BSF Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1: Lesson 2, Day 2: Joshua 5:13-6:27

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Summary of Joshua 5:13-6:27:

As Joshua is preparing to take Jericho, a man holding a sword appears before him. This man identifies himself as the commander of the Lord’s army. Joshua prostrates himself, while the man tells him to take off his sandals for he is standing on holy ground.

Summary of Joshua 6:

The Lord spoke to Joshua and told him how to take Jericho, which had now retreated behind their city walls. The Lord tells Joshua to march around the city one time with all of his men for 6 days. Have 7 priests carry trumpets of rams’ horns in front of the ark. On the 7th day, march around the city 7 times, while the priests blow the trumpets. When the priests give a loud blast on the trumpet, have everyone shout and then the walls will collapse and you can just walk in and take the city.

So the people obeyed Joshua’s orders and did exactly as the Lord had commanded. On the 7th day, Joshua commands the people to shout and take the city that the Lord has given them, but to spare Rahab and all who are with her in house. He also warns the people not to take the devoted things or they will be destroyed. All the silver, gold, bronze, and iron (the devoted things) are sacred to the Lord and must go into His treasury.

The Israelites devoted the city to the Lord and destroyed everything and everything–every man, woman, child, cattle, sheep and donkeys. Rahab was escorted safely out of the city by the two spies whom she saved and placed into a camp near Israel’s camp. Then the whole city was burned to the ground, excepting the silver, gold, bronze, and iron, which went into the Lord’s treasury. Rahab lived amongst the Israelites all of her days.

Image result for battle of jerichoJoshua cursed the city never to be re-built. The Lord was with Joshua and his fame spread.

BSF’s Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1: Lesson 2, Day 2: Joshua 5:13-6:27

3) Joshua met a man with a sword in his hand who identified himself as the commander of the Lord’s army. The man is acting on the Lord’s orders to appear before Joshua. He is following a command and is therefore indifferent to whatever is happening in Joshua’s world.

4a) The Lord encourages Joshua, saying that Jericho is already his. He has delivered it into his hands along with the king and all the fighting men. Thus, Joshua’s faith and courage would be bolstered, and his trust grown deeper roots. God wants us to succeed. He is a loving God who encourages and cares for His people.

b) This is one of the most unique “battle” strategies ever. To begin with, there was no battle. The men marched around the city, blew some trumpets, the walls fell down, and Jericho was taken. The Israelites I’m sure were confused and wondering what was the purpose of this. The residents of Jericho must have thought the Israelites were insane and wondered what was wrong with them.

5a) God ordered Joshua to kill every living thing inside the walls of Jericho except Rahab and her family who were congregated inside her home because she had saved the lives of the two spies. God ordered the people killed as judgment upon them for their sins against the Lord–namely unbelief, worshipping other gods, and the so-called religious traditions they practice such as burning their sons and daughters as sacrifices to these false gods. The land was burned because even the land was defiled.

b) Personal Question. My answer: This is a perfect example of why so-called “innocent” people are killed and slaughtered.  None of us are innocent. We are all guilty of sin and deserve death. When what seems to us senseless killings (floods, earthquakes, tsunamis, or wars against each other) all serves a purpose in God’s plans for us. That’s why bad things happen to “good” people. None of us are good.

Conclusions to BSF’s Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1: Lesson 2, Day 2: Joshua 5:13-6:27:

Who doesn’t love this story? I would have loved to have been there to see such a sight, and I would have wondered what on earth these crazy people were smoking to be marching around a city and blowing trumpets. It’s such a classic tale of complete and utter trust in the Lord. Note no Israelite is killed as far as we know. The city was taken without a fight. That by itself is a miracle.

End Notes to BSF’s Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1: Lesson 2, Day 2: Joshua 5:13-6:27:

We know that this man, standing before Joshua, was God. Although the man identifies himself as the Commander of the army of the LORD, leading some to say this may have been an angel (Revelation 12:7), angels are never worshipped (Revelation 22:8-9). Furthermore, Joshua calls the angel “My Lord” and removes his sandals like Moses did at the burning bush (Exodus 3:5).

Army of the Lord does imply that this was an army of angels.

Some Biblical scholars speculate this could have been Jesus in bodily form, which we know he existed from the very beginning, so this could be possible (Genesis 18:16-3332:24-30, and Judges 13:1-23).

The whole point of this section of Joshua 5 is to show that Joshua is obeying God whole-heartedly and submitting to God’s will and not his own. With the army of the Lord on our side, how can we lose?

