BSF Study Questions Matthew Lesson 17, Day 5: Matthew 16:21-28

Summary of passage:  Now Jesus is revealing to his disciples the reason for his being:  that he will die in Jerusalem and suffer for others.  Peter was in denial and told Jesus such.  Jesus rebuked Peter, calling him Satan and a stumbling block to his purpose here on earth.

Jesus tells his disciples that those who come after him must take up their cross and follow him.  People must lose their life in order to save it.  Jesus will reward each person according to what he has done.  Some will not die before the Son of Man comes again.

Questions:

10a)  Peter tells Jesus that he won’t go to the cross and die for our salvation.

b)  Probably for the same reason we don’t want our loved ones to die:  it’s too painful both for Peter who lose his friend and the pain of a crucifixion death that was well-known in ancient times was immense and Peter probably can’t imagine Jesus dying so.

[One commentary I read said Peter did this because he was prideful and having just heard from God about who Jesus truly was in 16:16 that he also thought God was telling him to this as well when it was in fact the devil.  I took the more simplistic, human approach in this one.  I don't want any of my family to die.  And Jesus was Peter's family.]

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  When sin tempts us, we are all tempted to ignore what Christ did for us.  For me, any sin which is frequent in my life.  However, I have sympathy here for Peter for he knew Jesus in a way we never can.  He walked beside Jesus.  I can imagine he had other motivations for not wanting Jesus to die like we all do for our relatives.

d)  Satan

11a)  To have all of your sins forgiven and to receive the Holy Spirit.  When Christ was crucified he took our sins upon himself and made us righteous and healed us.

b)  He says that “whoever wants to save his life will lose it but whoever loses his life for me will find it.”

c)  “Lose your life” means you die to sin.  You have been cleansed by the blood of Jesus.  “Take up your cross and follow” Him means the same thing.  You lay down your life (your wants, desires, and sins), surrender yourself to him, to do God’s desires in life.

d)  They will find new life (gain eternal life as well) and be rewarded in heaven for it.

e)  Personal Question.  My answer:  I try to follow God’s will for my life and listen to Him and do His calling and not my own.

12)  This simply means that some people will be alive when Jesus comes again and never have to experience the penalty of death that came about through our sins.

Another interpretation of this is that you will experience glimpses of God’s power and glory as you lead a Christian, new life.  It’s not all about death.

Conclusions:  Anyone else think Question 11 was a repeat?  In fact, it is.  We answered this question on Lesson 11, Day 5 except the question read “how” instead of “explain what” this means. BSF Notes also tell us exactly what this means in Lesson 11 Notes.  I didn’t think the reference passages were all that helpful either in understanding the meaning.

If you have these notes, I would suggest re-reading them here.  I can’t legally quote anything in the notes but the explanation they give is very, very good.

Hopefully, with repetition, we all understand this now:  that Jesus wants us and all of us to follow him in our lives.  To put him first.  To die to our will and live for him.  Period.

End Notes:  So often we focus on Jesus’s death as for our sins.  But the positive way of putting this is how great is God’s love for us.  God loved us so much He sent his son to die for us.  How many of us parents would do the same thing–to allow our sons to die for strangers?  I wouldn’t. Thus, we must remember the cross is the ultimate sign of God’s love for us despite the tragedy that we had to lose Christ to gain him.

We see Peter’s pride at work as he tries to tell Jesus he is wrong.  Peter is to follow as a disciple, not lead. This is important to remember as in our daily lives we may be thinking we are working for God when the devil sneaks in and we’re not.  In Peter’s case, he focused on “the things of men” instead of on God.  This is a hard one to know when we as humans are just so dumb when compared to God.

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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 Matthew Lesson 17, Day 3: Matthew 16:13-17

Summary of passage:  In Caesarea Philippi, Jesus asked his disciples who people were saying were the Son of Man.  They said some thought John the Baptist or Elijah or Jeremiah or other prophets.  So Jesus asked them directly whom they thought was the Son of Man.  Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

Questions:

4a)  John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah, or other prophets

b)  Christ, the Son of the living God

c)  Neither.  Jesus says it was divine revelation from God, the Father in heaven

d)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Agree.  It affects every aspect of my life for once you believe in who Jesus is your life is no longer your own.  My every breath is for him and no other.  My righteousness is guaranteed and my home is in heaven forever.

