BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 20, Day 2: Romans 11:33-36

Summary of passage:  This doxology that ends this section of Romans is the natural outpouring of Paul’s praise to God, whose wisdom and knowledge brought about his great plan for the salvation of both Jews and Gentiles.

Questions:

3)  Paul is praising God due to His grace extended to the Jews who will be saved.  God has not forgotten them, His call upon them is irrevocable, and Israel as a whole will turn to God.

4)  God has offered his grace and mercy to the Gentiles because of the Israelites transgressions.  This will make Israel envious and in turn bring the elect among them to Christ.

5)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Given me a job opportunity from home where I can improve our income significantly.

Conclusions:  This whole lesson is on Paul’s Doxology (a liturgical formula of praise to God).  I’ll be curious to see where BSF goes with this.  This lesson covers the “why” behind this praise.

End Notes:  Paul is reflecting upon God’s overarching plan for the ages and all of mankind.  Paul realizes and states here how God’s ways are beyond men and we have no hope of figuring out His plan for the future.  God’s wisdom and knowledge are beyond him.

The quotations from Isaiah 40:13 and Job 41:11 emphasize both God’s wisdom and sovereign conduct; no one can make God their debtor.

You’ll never be able to repay God for all He’s done for you.  His is a debt only Jesus can clear.

The plan is God’s.  Only He can accomplish this plan.  All for God’s glory, honor, and pleasure.

The fact that Paul can’t figure out God makes him glorify God all the more. When we understand some of the greatness of God, we worship Him all the more passionately.

BSF Study Questions John Lesson 20, Day 2: John 15:1-8

Summary of passage: Jesus says he is the vine and God is the gardener. God cuts off those who don’t bear fruit and prunes the branches that do bear fruit. Believers will only bear fruit if they remain in Jesus. Apart from Jesus, you can do nothing. Ask whatever you wish and as long as you remain in Jesus, your wish will be granted. For God’s glory you will bear much fruit.

Questions:

3)  Personal Question. My answer: The Christian life is a life of being molded by God. As long as we believe and stay with God, he will grant us many blessings and we will accomplish many great things. It helps me to know God has my back and I will do great things and accomplish much in my time here on earth. It gives me hope and inspiration to do more than what I’m doing now.  Apart from Jesus, we are nothing.

4)  Part personal Question. My answer:  The work of pruning or cleansing has already begun in the disciples as they listen to the Word of God. There is an initial cleansing and then more (John 13:10). Through the Word, we are cleansed (Ephesians 5:26). It condemns sin, inspires holiness, and promotes growth.  Jesus cleans us or purifies us to be with God. No verse “made me clean”. Only the blood of Jesus did that (1 John 1:7).

5)  Part personal Question. My answer: It means to always do what Jesus would do, follow God’s will for your life, and obey God and His Word. Remain connected to him.  The believer has no fruitfulness apart from union and fellowship with Christ.  A branch out of contact with the vine is lifeless.  By doing His calling in my life, living out the principles, values, and teachings of the Bible, and being a good mother, worker, and role model for a believer in Christ.

Conclusions: Good focus on what you’re supposed to be doing in this world and even if you aren’t sure, how you can still lead a life true to Christ’s by remaining in him through developing a personal relationship of prayer and dedication to His word.

End Notes:  Most scholars believe Jesus is speaking to the disciples here as they are standing in the upper room, preparing to depart.  Jesus only has a few more hours to prepare his disciples for the tumult ahead.  These are his closest friends and he is about to leave them.  He knows they will face fierce opposition, hatred, beatings, and execution.  So, he reaches for an allegory to explain himself again.

One, grapes.  They were just drinking wine.  He says they must remain connected to him in order to bear everlasting fruit.  Two, dead branches.  They have lost their connection somehow and now useless.

The vine.  Jesus’ 7th and last I am statement.  This would have stood out to both believers and unbelievers since everyone knew God as the great “I am”. Jesus is equivocating himself with God in all these statements.

The vine was a familiar symbol.  God repeatedly used a vine as a symbol of His people in the Hebrew Scriptures (Psalm 80:8-9).  Yet it was often used in a negative sense (as in Isaiah 5:1-2, 7 and Jeremiah 2:21).  Just in the previous week Jesus publicly taught about Israel being like a vineyard in the Parable of the Vineyard (Matthew 21:33-44).

Vineyards were everywhere in ancient Israel. There was a large golden vine set as a prominent decoration on the front of the temple communicating the idea that Israel was God’s vine.  And it was a recognized symbol of the Messiah.

Jesus is the true vine.  We must be rooted in him in order to bear fruit.  The branch and the vine picture complete dependence upon one another as well.  The vine in the Old Testament pictured Israel and God as the tender of the vine.

