BSF Study Questions Matthew Lesson 2, Day 2: Matthew 2:1-8

Summary of passage:  After Jesus was born in Bethlehem, the Magi (or Three Wise Men) came to Jerusalem to inquire where the king of the Jews was born at so they may worship him.  King Herod was disturbed by this news.  He asked all the chief priest’s where the Messiah was to be born and they responded with the words of the prophet Micah:  In Bethlehem in Judah.

Herod called the Magi to him secretly and asked them for the exact time of the appearance of the star.  He then sent them to Bethlehem to search for the child and then to report back to him so that he too may go and worship the child.

Questions:

3a)  King Herod (ruler of Judea under the Romans), Magi, Jews, chief priests and teachers of the law (Old Testament law), and Israel or the Jews.  The Magi are seeking to worship Jesus.  King Herod and the Romans are disturbed and threatened by the news.  If we include the Jews in “all of Jerusalem” we can presume they are more afraid of what Herod might do upon this news than disturbed.  However, we are not told what the response is of the Jews or the priests and teachers.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  All.  I see indifference, glory, fear, hatred, hostility, and annoyance.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Well, God hasn’t exactly told me personally how I myself am doing but the Bible says I’m supposed to be obedient to His word and obey Him and give myself to Him fully, which is what I try to do every day of my life.

4)  Christ’s deity:  “whose origins are from of old, from ancient times”; “will come for me”

Christ’s humanity: “out of you (clans of Judah) will come for me”

Christ’s kingship:  “ruler over Israel”

Conclusions:  Anyone else not trust Herod here?  He obviously has ulterior motives here.  The guy was hated by all and I’m sure was only obeyed out of fear of punishment or death.  Note the wise men did not say they would actually report back to him.

Interesting that the priests quoted Micah out of all the Old Testament verses that speak to Jesus’ coming.  I like the subtle differences in translations as well.  It shows the differences in terminology and word usage in the 400 years that passed between the Old and the New Testaments.  I personally like “shepherd of my people”.

This passage is packed full of interesting notes so bear with me:

Notice Matthew glosses over Jesus’s actual birth and jumps to “after” right away.  He is more interested in recording the reaction of others than the actual birth.  He leaves that for Luke to describe.

There was another town named Bethlehem; hence, the Bethlehem in Judea and Micah’s description of Bethlehem Ephrathah, which was what Bethlehem used to be known by.

The wise men were not kings but probably astronomers.  There were probably more than three that came and they made their journey a significant time after Jesus’s birth–some scholars say up to a year after his birth.  Hence, Herod’s order to kill all boys 2 years old and under (Matthew 2:16) as Jesus was probably over a year old by then.  They were probably exiled Jews from the East.

So why the Three Kings misnomer?  It’s been around since the third century and probably derives from the Old Testament prophecies that say kings will come to worship the Messiah (Psalms 68:29, 31; 72:10-11; Isaiah 49:7; 60:1-6).  Supposedly the skulls of the three kings are housed in Cologne, Germany.

Notice that the wise men came to Jerusalem, NOT to Bethlehem as commonly depicted. The shepherds made it to the manger; the wise men did not.

Jesus was born a king; not a prince as is most often the case.

God uses a star, something the astronomers would have recognized instantly.

Background on Herod:  Known as Herod the Great as there were quite a few rulers before and after named Herod, Herod ruled Judea, which was a Roman province at the time, for 34 years until his death in 4 BC.  Yes, Christ had been born by that time.  Blame the ignorance of the Middle Ages and a monk named Dionysius for missing the division between BC and AD!

Herod was a ruthless fighter, a subtle diplomat, and an opportunist.  He was hated by the Jews for his unrelentless pursuit of hellenization yet courted their favor by re-building their temple.  However, he did bring order to Palestine through his ability to manage so complex a situation and thus an opportunity for economic growth.  Many of his family members he had put to death and in the end he disintegrated into madness.

For a much thorough background on Herod, see Zondervan’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary by J D Douglas and Merrill C Tenney.

This website HERE has great information on the miscalculation of dates and even a discussion on Jesus’ real birthday.

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BSF Study Questions Genesis Lesson 2, Day 2: Genesis 1:3-5

Passage:  And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.  God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness.  God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.”  And there was evening, and there was morning–the first day.

Questions:

3)  Genesis 1:3-5:  By creating it and separating it from the darkness for us, giving us morning and evening so we could see since our eyes do not see without light

Psalm 18:28:  He keeps my lamp burning and turns my darkness into light–both literally and figuratively by keeping the devil at bay through His strength

Psalm 36:9:  God is the fountain of life and in His light we see light, meaning in His light (under his loving influence) we see and understand His love in all that surrounds us.

