BSF Study Questions Matthew Lesson 25, Day 2: Matthew 25:1-13

Summary of passage:  In the parable of the Ten Virgins, Jesus tells the story of 10 young virgin women who grabbed lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.  Five were prepared by bringing extra oil and five weren’t.  The five who didn’t bring extra oil went back to town to buy more and while they were gone, the bridegroom arrived.  They went into the wedding banquet with him.  The late-comers, the 5 who went back to town, were not allowed in because the door had already been barred shut.

Questions:

3a)  They were all virgins.  They all had lamps they took out to meet the bridegroom.  They all waited for the bridegroom and all fell asleep doing so.  All woke up at the same time and trimmed their lamps.

b)  The wise virgins are believers who have accepted Jesus into their hearts.  The foolish ones are generally all non-believers but specifically those who have heard of Jesus but haven’t committed to him.

4a)  Matthew 7:13-14:  We must walk down the narrow, small road and enter the gate that leads to life that only a few find.

Matthew 7:24-27:  We must put into practice Jesus’ words because then we will be like a house with a firm foundation that no storm can topple.

Matthew 24:4-5, 42, 44:  Watch out for Christ for no one knows when he will come.  Watch out for those pretending to be Christ.

John 1:12:  Believe in Christ and you will become a child of God, born of God.

1 Thessalonians 5:4-8:  Be alert and self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate and the hope of salvation as a helmet so we can receive salvation through Jesus and live together with him.  Encourage one another and build each other up.

1 Thessalonians 5:23-24:  Christ will allow us to be blameless at his coming and will give us peace and sanctification.

[I liked 1 Thessalonians 5:16-22 better:  Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, test everything, hold on to the good, avoid evil, heed prophecy, have a fire within your Spirit.  Great stuff!]

b)  John 3:5-8:  You must have the Holy Spirit (accept Jesus) within to enter the kingdom of God.  When you accept Jesus, you are born again with the Spirit.

Romans 8:9:  If you have the Spirit, you belong to Christ and are controlled by the Spirit and not controlled by a sinful nature.

Ephesians 1:13-14:  Once you accept Jesus, you are marked with a seal of the Holy Spirit which guarantees our inheritance in God’s kingdom as His possession until we are redeemed at the Second Coming.

5)  Personal Question.  My answer:  These passages tell us that Jesus knows us and he calls us.  We are alive by the Holy Spirit and His children.  I am assured that with Jesus I will be at the wedding banquet on time!

Conclusions:  Very straight-forward parable about being prepared for Jesus.  Accept him now or you may not be at the wedding banquet.  Lots of verses today (and tomorrow) to look up so allow extra time to answer these.

Map of Mount of Olives:  http://bibleatlas.org/full/mount_of_olives.htm  As you can see, it’s in between Bethany where Jesus is staying and Jerusalem where Jesus is headed each day.

End Notes:  This chapter is a continuation of the Olivet Discourse.  Jesus is still speaking to his disciples on the Mount of Olives.  He is continuing the theme from Matthew 24 to be ready for his return.  He uses an example that every Jew would have understood 2000 years ago (which we don’t necessarily get).

It was Jewish tradition that after the betrothal, the marriage would take place and the groom would come for his bride at an unexpected time.  The brides’ maids who were usually about 10 in number would go out and meet him with lamps and bring him to his bride.

Breaking tradition, Jesus’ analogy has him as the bridegroom.  In the Old Testament, God had always been described as the bridegroom (Isaiah 54:4-5; 62:5; Jeremiah 2:2; Hosea 1-3, and many more).

Even though the brides’ maids slept, they were prepared.  And when the call went out in the middle of the night (an unexpected time), they answered.

If oil does indeed represent the Holy Spirit, then the truth is that without the Holy Spirit, you are not ready for Jesus.

We should be constantly re-filling ourselves with the Holy Spirit else we enter a period of lackadaisical living–unmotivated, purposeless, passionless, laziness, and unproductive overall.  This is my prayer today:  to fill me up more so I may overcome this period in my life.

