BSF Study Questions Genesis Lesson 31, Day 5: Genesis 50:22-26

Summary of passage:  Joseph spent his entire life in Egypt and died at the age of 110. Before he died, he reassured his brothers that God will aid them and take them out of Egypt to the Promised Land and requested that his bones be brought out of Egypt.  He was embalmed and placed in a coffin in Egypt.

Questions:

11)  God will aid them and take them up out of this land to the land he promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

12a)  To have his bones moved to the land God promised.  This encouraged the Israelites in their faith in God as they trusted in God’s plan to return them to the Promised Land.

b) Exodus 13:19:  “Moses took the bones of Joseph with him.”

Joshua 24:32:  “And Joseph’s bones which the Israelites had brought up from Egypt were buried at Shechem in the tract of land that Jacob bought for a 100 pieces of silver from the sons of Hamor, the father of Shechem.”

13) Personal Question.  My answer:  From this passage:  “God will surely come to your aid and take [your loved one] up out of this land to the land He promised (heaven).”

Other passages are better:  Genesis 50:19-21:  “Don’t be afraid…God intends it for good…He will provide for you and your children.”

Conclusions:  Disappointment reigns.  I think Lesson 30 & 31 should have been combined.

Did you catch the fact that Joseph was never buried?  (I didn’t until I read commentary on this passage.  I had assumed he was buried and then would be dug up for the trip to the Promised Land).  Scholars suggest his bones were left out as a visual reminder to the Israelites that one day Joseph would be buried in the Promised Land.

Joseph’s request was showing great faith in God’s promises.

And so ends the Book of Genesis with God’s chosen people looking forward to the fulfillment of God’s promises.

BSF Study Questions Genesis Lesson 31, Day 4: Genesis 50:15-21

Summary of passage:  With Jacob dead, Joseph’s brothers once again became afraid of retribution from Joseph for what they did to him.  They lied (again), saying Jacob told Joseph to forgive them before he died.  Joseph wept over this.  His brothers humbled themselves before Joseph, offering themselves as slaves.

Joseph told them to not be afraid for God intended good out of the evil they did–to save lives.

Questions:

8a)  They were afraid Joseph would enact revenge and justice upon them now that Jacob was dead.  So they lied that Jacob told him to forgive them.

b)  He spoke kindly to them, telling them God has worked good out of their evil.

c)  Personal Question:  That God has a plan that we cannot see.  Things happen for reasons we cannot know.  We must trust in Him always and learn and grow in our walk of faith no matter the hardships.  For good is right around the corner.  All things work together for my good.

We must also keep in mind that the evils that befall us are not from God; they are from man.  Man enacts evil upon us, not God.  But God will work it for good in our lives.  All for His glory.

9a) He forgives us; He loves us; He protects us; He provides for us; He showers us with grace when we are in no way worthy.

Psalm 103:  “The Lord forgives all your sins…redeems your life…compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love…He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities…for so great is his love for those who fear him.”

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Eternal gratitude.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Could be better.  Need to be more God-like.

10a)  “To accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives”.  To save the seed of the Savior and God’s people.

b)  Matthew 28:18-20:  “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them and teaching them to obey”

1 Peter 2:9:  “You are a chosen people…that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”

Acts 1:8:  “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and all the ends of the earth.”

Conclusions:  Was convicted with 9c.  I need to treat my family better than I do strangers.  I think a lot of struggle with that.  It’s so easy to take them for granted when we cannot.  For God didn’t take us for granted.  For He knows everything about us.

Why did Joseph weep upon hearing this concocted story of forgiveness?  Scholars think probably because his brothers doubted him, his forgiveness, and his character.  That the brothers thought so little of him.

Joseph trusted in who God is and trusted God in His promises.  We have a problem in doing the same.  Trust first in Him.  Then love, forgiveness, and comfort naturally flow outwards.

BSF Study Questions Genesis Lesson 31, Day 3: Genesis 50:7-14

Summary of passage:  So Joseph, all of Pharaoh’s officials, all the members of Joseph’s family, chariots, and horsemen journeyed to Canaan to bury Jacob.  At Atad near the Jordan River, Joseph stopped and mourned 7 days for Jacob.  He was buried and all returned to Egypt.

Questions:

6)  High.  He sent practically all the nobles with Joseph to bury Jacob as well as chariots and horsemen to escort and protect them.

