BSF Study Questions Matthew Lesson 1, Day 2: Matthew 1:1-17

Summary of passage:  A listing of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, son of David, son of Abraham.  There were 14 generations in all from Abraham to David and 14 from David to the exile in Babylon and then 14 more to Christ.

Questions:

3a)  Tamar married Er, Judah’s firstborn son; but Er was put to death by the Lord because he was wicked.  By law, Tamar was given to Er’s brother, Onan, in order to bear children.  However, Onan refused to have children with her so he was put to death as well.

Judah was afraid his final son, Shelah, would die as well so he sent Tamar away.  Tamar, tired of waiting and understanding she’d never have Shelah, tricked Judah into sleeping with her.  She became pregnant and bore twins, Perez and Zerah–Perez being an ancestor of Jesus.

Rahab–After Moses died, Joshua was hand-picked by God to lead His people into the Promised Land and in order to do so, they had to defeat those already living there. Joshua sends two spies to scout the land before they attack.  They end up staying with Rahab, a prostitute and a Gentile.  The King of Jericho tells Rahab to send the spies to him.  She told the King that the spies had left the city when in fact she had hidden them in her roof.  In return, Rahab asks that she and her family be spared from God’s wrath.  She helped the spies escape and told them where to hide.  In the end, Rahab and her family were the only ones spared when Joshua conquered Jericho.

Ruth–Ruth was a Moabite woman (a Gentile) who had married a man from Bethlehem, a Jew, who had traveled to Moab along with his mother during a famine.  He died and Naomi, the mother, desired to return to her homeland.  She freed her daughters-in-law to return to their people but Ruth refused, her love so strong for Naomi, saying she goes where Naomi goes.

So they return to Bethlehem where Ruth meets Boaz, a distant relative of Naomi’s.  Ruth works in Boaz’s fields, collecting the leftover grain from the harvest in order to care for Naomi.  This garners the attention of Boaz who ultimately takes her as his wife.

“Wife of Uriah”–  Better known as Bathsheba, she is coveted by King David who commits adultery with her and she then conceives.  Hoping to cover-up the affair, David calls Uriah the Hittite home who out of duty does not sleep with Bathsheba.  Therefore, David puts Uriah up front in battle and he is killed, leaving him free to marry Bathsheba.  There’s only one problem:  God knows David’s sin and God is not happy.  Thus, God punishes David by killing the child.  David worships the Lord despite his hardship and the Lord grants him another child, Solomon.

Mary–The Virgin Mother of Jesus whom God chose to bear His son.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  It show’s God’s ability to work with all sorts of people–and to work through sin.  There is no criteria one must meet in order to be chosen by God and do His works.  Jesus was not from a pure aristocratic line.  Also, it shows God’s love of all of His people, including women, who were at this time considered mere objects and property.  Some Jewish men at that time prayed to God every day and thanked Him that they were not born a woman.

By using Gentiles and woman in Jesus’ line, we see that the New Covenant is meant for all.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Firstly, Rahab for she risked her life to save strangers–all because they followed God.  Secondly, Ruth who left her homeland for hardship to stay by Naomi’s side.  Thirdly, Tamar albeit she used deceit, she was following God’s law at the time and calling Judah out.  Bathsheba and Mary I would say no.  David took Bathsheba.  I don’t think she had much of a choice in the matter.  Mary accepted, also accepting God’s will.

d)  Personal Question.  My answer:  I believe I’m called to teach so I applied for teaching jobs.

4a)  The prophets foretold that the Messiah would be a king and therefore Jesus must come from kings as kingship is usually hereditary.  It validates Jesus as the Messiah so he wouldn’t be considered just some charlatan or imposter.

The Messiah would come from the line of Abraham:  Genesis 22:17-18:  “Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed.”  Genesis 12:3 says the same.

2 Samuel 7:16:  God’s promise to David: “Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever.”

2 Samuel 7:12-13:  God’s promise to David”  “…I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, who will come from your own body, and I will establish his kingdom.  He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.”

Isaiah 9:7  “He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom…from that time on and forever.”

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Jesus must come from God’s people (the Jews).  Genesis 3:15 God says to the devil “And I will put enmity between you and the woman and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head and you will strike his heel.”  It’s important to establish who Jesus is and what his job is here on earth.

