BSF Study Questions Revelation Lesson 5, Day 5: Revelation 3:1-6

Summary of passage:  Jesus speaks to the church of Sardis, saying their deeds are not complete and they need to repent.  Otherwise, Jesus will come like a thief.  There are a few faithful in Sardis who will walk with him dressed in white and earn eternity with the Father.


11a)  He knew their deeds and sins.  He commanded them to strengthen the good within, obey his laws, and repent of sins.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  I need to keep striving especially when I sin, following Him and his will for my life.

12)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  The righteous and encouragement for the life after.

Conclusions:  11b and 12 are similar and similar to ones we’ve answered before.

End Notes:  Sardis was a city on the decline from its former days of glory in the sixth and seventh century BC but was still wealthy and sat on major trade routes of the day.  Like the other cities, Sardis was a known place of immorality and pagan worship.  Sardis seemed to have been known as a city of decadence and loose living even in the ancient world.  It sat on high cliffs and sported a huge citadel.  It had the fourth largest temple to Artemis in the Roman world.  In the fourth century AD, it built the largest synagogue in the ancient world.

Note the use of the number seven–the number of completeness in the Bible.  Jesus is wholly God (the 7 spirits) and wholly man in the form of churches.  From Revelation 1:20 we know the 7 stars represent the churches.

As with all the churches, Jesus knows their deeds–as he knows ours.

Note Jesus did not tell them to stand strong against persecution or false doctrines so we can assume the church didn’t face a lot of that.  What they did face was no heart.  They talked the talk with no walk.  They did not live out the Spirit.

Jesus tells them to do more; what they are doing is not enough.  They are half-assing life it seems. He wants them as they were when they first heard the Word–passionate, joyful, and eager for Him.  Outwardly, they were alive; but inwardly they were dead.

He will come like the thief if they do not.  This is either judgment or the rapture before the judgment.

Note Jesus points out the remnant and encourages them.  In Pergamum (Revelation 2:14) and in Thyatira (Revelation 2:20) there were a few bad among the good; in Sardis it was the reverse–a few good among the bad.

In ancient times, people could not approach pagan gods in dirty clothes.  White was the color of purity (as it is today like a wedding dress) and for the Romans the color of triumph.  Clothed in white symbolized a believer’s triumph over sin and evil and God’s righteousness upon him.  This also could refer to our glorified bodies upon resurrection.

The opposite?  Black and dirty.

The ultimate reward:  walk with Jesus.

In ancient times, names would be blotted out upon death or upon conviction of a crime.  In Ancient Egypt, pharaohs’ names would be blotted out as well by the following pharaoh if they were disliked, effectively eliminating their existence to future generations.  Indeed, this is what happened to Tutankhamen and why his tomb was found virtually intact:  he was forgotten!  Tomb robbers quit looking for him.  But God will never quit looking for us!  How amazing!

God will never blot out our names once we are His.  And Jesus will acknowledge and accept us!  What grace!

Sardis Christians were apathetic and overconfident in their faith and semi-good works.  Jesus admonishes them and says, “No!”

What is the Book of Life?  The Book of Life is a real book that Jesus will open on Judgment Day (Revelation 20:12).  It contains all the names of those saved.  Those names not written will be cast into a lake of fire (Revelation 20:15).

Can a name ever be erased from the Book of Life?  Perhaps.  There are five instances in the Bible that speak to this.

Exodus 32:32:  Moses said to the Lord: But now, please forgive their sin–but if not, then blot me out of the book you have written.

Exodus 32:33:  The Lord replied to Moses, “Whoever has sinned against me I will blot out of my book.”

Psalm 69:28:  May they  be blotted out of the book of life and not be listed with the righteous.

Here in our passage in Revelation 3:5:  He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white.  I will never blot out his name from the book of life, but will acknowledge his name before My Father and his angels.

Further in Revelation 22:19:  And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree (some translations have “book” here) of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.

Here, the Greek word for “share” means “section.”  Hence, some commentators compare this to a hotel reservation.  You have a room reserved but until you actually check in, it is not officially yours.  Hence, every person born is in the book; but only if they accept Jesus (check in) will their name be officially written in the Book of Life.

Hence, conclusions are mixed for we just don’t know.  Some scholars say once a Christian you will be saved and forgiven no matter what you do.  Others say if you are a Christian and renounce Jesus and his teachings then your name will be blotted out and you will go to hell.  Some say these people’s names were never written in the book to begin with, which is in line with Rev 3:5 which promises names will never be blotted out.

