BSF Study Questions The Life of Moses Lesson 21, Day 5: Numbers 17-19

Summary of passages:  Numbers 17:  In an effort to end future rebellions, God told Moses to get 12 staffs, one from each leader of the tribes, put them in the Tent of Meeting, and God will make the staff of the one He chooses sprout.  Aaron’s staff sprouted, bloomed, and produced almonds.  God told Moses to put Aaron’s staff in front of the ark as a reminder to the people of His choice.

Numbers 18:  God told Aaron he and his sons were responsible to bear the offenses against the sanctuary and the priesthood.  The Levites are to help Aaron but not go near the furnishings of the Tabernacle or the altar.  Aaron is responsible for the care of the sanctuary and the altar.  God gives the priests a portion of the sacrifices for their consumption including meat, olive oil, wine, and grain.  Everything.  They are to receive no land.

The Levites are to receive the tithes for their work but are to give a tenth of that to God, which goes to Aaron.

Numbers 19:  God commands Eleazar the priest to sacrifice a red heifer without defect, sprinkle its blood in front of the Tent of Meeting, and burn it up.  The ashes are to be gathered up for use in the water of cleansing to be purified of sin–specifically to be used when touching a dead body, removing a dead body, or touches a human bone or grave.  If the person does not cleanse themselves, they are to be cut off from the community.


10a)  God told Moses to get 12 staffs, one from each leader of the tribes, put them in the Tent of Meeting, and God will make the staff of the one He chooses sprout. Aaron’s staff sprouted, bloomed, and produced almonds.

b)  Here, God wants to end all rebellion against Him.  The responsibility of the high priest is to atone for the people and make them right with God.  Every high priest is selected by God to administer such an important role.  Jesus was selected by God to be our forever high priest and atone for our sins.  God chose Jesus like He chose Aaron.  It shows God’s keeps His promises to man.

11a)  They were responsible to bear the offenses against the sanctuary and the priesthood. Aaron is responsible for the care of the sanctuary and the altar.

b)  God gives the priests a portion of the sacrifices for their consumption including meat, olive oil, wine, and grain.  The priests also received the firstborn, which would usually be redeemed with money.  The Levites are to receive the tithes for their work but are to give a tenth of that to God, which goes to Aaron.

12)  Personal Question.  My answer:  That the Israelites were to use the ashes of a dead animal to cleanse themselves of touching a dead person.  That death cleansed death.  Like Jesus.

Conclusions:  The Hebrews passage is a long one.  Focus on Hebrews 7:11-8:6.  Questions 12 was a throw away in my opinion.  A waste.  Didn’t learn anything from it.  A question on the symbolism of Jesus here would be more edifying.

The lengths God goes to just for us is amazing.  He does all these miracles just to save us from ourselves.  Love is everywhere here and anyone who doubts God’s love for them should read Numbers 13-17.

End Notes:  Numbers 17: The staff is a symbol of an apostle’s Godly-authority over the people.  We see this since God gave Moses the staff of God (Exodus 4:17, 20).

The grumbling is an indication of the heart.  God here is giving them one more chance to show His sovereignty.  After this, judgment only.

God gives us more than enough as evinced by the blossoming of the staff.

Jesus is of the order of Melchizedek and thus is our high priest.  We studied this either in Acts or Matthew I can’t remember.

Note there are now three things in the Ark:  The Ten Commandment tablets, manna, and now Aaron’s staff.

The people are definitely afraid now and realize the severity of their sin.  But are their hearts changed?  We shall soon find out!

Numbers 18:  God grants Aaron authority and accountability.  They always go together.

Salt was considered pure and unchangeable.  A covenant of salt then was a covenant to last forever and never be amended.

Tithing is not mandated by the New Testament (and therefore the New Covenant).  However, we are to be a giving people and that looks different for all (2 Corinthians 9).  Deuteronomy 14:28-29 extends this and shows how once every 3 years, the tithes were shared with the poor.

The Levites had a job to do and were expected to do it in return for their pay–just as we are.

The Levites had to give a tenth of their tenth; they needed to be givers as well.

