BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 27, Day 2: Romans 15:1-6

Summary of passage:  We need to subjugate our needs to others’ needs.  The Bible was written to encourage us and give us hope.  We are to have unity amongst Christians  so that we can glorify God and Jesus.

Questions:

3)  We are to subjugate our need to others’ needs.  We are to have unity amongst Christians in order to glorify the Father and Jesus.  We are privileged to have the Bible to guide us and teach us.  We are strong and should bear with the failings of the weak and bear the weak up.  We are to lead by example as Jesus did.

4)  People pleasing is where we do things or tasks so that others are happy, which includes things we probably shouldn’t be doing.  Pleasing your neighbor is doing something that the neighbor needs doing and sincerely helping him do it.  It’s making others stronger through your help.  These are things that make the neighbor a better person and more confident and hopefully more Godly.  The difference is the intent behind the act and the results.

5)  The big one is where Jesus gave up his life for us.  The results are eternal salvation for believers.  Everything Jesus did was for others:  healing, feeding the 5000, teaching, serving, etc.  He is our greatest example.

6)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Selfish.  Greedy.  At times evil and corrupt.  Closed-minded.  Ultimately, miserable.  I can be very selfish.  Greedy.  Evil.  Definitely.  The difference is I fight against that with God’s and the Holy Spirit’s help and I hope I’m making progress, but oftentimes I don’t think so.

Conclusions:  I love the strong versus weak analogy.  I tend to think of myself as strong and I’m very impatient with those who aren’t.  This isn’t necessarily physical.  It’s emotional and mental as well.  This is a great reminder for me to see others with God’s grace.  I also love Paul’s reminder about unity with other Christians (BSF will explore this on Day 3).  I have drifted away from weekly church attendance (other than BSF) and I know I need a church home.  Desperately so.  Perhaps this will “kick me in the butt” to do something about it!

End Notes:  Paul says to use your strength to serve your brothers, not just yourself.  “Bear with” really means “bearing up” your brother i.e. holding him up.  This advice goes against the “me” society today.  Paul says if you build up others you will build yourself up in the process.

Paul gives the same advice in Philippians 2:3-4.  Put others first.  The goal is to make the weak strong.

We are to build each other up; not tear each other down.

Jesus is the ultimate example of one who did not please Himself, but put others first. Paul’s classic development of this idea is in Philippians 2:5-11.

Jesus took fulfilled what was written in God’s word, allowing the Father to vindicate him.

The commandment Jesus fulfilled from Psalm 69:7-9 was written for our learning so that we might have hope, knowing we are doing what is right even when difficult.  “You” refers to God and “me” is the righteous sufferer whom Paul identifies with Christ.

Responding rightly bothers people even more.  No one can hurt God’s children.

Paul then prays for the Holy Spirit to endow this attitude onto the Romans.  Other translations here have “God of patience” instead of endurance.  In essence, Paul is saying wait on God’s plan for your life.  God’s purpose for your life takes time.

Paul encourages believers not to necessarily have the same conclusions but to agree to disagree in love (Ephesians 4:1-6; Philippians 2:1-5).

BSF Study Questions John Lesson 27, Day 2: John 19:31-37

Summary of passage:  The Sabbath was the next day and the Jews did not want bodies hanging around so they asked Pilate to take the bodies down.  The soldiers went around and broke the legs of the two criminals who were still alive.  Jesus had already died so they did not break his legs.  Instead, a Roman soldier pierced his side, fulfilling Scripture once again.

Questions:

3)  According to Jewish law, the bodies could not be left overnight and had to be buried that same day so the land would not be desecrated.  Breaking their legs would kill them faster so they wouldn’t die on the Sabbath where the men were not allowed to do work i.e. bury dead bodies and become unclean.

4)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  They are willing for others to suffer or even die so that they can follow the laws.  They pick and choose which laws to follow.  They are motivated not by God but by themselves.  They don’t care who they hurt to keep up appearances.  You must have God’s heart in all you do and behind all your actions, not your own self-interests.  Do what’s right for others, not yourself.

5)  Personal Question.  My answer:  For coming to earth to be fully man and lead by example how to live a Godly-life.  I’m thankful for his death as well to save me.

Conclusions:  No one yet has realized the full significance of Jesus’ death.  No one will until he rises again in 3 days.  It’s as if time stops as people go through the motions, waiting for God’s plans to unfold.  Sometimes I feel I’m going through the motions to get to God’s plans but always moving towards them.

