BSF Study Questions Genesis Lesson 14, Day 5: Genesis 15:9-21

Summary of passage: Again, Abram questions God, asking for reassurances of this promise.  God tells Abram to bring him a heifer, goat, ram, dove, and a pigeon.  Abram cut these in half (except the birds).

Abram fell asleep and the Lord revealed that Abram’s descendants will be strangers and enslaved for 400 years.  But that God would punish this nation and they will emerge with great possessions.  Abram will die in peace and at an old age.

Then the Lord appeared (many believe) in the smoke and united the pieces, making a covenant with Abram, giving his descendants this land.

Questions:

11)  God says that Abram’s descendants will be strangers in a country not their own and they will be enslaved and mistreated for 400 years (Exodus 6:1; 12:31-36; 40 and most of Exodus tells of God’s plan to free the Israelites from the Egyptians).

God will punish the nation they serve as slaves and afterward the descendants will come out with great possession.  This is shown in Exodus as God punished the Egyptians when Pharaoh refuses to release the Israelites.

In modern history, Egypt as an empire and great civilization no longer exists thanks to Alexander the Great and the Roman Emperor Octavian.  Also, the country of Israel exists today.

Abram will go to his fathers in peace and be buried at a good old age (Genesis 25:7-8).

In the fourth generation, your descendants will come back to Canaan to the land God gives them.

12a)  God as fire:  Genesis 15:17; Exodus 3:2-6 God appearing in burning bush; Exodus 13:21 God leading the Israelites at night as fire; Exodus 19:18 the Lord descending on Mt. Sinai in fire; 1 Kings 18 has Elijah answering the challenge by God coming as fire.  This is God as fire.

God used fire as a sign He accepted sacrifices:  Judges 6:21; 1 Kings 18:38; 1 Chronicles 21:26; Leviticus 9:24

God uses fire as judgment:  Genesis 19:24 when He burned Sodom and Gomorrah; Exodus 9:23; Numbers 11:1; Numbers 16:35 where God consumed people in fire.

Fire used to show God’s glory and holiness:  Daniel 7:9; Isaiah 33:13-15

God himself is a consuming fire in Deuteronomy 4:24

God the Son as light: 1 John 1:5, John 3:18-20; John 9:5; Romans 13:12

b) Personal Question.  My answer:  I’m reminded of a Greek myth that tells of how man first received fire.  It was given to them as a gift by Prometheus who was punished by Zeus because Zeus did not want man to have fire.  Prometheus was chained to a rock and forced to endure an eagle pecking at his liver for the rest of his days.

Fire is essential for living and surviving.  We have to cook our food and fire is what has been used for millenia.  Light is essential for seeing.  Otherwise we are blind.

Basically, God is essential for living since He is fire and light.  Without Him we cannot eat.  We cannot survive.  We cannot see.

Man could not exist without fire.  For the Sun itself is a ball of fire from nuclear explosions.  Furthermore, fire changes things.  Look at wood and metals.  Thus, if God is fire and fire changes things, then God changes things, namely us.

13)  Because He wants as many as possible to see the “light” and come to Him; to see His kindness and repent before it’s too late.

14a)  To the river of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates.  This would be from modern-day Egypt to Iraq, which would include Lebanon, Syria, Kuwait, Jordan, Palestine, Iraq, and parts of Egypt and Saudi Arabia.  The river in Egypt is most likely the Nile River.  The Hebrew word for the river used here means “large river” so probably the Nile.

b)  Under Solomon (1 Kings 8:65) and possibly under Jeroboam II (2 Kings 14:25).

Conclusions:  I loved the study of fire in the Bible and I only mentioned a tid-bit of ways fire is used.  It also symbolizes evil, the devil, greed, the Holy Spirit, etc.  Fire changes and purifies.  This I LOVE!  Since God is fire God changes and purifies!  Awesome!

I was also reminded by this SITE where I learned about fire how Greek, Aramaic, and Hebrew are much more expressive languages than English and the way fire is used depends on translations and meanings.  These languages have many more meanings for some words than English does.

This is just an interesting ARTICLE on the Promised Land boundaries with maps.  However, this article is propounding a world viewpoint.

Maps of Promised Land:  This was interesting.  I found various maps of the Promised Land the Scriptures used to back up the boundaries.  Here is what I found:

http://www.zionismexplained.org/map/thepromisedland.gif  This Link specifically uses Genesis 15:18-21

http://www.differentspirit.org/articles/boundaries.php  This one shows King Solomon’s boundaries with references.

MAP of Modern Day Israel against Solomon’s Empire in 990 BC.

Another MAP of Modern-Day Israel, showing Gaza, West Bank, and Golan

End Note:  I liked this lesson because it prompted me to learn more.  I spent two days looking up references and finding all these websites.  If I hadn’t of done this, this lesson wouldn’t have had the impact it did on me.  Please see HERE for the spiel this one comment inspired.

BSF Study Questions Genesis Lesson 14, Day 4: Genesis 15:1-11

Summary of passage:  Abram received the word of the Lord in a vision:  Do not be afraid for I am your shield and your very great reward.

