BSF Study Questions Matthew Lesson 28, Day 5: Matthew 27:51-66 with Hebrews 9

Summary of passages:  At the moment Jesus died, the curtain of the temple was torn in two.  The earth shook, rocks split, and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life.  They appeared to many people.  The centurion and guards guarding Jesus were terrified at the earthquake and exclaimed Jesus to be the Son of God.  Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee’s sons were at Jesus’ tomb.

Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for Jesus’ body and was granted it.  He wrapped it in linen and placed it in his own tomb where the women stood.

The next day, the Pharisees and chief priests asked Pilate if they could post more guards because they remembered Jesus’ prophecy to rise again and they didn’t want the disciples stealing Jesus’ body and telling people Jesus had risen.  Pilate granted their request and more guards were posted.

Hebrews 9:  In the tabernacle was a place with two rooms called the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place.  Only the high priest could enter the Most Holy Place and then only with blood to atone for the people’s sins.  All priests could enter the Holy Place and they did frequently for worship.

Jesus Christ through his blood entered the Most Holy Place, cleansing us in the process so that we may serve the living God.  He created a New Covenant where we may receive eternal inheritance and life.  The Old Covenant had required everything be cleansed in blood repeatedly.  Now, Jesus made one sacrifice for us all and will come again to bring salvation to those waiting for him.

Questions:

9a)  Only the high priest and only once a year.

b)  Blood as a sacrifice for God to cleanse himself and the people of their sins they had committed in ignorance (and on purpose).

c)  It was torn by God to signify that by Jesus’ death all people now had immediate access to God.  All people could enter into a relationship with Him through His Son, Jesus Christ and be made righteous to stand in His presence.

10a)  Scholars believe witnessing the crucifixion and the death of Jesus may have converted some of the soldiers, including this centurion.  But he seems not to have understood as he uses the past tense, saying Jesus was the Son of God.  We all know He is the Son of God and is alive today.  However, we shouldn’t fault him too much for this mistake as most people didn’t realize the full significance of Jesus’ death, not even his disciples until much later when God breathed the knowledge into them and allowed them to see the Truth.

b)  Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee’s sons.  John 19:25-26 says the mother of Jesus is there as well [See End Notes for more explanation.]

11a)  Joseph of Arimathea was a prominent member of the Council of the Sanhedrin and risked “being fired” or even death as he could be charged with blasphemy as well for his belief in Jesus as Lord and Savior.  He had not consented to Jesus’ death sentence.  He gave up his own tomb for Jesus.  Nicodemus was a Pharisee and member of the Sanhedrin as well (John 3:1-21).  He faced the same risks as Joseph did as a believer.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  The care taken with Jesus’ body.  He was buried as a king would have been buried.  He was wrapped in fine linen and placed in a tomb cut of rock, which only the wealthy could afford.  I liked how it was mainly women who stayed vigilant by the tomb.  How they were the first to see Jesus arise.  How God had once again chosen those discarded by society to bear the most important message of all time:  He is risen!

c)  The Pharisees and the chief priests were afraid Jesus would rise again on third day like he had proclaimed so they asked Pilate if they could take extra precautions against this or against the disciples stealing Christ’s body and saying he had risen.  They sealed the stone in front of the tomb and posted an extra guard.

Conclusions:  I liked the conciseness of Hebrews 9, which boiled down the Old Testament laws and how Jesus broke them.  I loved the prominence of women–the forgotten ones who never leave Jesus’ side.  I like how John says Jesus’ mother is there.  I’m not for sure I could be there to witness one of my kids crucified, but she is by his side till the end and is blessed when he speaks to her (John 19:26).  What strength and courage!

I loved seeing God at work as well, continually using the Pharisees to strengthen the truth of who Jesus is.  I loved seeing God use Joseph and Nicodemus as examples to others of the risks worth taking for your beliefs and the care worth giving even when one is powerless in the face of events, small acts can make a big impact.

End Notes:  The rocks take note of Jesus’ death even if the people are ambivalent.

Scholars quibble that there should be a break between Matthew 27 verses 51 and 52 because the earthquake happened on the day Jesus died and the resurrection of the holy people came only after Jesus’ resurrection 3 days later. This is unclear though as you read it together.

Matthew is the only gospel that records that holy people rose with Jesus.  With very little detail given, scholars are unsure the purpose except to accompany Christ to heaven.

Normally, victims of crucifixion are left on the cross to serve as signs to others not to disobey Rome.  Their bodies rot or are eaten by animals.  However, during this Passover season, the Romans did not want such a display.  Furthermore, in the past, the Romans gave the bodies of Jewish victims to relatives for burial to keep the peace in Judea and pacify the Jews.

It is important that this tomb was never used.  This would eliminate any doubt that the body that arose was Jesus and not some other body.

Only the rich could afford such a tomb.  This was a huge sacrifice for Joseph to make for Jesus.  A stone in front of it was the customary way to seal off a tomb to prevent it from being disturbed.

The process followed by wrapping Jesus and putting spices on his body was the Jewish custom.  They would let the bodies sit until only bones remained.  Then they would put the bones in an ossuary which is a small stone box and place that in the tomb for eternity.  The Orthodox church still practices this custom today.

“The next day” would have been the Sabbath.  The Pharisees are so afraid of Jesus they are breaking all the laws.  Ironically, they knew Jesus’ prophecy better than the disciples who had run away for fear of their lives.  The disciples were an excuse:  the Pharisees were afraid Jesus would rise again.  It is this security that validates Jesus’ resurrection for men.  Again, Jesus wins in the end!

The guard normally consisted of 4 soldiers but could have been more in this case.  The seal on the tomb was a Roman seal and if broken, would have resulted in the soldiers being fired or executed as it would violate Roman authority.  They didn’t care a lick who Jesus was–which only makes Jesus’ resurrection the more powerful.