5a)  God, the Father in heaven

b)  John 1:13:  Believers were all born children of God (read verse 12 as well).

1 Corinthians 2:8-14: God’s wisdom is revealed to us by His Spirit so that we may understand who He is.

1 Corinthians 12:3:  We know Jesus is Lord because of the Holy Spirit.  We can only know that if we are His.

Conclusions:  I always like an easy lesson after a rather difficult one (not that yesterday’s was difficult per se–but it did require a bunch more research).  I also like these lessons that have one simple lesson you cannot miss:  God reveals Himself to His children through His Spirit that He gives us freely and graciously.  We know we are His when We grasp who He is.

Map of Caesarea Philippi HERE

End Notes:  Jesus is once again retreated to a predominantly Gentile location away from the Sea of Galilee in order to escape the crowds and have some quiet in order to instruct his disciples and make sure they know exactly who he is.

Fun Fact:  This is the first time in Matthew Jesus is confessed to be the Christ or Messiah.

Only in Matthew do we see “Son of the living God”.  In Mark’s account (Mark 8:29) and Luke’s (Luke 9:20) we do not see this.

BSF Study Questions Matthew Lesson 17, Day 2: Matthew 16:1-12; Mark 8:10-21

Summary of passages:  Matthew 16:1-12:  The Pharisees and Sadducees asked Jesus to show them a sign from heaven.  Jesus replied that they wouldn’t be able to interpret the sign because they are wicked and adulterous.  No sign will be given except the sign of Jonah.

Jesus warned his disciples to be on their guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.  Stumped and lacking faith as usual, Jesus explained to the disciples some more and they figured out yeast is teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

Mark 8:10-21:  Here, Mark records that upon asking for a sign, Jesus replies that no sign will be given.  Jesus warns them to be careful of the yeast of the Pharisees and of Herod.  Not understanding what Jesus is meaning by yeast, Jesus asks them do they still have hard hearts and eyes that cannot see.

Questions:

2a)  They should have known that Jesus just wouldn’t perform a miracle that served no purpose or showed them a sign.  Besides, they should have known who he was by the miracles he performed and the prophecies he fulfilled.  Jesus had given them many, many signs.  They shouldn’t need another.  They shouldn’t need a sign.

b)  Luke 12:54-59 has a great interpretation of this.  We can interpret the signs by looking to the Bible for prophecy (mostly in Revelation) that says when Jesus will come again and what are the signs so that we can look for them and be ready.  Basically, get right with God now and you won’t have to worry when the End Times come.

c)  Jesus’ resurrection.  The sign of Jonah was when Jonah was in the belly of the huge fish for three days and three nights which foreshadows how Jesus will be the heart of the earth (or will die) and rise again after three days.

3a)  The yeast was the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

b)  They were thinking about their physical/immediate needs more than their spiritual needs.

c)  It showed that their first thought (main concern) was literal and immediate and not long-term. They are walking around with the Messiah and all they think about is food!  Our thoughts reveal our heart and what is first in our lives.  Yes, we must satisfy our basic needs to survive; but more importantly we wouldn’t be here without Him who gave us the life to sustain.  Honor Him and the rest will follow.

d)  We are too caught up in the physical/immediate needs of living as well.  It’s easy to stay “busy” and go from one activity to another with no thought of God in our lives.  He is often an afterthought, what we think about at the very end of the day if we are lucky.  God wants to be first so we have to de-clutter our lives and make a conscious effort to put Him first.  Remember who is in control so our life can reflect that.

Conclusions:  Anyone else wonder what’s the difference between the Pharisees and the Sadducees?  Apparently, they were enemies and the fact they were working together against Jesus should tell you something about how much of a threat Jesus was to their way of life/teaching/thinking.

Pharisees:  The word probably originates from a Hebrew word meaning “separated.”  They were one of three sects of Judaism along with the Sadducees and the Essenes.  The Pharisees were the most influential and the most strict in terms of obeying the law.  They arose when the Jews were forced to Babylon and the need arose for someone to keep the traditions and the law alive.

