BSF Study Questions Matthew Lesson 9, Day 5: Matthew 8:23-34

Summary of passage:  Fleeing the crowds, Jesus and his disciples get in a boat to cross the Sea of Galilee.  A storm arose and the disciples, scared, awoke Jesus from a much needed rest afraid they would drown.  Jesus rebuked them for lack of faith and calmed the storm.  The disciples were amazed at Jesus’ power.

When Jesus arrived at the other side of the lake in Gadarenes, two demon-possessed men approached him.  They taunted Jesus and asked him to drive the demons into the pigs, which Jesus did.  The whole herd of pigs then drowned themselves in the lake.  The shepherds ran to tell the town and the whole town demanded Jesus leave, scared of what they just saw.

Questions:

12a)  Jesus understood the disciples genuine fear that they would die and how powerful of an emotion fear is so he calmed the storm not for himself but for them.

b)  Omnipotent (power over the wind and the seas).  Compassion in the midst of unbelief (even though the disciples didn’t deserve to have their fear calmed because they didn’t belief in who he was, Jesus did it anyways).  Love (Jesus loved his disciples enough to rebuke them and call them out for their lack of faith.)

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  If the disciples had really, truly understood exactly whom Jesus was they would not have been afraid.  Imagine:  you are in a boat with God/Jesus.  Would He allow anything to happen to you?  No. Yet the disciples literally thought they were going to die.  That Jesus would not protect them.  That they were not safe in his presence.  How sad!

d)  Personal Question.  My answer:  There have been many, mainly with regards to money.  My husband has lost his job multiple times and we have gone through a bankruptcy where we lost our home but never once were we homeless or without food, clothing, or shelter.  God provides and He continues to this day.  I no longer fear job losses.  They make me upset.  But my fear is gone for I know He has my back.

13a)  “They were so violent that no one could pass that way.”  “This man lived in the tombs and no one could bind him any more, not even with a chain.”  “He tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet.  No one was strong enough to subdue him.”  “He would cry out and cut himself with stones.”

b)  Jesus came to destroy the devil’s power over death and free us from our fear of death.  The demon-possessed men were as good as dead, leading a life not worth living, being chained up because they were crazy.  One cannot survive with demons inside of them as exhibited by the pigs.  The pigs, as lower animals, committed suicide because they could not handle the devil inside of them.

Jesus freed the men and gave them a live worth living again as he does for each of us who accept him.

c)  Personal Question.   My answer:  It’s interesting to me how Jesus chooses some to be disciples or witnesses and how he chooses others not to be.  Jesus healed the man with leprosy in Matthew 8:1-4 and told him not to tell anyone and here in Mark 18-20, Jesus tells the man to go and give testimony on what he has done.  I believe he has done this because the former needed to be cleansed to be accepted back into society and the demon man would have been accepted automatically.

Furthermore, Jesus came to free us from the power of the devil over our lives.  Driving out demons speaks to this point and is a more important testimony to who Jesus is.  Jesus healed the physical sick (the leper); but he is more interested in healing the people spiritually (the demon-possessed man).

d)  They pleaded with him to leave their region.  This shows they are scared of Jesus’ power.  They are angry at him because 2000 pigs as Mark tells us was worth a lot of money–probably most people’s entire income for the year.  They are indifferent to how Jesus saved the two men.  They could care less that they were saved.  They acted out of fear.

e)  They don’t like Jesus when he affects their money for the good of others.  When people are scared or they don’t understand something, they tend to run away or push back.  They close up and refuse to learn what is driving that fear so they ignore the Message.  People refuse to believe being saved is so easy so they reject Jesus.

Fear and unbelief go together.  What people fear, they don’t believe is true.  People fear what Jesus can do in their lives so they reject Jesus and choose what Satan is doing in their lives instead.

Conclusions:  I liked this lesson.  Full of action-packed stories and interesting characters.  Jesus calming a storm and freaky men running around, crazy, while a pack of pigs run off a cliff.  Cool!

Note how God always does what is best for us.  The man wanted to go with Jesus and Jesus said no.  Why?  Because this man would now serve God greater as he proclaimed his miracle to others.  Also, the man probably still harbored fears of the devil and Jesus wanted him to know he would be okay without Jesus nearby.