Women at the cross:  Anyone else confused by who is at the cross?  I am!  The only one mentioned by all 4 Gospels is Mary Magdalene.  Mary, mother of James and Joses, is mentioned twice.  The others only once.  Here’s a good break down of it all and a wonderful chart showing with women are mentioned in which Gospel:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women_at_the_crucifixion

Nicodemus?  Anyone else need a refresher on him?  I did.  He’s a Pharisee and member of the Sanhedrin as well.  Here’s another great breakdown on where he appears in the Bible, mainly in the book of John:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicodemus

Map of Arimathea:  http://bibleatlas.org/full/arimathea.htm

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BSF Study Questions Matthew Lesson 28, Day 4: Matthew 27:35-50; Psalm 22

Summary of passages:  Matthew 27:35-50:  The Romans crucified Jesus and divided up his clothes. They kept watch over him and his crime (king of the Jews) was placed over his head. Two robbers were crucified with him. Passer-bys hurled insults at him, telling Jesus to come down from the cross with his powers and if he were the Son of God, they would believe him then. The robbers insulted Jesus as well.

Jesus cried out to God, asking why he has been forsaken. The observers thought he was calling Elijah. Then Jesus cried once more and died.

Psalm 22:  David asks God why has God forsaken him and why is He so far away.  Yet God is faithful.  Yet David is a scorned man, mocked for his belief, and told let God save him.  Yet trouble from men is near.  He cannot speak.  He is pierced.  They divide up his clothes.  Lord, rescue me from them.  I am weary.  All nations will bow before Him.  And his righteousness will be proclaimed now and for all future generations.

Questions:

7)  Psalm 22:1:  Jesus spoke these words in Matthew 27:46 on the cross as he took on the sins and God briefly turned His back to His Son.  We feel Jesus’ agony both at his physical suffering and his spiritual abandonment.

Psalm 22:2-6:  We feel Jesus’ unanswered prayer; yet despite Jesus’ suffering and scornment by man, God is there, faithful, trustworthy, the Holy One of Israel.

Psalm 22:7-9:  Jesus feels insignificant as he is mocked on the cross and told that God should come down and rescue him (Matthew 27:43).  Yet all in God’s plan.  Jesus reminds God of his birth and care given to him then–and thus the appeal for care now. [Note that just because God has abandoned Jesus, Jesus does not abandon God.  This is an example for us all.  Never give up.]

Psalm 22:12-13:  Men claw at Jesus and come against him.  The bulls of Bashan were known for their strength.

Psalm 22:14:  Jesus is exhausted and drained physically and spiritually.  Jesus is completely devoid of any strength.  This describes his physical suffering as bones were disjoined on the cross and some scholars speculate Jesus’ heart might have burst (John 19:34).

Psalm 22:15:  Jesus can no longer speak as his mouth is dried up and he has no more strength on the cross. Physical death awaits.  This harkens back to Genesis 3:19 where man returns to dust.  Christ became our curse (Galatians 3:13).

Psalm 22:16:  Jesus was surrounded by wicked men.  Jesus was literally pierced at the hands and feet to be hung on the cross

Psalm 22:17:  People mock him from his arrest to his death.  Even the prisoner crucified with Jesus mocks him.  They think they superior (if only they knew).  Jesus suffered no broken bones (John 19:31-37), which fulfilled prophecy (Psalm 34:20; Exodus 12:46; Zechariah 12:10; Numbers 9:12).

Psalm 22:18:  The Roman soldiers who crucified Jesus divided up his garments and cast lots for his clothing.

Psalm 22:19-21:  Yet God is there to deliver Jesus into His arms from the people.

8a)  Personal Question.  My answer:  The Old Testament has always been relevant in my life as all the Bible (God’s breathed Words) is and should be.  The more and more connections made between the Old Testament and the New Testament and the more and more prophecy I see fulfilled only fills me up with God and spurns me to learn more and more and be closer and closer to my Creator and Lord.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  It has made me realize that Jesus’ suffering is universal.  David suffered.  Jesus suffered.  So I must suffer as well.  It is part of life.  Part of the Christian life.  And yet both endured.  Both grew stronger.  Both did great things.  So can I.  For without lows, the highs are meaningless.  Both felt forsaken by God as I have in my life.  And that is okay.  Our journey to Him is just that–a journey.  As long as we know who is standing at the end, awaiting us with open arms, I deem it all worthwhile.

Conclusions:  There seems to be a theme or a belief that the Old Testament is meaningless to Christians.  That it is dismissed and deemed unimportant.  This annoys me.  As does questions like 8a.  To me, the Old Testament is just as relevant today as the New Testament.  It always has been.  I’ve never held such a belief that the New is more significant than the Old.  Yet in some of my groups, some have said as such.  And questions such as 8a seem to perpetuate that notion.

I wish people and the Christian community would stop implying such.  Without the Old Testament, there would be no New Testament.  Both are of equal importance and should be treated as such.  We must obey both to live like Jesus.  There should be no separation between the two.

End Notes:  We can sense the agony in the Psalm.  Can you imagine a child’s pain when their parents turn their back on them?  This is what Jesus is experiencing only at a much, unfathomable level as it is God who is the one who turns His back (and He never does).  The intimate and constant connections has been broken.  Yet, it is not a complete forsakenness–but enough for Jesus to cry out to God.  This is something we can relate to but never understand because we will never be in Jesus’ place.

Note even in the midst of suffering and doubt God remains Holy and good.  The devil did not win here.

Have you ever felt as low as a worm?  That’s pretty low but I think we’ve all been there.

Notice once the author has poured out his laments and feelings of abandonment he exclaims “You have heard me”. So it is with us and God.  God hears our cries for help and answers us.  He is always there and He is not silent in our misery.

Jesus declares and praises God.  It is often thought only the first half of Psalm 22 refers to Jesus but Hebrews 2:12 declares otherwise when the author of Hebrews quotes Psalm 22:22.

John 17:26 “I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them” suggests the real reason Jesus died for our sins:  It was the will of the Father and Jesus obeyed completely and absolutely to God’s great glory.  Powerful stuff!

The second great reason for the cross is for us:  “All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the Lord and …bow down before him.”  It is comforting to know Jesus was thinking of us at the end.

The last verse of this Psalm echoes Jesus’ last words on the cross “He has done it.”