7a)  The mourning at the threshing floor of Atad.

b)  They mourned 7 days for him and buried him in the Promised Land.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Not a lot.  Comfort is not the word.  Encouragement, yes.  Comfort, no.

Conclusions:  Overarching theme:  Jacob was greatly revered in Egypt.  7c was out of place.  Again, stretching this lesson.  One question would have been sufficient for this passage.

Fun Fact:  No other burial is recorded in Scripture with such pomp, detail, and honor.

BSF Study Questions Genesis Lesson 31, Day 2: Genesis 49:29-50:6

Summary of passage:  Jacob gave each son the appropriate blessing.  He requests to be buried in the same tomb as Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah, and Leah.  Then he died.

Joseph threw himself upon his father and wept.  He was embalmed and mourned over for 70 days.  Joseph asked Pharaoh for permission to bury his father in Canaan, which Pharaoh granted.

Questions:

3a)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Hebrews of course says Jacob had faith.  No.  There is no indication in this passage of fear.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  That God is the God of the living, not the dead.  So this infers Jacob knew he would live again with God.

4a)  Personal Question.  My answers, which I already knew and didn’t “learn” here:

Hebrews 9:27:  Man is destined to die and face judgement.

Romans 3:23; 6:23:  All have sinned and fell short of the glory of God.  Wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

John 5:24:  Whoever hears Jesus’ words and believes in God has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.

John 8:24:  You will die in your sins if you do not believe in Jesus.

John 11:26:  Whoever lives and believes in Jesus will never die.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Not sure what this has to do with Jacob’s death.  We have read about dozens of people dying in Genesis:  Abraham, Isaac, Rebekah, Sarah, Rebekah’s nurse, etc.  Why ask this now?

My answer:  I’m not because I firmly believe I have not accomplished God’s work for me yet here on earth so I enjoy living each and every day and not thinking or dwelling on death.  For in the end all we have is this day for we do not know.

And if I die, I’m as “prepared” as we all are.  There’s nothing I can do about it.  So why even worry about it?  That’s God’s job, not mine.

5)  He fulfilled Jacob’s last request by burying him in Canaan.

Conclusions:  I’m assuming the answer to my question of why BSF is asking the death question now is because they have run out of questions to ask.

Question 5 was just dumb.  This is a “duh”.  We all know Joseph is trustworthy from reading Genesis.  That is his character.  So why wouldn’t he be now?

I’m just getting frustrated here with the personal questions.  It’s an indication of stretching out the lesson.  In my opinion, we could have ended this study a few weeks ago instead of answering “filler” and “duh” questions.

This is the second time I’ve noticed recently of being given only one verse that even isn’t a complete sentence to go off of (It was last week DAY 5).  If BSF is going to give us reference passages to look up, let it be the whole passage so we can understand.  Reading a sentence fragment 1) goes against all of my writing background and irks me 2) never gives us the full story.  Please assign more than this.

In this instance, Hebrews 11:28 is so much more richer.  It says just as we are meant to die, “so Christ was..to bring salvation”…  Anytime I am like Christ, I rejoice.  Plus, salvation is near!  Hence, we should in death as well.  I believe this is the more important point.

Sorry to all who believe I have been critical of BSF lately (yes, I’ve noticed it myself) as I’m sure you’ll all comment on it. But I am frustrated and when I am, I will say so.  I cannot change my feelings over the matter.  I just feel like a bunch of this could have been cut out.  Either that or I’m missing the point entirely.

I try to keep in perspective that BSF is also for those who don’t know Jesus and are seeking him and so they write questions to that effect, which is great.  However, it is monotonous to us believers (or maybe just me) and I can’t help but say so.

End Note:  Jacob was mourned just 2 days less than a pharaoh would have been mourned.  This shows us just how revered he was in Egypt.

BSF Study Questions Genesis Lesson 23, Day 5: Genesis 31

Summary of passage:  Laban’s sons were jealous of Jacob’s wealth.  The Lord told Jacob it was time to return to his homeland.  Jacob called Rachel and Leah to him and told them how he has worked for Laban despite the wages being constantly changed but God has been with him and has blessed him with their father’s livestock.

Jacob recounts a dream where God acknowledged Laban’s treachery and told Jacob to leave for home at once.  Rachel and Leah agree and say all Jacob has gained from their father should be theirs anyways as an inheritance.  Jacob and his family left Paddan Aram along with all of his livestock and goods for Canaan.  Rachel stole all of her father’s household gods and Jacob left without telling Laban.  They crossed the Euphrates.