Maps:  This is an awesome site full of maps of where Jesus walked and the distances between places mentioned.  You can click on the red dots on the map which lead you to more detailed information with more maps and pictures of the ruins today.  You could spend hours on this site!

http://www.biblewalks.com/info/jesusfootsteps.html

This site has maps as well as the Bible verses that trace Jesus’ ministry:

http://www.ccel.org/bible/phillips/CN160-TRAVELS.htm

End Notes:  Some scholars believe the storm was sent by the devil in an attempt to drown the Son of God and his disciples because of the use of the word “rebuke”.

The demon-possessed men were exceedingly unclean since they lived among the dead.

The demon’s words to Jesus demonstrate they understood they were going to face torture for eternity and they asked to be left alone to inflict their damage on earth for as long as possible.

Pigs are unclean to Jews so these must have been owned by a Gentile.  Note how the demons needed permission to enter the pigs.  They just couldn’t do it themselves.

The pigs hurling themselves over the cliff shows the real reason for existence of demons:  to kill.  However, the demons may have achieved one end goal:  they turned the people away from Jesus through killing the pigs.  We must be wary always for the destructive tendencies of the devil.

Demons use human bodies as a weapon against God.  Demon-possession can be a reality today but note they have to be invited in; demons just can’t take control over you.

Note this is the only thing Jesus does in Gadarenes.  In Matthew 9, we learn Jesus returns to his own town.  Jesus came over just to save this one man.  This shows us the depth and importance we all hold in God’s eyes.  We matter just like this seemingly insignificant demon-possessed man did to God.  We all have hope.  This man’s life was admittedly over if Jesus hadn’t have banished the demons.  Now, the man can live again.  Just like we all can.

Mark mentions the Decapolis.  Deka is ten in Greek which was adopted into Latin to be dec and polis is Greek for cities so this literally means Ten Cities.  These were mainly on the eastern side of the Sea of Galilee, which were mainly Gentile.  See link HERE for a great history lesson and map on the ten cities which are the ones in black.

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BSF Study Questions Matthew Lesson 9, Day 4: Matthew 8:18-22

Summary of passage:  The crowds had grown so much that Jesus sought solitude by crossing the lake.  A teacher told Jesus he would follow him wherever he went and Jesus said his life is one of no home.  Another desired to bury his father first but Jesus said to follow him for he is the living one.

Questions:

10a)  Personal Question.  My answer:  The teacher’s heart was not committed to him enough to follow him wherever he went.

b)  Jesus has come to save the living.  When his father dies, he will be buried.  Now is the time to proclaim the kingdom of heaven.  Basically, following him (Jesus) comes first.  Caring for and burying his father–second.

c)  Luke tells us that emphasis Jesus is placing on the here and now.  Time is of the essence in converting people and doing his work.  The time is now to proclaim the kingdom of God.  Excuses he will not accept.  Jesus first or forget it.

11a)  Personal Question.  My answer:  The time is now.  We must be willing to be inconvenienced for God and proclaim His kingdom.  Excuses are unacceptable to God.  Following Jesus must come first.  Family and everything else second.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  This is a hard one because I hate my routine thrown off.  But I see this blog as my ministry and I get up early every day and type these answers to you all.  I put off cleaning the house, writing my novel, reading books for me, etc to do this.  I try to put others first and shine God’s light into this world.  Hopefully, it’s worth it in the end.

God must come first.  Our lives must be God-centered.  He is our number one priority.  We must be completely and totally His.  Otherwise, we are wasting our time here on earth.  I try to follow His calling no matter what.  It is hard but with His help I will succeed.

Conclusions:  Nice, succinct lesson.  God first.  Everything else second.  Period.

End Notes:  Perhaps those who asked to follow Jesus were in it for themselves.  Jesus was popular and perhaps they thought they’d benefit from this.  Just like groupies today.

“Let me go and bury my father” is probably an expression or figure of speech used that meant “Let me wait until my father is dead.”  The disciple did not literally mean bury his dead father.

We must remember in ancient culture and in some cultures today caring for elderly parents was a duty.  You cared for your parents until they died.  This was a priority.  In the US, elderly tend to be stuck in a home more and cared for others other than their direct descendants.

Jesus makes it abundantly clear:  following him comes first–above family obligations.

