Jesus tells his disciples one day after his resurrection and during the 40 day period of his teaching (before he ascends to heaven) to not leave Jerusalem to preach the Good News but to wait to be baptized by the Holy Spirit. The disciples ask Jesus if he is going to restore the kingdom of Israel, and Jesus basically says it’s not for you to know the time, but it is for you to be his witnesses to the world.
BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 1, Day 3: Acts 1:4-8
6) “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promied, which you hae heard me speak about.” The Spirit will empower them to be his witnesses in Jerusalem and the entire world.
7a) All the difference. You can do nothing without Christ.
b) Personal Question. My answer: God has guided my every step and gotten me to this place in my life right now where I can live the life He has for me.
Conclusions to BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 1, Day 3: Acts 1:4-8
Great emphasis on the fact that we can do nothing without God, and that God does not leave us to our own devices to do His will. He empowers us through the Holy Spirit with every step we take every day no matter our circumstances.
End Notes BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 1, Day 3: Acts 1:4-8
Fun Fact: This is the last time the disciples see Jesus in His physical body, until they went to heaven to be with Him forever.
The disciples had asked when Jesus would restore Israel many times before, but it had a special relevance now. They knew that Jesus had instituted the New Covenant (Luke 22:20). They also knew that the restoration of the kingdom to Israel was part of the New Covenant (as seen in Jeremiah 23:1-8, Ezekiel 36:16-30, Ezekiel 37:21-28). Jesus tells them it is not for them to know.
Why not reveal God’s plan to the disciples?
It was wise for Jesus not to outline His plan over the next 2,000 years. It was good for the disciples to not know that the full restoration of the kingdom to Israel that they hoped would happen soon would not come for some 2,000 years. It might overly discourage them in the work they had to do right then and might make them think less of the aspect of the kingdom of God that was present with them.
The progress of the spread of the gospel message from Jerusalem, to Judea and Samaria, and then to the end of the earth becomes the outline of Acts.
Joshua sends out two men to spy the land especially Jericho. The king of Jericho discovers this and know the men went to the house of Rahab, the prostitute. The king’s men go to Rahab’s house to arrest the men. Rahab protects the men, lying for them, and telling the soldiers the men left her house and to go and chase them.
The soldiers leave. Rahab tells the spies that she has heard of God and what He has done for His people and that everyone in the land is afraid of the Israelites. She begs the men to show mercy to her and her family when the Israelites invade as she has shown mercy to them.
The men agreed and Rahab lowered the men out of her house, using a rope, as her house was part of the city wall. The spies tell her to tie a scarlet cord in the window so all will know to spare that home. She must bring her family inside her home and not leave to be spared and not betray them to the king. Rahab agrees.
The spies hide for three days, giving the soldiers plenty of time to search and not find them. The spies return to Joshua, reporting all that happened with Rahab and how the people are afraid of them.
BSF’s Study Questions Lesson 1, Day 3: Joshua 2:1-24:
6a) Joshua sent two men to spy out Jericho.
b) Rahab heard about the Lord’s deeds: how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea so the Israelites could escape out of Egypt and about the destruction of Sihon and Og and their two kings. By her actions (saving the men), she herself was saved by God. That would increase her faith.
7) Personal Question. My answer: God is faithful. He will guide you and not lead you astray. I trust He puts me where He wants me with jobs and life.
8 ) Part Personal Question. My answer: He spared her and her family when the Israelites invaded, and allowed her and her family to live amongst the Israelites even though they were Gentiles. She was rewarded a unique place in Jewish history as becoming a direct ancestor of Jesus Christ and has been held up in the Bible as an example of faith. God has rewarded me with a rich life. I often feel undeserving and that I’m not doing enough for Him and His kingdom.
Conclusions to BSF’s Study Questions Lesson 1, Day 3: Joshua 2:1-24:
I love this story. It shows how doing a good deed for others often blesses you ten fold. By saving the two men’s lives, Rahab saved her and gained a new home with the Israelites. Plus, she got to be a direct ancestor of Jesus. How cool is that! Great lesson about faith and doing the right thing.
Watch VIDEO of Book of Joshua if you didn’t yesterday.
End Notes to BSF’s Study Questions Lesson 1, Day 3: Joshua 2:1-24:
Forty years before, as the Israelites poised to take the Promised Land, the 12 spies brought back entirely different news (Numbers 13:31-33): they didn’t believe the land could be taken. Fast forward 40 years and with hand-picked reconnaissance team, these two spies come back and confidently say, Yes! The Promised Land is ours for the taking!
Theme of Joshua 2:
God honors true faith from anyone, regardless of race or religious background. Rahab, a prostitute (so someone very low on the totem pole) shows faith in God and is rewarded as Christ’s ancestor.