Laban found out after three days that Jacob had fled.  He pursued him and caught up with him in Gilead.  God came to Laban in a dream, warning him not to speak to Jacob. Laban, in his infinite wisdom, speaks to Jacob anyways, and asks him why he had fled without saying good bye and why he has stolen the idols.

Jacob replies that he was afraid Laban would take his daughters from him (can’t blame him here) and that if someone has stolen the idols may they die.

Laban searched and found nothing for Rachel was sitting on them and said she was having her period so she couldn’t stand to greet him.  Laban found nothing.

Jacob is mad at Laban for accusing him of stealing.  He points out how he has worked 20 years for him, 14 for his daughters and 6 for his flocks even though Laban has changed his wages on him 10 times, and God Himself even rebuked Laban for his behavior.

So Laban and Jacob made a covenant, asking Jacob not to mistreat his daughters or take any more wives and neither will cross the other’s “side” to harm each other.  They offered a sacrifice, spent the night, and the next day Laban bid his daughters farewell and left.

Questions:

11a)  The Lord told him it was time to go.

b)  20 years (verse 38 & 41)

12a)  Verse 5 (the God of my father has been with me), Verse 7 (God has not allowed him  (Laban) to harm me, Verse 9 (God has taken away your father’s livestock and given them to me), Verse 12 (I–God–have seen all that Laban has been doing to you)

b)  With Laban and Abimelech, the un-Godly ones (yes, I’m calling Laban un-Godly since he’s throwing such a fit about his stupid idols missing) approached the patriarchs and set the terms of the treaty/covenant.  Both knew God was with Jacob and Isaac and decided to move preemptively to protect themselves.  Both treaties stated one was not to harm the other.  Then they feasted, swore, and went on their merry way.

In terms of Jacob and Jesus, both were being pursued and both submitted to God’s will for their lives.  Jacob was told it was time to move back to Canaan.  Jesus was told it was time to die for our sins.  Both were being falsely accused (Rachel was the perpetrator, not Jacob).  Both sought God in the process.

c)  Verses 5, 7, 9, 12, 42

13a)  Hebrews says to endure hardship as discipline, which Jacob did.  He endured sweltering days and freezing cold nights out in the elements as he cared for the flocks.  He absorbed all the animals’ losses as his own and endured Laban’s mistreatments.  Jacob worked hard and was blessed.  He put his faith in God to care for him and bless him and the Lord did.  He received all he had set out for (a wife basically) and much more (two wives and flocks).

Of course, Jacob failed miserably in the wife department.  But his faith grew in God, which I believe was God’s intent, through the hardships.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Verse 42.  God has seen my hardship and rebukes the persecutors of such.  Verse 7.  God has not allowed them to harm me.  Verse 11.  God has seen all that has happened.

Conclusions:  It’s important to remember that God is with us in the difficult times and that He uses ALL things for our good (Romans 8:28).  We will be blessed for we are His. Jacob is not personally afraid.  He is afraid he’ll lose his family (as we all).  But Jacob has faith in God to protect him and do His will through him.  That is what we must remember.  God is working through us even if we can’t see it and don’t know why we have to go through something.  It will work for our good.

End Notes:  This is the last we will hear of Laban in the Bible.  As we see, he is a pompous bully who only half-believed in the Lord.  He used his idols for divination.  He is exceedingly jealous of God’s blessing upon Jacob.  It is all about him.

Why did Rachel steal the idols?  The Bible never tells us why.  Scholars give many different speculative reasons:  she didn’t want her father to have them in order to use them for divination to find them.  She was getting back at her father for the many years of mistreating them.  She wanted them for herself for she worshipped them.  And the Jews usually say she took them to keep her father from sinning into idolatry.

You can also glean a nugget here of a healthy separation from your in-laws who may unduly influence you.

Most fascinating to me was that nowhere in this passage of praising God does Jacob ever say “God is MY God.”

BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 31, Day 5: Acts 27-28

Summary of passages:  Acts 27:  Paul and his companions (267 men in total) boarded a ship for Rome.  Julius, a Roman centurion, was in charge.  They landed in Sidon where Paul was allowed to meet his friends and receive supplies from them.  Then they pass Cyprus with heavy winds keeping them from landing and out across the sea to Myra in Lycia.