There are two understandings for verse 2.  Either the branches are taken away because they were never abiding the first place (judgment) or they are lifted up (another possible translation of the Greek) to be taken care of.

The word for prunes does mean cleansing as well in the Greek.  The vine will maximize its fruit if it is pruned.  God removes the dead wood from his church and disciplines the life of the believer so that it is directed into fruitful activity.  Good fruit in the New Testament represents a godly life (Matthew 3:8; 7:16-20) or virtues of character (Galatians 5:22-23; Ephesians 5:9; Philippians 1:11).

The work of pruning has already begun in the disciples as they listen to the Word of God. There is an initial cleansing and then more (John 13:10). Through the Word, we are cleansed (Ephesians 5:26).  It condemns sin, inspires holiness, and promotes growth.

Abiding or remaining is a two-way street.  Choose to abide in Jesus and he will abide in you.  You have to be connected to the vine, to Jesus, to bear fruit.  Otherwise, it’s impossible.

Jesus repeats himself that he is the vine since so often they thought of Israel as the vine.  The purpose of caring for the vine is to receive fruit.  In this sense, we can say that fruit represents Christian character (such as the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5). God’s work in us and our connection to Him should be evident by fruit, and perhaps by much fruit.  Fruits contain seeds which are meant to be spread.

Jesus abides in us in an active way.

We can do nothing of real, eternal value without Jesus.  You must remain connected to the master or you will fail.

Note you are thrown away, withered, and then burned–a slow progression of losing that connection with the Father.  Fire is associated with punishment and eternal repercussions like the burning lake of sulphur in Revelation.  It also was an Old Testament symbol of punishment.

Verse 6 Interpretations of the cast out branches:

1) Believes are the cast out branches who, though once true believers, end up in hell for lack of abiding and fruit. They were once disciples, but are now cast out

2) The cast out branches are ones who only appeared to be disciples, and who never really abided in Jesus, and therefore go to hell (like Judas)

3) The cast out branches are fruitless disciples who live wasted lives that are in effect burnt up, and this passage doesn’t refer to their eternal destiny (like Lot, Abraham’s nephew)

However, all agree that there are no true disciples who do not abide. The branch must remain connected to the vine or it has no life and is of no lasting good.  Genuine salvation is evidenced by a life of fruitfulness.

Verse 7:  Jesus connected abiding to the idea of faithfulness to His words (John 14:23-24) and answered prayer (John 14:13-14).

Spurgeon says “Prayer is the natural outgushing of a soul in communion with Jesus.  It comes spontaneously from those who abide in Jesus.”

It is impossible to pray correctly apart from knowing and believing the teachings of Christ.

Abiding in Jesus means abiding in His words, and having His words live in the disciple.

Tenney explains:  “The connection is maintained by obedience and prayer. To remain in Christ and to allow his words to remain in oneself means a conscious acceptance of the authority of his word and a constant contact with him by prayer.”

This faithful, abiding disciple should expect answered prayer as part of their relationship with Jesus. A failure to see prayer answered means something is not right in the disciple’s relationship. Perhaps something is not right in the abiding, and prayers are amiss and unanswered. Perhaps something is not right in the asking and there is no perception of what Jesus wants to do in and through His disciple.

Verse 8:  We must remember bearing fruit is for God’s glory, not our own. When we achieve great things, it is God’s will and through God’s might not ours.  We give credit to Him for we ourselves can do nothing.

BSF Study Questions Revelation Lesson 20, Day 2: Revelation 15:1-4

Summary of passage:  John saw 7 angels with 7 last plagues, having God’s wrath completed.  Standing around a sea of glass were the victorious over the beast and they sang the song of Moses and of the Lamb to God, praising Him.

Questions:

3)  John saw a sea of glass with fire and saw those victorious over the beast standing beside the sea.  They held harps and sang the song of Moses and the Lamb.

4)  God does great and marvelous deeds.  Just and true are His ways.  He is King of the ages (forever).  He alone is holy.  All nations will come and worship Him and His righteous acts.

5)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Praise Him for His faithfulness, His absolute control over my life and this world, His love for me and those I love, and for His Son, Jesus, who He sacrificed so I could be with Him forever.

Conclusions:  Straight-forward questions re-stating the passage.  Love again how in heaven God is praised continually.

End Notes:  Revelation 14 we saw the blunt of God’s fury with unbelievers.  Now John will step back to the throne room in heaven and detail the judgments, the preparations before Chapter 16’s judgments.  This is very common in prophetic literature–Saying what will happen and then pausing to describe it more.

These angels we see again in Chapter 16.  The 7 angels hold 7 bowls with 7 plagues, one in each bowl which will be poured out on the earth.  These are the last judgments, completing God’s wrath.