“They pledged themselves to obey all facets of the traditions to the minutest detail and were sticklers for ceremonial purity.  In truth, they often made life difficult for themselves and bitter for others.  Some were haughty and arrogant because they believed they were the only interpreters of God and his Word.” Quoted from Zondervan’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary by Merrill C Tenney and J.D. Douglas P. 1118

Thus, this evolved into what we see here with Jesus:  external was more important than internal.  However, they were highly regarded by most Jews because they kept the laws intact.

Sadducees:  The Sadducees were more political in nature and consisted of the Jewish aristocracy.  They differed widely with the Pharisees in terms of doctrine and politics.  They held only to the written law and rejected all other traditions of the Pharisees.  They denied the resurrection of the body, did not believe in angels or spirits, and most importantly did not believe in the divinity acting in the world but that man himself was responsible for his destiny.

Yet they joined the Pharisees against Jesus our of fear that he would ruin them politically.  They opposed the early church vigorously.  However, they disappeared with the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in 70 AD.

I am ambivalent about this lesson.  I think the most important thing is to be prepared and making sure those around you are prepared.  Do not be fooled by false teachings but know His truth.  Then, you will not fail.

End Notes:  Yeast/leaven is usually a sign of corruption and sin in the Bible as we explored in Lesson 14 Day 2. The Jews have had this interpretation since the beginning (Exodus 12:8, 12:15-20).

BSF Study Questions Genesis Lesson 17, Day 5: Genesis 21:22-34

Summary of passage:  Abimelech makes a treaty with Abraham probably because he doesn’t trust him.  Abraham said that some of Abimelech’s servants had seized a well. Abraham gifted sheep and cattle to Abimelech and set aside 7 ewe lambs to prove he dug the well.  The place was called Beersheba.  Abimelech returned to Philistine and Abraham planted a tree and called upon the name of the Lord.  Abraham stayed here a long time.

Questions:

12a)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Outwardly, Abraham has accomplished things only God could.  He rescued Lot and defeated the 4 kings.  He has prospered materially with all his herds of sheep and cattle and other signs of wealth.  He seems to have dealt with everyone with integrity, which we all admire in people.

And I’m sure when you looked at Abraham you could see a contentment, a peace, a security that only God can bring.  I’m stopping short of saying the Holy Spirit because that was only after Jesus died did we receive the Holy Spirit but something similar I would wager.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Others see whether you live by God or by the world.  Your actions show it.  A God-centered life is abundant indeed.  I learn to be cognizant of this and try to reflect God wherever I go.

13a)  Abraham swore by God.  Abraham offers up lambs as proof of his work so he backs up his words with action.  Abraham planted a tree as a sign he called upon the Lord.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  This is a hard one because I don’t trust other people so I’m sure I come off as untrustworthy myself.  And part of me doesn’t care if others trust me or not or even if I am trustworthy because I don’t care what others think most of the time.  But I can pray about it and be more like Jesus.

Conclusions:  Easy lesson with no right or wrong answers since they are all opinion questions.  Abraham got along with his neighbors and treated them fairly and rightly as Jesus would do.  And others recognized this in him.  Seems like something we should all strive for.

End Note:  The Abimelech in Genesis 21 is NOT the same Abimelech in Genesis 20. Abimelech was a generic title for ruler amongst the Canaanites and is not a specific name.

Simple Map of Beersheba:  http://www.keyway.ca/htm2002/beersheb.htm

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 Genesis Lesson 17, Day 3: Genesis 21:1-7

Summary of passage:  The Lord gave Sarah and Abraham a son whom Abraham names Isaac (which means he laughs).  Isaac was circumcised at 8 days old.  Abraham was 100 years old when Isaac was born.  Sarah said God has brought her laughter and everyone who hears about Isaac will laugh with her.

Questions:

7a)  The Lord did for Sarah what He had promised at the very time God had promised.

b)  Abraham in hope believed that God had the power to do what He had promised.  He was strengthened in his faith and gave the glory to God.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  “This week” I haven’t experienced any new spiritual awakening.  However, I am trying to be more trusting and more faithful and maybe a spiritual awakening will occur.  But if it doesn’t, I know at least I’m growing closer to God and that’s all that matters to me.

