BSF Study Questions Matthew Lesson 2, Day 5: Psalm 91 & Review Matthew 2

Summary of passages:  Psalm 91:  He who dwells with God, rests with God.  He is my refuge and my fortress.  He will save you from death.  He will shelter you.  His faithfulness will be your shield.  You will not fear.  A thousand may die beside you but you will be spared as you will see the punishment of the wicked.

If God is your dwelling and refuge, no harm will befall you.  His angels will guard you in all ways.  You will trample evil.  All because you love God and acknowledge Him.  God will answer you and be with you in times of trouble.

Matthew 2:

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem, the Magi (or Three Wise Men) came to Jerusalem to inquire where the king of the Jews was born at so they may worship him.  King Herod was disturbed by this news.  He asked all the chief priest’s where the Messiah was to be born and they responded with the words of the prophet Micah:  In Bethlehem in Judah.

Herod called the Magi to him secretly and asked them for the exact time of the appearance of the star.  He then sent them to Bethlehem to search for the child and then to report back to him so that he too may go and worship the child.

The wise men leave Herod and continue their journey in search of Christ, using the star as their guide.  They arrived at Jesus’s house and bowed down and worshipped him.  They gave the child gifts of gold, incense, and myrrh.  Then they returned home a different way to avoid Herod.

An angel of the Lord warns Joseph to flee Bethlehem for Egypt because Herod is going to try to kill the child.  So Mary, Joseph, and Jesus stayed in Egypt until Herod died, returning to fulfill another prophecy in Hosea 11:1.

When Herod realizes the magi have escaped him, he orders all boys in Bethlehem under the age of two killed, fulfilling Jeremiah’s prophecy in Jeremiah 31:15.

Once Herod died, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and told him to return to Israel with Mary and Jesus.  Joseph obeyed but settled in a town called Nazareth in Galilee out of fear of Archelaus who was reigning in Judea. This fulfilled what the prophets said that Jesus would be a Nazarene.

Questions:

10a)  God was faithful to all in Matthew 2 because they loved God and acknowledged God and obeyed Him.  The Magi were protected from Herod because of God.  Joseph and his family was saved from evil because of God.

b)  Those who accept God, love God, and acknowledge God.  Verse 1:  “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High”  Verse 9:  “If you make the Most High your dwelling”  Verse 14:  “Because he loves me”, meaning those who love God.  and “he acknowledges my name”.  Verse 15:  “He will call upon me”.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  All ways (at least I hope and pray I do).  I trust God to lead me to what He wants me to do with my life.  I pray for my husband’s job to provide for us.  I pray for guidance in all things from leading me to the right dog to the right home–the big and the small (well, not so small in the case of my dog) things all require God’s guidance.

11a)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Those who obey God when called (the Magi, Joseph, Mary) are rewarded and protected (the Magi from Herod and Joseph from Herod) and provided for and guided to where they need to be (Joseph to Nazareth).

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Many throughout childhood as He has led me all over the world into some pretty dodgy circumstances.  I feel primarily my role has been in the home (remember I said I led a sheltered life on Day 3) and He has protected me in that sense through obedience to Him.  And as I now feel I am called elsewhere, out in the world, I feel He will protect me as I continue to shine His light wherever I go.

Conclusions:  Great day of review of the lesson through one of the most powerful Psalms.  If you love God and accept Him, then no harm will befall you.  Plain and simple.

As I was typing this, one of my cats jumped onto my lap.   Just like God cares for us, we care for His creatures (recall the study of Genesis)–even the unwanted ones like my cat who was a rescue.  Pets never question where their next meal will come from, where they will move next or if they will be loved the next day.  They have faith they will have a home, have food, and have you to take care of them.  And they love you unconditionally for it.  Similarly, so we must have the same simple faith in God and His ability and desire to care for us in all of our needs.  If we love Him unconditionally.

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BSF Study Questions Matthew Lesson 2, Day 4: Matthew 2:19-23

Summary of passage:  Once Herod died, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and told him to return to Israel with Mary and Jesus.  Joseph obeyed but settled in a town called Nazareth in Galilee out of fear of Archelaus who was reigning in Judea. This fulfilled what the prophets said that Jesus would be a Nazarene.

Questions:

8a)  Because God told him to and he obeyed.  We learned unequivocal obedience is rewarded by God.

b)  For two reasons.  One, he was afraid of Archelaus who was reigning in Judea after Herod’s death.  Two, Joseph was warned again in a dream (presumably by the angel) to not settle there.

9a)  Because Micah predicts the king will come from Bethlehem, not Nazareth.

b)  It was God’s plan for Jesus to come from the humble so no one would think they were unworthy to be His.  It’s helpful to me because I came from a dinky town in the middle of a cornfield.  It gives us all hope that we are someone, that we can make a difference no matter where we are from, that we are all special and chosen for God’s plan, and we are loved and saved no matter our background or past indiscretions.  We are His just like Jesus.

c)  I think humans try to rationalize everything.  But in reality love is irrational.  And it is love that God acts out of.  Think of all the things we do for love that doesn’t make sense: we would sacrifice ourselves for those that love, perhaps the greatest act of love there is. We do stupid things.  We put ourselves in harm’s way.  We say stupid things.  We hurt others for those we love.

