BSF Study Questions Revelation Lesson 17, Day 4: Revelation 13:11-18

Summary of passage:  Beast #2 comes out of the earth.  He has 2 horns but spoke like a dragon.  He was under the authority of the first beast (Rev 13:1-10) and made earth’s inhabitants worship Beast #1.  He performed miraculous signs and created a false idol in the shape of Beast #1 that earth’s inhabitants worshipped.  This idol was given the power to breath and speak and killed those who refused to worship the image.  Everyone was forced to receive a mark (the number 666) either on his forehead or right hand.

Questions:

9)  “He exercised all the authority of the first beast and made the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast…he performed great and miraculous signs, even causing fire to come down from heaven to earth in full view of men…he was given power to breath to the image of the first beast so that it could speak and cause all who refused to worship the image to be killed…he forced everyone…to receive a mark on his right hand or his forehead.”

10a)  To deceive the elect (believers) and turn away from Christ to Satan.

b)  Moses (Exodus 7:1-5):  To save the Israelites and bring judgment upon Egypt and show them He is the Lord.

Elijah (1 Kings 18:30-39):  So that God’s people will know He is Lord.

Jesus (John 11:41-44; 20:30-31; Acts 2:19-21):  So the people will believe God sent Jesus, that he is the Son of God, which will give them eternal life.  In Acts, so the people will know when the Lord shall come again.

11a)  The number 666 will be marked either on their forehead or right hand.  This enabled them to buy and sell (trade and live).

b)  The Holy Spirit and eternal life.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  I’m a natural skeptic, but having God’s skepticism has proven invaluable.  I’ve learned to match up what the world says with what God says in His word and through prayer.  If it doesn’t match, it’s false.  I immediately dismiss it then.  Knowing nothing is free (from Christ’s sacrifice on the cross) has protected me from many a scam and knowing God’s word has protected me from many a falsehood.

Conclusions:  Never knew where the number 666 came from and I can’t wait to read the commentary on this one!  Good lesson.  Love the contrast with Satan’s purpose and God’s purpose.  God’s purpose is to save.  Satan’s is to deceive and kill.  With such evidence it’s a wonder to me how people don’t believe.

End Notes:  The word for beast is the same as the beast in the first part of Chapter 13 but John makes it abundantly clear this one is under the first one.  This beast only has 2 horns.  Scholars are unsure what this means.  It may mean this beast only has authority in 2 realms instead of all the realms.  To me, it’s less than the first beast and is another indicator he is subordinate.

Even though this second beast appears like a lamb it speaks like a dragon who is the devil.  It has the same evil purposes in mind.

This second beast is called the false prophet (Revelation 16:13, 19:20, 20:10) and is different from the first beast (the Antichrist) and the dragon (Satan).  This is the unholy trinity (which we are asked about in the next lesson).  The dragon is the anti-Father, the beast rising from the sea is the anti-Christ, and the beast rising from the land is the anti-Holy Spirit.

This beast is a lackey of the first beast.  His job is to lead people to worship the first beast.  Some of us (especially those of us who have been believers for a while) say how can this be so?  Are people that stupid?  The answer:  yes.  Man’s nature is to rebel against God and worship himself.  If someone comes along and says great things about how man will be greater under that person, then man will easily be persuaded.

The beast could perform many miracles but John highlights one in particular:  fire coming from heaven.  Why?  Remember the 2 witnesses of God in Chapter 11?  They are given the power of fire coming from their mouths to destroy those who oppose them in verse 5.  BSF touched upon another example by having us read Elijah’s calling of fire from heaven.  What’s the difference?  One is by God and one is from Satan.  How are we to know the difference?  By knowing God and His word and God’s purpose and Satan’s purpose.  That’s the only way to identify the deception.

We’ve seen false miracles and warnings all throughout the Bible.  Aaron performed miracles and was matched by the Pharaoh’s magicians in Exodus 7-9.

In Deuteronomy 13:1-5 God says there will be false prophets announcing miraculous signs and He warns His people it is a test and they must judge a worker of miracles by their message (which is usually against God), not by their works.

Jesus warns some who worked miracles – even in His name – were false followers and would perish in hell (Matthew 7:22-23).