For me, I just worry about myself and my actions.  I can’t control others.  Am I walking God’s way?  Do I accept Jesus as my Savior?  Then I have nothing to worry about;  I know where I’m going.

Romans kept registrars of its citizens and criminals names were blotted out, signifying a loss of citizenship.  The analogy would not have been lost on the first century Christians:  not a good thing to have your name blotted out–it meant death to your lifestyle, rights, privileges, etc.

Fun Fact:  Sardis is the first church Jesus has nothing good to say.

The Color White:  White makes its appearance 5 times in the book of Revelation:  Reve 3:4-5, 3:18, 4:4, 6:11, 19:14.  All symbolizing spiritual purity.

Map of Sardis:

Conclusions to Lesson 5:  Works alone do not guarantee us a relationship with God.  He knows everything we do and He knows our hearts.  Are you going through the motions?  Or are you going all out for Jesus?

Righteousness is a gift from God.  Jesus is a gift.  White robes are a gift.  All we do is accept with believing faith.

All the cities John listed were in order of the route a messenger would have taken, starting with Ephesus (see map above) and circling back clockwise.  All are in modern day Turkey.  None of these churches survive today.

BSF Study Questions Revelation Lesson 5, Day 4: Revelation 2:18-29

Summary of passage: Jesus says the church in Thyatira is improving but they are tolerating Jezebel and her teachings, which lead to sexual immorality and idol worship. Jesus intends to make those who commit adultery with her suffer and will kill her children. Those who haven’t followed her Jesus encourages to hold fast to him. If they do, he will give them authority over nations and the morning star.


9)  Part personal question.  My answer:  Jesus says he will give authority over the nations and he will be the one to dash them to pieces (judge them).  He will also give believers the morning star (himself).  Imbed the truth in my heart and do my best to not be influenced by outsiders and let him be in control.

10)  Part personal question.  My answer:  Jesus’ will for us is to follow him, obeying all of his commands, and to go and make disciples of others for his kingdom.  He rewards us with eternal life with the Father.  It means everything to me.

Conclusions:  Extension of yesterday with emphasis that Jesus is our one, true reward–what we live for, strive for, and serve for.  He is our everything.

End Notes:  See yesterday’s analysis HERE

BSF Study Questions Revelation Lesson 5, Day 3: Revelation 2:18-29

Summary of passage:  Jesus says the church in Thyatira is improving but they are tolerating Jezebel and her teachings, which lead to sexual immorality and idol worship.  Jesus intends to make those who commit adultery with her suffer and will kill her children.  Those who haven’t followed her Jesus encourages to hold fast to him.  If they do, he will give them authority over nations and the morning star.


6)  The Lord commended their improvement in deeds, love, faith, service, and perseverance of him.

7a)  Thyatira and Pergamum both were susceptible to false teachings and prophets, sexual immorality, and idol worship.

b)  She was impudent, shameless, evil, wicked, ruthless, unrepentant, murderer, a thief, and a bully.  She abused her power to gain what she wanted.  She pushed her religion upon everyone.  She was a false prophetess.  She almost brought down God’s people (see End Notes for her history).

c)  She will suffer and her children will be struck dead.

8 )  Personal question.  My answer:  Jesus is just (punishing according to deed).  It challenges me to do right always, to know I will be judged by Jesus, even in the little things.  To remember Jesus is not just the “warm and fuzzy” Jesus some churches portray him as; he’s also the final judger of deeds and a healthy fear would be good to imbed in my soul.

Conclusions:  The questions themselves weren’t challenging; the commentary and meaning behind it all especially in relation to the other churches was.  I would encourage all of you to take your time here.  Read more than the passage.  Really study what Jesus is saying here.  Imbed it in your soul.  Read commentaries.  Ask questions.  Investigate.  I promise you will be rewarded if you do.

That being said, be cautious of commentaries especially ones online.  One commentary I read said the children of Jezebel was the Roman Catholic Church and the commentator went on to chastise the church.  Obviously, Catholicism did not exist in the first century so this interpretation is extreme.

Use common sense and prayer.  If something is way out there, don’t believe it.  If it doesn’t line up with your beliefs of what is right or what the bible says, then disregard it.  Remember, gathering ideas is a good thing; but we also cannot know God’s ways.  Man’s interpretations and analysis is not God’s.  But we can learn from those around us.  Hence, our time sharing our answers in BSF!

With practice and God’s guidance you will be able to decipher the good versus the junk out there and you will grow in unbelievable ways.

