BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 26, Day 2: Romans 14:1-8

Summary of passage:  Accept those who are new believers and fail without looking down on him or condemning him.  The Lord will strengthen him.  We all belong to the Lord and God knows our heart for what we do.


3)  Without passing judgment.

4)  Whether to eat meat or not to eat meat.  Disputable is open to debate whether it is acceptable or not meaning there is no agreement.  Forbidden are those things that are outlawed, meaning there is a majority agreement on what is acceptable or not.

5)  God is the standard and we are to live for Him.  Both the weak and the strong should be motivated to serve the Lord and give thanks for His provision.

Conclusions:  Acceptance is the theme here.  Mankind is messy.  All of us.  We are all equal.  None of us is better than the other.  Paul reminds us to accept each other and let God handle the rest.

End Notes:  Paul warns us not to judge others whose faith is weak, usually a newer Christian or one ignorant of God’s ways.  He was probably addressing Jewish Christians in Rome who were continuing to observe the hallmarks of Jewish identity, such as dietary restrictions and the keeping of the Sabbath and other special days.  Their concern was not the same as that of the Judaizers of Galatia  They Judaizers thought they could put God in their debt by works of righteousness and were trying to force this heretical teaching on the Galatian churches, but the “weak” Roman Christians did neither.  They were wrestling with the status of the Old Testament regulations under the new covenant that Christ ushered in.

In Paul’s mind, the weak brother is the stricter one due to their legalistic attitudes and lack of love towards others.

Undoubtedly these weak ones did not see themselves as such. They probably saw the meat eaters as weak.  Legalism has a way of making us think that we are strong and those who don’t keep the rules the way we do are weak.

Paul reminds us it is God’s job to judge, not ours.  We must rise above these petty arguments and be united in our faith in Christ.  Christians do not agree on all matters pertaining to the Christian life, nor do they need to.  Fellowship should not be based on agreement.

By bringing in the aspect of observing certain days, Paul is talking more about principles than specific issues. It’s up to the conscience of the individual. But whatever we do, we must be able to do it to the Lord, not using “conscience” as an excuse for obviously sinful behavior.

From birth to death, we are connected to one another and we are to live for the Lord always.

BSF Study Questions John Lesson 26, Day 2: John 19:18-22

Summary of passage:  Jesus was crucified between 2 criminals.  A sign reading “Jesus of Nazareth, The King of the Jews” hung above Jesus.  It was written in Latin, Greek and Aramaic.


3)  “Jesus of Nazareth, The King of the Jews”.  Because he wasn’t the King of the Jews according to the religious leaders and it felt like Pilate was mocking the Jews.

4)  Psalm 72:1, 8, 11, 17:  Jesus bring justice, righteousness, rule over earth, all will bow down to him, and his name will endure forever.

Matthew 2:1-2, 6:  Jesus was born king of the Jews to shepherd Israel.

John 4:42:  Jesus is the savior of the world.

John 6:51:  Jesus gives eternal life with his death.

John 11:51-52:  Jesus died for all to bring them together and make them one.

Revelation 5:9:  Jesus saved all with his blood.

Jesus is King over all and it was written in all the possible languages anyone who witnesses his death would know so all would know he had come to save all of them.  Jesus’ death is meant to save all.

5)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  Jesus took away our sins with his death, forgiving us, and giving us eternal life with God.  There is nothing else in this world more important.  It gives me meaning and purpose to do His will.

Conclusions:  Jesus died for all our sins.  Painfully and sacrificially. He has always been and will always be our king.

End Notes:  Crucifixion:  The Persians invented crucifixion, but one could say that the Romans perfected it and made it an institution. It was practiced by the Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Macedonians, and the Egyptians as well.  It was the form of execution reserved for the worst criminals and the lowest classes. It was so dreaded in the pre-Chrisitian era that the cares and troubles of life were often compared to a cross.  Crucifixion was designed to make the victim die publically, slowly, with great pain and humiliation. This was the form of death God ordained for Jesus to die, and the death that He submitted to in the will of God.

Crucifixion was so awful and degrading that polite Romans wouldn’t talk about it in public. The Roman statesman Cicero said of crucifixion: “It is a crime to bind a Roman citizen; to scourge him is an act of wickedness; to execute him is almost murder: What shall I say of crucifying him? An act so abominable it is impossible to find any word adequately to express.” The Roman historian Tacitus called crucifixion “A torture fit only for slaves.”

In Ancient Times everyone knew how tortuous crucifixion was.  John and the other Gospel writers did not have to spell it out for us so they didn’t.  Plus, they wanted to convey the facts and not get bogged down in the emotions of the moment.  Plus, Jesus suffered both spiritually and physically so describing the physicality of crucifixion would take away from the much more important spiritual aspect.  Roman citizens were exempt from crucifixion.

