BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 21, Day 5: Romans 12:1-2

Summary of passage:  Paul urges Christians to offer our bodies as living sacrifices to God as an act of worship.  He urges us to not conform to this world but to allow God to renew our mind so that we can know His will for us.

Questions:

13)  Renewing of your mind through the power of the Holy Spirit/God.

14)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  Renewing the mind is the opposite of conforming the world.  The battle takes place in the mind.  Hence, Christians must think differently than non-believers.  Paul says here we must know what God’s word says in our mind. We cannot blindly follow our whimsical feelings and follow the crowd of doers who are “doing” but accomplishing nothing.  Speaking God’s Word into the minds of others when the opportunity arises.  Taking my kids to church and bible study.  Teaching them to put God first in their world.

15)  “his good, pleasing, perfect will.”

“Good”:  That which leads to the spiritual and moral growth of the Christian.

“Pleasing”:  To God, not necessarily to us.

“Perfect”:  No improvement can be made on the will of God.

Most people confuse their will with God’s will and justify their will as God’s.  People also use God as a scapegoat for their sinful actions.  Reality is it is hard to know God’s will since we can’t know everything like God does.  But if you know His Word, His character, His heart, and His justice then through prayer He will reveal it.  But if it has anything to do with sin, it’s not God.

16)

John 14:15:  God’s will can be found in loving Him and obeying His commands.

2 Corinthians 10:5:  Take captive your thoughts to make them align to God’s will and obedience to Christ and rid ourselves of arguments and pretensions that is against the Word of God.

1 Thessalonians 4:3-7:  We should live a sanctified/holy life, avoiding sexual immorality, learning to control your own body in a holy way, and not take advantage of others.

James 5:13-16:  One should pray when in trouble, sing when happy, have others pray over you if you’re sick, and confess your sins.  Our prayers are powerful and effective.

1 Peter 2:15:  Do good to silence the ignorance of the foolish.

1 Peter 3:17:  Live as servants of God (verse 16), respect others, love others, fear God, and honor God.

1 Peter 4:1-11:  Live for God’s will, which is being clear-minded and self-controlled so that you can pray, loving each other, offer hospitality to others without grumbling, use your gifts to serve others, speak as if speaking the very words of God, serve with God’s strength so that God is given the glory.

Conclusions:  One of my favorite parts of BSF is when they do send us to other parts of the Bible on certain subjects.  Hence, I loved question 16 because on my own I never would have made these connections.  Yeah, BSF!  I also love 2 Cor 10:5 because it puts the power in our hands.   1 Peter 4:11 is powerful.  Speak as if God were speaking.  Awesome!

All of this shows us how powerful we truly are.  We don’t give ourselves enough credit.  You don’t have to be Martin Luther King, Jr to change the world.  Change those around you and you’ll change the world.  Because then they will change others and the ripple effect will be far more than we’ll ever know.  Live God in you.  Quit worrying about others.  Change yourself.  Change your loved ones.  God will do the rest.

Conclusions to Lesson 21:  This was my favorite lesson so far.  Small verse focus but great questions that re-enforced key ideas we all need to be reminded of.  It all starts with you.  Change yourself first.  Live the life God wants you to live.  Remember others and love others.  Live for Him.  He’ll doe the rest.

End Notes: [Same as Day 2‘s]  Chapters 12:1-15:33.  Paul now turns to the practical application of all he has said previously in the letter.  This does not mean he has not said anything about Christian living up to this point because as we saw Chapters 6-8 touched on this already but now Paul goes into detail to show that Jesus Christ is to be Lord of every area of life.  These chapters are not a postscript to the great theological discussions in Chapters 1-11.  In a real sense the entire letter has been directed toward the goal of showing that God demands our action as well as our believer and thinking. Faith expresses itself in obedience.

“Therefore”  It is Paul’s pattern to begin a letter with a strong doctrinal section and follow with exhortations to Christian living. Paul begs Christians to live a certain way in light of what God did for them.  Here, God gives us all things.  Now, how do we show Him gratitude for that?  With our bodies and our minds.

“Urging us” reminds us that we still have a choice in how we live for God.