Remember, the Israelites are literally standing on the banks of the Jordan River, awaiting Joshua’s command to re-take the Promised Land. He sends out spies to survey the land, not because Joshua lacks faith God will do what He says He will do, but because he’s taking action in faith by being prepared.
We aren’t told who the two spies are, but Jewish tradition – speculation, really – says they were Caleb and the High Priest Eliezer.
Joshua also shows wisdom by sending them secretly. The last spies that went out publicly turned out badly for Israel, when a majority of the spies came back with a discouraging report (Numbers 13).
Why did the spies go to a prostitute’s house? It was the perfect place to hide out.
In the culture of that day, there was a strong tradition of hospitality. If someone was a guest in your house, you had a strong duty to protect and care for them. However, Rahab went much further than the respect of cultural traditions regarding hospitality. She put her own life on the line for these men.
The Bible simply reports Rahab’s lie; it does not praise it or excuse it. Rahab’s lie is not justified, but it does show courage. Remember, she is not being held to our standards as Christians. She was a pagan in a city where morality didn’t exist and had no clue really who God was. Thus, we cannot judge her.
This surprising outburst of faith shows how God had a plan in bringing Rahab and the spies together. It is the same kind of thing we see when God supernaturally brings us to people who are believers or open to the gospel.
Rahab’s declaration that “God is God in heaven above and on the earth below” was proof of her faith. It was not strong faith, but her faith good enough to save her and her family and be remembered by Biblical writers of the day (Hebrews 11:31 and James 2:25).
Note the color of the cord that ultimately saves Rahab: scarlet. As early as the first century, commentators such as Clement of Rome, Justin Martyr, Ireneaus, and Origen saw this scarlet cord as a symbol of the blood of Jesus.
Outcome of the Spies’ Mission to Jericho
What was the outcome of the spies’ mission to Jericho? It failed as a reconnaissance mission. The spies brought back no news of how heavily fortified the city was or how to penetrate it. Instead, all they brought back was news it could be defeated. The purpose of the mission was to encourage and fortify the people that Jericho could be taken–and that was exactly what the spies did.
The second outcome of the spies’ mission to Jericho was the salvation of Rahab and her family. God will go to great lengths to save people–to bring them to Him. Here, He saved an ancestor of Jesus.
God will save those in your life as well if you have faith and pray for them. No one is truly lost and nothing is impossible with God.
Summary of passage: Paul thanks God for the Romans’ faithfulness. He says how he prays for them constantly and he prays God will allow him to visit them.
6) God through Jesus. He was grateful for the faith of the Romans.
7) Personal Question. My answer: Serving goes hand-in-hand with prayer. Prayer should be in the forefront of all of our lives and the decisions we make.
8a) He prays to be able to visit them by God’s will. Paul does visit them although as a prisoner.
b) Part personal Question. My answer: God answers prayers and it may not be in the way we envision but it’s in His way. I always ask. No matter what. If you don’t ask, God doesn’t answer (Matthew 7:7). I pray for the impossible and expect the impossible but am not disappointed if it doesn’t happen cause it is in God’s will. I have faith He’ll do His work through me.
Conclusions: Great lesson on prayer and gratitude. Paul is grateful and thankful. He prays for the prayers answered, people, and prayers he wants answers. Great prayer model!
End Notes: Paul is especially grateful because of the visibility of the Roman church. Rome remember is the most powerful place on the planet. A strong Christian community goes a long way toward the spread of the good news. In Rome, where the pagan Roman gods ruled, the Christians were strongly persecuted especially under Nero. They needed Paul’s prayers!
A lesson to us: remember to pray for your church as well!
Summary of passage: Jesus (the light) came into the world but many did not recognize him. Those who did receive him received the right to become children of God who were chosen by God for that purpose.
7) Unbelievers are Christ’s “own” who did not receive him. Their hearts are hardened. God choses through His infinite grace who will receive Him and who won’t. “Own” refers to all of us and also to home. We see this exact phrase used by John in John 19:27 when Mary was taken home.
8 ) Part personal question. My answer: Receive Christ and believe in him. It has meant everything in my life. It is His will and not mine, and He is faithful.
9) Personal Question. My answer:
Born: We are created for God, given life, born of God.
Not of natural descent: We are from God and exist by His will.
Nor of human decision: God chooses us!
Or a husband’s will: We have no say in whom God chooses.
Born of God: When we are chosen, we are God’s. He lives in us.
Conclusions: Note we skipped verses 6-8 since they reference John the Baptist. We will examine these in Day 4 together with verses 14-5, which combine the symbolism of light. Also note John the Baptist is NOT John the apostle who wrote this book. Different guy entirely.
Loved the focus on how we are chosen by God for His kingdom. So important to remember when we are sharing the gospel and when we are depressed and feel unworthy in this world.
