BSF Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1: Lesson 8, Day 2: 1 Samuel 4-5

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Summary of 1 Samuel 4-5:

1 Samuel 4:

Israel fought against the Philistines who defeated them. Not understanding why, the elders of Israel decide to bring the ark of the Covenant out from Shiloh and take it into battle, hoping then they’ll defeat the Israelites. At first, the Philistines were scared, knowing the history of the God of Israel and how powerful He is. However, they rallied and the Israelites were defeated, losing 30,000 men. They fled to their camp and the ark of God was captured. Eli’s sons, who brought the ark back, died in the battle.

Hearing the ark of the Covenant had been captured, Eli who was 98 years old, fell over dead after having led Israel for 40 years. Phineas’ wife gave birth after his death, named her boy Ichabod, which means no glory.

1 Samuel 5:

Image result for 1 samuel 4 & 5The Philistines took the ark from Ebenezer to Ashdod and set it in their god Dagon’s temple. The god had fallen before the ark of the Lord! God afflicted tumors upon the people for stealing the ark. The ark was moved to Gath where the same tumors afflicted those people. Next, the ark was sent to Ekron where people died and were afflicted with tumors so the Philistines decided to send the ark back to Israel.

BSF Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1: Lesson 8, Day 2: 1 Samuel 4-5:

3) The ark of the covenant was the place God/His glory dwelled. It held the broken Ten Commandments by Moses and the Testimony by God, the gold jar of manna, and Aaron’s staff. The Israelites were hoping God would be with them in battle if they took the ark of the covenant with them and grant them victory over the Philistines.

4) When the ark of the covenant arrived in the Israelites’ camp, all Israel shouted so loud the ground shook and scared the Philistines to the point they almost retreated. When the ark was captured, Eli and his two sons died because of it. When the ark was captured, all of Israel mourned and of course the Israelites were defeated in battle. Phineas’ wife gave birth to her baby.

The Philistines took the ark from Ebenezer to Ashdod and set it in their god Dagon’s temple. The god had fallen before the ark of the Lord! God afflicted tumors upon the people for stealing the ark. The ark was moved to Gath where the same tumors afflicted those people. Next, the ark was sent to Ekron where people died and were afflicted with tumors so the Philistines decided to send the ark back to Israel.

God is in control. Just because the Israelites thought God would show up and give them victory if they brought the ark with them, didn’t mean He did. They did not consult God on this matter. God also afflicted tumors on people as punishment for stealing the ark. God is God. He does what He wants.

5) This would be when they use God’s word to justify their actions. Pick and choose pieces of the Bible they think support their decisions. They claim God is with them in this or that decision when He’s not.

Conclusions: BSF Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1 Lesson 8, Day 2: 1 Samuel 4-5:

Great lesson on God being in control. Just because you parade God around doesn’t mean He’s going to do what you want Him to do when it’s not in His will.

End Notes BSF Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1 Lesson 8, Day 2: 1 Samuel 4-5:

Who were the Philistines?

The Philistines were an immigrant people from the military aristocracy of the island of Crete (Amos 9:7). Small numbers of Philistines were in the land at the time of Abraham, but they came in larger numbers soon after Israel came to Canaan from Egypt. They were organized into five city-states. The Philistines were the first people in Canaan to process iron. Israel competed on more equal terms with Moab and Ammon, but the Philistines had Greek military equipment (such as helmets, shields, chain mail armor, swords and spears) making the Philistines more formidable opponents.

During this time there was no great world power (such as Egypt or Assyria) seeking to dominate the region. So, Israel’s battles were waged against her near neighbors, such as the Moabites, the Ammonites, or as here, the Philistines.

Why bring the Ark of the Covenant into battle?

  • The Ark of the Covenant was the representation of the throne of God in Israel. Kept in the most holy place of the tabernacle, the people never saw it. Only the high priest entered and saw the ark, and only once a year. The elders wanted to take this representation of the throne of God out of the holy of holies (it could be moved when the tabernacle was to be moved), cover it, and bring it into battle with them. They hoped it would give confidence that God was really with them.
  • The ark went into battle before. The ark went in front of the marchers around the city of Jericho (Joshua 6:6-8). Moses told the priests to lead the ark into battle against the Midianites (Numbers 31:6). Later, Saul brought the ark into battle (1 Samuel 14:18), as did David (2 Samuel 11:11).
  • The elders rightly sensed they needed God’s help to win the battle. But they were wrong in the way they sought help. Instead of humbly repenting and seeking God, they turned to methods that God never approved. They only cared if it worked.
  • The elders believed the presence of the ark would make God work for them. “Their idea was that God should be forced to fight for them. If He was not willing to do it for their sake, He would have to do it for His honour’s sake.” (Ellison)
  • They regarded the ark as the ultimate “good luck charm” and believed they could not lose with it there. They looked to the ark to save them, not to the LORD.

