BSF Study Questions Genesis Lesson 10, Day 5: Romans 4:13-25; Galatians 3:6-9, 16, 29; Hebrews 11:8-19

Summary of passages:  Romans 4:13-25:  Abraham received God’s promise by faith, not by works or by following the law (which didn’t exist or hadn’t been given in Abram’s time).  For if you follow the law, then why would you need faith?

God’s promises are by faith in Him and by His grace to all who believe not just to those who follow the law.  Through hope and faith Abraham believed God when God said he would be a father of nations even though he and Sarah were almost 100 years old and were close to death.

Abraham was strengthened in his faith and gave God the glory when he had a son.  It was through his faith Abraham was righteous and it is the same for all believers who believe Jesus died for our sins and was raised from the dead for our justification.

We must remember Paul is writing explaining the Christian faith and just got done in Romans 3, saying we are righteous only because of faith in Jesus and nothing else.

Galatians 3:6-9, 16, 29:  Abraham believed God and was thus righteous.  Therefore, those who believe are children of Abraham and are blessed along with him.  The Scriptures say that God justifies the Gentiles though faith as evidenced when God said he would bless all nations through Abraham.

God’s promises apply to all if you belong to Christ.

Hebrews 11:8-19:  Abraham when called obeyed by faith to go to the promised land and make his home there for he was looking forward to the city with foundations (heaven).  Abraham became a father by faith and had descendants as numerous as the stars.

All of these people when they died were living by faith for they did not receive the promises in their lifetime on earth.  They were strangers in this land for their home was in heaven.

Abraham offered his only son Isaac as a sacrifice to God for he had faith that God could and would bring him back from the dead.

Questions:

9)  Personal Question.  My answer:  It all comes down to faith in God, who He is, what He says, and what He does. We have nothing to worry about if we have God.

10)  Genesis 12:3:  God says “…all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”  Galatians tells us that all who believe are children of Abraham and are thus righteous and blessed as God blessed all through Abraham.

11a)  Personal Question.  My answer:  He had unquestioning faith.  He never questioned.  God spoke; Abraham obeyed.  Even when it was scary, uncertain, or painful (like called to sacrifice your only son).  He believed in God’s promises.

b)  Genesis 21:12:  God says, “…it is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.”  The ultimate blessing is our forgiveness of our sins and salvation through Jesus Christ, a descendant of Isaac and Abraham.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  God’s promises have been the same since the Fall.  That He would provide us an eternal home with him.  He would cleanse us of our sins and redeem us.  He would provide the way.  And not only for God’s chosen people, the Israelites, but also for the Gentiles.  All through faith.

Conclusions:  Definitely dreaded this lesson after yesterday’s, especially when I noted nothing from Genesis (or the Old Testament) in the reading AND Hebrews 11 AGAIN!

Interesting how often the Bible does repeat itself or the same idea (like in these passages about Abraham’s faith) just in different ways.  Guess we have to drill it into our heads to get it!

This lesson brought to mind the study of Isaiah where the importance of Israel and the Gentiles was prominent.  Here, I first learned the significance of both and the difference.

Summary of today:  God’s promises are for ALL.  Which includes salvation.

 

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BSF Study Questions Genesis Lesson 10, Day 4: Genesis 11:26-32; Acts 7:2-8

Summary of passages:  Genesis 11:26-32:  The account of Terah from the line of Shem who was Abram’s (later Abraham’s) father.  Lot was Abram’s nephew.  Abram married Sarai (later Sarah) and she was barren (had no children).

Terah, Abram, Sarai, and Lot left Ur for Canaan but settled in Haran where Terah died.

Acts 7:2-8:  Stephen tells us the back story:  God appeared the Abram/Abraham while he was still in Ur in Mesopotamia before he left for Haran and told Abram to leave Ur and to go to Canaan.  So he went to Haran.  Then after Terah, his father, died God sent Abram to Canaan.

