BSF Study Questions Revelation Lesson 23, Day 5: Revelation 18:21-24

Summary of passage:  An angel threw a millstone into the sea and said Babylon will be thrown down in the same way.  Nothing will be heard, found, or seen again.


11)  It would be thrown down never to be found again like a millstone in the sea.

12a)  Because believers live forever.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Nothing is impossible with God (Luke 1:37) or with God all things are possible (Matthew 19:26).  Nothing is ever hopeless.

13)  Personal Question.  My answer:  The truths apply to all no matter the age.  Most importantly, talk about it.  Bring it up.  Start with BSF and how you do a bible study and invite them to join.  Point out to them where their treasure lies and when you see them chasing things of this world.  Be a good witness.  A good observer.  A good friend.  A good friend doesn’t at least mention God and heaven occasionally.

Conclusions:  I don’t think I can take another “give you hope” question for the rest of this year!  Did not need the references to question 12a.  Seems almost silly to ask.

End Notes:  Jeremiah 51:61-4 ties a scroll containing God’s judgment of ancient Babylon to a stone and throws it in the Euphrates and says “So will Babylon sink to rise no more.”  Jesus says as well in Matthew 18:6 that it is better to tie a millstone around your neck and hurl yourself in the sea than  to lead others to sin.

“Magic spell” in Greek is pharmakia which means to prepare drugs.  Sin was like a drug.

The fact the saints and prophets were killed is listed last because it’s the most important reason Babylon is judged.  When you mess with God’s people, you mess with God!

Conclusions to Revelation 18:  Be different than the world.  Live outside the world.  Don’t be a part of the world.  We have to live in it but we don’t have be of it.  Choose wisely or face judgment!

Conclusions to Lesson 23:  Good reminder of what is actually treasure and what isn’t and where our home is. Also, love how God’s judgment is for vindication of His people’s death.  Very, very encouraging in this broken world where life is not fair and we as Christians often face harshness.  God will judge.  Give it to Him to handle.  We have no need to cloud our life with anger and bitterness and strife.

BSF Study Questions Revelation Lesson 23, Day 4: Revelation 18:9-20

Summary of passage:  All those who sinned will weep and mourn over Babylon as it is judged and see its smoke from the fire.  They weep not out of repentance but because their livelihood is up in smoke.  They will be terrified.  But the saints will rejoice for her downfall because of how Babylon treated them.


8a)  The kings of the earth mourn because they shared in Babylon’s luxury and idolatry (adultery) and have now lost it.  The merchants of the earth because no one will buy their cargoes anymore.  All those who earn their living from the sea (sea captains, and sailors) mourn because they will no longer be able to gain riches anymore.

Side Note:  This lament is modeled off of Ezekiel’s lament over Tyre in Ezekiel 27.  15 of the 29 luxuries are also mentioned in Ezekiel 27.

b)  We just had similar questions.  True treasure is found and stored up in heaven.  If your treasure is in heaven, you are doing God’s work, not yours.  You care for others, not yourself.  Your heart is either God’s or it’s not.  What treasure you work for is a strong indication of who has possession of your heart.

9)  Because God has fulfilled His promise to judge those who hurt His people.  It is a righteous resolution we (believers) rejoice in–not the actual suffering itself.

10)  Personal Question.  My answer:  All.  Specifically, crimes against children, abuse, neglect, hunger, etc.

Conclusions:  Focus on Lesson 23 seems to be things of this world versus things of heaven.  Day 2 we were asked do things of this world or God most occupy our time.  Note:  the kings, merchants, and sailors are described as “of the earth”.  It tells you right there what their problem is.  Lesson 22 Day 2 we were asked about attractions of the world.  Lesson 22 Day 3 we were asked about glittering things of this world.

Question 10 is a filler.  We all hope all evil to end.  Period.  And it will only happen upon Jesus’ return.  That is “His timing”.

For an in-depth analysis, study the fall of Tyre and you will see the fall of the future Babylon.  God is amazing in giving us exactly what we need to know.  Much, much to explore in a greater historical context for those interested!

End Notes:  In Chapter 17 we see the ruin of Babylon but many do not realize its repercussions until now when Babylon burns.  The items listed in verses 12 & 13 are just a sample of the luxuries of the day.  They are all standing at a distance because the fire is so intense.

