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.

BSF Study Questions Isaiah Lesson 16, Day 5 Isaiah 40:9-11

Summary of passage:  The messenger will bring good tiding to Zion and Jerusalem.  He will go up on a high mountain and shout so all can hear, “Here is your God!”  God will come with power.  His reward is with him as well as his recompense (forgiveness).  He watches over us like a shepherd and holds us in his arms close to his heart.  He gently leads us.

Questions:

10a) The messenger will go up to a high mountain and shout with all of his might, “Here is your God!”

b) God comes with power.  The reward is with him and his recompense accompanies him.  He will gather his people and hold them close to his heart.  He tends them, leads them, and watches over them.  In God’s timing, He will rescue them and forgive them of their sins.  He holds them as they suffer.

c) Personal Question.  My answer:  Nothing can defeat God.  He is just.  He has a plan and when my little world is in chaos, He is holding me next to His heart.  He is tending me, watching over me as I grow, and leading me.  For He is my reward.

11a) Reward:  something that is given in return for good or evil done or received and especially that is offered or given for some service or attainment; recompense.  Recompense:  to give something to by way of compensation; to pay for; a return for something done, suffered, or given.

b) His reward is Him.  His recompense is his forgiving of our sins and His giving of Jesus to pay for our sins.  He will come and bring forgiveness.  God is with us always and forgives us always even in the midst of sin.  It’s comforting to know when we fall, His hand is there to pick us back up.

Conclusions:  Great reminder of God’s faithfulness, His goodness, His love, His compassion, His forgiveness, His power, His gentleness, and everything else God.  He is a God of comfort.  He is always there for us in our times of need.  Sometimes we forget that but He doesn’t.  He tends, gathers, carries, and gently leads us to where He wants us–closer to Him.

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.

BSF Study Questions Isaiah Lesson 13, Day 2 Isaiah 28-29

Summary of passages:  Isaiah 28:  Ephraim is being warned of woe because of its pride and drunkenness. The wreath (its pride) will be trampled and it’s glorious beauty will be swallowed.  In that day the Lord will be a glorious crown for the remnant.  He will be a spirit of justice and a source of strength.  Others are too drunk to lead the people, to see, and make decisions.  The people mock Isaiah (in essence, the Lord) for his words, saying he speaks to only little children.  Isaiah responds by saying the Lord will lay a cornerstone (the Messiah) for those who trust in Him who will bring justice and righteousness and annul the covenant with death.  The Lord will rise up and perform his task.  Stop the mocking because the Lord will destroy the land depending on how obedient the people are.

Isaiah 29:  Woe to Ariel (Jerusalem or David’s City).  The Lord will come against Ariel and bring the people low.  However, their enemies will become like dust.  The Lord will come like a vision in the night against her enemies but Ariel’s enemies will be frustrated.  Their dreams will be unfulfilled because the Lord will frustrate them.  God makes the people spiritually deaf and blind because the people’s hearts are not with God.  He knows your plans for He is the Creator, the potter.  But the Lord will restore in his timing. Lebanon will be fertile and in that day the deaf will hear, the blind see, the humble and needy will rejoice, the ruthless vanish, the mockers disappear, the evil banished. When the house of Jacob sees their children, they will acknowledge the holiness of God and stand in awe.  Their spirits will be restored, shall have understanding, and have truth.

Questions:

3) The wreath is the pride of Ephraim’s drunkards–it is fading, unable to accomplish anything (decisions or visions).  The crown (God) is glorious and beautiful, a spirit of justice, a source of strength.

4) Ephraim mocks Isaiah, saying his words are for little children and do not apply to them and they boast they will not be harmed (in essence, mocking God since Isaiah is speaking His words).  Many people today are the same.  They take the good from the Bible, the parts they like, and disregard the rest.

5) Personal question.  My answer: He will lay a cornerstone (the Messiah) for those who trust–they will never be dismayed.  Justice and righteousness will be the foundations.  We cannot escape Him.  If we trust, God will be our foundation to stand on.

6a) Ariel’s enemies will become like dust, the fields will become fertile, pride will be removed so the deaf will hear and the blind will see (spiritual deafness and blindness), the humble and needy will rejoice, the ruthless will vanish, the mockers disappear, the evil will be cut down.  When they (the people) see their children, they will acknowledge the holiness of God and stand in awe of Him.  Those who erred in spirit will have understanding and those who murmured shall have truth.

b) Personal question.  My answer:  I’m not hiding any and it’s foolish because the Lord sees and knows all your plans and your heart.

c) How can the created (us humans or the pot) know more than the Creator (Lord or the potter)?  People think they do know everything and can do no wrong (pride and conceit).  They can discount what God says as old-fashioned and inapplicable since times have changed.  But you can’t.  God’s truths are universal and He doesn’t change.

Conclusions:  Lots of personal questions and parts here.  I missed this in Lesson 12 which was mostly fact-finding.  This should make for some interesting discussion.

You had to dig to find the hope in chapters entitled “Woe to Ephraim” and “Woe to David’s City” but it’s there.  Another prediction of the Messiah if the people turn and believe in Isaiah 28.  Isaiah 29 admittedly stumped me.  I only got the superficial level, not the spiritual level the first go-around.  I used this explanation for help:  http://www.enduringword.com/commentaries/2329.htm

Same old message, different terminology:  Follow me and be saved or face the consequences (here specifically spiritual blindness and deafness).