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Spurgeon’s Take on the Israelites’ Use of the Ark of the Covenant:

“Instead of attempting to get right with God, these Israelites set about devising superstitious means of securing the victory over their foes. In this respect most of us have imitated them. We think of a thousand inventions; but we neglect the one thing needful… They forget the main matter, which is to enthrone God in the life, and to seek to do His will by faith in Christ Jesus.”

Why did the Israelites’ shouting upon seeing the Ark of the Covenant not work?

The Israelites thought they could manipulate God and force Him into doing what they wanted Him to do.

Bible Scholar Clarke says this: “Had they humbled themselves, and prayed devoutly and fervently for success, they would have been heard and saved. Their shouting proved both their vanity and irreligion.”

Their shouting was not from the heart nor did the Israelites have faith.

The Philistines knew the history of God and of the ark going into battle with the Israelites, but they did not submit to God. Hence, the tumors sent when the ark was taken as punishment for unbelief.

What do we learn from the Philistines’ victory over the Israelites?

  • Instead of giving up when things look bad we should trust the LORD and fight all the harder and decide we will not give up. Courage and persistence win many battles, even sometimes for the wrong side.

Why did the Israelites lose this battle?

  1. The Philistines fought with the courage of desperate men.
  2. The Israelites felt the battle would be easy with the ark of the Covenant there and did not try as hard.
  3. God did not bless Israel’s superstitious belief in the power of the ark instead of the power of God.

God did not appreciate being summoned to win a battle like a genie in a bottle. The Israelites believed if God was with them, they didn’t need to try so hard. We do this same thing. We think if God is on our side, the work will be easy.

Not only did Israel lose this battle, they lost far worse than they did before taking the ark into battle. The loss which prompted them to take the ark resulted in the death of about four thousand men of Israel (1 Samuel 4:2). With the ark more than seven times as many men of Israel were killed.

Fun Fact: In the late 1970’s, a five-line inscription was found on a grain silo in the ruins of Izbet Sarteh. When deciphered, it was found to contain a Philistine account of this battle, the capture of the ark, even specifically mentioning the priest Hophni. This is the earliest known extra-biblical reference to an Old Testament event.

Why did God allow the ark to be captured?

  • Losing the ark was far worse than losing the battle.
  • The very “thing” they thought would win the battle was captured. Israel made an idol of the ark and God often deals with our idolatry by taking the idol away.
  • God wanted to make sure the Israelites understood their mistake and punished them severely.

Even a good thing can be made an idol. God does not tolerate idols.

God still used the ark for His glory as He punished the Philistines wherever the ark traveled.

We see the fulfillment of God’s promise that the two sons of Eli would die on the same day as proof of His ultimate judgment on the house of Eli (1 Samuel 2:34).

Image result for aphek to shilohThe battle was fought near Aphek (1 Samuel 4:1), and it was at least 20 miles from Aphek to Shiloh. The messenger had a long way to go, the route was mostly uphill, and he carried very bad news.

Because the news was so bad he came with his clothes torn and dirt on his head. These were some of the traditional signs of mourning. The messenger brought bad news, and he let his appearance reflect how bad the news was.

The next time we encounter Eli’s family, they have moved as a group to Nob. Several Bible passages mention Shiloh’s destruction as a punishment for sin (Psalm 78:60-64Jeremiah 7:12 and 26:9). As an important site for worship, the Israelites were even more in despair at its destruction.

Bible scholar Ellison explains:  “The glory of God had indeed departed, but not because the ark of God had been captured; the ark had been captured because the glory had already departed.”

Why does God let bad things happen to good people?

  1. He allowed it as a righteous judgment upon Israel as a nation and the family of Eli. They simply received what they deserved.
  2. Secondly, God allowed it as a correction to the nation, so they would not trust in the ark of God, instead of in the God of the ark.
  3. Finally, though it seemed so terrible to man, was it all that terrible to God? At that moment, did God wring His hands in heaven, worried about how things would turn out? Worried about His reputation? Worried about the Philistines and their gods? Looking at it this way, the glory had not departed at all. Instead, God was just beginning to show His glory.

What do we learn from the defeat of the Israelites and the capture of the Ark of the Covenant?

  • Many circumstances that we regard as a calamity, God uses in a marvelous way to glorify Himself. Israel was right to be sad at the loss of life and the ark on that day. But they should have been confident, knowing God was well able to take care of Himself.

