BSF Study Questions Matthew Lesson 26, Day 5: Matthew 26:36-46; Mark 14:32-42; Luke 22:39-46

Summary of passages:  Matthew 26:36-46:  Jesus and his disciples travel to Gethsemane where Jesus goes to pray, taking Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him.  He asks them to keep watch with him as Jesus is overcome with sorrow.  Jesus asks God to take his cup from him but only if it is God’s will.

Jesus returns after praying to find his disciples asleep.  He tells them to watch and pray and if they would do that, the spirit would give them the strength to stay awake.  Jesus goes away and prays a second time, the same prayer.  He came back to sleeping disciples again.  Jesus leaves them and goes away to pray the same prayer a third time.  He comes back and chastises the disciples, telling them he is about to be betrayed and they are sleeping!

Mark 14:32-42:  Jesus took his disciples to Gethsemane and told them to wait while he prayed.  Jesus took Peter, James, and John with him to keep watch over him as his soul was overwhelmed with sorrow.  Jesus prayed to God, saying take the cup from him as everything is possible for God but only if it be God’s will.  Jesus returns and specifically chastises Simon for falling asleep, saying the body is weak but the spirit is strong.

The same as Matthew here:  Jesus asks God twice more to take away his cup and his disciples are found sleeping while Jesus is turned over to sinners.

Luke 22:39-46:  Jesus went to the Mount of Olives with the disciples following him.  He told them to pray that they would not fall into temptation.  He withdrew a stone’s throw from them and prayed for God to take the cup from him if He was willing.  An angel from heaven appeared to strengthen Jesus.  Jesus prayed more fervently and his sweat was like blood falling to the ground.

Jesus rose and went back to his disciples and found them sleeping.  Jesus told them again to get up and pray so they wouldn’t fall into temptation.

Questions:

11a)  Gave up his earthly life.  He was beaten.  He gave up his will (to live) for God’s will (to die).

b)  He is angry and chastises them.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  He is sorrowful that is giving up his earthly life.  He asks to stay longer if it be God’s will.  He is sorrowful, troubled, and sad about giving up his life for others.  He knows the physical pain that is coming and he doesn’t want to experience that.  He feels just like us and needs God and God’s strength just like us.

12)  Mark tells us Jesus includes in his prayer to God that “everything is possible for him”.  Mark tells us Jesus specifically yells at Peter about falling asleep.

Luke is the passage that deviates the most from the other two.  Luke says that Jesus told all the disciples to pray that they would not fall into temptation and that presumably all of them fell asleep.  Jesus was only a stone’s throw from them while praying.  An angel from heaven appeared to Jesus as he was praying to strengthen him.  Sweat fell from Jesus like drops of blood to the ground.

13a)  Jesus prays the same thing 3 times “Father, if it be possible, may this cup be taken from me.  Yet not as I will, but as you will.”  Luke says God sent an angel to strengthen Jesus.

b)  Lord, thank you for strengthening Jesus in his time of need that allowed him to sacrifice his life for our sins so that we may be with you.  May we all embrace your will as Jesus did.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Conclusions:  I find it fascinating how one passage usually always differs from the others.  How God wanted different facts recorded it seems.  It shows how each of us remembers things a bit differently and some things about experiences stand out to us while different things stand out to others.

End Notes:  The name Gethsemane means “olive press” so the area was surrounded by olive trees.  Olives are crushed to make olive oil.  Fitting then how Jesus was soon to be crushed.

Note the cup of wrath or judgment that we discussed in Matthew 20 (Lesson 21 Day 4).  Jesus is taking the cup that was meant for all of us.

Gethsemane was the last place Jesus needed to win in order to take our sins.  Imagine if Jesus had turned his back on us here.  The whole world would not be the same.

Jesus needed the disciples prayers here for him and for themselves in order to not deny him.  They failed miserably if you will.

Note the example Jesus sets here with repeated prayer.  If Jesus can repeatedly ask God for things, so can we.

Jesus knew Judas was coming, but he did not run.  Instead, he waited for him.  Jesus was the one in control of events.  As he continues to be today.

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BSF Study Questions Genesis Lesson 26, Day 5: Genesis 38

Summary of passage:  After Joseph was sold to the Midianites, Judah left his family and went to Adullam.  He married a Canaanite woman names Shua and had 3 sons with her–the last of which was born in Kezib.  When Judah’s first-born son grew up (Er), he married a woman named Tamar.  But Er was so wicked that the Lord put him to death.

Onan, the second-born of Judah, now was ordered to sleep with Tamar since it was law back then to produce heirs for the line.  Onan refused and the Lord killed him too.

