BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 8, Day 4: Romans 5:6-8

Summary of passage:  Christ died for sinners, a very rare occurrence indeed.

Questions:

8a)  Powerless, sinners, ungodly.  Why wouldn’t it be good news?  Is it bad news when someone sacrifice’s their life for someone else?  So rare is this that it usually makes the news like a father rescuing his son from dying or a mother pushing her kids out of the way of a car, etc. Usually you’ll only give your life out of a deep, profound love.  It’s good news because Christ died for all of us who are all undeserving.

b) Part personal Question. My answer:  We were dead until Christ made us alive.  By grace, through faith, a gift.  The three words are painfully obvious why:  we have no power, we are sinners,  we are ungodly.  I do not fight this cause I know it’s only by God’s grace that I’m in Him.  I know I’m a sinner and need Jesus.  I’m under no delusions.  Overcoming sin is a daily struggle and I can only do it with God.  I totally surrender.

9)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Christ gave his life for strangers because he loves us so much.  I’m not the best with other religions, but I believe most of them teach that you can overcome sin and be a good person through your own sheer will—on your own through your own power (like Confucianism and Buddhism).  You can attain “the One” by yourself.  Also, most believe man is fundamentally good.  Not Christianity.  Only here do we need a Savior and we admit we are imperfect sinners.  Only here are we humble.

Also, most pagan gods do not love their subjects and their subjects are afraid of the gods.  Take Roman and Greek gods.  There were many of them (polytheism as opposed to monotheism) and they were worshiped by their people and required sacrifices to appease them.  God gives one sacrifice (Jesus) out of love so that we may be with them.  No one could be/live with their gods of the day.  In essence, God gives us hope to live forever.  The Ancient Greeks and Romans had no hope outside of earthly circumstances nor no eternal life.

Conclusions:  Not the best lesson because these verses are clear-cut and self-explanatory.  The questions are “duh”.  And I’m just not familiar enough with other world religions to be much help on the last one.  I got enough to worry about just focusing on my religion!

End Notes:  The greatness of God’s love goes to the undeserving (which Paul just spent the first 2 1/2 chapters of the Book of Romans explaining that is ALL of us).  God loves us because HE wants to, not because of who we are.

As always, God’s timing is perfect.  The world was prepared for the arrival of Jesus.

The Greek word “for” is “huper” which means “in behalf of”, “instead of”, “for the sake of”.  Jesus died instead of us–in our place.  This is a much more rich translation that “for”.

Since we all are ungodly, Christ died for us all.  Why wouldn’t it be you?

Righteous man is only upright in his own character.  A good man thinks of others and is kind and caring.  That’s the difference here in Paul’s mind.  His point is God’s love is beyond any man’s love because of this sacrificial aspect.

God can give no greater proof of His love for us than sacrificing Himself for us.  The cross is therefore the ultimate show of man’s hatred for God (remember the scorn Jesus faced?)  The height of man’s hatred can’t defeat the height of God’s love.  Awesome!

BSF Study Questions Revelation Lesson 8, Day 5: Daniel 7

Summary of passage:  Daniel dreams of 4 beasts during the reign of Belshazzar king of Babylon:  a lion, a bear, a leopard, and one with horns.  A little horn appeared among them and spoke.  It was slain and thrown into a fire.  A son of man appeared and was given authority, glory, and sovereignty over all peoples, nations, and men.

The four beasts represent 4 kingdoms (Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome).  Rome is the last and will last the longest.  But in the end Jesus’ kingdom will be established for eternity.

Questions:

11a)  Daniel saw the son of man come and establish an everlasting kingdom, attended by thousands, and slaying the other beasts.

b)  Jesus is the Ancient of Days in verse 22 and he will judge all.

12)  Personal Question.  My answer:  God is in control.  He allows earthly kingdoms to exist.  But in the end, His kingdom shall reign.

13)  Personal Question.  My answer:  It does neither.  It doesn’t trouble me because as a student of history, I know all kingdoms/rulers/countries/tyrants/leaders are transitory and die and Jesus reigns.  It doesn’t encourage me either because the world is a fallen, sad place and even though I know Jesus is coming it doesn’t make living here all that much easier.  I’m ambivalent.

Conclusions:  Weak lesson without reading the commentary due to the fact we are studying prophecy here again and as we’ve learned, prophecy is impossible to understand until it has passed.

