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?

Interesting Side Note to BSF Study Questions Lesson 7 & Lesson 8

I just finished doing the lesson with my kids where they were asked how many animals of each kind Noah took into the ark.  This triggered a thought I had had before and now noticed something I had missed before:

Genesis 6:19: “You are to bring into the ark two of all living creatures…”

Genesis 7:2: “Take with you seven of every kind of clean animal, a male and its mate, and two of every kind of unclean animal, a male and its mate, and also seven of ever kind of bird, male and female, to keep their various kinds alive throughout the earth…”

I was wondering this for the question in Lesson 8, Day 2 about what Noah did when he left the ark.  “Then Noah built an altar to the Lord, and, taking some of all the clean animals and clean birds, he sacrificed…”

My initial thought was If God had only ordered 2 of every animal, then why is Noah killing some before they have a chance to reproduce?  That wouldn’t make sense…

At the time, I didn’t have time to look into it.  Tonight, I did when it came up again with my kids.

Is this a contradiction?  No.  Confusion?  Yes.

God is clarifying his instructions from chapter 6 in chapter 7.  The emphasis is on clean animals versus unclean.  Noah took more of clean animals and these are the ones he sacrificed upon leaving the ark.

In Leviticus 11, God expounds on unclean and clean animals to Moses and Aaron.

This explains to me too why Jews have restrictions on what they can and cannot eat.  Fascinating!

Great explanation found HERE

I feel this is important and should have been touched upon by BSF in one of the two days we discussed this passage (Day 3 & 4) or in Lesson 8, Day 2.  I’m hoping it will be in the notes or Lecture.

Clean and unclean is a common theme that runs through the Old Testament and explains a lot of why the people acted in ways they did (and it begins here!).  You couldn’t worship God when you were unclean or enter the tabernacle.  Contact with anything unclean made you unclean.  This explains the way lepers were treated.

Until Jesus touched the unclean…

Jesus whipped away this uncleanliness (Mark 7 & Acts 10:9-16) by making us all clean.

But back then you were virtually always “unclean”.

I personally would have gotten more out of a study of clean versus unclean than questions on geological evidence and comparison of people in Matthew and Luke (since I believe people will always be the same).

What My Poll Revealed (And What I Already Knew)…

My last poll, asking how long it took you all to do your BSF lessons, was actually a suggestion from one of you on my blog.  The reader was saying it took her a fair amount of time and was curious if she wasn’t the only one.

It reveals that most of you do it all in one sitting with the majority of you doing the questions on a Sunday night or Monday before class.  I had a fair number of comments about this as well.

But I already knew this…

“How?” you may ask.

Because of the number of hits I get to my blog.

The most are ALWAYS on Mondays.  The second-highest are ALWAYS on Sundays. Always.

In the two years I’ve been doing this, this has been the case.

Now what does this say about man (might as well ask since we are studying the creation of man and his nature, right?).

Inherently, we don’t like to work.

Eden seemed like a great time to me.  The “work” seemed not so hard.  I imagine petting animals all day long and chit-chatting with God about the weather He’d send.

Until the Fall…

Then work became not so fun.

Same here.  The daily study questions or “homework” is just that–work.

I’ll admit it.

Some days I struggle.  Wondering what they are looking for…just like back in school.

Some days I spend a while searching for answers.

Other days are easy.

Just like school.

Now how many of us liked school?  High School?  Junior High?  Those days?

Not many of us.

So BSF homework reminds us (perhaps subliminally) of school.

Am I right here?

So we procrastinate.  Wait till the last minute…putting off the unpleasantness and “pain” of work.

It’s human nature.

You college crammers know what I’m talking about here.

So as we study the Bible and ourselves, we discover something:  human nature is here to stay.  The Bible is timeless because the people in the Bible could be you and me today. People act how they always have since the Fall.

Sometimes this is good.  And sometimes this is not so good.

In this simple example of BSF homework, I’ll let you make the call.

In my humble opinion, I believe God speaks to you whenever you open the Bible-whether 5 days before class or 5 minutes.  As long as you get it done and you learn and you grow it shouldn’t matter if you’re a procrastinator or not.

After all, it seems to me to be human nature….

BSF Study Questions Genesis Lesson 8, Day 5: Genesis 9:18-29

Summary of passage:  Noah’s sons are Shem, Ham, and Japheth and from them came the people who were scattered over the earth.  Noah got drunk and naked.  Shem & Japheth covered him up.  Noah cursed Ham (the father of Canaan and the one who told of his nakedness) when he found out he had tattled to be slaves to his brothers.  At the same time, he blessed his other sons, asking for Canaan to be Shem’s slaves and Japheth’s territory to grow and live in Shem’s tents as Canaan is Shem’s slaves as well.

Noah died at age 950.