There is so much in this Psalm.  Take the time to soak it in and reflect on Jesus’s life especially as Easter approaches.  As you do, Jesus will become closer and closer.

This whole Psalm reflects Jesus’ life perfectly.  In it, the New Testament writers saw Old Testament prophecy fulfilled.  David, the greatest King of Israel, suffered.  As Jesus did.  As it was meant by God to be.  Victory through suffering.  Only God can breathe such life into such words.

BSF Study Questions Matthew Lesson 28, Day 3: Matthew 27:34-50; Mark 15:22-24; John 19:23-30

Summary of passages:  Matthew 27:34-50:  Simon from Cyrene carried Jesus’ cross for him as Jesus was too weak. They went to Golgotha where Jesus was offered wine to drink which he refused. They crucified him and divided up his clothes. They kept watch over him and his crime (king of the Jews) was placed over his head. Two robbers were crucified with him. Passer-bys hurled insults at him, telling Jesus to come down from the cross with his powers and if he were the Son of God, they would believe him then. The robbers insulted Jesus as well.

Jesus cried to God, asking why he has been forsaken. The observers thought he was calling Elijah. Then Jesus cried once more and died.

Mark 15:22-24:  Jesus was taken to Golgotha.  He was offered wine mixed with myrrh but refused.  They crucified him and the soldiers divided up his clothes through casting lots.

John 19:23-30:  The four soldiers who crucified Jesus divided up his clothes, leaving him with just the undergarment, which fulfilled Psalm 22:18.  Jesus’s mother, his aunt, Mary’s sister, Mary, and Mary Magdalene were near the cross.  Jesus saw his mother and said he was her son and told the disciple she was his mother as well.  The disciple then took Mary into him home.

Jesus was thirsty on the cross so a sponge soaked in wine vinegar was offered to him.  He drank, said “It is finished” and gave up his spirit.

Questions:

5)  The sedative drink was supposed to dull the pain and the mind.  Jesus wanted to be fully present when he took on the sins of the world.  After hanging on the cross for 6 hours in the hot sun, Jesus had no ability to speak.  His mouth would have been completely parched.  He asked for a drink so he’d have the ability to pronounce to the world “It is finished”

6a)  His clothes was divided up among the four soldiers who crucified him.

b)  We are all born naked.  Naked is the natural state.  It is also the state of innocence.  Children run around naked because they don’t have any inhibitions that it’s socially unacceptable.  It is also the state of purity when Adam and Eve were in the Garden before the Fall.  After our physical death, we will be arrayed in garments of salvation and righteousness.  Man’s clothes do not hide his sins.  They are filthy rags to God.  It is the clothes that God gives us that matters.  Thus, Christ was disrobed as he returned to His father.  So shall us all be.

Conclusions:  Short day which is nice after yesterday’s lesson.  I find it fascinating man’s obsession with the outward appearance and obsession with clothes throughout time since God does not care and unless it’s a garment of righteousness it’s filth in His eyes.  Oh, how much wiser we’d be if we had God’s eyes.

End Notes:  Exodus 28:31-32 tells us that the High Priest wore a seamless garment.  Everything has significance in God’s word and as we continue to study, we see more and more of the connections of the Old Testament and the New Testament and we should all have a deeper awe of our Lord and King.

Jesus gave up his life for us.  “The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life–only to take it up again.  No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord.  I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again.  This command I received from my Father.” John 10:17-18

BSF Study Questions Matthew Lesson 28, Day 2: Matthew 27:32-50

Summary of passage:  Simon from Cyrene carried Jesus’ cross for him as Jesus was too weak.  They went to Golgotha where Jesus was offered wine to drink which he refused.  They crucified him and divided up his clothes.  They kept watch over him and his crime (king of the Jews) was placed over his head.  Two robbers were crucified with him.  Passer-bys hurled insults at him, telling Jesus to come down from the cross with his powers and if he were the Son of God, they would believe him then.  The robbers insulted Jesus as well.

Jesus cried to God, asking why he has been forsaken.  The observers thought he was calling Elijah.  Then Jesus cried once more and died.

Questions:

3a)  Leviticus 4:12, 21:  The end of sin and burnt offerings.

Leviticus 4:28-29; 5:5:  The end of sin offerings and atonement by a priest.

Deuteronomy 21:22-23:  No one who is cursed any more who accept Jesus as their atonement sacrifice.

2 Corinthians 5:21:  Jesus took our sins so we are now righteous before God.

Hebrews 13:11-13:  Jesus’ blood made us holy

1 Peter 1:18-19:  Jesus’ blood redeemed us.

1 Peter 2:24:  Jesus bore our sins on the cross so that we might die to sin and live for righteousness.  By his wounds we have been healed.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  All say the same thing essentially:  Jesus died for us and our sins so we can be with God.  This is unfathomable in its magnitude and comforting that I am saved even though I don’t deserve it.

4a)  This is difficult to conjecture without knowing whether Simon was a Jew, a believing Jew in Jesus, or a Roman or pagan.  He saw the people mocking Jesus and spitting on him.  He saw the anger towards Jesus.  He saw how Jesus was the walking dead, taking his last steps on this earth.  He saw Jesus’ blood everywhere from his wounds.  Hopefully, he felt sympathy for Jesus and thought how cruel people and the Romans are.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Truthfully, it doesn’t do anything for me.  Again, not enough information to say anything about Alexander and Rufus.  Were they good people or bad?  Does it matter?  We can’t honestly make a connection between Jesus’ death and Simon’s sons.  It would only be a conjecture.  And I myself prefer facts.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  How evil, indifferent, selfish, and callous man truly is.  How we all killed Jesus.  How we are all undeserving of the aftermath.  How without God we’d just be common animals living off of instincts.  With Jesus, there is hope.  Without Jesus, there is death.

