Saul on Road to Damascus

BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 6, Day 4: Acts 9:1-19a

Summary of Acts 9:1-19a:

Saul was persecuting the Lord’s disciples and all others who belonged to the Way, trying to imprison them or kill them.  As Saul neared Damascus, a light from haven flashed around him and he heard a voice (Jesus), asking why does he persecute him?  Jesus tells Saul to go to the city and he will be told what to do.

The others with him did not see anyone.  They lead Saul to Damascus because Saul had been blinded by the light.  In Damascus, the Lord called a disciple named Ananias to go to Saul and lay hands on him so that Saul may see again.

Ananias tells the Lord that Saul is a bad man (as if God didn’t know) and he might be arrested if he goes.  The Lord explains his purpose for Saul to Ananias, saying Saul is His chosen instrument to carry his name before the Gentiles.

So Ananias complies, healing Saul and filling him with the Holy Spirit.  Saul was baptized and regained his strength.

BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 6, Day 4: Acts 9:1-19a

9) Saul was persecuting the Lord’s disciples and all others who belonged to the Way. There are different types of persecution, including social persecution and emotional. You can be ostracized when you don’t conform.

10) Personal Question. My answer: It’s okay to question the Lord, but you still go and do it anyways.

11) Part personal Question. My answer: Saul was completely transformed and probably in shock since he didn’t eat or drink for 3 days, now about to become one the greatest disciples for Christ. Jesus has made all the difference in allowing me to do what I do, how I do it, and blessing me with a great life.

Conclusions BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 6, Day 4: Acts 9:1-19a

Last go-around, we read this along with Acts 22:1-16; 26:9-19

End Notes BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 6, Day 4: Acts 9:1-19a

The Conversion of Saul — One of the Most Important Passages in the Entire Bible

We last saw Saul in Acts 8:3, where it says that he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison. Here he continued and expanded this work to the city of Damascus (about 130 miles or 210 kilometers northeast of Jerusalem; a six-day journey altogether).

Saul hated the disciples of the Lord. He wasn’t seeking Jesus when Jesus sought him. We might say that Saul was decided against Jesus when Jesus decided for Saul.

Saul did his persecuting work under the direct approval of the highest religious authorities. He asked and received letters from the high priest authorizing his mission.

The high priest was Caiaphas. In December 1990 an ossuary (something like a burial urn; essentially a bone box) was discovered in Jerusalem. The ossuary was inscribed with the name of this Caiaphas and positively dated to this period. Inside were discovered some of the remains of a 60-year-old man, whom many researchers believe was this same Caiaphas. If true, these are the first physical remains (such as bones or ashes) of a specific person mentioned in the New Testament.

The Way

Here, Christianity is referred to as the Way. This seems to be the earliest name for the Christian movement, and a fitting one – used five times in Acts.

  • The name the Way means that Christianity is more than a belief or a set of opinions or doctrines. Following Jesus is a way of living as well as believing.
  • It is significant to see that there was a Christian community large enough in Damascus for Saul to be concerned about. Christianity – the Way – was spreading everywhere.
  • map of road to damascus paul

God on the Road to Damascus

God does not normally confront sinners with a heavenly light and an audible voice from heaven. Yet Paul said that this light was brighter than the sun (Acts 26:13).

Saul, Saul: When God repeats a name twice, it is to display deep emotion, but not necessarily anger (as in the Martha, Martha of Luke 10:41 and the Jerusalem, Jerusalem of Matthew 23:37).

As the heavenly light overwhelmed him, Saul was confronted by the true nature of his crime: He persecuted God, not man.

  • Saul thought that he was serving God in viciously attacking Christians, but he discovered that he was fighting God.
  • This has been sadly true through history. Often those who are convinced they are doing God a favor do much of the worst persecution and torture ever practiced.

In all probability, Saul heard Jesus teach in Jerusalem; and as a likely member of the Sanhedrin, Saul sat in judgment of Jesus in the trial before His crucifixion.

“Unless Saul was hallucinating, the appearance of Jesus proved that Jesus was alive and that Jesus was God.” (Boice)

Two Most Important Questions to Ask God

  1. Who are You, Lord? We must ask this question with a humble heart, and ask it to God. Jesus showed us exactly who God is, and He can answer this question. Paul spent the rest of his life wanting to know more completely the answer to this question (Philippians 3:10).
  2. What do You want me to do? Few dare to really ask God this question, but when we ask it, we must ask it with submission and determined obedience.

In Acts 9, we are only given the briefest account of what happened during this time. Paul says more about this experience in Acts 22:3-11Acts 26:12-181 Corinthians 9:1 and 15:8. Barnabas said more about Saul’s experience in Acts 9:27 and from what Ananias said about Saul’s experience in Acts 9:17.

Jesus only told Saul what to do right at that moment.

  • God often directs us one step at a time instead of laying out the details of the grand plan all at once.
  • So many of us want to plan out our entire lives. but that is not how God operates.