Fun Fact:  The phrase “Son of Man” is used 81 times in the gospels, each either by Jesus himself referring to himself or someone quoting Jesus as saying this.  It is used twice in the Old Testament:  Daniel 7:13-14 and Psalm 8:4

BSF Study Questions Matthew Lesson 9, Day 3: Matthew 8:5-17

Summary of passage:  In Capernaum, a centurion came to Jesus and asked him to heal his servant.  Jesus said he would do so.  The centurion protested, saying he does not deserve to have Jesus under his roof and asked Jesus to just say the word from afar.

Jesus was astonished at the man’s faithfulness in his ability to heal from afar and Jesus told him to go because it would be done as he believed it would.

Jesus said all will be in heaven with no barriers in place and warned that the Jews could still go to hell for unbelief in Him.

Jesus entered Peter’s house and healed his sick mother-in-law.  Then he healed many who were demon-possessed and all the sick, which fulfilled Isaiah’s words in Isaiah 53:4.

Questions:

6a)  He is a man of faith in Jesus, believing Jesus can heal from afar.  He is compassionate and caring for he traveled a long ways to ask for Jesus to heal his servant.  Most servants in the day were barely considered human and were not cared for in the least.  He is a man of authority and leadership as he is used to giving orders and being obeyed.  He is humble as he recognized he is a servant (a man under authority) as well.

b)  “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof.  But just say the word, and my servant will be healed.  For I myself am a man under authority.”

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  I get up every day and try to follow His will.  I care for my kids, guide and protect them, and do the same for others.

7a)  The Gentiles

b)  The kingdom of heaven

c)  Many hear the word of God but few accept Him and His invitation.

8a)  He heals when he sees a need.  Jesus wasn’t asked to heal her.  He just did.  He can’t stand to see others suffering.  He has compassion on all.  Upon healing, she began to serve as we all should from the moment our heart becomes His.

b)  She got up and began to wait on him.

9a)  Isaiah 53:4

b)  That Jesus is the one whom Isaiah spoke of as the suffering servant.  That he will take up our infirmities and carry our diseases/sorrows.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Jesus is Lord, compassionate, and omnipotent.  He does not discriminate in his healing.  He heals all those who need it and who have faith in him or those who ask who have faith in him.  We see a leper, a servant, and a woman healed.  These were people most disregarded in society as unimportant and disposable. Yet Jesus healed them.  All are important to him.

This encourages me because I know I am important to him as well as are my needs no matter how big or small.  Jesus will provide if I have faith.

Conclusions:  Here we see three specific miracles Jesus performed among ten that are forthcoming in the next few chapters.  Matthew writes these here to further establish Jesus’ authority as the son of God.

I often wonder what miracles Jesus performed that are not recorded.  For I strive to know Him better and the more information I have, the better!

Admittedly, I had no idea about question 7.  I had to look that up in a commentary.

End Notes:  Capernaum is Jesus’ home (Matthew 4:13).  Hence, Jesus is returning home for a bit.  Hence, we see Peter’s mother-in-law as this is Peter’s home as well.

We know the Centurion was a Gentile for he was a Roman soldier who worshipped pagan gods. Note every time we meet a centurion in the Bible, he is a good man.  Under Roman law, the master could have killed his slave especially if he were sick and unable to perform his duties.  This was a special master indeed.

Because Jesus was Jewish, the centurion knew his home would be considered unworthy to enter by a Jew.  Hence, the centurion asked Jesus not to break this custom (it’s not against Jewish law, merely custom) and speak a word of authority to make it so.

Note Jesus’ use of the term Israel.  There was no state called Israel at this time but Jesus still considered them as such.

It is here that Jesus announces for the first time that God’s promises extend to Gentiles as well and not just the Jewish people.  Many will come from the east and the west and take their places in heaven.  Being Jewish does not guarantee entrance.

God heals as He pleases, not necessarily as we may want.

BSF Study Questions Matthew Lesson 9, Day 2: Matthew 8:1-4 & Mark 1:40-45

Summary of passages:  Matthew 8:1-4:  Descending from the Mount, a man with leprosy approached Jesus and asked to be made clean.  Jesus agreed and cured the man of leprosy.  Jesus told the man to not tell anyone that it was he who cured him but instead to go and show the priests and offer the gift to them that Moses commanded.

Mark 1:40-45:  Mark’s account is the same as Matthew’s except we discover the reason Jesus wanted to keep it secret:  so he could continue his ministry.  Instead, despite Jesus’ warning, the man went out and began to spread the news that Jesus healed him, thus inhibiting Jesus from entering towns openly.  Still, he preached as the people instead came to him.