Conclusions:  Disappointed to say the least in this lesson.  Nothing concrete.  Too much personal application.  Too much conjecture.  I weary of looking up verses that say the same thing.  Would have liked questions such as:  Why was Jesus’ clothes divided up?  What does it mean to mix wine with gall?  Why did Pilate put “King of the Jews” above Jesus?  Did Pilate himself believe Jesus to be King of the Jews?  Why did the people think Jesus was calling Elijah?  Why would they offer him wine vinegar?  Here, I would have liked to compare the other passages as well on Jesus’ crucifixion.

End Notes:  Jesus’ march to the place of crucifixion would have been horrendous and excruciatingly painful. The march served as a warning to others about what happened to those who committed crimes against Rome.  Typically, a Roman on horseback would have led the way, shouting out the crimes of those condemned.  They would have taken the longest route possible so that as many as possible could see (since there was no TV back then).

The victim was forced to carry the crossbar, usually naked, and usually tied to it.  This weighed any where from 75-125 pounds.  The place of crucifixion would be a popular thoroughfare so as many as possible would witness this scene in Jesus’ case Golgotha (known as Calvary in Latin).  This is a low hill outside of Jerusalem.

Crucifixion is an excruciating death (in fact our word excruciating means “of or out of the cross”).  Last week, I mentioned this site which has great photos of the crossbeam, the cross, the process of crucifixion, and the medical reasons behind death.  Four Roman soldiers were appointed to do the process who were skilled in the proper techniques.  View HERE

Bill O’Reilly’s book, Killing Jesus, describes crucifixion in amazing detail as well as all of Jesus’ life.

Roman citizens could not be crucified unless upon order of the emperor himself.  Romans considered themselves above such a heinous act.  That should give you some clue how horrendous crucifixion is.

Knowing exactly what Jesus endured can only deepen our love for our Savior.  Please take the time to learn more.

Much is made by BSF about Simon of Cyrene.  Cyrene is in Northern Africa and scholars believe he was probably in Jerusalem to celebrate Passover, making him a Jew.  However, he could have been a trader or merchant as well.  He was definitely forced to bear the cross, probably unwillingly since who would want to carry a heavy beam for a stranger and feel the crowds’ anger.

Map of Cyrene in Libya:  http://www.combinedops.com/PHOTOS%20GENERAL/Eastmed%20Map.jpg

Golgotha, meaning Place of the Skulls, was the traditional place to crucify victims.  As dead bodies are considered ceremonially unclean, this took place outside of the city.

The wine mixed with gall was a pain-numbing, mind-numbing drink so the victims wouldn’t suffer quite so much.  It would be similar to drinking alcohol before amputation in the nineteenth century or local anesthesia today.  In Mark, this drink is outright declined.  Jesus chose to suffer completely for us.

The Roman soldiers, upon completion of the process, staying to make sure the victim died and no one rescued them.  In the past, some people did survive after being left for dead on the cross.

Jesus shows us how we can endure scorn:  silently and with love.

The sixth hour to the ninth hour was from noon to about 3 pm in Roman time.  An unusual darkness clouded the land. I imagine this as God’s sorrow and his wrath upon man.  Mark 15 tells us Jesus hung on the cross for about 6 hours.

Significance of Jesus’ cries:  Jesus quotes Psalm 22:1.  Right before death, Jesus experiences the taking upon of our sins and God looks upon Christ as if he is a sinner.  He feels God’s wrath upon man.  Jesus feels a partial separation from God.  In this moment, Jesus is grieved and cries out to God and asks why.  This is the only time in the Bible it is recorded that Jesus DOES NOT call God “Father”.

Paul makes it clear God never abandoned Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:19).  But Jesus did experience sin and hate.  God laid our sins upon Jesus and he bore it.  And that is why he cried out.  God had briefly turned His face.

Note it’s the spiritual suffering that made Jesus cry out.  The physical suffering of his body he was silent. But he couldn’t take the brief moment of turning away of God.  I’m sure the angels in heaven were singing Jesus’ name.

Us stupid humans misunderstood Jesus and thought he was calling upon Elijah.  Will we ever understand?

Jesus was conscious to the end (most crucifixion victims lost consciousness or were too exhausted to speak) and was able to say a final word as John 19:30 tells us “It is finished”.  This is one word in Greek.

We must remember Jesus voluntarily died for our sins (“he gave up his spirit).  His life was not taken from him as ours is.  Jesus could never die unless he chose to die for it is sin that kills us.  He chose to bear our sins and forfeit his life.

Some say Jesus died of a broken heart.  I would say it broke but then was perfected by God in heaven!

In John 19 the priests throw a fit over the sign which read “King of the Jews”.  They protested to Pilate who said “What I have written, I have written.”  Sad how a pagan believes in Jesus and supposedly the closest men to God refuse.

I like Luke 23 who records some of Jesus’ final words and how some of these final words are spoken to women.  Luke also has my favorite quote from Jesus’ death “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).  We are forgiven despite our ignorance and stupidity.  Very, very comforting.

Fun Fact:  One-third of all 4 Gospels are devoted to Jesus’ final week of life in Jerusalem.

BSF Study Questions Genesis Lesson 28, Day 5: Genesis 45

Summary of passage:  Joseph could no longer keep his emotions in check so he sent all of his attendants out. He made himself known to his brothers and wept so loudly that the Egyptians heard him.  His brothers were terrified so Joseph beckoned them closer and told them not to be angry at themselves for it was God who had sent him ahead of them in order to save lives and preserve a remnant on earth.

He sends them back to retrieve Jacob and all of his household and items to live in Goshen where Joseph will provide for them.  Tell him about everything you have seen, all the honor Joseph has, and bring him here quickly.

He hugged Benjamin and wept and embraced all his brothers and wept and talked with them.  Pharaoh agreed to have Joseph’s family come along with all their belongings.  He will give them the best of the land.  They could leave their belongings because the best of Egypt will be theirs.

He sent the brothers along, giving Benjamin 300 shekels of silver and five sets of new clothes and giving his brothers just new clothes.  Joseph reminded them not to quarrel along the way.

Jacob agreed to go to Egypt.