“In view of God’s mercy” reminds us we do this because of the mercy God grants us (Romans 1-11).  In fact, we are only able to offer ourselves to Him because of His mercy.  Some of the mercies Paul has told us about already:

· Justification from the guilt and penalty of sin

· Adoption in Jesus and identification with Christ

· Placed under grace, not law

· Giving the Holy Spirit to live within

· Promise of help in all affliction

· Assurance of a standing in God’s election

· Confidence of coming glory

· Confidence of no separation from the love of God

· Confidence in God’s continued faithfulness

Think of “body” here as your entire being for your heart, soul, spirit, and mind are in your body. Paul is saying here give God your entire self.  God wants you!

Many today let their body rule in terms of engaging in physical pleasures.  Paul says no!  Our mind is the will and our mind brings the body as servant to God.

Ancient Greeks dismissed the body as unspiritual so this teaching would have shocked them.  Paul says God is concerned about our bodies, which were dearly bought at a price (1 Cor 6:19-20).

A living sacrifice is a dichotomy especially in the first century AD where sacrifices involved death.  The whole idea is the sacrifice is ongoing.  Paul could be contrasting dead animal sacrifices here as well or perhaps “living” in the sense of having the Holy Spirit.

“Holy and pleasing to God”:  The standard for sacrifices made to God under the New Covenant are not any less than the standard under the Old Covenant.

Sacrifices in the Old Testament:

· He shall bring a male without blemish (Leviticus 1:10)

· But if there is a defect in it, if it is lame or blind or has any serious defect, you shall not sacrifice it to the Lord your God (Deuteronomy 15:21)

The idea of a sweet aroma to the Lord is almost always linked to the idea of an offering made by fire. There is a “burning” in this matter of a living sacrifice. It also shows that Paul has in mind the burnt offering, in which the entire sacrifice was given to the Lord. In some sacrifices, the one offering the sacrifice and the priest shared in the some of the meal, but never in the burnt offering.

Today, the holiness we bring to the altar is a decision for holiness, and yielding to the work of holiness in our life.  As we present our bodies a living sacrifice, God makes our life holy by burning away impurities.

“Spiritual act of worship”:  This was translated as “reasonable service”.  The ancient Greek word for reasonable (logikos) can also be translated “of the word” (as it is in 1 Peter 2:2). Reasonable service is a life of worship according to God’s Word.

Another translation says “true and proper worship”.  This is to emphasize not merely ritual worship activity but the involvement of heart, mind, and will in worship and obedient service.

Verse 2:  So the world system with all its evil and corruption is opposed to God and His ways and is in rebellion.  Paul reminds us we must resist it.

Renewing the mind is the opposite of conforming the world.  The battle takes place in the mind.  Hence, Christians must think differently than non-believers.

Today the world is based on feelings.  Do what you feel is right.  Oh, you don’t want to work today.  Then don’t.  The government will take care of you.  Etc.  Also, the world is based on doings.  Just tell me what to do.

Paul says here we must know what God’s word says in our mind. We cannot blindly follow our whimsical feelings and follow the crowd of doers who are “doing” but accomplishing nothing.

“Transformed”:  This is the ancient Greek word metamorphoo – describing a metamorphosis. The same word is used to describe Jesus in His transfiguration (Mark 9:2-3).

Fun Fact:  The only other place Paul uses this word for transformed is in 2 Corinthians 3:18: “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”  For Paul, this transformation and renewing of our minds takes place as we behold the face of God, spending time in His glory.  Note this is a process, not a single event.

“Then”:  After the spiritual transformation just described has taken place.

“Test and approve what God’s will is”:  The proof is the life that you live.  What God wants from the believer here and now.

“Good”:  That which leads to the spiritual and moral growth of the Christian.

“Pleasing”:  To God, not necessarily to us.

“Perfect”:  No improvement can be made on the will of God.

In sum, from Chapter 11 Paul writes if we keep in mind the rich mercy of God to you – past, present, and future (by the mercies of God) and as an act of intelligent worship, decide to yield your entire self to Him (present your bodies a living sacrifice) and resist conformity to the thoughts and actions of this world (do not be conformed) by focusing on God’s word and fellowship with Him (be transformed by the renewing of your mind) then our life will be in the will of God through the power of the Holy Spirit.  And others will witness this.

