BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 17, Day 2: Romans 9:30-33

Summary of passage:  Israel has been denied righteousness because they pursued it by works.  The Gentiles were granted righteousness because they had faith.  This is all according to God’s will.


3)  Israel tried to earn righteousness by works and were denied.  The Gentiles had faith and were thus granted righteousness by God.

4)  Pursuing righteous behavior is trying to be more like Jesus, obeying God’s calling and His rules.  Only God can grant us righteous standing.  That is, only He can tell us if our behavior is right or wrong and give His stamp of approval or not.  We cannot make ourselves righteous before God.  Faith is what we need to be granted righteousness.  Faith in Jesus Christ as God’s Son and our Savior.  Without faith all you do is meaningless.

5)  A crucified Savior–Jesus Christ.  The fact Jesus died for our sins and his death covers our sins and saves us and thereby accepting this fact you are saved eternally.  Simple concept.  Hard to accept in its simplicity.

Conclusions:  Paul’s conclusion to Chapter 9, saying faith is the way to righteousness, not works, no matter who you are.

End Notes:  Israel missed the Messiah because they refused to come by faith.  The Gentiles found righteousness even though they weren’t necessarily seeking it.  Israel tried to work for the righteousness of God and couldn’t find it.  The Jews tried to justify themselves before God by performing works according to the law of righteousness instead of the righteousness of faith.  The Jews needed to seek righteousness by faith.

Paul does not use God as an excuse here and His right to choose.  Nope.  It’s all on the Israelites; they did not seek it by faith.  This is Paul presenting the problem from the side of human responsibility and not from the side of God’s right to choose.  Both are responsible for Israel’s unsaved state.

Israel was rejected because she failed to obey her own God-given law, which in reality was pointing to Christ.  She disobeyed, pursued the law–not by faith but by works–failing to believe.  Hence, God rejected Israel.

Paul has already shown in Romans that the only possible way to be saved is through faith, not the works of the law; and that this salvation comes only through the work of a crucified Savior – which was a stumbling block to Israel (1 Corinthians 1:22-23).

BSF Study Questions John Lesson 17, Day 2: John 13:1-17

Summary of passage:  It’s just before Passover and Jesus’ time is limited.  Judas has already betrayed him and now Jesus is sitting down for the Last Supper with his disciples.  He dresses himself as a slave and washed his disciples’ feet.  Peter protests and Jesus tells him to let him.  When he is finished, he dresses and sits with them.  He explains that they need to serve others and no one is greater than they.


3)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  Jesus humbles himself and does the work of a slave, the lowest of the low in society.  His love is absolute and he cares not what others think of him.  He leads by example.  His actions speak louder than words.  He doesn’t just talk about it; he does it!  He loves his own and as we love him back we experience his love to the fullest.

4)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  Once we are bathed in Jesus, we still need to seek him and wash in him.  We are wholly clean by God’s love, mercy, and righteousness.  But we still need him and to experience him in smaller ways.  All were “clean” or believers except Judas because Judas did not accept Jesus as His Savior and he had hardness in his heart against him.  I am clean because I have accepted Jesus’ blood on the cross to pay the penalty for my sins.

Conclusions:  Such a great passage.  Again, not impressed with the questions.  See End Notes for more.

End Notes:  Alexander Maclaren wrote of this remarkable section, John 13:1-17: “Nowhere else is His speech at once so simple and so deep. Nowhere else have we the heart of God so unveiled to us…The immortal words which Christ spoke in that upper chamber are His highest self-revelation in speech, even as the Cross to which they led up is His most perfect self-revelation in act.”

John has by far the longest account of the upper room, but he says nothing of the Lord’s Supper.  We get most of what Jesus said that night from John.

The Greek noun agape (love) and the verb agapao (love) appear only 8 times in John Chapters 1-12 but 31 times in Chapters 13-17.  Chapters 13-14 take place at the Last Supper.  The discourses in Chapters 15-16 are probably spoken on the way to Gethsemane.

We have a time reference but still scholars disagree if this was on Passover or celebrated the day before when the traditional Passover meal was taken.  This affects whether Jesus was crucified on the day of Passover or the day after.

Jesus had less than 24 hours to live.  He is preparing his disciples for their work after he is gone.

The cross is not specifically mentioned in this passage, but it hangs in the actions and the words.

Jesus’ love for his own is greater because we have a response back.  I picture Jesus holding us close to him.

