BSF Study Questions The Life of Moses Lesson 24, Day 2: Numbers 22:1-41

Summary of passage:  The Israelites are headed to the Promised Land and camped along the Jordan River across from Jericho.  Balak, the king of the Moabites, was scared of the Israelites so he asked Balaam to curse the Israelites.  God came to Balaam and warned him not to curse the Israelites for they are blessed.  So Balaam refused to curse the Israelites.  Balak sent more messengers to try and convince Balaam to curse the Israelites, offering him a handsome reward.  Still, Balaam refused but promised to speak to God again for them.  This time God said to go with the men and do only what He commands.

So Balaam starts his journey with the princes of Moab.  However, God is angry so He sends and angel who stands in the road to block their path.  The donkey sees the angel and turns off the road.  Balaam beats the donkey for disobedience.  Again, the angel blocks their path; again the donkey is beaten.  Again, the donkey sees the angel; again the donkey is beaten.

God made the donkey chastise Balaam for beating her three times.  Finally, the Lord opened Balaam’s eyes to see the angel. The angel says the donkey saved his life because she turned away.  Balaam repented and God told him once again to go with the men to Balak.

Questions:

3a)  “Terrified because there were so many people”; “filled with dread because of the Israelites”.  “This horde is going to lick up everything around us, as an ox licks up the grass of the field.”  “Come and put a curse on these people because they are too powerful for me.”

b)  If Balaam cursed the Israelites, then they could be defeated and driven out of his country.

c)  Sent ambassadors to see what the Israelites wanted.  Prayed to the One, True God about it.

d)  Kill them (Shiities killing the Sunnis and vice versa, various African tribes killing each other (Darfur region), Muslims killing Christians, terrorists indiscriminately killing).  Hostility, discrimination, etc.

4a)  Balaam obviously knew of the One, True God since he spoke to Him and feared Him.  Does that make him a believer?  No.   Joshua tells us he practiced divination.  In Deuteronomy, we see the Lord would not listen to Balaam and God listens to His children.

Numbers 22:7 speaks volumes here:  Balaam was working for a “divination fee”.  No true prophet of God is out for himself.  If any thing, being a prophet is more of a burden than a reward in terms of money here on earth.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Don’t jump to conclusions.  As the donkey pointed out, the donkey’s behavior was way out of the ordinary, but Balaam did not take the time to figure out why.  Do not court temptation for in the end it will get you.  Some people will go against God’s will and nothing can stop them (not even Jesus himself) their hearts are so twisted.  People will do anything for money.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Have patience when things are out of the ordinary.  Pray for God to be with me more.  Listen for God’s voice and not man’s voice.  Run from temptation.

Conclusions:  Could have done without personal questions.  I would hope most of us don’t beat our animals when they disobey.  They are after all lower animals and God charges us to care for them as such.  I would also hope if Jesus appears before us we won’t ask him for permission to sin.  If God says go one way, we go His way, not ours.  I love how God uses a beast of burden to tell Balaam he’s an idiot.  How humbling!

End Notes:  Balak had no need to fear the Israelites.  If he had known God’s word, God had commanded the Israelites to not harm the Moabites as their land was not part of the Promised Land (Deuteronomy 2:9).

This is the first time in the Bible we meet Balaam and we are given no background on him as to how he’s a prophet or comes to be held in such high regard by Balak.

Balak wants the people cursed so he knows enough about the Israelites to know they follow a powerful god.  And Balaam he believes is the man for the job.

Taking the divination fee was the first sin.  The second sin was even asking God when his heart was not right and knew the men were evil.  God, out of mercy, spoke with Balaam–for Balaam’s sake–in order to try and turn his heart to Him.

From Balaam’s answer to the elders, it is clear he wants to go but ‘mean, ol’ God’ won’t let him. Hence, Balak tries again, this time promising more riches, which is what Balaam wants.  Even though Balaam knows God’s will, he refuses to put away his sin.  He allows temptation in once more.

God does not change His mind when he allows Balaam to go with the men; He is setting Balaam up for judgment.

God is angry at Balaam’s rejection of His word.

Note how the donkey is more spiritual than Balaam, seeing a representative of its Creator and rightfully being fearful.  The donkey is a representative of all followers of God and Jesus:  he obeys and because he obeys he annoys the unbelievers and is punished by them and often killed.

Balaam should have known by the donkey’s reaction that something was wrong with this trip.  When the donkey speaks, Balaam’s heart is so twisted by his own desire and sin he doesn’t bat an eye at this miracle.

Scholars believe the angel is Jesus because he accuses Balaam of sinning against him personally (verse 32).

Balaam still wants to go and asks so.  God gives him over to judgment by allowing him to go.

With these actions, Balaam earns himself a place as a lover of money in the Bible and is held up as an example of what NOT to do:  2 Peter 2:15-16 & Jude 11.