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BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 21, Day 2: Romans 12:1-2

Summary of passage:  Paul urges Christians to offer our bodies as living sacrifices to God as an act of worship.  He urges us to not conform to this world but to allow God to renew our mind so that we can know His will for us.

Questions:

3)  He is connecting chapter 11, which ended with his doxology to God, praising His wisdom, knowledge, and how all things are through Him.

4)  Here, Paul says to offer our bodies as living sacrifices to God as an act of worship.  He urges us to not conform to this world but to allow God to renew our mind so that we can know His will for us.

5)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  We should not conform (to act in accordance with prevailing standards or customs). This is very broad so using what we know from the Bible is we should follow how Jesus wants us to act not the world.  Thus, we should be giving, compassionate, prayerful, kind, helpful, loving, generous, gentle, patient, forgiving, etc.  We should be living for God, not for ourselves.  My pastor has had a profound influence.  Seeing his imperfect walk with Christ inspires me when I fail as well.  I can still impact others imperfectly.

Conclusions:  We will be studying 2 verses alone this whole lesson again.  I’ll be interested to see where this goes and if it’s as good as Lesson 20.

End Notes: Chapters 12:1-15:33.  Paul now turns to the practical application of all he has said previously in the letter.  This does not mean he has not said anything about Christian living up to this point because as we saw Chapters 6-8 touched on this already but now Paul goes into detail to show that Jesus Christ is to be Lord of every area of life.  These chapters are not a postscript to the great theological discussions in Chapters 1-11.  In a real sense the entire letter has been directed toward the goal of showing that God demands our action as well as our believer and thinking. Faith expresses itself in obedience.

“Therefore”  It is Paul’s pattern to begin a letter with a strong doctrinal section and follow with exhortations to Christian living. Paul begs Christians to live a certain way in light of what God did for them.  Here, God gives us all things.  Now, how do we show Him gratitude for that?  With our bodies and our minds.

“Urging us” reminds us that we still have a choice in how we live for God.

“In view of God’s mercy” reminds us we do this because of the mercy God grants us (Romans 1-11).  In fact, we are only able to offer ourselves to Him because of His mercy.  Some of the mercies Paul has told us about already:

· Justification from the guilt and penalty of sin

· Adoption in Jesus and identification with Christ

· Placed under grace, not law

· Giving the Holy Spirit to live within

· Promise of help in all affliction

· Assurance of a standing in God’s election

· Confidence of coming glory

· Confidence of no separation from the love of God

· Confidence in God’s continued faithfulness

Think of “body” here as your entire being for your heart, soul, spirit, and mind are in your body. Paul is saying here give God your entire self.  God wants you!

Many today let their body rule in terms of engaging in physical pleasures.  Paul says no!  Our mind is the will and our mind brings the body as servant to God.

Ancient Greeks dismissed the body as unspiritual so this teaching would have shocked them.  Paul says God is concerned about our bodies, which were dearly bought at a price (1 Cor 6:19-20).

A living sacrifice is a dichotomy especially in the first century AD where sacrifices involved death.  The whole idea is the sacrifice is ongoing.  Paul could be contrasting dead animal sacrifices here as well or perhaps “living” in the sense of having the Holy Spirit.

“Holy and pleasing to God”:  The standard for sacrifices made to God under the New Covenant are not any less than the standard under the Old Covenant.

Sacrifices in the Old Testament:

· He shall bring a male without blemish (Leviticus 1:10)

· But if there is a defect in it, if it is lame or blind or has any serious defect, you shall not sacrifice it to the Lord your God (Deuteronomy 15:21)

The idea of a sweet aroma to the Lord is almost always linked to the idea of an offering made by fire. There is a “burning” in this matter of a living sacrifice. It also shows that Paul has in mind the burnt offering, in which the entire sacrifice was given to the Lord. In some sacrifices, the one offering the sacrifice and the priest shared in the some of the meal, but never in the burnt offering.