In this scene we have the thinking of Jesus as well (either he told John or John was more observant than the other writers).  Instead of it being all about that person (at the end of your life it can be), Jesus focuses on others and shows his love even though he knows he will be abandoned by them.  Jesus never abandons us.  Jesus did every part of this act himself–an act in Jewish custom that no one else would ever do.

Luke tells us that the disciples were debating who was the greatest when they entered the room.  Jesus showed what true greatness was.

It was customary to wash feet before the meal started.  However, this didn’t happen.  At that time, the meal was eaten at a low table called a triclinium. It was U-shaped.  The higher status guests sat the closest to the host. They leaned on pillows with their feet behind them. The disciples were willing to wash Jesus’ feet but not the others’ because it would put him below them.  Hence, no one’s feet got washed–until Jesus did it.

Jesus showed the disciples humility.  Scholars see this act as a comparison the cross.  Jesus rose from supper (from his throne in heaven).  He took off his clothes (he took off his glory).  He poured water to clean (he poured out his blood to cleanse us).

This act revealed the true character of God himself.  In it we see it’s the acceptance of what Jesus did for us and does for us that matters.  We have to accept his cleansing or it’s meaningless.  Peter protested out of a misplaced humility and pride.  Peter again didn’t get it:  it’s receiving Jesus into our lives that matter.  It was a spiritual cleaning, not a physical, that Peter needed.

First, Peter says don’t do it.  Then he says do more!  He’s telling Jesus what to do here.

Once we are bathed in Jesus, we still need to seek him and wash in him.

Jesus explained his actions so he was sure they got it.  They needed to have the same attitude and service as him.  We must wash one another’s feet–do for others.  Following Jesus’ example, doing the acts of service leads to blessings.

Some believe this act was meant to be performed by Christians today.  Most scholars agree it’s the message beneath that is important.

Christ washing the disciples’ feet was a favorite amongst painters.  My favorite HERE

BSF Study Questions Revelation Lesson 17, Day 2: Revelation 13:1-6

Summary of passage:  A beast emerges from the sea with 10 horns, 7 heads and 10 crowns on his horns.  On each head was a blasphemous name.  The beast looked like a leopard, had feet like a bear, and the mouth of a lion.  The dragon gave this beast his power, throne, and great authority.  One head had a fatal wound but had been healed.  The whole world followed this beast and men worshiped the dragon who had given the beast power.  The beast exercised his authority for 42 months (3 1/2 years, the time of the Great Tribulation).  He blasphemed God, his name, his dwelling place, and those in heaven.


3a)  A beast emerges from the sea with 10 horns, 7 heads and 10 crowns on his horns. On each head was a blasphemous name. The beast looked like a leopard, had feet like a bear, and the mouth of a lion. The dragon gave this beast his power, throne, and great authority. One head had a fatal wound but had been healed.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  I immediately noticed the numbers.  10 is complete authority and 7 is completeness.  Horns are a symbol of power and crowns a symbol of authority.  I am insanely curious about the fatal wound that has been healed (can’t wait to read that commentary).  And the fact everyone followed this hideous beast and worshiped him.

4)  The relationship is very similar in fact.  The only contrast I see is the purposes:  God’s purpose is salvation and live.  The beast’s purpose and the devil’s is eternal damnation and death.  The beast is given authority by the devil and is worshiped as a false god.

5a)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Rely on God and the Word.  If whatever the teaching says doesn’t line up with the Word, it’s false.  Pray.  God will tell you if this person/beast is from Him or not.  Know the signs.  Know God’s word.  Use it as a weapon.  Stand up to peer pressure and the masses.  For me, this is easy.  I’m immediately skeptical if something is popular or a lot of people are doing it.  Then, I usually have the opposite reaction:  I run away and don’t want to follow the crowd.  I like to be unique.

b)  Personal question.  My answer:  My sister firmly believed her husband was going to heaven when he’s not a believer.  I had to correct her with the Word.  She agreed with me.  She had given up on trying to convert him, deluding herself that he would be in heaven with her.  Now, she knows she’s gotta keep on him!

Conclusions:  I should give up my complaints against BSF.  After 17 lessons, it is abundantly clear this study is about personal application and staying away from all possible interpretations and sticking to the bare bones of Revelation.  Irksome but unavoidable.

However, BSF is the catalyst.  From here, we can go anywhere.  They give me a reason to study Revelation (mainly for you all).  No where else have I seen such a study.  Expectations dashed but that’s part of life and that’s okay.  I’m taking this where I want to go.  And where God wants me to go.  And right now, it’s amazing!  Think of all we’ve learned we’ve never known before!  Think of God and how we all know Him better!  How proud He must be and how now we must share our knowledge in these last days with others to better glorify Him!