If we can compare God’s wisdom to the irrational acts of love, we might get some sense of God’s ways.  For they will never make sense to us.  The fact God would send His son to die for us doesn’t make sense.  Yet it is not for us to make sense of God.  Only to have faith in Him.  For man uses his mind to place value; God uses His heart.

Conclusions:  I groaned at question 9 because we were being sent all over the place.

Yet no matter our background, we are His.  If we just remembered that one fact throughout the day, we’d live in peace, joy, and comfort.

Interesting Notes:

Note that Joseph chose to settle in his hometown of Nazareth.  It was a small and insignificant place with a bad reputation.  But more than that, everyone would know the circumstances of Jesus’s birth since Mary became pregnant before her betroyal.

A BIG challenge this year will be keeping all the predictions of Jesus from the Old Testament straight and THEN sorting each prediction out as it is fulfilled in the New Testament in Jesus’s life.

We have the benefit of a book to help us.  Being the average Joe in the first century AD who had to rely on memory, I’m not for sure I would have been able to do it.

Side Notes:  Every commentary I read said Nazareth had a “bad” reputation.  When I tried to find out why, I found nothing supporting this assertion.  All we have to go off of is Nathanael’s comment in Matthew and it can be interpreted many ways.  Nathanael was from Cana, a nearby village that might have had a rivalry with Nazareth.  Hence, presuming Nazareth had a “bad” reputation is just that:  a presumption.  In actuality, we have no concrete evidence or writings to support that presumption.

Map of Jerusalem, Nazareth, and Cana HERE

Archelaus is only mentioned this one time in the Bible.  He is the son of Herod who survived to succeed him.  He ruled Judea, Samaria, and Idumea from 4 BC to 6 AD but was replaced by the Roman government and banished to Gaul (modern day France).

Some scholars think Archelaus is the man in the parable of the pounds found in Luke 19:11-27.

BSF Study Questions Matthew Lesson 2, Day 3: Matthew 2:9-18

Summary of passage:  The wise men leave Herod and continue their journey in search of Christ, using the star as their guide.  They arrived at Jesus’s house and bowed down and worshipped him.  They gave the child gifts of gold, incense, and myrrh.  Then they returned home a different way to avoid Herod.

An angel of the Lord warns Joseph to flee Bethlehem for Egypt because Herod is going to try to kill the child.  So Mary, Joseph, and Jesus stayed in Egypt until Herod died, returning to fulfill another prophecy in Hosea 11:1.

When Herod realizes the magi have escaped him, he orders all boys in Bethlehem under the age of two killed, fulfilling Jeremiah’s prophecy in Jeremiah 31:15.

Questions:

5a)  Naomi is from Bethlehem (Ruth 1:2, 19) and that is where they returned.  Boaz married Ruth who are ancestors of David (Great-grandfather and mother of David).  God sends Samuel to Bethlehem where David lives to anoint David as God’s chosen king.  All of this takes place in Bethlehem, where Jesus himself is born centuries later.

b)  Hosea 11:1:  “When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son.”

Jeremiah 31:15:  “This is what the Lord says:  ‘A voice is heard in Ramah, mourning and great weeping, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because her children are no more.’”

Rachel is weeping over the exiles and here over the babies slaughtered by Herod.

6a)  The Pharisees are hostile towards Jesus, skeptical and jealous:  Matthew 15, 16

The chief priests plot against Jesus:  Matthew 26:3-5   They look for false evidence against him:  Matthew 26:59

Judas betrays Jesus:  Matthew 26:14-16; 49

Jesus is mocked:  Matthew 27:27-31, 41-44   Jesus is insulted:  Matthew 27:39-40

b)  They are berated and even persecuted for their beliefs.  They are looked down upon or snubbed by friends.  They may even be plotted against or betrayed.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Nothing significant.  I live in a bubble.  I should probably get out more.

7a)  Personal Question.  My answer:  The magi travel great distances in difficult times to worship the One, True King.  They bring expensive gifts despite their lives being threatened by Herod.  God provides them a safe way home.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  The key for me is prayer.  I need to spend more time throughout my day praying and worshipping and thanking God for everything in my life. Spending as much time as I can in the Word, wrestling with Truths and soaking up Him, is my goal.

Conclusions:  I liked 5a the best.  It had never dawned on me that the story of Ruth and Boaz takes place in Bethlehem where Jesus was born.  My brain had never made that connection before.  Nor had it dawned on me that David was from Bethlehem.  The significance of this had to be pointed out to me.  Great stuff!

Interesting Notes:

We can surmise the star reappeared for the Magi to follow again.  Scholars believe the trip took some months.  First, the Magi followed the star and then went to Jerusalem where they talked with Herod, and then continued under another star.

Jesus is called a child here, not a babe, placing him at toddler age.

The three gifts have led to the Three Magi myth when actually we are uncertain of the number of Magi.