Questions:

3)  The man did not demand that Jesus heal him like most toddlers do who don’t know any better.  He approached Jesus with a reverent attitude and knelt before him.  He asked politely.  Presumably, the man had a ready heart for Jesus did not heal those whose hearts were not right.  He believed Jesus could do it.  He just didn’t know if Jesus would do it.  He never doubted.

Some translations say the man worshipped Jesus.  The man left it up to the will of God.  He called Jesus “Lord”.  He acknowledged who Jesus was.

The same for those seeking spiritual healing today:  have a ready heart and a humble, penitent attitude before God.  Worship God.  Ask for God’s will to be done.  Believe 100% that God can do it.

4a)  Jesus’ actions:  Jesus touched the man, healed him, and bade him not tell anyone and instead offer sacrifices for the miracle to God.  He wanted the credit to go the priests not him.

b)  Jesus’ emotions:  Jesus was filled with compassion upon seeing the man (enough to heal him) and he gave a strong warning according to Mark to not spread the news of the healing.  I would imagine Jesus was sad at being disobeyed because it did inhibit his work and thus the use of the word “lonely” in verse 45.

c)  Jesus’ words:  Jesus says he is willing to heal the man.  He speaks the words and the man is healed.  He tells the man to offer sacrifices as Moses has commanded and to give the credit to the priests.  Note how Jesus does this with no regard to himself, no expectation of self-glory or exaltation.  He did not heal the man for himself.  He healed the man because it was the right thing to do.

d)  Jesus’ care for the leper:  Mark tells us Jesus was filled with compassion.  He cared for the leper enough to heal him even though Jesus knew it would bring hardship upon him as Mark tells us that the man deliberately ignored Jesus’ instructions and created chaos wherever they went.

5)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Two things:  notice how Jesus said, “I am willing.”  This is a great comfort to me as I know that God is willing to do anything for me that I ask.  Also, note how Jesus heals the man despite he knows it will bring hardship upon himself.  God will do things for us even though He knows we may turn from Him, disobey Him, not acknowledge Him, or not show gratitude for what He has done.  It’s an amazing picture of God’s love for us.  It makes me realize (as much as I am able as a mere human) the depth of God’s love for little o’ me!

Conclusions:  I liked this lesson.  Note how only 9 verses in the bible can carry an enormous message for us.  Here, we see Jesus’ immense compassion for people and his willingness to do things not for his glory but for others.  He heals despite the man’s disobedience.  Powerful message that many of us need to hear:  God loves us and cares for us despite our sins, misgivings, fallings short, disobedience, denial, and selfishness.

Who else do you know that loves you as deeply?

End Notes:  To understand the depth and magnitude of what Jesus did here, we must understand leprosy itself.  Leprosy was (and still is) a horrible disease where your muscles slowly rot over time.  It progresses to where the limbs slowly rot and fall off as all circulation is cut off from that part of the body.

Leprosy has been around since the beginning of time.  It is reported by all the major civilizations including Ancient Egypt, Persia, China, and India.  As most diseases of ancient times, it was not understood.  Hence, people were afraid of catching it.  As such, those who had leprosy were outcasts, considered unclean and punished by God for their sins.

Jewish law demanded you stay 6 feet away from a leper.  During the Middle Ages, priests would actually say the last rites over a leper as they were as good as dead.  Lepers were treated horribly and endured a very horrible life.

Lepers had to live alone (Leviticus 13:46).  They had to shout “Unclean! Unclean!” as a warning to others.  If you are interested in a visual, I would suggest watch the movie “Ben Hur”.  It has an accurate depiction of how lepers were treated in Jesus’ time.

Now, we know catching leprosy is actually not all that easy.  It’s a bacteria that is spread only through close contact with nose and mouth droppings.

According to the World Health Organization, only about 180,000 people worldwide have the disease, only about 200 live in the United States.  It is a curable disease, treated with antibiotics.  Thus, it is hard for us to understand this disease and the people afflicted with it.

For Jesus to touch the man, he was breaking Jewish law.  For him to come near the man, he was breaking Jewish law.  But upon the touch, the man was healed.  Thus, the law was not broken!