End Notes:  The day of Preparation again gives scholars problems as to the exact date of Jesus’ death.  The special Sabbath was Passover.  Most scholars believe the Passover meal had been eaten on Thursday.  The day of Preparation was Friday.  The Sabbath would be Saturday.

As we’ve discussed LAST WEEK, the bodies of those crucified would normally hang on the crosses and rot as a sign to others not to break the law.  However, the Jewish leaders, concerned about ceremonial pollution on the Passover, requested the bodies removed early.  Breaking the legs (known as crucifragium in Latin) would bring asphyxiation on quickly.  Men had to push themselves up with their legs in order to breathe while hanging suspended by their hands.  Unable to do this, they would die.

Could you imagine?  You are suffering on a cross and a guy comes up and wracks you on the legs with a club?  The pain!  In one sense, it’s a good thing cause you’ll pain will end sooner through death but still…

Mark 15:44-45 tells us that Pontius Pilate asked for confirmation that Jesus was dead.  These were seasoned Roman soldiers who knew the look of death.  The customary way to confirm death on the cross was to break the legs.  However, this centurion did not.  Instead, he pierced Jesus, probably meant to be a death blow, and fulfilled prophecy.  This could have been out of cruelty as well.

Blood and water flowed and doctors today think this proves Jesus died of a burst heart since the water would come from the watery sack that surrounds the heart known as the pericardium and possibly the heart itself.  Typically, in the Old Testament, water and blood was used to cleanse the people.  Spurgeon compares this to Adam and Eve who came from his side.  From Jesus’ side comes the church.

John tells us he was there to testify to what he saw.  Later in one of his letters (1 John 5:6–which we studied in Lesson 21) he described Jesus as He who came by water and blood. This description has puzzled many commentators, unsure if John meant the waters of baptism or the water mentioned in John 19:34.

The not breaking of the legs prophecy of Psalm 34:20, Exodus 12:46, and Numbers 9:12 was unknowingly and accidently (on man’s part) fulfilled. Nevertheless, its exact fulfillment shows the providence and guidance of God, and leads us to believe.

This piercing prophecy of Zechariah 12:10 and 13:6 was unknowingly and accidently (on man’s part) fulfilled. Nevertheless, its exact fulfillment shows the providence and guidance of God, and leads us to believe.

Zechariah also says Jesus will be looked upon, mourned, and petitioned.  This is to still to come.

BSF Study Questions Revelation Lesson 27, Day 2: Revelation 21:9-10

Summary of passage:  John is carried away by an angel to see the bride, wife of the Lamb.

Questions:

3)  He’s carried away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high to see the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God.

4a)  Revelation 1:10-11:  John was told to write what he sees and send it to the 7 churches.  Obviously important as Jesus has a message for the churches and the body of Christ.

Revelation 4:2:  John saw the throne in heaven.  Important to see God reigning on the throne of heaven and what heaven is like.

Revelation 17:3:  John sees the woman sitting on a beast covered in blasphemous names with 7 heads and 10 horns.  Important to see God’s enemies and what happens to unbelievers and His enemies.

Revelation 21:9-10: John’s carried away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high to see the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God.  Important to see the future world, of what Christians have to look forward to, and how God wins.

b)  In Revelation 17, we see what happens to sinners and unbelievers and in Revelation 21 we see believers’ reward:  eternal life in the Holy City.  17 is a warning.  21 is a promise.

5)  Personal Question.  My answer:  I didn’t know there were so many ways to ask the same question (Similar questions in Lesson 22 Day 2 & Day 3, Lesson 23 Day 2.  I know this world is temporary and what I have to look forward to is infinitely better than what is here.

Conclusions:  Nice review of when John was “in the Spirit”.  Question 5 was a repeat.

End Notes:  Passages like this give scholars reason to suggest the Holy City is just a symbol.  However, it is not.  This is the place where all of God’s people are gathered.  It is beautiful like a bride.  We saw this in Revelation 21:2 as well–almost the same words and images.

This is another vision.  John is taken to watch God’s Holy City descend from heaven.  Revelation 19:7-8 says the marriage of the Lamb has come and the bride is ready.  The bride is the saints, God’s holy people, and the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.  So we have God’s people and now we see where God’s people shall dwell.

We’ll see more details of the New Jerusalem in the rest of this chapter.