End Notes:  We’ve gone from the view of heaven (Revelation 12) to earth now in Revelation 13.

Verse 1:  Some Bibles have John instead of the dragon standing on the shore of the sea.  I’d say it’s probably okay to assume both are there.

Today, we love the sea.  We go surfing.  We go the beach and swim.  We go whale-watching.  Sailing.  Boating.  Tubing.  Water skiing.  Fishing.  Cruising.

In Ancient Times, the sea was a mysterious place.  Most people couldn’t swim.  Most people avoided water altogether, not bathing (for various reasons–most commonly because either they lacked water or people believed bathing actually was bad for them!  This was a common belief up until the twentieth century!) and afraid of it.

Most cultures in fact in their creation stories picture the sea as utter chaos and their gods rose from the sea.  Hence, they saw the sea as a place not for them.  Wild.  Untamed.  Mysterious.

Ancient Sea Creatures
Ancient Sea Creatures

Ancient Greece and Rome did travel the Mediterranean but it was a dangerous place–full of pirates and storms and monstrous sea creatures.  This belief held even up until Columbus’ time.  If you look at an old map, you’ll see sea creatures depicted in the seas and the seas as black–vast, unknown places.

In the Bible Israel has a navy, but the sailors are outsourced (1 Kings 9:26-27).  The sea rages and only God can calm the seas (Psalm 74:12-13; Psalm 89:8-9; Isaiah 57:20).

Note John calls this a “beast” and not a “dragon”.  Hence, this beast is not Satan but one of Satan’s lackeys.  The dragon is Satan (Revelation 12:9).  The Greek word here is a wild and dangerous animal.  Note the beast is rising forth from this place of chaos and unknown and evil.  The first century Christian and even up until the twentieth century would have been petrified of this image.

This beast is like the dragon.  It as well has 7 heads and 10 horns (Revelation 11:3).  As we’ve said before, horns in the Bible is strength and power so 10 horns would be insanely powerful.

The beast, the dragon, and the AntiChrist are all DIFFERENT.  The dragon is Satan.  The beast is Satan’s lackey sent to persecute and kill God’s people in the final part of the Tribulation period.  The Antichrist is a human who is impersonating Christ  The AntiChrist is only mentioned 5 times in the Bible ((1 John 2:18, 2:22, 4:3, and 2 John 7), once twice.

“Anti” means “against”, “instead of”, or “opposite” in Latin.  This person is against Jesus and comes instead of Jesus.  He will be charismatic and a smooth talker, a person sent from the devil with the one purpose to deceive believers and lead them to stray from the True Christ.

The many antichrists that John refers to in 1 John 2:18 are spirits, glimpses, or previews of the AntiChrist.  Scholars interpret this in many ways but I see it as the evil people we see around us that Satan has grabbed hold of and used such as Adolf Hitler.

The Antichrist has many names especially in Daniel such as little horn, the prince that shall come, and son of perdition (2 Thessalonians 2:3).

Note the key difference between the dragon and the beast:  the crowns.  The dragon had 7 crowns in Revelation 12:3 which speaks of absolute and complete power.  Here, scholars differ on what the 10 crowns represents.

Here, the 10 crowns are limited power and represent only power over 10 nations.  Most scholars believe the 10 crowns are distributed amongst the 10 heads but some believe they are all on one head.  Most scholars believe this is the same beast as in Daniel 7:7 where the 10 crowns are 10 nations.

It is in Daniel 7 & 2 that the 10 kingdoms are the Roman Empire.  Daniel saw 3 world empires and 1 yet to come which is when Jesus comes.  Most scholars believe some form of the Roman Empire will appear again since we haven’t seen Jesus reign yet.

Some commentators see the beast as the Roman Empire or even anti-Christian political power that began in John’s time and continues today.  The Roman emperors were addressed and worshiped as gods which would fit the blasphemous names.

Verse 2:  The beast reflects the beast from Daniel 7.  Recall the 4 beasts represented 4 empires which arose from Daniel’s time to John’s time:  Lion–Babylon.  Bear–Medo-Persian.  Leopard–Greece.  Fourth beast–Rome.  Most scholars believe the fourth empire is the final world empire under Satan because Rome was never conquered; it gradually split apart.  Hence, the 10 kingdoms will come from the split Roman Empire.