According to Dr. William Edwards in the Journal of the American Medical Association, death from crucifixion could come from many sources: acute shock from blood loss, being too exhausted to breathe any longer, dehydration, stress-induced heart attack, or congestive heart failure leading to a cardiac rupture.  When a person is suspended by two hands, the blood sinks rapidly into the lower extremities.  Blood pressure drops and heart rate speeds up.  If the victim did not die quickly enough, the legs were broken, and the victim was soon unable to breathe and died of suffocation.  However, this usually took 2-3 days to die.  The body was usually left as a deterrent to criminals.  It would decompose and be eaten by animals.

Constantine outlawed the practice in 337 AD out of veneration for Christ.  However, the Japanese adopted it in the 1500’s and it is still legal in some countries today as a method of capital punishment.  The word excruciating comes from the Latin word for crucify.

Jesus was crucified alongside other sinners.  One was saved, the other lost.  So it goes throughout all of time.

A placard  was according to Roman custom. The crime was written out and the title hung around the victim’s neck as he carried his cross to the place of death.  The title was then placed at the top of the cross so all would know the reason for the crucifixion and be warned what happens to criminals.  The execution took place outside of city walls and probably along a popular road so the max amount of people would see it.

Jesus’ crime was who he was.  He didn’t do anything.

Aramaic was for the common folk and Jews.  Latin was for the learned.  Greek was for the Greeks.  The three languages in use at the time and place of Jesus’ death.  This would serve as a model that all are intended for Jesus’ message, death, and salvation.

The religious leaders objected because they didn’t believe Jesus was the king of the Jews and if he was, it was insulting to the Jewish people.  Pilate stood by his pronouncement and once the sentence had been pronounced, it was against Roman law to change it.  John recording this shows Jesus kingship is final and unalterable.

BSF Study Questions Revelation Lesson 26, Day 2 & Day 3: Revelation 20:11-15

Summary of passage:  Jesus sits on the great white throne in judgment of all according to what they had done on earth.  Those whose names are found in the book of life (believers) are saved.  The rest are thrown into the lake of fire for the second death for all of eternity.


3)  Jesus and he is God so he has every right.  Also, God gives him the right.  A more complete answer is the Triune God.  See also (John 5:22-27)

4)  “Earth and sky fled from his presence” as there was no place for them anymore.

5a)  Books that hold the deeds unsaved people have done while on earth which God/Jesus will use to justify His judgment.

b)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  Believers.  Yes.  Because I have accepted Jesus as my Savior.

Context Note:  In Psalm, the they is “foes” from Psalm 69:18 or “enemies” from Psalm 69:19 so David’s foes or enemies who are unrighteous.

c)  Second death is judgment and eternal damnation for unbelievers, which results in a permanent banishment from God’s presence. (Isaiah 65:17; Psalm 88:5).  First death is when we all die physically.  Revelation 21:8 identifies them as “The cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars”.  This also includes the Antichrist, the False Prophet, Satan, the fallen angels, Death, and Hades.

d)  Personal Question.  My answer:  We’ve been asked this so many times it’s ridiculous.  Yes and tell them about Jesus. (Lesson 19 Day 3, Lesson 15 Day 4, Lesson 13 Day 5, Lesson 7 Day 2)

6)  Personal Question.  My answer:  God is just and I don’t need to worry for He has it all.  I am saved. Others need to be saved.

Context Note:  Not sure why we read the Romans passage if the question asks us about the Revelation passage.  It really doesn’t add anything to the context.

Conclusions:  I have nothing positive to say, so I won’t say anything.  Do this passage in one day.  It’s easy enough.  Most of these questions can be answered without looking up the reference passages if you so choose.

End Notes:  Great is “great”, white is purity and holiness, throne is sovereignty.  No one can escape the judgment (why there is no where for the sky and earth to go).  Hebrews 1:10-12 & 2 Peter 3:10 tell us this world will perish and pass away as this world is no longer needed when Jesus comes.

Will believers be at this Great White Throne?  Almost all scholars say no because believers sins are already judged by Jesus’s death at the cross.  This is for the unbelievers.  Believers are judged but right after the first physical death.  This is told to us in 2 Corinthians 5:10 (judgment seat of Christ).

Paul elaborates on this in  1 Corinthians 3:12-15 where our works and motives will be judged.  There will be no punishment, however, only rewards.  This scene is punishment, a sentencing, consequences handed out, not a trial.  This is for the condemned, unbelievers.  There will be no words, no “telling God anything”.  There will only be the righteousness and goodness of God and the unbelievers rejection of Him.  When believers die, they go into the immediate presence of the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:6-8; Philippians 1:23).

There are degrees of punishment meted out here based on the sins unbelievers committed on earth.  Other passages that speak to judgment based on works is:  Psalm 62:12; Jeremiah 17:10; Romans 2:6; 1 Peter 1:17, and many more.

The “sea gave up the dead” is referenced unburied bodies.  Again, emphasis on no escape from God’s judgment.

“Death and Hades” are the final vestiges of sin.  Sin is now completely done away with forever and both are no longer needed.