We have seen the amount the Levites gave was well over the tithe.  They gave offerings and freewill offerings and all the special offerings for festivals and any special projects like the building of the Tabernacle (Exodus 35:4-9).  The Israelites were a giving, generous people.  God commanded all of this so they would become giving and generous like He wants us to be–like Jesus.

Numbers 19:  A heifer is a female cow that has never been pregnant.  So we are looking for a pure cow of a red color with no defects–quite rare.

The difference between this sacrifice and others was that the cow’s blood was to be burnt up as well instead of being drained out.

Cedar wood, hyssop, and scarlet was used in Leviticus 14:4-6 to cleanse a leper.  These three items point to Jesus–some say Jesus’ cross was made of cedar.  Hyssop was offered to Jesus while he hung from the cross (Matthew 27:48), and scarlet represented Jesus’ blood.

Being unclean was not a sin; it just meant you couldn’t be with the community or with God.  Luckily for us, we are bathed by Jesus every day (John 13:5-11).

A dead body was the result of sin; hence, if you touched it, you were touching sin in essence and thus unclean.  The primary reason here was not the spread of disease because most people who die are found relatively soon afterwards.

Note the symbolism:  ashes of the heifer (Jesus) combined with living waters (Word of God & Holy Spirit).

BSF Study Questions The Life of Moses Lesson 21, Day 4: Numbers 16:23-50

Summary of passage:  As punishment for the rebellion against Moses (and God), God opened the earth and swallowed up Korah, Dathan, and Abiram and their families.  Fire consumed the 250 men.  Eleazar son of Aaron was ordered by God to take the censers the 250 men were holding and scatter the coals and hammer out the metal of the censers and lay it upon the altar.  This was to remind the Israelites that no one except Aaron’s descendants could burn incense before the Lord.

Still, the Israelites grumbled so God in His glory appeared at the Tent of Meeting.  He brought a plague upon the people which only stopped after Aaron offered incense and made atonement for the people.  14, 700 people died.


7a)  God opened the earth and swallowed up Korah, Dathan, Abiram, and their families. Fire consumed the 250 men.

b)  Moses had seen God’s anger and God’s desire to kill everyone.  He had prayed to God to just punish Korah only.  I would assume God had told Moses His judgment of Korah ahead of time.  Even if not, Moses had a pretty good idea God would punish him.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  A bit of extrapolation but ok.  Pray more.  Read His word more.  Be more like Jesus.  What I do everyday.

8a)  Eleazar son of Aaron was ordered by God to take the censers the 250 men were holding and scatter the coals and hammer out the metal of the censers and lay it upon the altar. This was to remind the Israelites that no one except Aaron’s descendants could burn incense before the Lord.

b)  “Grumbled against Moses and Aaron.”

c)  Atoned for their sins.  Encouraged Moses and Aaron in their leadership role.  Obeyed God.

9a)  Personal Question.  My answer:  I sometimes think God gets fed up with us, His creation, and can’t take it anymore.  God cares about how you treat Him and His people.  You will face judgment for it when you stand before Him.

b)  He made atonement for the people to end the plague against them.

c)  We are saved completely through Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins and we are forgiven and justified through him.  He is our intercessor as Aaron was here–only Jesus is permanent.  He stands between the living and the dead.

Conclusions:  I hadn’t realized the amount of grumbling in the Bible until this study. Unbelievable!  I think if I just witnessed God Himself opening up the earth and swallowing a family and then fire-balling 250 men, I’d have a healthy fear and appreciation of God and His servant, Moses.  The personal questions here are lackluster.

End Notes:  Our take away should be to stand away from divisive people as well and those who would cause unneeded trouble.  The Bible speaks to this is numerous places including Titus 3:10-11 and Romans 16:17-18.

The fact the families paid the price as well shows how sin affects not just you but those around you as well.

The coals were scattered because that was not holy as it was unauthorized; only the objects themselves were.

Moses’ heart once again shines through as he attempts to save the people from God’s wrath and judgment.

Incense is prayer (Revelation 8:3-4) and prayer does make a difference as we dramatically see here.  Aaron prayed; killing stopped.