Did Jesus have to touch the man to heal him?  No.  He touched the man to make a point.  That lepers can be touched.  Note as we go along though the chronicles of Jesus’ healing ministry how he heals.  He uses different methods depending on what he wants to get across.  Here, he needed to show it was okay to touch a leper.  And he touched the leper for the man himself.  The man probably hadn’t been touched in years.  He needed that human affection.

Imagine not touching a baby.  We all need human contact to be functional in this society.

God is always willing and able to heal.  It’s God’s will if He does or not.

Why did Jesus not want his healing announced?  Jesus came to save us from our sins.  He didn’t want his miracles to trump his overarching message.  He didn’t want to be seen as a physical healer; he wanted to be seen as the spiritual healer of men’s hearts.

Jesus told the man to report to the priests so he could follow the cleansing acts as required by the Law (Leviticus 14).  This would allow the man to re-enter Jewish society and begin to live his life once more.

Fun Facts:  This is the first time in the gospels Jesus is called “Lord.”

This is the first case of healing described in the gospels.

BSF Study Questions Genesis Lesson 9, Day 5: Genesis 10

Summary of passage:  Genealogy of Shem, Ham, and Japheth (Noah’s sons).

The sons of Japheth were maritime peoples and spread out with their own language.

Cush was the son of Ham who was the father of Nimrod who grew to be a mighty warrior and hunter on earth.  The first centers of his kingdom were Babylon, Erech, Akkad, and Calneh in Shinar.  Then Cush went to Assyria to build Ninevah, Rehoboth, Ir, Calah, and Resen.

Later, the Canaanites scattered, pushing out the borders from Sidon to Gaza and Lasha.

Shem’s ancestors lived in the eastern hill country from Mesha to Sephar.

Questions:

10a)  Cush was Nimrod’s father and Nimrod’s grandfather was Ham.  He was a mighty warrior and hunter on earth.  He ruled a kingdom that included Babylon, Erech, Akkad and Calneh.  He then conquered Assyria and established more cities.

Fun fact:  Nimrod’s name means “let us rebel”.

b)  Bad.  “The mighty hunter before the Lord” is not a hunter of animals but of humans.  This is not a compliment.  This is also the first use of the word “kingdom” in the bible, which implies he consolidated the peoples and probably in a ruthless manner.  Ultimately, he relied on his own strength instead of God’s.

11) “because in his time the earth was divided”

12)  Uz and Jobab.  Job came from the region of Uz and Jobab may be the one we know as Job.

13)  Like most lists of names and genealogies in the Bible, it is used to chronicle the line of Jesus and collaborate God’s words to man (who always seems to need evidence).  Also, it explains how the world was re-populated after the flood and who and how founded the nations of the earth.

Conclusions:  Keep in mind the distribution of peoples:  Japheth was the father of the western Europeans, the Medes, and the Greeks.  Ham was the father of Africans (Egypt and Ethiopia) and the far East (including Babylon and Canaan).  Shem was the father of the Persians, the Assyrians, the Hebrews (Abram), and Asia Minor.

Best map I could find on the Internet of the table of nations:  http://www.bible-history.com/maps/2-table-of-nations.html

In general:

Japheth-Europe

Ham-Africa

Shem-Asia

Good map of Fertile Crescent, showing Nimrod’s kingdom:  http://bibleatlas.org/full/nimrod.htm

BSF Study Questions Genesis Lesson 9, Day 4: Genesis 11:1-9 & Acts 2

Summary of passages:  Genesis 11:1-9:  A bit after the world had been repopulated some people moved eastward and settled on the plain of Shinar (Babylonia).  They used bricks and tar to build a city with a tower that reaches to the heavens so that they could make a name for themselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth.

The Lord saw what the men were doing.  He confused their language as punishment to prevent more un-Godly actions.  God scattered them over the earth.  Babel sounds like the Hebrew word for confused; hence the name “Tower of Babel.”

Acts 2:

On the day of Pentecost the 120 were all in one place (presumably praying still and waiting for the gift).  A sound like a blowing violent wind came from heaven and filled the house where they were sitting.  They saw tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.  All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in tongues through the power of the Holy Spirit.

A lot of people in Jerusalem heard this sound and came together to see what was happening.  They were bewildered because each was speaking in his own language.  They asked, “Aren’t these all Galileans?  How is it we hear them in our own language?  What does this mean?”