Finally, the beast is a man.  either a man possessed by an evil spirit or one raised from the dead.  The beast is empowered by Satan.  He took the offer Jesus refused (Matthew 4:8-10).

Interesting Side Note:  Daniel begins with the beast and works backwards to the lion; whereas, John begins with the lion and ends with the beast.  Why?  Because Daniel was seeing into the future and John was recounting the past.

Verse 3:  Scholars are not sure what the mortal wound represents.  It could be a result of God’s judgment. It’s mentioned again in Revelation 13: 12 & 14.  This beast is imitating Jesus in every way even here by dying and being raised again.  This will confound and deceive many.  Does the beast actually die and is resurrected?  Well, only God can has the power to do that so many think it will only appear the beast was resurrected to trick many.

Some see the wounded head as a real historical figure, the likely choice is Nero.  He committed suicide but rumors arose that he fled to Rome’s enemy, Parthia, and would return one day to re-conquer Rome.  Several pretenders did arise during the first century AD and this myth was perpetuated.  It found its way into apocalyptic writings of the time as well.

Some see the beast’s wound as the destruction of the Roman Empire in 476 AD and then rose again under Justinian in AD 554.  But this would not apply to the first century Christians whom John was writing to.

What’s important here is that the beast will rise and fool the world and be need to be ready.

Verses 5-6:  The mouth in scripture is the symbol for the thoughts that are revealed in talk. An evil man has a “bad mouth” (Psalm 10:7).  The mouth of the beast utters evil — blasphemy — though the world does not recognize it for what it is.  Daniel 7:8:  “This horn had…a mouth that spoke boastfully.”  “The king…will say unheard-of things against the God of gods.  He will be successful until the time of wrath is completed.” Daniel 11:36

The beast has full reign for 42 months (3 1/2 years or the Great Tribulation).  He speaks against those who are taken in the rapture (if you believe Christians are spared).

Note that 3 1/2 years is half of the number 7, which represents perfection or completion in the Bible.  Some scholars think this represents the time between the first and second coming of Christ.  Most believe, however, it’s a time of great persecution of Christians and the disagreements is who will be present for the persecution.

Quick Review:  Pre-tribulationists believe Jesus will come to remove the church from earth just before the Great Tribulation.  Post-tribulationists believe the church will go through a time of trials before Jesus returns.  Mid-tribulationists believe the church will be taken away during the Tribulation and not face these horrible persecutions by the beast we are studying.

In Sum:  The beast will reign and gather followers in the first half of the Tribulation.  Then he will be assassinated.  Satan will be cast from heaven.  Satan will raise the beast from the dead (or appear to do so) and empower him to deceive even more people.

BSF Study Questions The Life of Moses Lesson 17, Day 2: Leviticus 25:1-7

Introductory Note:  I am not sure why we are skipping Leviticus 24 except that it’s the passage that says “an eye for eye, a tooth for tooth”, which if there’s any passage in Scripture more misunderstood, it’s this one; so why BSF if shying away from it, I don’t know.  If you have a chance, read it.  It’s very short and since it is often quoted, it’s good to know.

Summary of passage:  The Lord decrees to Moses that once they enter the Promised Land, the land is to be sown for 6 years and then have a year of rest and all that is yielded in that year of rest belongs to the people.


3a)  When they enter the Promised Land

b)  For 6 years, the Israelites are to sow their fields but he seventh year is to be a year of rest where no crops are sown or harvested and whatever the land yields during the seventh year will be food for the people and their animals.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Not sure.  I think they would have been scared because they would have to be totally dependent on God to provide food for that year.  The people however would have been free to rest and perhaps do other things for God’s glory in all that spare time they would have.

4a)  Personal Question.  My answer:  The 7th year was also a year for canceling debts, freeing slaves, and giving generously to the poor.  I think the year was to strengthen the faith of God’s people and free up time to think more about others instead of concentrating on survival.

b)  They had to be totally dependent on God to provide all their food during the six years and then some to last for the seventh year.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Depending on God for a whole year I think is a lot different than one day a week so in my opinion this question is a bit of a stretch.  For me, my answer is not sure.  Increasing our faith in God’s provision for us should not be relegated to one day a week but should be constantly every day of the year.  Sundays are just like every other day for me:  being with God, reading His word, praying, living His example, and spreading His light.  If I do this, then my faith in His provision can’t help but grow.

Conclusions:  This passage could have been covered with just one question, three parts, instead of two questions, six parts.  I think we all got the point:  rely on God for your provision.  Period.