End Notes: Verse 9 does NOT mean every man will have saving light i.e. Jesus. John means Jesus brings light into this world that otherwise would be darkness, which every man can see.
Membership in God’s family is by grace alone–the gift of God–never by human achievement. We have to be open and receptive to God’s word.
Fun Fact: The Greek word for world is used 78 times in this Gospel and 24 times in John’s letters. It’s only used 47 times in all of Paul’s writings.
It can mean: universe, earth, people on earth, most people, people opposed to God or the human system opposed to God’s purposes. John emphasizes this word through repetition and uses it interchangeably between meanings.
Introductory Remark: This is the first time I have ever seen BSF do two days assigned together. There are a lot of passages to look up.
Summary of passages: Various passages for the day.
6) Personal Question. My answer: I think because people are unhappy with their present life and instead of hoping in God, they are hoping in the future their life will be better. They will marry the man of their dreams, strike it rich, live long and healthy, and find joy.
This was especially true in the Middle Ages up until the twentieth century even. Most people were peasants. Their lives were hard with no hope of improvement. They toiled day in and day out just to survive with the prospect of an early death. In reality, until the advent of America where people saw the lower class becoming the upper class most lived lives of despair. I’m not saying America is perfect; what I am saying is that it is the model and the hope of many of what life can be.
Even today many are born in poverty around the world with little hope of betterment. So they seek out someone who will tell them life will get better and give them hope. This was the birth of fortune tellers.
Many people today will gladly pay someone to tell them what they want to hear–to give them the escape from their live they so desperately crave. I think even those who know better do this. They are so broken down by the fallen world we live in they seek whatever bit of heaven on earth available. And if someone tells them they will have it, they believe. Naively.
7a) Isaiah 45:21: Here, God is speaking and He is saying He is the only one who can predict the future–He and He alone. This is proof of His power and He is challenging the pagan gods of the day to foretell anything (read before and after this passage for the full context).
Amos 3:7: God does nothing without revealing His plan to his servants the prophets.
2 Timothy 3:16: “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness.” We can believe the prophecies in the Bible.
Hebrews 11:32-40: All the prophets in the Bible through faith in God accomplished God’s will and fulfilled God’s promises to His people.
1 Peter 1:10-12: The prophets had the truth revealed to them by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven to enlighten us for our sakes and not their own.
b) Personal Question. My answer: All point to how the prophecy in the Bible is God-breathed. The prophets mentioned have all fulfilled God’s words and His will for this earth. He is the only god in history to predict the future. Never once has God failed to do what He has said He would do. We can trust in Him.
8 ) Part Personal Question. My answers:
Isaiah 7:14; 9:6-7; Luke 1:26-27: Two prophecies are here if you keep reading Isaiah 7:14-17. One is the prediction of the birth of the Messiah. But before the Messiah grew out of boyhood, the land of their enemies would be laid to waste and the king of Assyria will come. Twelve years after this prediction, Israel fell.
Matthew 1:22-23 directly quotes this verse from Isaiah and says it’s in reference to Jesus.
What I find interesting here is what BSF didn’t ask us to read: That Ahaz, the king of Judah, refused to “test” the Lord or ask for a sign but God through Isaiah gave it anyways. I love this! Even when us stubborn people don’t want to hear God and don’t want to do what He says, He speaks anyways whether we like it or not–good news or bad. Beautiful! (This is the beginning of Isaiah 7)
Micah 5:2; Matthew 2:1-6: Micah foretells a ruler will come from Bethlehem. Jesus was born in Bethlehem and Matthew quotes Micah here.
Isaiah 53:3-6; Matthew 27:22-26: Isaiah describes Jesus here as one despised and rejected by men and pierced for our transgressions. Here in Matthew we see the people call for his execution and crucify (pierce) him.
What’s interesting is the fulfillment of God’s plan for mankind since the beginning of time and how many times God tells His people what will happen.
9) Personal Question. My answer: You can tell a false prophet because they can only bear bad fruit. Deuteronomy (remember from last year?) tells us that a false prophets prophecies will not come true. They will deny the Lord and further do not acknowledge Jesus (1 John 4:2-3). These prophets also don’t listen to us, meaning Godly-people of the Spirit (1 John 4:6). Ask yourself: Is this something in line with God and His character? If not, then it’s false.
10) It is important for our faith. If God has no track record, how can we be sure? God does what He says He will do and He has done it throughout history and the Bible records His predictions and fulfillments. This leads to faith in Him, in His prophecies, in His words.