They switched ships and sailed until Cnidus.  The wind was still blowing hard as they made their way to Fair Havens on the island of Crete.  Much time had been lost and it was now Autumn where winds blew incessantly over the Mediterranean.  Paul advised the centurion to stay in Crete for the winter but he was ignored.

They set sail and a huge northeaster swept down from the island, catching the ship, and pushing it along.  The men had to throw the ship’s cargo and tackle overboard and they drifted for days, losing hope of being saved.

Paul then tells the men to take heart for they will be saved and only the ship and cargo will be lost.  An angel of God stood beside him and told him he and the crew would make it safely to Rome but they would run aground on some island.

After 2 weeks adrift, the men wanted to abandon ship and head to the lifeboats but Paul told the centurion they would die if they did so.  So they stayed with the ship.  Then Paul urged them to eat and he gave thanks to God for the bread.  They were all encouraged.  After eating, they threw the grain over board to lighten the ship.

The next day, they saw land and decided to run the ship aground.  The ship struck a sandbar before making the beach so the soldiers wanted to kill the prisoners so they wouldn’t escape when they swam.  But the centurion wanted to save Paul’s life so no one was killed.  Everyone reached land safely by swimming of floating on pieces of the ship.

Acts 28:  Landing on the island of Malta, Paul and the others were welcomed by the islanders.  Paul got bit by a viper but was able to shake it off to no ill effects, causing the islanders to think him a god.  Paul healed Publius’s father and the rest of the sick on the island.

After 3 months, they procured a ship and set sail for Rome, landing in Syracuse on the island of Sicily and then traveled on up the coast of Italy to Rome.  In Rome, Paul was allowed to live by himself while awaiting trial with a soldier to guard him.  [Scholars believe Paul was held for 4 years].

Paul speaks to the leaders of the Jews to explain why he is in chains and the leaders say they have heard nothing bad about Paul and are here to learn about Jesus Christ.  He preached to the Jews from morning till evening all about the kingdom of God and Jesus.  Some were convinced; others were not.  And they argued about it, so much so Paul quoted Isaiah, saying their eyes did not perceive nor their ears understand.  Paul proclaims that God’s salvation has been sent to the Gentiles who will listen.

For 2 years Paul preached the gospel boldly in his home to all those who came.

Questions:

14a)  Calm, trust and faith in God, and belief in what the angel of God who appeared to him said.  He encourages the men to keep up their courage (27:25) and boldly takes command if you will, telling the centurion to stay with the ship in order to be saved (27:31).  He orders them to eat so they will survive (27:33), which encouraged and uplifted the men.  He showed integrity, honesty, sincerity, and caring for the men.

b)  Faith in God.  I’d imagine if I were in that situation that would be the only thing that would keep me calm!  It would also help if an angel spoke to me and told me I’d be okay.

15a)  An angel of God stood beside Paul and told Paul to not be afraid for he would make it to Rome.  This strengthened his faith in God’s word that this would happen and he’d survive.  Paul told the men not to abandon the ship if they wanted to live.  He told them all to eat.  He took the bread and gave thanks to God in front of all the men (what a powerful witness to God’s omnipotence!) and ate.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Well, an angel has never appeared to me but I do know in the midst of the biggest crisis in my life I was calm and knew it would all work out in the end (which it did).  I was distraught and broken-hearted but I didn’t panic or ever doubt God.  He was there just not manifest like an angel.  But He was there in my crisis and held me up as I walked through it.

c)  He healed the sick on the island of Malta and when he arrived in Rome, Paul opened his home and preached “from morning till evening” (verse 23) the gospel and some were convinced.  He now had a powerful testimony of God’s rescue from the seas (amongst all his other experiences).  He had his physical needs provided for by the Romans as a prisoner so he could focus his whole attention on nothing but spreading the Good News.  Paul finally had our most valuable commodity–time–and he used it completely to encourage the church (through his letters) and talk about Jesus.  Wouldn’t we all like to do that?

Conclusions:  This reads like a great suspense novel!  I can visualize the panic and fear onboard and Paul standing in the midst of the men, telling them they will survive.

Why did the men throw the cargo, tackle, and lastly the food overboard?  To lighten the ship.  A heavy cargo makes the ship sit deeper in the water, which is dangerous in shallow water.  So the men threw the cargo overboard so the ship would sit higher in the water in case they were blown near land where their boat would get destroyed on the shallow reefs, rocks, and harbors.  If the bottom of the ship ran aground miles from any shore, they faced the prospect of being tossed into the sea.  Thus, when you are faced with life or death, everything (even the grain) becomes expendable.

