BSF Study Questions The Life of Moses Lesson 26, Day 3: Deuteronomy 4-11

Survival Hint:  For those of you with little time:  This day tells you where to find the answers in the passages; so if you are in a rush just read the passages for the questions.

End Notes:  My end notes will only cover the passages we are asked questions about.  It is too much to do all the chapters in one week.

Summary of passages:  Deuteronomy 4:  Moses tells the people to obey God’s laws and decrees without adding or subtracting from them.  God is near the people when they pray.  Teach the laws to your children.  Don’t worship idols nor make any.  Obey the covenant.  God will  not forget His promise to you.  Has any other god done what God has done:  revealed Himself and taken a people out of a nation?

Deuteronomy 5:  Moses reviews the Ten Commandments with the people and his account of receiving them on Mount Sinai.  Moses finishes with the command to follow all of God’s commands so that you may live and prosper.

Deuteronomy 6:  God commands the Israelites to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and strength.  To fear God so that they may prosper and keep His decrees.  Moses warns them to not forget God once in the Promised Land and worship only Him.  To tell their children of the past and urge them to obey as well.

Deuteronomy 7:  Moses tells the Israelites they are to destroy the nations completely that they invade, showing no mercy.  They are not to intermarry with them for they will turn the Israelites away from God.   They are to smash their altars and burn their idols for it is detestable to the Lord.  The Israelites were chosen out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be His people, His treasured possession out of grace and love alone.  God is faithful and will keep His promises and thus demands Israel keep His commands and you will be blessed.  The Lord will drive out the Israelites enemies as He did in the Exodus from Egypt.

Deuteronomy 8:  Again, Moses emphasizes to follow all of God’s commands so that you may prosper. God tested His people to know their hearts.  He tested our hunger so we would know we live on every word of God.  God disciplines His children.  Praise God for the good land He has given you so you don’t become proud in the good times and forget God and say it was you who did all these things.  God gives us the ability to produce wealth.  If you disobey, you will be destroyed.

Deuteronomy 9:  God will be the one going ahead of the Israelites as they take the Promised Land.  God will defeat them not because of anything the Israelites have done but because the nations were wicked and needed to be judged.

Moses reminds the people of God’s anger when He is disobeyed like at Mount Sinai, Taberah, Massah, and at Kibroth Hattaavah.  He reminds them of their rebellion at Kadesh and their subsequent punishment of wandering the desert for 40 years. (Numbers 11-14)

Deuteronomy 10:  Moses recounts how he made the stone tablets and the Ark of the Covenant to hold them.  He recounts Aaron’s death and the setting aside of the tribe of Levi to be the priests and caretakers of the ark.  He tells the people to fear God, walk in His ways, love Him, serve Him, and obey His commandments.

Deuteronomy 11:  Again, Moses says to love and obey God and keep His laws so that they may be able to take the land and live long.  God will provide rain and grass for the animals.  Moses warns to be careful not to turn to other gods.  The people will be blessed if they obey; cursed if they disobey.

Questions:

5a)  We are the people of God’s inheritance.  If you seek the Lord with all your heart and all your soul, you will find Him for he is merciful and will not abandon you nor forget His covenant with you.  Beside God there is no other–He created the earth and everything on it.  His love brought the Israelites out of Egypt and gave them the Promised Land.  No other god has spoken to His people nor rescued a chosen people like our God.

b)  God rescued the people from Egypt to be His inheritance, meaning we are to do God’s will and not our will.  God chose the Israelites as His people out of His great love for them.  They heard His voice, saw miraculous signs, and defeated enemies out of His love and mercy and so that they might know Him.  He spoke to them to discipline them.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Born in the 21st century where life is considerably easier.  Born in the US where I am free and also where life is easier.  This privilege allows me to study the Bible and make Him known more as I know Him more.  And as at the Bible says, I was chosen to be a believer, to be saved for eternity–that is a privilege.  God has chosen me to be with Him all the days He gives–that is the greatest privilege of all.

6a)  Obey all His decrees and commands and laws.

b)  Part Personal Question.  My answer:  To talk about them when they are sitting at home and when they are walking along the road, when they lied down and when they got up.  To make symbols of God’s commandments and bind them to their foreheads and hearts.  To tell them how God brought them out of Egypt and performed miracles and gave the land to them.  If they obey God, they will prosper.

I will try to give God all the glory for all of our blessings and our troubles.  To speak of Him daily. To pray daily.  To read His word.  To live out His teachings.  Let my children know it is all because of Him.

7)  We should follow all of God’s commands so that we may prosper. God tested His people to know their hearts. He tested our hunger so we would know we live on every word of God. God disciplines His children. Praise God for the good land He has given you so you don’t become proud in the good times and forget God and say it was you who did all these things. God gives us the ability to produce wealth. If you disobey, you will be destroyed.  God is the ultimate judge as He judged the occupiers of the Promised Land and destroyed them.

8 )  “To fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and to observe the Lord’s commands and decrees.”

Conclusions:  Grace and love is the theme for all 8 of these chapters.  A ton here and a lot of it is review of things we’ve already read.  Moses is teaching the new generation, emphasizing how they must obey or face judgement.  If they merely obey and love God, they will prosper.  It is that simple.

End Notes:  Deuteronomy 4:  Moses just reviewed the past sins of the people.  Now he will review the laws and the importance of obedience so the people do not repeat the mistakes of the past.  Obedience would be key as the Israelites engaged in battles with the occupants of the Promised Land.  God had to be with them to defeat their enemies; and that required obedience.

God wanted them to be an example to others nations, which would spread the Gospel to come.