God gave him no inheritance in Canaan but He promised him his descendants would possess the land.  God told Abram his children would be strangers in the land and would be enslaved for 400 years.  But God would punish that nation and afterward they will come back to Canaan to worship Him.  Here, God instituted the covenant of circumcision as a sign of this covenant.

Then Abraham had Isaac whom he circumcised.  Isaac had Jacob who became the father of the twelve patriarchs.

Questions:

7a)  Ur, a city in Mesopotamia where the Chaldeans or Babylonians ruled at that time (approximately 2091 BC).

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  That God told Abram beforehand that they would suffer and be enslaved before they would have their inheritance of the land.  Also, the covenant of circumcision was a sign of this promise.

8a)  Personal Question.  My answer:  I learned that Lot was Abram’s nephew and was one of those chosen along with Abram to share in God’s inheritance of Canaan.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  This one is pulling teeth.  Not sure how the facts of Abram’s calling encourage my family.

Conclusions:  My favorite part of this lesson was writing the summary.  The rest I could have done without.

I gave up on 8b after 20 minutes.  Couldn’t think of one thing.

This one was definitely a filler lesson in my opinion.

Map of Abram’s Journey out of Ur to Canaan:  http://www.israel-a-history-of.com/old-testament-map.html#Peninsula.

Recommendation:  If you are interested in map work, I would purchase a good Bible Atlas.  The one I own is Zondervan’s Atlas of the Bible by Carl S. Rasmussen.  This has a much, MUCH better map of Abraham’s possible route than I could find on the Internet as well as detailed background information, dates, and what’s going on in the known world in the same time period.

I’m sure there are many more wonderful ones out there but the detail given in a book is invaluable to me as I need to picture Abram trekking through the desert in order to understand a world more than 4 millenia before mine.

BSF Study Questions Genesis Lesson 10, Day 3: Skim Genesis 6-9

Summary of passages:  Please see previous posts.

Questions:

6a)  Personal Question.  My answer:  The judgment was final.  There was no going back once it began.  Once God closed the door to the ark God’s judgment had been complete. So it will be in the End Times for Jesus’s Second Coming.  No one will know when it will happen.  It will just happen.

b)  Believers are spared God’s punishment in terms of punishment.  We are judged for rewards for God has forgiven our sins.  Unbelievers are judged for punishments for their sins have not been forgiven.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  I am a Christian through faith in our Savior, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit indwells my body to guide me in this life.

Conclusion:  Honestly, again, dreading the repetition.  But part b did give me a chance to clarify in my mind the Final Judgment and research the passages for this, which is important in explaining to others why they need to accept Christ.

Great, succinct answer to who is judged and when HERE

BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 10, Day 4: Hebrews 3:7-19

Summary of passage:  The Holy Spirit warns not to harden your hearts against Him like the Israelites did in the rebellion where they tested God and God got so angry He swore they would never enter His rest.  Instead, encourage one another daily so none of you will be deceived by sin.  Have confidence in Christ.  Do not be like the Israelites who irked God because they did not believe.

Questions:

12)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Many things exist today to squander our time.  Internet, TV, video games, cell phones, and a plethora of activities to do that did not exist 100 years ago.  By not doing my best at what God has called me to do.  By not completing the tasks He has set before me.  By wasting away time until before you know it none is left.

13a)  The people rebelled (verse 15), sinned (verse 17), disobeyed (verse 18), and did not belief (verse 19).  He was angry with them for 40 years and did not allow one of them to enter His promised land.  Their bodies fell in the desert and never had rest.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  My hardest has been God will provide and God will never forsake me.  There have been times in my life when I think He’s not there and He has left me.  I’m not for sure though how this has worked against me.  I think it makes me depressed and anxious, angry and bitter.  But deep down I know God is still working in my life.  It is mostly the fact I don’t want to acknowledge Him because I don’t like what He is doing in my life.