Conclusions: Initially, I was hesitant on question 6. Then I started to answer it and it just flowed. The “why” of it all is powerful. I tend to dismiss all fortune tellers as malarky. It’s hard for me to see why anyone would believe any of these people. But this question answered that for me: it’s hope. People need hope in their lives or their lives are meaningless. And without God, people have no hope and are desperate. I’ve always had Him in my life for which I am blessed. But there have been times when my hope has waned. Now I see how these people have flourished in the past and in the present.
With God, there is hope. Without Him, there is nothing.
We did discuss false prophets and teachings last year because there are liars and cheats everywhere even today. We hear of cults and sect religions. Especially in ancient times when knowledge was minuscule to what we know today it was prevalent in society for fast talkers to make a buck.
Ask yourself: Is this something God would do or say? If not, dismiss it immediately as the devil.
End Note: This lesson did take two days for me. Break it up. Looking up all the passages takes some time.
Summary of passage: “The Pharaoh gave this order to all his people: ‘Every boy that is born you must throw into the Nile, but let every girl live.'”
6a) He told everyone to kill every male child and did not leave it up to the midwives to accomplish this goal.
b) Personal Question. My answer: You are often taken down before you are brought back up. During our bankruptcy it seemed every time we turned around we lost something else. But it did get better and my family knew God had a plan.
7) Genesis 15:13-14: They are accustomed to suffering. They know they will suffer but that God is just and will punish their oppressors in His time. God’s plan is great. They will be blessed after their suffering.
Isaiah 43:1-4: God will redeem them after the suffering. Nothing shall harm them. They shall be rewarded.
John 16:33: In God we will have peace during our troubles. Since God has overcome the world, so we shall overcome our trials.
2 Corinthians 1:4,9: God comforts us in our troubles and our troubles allows us to rely on Him and not on ourselves.
8a) It would give them hope and strength and faith to endure the persecution for God’s planned redemption would come.
b) Personal Question. My answer: My current difficulty and frustration right now is my book. I am facing another whole re-write and no part of me wants to do it. I am sick of it. Hence, I am here, doing my blog instead, taking a break. Still, it gnaws at me as I do believe it to be God’s plan. But no part of His plan is easy.
Conclusions: We see Pharaoh’s determination to rid himself of the Israelites by commanding all his people to kill newborn males. Some scholars say this command also included killing male Egyptian babies as well but some translations just say Hebrew boys. This point is debated. Personally, I don’t see Egyptians killing their own for that would end their race as well. We can tell the conflict between the Egyptians and the Hebrews is about to come to a head.
Key Point: trust and obey even through suffering as we shall see God’s people do (for the most part–at least until the Wilderness where time takes its toll).
We have all suffered. It is how we respond to suffering that counts.
Summary of passage: Jesus’ mother, Mary was pledged to marry Joseph but before they got married she became pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Joseph was going to divorce her until an angle of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and told him that the baby was from God and to not be afraid. Name him Jesus because he will save his people from sin.
This fulfilled Isaiah’s prophecy (Isaiah 7:14) of a virgin giving birth to a son named Immanuel, “God with us”. When Joseph awoke he obeyed the angel of the Lord and married Mary but did not sleep with her until she gave birth to Jesus.
5a) Jesus, which is the Greek form of Joshua, which means the Lord saves (verse 21) and Immanuel, which means “God with us.” (verse 23). I’ve also seen in Hebrew “Yahweh is salvation”. Yahweh is Hebrew for God.
b) Personal Question. My answer: Jesus has saved me from my sins, ensuring my ascension to heaven and God is with me wherever I go, which provides me with great comfort, especially now as we are in the midst of another move. He is in me through the Holy Spirit which drives my every step in this life.
6a) John 3:17: God sent his son to save the world through him.
John 8:24: If you do not believe in Jesus, you will die in your sins (the word “saved” is not used in this verse. Wondering if this is a misprint).
John 10:14-16: Jesus laid down his life for us (again, “saved” is not used).
Acts 4:12: Only Jesus can save us.
Romans 10:9: If you believe in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead then you will be saved.
Ephesians 2:5,8: Through God’s grace (a gift from Him) alone have we been saved as long as we believe in Him.
b) Personal Question. My answer: In the Christian faith, it’s all positive. I am saved by Jesus’s death on the cross so I get to go to heaven. If we are talking secular, then it could be either. In the independent minds of most Americans (and American women) some don’t want to be “saved” by anyone. I like being saved personally. For I have been saved many times by many a person God has placed in my path. God saves us even when we’re not talking about eternal salvation.
Conclusions: I’m assuming since saved is in quotes it’s supposed to appear in the passages but in two it does not. That frustrates me. Question 6b is a puzzler because there is definitely a broad interpretation of this word. Webster’s Dictionary alone has 4 separate definitions, each with numerations under those.
Matthew here focuses on where Jesus came from. Luke goes into details about Jesus actual birth.
End Note: The name “Jesus” was fairly common at the time and God elevated its significance.