BSF Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1: Lesson 4, Day 4: Joshua 20 with Numbers 35:6-34

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Summary of Joshua 20:

God told Joshua to pick sanctuary cities for those who accidentally killed others to flee to for refuge from the avenger until they could stand trial. The person was to state his or her case before the elders of the refuge city, and then he or she must be admitted and given shelter. He has to stay in that city until he has stood trial or the high priest dies. Then he or she may return home.

The chosen cities were: Kedesh, Shechem, Kiriath Arba (Hebron), Bezer, Ramoth, Golan.

Summary of Numbers 35:6-34:

48 towns were given to the Levites, which would serve as cities of refuge for those who accidentally killed someone. This does not apply to those who premeditate murder. Those shall be put to death. The one seeking shelter must stay at the city of refuge or be killed if he leaves if found by the avenger. Blood pollutes the land and thus must be paid for in blood if murder occurs.

BSF Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1: Lesson 4, Day 4: Joshua 20 with Numbers 35:6-34:

9) The sanctuary cities were for those who accidentally killed others to flee to for refuge from the avenger until they could stand trial. The purpose and intent was to protect the person who accidentally killed someone until they could stand trial, so like our guilty before found innocent procedure in the US.

10) These cities reveal how God cares about justice enough to protect His people since in ancient times the policy was an eye for an eye with no questions asked.

11)  Personal Question. My answer: It’s a comfort, knowing how God thinks of everything, knows everything, and provides for everything. Justice is one of God’s defining characteristics. It’s why He is slaughtering the pagans in Canaan–as punishment for their sins–justice. God’s justice applies to all without exception. All are equal in His eyes. God loves us. Period.

Conclusions: BSF Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1 Lesson 4, Day 4: Joshua 20 with Numbers 35:6-34:

God is just and cares about the individual as much as the whole population. All are equal. He provides. He shelters. He protects. God is good.

End Notes BSF Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1 Lesson 4, Day 4: Joshua 20 with Numbers 35:6-34:

This is the fulfillment of Numbers 35.

The Hebrew word is goel, and in ancient times a representative from the victim’s family was charged with making sure justice is carried out against the murderer of the family member. Murderers were held responsible and it was the goel (avenger of blood)’s job to do so.

Capital punishment goes back to Genesis 9:6Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed; for in the image of God He made man. The state’s right to use the sword of execution is also stated in the New Testament (Romans 13:3-4). Unpunished murderers defile the land (Numbers 31-34).

The avenger of blood tracked down the murderer and would delivered him over to the authorities for execution if the testimony of two or three eyewitnesses could confirm the guilt of the murderer (Deuteronomy 17:6-7).

Israel’s legal system was much advanced for the times.

After being declared innocent of murder by the proper authorities AND after the death of the standing high priest, the slayer could go back to his home and be protected against the wrath of the avenger of blood

On a map, we see that the cities of refuge were well spaced throughout the country. No matter where you were in Israel, you were not very far from a city of refuge.Image result for map of cities of refuge

Deuteronomy 19:2 tells us that proper roads were to be built and maintained to these cities of refuge. The city was not much good to the slayer if they could not get to it quickly.

The Cities of Refuge as Jesus

The Bible applies this picture of the city of refuge to the believer finding refuge in God:

Psalm 46:1God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. More than 15 other times, the Psalms speak of God as our refuge.

Hebrews 6:18That by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us.

  • Both Jesus and the cities of refuge are within easy reach of the needy person; they were of no use unless Image result for joshua 20someone could get to the place of refuge.
  • Both Jesus and the cities of refuge are open to all, not just the Israelite; no one needs to fear that they would be turned away from their place of refuge in their time of need.
  • Both Jesus and the cities of refuge became a place where the one in need would live.
  • Both Jesus and the cities of refuge are the only alternative for the one in need; without this specific protection, they will be destroyed.
  • Both Jesus and the cities of refuge provide protection only within their boundaries; to go outside means death.
  • With both Jesus and the cities of refuge, full freedom comes with the death of the High Priest.

How are the Cities of Refuge different from Jesus?

  • The cities of refuge only helped the innocent, but the guilty can come to Jesus and find refuge.
  • Atoning grace (Old Testament) versus saving grace (New Testament).
  • Temporary and now permanent.

BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 4, Day 4: Romans 3:9-18

Summary of passage:  Paul says we are all sinners and no one is righteous, quoting from the Old Testament.