End Notes:  Jezebel’s name is synonymous with evil.  She was a princess of the Phoenicians and was married to Ahab, king of Israel for political reasons.  She worshipped Baal and brought her religion with her (hence God forbid the marriage of foreigners).  She convinced Arab to build a temple to Baal in the capital of Jerusalem and set out to exterminate the worship of the One, True God.  She installed 850 priests of Baal and slaughtered God’s prophets.

In the end, she died as she deserved–thrown out a window and driven over by a chariot.  Her body was left to be ravaged by the dogs, fulfilling Elijah’s prophecy (1 Kings 21).

Thyatira was the most insignificant of the 7 cities.  It was the smallest and no persecution or suffering of Christians is even recorded in history occurring in this city.

Map of Thyatira

Still, it was a city of trade and Acts 16:14-15 mentions Lydia who traded in cloth, a good Thyratira specialized in.

To say “son of” something meant to the Jews you had the nature of that something.  Here, Jesus purposely uses “Son of God” to emphasize his deity to the people.  Revelation 1:14 and 1:15 is repeated here as well when Jesus describes himself with “eyes like blazing fire and feet like burnished bronze.”

Again, fire is judgment here and bronze is pure and steadfast.

Jesus picks this insignificant church in the ancient world to show that no one is insignificant in his eyes.  He cares for all and watches all.  He praises their love, faith, service, and perseverance–4 qualities that mark a good Christian.

Praises BUT…

The people were following a woman who was leading them astray, a false prophetess whom Jesus warned about in Matthew 24:11.  Whether her name was actually Jezebel or not, scholars are unsure.  Some even speculate she was the pastor’s wife as the Greek words could be indicative of that translation.

What is important here is the significance of the name; every Jewish person would have known immediately who Jezebel was and how evil she was in the eyes of the Lord.

Her sin was leading others to sin (Mark 9:42).  In the ancient world and beyond into Medieval times, a craftsman had to be a member of a trade guild in order to prosper and gain work.  Here, in ancient times, trade guilds were closely associated with the pagan gods which would entail sexual immorality and the eating of foods in the people’s worship ceremonies.

Note “my” servants.  We are all Jesus’s.

“Deep secrets” of Satan referred to the Gnostics who all claimed they knew such things.

Giving her time to repent is Jesus’s great mercy and love.  We are all given time to repent, but the time is limited.

The sin was also tolerating Jezebel.  The people needed to throw her out and now before she could corrupt others.

“Adultery” here is also spiritual adultery.  The people were betraying Jesus when they followed pagan ways.

The NIV uses “bed of suffering”, which is much closer to another translation of “sickbed.”  We know from 1 Corinthians 11:30 that God does use sickness as a method of judgment.  The word used here for “bed” in Greek is a banqueting couch.

“Suffer intensely” is also rendered “great tribulation” in some translations, which brings up THE Great Tribulation.  “Striking her children dead” and the mention of the tribulation here has some scholars saying all this is for future generations–meaning us.

Jesus still hopes for repentance “unless they repent of their ways”.  He uses punishments as a push towards him.  He never loses hope until the last second.

“Heart and minds” in Greek is “heart and kidneys.”  The heart was the source of intellect; the kidneys emotions.  God wants both.

Hold on until Jesus comes.  We are to hold fast to him until the End.

Jesus is encouraging the faithful:  “overcome and do my will to the end.”  We are to focus on Jesus despite all the immoral crap around us in the world.  If we do, we are promised the ultimate reward:  the morning Star, which is Jesus himself (Revelation 22:16).  Morning star could also be knowledge of God’s ways (2 Peter 1:19).  I happen to think it’s both–we get Jesus and knowledge all at once!

The iron scepter is a reminder that Jesus shall vanquish the unfaithful.  He alone is to worry.

Scholars debate when as always–either the millennium rule or the final rule or rule from heaven.

The Greek word here translated “rule” means to shepherd.

Again, Jesus tells us this message is for all including us.  A warning to unrepentant sinners; a ray of hope for those holding on to him.

Fun Fact:  This is the first and only time Jesus calls himself the Son of God in the book of Revelation.  Why?  Because this church is heavily engaged in idolatry.

BSF Study Questions Revelation Lesson 5, Day 2: Revelation 2:12-17

Summary of passage:  Jesus praises the church in Pergamum for its fidelity to him even in the face of  persecution and the death of Antipas.  He condemns them, however, for some following the teaching of Balaam and Nicolaitans and tells them to repent.  Jesus says those who overcome will receive manna and a white stone with a new name written on it.