End Notes:  Deuteronomy 31:9-13 speaks of in this year how the people will assemble to listen and learn God’s laws.  Hence, this year was to allow time for the Israelites to study and learn God’s laws even deeper and for the children to know God’s laws.

This also demonstrated how the land belonged to God, not the people, and how God dictated its use.  It was a testimony of dependence on God.  The people didn’t just say they depended on God; they showed they did.

It’s also what many farmers do today to allow the nutrients to return to the soil or they do this with crop rotation as well.

Leviticus 26:3 again tells the people to obey God’s laws.  Yet we learn in 2 Chronicles 36:20-21 that the Israelites did not allow the land to lay fallow and thus God forced them to allow the land to lay fallow when they were carried off into captivity by the Babylonians.

The Israelites have found ways around this law.  They have rented out their land and allowed Gentiles to farm it for that year and they took a share as payment, thus circumnavigating the law.  However, I don’t think God sees it this way.

BSF Study Questions Matthew Lesson 17, Day 2: Matthew 16:1-12; Mark 8:10-21

Summary of passages:  Matthew 16:1-12:  The Pharisees and Sadducees asked Jesus to show them a sign from heaven.  Jesus replied that they wouldn’t be able to interpret the sign because they are wicked and adulterous.  No sign will be given except the sign of Jonah.

Jesus warned his disciples to be on their guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.  Stumped and lacking faith as usual, Jesus explained to the disciples some more and they figured out yeast is teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

Mark 8:10-21:  Here, Mark records that upon asking for a sign, Jesus replies that no sign will be given.  Jesus warns them to be careful of the yeast of the Pharisees and of Herod.  Not understanding what Jesus is meaning by yeast, Jesus asks them do they still have hard hearts and eyes that cannot see.


2a)  They should have known that Jesus just wouldn’t perform a miracle that served no purpose or showed them a sign.  Besides, they should have known who he was by the miracles he performed and the prophecies he fulfilled.  Jesus had given them many, many signs.  They shouldn’t need another.  They shouldn’t need a sign.

b)  Luke 12:54-59 has a great interpretation of this.  We can interpret the signs by looking to the Bible for prophecy (mostly in Revelation) that says when Jesus will come again and what are the signs so that we can look for them and be ready.  Basically, get right with God now and you won’t have to worry when the End Times come.

c)  Jesus’ resurrection.  The sign of Jonah was when Jonah was in the belly of the huge fish for three days and three nights which foreshadows how Jesus will be the heart of the earth (or will die) and rise again after three days.

3a)  The yeast was the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

b)  They were thinking about their physical/immediate needs more than their spiritual needs.

c)  It showed that their first thought (main concern) was literal and immediate and not long-term. They are walking around with the Messiah and all they think about is food!  Our thoughts reveal our heart and what is first in our lives.  Yes, we must satisfy our basic needs to survive; but more importantly we wouldn’t be here without Him who gave us the life to sustain.  Honor Him and the rest will follow.

d)  We are too caught up in the physical/immediate needs of living as well.  It’s easy to stay “busy” and go from one activity to another with no thought of God in our lives.  He is often an afterthought, what we think about at the very end of the day if we are lucky.  God wants to be first so we have to de-clutter our lives and make a conscious effort to put Him first.  Remember who is in control so our life can reflect that.

Conclusions:  Anyone else wonder what’s the difference between the Pharisees and the Sadducees?  Apparently, they were enemies and the fact they were working together against Jesus should tell you something about how much of a threat Jesus was to their way of life/teaching/thinking.

Pharisees:  The word probably originates from a Hebrew word meaning “separated.”  They were one of three sects of Judaism along with the Sadducees and the Essenes.  The Pharisees were the most influential and the most strict in terms of obeying the law.  They arose when the Jews were forced to Babylon and the need arose for someone to keep the traditions and the law alive.

“They pledged themselves to obey all facets of the traditions to the minutest detail and were sticklers for ceremonial purity.  In truth, they often made life difficult for themselves and bitter for others.  Some were haughty and arrogant because they believed they were the only interpreters of God and his Word.” Quoted from Zondervan’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary by Merrill C Tenney and J.D. Douglas P. 1118

Thus, this evolved into what we see here with Jesus:  external was more important than internal.  However, they were highly regarded by most Jews because they kept the laws intact.

