BSF Study Questions Matthew Lesson 16, Day 5: Matthew 15:29-39 and Mark 7:31; 8:1-9

Summary of passages:  Matthew 15:29-39:  Jesus traveled back to Galilee and healed many on a mountainside.  He says that he has compassion on these people who have been with him for 3 days and have nothing to eat.  The disciples ask where could they get enough food to feed them.  Jesus, just like in the feeding of the 5000 (Matthew 14:13-21), gave thanks for a few loaves of bread and fish and broke the food, resulting in enough to feed the crowd with some leftover.

Mark 7:31; 8:1-9:  Mark’s version of the same story.  Jesus wants to feed the people so they don’t collapse from hunger on the way home.  The disciples wonder where they will get enough bread to feed them.  Jesus again breaks bread and feeds all.

Questions:

13a)  In the feeding of the 5000, the people only had to wait one day (Matthew 14:15; Mark 6:35; Luke 9:12).  In the feeding of the 4000, the people waited 3 days (Matthew 15:32; Mark 8:2).

In the feeding of the 5000, the disciples ask Jesus to send the crowds away so they can buy their own food (Matthew 14:15; Mark 6:35-36; Luke 9:12).  In the feeding of the 4000, it is Jesus who notices their need (Matthew 15:32; Mark 8:2-3).

In the feeding of the 5000, there are 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish (Matthew 14:17; Mark 6:41; Luke 9:13).  In the feeding of the 4000, there are 7 loaves of bread and a few small fish (Matthew 15:34; Mark 8:5; 7).

In the feeding of the 5000, Jesus looks to heaven as he breaks the bread (Matthew 14:19; Mark 6:41; Luke 9:16); while in the feeding of the 4000, this is not mentioned (Matthew 15:36; Mark 8:6-7)).

In the feeding of the 5000, there were 12 basketfuls of broken pieces left over (Matthew 14:20; Luke 9:17).  In the feeding of the 4000, there were “several” basketfuls of broken pieces leftover (Matthew 15:37) according in Matthew and Mark says there are 7 (Mark 8:8).

Of course, the number of people was different:  5000 (Matthew 14:21; Mark 6:44; Luke 9:14); 4000 (Matthew 15:38; Mark 8:9).

In the feeding of the 5000, Mark  and Luke mention how the people sit in groups of hundreds and fifties (Mark 6:40; Luke 9:14).  In the feeding of the 4000, the people are merely told to sit (Matthew 15:35; Mark 8:6).

[Scholars say the different in the grass indicates a difference in the seasons.]

NOTE:  The Greek word for baskets is also different between the 5000 versus the 4000 (the baskets are larger here).  I did not mention this because it could just be a translation error so one can not conclusively say that the baskets for the 4000 were larger than for the 5000.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Anything is possible with Jesus.  Jesus has great compassion on the people both spiritually and physically.  Even when other doubt Jesus never does.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Believe that I can accomplish anything with Him.

Conclusions:  Loved part a where we compared both miracles.  Thought part b and c were lackluster.  A better question would have been a focus on how the disciples lacked faith AGAIN when it came to Jesus feeding the 4000 after witnessing the miracle of the 5000.

Matthew mentions Jesus then went to a place called Magadan after the feeding of the 4000.  If you google this, you’ll see this is a modern town in Russia.  Some scholars think this refers to Magdala (location known) and the alleged hometown of Mary Magdalen.  However, others think Magadan is correct; the location today is just unknown.

Mark calls the place Jesus went after the miracle Dalmanutha, which its location is also unknown but believed to be on the Sea of Galilee.

This MAP is a guess as to the location of Dalmanutha:  http://bibleatlas.org/dalmanutha.htm  This map also shows possible locations of Magadan and Magdala.

Good explanation on possible locations:  http://bibleencyclopedia.com/magadan.htm

End Notes:  Most scholars agree that this was the eastern side of the Sea of Galilee–a predominantly Gentile place known as the Decapolis.  Hence, Jesus did heal and minister to the Gentiles as well as the Jews.  Matthew’s description of the people praising the “God of Israel” also supports that these people were Gentiles.  Note how God is praised, not Jesus.

The leftovers show how God provides abundantly.

Scholars say the feeding of the 5000 and the 4000 foreshadow the predicted Messianic banquet. However, the Jews did not see this because they believed the Messianic banquet did not include the Gentiles.