8 )  John 3:3-6:  We must be born of water and the Spirit to enter the kingdom of heaven.  We must have the Holy Spirit indwelt to enter the kingdom of heaven (believe in God and Jesus as the Son).  Isaac was born of a woman but because of the Spirit.

Romans 4:17-25:  Abraham had hope and faith that Isaac would be born just like we have faith and believe Jesus died for our sins so we could be reborn.

James 1:18:  He gave us birth through the word of truth.  Because of God’s words Isaac was born and so are we–through faith in God’s words.

1 Peter 1:23-25:  We have been born again through the living and enduring word of God which is imperishable (eternal) as Isaac was born.

In general, Isaac’s birth was a miracle of God and came about because of the faith and belief Abraham and Sarah had in God to do the impossible.  The same is for us.  We have faith and believe Jesus died on the cross for us so thus we are declared righteous and justified in God’s eyes.

Conclusions:  Basically, believe in the God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit and you will be born again like Isaac was born because of Abraham and Sarah’s belief and God’s miracle.

I absolutely cringe every time I read “this week” in a question as if a change is supposed to miraculously happen inside of me and there’s something wrong with me if it doesn’t. Like I’ve stated before, I just can’t see the changes or “awakenings” God does in me.  I’m too close to myself and too selfish and blind probably to realize it.  But I know He is working.  How?  Couldn’t tell you.  When?  Definitely not “this week” in my view.  Why? Cause He loves me.  And that’s all I need to know.

Overall, didn’t like this lesson.  We read the passage and immediately got sent to other parts of the Bible.  I was kind of just hoping to hold Isaac the baby for a bit after all this build-up and anticipation and revel in God’s goodness and greatness instead of being distracted with how a real birth compares to a spiritual birth.  Couldn’t that have waited?

I’d take a study any day of God’s greatness over my spiritual birth (granted, a symptom of God’s greatness but nothing when compared to Him).  But that’s my opinion, of course.

End Note:  One commentary I read on this passage compared the birth of Isaac with the birth of Jesus with some rich scripture references.  Now THAT would have been a great question for this passage.

BSF Study Questions Genesis Lesson 17, Day 2: Genesis 20 with Genesis 12:10-20 & 21:22-34

Summary of passages:  Genesis 20:  Abraham had been staying near the great trees of Mamre (Genesis 18) and now has moved on to the Negev between Kadesh and Shur.  He stayed in Gerar for a time and again lied about Sarah being his sister.  So, of course, the king of Gerar, Abimelech, took her for his wife.

God rescued Sarah (again) when he came to Abimelech in a dream and told him he had taken a married woman unbeknownst and that is why God has kept him from touching her.  God tells him to return Sarah and Abraham will pray for him so that he may live.  Otherwise, he will die.

Abimelech called in Abraham and chastized him (like Pharaoh did) and asked him why he lied to him.  Abraham again gave his lame excuse of how he was afraid and he wasn’t really lying because Sarah is his half-sister.  Abraham as the head of the household told Sarah to lie for him on their travels.

So afraid of God was Abimelech that he gave Abraham sheep, cattle, slaves, and whatever piece of land he wanted.  He gave silver to Sarah’s “brother” so she would be vindicated for the wrongs he did.

Abraham prayed and God healed Abimelech and his household so that they could have kids again.

Genesis 12:10-20:

Abram went to Egypt due to a famine.  Abram told Sarai to tell the Egyptians she was his sister in order to protect himself because he was afraid the Egyptians would kill him.  So Pharaoh married Sarai (thinking she wasn’t married) and treated Abram well because of it.  He was given sheep, cattle, donkeys, servants, and camels.

The Lord was angry at this so he punished Pharaoh and Pharaoh asked Abram why he lied to him. Pharaoh sent them out of his land.  They returned to the Negev much wealthier from his lie to Pharaoh.

 Genesis 21:22-34:  Abimelech makes a treaty with Abraham probably because he doesn’t trust him.  Abraham said that some of Abimelech’s servants had seized a well. Abraham gifted sheep and cattle to Abimelech and set aside 7 ewe lambs to prove he dug the well.  The place was called Beersheba.  Abimelech returned to Philistine and Abraham planted a tree and called upon the name of the Lord.  Abraham stayed here a long time.