Questions:

15a)  He tells them that it was God who sent him before them in order to save lives and preserve a remnant on earth.

b)  Well it’s hard to say.  No one in this chapter is singled out except Benjamin who is favored by Joseph as well (ironic in my view).  The brothers are always referred to as “they”.  That alone should show that they acted together as a cohesive whole and had to love one another.

Possibly when they were frightened they clung to each other.  They all embraced each other and cried over Joseph.  They talked together.  The “sons of Israel” (verse 21–another use of the word Israel shows faith) all went together to collect Jacob.  Joseph warned them not to quarrel as brothers do.

16)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Pray to forgive.  Pray for God’s power to forgive.  Choose to forgive.  Give it to God.

Conclusions:  The best part of Joseph’s story to me is how God used evil for good.  How he took the brothers’ actions and made Joseph prosper beyond his wildest dreams.  And how Joseph forgave his brothers and in the end ended up doing good towards those who wronged him.  God makes ALL things work together for our good (Romans 8:28) and there is no better example in all of the Bible of this than the story of Joseph.

Note how the last verse calls Jacob Israel.  The name Israel is used when Jacob is acting out of faith.  The name Jacob is used when Jacob is acting on his own.  Interesting.

Scholars say chapters 42-45 takes place over 2 years.  It seems as if it’s shorter but it’s not.  We must remember how difficult transportation was in ancient times over rough terrain on foot with nothing but donkeys to pack your belongings.  Also, we must remember the time between the first journey to Egypt and the second.  The brothers only return when they run out of grain.  That would take a bit of time to eat that up.  So Simeon sat in prison for 2 years!

Both Joseph and Jesus were sent to save God’s people.  Both were despised and betrayed by their own people.  Yet God’s will to save conquers all.

BSF Study Questions Genesis Lesson 28, Day 4: Genesis 42-44

Summary of passages:  Genesis 42:  Jacob sent his sons (all except Benjamin for fear harm might come to him) to Egypt to buy grain during the famine.  Joseph was the governor and he was the one who sold grain.  All his brothers bowed down to him and he recognized them but they did not recognize him.

Joseph speaks harshly to them, accusing them of being spies, which they deny and insist they are all the sons of one man and one is at home and one is no more.

Joseph decides to test his brothers.  He tells them one must return and fetch their youngest brother in order to validate their story.  They will be kept in prison until he returns.  He threw them all in prison for three days.

Then Joseph tells them to let one stay here in prison while the rest return with grain for their starving families. But they must return with their youngest brother.  The brothers said this was punishment for Joseph’s death.  Reuben says didn’t I tell you so?  This is accounting for his blood.

At these words which the brothers did not know Joseph could understand, Joseph wept. He had Simeon taken and bound.  Joseph filled their bags with grain and returned their payment of silver.  Then they left.

When the brothers saw the silver returned, they were confused and frightened and wondered what God has done to them.  They told Jacob all that had transpired, Jacob is angry and thinks everything is against him.  Reuben tells his father he can put both of his sons to death if he does not return with Benjamin.  Jacob refuses to let Benjamin go, saying he is the only one left and he will be in sorrow if something happens to him.

Genesis 43:  Jacob, who seemed content to let Simeon rot in jail, told the brothers to go and get more grain when they ran out.  Judah refused unless Benjamin accompanied them for Joseph had said he would not see them again unless Benjamin was with them.

Israel (interesting he is not called Jacob), showing the utmost integrity, asked the brother why they didn’t lie to Joseph–chastising them for telling the truth.

Now it is Judah who says he will be responsible for Benjamin’s safety and chastises Israel for his delay and for the hunger in the family.

Finally, Israel agrees to let Benjamin go (and he seems to remember the “other” brother as well), telling them to bring gifts to Joseph as well as double the silver to pay for the previous grain.  But of course, it’s all about him for he is “bereaved” (while he seems to be content to let his family starve).

The brothers went to Joseph and he had them eat with him.  The brothers were frightened, scared they would suffer because of the silver that was put back in their bags. They expressed their concerns to Joseph’s steward who assured them that he had received the silver the first time.  Simeon joined them at Joseph’s house.

Joseph asked them how his father was as his brothers bowed to him.  He wept at the sight of Benjamin.  Then they ate their meals separately since they were Hebrews and noticed Joseph had sat them in the order of their birth.  Benjamin was served five times as much proportions as the others.

Genesis 44:  Joseph instructed his steward to fill their bags and return their silver and to put the silver cup in Benjamin’s bag.  Then the brothers left.  But Joseph had his steward go and accuse them of stealing the silver cup.  The brothers denied the charges and said that if any of them is found to have it, he will die and the rest will become slaves. The cup was found in Benjamin’s bag and they tore their clothes and returned to Egypt.

The brothers again threw themselves at Joseph’s feet and said they are guilty.  Joseph said only Benjamin would have to be a slave and the rest could return to their father. Then Judah (the one who suggested to sell Joseph instead of kill him) stepped forward and explained to Joseph that their father would die and he would be killed if Benjamin did not return and offered to take Benjamin’s place.

Questions:

11a)  Joseph is trying to see if they have changed since the evil they executed towards him. He wanted to see what they would say.

b)  The brothers lied to him about saying Joseph was dead.  Joseph threw them in prison perhaps so they would know what he went through.  To see the reality of their sin against him.

c)  He imprisoned Simeon so they brothers would see what they did to Joseph.  Maybe as penalty against Simeon as well for his sin.

d)  He wanted to see Benjamin in my opinion.  He probably also wanted to observe how the brothers treated Benjamin since he was now the favored by Jacob.

e)  I see this as two-fold purpose:  one, Joseph is saying he doesn’t need nor want their money.  He is being generous here and doing what Jesus would do.  Two, he is setting them up to be accused of thievery if they do not change from this experience.

f)  Joseph was testing the brothers’ hearts again to see how they reacted to his favoritism of Benjamin.  When he was favored, he was thrown in a pit.  He wondered if they had changed at all.

g)  Joseph wanted to see if the brothers would abandon Benjamin like they had him and make up a story again to Jacob about what happened to him.  He wanted to see if they would stand by him and defend him.  Or he wanted to see if secretly they would be happy that the favored son was once again “gotten rid of” and abandon him to his fate.

h)  Again, Joseph is seeing if they will abandon Benjamin to his fate or if they will stand by him

12)  Genesis 44:16 where they admit their guilt.  Genesis 44:18-34 where we see Judah’s concern for his father and his offer to take Benjamin’s place.