3)  They remained true to his name and did not renounce their faith even under persecution and the death of Antipas. (See explanation of Antipas in End Notes).

4a)  Balaam was the false prophet hired by Balak to curse the Israelites which God would not allow him to do.  It is believed it was Balaam’s idea to subvert the Israelites by using women and sex and causing them to sin and idol worship.  (We studied this extensively last year).

b) Part personal question.  My answer:  “The sword of his mouth” i.e. the Word of God. Knowing God’s word has shown me what God says is right and wrong not what society says is right and wrong.  It is the ultimate moral code, the one we will be judged upon, infallible and pure.  It has corrected my thinking in terms of gay marriage, sex before marriage, capital punishment, etc.

5)  Part personal question.  My answer:  Those who are victorious will gain heaven as their reward. It encourages me to keep working for Him even when I am so utterly discouraged I want to quit.  There is a plan for me; I just have to believe it.

Conclusions:  Thoroughly enjoyed this lesson.  It kept to the passage and the personal questions were applicable. There is so much here packed into 5 verses.  Awesome!

End Notes:  Antipas was the first martyr of Western Asia.  Precious little is known of him.  Some say he is the same Antipas as Saint Antipas (who may not have even existed either).  You can read HERE and HERE on him.

Antipas means “against all”.  The name Antipas is a shortened form of Antipater, one of Alexander’s successful generals (c. 397-319 B.C).  Many men and even women (Antipatris) in the Greek world were named after him.  Great in-depth article on Antipas and Pergamum HERE

Pergamum was the Roman capital for the Asiatic region under Rome’s control.  It had been the capital for more than 300 years.  It was a city noted for learning and knowledge, boasting one of the biggest libraries in the ancient world.  The city of Pergamum was a headquarters for several pagan cults and emperor worship began here (having three temples to the emperors and numerous other temples to Roman gods and goddesses) and spread, possibly the meaning behind “where Satan has his throne.”

Pergamum built the first temple to Caesar Augustus 50 years prior to John’s writing.  It had a huge temple to the Roman God, Asclepius, the God of healing, and people from all over the Empire would travel here in hopes of being healed.

Map of Pergamum:

In Revelation 1:16, John introduces the double-edged sword coming from Jesus’ mouth and repeats the idea here.  This would become a popular image as the writer of Hebrews uses this as well (Hebrews 4:12).  It stands for the Word.  Jesus is holding the Word here as His weapon.

The people did not deny Jesus’ faith.  Key point.  His faith, not our faith.

Notice Antipas and Jesus are both called “faithful witness.” (Revelation 1:5)  The word witness here used to be translated martyr and here the NIV is right.  The original Greek word (martus) meant witness.  Only in the first century AD did the word begin to take on the meaning of martyr in the English sense.

Nothing is known about Antipas except what is recorded here.  History forgot him.  But Jesus didn’t.

Balaam (his story is in Numbers 22-24 and again in chapter 31) encouraged sexual immorality and idolatry.  In the ancient world, there was no concept of sexual immorality except with the Jews.  The Romans married but were not faithful.  If they wanted to sleep around, they did.  And they saw nothing wrong with that.  These are people who had sex in temples remember.  It was their culture.  It wasn’t until the spread of Christianity that God’s way became the standard.

Here we see the Nicolaitans again (Revelation 2:6).  Again, not much is known of the Nicolaitans.  Some scholars say they were followers of Nicholas who was ordained by the apostles and who believed in revelry, adultery, and indulgence to the extreme. Other scholars say they were more gnostics who believed a physical body was intrinsically evil and denied the fact a pure, omnipotent God would take such a form. Hence, some claimed Jesus was a phantom or that God left Jesus before he was crucified. The Greek root words of Nicolaitan means “to conquer the people.”

Best explanation of Nicolaitans HERE.  Best brief account HERE

God’s people here allowed these practices to continue.  They were complicit in the sin, doing nothing to stop it.  Hence, Jesus’ rebuke.

5 of the 7 churches are commanded to repent or face judgment using the Word.

Hidden manna is God’s perfect provision–Jesus (John 6:41, 51).

In the Roman world, a white stone was known as tessera and it was a form of currency if you will. It was used as tickets to banquets, signs of honor and friendship, and even as a sign of acquittal in court.  Stones were also used in voting methods.  Citizens or those eligible to vote were given two stones:  a white one and a black one.  A white one meant “yes” and a black one meant “no.”  Citizens would drop only one stone when they voted.  This method was mainly for enacting laws.