Note cargoes of “bodies and souls of men.”  No doubt this refers to the slave trade which thrived in Ancient Rome.  In fact, most people were slaves of some sort.  This can be applied to the slave trade of the 1700’s and 1800’s as well as well as the continued traffic in humans today.

We saw the same 3 groups wail at the fall of Tyre in Ezekiel 27:29-36.

Throwing dust on your head was an act of sorrow and dismay also from Ezekiel 27:30.

Some commentators say it is this fire, which is all-encompassing and on a giant scale, which will alert the Antichrist to Christ’s coming and be the impetus to him gathering his armies in Revelation 19.

Historical Note on Tyre:  A rich merchant city on the coast of modern-day Lebanon, Tyre controlled trade for the Mediterranean in ancient times.  It produced the purple dye only royalty wore in Rome.  However, their pride and wealth took over their hearts and they considered themselves virtual gods (Ezekiel 28:2,6).  They rejoiced in Jerusalem’s downfall, seeing an opportunity to increase its trade even more (Ezekiel 26:2).  So God sentences them.  Nebuchadnezzar began its punishment but Alexander the Great finished off the city.  Tyre became a bare rock, nothing.  Prophecy is in Ezekiel 26 & 28.  Lament is Ezekiel 27.

Another fun fact:  According to legend, Carthage, Rome’s nemesis throughout much of its history (think Hannibal and his elephants) until its final defeat by Scipio in 146 BC was founded by Queen Dido who fled Tyre after the murder of her husband.

Tyre exists today but is nowhere near the import it once held.

BSF Study Questions Revelation Lesson 23, Day 3: Revelation 18:4-8

Summary of passage:  Another voice from heaven begs the people to turn from their sins for God is going to pay the prostitute back double for what she has done.  She will be consumed by fire.


5)  Another voice from heaven begs the people to turn from their sins for God is going to pay Babylon back double for what she has done.  In one day her plagues will overtake her and she will be consumed by fire.

6)  God has remembered His promises to His people and will blot out their transgressions. (Hebrews 8:12).

7)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  God gives people one more chance to come to Him even after all of these judgements and even after they have still rejected Him.  He offers mercy but follows up with justice for those who refuse to turn from sin.  God is in charge.  He already knows who will be saved and who won’t so I pray and give the rest to Him.

Conclusions:  Hard passage to get anything new out of–a vague vision warning God’s people (again) to turn from their ways for the final judgment will happen at any time.

End Notes:  The voice is talking to God’s people who are surrounded by decadence and sin.  We see the call to leave Babylon frequently in scripture (Jeremiah 50:8, 51:45; Isaiah 52:11; 2 Corinthians 6:14-17).  The call is for God’s people to separate themselves from the sins around them or face God’s wrath as well.

We see double restitution in Exodus 22:4-9.  We saw the cup as God’s anger in Revelation 14:10 as well.

Here, the voice points out three sins:  selfishness (living luxuriously), pride (boasting as a queen), and avoiding suffering (not a widow and will never mourn).

Who is the voice?  Some say Jesus since the voice says, “my people.”

Babylon will be destroyed as described by Isaiah 47:14 and Jeremiah 51:58.  Fire is a symbol of judgment.

Many commentators draw parallels to the US as Babylon. But I argue all nations are Babylon.  We live in luxury, are prideful, indifferent to others’ sufferings, and turn from God.  The fall can happen any time.

BSF Study Questions Revelation Lesson 23, Day 2: Revelation 18:1-3

Summary of passage:  Another angel from heaven announces Babylon has fallen and repeats Revelation 17:2, saying the kings have committed adultery with Babylon.


3a)  John saw another angel descend from heaven who announced Babylon has fallen and all the nations have drunk her adulteries as well as all the kings

b)  A home for demons and a haunt for every evil spirit and every unclean and detestable bird.

4a)  Part personal question.  My answer:  You lose God.  It’s that simple.

b)  Part personal question.  My answer:  Heavenly things.  I’m about split down the middle. We have to deal with this world because we live it in and life takes place here.  But as long as God is at the center and our earthly life is for Him then we’re good!

Conclusions:  BSF kept it simple here.  The questions were straight out of the text.  The personal questions were very elementary.  No questions on what is Babylon and what it represents.  Should have combined this day with tomorrow’s.