Why did God appear before Joshua?

God appeared to instruct Joshua on the very important taking of Jericho and, as we’ll see, it was such an unlikely scenario that it could have only come from God. God came to make sure Joshua was completely committed to Him–a lesson for our own lives. Are you completely and totally committed to whatever God tells you to do?

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Joshua 6: The Fall of Jericho

The City of Jericho:

Before, the Israelites have only had promises from God. Now it’s time to deliver. And God starts with the hardest first. Jericho, a formidable city, might possibly mean “city of the moon god.” It was located 5 miles west of the Jordan River and 7 miles north of the Dead Sea. It’s climate is tropical and in ancient times date palm trees flourished there as well as balsam, from which medicine was extracted. Today, banana groves grow, fed from springs of water, a green oasis in the middle of the dry Jordan rift area. It’s capture was the key to the invasion of the central hill country.

In the New Testament, its location shifted south a few miles. It yielded a large revenue to the royal family and Herod the Great’s winter palace was built here. The road from Jordan to Jerusalem passed through Jericho, making it a stopping place for Galilean pilgrims to Jerusalem who traveled this way to avoid contamination by the Samaritans.

Jesus passed through Jericho on a number of occasions (Mark 10:46-52; Matthew 20:29-34; Luke 19:1-10; Luke Image result for city of jericho10:29-37).

Fun Fact about City of Jericho:

Archaeology supports a city at Jericho since the seventh to sixth millennia BC, which puts Jericho as one of the oldest cities known–having existed 5000 years before Abraham.

Many archaeological digs have been conducted over the years to determine if Jericho actually existed. Some scholars believe it did, but Jericho was a much smaller fort. Evidence has been eaten away by the elements. So much digging has been done that the likelihood we’ll ever know remains doubtful.

God tests their faith first by having the city fall by the most unconventional of means. It required total faith by Joshua and total faith by all of the Israelites. Again, we see how God’s people have to do something; God just doesn’t give them the city.

Normally, the ark of the covenant does not go into battle. This was so the people know God was with them.

Key Points of the Battle of Jericho:

  • Joshua acted immediately, without delay.
  • The Israelties were open to attack as they marched around the city.
  • The Israelites had to be patient and persistent as they had to march for 6 days, doing something that required absolute faith.
  • The fall takes place on the 7th day, so the Israelites would have had to march on a Sabbath. Note how God does things in 7 days, the number of spiritual perfection (Creation, sprinkling of blood on the mercy seat, etc.)
  • All the valuables are set aside for God as Jericho is the first fruits.
  • Everyone (except Rahab and her family) in Jericho is destroyed because they are in total rebellion against God.
  • Israel took what God gave: the city.

When the wall fell, were the Israelites surprised? I’m sure the people of Jericho were shocked. How often are we surprised when God fulfills His promises?

Slaughtering everyone is a harsh penalty. But the Canaanites were in spiritual disobedience and this was their judgment. God chose His people to enact the penalty. Sometimes, He does the consequences like in Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19:24-25).

We know that Jericho had heard about the God of Israel (Joshua 2:8-11), but only Rahab responded. Thus, she is rewarded with her life. Scholars say Joshua was written at the time these events occurred because of the line “she [Rahab] lives among the Israelites to this day.

Joshua’s curse in Joshua 6:26 was fulfilled literally when a man attempted to rebuild the city of Jericho in the days of King Ahab (1 Kings 16:34).

Themes of Joshua 6 and What We Learn from the Battle of Jericho:

  • Faith: Joshua and Israel believe God’s commands
  • Obedience: Joshua and Israel follow God’s commands.
  • Courage: Joshua and Israel execute God’s commands.

All while trumpets are the weapons, not swords.

Like we saw with the 10 plagues of Egypt, God is declaring war on all of Canaan who are wicked (Deuteronomy 9:5) and had forfeited their right to the land 400 years prior (Genesis 15:16).

BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 2, Day 2: Romans 1:18-20

Summary of passage:  God is angry at those who suppress the truth about Him.  Since the creation of the world God has been known so there is no excuse to deny Him.

Questions:

3)  According to Webster’s Dictionary, wrath means “strong vengeful anger or indignation; retributory punishment for an offense or a crime; divine chastisement.”

Man is suppressing the truth of God through wickedness.