Interesting historical note:  these stones were used to vote for the Nicene Creed.

Another interesting historical note:  this is where the colors also became associated with good and evil in the secular world (besides the use in the Bible).

Further interest:  This system of using black and white balls was carried over to the modern world for electing new members to clubs, fraternities, and guilds.  This is also where the term “blackballing” comes from albeit the meaning of the word has changed in modern times.  Cool short summaries HERE and HERE.

People’s names were carved on these stones, or more accurately, pebbles in the Greek.

Here, the white stone serves as the ticket to heaven, the “new name” probably the believer’s new name engraved on it.

BSF Study Questions The Life of Moses Lesson 5, Day 5: Exodus 9:13-10:29

Summary of passage:  We embark on the third set of three plagues set on Egypt.  Here God sends the Plague of Hail in exactly the same way as before:  God tells Moses to tell Pharaoh to release His people.  If Pharaoh does not, a hailstorm the likes of which have never been seen in Egypt will rain down and destroy everything left outside.  Pharaoh refuses and Moses brings about the Plague.  Pharaoh relents, saying he has sinned, and asks Moses to take away the Plague and he will let the Israelites go.  We all know what happens:  Pharaoh does not.

Exodus 10:  Interestingly here, God is the one hardening Pharaoh’s heart again and he tells Moses this plague is so that the Israelites will know and the following generations that he is Lord.  Moses delivers the message:  God will send a Plague of Locusts to devour what is left of Egypt.  Pharaoh’s officials beg him to let the Israelites go.  But Pharaoh tries to compromise with God again, only wanting to let the men go.  God (of course) does not compromise so He sends the plague.

Same thing as in the Plague of Hail:  Pharaoh says he has sinned, asks Moses to remove the plague and he will let the people go, Moses does, and Pharaoh refuses, God again the one hardening Pharaoh’s heart.

Last plague of this set is without warning again:  God sends a Plague of darkness to Egypt.  No one could see for three days except for in the land of Goshen, which was spared.  Pharaoh calls Moses to him again and again tries to compromise, saying he must leave the livestock behind.  Moses laughs, saying they need the animals for sacrifice.  Here, the Lord again hardens Pharaoh’s heart and banishes Moses from his court.


10)  In the Plague of Hail (the Seventh plague), Pharaoh for the first time says he has sinned and he is wrong.  In the Plague of Locusts, the officials are finally convinced of God’s holiness.  Here Pharaoh says he has sinned against God and against Moses.  He asks for his sin to be forgiven.  In the Ninth Plague (the Plague of Darkness), Pharaoh says to go and he becomes so enraged at Moses’ refusal to compromise that he banishes Moses from his court.

In the Plague of Hail, God reveals to Pharaoh that the plagues are so His power is shown to all for He could have just have wiped them off the face of the earth but He hasn’t yet.  In the Plague of Locusts (the Eighth), God tells Moses this Plague is for the Israelites’ sake so that they may know He is God.

11a)  This is all a power game, nothing else.  Pharaoh wants to first just let the men go, then let the women go but keep the livestock here.  He wants to be in control when it is obvious God is in control.

b)  Too many to list.  Everyone tries to sneak in a bit of sin here and there instead of turning totally toward God and rejecting Satan completely.  Things like, “God, if you’ll do such and such for me, then I won’t ever do such and such again.”  God doesn’t bargain.  It’s all or nothing with Him as it should be in our lives.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  I hate the instructions “be specific” because often I can’t be.  Here, I can’t say of a bargain I’ve tried to make with God.  I can’t say I have ever cognizantly made one.  I’m sure I have with my actions.  I am just unaware of it.

12)  Moses is very assured in his speech and posture with Pharaoh.  I think some of this is from frustration and anger that Pharaoh is being so obstinate.  We see this in verse 29 with Moses last words to Pharaoh.  It seems this exchange is almost a tiff!  Moses is saying, “Well, fine!  I’ll do as you say and never, ever see you again!”

I think Moses has lost all fear of Pharaoh as he sees the miracles God has performed and how God has used him to perform such miracles.  I think Moses has realized God’s omnipotence and that Pharaoh is just a man.  I think Moses has lost all respect for Pharaoh who is so evil he chooses to harm his own people rather than let the Israelites go.  What kind of leader is he?