Moses especially pointed out their time at Mount Sinai.  This he wanted the children to be taught.  Here, the people heard God speak but saw no form–a powerful testament against idols.  Here the laws were given.  Moses warned them not to worship the creation but the Creator.

If God punished Moses, the closest person to God possibly ever besides Jesus, then He will punish them as well.  Still, the people would cross over without him.  Their lives didn’t depend on a man (Moses); it depended on God. Hebrews 12:29 quotes verse 24.

God often gives us what we want–the good and the bad.  If the people wanted idols, He’d give them idols–by sending them to a land full of idols.

Upon examination of your life, believers and unbelievers are confronted with the fact only God could do the miracles in their lives–providing the strength and courage to overcome every obstacle in our path.  Following God’s way is the only way in the face of all the other choices.  And all God asks is obedience.

As his final act Moses is giving the law to the new generation.  One can only hope they heed his/His words.

Deuteronomy 6:  Known as the Shema, verses 4-9 are recited every morning and evening by orthodox Jews and have been for hundreds of years.  They may very well be the most quoted verses in the entire Bible.

The Hebrew word used here for “one” encompasses a compound unity.  First used in Genesis, we see the word again used in Exodus 26:6 to describe the tents as one–meaning two parts joined together.  The word encompasses the Trinity.  The Hebrew for “Lord” here as well is a plural noun.  Moses was indicating the Trinity.

God wants obedience first and then He wants our love as he states.  Everything else (our time, money, etc ) follows.

Here we see where phylacteries (little boxes worn on the forehead) came from as well as mezuzah (small boxes of scripture nailed on doorways).

Moses is warning about forgetting God, especially in good times.  God knows in the future the people will obey, prosper, and then fall into sin and do this again and again and again (book of Judges).

Like I said before, Jesus used these passages to rebuke Satan in the desert (Matthew 4).

Massah (Exodus 17:1-17) is where the Israelites doubted God’s love for them, which tested God–another no-no that Jesus used to rebuke Satan in Matthew 4.

Here we see stark examples of why the Old Covenant didn’t work and why we needed Jesus and the New Covenant he brought.  The Old Covenant demanded obedience or be punished.  As we’ve seen in this study, the Israelites failed miserably in this.  The New Covenant demands faith in Jesus.  Period.  We receive forgiveness instead of punishment.  The New Covenant brought us the Holy Spirit, written on our hearts, and giving us the ability to obey. (Romans 8:1-4).  This is the power of Jesus, the infinite wisdom of God, and the ultimate show of grace and love in all of the world.

In verse 25, we see you had to obey all the laws to be righteous before God (impossible).  Here, we have Jesus.  Faith in him and we are righteous.  How awesome!

It it imperative to teach your kids about God or they will become placid amid all the comforts of this world.  We see today in the entitlement generation.  Key is God and His word.  Recounting Him and reading His word and walking in His word.  That’s the best way to ensure your kids don’t take Him and His blessings for granted.

Deuteronomy 7:  This chapter is all about God’s grace to the Israelites.  How He chose them and how He will provide for them defeat their enemies.  Everything God does is for our good if we’d only listen.  He says to destroy the peoples and their idols to protect themselves from their influence.  Great stuff!

Deuteronomy 8:  God wants us to rely on Him and be content in the humility.  He tests us so that we would know our hearts; God already knows our hearts.  Be humble.  Depend on God.  Read His word.

God wants you to prosper; but not to worship prosperity.

Great reminders here about forgetting God in the good times and only needing Him in the poor times.  He blesses us to do His work and not ours.

Pride is dangerous as this is the sin that took Satan himself down.  We must be wary always.

Deuteronomy 9:  To defeat their enemies, the people would need God.  Complete faith in Him alone to do the impossible.

By reminding the Israelites of their past sins, God desires them to turn to Him in the face of sin.

Deuteronomy 10:  Circumcise your hearts refers to the circumcision of all Jewish (and now Christian) boys when there were 8 days old.  This not only sets the Israelites apart from their uncircumcised neighbors, but it’s a metaphor of how the Israelites are to live their life–out of the Spirit, not the flesh.  This command is repeated in Jeremiah 4:4, but uncircumcised hearts are recorded in Leviticus 26:41, Jeremiah 9:26, and Ezekiel 44:7 and 9.

God requires justice, compassion, and reverence from us.  “He is your praise” as you praise Him and all that you do is praise to Him.

Map Showing the Camp of Israel and the Tribes God commands them to conquer in Deuteronomy 7 (Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites):

http://www.kidsbiblemaps.com/joshua-promised-land.jpg

Fun Fact:  Deuteronomy promises the new land to the Israelites 69 times.

Fun Fact:  Deuteronomy commands us to love God 13 times.  Love is a decision, not a feeling.

Time Fact to Complete this Lesson:  3 days and 6 hrs.

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 23, Day 4: Numbers 21:8-9

Summary of passage:  The Lord tells Moses to make a snake and put it up on the pole and if the people looked at it, they would live.  Moses obeyed.

Questions:

7a)  “Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.”

b)  We are not told that Moses did think the instructions were strange.  This is extrapolation.  I did not see this snake as an idol.  An idol is something worshipped as God by people.  This snake is not being worshipped.  I see this snake as not a representation of God.  I see it like a pill we’d take today.  The doctor prescribes a pill to cure you; you take it.  Here, God says look at this snake; it will cure you.  I in no way see this as an idol, and I don’t think Moses did either.  This is pure speculation.

8a)  The snake is a test of faith as Jesus is/was.  God said merely believe this snake will cure you and it will.  Jesus said merely believe I am the Son of God and you will be saved.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Complete.

Conclusions:  I like how this lesson brings out Jesus’s reference.  It is a great analogy of how faith alone is all God requires to be with Him.  What I didn’t like was the interpretation of what Moses thought of being told to make a snake.  It doesn’t matter what Moses thought about it.  If God tells you to do something, you do it.  Period.