Today, the holiness we bring to the altar is a decision for holiness, and yielding to the work of holiness in our life.  As we present our bodies a living sacrifice, God makes our life holy by burning away impurities.

“Spiritual act of worship”:  This was translated as “reasonable service”.  The ancient Greek word for reasonable (logikos) can also be translated “of the word” (as it is in 1 Peter 2:2). Reasonable service is a life of worship according to God’s Word.

Another translation says “true and proper worship”.  This is to emphasize not merely ritual worship activity but the involvement of heart, mind, and will in worship and obedient service.

Verse 2:  So the world system with all its evil and corruption is opposed to God and His ways and is in rebellion.  Paul reminds us we must resist it.

Renewing the mind is the opposite of conforming the world.  The battle takes place in the mind.  Hence, Christians must think differently than non-believers.

Today the world is based on feelings.  Do what you feel is right.  Oh, you don’t want to work today.  Then don’t.  The government will take care of you.  Etc.  Also, the world is based on doings.  Just tell me what to do.

Paul says here we must know what God’s word says in our mind. We cannot blindly follow our whimsical feelings and follow the crowd of doers who are “doing” but accomplishing nothing.

“Transformed”:  This is the ancient Greek word metamorphoo – describing a metamorphosis. The same word is used to describe Jesus in His transfiguration (Mark 9:2-3).

Fun Fact:  The only other place Paul uses this word for transformed is in 2 Corinthians 3:18: “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”  For Paul, this transformation and renewing of our minds takes place as we behold the face of God, spending time in His glory.  Note this is a process, not a single event.

“Then”:  After the spiritual transformation just described has taken place.

“Test and approve what God’s will is”:  The proof is the live that you live.  What God wants from the believer here and now.

“Good”:  That which leads to the spiritual and moral growth of the Christian.

“Pleasing”:  To God, not necessarily to us.

“Perfect”:  No improvement can be made on the will of God.

In sum, from Chapter 11 Paul writes if we keep in mind the rich mercy of God to you – past, present, and future (by the mercies of God) and as an act of intelligent worship, decide to yield your entire self to Him (present your bodies a living sacrifice) and resist conformity to the thoughts and actions of this world (do not be conformed) by focusing on God’s word and fellowship with Him (be transformed by the renewing of your mind) then our life will be in the will of God through the power of the Holy Spirit.  And others will witness this.

BSF Study Questions John Lesson 21, Day 4: 1 John 3:1-4:6

Summary of passage: Believers are children of God and unbelievers do not know us because they don’t know God. When Jesus appears again we shall be like him. Jesus takes away our sin and if we live in him, we do not continue to sin. If you do what’s right, you will be righteous. Jesus appeared to destroy the devil’s work. If you do what’s right, you are children of God. Love your brother. The world hates you because of this love.

Jesus sacrificed his life for us, defining love. Love with actions and truth. If we obey God’s commands and do what pleases him, He will give us anything we ask for. He commands us to believe in his Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another. If we obey his commands, He lives in us through the Holy Spirit.

Spirits that acknowledge Jesus is God in the flesh are true; all others are false. God is greater than the devil.

Questions:

9)  Personal Question. My answer: We are God’s children. God has purified us, taking away our sins permanently.

10)  Personal Question. My answer: Love is life. Anyone who loves one another is of God. Jesus defined love by laying down his life for us. So we are to do for others with actions and truth. God commands us to love one another and if we do, the Spirit will guide us and give us all we ask.

11)  Just that: That Jesus is God’s Son in the flesh. That he came down in human form. That he is God. That he took away our sins with his blood. Many religions now and then doubted either Jesus was human or Jesus was God’s Son. To do so is to die eternally. Gnostics, a popular religious movement at the time, taught Jesus was not human. They denied a pure God could take on a physical body, which they believed to be intrinsically evil. This led to immoral living as Gnostics believed they could not be tainted by earthly sins. John is emphasizing this point. Jesus is God in the flesh. Period. Believe it or die.