Jesus warns in the end times false prophets would emerge and show great signs and wonders to deceive (Matthew 24:24).

Paul warns the Antichrist will come with all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs, and wonders (2 Thessalonians 2:9).

These miracles the beast will use to persuade the earth’s inhabitants to worship the first beast. Emperor worship was rampant in the first century Roman Empire.  John’s audience would have seen first-hand Satan at work.

Many scholar believe this idolatrous image is what Jesus, Daniel, and Paul spoke of as the abomination of desolation (Daniel 9:27, Matthew 24:15, and 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4), which is an idolatrous image set up in the holy place of a rebuilt temple.  Abominable idolatry.  Desolate judgment.
Those who did not worship the graven image would be killed.  This was just beginning to happen in the first century with the persecution of the Christians who would not bow down to Caesar.  We are also reminded here of Daniel 3 when he refused to worship Nebuchadnezzar and was thrown in the lions’ den.

The number 666:  Some believe the mark of 666 is not literal.  The Greek word used here for mark (charisma) is generally not applied to people.  The charisma was a seal stamped with the name and date of the emperor and attached to commercial documents.  Apparently, it also stood for the emperor’s head stamped on coins.  Thus, the charagma represented the likeness or name of the emperor.

It is also a type of brand.  In Roman times, disobedient slaves were often branded with marks of ownership, much like cattle are today.  Religious tattooing was also widespread.  Soldiers had a custom of branding themselves with the name of a favorite general.  Devotees of a god labeled themselves with tattoos to designate their loyal devotion.

So was this mark visible?  Debatable but more likely it is a symbol.  In Ezekiel 9:4, we see people marked for protection and in Exodus 12:21-23, the doorways are marked as a sign for the angel to pass over.  We saw Christians marked with a seal in Revelation 7 for protection; here, those of the earth will be marked as well.  Satan is protecting his people here as well.  It is probably behavior that will be the mark:  worshiping God or the beast.

Side Note:  We have seen the Nazis mark concentration camp victims with numbers so literal is in the realm of possibilities.

The number of his name refers to the common ancient Greek practice of assigning numerical values to letters.  Since letters had numerical value, is the number 666 trying to tell us a specific person?  Maybe.  Nero is a popular choice here.  The problem is the system is so complicated, confusing, and endless as to mute the point.  Scholars have for centuries tried to figure this out.  No one knows.

I believe the simplest is the best:  We’ve seen the number 7 mean completion or perfection.  Here the number 6 is short of the number 7.  Hence, it is incomplete or imperfect.  We see the beast as the false prophet but coming up short of Jesus’ perfection.  The triple 666 is used for emphasis just like we saw “holy, holy, holy” three times in Revelation 4.

John says to have wisdom to see through the deception of the unholy, false prophet who will be human under demonic control.

BSF Study Questions The Life of Moses Lesson 17, Day 4: Leviticus 25:35-55

Summary of passage:  If an Israelite becomes poor, help him so he can stay with you.  Don’t take interest from him or sell food to him at a profit.  If a poor man sells himself to you, don’t treat him as a slave but as a worker until the Year of the Jubilee where he and his family are to go free.  Slaves may be bought from the surrounding lands but no slaves are to be made from the Israelites.  If an Israelite sells himself to a non-Israelite, he is to be treated as a servant, not a slave, and may be redeemed either by a relative or in the Year of the Jubilee.

Questions:

8 )  Basically, do everything you can to help them get back on their feet.  Don’t take advantage of them and treat them favorably.  Help as much as possible.

9a)  “For the Israelites belong to me (God) as servants.  They are my servants whom I brought out of Egypt.  I am the Lord your God.”  Verse 55, 38 42

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  I’m taking issue with “even though you didn’t deserve it” part of this question because none of us deserve God’s care ever at all.  It is all grace and mercy from Him.  My answer is every day God takes care of me when I don’t deserve it.  Specific times is when I am far from him like during college.  Or my bankruptcy.  Answer:  every day.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  We should treat others as God treats us:  with unconditional mercy and grace and love.  With those who have less than us, the same.  Give, offer help and guidance, and be available.