The Bible uses 3 main words to describe the idea of “hell” or the lake of fire:

1)  Hebrew Sheol means “the grave”

2)  Hades which is a Greek word and where the Ancient Greeks believed all dead went. Remember parts of the Bible were originally written in Ancient Greek.  It means “world beyond.”  In Revelation 9:1 we see the Greek abyssos or Abyss or Bottomless pit.  It is a prison for demons (Luke 8:31; 2 Peter 2:4; Jude 6).  Paul uses it in Romans 10:6.  It is where the souls of the unsaved go until Judgment Day and is temporary which is why it will be cast into the lake of fire as well.

To make Hades even more complicated:   Once consisting of two compartments as the abode of all departed souls whether saved or unsaved (Luke 16:19-31), when Christ died and His spirit descended into Hades (Ephesians 4:9) proclaiming victory to the evil spirits incarcerated there (1 Peter 3:19), He resurrected with the souls of those who died in faith (Ephesians 4:8; Matthew 27:52-53).

3)  Gehanna, another Greek word, used by Jesus in Mark 9:43-44.  In Hebrew it means “valley of Hinnom” and is where we get our English word “hell” from.  It is a place where child sacrifices to Molech took place.  This is the hell we think of and currently it is unoccupied until the great white throne room and final judgment.  Other uses:  2 Chronicles 28:1-3; Jeremiah 32:35.

Eternal separation from God is the ultimate punishment.  Can you imagine even now living in a world without God?  Imagine a world where Jesus reigns but you are in hell!  Horrible doesn’t even describe it. Saying “tormented day and night for ever and ever”  (Revelation 20:10) is the best description and even that is hard to imagine!

BSF Study Questions The Life of Moses Lesson 26, Day 2: Deuteronomy 1-3

Introductory Note:  This lesson is a doozy so start early and don’t wait till the last minute.  A careful reading of Deuteronomy will cement all of the last 25 weeks into your mind as we review all the major events through the eyes of Moses.  Good stuff that you don’t want to miss, but it will take time!

Summary of passages:  Deuteronomy 1:  God tells the people to break camp and move into the Promised Land.  Moses tells them how he had chosen leaders from each tribe when he needed help (Exodus 18 or Numbers 11).  Moses tells them how they sent out spies when they arrived at the Promised Land (Numbers 13) and the people refused to enter the Promised Land (Numbers 14) so God said they would not live to see it except Caleb and Joshua.

Moses blamed the Israelites for his not seeing the land either (Numbers 20).  You rebelled again (Numbers 14) and were punished by the Amorites and stayed in Kadesh.

Deuteronomy 2:  Moses tells the people how God directed their wanderings in the desert while awaiting the old generation’s death.  How God was with them always.  God told Moses who to attack and who not to attack.  So they defeated Sihon and took his land.

Deuteronomy 3:  God handed over Og king of Bashan to the Israelites as well.  Moses gave this conquered land to the Reunites, Gadgets, and half tribe of Manasseh in return for their help in taking the actual Promised Land God had given them.  Moses tells Joshua not to be afraid in taking the Promised Land for God is the one fighting for them.  Moses pleads with God to let him cross over into the Promised Land, but God refuses.


3)  The Israelites are at Horeb in Moab, waiting for the command to leave camp and take the Promised Land.  It has been 40 years since they left Egypt and they had just defeated King Sihon and the Amorites and Og king of Bashan.  Moses is speaking the new generation, telling them of their history that some of them might not remember, reminding them of the importance of obeying God’s laws.

4)  Remember about themselves:  That the leaders were chosen by them to have authority over them (Deut 1:15-18).  That they sent out spies and they rebelled against the Lord afterwards.  They had no faith in God and they caused God to cursed them.  They would not listen and caused their hardships (Deut 1:22-46)

Remember about himself:  Moses did as they asked–picking out the spies.  He warned against not entering the Promised Land and it is their fault that God became angry with him and would not let him enter the Promised Land (Deut 1:22-46; 3:26).  They would not listen to him (Deut 1:43) and they caused their own defeat.

Remember about God:  “The Lord your God has blessed you in all the work of your hands.  He has watched over your journey through this vast desert.  These forty years the Lord your God has been with you, and you have not lacked anything.” (Deut 2:7)

“I [God] will begin to put the terror and fear of you on all nations under heaven.  They will hear reports of you and will tremble and be in anguish because of you.” (Deut 2:25).

“The Lord your God himself will fight for you.” (Debut 3:22).

Trust in God is pivotal; it is what saves you (Deut 1:32).  Otherwise, lack of trust results in disobedience.

Conclusions:  It’s interesting to see the differences in the passages, and I wish we had read this alongside the corresponding Numbers passages because it’s hard to remember and time-consuming to go back.  I definitely see an angry Moses with a  condescending attitude towards the people and a father chastising his kids when they did wrong.  He’s definitely got the blame game going on, forgetting all about his lack of faith in God.  Moses boils their history down in 3 chapters.