13a)  God Almighty

b)  may God grant you mercy

c)  He will let your other brother and Benjamin come back with you

d)  He is bereaved.

e)  Personal Question.  My answer:  It shows to recognize God’s power and God’s grace (hence the use of the word “may”) and to ask specifically for what you want and to express your feelings over the matter (bereavement).

14)  Judah consistently points out his love for his father by putting his father’s well-being above his own.  Verse 44:20 says how “father loves him”.  He is concerned that Jacob will die if they return without Benjamin.  Judah offered to take the blame for Benjamin’s well-being.  He begs Joseph for him to be allowed to take his place for he cannot face his father’s misery if he had to return without him.

He does not lie about what happened to Joseph like they did previously (Genesis 42:13) as exhibited in Genesis 44:28.

Conclusions:  Note the guilt from verse 1 when Jacob mentions Egypt.  The brothers give each other guilty looks for they must know in their hearts Joseph ended up there.

Any one else sickened by Jacob’s pity party?  The attitude of “everything is against me” often causes us to become immobile, to stop living, to stop doing God’s work.  Jacob here still does not trust God.  He is still playing favorites.  He is still a Fallen Man.

Jacob was willing to sacrifice Simeon to allow Benjamin to live!  He would not allow Benjamin to go to save Simeon!  He’s just as bad as the brothers throwing Joseph in the well.  How sad!

And the fact Jacob said “your other brother” (Genesis 43:14).  Did he forget Simeon’s name?  And of course, he ends his prayer with how he is affected.  Poor, poor me!

Joseph is testing his brothers and trying to see if they have truly repented of their crime against him.  They do stick by their brother as they face slavery.  They realize this is a result of their sin against Joseph (Genesis 44:16).  They show concern for their father in their protection of Benjamin–at all costs.

Note the sovereignty of God here:  As we saw with Dinah (Genesis 34), God’s people were at risk of assimilating with the pagans surrounding them.  Here, we note how the Egyptians abhorred foreigners and would not eat with them (Genesis 43:32).  God sends the Israelites to Egypt for them to be safe and multiply without the risk of intermarriage for the Egyptians would have nothing to do with them.  The Egyptians considered themselves superior to all other races (not just the Hebrews).

It is interesting to see Judah’s role throughout Genesis since he is the one who Jesus will descend from.  How Judah treated Tamar but in the end how he did right by her.  He is the one to suggest to sell Joseph yet he has completely changed to be the one to offer to take Benjamin’s place.  Fascinating stuff how God can use man in all his sin to fulfill His purposes.  How man can change his heart with the power of God and the Holy Spirit. How there is always hope even in the midst of sin.

Fun Facts:  They took double the money with them to Egypt.  So 10 brothers times 2 is 20–the exact amount they sold Joseph for.

Statistical odds of placing the brothers in the right order of birth:  1 in 40 million.

BSF Study Questions Genesis Lesson 28, Day 3: Genesis 41

Summary of passage:  Two years after Joseph interpreted the cupbearer and the baker’s dreams, Pharaoh had a dream where 7 cows emerged from the Nile River that were fat and then 7 gaunt cows emerged from the Nile and ate up the fat cows.  He had a second dream where 7 heads of healthy grain grew on a stalk.  After them 7 thin grains sprouted and ate up the healthy grains.

No one could interpret Pharaoh’s dreams.  At this point the cupbearer finally remembered Joseph and told Pharaoh how he had successfully interpreted their dreams. Pharaoh sent for Joseph and after cleaning up, he was presented to him.

Pharaoh told Joseph he had heard he could interpret dreams.  Joseph immediately said he couldn’t but God could.

Pharaoh repeated his dreams to Joseph who told Pharaoh that God had revealed to him what He was about to do.  The 7 good cows and the 7 good grains represent 7 years and the 7 lean cows and 7 worthless grain are 7 years as well.  They represent 7 years of good crops and then 7 years of famine.  God gave Pharaoh the dreams for the matter has been firmly decided by God and it will happen soon.

Joseph told Pharaoh to look for a discerning and wise man to be in charge of the land of Egypt.  Take a fifth of Egypt’s harvest during the good years and store up the grain for the bad years so that the country will not be ruined by the famine.

Pharaoh appoints Joseph as this man who is discerning and wise and Godly to be second in command of Egypt and in charge of all the land.  He gives Joseph his ring, dresses him in fine linen and gives him a gold chain.  He rode in Pharaoh’s chariot as his second-in-command to announce it to the people.

No one will lift hand or foot without Joseph’s word.  He gives him the Egyptian name of Zaphenath-Paneah and an Egyptian wife named Asenath.

Joseph was 30 years old when this happened.  Joseph traveled all over Egypt, collecting the grain that was so much Joseph stopped keeping records.

Joseph had 2 sons named Manasseh (forget) and Ephraim (fruitful).

The 7 years of famine began but Egypt had food and Joseph opened the warehouses and distributed the food.  The famine was severe in all the world so many foreigners came to Egypt to buy grain as well.

Questions:

7)  Verse 16:  Learn to give God the credit for everything

Verse 25:  Learn that God reveals Himself in dreams at times.

Verse 28:  God reveals the future in dreams at times.

Verse 32:  Everything happens because of God.  God does everything, controls everything.

Verse 38:  The Spirit of God is seen in people.  It dwells in people and shines forth.

Verse 39:  God blesses those who follow Him; who give Him the credit; who speak His truth.  He reveals Himself to those who are seeking.

Verses 51 & 52:  Joseph gives his children names that glorify God so Joseph will remember what God has done for him.  God made him forget his trouble and be fruitful in the land.  He honored God with these names.