In the three days of blindness and deprivation, Saul was dying to himself. It would only be after the three days of dying that he would receive resurrection life from Jesus.

unknown road we all must travel atozmomm.com

Ananias and God

Ananias was an ordinary man – not an apostle, a prophet, a pastor, an evangelist, an elder, or a deacon. Yet God used him because he was an ordinary man.

God spoke to Ananias in a completely different way than He spoke to Saul. Saul had a bold, almost violent confrontation from God, but Ananias heard the voice of God sweetly in a vision, where God called and Ananias obediently responded. God speaks to us differently too, just as we need to hear Him.

God considered Saul His chosen vessel long before there appeared anything worthy in Saul to choose. God knew what He could make of Saul, even when Saul or Ananias didn’t know.

So often we underestimate ourselves when God doesn’t.

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BSF Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1: Lesson 6, Day 4: Ruth 3

Image result for ruth 3 images

Summary of Passage:

Naomi is now playing match-maker with Boaz. She tells Ruth to go to the winnowing party and look her best. Then, once Boaz is finished eating, Ruth is to uncover his feet and lie down. Ruth complied, and Boaz wakes up, realizing Ruth is lying at his feet. Ruth’s reputation as a noble woman has spread, and Boaz agrees to marry her if the other, closer kinsman-redeemer refuses.

Ruth leaves early, not wanting it to be known that she came to Boaz. Boaz gives her grain to take back to Naomi and heads off to see if he can marry Ruth or not.

BSF Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1: Lesson 6, Day 4: Ruth 3:

9) Naomi feels like it’s her obligation to try and find Ruth a husband to care for her because she knows she will die at some point. She picks this plan because she knows Boaz is a kinsman-redeemer, she knows Boaz knows who Ruth is. Naomi probably knows Boaz likes Ruth as well. The pros is what happened: Boaz realizes Ruth wants to marry him, and he goes off to see what can be done about it. The cons are what didn’t happen: Boaz refuses Ruth or someone finds out a woman came to the threshing floor or Boaz mistreats her in some way.

10) Spreading of the wings is a sign of protection and refuge in ancient Israel. Ruth is asking for Boaz’s protection by marrying her. It’s similar to God’s protection.

11) Boaz always treated Ruth with respect and admiration as does Jesus. Boaz was Ruth’s kinsman-redeemer as Jesus is ours. Ruth and Boaz dipped their bread together in wine vinegar. The meal should remind us of our communion with Christ where the bread is symbolic of Christ’s flesh and the wine symbolic of His blood which is poured out for us (see Luke 22).  It is also significant that the narrative unfolds in the town of Bethlehem, the city where Christ was to be born many hundreds of years later.

Bethlehem means “house of bread.” Jesus declares Himself to be “the bread of life” (John 6:48).  Boaz loves Ruth; Christ loves us. Ruth as a Moabite is undeserving of Boaz; we are undeserving of Christ.

Conclusions: BSF Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1 Lesson 6, Day 4: Ruth 3:

I love how it’s Naomi who prompts Ruth. She cares for Ruth and wants to take care of her. I love Boaz. He does everything right. He wants everything to be legal. He loves Ruth. Great example of how one must keep striving to overcome adversity with faith and God will reward us.

Read my original posting on Ruth HERE

Amazing video on the entire book of Ruth HERE

End Notes BSF Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1 Lesson 6, Day 4: Ruth 3:

It is now the end of the harvest and Ruth and Boaz have spent time together in the context of a group – the men and women who worked for Boaz in the harvest. There is no “dating” as we know it. They got to know each other pretty well – by seeing what kind of people the other was around a larger group.

What was the kinsman-redeemer?

The goel – sometimes translated kinsman-redeemer – had a specifically defined role in Israel’s family life.

  • The kinsman-redeemer was responsible to buy a fellow Israelite out of slavery (Leviticus 25:48).
  • The kinsman-redeemer  was responsible to be the “avenger of blood” to make sure the murderer of a family member answered to the crime (Numbers 35:19).
  • The kinsman-redeemer was responsible to buy back family land that had been forfeited (Leviticus 25:25).
  • The kinsman-redeemer was responsible to carry on the family name by marrying a childless widow (Deuteronomy 25:5-10).

In sum, the goel, the kinsman-redeemer, was responsible to safeguard the persons, the property, and the posterity of the family. “Words from the root g’l are used with a variety of meanings in the Old Testament, but the fundamental idea is that of fulfilling one’s obligations as a kinsman.” (Morris)

Since Boaz was a recognized goel for the family of Elimelech – the deceased husband of Naomi and father-in-law of Ruth – Ruth could appeal to him to safeguard the posterity of Elimelech’s family and take her in marriage. It may seem forward to us, but it was regarded as proper in that day.

If Boaz did not fulfill this duty towards Elimelech (though he was now deceased), then the direct family and name of Elimelech would perish. Perpetuating the family name of Elimelech (and every man in Israel) was thought to be an important duty. These protections showed how important it was to God to preserve the institution of the family in Israel – and that it is also important to Him today.

What does Ruth lying at Boaz’s feet show?