Psalm 119:105,130:  God’s word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path (so we can see where we are going.  Hopefully it’s His way and His path).

His word gives light and understanding to the simple.  We understand better when we read God’s word.

John 1:4-8:  God gave life, which is the light of men.  This light shines in the darkness and the darkness (devil) does not understand it.  John (the Baptist) was sent from God as a witness to the light so that all men might believe.

Here, they are speaking of Jesus as the light of the world.  Through Jesus God gives us light.

John 3:19-21:  Light is here but men still chose darkness.  These people hate the light because the light exposes those evil deeds.  Whoever lives by the truth (God’s word and laws) comes into the light and shows all the evil doers that what you have done is through God.

Light exposes evil.  Light overshadows the evil when we do good.

John 8:12:  Jesus says he is the light of the world and whoever follows him will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.

2 Corinthians 4:4-6:  God has blinded the minds of unbelievers so they cannot see the light of Jesus.  God made His light (Jesus) shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.

We know God through Jesus, the light.

1 Peter 2:9:  God’s chosen people were called out of darkness into His light (knowledge of Him).  Light serving as a beacon.

1 John 1:7-10:  Please start reading at verse 5:  Verse 5 declares outright God is light; in Him there is no darkness at all.  If we walk in the light (in Jesus and with Jesus and God) we have fellowship with one another, with Jesus, and we are purified of our sins.

4a)  Having Jesus, the Holy Spirit, the faith, the belief of Jesus in your heart gives you light; whereas, non-believers do not have this light.  We shine this light wherever we go.  It should be evident in our actions that we have Jesus.  If we do evil and walk in darkness, we are not living by the truth (and probably don’t have Jesus).  1 John 1:5-7.

Matthew 6:22-23:  The eye (where we see light) is our lamp.  If we are good, we will be full of light.  If your eyes are bad (if you are evil or you shine evil or you do evil), you will be full of darkness.

2 Corinthians 6:14-17:  Light cannot exist with darkness (remember in God there is no darkness).  Thus, do not be yoked together with unbelievers.  Today this would read “don’t hang out with unbelievers”.  For their beliefs will influence yours.  Choose your friends wisely.

Unbelievers are in the dark.  Believers are in the light.  They cannot co-mingle.

[If you did the study of Acts last year, this discussion will be familiar.  It's not to say not to talk or shun unbelievers or share the light with them.  It is to say don't spend all your free time with unbelievers who could unduly influence you.]

Ephesians 5:8, 11-12:  Reflects 2 Corinthians 6:14-17 exactly.  Live as children of light.  Ephesians 5 speaks to avoiding darkness and do what pleases the Lord.  Do not be partners with those who are disobedient for God’s wrath will be upon them.

Be imitators of God; be careful how you live; speak words of psalms and praise to each other and not obscene language.  Speak of gratitude and thanksgiving from your tongue.  Always give thanks to the Lord.

Philippians 2:15:  We (believers) shine like the stars in the universe when we embrace the word of life (Jesus and God) and obey His commands.  God will work in you to do His good purpose (Philippians 2:13).

Revelation 21:23-27:  In the final days, there will be no darkness for darkness does not exist with God.  The moon and the sun will no longer be needed for the glory of God will light the entire city/world as Jesus is the lamp.  The nations will follow God’s laws (His light).  Only those saved will exist there for no evil will enter.

Isaiah 60:19:  “The sun will no more be your light by day, nor will the brightness of the moon shine on you, for the Lord will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory.”

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  My potty mouth, my bitterness, my anger.  I need to hold my tongue more.  Not release my wrath to others and give it to God.

Conclusions:  Wow!  Exactly what I needed this morning.  A study on how I am good even though I never think so.  A review of some of my favorite passages from last year’s study of Acts.  I am reminded of how I am supposed to reflect God’s light everywhere I go and how I am supposed to be an imitator of God, giving Him praise and thanksgiving as much as possible every day all day long.  How I must speak words of love to all around me.

Gives me something to work on.  I admit I had become complacent this summer in terms of my growth.  I have had so much going on (trying to buy a house, dog dying, moving, school getting started again, finishing my novel) that I have neglected God’s word.  BSF reminds me every fall how I need to stay in it.  Even if only for 5 minutes a day.

Explanation of light:  All light is white light.  The sun is actually shining white light, but the white light is actually all the colors of the rainbow put together except for black.  We only see color because each light beam is a different wavelength and when these individual beams bounce off of things, we see what is left.  The rest of the lights are absorbed by the object.  You see the color that has bounced.

The sky is blue because of our atmosphere.  Our atmosphere absorbs a huge amount of light and what you see is the blue light waves that have bounced off of it.