We see 7 plagues in Leviticus 26:21.

The Greek word for wrath used here (thymus) is a burning passionate anger as we saw in Revelation 14:10.  The Greek word urge (a more mild form of anger) is the more common word for God’s anger in the New Testament.  Thymos is used only 11 times, and 10 of which are in Revelation.  Wouldn’t it make sense when God is angry against those who are rejecting His only Son?

The Greek word for complete (etelesthe) in verse 1 means to reach an aim.

We’ve seen this sea before in Chapter 4 of Revelation but this time it has fire mixed with it, which scholars say speaks to divine judgment.

Allusions to Exodus are all over this chapter.  Some say the red of the fire speaks to the Red Sea.  We see plagues, the songs of Moses, the tabernacle, and God’s glory in a cloud.  This is the ultimate Exodus:  the freeing of God’s people from sin in the world.

Those who are standing over the beast are the martyrs from Revelation 7:9-17–the 144,000 and from chapter 14.  We are still in the Tribulation here; it is not over.  The bowl judgments are yet to come (Chapter 16).  However, they are victorious because they have been faithful–this is NOT a military victory.  This is a victory of faith.

This is another example of prophetic certainty.  The beast is defeated although it hasn’t happened yet.  What would happen if we truly embraced that truth in our lives?

Many scholars believe the sea of glass represents God’s word, connecting to the tabernacle and baptism.  This would mean the martyrs are standing on God’s word.

The harps were given to the 24 elders in Revelation 5:8.  Now the martyrs have harps as well to praise God with!

This is ONE song sung with TWO names:  The song of Moses and the song of the Lamb.  The Old Covenant and the New Covenant, the law and the love.

In this song we see God’s:  works, ways, worthiness, and worship.  The song is all about God–note only the pronouns you and your are used.

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

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

Questions:

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

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

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

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

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

b)  40 days

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BSF Study Questions Matthew Lesson 20, Day 2: Matthew 19:1-9

Summary of passage:  Jesus now has gone to Judea from Galilee to the other side of the Jordan.  Large crowds followed him and he healed them.  The Pharisees once again are trying to trick Jesus by asking when is divorce legal.  Jesus said that when a man and woman marries they become one and no man should separate them.  So why did Moses allows divorce the Pharisees ask Jesus.

Jesus said only because man’s hearts are hard and that is why divorce is allowed only in the case of marital unfaithfulness but God never meant for there to be divorce.

Questions:

4)  Jesus said that since we are created by God in His image and women are created from man that we were meant to be one flesh that no one could separate–not God or man.  But man due to his hard heart (sin) caused the separation between man and woman and thus divorce entered society.

5a)  Deuteronomy said once a man divorces his wife, he cannot take her again.  This reinforces how much God hated divorce and how permanent it was.  Once done, there could be no reconciliation between the parties. The husband must have a legal certificate of divorce declared; he just couldn’t leave her.  Some scholars think this passage also goes both ways –that  woman could divorce her husband as well.

b)  Because their hearts were hard (sinful)

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  This is a bit extrapolation here but because of sin and hard hearts we all have problems in our relationships where we are either prideful or blinded or unsympathetic or selfish or any other sin that causes separation where there should be unity.  I hold on to hurts much longer than I should so this causes problems in my family.

Conclusions:  This is very clear on when you can divorce and when you can’t.  Also, it’s very clear how God never intended for divorce so you should try to work out your problems before even considering it.

End Notes:  The root word for divorce in Hebrew meant “hewing or cutting off” so it was akin to cutting off a body part.

The Hebrew root word for “indecent or uncleanness” carried the meaning of sexually immoral, meaning literally “nakedness”.  Once again, we see how man has interpreted this law and by Jesus’ time men could divorce women for anything displeasing to him and were in fact encouraged to do so.

In ancient times, Jews viewed marriage as a sacred duty.  If they were not married by the age of 20 (unless they were studying the law), then they would be seen as breaking God’s commandment of “be fruitful and multiply” in Genesis 1:28.  Yet, men had such a low view of women that most entered into a loveless marriage–viewing it as their duty only and nothing more.

At this time, the interpretation of the law given in Deuteronomy had two views:  one that “uncleanness” meant sexual immorality only and another that “uncleanness” meant for any reason.  The Pharisees therefore hoped to trap Jesus by getting him to side one way or the other and thus become either unpopular or unreligious.

Jesus, as always, thwarts the Pharisees by going back to scripture.  God permits divorce, not commands it, because of man’s hard heart and sin.  And if you are separate or divorce for other reasons, then you are committing adultery because you are still married in the eyes of God.  Just because man allows it, doesn’t mean God does.