Questions:

8a)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  No one understands God.  No one seeks Him.  All turn away and become worthless.  No one does good.  Their throats are open graves, their tongues full of deceit, and they speak poison.  They curse and are bitter.  They are swift to shed blood.  They bring ruin and misery.  They do not know peace.  They do not fear God.  We all have sin in our lives and are surrounded by sinners.  People are mean.  They fall away from God.  Wars.  Flippant attitude towards God and sinning.  Personally, sticking to God’s path is the hardest and dealing with my own sin.

b)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  Tongues are full of deceit.  The poison of vipers is on their lips.  Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.  The tongue can corrupt the whole person.  It is full of evil and poison.  Speak more words of encouragement and praise.  There’s enough complaining and tearing down in this world.

9)  No one fears God.  Well, Paul quotes from the Old Testament here and he is living in New Testament times.  Regardless, man’s nature doesn’t change with time.  He is a sinner and is prone to turn away from God and not fear Him. God thus judges and punishes as we see all throughout the Old and New Testament.  So will it be until the Second Coming.

10)  Think before you act.  Repent.  Ask for forgiveness.  Put others first.  Follow God’s laws.  Worship Him.  Treat God and Jesus with the respect they deserve.  Both lie in your heart and you do everything in your power to keep them there.

Conclusions:  Paul again is emphasizing how we are all the same no matter what our backgrounds. God treats us equally.  He takes it further here by saying we are all sinners and listing ways in which we sin.  He wraps up with how no one fears God when we should.  Good lesson on keeping us all humble.  Least we get on our high horses, read Romans.

End Notes:  Again, Paul says all are under sin and deserve condemnation (Jews, pagans, Gentiles, everyone).

“Under sin” literally means sold under sin or a slave to sin. We are all born in sin.

Paul then quotes the Old Testament (mainly Psalm and Isaiah) as proof of our sinhood.  Paul uses parts of the body to emphasize our complete helplessness to save ourselves.  Adam before the Fall wasn’t even righteous.  He was merely innocent.  The throat, tongue, lips, mouth, feet, and eyes are filled with sin and rebellion against God.

God calls all of us.  On our own we would not seek out Him.

We sin because we do not have the proper respect (or fear) of God.

Side Note:  If you were to look up these verses, you would find Paul does not quote them verbatim.  There are several reasons for this:

  1.  New Testament authors sometimes gave the general sense and not a direct quote.
  2. Quotation marks were not used in ancient Greek.
  3. Citations were often taken from the pre-Christian Greek translation (the Septuagint) of the Hebrew OT because Greek readers were not familiar with the Hebrew Bible.
  4. Sometimes this was done on purpose by the NT writer in order to drive home his point.  Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the writer would enlarge, abbreviate or adapt an OT passage or combine them.

BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 4, Day 3: Romans 3:5-8

Summary of passage:  Some justify their sins by saying their sins make God more righteous and true and brings Him more glory so they don’t deserve His wrath.  This is a human argument.  God does not need mere mortals to proclaim him righteous.  The gall of mankind!  God will judge evil no matter what justification man’s limited mind comes up with.

Questions:

6)  Some justify their sins by saying their sins make God more righteous and true and brings Him more glory so they don’t deserve His wrath.  This is a human argument.  God does not need mere mortals to proclaim him righteous.  The gall of mankind!  God will judge evil no matter what justification man’s limited mind comes up with.

7)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  All sin is evil.  I don’t like to sin. Who does?  I try not to, I repent when I do, I accept God’s forgiveness, and I try to be better.  That is what God desires.

Conclusions:  No sin is justified.  Period.  God hates all!

End Notes:  People use this argument when their sin leads to good.  Think of Judas and Joseph.  Judas’s sin lead to Jesus saving all of us.  Joseph’s brothers’ sins lead to him saving all of Egypt during the famine and God’s people who moved to Egypt during the famine.  However, sin is sin.  It’s no credit to man what God does and God chooses to use it for good is His prerogative.

God will use the unrighteousness of man to accomplish His work and bring praise to His name – Judas’ betrayal of Jesus is a perfect example. Nevertheless, part of the way God glorifies Himself in man’s sin is by righteously judging that unrighteousness.

God judging the world refers to the End Times.

Paul was falsely reported as having given permission for all to sin so God would be given the glory.  He refutes this here.  Remember, salvation by faith in Jesus Christ was a new idea in first century AD.  Confusion would be a given as Paul clarified Jesus and what his death means to the world.

Condemnation is justified for all who would believe such a thing.

This argument by man is the peak of man’s twistedness and you can almost feel Paul’s frustration leap out at you and strike you with a 2 x 4!