Then I look back and see God where I hadn’t before and gain re-newed faith in Him.  The joy doesn’t instantly return but it at least is present again.

Conclusions:  I liked reading Numbers again.  I like the OT.  It has some of the best life lessons for us.  It gets frustrating though reading the stupidity of some of the Israelites who never learned to trust in God after seeing Him for themselves.  I think if I saw God or heard His actual voice, I would never question again (at least I hope so!).

I also liked the squandering time question since all of us face this in an increasingly complex world in which we live.  It’s a good reminder to keep our eyes looking up and not down and listening to Him and not others.

I liked the message in Verses 12-13 about encouraging one another in this world full of sin.  We need to do more of that.  And on a daily basis.  For it’s in the little decisions we make daily that the Devil creeps in and compounds our problems.

Great lesson today.

BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 10, Day 3: Hebrews 3:1-6

Summary of passage:  The Hebrews writer calls brothers (believers) to fix their thoughts on Jesus who was faithful to God just as Moses was.  But Jesus is greater since he is the builder of the house (us) and not the house itself (Moses).  God built everything and Moses was a servant in God’s house.  Jesus is the son over God’s house.

Questions:

9a)  Praying, confessing sins

b)  When we are tempted, when we have fears, when we fear death, when we have sinned.

10)  According to Webster’s Dictionary, transcendental meditation is “a technique of meditation in which a mantra is changed in order to foster calm, creativity, and spiritual well-being.”  It is based on Hindu traditions.

Christian meditation, according to Wikipedia, is “a form of prayer in which a structured attempt is made to get in touch with and deliberately reflect upon the revelations of God.  Christian meditation aims to heighten the personal relationship based on the love of God.”

So, Christian meditation is to get closer to God, to learn who He is, to know Him better, to learn to hear God’s voice and listen and obey Him.  The point is to focus on God.

Transcendental mediation is more about the person, you.  It’s selfish.  It’s developing brain activity so you can have clarity in your life, reduce stress, unlock creativity, and calm the mind.  It has nothing to do with God.

Hebrews 12:2:  “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning hits shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

11)  Similarities:  Both were called to do God’s work.  Both were sent to save God’s people.  Both lived extraordinary lives because of it.

Differences:  Jesus showed a perfect faithfulness in his ministry.  Moses disobeyed God and took credit for a miracle (Numbers 8-12) and was thus punished and not allowed to see the promised land.  Moses received glory from God but Jesus was transfigured and resurrected.  Moses is part of God’s house but Jesus is the creator.  Moses was never called a son by God.

Conclusions:  I had no clue what transcendental meditation was so of course I had to google it.  I don’t think this question could be answered with just knowledge in the average person’s brain.  In this case, I definitely think going outside the Bible should be allowed when asking a question that the Bible never addresses.

Also, not sure the challenge part of this.  Hebrews 12:2 does use the same expression but what clarification it offers in terms of transcendental meditation is beyond me.

In instances such as these, I wish BSF would just come out and state their opinion on the matter (which they may do in the notes and/or lecture) instead of making it a question on a topic that was irrelevant in the days of Hebrews, the Apostles, and the early Church (transcendental mediation was not invented or popularized until the 1950′s).

The question would be more relevant in comparison to meditating on other gods, Confucius, or Buddha and their teachings, all of whom existed before Jesus and were legitimate threats to the spread of Christianity in the first century AD instead of singling out a “technique” that has only recently come into existence.

BSF Study Questions Isaiah Lesson 10, Day 5 Isaiah 21-23

Summary of passage: Isaiah 21: Isaiah prophesizes against Babylon, saying Elam and Media (allies of the Assyrians) will attack, Babylon will fall, and all of its images of its gods will be destroyed.  Isaiah sympathizes with their destruction.  Edom and Arabia will fall as well to the Assyrians.

