BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 15, Day 3: Romans 8:29-30

Summary of passage:  Christians are conformed to the likeness of Jesus.  They are predestined, called, justified, and glorified.

Questions:

6a)  Foreknew:  God knows who will come to Him and who won’t and He chose believers as well.

Predestined:  Christians are chosen ahead of time. (Also called election).

[Foreknowledge in Biblical terms is also called election and predestination and are frequently lumped together.  For God to predestine is for him to decree or foreordain the circumstances and destiny of people according to His perfect will. For God to elect if for Him to choose for salvation and/or service a people or a person; the choice is based not on merit but on His free, sovereign love.  Taken from Zondervan’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary].

Called:  We are called by God to be believers.

Justified:  Through Christ’s blood we are able to stand before God.

[We’ve already defined this previously:  Justification is the judicial act of God by which on the basis of the meritorious work of Christ, imputed to the sinner and received through faith, God declares the sinner absolved from sin, released from its penalty, and restored as righteous.  Zondervan’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary.]

Glorified:  Through Christ as well we are glorified.

[We’ve discussed this previously as well:  The glory of God is the worthiness of God, more particularly, the presence of God in the fullness of his attributes in some place or everywhere.  We participate in God’s glory (are able to be worthy) through the sanctifying blood of Jesus Christ.  Zondervan’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary.]

b)  God knows everything.  He’s in control.  He called and chose all believers to be like His Son and justified us.  It’s good news because we are like Jesus and we can be with God forever.

7)  Through our sufferings, persecution, and through the Holy Spirit.  Through His Word which teaches, rebukes, corrects, and trains us and teaches us obedience.  There’s one main reason:  sin.  Temptation, fleshly desires, selfishness, “it’s too hard”, the excuse of “God will forgive us so what’s the point” that Paul refutes.  Jesus’s life was hard.  We don’t want a hard life.  We want an easy life.  The easy life is sin.  The hard life is following Jesus despite yourself.  A Christian life is and supposed to be uncomfortable and painful.  Man by nature hates this.

8 )  Personal Question.  My answer:  Every day is a challenge to be more Christlike and some days I fail miserably.  We are challenged every day to love others, be kind and compassionate, be sympathetic and helpful, be God’s light, and sacrifice for God.  All these little moments in my day are challenges God puts there so little by little I can be more like Christ.  The devil keeps throwing obstacles in my way and God is seeing how much I rely on Him to pull me through.

Conclusions:  Question 6 we’ve seen before and answered before.

End Notes:  Paul explains that God has always planned to save us from beginning to end (predestination).  We work to become more like Christ because that is why God saves us–so that Christ will be of highest honor in the family of God.

God knew us before we knew Him and He knew us before the beginning of the world.

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BSF Study Questions John Lesson 15, Day 5: John 11:45-57

Summary of passage:  As usual, some believed in Jesus after Lazarus was raised from the dead and some didn’t.  The Sanhedrin met and were threatened by Jesus’ rise.  They would lose power and the Romans would take over.  Caiaphas, the high priest, said it is better for Jesus to die than lose the nation to Roman control.  They plotted against Jesus who moved to the desert near Ephraim with the disciples.  The next Passover came and Jesus did not appear since he would be arrested immediately if he did so (and likely put to death).

Questions:

12)  Some believed; others were threatened by him.

13a)  “What are we accomplishing?”  “The Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.”  “It is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.”

b)  Part personal question.  My answer:  Not to lose power.  Political survival.  Be careful not to oppose God when you’re single-minded about power and driven by greed.

14)  Part personal question.  My answer:  The significance is Caiaphas took this as a literal death to save the nation of Israel whereas Jesus did this spiritually:  he died for the nation to save their souls not their lives and gather all God’s people (Jews and Gentiles) as one to Jesus.  God is good.

Conclusions:  I can’t imagine Jesus enjoying this time on earth where he has to constantly hide from the Pharisees instead of ministering to the people.  It’s a good lesson for us.  There are times in our lives when we just have to do the grunt work and times in our lives that aren’t pleasant but we must endure like Jesus.  I think a lot of people picture Jesus just doing his miracles and then dying.  They forget the day-in and day-out living that he did like we all do to get to God’s purpose.

End Notes:  The people are divided and some went to the Pharisees.  John either learned of what transpired during this meeting through Nicodemus or Joseph of Arimathaea or someone who was on the council and then converted to Christianity.

Now the Sanhedrin admit he is performing miracles and is the Messiah.  So now Jesus is a threat to them and he must be stopped.