Some made fun of them and said they were drunk.

Peter stood up the with the Eleven Apostles and told the confused crowd: we (the 120 and them) are not drunk.  Listen to Joel’s words:  God will pour out His Spirit on all people.  Your sons and daughters will prophesy, the young men will see visions, old men will dream, the servants will prophesy and have the Spirit as well.  Wonders will appear in the heaven and signs will appear on earth such as blood, fire, and smoke.  The sun will be dark and the moon to blood before the day of the Lord when everyone who calls on the Lord will be saved.

Peter is still speaking to the crowd that has gathered on the day of Pentecost.  “Jesus who performed miracles was handed over to you for God’s pre-ordained purpose.  You killed him by nailing him to a cross.  But God has raised him from the dead.  David himself prophesied Jesus’ resurrection when he said he saw the ‘Holy One’ at the Lord’s right hand and raised him from the dead.”

It’s as if Peter is shouting, “Even though you idiots killed Jesus He is alive!”

Peter says that Jesus now sits at the right hand of God and pours out what we now see and hear.  He has received the promised Holy Spirit.  David did not ascend to heaven (for a detailed explanation of this see my previous post here.  David is in heaven now but not at the time of his death).  God has made Jesus Lord and Christ.

The people asked what should they do and Peter told them to repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus to be forgiven of your sins and receive the Holy Spirit.  Everyone of you can receive such a gift.  3000 chose to be baptized that day.

These people were considered the first church.  They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, fellowship, breaking of the bread, and prayer.  They gave to everyone as needed.  They continued to meet and eat together and praise God.  The Lord grew their numbers daily.

Questions:

7a)  He confused their language.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Just like in Biblical times, God is in control of everything.  He’ll put a leader in power He wants to accomplish His goals.  He gives, He takes, He rescues, He allows Free Will.  Nothing happens without God.

8 )  That person doesn’t approach others in a loving manner.  Anger may rule over conciliation.  Right won’t win out over wrong like in government.

9a)  Speaking different languages can divide or bring together people.  Speaking in a different language but with the heart for God can convert others.  In Shinar, it divided.  In Acts, it converted and brought together.

As long as the heart is in the right place, the words you speak should not matter–especially if God and the Holy Spirit are behind them.  Others will understand.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  The heart is what matters, not the words.  If you love others, your actions should speak louder.

Conclusions:  As someone who’s lived in many foreign countries that speak different languages, I know the difficulty it can be to communicate and get what you need to survive.  Yet most often when I encountered a native who realized I couldn’t express myself, I was met with nothing but helpful intentions.

I often hear the phrase “language is a barrier”.  But it’s not.  Because love is stronger.

Throughout history with all the conquerings and movement of people, you will notice an overarching theme:  integration and assimilation.  The native language mixed with the new language.  It changed.  Just look at English.  Over half of our words are Latin origin. Another 1/3 have Greek roots.  The rest is Old English, which is a mix of Anglo-Saxon, Norman French, and the mixture of Celtic, Welsh, and Scottish languages.

Even today, look at the number of foreign words we have adopted from French to Spanish to Italian to Russian.  You’ll find it in Webster’s Dictionary.

Man adapts.

Language can be a divider.  When God wants it to be like in the Tower of Babel.  Or when man chooses to let it be.

But with the right heart and Spirit, it’s a uniter.  Love conquers all.  As does God’s will.

BSF Study Questions Genesis Lesson 9, Day 3: Genesis 11:1-9 & Psalm 2

Summary of passages:  Genesis 11:1-9:  A bit after the world had been repopulated some people moved eastward and settled on the plain of Shinar (Babylonia).  They used bricks and tar to build a city with a tower that reaches to the heavens so that they could make a name for themselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth.

The Lord saw what the men were doing.  He confused their language as punishment to prevent more un-Godly actions.  God scattered them over the earth.  Babel sounds like the Hebrew word for confused; hence the name “Tower of Babel.”

Psalm 2:  Why do people conspire and plot against the Lord and the Anointed One?  It is all in vain.  Man fights against God who merely laughs.  God rebukes and terrifies them.  David tells other kings to be wise and serve the Lord with fear and joy for God’s anger can flare in a moment.  Blessed are those who take refuge in Him.

Ask God and He will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession.  With God you will rule.

