.  For me, it’s literal again.

Wormwood was a plant with a bitter taste common in Palestine.  We see it in Jeremiah 9:15; Jeremiah 23:15).  The suffering will be bitter.  Most Israelites got their water from the springs.

4th Trumpet:  Matthew 24 appears again:  Jesus says “the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.”  Again, this is indicative of the Great Tribulation as only 1/3 of the earth will be affected.  We know in the final judgment all will be affected (Rev 6:12-14).

In the next 3 trumpets one-third of the earth’s population will die.

Note the 3 repetitions of the word “woe”.  This same word was used by Jesus in Matthew 23 in the 7 woes.  It is used as an exclamation of profound grief.  The 3 woes correspond to the 3 remaining judgments to come in Chapters 9 and 11.  The 7 bowls judgment is the 3rd woe in chapters 15-16.

Note “inhabitants of the earth”.  These are the unbelievers as the believers are called “saints”.  This is used extensively in Revelation for those hostile to God (Rev 3:10; 8:13: 11:10; 13:8; 12, 17:2,8).

The word translated as “midair” is used only in Revelation.  Scholars say it is used to signify a specific location, a view of the entire earth from heaven.

Some translations have “angel” here instead of “eagle.”  The Greek words for angel and eagle are very similar in spelling.

An eagle is a harbinger of doom in the Bible (Deut 28:49-50).  Ezekiel 17 has the eagle being Babylon, bringing destruction to Jerusalem.

People on earth will know these events are from God and not merely natural disasters (Revelation 16:9, and 16:11, Revelation 19:19).

The first 4 judgments reveal God’s severity of judgment.  He takes out man’s subsistence (food and water) and routine (day and night).  Yet, He shows mercy by only striking 1/3 of the resources.  These are partial judgments (Zechariah 13:8-9).  Again, God is warning people to turn to Him before it’s too late, offering up another undeserved chance at repentance.

My Confusion Over Leviticus Has Ended!

So for the last 4 weeks (the whole time we’ve been doing Leviticus), I’ve been confused over the ordering of the chapters and their readings.  For the longest time, I thought we had skipped Leviticus 24.  Then I go back and see we skipped Leviticus 21-24.  What happened?  What was I missing?  So I got out all of my lesson questions and lined them all up and this is what I found:

Leviticus 1-7–Lesson 14

Leviticus 8-10–Lesson 15

Leviticus 11-15–Lesson 14

Leviticus 16–Lesson 16

Leviticus 17-20–Lesson 14

Leviticus 25-27–Lesson 17

So where’s Leviticus 21-24?  Well if you look at Day 6 of Lesson 14, it says to read Leviticus 17-24.  However, we are not asked any questions on Leviticus 21-24.  Almost always (in fact, this is the first time I have seen this) Day 6 is a re-reading of the passages you have already read in the lesson.  Apparently, not for Lesson 14.  You were supposed to read Leviticus 21-24 for Day 6.  I noticed this when I did lesson 14, but thought it was typo or that we’d come back to it since we weren’t asked any questions on it.

Therefore, if you were like me and missed this, you need to read Leviticus 21-24.  Even in the notes, it’s glossed over as well.  Now, in lesson 16 day 5 we are asked to read a small part of Leviticus 23 so if you read that, you need to read the rest.

Not being a Bible scholar, I’m unsure why we skipped over these parts of the Bible.  I’m assuming too much to cover and not enough time.  But I’m a stickler for thoroughness (I’m also a stickler for chronological order as well which I’d recommend here) so as a stickler who didn’t read it on Day 6 of Lesson 14 since I had assumed it was a review day, I’m reading it.  Focus on Leviticus 24 since it’s so often quoted and misunderstood.

BSF Study Questions The Life of Moses Lesson 14, Day 5: Leviticus 17-20

Introductory Note:  Leviticus 16 is studied in Lesson 16.  I’m unsure why we are skipping it here but am sure once we get there it will be clear.

Summary of passage:  Leviticus 17:  The Lord tells Moses that anyone who sacrifices an animal away from the Tent of Meeting is to be cut off from his people because these are pagan sacrifices. The Lord says no one is to eat blood of a creature for life is in the blood which is what makes atonement for one’s sins.  Any animal hunted for food must be drained of blood before eating. Anyone eating a dead animal will be considered unclean and must be cleansed.

Leviticus 18:  The Lord says to not follow the Egyptians or the people in the land of Canaan.  To follow His laws only.  God says no one is to have sexual relations with any close relative:  mother, father, sisters, brothers, in-laws, aunts, uncles, etc.  Do not offer your children as sacrifices to other gods.  Do not have sexual relations with animals or with the same sex.  Do not defile yourselves as other nations have.  If you do, you will be cut off from their people.  Even the land was defiled and punished.

Leviticus 19:  A list of laws, many of which have been repeated such as honor the Sabbath, keep God’s name holy, honor your father and mother, etc.  Other notable laws:  leave gleanings in the field for the poor, love your neighbor as yourself, and treat others fairly.