8a)  The dreams are the same.  Both reveal what God is about to do.  The 7 good cows and the 7 good heads of grain represent 7 years.  The 7 lean cows and the 7 worthless heads of grain represent 7 years.  The 7 years stand for 7 years of abundance and 7 years of famine. The famine will be so severe that the 7 years of abundance will be forgotten.  God will do this soon and that is why there are 2 dreams.

b)  Look for a discerning and wise man and put him in charge of the land.  Let Pharaoh appoint commissions to take a fifth of the harvest during the 7 years of abundance.  Then they should collect all the food and store it for the years of famine.  This food is to be held for the years of famine so that Egypt may survive.

9)  “You shall be in charge of my palace, and all my people are to submit to your orders.  Only with respect to the throne will I be greater than you.” Verse 40.  “I hereby put you in charge of the whole of Egypt.  Pharaoh took his signet ring from his finger and put it on Joseph’s finger.  He dressed him in robes of fine linen and put a gold chain around his neck.  He made him ride in the chariot as his second-in-command…He put him in charge of the whole land of Egypt (verses 41-43).

“I am Pharaoh but without your word no one will lift hand or foot in all of Egypt.  He gave Joseph the name Zaphenath-Paneah (Verses 44-5).  “Pharaoh told all the Egyptians, ‘Go to Joseph and do what he tells you.'” (verse 55)

10a)  He advises Pharaoh on what to do–showing utter confidence in God and God’s plan of putting him there. He is honest and does his job without bribes or abusing his power. He seems to lead an ordinary family life without letting power or money go to his head.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  That God was the center of his life–not success. Joseph never wavered from God.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  To give God all the credit for successes in life and to keep Him at the center no matter what may come your way.

Conclusions:  Questions 8 & 9 was just utter tediousness.  I might as well have typed out the whole passage.

Everyone in my family is looking forward to Joseph and he is our favorite.  Why?  Well, he’s got a great story, right?  He gets abandoned by his family, thrown into slavery, falsely accused and thrown in prison, and then is redeemed and rises to be the second most powerful man in the known world.  Great story for the movies, right, but this one is real.

But it’s more than just the story.  After studying all the patriarchs who all had serious character flaws and sins we meet Joseph who somehow manages to lead a God-centered life HIS ENTIRE LIFE.  There are no major sins he commits.  He is guilty of boasting in his youth–minor compared to the rest of them.

He is the example we all should follow.  How to roll with the punches, crediting God in the good and the bad, and doing God’s work your entire life.  He inspires us and gives us hope, showing us that it is possible to commit your life completely and totally to God despite man’s sinful nature and propensity to selfishness and self-rule.  I CAN do this despite all of my sins.  I can do this and win–win for God, by God, and through God.

The parallels to Christ are uncanny.  Sacrificing everything to save your people. Suffering. Being exalted in the end.

Yet Joseph was human.  Like you and me.  And if he could do it, then so can I.

BSF Study Questions Genesis Lesson 28, Day 2: Genesis 41

Summary of passage:  Two years after Joseph interpreted the cupbearer and the baker’s dreams, Pharaoh had a dream where 7 cows emerged from the Nile River that were fat and then 7 gaunt cows emerged from the Nile and ate up the fat cows.  He had a second dream where 7 heads of healthy grain grew on a stalk.  After them 7 thin grains sprouted and ate up the healthy grains.

No one could interpret Pharaoh’s dreams.  At this point the cupbearer finally remembered Joseph and told Pharaoh how he had successfully interpreted their dreams. Pharaoh sent for Joseph and after cleaning up, he was presented to him.

Pharaoh told Joseph he had heard he could interpret dreams.  Joseph immediately said he couldn’t but God could.

Pharaoh repeated his dreams to Joseph who told Pharaoh that God had revealed to him what He was about to do.  The 7 good cows and the 7 good grains represent 7 years and the 7 lean cows and 7 worthless grain are 7 years as well.  They represent 7 years of good crops and then 7 years of famine.  God gave Pharaoh the dreams for the matter has been firmly decided by God and it will happen soon.

Joseph told Pharaoh to look for a discerning and wise man to be in charge of the land of Egypt.  Take a fifth of Egypt’s harvest during the good years and store up the grain for the bad years so that the country will not be ruined by the famine.

Pharaoh appoints Joseph as this man who is discerning and wise and Godly to be second in command of Egypt and in charge of all the land.  He gives Joseph his ring, dresses him in fine linen and gives him a gold chain.  He rode in Pharaoh’s chariot as his second-in-command to announce it to the people.

No one will lift hand or foot without Joseph’s word.  He gives him the Egyptian name of Zaphenath-Paneah and an Egyptian wife named Asenath.

Joseph was 30 years old when this happened.  Joseph traveled all over Egypt, collecting the grain that was so much Joseph stopped keeping records.

Joseph had 2 sons named Manasseh (forget) and Ephraim (fruitful).

The 7 years of famine began but Egypt had food and Joseph opened the warehouses and distributed the food.  The famine was severe in all the world so many foreigners came to Egypt to buy grain as well.

Questions:

3)  Christ made himself nothing, served others selfishly, became obedient to God’s will and death.  Joseph served Potiphar and the jail.  He was nothing in their eyes, a Hebrew slave.  He acted selflessly by refusing to sleep with Potiphar’s wife and take any advantage of his master.  He gave God the credit for it all.  He interpreted the dreams of the cupbearer and the baker according to God’s will and noticed they were down.  He asked to interpret.  He showed compassion.

4)  He noticed the cupbearer and the baker were sad and asked them why.  Then he interpreted their dreams, asking only that they remember him.  Eventually, the cupbearer did remember Joseph and recommended him to Pharaoh to interpret his dreams.

5)  That the thin cows ate up the fat cows but did not change their appearance (verse 21).  They were still thin.

6)  Even before he interpreted the dreams, Joseph told Pharaoh that he could not interpret the dreams but God could and He will give Pharaoh the answer he is seeking (verse 16).  Throughout the interpretation, Joseph says repeatedly that God has revealed His will to Pharaoh (verse 25, 28) and that God has firmly decided the matter (verse 32).