I liked the potter and clay analogy. God made us.  He knows all.  It reminds me of the kids books I have for my kids by Max Lucado about the Wemmicks.  These are stories about a man who made a whole village of wooden people who lives on a hill.  It brings the whole maker versus the made down to a kids’ level.  Great stuff.  I’d recommend all of the books for kids (and adults)!

End note:  Mount Perazim is where God fought the Philistines in 2 Samuel 5:20 and the Valley of Gibeon is where God fought against the Canaanites in Joshua 10:10-11 and again in a separate battle against the Philistines in 1 Chronicles 14:16.

BSF Study Questions Isaiah Lesson 12, Day 5 Isaiah 27

Summary of passage: In that day, the Lord will punish and defeat the Devil.  The Lord will prosper the vineyard (Israel) by watching over it, watering it, and guarding it day and night.  As a result, Israel will blossom and fill the world with fruit.  Jacob’s guilt will be atoned for and its sin removed through warfare and exile.  Foreign god’s altars will be crushed.  Jerusalem will be desolate until a trumpet sounds, calling all of God’s people and those exiled back to his holy mountain in Jerusalem to worship Him.

Questions:

12) In that day the Lord will punish and defeat the Devil and consequently Israel’s enemies

13a) First Isaiah describes how the vineyard (Israel) was cared for and watched over by God but only yielded bad grapes.  So God took away its hedge and destroyed it and made the vineyard a wasteland.  Now, the Lord watches over the vineyard (Israel), waters it continually and guarded it day and night.  Now, Israel will blossom and fill the world with fruit.

b) By warfare and exile, God drives Israel out and removes her sin.  He crushes foreign gods’ altars.  Jerusalem becomes desolate

c) To atone for Jacob’s guilt and remove their sin until the day when He gathers up the Israelites with a trumpet call to worship the Lord on the holy mountain in Jerusalem

14a) Exodus 19:10-13  A signal to the people God is ready for them

Leviticus 25:8-10  A signal or announcement of the Day of Atonement

Matthew 24:30-31  Angels come with a trumpet call announcing Jesus’s ascent into Heaven

1 Corinthians 15:52  At the last trumpet the dead will be raised imperishable and we all will be changed

1 Thessalonians 4:16  The Lord descends from Heaven with a trumpet call and the dead rise first

b) Personal Question.  My answer:  A fulfillment of the Lord’s promise to come again, bring Heaven to Earth, and raise us up again.

Conclusions: God has a plan no matter our daily hardships.  He will prosper us and defeat the Enemy.  In the end, we can expect ever-lasting life announced with a trumpet call.  I’m not feeling very enthusiastic here.  Same message.  Same consequences.  Same end results.

End note:  I found another map today I’m posting, mainly for myself so I wouldn’t lose it.

http://www.bibletrack.org/notes/image/Tyre-Sidon.jpg

BSF Study Questions Isaiah Lesson 12, Day 4 Isaiah 26:7-21 & Psalm 1

Summary of passages:  Isaiah 26:7-21  The path of the righteous is level and smooth.  They walk in His ways and wait on the Lord; they yearn for Him all day and night; they learn righteousness from the Lord’s judgments.  However, the wicked do not learn righteousness despite the Lord’s grace.  They perpetuate evil and disregard the Lord.  Human lords die but the Lord lives always.  His accomplishments (expanding nations) is for us.  When the Lord disciplines, people come to Him in their distress.  The dead will rise again and the Lord will come in wrath and judgment but only for a time.

Psalm 1: Blessed is he who delights in the law of the Lord and meditates on his law day and night. Blessed is he who is good and not wicked.  Whatever he does prospers.  The wicked are blown away, disappear, and perish.  The Lord watches over the way of the righteous.

Questions:

9) The path of the righteous is straight and smooth.  They wait and yearn for the Lord and learn from His judgments.  They delight in the law of the Lord and they meditate on it day and night.  They prosper whatever they do.  The Lord watches over the righteous.

The wicked go on doing evil and do not learn righteousness when shown.  They disregard the Lord.  The wicked disappear in the wind and will perish.

Righteous

10) Because human rulers die.  Only the Lord enlarges nations and wins glory and has our best interest in mind.

11a) The dead will live, their bodies will rise.  The Lord will leave Heaven and come.  He will bring his wrath in judgment but only for a short time.  Then all will live with Him.

b) Job 19:25-27  My Redeemer lives and he will stand upon the earth and after I die, I will see God

John 5:24-29  Whoever believes in God will have eternal life and the dead will rise again

John 11:25-26  Whoever believes in Jesus will live and never die for Jesus is the resurrection and the life.

John 17:3  Eternal life is knowing the only true God and Jesus Christ whom was sent by God

Conclusions:  I didn’t realize how many times God and Jesus promise eternal life to His followers and believers.  It is reassuring the emphasis on how the wicked will be punished in the afterlife because so many times the wicked get off in Earthly life.  It’s reassuring to hear how doing the right thing is rewarded because our culture would have you believe the opposite.  God is true and just and He keeps His promises and one day we will all get to hang out in a perfect world, in perfect form, with our God, our Lord, and our Savior.

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).