BSF Study Questions The Life of Moses Lesson 27, Day 2: Deuteronomy 27

Introductory Notes:  Each day is a chapter so much more manageable than last week.  Still, give yourself some time to complete each lesson.

Summary of passage:  Moses commands the people to write the law onto stones and set them upon Mount Ebal once they cross into the Promised Land.  Build an altar on Mount Ebal and offer sacrifices to God.  Moses said the tribes of Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Joseph, and Benjamin will stand on Mount Gerizim and offer blessings to the people.  The tribes of Reuben, Gad, Asher, Zebulun, Dan, and Naphtali will offer curses to the people from Mount Ebal.

The curses are:  anyone who carves a graven image or idol, one who dishonors his mother or father, one who moses his neighbor’s boundary stone, one who leads the blind man astray, one who withholds justice, one who commits adultery, one who has sex with animals, one who sleeps with his mother-in-law, sister, or daughter, one who kills, one who accepts a bribe, and one who doe not uphold the law by carrying them out.

Questions:

3a)  Set up some large stones coated with plaster and write on them the law.  He also commanded them to set up an altar to offer sacrifices to God.

b)  To rejoice in the presence of God, to thank Him for bringing them to the land, and to remember the laws.

4a)  Moses then commanded the tribes of Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Joseph, and Benjamin will stand on Mount Gerizim and offer blessings to the people. The tribes of Reuben, Gad, Asher, Zebulun, Dan, and Naphtali will offer curses to the people from Mount Ebal.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  No specific times come to mind but just reading the Bible daily imbues life lessons and warnings that I carry around in my heart that I hope arise when needed.

Conclusions:  Reading easy, but I wish we’d just get on with it and enter the Promised Land!  Again, repetition and warnings to obey God’s commands faithfully.  This seems to be the most important thing God wants from the people.  Obey Him.

End Notes:  Joshua carried out Moses’s instructions for these blessings and curses in Joshua 8:30-35.  Mount Ebal had special significance for the Israelites who believed that Abraham first worshipped God near here after receiving the original promise of the land (Genesis 15).

By commanding no iron tools be used, God was ensuring all the glory went to Him and none to the stone-carver.

Deuteronomy is a contract between the king and His subjects.

The command to curse and bless the people was also fulfilled by Joshua in Joshua 8:32-35.

Amen means “so be it.”  Hence, when someone was cursed, this was uttered.

Note that the altar is built upon Mount Ebal, which is the mountain from which curses are pronounced.  Why not build an altar on Mount Gerizim, the mountain of blessings?  Because even in our sin, there is God, waiting for us to repent with a sacrifice and come to Him.  Awesome!

Note now we cannot be cursed–Jesus took all of our curses upon himself.  God does not punish nor curse us under the New Covenant.  What grace!

BSF Study Questions Matthew Lesson 27, Day 2: Matthew 26:47-56; John 18:1-11

Summary of passages:  Matthew 26:47-56:  Judas arrives as Jesus is with the other disciples in Gethsemane.  There is a large crowd armed with swords and clubs with him.  Judas kissed Jesus, his sign to the guards as to which one was Jesus.  Jesus was seized and one of the disciples cut off a servant’s ear.  Jesus chastised him, saying to put his sword back for all who draw the sword die by the sword.  Jesus said he could easily escape if he wanted to but instead must fulfill Scripture.

Jesus spoke to the crowd, wondering why they are armed.  The disciples all abandoned Jesus.

John 18:1-11:  Jesus left the Kidron Valley and went over to an olive grove.  Judas familiar with the place came and brought soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and Pharisees.  They were carrying torches, lanterns, and weapons.

Jesus met them and asked who they were seeking.  They answered, “Jesus of Nazarth.”  Jesus said, “I am he” and they drew back and fell to the ground.  He asked they let his disciples go.  Simon Peter drew his sword and cut off Malchus’s, the servant of the high priest, ear.  Jesus told him to put his sword away so he could drink the cup the Father has given him.

Questions:

3a)  Simon Peter

b)  The soldiers could have attacked and killed all of them including Jesus who would then not have been able to die on the cross for our sins as well as killing the disciples who spread the Good News to the world.

c)  He still didn’t understand that this was Jesus’ destiny and God’s plan because he tried to prevent it.

d)  Personal Question.  My answer:  I can’t answer this.  I’m not for sure.  I believe all things have a purpose and in my adult life I believe I have been following God.  Even if it’s turns out to be wrong because I misinterpreted Him or heard wrongly, it is still His purpose for my life.