Sadducees:  The Sadducees were more political in nature and consisted of the Jewish aristocracy.  They differed widely with the Pharisees in terms of doctrine and politics.  They held only to the written law and rejected all other traditions of the Pharisees.  They denied the resurrection of the body, did not believe in angels or spirits, and most importantly did not believe in the divinity acting in the world but that man himself was responsible for his destiny.

Yet they joined the Pharisees against Jesus our of fear that he would ruin them politically.  They opposed the early church vigorously.  However, they disappeared with the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in 70 AD.

I am ambivalent about this lesson.  I think the most important thing is to be prepared and making sure those around you are prepared.  Do not be fooled by false teachings but know His truth.  Then, you will not fail.

End Notes:  Yeast/leaven is usually a sign of corruption and sin in the Bible as we explored in Lesson 14 Day 2. The Jews have had this interpretation since the beginning (Exodus 12:8, 12:15-20).

BSF Study Questions Genesis Lesson 17, Day 2: Genesis 20 with Genesis 12:10-20 & 21:22-34

Summary of passages:  Genesis 20:  Abraham had been staying near the great trees of Mamre (Genesis 18) and now has moved on to the Negev between Kadesh and Shur.  He stayed in Gerar for a time and again lied about Sarah being his sister.  So, of course, the king of Gerar, Abimelech, took her for his wife.

God rescued Sarah (again) when he came to Abimelech in a dream and told him he had taken a married woman unbeknownst and that is why God has kept him from touching her.  God tells him to return Sarah and Abraham will pray for him so that he may live.  Otherwise, he will die.

Abimelech called in Abraham and chastized him (like Pharaoh did) and asked him why he lied to him.  Abraham again gave his lame excuse of how he was afraid and he wasn’t really lying because Sarah is his half-sister.  Abraham as the head of the household told Sarah to lie for him on their travels.

So afraid of God was Abimelech that he gave Abraham sheep, cattle, slaves, and whatever piece of land he wanted.  He gave silver to Sarah’s “brother” so she would be vindicated for the wrongs he did.

Abraham prayed and God healed Abimelech and his household so that they could have kids again.

Genesis 12:10-20:

Abram went to Egypt due to a famine.  Abram told Sarai to tell the Egyptians she was his sister in order to protect himself because he was afraid the Egyptians would kill him.  So Pharaoh married Sarai (thinking she wasn’t married) and treated Abram well because of it.  He was given sheep, cattle, donkeys, servants, and camels.

The Lord was angry at this so he punished Pharaoh and Pharaoh asked Abram why he lied to him. Pharaoh sent them out of his land.  They returned to the Negev much wealthier from his lie to Pharaoh.

 Genesis 21:22-34:  Abimelech makes a treaty with Abraham probably because he doesn’t trust him.  Abraham said that some of Abimelech’s servants had seized a well. Abraham gifted sheep and cattle to Abimelech and set aside 7 ewe lambs to prove he dug the well.  The place was called Beersheba.  Abimelech returned to Philistine and Abraham planted a tree and called upon the name of the Lord.  Abraham stayed here a long time.


3)  Abraham uses the same fear and mistrust in God to tell Sarah to lie for him.  Abraham was well rewarded both times when Sarah was taken.  It was the Lord who saved Sarah both times by inflicting disease in Egypt and appearing to Abimelech in a dream and preventing child-bearing.

Both Pharaoh and Abimelech were innocent, not knowing Abraham had lied to them.

Abimelech and Pharaoh gave everything to Abraham to atone for their wrongs (shouldn’t it have been the other way around?).  We are told Abraham prayed for Abimelech to be healed and we are not told in Pharaoh’s case but Abraham could have prayed for them as well.

In both instances, God leaves the healing, the repentance, up to Abraham.

4a)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Abraham tells Abimelech he does this so he won’t be killed just like in Egypt.  I think he truly doesn’t care about Sarah to do this twice.  He seems to have some problems to me–selfishness, not trusting in God, egotistical even.

Why is Abraham moving to these places (Egypt and Negev) if he is fearful of the kings?  What is his reasoning?  Or is he that greedy for good land for his flocks and for his self-preservation that he just doesn’t care?

b)  People do this all the time especially in terms of the work environment.  They would rather stab you in the back to climb the corporate ladder than help you.  They do this with land fights as well.  Anytime man wants something he throws his comrades under the bus.  We see it in war situations, politics, and power plays.

5a)  He didn’t suffer just like in Egypt.  In fact, he prospered even more by being given sheep, cattle, and slaves.