BSF could be referring to 2 Kings 18:4 and how the people perverted the snake later into an idol (Nehushtan). But since they didn’t reference the passage or ask a question on it, this to me is out of place.

Maybe I’m just in a sour mood this week.  Whatever the case, too many personal and opinion questions that don’t make a lot of sense.  Our time would be better spent on more meat.

Not sure why we are spending one whole week on one chapter in Numbers.  I see this as nothing we haven’t studied already:  belief followed by unbelief so why spend so much time on it?  Coming up, we will be covering the last 10 chapters of Numbers in one lesson and then the first 26 chapters of Deuteronomy in one lesson/week!  Wish the readings could be spread out more.  Reading big clumps of the Bible is an undertaking and one that is hard to absorb much learning under time constraints.  This can be overwhelming and discouraging to many and keep them from coming to BSF when they can’t complete their lessons on time.  Reading the Bible period is overwhelming and BSF helps to break it into manageable parts.  But for me I’d rather not read so much and get something out of it then hurry up and complete the books and Moses’s life.

End Notes:  The symbolism here is immense.  Serpents are often associated with the devil and evil in the Bible (after all, the devil appeared as a serpent to Eve (Genesis 3:1-5; Revelation 12:9). However, bronze is a symbol of judgment as bronze is made through fire.

Thus, here we have an evil (snake) being judged (bronze).  Thus Jesus became sin and was judged. A picture of sin overcome.

We don’t know how the serpent was positioned on the pole.  If horizontal, we’d have the symbol of the cross.  However, traditionally, the serpent is showed being wrapped around the pole.  Here, we have the ancient symbol of a healer (see picture HERE).  Now, upon further research, this is also an ancient Greek myth and a Roman myth (the Romans are infamous for stealing Greek ideas and claiming them as their own) surrounding this symbol.

If you click HERE, I have found a side-by-side comparison of the myths. Below is the Biblical version.  Which is first?  Who knows.  It reminds me of how in many cultures around the world, the creation myth of a flood appears.  It makes me wonder if man has any original ideas or they are just recycled.

I did not know this and find this fascinating where the imagery came from. Wish we spent some time on this in BSF.

We must remember this bronze snake was sanctioned by God and was not an idol.  It was a test of faith only.  It is man who perverts God’s will.

Bonus Read:  Lengthy article HERE on serpents in the Bible, including analysis of this passage. Great explanation of serpents and the Egyptians.

Fun Fact:  Michelangelo painted this IMAGE on the Sistine Chapel.  Way cool!

BSF Study Questions The Life of Moses Lesson 23, Day 3: Numbers 21:4-7

Summary of passage:  The Israelites are now traveling around Edom to the Promised Land.  Again, they are grumbling against God and Moses.  So the Lord sent poisonous snakes to punish the people for their sin.  They bit the people and many died.  They went to their intercessor, Moses, to pray for God to take the snakes away.

Questions:

4)  Because the Edomites refused them passage.

5a)  Opinion question.  My answer:  Not sure.  One would think they would be elated after their victory but taking the long way around through desert does take its toll.  They are probably travel weary.  Yet this shouldn’t surprise us.  The Israelites have been grumbling for years now about God’s provision.

b)  God

c)  God sent venomous snakes to kill them.

6a)  They recognized their sin, confessed it, and asked for God to relent and forgive them.

b)  Acknowledge your sin, confess it, and the Lord will forgive you.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  I dislike these questions that are so open-ended that I have trouble pin-pointing a specific time.  I would say too many to recollect as this occurs to me almost on a daily basis. I sin, I confess, I experience God’s grace and mercy.  This helps me in incalculable ways in terms of relieving my guilt, allowing me to be a better person, and be more like Jesus.

Conclusions:  Like Day 2, this lesson did nothing for me.  The questions were ones we’ve already seen in previous lessons [ Question 4 was Question 9b in Lesson 22.  Question 5b is numerous questions from previous lessons: Question 7a in Lesson 20, 6a in Lesson 21 ].  The ray of hope is God.  I just wish the people would see this–and I would as well.

End Notes:  Old habits die hard.  Here we see victory and then grumbling by the people.  This scares me as I would like to think I’d be different in these situations but what makes me better than the Israelites?  Nothing.  Very scary, impactful, and convicting when we read of God’s people rejecting Him over and over again.

If you look at my map links carefully (here’s ONE that shows a wide loop), you will see that the Israelites actually had to turn around and go back and away from Canaan to go around the Edomites.  Discouraging?  Yes.  An excuse to complain?  No.

Here we witness the new generation doing the same sins as the previous generation except upped a notch:  they grumble against God Himself as well as Moses.  Not good.  Not good at all.

Some translations say fiery serpents.  Mine says venomous.  This could refer to the color of the snakes as being red or their bite that may have burned like fire.

Scholars believe the victims were mostly of the older generation who died in fulfillment of God’s promise to not allow them into the Promised Land.

Note how the younger generation complained against God but how they also immediately repented and recognized God as their sovereign leader and the only one to save them.  Their hearts are His despite their missteps.

BSF Study Questions The Life of Moses Lesson 23, Day 2: Numbers 21:1-3

Summary of passage:  The Canaanite king of Arad attacked the Israelites and captured some.  The Israelites prayed for God to help them destroy these people, which the Lord granted, and the place was named Hormah.

Questions:

3a)  Personal Question.  My answer:  I expected them to do just this:  pray first and then do the Lord’s will because I think they would have learned their lesson from Numbers 14:41-45.

b)  The Lord listened and granted their request.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Not sure.  I like to think I am depending on Him.  And I’m not for sure what if any situation in my life needs to be reversed at the moment.