In all four Gospels, the Pharisees appear as Jesus’ principal opponents throughout his public ministry. But they lacked political power, and it is the chief priests who were prominent in the events that led to Jesus’ crucifixion.  Here both groups are associated in a meeting of the Sanhedrin.  They did not deny the reality of the miraculous signs but they did not understand their meaning, for they failed to believe.

People probably imagine the “what if” again.  What if Jesus had lived?  Would everyone believe?  Maybe.  But then we wouldn’t be saved.  There is no “what if” ing God and His will.  What happens to you is for a reason.  Period.  Move on. Don’t dwell on “what if’s” because they will never be.  You can lament them.  But you can’t change them.

“Our place” refers to the temple.  It had become an idol to the Sanhedrin, thinking of it as theirs.  It’s God. Always.

Little did the Sanhedrin know that history would take its course and the Jews would love “our place” anyways in 70 AD when the Romans did invade Jerusalem, scattering the nation, and eradicating the nation of Israel for almost 2000 years.  And this had nothing to do with Jesus.

Caiaphas was logical but not moral.  He was willing to kill an innocent man to save many.

Caiaphas was high priest for 11 years.  “That year” is to draw emphasis to the year Jesus died. God overruled what he said here.  His words were true in a way he could not imagine.

Now, the high officials are joining with the lesser officials to kill Jesus.  Lazarus’ raising was the last straw to them.

Jesus retreats again because his time had not yet come.  He was not afraid.

Now, we are about to speed up history and Jesus’ days are numbered.  John jumps to a few days before Jesus’ last Passover.  The chief priests are the Sadducees and they were often in opposition to the Sanhedrin.  Not when it came to Jesus.  Both were united against him.

Note of location of Ephraim:  Ephraim was one of the original tribes of Israel but Jesus retreated to the town of Ephraim.  Unfortunately, no one knows exactly where that is and I couldn’t find any maps.  One could suppose it was located somewhere within this region.  Map HERE

Who was Caiaphas?  He was the official high priest during the ministry and the trial of Jesus (18-36 AD). By this point in history, the high priesthood had evolved into a political office, the priests still coming from the descendants of Aaron but being generally appointed for worldly considerations.  When Pompey gained control of Judea in 63 BC, the Romans took over the authority of appointing not only the civil rulers but the high priests also, with the result that the office declined spiritually.  Annas, the father-in-law of Caiaphas, had been high priest by appointed of the Romans from 7-14 AD.  In-between, three of his sons had succeeded him but Annas was still considered a high priest.

We shall see after Jesus’ betrayal, it was the house of Annas where he was brought and tried.  Caiaphas then took a leading role in the persecution of the early church.  Summarized from Zondervan Illustrated Bible Dictionary by Douglas and Tenney.

BSF Study Questions John Lesson 15, Day 2: John 11:1-16

Summary of passage:  Mary’s brother, Lazarus, was sick.  Mary had previously washed Jesus’ feet with perfume.  She sent word to Jesus who knew God’s plan.  He waited 2 days for Lazarus to die and then he returns to Bethany (just outside Jerusalem and remember Jesus is somewhere on the other side of the Jordan River) despite the disciples’ protests.

Questions:

3a)  He knew God’s plan to raise Lazarus from the dead. God alone can raise the dead and this event will help initiate events that will lead to the cross–God’s ultimate plan and glory.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  To draw us closer to Him, rely on Him, and follow Him.

4a)  To let Lazarus die so that when he returns and raises Lazarus there will be no doubting God’s glory.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  It’s all in God’s timing and what’s right for us and Him.

5)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  Those who walk with Jesus should have no fear.  Those who walk in darkness stumble and should have fear.

Conclusions:  I love how Jesus waits for Lazarus to die–waits on God’s timing.  Great lesson for us.  Patience is something many of us lack or need more of and this is a classic example of how good things come to those who wait.  Rely on God and His timing, not ours.

End Notes:  You could say Jesus saved the best miracle for last.  Here we have the 7th sign in John’s Gospel and it’s Jesus raising a man from the dead who had been dead for 4 days and whose body had begun to rot.  This puts Lazarus at having died shortly after the messengers left Bethany (1 day for travel, 2 days Jesus waited, 1 day to travel back).

Lazarus is the Greek form of “Eleazar” or God is my help.