Our eyes are designed to see with light.  Without our eyes to see the color and our brains to interpret it, we wouldn’t see anything.  Even at night, there is some light somewhere in the house or from the moon so we can see.  Otherwise, it would be pitch black.  Objects are black because they absorb all the colors of light.

God designed us this way.  Some animals can see in the dark.  Their eyes are designed and shaped differently than ours.  But there is still light.  These animals just need much less than we do.

Hence, you could say by itself light is invisible.  Everything is invisible until light strikes it and bends around it.  Then we see color.

Black is not a color for no light bounces off of black.  It absorbs all of the light.  The color of the devil and what we are most afraid of is nothing.  Fascinating, isn’t it?

Explanation summarized from my kids’ Astronomy textbook entitled Exploring Creation with Astronomy by Jeannie Fulbright P.20-23.

Side Note on the passage John 1:4-8:  I am deeply surprised that BSF did not make us read the John 1:1-8.  Here is the crux of the matter, where we are told Jesus was there from the beginning, that Jesus is the Word, Jesus was with God, Jesus is God, and Jesus was there from the beginning.

Genesis 1:1: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”  Notice God “created”.  He didn’t “speak”.  I had always pictured God as speaking the heavens and the earth but now I see Him as merely doing it.

This brings into the discussion of did God know man was to Fall and Jesus was planned from the beginning?  Or did Jesus just always exist (yes, He did) but God was hoping He wouldn’t have to send him?  It’s the question of Free Will and how much does man control his own destiny and does God know it all.  See previous post HERE

I believe God knows what we are going to do before we do it, that He does know all.  So He knew we’d Fall.  He’d sacrifice His only Son.  Yet He did it ANYWAYS!!!  That’s the depth of His love for us.

So the question becomes:  Would you?

Advice to all:  When given all these different passages to look up, take the time to read before and after it.  Especially this time there was a ton more listed before that was relevant to the subject of light.  You have to understand the context of these passages in order to divine its meaning.  Otherwise a verse here and there can seem completely irrelevant.

I know it’s time-consuming.  But anything worth doing takes time.  You just have to prioritize.  The study of God’s word is not the place to cut corners.  Watching less TV, reading one less chapter in your engrossing book, or giving up sleep (this is how I do this) are some places to cut.

Here’s a great verse by verse explanation on John 1:  http://www.fridaystudy.org/html/john/john1.htm

BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 2, Day 2: Acts 2:1-13

Summary of passage:  On the day of Pentecost the 120 were all in one place (presumably praying still and waiting for the gift).  A sound like a blowing violent wind came from heaven and filled the house where they were sitting.  They saw tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.  All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in tongues through the power of the Holy Spirit.

A lot of people in Jerusalem heard this sound and came together to see what was happening.  They were bewildered because each was speaking in his own language.  They asked, “Aren’t these all Galileans?  How is it we hear them in our own language?  What does this mean?”

Some made fun of them and said they were drunk.

Questions:

2a) Blowing of a violent wind

b) Tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them

c) All spoke in other tongues (foreign languages)

d) All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit

3a) In Acts, the Holy Spirit brought understanding.  The believers (the 120 whom God blessed with the Holy Spirit) spoke in different languages so everyone could understand what was happening.  In Genesis, the Lord gave the people different languages so they could not understand.

b) Personal Question.  My answer:  God is in control.  God will use all His powers to reward and rebuke men.  God will us all His powers to be understood; to be clear in what He likes and doesn’t like; to show He alone is God, omnipotent.

4)  Because there were so many different nationalities with no common language.  It was important God’s message and actions of giving the Holy Spirit was understood so its ramifications would be understood by all.

Conclusions:  I found this lesson fairly straight-forward although I did read online different interpretations of the speaking in tongues, which albeit interesting, I didn’t quite believe.

One interesting thing I learned was Galileans were considered at that time to be poor speakers and uncultured, which contributed to the shock of the Jews when they could understand these believers.

We tend to think of speaking in tongues today as weird (which when overused or used incorrectly or is not from God is) but this example shows clearly it was originally from God and is acceptable as long as it remains so.

End Note:  Yeah!  Map Time!  My favorite!

In my Bible Atlas (Zondervan’s Atlas of the Bible by Carl Rasmussen P. 218) there is a great map called “The Near East at the Time of Pentecost” with all the locations mentioned in this passage marked.

This map is the best one I can find and looks like the one in my Atlas:

http://www.searchingthescriptures.net/main_pages/free_bible_land_maps/map116.htm

My Atlas says these pilgrims had come to celebrate three Jewish festivals: Passover/Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Weeks, and the Feast of Tabernacles.