End Notes:  So what is Babylon?  We discussed this last week as well.  Babylon could be either Rome, Jerusalem, or the world system as a whole.  Scholars are divided and no one is sure.  For us, Babylon is evil like verse 2 says.  The details here are unimportant.

So is this the same Babylon of Revelation 17?  Scholars say there are distinct differences.  Babylon of 17 is more a religious system.  This Babylon of 18 is more a commercial/economic/political Babylon.  But both should be seen together as one–just 2 different aspects.

Is Babylon a real city or a symbol?  Since Babylon now does not exist, most scholars say this is a symbol in correspondence with apocalyptic writings and with Revelation and its use of symbols.  However, Saddam Hussein did begin to build a palace on the ruins of Babylon before he was deposed.  Who knows what the future will hold?

Babylon, the city, was predicted to fall in the Bible by Isaiah (Isaiah 21:9, Isaiah 14:22-23) as well as Jeremiah (Jeremiah 50:13;  51:26).

This angel having just come from God’s presence glows!  He illuminates the earth.  How cool is that!  It’s like Moses whose face glowed after having spoken with God on Mount Sinai (Exodus 34:29-35).  Awesome!  I want to glow too after seeing God!  Wonder if that’s why angels are depicted with light around them in the movies.  Other references to glory lighting the world:  Psalm 104:2; Ezekiel 43:1-5; 1 Timothy 6:16.

Note the phrase is repeated that Babylon has fallen for emphasis.  Sad thought since Babylon used to be one of the richest and most prosperous cities of the world and now is a haven for demons and spirits.  Just shows how much man can corrupt.

Babylon committed idolatry (adultery) and was concerned with the luxuries of this world instead of God. That is her sins.

John says this in the past tense so even though Babylon hasn’t fallen it is assured it will.

BSF Study Questions The Life of Moses Lesson 23, Day 5: Numbers 21:10-35

Summary of passage:  We follow the Israelites on their journey to the Promised Land.  They reached the land of the Amorites and their king, Sihon, would not let Israel pass through.  They fought and Israel occupied the land of the Amorites.  Another king, Og, marched out against the Israelites as well but God said to Moses do not be afraid for I have already handed them over to you.  So the Israelites conquered them and took their land as well.


9a)  The Israelites turned away from the Edomites.  Here, Israel chose to fight and they were victorious.

[In Deuteronomy 2:30 we discover another reason for the engagement:  The Lord made Sihon’s spirit stubborn and his heart obstinate.  We also see in Deuteronomy 2 that God told the Israelites to engage Sihon in battle in order for other nations to begin to fear you and tremble before you.  God wanted the Israelites to possess the land and plunder the town.]

b)  It gave them a place to stay and rest on their way to the Promised Land.  The news of the defeat of the Amorites would spread to other nations and they would begin to fear the Israelites.  And it boosted their morale–what the Israelites desperately needed.  It also was a useful distraction that would leave them no time to grumble.

9c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  I haven’t had a spiritual victory in my life this week.

10a)  They may not have wanted 2 million people traipsing through their backyards.  They may be warring peoples who saw an opportunity to take riches and slaves from the Israelites.  They may have been afraid of being conquered so they struck first.  And in Deuteronomy 2 we see God’s hand as he hardened the heart of Sihon in order to hand him over to Israel.  Hence, God was the one deciding who Israel would fight and not fight.

b)  In my humble opinion, this is an extrapolation that does not make much sense especially in light of Deuteronomy 2 where we see God’s hand in these wars.  Comparing 2 million refugees if you will to individuals is completely different.  We see stubbornness in Deuteronomy 2 and an unwillingness to be magnanimous in life.  We see selfishness.  We see greed.  We see man’s nature and man’s sin.  Nothing has changed today as much as we tell ourselves it has.  Every war has evil and sin behind it as does every evil deed.  And there is no other way around it.

11a)  “Do not be afraid of him, for I have handed him over to you, with his whole army and his land.  Do to him what you did to Sihon king of the Amorites.”

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Again, another poor extrapolation.  In Numbers, the Israelites are facing death and so must defend themselves in a life and death situation.  So God says to kill them all.  The only thing I can think of here is to pray first and see what God says.  If you are facing a physical attack, obviously fight back.  If your character is being attacked, I would say the same–with God’s guidance.  Again, too open-ended and vague here to get a proper response.