Conclusions:  Sorely disappointed in this lesson.  I got nothing out of these 3 verses and the questions were lackluster.  I’m pretty sure BSF is looking for an answer to 3a to be:  Well, I expected them to just fight back without the Lord’s guidance.  Yet we have seen over and over again here the people’s turnarounds from sin to Him.  Thus, I expect the people to go to God first as I expect all Christians to do.

End Notes:  This was the exact same place I referenced in 3a–Hormah.  First, the Israelites were defeated there and now the Lord grants them victory when He is with them this time.  This would have been a much better question here for this section.

Map of Arad:  http://fgcp.org/system/files/images/Promise-Land-Era.jpg

Map of Hormah and the Route in Edom:  http://www.biblenews1.com/maps/Exodus.jpg

By totally destroying a city, the Israelites are turning it completely over to God.  This would ensure no one else could use this land; hence, dedicating it to the Lord.  This was one of the most sacrificial offerings to God because the land become His once again.

Expect to see more of the same once again of the Israelites to God as they proceed to the Promised Land:  faith and unfaith.

BSF Study Questions The Life of Moses Lesson 22, Day 3: Numbers 20:1-13

Introductory Note:  Since Day 2 and Day 3 are the same passage, my summary and end notes are exactly the same as well.

Summary of passage: After 38 years of wandering, Miriam died (scholars date this as the first month of the 40th year of wandering). Again, grumbling by the Israelites against Moses and Aaron because there is no water. Same complaints about food, etc. Moses and Aaron feel down at the Tent of Meeting. The glory of the Lord appeared and told Moses to speak to a rock with his staff and water would appear. Moses struck the rock twice with his staff and water rushed out. However, God rebukes Moses and Aaron for his lack of faith and sentences them to die before the Promised Land is reached as well.

Questions:

6a)  “Take the staff, and you and your brother Aaron gather the assembly together.  Speak to that rock before their eyes and it will pour out its water.”

b)  Moses did take the staff as commanded and did gather the Israelites together in front of the rock.  However, here Moses did his own thing.  He rebuked the people and took credit for bringing water from the rock.  He struck the rock twice instead of speaking to it.

7a)  They didn’t trust that God’s words were enough.  They thought they needed action so they struck the rock.

b)  They didn’t follow God’s commands.  They took credit for bringing up the water.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Not sure.  This is one of those questions I’ll have an answer to when I get to heaven.

8a)  They will not live to see the Promised Land as well.

b)  Yes.  As leaders they are held to a higher standard than the other Israelites (James 3:1).  Their lack of faith can influence countless others.  Aaron is to be expected.  He’s a follower, period.  Moses, however, was so close to God–closer than anyone before or after–that God must have been heartbroken at Moses’s lack of faith.  It would be similar to a betrayal by your best friend–only infinitely more so.

Conclusions:  The personal question was again in my opinion questionable.  I see it as a reminder that our actions do affect those around us and it’s something we need to be cognizant of.

I’m seeing the overall pattern here:  Trust in God.  Never doubt Him.  He will reward you if you do.  Punish you when you don’t.  Either on this side of heaven or the other.  Trust, trust, trust.  He will never let you down.

End Notes: The Israelites are back at Kadesh (see MAP and MAP) where they first told God “no” about entering the Promised Land (Numbers 13:26-28).

Miriam’s death here is important; it showed the Israelites He was serious about everyone dying before entering the Promised Land. She’s the first of Moses’s family to suffer for their collective sins. Although Miriam had great moments of faith (Exodus 2:4-8; 15:20-21), one major sin marked her for life. We see this today in the downfall of politicians or celebrities. Great lesson for us: no one is exempt from God’s judgment.

Timeline: This is the beginning of the last year of wandering. It appears the Israelites camped at Kadesh here for 3-4 months (based off of Numbers 33:38) perhaps because of Miriam’s death. Aaron will die four months later. The bible doesn’t tell a lot of what happened in this 38 years. Presumably, nothing of consequence as the Israelites merely lived out God’s judgment.

Here we see a new generation of unbelievers as the old generation is dying.

Moses also was not commanded to speak to the nation nor to rebuke there. Here, we see Moses as we’ve never seen him before–utter contempt for the people he has so often saved from destruction. We also see pride when he says “we” as if God were not enough. Moses’s heart had twisted and God obviously didn’t like what He saw.

Moses disobeyed God by striking the rock. I can just imagine his frustration at the people boiling over. However, in his anger, he makes a fatal mistake–literally.

Yet God is so gracious and so good and so loving He provides for His people despite their sins.

Moses did not believe God. He probably remembered back in Exodus 17 where he had to strike the rock.

The punishment was strict. But as we all know, those who know God are called to a higher standard. Can you imagine the standard Moses had to live up to? A lot of pressure. Yet because he was so close to God and a leader, his punishment reflects God’s expectations of those who know Him. Great lesson for us as well.

Moses’s sin was small compared to the Israelites’ sins. Yet not in God’s eyes. God says in Deuteronomy 32:51 that Moses “broke faith” with Him and “did not uphold my [God’s] holiness amongst the Israelites.” A warning to us all–what we consider as a small sin can be huge to God.

Moses pleads with God to let him go over to the Promised Land (Deuteronomy 3:23-27) and when God says no, Moses blames the people. Poor, poor Moses. He has seen time and time again of God reversing His initial punishment, not ridding the land of the Israelites and not giving Miriam leprosy that he thinks for sure God will relent and reverse His position. But God does not. Our hearts bleed for him; yet, God remains good and gracious and kind and judging. His ways, not ours.