Questions:

3)  Abraham uses the same fear and mistrust in God to tell Sarah to lie for him.  Abraham was well rewarded both times when Sarah was taken.  It was the Lord who saved Sarah both times by inflicting disease in Egypt and appearing to Abimelech in a dream and preventing child-bearing.

Both Pharaoh and Abimelech were innocent, not knowing Abraham had lied to them.

Abimelech and Pharaoh gave everything to Abraham to atone for their wrongs (shouldn’t it have been the other way around?).  We are told Abraham prayed for Abimelech to be healed and we are not told in Pharaoh’s case but Abraham could have prayed for them as well.

In both instances, God leaves the healing, the repentance, up to Abraham.

4a)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Abraham tells Abimelech he does this so he won’t be killed just like in Egypt.  I think he truly doesn’t care about Sarah to do this twice.  He seems to have some problems to me–selfishness, not trusting in God, egotistical even.

Why is Abraham moving to these places (Egypt and Negev) if he is fearful of the kings?  What is his reasoning?  Or is he that greedy for good land for his flocks and for his self-preservation that he just doesn’t care?

b)  People do this all the time especially in terms of the work environment.  They would rather stab you in the back to climb the corporate ladder than help you.  They do this with land fights as well.  Anytime man wants something he throws his comrades under the bus.  We see it in war situations, politics, and power plays.

5a)  He didn’t suffer just like in Egypt.  In fact, he prospered even more by being given sheep, cattle, and slaves.

Here’s the guy who one minute is refusing bounty from the King of Sodom (Genesis 14:22:24), has God appear to him in Genesis 15 and say He is his great reward, and then the next selling his wife again to a king of a foreign land.  Does Abraham expect to be rewarded like he was in Egypt?  Is he using Sarah for material gain?  It seems to me to be so.  Or he is completely untrusting of God who appeared to him and turning his back on Him.

b)  Others will get hurt due to our actions.  God is receiving no glory for His work when we don’t trust.  Relationships are broken (I’m sure Sarah didn’t appreciate or respect Abraham after all this as much).

6a)  He did not treat Abraham as he deserved.  He did not retaliate against Abraham.  He forgave Abraham’s sin and redeemed him in others’ eyes.  He gave Abraham good things out of it.  Through grace and love, He did not get angry or accuse.  He showed compassion on Abraham, knowing he is merely a man, formed out of dust, and inherently sinful.  He loved Abraham and did not remove righteousness from him.  Instead, God corrected.

b)  Abraham gave Abimelech sheep and cattle.  It seems Abraham brought peace for we are told Abimelech and Phicol, his commander of his forces, returned to Philistine without a fight.  Abraham may have prevented war just by having his presence there and God protecting Abraham.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  He has loved me despite my sins.  He has humbled me with this nasty flu I caught.  He has blessed me with my husband being home to take care of me.  In His mercy, I have faith my husband will land a job this week so in that sense I am grateful.

Conclusions:  Did Abraham NOT learn from Egypt?  The whole “calling your wife your sister” thing didn’t have such a great ending so why would he do it again?  God had to intervene (again) and rescue Sarah.  What an idiot!  Abraham’s explanation is flimsy to say the least!  It’s like he’s floundering.  He’s definitely indifferent that’s for sure!

AND did you pick up that Abraham is partly blaming GOD for his actions.  Verse 13 “And when God had me wander from my father’s household…”  SERIOUSLY?  God, the One, True God has called you to greatness and now you are blaming Him for your lies, your fear, your lack of trust, and apparent incompetency to handle such a charge.

Hey, God!  Call me!  Like Isaiah saying, “Here am I!  Send me!” (Isaiah 6:8)  Use me. How many of us would jump at such a chance to be made the father of nations and then we blame God for the hardships along the way.  Can you picture a little kid jumping up and down, waving their arms, waiting to be chosen???  Unbelievable!  Definitely NOT Abraham here.

And then Abraham is rewarded for it!  It’s like Abraham is taking advantage of God’s protection over his family to see what he can get out of the deal.  Ridiculous in my opinion.

But we see God’s grace throughout it all and I’m assuming that’s why both of these passages are recorded.  God loved Abraham despite his bad choices.  Just as He loves us when we make bad choices.  God redeemed Abraham just like He redeems us afterwards.