Conclusions: Wow! A ton here! Good job to BSF for bringing it all out. Love one another is a command from God no matter how hard it is. Love defeats all. Actions speak louder than words. Love with deeds. And believe Jesus is real. If you do these two simple things (believe in Jesus Christ and love one another) we will walk with God by the Holy Spirit, receive whatever we ask, and live forever with Him. Awesome!

End Notes:  John is asking for us to just pause and ponder the great love the Father (God) has for His children (believers).  NOTE:  We have more than Adam ever possessed albeit he walked with God.  It is an error to think of redemption as a restoration of Adam; it’s much more than that!  Christians are strangers to the world and should expect to be treated as Jesus was.  We cannot be like the world no matter how hard we try.

God’s ultimate goal in our lives is to make us like Jesus, and here, John speaks of the fulfillment of that purpose.  We will never succeed in being like Jesus on this side of heaven; this will only be fulfilled when we get there or when Jesus comes.  Those who don’t want to be like Jesus get what they want:  they go to hell.

We will see God!  Can you imagine?  What makes heaven heaven is God’s presence–not our loved ones, the streets paved in gold, or angels.

Our hope is in Him as we strive to be more like Jesus here on earth.

Sin is a disregard for God.  Jesus is here to take away our sin.

Verse 6:  According to the verb tense John uses, “does not sin” means does not live a life style of habitual sin. John has already told us in 1 John 1:8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. In 1 John 1:8, the grammar indicates John is speaking about occasional acts of sin. The grammar of 1 John 3:6 indicates that John is speaking of a settled, continued lifestyle of sin.  John is not teaching here the possibility of sinless perfection, which is impossible.

You don’t know Jesus if you are living a lifestyle of sin.  How do you react when you sin?  Are you repentant?  Or indifferent to where you keep on sinning?  This is a good question to ask ourselves when we sin.

Do not excuse your sin.  Confess it so it won’t be a lifestyle.

Righteous is right standing with God.  Perpetual sinners are of Satan.

1 John 3:5:  Jesus came to take away our sins.

1 John 3:8:  Jesus came to destroy the devil.  If we have Jesus, we have no need to fear the devil.  In fact, the devil fears us because our walk with Jesus destroys the devil’s works.

Here we see where “born again” came from in verse 9.   A change comes over us as we obey Christ and bury sin.

You are either a child of God or a child of the devil.  You either do right and love your brother or you do wrong and hate your brother.  Period.

It’s not just about you.  It’s about your love for others as well.

If you have faith in God, love Christians, and are righteous, you are a true Christian.

What is love?  The ancient Greeks had 4 words for 4 different types of love:

1)Eros was one word for love. It described, as we might guess from the word itself, erotic love. It referred to sexual love.

2) Storge was the second word for love. It referred to family love, the kind of love there is between a parent and child, or between family members in general.

3) Philia is the third word for love. It spoke of a brotherly friendship and affection. It is the love of deep friendship and partnership. Philia love might be described as the highest love that one is capable of without God’s help.

4) Agape is the fourth word for love. It described a love that loves without changing. It is a self-giving love that gives without demanding or expecting re-payment. It is love so great that it can be given to the unlovable or unappealing. It is love that loves even when it is rejected. Agape love gives and loves because it wants to; it does not demand or expect repayment from the love given – it gives because it loves, it does not love in order to receive.

The epitome of love is Jesus’s death on the cross, removing our sins from us.  Loving other Christians in a sacrificial manner is what John is saying here. Say no to your life to let others live.  It’s an action.

This is not one, big sacrificial moment like in Jesus’ case.  For most of us, God calls us to lay down our lives piece by piece, little by little in small, but important ways every day.

When we love others, we are assured and God knows us. We experience answered prayer.  We are so in tune and fellowship with God that we ask for what is on God’s heart, not on ours.  This is when we receive.  Thy will be done.  Those things that please God.  Ask yourself how much do you do to please yourself? How much do you do to please God?  God is glorified when we enjoy His goodness and His good things.

Verse 23 is one commandment:  Believe in Jesus and love Christians.  To believe in the name of Jesus means to trust in Him, rely on Him, and cling to Jesus.  It isn’t about intellectual knowledge or understanding, it is about trust.  John will develop the first part in 4:1-6 and the second part in 4:7-12.