The picture of Moses reflecting Jesus here is now tainted. Moses struck twice; Jesus only once.

BSF Study Questions The Life of Moses Lesson 22, Day 2: Numbers 20:1-13

Summary of passage:  After 38 years of wandering, Miriam died (scholars date this as the first month of the 40th year of wandering).  Again, grumbling by the Israelites against Moses and Aaron because there is no water.  Same complaints about food, etc.  Moses and Aaron feel down at the Tent of Meeting.  The glory of the Lord appeared and told Moses to speak to a rock with his staff and water would appear.  Moses struck the rock twice with his staff and water rushed out.  However, God rebukes Moses and Aaron for his lack of faith and sentences them to die before the Promised Land is reached as well.

Questions:

3)  It is merely mentioned in passing.  Acts of honor or mourning are not mentioned and life seems to move on quickly after her death.  It shows how the older generation is dying and meeting God’s judgment upon them.

4a)  As soon as there’s trouble or life becomes difficult or something doesn’t go their way, the Israelites blame Moses and Aaron.  The people had already faced such an obstacle and God provided.  So why not trust God now?

b)  It’s hard to say here without a tone of voice.  They could be exaggerating but thirst is a powerful motivator and not having water (and we’re not told for how long) can drive people insane.

5)  The Lord provides for the Israelites physical needs (food, water, etc) as He always does. He angers over their lack of faith and punishes accordingly.  Although both are sins (grumbling), the magnitude appears to differ in God’s eyes.  Hunger and thirst can cloud the mind and desperation sets in.  Lack of faith is a heart issue–one much more serious.

Conclusions:  I wonder what this would have looked like if the Israelites, instead of grumbling, had cried out to God every time.  What a testament that would have been!

No shocker for the rebuke of Aaron.  But Moses?  Scripture is vague here (I wonder if Moses was too embarrassed to write it down) but we know it must have been a grave sin for God to rebuke Moses as such.  Some scholars say Moses didn’t follow directions here.  I notice Moses taking credit for the miracle when he says “we” instead of God.  I can’t imagine Moses’s heartache after all this time and all his faithfulness.  It would drive me close to insanity.

End Notes:  The Israelites are back at Kadesh (see MAP and MAP) where they first told God “no” about entering the Promised Land (Numbers 13:26-28).

Miriam’s death here is important; it showed the Israelites He was serious about everyone dying before entering the Promised Land.  She’s the first of Moses’s family to suffer for their collective sins.  Although Miriam had great moments of faith (Exodus 2:4-8; 15:20-21), one major sin marked her for life.  We see this today in the downfall of politicians or celebrities.  Great lesson for us:  no one is exempt from God’s judgment.

Timeline:  This is the beginning of the last year of wandering.  It appears the Israelites camped at Kadesh here for 3-4 months (based off of Numbers 33:38) perhaps because of Miriam’s death.  Aaron will die four months later.  The bible doesn’t tell a lot of what happened in this 38 years.  Presumably, nothing of consequence as the Israelites merely lived out God’s judgment.

Here we see a new generation of unbelievers as the old generation is dying.

Moses also was not commanded to speak to the nation nor to rebuke there.  Here, we see Moses as we’ve never seen him before–utter contempt for the people he has so often saved from destruction.  We also see pride when he says “we” as if God were not enough.  Moses’s heart had twisted and God obviously didn’t like what He saw.

Moses disobeyed God by striking the rock.  I can just imagine his frustration at the people boiling over.  However, in his anger, he makes a fatal mistake–literally.

Yet God is so gracious and so good and so loving He provides for His people despite their sins.

Moses did not believe God.  He probably remembered back in Exodus 17 where he had to strike the rock.

The punishment was strict.  But as we all know, those who know God are called to a higher standard. Can you imagine the standard Moses had to live up to?  A lot of pressure.  Yet because he was so close to God and a leader, his punishment reflects God’s expectations of those who know Him.  Great lesson for us as well.

Moses’s sin was small compared to the Israelites’ sins.  Yet not in God’s eyes.  God says in Deuteronomy 32:51 that Moses “broke faith” with Him and “did not uphold my [God’s] holiness amongst the Israelites.”  A warning to us all–what we consider as a small sin can be huge to God.

Moses pleads with God to let him go over to the Promised Land (Deuteronomy 3:23-27) and when God says no, Moses blames the people.  Poor, poor Moses.  He has seen time and time again of God reversing His initial punishment, not ridding the land of the Israelites and not giving Miriam leprosy that he thinks for sure God will relent and reverse His position.  But God does not.  Our hearts bleed for him; yet, God remains good and gracious and kind and judging.  His ways, not ours.

The picture of Moses reflecting Jesus here is now tainted.  Moses struck twice; Jesus only once.

BSF Study Questions The Life of Moses Lesson 20, Day 2: Numbers 12:16-13:25

Summary of passage:  The people are camped in the Desert of Paran.  The Lord told Moses to send out leaders from each tribe to explore the land of Canaan.  Moses obeyed and sent out 12 men, including Joshua from the tribe of Ephraim.  Moses sent them up through the Negev to explore the land and see if it was fertile, who lived there, what were the towns like, etc.  After 40 days of traveling throughout the land, they returned.

Questions:

3a)  The Lord told Moses to sent out leaders from each tribe to explore the land of Canaan (the land He is giving them–that’s the promise).

b)  To see what they were up against.  Every good leader does reconnaissance.  Like Moses says in verses 17-20, he lists some reasons:  to see what the land is like, if the people are few and if they are strong, what the towns are like, the soil, the fruit, etc.

c)  (Same answer I just gave in b):  To see what they were up against. Every good leader does reconnaissance. Like Moses says in verses 17-20, he lists some reasons: to see what the land is like, if the people are few and if they are strong, what the towns are like, the soil, the fruit, etc.  He tells them to explore Canaan.

d)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Don’t compare this question to Moses’ directive. Moses was ordered by God to explore the land first.  Note the word “consider”.  My answer:  If it is on God’s order, you go without consideration.  If you are unsure, you pray first.  You then need to be prepared either way:  know what you are getting into so you can better serve God in your circumstances.  Research the area, etc.