End Notes:  The Book of Deuteronomy:  Deuteronomy means “Second Law” as this is the giving of God’s laws for the second time to the Israelites.  Moses felt he had to review the law as all the people were very young or not even born yet when the law was first given on Mount Sinai.

Deuteronomy is a book of Sermons by Moses to the people.  His was a passionate plea to them to obey God or they will end up just like the first generation after leaving Egypt.  He is preparing them because he won’t be able to lead them into the Promised Land, and we feel Moses’s sorrow at this.

Jesus quoted from Deuteronomy 3 times when he was tempted by the devil.  Deuteronomy is quoted over 80 times in the New Testament.

Deuteronomy 1:  The 11 days mentioned by Moses here is significant.  It took the Israelites only 11 days to journey from Horeb to Kadesh Barnea.  But at Kadesh Barnea the Israelites refused to enter the Promised Land; hence, it took them 40 years to return here again.

Moses mentions the defeat of Sihon and Og because these kingdoms would have been defeated 40 years ago if the Israelites had only had faith.  When the generation of belief was ready, God was ready.

NOTE:  Horeb and Sinai are the same place, just different names and Moses uses both interchangeably.

God pushes the Israelites when they are ready.  They spent a year at Mount Sinai, but it was time to move on.  We are never meant to stagnate in our Christian walk.

Moses’s second recounting of the sending out of the spies is starling; one can almost feel his regret. We see clearly that this was not God’s plan but the people’s, and in a rare instance, Moses went along with the people’s suggestion for once.  Moses glosses over the results of the report, which lead to the wandering period.  Perhaps he didn’t want to re-open an old wound.

Same word:  “But” used in Numbers 13:28 and here.  We were asked about this on our questions.  Little word; powerful impact.

Satan causes us to forget when we should remember.  And he is the one who brings up all of our past sins and the guilt from those.

Moses’s point:  unbelief kept the people out of the Promised Land.  Sin can be atoned for and remedied.  Unbelief is a heart matter that is much, much more difficult to remedy and takes much, much longer (like 40 years) to fix if ever.

Scholars do believe Moses’s role in sending out the spies contributed to his exclusion from the Promised Land (Numbers 14) because God says only Caleb and Joshua are spared, before the events of Numbers 20 occurred.  Or God in His omniscience knew what Moses would do and said this as a revelation.

Moses was the law-giver.  Joshua (Hebrew name for Jesus) was the one to lead them into the Promised Land.  God accepts no excuses for willfully wrong behavior.  The Israelites half-heartedly tried to correct their mistake, but God accepts no half-hearts.  That is why they were defeated and punished.  God would wait for their whole hearts.

Deuteronomy 2:  The Israelites were probably stronger than the Edomites and could have taken their land.  But they obeyed God and didn’t.  And in the end God showed the Israelites how to show grace.

Edomites–descendants of Esau.  Moabites–descendants of Lot.  The Ammonites also occupied land not intended for the Israelites.  They too were passed by.

Fun Fact:  Most famous Edomite:  Herod the Great.  Most famous Moabite in Bible:  Ruth.

God did say to fight the Amorites because they were refused passage.  God hardened Sihon’s heart, but his heart was already evil and God merely allowed the evil to come out.  Here, God uses the Israelites to execute judgment on the Amorites.

Note the obedience displayed by the Israelites.  They let those alone whom God said and conquered those whom God said.  Result?  Success.  Great lesson for us here!

Deuteronomy 3:  Og of Bashan is also no relationship to the Israelites.  They are Canaanites. God gives them to the people, and they see first-hand how easy it was and how easy it would have been 38 years ago.

His “bed” is better translated as sarcophagus.

Remembering God’s faithfulness in the past is key for living in faith in the present and the future.

We see a great example of prayer and pleading here from Moses.  Even though he had been punished, Moses asks God to relent–something God did with Miriam with the leprosy and and with the people several times in their sin when He didn’t destroy them.  This is right for us to do as well.  God is influenced by prayer, and we can ask God to alter our path.  We might get denied (like Moses did), but it never hurts to ask!

Note the repetition of the number 40 here:  40 years of Moses life in Egypt.  40 years he tended sheep.  40 years in the desert.

Moses being so close to God was expected to be more.  But when he struck the rock twice, thereby ruining the picture of Christ as the rock and not speaking words of faith (all that is required of us for saving grace), he was punished severely and God would not reverse this.

Pisgah is the place Moses will see the Promised Land and die.  This happens at the end of Deuteronomy.  Therefore, the whole book of Deuteronomy is a testament of Moses–his beliefs, his faiths, his hopes, his disappointments.  The law-giver will give his last to the people.  This includes training his replacement, Joshua to lead.  This must have so encouraged the people when they discovered Moses would die–that Joshua would be carrying on Moses’s work.