Conclusions:  I can’t help but think back on Leviticus 24 and how I’d rather study that.  8 and 9c are very similar.  A good question here would be:  Knowing how God calls you to treat the poor, what are you not doing that you could be doing for others and be specific.  Why are you not doing it?  I think we all know what we should be doing; we just don’t.  Examining why would hit us where it hurts and perhaps spur us to change.

End Notes: This is similar to what Jesus said in Luke 6:34-5.  Give without expecting anything back.

If one could not pay their debts, they had to work to pay it off but they had to be treated humanely and be set free.  This did not hold true to non-Israelites who could remain slaves for life.

Why is this such an important part in God’s word?  God wanted to make sure every one of His people understood that they were foremost His and His slave and worked for Him and no other.  He is the final redeemer of His people–a fact often lost sight of in the throes of this world.

BSF Study Questions Matthew Lesson 17, Day 4: Matthew 16:18-20

Summary of passage:  Jesus renames Simon “Peter”, which means “rock” for Jesus will build his church around Peter and Hell will not overcome it.  Jesus will give him the keys of the kingdom of heaven.  He told his disciples not to reveal his identity to anyone.

Questions:

6a)  Deuteronomy 32:4, 15, 18, 30-31:  God and/or Jesus

Matthew 16:23:  an impediment, an obstacle to overcome

Ephesians 2:20:  foundation would be the work and words or the apostles and prophets and the cornerstone is Jesus Christ

1 Peter 2:4-8:  Christ

b)  The rock is Christ and Jesus is blessing Peter with the authority to build his church.  Peter was the first rock amongst Jesus’ church/building with Christ as the cornerstone.

7)  Personal Question.  My answer:  That the gates of Hades or the gates of death will be defeated.  Death and darkness will never prevail against the church, God, or His people.

8a)  Acts 2 records the Day of Pentecost after the Resurrection where the first believers converted (almost 3000) and the Christian church was born.  It is Peter who addresses these people; who speaks powerfully to convince them that they have just witnesses the most important event of all history:  the resurrection of Jesus. It is Peter who explains the Holy Spirit and the meaning of Jesus’ death.  God blessed Peter with this role.

In Acts 10, Peter is speaking to a crowd of friends and relatives in Cornelius’ (a Roman centurion or a Gentile) home.  Peter explains again Christ’s life and death and it’s meaning and if you keep reading (Acts 10:44-48) all those there were converted and blessed with the Holy Spirit and they were Gentiles.  Peter explains how Jesus came for all of mankind.

Hence, from these events, we see Peter as the one having been blessed by God to spread the word that He is for all mankind.  That all are welcome at His table.  And Peter becomes the Rock as he converts more and more people to begin the new church.  He opens the kingdom to all.

b)  Jews and Gentiles.

9a)  In John, Jesus gives this power to all of his disciples (the Eleven).  In Matthew, Jesus is speaking to his disciples as well.  However, I believe Matthew can be interpreted to extend to all believers once they have the Holy Spirit.  Hence, I would say all believers have this power to bring others to Jesus.

b)  Binding and loosing were legal terms in use in the Jewish law in first century AD that all Jews understood.  You were either “bound” or “loose” with regards to Jewish law.  To bind was to be subjugated to the law; to be put under it or to prohibit something.  To loose was to allow something under the law; to permit it.

Peter and the other apostles were given the authority by Jesus to set the terms of the New Covenant and “bind and loose” the Old Covenant.  They would set the rules for the early church and build its foundation.

To some extent, the Church still has this power today as long as it is from God.

Conclusions:  Admittedly, I groaned at question 8 and stopped working when I saw how much of Acts we had to read.  Another example of how it’s okay to stop for the day when you’re just not into it and come back when your heart is ready to hear from God.

End Notes:  Hades was the Ancient Greek god of the underworld (Roman name is Pluto).  Hades was the place the dead went and lived.  It wasn’t a place where only eternally damned people go. The Romans believed everyone went to Hades after death.  Thus, it’s meaning is different than hell, which is often incorrectly equated today.

Good, brief explanation of binding and loosing:  http://www.gotquestions.org/binding-loosing.html

Fun Facts:  This was the first use of the word church in all of the Bible and it is used by Jesus way before Acts and Pentecost.