4a)  Some of the land is a desert but it is fruitful as exhibited by the cluster of grapes, pomegranates, and figs.

b)  40 days

c)  Deuteronomy tells us they are strong and tall.  Joshua tells us that he gave Caleb, a descendant of Anak, land in Judah called Hebron.  Numbers tells us the descendants of Anak are stronger than the Israelites (or so they believe–this is Numbers 13:31) and are of great size.  They say the Nephilim live there and the Israelites are afraid to go.

Conclusions:  I liked the idea of 3d.  We should know what we are getting into when the Lord calls us to  something new.  However, that doesn’t mean we should not do it if if is not to our liking (like we’ll see in the rest of Numbers 13 and 14 where the Israelites rebels and through a huge fit out of their fears).  There is a fine line between obedience and dissent and turning away from God when we don’t like something He presents to us.

Map of Negev and Hebron:  http://www.cathydeaton.com/The%20Negev%20-%20Concise%20Bible%20ATlas%20.bmp

Map showing route of 12 explorers (really small though):  http://www.visualbiblealive.com/image-bin/Public/014/01/014_01_0164_TH-Atlas_prev.jpg

Map of the 12 scouts with explanation:  http://www.israel-a-history-of.com/old-testament-bible-maps.html#gallery[pageGallery]/3/

End Notes:  Deuteronomy contradicts Numbers.  Deuteronomy 1:22 makes it seem like the idea to send out spies was the people’s idea and not directly from God.  Moses just tells them to go and take the land the people want to check it out first.  This leads scholars to speculate that maybe Moses asked God how to send out the spies and not whether or not he should send them out or not.  Either way:  the people’s faith is tested and that is God’s plan.

Joshua’s first name of Hoshea means “salvation”.  Moses changes it to Joshua, meaning “Yahweh is salvation.”

Scholars believe Moses doubted God’s word of what the land was like (flowing of milk and honey–Exodus 3:8 and good–Exodus 13:5) and wanted to find out for sure.  Here, Moses exhibits unbelief.  So we are left wondering:  would they have turned around if the land had been a barren wasteland?

Note the 40 days–a favorite testing period of God’s from the ark to wandering the desert for 40 years.

More on the Nephilim and the Anak tomorrow when we are assigned to study them.

BSF Study Questions Matthew Lesson 29, Day 5: Matthew 28:16-20

Summary of passage:  The disciples go to Galilee where Jesus told them to meet him.  They worshiped him when they saw him but some doubted.  Jesus said he had been given all authority in heaven and earth and to go and baptize all in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Teach them to obey all the commands and I will be with you always to the end of time.

Questions:

11)  According to Webster’s authority means “power to influence or command thought, opinion, or behavior; persons in command; a conclusive statement; testimony; a citation used in defense or support; convincing force or weight.”

12a)  Jesus commanded his disciples to go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey all the commands.  Jesus promises to be with you always to the very end of the age.

b)  The word “all” is repeated (more times in other translations than here).  All authority, all nations, all things, all days.  Jesus is speaking to every person on this planet with eternal power.  Everyone is to know him from now (1st century AD) until the present moment and the future.  The idea of authority and command is also repeated.  Jesus has the right to tell us what to do, and therefore we must obey unconditionally.  That is the scope:  it applies to all of us without question and for all time.

c)  Baptize them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and teach them to obey all he has commanded.

d)  Personal Question.  My answer:  My kids just got baptized!  It was awesome!  Talk about Jesus to others everywhere I go.

e)  As our Lord, he has the right to command us.  He tells us to do something we should do it like we expect our kids to do what we tell them to do.  And he promises to be with us as we do it.  With Jesus by our side, we cannot fail.  Nothing is impossible.  Only with him and through him will we be all we were created to be.

13)  Personal Question.  My answer:

Romans 5:10:  Jesus’ resurrection gives us a new life with God.  Live as such.

2 Corinthians 4:10-18:  Fix your eyes on eternity and not the troubles of the here and now.  We carry around Jesus’ life within us and we should overflow with gratitude. Do not focus on life’s circumstances but on the greater picture to come.  Reflect Jesus to others in your daily walk.

Galatians 2:20:  Die to self; live for Christ through faith in him.  Do God’s will and not your own.

Philippians 3:10:  We share in Christ’s sufferings.  Our sufferings grow and change us, making us more like Jesus and better able to spread the Good News to others.

Colossians 3:1-4:  Set your heart and mind on heaven and not on earthly things.  For you have died and only Christ is alive in you.  Remember things here on earth are only temporary and not important.  God’s work is what matters and nothing else.

Conclusions:  The emphasis here is on the importance of doing God’s work and following His will for your life and not yours.  Also, the importance of sharing the gospel with others.  As Jesus’ last words spoken to his disciples while in physical form here on earth, don’t you think they are the most important?  So they should be to us also.

What a comfort Jesus’ last recorded words:  “I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”  Can you imagine how your life would change if at every moment of every day you knew Jesus was walking with you and present in every situation (good and bad) in your life?

God was there.  I was just blind.

End Notes:  Jesus’ authority is what sends us, guides us, and empowers us to do his commission and nothing else.

Disciples are not converts.  They are students, scholars, and learners and they are made, not born instantly.  It is a life-long process to become a disciple of Christ for it takes that long to get to know him and be like him.