To convince the Jews that Jesus is the Messiah.  Jesus had to fulfill the Old Testament prophecies or they would never believe.

Conclusions:  Great start to the year!  Challenging questions which establish the importance of Jesus.  I liked reading about the women.  It’s a great refresher and also some of the best stories in the Bible.

The Jewish people of Jesus’ time looked to the Old Testament for their Messiah and in the Old Testament the prophets foretold how the people would recognize the Messiah when he arrived.  Known as the Messianic prophecies, there are 44 specific things to look for.   This website had a complete list of prophecies from the Old Testament and their fulfillment in the New:

http://christianity.about.com/od/biblefactsandlists/a/Prophecies-Jesus.htm

End Note:  Matthew’s list is not the complete genealogy.  There are glaring people left out, namely Jehoiakim (2 Chronicles 36:5-8), who was such a wicked king of Israel that God promised through Jeremiah that a descendant of his would not sit on the throne (Jeremiah 36:30-31).  This posed a problem and this is where Luke’s genealogy comes into play.  Jehoiakim is a relative of Joseph but since Jesus was not a blood son of Joseph the curse does not apply to him.

Mary’s line, the true blood line of Jesus, goes through a different son of David namely Nathan (Luke 3:31), thus exempting Jesus from Johoiakim’s curse.

Why did Matthew leave out people in his listing?  Scholars say it was typical of Jewish custom to skip generations in their recordings.  Also, it was easier to memorize with 14, 14, 14.  Matthew’s goal may have been to get the most important (in his view) listed and skip the rest.

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BSF Study Questions Genesis Lesson 3, Day 5: Genesis 1 & 2 and skim Genesis 3:1-10

Summary of passages:  Genesis 1:  In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.  The earth was formless and void but the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

1st Day:  God made light and He saw it was good.  He separated light from dark.  He called light “day” and dark “night.”

2nd Day:  God separated the waters to create sky.

3rd Day:  He let the dry ground appear, which He named “land” and the gathered waters he called “seas”.  Then the land produced vegetation–all of which God saw was good.

4th Day:  God made the sun, moon, and stars to be used as signs to mark the seasons, days, and years; to give light on the earth; to govern the day and the night; and to separate light from darkness.  God saw that it was good.

5th Day:  God created the great creatures of the sea as well as every winged bird.  He blessed them to multiply and fill the earth.  He saw it was good.

6th Day:  God created living creatures on the land and all the wild animals and He saw it was good.  He made man in His own image to rule over all the earth and its creatures.  God blessed them and told them to be fruitful and rule.  He gave man every green plant for food and everything that has the breath of life in it.  God saw that it was very good.

Genesis 2:  By the seventh day, God had finished his work so he rested and blessed the day as holy.

After God made the heavens and the earth but before plants had sprung and only streams had watered the earth, God made man from the dust of the ground and breathed life into his nostrils and man became living.  He put the man in the garden of Eden.  He made all kinds of trees for food and in the middle were the tree of life and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.  A river watered this garden.

God put man in charge of the garden to work it and take care of it.  He warned the man not to eat from the tree of knowledge or he would die.  He brought the animals to Adam to name.  When God did so, He noticed no helper was found for man; so He created woman from Adam’s rib while he was sleeping so man would not be alone.

This is why man will leave his father and mother and be united with his wife and become one flesh.  They were naked and felt no shame.

Genesis 3:1-10:  The crafty serpent said to Eve, “Did God really say you must not eat from any tree in the garden?”  Eve said, “We cannot eat from the tree in the middle or we shall die.”

The serpent says they will not die but they will be like God, knowing good and evil.

Desiring wisdom, Eve ate and gave some to Adam so he would eat.  Their eyes were opened and they realized they were naked.  They covered themselves with fig leaves.

Adam and Eve hid from God when they heard him in the garden.  God called to them and Adam said he was afraid because he was naked.

Questions:

12)  It addresses before man was made that God had not yet sent rain so streams came up from the earth and watered the whole surface of the ground (Genesis 2:5-6).  Genesis 2:10 does mention a river that waters the garden flowed from Eden after man’s creation.

So we know there was water and the plants grew.  I’m imaging at some point the water cycle kicked in but in the beginning the earth was so new the water cycle probably didn’t have time to evaporate and form clouds so God watered where He needed to.