Mount Nebo and Pisgah seem to refer to the same mountain peak.  Because several mountain tops afford the same view, scholars are not sure which peak is the one Moses climbed.  However, today one peak has been designated at Mount Nebo and you can visit it in Jordan and look out over the Promised Land.  There are many memorials there including one to Moses and a replication of the serpent on the staff.  Official Website is HERE

Map of Mount Nebo:

Time Fact to complete this lesson:  2 mornings for a total of 3 hours.

BSF Study Questions Matthew Lesson 26, Day 2: Matthew 26:1-16; Mark 14:3-9; John 12:1-11

Summary of passages:  Matthew 26:1-16:  Jesus tells the disciples that the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified.  The chief priests and elders assembled in the palace of the high priest of Caiaphas and plotted to arrest him and kill him.  But not during the Passover Feast or the people may riot.

That night while Jesus was in Bethany at the home of Simon the Leper a woman came to him and anointed him with expensive perfume.  The disciples were indignant, saying she could have sold that perfume and give the money to the poor.  Jesus chastised them, saying she was doing a beautiful thing for him who will not always be with them.  She was preparing him for burial.

Judas went to the chief priests and offered to hand Jesus over to them.  They offered him 20 silver coins and Judas agreed.

Mark 14:3-9:  Mark adds the details that the perfume could have been sold for more than a year’s wages and some present rebuked her.  She did what she could.

John 12:1-11:  John says this happens 6 days before the Passover while Matthew says it was only 2 days.  He says it happened at a dinner given in Jesus’ honor.  Martha served and Lazarus was present.  Mary was the one who took the bottle of perfume.  She poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair.  It says Judas was the one to object and his motives were selfish:  he wanted the money for himself and since he was apparently in charge of the disciples’ money, he would take some for himself.

A large crowd came to the house to see Jesus and Lazarus.  Hence, the chief priests made plans to kill Lazarus as well since many were being converted to Christ because of the testimony of Lazarus.


3)  Personal Question.  My answer:  It challenges me to give the most precious possessions I own to Jesus as Mary did and to humble myself before him with no regard to how it may be perceived by others or what repercussions might come about.

4a)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Apparently, Judas was a greedy man and probably jealous of Jesus.  Jealousy and greed lead to even greater sins of betrayal and even selling your soul.  Lesson is to be on guard against such sins.

b)  He was paid 30 pieces of silver.  In Exodus we learn 30 pieces of silver was the penalty to be paid to a master if a man’s bull gores a slave.  The bull must also be stoned.  In Zechariah the shepherd was paid 30 pieces of silver for his work, which the Lord said to throw back to the potter so the shepherd did.  The shepherd here is Jesus.  Read more of Zechariah for context here.

The point here is that 30 pieces of silver (about $25 today) was a small amount–the amount a slave was worth and a slave’s life was worth.  Christ was valued as nothing when in reality his gift to us is priceless.

5a)  According to Jesus and recorded in all 3 gospels here, the perfume was serving as an anointment for burial.  Here, the heart gift is important.  Mary was giving Jesus all her heart and all her worship.  She was giving him all she had–all his due–all that is his.  She (a woman) understood the coming days.

When you do, when you give, and when you live all for him, you do no wrong.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Well, “good things” is subjective.  I don’t think any time spent in prayer, reading the Bible, or worship is a waste.  Could I be doing other things and do others things call my attention?  Yes.  Time is a precious commodity and it is always a trade-off when we decide how to spend our time.  But I don’t “consider” any time I do spend a waste.  I am called to spend time with the Lord and I consider it a privilege every time I do.

I’m not tapping my foot during worship, impatient if that’s what this is about.  I think it’s all a priority.  You spend time with God first, others second, your stuff last.  Whether you always do this or not is a different question.  But no time is a waste when spent on God.  No matter how little or how much you do do.

Conclusions:  Lots of reading for this day and in the coming days of parallel passages.  It was interesting just how much different John is from Matthew and Mark.  This doesn’t necessarily mean it is a contradiction.  Since Matthew and Mark doesn’t give dates, it could be a flashback for Matthew and Mark as they record events out of order.  They really don’t say specifically like John does.  Jesus was at Bethany for a whole week before Passover so this could have taken place any time during that week.

I wonder why Mary wasn’t mentioned by name in Matthew and Mark and neither was Lazarus.  Fascinating.

End Notes:  Jesus is now done with his teachings.  The rest is preparing for his crucifixion.

Matthew’s use of the words “assembled” and “plotted” is deliberate.  It is supposed to remind the readers of Psalm 31:13.

Simon the Leper is unknown in Scripture outside of this verse.  We can presume he was one Jesus cured but his distinction still stuck.

Caiaphas was high priest from 15 AD-36 AD.  This was an extraordinarily long time for a high priest.  This shows just how skilled Caiaphas was in keeping the Jews and the Romans happy.

Two years after the crucifixion of Christ, both Caiaphas and Pilate were out of power, replaced by the future Roman Emperor Vitellius.  Caiaphas killed himself after this, some say out of guilt of the crucifixion of Christ.

