BSF Study Questions Isaiah Lesson 17, Day 3 Isaiah 40:18-20

Summary of passage:  Isaiah asks who or what will we compare God to.  If we compare Him to an idol, an idol is first cast and then covered in gold and silver chains.  A poor man selects good wood (presumably instead of metal or some material more durable for an idol that a richer man would choose) and looks for a skilled craftsman to make sure his idol does not topple.

Questions:

5a) A craftsman and a goldsmith and a poor man who looks for a skilled craftsman.  A craftsman casts the idol in an image and a goldsmith covers it in gold and silver ornaments and a poor man tries to find someone who will make a nice idol without it toppling over.

b)  Psalms 115:4-7; 135:15-18  Idols are made by the hands of men; they cannot speak, see, hear, smell, feel, walk, talk and those who make them and trust in them will be like them (the idols)

Jeremiah 10:8-16  Idols are worthless, objects of mockery; they are a fraud with no breath in them; they will perish from the earth.  Idol-makers are foolish and senseless.  The makers are shamed by their idols and when their judgment comes, they will perish.

Habakkuk 2:18-19  Idols have no value since a man has carved it; they have no breath in them and cannot give guidance.  Woe to idol-makers who trust in their own creation.

c) God is Creator; idols are created.  God made people; people make idols.  God breathes life; idols are breathless.  God speaks and God lives; idols don’t.  God sees, hears, smells, feels, and answers prayers; idols just sit there.  God is everything; idols are nothing.  Structurally speaking, God is the action and idols are acted upon.  God is the verb.  Idols are nouns.  God does.  Idols  don’t do anything.

6a) Celebrities, money, material objects and wealth, other people in power

b) Sometimes I envy everything in 6a but as far as actual worship, I am not sure.  But I do allow life elements to get put before God–busy deeds such as surfing Internet and just getting caught up in the day-to-day living instead of being still and knowing He is God.  I am guilty of allowing life to lead me at times but as always I am trying to keep Him as my center in my fallible human way.

Conclusions:  First Commandment:  You shall have no other gods before me.  Second Commandment: You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.  You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.  Exodus 20:3-6

I would think these are important to God since they are above the others we tend to remember:  don’t commit murder, adultery, steal, or covet your neighbor’s house or wife.

Bowing down and praying to foreign idols was a real problem in Isaiah’s time.  The influence of foreign cultures and their gods was one of the sins that led to God’s punishment of exile of His chosen people. People were (and are today) easily influenced and didn’t have the benefit of technology and an interconnected world as we do to more easily know the One, True God.

We, in the twenty-first century, have trouble relating to such a culture since ours is mostly homogenous in the sense people worship one God.  But instead of a physical idol like a golden calf or something, people today do worship other things such as material wealth, people, etc so in this sense we can relate.

It’s important to be cognizant of our God, who admits he is jealous over us (of all insignificant things!) and of putting Him first and to make sure He knows He is first in our hearts.

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BSF Study Questions Isaiah Lesson 11, Day 2: Isaiah 24:1-6

Summary of passage: The Lord pronounces a curse on the Earth–He will devastate it and all of its inhabitants without exception.  The Earth dries up along with its people because the people have broken the ever-lasting covenant, disobeyed the laws and violated the statutes, and defiled the Earth.

Questions:

3a) The Lord will lay waste and devastate the Earth.  It will be totally plundered, its inhabitants scattered.  The Earth will dry up and wither.

b) Everyone

c) God says it will happen so it will happen.  I think God will destroy so He can renew; God will cleanse so we can be pure of heart and soul.  We can be prepared for that day by living our life in God’s ways.

4) The Earth is defiled by its people who have disobeyed the laws, violated the statutes, and broken the everlasting covenant.

Conclusions: Curious as to what exactly was in this “everlasting covenant” that the people had broken that caused all of this destruction (you have to know if you want to avoid it!), I googled it.  Knowing God made a covenant with Noah that He’d never destroy the Earth again and sent us a rainbow as a sign of this promise, how can He destroy the Earth?