Fun Fact:  The Hebrew Bible begins chapter 17 at Numbers 16:36.

BSF Study Questions The Life of Moses Lesson 21, Day 3: Numbers 16:1-22

Summary of passage:  Korah, Dathan, and Abiram led 250 well-known council members in a rebellion  against Moses.  Moses tells them in the morning God will choose who is holy.  Moses chastises the Levites for being greedy and wanting the priesthood as well as the honor of serving God in His tabernacle.  Moses is accused by Dathan and Abiriam of leading them to death instead of a land of milk and honey.  Moses asked the Lord not to accept their offering out of anger.

The next day all the men took incense and their censer before the Lord at the Tent of Meeting. The Lord appeared in all His glory.  God tells Moses to move away from the entire group so He can kill them.  Moses and Aaron though beg for the lives of the 250 and just put the ringleaders to death.


4a)  They accused Moses of putting himself above everyone else.  Dathan and Abiram accuse Moses of leading them to their deaths and not into a land of milk and honey.

b)  To promise them something greater–hear it sounds like the priesthood.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Ever hear of politicians?  All the time.  People promise you something to come over to their side.  Even amidst children.  Human nature.  One of the oldest (as we are reading) tricks in the book.

5a)  Korah:  Greed, desire for power, recognition

Dathan and Abiram:  desire for an easier life

Moses:  compassion, anger, forgiveness

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  This question has nothing to do with the passage.  Not sure.  I can’t speak for God.  And this passage is really not flattering to anyone.

6a)  God. Verse 11

b)  Moses fell facedown to God, he tells them they are rebelling against God, Moses tells God not to accept the offering of Dathan and Abiram, and Moses asks God only to punish the ringleaders and not everyone.  Moses knows God almost wiped them all off the face of the earth and he is trying to contain this rebellion before God decides to do it again.

Conclusions:  Unbelievable so close to God having almost killed the people and punished all of them by not allowing them to make it to the Promised Land.  Man never learns, does he?

I am struck over and over again with the greatness and compassion of Moses.  Never before have I realized just how instrumental he was in the Exodus and in rescuing God’s people from themselves.  I am awed by his love and his behavior and his courage especially in the face of God’s anger.  I’m not for sure I would have the courage to speak up to God to spare the people when God’s about to destroy everyone.  So many lessons we see from Moses:  standing up for others, loving others, compassion for others, understanding others, etc.  Every chapter I come to see just how special Moses truly was.

End Notes:  Korah was a great-grandson of Levi.  Both Moses and Korah were descended from Kohath but by different sons.  So they were distant cousins.  See Numbers 26:58-59.

Korah played to the people, claiming to represent their interests and needs, when in truth it was all about a power grab for himself.

It’s significant that Korah accused Moses of pride–a man the Bible called the most humble man on earth (Numbers 12:3–debatable about if Moses called himself this or not as the author of Numbers). It is therefore significant that Korah managed to get so many followers because these men should have known how preposterous the idea was and should have known Moses’ character.  Great example on how man is often deceived by smooth talkers.

Moses sets the example for all of us:  the first thing he did was pray.  Pray for guidance to God.

In this prayer (which we are not told how long it lasted), Moses presumably received direction from God in terms of what to do.  Moses wouldn’t issue a challenge to Korah and speak for God to show Himself and choose His leader if God hadn’t have told him to do so.

Korah was ungrateful and instead of seeking God to give him gratitude he chose to take Moses down.  His heart indeed was not God’s.

Unbelievable how Dathan and Abiram called Egypt “a land flowing with milk and honey.”  Yet how often have we done the same thing with the past–when something terrible has happened and we sugar coat it to something completely different.  It’s as if we never want to believe the worst.

Saying nothing is a sin as well when someone is falsely accused and you do nothing.  The 250 community leaders here hold blame as well.

Moses could easily have the rebels arrested and executed if he so desired.  Instead, he left it to God.  And Moses’ passion and anger against the rebels shows just how much he wanted to protect God’s people against those who would lead them astray.