Image result for ruth 3Ruth’s actions were one of submitting. In that day, this was understood to be the role of a servant laying at a person’s feet was the role of a servant. It showed he or she was ready for any command of the master. So, when Naomi told Ruth to lie down at Boaz’s feet, she told her to come to him in a totally humble, submissive way.

Don’t lose sight of the larger picture: Ruth came to claim a right. Boaz was her goel, her kinsman-redeemer, and she had the right to expect him to marry her and raise up a family to perpetuate the name of Elimelech. But Naomi wisely counseled Ruth to not come as a victim demanding her rights, but as a humble servant, trusting in the goodness of her kinsman-redeemer. She said to Boaz, “I respect you, I trust you, and I put my fate in your hands.”

Of course, this was a situation that had the potential for disaster if Boaz should mistreat Ruth in some way. But Naomi and Ruth had the chance to get to know Boaz, and they knew what kind of man he was – a good man, a godly man, one to whom Ruth could confidently submit.

What do we learn about marriage?

  • In the marriage relationship, many husbands wish they had a wife who submitted to them the way Ruth is being told to here. But do they provide the kind of godly leadership, care, and concern that Boaz showed towards Ruth and others?
  • In the marriage relationship, many wives wish they had a husband who loved, cared, and treated them the way Boaz did towards Ruth. But do they show the same kind of humble submission and respect Ruth showed to Boaz?

Why was Boaz sleeping on the threshing floor?

Boaz slept at the threshing floor to guard his crop against the kind of attacks described in 1 Samuel 23:1. In the days of the Judges where a lot of Israelites had turned their back on God, many turned to thievery and stole grain from farmers. Much political and social unrest was occurring as well.

He was startled waking up to Ruth, thinking it may be a robber. Again, she submitted, identifying herself as his servant.

“The spreading of a skirt over a widow as a way of claiming her as a wife is attested among Arabs of early days, and Jouon says it still exists among some modern Arabs.” (Morris)

“Even to the present day, when a Jew marries a woman, he throws the skirt or end of his talith over her, to signify that he has taken her under his protection.” (Clarke)

In Ezekiel 16:8, God uses the same terminology in relation to Israel: I spread my wing over you and covered your nakedness. Yes, I swore an oath to you and entered into a covenant with you and you became Mine, says the LORD God.

Was Ruth’s actions inappropriate?

This was not an inappropriate thing for Ruth to do towards Boaz. It was bold, but not inappropriate. Ruth understood this as she identified Boaz as her close relative (literally, you are a goel, a kinsman-redeemer).

Though deceased, Elimelech had the right to have his family name carried on and as goel, Boaz had the responsibility to do this for Elimelech. This could only happen through Boaz marrying Ruth and providing children to carry on the name of Elimelech. Ruth boldly, yet humbly and properly, sought her rights.Image result for ruth 3

Apparently, there was a considerable age difference between Ruth and Boaz. It also seems that because of this, Boaz considered himself unattractive to Ruth and had therefore ruled out any idea of a romance between them.

Boaz had the right to force himself upon Ruth as her goel, but he did not.

Ruth based her attraction to Boaz more on respect than on image or appearance.

Literally, Boaz called Ruth a hah-yil woman. The basic meaning behind this Hebrew word is “strength; moral strength, good quality, integrity, virtue.” This same word is used for heroes in the Bible: A mighty man of valor. Ruth showed courage and strength, shown in her virtue – make her a hero, on the Proverbs 31 kind of definition of a woman of virtue.

Boaz and Ruth were not trying to hide anything scandalous; it was just that Boaz didn’t want this nearer kinsman to learn that Ruth was now demanding her right to marriage to a goel before Boaz could tell him personally.

Fun Bible Fact: Jewish traditions say that the six measures of barley given as a gift to Ruth were a sign of six pious men who would descend from her, endowed with six spiritual gifts: David, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, Azariah, and the Messiah.

BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 6, Day 4: Romans 3:29-30

Summary of passage:  God is the God of everyone.

Questions:

8 )  Gentiles are everyone who is not a Jew.  Because the Jewish rabbis had taught for generations that the Jewish people is special since they were chosen by God to be the bearer of faith and the keep of God’s laws.  They believed they were superior to others because they did believe in the One, True God in a world dominated by pagans.

9)  All throughout history people believed in the afterlife and in various gods.  Many think if they are good people they will get to heaven.  Many people worship other gods.  Many don’t even think.

10)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Easy:  There are not many ways to God.  It’s only Jesus.  The entire Bible says so.  Graciously?  Unsure.  You can’t convince someone with a hard heart to God to soften.  All you can do is speak the Truth.  God will (or will not) do the rest in His power.

Conclusions:  Question 8 is repetitive.  We’ve already studied why the Jews thought they were special.  Again, nit-picking this passage about only one way to heaven.  All Christians know this and accept this (or they’re not Christians).  We all know how others think.  What is the value in discussing it?  I would rather meditate on how much God loves me, the sinner, than waste time debating the fallacies of others.

End Notes:  God is the God of all and He justifies all the same–through faith.