John is the only one to record this miracle–the most astounding of all.  Why?  Some conjecture the other 3 Gospels were written while Lazarus was still alive and they didn’t want to offend anyone.  Some say it’s because Peter was not present with the Lord.  He was in Galilee preaching.  The other 3 Gospels may be based on Peter’s account of the Lord.

Note the women did not ask for a miracle from Jesus.  Just telling Jesus Lazarus was sick was enough.  They knew if Jesus could heal him, he would.  They had faith.

By the time Jesus got the message Lazarus was sick, he was already dead.  He knew this.  He also knew upon healing Lazarus, he’d set the course for his last days–the ultimate glory of God.

Note how Jesus loves all individually-Martha and Mary and Lazarus–as He does us.

He stayed two days deliberately until the fourth day.  This must have been agony for Martha and Mary but their faith did not waver.  This was bringing greater glory to God and shows us it’s in God’s timing, not ours.

Jesus could have healed Lazarus from afar.  Despite the dangers, he goes to Judea.  But Jesus still has work to do given to him by God.  There is enough time for us to do God’s purpose so don’t waste it!  No harm will come to them during this time.

Sleep is a metaphor for death.

Jesus is glad for many reasons:  grief was comforted, life was restored, many more believed, and the necessary death of Jesus was set in motion–not to mention his friend would live!

God often permits us to pass into profounder darkness, and deeper mysteries of pain, in order that we may prove more perfectly His power.

Remember Jesus was on the other side of the Jordan River.  He no heads back to Judea and Bethany to heal Lazarus.

All Jews in those days had two names – one a Hebrew name by which a man was known in his own circle, the other a Greek name by which he was known in a wider circle. Thomas is the Hebrew and Didymus, which is Greek for twin.  Thomas apparently looked like Jesus and hence his nickname.  Despite the risks, Thomas encourages the other disciples to accompany Jesus.  He may not understand the resurrection yet, but he knows Jesus enough to die for him.

BSF Study Questions Revelation Lesson 15, Day 3: Revelation 11:1-6

Summary of passage:  John is given a reed and told to measure the temple of God and the altar and count the worshipers excluding the Gentiles who will trample the holy city for 42 months.  God will give power to His 2 witnesses who will prophesy for 1, 260 days.  These are the 2 olive trees and 2 lamp stands and anyone seeking to harm them will burn.  These men can make it not rain, turn water to blood, and strike the earth with plague when they are prophesying.

Questions:

6a)  “Go and measure the temple of God and the altar…but exclude the outer court..because it has been given to the Gentiles.”

b)  The holy city will be trampled for 42 months and the 2 witnesses will prophesy for 1,260 days.

7)  God says, “If anyone tries to harm them, fire comes from their mouths and devours them.”  They are also given the ability to make it not rain, turn water into blood, and strike the earth with plague.

8 )  Personal Question.  My answer:  God protects those who speak for Him and about Him.  Basically, I have nothing to fear for God will deal with the Enemy.

Conclusions:  Very straight-forward lesson.  Love God’s blanket of protection over believers.

End Notes:  We have 2 HUGE divisions in this passage:

1)  The Temple (verses 1-2)

2)  The Two Witnesses (verses 3-6).

The Temple

We have two main sides to the interpretation of the temple:  1)  A physical temple.  2)  the temple is God’s people.

Some (including the futurists) believe a physical temple will be built.  Some even see two temples:  one during the Tribulation and one during the Millennium.  They point to Ezekiel 40-43 where a temple is measured, which scholars say is the temple of the millennial earth.  The temple of Revelation 11 seems to be before the temple of Ezekiel. The temple in Ezekiel is measured extensively, including the outer courts (Ezekiel 40:17-19).

The Tribulation temple will be built for sacrifices and worship  (Dan.9:27).  However, in this temple, God will not accept Israel’s sacrifices nor  inhabit their temple (Isa.66:3,4).  Moreover, according to Daniel, the Antichrist, after three and a half years, will break the treaty, subsequently overthrow Jerusalem and desecrate the temple (Dan.9:27).

The Millennium temple shall be one where God shall inhabit and fill it with His glory, and it shall be the dwelling place of the Lord (Ez.43:5-7).

Other measuring in the Bible:

In Zechariah 2 a man measures Jerusalem, a scene possibly showing God’s coming judgment on the city. In Revelation chapter 21 New Jerusalem is measured.

In the Old Testament measuring shows ownership, protection, and preservation. When Habakkuk stood and measured the earth (Habakkuk 3:6), showing that the Lord owned the earth and could do with it as He pleased.  When this temple is measured, it shows that God knows its every dimension, and He is in charge.