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BSF Study Questions Genesis Lesson 16, Day 5: Genesis 19:15-38

Summary of passage:  The angels are urging Lot to hurry to leave Sodom with his family before it’s too late.  Lot hesitated so the angels had to pull Lot and his family out of the city since the Lord was merciful.  The angels warned them to flee to the mountains and not to look back or they would be swept away.

Lot pleads to flee to the small town of Zoar at least instead of the mountains and this request is granted.  The Lord rained down sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah and Lot’s wife disobeyed God and looked back and turned into a pillar of salt.  The next morning Abraham saw smoke but God remembered Abraham and saved Lot because of him.

Lot and his daughters left Zoar out of fear and settled in the mountains after all.  They lived in a cave.  The older daughter convinced her sister to get Lot drunk and sleep with him so that they could conceive since there was no other man around.  They did so unbeknownst to Lot and both became pregnant.

They boar two sons named Moab and Ben-Ammi, who became the father of the Moabites and the Ammonites respectively.  These cities fought with Israel for centuries.

Questions:

13)  Everything.  The wife died.  They didn’t take any of their wealth or livestock with them–only the clothes on their backs it seems.  They lost their moral compass with the incest.  Tragic.

14a)  He rescued Lot. He had the angels pull Lot out of the city and then God agreed to let them move to Zoar.

b)  What Lot built up did not survive the fire test.  Nothing he built survived.  He suffered loss and Lot will be saved but only as one escaping through the flames.  In other words, Lot has no works to show for his faith.  Lot has done nothing worthy with his life. (Please read from 1 Corinthians 3:10 to understand the passage.  We also discussed this passage last year.  Click HERE to review especially question 8b).

15)  Moab and Ammon.  While the Israelites are wandering the desert, God instruct Moses to not harass the Moabites because He has given them Ar and to not harass the Ammonites for God has given them land.  However, the Moabites and the Ammonites did not help the Israelites when they were passing through their land out of Egypt and instead pronounced a curse upon the Israelites.  As a result, God banned them from entering the assembly of the Lord and forbade the Israelites to be friends or allies with them.  God also turned the curse into a blessing.

Jesus was descended from Ruth who was a Moabite.

Conclusions:  Interesting to me how sin leads to curses and blessings.  How the Moabites and the Ammonites were sworn enemies to the Israelites for most of history; yet, God chose Ruth to be in the line of Jesus.  God can turn the hearts of individuals despite the sin of their ancestors.  Man can overcome his inherit sin and his circumstances and culture and environment to do God’s will.  Encouragement for us all that indeed good can come out of evil.

Interesting how God blessed the Moabites and the Ammonites with land even though they are sinful and ungrateful and treat their relatives, the Israelites, horrible.  God blesses them but then He punishes them when they don’t turn from their ways (Zephaniah 2:8-11).  God will turn their land into a wasteland and take back His blessings (the land) and give it to the Israelites.

Interesting Thought:  Some scholars believe Sodom and Gomorrah lie at the bottom of the Red Sea.  However, the Red Sea has receded in modern times and archaeologists are not convinced of this.  Some even claim to have found Lot’s cave, Zoar, Sodom, and Gomorrah on dry ground.  Google if interested to find this research.

Map Work:

Good maps of Sodom, Gomorrah, and Zoar were hard to find.  This is the clearest I could find:

http://www.wyattnewsletters.com/sodom/PICS/sodom.gif

Another one:  http://www.israel-a-history-of.com/sodom-and-gomorrah.html#Map%20of%20Possible%20Locations

This one shows where the Moabites and Ammonites were eventually located in addition to Sodom, Gomorrah, and Zoar.  This site also goes over the passage.  You have to scroll a bit to see this one:

http://www.israel-a-history-of.com/sodom-and-gomorrah.html

BSF Study Questions Genesis Lesson 16, Day 3: Genesis 18:16-33

Summary of passage:  After visiting Abraham at his tent and partaking of food and water, the men get up to leave.  Abraham walked with them aways.  The Lord wonders if He should hide from Abraham what He is about to do–namely destroy Sodom and Gomorrah.  For Abraham will become a great and powerful nation and all nations on earth will be blessed through him.  For He has chosen Abraham to keep the way of the Lord.

The Lord said the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous that He himself will verify it.