The censer test with incense was what the priests used in worship.  God chose this to give the evil-doers what they wanted–to be a priest.  However, they were far from worshipping God here.

Moses and Aaron’s prayer perhaps saved these men.  We don’t know for sure, but the fact this is recorded emphasizes the power of prayer.  Another example for us to follow.  Certainly, both Moses and Aaron are becoming more and more like Jesus–one reason God allowed this rebellion to happen.

Fun Fact:  Korah means “baldness” in Hebrew.  Gives us a better picture of him, don’t it?

BSF Study Questions The Life of Moses Lesson 21, Day 2: Numbers 15

Summary of passage:  The Lord tells Moses more instructions for bringing offerings to Him when they enter the Promised Land.  Everyone must follow these rules including aliens for offerings. These are offerings by fire, special vows, freewill, or festival offerings.  And offerings from the first ground meal as well.

The Lord describes offerings for unintentional sin both for the community as a whole and for the individual.  They are to present a bull or goat to be sacrificed, the priest is to make atonement, and then they will be forgiven.  However, if the sin is intentional, then that person must be cut off from his people.

A man gathering wood on the Sabbath was stoned to death at the Lord’s directive for breaking his command to keep the Sabbath holy.

The Lord commands all people to wear blue tassels on their garments as a reminder to obey His commands.


3a)  God says He is giving them the Promised Land as a home and He is the one taking them there.  The offerings in this chapter are offerings for when they get to the Promised Land so that must mean they will get there.  God says when you eat of the food of the land–The Promised Land.  God never said “if”.  It’s “when”.  God keeps His promises.

b)  Gathering wood on the Sabbath.  So the people would know the consequences of breaking God’s commands.  We’re not sure the time-frame of this penalty but if it were so close to the rebellion of the people against God in Chapters 13-14, then God had to come down harshly to make His point to discourage any more rebellion by His people.  To instill a fear of God in the people.  Obviously, this man knew he was breaking the law and he did it anyways.  To God, this is not okay.  And this man paid the price.  All the Israelites needed to know who was in control and thumbing your nose at God is not a good idea.

c)  Positive:  So the people will remember all the commands of the Lord and that they may obey the commands and not prostitute themselves by going after the lusts of their hearts and eyes.  The tassels will show the people are consecrated to the Lord.

Negative:  They are marked as God’s people and therefore may be targets of discrimination and hatred by pagan peoples.  It could be annoying to always have a reminder about being good and make the people feel like children.  However, God knows what His people need, and they are His children.

d)  Personal Question.  My answer:  God wanted His people to have a visual reminder that they are His and are special to Him.  It reminds me that I am special as well and am marked with the Holy Spirit as my reminder.  God is with me to resist temptation and sin.

Conclusions:  I think this must have been close after Numbers 13-14 of the rebellion as we see God reassuring the people, giving them visual reminders to help them, and punishing a man very severely for something small to make a point.  God wants His people to obey and He is doing everything in His power to make them.  God cares so much, doesn’t He?

End Notes:  The people once more were almost eliminated by God.  He had just told them none of them would live to see the Promised Land.  The people needed God most here to comfort and reassure them that He is still with them, He still loves them, they can still be forgiven for their sins, and their children will see the Promised Land.  God is pulling them back to Him with grace and mercy and love.

The amount of the offerings gets progressively bigger as our growth with Him should.  As we know Him, we give more and more and sacrifice more and more and receive more and more from Him as a reward.

Sin is sin.  Period.  Unintentional sin still counts.  Many dismiss it today as good intentions.  Still, sin occurs and must be atoned for like any other sin.  Luckily, our God is great and forgives all sins.

Intentional sin was basically a sentence of death.  Wonder how many people today would be castigated out if this were still the case?

The color blue is associated with holiness.  The Ark, the curtains, and the priest’s garments were of blue cloth.

We wear similar reminders today:  cross necklaces and earrings, T-shirts, etc.  Just like in Jesus’ day with the Pharisees (Matthew 23:5), we must be careful not to wear it in a prideful manner and as an indication of superiority over others.