Amazing how the high priests thought they were in control.  They did not want to kill Christ during Passover; but as we’ve seen, Christ is in control and his plan was different.

Scholars believe the Mary in John is the sister of Lazarus and Martha.

Why is this story not recorded in Luke?  There is in Luke 7:36-50.  Scholars believe Luke’s a separate anointing that took place in Galilee.  Still, some of the details in Luke’s account mirrors John’s account such as the anointing of the feet and the wiping of the hair.

This is one of those things we’ll have to ask John and Luke about when we get to heaven!

Was this waste?  If everything is from Jesus, then it’s all for Jesus as well.  This was an intense act of love, giving Jesus all his due.  Hence the chastisement of Judas and others.

Judas, having been rebuked publicly by Jesus here, probably took this as the last straw.  Hence, his desire to turn Jesus over for profit.  His jealousy probably raged here and he desired revenge.

Many scholars have speculated as to Judas’ motivations.  Some point out he may have been from Judea, making him the only disciple from that area.  Hence, he might resent the prominence of the others.  Some say he wanted Jesus to reveal himself so he thought his actions would hurry this up.  Some even say he didn’t believe Jesus to be the Messiah and he decided to cut his losses.

Whatever Judas’ motivations, we only know the outcome:  Judas sold Jesus for greed.  He profited.  That’s all the Bible says and that is sufficient for us believers.  All of God’s word is sufficient.

BSF Study Questions Genesis Lesson 26, Day 2: Genesis 37:1-11

YEAH, JOSEPH!!!!!!!!  MY FAVORITE!!!!!!!!

Summary of passage:  Joseph at age 17 attended the flocks with his brothers and wives. It seemed he tattled on them quite frequently.  Joseph as Rachel’s first-born son was Jacob’s favorite and everyone knew it.  Jacob gave him a richly ornamented robe.  The brothers hated him for his father’s favoritism.

Joseph made the mistake of telling his brothers the dream he had of how they were all sheaves of grain and they bowed down to him (which as we know comes true in Genesis 42:6).  This only enraged his brothers more against him.

Not learning his lesson, Joseph tells his brothers another dream he has where the sun, moon, and 11 stars were bowing down to him (Genesis 40:41, 43).  This is NOT endearing him at all.

Joseph told his father this dream as well and Jacob rebuked the arrogant Joseph out of disbelief but Jacob it seems wondered about it.


3a)  As God walked with Abraham and decided to reveal his intentions for Sodom to Abraham (Genesis 18:17-21), we learn  God revealed to him because he was the chosen one.  So too was Joseph.  He was chosen to save his people from a famine and to accomplish this he gave Joseph the gift of dream interpretation for the Pharaoh.  He was preparing Joseph to trust his dreams and to interpret them in order to fulfill God’s purpose on earth and for His people.

A simple answer is because God wanted to.  He chose Joseph and this was the method He would communicate with him.

b)  No.  Very bad idea.  It only incited their hatred against him.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Sometimes it’s best to keep things to yourself.  We must remember though Joseph is only 17 here.  He is spoiled, naive, and probably a bit arrogant (hubris of the youth).  He truly doesn’t know any better.  I think he was just retelling his dream and wondering out loud what it meant.  It was his audience he should have chosen better.

It’s the old adage “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all.”  We must be considerate of others’ feelings when speaking due to the power of our tongue.  Here, it’s all about Joseph.

The Matthew verse says to not give what is sacred or valued to those who will just crush it and use it against you.  This is what Joseph did and it was definitely used against him.

4)  For a reason not in Joseph’s control:  They hated him because he was the favorite of their father, Jacob, so he was showered with gifts, treated special, and could do no wrong in Jacob’s eyes.  Jacob was probably lax on the rules with Joseph and probably let Joseph do less work than the others.  Their hatred should have been towards their father (the brothers were wrong to hate at all.  That is the devil at work.  What I’m saying is since they had hatred in their hearts it should have been towards their father, not Joseph.  It wasn’t his fault his mother was Rachel and Jacob treated him as such).

Conclusions:  Another example of how playing favorites in a family can lead to hurt feelings, pent up frustrations, and ultimately to horrible acts against family members.  It seems to be a dysfunctional cycle that is being passed down through the generations in this family.

Interesting to note what an age-old problem this is.  We, as humans, still do this today and often with the same disastrous results.  It is another sin, another human condition, we must consciously fight against in this world.

Joseph’s fabled coat-of-many-colors signifies that he is to receive the birthright.  Can you imagine how Reuben, the firstborn who is supposed to receive the birthright, felt? Ironically, it is Reuben who saves Joseph from death (Genesis 37:21-22).  And God’s plan is now set in motion.

Note the sheaves of wheat in the first dream of Joseph.  His brothers will bow down to him, asking for wheat.  Nothing is insignificant when done by God.