Questions:

5a)  Both try to self-aggrandize and put themselves above God.  It is useless to plot and conspire against God and Jesus.  We are nothing in comparison.  Yet man tries through ambition and pride.  And every time he is vanquished, defeated, chastized, rebuked, or punished by God.  You’d think we learn.  But we never do.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  We deliberately disobey God and think His laws don’t apply to us.  In the end, we end up suffering because of it.  It teaches me to obey God as much as my sinful nature can.  To submit for He is King.  To recognize my weakness and beg for His mercy.  To follow Him till the end of my days.  This is my prayer.

6a)  Both verses say belief in Jesus and what Jesus did for us.

b)  In the passage, literally through a tower.  Today, through works, prayer, obedience, His word.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Through Jesus.

Be careful not to interpret this as “drawing near to God”.  I think the point of the question is that the only way to God is Jesus and anyway else is false.

Conclusions:  Have you noticed this theme in the questions, comparing people in Biblical times and in our times?  Like I concluded yesterday, man never changes.  His nature is the same.  He sins.  Repeatedly.  Since the Fall–the beginning of time.  This will never change.

It’s why we need Jesus.  God knew this.  He knows we have no hope without Christ.  And that’s what the entire Bible is trying to tell each and every one of us.  And that’s why it’s our job to tell others.  So they can be saved.

BSF Study Questions Genesis Lesson 9, Day 2: Genesis 11:1-4

Summary of passage:  A bit after the world had been repopulated some people moved eastward and settled on the plain of Shinar (Babylonia).  They used bricks and tar to build a city with a tower that reaches to the heavens so that they could make a name for themselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth.

Questions:

3)  Here’s the best Bible Map I could find on the Internet.  My Bible Atlas has a much better one:

http://bibleatlas.org/regional/shinar.htm

It’s  basically where Babylonia was, which is between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers.

4a)  Verse 4:  “so that we may make a name for ourselves”

Verse 4:  “and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth.”

Verse 3:  “let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly…they used brick instead of stone and tar for mortar.”

Using these materials would make the tower waterproof, showing the people were afraid of another flood (didn’t believe God’s promise).  So reason:  to protect them against a flood.

b)  God told Noah’s sons to fill the earth.  They did not.  They came together and built a city instead (where a big group of people live).  Furthermore, they admitted they didn’t want to be scattered over the face of the earth (verse 4).  They wanted to live together.

c)  Exodus is the Ten Commandments.  Matthew is where Jesus tells the people the greatest commandment:  to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind and the second which is to love your neighbor as yourself.  Timothy describes people in the Last Days (which in my opinion is people always).

Simple:  they do the opposite of what God says.  They follow self.  They ignore God’s words and commands.  Deliberately and intentionally.

Conclusions:  Question 3 is assuming everyone has a Bible map or access to one or the Internet (not everyone does).  So didn’t like this one.  Makes you feel like you should have a Bible map.  Some Bibles have maps in the back but not all.

In essence, Shinar is an early name for Babylonia, the land between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers.  Hopefully, most of us know where this is from Lesson 3, Day 3 when we discussed the possible location of Eden.

I can see the chronological reason for studying these chapters switched but I like the way the Bible links the ends.  Chapter 11 tells of Terah who is Abram’s father which leads nicely into chapter 12 when God calls Abram.  Chapter 9 ends with Noah cursing/blessing his kids and Chapter 10 launches into Shem’s, Ham’s, and Japheth’s descendants.

So while I understand the reasoning for switching the order of study, I don’t feel it was necessary for a better understanding.

End Note:  Interestingly, Babylonia is where the descendants of Shem (the son blessed by Noah) settled (which we learn in Chapter 10–the chapter we skipped).  This ties in well with Question 4c.  Even though these were the blessed ones by Noah and will be the chosen ones that lead to Jesus, they too sinned.  Man never changes, does he?

BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 9, Day 5: Hebrews 2:1-4

Summary of passage:  We must pay more careful attention to God’s gift of Salvation and the Holy Spirit lest we drift away.

Questions:

10a)  To pay more attention to what we have heard (Bible and God) so that we do not drift away.

b)  That Jesus is our salvation

11)  Everything in our culture entices us to drift away.  Turn on the TV and you see sex, drugs, and evil as glorified.  Jesus is never mentioned (unless you’re on a Christian station or movie) and has been banned in most places (schools, etc) and labeled as not politically correct.  Nothing in our culture helps us hold onto the gospel.