Here’s the best map I could find of Elam.  I like it because it also has Media on there and you can tell that it would be easy for them to join with Assyria and attack Babylon.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Elam_Map.jpg

Dumah is in the northern part of Edom and Seir is referring to Mount Seir, also in Edom.  In the dark hour there is a respite then another dark hour.  Assyria is the invader.  Historical Note: Kedar falls to Sargon II shortly after the fall of Samaria in 722 BC.

Map of Kedar (Arabia) and you can see Phoenicia as well, where Tyre is located:

http://bibleatlas.org/full/kedar.htm

Isaiah 22: Jerusalem will suffer the same fate at the hands of the Babylonians.  The Lord has a day of tumult, trampling, and terror in store for Jerusalem.  Because they did not ask Him for help, all of their preparations will be useless.  The Lord will remove Shebna, a steward in charge of the palace or a chief assistant for King Hezekiah, from office because he is mocking God by building a tomb, essentially saying I will not be exiled to Babylon when in fact He will.  He personifies Jerusalem’s self-interest by building a magnificent tomb for himself.  The Lord replaces Shebna with Eliakim son of Hilkiah because he is God’s servant.  In this Eliakim prophesizes the Messiah when God gives him the key to the house of David as mentioned in Revelation 3:7.  Eliakim’s family will be blessed as well, a secure peg.  This could also mean all will depend on Jesus and hang on him.

Interpretation taken from:  http://www.enduringword.com/commentaries/2322.htm

Isaiah 23: Tyre will be destroyed, left without house or harbor.  Tyre, north of Israel on the Mediterranean Sea, was a huge shipping and trade center during Isaiah’s time.  Tyre was part of Phoenicia.  It had two parts: a city on the coast and a city that sat on a nearby island.  The coastal city was conquered by both the Assyrians and the Babylonians.  The island city was not conquered until Alexander the Great conquered it in 332 BC, using methods never before thought of which was part of his genius as a military conquerer. Egypt will be in anguish at Tyre’s fall.  The Lord planned Tyre’s fall, to humble it.  The merchants and traders prospered because of their skill and because of God’s blessings.  Cyprus, an island nation still in existence but under Tyre’s control during Isaiah’s time, will not be spared.  The Babylonians (who will be brought down) and the Assyrians have made the land a desert and a ruin.  For 70 years Tyre will be forgotten but at the end of 70 years, Tyre will be remembered and will return to its glory (symbolized by the prostitute) but its riches will be for the Lord’s purposes.

I got help in understanding this here:  http://www.enduringword.com/commentaries/2323.htm

Tyre and Cyprus have a huge amount of history just on their own.  You could spend hours learning about their role in ancient times.

Questions:

12) Babylon: Elam and Media attack, Babylon falls, all the images of its gods lie shattered on the ground

Edom: First one attack, then a respite, then another attack all by Assyria

Arabia: all the pomp of Kedar will end with few survivors

Tyre: Assyria conquers Tyre as well, destroying the city and leaving no houses or harbor (Tyre was a huge center of trade in Isaiah’s day)

13) A day of tumult, trampling and terror by bows and chariots, battering down of walls, crying out to the mountains, Elam and Kir (probably allies with Babylonians at the time) invade, the defenses of Judah are stripped away.  This is the prophesy of the overthrow of Jerusalem by the Babylonians.  Jerusalem made all of these preparations for the attack except for the one that mattered: turning to God for help.

14a) Personal Question.  My answer: The cruel enemies of Judah will be destroyed and judged by God.   Jerusalem, God’s people, will also be judged because they did not turn to Him for help.  Yet through the example of Eliakim, God always has something better in store for His people, be it Earthly or unearthly.

b) Personal Question.  My answer: Knowing there is hope when life seems hopeless.  God has a plan even though we cannot see it and cannot know it.

Conclusions: I get the message of gloom and doom, but I refuse to live my short life chastising myself for all of my shortcomings and being afraid of the future.  I try to live as much as possible in the present moment, enjoying my husband, kids, and family and the rest of my blessings, helping others along the way and striving to know God better on a personal level.