Knowing that Jesus is in us is having the Holy Spirit.  Someone who loves God should act like it.  Period.

John talks much about the devil here in this short letter.  He is called the devil and the evil one.  He has been sinning from the beginning.  He is the instigator of human sin and those who continue to sin belong to him and are his children.  He is in the world and has the whole world of unbelievers under his control.  He cannot lay hold of believers to harm them.  In fact, Christians will overcome him and destroy his work.

1 John 4 starts with a warning:  beware of false prophets and test them.  See if what they say lines up with what God says.  Their words.  Their actions.  God will never contradict Himself, which is His word.

In John’s day, the issue was about if Jesus had truly come in a real body of flesh and blood. Many Gnostic-influenced teachers said that Jesus, being God, could not have actually become a flesh and blood human being, because God could have no partnership with “impure” material stuff.

Docetism also taught that Christ was a spirit.  Cerinthians taught that the divine Christ came upon the human Jesus at his baptism and then left him at the cross so that it was only the man Jesus who died.

Many today deny that Jesus is really God (such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, and Muslims). But way back in John’s day, in this time closest to the actual life and ministry of Jesus on this earth, people didn’t have a hard time believing Jesus was God. They had a hard time believing that he was a real man. This false teaching said Jesus was truly God (which is correct), but really a “make-believe” man.

The antichrist both opposes Jesus and comes as a substitute.  He does not want you to believe in the true Jesus.  The Holy Spirit inside of us is greater than Satan and will over come him.  We have nothing to fear.

John uses the simplest language (barely 300 different Greek words) to express the Gospel, using contrasts to help us understand.

BSF Study Questions The Life of Moses Lesson 21, Day 4: Numbers 16:23-50

Summary of passage:  As punishment for the rebellion against Moses (and God), God opened the earth and swallowed up Korah, Dathan, and Abiram and their families.  Fire consumed the 250 men.  Eleazar son of Aaron was ordered by God to take the censers the 250 men were holding and scatter the coals and hammer out the metal of the censers and lay it upon the altar.  This was to remind the Israelites that no one except Aaron’s descendants could burn incense before the Lord.

Still, the Israelites grumbled so God in His glory appeared at the Tent of Meeting.  He brought a plague upon the people which only stopped after Aaron offered incense and made atonement for the people.  14, 700 people died.

Questions:

7a)  God opened the earth and swallowed up Korah, Dathan, Abiram, and their families. Fire consumed the 250 men.

b)  Moses had seen God’s anger and God’s desire to kill everyone.  He had prayed to God to just punish Korah only.  I would assume God had told Moses His judgment of Korah ahead of time.  Even if not, Moses had a pretty good idea God would punish him.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  A bit of extrapolation but ok.  Pray more.  Read His word more.  Be more like Jesus.  What I do everyday.

8a)  Eleazar son of Aaron was ordered by God to take the censers the 250 men were holding and scatter the coals and hammer out the metal of the censers and lay it upon the altar. This was to remind the Israelites that no one except Aaron’s descendants could burn incense before the Lord.

b)  “Grumbled against Moses and Aaron.”

c)  Atoned for their sins.  Encouraged Moses and Aaron in their leadership role.  Obeyed God.

9a)  Personal Question.  My answer:  I sometimes think God gets fed up with us, His creation, and can’t take it anymore.  God cares about how you treat Him and His people.  You will face judgment for it when you stand before Him.

b)  He made atonement for the people to end the plague against them.

c)  We are saved completely through Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins and we are forgiven and justified through him.  He is our intercessor as Aaron was here–only Jesus is permanent.  He stands between the living and the dead.

Conclusions:  I hadn’t realized the amount of grumbling in the Bible until this study. Unbelievable!  I think if I just witnessed God Himself opening up the earth and swallowing a family and then fire-balling 250 men, I’d have a healthy fear and appreciation of God and His servant, Moses.  The personal questions here are lackluster.