We’ve been asked a lot of questions involving encouragement. The definition of encourage is “to inspire with courage, spirit, or hope; hearten; to spur on, stimulate, to give help or patronage to; foster.”  Our world is so different from Daniel’s world.  Perhaps we know too much. We know all those empires fell.  We have God’s written word about the future and Jesus.  And we have Jesus.  We are so jaded by bad things happening in this world that encouragement is hard to come by.  At least for me, I wall out all the evil happenings in this world, so I’m not a ball of goo.  Thus encouragement is kept at bay as well.

End Notes:  Four winds of heaven connects to Revelation 7:1 and is probably satanic forces.  Four seems to be the number of created universe.  We’re talking Mediterranean Sea here.

Four Visions are Four Kingdoms:  Lion is Babylon, Bear is Medo-Persia, Leopard is Greece, Horned beast is Rome.

A lion is majestic.  A bear is ferocious (think mama bear and her cubs).  A leopard is quick and unexpected.  The horned beast was powerful and lasting.

This is Greece under Alexander the Great who conquered the entire known world in 12 short years. When he died, his empire was divided 4 ways (four heads).  Alexander the Great was a genius–put on earth for the task he performed.  He spread Western culture to most of the known world.  He ushered in the era of rule of the Ptolemiac Kingdom in Egypt.  He forever changed the known world.  He was also taken out most probably by a mosquito (malaria) at the age of 33.  Who else but God could orchestrate such talent and such tragedy?  And all for His divine purposes.

Scholars think the 3 ribs represent the kingdoms Persia conquered:  Egypt, Babylon, and Lydia.

Scholars suggest “the Ancient of Days” is God in Daniel 7:13-14.  Here, the white clothing and hair seem to suggest God and His eternal nature.  Since the son of man is separate here, it makes sense the Ancient of Days is God.  In Daniel 7:22, the “Ancient of Days” is Jesus since he pronounced judgment.  All are one as the Triune God.  We were asked to read this passage in Lesson 3, Day 5.

Fire is judgement in the Bible.

Angels and man surround God as well as books (Book of Life, remembrance, and living).

Revelation 13:5-6 speaks of the boastful words spoken by the Antichrist.

Fun Fact:  The Son of Man was used more than 80 times in the Four Gospels to describe Jesus.

Daniel 2 also discusses the 4 empires–just from man’s perspective.  Here we have God’s.

Daniel is interested most in the fourth beast because it is the most ferocious.

“Against the saints”.  The saints can either be the church or the Jewish remnant (Revelation 12:17; 13:7), causing confusion as to whether we will be on earth for the Tribulation or not.

Most scholars believe the conspicuous horn to be the Antichrist, arising out of some group of ten nations, which in some way has the Roman empire being re-established here on earth.  John Calvin interpreted the 10 rulers as actual Roman emperors, thus saying this prophecy has already been fulfilled.

Number 10:   ten toes (Daniel 2) and ten horns (Daniel 7 and Revelation 13 and 17).

“…time, times and half a time.”  This is three and a half years.  In Revelation (11:2-3, 12:6 and 13:5) this refers to half of the last seven-year period of man’s rule on this earth (the seventieth week of Daniel) otherwise known as the Great Tribulation.

Final thought:  Ready to return to the book of Revelation.

Conclusions to Lesson 8:  In studying Daniel, we are studying a man of faith.  He lived his whole life for God and God rewarded Daniel in return.  He’s a great example of how to live your religion in a secular world.  He stood on faith.  In relation to the book of Revelation, Daniel is one of the people God chose to reveal the future to.  The future we have seen revealed (the fall of Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome) and the future yet to come (the horn that arose from the 10 horns–the Antichrist).  Albeit the interpretations differ from scholars, God revealed enough to us about the future to be helpful and full of hope.

We see what a life can look like empowered by God.  That is the best lesson of all this week.  This alone is encouraging as we strive for such a life and discouraging as I know my life is no where close to Daniel’s and seems at times impossible to reach.

BSF Study Questions The Life of Moses Lesson 8, Day 5: Exodus 20:18-26

Summary of passage:  The Israelites were afraid upon hearing God speak and asked Moses to speak to them now on for God because they were sure they would die if God continued to speak to them.  Moses told them to not be afraid and that God was testing them so that they would have the fear of God in them and they wouldn’t sin.