People are measured as well as a standard of righteousness (2 Kings 21:13; Zechariah 2:1-5).  The city of New Jerusalem will be measured as well (Revelation 21:15-17).

This temple of God some scholars say represents the church.  Paul describes the church as a temple in Ephesians 2:19-21; 1 Corinthians 3:16; 2 Corinthians 6:16.  Peter as well in 1 Peter 2:5.  In the New Testament, the temple is God’s people as we saw in Revelation 3:12 with the Roman pillars.  They will be measured for protection from spiritual harm.  Christ is the temple in Ephesians 2:19-21.

Hence, Christ is the cornerstone, the apostles are the foundation, and believers are the temple.

Others say the temple is the abomination of desolation prophesied by Daniel (Daniel 9:27, 11:31, and 12:11), Jesus (Matthew 24:15-16 and 24:21), and Paul (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4).

The outer court or court of the Gentiles was about 26 acres in ancient times.  Scholars speculate that the outer court is the modern day Dome of the Rock, the Islamic mosque that most believe now stands where the ancient Jewish temple Solomon built that was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD was.

The holy city is Jerusalem, which some scholars say symbolizes the nation of Israel.  Jesus speaks of this trampling in Luke 21:20-24.

42 months is 1260 days (42 x 30 days) which is 3 1/2 years, which correlates to the last half of the Great Tribulation as described by Daniel 11:26-27 – when the Antichrist pours out his fury on the people of Israel (Revelation 12:13-17 and Matthew 24:15-28).  We will see 42 months again in Revelation (Rev 13:5).  When we see it, it represents a limited time period of tribulation, distress, and persecution.  Daniel says it again in Daniel 12:7.

Fun Fact:  It took the Romans 3 1/2 years to conquer and sack Jerusalem in 70 AD.

Trample has the context of “with contempt” in the Greek.

If we are the temple of God as most scholars agree, then we are called to live up to that image.  To be God-like and live holy lives.

The Two Witnesses

Sackcloth in the Bible shows periods of mourning and distress (Job 16:15; Esther 4:1-3; Genesis 37:34; 2 Samuel 3:31; Joel 1:13; John 3:5-6; Matthew 11:21).  It is a coarse dark cloth woven from the hair of goats or camels.  The 2 witnesses are mourning for the people, their sins, and the impending judgments against them.

The two olive trees and two lamp stands comes from Zechariah’s olive trees and oil lamps (Zechariah 4:2-14).  Zechariah was referring to two men: Joshua and Zerubbabel empowered by the Holy Spirit.

In ancient times oil lamps were filled directly from olive trees much like gasoline is today.  Here we see continual, abundant supply.

Here, we have the Law and the prophets (Elijah and Moses).  Elijah and Moses bore special protection from God and were given power from God as these two witnesses will.  Elijah shut up the sky (1 Kings 17:1) and Moses brought the plagues (Exodus 7:17-21).  They both appeared at the Transfiguration of Christ (Mark 9:4).

These connections lead scholars to say Elijah and Moses are the two witnesses.  Most agree on Elijah who was prophesied to return before the day of the Lord (Malachi. 4:5,6).  Others say Enoch or Zerubabel.  In the ancient Greek, the nouns are masculine. These two witnesses will be males.

Some scholars say all of God’s servants (believers) are the 2 witnesses proclaiming God’s word and that the 2 witnesses are the Holy Spirit.

Despite the 2 witnesses identity, the message is clear:  God’s will will be accomplished.

Think about it:  For 3 1/2 years, 2 witnesses will wander the earth, invincible and given superhuman powers for God.  They die (Rev 11:7) which we all do, but not before they finish God’s mission.  And they are risen again after only 3 1/2 days (Rev 11:11).  How awesome it that!  And imagine:  if this figurative instead of literal, this could be you and me–all witnesses for God!

BSF Study Questions The Life of Moses Lesson 15, Day 3: Leviticus 9

Summary of passage:  With the priests consecrated, they are now ready to begin service to God.  On the eighth day Moses told Aaron as his first official duty to make a sin and burnt offering and the Lord would appear to him.  Aaron now offered a sin offering and a burnt offering to make atonement for them and the people.  He also offered up a grain offering and a wave offering.  Aaron blessed the people and the glory of the Lord appeared to all the Israelites.  They people then shouted and fell face down.