The penalty is too severe if we are not prepared–eternal life without Jesus in Hell.  Are you willing to pay it?

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BSF Study Questions Genesis Lesson 25, Day 2: Genesis 34:1-12

Summary of passage:  Dinah was visiting her friends in town when Shechem, the son of Hamor, saw her and raped her.  He loved her and spoke tenderly to her and asked his father to get her for his wife.

So Shechem’s father came to discuss the situation with Jacob and Jacob and his sons were distressed over what happened.  Hamor asked for Dinah to marry his son along with suggesting they all intermarry and settle amongst them.  Hamor said he’d pay whatever bride price was asked.

Questions:

3)  No.  First, it seems against God’s plan of having him settle in Bethel (Genesis 31:13). He is committing the same sin as Lot–settling near a pagan city with his young kids who are open to influence.

4a)  Yes.  She should have been forbidden to visit the women of the land alone and unprotected.  We must remember this is ancient times where women had no rights and were often treated as animals.   A woman alone could be taken by any man with no consequences.

b)  Lists God’s will of having His people separate from the world and to touch no unclean thing or be yoked to ungodly spouses.  Jacob should have made an effort to stay separate from the pagan Canaanites but he didn’t.

c)  No.  No apology.  Nothing.  But in that culture, Shechem committed no crime.

d)  They seem to treat their women with more respect and they have influence in their lives.  Jacob calls Rachel and Leah to him and asks them BEFORE he flees from Laban and takes away their father’s livestock (Genesis 31).  Abraham drives out Hagar and Ishmael because of Sarah’s wishes, not his own (Genesis 21:10; 16:6).  Rebekah schemed to have Jacob receive the blessing (Genesis 27), which was God’s desires.  God revealed to Rebekah (Genesis 25:23) His will, and not Jacob.

5)  Verses 9-10 is the devil at work.  Hamor is tempting them to intermarry with the Canaanites and adopt their ways and culture and their gods.  Although a ruse for their violent plans, Jacob’s sons suggested they become “one people” (verse 16), something which must have saddened God’s heart greatly.

Conclusions:  This passage, as sad as it is, speaks volumes of ancient culture.  It shows how women were merely objects to be possessed with no rights and how men could slaughter an entire village and get away with it with no repercussions whatsoever. Lawlessness, sinfulness, deceit–all in need of God and an order to life.

Even the whole idea of a bride price where women were bought and sold based on whims (and more likely a desire for power and alliances or what-have-you) which lasted up until modern history (and still happens in some cultures today) is very disheartening and sad.

I know that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob showed a higher respect for women but it was no where near today’s levels or what it should have been.  Just look at Leah and Rachel–a fight that destroyed the family all based on the pressure to bear sons (which was the primary goal of women).  Very sad.

It’s very hard for us to understand what it must have been like 4000 years ago for Dinah or Rachel or Leah or any woman.

It reminds me to be grateful I do live in today’s society where I am able to type these words for all to read.  Where my daughters can do whatever they dream of (as well as me). Where I have the freedom to marry whom I choose and not have kids if I choose. Where I can walk around without fear of what may happen to me.  Where if I am violated, the perpetrator will be punished lawfully.

Where I am a person, made in God’s image, and just as precious as any man.  And not just in God’s eyes.  But in society’s eyes as well.

BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 25, Day 2: Ephesians 6:10-13

Summary of passage:  Paul concludes with a powerful message:  be strong in the Lord and His power.  Put on the full armor of God so we can withstand the devil’s schemes (which are endless).  Our struggle is a spiritual one, not one made of flesh and blood, but against the rulers, authorities, and powers of the dark world and the evil spiritual forces.

When the day of evil comes we must be armored and ready so that we are the still standing after the assault.