I like wearing these reminders as a marking of whom I belong to to others.  It can be a great conversation/evangelism jumping off point when people remark how much they like my necklace or earrings.  I often forget I am wearing them, but others remind me!

BSF Study Questions Matthew Lesson 21, Day 5: Matthew 21:1-17; Luke 19:28-44; John 12:12-19

Summary of passages:  Matthew 21:1-17:  On Jesus’ approach to Jerusalem, he sent two disciples to the village ahead of them to retrieve a donkey and her colt, which fulfilled Zechariah’s prophecy (Zechariah 9:9).  The disciples brought the donkey, which Jesus rode into Jerusalem.  The crowd spread cloaks and branches cut from trees on the road for him.  He caused quite the stir.

Jesus entered the temple area and drove out those selling there.  He overturned the money changers tables and benches of the dove sellers, accusing them of turning his temple into a den of robbers.  Jesus healed the blind and lame and children shouted his praise.  The chief priests and teachers of the law were unhappy with this.  Jesus stayed the night in Bethany.

Luke 19:28-44:  Jesus approached Jerusalem  and when he reached the Mount of Olives he sent two of his disciples ahead to bring him a colt.  The owners of the colt asked why they were taking it and the disciples replied because the Lord needs it.  Jesus sat on the colt and rode it into Jerusalem.  The whole crowd of disciples began praising God and some of the Pharisees in the crowd told Jesus to rebuke them.  Jesus refused.

Jesus wept over the crowd because they did not recognized Jesus for who he was.  Jesus predicts a day when their enemies will surround and kill them and tear down everything because of this.

John 12:12-19:  The crowd who had come for the Feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem.  They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting praises.  Jesus found a donkey and sat upon it, fulfilling Zechariah’s prophecy.  His disciples still did not understand and wouldn’t until after Jesus’ resurrection how he fulfilled prophecy.

The crowd that had witnessed Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead spread the word and so many came out to meet him, causing great distress amongst the Pharisees.


11a)  Jesus knew where the donkey and the colt were.  He told his disciples that if anyone asks, tell them that the Lord needs them and they will send the donkey, implying that they know who the Lord is.  Luke says that Jesus says the donkey has never been ridden, a fact he would only know if he had met the owner before.

b)  Matthew 21:8:  “A very large crowd”  Luke 19:37  “The whole crowd of disciples”  John 12:12:  “The great crowd that had come for the Feast”  Mark describes them simply as “many people” Mark 11:8

c)  Matthew 21:15-16 says the chief priests and the teachers of the law.  Luke and John say the Pharisees (Luke 19:39) & (John 12:19).  Mark says this does not mention this on Jesus’ entry but says how the next day the chief priests and the teachers of the law were looking for a way to kill him because of his teachings (Mark 11:18).

d)  Personal Question.  My answer:  The same words as the crowd:  “Hosanna to the Son of David!  Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!  Hosanna in the highest!”.  John calls him “The King of Israel.”

12)  Zechariah 9:9 says how Jesus the king will be riding on a donkey.  Daniel 9:24-27 gives the exact days of when the Anointed One will come in relation to the re-building of the temple and how the people will not recognize this.

Psalm 118:24: This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.  The day Jesus enters Jerusalem is “the day” here.

13a)  To be a house of prayer

b)  John 2:18-22:  As a symbol for the body, specifically Jesus’ body

1 Corinthians 6:19:  To describe the body and a dwelling for the Holy Spirit.  “Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit”

Ephesians 2:21–22:  The temple is again described as our body being built to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.  You (believers) are build and joined together on and by Christ which will rise to become a holy temple.  So here, the body of Christ (the Church).  Read verses 19-20 as well for a clearer picture.

c)  The Holy Spirit cleanses us when it indwells us.  It washes us and we are reborn and renewed.  We receive the Holy Spirit when we accept Jesus as our Savior and his death on the cross that took away our sins.  Therefore, his blood washes away our uncleanness.

Conclusions:  Why aren’t we reading Mark and comparing it here (Mark 11:1-19)?  All 4 gospels record Jesus’ triumphal entry.  I would think that’s kind of important to study, wouldn’t you?  So I did anyways (since this is my bible study as well) and threw in the verses where appropriate.  Mark has his triumphal entry separated into two days:  The first just entering and the second day where he enters the temple and is there confronted by the priests.

