BSF Study Questions Revelation Lesson 4, Day 3: Revelation 2:1-7

Summary of passage: John addressed the church in Ephesus and its angel (or messenger or priest or church). Jesus says he knows of the church’s hard work and how they have tested false prophets and endured hardships. Yet, they have abandoned him and need to repent or face the consequences. To those who hear him and overcome, they will receive the tree of life or the paradise of God.

Questions:

7)  The people have forsaken Jesus.  They are not repenting of their sins.

8a)  By doing things Jesus wouldn’t do and going against his will.  By being selfish, prideful, sinful.  By kicking God out of the center of your life and putting another idol there instead.  By not loving others.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Walk in Jesus’ ways.  Know God’s word.  Obey Him.  Share the gospel.  Do what Jesus would do.

9)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  Repent means to turn away from sin and turn towards making changes in your life.  It’s a heart transformation and an honest effort to change.  My words.  My actions.  My selfishness.

10a)  In Genesis, the tree is an actual tree that grew and bore fruit.  In Revelation, Jesus in our tree of life and in him lies our fruit.  Jesus is our life.  The tree in the Garden was man’s death.  Believing in Jesus gives us life.

b)  Part personal question.  My answer:  All we must do is believe in Jesus to have life and live in Paradise with God.  It is hope defined.  To walk with God.  Forever.  There is no greater hope.

Conclusions:  I liked the comparison of the trees.  So simple.  Even for Adam and Eve it was simple.  I think that’s why we fail all the time.  It’s so simple it’s hard for us to believe it.  We always think there’s a catch.  But there’s not.  Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life.  Period.

End Notes:  This is commentary on verses 4-7.  See Yesterday’s POST for commentary for verses 1-3.

Forsaken means abandon–a deliberate act.  The church hasn’t “lost” love.  It has turned away from it.

What “love” is this?  The love of Jesus or the love of people?  Probably both here.  We must do both. It’s easy to get caught up in the “doing” rather than the “loving”.

The first step is to always remember.  Then the next verb (an action of doing) is to repent–turn away from what you are doing and go a different path.  Then do the things you did at first (study God’s word, pray, evangelize, spend time with other Christians and others).

If they do not repent, Jesus will leave (“remove your lamp stand”).  Immediate judgment.

Not much is known of the Nicolaitans (mentioned again in Rev 2:15).  Some scholars say they were followers of Nicholas who was ordained by the apostles and who believed in revelry, adultery, and indulgence to the extreme.  Other scholars say they were more gnostics who believed a physical body was intrinsically evil and denied the fact a pure, omnipotent God would take such a form.  Hence, some claimed Jesus was a phantom or that God left Jesus before he was crucified.  The Greek root words of Nicolaitan means “to conquer the people.”

What’s important here is this:  Jesus HATED their practice.  The Son of Man who was pure love hates. That in and of itself should tell us they were sinful people to the extreme–enough to be mentioned twice by Jesus.  Not good.  Not good at all.

This message is for us (to all who have an ear) who will overcome sin and coldness and have his heart.  Reward?  Heaven.  The tree of life refers to Eden–Paradise.  Where God lives.  Paradise originally meant garden of delight.  Now it means where God lives.  God is paradise.  In eschatology and in Revelation paradise is where God and believers are restored to the perfect fellowship that existed before sin entered the world.

“He who has an ear let him hear”.  This appears in every letter (2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13, 22).  A challenge to take to heart what Jesus is saying.

“To the one who overcomes”.  This appears in every letter (2:7, 11, 17, 26; 3:5, 12, 21).  A challenge to be victorious over evil.

BSF Study Questions The Life of Moses Lesson 28, Day 2: Deuteronomy 31:1-29

Summary of passage:  Moses, at 120 years old, tells the people Joshua will be their new leader and the Lord will go before them and destroy their enemies. He tells the people to not be afraid for God will never forsake them.  Moses wrote down the law, placed it beside the ark of the covenant, and commanded the people to read it every 7 years so all will know it.