Leviticus 20:  God lays out the punishments for sins and for disobeying his decrees, most of which is death.  He orders not to offer child sacrifices to other gods, not to sleep with close relatives (much of which is said in Leviticus 18), and not to see mediums or spiritists.  God wants His people to be separate from other nations and to be holy because He is holy.

Questions:

10)  Because the life of the creature is in the blood and it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life and sins.

11a)  That it is defiling, dishonoring, and detestable and requires being cut off from your people if done.

b)  Part personal question:  Because this is how the nations that God is going to drive out before His people became defiled and God wants His people to be separate and good.  My response is God’s laws and reasonings are good.  We all know having babies with close relatives results often in inherited diseases and deformations and having sex with close relatives causes strife among families plus having indiscriminate sex promotes the spread of sexually transmitted diseases and an impure heart and mind.  Everything God does is for our good.

12a)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Love your neighbor as yourself.  I have a hard time with this one cause I’m so inherently selfish.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  If you sin, you pay the consequences.  Nowadays, it most likely won’t be a physical death, but it could be a spiritual death.  If you keep God’s laws, you will live–both physically and spiritually.  You will blossom and lead productive lives.  If you choose to live in sin always and not change your ways, you will perish.  We are to lead lives different from those around us because we are His and we are holy.

Conclusions:  I like how all of God’s laws cover every facet of life.  Nothing is separate.  Nothing is sacred.  God is in charge of every aspect of our lives and He makes that clear.  Hence, we cannot hide anything from Him or justify any sin by saying “But God doesn’t say anything about this.”  God is concerned about it all–politics, life, economics, diet, family, friends.  He wants us to be like Jesus in all ways and here in the Old Testament He is preparing His people for just such a thing.

End Notes:  Laid out in the Old Testament are just over 600 laws for the entire nation to live by. That’s it!  Think of the millions of laws the US has and try to figure all that out!  The laws are brief and simple (as opposed to say ObamaCare).  Life should be simple.  Right and wrong are simple. God wanted compassionate, consistent, fair-minded, and loving people.  If His people possessed such characteristics, everything else would fall into place.

Leviticus 17:  Pagan cultures and even the early patriarchs built altars and offered sacrifices to their gods or our God wherever they pleased.  Here God is saying “No longer”.  He wants all the sacrifices brought to Him.  Again, setting the Israelites apart from their neighbors.

Besides the life being in the blood, many pagan cultures drank blood.  Again, setting His people apart.

Leviticus 18:  We are God’s, and thus we must follow His laws.  Old translations of “sexual relations”, which is mentioned 17 times in this chapter read “uncover nakedness”, which scholars say is broad enough to cover anything inappropriate from sex to inappropriate fondling.  Thus, it doesn’t necessarily have to be consummation.

These laws emphasize the importance of protecting the sanctity of marriage of which sex is only to occur within those covenant boundaries.

God’s laws here are simple and clear:  homosexuality is wrong.  Adultery is wrong.  Sex with animals is wrong.  Incest is wrong.  It is a defilement against yourself as well as the other party.

We must remember one of the reasons God chose Canaan to give to the Israelites was as a punishment against the people who were living there who were engaging in sin among which was sexual sin.  God does judge and execute punishments for sin.

God made it clear sexual sin was immoral and one paid a big price in the eyes of society if engaged in.  So different from today’s world of “do what feels good” instead of “do what God commands.”

Leviticus 19:  Read “separate” when you read “holy” and you’ll see what God is driving at. Just like God is separate from God, He wants His people separate from others since we are called to be like God and be with Him.

The word for idol means “nothing”.  Israel will continue to struggle with idols for the next 800 years until they are punished and sent to exile in Babylon.  There, their idols switch from a physical representation to a lifestyle one–riches, power, control, etc.

The best example of gleaning the fields in the Bible was Ruth.

A slanderer is a gossiper as well.  Just gossip is a nicer word these days.

A lot of these regulations was specifically against pagan cultures and their worship as verse 19 demonstrates.  God wanted to make sure His people did nothing the other peoples did.

Letting trees become mature before picking the fruit allowed them to bear more fruit in the future.

“I am the Lord” appears 15 times in this chapter.  If you think on medieval times, the lord of the castle was obligated to care for his people who farmed his fields.  In return the people worked for him and cared for him.  So it goes both ways as it does today with God.  He cares for us.  We care for Him.

Leviticus 20:  We tend to skip over the worship of Molech but this was a HUGE problem for the Israelites and continued to be up to their Babylonian exile.  King Solomon built a temple to Molech (1 Kings 11:7) and King Ahaz sacrificed his own son to Molech (2 Kings 16:3).  To think that God Himself has been warning about Molech for centuries and His people keep forgetting and sinning.  What a merciful God we have!

Most of these penalties had to be carried out by the court of law.  Once accused you had to be tried and convicted just like today before put to death for any sin.  Still, rarely were people executed in ancient Israel.  But unlike today the ancient culture condemned the act.

God is judging the peoples of Canaan for their sins by driving them out.  Unfortunately, He judges His own people as well and drives them out too.

God gave all of these laws in an effort to keep His people separate, holy, and out of sin.  So very, very sad that we as humans still disappoint and fall into the same old habits–even when explicitly outlawed.

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.