Telling his family his dreams was definitely in a lack of taste and in poor judgement.  I believe these dreams were meant only for Joseph so he would know his fate.  Instead, he blabbed in human pride and arrogance.  But like I said, he is young.  He will learn.

End Notes:  This section of Genesis is not in chronological order.  Notice how Jacob says “your mother and I” in verse 10.  This shows that Rachel was still alive when this happened even though we just read about her death in Genesis 35.

Scholars believe Genesis 37:2 is a breaking point, showing Jacob’s writing or preservations ending and Joseph’s beginning in 37:3.

The sun, the moon, and the 11 stars represents the family of Israel and is also found in Revelation 12:1.  This passage points to Jesus and his lineage from the tribes of Israel.

BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 26, Day 2: James 1:1-18

Summary of passage:  James is speaking to the 12 tribes scattered among the nations. He tells them to consider it pure joy when they are faced with trials because it tests their faith and develops perseverance, which we need in order to finish the work God wants to do in us.  If we lack wisdom, ask God and believe the Lord will answer and He will.  The humble brother should be prideful in his position but the rich should take pride if he becomes low; otherwise he will fade away like the flower if he puts his trust in material things of this world.

Blessed are those who persevere under trial for he will receive the crown of life from God.  God does not tempt anyone.  Temptation comes from our own evil desire, which leads to sin and then to death.  Every good and perfect gift is from God who never changes.


3)  We learn in 1:1 this letter was written after the diaspora in 70 AD when the temple was destroyed by the Romans so the tribes are no longer in their homeland but in foreign nations and amongst unbelievers.  The rich are apparently exploiting the poor and dragging them into court (2:6-7) and are being favored.  And 1:2 tells us they face “trials of many kinds”.  Living in the first century AD was a struggle just to survive for many people.

4a)  Personal Question.  My answer:  As I’ve said before, I don’t face anything like what Paul did or the other early Christians.  My main trials are doing the right thing (which I try to do) and living according to God’s calling and not according to the world’s.

b)  I think 1:4 says it best:  look at trials as working in you, giving you perseverance and maturity to finish the work God has for you.  There is a reason for whatever is happening in your harried life and even if we can’t see it, we must trust God and believe in the end we will come out stronger for Him.

5a)  Ask God for wisdom and it will be given.  But you must believe and not doubt that God will answer.

b)  Great question!  Depends on what kind of doubt we are talking about here.  In my mind, doubt is human nature.  We all question whether we are doing the right thing or not, making the right decisions, or if we are following God’s will.  Sure, we must ask and believe but that doesn’t mean Satan is not throwing darts to pop our balloons.  We must be wary as well.

According to Webster’s, doubt is:  fear; to lack confidence in; distrust to be uncertain; uncertainty of belief that often interferes with decision-making.

Sin is “offensive to God; an offense against religious or moral law; transgression of the law of God” says Webster’s.

Jesus said in Matthew 21:21 “If you have faith and do not doubt”.  Doubt is the antithesis of faith.  If we doubt then we lack faith.  We must have faith to have Jesus.  So can we make the jump to saying all doubt is sinful?

I would argue no.  To have doubt in the first place you must believe in something. Otherwise, why would you fear repercussions?  I believe you can doubt and still have Jesus.  You can’t doubt Jesus.  But you can doubt whether or not your new job offer is a God-thing or not.

We doubt because we are human.  Because we have an Enemy who attacks us daily.  And, yes, because we are unsure of God’s answer.  But it strengthens us.  Gives us perseverance to finish the race.  When we doubt, we pray.  When we pray, we become closer to God; we hear Him more.  So the next time doubt surfaces, we can believe and trust Him more.

Doubt is a symptom of weak faith.  Can we have God and still doubt?  Yes.  Because we are growing in Him.  And every time we pray and ask God to remove doubt from our lives, to show us the way–clearly–we grow in Him.  And our doubt lessens every time.

Mark 9:24 “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” is a prayer we all need to pray at certain moments in our life.

6)  Personal Question.  My answer:  I think it’s saying that we all (no matter if we are wealthy or not) face trials and ups and downs in life and all the material goods will fade away like a wild flower.  We must put our faith in God who never fades.

7a)  Temptation–desire–sin–death.  Temptation is everywhere.  We are told sins are okay (premarital sex, indulging in whatever our heart desires, etc).  That life is short so live it up.  If we are not grounded in God, we will Fall.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Use the word of God as a shield and sword.  Pray.  Trust and believe everything is for my good. (Romans 8:28)  “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31).  I think we all know our weaknesses so avoid situations where we are weak and tempted.  When the desire arises, pray and flee from it or the situation if possible.  If we do sin, repent immediately and God will forgive.

Conclusions:  Great lesson.  I liked the personal questions and it’s a great passage to study.  James certainly doesn’t mince any words.  I’ll be interested to see what BSF says about doubt.  I could be wrong on this but I think doubt is so common and is used by the devil so much against us that I see it as part of the life we must traverse and not as a sin. It’s part of our Fallen nature, one we must overcome.  Another step in God’s direction. Our growth process.   Another test of our faith in Him.  Another trial we must persevere. Until the day comes when we can fully trust in Him.