We are incredibly lucky to be living in a relatively peaceful time unlike Israel and Judah in Isaiah’s time and we also have Jesus. This gives us the luxury of enjoying our Earthly life, being secure in the Lord if we have Jesus, and doing as much as possible for Him while we are here without the fear and trepidation wars and uncertainty bring.  That’s not to say we don’t have our problems (our nation that is) but on an individual level, we can live life secure from war and secure in Him.  I know my eternal destiny and if I keep that in the forefront of my mind, I should have nothing else to fear in this world.

I’m a fairly positive person and Question 14 sets me off.  It’s so hard for me to grasp war in general and its atrocities because I have not lived it so it’s hard for me to picture how I would react, but I can’t imagine I wouldn’t turn to God in those desperate times.  So extrapolating the people of Jerusalem’s mindset is hard so its impact on my life would be little to none.  All I can do is try to bring it to my world and in my world I have hope and faith in God when life sucks.

Maybe I’m missing the point here so any help would be appreciated.

BSF Study Questions Isaiah Lesson 10, Day 3 Isaiah 17-18

Summary of passage: Chapter 17: An oracle warns Israel against allying itself with Damascus, saying Damascus will be ruined and Jerusalem will disappear.  The glory of Jacob will disappear like fat from your body, leaving only a few to remain.  In that day Israel will turn again to their Maker and not to false idols or the fruits of their labor but Aram will not and will hence suffer desolation.  God will rebuke raging nations and they will flee before Him.

Chapter 18:  Isaiah prophesizes against Cush (modern day Ethiopia or Sudan), saying much the same thing as for Damascus.  The Lord will watch from above and remain quiet until His time to act when He will cut off the blooming harvests and leave all for the wild animals to prey upon.  Only then it seems will Cush bring gifts to Mount Zion.

Questions:

6a) Damascus will be in ruins, cities of Aroer will be deserted and left to the flocks who will lie down with no enemies.  Jerusalem will disappear as will power from Damascus.

b) Israel’s glory fades like the fat of the body wastes away.  The reaper will use his arm instead of tools to harvest, leaving some behind (the Remnant).

c) The men will look to their Maker and not to idols, false gods, or foreign altars or to the fruits of their labor.  But Aram’s cities will be desolate because they did not turn to God and their harvest will be nothing.

d) No matter how fierce foreign nations are as soon as God decides their time is up, they will be gone, fleeing for their lives overnight.

e) God watches all and when the time is right (God’s timing) He will act.  Just as things are at their highest (harvest time), He will take it all away and leave it to the animals.  This reminds me of Matt Redman’s song “Blessed Be His Name”, which says “He gives and takes away,” derived from Job 1:21 which says, “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.”  This passage is a powerful reminder of His sovereignty.

f) Ultimately, the nations will turn to the Lord and bring Him gifts.

7a) Lord Almighty, God of Israel, God your Savior, Holy One of Israel, the Rock, and Maker.  These names emphasize how God is and should be everything.  He is the Maker (the beginning), the Savior (from your sins), the Rock (in your hard times of life), Almighty (can do anything), and Holy (immutable).  It deduces naturally that man-made idols are just that–from man who is sinful, imperfect, at times immoral, and dubious in nature.

b) Other people (celebrities), material things, or even pastors and the institution of churches.  Idols are anything we humans put above and value more than God.

Conclusions:  For such a straight-forward lesson (Turn to me or you will suffer type thing), there are a lot of truths here. God is and should be everything.  He does events according to His timing.  He gives and takes away at will.  We are warned against false idols, which in our culture is not so much the Golden calf type thing but more so what the “fruits of our labor” produces such as material wants and desires or covetous natures.  With the interconnectedness of the planet, we are bombarded with so many other things others have and we don’t that we must guard against putting these things above God.