So the men (other two presumably angels) went towards Sodom while the Lord remained next to Abraham.

Abraham challenges God repeatedly not to wipe away the righteous with the unrighteous, reminding God that He should only judge the wicked and not lump the righteous in with the same judgment as the wicked.  [Abraham's got some guts here.]

The Lord says He will spare the city if He can find 50 righteous people.  But the Lord cannot find any.

Abraham does say he is nothing but dust and ashes and repeats how he is unworthy to request such a thing.  But Abraham does anyways.

The Lord leaves and Abraham returns home.

Questions:

7)  Because Abraham was God’s chosen one (Isaiah and Genesis say).  We (humans and Abraham) are God’s friends (Isaiah and John) and are no longer servants.  And friends tell each other everything; they have no secrets.  God chose man.  James tells us “he (Abraham) was called God’s friend.”

Think about this:  you are so close to God that you are walking next to Him as Abraham is doing.  You are God’s friend and confidant.  It would be natural for God to tell you His plans.  It’s why God created man in the first place.  It’s how God treated Adam in the Garden.

God told Abraham about Sodom because it is what friends would do–share and bond.

8 )  Mark says to consider carefully what you hear.  John says the Holy Spirit within will guide us.  John 8:47:  “He who belongs to God hears what God says.  The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.”  John 10:27  “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.”

Consensus seems to be that to hear God we must be God’s.  We must have the Holy Spirit within.  If you are not a believer, you will not hear God.

9)  God punishes the wicked and not the righteous.  He provides a way out for the righteous.  God listens to the outcries against the accused and then verifies before He judges.  God listens to our prayers for the wicked and offers up repentance.  God is just; punishment will come to those who do evil.

10a)  Lot and his family are spared.

b)  To show Abraham that He listens to prayers, that He is fair, and that He answers prayers.

c)  No.

d)  “The Spirit intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express” when we do not know what to pray for.  For God knows our hearts and our minds and the Spirit intercedes or guides us in accordance with God’s will.

e)  Personal Question.  My answer:  If we do not ask, we do not receive.  Abraham asked and asked and asked.  He did not give up.  For in his heart Abraham loved those people. Same for us.  We must ask and ask and ask.  For God will answer. (Matthew 7:7-8).

John 15:16:  “I chose you..and the Father will give you whatever you ask in my (Jesus’s) name.”

Abraham reminded God of who He was.  This is powerful in prayer.  And Abraham was specific.  We must be as well.  General prayers won’t get the job done.  Abraham was persistent; he did not give up.  He kept negotiating with God.  This revealed Abraham’s heart and how he loved those people (and their evil-hearts) so much he begged for their lives.

This is what God wants–to see our heart when we pray.  And if our hearts and motives are in sync, then we shall receive.

Conclusions:  I love thinking about me as God’s friend.  We think of God as a Father and a judge.  But He is also our best friend, the one we can confide anything to, the one who only wants the best for us and will do anything to help us.

God chose us to be His friends and to make known to us things–if we obey God and do what He commands (John 15:14).

So I will ask for more and pray more and talk to God more–as a friend and not just as “God–the Almighty and Ruler of the World.”  For that is what He desires.

I liked the discussion on hearing God.  Many people think they should hear God and when they don’t they get frustrated and turn from Him.  It’s not that He’s not speaking; it’s that we are not listening (if we are believers).  God won’t speak to you if you don’t know Him.

Asking is key.  To receive we must ask.  Same with hearing God.  Not hearing Him?  Ask Him to hear Him.  What do you have to lose?

BSF Study Questions Genesis Lesson 16, Day 2: Genesis 18:1-15

Summary of passage:  The Lord appeared to Abraham among three visitors one day while Abraham was resting in the heat of the day.  When Abraham saw these men, he hurried to greet them and bowed low, knowing one was God for he says, “my lord” while addressing them.

Abraham entreats them to stay and he washes their feet and brings food and drink for their comfort.

They agree to stay.

So Abraham bustles about, hurrying the preparations.  The men ask Abraham where is Sarah.  God Himself tells Abraham (again) that Sarah will have a child this time next year.

Sarah who was eavesdropping laughs (stupid move), believing she is worn out.  God asks Abraham directly, “Is anything too hard for the Lord?”  Then God says He will return this time next year and Sarah will have a son.

Then Sarah denies she laughed when confronted (again, stupid).  For God knows our hearts.