Map Showing where Israelites are Encamped:  http://www.israel-a-history-of.com/images/EglonAndAmmon2.jpg

Clear Delineation of Negev and Moab:  http://www.bibletrack.org/notes/image/Israel_to_Moab.jpg

Fun fact:  The donkey is the only Biblical account of an animal speaking.  And an angel (Jesus) praised the donkey, proof God loves all His creations.

BSF Study Questions Matthew Lesson 24, Day 2: Matthew 24:1-14

Summary of passage:  Jesus leaves the temple and predicts that the temple will be leveled (70 AD).  As Jesus sits on the Mount of Olives, the disciples ask him when this will happen and what will be the signs of his Second Coming and the end of the age.  Jesus replies to be wary for many will come in his name.  There will be wars, famines, and earthquakes.  You will be persecuted because of him.  Many will turn away and turn to false prophets.  Love will lessen but those who stand firm in the end will be saved.  This gospel will be spread all over the world.

Questions:

3a)  “Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.” Verse 2

b)  “When will these things happen?  And what will be the sign that they are about to take place?” (Luke 21:7)

“When will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”  (Matthew 24:3)

“When will these things happen?  And what will be the sign that they are all about to be fulfilled?” Mark (13:4)

c)  That Christ’s kingdom will reign until the end of the age.

d)  The temple fell in 70 AD when the Romans sacked the city to put down the Jewish rebellion.  Soldiers knocked down every massive stone in search of the melted gold that had run down as the temple burned.

4a)  Jesus is speaking of different time periods in the future.  He mentions things such as people coming in his name, wars, revolutions, earthquakes, famines, pestilences (verses 8-10).  Some of these have already happened and continue to happen.

Then Jesus switches to the immediate future, once he is gone, how the disciples will be persecuted, brought before kings and governors, betrayed, and put to death (verses 12-16).  This begins right after his death.

Jesus speaks of the End Times as well when he will come down in a cloud of power and glory to set up his kingdom on earth (verse 27).  He says this will take place when Jerusalem is surrounded (verse 20).

b)  “They will fall by the sword and will be taken as prisoners to all the nations.  Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.”  Jerusalem has to wait on ALL nations and UNTIL the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled, which is an indefinite amount of time.

5a)  Many will come in his name.  False prophets.  One William Miller in 1846 predicted Jesus would return and many believed.  When he didn’t, many fell away.  This is the warning to us all.

Wars and revolutions.  Too many to list: WWI, WWII, American revolution, French Revolution, Thirty Years War, Civil War, etc

Nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom.  Too many to list:  all the conflicts between England and France, American revolution where it was the US against England, conflict now in the Middle East, Turks versus the Ottomans, etc.

Great earthquakes, famines, and pestilences.  Too many to list:  Tsumani in 2004, Great San Francisco Earthquake, Dust Bowl, famines in Africa, Bubonic Plague, AIDS, etc.

Jerusalem will be surrounded by armies.  Too many times to list:  According to Wikipedia, Jerusalem has been fought over sixteen times in its history.  Jerusalem has been destroyed twice, besieged 23 times, attacked 52 times, and captured and recaptured 44 times.

Increase in wickedness and loss of love.  Society will deteriorate, which I think most of us will agree is happening.  There will be less love for others and caring.

b)  The gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Through Christian missionaries in all parts of the world and even to the new generations at church and to current believers.  I don’t “preach the gospel.”  I teach it to my kids.  That’s about my extent.  I give to my church and they support missionaries.

Conclusions:  We spent most of this lesson in Luke.  Mark was ignored, a shame since I loved this nugget in Mark:  “And the gospel must first be preached to all nations (Mark 13:10)”, which makes question 5b clearer.  Jesus also mentions the Holy Spirit guiding the disciples during persecution, which must have been a great comfort upon hearing such dread events to come in their lives.  This was recorded in Mark only.

End Notes:  This is the last time Jesus will enter the temple.  He is departing for good.  The disciples are attempting to cheer Jesus after having been questioned by the Pharisees in the temple.  The temple was beautiful and magnificent to behold.  It was covered in gold and huge!

Titus’ soldiers burned the temple against his orders.  He wanted to preserve it.  However, once burned, Titus ordered the temple dismantled in order to retrieve the gold that had melted.

Titus was the emperor of Rome from 79-81 AD.  Before this, he was in charge of Judea and ending the Jewish rebellion there, which he did in 70 AD.  For this victory, he was awarded a triumph (a public ceremony honoring his achievement) and the Arch of Titus was built as a commemoration for him and for his military victories. It is one of two remaining arches still standing in the Roman forum and it was a model for the famous Arc de Triomphe in Paris.

The disciples probably correlated the destruction of the temple with the End Times.  Hence, Jesus’ long answer to correct their thinking.  There is much listed here, purposely vague, that scholars say are for different reasons including to confound the devil or have every generation ready for Jesus’ return.

These signs will intensify as Jesus’ return come near.  More and more earthquakes and famines. Luke says specifically there will be signs in the sun, moon, and stars.  The seas will toss; the heavenly bodies be shaken.

All we need to know is:  Jesus is coming!  So be ready!