These gifts were probably used to finance their flight to Egypt.  God knows all and provides for all!

Note the persistence and dedication of the Magi.  They pursued the sign.  The sign vanished so they inquired and gathered more information of others who might know the Truth.  Then the sign reappeared and they obediently followed.  They worshipped and brought gifts.  They followed without ever giving up and were rewarded for their obedience.  As we all must do.

Egypt had been a place of refuge since Abraham’s time.  And as a result, a vibrant Jewish population flourished in Egypt.  Hence, Joseph had no reason to doubt the angel.

The actual number of boys killed would have been small:  a dozen or so maybe.  We must remember Bethlehem was a tiny village.  It’s hard for us who live on a planet full of billions to NOT imagine a great number of kids killed (hundreds).  But it would have been small in Roman times, which would explain why this event is not recorded in other histories.  Herod committed many more atrocious acts that killed hundreds.  So to historians of the time, it wasn’t seen as a recordable act.

BSF Study Questions Matthew Lesson 2, Day 2: Matthew 2:1-8

Summary of passage:  After Jesus was born in Bethlehem, the Magi (or Three Wise Men) came to Jerusalem to inquire where the king of the Jews was born at so they may worship him.  King Herod was disturbed by this news.  He asked all the chief priest’s where the Messiah was to be born and they responded with the words of the prophet Micah:  In Bethlehem in Judah.

Herod called the Magi to him secretly and asked them for the exact time of the appearance of the star.  He then sent them to Bethlehem to search for the child and then to report back to him so that he too may go and worship the child.

Questions:

3a)  King Herod (ruler of Judea under the Romans), Magi, Jews, chief priests and teachers of the law (Old Testament law), and Israel or the Jews.  The Magi are seeking to worship Jesus.  King Herod and the Romans are disturbed and threatened by the news.  If we include the Jews in “all of Jerusalem” we can presume they are more afraid of what Herod might do upon this news than disturbed.  However, we are not told what the response is of the Jews or the priests and teachers.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  All.  I see indifference, glory, fear, hatred, hostility, and annoyance.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Well, God hasn’t exactly told me personally how I myself am doing but the Bible says I’m supposed to be obedient to His word and obey Him and give myself to Him fully, which is what I try to do every day of my life.

4)  Christ’s deity:  “whose origins are from of old, from ancient times”; “will come for me”

Christ’s humanity: “out of you (clans of Judah) will come for me”

Christ’s kingship:  “ruler over Israel”

Conclusions:  Anyone else not trust Herod here?  He obviously has ulterior motives here.  The guy was hated by all and I’m sure was only obeyed out of fear of punishment or death.  Note the wise men did not say they would actually report back to him.

Interesting that the priests quoted Micah out of all the Old Testament verses that speak to Jesus’ coming.  I like the subtle differences in translations as well.  It shows the differences in terminology and word usage in the 400 years that passed between the Old and the New Testaments.  I personally like “shepherd of my people”.

This passage is packed full of interesting notes so bear with me:

Notice Matthew glosses over Jesus’s actual birth and jumps to “after” right away.  He is more interested in recording the reaction of others than the actual birth.  He leaves that for Luke to describe.

There was another town named Bethlehem; hence, the Bethlehem in Judea and Micah’s description of Bethlehem Ephrathah, which was what Bethlehem used to be known by.

The wise men were not kings but probably astronomers.  There were probably more than three that came and they made their journey a significant time after Jesus’s birth–some scholars say up to a year after his birth.  Hence, Herod’s order to kill all boys 2 years old and under (Matthew 2:16) as Jesus was probably over a year old by then.  They were probably exiled Jews from the East.

So why the Three Kings misnomer?  It’s been around since the third century and probably derives from the Old Testament prophecies that say kings will come to worship the Messiah (Psalms 68:29, 31; 72:10-11; Isaiah 49:7; 60:1-6).  Supposedly the skulls of the three kings are housed in Cologne, Germany.

Notice that the wise men came to Jerusalem, NOT to Bethlehem as commonly depicted. The shepherds made it to the manger; the wise men did not.

Jesus was born a king; not a prince as is most often the case.

God uses a star, something the astronomers would have recognized instantly.

Background on Herod:  Known as Herod the Great as there were quite a few rulers before and after named Herod, Herod ruled Judea, which was a Roman province at the time, for 34 years until his death in 4 BC.  Yes, Christ had been born by that time.  Blame the ignorance of the Middle Ages and a monk named Dionysius for missing the division between BC and AD!

Herod was a ruthless fighter, a subtle diplomat, and an opportunist.  He was hated by the Jews for his unrelentless pursuit of hellenization yet courted their favor by re-building their temple.  However, he did bring order to Palestine through his ability to manage so complex a situation and thus an opportunity for economic growth.  Many of his family members he had put to death and in the end he disintegrated into madness.

For a much thorough background on Herod, see Zondervan’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary by J D Douglas and Merrill C Tenney.

This website HERE has great information on the miscalculation of dates and even a discussion on Jesus’ real birthday.