Tamar went to live in her father’s house until the third son, Shelah, was grown.  However, Tamar was not given to Shelah when he had come of age so Tamar dresses up as a prostitute in order to trick Judah into sleeping with her.  He does indeed sleep with her and she conceives twin boys.  She keeps his seal, cord, and staff in order to prove he is the father to avoid being accused of prostitution and put to death.  Judah admits he was wrong in not giving her Shelah so spares her life.

Their names are Perez and Zerah.

Questions:

12)  We see in Genesis 34:1 that Dinah apparently was a girl of the town who “visited the women of the land” frequently.  We see the horrendous retribution by Simeon and Levi wiping the town of Shechem from the map.  Joseph was sold to slavery by all the brothers in Genesis 37.  And now Judah marries a Canaanite.

13)  The whole family might have become pagans once again and the line to Jesus would have been tainted forever.  Belief in the One, True God could have vanished all together and God would have had to start all over again.  Remember, those who believed in God at this time were all from Abraham’s family.  And not that many generations have passed since then.  Perhaps hundreds?  Maybe a thousand people believed in God.

It’s not hard to imagine how these people could be swallowed up by the corruption and unbelief around them.

14)  No.  Judah.  Judah shouldn’t have married a Canaanite.  Period.  When God kills two of your three sons that should have been a hint that you made a mistake.  However, like Rachel, Tamar resorted to trickery to get what should have been rightfully hers.  This is not good in God’s eyes.  But I can’t help but wonder in ancient times how women had little other means to do anything.  Not that their behavior is justified.  But it is understandable considering women were mere property back then.

Furthermore, Judah wasn’t following the law either by refusing to give Tamar to Shelah. Judah held all the power in his hands to do what was right and he refused.

15a)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Perhaps she came to believe in the Lord and back then there wasn’t a lot of believers in the One, True God to choose from as husbands.

However, this question may be misguided and makes a lot of assumptions.  How do we know she had her own friends and opportunities for marriage?  Tamar was now a widow and she had no land or anything to go with that status.  She had also married outside of her culture.  Normally, this causes a rift between her and her “friends” and family so she may have been labeled as an outcast.

Furthermore, as a widow, it was Judah, NOT her father, who now decided whom she should marry.  Only he could give her in marriage and provide a dowery.  And from what Tamar was seeing, it appeared Judah’s intentions were to leave her with her father for the rest of her life.

Well, an unmarried woman and childless in that culture was an outcast period.  She’d have no son to provide for her and would have no purpose outside of the marriage realm. She was facing a bleak future and hence took matters into her own hands.  Can anyone blame her?

In conclusion, I don’t think she had any other opportunities to marry.  I think this question is wrong in asserting that.  I think she had no friends either.  Her former friends were probably all married now with a family of their own.  And as a mother we all know once you have kids it is difficult to maintain friendships with your single friends who have no kids simply because you have nothing in common any more with them.  I think this is more likely the case.

Like I said, there weren’t a lot of other believers out there to marry at this time.  I believe she was stuck between a rock and a hard place and didn’t like either one.

It was obvious the Lord was with her.  If she was a believer, she could have been praying for a solution to her problem.  She probably acted before He answered.  But He never abandoned her and He blessed her in a way only we know (by being in Christ’s line). Amazing!

b)  Ruth, who was a Gentile as well, accepted the Lord as her God after her marriage to Ruth’s son. She would not turn back to her people who were unbelievers and who worshipped other gods.  Rahab has heard of God’s power and abilities and although it doesn’t say if she was a believer when at this time when she protected the two spies, she reveres God enough to get on his side and not the side of her people.

Tamar seems to be the same way.  She probably was converted when she was married to Er and would not turn her back on God no matter what happened to her.

16)  Judah sent Tamar back to her father to live because he thought “he may die too like his brothers” (verse 11) and then refused to give her Shelah, probably out of fear he would be stricken by the Lord as well (verse 14).    Verse 26 is where Judah mentions she is more righteous than him for her actions.

17)  Personal Question.  My answer:  First because her story takes up a whole chapter in Genesis.  And her actions were righteous and because of them we have Jesus.  Her story is an example of following the law.  If it hadn’t of been for Tamar’s actions, there would have been no Jesus.  She was responsible for conceiving, not Judah.  Hence, I believe she is mentioned in recognition of that fact.

Conclusions:  We look at some powerful women in this lesson that clung to God despite all the hardships involved.  For supposedly a “weak” lot, women play a powerful role in God’s world even when in man’s she is nothing.