In response to what we learn in Deuteronomy 2, I’d ask God, “God, what are you trying to teach me here through this person’s attack?  How are you looking to grow me?”  It seems God had a mighty hand in Sihon’s heart as he does in all believers’ and unbelievers’ hearts.  Everything is for a reason–one we normally cannot see.  So ask Him for guidance.  To see.  To learn.  To grow.

Conclusions:  Questions such as 9c make me wonder:  am I supposed to have a spiritual victory in my life?  What if I haven’t?  Is there something wrong with me?  Am I not doing enough for God if I haven’t had a spiritual battle this week?  Again, another open-ended question with no answer for me.  Too big to narrow it down to anything of substance and in this case a question that makes me feel inadequate–which I don’t like nor appreciate.  It’s a small part, but it’s there.

This lesson is driving me nuts and I’m sure you all will comment on how I shouldn’t say anything negative about BSF or their questions.  But that’s not me.  I tell it how I feel and to me this lesson was horrible–the worst in recent memory.  I almost want to skip lecture because of it!  5 out of 21 questions are of a personal nature (that’s 24%!) all of which I thought unnecessary and too broad.  A waste of time, effort, and space.

Yet, at the same time, I feel bad for saying how horrible this lesson was in my opinion because I’m not supposed to say such things and feel like I’m complaining.

For me, I would much rather have spent only a day or two on this chapter and moved on so I can digest the last 10 chapters of Numbers and the 1st 26 chapters of Deuteronomy in a few short weeks.  Furthermore, I wish the parallel chapters in Deuteronomy would have been assigned for us to read instead of re-reading them in the next few weeks.  This added much to my understanding here as more details are recorded.

Maybe I’m just missing the whole point here so enlightenment by you all would be most welcome.

End Notes:  The Book of the Wars is lost to us as are several other books mentioned in the Bible.

We see God strengthening the Israelites here, giving them opponents to bolster their faith and belief.  What a merciful God we have!

Scholars say the poetry quoted here is to show how cultured the peoples were who were conquered, adding to Israel’s victory.

This land conquered later becomes part of Israel, land given to Gad and Manasseh.

We end Chapter 21 on a positive note for once.  However, as we shall see, the Israelites still have an uphill battle in their quest for the Promised Land.

Cute Map of Exodus:

Another Version showing Iye Abarim:

BSF Study Questions The Life of Moses Lesson 23, Day 4: Numbers 21:8-9

Summary of passage:  The Lord tells Moses to make a snake and put it up on the pole and if the people looked at it, they would live.  Moses obeyed.


7a)  “Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.”

b)  We are not told that Moses did think the instructions were strange.  This is extrapolation.  I did not see this snake as an idol.  An idol is something worshipped as God by people.  This snake is not being worshipped.  I see this snake as not a representation of God.  I see it like a pill we’d take today.  The doctor prescribes a pill to cure you; you take it.  Here, God says look at this snake; it will cure you.  I in no way see this as an idol, and I don’t think Moses did either.  This is pure speculation.

8a)  The snake is a test of faith as Jesus is/was.  God said merely believe this snake will cure you and it will.  Jesus said merely believe I am the Son of God and you will be saved.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Complete.

Conclusions:  I like how this lesson brings out Jesus’s reference.  It is a great analogy of how faith alone is all God requires to be with Him.  What I didn’t like was the interpretation of what Moses thought of being told to make a snake.  It doesn’t matter what Moses thought about it.  If God tells you to do something, you do it.  Period.

BSF could be referring to 2 Kings 18:4 and how the people perverted the snake later into an idol (Nehushtan). But since they didn’t reference the passage or ask a question on it, this to me is out of place.

Maybe I’m just in a sour mood this week.  Whatever the case, too many personal and opinion questions that don’t make a lot of sense.  Our time would be better spent on more meat.

Not sure why we are spending one whole week on one chapter in Numbers.  I see this as nothing we haven’t studied already:  belief followed by unbelief so why spend so much time on it?  Coming up, we will be covering the last 10 chapters of Numbers in one lesson and then the first 26 chapters of Deuteronomy in one lesson/week!  Wish the readings could be spread out more.  Reading big clumps of the Bible is an undertaking and one that is hard to absorb much learning under time constraints.  This can be overwhelming and discouraging to many and keep them from coming to BSF when they can’t complete their lessons on time.  Reading the Bible period is overwhelming and BSF helps to break it into manageable parts.  But for me I’d rather not read so much and get something out of it then hurry up and complete the books and Moses’s life.