The Lord appeared to Moses and Joshua in a cloud over the Tabernacle and told them that the people would turn from Him and worship other gods.  When the people did this, God would turn His back on His people.  He taught Moses a song to teach the people so they would know why God turned on them.  Moses warned the people of the evil they would do and consequences of the Lord’s anger against them.

Questions:

3a)  He commanded the people to be strong and courageous and not to be afraid or terrified because the Lord goes with them and will never abandon them (the promise).

b)  Joshua had some big shoes to fill so I’m sure leading the people was daunting, challenging, and scary. God wanted to make sure Joshua knew he could do it because He Himself was with him and would never leave him.  God Himself would defeat His enemies, and Joshua had nothing to fear.  He was chosen by God for this task like Moses.  Confidence is what Joshua needed–in himself and in the Lord.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  It’s comforting.  When no one else is there, God is.  He knows my pain, my heartache, my struggles, my passions, my frustrations, my joys, my sorrows, my victories, my failures.  And He shares them.  He works them for His purposes.  And I just need Him and faith.

4a)  God commanded Moses to write down the law and keep it in a safe place and once every 7 years for the law to be read to all the people so they would know God’s laws.  It was a resource for the Levites, who were the spiritual leaders, so they could look back and learn God’s laws as well and teach it accordingly.

b)  It would serve as a warning so the faithful would be aware of what was to come and perhaps spot the temptation and turn away before they sinned.  Perhaps they could warn others and turn them away as well.

Conclusions:  Love how God appeared to Joshua personally to commission him and reassure him that he could do this monumental task and that God would be his strength and his rock.  God’s care for us is unfathomable!  I like how everyone from young to old was gathered to hear the law once every 7 years.  I wonder how many of us read God’s word every 7 years.  Can you imagine our society if we did?

End Notes:  The people needed to know God was with them.  All most of them had ever known was Moses.  The people needed to know God was bigger than one man and God was enough.

God does His work through people–God’s work is the giving of the Promised Land and Joshua would be the one God would use to accomplish His work.

What a blessing Moses is to Joshua!  He encouraged him in his walk.  How many of us have wise counselors to encourage us to do the great things God has in store for us?

The first recorded reading of God’s law to the people is in Nehemiah 8:1-8.  It is recorded three more times in the Bible of the law being read to the people (Joshua 8:30; 2 Chronicles 17:7; 2 Chronicles 34:30).  Between these readings are hundreds of years.  Certainly, the law could have been read and not recorded but scholars say that the fact the reading of the law is recorded with so many years in-between was because it was such a rare event.  Can you imagine how history would be different if the people had obeyed and read the law–like today if we did as well?

Deuteronomy 32 is the song Moses wrote down for God’s people.

Here we see the completion of the first five books of the Bible (also known as the Pentateuch which means five scrolls in Greek or the Torah in the Jewish tradition) in verse 24 written by Moses.  It is assumed by scholars that the last three books of Deuteronomy were written by Joshua (or by a scribe he appointed) to record the end of Moses’ life.

Note how the Ten Commandments is inside the ark but the first five books of the bible is beside the ark. I see this as so it’s readily available to the priests for teaching purposes.

God’s word is also a witness against us.  We often think of the Bible as our helper, which it is. It is also our condemner as well when we don’t read it, don’t follow it, and don’t obey.  For it is right before us and we choose to turn the other way.

BSF Study Questions The Life of Moses Lesson 27, Day 4: Deuteronomy 29

Summary of passage:  Moses again tells the people to follow the covenant and the people will prosper.  He warns against turning away from God as disaster will follow.  If they worship idols, God will abandon the covenant and curse them.

Questions:

7)  That God is their God and they are His people.

8 )  Not to turn away from God and worship idols.

9a)  The secret things are secret; we don’t know what they are.  It’s the knowledge, wisdom, judgments, and paths of God that we He had not revealed to us.

b)  God’s law

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Sin is inevitable.  Even the best of us sin (Moses).  But God forgives that sin.  That God is faithful.  He is the provider.  He is there always.