Peter is always listed first in the listings of the disciples in the Bible.  There is no doubt he was specially blessed by God to spread the word.

BSF Study Questions Genesis Lesson 17, Day 4: Genesis 21:8-21

Summary of passage:  Isaac grew and Abraham held a great feast for him on the day he was weaned.  Sarah saw Ishmael was mocking so she told Abraham to get rid of Hagar and Ishmael.  Abraham was distressed by God told him to do as Sarah says for it is Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.  He will also make Ishmael into a nation also.

So Abraham sent Hagar and Ishmael away.  They wandered in the desert of Beersheba. They ran out of water and Hagar and Ishmael began to cry.  An angel of the Lord appeared to Hagar and told her God had heard the boy crying.  Take him by the hand for God will make him into a great nation.

God provided water and was with the boy as he grew up.  He lived in the desert of Paran and became an archer.  His wife was Egyptian.

Questions:

9a)  Act haughty, despise their masters, be jealous of Isaac, be prideful and boastful of being Abraham’s son

b)  Because Ishmael is a slave, meaning he does not share in the freedom Christ brings believers, and he persecutes Isaac or believers.

c)  He provided them water in the desert and gave them assurance and peace about their path.  God was with Ishmael as he grew up and blessed him with 12 kids, each who were tribal rulers.  He gave them a place to settle and rule.

d)  Personal Question.  My answer:  1 Peter here doesn’t help me.  We’ve read it before this year.  It assures me in the fact that God cares for all of His children even those who are not liked by others and who bear a difficult life and who according to Galatians are not free and are of the flesh.  Thus, He cares for me as well.

Besides this, I’m not assured because I am a believer; whereas, Ishmael was not so the comparison is hard to make.

10a)  Ishmael wants to dominate and win over Isaac and receive God’s blessing.  Same with sin which wants to dominate the Spirit.  It’s the devil versus God and only you can decide who will win.

It is a conflict still raging today:  following God in the flesh versus following God in faith through the promise.

b)  The sinful nature has died in a believer so that the Spirit may rule.  Here, Ishmael was removed so Isaac could win.

There is no reconciliation with the flesh.  We must either trust in the Spirit or the flesh and the decision must be final.

11a)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Struggles we all have:  to do what is right versus what is wrong; to listen to God or to the world; to do the easy thing or the hard thing; to fight for our beliefs or let it slide; to do God’s work or to not even bother; to take up the sword and fight or to give in; to cut off others who are sapping our Spirit or to continue in a lackluster and drama-ridden relationship.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  The Spirit and therefore I live and the sinful nature is put to death.  The Spirit leads me to do what is right against sin and to overcome it.  The Spirit wins.  It’s not always easy.  But my faith prevails.

Conclusions:  Maybe I’m just being lazy today but I cringed every time I was sent to another passage today.  I thought Ah, I don’t want to read anymore or look anything else up.  Especially 1 Peter.  I’m not for sure if this is a symptom of this year where it seems like we are constantly being sent elsewhere or what but today I was weary of it.

I liked how Ishmael is sin so he must be sent away in order for the Spirit (Isaac) to prosper.  I had never thought of it like this before.  A good lesson in how sin (the flesh) must be vanquished in order for us, the Spirit, to thrive.  We must make difficult decisions at times so we can accomplish God’s purpose for us here on earth.

End Note:  Here’s a map where people say the Desert of Paran is: http://bibleatlas.org/full/paran.htm

This makes sense to me because Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt through the wilderness of Paran in Numbers so it would be in the Sinai Peninsula.

However, some say Paran is in Saudia Arabia where Mecca was since Ishmael was an Arab it would make sense he would settle here where Islam began.

This could be true as well since no one knows how big the area called the Paran was.  It could be a whole desert area that encompasses both the Sinai and Arabia.

You make the call.

BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 17, Day 4: Acts 20:1-12

Summary of passage:  Paul heads out to Macedonia encouraging the people and then arrives in Greece where he stayed 3 months.  Intending to sail back home but having to change plans because of a plot against him by the Jews, Paul travels back through Macedonia overland.  He was accompanied by representatives of various churches since he was purportedly carrying a large amount of famine relief money with him.