Even if our choices are idiotic, repetitive, fearful, and doesn’t make sense to anyone God loves us and offers us His grace.  Always.  God is good!

Maps:  Map of Gerar and Beersheba where the treaty was made: http://www.keyway.ca/htm2001/20010115.htm

Another map of Gerar:  http://www.biblicalzionist.com/gerar.htm

Another interesting map showing Negev and Zoar from Lesson 16:  http://www.ibiblemaps.com/m002.html

This one I am just including so you can see Mamre (you do have to scroll down a bit):  http://www.israel-a-history-of.com/sodom-and-gomorrah.html

End Note:  The Abimelech in Genesis 21 is NOT the same Abimelech in Genesis 20. Abimelech was a generic title for ruler amongst the Canaanites and is not a specific name. Question 6b makes it seem like it’s the same guy when it’s not.

BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 17, Day 5: Acts 20:13-21:15

Summary of passage:  From Troas Paul head to Assos, Mitylene, Kios, Samos, and then Miletus.  He avoided Ephesus because he wanted to reach Jerusalem by Pentecost.  But he sent for the elders of Ephesus to come to Miletus to speak with him.

Paul tells them he lived a life of humility and tears as he served the Lord.  He preached helpful words to both Jews and Greeks about having faith in Christ and repenting to God.  Paul is compelled by the Spirit to go to Jerusalem where he knows he will face prison and hardships.  His life is worth nothing to him if only he will finish the race and complete the task set out for him by Lord Jesus.

They won’t see him again so they must keep watch over the church and believers.  They must be on their guard for wolves will lurk and try to hurt the believers.  He commits them to God who can build them up and give them an inheritance.  We must help the weak, work hard, and remember Jesus’ words “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

They Paul prayed.

Then Paul boards a ship to Cos, Rhodes, Patar, Phoenicia, Syria, Tyre (where he stayed to encourage disciples and prayed), Ptolemais, and then Caesarea.  Here, the prophet Agabus bound his own hands and feet in warning to Paul about what will happen to him in Jerusalem.  Paul says he is ready to die for Jesus and his companions finally said, “The Lord’s will be done.”

Finally, Paul arrives in Jerusalem.

Questions:

13)  Paul mentions again how he lived with them, serving the Lord with great humility and tears, and how he had not coveted anyone’s silver, gold, or clothing.  Paul’s own hands supplied his needs and the needs of his companions.  He worked hard to help the weak.  Paul taught the people from house to house.  In every city he faces prison and hardships.

14a)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Verse 24 “I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me–the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.”  It’s important to strive every day and stay on track with God’s purpose for your life, which is different for all of us, but is ultimately the same:  testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.

Verse 35  “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”  Important to remember.  God blesses you.  You bless others.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  It shows his undying devotion to God’s call on his life.  He is singularly focused on his task.  It shows his love for others and how much others loved him (which is much harder to earn).  Throughout it all he prayed, kept the faith, and once again offered sage advice upon leaving.

15a)  Verse 35:  “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Have a giving attitude.  Remember how everything is from God and you are merely a steward of it all.  Give of yourself, your finances, your time, your energy, and your passions in all areas of life.

Conclusions:  Paul is a great example of how to life your life.  He faces challenges knowing God is with him.  He obviously knows how to treat people since they adore him and beg him to spare himself.  He is always giving advice on how to live a better life and he himself is always striving to be a better person.  He’s a great role model.

I like how finally everyone agrees to “The Lord’s will be done.”  So often we fight against God and His will for us and others that we don’t submit to Him our problems, anxieties, and ultimately our lives.  God is in control but we sometimes try to be. Here Paul is the perfect example of knowing he cannot fight God’s will for his life so he accepts it 100%. This is hard for most of us but something we can always be trying to achieve:  100% committal to God’s will for our lives.

End Note:  My study bible says that the quote “It is more blessed to give than to receive” is the only quote from Jesus not found in the New Testament Gospels.  I found this fascinating.

Map of Paul’s Third Missionary Journey:

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

This map shows all of the places mentioned in the passage:

http://www.biblestudy.org/maps/apostle-paul-third-missionary-journey-large-map.html

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