Just to be clear:  there are 2 reasons only for divorce:  1) if one of the spouses is unfaithful 2) if a spouse is abandoned by an unbelieving spouse (added by Paul in 1 Corinthians 7:15).  The rest is all from man.

More Conclusions:  I always hate the most popular reason given for divorce these days: “irreconcilable differences” for that could be anything and is exactly what Jesus railed against.  Man cannot twist God’s laws; yet, he does anyways, continues to do so, and doesn’t seem to care.

Great lesson for those of us who have a strong marriage:  we need to know how to counsel those who don’t since the odds are we probably know someone who is considering divorce or who has had one.

Great lesson for those considering divorce as well.  It is not God’s will.  So keep persevering to the end and have faith God will work it out.

Final Note:  We are still in 29 AD and Jesus is leaving Galilee, his homeland, for the last time. Jesus will never again return.

I found this website HERE that traces Jesus’ movements with a timeline and verses from the Bible.  Kind of neat to see how much Jesus does in his short time here on Earth.

This site HERE is really cool!!!  It’s the same timeline as above but with pictures of what the places look like today.  This site will take some time to explore but really cool to try and visualize what the places would have looked like when Jesus walked there.

BSF Study Questions Genesis Lesson 20, Day 2: Genesis 22:6-10; 24:62-67

Summary of passages:  Genesis 22:6-10:  Abraham places the wood for the sacrifice of Isaac on Isaac while he carries the fire and knife.  They proceed together and Isaac asks his father where is the lamb for the burnt offering.  Abraham says God will provide the lamb.

When they reached the place for the sacrifice, Abraham built an altar and arranged the wood.  He bound his son and laid him on the altar.  He took the knife to slay his son.

Genesis 24:62-67:  Isaac went out to the fields to pray when he saw camels approach. Rebekah saw Isaac and asked who he was.  When she found out it was her future husband, she covered herself with a veil.  The servant reported to Isaac all that had happened. Isaac and Rebekah were married.

Questions:

3)  He is God-centered.  He submits to God’s plan of being a sacrifice.  He believes his father that this is from the Lord.  He is praying when his future wife arrives and he marries her without question.  God is first in his life and he will sacrifice his life for God’s will.

4a)  According to Webster’s Dictionary, submissive means “submitting to others.”  Submit means “to yield to governance or authority; surrender.”

b)  Numbers 12:3:  “Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth.”

Psalm 25:9:  “He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way.”

Psalm 37:11:  “But the meek will inherit the land and enjoy great peace.”

Psalm 149:4:  “For the Lord takes delight in his people; he crowns the humble with salvation.”

Matthew 5:5:  “Blessed are the meek for they will inherit the earth.”

Matthew 11:29:  “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

1 Peter 3:4-5:  “Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.  For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful.  They were submissive to their own husbands.”

Verse 6:  “Like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her master.  You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.”

[Note:  I threw in verse 6 for 2 reasons:  1) It mentions Sarah whom we are studying  2)  I think fear is crucial in understanding why we do some of the things we do–out of fear. It’s one of the devil’s favorite weapons against us.  We are afraid to submit to our husband’s authority and on down the line.  We are afraid to give control of our lives (and our kids) to God.  We are afraid of _____ (fill in the blank).  Fear is a HUGE motivator in our lives–and we must recognize and acknowledge that in order to defeat it.

And in terms of beauty, we women are afraid to say we are beautiful if we don’t look like Gisele (and that’s 99.9 % of us).  But each and every one of us are.  Because God inhabits us.  And the world would be infinitely better if fear didn’t prevent us from shining our souls to others.]

4c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  I’d be happier.  Less stress.  Less worry.  Less heartache.  Less disappointment.  I take everything personally so I often am resentful of people.  And we all know I have no patience.  I’d have more friends cause I’d be more forgiving and a nicer person to be around.

Conclusions:  I found it odd we looked up the definition of submissive but then was asked about developing meekness.  So, I looked up the definition of meek.  It is “enduring injury with patience and without resentment; mild.  Deficient in spirit and courage; submissive.”

Deficient does mean lacking, not up to normal standards, or defective (yes, I looked this up too).  So being meek according to the second definition I believe is not what we want. We want the first definition.

I think both are the goals.  Enduring injury with patience and yielding to authority–things that go against the American norm and what most of us were raised to be (thanks in large part to feminism which I believe has done more harm than good to this country).

Despite the fact we went back in Genesis, I think this was an important lesson to underscore.  I think it’s something we all need to work on.  Submissive is a borderline bad word in America and we need to change that.  The second definition of meek is the predominant thought as well where one is cowering in a corner.  Humble is usually not the first word that comes to mind when asked to describe someone.

Lesson for the week:  Pray for humility, meekness, and submissiveness in our lives.