Note the absence of circumcision here.  This new covenant does not require an outward sign anymore, only inward is what matters.  Yes, baptism is an outward sign to the world, but it affects the internal more than the external.

“In” is also translated “into” so into the name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Note also the singular “name”, meaning the Son, Father, and Holy Spirit are one, not three separate deities.

Note the teaching of “all things” and not just some things in the Bible as is popular today.

We work for and with Jesus as he is with us in every moment of every day.  He protects us, powers us, gives us peace in our daily lives.  Each footfall is next to his but more so is behind his as well as he guides us on his path to righteousness and salvation.  We cannot fail with Jesus.

Suggestion:  Read the other versions of the commission.  Mark focuses on Jesus’ chastisement of the disciples’ unbelief.  He includes what happens if people do not believe and signs of belief.  He just says to go and preach, not to make disciples.

Luke focuses as well on the disciples’ doubt.  He ate in their presence probably to help alleviate some of this.  He just mentions preaching and being sent out to the world.

John merely records Jesus interacting with Peter but here we see the commission as well:  feed and care for Jesus’ sheep and follow him.  Here, we see teach and turn to followers (disciples) of Christ.

My favorite?  Matthew’s by far.  The focus is on learning about Christ, sharing Christ, and him always being with us–in my opinion, three of the most important things about Jesus.  We need to learn about him.  We need to share him.  And he is there always.  We are never alone.

BSF Study Questions Matthew Lesson 27, Day 5: Matthew 27:11-31; Luke 23:1-12

Summary of passages:  Matthew 27:11-31:  Pilate now questions Jesus and lays out the charges against him.  Jesus only answers one questions, acknowledging he is the king of the Jews.  Following custom, Pilate allows the crowd to release one prisoner at Passover.  Pilate’s wife warns him to not to have anything to do with Jesus because she had a bad dream about him.  But the Sanhedrin convinces the crowd to release Barabbas instead of Jesus.  Pilate asks why because Jesus is innocent but the crowd is insistent.  So Pilate washes his hands of the crime and the people take responsibility.  He then flogs Jesus.

Pilate’s soldiers stripped Jesus and put a scarlet robe upon him and a crown of thorns on his head.  They put a staff in his right hand and knelt in front of him and mocked him.  They spit on him and hit him over the head with the staff.  Then they removed the robe and put his won clothes back on him.  Then they led him away to be crucified.

Luke 23:1-12:  The Sanhedrin marches Jesus off to Pilate, saying he is subverting the nation by opposing paying taxes to Caesar and claiming to be the Messiah.  Jesus admits to being the king of the Jews.  Pilate admits there are no crimes against him.  The crowd insisted.  Pilate learns he is a Galilean so Pilate hands him over to Herod to deal with.  Herod was eager to question Jesus since he had heard so much about him and was hoping to see a miracle but Jesus refused to answer.

Finally, Herod ridicules and mocks Jesus.  They dress him in a robe and send him back to Pilate. Pilate and Herod become friends.

Questions:

11a)  Herod wanted Jesus to perform a miracle.  Jesus said nothing to Herod.

b)  Herod killed John the Baptist.

c)  He was curious.  He believed Jesus performed miracles and he wanted to know more.  That’s why he kept John the Baptist alive as well.  He was intrigued by their teachings of God and Jesus.

d)  Personal Question.  My answer:  If you come to Jesus just seeking a miracle for the sake of seeing a miracle, you won’t get it.  If you come to Jesus asking for a miracle when you don’t believe or accept him, you won’t get it either.  Jesus won’t answer you if your heart is wrong.

12a)  Pilate says so:  Luke 23:4:  “I find no basis for a charge against this man.”

He repeats his conclusions in Luke 23:13:  “I have examined him in your presence and have found no basis for your charges against him.  Neither has Herod…He has done nothing to deserve death.  Therefore, I will punish him and then release him.”

Luke 23:20:  “Wanting to release Jesus, Pilate appealed to them [the people] again.”

Luke 23:22:  “For the third time, he [Pilate] spoke to the them [the people] ‘I have found no grounds for the death penalty.'”

Matthew 27:23:  Pilate says to the crowd who calls for his crucifixion “Why?  What crime has he committed?”

Matthew 27:24:  Pilate washes his hands in front of the crowd and says “I am innocent of this man’s blood.  It is your responsibility.”

Pilate’s wife believed him innocent as well.  Matthew 27:19:  “Don’t have anything to do with that innocent man.”

John 18:38:  Pilate says “I find on basis for a charge against him.”

John 19:4:  Pilate says again “I find no basis for a charge against him.

John 19:12:  “From then on, Pilate tried to set Jesus free, but the Jews kept shouting.”

Mark 15:14:  Pilate asks the crowd who wants Jesus crucified, “Why?  What crime has he committed?”

b) Out of envy Matthew 27:18 & Mark 15:10

c)  Because if Jesus was a king, he would be opposing Caesar and that was a crime justifying death.  Mark says specifically that Pilate only hands over Jesus for execution to please the crowd (Mark 15:15).

In my opinion from reading all the passages, I would say Pilate executed Jesus to please the crowds.  During Passover, there were thousands of Jews in Jerusalem–more than the number of Roman soldiers.  The crowd could have easily turned into a rebellion and overpowered the soldiers.

He was probably also tired of trying to reason with crowd mentality where reason does not exist.  So he gave in in order to prevent violence.  I actually did a post on how Jesus was killed by crowd mentality a while back.  You can read that HERE

The fact of the matter is no one person killed Jesus.  We did.  With our sins.  He had to die to save us.  We are all responsible.

d)  Personal Question.  My answer:  The amazing love God has for us to send his son to die for us sinners so He can be with us.  Jesus was innocent.  We are the guilty ones.  Yet now we can live.  Amazing!