End Note:  In lecture this week we talked about the process of sanctification (the process or result of being made holy).  Our leader mentioned how we are all born as infants, starting out in doubt but growing up in faith.  Thus, doubt is a process, one we are meant to go through as we grow in our relationship with God.  One we all go through.

BSF Study Questions Isaiah Lesson 26, Day 2 Isaiah 58

Summary of passage:  God directs Isaiah to shout out to His people, the house of Jacob, their sins.  Day after day they seek me (God) and are eager to know His ways as if they were a righteous and law-abiding nation.  They ask for just decisions and for God to be near.

Yet the people ask, “Why have we fasted and humbled ourselves if you (God) have not noticed?”

God answers, “You do as you please and exploit your workers.  You quarrel and strike each other.  You cannot fast as you do today and expect to be heard.”  In essence, the people’s hearts were not God’s heart.  They fasted for wrong reasons and with evil hearts.

God asks, “Is this the kind of fast I have chosen where you bow your head and lie on sackcloth and ashes?  Is this acceptable to the Lord?”  The answer is No.  God reveals the fast He desires:

“To loose the chains of injustice, set the oppressed free, and break every yoke. To share your food with the hungry and provide the poor with shelter. To clothe the naked and not abandon your relatives.”

Then your light will break forth like the dawn, your healing will appear, you will be righteous with the glory of the Lord at your rear.

Then when you call I will answer: Here am I.  [So when you fast with a heart of God, He will answer.]  Your light will rise in the darkness if you do away with oppression, malicious talk, and satisfy the needs of the oppressed.

The Lord will guide you always and satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and strengthen you.  You will be a well-watered garden whose waters never fail.  You will rebuild and build up things.

If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and doing what you please on God’s holy day then you will find joy in the Lord and He will cause you to ride on the heights of the land and feast on the inheritance of Jacob.


3a)  The Israelites fasted, sought God day after day, seemed eager to know His ways, portrayed righteousness and obedience.

b)  They sought to please themselves.  On the day of the fasting, they did as they pleased and exploited all their workers.  They quarreled and hit each other.  They fasted without their heart on God.  They went through the motions of bowing their heads and putting on sackcloth and ashes but still their heart remained aloof.

c)  He did not answer their prayers and He told them what fasting He has chosen:  to see the oppressed free and break every yoke, to share your food with the hungry and provide shelter to the wanderer, to clothe the naked, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood.  Only then will He say:  Here am I.

d)  Personal Question.  My answer:  I’m working on praising God more in prayer and praying more for others.  When I feel far away from Him, I tend to pray less so I’m working on praying no matter what mood I am in.  Sometimes I do pray and my heart is not in it (mainly because my brain is elsewhere, dwelling on something I should have let go which I haven’t yet or on future events) but I feel it’s better than not praying at all and in time God will turn my mind and heart to Him again as long as I am seeking.

4a)  The purpose was to make atonement to God for your sins and to cleanse yourself of sins so you will be clean before the Lord.  The attitude was strict:  it must be on the tenth day of the seventh month and the people must fast (deny themselves) and not do any work. Everyone had to do this–whether native Israelites or foreigners living amongst them who did not necessarily believe in the Lord.  This was to be the Sabbath, the day of rest and to be a lasting ordinance.

b)  God desires an authentic fast:  one where we obeyed His commands and were eager to know Him.  We are to set the oppressed free, share with others what God has given us, and follow His will, not ours.  We are to do what pleases God, not ourselves.  And only then when we call will He answer.

c)  Donate to the poor or serve in soup kitchens.  Find charities that work with the poor and support them.  Help your relatives when they are on hard times (this could also be members of the church or Christian body as your own flesh and blood since we are all the body of Christ).  Give to your church to help your sisters and brothers who are struggling.  God ultimately wants our heart to lie where His does–which is with those struggling.

Conclusions:  God is so good!  This was EXACTLY what I needed to hear in this time in my life.  “The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame.”  So, no matter where I go, I will have no fear or inhibitions because God is guiding me and He will satisfy my needs in that place.  He will build things, which I constantly see in my work.

If I honor God by not doing my own thing or going my own way, then I will be filled with joy in the Lord, ride on the heights of the land, and feast on the inheritance of Jacob.

What better message right now in my life than one of Hope.  I think this is my favorite message in the Bible for I know I can’t live without it.

End note:  We are no longer required to do no work on the Sabbath since we now find rest in Jesus.  This was only required before Jesus died for us.  Hebrews 4 explains it best.  We enter a Sabbath-rest:  “There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God.” Hebrews 4:9 which is not necessarily on Sundays.  Or we are free to not technically “rest” at all.  But I think most Christians rest with God through prayer and in His word–essentially in God since His spirit now dwells in us.  See also Colossians 2:16-17 and Galatians 4:9-11