Questions:

3)  Verses 10 & 14; Genesis 17:21

4a)  In 19:1, 2 angels appeared to destroy Sodom.  So here I’d say two men were angels and one was the Lord himself.  Verse 18:1 says “appeared” as if out of thin air.  It specifically says “The Lord appeared” so God was one of them.  But it was God in the form of Jesus Christ because John 1:18 & 1 Timothy 6:16 says that no one has ever seen God Himself.

b)  He bowed low to the ground, offered them water and food, and washed their feet.

5a)  She was afraid and Sarah only thought she was too old.  She never spoke the words out loud.  Only God knows our thoughts.

b)  Hebrews says, Yes, Sarah did believe and seems to say she wouldn’t have conceived if she hadn’t.  Perhaps this is why it took so long for her to conceive.  She doubted and she doubted and until finally her heart turned.  God was testing her.

c)  She had to believe that what the Lord said He would do, He would do.  Believe in your heart.

6)  You have to believe nothing is impossible with God.  That He will allow a virgin to conceive (Luke 1:37-8).  That He will make us new as if we were born again once we believe (John 3:4-5).  Jesus explains to his disciples that all things are possible with God, even a camel passing through the eye of a needle and all can have salvation with faith (Mark 10:24-27).  God will allow a 90 year-old woman, Sarah, to conceive for nothing is too hard for the Lord (Genesis 18:14).

Conclusions:  Great lesson for me!  If you have any doubt in your heart, God will not come through.  It seems to me Sarah doubted and doubted and God repeated and repeated until finally she believed. And she was scared to believe.  But she did.  And I bet that very day she conceived.

God holds up His end of the deal.  He says, “Look, it’s this simple:  believe.”  And man says, “Give me a second to think this through.”

God says ok, for He has all the time in the world.  We, on the other hand, only have limited time to accomplish His purposes.

It’s hard for us but not God.  Yet we think it’s God holding us back when it’s really us–due to our unbelief.

Powerful lesson!

End Notes:  God again, less than 3 months later, comes IN PERSON and REPEATS His promise to Abraham.  Why?

1)  God repeats His promises over and over again because dumb man NEEDS to hear it–to strengthen his faith.  Romans 10:17:  “Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ”.  Or God Himself in the personage of Christ if you are so lucky to receive such a message.

2)  Some scholars think Abraham and Sarah were not having sex for whatever reason so God needed to reinforce His will personally.  In other words, they did not believe God (they were doubting His word) and were doing nothing to fulfill God’s will for their lives.

Also to note:  God read Sarah’s heart.  Even though she didn’t laugh out loud, God heard her.  God knows our heart as well and we should live as if He hears our every thought.

Even though Sarah and Abraham both laughed at God and His promises, God did not respond in anger nor did He punish their unbelief.  He remained (and remains) faithful to them and to us.  He never abandons us like we do Him.

God never changes despite the whims of man.  He loves us always and forever.

Note in verse 13:  “The Lord said to Abraham”.  God correctly addresses Abraham about his wife’s unbelief and about her reaction for Abraham is the head of the family and is therefore responsible for his wife’s belief (and in this case, unbelief).

BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 16, Day 2: 2 Thessalonians 1

Summary of passage:  Second Letter to the Church in Thessalonica.  We ought to thank God for you as your faith is growing more and more and you love one another more and more.  We boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring.

God’s judgment is right and you will be worthy of the kingdom of God.  God is just.  He will pay back those who trouble you and bring relief when the Lord Jesus comes from Heaven in a blazing fire with his powerful angels.  He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus with everlasting destruction.  Those who believe will marvel in him as he’s glorified in his holy people.

We pray that God may count you worthy of his calling and that he may fulfill every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith.

Questions:

3a)  Because their faith is growing more and more and the love every one of them has for each other is increasing.  They have perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials they are enduring.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  I believe I have a deeper faith in God and what He is doing in my life and in this world.  I have more faith in the trials in my life.  I know my time will come.

4a)  Jesus will be revealed from Heaven in blazing fire with powerful angels.  He will punish those who do not know God and who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.

b)  Jesus will be glorified in his holy people and be marveled at.  He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to those who are troubled.

c)  They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people.

5)  That God may count them worthy of his calling, that he may fulfill every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith.