Map from yesterday that shows how close Bethany is to Jerusalem and Jesus’ descent into Jerusalem:

End Notes:  This is Jesus’ last week alive in human form on this earth.  Gone is all the secrecy as Jesus is ready to proclaim himself as King and fulfill prophecy doing it.  The entry is very public and Jesus knows he will garner attention and face his critics.  It is the Passover feast in Jerusalem which explains the crowds.

In the time of Abraham, donkeys were used by royalty for transportation.  The horse has only recently been introduced to Israel and thus royalty now rides on horses.  Now, only the poor ride on donkeys.  Jesus is coming in humility and peace.

The palm branches symbolized victory and success.  Hosanna means “Save!” and the crowd used it as a form of praise.  We praise God in loud voices because we need to praise God.  Use whatever you have.  It doesn’t have to be fancy.  It can be as simple as a palm branch.  Or, in response to Him, the people laid down their cloaks.  This was a much bigger sacrifice for in ancient times people usually only had one set of clothes.  So this was literally giving the clothes off of their back for Jesus.

Jesus cleanses the temple of all those defiling it and then heals the outcasts.  Note how the chief priests and the teachers of the law do not care that Jesus is praised by children and healing others nor about the greed and thievery in the temple.  All they care about is the threat to their power.  This is the one place Gentiles could come and worship and for the moneylenders and sellers and buyers to be there, they were preventing the Gentiles (all nations) coming to Jesus.

Jesus weeps as God weeps over our sins and our hard hearts for he knows what is to come for those who do not choose him.

It was common for pilgrims to stay outside the city during the Feast.  The inns were probably booked and the prices were probably higher.  Just like in modern times.  You stay in the suburbs to save money!

BSF Study Questions Matthew Lesson 21, Day 4: Matthew 20:17-34

Summary of passage:  Jesus tells the disciples as they are walking towards Jerusalem that he will be betrayed, handed over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law, mocked, flogged, die by crucifixion, and rise again in 3 days.  The mother of Zedebee’s sons (James and John) comes to Jesus to ask that her sons be elevated to sit by Jesus’ right and left in the kingdom.  Jesus told her she has no idea what she is asking even though she will drink from the cup.  Jesus says that those spots are for God to grant.

When the other disciples heard what the mother of James and John had asked Jesus, they were indignant.  Jesus called them together and said that they are not like the Gentiles whose lord reigns over them.  Instead, if you want to become great, you must serve and be like a slave just like the Son of Man came to serve and die for others.

Jesus grants two blind men sight as they are leaving Jericho.


8a)  “The Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and the teachers of the law.  They will condemn him to death and will turn him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified.  On the third day he will be raised to life!”

b)  They are still picturing Jesus’ kingdom as earthly and that he will sit on a throne where one of them will sit on his right and his left.  So James and John (or their mother) decide to beat the others to this position of status and ask for it.  The fact that the two asked for it shows they have no idea.  The fact that the others were angry and argued over it shows they didn’t understand.  And Luke tells us that the disciples did not understand because the meaning was hidden from them.

They didn’t understand Jesus’ came to save us from our sins for a heavenly kingdom.

c)  Jesus said he came to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many, showing his greatness.

9a)  The cup symbolizes God’s wrath and when it is poured out is God’s judgment on man.  Keep reading in Isaiah and it says that the Lord will take the cup out of man’s hand and man shall never drink of it again.  Instead it will be put into the hands of man’s tormentors (Isaiah 51:22-23).  Psalm says God’s judges and He pours out His judgement on the earth and the wicked drink it (or receive) His judgement.

b)  He drunk it to save man from God’s judgment, to take upon himself the sins that God would judge.  To serve as a ransom for us.  To die for our sins so that we might live in righteousness and be healed.

c)  First, they both suffered (as all Christians do for their faith).  James was martyred by King Herod and John was banished to the island of Patmos (a hard-labor penal colony) because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.  Second, when they died, they rose to heaven to share in God’s righteousness.

d)  God’s cup, the cup of Jesus, the cup that contains Jesus’ blood that forgives us for our sins

10)  Personal Question.  My answer:  First, the man’s acknowledgement of Jesus as king.  Second, the fact the man would not be quiet nor rebuked.  He pursued Jesus with even more passion.  Third, the man asked for exactly what he wanted.  Fourth, that the man’s faith healed him.  Fifth, they followed him.