Lightening the ship also stabilizes it in rough seas.  If the ship got tossed to one side and became unbalanced, a heavy ship would be more likely to follow the energy and due to inertia (the law where objects in motion want to stay in motion), it would tip over.

Further, throwing cargo overboard makes the ship go faster in case the men wanted to try to outrun the storm.

Great ending!  Paul is brought safely to Rome where God wants him and God gives Paul time to evangelize.

I want to keep going.  I want to find out all Paul taught in his time in Rome and find out the end of him as well.  I want to read Romans and Philemon and all the rest of the NT to find out more!  The story doesn’t end in Acts.  It’s at the good part and I have to keep reading.  Now I have a plan for this summer!

Map of Paul’s Final Leg of the Journey to Rome:  http://www.biblestudy.org/maps/apostle-paul-fourth-missionary-journey-large-map.html

BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 31, Day 4: Acts 24-26

Summary of passages:  Acts 24:  Ananias shows up in Caesarea with a fancy lawyer, Tertullus, who begins by flattering Felix and then listing false charges against Paul.  Paul defends himself by denying all charges except for following Christ and believing in Christ’s resurrection.  Thus, Paul has a clear conscience before God and man.

Paul denies all accusations and states the real reason he is on trial:  because he believes in the resurrection of the dead (i.e. Jesus).  Felix again defers a decision on Paul’s case.  Felix sent for Paul to explain the Christian faith to him and his Jewish wife but fear sank into him and he dismissed Paul back to his prison cell.  Felix was also secretly hoping for a bribe.

Felix leaves Paul in prison to appease the Jews for 2 years and is replaced by Festus.

Acts 25:  Festus immediately has to deal with Paul as the Jews again request a trial in Jerusalem where they intend to ambush Paul and kill him.  Festus, not wanting to give in to the Jews, denies this request and says they must travel to Caesarea to make their charges.

Paul again denies all charges at this new trial.  Festus, wanting to ingratiate himself with the Jews, asks Paul to go to Jerusalem for trial.  Here, Paul invokes his right (as a Roman citizen) to appeal to Caesar in Rome for Paul has been called to go to Rome, not Jerusalem.

King Agrippa arrives for a visit with Festus and Festus discusses Paul’s case with him, saying that it seems to be a religious dispute rather than any crime committed.  Festus admitted he didn’t know what to do so Paul asked to be tried before Caesar.

Festus convenes an audience with Agrippa and brings Paul in.  Festus says there is nothing Paul has done deserving of death but Paul has insisted a trial before the emperor. Festus is reluctant to send Paul to the emperor with no charges against him (this was customary for the Romans to send a written explanation of the charges to the emperor).

Acts 26:  Agrippa asks Paul to speak.  Paul recounts his background, having been born a Jew and lived as a Pharisee, and states he is on trial because of his hope in God’s promises and his belief in how God raises the dead.  Paul admits he persecuted Christians jealously until Jesus appeared to him on the road to Damascus and commissioned him to teach the gospel to the Gentiles.

Paul obeyed his vision, saying nothing beyond what the prophets and Moses said would happen regarding Christ.  Festus calls Paul insane.  Paul challenges Agrippa on his beliefs, confronting him with the question of if he believes in the prophets.  Agrippa accuses Paul of trying to convert him and Paul readily agrees, praying all who are listening to him believe as he does.

Agrippa agrees that Paul is not doing anything worthy of death or punishment and says Paul could have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar (see explanation below for further details).

Questions:

9)  He was afraid to act as a typical politician is, desiring to make everyone happy.  Verse 22 tells us Felix was well acquainted with the Way and his wife is a Jewess.  Felix probably doesn’t want to offend his wife either.  He was corrupt, hoping for a bribe from Paul to let him go.  He seemed content to just let indecision reign.  I think Felix knows Paul is innocent but uses him as leverage for his dealings with the Jews.  He was shrewd.

He puts political favors above the lives of others (24:27).

10a)  Verses 22-23

b)  Verses 7-8, 20-21

c)  Verses 9-11

d)  Verses 12-18

11)  To open their eyes, to turn them from darkness to light, to turn them from the power of Satan to God, to receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in Jesus Christ.

12)  “Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?”