Abram questions God as to where is this promised heir.  God assures Abram he will have a son from his own body and his offspring will be as numerous as the stars in the heavens. God also reiterates to Abram that He brought him from Ur to give him this land.

Again, Abram questions God, asking for reassurances of this promise.  God tells Abram to bring him a heifer, goat, ram, dove, and a pigeon.  Abram cut these in half (except the birds).  As Abram awaits God’s arrival, birds of prey come to feed on the carcasses so Abram drives them away.

Questions:

8 )  No.  Justification is being right with God.  We achieve this through faith in Jesus Christ who eradicates our sins and allows us to be clean, right, and thus justified before God.  We are given works by God to do while here on earth that James says proves our faith.

Here’s the crux:  when you are justified you have the Holy Spirit within.  When you have the Holy Spirit, you have no choice BUT to do good works for you are changed and now desire to do good works, which are a sign of your faith and your justification.

We discussed this James passage last year (see HERE) and my opinion is you can be justified with no good works for all that is required is faith.  There is no “work” we must do to get to heaven and be justified for this is a gift from God.  All we must do is accept Jesus as our Savior and we’re there.

As I have seen in the study of Genesis, everything is a gift from God.  Man does absolutely nothing nor does he deserve what he gets.

9a)  We are all dead unless we accept Jesus as our Savior.  Then we are reborn with the Holy Spirit and only then will be have eternal life.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Life is meaningless without a purpose.  If I didn’t have God, my life would be empty.  It would be full of “busyness”, things to distract me, and an inner peace would not exist.  Working for God’s-given purpose, gives life to the mundane, life to the evil, and life to the dead.

All those diapers are for a purpose.  Those long days at a dead-end job are serving a purpose.  When the most horrific thing happens to you such as the death of a loved one, rape, bankruptcy, abuse, loss of a job and every other evil, unfair thing in life and God is the only thing that remains, you have life–even if all you feel is dead.

10a)  Abram believed in God’s promises and they were all fulfilled.  He was strengthened by these promises and gave glory to God while he waited.  He had faith.  He obeyed.  He acted.  He took steps out of obedience.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  The same.  Believe in God, who He is, in His promises, and have faith they will come true in God’s timing.  Have patience.  Give God the glory.  Be strengthened by my knowledge in Him.  Obey God and what He is telling me to do.  Take those little steps of faith.

Conclusions:  I feel as redundant as when I teach my kids their letters but I’ll say it anyways:  Didn’t like this lesson either.  We didn’t once refer to the passage at the beginning, instead exploring Romans and James and we explored James last year.

That being said, I did like re-reading works and faith.  And I did like the reminder we are not dead even though at times I feel dead, indifferent, lost, and immune to the world around me.

My qualm is this:  if this is a study of Genesis, then let’s study Genesis.  If it’s a study of works and justification in the Bible, then don’t bill it as “Genesis 15:1-11”.

End Commentary on Faith and Works taken from Zondervan Illustrated Bible Dictionary by J D Douglas and Merrill C Tenney:

Being made in God’s image, human beings perform works as they live in God’s world. These deeds are based on the condition of the heart.  Works can be done out of evil motivation or even done in order to earn favor with God.  These are unacceptable to Him.

True works arise out of an inner gratitude to God for what He has done for us.  These naturally spring from our faith in Him.  Thus, Paul in Romans emphasized the need for faith in God for good deeds, James stresses that good works are evidence of true faith.  (P. 1532)

I believe the point is this:  you naturally do good works because God dwells inside of you. Works is not a requirement set forth by God in order to be loved, cherished, and accepted by Him.  This is where history went awry in the Middle Ages with indulgences, the Crusades, and earning your way to heaven.

Works is a gift from God that we as Christians just do without thinking.  We’re not trying to prove how Godly we are (for all of us would fail in that realm).  We’re merely following the Holy Spirit and doing what Jesus would do.  Because of our faith in Him.

It’s a simple as that.

Intellectual faith is not what God is seeking; He is seeking faith of the heart.  It’s the difference between saying and doing something.  Many say they are Christians; but is God in their hearts?

Salvation is a gift from God that is by faith alone.  Yet we are created to do good works (Ephesians 2:10).  It’s a two-fold process.  One, you accept Jesus.  Two, good works are produced.  And if you truly have Jesus in your heart you have no choice:  good works will follow.  A life lived for Jesus.

The notes from BSF of Acts Lesson 27 have a great explanation on the James’ passage.

BSF Study Questions Genesis Lesson 14, Day 3: Genesis 15:1-11

Summary of passage:  Abram received the word of the Lord in a vision:  Do not be afraid for I am your shield and your very great reward.

Abram questions God as to where is this promised heir.  God assures Abram he will have a son from his own body and his offspring will be as numerous as the stars in the heavens. God also reiterates to Abram that He brought him from Ur to give him this land.