Me:  I will acknowledge Jesus as Lord in my life.  I will not be quiet about it nor be rebuked.  I will pursue him with even more passion.  I will ask for exactly what I want in my life to happen.  I will have the faith that Jesus will grant my petitions.  I will follow him along the road he leads me on.

Conclusions:  The story of the blind men being healed brings together beautifully all that we have been learning in Matthew.  How we must acknowledge Jesus as Lord in our lives.  How we are not to be rebuked because of our faith.  How we must continue to pursue Jesus with all of our hearts.  How we need to ask Jesus for what we want and believe he will do it.  How we must follow him.  Always.  Great, great little lesson packed in 6 verses!

I find it interesting how the mother came in Matthew’s version to ask for her sons.  How often do we do this for our kids?  One daughter of mine doesn’t like asking adults for things and since she is young, I do it.  Eventually, she must learn to ask for herself what she herself desires.  Here, we have a mother asking for her two grown sons.  Once a mother, always a mother!  Always wanting what’s best for her kids!

This is probably the most glaring example of how the disciples still don’t get it as they jockey for earthly positions.  I find it interesting though why God would hide this knowledge from them.  It’s hard to fault the disciples when the knowledge has not been revealed to them.  Yes, they should have figured it out by now but they have no help it seems from God and definitely no Holy Spirit yet to guide them.

God has His reasons and I’m hoping to get a better glimpse as we get closer and closer to Jesus’ death in Matthew.

I loved the God’s cup study.  I know we discussed this in the study of Isaiah but it has been a few years!  Another great example of my mantra “to keep reading” because the cup is more fully explained in Isaiah than BSF had us read.

End Notes:  Matthew 27:55-56 tells us that the mother of James and John had been following him from Galilee to care for his needs.  Hence, she would have intimate knowledge of Jesus and the disciples and her sons desires.

Note the mother asks but who does Jesus respond to?  “them”  This shows us that James and John are standing beside their mother as she is asking.  She is their voice.  We must remember that Jesus just told them  that the disciples will sit on 12 thrones, judging, during the Second Coming (Matthew 19:28).  So they are probably wanting to sit the closest to him on these thrones.

James was the first martyr and the first to die of the disciples.  John lived the longest and was the only disciple to not be martyred and had to be prepared to receive God’s word that became must of the New Testament.

Mark gives us the phrase “be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with”, which shows us exactly the suffering they would endure.

Jesus said outright how they (disciples) should be different than the Gentiles.  Today, we can say how believers should be different from unbelievers in the same sense.  We are held to a higher standard and Jesus here expected more from his disciples than petty jealously and concern over rank.

Ransom here commonly referred to in ancient times the price paid to free a slave.  Here, Jesus refers to the price he paid as he frees us from the bondage of our sins.

Scholars connect the “many” here with the “many” in Isaiah 53:11 & 12.

Map of Jesus’ Journey to Jerusalem showing Jericho:

Map showing all of First-Century Israel:

Final Note:  I love how Jesus knows; yet asks us anyways, “What do you want me to do for you?”  We need to be just as clear about our needs and wants as Jesus is.  He stops to hear us and listen.

“You do not have, because you do not ask God.”  James 4:2

Jesus is passing us by.  Will we sit and be quiet and say nothing or will we shout out to him, get his attention, and ask for our most pressing needs?

BSF Study Questions Matthew Lesson 21, Day 3: Matthew 20:1-16

Summary of passage:  Jesus gives a parable to illustrate the kingdom of heaven and his principle he had just stated in the previous verse of the last being first.  He tells the story of a landowner who hired workers for his fields.  He hired workers all throughout the day, promising them one denarius for their labor for that day.