13)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Never back down in the face of opposition.  Paul appeals to their knowledge and speaks the truth, explaining righteousness, self-control, and judgment when speaking with Felix.  He point blank asks Agrippa if he believes the prophets and their teachings.  Paul never backs down from his calling to convert.  He is sincere, honest, and authentic.  His heart shines as he speaks about Jesus and what he has done in Paul’s life.

Paul says again (24:16) how his conscience is clear before God and man, the same words that got him struck by Ananias in 23:1.  Paul never deviates from the truth no matter the consequences.  What we all should do.

Conclusions:  Lots of history here (which I am loving!).  These trials of Paul is very well documented both in the Bible and in other secular sources such as Roman records.  We are still in the first century AD, around 60 AD.  The Roman Empire is at its height and dominates the known world.

The key to understanding these events is to understand Roman citizenship.  Traditionally, in Ancient Times there were not rights.  The ruler of your country could kill you whenever he or she felt like it.  You obeyed; you didn’t question; you worked hard; you stayed out of trouble.

The Romans changed all of this.  They instituted a Republic where the people had rights and voted to choose their rulers.  But this was only afforded to certain people, Roman citizens.  The vast majority of the people were still under subjugation and slavery but it was a step in the right direction.

Roman citizens had certain rights.  One of these rights was the right to a trial where the crime must be presented and proved before punishment was handed down.  A Roman also had the right to appeal to Caesar (this is not Julius Caesar the man but all rulers were known by the title of Caesar after him), the emperor, to hear the trial and decide if the accused felt they were not getting justice elsewhere.  And as Roman citizens, this privilege had to be granted.

Paul, as a Roman citizen, had this right, which he invokes time and time again.  Why?  Because God himself has told him he is to go to Rome (Acts 23:11) and Felix and Festus want to send him to Jerusalem.  Appealing to Caesar is the only way Paul can see right now to get to Rome.

This is where I got stuck:  on verse 32 of chapter 26:  “This man could have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar.”

So what would have happened if Paul had been released?  Well, we’ve been told twice now that the Jews are just waiting to ambush him (Acts 25:3; 23:12-15).  In Chapter 27 of Acts, Paul is handed over to a centurion for escort to Rome.  So Paul is protected.  Also, the trip is free; the Romans pay for his journey there.

Most likely Paul would have been hunted down and killed soon after his release before he could make it to Rome. And Rome is where God wants Paul so Paul is doing everything in his power to get to Rome in obedience to God.

Summation:  The Jews are falsely accusing Paul of crimes which they cannot prove.  Due to politics, Paul is held prisoner (58-60 AD) to appease the Jews even though the Romans know Paul is innocent.  Paul appeals to Caesar as a last resort in order to go to Rome unhindered as God has called him to do instead of accepting his freedom.  Paul is now headed to Rome.

God is amazing, isn’t he?  He chose Paul who is a Jew and a Roman citizen (how he obtained citizenship is unclear) to teach the Gentiles and who is uniquely positioned to carry out God’s will in Roman Times.  He has all the advantages and God uses them to His glory.  Awesome!

Background History:  The background history between the Romans and the Jews is fascinating.  Briefly, the Jews despise the Romans and Felix is actually called back to Rome to answer for his actions in 59 or 60 AD and replaced by Festus for several reasons:  his irregular rule, his treatment and slaughter of the Jews when violence and protests broke out, and also it is rumored he had Jonathan, the high priest killed, causing huge tensions amongst the Jews.

Thus, Festus feels the pressure to make nice with the Jews and sees Paul as a quick and easy way to do so.

Nero, the infamous tyrant, is the emperor during Paul’s imprisonment.  So why does Paul appeal to him?  At the time of Paul’s imprisonment, Nero is favorably disposed towards the Jews and Christians and was actually considered a fair ruler by the people.  It wasn’t until the Roman fire 4 years later in 64 AD that the persecution of Christians truly began and Nero started behaving unpredictably.

Links here for superb background information:

http://bible.org/seriespage/paul’s-appeal-acts-251-27

Map of Caesarea and Jerusalem:

http://www.biblestudy.org/maps/apostle-paul-fourth-missionary-journey-large-map.html

This site is my ULTIMATE favorite!  It discusses all of Paul’s missionary journey and explains the history behind Paul’s trials in an easy-to-read and follow tone.  It’s awesome!  It includes pictures of historical locations.  I can’t say enough about this site:

http://www.welcometohosanna.com/PAULS_MISSIONARY_JOURNEYS/4voyage_2.html