Onan was more than happy to have sex with Tamar but didn’t want her to have a child that would not be considered his.  He was shirking the law and for that he is judged.

We must remember God caused Tamar to conceive.  It was His will that she carry the line even if she used deception.  Just like Rebekah and Jacob.  God is in control despite all man’s doings.

Both Tamar and Judah are shining examples of God’s grace.  Neither was worthy to be the heir of Jesus but they were both chosen by God to be so.  Despite our sins, God loves us anyways and uses us in powerful ways.

End Note:  I had never drawn the conclusion that Jacob and his family were meant to get out of Canaan for a bit in order to escape the pagans around them.  I had always assumed that they only went to Egypt for food.  Now I see God’s wisdom and purposes in a new light.

It is just absolutely amazing how God has everything planned and how we may only see one purpose (like the need for food); whereas, God has infinitely more (like getting them out of Canaan to protect them).  Good to remember in my life as well.

Map of Timnah, Bethel, and Adullum:  http://bibleatlas.org/full/timnah.htm

Adullum is beneath Timnah to the right a bit.  Bethel is in the upper-right hand corner in the brown.  So Judah left Bethel where his family had been staying, went to Adullum and got married, then went up to Timnah to shear his sheep.  The place where Tamar waited for Judah, Enaim, is right outside of Timnah on maps I found.

BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 26, Day 5: James 2:14-26

Summary of passage:  James asks what good is it to have faith without deeds? Faith by itself without action is dead. You show your faith by what you do.  As shown by deeds, Abraham offered his son Isaac on the altar which showed his faith complete by deeds.  A person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone.

Rahab was considered righteous when she gave lodging to the spies and sent the soldier off in different directions.  Faith without deeds is dead as the body without the spirit is dead.

Questions:

13) This is subtle and tricky.  Faith in Jesus Christ alone will save you.  You are saved by faith and receive salvation and a place in heaven when you accept Jesus in your heart.  But when you do have this faith, you are a changed person.  This new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17) you have become has a new kind of faith: a faith that desires to prove itself through works.  This saving faith that we not have has works along with it.  James says in verse 17 faith now has action that accompanies it.

It mimics the saying “Actions are more powerful than words.”  You can say you believe in Jesus all you want.  You show you believe in Jesus through the actions of your heart.

14)  According to many commentaries I read, this is considered by some to be the most difficult verse in the entire New Testament to reconcile.  Wonderful (read sarcasm here). Further, one said the faith of demons should not be compared with the faith of human beings according to Hebrews 2:14.

Demons know Jesus is the Son of God (Matthew 8:29) and they yield to His Lordship (Mark 1:24;  5:7; Matthew 8:29-30).

As in Hebrews 11, we see the pillars of faith (Abraham and Rahab) mentioned here yet again.  How by faith they followed God without question (Hebrews 11:8-13; 31).

I’m going to make my own conclusions here on the difference:  Man/Abraham/Rahab followed God out of love; the demons followed/obeyed God out of fear.  This I believe is the crux of the matter.

Side Note:  One commentator I read said demons are angels who have sinned.  This was interesting so I wanted to share.  Of course, we don’t know but it’s something to ponder anyways.

15a)  No.  I don’t despite the evidence in this passage.  I would like to hope so.  But I don’t.  I believe those who are converted on their death beds don’t have the opportunity. But Jesus is happy to have them despite the fact they didn’t have time to do good works. This is what Paul says (Ephesians 2:9).

It also brings into my mind the falling away passage we studied in Hebrews 4:4-6 (another passage I have difficulty with).  I believe once you accept Christ you are his.  You can’t fall away unless you deliberately deny him afterwards.  But those who stumble still have him.  For there is nothing in this world you can do that Jesus will not forgive.  He has claimed you and even after you accept you, you sin.  But He always remains.

Do I believe most people who are born again will produce good works?  Yes.  You have no choice.  If you accept Jesus, you are a new person and His.  Therefore, the deeds will follow.  But as I mentioned I do believe in exceptions.  So I don’t think every person will accomplish this.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  I don’t know honestly.  I can’t see myself through their eyes and no one has come up to me and said, “Wow!  You are obviously God’s as I see through such-and-such evidence.”

I hope they see something but I have such a low opinion of myself right now I would say nothing.  For I’m not where I want to be in my daily walk with Christ.  I’m just not.  So I’d say there is no evidence of my faith right now.

And to me I could care less what others thought/think of me or if there is evidence (in their eyes) of my faith.  It only matters what God thinks of me and what He knows I am accomplishing.  And right now I feel I am failing miserably.  It’s my daily prayer for God to heal my heart from past pains so I can move on to what He has for me.  For the devil will not claim me.  And I will win.