Conclusions:  I don’t know about you all, but I’m tired of Moses’s repetition and warnings.  Ok, fine, we get it.  Obey or face God’s wrath.  We all know the Israelites didn’t obey and were punished by God despite Moses’ 10,000 warnings.  At least Moses can say, “I told you so.”  It makes these passages very dull reading.

End Notes:  This is the confirming of the the Covenant with the new generation that Moses had performed back in Exodus 24:7-8 with the old generation.

As we’ve seen, seeing miracles hasn’t changed the hearts of the people.  They need a miracle of the heart.

There is no peace for the sinner for God will turn His back on them.

God’s judgment on His people if they sin will be an example to all nations of what happens with disobedience and an example to all generations as well.

God reveals only what we need to know.  Therefore, we must embrace this knowledge and live it in our lives.  That is His desire for us.  It’s like a parent.  We do things for our kids for reasons they cannot understand at different ages in their lives.  The same with God.  We trust God like we trust our parents.  We love God like we love our parents.  We have faith that they have our best interests in their hearts for us.  Just like God does.

BSF Study Questions The Life of Moses Lesson 25, Day 5: Numbers 31-36

Summary of passages:  Numbers 31:  The Lord orders Moses to take vengeance on the Midianites for the Israelites.  Moses orders 1000 men from each tribe.  Phinehas son of Eleazar accompanied the 12,000 men to blow the trumpets.  The wiped out all men from the tribe.  They captured all the women and children and took all of their animals back to the plains of Moab where the Israelites were encamped.

Moses was mad that the women were allowed to live when they were the ones who enticed the Israelites into sexual sin and brought about the plague.  He orders them to kill all the boys and every woman who has slept with a man.  Only the virgin girls are allowed to live.  Then all who had contact with a dead body or killed anyone in battle must cleanse themselves with water or fire and stay outside the camp for 7 days.

The Lord orders the spoils to be divided between the soldiers who fought and the rest of the community, including shares for the Levites.  Not one Israeli soldier died in the battle so they brought the gold they had taken as plunder as atonement to the Lord.

Numbers 32:  The Reubenites and the Gadites, seeing good land for their flocks where they were, asked Moses if they could stay here and not cross over into the Promised Land.  Moses reminds them the last time they refused to enter the Promised Land, the Lord’s anger burned against His people and He punished them by making them wander the desert for 40 years.  If they disobey again, Moses warns, they will be the cause of their destruction.

The Reubenites and the Gadites said they would fight with their brothers and take the land promised by God but that they wanted to stay here in the land on the east of the Jordan River.  Moses agreed but warned them they must keep their promised and fight.  So Moses gave them (including half of the tribe of Manasseh) the land they wanted.  They rebuilt the cities and drove out the Amorites.

Numbers 33:  Moses records the stages in their journey at the Lord’s command from Egypt to where they sit right now, on the Plains of Moab overlooking the Promised Land.  God says to drive out all of the inhabitants of the land, destroy all of their idols, take possession of the land and settle it, dividing it by lot according to size of the tribes.  God warns to carry out all of His commands or they will suffer what God does to the Canaanites.

Numbers 34:  God assigns the boundaries of the Promised Land for the 9 1/2 tribes on the West side of the Jordan River.  The 2 1/2 tribes on the East already have their inheritance.  The Lord appoints leaders from each tribe to assign the inheritance to the Israelites.

Numbers 35:  God commanded Moses to give the Levites towns to live in and pasturelands around the towns.  Six of the 48 Levite towns will be cities of refuge for those who kill someone to flee to so that they may stand trial and not be afraid of revenge killings.  If the person does not flee to the refuge town, then they open themselves up to be killed by relatives.

Numbers 36:  This solves the problem of what happens to the land given to Zelophehad’s daughters when they marry.  Thus God says Zelophehad’s daughters must marry within the clan of their father and this applies to every  daughter who inherits land for every Israelite must keep the inherited land in their family.  No inheritance may pass from tribe to tribe.