A covenant is a written agreement or promise usually under seal between two or more parties especially for the performance of some action.  In this case between God and His believers.  God made many covenants with man over the course of history.  The Old Covenant would be between Noah and God, Abraham and God, etc all with the purpose and intent of having a relationship between God and man.

The New Covenant is a set of new agreements between God and man, outlined in Hebrews 8.  Here God promises to put his words into our minds and hearts (God will dwell in us not outside of us), forgive our sins, and offer us eternal life.

This New Covenant will be fulfilled when God/Christ returns to Earth to establish His kingdom.  This New Covenant provides a way for humans to have an intimate relationship with God.

Where does Jesus fit in?  Well, through the blood of Jesus, we were cleansed of our sins.  There is no other way to be cleansed and to dwell with God.

So what is Isaiah here talking about?  I’m not for sure because we haven’t studied all this in depth.  We must remember Isaiah lived BEFORE Jesus and although He prophesized the coming of Jesus, he probably didn’t understand what Jesus would mean for all believers after him and probably could not predict all the repercussions stemming from Jesus’s death on a cross.

So, based on the premise Isaiah did not predict the meaning of Jesus’s death, He is saying here in this passage:  for God to dwell with us here on Earth, man must be perfect because God cannot abide with sin.  So, to be perfect, we must be cleansed from sin so God can dwell with us.  Thus, I am extrapolating that these verses in Isaiah is the process Isaiah believed we must go through to be cleansed so God can live with us.  But this covenant Isaiah is referring to is the Old Covenant, and not the New Covenant just enumerated above.  So I am theorizing here that this prophecy will not happen literally; it will be figuratively.

Will the Earth be destroyed when Jesus comes back to bring His Kingdom to Earth?  My answer: doubtful.  I think a lot of people will be destroyed (the non-believers and such) but why would God destroy the place where He wants to set up His Kingdom?  There could be mass destruction of people and places when Jesus first arrives but I just don’t see the Earth vanishing in a puff of smoke and eradicated from the universe.  I believe God loves His creations too much to do such a thing.

Once again, I don’t know.  I’m just trying to figure all of this out in relation to Jesus.

The description of the New Covenant I summarized is taken from here:  http://www.biblestudy.org/basicart/what-is-the-new-covenant-god-offers-to-man.html

This was a great, easy to understand explanation if you want more info.

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 9, Day 4 Isaiah 14:1-8

Summary of passage: The Lord will have compassion on Israel and bring them home once again to their promised land.  Israel will make captives of their captors and will join with aliens to subdue other nations.  On that day, Israel will taunt the King of Babylon, pointing out his cruelty, while all the lands sing for peace.

Questions:

7) He will once again forgive Israel, have compassion on them, affirm them as His chosen people, and return them to the Promised Land.  They will be united as one country again and will ally with aliens to rule over other nations and their captors.

8a) Babylon’s rulers were driven by anger and were cruel:  they struck down peoples with unceasing blows and subdued nations with relentless aggression.

b) Israel is now the ruler over other nations, including Babylon.  Israel will “taunt” the King of Babylon (not very Jesus-like) on the day these roles are reversed.  I’m picturing a 5 year-old saying, “Ha, ha, I’m better than you,” which is not very humble for people who just spent years in captivity because they disobeyed their God.

Conclusions: What is the reason for every country’s fall (besides God’s will)?  Well, they are cruel to their people and eventually the people rise up, ally with other countries, and overthrow the cruel rulers.  Someone usually gets greedy (think Rome, Greece, Alexander the Great, Cleopatra, the Puritans, etc), decides it’s my way or the highway, and people get fed up.  This is how it has been since the beginning of time.

Call me pessimistic but I’m not getting much out of this passage here, especially the whole taunting scene, which to me is very un-God-like.  I’m not sure God approved of such actions.

It just seems to me Babylon was destined to fall and the questions just kind of re-iterate this logicalness.  I guess I’m just looking for something deeper here.  For a lesson that started out so powerful, it is now flailing like a bird with a hurt wing.