Conclusions:  This passage was very, very difficult for me to chew on.  Very.  For I believe once you accept Jesus in your heart you are in Heaven.  You do not get into heaven by works.  Yet works is what makes us alive in Christ.  Christ puts works in our heart once we have him and the Holy Spirit within that we must act on.  Otherwise, we are dead.

Yet I believe there will be people in heaven who do not have works to show for their faith.  But they have faith.  This is what I believe at least.

This concept is very difficult for me to reconcile.  You don’t need works to get into heaven yet if you have faith you produce works.  And I just don’t see works in my life.  So does that mean my faith is dead?  It’s a bit of a dichotomy, isn’t it?

I just believe in my heart God wants our faith first and foremost.  He wants us.  He wants our hearts paramount.  Everything else is secondary:  our works and whatever else we do for Him.  As long as our hearts stay true to Him the rest falls into place.  Including works. We shouldn’t have to think about works.  They should just flow naturally out of our heart that is now God’s.  It should be joyful and unforced.  It should be with love and a deep gratitude.  It should be God/Holy Spirit–not something I could ever do or take credit for.

End Note:  Question 15b did not sit well with me after pondering it for a bit.  In this world where it’s a daily struggle to counter our culture of always being in each other’s business and trying to keep up with the Jones, I thought this question was in the same vein.  This was my first response at least.

We are not of this world and this question could be taken in the context of “Well, what have you done lately to show your faith?”, promoting pride over humility.  Yet, at the same time, we are to walk our faith and show non-believers what a believer’s life should look like.  So taken in this context it makes us ponder, “Are we walking our faith?”

I hope it’s the latter.  But for me, having been raised in the culture of nothing less than perfection will do, I did not like the wording of this question.  It makes me feel like I’m not doing enough and I’m inadequate in some way (something I already feel anyways.  Is any of us truly doing enough?  Consider Paul’s life…).  I’m doing the best I can under the circumstances God has given me.

I would have preferred apparent to “God”.  For He is all that matters.

If you are broken like me, you probably took this question hard like I did and immediately threw up walls because that’s what you do when you are reminded of past pains.  Then I read Matthew 5:16 where Jesus says, “Let your light shine before men that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”

So it is all for God.  It’s for others to see God through us.  For His glory.  Never ours.  We do good deeds not for ourselves or what it brings us but what it brings God:  other broken people who need Him as much as we do.

Hopefully, in the end, maybe just a bit of our brokenness will be mended in the process.

BSF Study Questions Isaiah Lesson 26, Day 5 Isaiah 59:16-21

Summary of passage:  The Lord saw there was no one to intervene for the people and was appalled.  So God used his own arm to bring salvation and righteousness, putting on a breastplate and helmet (reminds me of Ephesians 6:10-17).  He will come like a pent-up flood and will repay his enemies according to what they have done.  Men will fear the name of the Lord and revere His glory.  The Redeemer will come to those who repent of their sins.  The Lord’s covenant is with the people as His Spirit is upon them and His words He put in their mouths will not depart throughout the generations.

Questions:

10a)  There was no one, no man to intervene on Israel’s behalf–to show them the way back to God.

b)  Those needing redemption:  are lost and blind in the dark, rebellious, treacherous, liars, violent, evil, and have turned their backs on God.  The Redeemer:  just, righteous, truthful, honest, wears the helmet of salvation, will bring retribution to his foes, will come like a flood with the breath of the Lord behind Him.

11)  The Redeemer will come to those who repent of their sins and God’s spirit and words will never depart from them or their descendants forever

12)  Isaiah 51:16:  I have put my words in your mouth and covered you with the shadow of my hand…”

Matthew 4:4:  “‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”

Luke 4:1:  “Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan…”

Matthew 3:16:  “Jesus was baptized…and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him.”

Conclusions:  Sometimes I wish I could come like a pent-up flood with the breath of the Lord behind me. Or at least live as such.

I scoured the Internet for a good 45 minutes looking for verses for Question 12.  I found a lot of implied fulfillments such as Luke 22:20, which did not satisfy me.  I was looking specifically for where the Bible says Jesus is the Spirit and God has put words in Jesus’s mouth and was pretty unsuccessful.  Let me know what you all found!

I did find this website.  Fascinating stuff about the fulfillment of Messianic prophecies with a chart that gives the OT prophecy next to the NT fulfillment:

http://www.jesus-is-lord.com/messiah.htm