Questions:

12a)  It seems to me Shem and Japheth loved their father more.  They didn’t tell of his situation but instead did their best to cover up their father.  Proverbs says “love covers over all wrongs” so even if getting drunk was wrong love makes it disappear.

b)  Proverbs 17:9 says “He who covers over an offense promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.”  Ham told his brothers (and not in a loving way–in a mocking way) of his father’s nakedness and what happened to him (which we don’t know) and Shem and Japheth covered their father’s offense in love.  When Noah wakes, he is so mad he curses Ham and his descendants–in effect separating the brothers because like Cain and Abel I’m sure  jealousy and dissension arose amongst them.

God does not like the man who stirs up dissension amongst brothers.  It appears there was something else going on here we just don’t know about.  I think there was dissension before this incident.  Sibling rivalry if you will.  Either way love was missing in Ham’s heart.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  I should respond in love.  Not engage in gossip.

13)  Noah curses Canaan to be slaves to his brothers.  Commentators say that Genesis 9:27 predicts the Messiah coming that God (Jesus) will dwell in the tents of Shem.  The land of Canaan is the land where Sodom and Gomorrah lie and is known for its evil.  It is also the land Moses will flee to and the land God gives Abraham.  So in one way it could be a warning not to mix with the Canaanites.

We don’t know why Ham was condemned and the others were blessed.  Many believe there was underlying sin here that something bad (such as sexual abuse) happened to Noah while he was sleeping and Ham boasted of it to his brothers.  However, all of this is speculation.  All we know is what the Bible says: Ham boasted; Shem and Japheth covered with love; Noah’s reaction.

Conclusions:  The lesson I got out of this is the difference in acting out of love or acting out of self and how gossip, boasting, and pride lead to dissension between close friends.  Whatever happened Shem and Japheth loved their father more and were blessed because of their actions.  This is my take-away:  love leads to blessings.

Question 13 is a challenge because even bible commentators don’t agree on what the curse means and its implications.

An interesting lengthy paper on the curse found here:

http://joelnothman.com/downloads/interpretation-gn9-25.pdf

Interesting Side Note:  This curse is what was used to justify slavery of Africans who were believed to be the descendants of Ham and thus preordained to be slaves.  This is what was believed and taught by early Americans.  I found this fascinating because early Americans (and others who enslaved) truly believed this verse justified their actions. Great example of how misinterpreting the Bible can have devastating consequences or the pitfalls of using the Bible to justify extreme behavior.

BSF Study Questions Genesis Lesson 8, Day 4: Genesis 9:1-17

Summary of passage: God blessed Noah and his sons and told them to be fruitful and fill the earth. All animals will fear and dread you and God placed them in man’s hands. God gave everything that lives and moves now as food for man as well as the plants.

Man must not eat meat that has lifeblood still in it.  God will demand an accounting from every animal and from every man and accounting for the life of his fellow man.  “Whoever sheds the blood of man by man shall his blood be shed for in the image of God has God made man.”

God establishes His covenant with Noah and his sons and with every living creature on earth. God promises to never again destroy the earth with a flood.  The rainbow is the sign of this covenant between God, Noah, and all on earth.  God will see the rainbow in the sky and remember this covenant.

Questions:

8a)  In John Jesus says we must be born again of water and of the Spirit in order to see the kingdom of God.  In Genesis, atonement of a blood sacrifice.

b)  I see no difference.  All the same.  Means we are the image of God and made to be like Jesus.

9)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Probably enhance and ameliorate them.

10)  A believer’s mind and heart are opened and receive the indwelt Holy Spirit, which changes him or her to be more like Christ.  The veil of ignorance is lifted and Truth enters and reigns.  And we now reflect the Lord’s glory and are being transformed little by little into his image.

11)  Personal Question.  My answer.  I had forgotten the rainbow was a sign of the covenant!  I had just remembered it was a sign of God’s promise not to flood the earth. I’ll never look at a rainbow the same again.  God is good and He is faithful.

Conclusions:  Repetitive is the word that comes to mind with this lesson.  When I read question 10, I sighed and thought Not again.  This question has nothing to do with Genesis 9.  It just doesn’t.

Bay’s Last Rainbow

I liked the rainbow since me and my kids love rainbows and photograph them every chance we get!  We will definitely talk about this one this week!

Although not the best picture, this rainbow is special to me.  It was taken on my dog’s last day and she was in the car with us.  It was right after her vet’s appointment–the appointment that had given us hope.

I still wonder what God was trying to tell me with this.  It was so beautiful I had pulled over to take the picture and I had completely forgotten about it in the chaos of her death until I downloaded my pictures.  And Bay was with me that day.

I hope it was a sign that God was remembering her as He promised He’d remember all living creatures.  I call it “Bay’s Rainbow” for I truly believe it was put there by Him for her.  And for me.  She was truly special.  And in my heart forever.

And I liked the idea of seeing other’s as images of God.  So often we see people (especially relatives) as the broken humans we all are.   I would extend this to not just Christians but to all people.  For all are made in His image even if the Spirit is not in them.