4a)  Matthew 26:56:  “Then all the disciples deserted him.”

Mark 14:50:  “Then everyone deserted him and fled.”

[Side Note:  Several sources I read said Jesus was humiliated by his arrest.  As I note below, Jesus willingly gave himself up to the soldiers.  I don’t see  how he would be humiliated because of this.  However, I believe the fact that his brothers in arms (the disciples) fled would have brought shame and grief to Jesus’ soul more so than being tied up and led to his destiny.]

b)  John 18:6:  “When Jesus said, ‘I am he,’ they drew back and fell to the ground.”

c)  He tells them immediately who he is and asks for his disciples to be freed (John 18:8).

Luke 22:51:  “No more of this!” and Jesus touched the man’s ear and healed him.

d)  John 18:9:  “This happened so that the words he had spoken would be fulfilled:  ‘I have not lost one of those you gave me’”.

John 18:11:  “Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?”

Matthew 26:54:  “But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen this way?”

Matthew 26:56:  “But this has all taken place that the writings of the prophets might be fulfilled.”

Mark 14:49:  “But the Scriptures must be fulfilled.”

Luke 22:53:  “But this is your hour–when darkness reigns.”

Conclusions:  Loved this lesson except for the personal question that was a bit of a stretch as it assumes we know God’s mind in our lives.  Loved how we read all the passages of this scene in the Bible.  Great comparison study!

End Notes:  Again, it’s important to note that Jesus did not hide from Judas.  He could have gone somewhere Judas would not have known where to find him; but, instead, it was not God’s plan.

We never think of the disciples as carrying swords but at various times (as shown here) they did.  Probably for personal safety especially while traveling to ward off robbers and thieves.  Most men owned and knew how to use a sword in first century AD.

The number of soldiers in a legion varied over time.  This could have been anywhere between 5400 to 6000 fighting men.  Imagine 12 of these legions of angels, fighting for Jesus.  What an awesome sight to behold!

How quickly do the disciples abandon Jesus after saying they never would at the Last Supper.  Yet Jesus knew (Matthew 26:31).  Imagine his heart-break, seeing his staunchest believers blanch in the face of cowardice.

Arrested is not the right verb here.  Jesus willingly gave himself up.  The verb here is describing the actions of man, not of God.

Map of Garden of Gethsemane:  HERE

Curiosity:  Anyone else wonder how Gethsemane became a “garden”?  Matthew and Mark just describe it as a “place.”  Luke describes it as the place Jesus customarily went on the Mount of Olives.  John describes it as “across the Kidron Valley in an olive grove”.  Somehow it is now known as the “Garden of Gethsemane” where Jesus was arrested.  Probably lost in translation somewhere along down the line.  Either way it’s a secluded place, calm and peaceful, where Jesus retreated and was arrested that fateful night.

Scholars say it was in fact a garden as it is the second time God fights for mankind with the devil.  The first was in the Garden of Eden.  The second is here–in the Garden of Gethsemane.

If you visit Israel today, you can visit a place where scholars believe may have been the Garden of Gethsemane.   Click HERE to visit the official tourist website.  The garden and the olive trees were destroyed by the Romans in the siege of 70 AD but scholars believe these trees today are descendants of those original ones.  Click on the picture to enlarge the olive trees and you’ll get a sense of where Jesus stood.

BSF Study Questions Genesis Lesson 27, Day 2: Genesis 39

Summary of passage:  Joseph was taken to Egypt and purchased by Potiphar, the captain of Pharaoh’s guard.  Because the Lord was with Joseph, he became Potiphar’s attendant and then put in charge of his household and everything in it.  Because of Joseph’s presence, the Lord blessed Potiphar and everything in his house and in his fields.

Potiphar’s wife tried to get Joseph to sleep with her but Joseph refused, saying he is to care for everything that is his master’s and he cannot sin against God committing adultery.  She tried daily and he avoided her.

One day Joseph was alone with Potiphar’s wife and she grabbed him by his cloak.  He slipped out of his cloak and ran outside.  She told her servants that he had come to her to try to sleep with her and had left his cloak behind.  She told Potiphar who put Joseph in prison.

Still, the Lord was with Joseph so Joseph was put in charge of all the prisoners and all the happenings there and had success in whatever he did.

Questions:

3a)  Genesis 39:3, 23:  When God is with you, you have success in whatever you do.

Genesis 39:21:  When God is with you, God shows you kindness and others see you favorably.