At the end of the day, the landowner hands out the wages.  He pays all the men the same, whether they worked all day or only one hour of the day.  Those who had worked all day began to grumble against the landowner for they felt they had borne the majority of the work.  But the landowner says they all agreed to work for one denarius and since it is his money, he can do with it as he pleases.  Due to his generosity, the last is first.


7a)  This parable is an illustration of how in God’s kingdom the last will be first and the first will be last for the landowner paid the last ones hired first and he paid them the same amount for less work.  It also shows the reward (denarius) and how God’s rewards are not like man’s rewards.

b)  It shows God’s grace, which is a gift from God and we don’t have to earn it.  It shows how the person who comes to God at the end of life enjoys the same benefits as life-long followers of Jesus and being jealous of that can only rob us of the joy God has given us throughout our entire lives.  God is in control and ultimately decides who gets what and we are not to question His judgement nor to worry about others.

Some scholars also say this illustrates the dawning of the Gospel, how it all started with John the Baptist, Jesus, Pentecost, Jews, and then the Gentiles.

c)  The older brother and the men who worked all day have the same attitude:  they deserve more because they worked harder and obeyed and did what was right in the eyes of the Lord and those who disobeyed and barely worked are receiving the same.  They both fail to grasp God’s grace:  His promises are for all and His rewards are for all.

d)  Personal Question.  My answer:  We and they don’t deserve anything but hell.  It’s well to keep that in mind when we all have a tendency to become jealous of others or think we are better than others because of what we have done.  God’s grace alone is what saves us.

e)  Personal Question.  My answer:  No matter how evil people are or how twisted their earthly life may have been God will forgive and welcome them if only they believe.  We here on Earth want justice and consequences  and ours is not God’s.  We would say they don’t deserve heaven.  God says they do.  Our ways are not His ways.  God’s grace is amazing in that way.  We don’t deserve Him yet for some reason, He wants us and gives us a way to be with Him.  And for that we should all be grateful.

Conclusions:  I love this story!  I wanted to spend all of Lesson 21 on it!  It is such a clear picture of how God’s ways are not our own, of God’s fairness and justice, and of God’s grace that it is humbling for us who do God’s will to remember God is for everyone no matter their sins against us.  And when judgment arises, we need to remember God judges and we are to love.  Period.

End Notes:  The marketplace was where day-laborers gathered with all their tools, hoping to be hired.  Early in the morning was probably dawn.  A denarius was the going rate at that time for a day’s pay.

The landowner went every 3 hours to the marketplace.  So assuming dawn was 6 am, the third hour would be 9 am, the sixth hour would be noon, and the eleventh hour would have been about 5 pm.

Note the landowners surprise to find workers.  During harvest time, it was a race against time to get the crops in and yet some are still standing idle.

Spurgeon applies this to all of us:  why should any of us be standing around idle when we have God’s work to do?  He has hired us to do a job and we need to be doing it!

The early workers expected more after seeing the late workers get paid a denarius.  How many times do we expect more (especially from others) and our hopes are dashed, leaving us feeling offended, slighted, wounded, and hurt feelings?

The phrase “evil eye” in some editions and not in the NIV which is translated as envious means the same thing. “Evil eye” was used by the ancient Jews to denote a jealous person.  I just found this fascinating.  The expression also means in many cultures that a look can bring misfortune upon someone.  It is a belief held by most cultures as far back as Classical antiquity (recorded times) so presumably further than that.

Fascinating history of the “evil eye” HERE

I’ve always heard this as “to give someone the evil eye”, which means to look at someone in a mean or angry way.  Fascinating how expressions and meanings change over time (and not change over time)!

God reserves the right to be more than fair and more generous to others.  He is always fair but to some He blesses more.  That is His divine right as God.  We are to look at this as a blessing to us as well for we are all one body, doing His work.

Everything is under God’s grace.  It is through His grace that we:  are alive.  Are given His calling. Are given the ability to do His calling.  Are given the opportunity to do His will.  Are given success at doing His will.  Are forgiven, made righteous, and receive eternal life.  All God’s grace. Everything.