Paul arrives in Troas where he speaks all night to a group of people before his final departure to Jerusalem.  A young man named Eutychus was seated in a window when he fell out of it during Paul’s long sermon and dies.  Paul then throws himself on the man, wraps his arms around him, and brings him back to life.  Then Paul continues with his sermon until daybreak.

Questions:

10)  God ultimately.  Then to encourage believers and the churches he had established and spread the Good News.

11a)  He sunk into a deep sleep and fell from a third story window and died.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Eyes on speaker.  Ears open for God to speak to you.  No outside distractions or speaking.

12)  Paul threw himself on the young man and put his arms around him and Eutychus was brought back to life. He continued on as if nothing odd had just happened.

Conclusions:  I completely disagree with the interpretation here on Question 11b.  I don’t blame the guy for falling asleep.  I probably would.  I don’t know many of us who can sit through a 6 hour sermon until midnight after having been up since daybreak working in the fields performing manual labor as we have to assume Eutychus was (that’s why Paul was preaching at night because everyone worked during that day).

We are also told there were many lamps.  Lamps in Paul’s time were oil lamps and gave off a lot of smoke and fumes (unhealthy to breath).  We’re not talking kerosene here.  The fuel was most likely olive oil.  We can also assume there’s a lot of people packed into a tiny space to hear Paul before he leaves (another reason Eutychus may have been sitting on the window).

So here’s Eutychus breathing in all these fumes, probably sweating from all the people and the heat from the lamps, being lulled to sleep by Paul because he’s exhausted, and he falls out the window.  I would have too!

Why wouldn’t Paul show compassion?  What’s he gonna do?  Blame the guy?  Doubt it.  Eutychus died because he was eager to hear the word of God and couldn’t overcome his exhaustion that was not caused by any fault of his own.  It was the times he lived in.  Naps were non-existent back then for most people.

In the end, God made humans and humans require sleep.  It’s not something we can go without.  Trust me, I’ve pulled enough all-nighters in my college days to know this is horrible for the body.

I see no fault here whatsoever with Eutychus falling asleep and I believe Luke told the story either as a diligent reporter who was recording Paul’s travels or to show the dedication of believers.  I don’t think he ever intended it as a warning that “If we fall asleep in church we’re doomed to Hell.”

I don’t like the word “motive” either in Question 10 merely because this word is used almost exclusively in the US when someone commits a crime or has a hidden agenda.  In actuality, it means according to Webster’s Dictionary “moving or tending to move to action.”  So Paul’s motive overall is God and then we can break this down into spreading the Good News and encouraging his churches.

Question 10 also makes it seem as if Paul’s motive has changed when it hasn’t.  This has always been his motive since he was first called by God.

Map of Paul’s Third Missionary Journey:

http://www.apostlepaulthefilm.com/paul/journey_03.htm

BSF Study Questions Isaiah Lesson 17, Day 4 Isaiah 40:21-26

Summary of passage:  Isaiah asks who doesn’t know about God who sits enthroned above the earth and stretches out the heavens like a canopy.  He reduces rulers and princes to nothing with a mere blow of his breath.  “To whom will you compare me?” says the Holy One.  To the heavens since he brings them all out and calls each by name.  None are ever missing.

Questions:

7) That God is the Creator of the Universe and Earth.  God is the one and only.

8 )  Personal Question.  My answer:  People are wicked in general and will do wicked things or are elected by wicked people.  These rulers all serve God’s purpose (think King of Assyria) so they come to power by His will.  Maybe to teach people a lesson or about Him.  But God merely has to blow on them and they are gone.

9a) Look to the Heavens, the stars that God calls by name

b) Nothing or no one.

c) Personal Question.  My answer:  Looking at the stars at night reminds me how insignificant I am in comparison to infinite space.  So when life loses control, I can look at the stars and know God is in control of everything–the stars, the moon, and my life.  He can do any thing since He created everything.

Conclusions:  What I got out of this was my last line I wrote:  He can do anything since He created everything (another one to go up on my mirror).  But, I yearned for more here.  I yearned to study more.  I yearned for more of His word.  I yearned for more of Him.  I guess that’s one of the lasting legacies of a good bible study such as BSF:  making you yearn for more of Him.