13a)  God did it all.  He created everything.  He created.  He said.  He blessed.  He made.  He controls.  In Genesis 2, I see God caring for his creation.  In Genesis 1, the focus was on making everything.  In Genesis 2, God cared for and perfected his creations.  He gave man a companion because man needed one.  He watered the land so it would grow.

Genesis 1:  Created & controlled

Genesis 2:  Cared for

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  I threw in control because I think a lot of us suffer when we try to take control instead of allowing God to be in control.  I know I do this often.  Praying “God, you take this” is one of my frequent prayers.

Knowing in my heart God cares for me is something also I need to rejuvenate.  I know God is in control and he cares about me but having that in the forefront of my mind is hard.

Something I need to pray, “God you created me, you are in control, and you care for me.  So please help me sow this into my heart and remember this in my daily walk so you will be in control.”

14a)  The definition of ashamed according to Webster’s Dictionary is, “feeling shame, guilt, or disgrace; feeling inferior or unworthy”.

Man did not feel inferior or unworthy before the Fall.  Man and God seemed to me to be best friends.  God made man in His image and they walked in the Garden together.  As equals?  Probably not.  But as a proper Father/son/daughter relationship should be–full of respect and admiration.

God made man worthy of him.  Man then sinned and brought unworthiness into the world.  So Jesus had to make it right.

They didn’t know they weren’t supposed to be naked.  They didn’t have the knowledge of being naked until they ate from the tree.  The first thing God asks them in Genesis 3:11 is “Who told you that you were naked?”

[Makes me wonder if this is why we wear clothes today.  Because we are ashamed of our bodies when we shouldn't be.  Especially since originally man wasn't ashamed. Interesting.]

b)  I like this idea of light as clothes (never head this before).  Could I get some of this light?  It would probably be much prettier than what I wear!

Seriously, answer is sin.  When Adam and Eve disobeyed God and partook of the fruit, the knowledge and sin removed the light.

c) Romans 3:23 “for we have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God”.  Not sure what “this” is in this question.  Naked?  Ashamed?  The light being removed?  The light being the clothing?

Because of sin we fall short of the glory of God.  Since the Fall we all sin so we all fall short. Thus, we are inferior and unworthy of God unless we have Jesus who makes us worthy.

Conclusions:  Not sure of 14c.  Not sure what the point is that we haven’t already concluded from the Fall.

Great reminder that God is in control and He cares.  Even when we don’t want Him to.

BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 1, Day 5: Acts 1:12-26

Summary of passage:  The Eleven disciples returned to Jerusalem from Mount Olives after witnessing Jesus ascend to heaven.  Along with women, Mary mother of Jesus, and Jesus’ brothers, they prayed constantly.  While waiting for the Holy Spirit to descend upon them, Peter leads the believers (120 in number at this time) in choosing one to replace Judas Iscariot as the Scriptures dictate (Psalm 109:8).  So they choose one who has been with them from the beginning by praying and casting lots.  Matthias is chosen and becomes the new twelfth disciple.

Questions:

12a) The disciples (the Eleven):  Peter, John, James, Andrew, Philip, Thomas, Bartholomew, Matther, James son of Alphaeus, Simon the Zealot, Judas son of James and women, Mary (mother of Jesus), and Jesus’ brothers.  I’m inclined to think the women were the ones who reported Jesus has arisen from the grave like Mary Magdelene).

b) I think they prayed for clarity of what they just witnessed and for its significance; guidance as they go forward; wisdom in decisions and teachings.  Maybe they prayed for the Holy Spirit to come soon.  They prayed for guidance in replacing Judas Iscariot.

I also see this as a sort of grief counseling session: everyone comforting each other (especially Mary and the brothers) in their lose of Jesus, praying for one another to have comfort and peace in knowing Jesus is with His father.  Praying for the strength to carry out their mission in the terrible dangers that would lay ahead in challenging the Roman religion and other religions.

13a)  Yes and no.  Yes:  in prayer.  The apostles prayed first to know God’s will in this decision.  No:  in casting lots.  Casting lots is an Old Testament method to discern God’s will.  This is the Bible’s last mention of this taking place.  After Pentecost, the disciples relied directly on the Holy Spirit for guidance.