Again, Abram questions God, asking for reassurances of this promise.  God tells Abram to bring him a heifer, goat, ram, dove, and a pigeon.  Abram cut these in half (except the birds).  As Abram awaits God’s arrival, birds of prey come to feed on the carcasses so Abram drives them away.

Questions:

5a)  In 12:7 the Lord tells Abram He will give this land to Abram’s offspring.  In 15:2-3, Abram asks God where is this promised offspring because without one his servant will be his heir.

b)  God clarifies to Abram that indeed he will have an heir from his own body and tells Abram that one day his offspring will be as numerous as the stars.  God reiterates again that He is the Lord who will give this land to Abram. (Don’t you just want to hit Abram over the head here?  God probably does!)

6)  That Abram knew (and rejoiced) that Jesus would come, that this day (the day Jesus is walking the earth) would come, and Jesus would be the promised Messiah.  And Abraham was glad!  This shows that Abram had faith in God’s words and believed in the promised Messiah!

7a)  Righteousness is by faith alone–always has been and always will be.  If you believe the Lord and believe in Him you are righteous.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Faith is believing in what you cannot see and righteousness is being right with God through faith in Jesus Christ and what he did on the cross.  In believing Jesus is your Savior, you are wiped clean of sin and only when we are free of sin can we be with God and stand before Him–hence, we are “righteous” or right before Him.

c)  He finally believed he would have a son when God told him (again) and he finally believed his descendants would possess the land as God made a covenant (again) with him.

Some might say Abram made a covenant with the Lord when he cut the animals and God passed between them.  I would say no because in verse 18 we are told “the Lord made a covenant with Abram”.  Abram didn’t do anything but receive.  It’s a covenant God made alone with man out of His infinite love and grace for us piddly humans.  God even told Abram to go and get the animals.  It wasn’t even Abram’s idea!

Hence Abram didn’t “do” anything with regards to this covenant to prove his faith.  He merely received.

Conclusions:  This shows that even Abram, a man scholars would argue is the epitome of faith in the Bible, needed reassurance and signs from God in his life.  This applies to us as well.  God helps us even when we don’t know it.  He is there always even when we push Him away.  He picks us up and gives us a push in the right direction (His, NOT ours).

This also shows that it’s okay to question God.  For we, as humans, cannot understand Him and His ways.  It’s okay to ask Him for more clarification, for a sign, for confirmation, for direction, and for help.  Abram wasn’t for sure if the promised seed would be natural born or an adoptee so he asked God for clarification.  Abram wasn’t sure if he would possess the Promised Land and God told him he wouldn’t but his descendants would.

Throughout the Bible, prophets and others have questioned God and He has always answered.

He still answers.  And all we must do is have faith He will.

BSF Study Questions Genesis Lesson 14, Day 2: Genesis 15:1-7

Summary of passage:  Abram received the word of the Lord in a vision:  Do not be afraid for I am your shield and your very great reward.

Abram questions God as to where is this promised heir.  God assures Abram he will have a son from his own body and his offspring will be as numerous as the stars in the heavens. God also reiterates to Abram that He brought him from Ur to give him this land.

Questions:

3a)  A shield is a broad piece of defensive armor carried on the arm; one that protects or defends.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  the devil.  The world.  Things of the world.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  That God shields me.  He bestows glory on my head and lifts me up.  He surrounds me with His favor and blesses me.  I am joyful because of Him and His shield.  He helps me and gives me hope.  He is faithful and under Him I find refuge.  I find hope in His word.

4a)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Money or prizes.  Rich, fertile land.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Nothing monetary that I know of but definitely turning down personal praise and pride and giving Him the glory, not me.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Not sure.  I just don’t see this as an invitation from God for me to ask Him for something.  God is giving us Him as His great reward and there is nothing higher.  This is a declarative sentence, not an imperative.  God is not saying, “Hey, you!  What do you want as a reward?”

Not sure what the point of this question is and where the extrapolation is coming from.

Conclusions:  Well, you probably know what I’m going to say by now:  Didn’t like this lesson.  All of this save 3a should be marked personal.  When asked, “What do you ____” that’s personal, don’t you think?

I liked 3c where we looked up how many times God says He is our shield or He is described as our shield.  That was interesting.  The rest I could have done without, especially 4c where I don’t see how God telling me He is my reward can be turned around and interpreted as Him inviting me to ask Him for something.  Just because Abram was confused about what this meant doesn’t mean I am.

It just is amazing to me how much man doubts and even when God himself talks to someone he or she STILL doubts the words.  We have such an amazing, patient God who gently repeats himself over and over again until finally we get it.

It’s here at this point that I can’t wait to ask God why He created us with such doubts, apprehensions, and questioning minds.  God could have created us however He wanted and sometimes all I see in the Bible is fickleness, selfishness, and overpowering pridefulness.

It all comes down to faith and that is the greatest test of all.

He is truly a Father, correcting us, guiding us, punishing us, and kissing our owies as He picks us up. Amazing!

Fun Fact:  This is the first time believe and righteousness appear in the Bible and hopefully we will explore this tomorrow and what it means for us!