End Notes:  The symbolism here is immense.  Serpents are often associated with the devil and evil in the Bible (after all, the devil appeared as a serpent to Eve (Genesis 3:1-5; Revelation 12:9). However, bronze is a symbol of judgment as bronze is made through fire.

Thus, here we have an evil (snake) being judged (bronze).  Thus Jesus became sin and was judged. A picture of sin overcome.

We don’t know how the serpent was positioned on the pole.  If horizontal, we’d have the symbol of the cross.  However, traditionally, the serpent is showed being wrapped around the pole.  Here, we have the ancient symbol of a healer (see picture HERE).  Now, upon further research, this is also an ancient Greek myth and a Roman myth (the Romans are infamous for stealing Greek ideas and claiming them as their own) surrounding this symbol.

If you click HERE, I have found a side-by-side comparison of the myths. Below is the Biblical version.  Which is first?  Who knows.  It reminds me of how in many cultures around the world, the creation myth of a flood appears.  It makes me wonder if man has any original ideas or they are just recycled.

I did not know this and find this fascinating where the imagery came from. Wish we spent some time on this in BSF.

We must remember this bronze snake was sanctioned by God and was not an idol.  It was a test of faith only.  It is man who perverts God’s will.

Bonus Read:  Lengthy article HERE on serpents in the Bible, including analysis of this passage. Great explanation of serpents and the Egyptians.

Fun Fact:  Michelangelo painted this IMAGE on the Sistine Chapel.  Way cool!

BSF Study Questions The Life of Moses Lesson 23, Day 3: Numbers 21:4-7

Summary of passage:  The Israelites are now traveling around Edom to the Promised Land.  Again, they are grumbling against God and Moses.  So the Lord sent poisonous snakes to punish the people for their sin.  They bit the people and many died.  They went to their intercessor, Moses, to pray for God to take the snakes away.


4)  Because the Edomites refused them passage.

5a)  Opinion question.  My answer:  Not sure.  One would think they would be elated after their victory but taking the long way around through desert does take its toll.  They are probably travel weary.  Yet this shouldn’t surprise us.  The Israelites have been grumbling for years now about God’s provision.

b)  God

c)  God sent venomous snakes to kill them.

6a)  They recognized their sin, confessed it, and asked for God to relent and forgive them.

b)  Acknowledge your sin, confess it, and the Lord will forgive you.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  I dislike these questions that are so open-ended that I have trouble pin-pointing a specific time.  I would say too many to recollect as this occurs to me almost on a daily basis. I sin, I confess, I experience God’s grace and mercy.  This helps me in incalculable ways in terms of relieving my guilt, allowing me to be a better person, and be more like Jesus.

Conclusions:  Like Day 2, this lesson did nothing for me.  The questions were ones we’ve already seen in previous lessons [ Question 4 was Question 9b in Lesson 22.  Question 5b is numerous questions from previous lessons: Question 7a in Lesson 20, 6a in Lesson 21 ].  The ray of hope is God.  I just wish the people would see this–and I would as well.

End Notes:  Old habits die hard.  Here we see victory and then grumbling by the people.  This scares me as I would like to think I’d be different in these situations but what makes me better than the Israelites?  Nothing.  Very scary, impactful, and convicting when we read of God’s people rejecting Him over and over again.

If you look at my map links carefully (here’s ONE that shows a wide loop), you will see that the Israelites actually had to turn around and go back and away from Canaan to go around the Edomites.  Discouraging?  Yes.  An excuse to complain?  No.

Here we witness the new generation doing the same sins as the previous generation except upped a notch:  they grumble against God Himself as well as Moses.  Not good.  Not good at all.

Some translations say fiery serpents.  Mine says venomous.  This could refer to the color of the snakes as being red or their bite that may have burned like fire.

Scholars believe the victims were mostly of the older generation who died in fulfillment of God’s promise to not allow them into the Promised Land.

Note how the younger generation complained against God but how they also immediately repented and recognized God as their sovereign leader and the only one to save them.  Their hearts are His despite their missteps.