Side Note:  Incidentally, I do have Matt Redman’s song on my IPod because it’s a good reminder to me that He is the one who gives (not my husband’s job or other people) and He is the one who takes away (not others when bad things happen) because He is the one in control.

I also like being reminded of Job, the guy who lost everything as a test only (not for his own sins) and he passed with flying colors.  It reminds me of how when I lost everything, God was still there and I could lose it all again and God would still be there.  And that’s all that matters.

BSF Study Questions Isaiah Lesson 10, Day 2 Isaiah 15-16

Summary of passage: Isaiah is prophesizing against Moab, saying Ar and Kir (cities in Moab) is ruined and destroyed in one night.  The people are weeping in the streets with shaved heads and beards and wearing only sackcloths.  The waters of Nimrim are dried up, the grass is withered, the vegetation gone, nothing green is left.  Blood runs in Dimon’s (a river also known as Dibon) waters.  Lions fall upon the survivors and those fleeing.  Isaiah tells them to send lambs of peace to Judah and flee to Judah for shelter for a throne will be established, one from the house of David (Jesus) who will be just and righteous.  Moab’s pride, conceit, and insolence get in the way and they choose their own gods (verse 12).  Therefore, the Lord pronounces judgment upon them, saying in three years, Moab will effectively be no more.

Questions:

3) Ar and Kir, cities in Moab are ruined and destroyed in a night.  The people are weeping, every head and beard is shaved, and they are wearing sack cloths.  The waters are dried up, the grass is withered, vegetation gone, nothing green is left.  Dimon’s (a river in Moab also known as Dibon) waters are full of blood and lions attack the fleeing fugitives.  Verse 5 Isaiah says, “My heart cries out over Moab.”  Verse 9 “So, I weep, as Jazer weeps…I drench you with tears.”  Verse 11 “My heart laments for Moab like a harp.”

One map of Moab in relation to Judah and Israel:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Kingdoms_around_Israel_830_map.svg

4a) Isaiah tells them to send lambs as tribute to Jerusalem (effectively send peace offerings to Judah) and then flee to Judah as their shelter and offers them to turn to God.  He tells them a throne will be established, one from the house of David (Jesus here) who will be just and righteous.  But their pride gets in the way of the offer and they reject it (which is ultimately rejecting God) and they pray at their shrine to their gods (verse 12), which is to no avail.

b) Verse 13:  The Lord says, “Within three years…Moab’s splendor and all her many people will be despised and her survivors will be very few and feeble.”

5a) Personal Question.  My answer: Isaiah delivers his message with compassion and with God’s heart for his people whom He wants fervently to save–not with “hellfire and damnation” talk some people use when warning of eternal repercussions.  It’s a great example of how as a believer you can speak with other non-believers and warn them gently and lovingly about the consequences of not having God and Jesus in their hearts.  But, ultimately, every individual must make the choice to accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior.  You have done your part by bringing them the good news but in no way should you feel responsible for their acceptance or not.

b) Personal Question.  My answer:  Barriers–Pride, arrogance, self-reliance, not believing in God or his message, indifference, ambivalent, and not caring about eternity but only about Earthly lives.  Pride, arrogance, and self-reliance are my barriers and I will pray more for God’s guidance and His will in my life.

Conclusions: Unlike Babylon or Philistia, God is offering Moab a chance at grace and salvation and they reject Him for it.  This is a great example of how even in the face of utter devastation, people still do not embrace God and His grace.  Pride and arrogance (the root of all sin as we’ve learned) still is a barrier between man and God.  I’ve learned I have to fight this tendency every day to “do things my way” and not His way.  Pride, arrogance, and self-reliance are constant barriers to my God and His path for me.  I will pray more to be humble and obedient to His will.

End Note: All of the names are ancient cities either in Moab (such as Nebo, Medeba, Heshbon, Sela, etc) or its surrounding countries such as Judah or Israel.  I couldn’t find a detailed map of their locations.  Jazer was also a city (I was curious since Isaiah weeps as Jazer does).