BSF Study Questions John Lesson 4, Day 4: John 3:16-21

Summary of passage:  God loved us so much He sent His one and only Son to die for our sins.  Whoever believes in Jesus shall have eternal life.  If you don’t believe in Jesus as God’s Son, then you are condemned.  Those who live by the truth (that Jesus is God’s Son) live in the light and work because of God.

Questions:

10)  John 3:16:  Whoever doesn’t believe in Jesus, shall perish.

John 3:17-19:  Whoever doesn’t believe in Jesus is condemned.

John 3:36:  Whoever rejects Jesus will not see life and will have God’s wrath on him forever.

2 Thessalonians 1:8-9:  Whoever doesn’t obey Jesus shall be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of His power.

11)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  Whoever believes in Jesus is not condemned and has eternal life.  As I said in my Conclusions YESTERDAY, it’s simple:  I focus on knowing I’m saved, that I’m His, that He is with me and all else falls into place despite my humanness.  He does it, not me.

12)  Personal Question.  My answer:  God makes coming to Him as easy as possible.  A simple choice:  to believe in Jesus or not.  Yet, as John the Apostle states, men love darkness and are attracted to evil so this choice is not as easy as it seems.  It gives me greater understanding and a new perspective to the struggle of those choosing Jesus or evil.

Conclusions:  I love the focus on simplicity here.  As perhaps the most famous verse in the Bible, it would be easy to delve too deep into this.  Instead, BSF focuses on exactly what it says:  “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”  The End.  The crux of Christianity in 26 words.  Amazing!

End Notes:  God loved the world.  All of us, including the Gentiles, not just God’s chosen people.  Jesus sets the record straight.

Morrison suggested that there are three centers of love:

· God so loved the world (John 3:16)

· Christ also loved the church (Ephesians 5:25)

· The Son of God, who loved me (Galatians 2:20)

God gave.  What we are all called to do:  give to others and back to God.

Nicodemus might have been reminded of Abraham’s offering of Isaac with these words.

Believe means to trust, rely, and cling to.  This is the only requirement of the world.

God gives us eternal life–His intent is to save us–eternally–forever.

Seven Wonders of John 3:16:

  1. God–Authority
  2. World–Motive
  3. Son–Gift
  4. Whoever–Welcome
  5. Believes–Escape
  6. Not perish–Deliverance
  7. Have everlasting life–Possession

“So” means “in this way”.  “World” is all people on earth.  Jesus is the Son.  “Believes” is continuing belief and convictions.

God’s purpose is to save.

John does not address those before Jesus.  He focuses on those who deliberately reject him.  Romans 1 & 2 addresses this issue and it’s best understood in terms of light:  rejecting light or accepting light.

It is all on our shoulders whether we accept Jesus or not.  God presents; we decide.

We tend to think of evil as the worst sins:  murder, rape, violence, etc.  But love of one’s own life and doing it your way instead of God’s and ignoring Him is the same.  It’s either all of God or none.  Period.

BSF Study Questions Revelation Lesson 4, Day 4: Revelation 2:8-11

Summary of passage:  John’s letter to the church in Smyrna says Jesus knows their afflictions and poverty and knows of the false prophets.  He says they will suffer but encourages them to be faithful and they will earn the crown of life (eternal life).

Questions:

11)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  “Him who is the First and the Last, who died and came to life again.”  Jesus was, is, and will always be.  What is important about Jesus is just that:  he has always existed and he died for us.  Everything else is just icing on the cake.

12a)  Jesus knows their afflictions, their poverty, those who are of the synagogue of Satan, and he knows of their future sufferings and persecutions.

b)  Poverty is just a state of being here on earth.  What matters is after death and if you have Jesus, you have all the wealth in the world.  Jesus made himself poor (by being human and sacrificing himself) so that we all may be rich in heaven.

Conclusions:  Emphasis on Jesus’ character and persevering in this world.  Great reminder for all of us as we trudge through our days.

End Notes:  Very, very similar to the letter to the Church in Ephesus.  Smyrna was a very wealthy city similar to Ephesus.  It was a great trade city and lay at the end of the river Hermus and was a port city.  It was big and beautiful and known for its trade in wine.

Smyrna had multiple temples to the Roman gods but eventually the people began to worship the Roman emperor.  Smyrna built the first temple to the goddess of Rome in 196 BC and was the first city to build a temple to a Roman emperor in 23 AD.  It was the Roman emperor Domitian who first demanded to be worshipped as a god.  It was also probably him who banished John to Patmos.

Christians refused to worship the emperor; hence, the persecution Jesus is speaking of here.  All they had to do was burn incense and say “Caesar is Lord” once a year and be upon their merry way.  They refused and faced death.  How many of us would?