Conclusions:  Not for sure why BSF did not have us finish reading the whole Luke passage of Jesus with Pilate especially in light of question 12a where we see Pilate 3 times beg for Jesus’ life but the people were insistent.  Ironic how a lot of people believe it was Pilate and the Romans that killed Jesus when in reality it was the Jews and the very people Jesus came to save.

Jesus actually appeared before Pilate 2 times.  BSF here had us read the first time Jesus appeared before Pilate in Luke.  Keep reading Luke and you will read the second time he appears before Pilate which is what Matthew records.  Matthew records the 2nd time only and not the first.  Hence why BSF has us comparing the first with the second is baffling to me instead of the second with the second.  Read all of Luke and you’ll get the full picture.

Not for sue why BSF did not have us read Mark’s version either of these events especially in light of question 12c where Mark’s reasoning is different than John’s.  I would recommend reading it (Mark 15:1-20).

I can imagine this is only a tiny bit of what happened on that day that is recorded.  I’d love to have more details, wouldn’t you?

We killed Jesus.  With our sins.  I think if we truly absorbed that fact into our souls we’d all be better people.

To this day, our sins sadden God.  He wants so much for us.  So much He’d kill his only Son.  We should all meditate on that fact, absorb its meaning, and be more like Jesus.  For God’s sake if not for our own.

End Notes:  Let’s remember how Pilate first sees Jesus:  beaten and bloodied (Matthew 26:67)–nothing like a king that the Jews are accusing him of being.  Pilate probably thought the Sanhedrin was wasting his time and had hoped to be done with this quickly.

Instead the governor was amazed that Jesus would stood in defied silence.  Whereas most people facing death would defend themselves and do anything to save their lives, Jesus stood.  God was Jesus’ defense.

I can only imagine the presence Jesus had.  I’m sure when he walked into a room, all eyes would land upon him.  There had to be something about him, something majestic and holy, that would draw you to him.  Would have been a sight to see!

Telling the power of the Sanhedrin when they convince the people to release Barabbas who is a revolutionist murderer who tried to overthrow Rome (Mark 15:7).  That was the power of the religious rulers of that day (and the power of false prophets then and now).  Why we should all be thankful that we live in a democracy (those of us that do).  So that innocent people aren’t executed without cause.

Can you imagine Pilate’s wife’s dream?  It must have been powerful for her to send a message to her husband.  This was God’s mercy in play, trying to spare Pilate eternal hell.  He rejected it as so many do.

The fact that the Jews themselves would chose crucifixion (a Roman invention the Jews absolutely hated) speaks to the evilness of man.

The name Barabbas means “the son of the father” in Hebrew (Good Bible references on Barabbas HERE.  Note “abba” in his name.).  The people were fooled and chose the wrong Son.  Like so many do today.  And they will when they embrace the anti-Christ in the future.  Jesus took the cross for Barabbas.  And us.

In the end, Pilate was a coward who denied Jesus justice.  He kowtowed to the rabble and thus went down in infamy.  He washed his hands but not his soul.  He alone held the power to save Jesus as the representative of Rome and he turned away.  How God’s heart must have broke at that moment.

Ironic how the crowd asked for Jesus’ blood–which is what we all must ask for to be saved.  They were saving themselves and didn’t even know it.  Only God can work in such ways.

This same crowd had hailed Jesus only a few days before and cried “Hosanna!” (Save) is now crying “Crucify!” (Die).  If only they had known….

Notes on Scourging:  In Bill O’Reilly’s book Killing Jesus this is described in depth (as well as crucifixion).  The NIV calls this flogging but this was beyond normal flogging.  The Romans scourged every one except women and Roman citizens who were sentenced to die on the cross. This entailed a whip with multiple strips of leather that had bone shards or metal at the end. These cut into the skin and muscle and caused massive blood loss, weakening the prisoner and causing death in some cases.  The goal was to extract a confession.  When the confession was gained, the blows would lessen and stop.  Jesus, having nothing to confess, remained silent. Hence, his beating never lessened.

Picture of Scouraging HERE

Picture of Crucifixion HERE

Description and Pictures of Praetorium HERE

Life of Pilate HERE and HERE

On Lesson 27, Day 2 we were asked how Jesus was humiliated.  I answered just by his disciples forsaking him.  Here, is where the real humiliation took place (Matthew 27:27-31).  The whole company of soldiers watched as Jesus was stripped naked.  This is a culture where everyone wore a lot of clothes.  Skin was hardly shown.  Most wore robes to the ground and had sleeves.  Most were in layers.  To expose body parts was considered indecent.  So stripping Jesus when he would have been used to being fully clothed all the time would have been devastating.

Scarlet was the color reserved for royalty and the elite.  In Rome, only the emperor could wear purple because it was the most expensive color cloth at the time.  Scarlet as well was a deep red, again, an expensive color to make.  This was meant to mock Jesus as well.

Most rulers wore crowns.  The crown of thorns would have bloodied Jesus immediately.

Most rulers carried ornate, intricately-carved scepters as a symbol of their power.  Here, Jesus is handed a reed, a stiff grass similar to bamboo.  Then the soldiers beat him with the reed.  They stripped him again and led him away.  Does man get any crueler than this?  To literally spit in God’s face, humiliate Him, and beat Him.  Should bring us all to our knees…

Side Note:  How did Matthew hear of this scene anyways when it was only observed by the Roman soldiers?  Had to have been from one of the soldiers himself.  Makes one wonder if Matthew did interviews for his book like they do today or if a Roman soldier, having witnessed this, came to Christ.  Another question for heaven!