4a)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  All of creation is amazing.  Only an omnipotent being could design a world where everything fits together and has a purpose–from ants to eagles to mankind.  Nature always instills an appreciation for what God has done for me, a gratitude, and a desire to go deeper with Him.  When speaking with unbelievers, this verse is a go-to.  All you have to say is “Look around.  How do you explain what you see?”

b)  We can’t learn who God is completely.  We can’t learn his wrath at sin.  His purpose for mankind in His Son, Jesus.  We can’t see his justice.  We learn this through the Bible, prayer, and study of Him and who He is and His Son is.

5)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  According to Webster’s Dictionary, suppress means “to put down by authority or force; subdue; to keep from public knowledge; to inhibit the growth or development of.”  I’m unsure of this question as I don’t think I’m suppressing any truth about God or Jesus.  This would be a question more for unbelievers unsure if God is God.

Conclusions:  This is one of my favorite passages in all the Bible.  I hate excuses and this is the ultimate excuse.  If you don’t see God in nature and all around you, you still go to Hell if you don’t believe in Him.  The whole created world reveals Him.  I blogged about this a long time ago HERE  God is angry all the time when man is evil and denies Him.

End Notes:  God’s anger/wrath is righteous anger.  It is not man’s anger which is motivated out of jealousy and selfishness.  It is the greatest peril facing mankind.

Great definition of wrath by Murray:  “Wrath is the holy revulsion of God’s being against that which is the contradiction of his holiness.”

Paul speaks of salvation in this letter.  But what are we saved from?  Many things but most importantly the wrath of God which we rightly deserve.  His goal is to show the absolute necessity of God’s plan of salvation for mankind.  We all sin and we all need God’s righteousness.  We’ll see the Gentiles (Romans 1:18-32), the Jews (Romans 2:1-3:8), and everyone (Romans 3:9-20).

Godlessness is man’s offenses against God.  Wickedness refers to the sins of man against man.

Every truth revealed to man by God has been fought against, disregarded, and deliberately obscured.  He reveals His wrath.  It’s not limited to the end-time judgment of the wicked.  Here we see God abandon the wicked to their sins.

Besides creation, God has planted within the heart and mind of every individual the spark of Himself.  It is when we reject Him when we know He’s there that leads to no excuses.

BSF Study Questions John Lesson 2, Day 2: John 1:19-28

Summary of passage:  John the Baptist was questions by the Levites (Jewish priests) about his identity near Bethany.  He says he is not the Christ repeatedly.  He denies being Elijah and the Prophet.  He’s the announcer and precursor to Christ, and he says he’s unworthy to untie Christ’s sandals.

Questions:

3)

1)  “Then who are you?  Are you Elijah?”  Answer:  “I am not.”

2)  “Are you the Prophet?”  Answer:  “No.”

3)  “Who are you?”  4)  “”What do you say about yourself?”  Answer:  “I am the voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord.'”.

5)  “Why then do you baptize if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?”  Answer:  “I baptize with water but among you stands one you do not know.  He is the one who comes after me, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.”

4a)  In Malachi 4:5-6, Elijah was predicted to return before the Day of the Lord (which we learned last year in Revelation is the Second Coming of Christ).  In Deuteronomy 18:15-19, God promised another Prophet would come in due time.  So the Levites here are trying to figure out if John the Baptist is this promised return of Elijah or the Prophet.

b)  He says he’s the one sent to reveal the Christ and tell the people to prepare for his arrival that Isaiah predicted in his book.  The one who shall make straight the highway path to God.

5)   Personal Question.  My answer:  He’s humble and gives Christ all the credit.  I can remember this for all the blessings in my life and take no credit for them.  They are all HIS.

Conclusions:  We gain insight into John the Baptist’s character here.  He knows his purpose in life and in all humility he goes about his business singularly focused.  A great example to us of a witness for Christ.

End Notes:  This is John’s testimony for Jesus.

“The Jews” here do not refer to the Jewish people as a whole.  John uses it to denote the religious establishment and this is the first time in the gospels this is seen.  Specifically, they are sent here to look into the activities of an unauthorized leader.

The Levites as most of you know were descendants of Levi who were the priests of God’s people.

Fun Fact:  The Greek word for “Jews” occurs about 70 times in this Gospel.

Note John doesn’t say exactly who he is:  “Well, I’m Jesus’s cousin, the son of the priest Zechariah” etc.  Instead, he focuses on his mission:  to prepare and cleanse (hence baptisms) the way for Jesus.

Elijah did not die (2 Kings 2:11) and thus believed he would return to earth to announce the end times.  John is repeatedly asked if he is the Messiah and he gets more and more terse with each denial.  Like we do when repeatedly asked a question.