Questions:

9a)  Yes because the Midianite women were the ones who seduced the Israeli men and introduced other gods for them to worship.  They defiled the land and made it unholy, making it impossible to have God occupy it without atonement (Numbers 35:34).  What atones?  Blood.  Thus, blood had to be shed to make it holy for the Lord.

b)  Whole books have been written on this topic.  Honestly, it’s not for us to know God’s reasons for vengeance.  He says attack, the people attack.  He is God and we don’t question His authority over us.  But as a just God, the penalty for sin must be paid and punished.  Here, the punishment is death which is the punishment for all sin.  It is God’s right to mete it out.  We merely do His will.

Common reasons given for the wars in the OT:  The Promised Land was always in God’s plan.  He promised it to Abraham.  The Canaanites were not innocent people.  They had sinned and as punishment the Canaanites would lose their land (Deut 9:5). We’ve read about their sexual sin and sacrifice of children to false gods.  The Canaanites would contaminate the Israelites and thus had to be completely removed (which didn’t happen because the people disobeyed and the Babylonians would punish them for that).  This was about believers and unbelievers.

10a)  They had very large flocks and herds and wanted to settle in land suitable for the livestock.  I would say they are tired of traveling and ready to settle down.  The land they saw was good and saw no reason (besides obeying God) to continue on.  They were willing to help their brothers take the land so were willing to compromise.  However, they were complacent.  They were content with this land.  Complacency is contagious and leads to stagnation.  We should never be complacent in our growth with God.  Little did they know, but God had greater things for them in the land of Canaan if only they had obeyed.

b)  No.  He chastised them and reminded them about what happened the last time the Israelites refused to enter the Promised Land and basically said they would be the cause of God’s wrath and responsible for their destruction if they did what they proposed to do.

c)  Compromised.  The Reubenites and the Gadites agreed to help the Israelites fight to take the Promised Land and not return to their homes until every Israelite has received his inheritance.  They would not receive their inheritance on that side of the river, preferring these other lands instead.

11a)  So the Israelites will know from whence they came and the power of God who brought them thus far.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Nothing.  My life is uneventful and not of import.  I would say my everyday living speaks for itself.

12)  In the culture of the day, if someone killed someone, their relatives could take revenge and kill you.  Here, God provides cities of refuge so if the killing was accidental, that person could have a fair trial.  This shows that God is the ultimate judge (who gives that authority to the proper authorities) to take a life and He protects His people from needless bloodshed.  God is the giver and the taker of life.  It is His decision.  He is the protector of His people out of His infinite love for us.

Conclusions:  Long lesson and not looking forward to next week where we are assigned to read the majority of Deuteronomy.  Awesome lessons of God reminding His people before they take over the Promised Land of what is important in their lives and just how far they have come.

End Notes:  Numbers 31:  The Israelites enacted vengeance because God told them to do so.  Today, our governments have been given the authority to enact vengeance by God, not us personally.

Note the priests went into battle with them–a sign of God’s blessing.

The custom was to kill the men and take the rest captive.  However, this was against God’s orders.

The male children had to be killed because at this time boys were raised to take revenge against those who had killed their fathers.  Hence, they were a threat to the Israelites.

Things that don’t seem a threat are what us as Christians stumble over.  That’s why it’s important to pray to God and let Him tell you what to do.  We can learn from the Israelites who didn’t eliminate the threat (the women) what can happen.

Purification was important–that’s why we have the Holy Spirit.

Normally the spoil would just be divided up amongst the warriors.  However, God didn’t want the reason for killing to be only about the spoils.  And a portion had to go to the Levites.  God wants givers and not just takers.

Numbers 32:  They were discouraging the others and saying by their example,”The fight was not worth it.  Let’s just be happy here.”  This should remind us of the 10 spies who discouraged the Israelites to not take the Promised Land the first time around.  Again, wholly following the Lord is not contentment with half of what God has for us.  We can accept others’ contentment except when it influences others.

Numbers 33:  Here we can see exactly how much the Israelites moved in 40 years!  For those of us who have moved a lot, this can be punishment in and of itself since it’s no easy task!

God accomplished two goals with the Israelites:  used them to judge the people of Canaan and gave them land promised long ago.