Joshua 1:7-9:  Follow and obey the law and meditate on it day and night and you will be successful and prosperous wherever  you go.

b)  Joshua 1:  God promises to never leave us or forsake us.  No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life.  Be strong and courageous.  Follow and obey the law and meditate on it day and night and you will be successful and prosperous wherever you go.  God will be with us wherever we go.

Psalm 1:  Blessed is he who delights in the law of the Lord and meditates on it day and night.  Whatever he does prospers.  The Lord watches over the righteous.

4)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Potiphar probably witnessed the abundance Joseph brought in whatever tasks he was doing before he was promoted.  Joseph was honest (as shown by not sleeping with his wife), which was hard to find in slaves back then.  I would imagine Joseph was one of those people whom you just know God is with him.  He probably had an aura about him that just attracted others to him.

5a)  Personal Question.  My answer:  He trusted in God and God’s plans.  He was also young.  He hadn’t experienced yet how hard the world could be until this moment so he probably took a positive attitude and made the best of every situation.

b)  By prospering those around Joseph.  It was like Midas and the Golden Touch.  Everywhere it seemed Joseph made everything turn to gold so to speak and everyone knew it.  Even in prison God blessed him and made that life tolerable.  God allowed others to see how Joseph was the reason for all the good in their lives; hence, they showed him favor.

Conclusions:  Mixed on this lesson.  The theme was if you obey and trust in God you will prosper no matter your circumstances, which is a good lesson.  God blesses. However, something was missing–depth perhaps?

Prisons of ancient times were NOTHING like prisons of today.  No regular meals.  No sanitary conditions.  No toilets.  No showers.  And definitely no human rights.  Prisoners were tortured, beaten, and starved to death.  No one cared if you lived or died back then and if you were thrown in prison for a crime (like Joseph was), odds are you’d never get out and you would die there.  You’d literally be left to rot, especially if you had no money in which to buy your freedom.

A prisoner being put in charge of prisoners was rare.  Yet God had to intervene here or Joseph would die.

Fun Fact:  The name Potiphar means “devoted to the sun”.  In Ancient Egypt, the Sun God, Ra, was considered the King of the gods and was worshipped by some as the creator god.  Pharaoh was seen as the son of Ra.  He was said to command the chariot that rode across the sky and brought day to the world.  He was universally worshipped throughout the entire Ancient Egyptian reign (3000 years).

Hence, Potiphar’s name means devoted to this god as well as to Pharaoh since Pharaoh is the son of Ra and considered his embodiment on earth.

Potiphar’s job was personal security to Pharaoh.  He wasn’t in charge of the army. Hence, he was very important in Egypt.

Joseph was in Potiphar’s house for 11 years.  We are not told how long it took him to work his way up but we can assume it took a bit of time.  We must remember Joseph is a foreigner.  He didn’t know the language, the culture, the customs, the religion, etc.  There had to have been a learning time and an adjustment period.

Interesting Fact:  Joseph is one of only 3 men called handsome in the Bible.  The other two are David (1 Samuel 16:12) and Absalom (2 Samuel 14:25).  Hence, I think it is safe to say he would have been voted Time’s Sexiest Man Alive!

Why is Potiphar’s wife coming on to Joseph?  Besides the fact Joseph is handsome, there is debate amongst scholars on whether or not Potiphar was a eunuch.  The Hebrew word for “official” in verse 1 may be translated as eunuch and it was common for high officials serving the Pharaoh to be castrated in order to ensure complete loyalty.  This may be another reason his wife was seeking attention elsewhere.

Plus, Joseph, a mere slave, said no to a woman of noble status–very rare in ancient times. I’m sure she felt the need for retribution (and indeed she had her revenge).  When she tired of the challenge, she had Joseph thrown in jail.  End of story.

Egyptian religion was lax when it came to marriage rites and being unfaithful was not uncommon.

The temptation Joseph endured could have gone on for years.  We are not told–only that it happened “day after day”.  This was definitely a test of strength for Joseph–one in which we are to gain strength from.

Joseph did everything right:  he avoided temptation, never being alone with her; he knew it was a sin; he said no; and then he ran when she trapped him.  Yet he still paid a price for following God.  As we all do.

Joseph could have been killed but instead was put in prison.  This hints that Potiphar probably suspected his wife’s lies (what husband doesn’t know his wife is flirting in his own household?).  Also, this shows how God saves.