Here’s the guy who one minute is refusing bounty from the King of Sodom (Genesis 14:22:24), has God appear to him in Genesis 15 and say He is his great reward, and then the next selling his wife again to a king of a foreign land.  Does Abraham expect to be rewarded like he was in Egypt?  Is he using Sarah for material gain?  It seems to me to be so.  Or he is completely untrusting of God who appeared to him and turning his back on Him.

b)  Others will get hurt due to our actions.  God is receiving no glory for His work when we don’t trust.  Relationships are broken (I’m sure Sarah didn’t appreciate or respect Abraham after all this as much).

6a)  He did not treat Abraham as he deserved.  He did not retaliate against Abraham.  He forgave Abraham’s sin and redeemed him in others’ eyes.  He gave Abraham good things out of it.  Through grace and love, He did not get angry or accuse.  He showed compassion on Abraham, knowing he is merely a man, formed out of dust, and inherently sinful.  He loved Abraham and did not remove righteousness from him.  Instead, God corrected.

b)  Abraham gave Abimelech sheep and cattle.  It seems Abraham brought peace for we are told Abimelech and Phicol, his commander of his forces, returned to Philistine without a fight.  Abraham may have prevented war just by having his presence there and God protecting Abraham.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  He has loved me despite my sins.  He has humbled me with this nasty flu I caught.  He has blessed me with my husband being home to take care of me.  In His mercy, I have faith my husband will land a job this week so in that sense I am grateful.

Conclusions:  Did Abraham NOT learn from Egypt?  The whole “calling your wife your sister” thing didn’t have such a great ending so why would he do it again?  God had to intervene (again) and rescue Sarah.  What an idiot!  Abraham’s explanation is flimsy to say the least!  It’s like he’s floundering.  He’s definitely indifferent that’s for sure!

AND did you pick up that Abraham is partly blaming GOD for his actions.  Verse 13 “And when God had me wander from my father’s household…”  SERIOUSLY?  God, the One, True God has called you to greatness and now you are blaming Him for your lies, your fear, your lack of trust, and apparent incompetency to handle such a charge.

Hey, God!  Call me!  Like Isaiah saying, “Here am I!  Send me!” (Isaiah 6:8)  Use me. How many of us would jump at such a chance to be made the father of nations and then we blame God for the hardships along the way.  Can you picture a little kid jumping up and down, waving their arms, waiting to be chosen???  Unbelievable!  Definitely NOT Abraham here.

And then Abraham is rewarded for it!  It’s like Abraham is taking advantage of God’s protection over his family to see what he can get out of the deal.  Ridiculous in my opinion.

But we see God’s grace throughout it all and I’m assuming that’s why both of these passages are recorded.  God loved Abraham despite his bad choices.  Just as He loves us when we make bad choices.  God redeemed Abraham just like He redeems us afterwards.

Even if our choices are idiotic, repetitive, fearful, and doesn’t make sense to anyone God loves us and offers us His grace.  Always.  God is good!

Maps:  Map of Gerar and Beersheba where the treaty was made:

Another map of Gerar:

Another interesting map showing Negev and Zoar from Lesson 16:

This one I am just including so you can see Mamre (you do have to scroll down a bit):

End Note:  The Abimelech in Genesis 21 is NOT the same Abimelech in Genesis 20. Abimelech was a generic title for ruler amongst the Canaanites and is not a specific name. Question 6b makes it seem like it’s the same guy when it’s not.

BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 17, Day 2: Acts 18:23-28

Summary of passage:  We pick up Paul again as he’s leaving Antioch to travel to Galatia and Phrygia to strengthen the disciples.  During this time a Jew named Apollos from Alexandria came to Ephesus.  He had a vast knowledge of the Scriptures and had been instructed in the way of the Lord.  He spoke with great fervor and taught about Jesus Christ accurately in the synagogues.  Priscilla and Aquila heard him speak and invited him to their home where they explained God more adequately.

Apollos was encouraged by the brothers to spread the News to Achaia and he helped those who believed.  He vigorously refuted the Jews in public debate, proving Jesus was the Christ using Scriptures.


3a)  He left Antioch and went throughout the region of Galatia and Phrygia, strengthening the disciples there.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  All my relatives and myself.  I always need strengthening (as we all do) when this world tears us down.

4a)  He was a learned man with a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures.  He had been instructed in the way of the Lord, and he spoke with great fervor and taught about Jesus accurately.  He spoke boldly in the synagogue.