12)  Personal Question.  My answer:  He showed His love when He sent His son to die for us so we can be with Him and when He granted us the Holy Spirit within.  I can try to remember this daily and be grateful for it even when I have no gratitude in my heart for anything around me.  I can never give up hope that this too shall change and hold onto God’s promises with everything I have.

Conclusions:  I’m really not for sure what Lesson 9 in Hebrews has to do with the Acts of the Apostles.  Nothing written here has been proven to be written by one of the Apostles we are studying.  I no where near filled up all the white space.  I’m thinking this is a filler lesson in my opinion. Not to dismiss it’s message; it’s one we all need reminding of.  I’m just wondering how this fits into the study of Acts.

Question 11 was just depressing for me as an American to think about. How our culture is so anti-Christ.  I found nothing positive in the mainstream culture.  Nothing.  I’m hoping other cultures are not this way but I don’t know since all I know is mine.  Maybe I’m too pessimistic but this has been my experience recently.

BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 9, Day 4: Hebrews 1:4-14

Summary of passage:  Jesus is superior to the angels because God called him his son; God said he is the Father to Jesus; Let all God’s angels worship him; God makes his angels winds, his servants flames of fire.

God has set Jesus above your companions by anointing him with the oil of joy.  His throne will last forever and righteousness shall be his scepter.

God will always remain, unchanging, as the Creator of heavens and the earth.

Jesus sits at God’s right hand; no angel does.

Angels are ministering spirits, sent to serve those who will inherit salvation.

Questions:

8 )  1) God claimed Jesus as His son.

2)  God said He is the father of Jesus.

3)  God said let the angels worship Jesus.

4)  God has set Jesus above his companions by anointing him with the oil of joy.

5)  God set Jesus at His right hand.  Jesus has sat down, having completed his work.  The angels on the other hand never sit, always standing the presence of God, their work never finished.  They are still serving.

6)  God gave Jesus the authority of righteousness (judgment) which will be the scepter of His kingdom.

7)  God made his angels out of wind and fire to be His messengers.

8 )  God says Jesus shall remain, unchanging, forever.

9)  God calls Jesus “God” Verse 8, which is quoting Psalm 45:6-7

9a)  That angels are God’s messengers made from wind and fire.

b)  I think angels are idealized.  People picture dead relations as angels, which is not true since angels are created beings different than humans. But because of movies, psychics, and not wanting to tell little kids the truth misconceptions abound.  Thus, these wrong notions lead people to elevate angels above Jesus/God.  Some people would rather believe such things because they cannot let go on Earth.

To be honest though, I don’t think many people ponder angels much beyond the angels in the birth of Jesus story.  God sent an angel to Mary and Joseph. He sent an angel to the wise men to announce Jesus’ birth.  That’s probably the extent of most people’s knowledge of angels.

Or people picture angels floating around Heaven without thought as to their place.

Therefore, I’m not sure how many people actually do elevate angels.  I just don’t see much thought here.

c)  If people do, then it’s dangerous because it could turn into borderline worship.  Only one being deserves our worship:  God.  Not his servants or messengers.

Also, not all angels are good.  Some angels are sent by Satan.  One must be careful when dealing with celestial beings.

Conclusions:  Great lesson for planting a seed to think about and understand angels and their role in the Bible and God’s universe.  I believe most people think about angels only in passing (if at all).  The key is in understanding their role in the Bible.

Still, this lesson left me wondering if perhaps I’m missing something in the angel debate. Maybe angels are elevated in other religions I just don’t know about.  You’d think since BSF spent a whole day on angels (and on the same passage as yesterday), this would be a problem with people.  For me, it’s not.  Never has been.

Thinking I’m missing something, I did some research and discovered yep, I’ve been missing stuff.  Here’s a great article on culture’s view of angels.  I guess I just don’t get out much to know this stuff!

http://bible.org/article/angels-god’s-ministering-spirits

Here is a quick synopsis on angels with references:

http://www.gotquestions.org/angels-Bible.html

End Note:  After doing my own research, I would have liked to have seen more passages referring to angels for us to ponder. Now, I do think there are tons of misconceptions out there (including  misconceptions among Christians since I had some) about angels.  This is a great topic to explore more in depth if you have time.