The Messiah means “the Anointed One”.  In the Old Testament anointing was a sign of being set apart.  Here, the people are seeking “the One”.

Baptisms grew out of the Old Testament tradition of ceremonial washings.  In the first century AD, baptisms with water were only for Gentiles converting to Judaism.  So if Jews agreed to be baptized they are openly repenting of their sins.

Untying thongs of sandals was the duty of slaves and a duty which disciples did not do for masters. John is saying he’s not worthy of even this duty.  He is lower than a slave.

Bethany is just outside of Jerusalem on the banks of the Jordan River.  See map HERE

BSF Study Questions Revelation Lesson 2, Day 2: Revelation’s Themes

Summary of passages: Various passages for the day.

Questions:

3a)  Personal Question.  My answer:

Revelation 1:4-8;22:7:  Jesus is coming again.  Hope for a better world.

Revelation 2:9-10; 13:10b; 14:12:  God’s people are faithful and patient through suffering.  God knows those who are His and those who are not His.  This gives me encouragement for a better world and the good deeds I do are not in vain for He sees.

Revelation 12:10-17; 13:5-7:  There will be a time when the “beast” is allowed to reign but God will overcome.  Encouragement again.

Revelation 19:6-9, 11-16:  Christ will come again to judge and rule.  Hope again.

Revelation 21:1-4; 22:1-5:  Christ will usher in a new earth.  He will walk with us.  The curse will be lifted and we will dwell with God forever.  Eden will be once again.  Hope.  Faith.  Contentment.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  The new earth.  It’s the overall theme of Revelation–Christ will come once again and bring us Eden where we are God’s best friend.  It’s so encouraging, hopeful, and wonderful to think about what it will be like.  I hope to learn more so I can keep this in mind when times on this side of heaven are tough.

Conclusions:  I enjoyed reading passages from Revelation.  Hope and faith is the central message here. John was trying to encourage the first century Christians with what was to come.  It’s an eternal perspective we sometimes lose in the daily grind.

BSF Study Questions The Life of Moses Lesson 2, Day 2: Exodus 2:11-14

Summary of passage:  Moses as a young man went out one day to watch his people at their labor.  He witnessed an Egyptian beating a Hebrew so he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand.  The next day he saw two Hebrews fighting and asked why.  The man said he knew he killed the Egyptian so Moses was afraid.

Questions:

3a)  Yes.  The Bible tells us “Glancing this way and that and seeing no one” so Moses thought first before murdering the man.  If someone had been around, Moses would not have killed the man.  Thus, he didn’t act out of uncontrolled anger but out of premeditation.

[Note: Some scholars say Moses killed the man to help the Israelites recognize him as their deliverer.]

b)  We learn Moses was forty years old.  Moses thought he would be recognized as a rescuer of his people, but he wasn’t.  He killed the man because he was defending the Hebrew and avenging him.  He tried to reconcile the two who were fighting the next day.  He fled to Midian and had 2 sons.

c)  It seemed he thought God would make them see and they would recognize he was from God.

4a)  I think Moses chose to identify with them first.  He chose to be a Hebrew rather than an Egyptian.  God lets all of us choose our path.  Therefore, I think Moses had to choose his people first (and thus chose God himself) before God would reveal His plan to him.  Also, if Moses had chosen to be an Egyptian, he wouldn’t have visited the Hebrew slaves.  He wouldn’t want to have anything to do with them for he was better than them and they were unworthy of him.

b)  Faith in the One, True God.

c)  Everything.  Power, riches, maybe the throne of Egypt, an easy life, his friends, his family, his life for now he was a wanted man.

d)  Moses chose the hard life of following Christ over the easy life of an Egyptian prince because he knew his eternal reward was in heaven and not on earth.

5a)  He was determined, strong, confident yet quick to take a life to prove himself.  He underestimated how much he needed God with him.  He underestimated the work involved in being a deliverer of a people who see him as a foreigner and not as a Hebrew.

b)  His methods (sinning just to prove himself).  His closeness to God.  Listening to God first before acting.  Patience.

Conclusions:  It seems to me that Moses had some word from God that he was to rescue and deliver the Israelites; hence, setting this scene in motion.  We are not told but Moses has this idea and it had to come from somewhere.  I think God did tell Moses this but didn’t tell him the time so Moses jumped the gun here and paid the price for not waiting on God.

I like how Moses had to choose God first before God would act.  I like how Moses took the path less taken to become one of the greatest men in history.  If he had chosen to be an Egyptian prince, he would be just as nameless as this Pharaoh.  Instead, he followed God and God’s purpose.