End Notes:  Our take away should be to stand away from divisive people as well and those who would cause unneeded trouble.  The Bible speaks to this is numerous places including Titus 3:10-11 and Romans 16:17-18.

The fact the families paid the price as well shows how sin affects not just you but those around you as well.

The coals were scattered because that was not holy as it was unauthorized; only the objects themselves were.

Moses’ heart once again shines through as he attempts to save the people from God’s wrath and judgment.

Incense is prayer (Revelation 8:3-4) and prayer does make a difference as we dramatically see here.  Aaron prayed; killing stopped.

Fun Fact:  The Hebrew Bible begins chapter 17 at Numbers 16:36.

BSF Study Questions Isaiah Lesson 21, Day 2 Isaiah 46

Summary of passage:  Bel and Nebo (Babylonian gods) must be carried and become a burden for the people.  They cannot rescue themselves or their people and they themselves are carted off into captivity. God declares He has carried Israel since birth and upheld them.  He sustains them and will rescues them.  Whom can you compare God?  Babylonian gods are made from gold. They must be carried to and fro and set in one spot from which it cannot move.  It never answers the people or saves them from their troubles. God beseeches his people to remember the former things; remember He is God and there is no other.  Remember He is the Creator.  God’s purpose will stand and He will do as He pleases.  He will use Cyrus (a man from a far-off land) to fulfill His purpose.  God will grant righteousness and salvation to Israel in His timing.

Questions:

3a) Babylonians must carry their gods and their gods cannot save themselves as they are hauled off to captivity.  God carries His people and saves them.  Babylonian gods were made by man and had to be carried from place to place.  In contrast, God made us and He moves us and saves us.  Babylonian gods never answer the people.  God always answers us.

b) God rescued His people from Egypt (Exodus 12-14).  He sustained his people in the wilderness for 40 years (Exodus 16).  Gideon rescues Israel from the Midianites with God’s help (Judges 6-7).  God sustained Elijah during his travels when he was fed by ravens (1 Kings 17)

c) Personal Question.  My answer:  God sustains me every day.  He has rescued me many times–too many to count.  He carried me when I was depressed in college.  God will continue to do all of these.

4a) House of Jacob, all you who remain of the house of Israel, you whom I have upheld since you were conceived, and have carried since your birth; you rebels, you stubborn-hearted, you who are far from righteousness.  He promises to bring righteousness, salvation, and splendor to Israel.

b) “I am God and there is no other”  “My purpose will stand”  “I will do all that I please”  “What I have said, I will bring about; what I have planned I will do”.  He brings righteousness and salvation.  God is faithful and He is the Creator.

Conclusions:  Again, God is reassuring His people He is the “I am”.  He sustains, carries, and rescues.  He fulfills his promises, He answers His people, and He is bringing righteousness and salvation.  No one else can do such things.

It seems as humans we always need encouragement and to hear things over and over again.  Here again God is reminding His children who He is and what He will do.  Isn’t it wonderful we have a God who loves us so much to constantly fill us up when it would be so easy to dismiss us and let us wallow in our own sin?

I think God believes in the saying “nothing worthwhile is easy.”

End Note:  Bel and Nebo were two major gods of Babylon.  Bel means lord and is a title.  It was given to the god Enlil who was the father of the gods in the Babylonian pantheon.  Enlil was originally a Sumerian god who was absorbed by the Babylonians when they conquered the Sumerians.  Marduk was the city god of Babylon and eventually was given the name Bel.  Marduk is the god considered the creator.  Nebo was Marduk’s (or Bel’s) son. He was the god of learning, writing, and astronomy.

We recognize these gods in the names of Babylonian leaders:

Bel: Belshazzar and Belteshazzar (the name given to Daniel)

Nebo:  Nabopoloassar (Nebuchadnezzar’s father), Nebuchadezzar, Nebuzaradin (Nebucahezzar’s general who destroyed Jerusalem), Nabonidus (the last king of Babylon who shared his reign with belshazzar)

Information in End Note taken from: http://www.generationword.com/notes_for_notesbooks_pg/isaiah/isaiah_46.htm

and

http://bible.org/seriespage/lord’s-superiority-gods-babylon-isaiah-461-13