God’s warning will fall on deaf ears as the Canaanites are not completely destroyed and thus over time infiltrate the Israelites and bring about their destruction.

Numbers 34:  This is land given by God, not earned.  Debate over the “Wadi of Egypt” continues today: is this the Nile or some other stream?  Hence, the fight over the Sinai Peninsula continues.

God chose leaders to end any conflict once the land was split.

Numbers 35:  The Levites were distributed proportionately as well so that God’s people would have enough priests.  This reflects Christ as he went to the people and not just the people come to him.

Revenge killing is not bad per se.  It can work–except in the case of accidents.  This is where God steps in to protect His people.  If you murder someone, then yes you should suffer death as well.  However, accidents happen and God provides for that.  The difference between murder and kill here is important.

These cities were evenly distributed with good roads (Deut 19:3).  These cities were open to all and not just to the Israelites.

If found innocent, the man had to stay within the walls of the city until the death of the high priest.  Otherwise, he could still be killed.

The cities of refuge picture Jesus as he is our refuge.

We can murder someone’s reputation as well.

A murderer cannot buy his way out of proper penalty.

Unjudged murderers defile a land.  Unfortunately, a lot get away.  But God knows and they will face ultimate penalty with Him.

Numbers 36:  A picture of no perfect solutions in life.  If a daughter did choose to marry outside the tribe, she’d forfeit her inheritance.  They married their cousins so the land stayed within the family as well as the tribe.

End of Numbers:  We leave the Israelites about to take their final step into the Promised Land. They have come a long way but the last step is what counts.  Sadly, many Christians become lost in the Wilderness and never step into what God has for them.  Faith has brought them this far, but it will take even more faith to finish the journey.

Map showing division of the Promised Land:  http://www.biblestudy.org/maps/large-map-of-division-promised-land-to-israel.jpg

Map of Wilderness Journey up to the Jordan River:  http://www.keyway.ca/gif/wildjour.gif

BSF Study Questions The Life of Moses Lesson 16, Day 3: Leviticus 16:15-19

Summary of passage:  Aaron will then slaughter the chosen goat as a sin offering for the people and do what he did for himself:  sprinkle the blood on the atonement cover, which will cleanse the Most Holy Place since people have fouled it.  He is to do the same for the Tabernacle and no one is to go in whilst Aaron is performing the ceremony.  He is to do the same for the altar to cleanse it since people have touched it.

Questions:

6)  To make atonement for it, to cleanse it since people and their sins have touched it/polluted it.

7)  Basically, everything in the world is polluted by sin when Adam and Eve allowed the serpent in.  Hence, there is a need for a cleansing which we receive through Jesus Christ on this side of heaven but the ancient Israelites, not having Jesus, had to atone with sacrificial blood to cleanse themselves and everything else.

8a)  Any way that breaks God’s laws and commandments.  Any time a person sins.  Any time a person turns from God towards sin.  You name it, it’s probably sin:  adultery, murder, revenge, greed, lust, gluttony, etc.

b)  1 Corinthians 8:9-13 warns us that if we sin, then others weaker than us shall follow us into sin and fall as well.  We set the example that human nature being what it is will follow.  Call it peer pressure or crowd mentality or weakness it’s all the same–if one person thinks it’s okay, undoubtedly someone else will as well.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Strive above all else to follow God’s commands and do His will and when I fall, ask for forgiveness and tell others of my shortcomings so they don’t make the same mistakes. However, as fallen man, all of us will hurt someone in our lives as a result of sin.  Perfect only exists in Christ.  Thus, even when we do inevitably hurt those we love, God forgives and enables us to do better.  That is my comfort.

Conclusions:  Again like yesterday, I get a renewed appreciation for just how great our God is to send His son for us so that we can live in a world cleansed by Jesus Christ.

End Notes:  The house of God needed to be cleansed since man constantly touched it.  It’s like Midas and everything he touched turned to gold until it became a curse.  I can’t imagine living knowing everything I touched, I polluted merely because I was a sinner.  God is good.