Questions:

3a)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Be strong in your faith and trust in the Lord.  Believe in His mighty power.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Pray all the time.  Pray when you think to pray. Make it a habit.  Read God’s word.  Commit it to memory to use as a weapon against our enemy (ies).  It all comes back to faith.  Believe God has power in your life.  Trust in Him. And give Him control.  He will do the rest.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  With my husband’s job.  I’m just giving it to God.  I tried to take control but nothing is happening so God can deal with it.

4)  Genesis 3:1-5:  The serpent made Eve doubt God.  He made her question her faith and trust in Him by questioning God’s word.

2 Samuel 11:1-4:  The devil used a beautiful woman to make David fall.  Lust.  To which David could not refuse.

Daniel 4:28-30, 37:  The devil used pride in accomplishments to fall Nebuchadnezzar.  God made him crazy, humbling him, so in the end Nebuchadnezzar realized God’s power and the fallacy of pride.

Matthew 4:1-11:  The devil tempted Jesus by questioning his identity (Son of God) and even using God’s words and by offering him all the riches of the world.  Jesus used God’s word to vanquish him.

5)  God is greater than the devil.  After all it was God who threw the devil out of heaven and exiled him to Hell.  The devil’s sole purpose in life is to win souls to his side.  He wants to see all of us fall just like he did.  The devil will never cease in this quest to destroy us.  Everyone is subject to his temptations (even Jesus) and we must be ready to defend ourselves if we are to win.  The devil knows our weaknesses and will use everything he has to bring us down.  It’s up to us to use everything we have to remain standing (verse 13).

Conclusions:  I liked looking at all the famous temptations in the Bible.  As I become more comfortable with the Bible I begin to learn more each and every time I revisit these passages.  Lesson of passage is simply be strong in the Lord or the devil will get you.

BSF Study Questions Isaiah Lesson 25, Day 2 Isaiah 54

Summary of passage:  Sing, O barren woman (those who have never borne a child) because there are more children of desolate woman than otherwise  (you are not alone in your shame).  Enlarge your tent for you will spread out (God will prosper you) and your descendants will dispossess nations and settle desolate cities.

Do not be afraid nor fear disgrace for you will not suffer nor be humiliated.  You will forget the shame of your youth (exile) and remember no more the reproach of widowhood (shameful back then).  The Maker is your husband, the Lord Almighty, Holy One, Redeemer.  He will be there when you are rejected, deserted, or distressed in spirit.

God says in anger I hid my face from you but with everlasting kindness I will have compassion on you.  I have sworn not to be angry with you nor rebuke you again.  His unfailing love for us will not be shaken nor will his covenant of peace be removed.

The Lord will build you (Israel) with precious stones and strength your walls and battlements.  He will teach all of our sons and they will have peace.  He will establish us in righteousness and remove terror and tyranny.  Those who attack you will surrender to you.

I created you and the destroyer.  Therefore, no weapon will prevail nor any tongue will accuse you.  This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord.

Questions:

3)  A barren woman (one who has never borne a child) who can now sing because now there are more children of desolate woman than of married woman (those who are unfortunate and shamed from the exile), a deserted wife or a young married one who has been rejected (God will rescue Israel from shame as widowhood brought back then and be as a husband–a greater husband than an earthly husband can be), and an afflicted city lashed by storms and not comforted (to those who feel beaten, afflicted, and uncomforted God promises riches and strength).

4)  54:1-3:  Israel will be released from the shame, embarrassment, and humiliation of captivity and exile (like a barren woman felt in Isaiah’s time) because there are more desolate children than happy children.  God will prosper Israel–they will have to enlarge their tents and spread out–both in number of descendants and in prosperity.  The descendants will dispossess nations and settle in desolate cities.

54:4-10:  Do not be afraid nor fear disgrace; Israel will not suffer shame or humiliation like a widow felt. For God is Israel’s husband, the Holy One, the Redeemer and He will call Israel back to their lands and be all things to His people.  The people felt abandoned and angry but God will bring them back with kindness and compassion.  God swears not to be angry with them or rebuke them again.  His unfailing love for Israel will not be shaken nor his covenant of peace be removed.