Conclusions:  Didn’t like the Philippians verses (which we’ve looked at before in this study).  Felt it didn’t add anything and that this passage is rich enough.  The verses were too limiting.  Christ and Joseph have dozens of similarities but we are restricted to only a few mentioned in Philippians.  Would have liked to have seen a general question so we could come up with our own.

The best part is watching Joseph give God ALL the credit, which is rare these days.  No one hardly ever mentions God even when they are talking let alone giving Him the glory for everything in their lives (I would say Tim Tebow is the best known exception to this). It’s refreshing to see and gives us a great, great example to live up to.

When God’s timing is right, events happen quickly.  Joseph’s whole life changes in a matter of hours and he is now the second most powerful man in the known world.  God uses the times when we imagine nothing is happening in our lives to prepare us for these moments when EVERYTHING happens.

Compare this Joseph with 17 year-old Joseph who comes running blindly to his brothers about a dream he has had.  He never mentions God when he is bragging about these dreams.  Here, it is all God–from God, by God, and for God.

Gifts and talent take time to develop as does character.  Here, we can see the difference between these two Josephs.

Fun Fact:  This is the first mention in the Bible of the Holy Spirit being in a man.

BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 28, Day 5: 1 Peter 2:13-25

Summary of passage:  Peter says to submit ourselves to every authority instituted among men who are sent by him (God) to punish those who do wrong and commend those who do right.  And doing good will silence the ignorant.  Live as servants of God and do not use freedom as an excuse to do wrongs.  Respect everyone; love believers; fear God; honor authority.

Slaves submit yourselves to your masters whether good or bad.  It is commendable if you endure under unjust suffering because you are conscious of God to which you were called because Christ suffered for you, leaving the example.  Christ never retaliated or made threats.  Instead, he trusted God.  He died so that we may die to sin and live for righteousness.  By his wounds we have been healed.

Questions:

13)  Peter says we are to obey authority instituted among men because governments have a rightful authority from God and as long as they are not doing anything against God’s laws then we must obey.  The Jews in this time did not believe they should obey those who did not hold their beliefs.

Today I see little to no respect for authority or the government (and definitely nothing close to submission).  Everything government related we grumble and complain.  For this I cannot blame people.  Government today is nothing like government was in Peter’s time.  I would be curious to hear what the apostles would say about our government today.

14)  Because he is conscious of God and it is a calling because Christ suffered for you, leaving the example.

15)  Jesus did not retaliate or offer threats.  He entrusted himself to God and set the example that when we suffer we do so for God.

This question does not say personal so I’m assuming you is the plural form and not meant to be specific.  But I will just say I haven’t suffered unjustly as of yet to be honest.  Sure, I’ve suffered but who ever said it was supposed to be just?  Christ’s suffering wasn’t just so we shouldn’t expect our suffering to be just either.

Conclusions:  Again, I didn’t get a lot out of this.  Repetitive in the advice:  respect everyone; love believers; fear God; honor authority.  Anyone else getting tired of hearing this?

BSF questions are supposed to be where you are at and where I live there is no slavery (legally that is) so from my viewpoint it’s hard to relate to slavery and masters.  We are also a free society (to which could be argued but according to our Constitution we are free and definitely free when compared to Peter’s time) so submitting to government is hard to relate to as well since we’re not being asked to break God’s laws or being persecuted like Peter was under Roman authority.

In essence, applying this particular passage to my life (for I can’t speak for yours) is difficult.  The best part was how Christ suffered unjustly and thus we may as well and if we do we must endure for God’s sake.  This is something we all can relate to.

BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 28, Day 4: 1 Peter 2:4-12

Summary of passage:  Peter says Jesus is the living stone who was rejected by men and chosen by God and precious to him and so are we (Christians) living stones being built into spiritual houses and holy priesthoods.  The stone (Jesus) is precious to believers as our cornerstone but unbelievers reject the stone and is now the capstone and a stone that causes those who disobey the message to stumble.

We are a chosen people, royal priesthood, holy nation, belonging to God, and called into the light from the dark. We are God’s people out of His mercy and aliens and strangers in this world.  Abstain from sinful desires and live such good lives that the pagans will glorify God.

Questions:

9)  living, chosen, precious, cornerstone, capstone.  Living is eternal life, not death.  Chosen is preordained, not a randomness; planned out.  Precious is highly valued and esteemed; of high price and cherished.  Corner and cap are the descriptive terms attached to stone, which mean they are the key part.  The cornerstone forms the base of the corner of the building and the rest of the blocks depend on it in order to stand.  The capstone is a stone affixed on top of a building to cap it off; the final touches, achievement, stroke or culmination of the building.  So here Jesus is both the foundation on which the building stands and its crowning achievement at the top.

I don’t like the use of the word rightly here.  It implies there is a wrong way to respond, which if your heart is sincere, there isn’t.

10)  Christ causes men to stumble because they disobey the message.  It’s why we all stumble:  we turn our backs on Jesus, God, and His word and follow our will instead of His will.  Everyone trips up and falls but it’s whether we have Christ or not that determines if we are able to get back up and back on the right path–His path.  Or if we will keep stumbling our entire lives.

11)  Chosen people, royal priesthood, a holy nation, belonging to God, called into his light, people of God, received mercy.  They are all important but I like holy nation because being holy allows me to be with God, righteously.

12a)  If you are walking in Christ’s footsteps, you are living every day as an alien and stranger in this world for our home is in heaven, not on earth (see discussion HERE). We are God’s chosen people, separate from unbelievers, set aside for eternity.  The Holy Spirit lives within us; therefore, we are different and our lives should reflect that.  We live according to God, not others.  Thus, we should live in every way as an alien and a stranger.

b)  My missionary friend who truly walks with God every day.  She shines with God and inspires me to do the same.

Conclusions:  This lesson was only blase for me.  We just got done studying this in my other bible study and I see nothing new here.  It’s repetitive, which I know the Bible does a lot of so we mere humans get it, so it’s important.  But could be my mood today.  I guess I was hoping for more swords and shields rather than building analogies (I’m more of an action person rather than one who has the patience to design intricate buildings).