Smyrna comes from the word myrrh–the same gift to Jesus at his birth and the perfume used to cover the smell of dead bodies.

MAP of Smyrna

Jesus again echoes his appearance to John in these words he chooses to identify himself with.

Just like in Ephesus, Jesus knows their works and their hardships.  One form of persecution is economic and Christians lost their jobs and livelihoods for their belief.  The word “poor” here in the Greek means abject poverty.  They were dirt, dirt poor.

History tells us there was a large Jewish population here hostile to Christians.  Paul wrote thus they were not considered Jews in Romans 2:28-9, thus were labeled “a synagogue of Satan.”

Jesus tells them they are rich.  Rich in their eyes.  Often we don’t see this either.  All that really matters is how Jesus sees us.

We will see in Revelation 3 how the Laodiceans were rich but poor.

Jesus tells them to not be afraid; the devil (in the Greek the word is diabolos meaning accuser or adversary) will test them but only for 10 days.  God will limit their trials.  Prison in ancient times was a holding place for death.  Not like it is today.

Scholars will debate the number 10 here.  Was it literally 10 days or was it 10 years or was it 10 emperors?  The Greek word for 10 days was not literal and an expression of speech–it meant a short period of time.  The important thing here is that the persecution was limited by God.

Note:  Daniel was tested for 10 days as we’ll read in Lesson 8 Day 2.

God purpose was to test, to purify, to make His people more like Jesus.  This would prove how rich they were.  Out of the seven cities, this is the only city still in existence today (now called Izmir in Turkey).

We can be tested today and have a heart and live a martyr’s life.  Sadly, many Christians don’t.

MAJOR DIFFERENCE FROM EPHESUS:  There is no corrections here.  No rebukes.  Only encouragements and praise.  Smyrna is the first of just two churches (the other being the church of Philadelphia Rev 3:7) Jesus has only words of praise.

The Greek word for crown here means the one given to an athlete (not one a king wears).  Winners.  The crown of life.

The second death is hell or lake of fire (Rev 20:14).

This letter is about persevering through persecution.  In the Western world, we are not persecuted as the first century Christians were.  Still, in other places in the world, Christians do face life or death over their faith in Christ.  It is estimated more Christians died in twentieth century for their faith than any other time frame.  Pray for an end to persecution.

Other interesting links:  Brief history of Smyrna with photos HERE

Great explanation of Jesus’ message to Smyrna HERE

Most famous martyr of Smyrna is Polycarp, a student under John the Apostle.  His story is HERE and HERE

BSF Study Questions The Life of Moses Lesson 4, Day 4: Exodus 5:22-23

Summary of passage:  Moses goes to the Lord and relays his people’s increased troubles from Pharaoh due to Moses’ talk with Pharaoh.  He asks God why the trouble and why has he been sent.

Questions:

6a)  “Why have you brought trouble upon this people?  Is this why you sent me?”

b)  He is angry that the people have once again turned against him.  He is pained by their suffering as well.  He probably feels guilty that it’s because of his words that the people suffer more.  He is probably saddened by it all.

7a)  Personal Question.  My answer:  When I do for others over my family like teaching for example.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Pray and ask God just like Moses did for understanding and guidance.

Conclusions:  One of the shortest lessons ever by BSF.  I like the example Moses sets here:  ask God why.  Nothing wrong with that.  Ask God for wisdom and guidance and understanding.  You may not get it, but just by praying you’ll get something.  Lay your doubts before Him and He will allay them.  This shows faith.

What Moses did wrong we see in the first verses of Chapter 6:  God repeats himself His promise again from Exodus 3:19-20.  Moses forgets what God has told him.  I think Moses thought “Great!  God is with me and I’ll just march down to Egypt, tell Pharaoh to let my people go, and we’ll just waltz out there happy as can be.”  He underestimated the growth the people (and himself) still had to do before their faith would be sufficient to survive the march to the Promised Land.  He didn’t fully understand God (who does, right?) and His ways.

End Notes:  Moses doubts himself.  Again.  Poor Moses.  He must have really low self-esteem.  Any old setback and he doubts.  “Why me, God?”  You can almost hear God hit Moses over the head.  “This is why, Moses!  Cause you doubt still!”

This should be a comfort to us all.  Even Moses–who has a direct line to God–doubts.  And even Moses is tested.

No one ever said walking in faith was easy.  Moses demonstrates this.  Yet we are about to see all the great things God will do with him as he surrenders more and more to God’s will.