God told Moses to tell the people to not make any gods of silver or gold alongside of him.  Instead, make altars and sacrifice to Him and He will bless them.

Questions:

10a)  One is fear to the point of death or tormenting fear out of guilt; the other is a healthy fear which makes you do things you normally wouldn’t do because you are afraid of the consequences.  This leads to honor and reverence.  One is irrational; the other rational.

b)  The irrational fear can lead to sin in an effort to protect yourself.  You are so afraid that you’d do anything. This fear can drive you crazy.  The rational fear allows you to think through your actions first because of the consequences of your actions. This can lead to a better life if you think for example of how your words would hurt others before speaking them.  One leads to despair; the other leads to obedience and love.

Think of it like a parent:  we discipline out of love.  Our kids feel that love because we are teaching them how to be a human in this world.  God is our parent.  We should revere and fear Him.  For His love is beyond anything imaginable.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  To be honest, neither.  I don’t have a trembling fear for my life nor am I guilt-ridden.  Nor do I think I fear God enough for the consequences of my actions.  I am too selfish sometimes and thus should work more on this.  I fear I fail more than I would if I did fear Him more.  I think fear resides just sometimes it’s so repressed I don’t know it’s there when I should know it’s there.

11a)  That they have seen for themselves God speaking from heaven.  He is a spirit and not an image.  So we must worship Him as well with our spirit.

b)  To make any gods of silver or gold to go alongside Him.

c)  We worship God with our hearts.  We worship Him as the Holy Trinity.  We worship Him as the unseen Holy Spirit who dwells inside of us.  We worship His mightiness and His presence.  We do not worship the church or altar or any graven image of Him.

12)  Our God is not a God of adornment.  He does not need fancy or expensive gold and silver.  He is seeking our hearts and whatever you bring with the right heart is sufficient.  He would probably accept no altar but just the sacrifice if it was made from the heart.  Furthermore, an altar of dressed stone would draw attention more to the carver and “what a beautiful altar” it is.  This is all about God as it should be. Simple suffices.

13)  Part Personal Question.  My answer:  Wherever God is honored, He will come and bless you.  It gives me the hope that as long as God is honored, I will be blessed.  And even in my failings, God will bless me as I atone for my sins–ask forgiveness, receive His grace, and accept Jesus as my Savior.  All this He blesses.

Conclusions:  Good questions on healthy fear of God and the fleshing out of how God desires our hearts and our atonements for our sins, not meaningless presents covering in gold.  And as I honor God, He will bless me.  Honor His name and receive.  Simple!

Reminds me of those plaques with Joshua 24:15:  “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

End Notes:  Most encounters with God in the Bible inspire fear instead of awe.  I hope I would be awed and honored and desire more and more like Moses did, but it’s hard to say.

The Hebrew word here for lightning is the same as found in Genesis 15 when Abraham makes his covenant with God.

Note how Moses stands in the place where Jesus will stand in the future–between us and God.

1 John 4:18-19:  “There is no fear in love.  But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment.  The one who fears is not made perfect in love.  We love because he first loved us.”

Interesting to Note:  God knew we would sin; hence, His provision of atonement with the offerings and the sacrifices.  How wonderful is our God!

God did not want human flesh to be seen on His altar because it was impure.

Personal Commentary:  To be honest, this passage stumped me.  I didn’t get much out of it.  Thus, I did resort to commentary to tell me what I was missing.  As a result, you see my answers.  Before, there were blanks.  Now, I feel like I got it somewhat.  I feel like I understand God and what He desires from me a bit more.  I feel closer to Him ever so slightly.  And this was all due to commentary from someone else who told me what God was trying to get at here.

So to those of you who struggle with the meaning of God’s word:  you are not alone.  Thousands of years and language barriers and translations is just one obstacle we must overcome. Not to mention how God’s ways are not ours.  So my encouragement:  keep at it.  Keep striving and learning and reading and re-reading the passages.  Yes, God will speak to you.  But He also speaks through others who have taken the time to write down analysis.  Take heart!  He is here.  Next to you.  And He will meet you so that you may know Him and be closer to Him.  Even if it’s just a millimeter.  And I’ll take every millimeter I can get!