Map of Midian:  http://www.jesuswalk.com/moses/images/map-egypt-midian-900x709x300.jpg

End Notes:  Notice how Moses is rejected by his own people.  Remind you of anyone?  Yep, Jesus.  Moses’ life will closely mirror Jesus’.  Moses is correct in his role as redeemer; he just had to wait on God.

BSF Study Questions Matthew Lesson 2, Day 2: Matthew 2:1-8

Summary of passage:  After Jesus was born in Bethlehem, the Magi (or Three Wise Men) came to Jerusalem to inquire where the king of the Jews was born at so they may worship him.  King Herod was disturbed by this news.  He asked all the chief priest’s where the Messiah was to be born and they responded with the words of the prophet Micah:  In Bethlehem in Judah.

Herod called the Magi to him secretly and asked them for the exact time of the appearance of the star.  He then sent them to Bethlehem to search for the child and then to report back to him so that he too may go and worship the child.

Questions:

3a)  King Herod (ruler of Judea under the Romans), Magi, Jews, chief priests and teachers of the law (Old Testament law), and Israel or the Jews.  The Magi are seeking to worship Jesus.  King Herod and the Romans are disturbed and threatened by the news.  If we include the Jews in “all of Jerusalem” we can presume they are more afraid of what Herod might do upon this news than disturbed.  However, we are not told what the response is of the Jews or the priests and teachers.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  All.  I see indifference, glory, fear, hatred, hostility, and annoyance.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Well, God hasn’t exactly told me personally how I myself am doing but the Bible says I’m supposed to be obedient to His word and obey Him and give myself to Him fully, which is what I try to do every day of my life.

4)  Christ’s deity:  “whose origins are from of old, from ancient times”; “will come for me”

Christ’s humanity: “out of you (clans of Judah) will come for me”

Christ’s kingship:  “ruler over Israel”

Conclusions:  Anyone else not trust Herod here?  He obviously has ulterior motives here.  The guy was hated by all and I’m sure was only obeyed out of fear of punishment or death.  Note the wise men did not say they would actually report back to him.

Interesting that the priests quoted Micah out of all the Old Testament verses that speak to Jesus’ coming.  I like the subtle differences in translations as well.  It shows the differences in terminology and word usage in the 400 years that passed between the Old and the New Testaments.  I personally like “shepherd of my people”.

This passage is packed full of interesting notes so bear with me:

Notice Matthew glosses over Jesus’s actual birth and jumps to “after” right away.  He is more interested in recording the reaction of others than the actual birth.  He leaves that for Luke to describe.

There was another town named Bethlehem; hence, the Bethlehem in Judea and Micah’s description of Bethlehem Ephrathah, which was what Bethlehem used to be known by.

The wise men were not kings but probably astronomers.  There were probably more than three that came and they made their journey a significant time after Jesus’s birth–some scholars say up to a year after his birth.  Hence, Herod’s order to kill all boys 2 years old and under (Matthew 2:16) as Jesus was probably over a year old by then.  They were probably exiled Jews from the East.

So why the Three Kings misnomer?  It’s been around since the third century and probably derives from the Old Testament prophecies that say kings will come to worship the Messiah (Psalms 68:29, 31; 72:10-11; Isaiah 49:7; 60:1-6).  Supposedly the skulls of the three kings are housed in Cologne, Germany.

Notice that the wise men came to Jerusalem, NOT to Bethlehem as commonly depicted. The shepherds made it to the manger; the wise men did not.

Jesus was born a king; not a prince as is most often the case.

God uses a star, something the astronomers would have recognized instantly.

Background on Herod:  Known as Herod the Great as there were quite a few rulers before and after named Herod, Herod ruled Judea, which was a Roman province at the time, for 34 years until his death in 4 BC.  Yes, Christ had been born by that time.  Blame the ignorance of the Middle Ages and a monk named Dionysius for missing the division between BC and AD!

Herod was a ruthless fighter, a subtle diplomat, and an opportunist.  He was hated by the Jews for his unrelentless pursuit of hellenization yet courted their favor by re-building their temple.  However, he did bring order to Palestine through his ability to manage so complex a situation and thus an opportunity for economic growth.  Many of his family members he had put to death and in the end he disintegrated into madness.

For a much thorough background on Herod, see Zondervan’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary by J D Douglas and Merrill C Tenney.

This website HERE has great information on the miscalculation of dates and even a discussion on Jesus’ real birthday.