Conclusions:  This lesson covers a lot of ground as does the forthcoming lessons so make sure you leave the time to complete it thoroughly.  I love the change in Moses.  I think we all feel that when we see God in our lives work His power we become more confident in God and in our faith and it shines outward.  I love the consequences of Pharaoh’s continued sin.  I love God’s grace towards Pharaoh.  I love God’s show of power and mercy in the plagues when He could have just been done with the Egyptians.  So many powerful lessons for us to remember!

End Notes:  “I will being judgment on the gods of Egypt” (Exodus 12:12).  God is in an all-out war against the Egyptian gods.  Here we see the Plague of Darkness attack the sun god, Ra, one of Egypt’s most important gods.  Ra was considered to the the King of the Egyptian Gods and as such the Pharaoh represented Ra on earth.  He was the creator of everything and considered the father of the other gods.  The sun was important to the Egyptians as they relied on it for light, warmth, and growth.  It is fitting that God chose his final attack on Pharaoh himself and on Egypt’s supreme god.

The Ten Plagues serve two major purposes:  One, to convince Egypt to let their slave labor go.  Two, to convince the Israelites it was time to leave the life they’ve known for 400 years.  God uses his power to let everyone know who is in charge.

Pharaoh’s stubbornness merely glorified God.  God gives the Egyptians a chance to protect their livestock from the hail. Some did and some didn’t.  It hardly ever rains in Egypt so the idea of a huge hailstorm was probably unimaginable to the Egyptians.  It would be easy for them to dismiss this warning.  They must have been very frightened when it began to hail.  Some translations say fire instead of lightning, which would have been even more frightening.

Nut was the goddess of the sky that the Plague of Hail was against.

Note Moses’ candor in the Plague of Hail.  “I know that you and your officials still do not fear the Lord God.”  I can just see Moses sighing, knowing Pharaoh is lying to him and that his heart is hard and his confession is insincere.  Yet, he grants Pharaoh’s request so there is no excuse by Pharaoh NOT to turn to the Lord.  Moses is probably thinking, Man, this guy is an idiot!  But Moses probably also is sorry for Pharaoh as well and probably prays for him to turn to God.

Here we find yet another purpose of the plagues:  to grow Moses’ heart and faith in God and in himself.  We can see the transformation in Moses whose most difficult task is ahead:  leading the Israelites to the Promised Land.

Pharaoh hates the consequences of his sin, but not the sin itself.  He’d do the sin all over again.  This is a warning to us all.

The plagues keep coming as Pharaoh refuses to humble himself before the Lord and as God intends to keep showing Pharaoh who He is until Pharaoh gets it!

The Egyptian god Set was the protector of crops.  Looks like Set failed in his job in this instance as the locusts devoured everything in sight!

Note how the darkness is one that “can be felt”.  God is light so God not only abolished the sun’s rays, but He also took away His presence from the earth as well, which we can feel.

Pharaoh is so exasperated that he banishes Moses from his court, which is effectively banishing God. God responds with the Tenth Plague, one that will affect Pharaoh is a personal way so that God will never be banished again!

The Bible gives several reasons for the plagues:  to verify to God’s people that Moses is His chosen one, to show His greatness, to give testimony for the future generations, to answer Pharaoh’s question of who is God, to judge the false gods, and as a warning to other nations of what will happen if you oppose His people.

Fun Fact:  Pharaoh’s admission to sin in Exodus 9:27 is one of eight in the Bible.  See if you can discover who else said as much and who was sincere and who was insincere.

BSF Study Questions The Life of Moses Lesson 5, Day 4: Exodus 8:20-9:12

Summary of passage:  Now the Lord tells Moses to warn Pharaoh that the next plague will be a plague of flies; however, this time there will be no flies upon God’s people in Goshen–only in Egypt–so that Pharaoh will see God’s power even more.  Pharaoh tells Moses to worship God in Egypt and Moses says that is impossible for the Egyptians would stone them to death for doing so.  Pharaoh again says he will allow the people to go if Moses takes away the flies.  Moses does and Pharaoh once again lies.

God tells Moses to warn Pharaoh that he will kill all of the Egyptians livestock but leave the Israelites’ livestock alone.  Still, Pharaoh’s heart is hardened and he refuses.  So with no warning, God sends the plague of boils upon the men and animals.  Still, Pharaoh refuses to believe.


7)  God decides to only send the plague of flies upon the Egyptians and spare His people.

8a)  Presumably to give Pharaoh time to repent and turn to God and let His people go after receiving the warning from Moses.  Hence, Pharaoh would have no excuse as to his refusal.

b)  This shows God’s infinite mercy.

c)  Pharaoh refused to honor God’s request and “his heart was unyielding and he would not let the people go.”