My assumption here is since we are now able to speak with God directly we don’t need an outside mechanism (lots or sticks) to tell us.  God tells us now directly.

b)  Great question!  In Acts, we see how Jesus won’t let the disciples leave Jerusalem to begin their work of spreading the Good News until they have received the gift of the Holy Spirit.  So, in this instance, the answer is clearly No.  But should an exception be made to this example because in my mind the disciples were special people.  I would have wanted to be a disciple in another life.

The disciples were Jesus’ chosen representatives and pupils on earth and they were commissioned to begin telling his story.  So I do believe it was necessary for them to have the Holy Spirit since they were the ones first converting people.  People need to see the Holy Spirit inside of the disciples in order to believe them in the beginning.  They had a very special job.

Does this apply in modern society?  The question says “try” to work for God.  I think try is the key here.  My answer is Yes.  I think all people should try to work for God even if they are unbelievers.  We are all called to do God’s work (even those unbelievers.  They just don’t know it).  We have Free Will to either do it or not for which we will be judged later.

Ultimately though if you don’t have the Holy Spirit within you will fail in working for God.  Your work will be meaningless to you and maybe others if God is not the one behind it.

Another point:  in trying to work for God, that person hopefully will accept the Holy Spirit within their lives and thus be a believer and be saved.  So in the effort will come the reward.  You can begin the journey of trying to work for God, accept Him as you realize all God is, and then your work will have meaning.

It could be God’s plan to have a person try so you will see Him and accept Him into your life.

Conclusions:  Awesome lesson.  Great points I had never thought of.  And I learned something new.

I’m the first to admit I had no idea what Pentecost was.  I couldn’t have told you before today.  Pentecost is not something I had ever celebrated in my Christian walk.

Pentecost is a day to celebrate the descent of the Holy Spirit on the disciples after Jesus’ ascent into Heaven, traditionally held on the seventh Sunday after Easter.  Pentecost comes from the Greek word for “fifty” and also is celebrated 50 days after Easter.  This event marks the birth of the Christian Church as now the disciples were ready to go forth and spread the Good News.

Pentecost is also known in some places as Whitsunday (like in England).  This is short for White Sunday.  Traditionally, baptisms would take place on Pentecost and the newly baptized would wear white robes during this day.

This was my favorite site for explaining Pentecost:  http://www.stpaulskingsville.org/pentecost.htm

So who are the Pentecostals then?  They are a diverse sect of believers within Christianity who emphasize personal spiritual experiences just like the disciples had with the Holy Spirit.  They believe in sanctification and speaking in tongues.  This is the best site I found (here) but I believe there is much more here than meets the eye.  If you are a pentecostal, I’d love to hear more so feel free to post.

BSF Study Questions Isaiah Lesson 14, Day 4 Isaiah 35:1-7

Summary of passage: The desert, parched land, and wilderness will burst into bloom, rejoice, and shout for joy.  It will have the glory of Lebanon, Carmel, and Sharon and these places will see the glory of the Lord.  Be strong and steady, encourage the fearful for God will come with vengeance and will save you.  He will heal the eyes of the blind, the ears of the deaf, the lame, and the mute.  Water will flow through the desert and nourish the land.

Questions:

9) The desert, parched land, and wilderness will burst into bloom, rejoice and shout for joy.  Lebanon (the country), Carmel (hills), and Sharon (a plain on the Mediterranean coast of Palestine) will see the glory of God.  These were all places known for their beauty so Isaiah is comparing these beautiful places to the coming of the Lord.

10) Pray them and explain the meaning: God’s promise to us when He comes.

11) Jesus repeats God’s promise, telling people he has come to bring God’s Salvation which would be accompanied by miraculous power.

12) Jesus came to bring this beautiful provision of spiritual miracles into our lives and healings.  John 7:38-39  “Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.”  By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive.  Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.  There is no reason for a Christian to endure a “dry time”, not when we have Jesus.

I’ve had times closer to God and further from God like most people but I don’t yet think I’ve endured anything in life to break me spiritually.

Conclusions: I love how Isaiah has lots of nuggets in here that we can use to pray and praying scripture is some of the best prayers around.  “Be strong and do not fear…”  How many times do I need that a day? And because of Jesus we shouldn’t ever be dry but I think sometimes the trials of life brings us so far away from God that we forget about Jesus and God so we end up as such.  But, He is there, waiting for us to return, when we are ready.  And He will heal us as He’s promised.