Traits:  intelligent, knowledgeable, probably charismatic to speak boldly, passionate about the Lord and Jesus, and had a heart for others to know Him.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  The Bible says they “explained to him the way of God more adequately.”  I would imagine they filled him in on what happened after the baptism of John, told him all about Jesus’ ministry, His death and resurrection, all about what Paul and the others were doing, and about the decisions the Council at Jerusalem had made.

We are told Apollos was a Jew so we must assume he knew the Jewish law so he had all the history.  It seems he just needed to understand the relationship between God and Jesus and Jesus and man more clearly.

We can also assume that Aquila and Priscilla spent an enormous amount of time with Paul so they imparted with Apollos what exactly Paul was teaching and his vision from God so Apollos could spread that message as well.

c)  They gave him new knowledge and probably new confidence in his words.  Apollos was able to vigorously refute the Jews in public debate using the Scriptures, which he probably went over with Aquila and Priscilla.  I can assume Apollos gained an enormous amount of information and a new desire and will to succeed.

d)  Apollos apparently was very effective in convincing people to accept Jesus Christ as the Messiah and as their Savior.  However, it appears people were lining up behind the messenger instead of the Message.  People were holding up Apollos, Paul, and Peter in place of Jesus, which is what Paul is chastising the Corinthians about in his letter.  This could quickly become a form of cult worship or sects within the body of Christ that Paul was not going to tolerate.

Paul warns the Corinthians and urges Apollos to return to Corinth but he declines.  I’m wondering if this was so his “cult” or following wouldn’t get any bigger and the chaos and frenzy surrounding Apollos would die down a bit.

Paul appeals to the people, saying they are united in their purpose to convert people and it is all God’s doing, not the mere effort of mortal men.

Conclusions:  I love learning about obscure people in the Bible that my church never talks about.  This is why I LOVE BSF! We study all of God’s word and not just the popular bits and pieces that seem to be so prevalent in today’s ministries.

In our effort to reach people and spread the Good News some of the nuts and bolts get lost amongst the big picture that is hanging up on the wall.  As Paul demonstrates repeatedly not only must we be converted, we must be strengthened.  The beginning is important but we must finish the race for God will judge all of our actions.

Application:  Something all too common in today’s world and we hear it all the time both in religion and in the secular world.

In religion:  people start worshiping the messenger and when they fall (which all humans do) people are devastated, left in a lurch, lost and all because they can’t see around the person.  Or cults take off and control people’s lives.  We must be wary of those with evil intentions.

In the secular world:  people practically worship celebrities or what have you and trends instead of realizing the One, True One to worship.  We must fight against this every day of our lives.  Just like idols in the study of Isaiah.  Anything is an idol if we put it above God.

Map of Paul’s Third Missionary Journey, showing Antioch, Galatia, and Phrygia:

BSF Study Questions Isaiah Lesson 17, Day 2 Isaiah 40:12-17

Summary of passage:  Isaiah asks a series of questions describing God:  who has measured the water in the hollow of his hand or marked off the heavens?  Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket or weighed the mountains on scales?  Who has instructed god or understood his mind?  Who taught him the right way or showed him the path of understanding?  The nations are like a drop in the bucket in comparison to God.  They are dust.  Lebanon does not hold enough to atone for man.  Before God, all nations are worthless and less than nothing.


3a) 1) Who has measured the water in the hollow of his hand?  2) Who with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens?  3) Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket?  4) Who has weighed the mountains on the scales and the hills in a balance?  God.

b)  1) Who has understood the mind of the Lord?  2) Who has instructed God as his counselor?  3) Whom did the Lord consult to enlighten him?  4) Who taught Him the right way?  5) Who taught God knowledge? 6) Who showed God the path of understanding?  No one.

c) God is omnipotent (Creator of the universe) and omniscient (He is the source of all wisdom and answers).  Isaiah is giving us illustrations so our human minds can try to understand who God is, His character, and what He does.

d) Omnipotent, omniscient, the Source of all existence.  The one, true God

4a) The power of the nations is like a drop in the bucket compared to God’s.  They are dust.  Everything in Lebanon is not sufficient.  Before him all nations are nothing and worthless.

b) You get a sense of how tiny we are if you think we are a dust granule in God’s mighty hand.  How insignificant.  How awesome is God.  We are nothing without God.

Conclusions:  It’s good to be humbled sometimes especially since humans can get pretty puffed up over themselves and this passage will do it.  You can see Isaiah’s descriptions in your mind of just how powerful God is and how insignificant we are.  Without God we are nothing and we need to remember that with every breath we take and every step we take.