9a)  The people themselves.  Before it was the water, the land, and animals around them.  Here, it’s against the people themselves with the boils.

b)  Yes and no.  Original sin by Adam brought upon us death.  Often, illness and disease lead to death.  So, yes, in this instance.  But in the Old Testament, people believed if you sinned you were punished by God with a disease or with death.  Here, Jesus says no in John 9 as he heals a blind man.  Romans 5:12:  “Just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned”

Sickness is not a consequence of personal sin; it’s a consequence of original sin (Adam and Eve’s). But with forgiveness, we are cured of our “sickness” of sin.  [More explanation in End Notes].

Conclusions:  Here we see the second set of three plagues.  God spares His people all of the plagues and God begins a more aggressive approach as it now afflicts the bodies of the Egyptians. Unbelievable how Pharaoh still refuses to relent. This must be the work of the devil for who else would still refuse to believe after seeing all of God’s miracles?

Question 9b is interesting because we get to see just what Jesus did for us on the cross.  Amazing!

I’m excited to be studying the plagues.  It’s been a long time for me and I had forgotten most of them!  Thank you, BSF!

End Notes:  The exact translation of flies is unknown in the original Hebrew.  This could very well be biting insects such as mosquitoes or fleas as well.  We can assume this had the same effect as the Plague of gnats/lice–that life as usual stopped in Egypt.

We can learn from Moses here.  Pharaoh tries to compromise, offering the Egyptians the right to sacrifice but here in Egypt.  Moses refuses.  Compromising in the face of evil/the devil is exactly what the devil wants us to do.  We must remain strong in our faith and not give in to any form of sin.

Did Pharaoh lie or did he change his mind once the Plague of flies was gone?  I tend to lean toward lying.  He never intended to give up his slaves and since he had already reneged on his promise with the frogs, who would believe him anymore?

Note how Pharaoh wanted God to help him and as soon as he was helped, he turned on God. Good lesson for us.  God is for us in the good and the bad.

Pharaoh knew God’s power enough to ask for God to remove the plagues.  But once done, he turned his back on God.  How many of us have done the same thing?

God is asking for Pharaoh to let His people go for His sake.  We are created for His sake.  So we must remember it is all about Him.

The cow was sacred to the Egyptians and their god, Hathor, was represented as a cow at times. There is record of an ancient battle where Egypt’s enemy put cows amongst the troops and the Egyptians would not shoot arrows at them for fear of killing the cows, forcing a retreat.

Even the magicians are struck with boils and their god of healing, Imhotep, was powerless.

For the first time, God hardens Pharaoh heart in fulfillment of scripture (Exodus 4:21; 7:3). In every example up to this point, Pharaoh hardens his own heart. Good lesson for us.  God gives us opportunity after opportunity to repent but eventually judgment is rendered.

This was a good website on the origin of sickness with many scriptural references thrown it:

Sickness is from the devil, not from God.  Sickness entered this world (and us) from man’s sins. But since we are forgiven if we accept Jesus as our Savior, illness is not from our personal sins. Does that make sense?

BSF Study Questions The Life of Moses Lesson 5, Day 3: Exodus 7:14-8:19

Summary of passage:  Since Pharaoh still refuses to let the Israelites go, God tells Moses to go out to the Nile River and meet Pharaoh and tell him that since he won’t let my people go, you will use your staff to turn the water of the Nile to blood so that the fish will die and the water will be undrinkable.  Then send Aaron to turn the rest of the water in Egypt to blood as well.  Moses obeyed but Pharaoh didn’t care since his magicians could do the same thing.  The Egyptians had to dig for their water.

After a week, God tell Moses to send a plague of frogs upon the people until Pharaoh relents and lets His people go.  So Aaron sends the frogs, which the magicians can do as well.  Pharaoh tells Moses if he takes the frogs away, he will release the Israelites.  So Moses agrees but Pharaoh reneges on his word.

So God has Aaron turn the dust of the land to gnats–something the magicians cannot reproduce.  They tell Pharaoh this is from God but he doesn’t care.


5)  Blood:  The Lord tells Moses and Aaron to turn the water in Egypt to blood.  Moses turns the Nile to blood while Aaron turns the rest of water to blood.  The magicians can do the same thing.  Pharaoh’s heart became hard and he would not listen to Moses or Aaron and did nothing.