Conclusions:  Great prayer at the end.  Just prayed it for myself and others.  That our purpose is His purpose.  That we find His purpose in our lives.  That we live out that purpose despite the world’s pressures to hinder and squash us at every turn.  That we may be always prompted by faith in what we do.  That we live for Him every moment of our lives.  Amen.

BSF Study Questions Isaiah Lesson 16, Day 4 Isaiah 40:6-8

Summary of passage:  A voice cries men are like grass and their glory is like flowers.  Both wither and die because the breath of the Lord blows on them.  People are just like grass and flowers but the word of God stands forever.

Questions:

8a) All their glory (flowers and grass) wither and die just like man and his glory withers and dies

b) People exist because of God.  The word of God stands forever.  People wither and die.  Proof to us humans (who often need proof but God doesn’t) is His word (the Bible) has survived millenium.  It was oral, then written down, then copied by hand, then faced various groups trying to eradicate it, faced orders from kings to burn the Bible, but through it all it has endured.  Has any man?

9a) Nothing in or of this world lasts forever.  Only God’s word lasts.  Lasting satisfaction in this life should be God’s truths and living a life as close to those as possible.

b) Personal Question.  My answer:  Pray more, read the Bible more, work on myself, listening to God and His will–what He wants in my life and striving to become that person.  Constantly strive to be more like Jesus.

Conclusions:  Overarching theme:  God’s word stands forever (like He himself does) and man’s existence is transitory.  I wish we would cover a little more ground here though.  I crave more study of 3 verses in one day.

BSF Study Questions Isaiah Lesson 16, Day 3 Isaiah 40:3-5

Summary of passage:  Isaiah as the Lord’s messenger calls the people to prepare the way for the Lord by raising up the valleys, leveling mountains, smoothing out the rough ground so the road is straight so the glory of the Lord can be revealed and all mankind can see it.

Questions:

5) To prepare the way for the Lord and remove every obstacle in His path (raise up the valleys, level mountains, smooth out rough roads so they are straight) so the glory of the Lord will be revealed and all mankind will see it.  Prepare our hearts as well for Him.

6) Both John the Baptist and John were baptizing people in these passages, the ultimate sign of accepting Jesus Christ as your Savior.  So, they were preparing the people (their hearts, minds, and souls) for Jesus’ coming.  John the Baptist wore clothes made from camel hair and ate locusts.  We all must prepare for God in mind, body, and soul.

7a) Exodus 24:17  a consuming fire on top of the mountain

Luke 2:9  an angel

Matthew 17:1-8  Jesus was transfigured.  His face shone like the Sun and his clothes were white

Hebrews 1:3  The Son is the radiance of God’s glory

b)  2 Corinthians 3:7-18  Verse 18 “And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”

If we accept Jesus, we are the glory of the Lord.  We see God’s glory all around us as we live out His words.

Conclusions:  I love how BSF takes a topic (here, the Glory of God) and makes us really think about it where as otherwise it just passes through our minds like any other words spoken.

I looked up glory in the dictionary and got a myriad of responses:  giving someone glory (praise, honor, or worship); a distinguished quality or asset; great beauty, magnificence; the splendor and beatific happiness of heaven.

As we’ve learned, no mortal can look fully on God because of his glory.  Moses only saw his back.  Isaiah saw the Lord on His throne with seraphs flying around Him, praising Him.  God hovered in clouds above the people.

Then, God sent His son, Jesus, who if you think about it was the glory of God incarnate, walking amongst us and throngs of people wanted a touch of just his clothing.  Then Jesus was transfigured by God with divine radiance.

I quoted 2 Corinthians 3 where we all reflect God’s glory since we are part of God’s creations.  People believe you can see God’s glory in Nature all around us.  The wonderment of how it all works around us and we have no control of it.  God’s glory in the Heavens, the stars, the moon, the Sun.  Everywhere you look really.  Since God created it all (for his pleasure and perhaps for his glory) you can say the glory of God is all around us.

I like to believe we all carry a bit of God in us–in our very souls–the part that makes us good instead of falling into our inherent tendencies of evil.  So, we are God’s glory.  He takes pleasure in us in that sense.

Nature too is an absolute miracle and when you’re watching a sunrise over the Pacific Ocean or examining the perfect uniqueness of a snowflake, who can’t help but think it’s all God’s glory?

I’d love to hear your opinions on the glory of God, where He dwells, and how it can be seen.