54:11-17:  God will build His people with riches (those who feel afflicted, lashed, and uncomforted).  All Israel’s sons will be taught by the Lord and will have peace.  Israel will be established in righteousness, tyranny will be far away, terror be removed, and fear vanquished.  Those who attack you will surrender to you.  No weapon forged against the Lord’s servants nor any tongue that accuses them shall prevail as God made both man and the destroyer.  Nothing will defeat His people.

Revelation 21:10, 18-21:  In the New Jerusalem the city will be built of pure gold and precious stones.  It will be made new and be indestructible to the Devil.

5a)  God will never be angry nor rebuke Israel again.  He will never remove his unfailing love nor his covenant of peace.  He will remove the people’s shame, embarrassment and humiliation and replace it with strength and riches.  He is our husband, the Holy One, the Redeemer.  God is all things to us and for us.  He will establish us in righteousness.  No weapon nor tongue forged will come against His people.  He will defeat all enemies (including the Devil) since He created all things.  He showers us with compassion, prosperity, and everlasting kindness.  God is faithful to His promises and to His people.  This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord.

What does God not reveal in this passage?  Does it get any better than His words here?

b) I see a change in attitude from the previous chapters of Isaiah where God was so angry at His people He sent them into exile.  But given the fact He plans to reconcile all of His people (this is looking at it from God’s point of view before He sent Jesus), how can He remain mad at His people?  It’s like a parent when after their kid accidentally burned the house down (extreme example of misbehavior), the parent forgives and his or her love does not vanish for the child.

In Isaiah 52:13-53:12, God is describing His servant whom He sent to save man from his sins.  This is the greatest act God has and ever will done for man (by sacrificing His son for our sins so we can be with God).  This is the greatest act of love for all of mankind.  In Isaiah 54, God is outpouring His love and compassion on His people, promising to be as a husband to them, to prosper them, and to vanquish those who come against His people.

So, considering how God was so angry for disobedience He exiled His people to Him revealing His biggest act of love yet (Jesus’s death for His people) only shows to me how much God loved Israel at the time and now and how He can’t stay angry at them long (just like I can’t with my kids and their puppy-dog eyes).

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  God’s promise to never be angry nor rebuke His people again gives me great hope, especially when I fail as a human in the course of my life.  That no matter what I do God is there and He loves me even if I sin over and over again.  God will protect me against all things (human and the Devil) and no tongue nor weapon will prevail.  God will be my husband.  As a woman, this one is profound for me.  I usually think of God as a father, not as a husband, which is completely different.  I loved this.  God will be with me as one as my husband is.  Profound and requires deeper pondering.

Conclusions:  Does BSF get any better than this?  Powerful lesson.  Great words from God through Isaiah.

Many times in my earthly marriage (past and occasionally in the present) I do feel distressed in spirit.  Now, I have comfort that God can fill those voids that my husband can’t.  I can see God in a new way that I just didn’t before.

I initially misunderstood question 5b.  The question is not as clear as it should be.  I think BSF is asking this, “Considering God’s reconciliation through His son Jesus (Isaiah 52:13-53:12), why would God have such a drastic change in attitude toward His people in light of the previous chapters where God warned and warned His people and in the end had to resort to punishment and judgment? This is how I’m interpreting the question.

But the underlying message is the same regardless:  God loves us so much He sent His son and promises to protect us always.  God punished his people and exiled them out of His incredible love.  He sent His son our of the same love.

After all the gloom and doom of the many months we endured of Isaiah telling us how horrible we all are, this passage was a breath of fresh air.  Despite all the bad man does and will do, God still loves us.  Always has.  Always will.  Even if we don’t feel that love or we think He had hidden his face from us.

I am grateful for Enduring Word for explaining this passage so I can understand it:

http://www.enduringword.com/commentaries/2354.htm