Questions:

6a)  Moses told them.  God had told Moses.

b)  Take a bull calf as a sin offering and a ram as a burnt offering to atone for their sins and then to take a male goat as a sin offering and a calf and a lamb as a burnt offering to atone for the people’s sin.

c)  The Lord would appear before them.

d)  Personal Question.  My answer:  I hate the demonstrative pronoun “these” coupled with “things” in relation to a multiple question because I am then left guessing as to which noun “these” is referring to and what are the “things”.  I’m going to guess that BSF means how does performing your God-directed duties with the promise of heavenly rewards affect you since the whole sacrifice thing is unnecessary these days.

If we do God’s will, we are rewarded with His presence.  Simple as that.

7a)  “They shouted for joy and fell facedown”

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  I cannot think of a time when I would respond in a similar manner as the Israelites did in seeing God’s glory.  I can’t even remotely compare such an experience that would leave me incoherent.

Conclusions:  Could have done without the personal questions on this one.  Still unsure what “these things” refer to in 6d and in 7b I hate when the question asks us to compare an experience the Israelites had (seeing the glory of God) to something we have experienced when for the most part we are never going to get to see the glory of God on this side of heaven.  It irritates me to no end.

End Notes:  Aaron had to sacrifice again for himself for the sin they had committed during the week of the ceremony.  Perfect example of the limitations of animal sacrifices.

First, cleanse yourself.  Then cleanse others.  This was done in front of the Israelites to show that Aaron was human too and needed cleansing.

The Lord is often represented by fire.  Seven times God accepts sacrifices by fire in the Bible.  The Holy Spirit descended with fire.

BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 15, Day 2: 1 Thessalonians 1 with Acts 17:1-10

Summary of passages:  1 Thessalonians 1:  Paul writes to the church in Thessalonians (a church he founded), telling them he thanks God for them and prays for them, remembering how their work is produced by faith, their labor prompted by love, and their endurance inspired by hope in Jesus.

God has chosen them as evinced by the power of the Holy Spirit and their deep conviction.  They welcomed the message with joy despite suffering.  The Thessalonians then became a model for Macedonia and Achaia and everywhere.  It is known how the Thessalonians turned from idols to the One, True God and how they wait for his Son to return from heaven–the one who was raised from the dead–and who will rescue all from the coming wrath.

Acts 17:1-10:  Paul preached in the Jewish synagogue in Thessalonica, explaining and proving Christ had to suffer and was raised from the dead.  Some of the Jews as well as Greeks were persuaded and joined Paul.  The the Jews were jealous of Paul’s success so they rounded up a mob and rioted in the city.  They searched for Paul and Silas but did not find them.  Instead, they dragged Jason (whom Paul was staying with) and others before city officials, saying they have defied Caesar by declaring a new king called Jesus.  The officials were not happy but they released Jason and the others on bond.

Thus, Paul and Silas had to flee to Berea, where they preached in the Jewish synagogue.

Questions:

3)  Chapter 1, Verse 10; Chapter 2:19, Chapter 3:13, Chapter 4:14-17, Chapter 5:2, 23

4)  Lord Jesus Christ (verse 3) and faith in God (verse 8)

5)  Personal Question.  My answer:  1 Thessalonians 1:3  because it reminds me of what my goals should be:  work produced by faith, labor prompted by love, and endurance inspired by hope in Lord Jesus Christ

Conclusions:  Easy day of looking up verses.  Good lesson on showing appreciation and lifting up people with words.  Paul uses God’s truths to encourage and sustain:  a lesson we all need to learn from.  “Thank God for all of you, mentioning you in our prayers”, “work produced by faith, labor prompted by love, endurance inspired by Jesus”, “He has chosen you”.

I think we can get so caught up in the hum-drum that we forget who we are working for:  God.  That we are doing God’s work no matter if it’s just a bank teller (a job I once held) or a grocery clerk.  That even when we’re pumping gas we can be God’s servant.

We forget how powerful God’s words are and how a simple “I will pray for you” can lift a stranger’s or a relative’s spirits.

How saying “I thank God for you” could be life-giving words to an unbeliever, someone who’s depressed, or is lacking direction in life.  I know there were times in my life where I was that desperate and those words could have impacted me dramatically.

Simple.  Effective.  Powerful.  Life-changing.

I think if I heard more, “He has chosen you,” from others I’d get a lot more accomplished, wouldn’t you?

End Note:  Once again, my favorite map, showing Thessalonica, Macedonia, and Achaia:

http://www.apostlepaulthefilm.com/paul/journey_02.htm