Frogs:  The Lord tells Moses to tell Pharaoh He will plague Egypt with frogs and tells Moses to tell Aaron to do so.  So Moses obeys and Aaron makes frogs come up out of the land from the waters in Egypt.  The magicians can do the same thing.  Pharaoh tells Moses and Aaron he will release the Israelites if the Lord removes the frogs.  So Moses does but Pharaoh reneges.

Gnats:  The Lord tells Moses to tell Aaron to turn the dust to gnats.  Moses and Aaron do.  This is something the magicians can’t do so they tell Pharaoh that this must be the finger of God.  But Pharaoh as always has a hard heart and won’t listen and keep the Israelites enslaved.

Differences:  Moses participates in the plague of blood but strictly Aaron does so in the frogs and gnats.  Pharaoh obviously didn’t like frogs since he lies to Moses to get him to take the frogs away.  God is the same in all the passages.  The magicians can’t reproduce the gnats so they are now convinced that the Lord is who He says He is.  Pharaoh is the same obstinate person as before.

6a)  “This is what the Lord says”

b)  To underscore to Pharaoh that the message is from the Lord and not Moses just speaking.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  It is important to realize that the Bible is all that the Lord says, that it is from Him, and I’d better listen!

Conclusions:  I had never noticed before that Moses was the leader and Aaron did all the work for Moses.  From my childhood, I had always remembered it as Moses doing it all but it seems it’s his brother, Aaron, that does all the grunt work!  Aaron himself has no ability to perform miracles unless Moses says so.  It’s like Moses has to be seen as the leader just like Pharaoh is seen as the leader and like Pharaoh has minions and magicians to perform his work so must Moses.  I believe this is so in order to establish credibility with Pharaoh.  Furthermore, this is how it was in the ancient world:  you had an all-powerful ruler who dictated his orders and couldn’t possibly lower himself to do the work.

I always love how The Lord speaks to Moses cause it makes me jealous and I want God to speak to me!

End Notes:

Map of Ancient Egypt:

Up-close Map of Ancient Egypt:

This is the time of Ancient Egypt’s greatest power and the furthest extent of its empire.  And here’s Moses challenging arguably the greatest man on earth!  These maps are interactive and have a wealth of information on the time and the countries around Egypt.

There are 9 plagues sent by God upon Egypt (the killing of the firstborn is not really a plague per se).  They are grouped by threes with the first two always coming with warnings and the third with no warning.  This is by God’s mercy upon Pharaoh, hoping he will change his heart.  He never does.

Some say the plagues could all have happened by natural causes.  For instance, in the plague of the blood, the river Nile floods every year and deposits rich, red soil on the land.  This could taint the water and kill the fish.  However, in the time sequence of the Bible, not all could happen so close together.

Each plague attacked an Egyptian deity, showing God’s omnipotence over all and answering Pharaoh’s question from Exodus 5:2 “Who is the Lord?”

In the plague of blood, the Egyptians worshipped the Nile as a goddess. This shows her ineptitude.

Scholars debate whether the magicians were using tricks or were using powers from Satan.  Most lean towards Satan.  Note how Satan just replicates the miracle; he never fixes it for instance turning the Nile back to clean because Satan cannot cleanse anything.

Why all the plagues?  Why not just kill the Egyptians and be done with it?  Well, God has two purposes here.  One, to show his power over the Egyptian gods.  Two, to give Pharaoh and the Egyptians a chance to repent–to show mercy as God does to all peoples.

Plague of frogs:  Again, this is directed towards an Egyptian goddess who had the head of a frog.  Frogs were worshipped by the Egyptians and considered sacred and thus were not to be killed.  What did God do?  He killed the frogs!  I bet the Egyptians were outraged over this one!

Note the parallels with the Creation here:  First and Second plagues are about the waters.  Third and fourth plagues, earth.  Five, air.  Sixth, man.  Then God rested.  Genesis 1, anyone?

Note how God uses the lowly here to accomplish his goals:  gnats, frogs, etc.

Pharaoh had to ask for help with his frog problem since no one was allowed to kill frogs and apparently they were everywhere, so much so the land reeked of them.

Plague of gnats:  Many translations say plague of lice (which to me is worse!).  The Egyptians were obsessed with cleanliness and this hit them hard!  Plus, now their sacrificial animals were tainted and no longer clean and fit for sacrifice to their gods.

The magicians cannot replicate this miracle and they say so to Pharaoh who apparently is insane and refuses to believe.  This shows how evil is limited and only God is omnipotent.