Bible Scholar Poole explains: “Thus as God was no loser by this event, so the Philistines were no gainers by it; and Israel, all things considered, received more good than hurt by it, as we shall see.”

1 Samuel 5:

No doubt, the Philistines were jubilant and confident in the superiority of their god over the God of Israel. They faced the God of Israel in battle and believed their god Dagon delivered them and defeated Israel. Dagon was half-man, half-fish and believed to be the father of Baal by the Philistines. Now, the Ark of the Covenant of Israel’s God stood as a trophy in the temple of their god Dagon. The victory seemed complete.

Instead, the statue bowed down before the ark of the covenant.

What do we learn from the ark being with the Philistines?

  • God will glorify Himself. He doesn’t need man to do so.
  • God can be as a fragrance of life to some and the aroma of death to others (2 Corinthians 2:15-16). It’s our choice.

God had given the Philistine priests a chance to turn from their god Dagon to Him. They rejected God despite the evidence. Now they would be punished. God would try again, only this time, it would be harsh.

What were the tumors? Possible answers include:

  1. Hemorrhoids
  2. Bubonic plague
  3. Dysentery, bloody flux, and ulcerated anus

The Philistines sent the ark back. They got rid of God. But we can’t get rid of God nor push Him away. One day, we’ll all answer to Him.

BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 8, Day 2: Romans 5:1-2

Summary of passage:  We have peace with God because of faith that grants us justification. We rejoice in the hope of God’s glory!


3)  The best way to think of this is to think of the opposite:  war with God.  Peace is a relationship of harmony, calmness, and love.  War is antagonistic, belligerent, angry, and on edge.  The only way to peace is Jesus Christ.  Feelings come and go; they waver. They ebb and flow.  Highs and lows.  God’s peace is steady, constant, and omnipresent.  It transcends time.  Deep within nothing else matters.

This is not subjective but objective.  It’s a new relationship with God.

4)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  Through Jesus you have access to God, the Father.  As the writer of Hebrews states, we are able to approach the throne of grace with confidence and receiver mercy and grace to help us in our time of need.  We should be grateful for Jesus.  We should shine light/him wherever we go.  We should be confident in what God is asking of us in our life.  God should be the center of all that we do.

5)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Circumstances don’t matter.  Only God matters.  We know where our home is so if we kept that in mind what happens on this side of heaven is nothing in comparison.  All our troubles should fade away and with God as our center they will.  A work in progress indeed!

Conclusions:  With only two verses we should expect personal questions.  Furthermore, Paul is continuing from Chapter 4 with a summary so there’s not a lot new here.

End Notes:  Paul is going to launch into the benefits of being justified by grace alone.

1) Jesus’s sacrifice gives us peace with God, satisfying His wrath.  Careful here:  this is the peace with God, not peace of God (Philippians 4:7). Peace with God grants us eternal salvation through Jesus Christ.  Peace of God is what believers experience in their earthly life when they rely on Him.

Jesus is our peace (Ephesians 21:4).  Life is still a battle but not against God.

2)  We are granted grace by faith through Christ and given access to God.  Grace (God’s undeserved favor towards us) is not only the way salvation comes to us, it is also a description of our present standing before God.  You don’t have to prove your worth to God.

The Proper Attitude of Man under Grace according to William Newell:

– To believe, and consent to be loved while unworthy, is the great secret

– To refuse to make “resolutions” and “vows”; for that is to trust in the flesh

– To expect to be blessed, though realizing more and more lack of worth

– To testify of God’s goodness, at all times

– To be certain of God’s future favor; yet to be ever more tender in conscience toward Him

– To rely on God’s chastening hand as a mark of His kindness

– A man under grace, if like Paul, has no burdens regarding himself; but many about others

Rejoice is normally translated boast. It means “a triumphant, rejoicing confidence.”

J.B. Philipps translates hope as happy certainty.

BSF Study Questions John Lesson 8, Day 2: John 6:1-5

Summary of passage:  After healing the man at the pool and accusing the Pharisees of having no heart for God, Jesus journeys to the Sea of Galilee.  He now has a gang of followers because of his miracles and it is close to Passover again.  Jesus expresses concern for feeding the multitude of followers.


3)  He knows the Pharisees and other Jewish leaders are against him and out to kill him if possible.  Going to Jerusalem now would endanger his life and Jesus’ work is not yet complete.

4a)  Part-personal question.  My answer:  He had planned to go away to a quiet place and get some rest from all their teachings and healings.  Instead, the crowds followed them.  So, Jesus, seeing the spiritual needs of these people, had compassion on them and taught them many things.  Then, in John, Jesus sees their physical needs as well when he asks about their food.  What’s important is other people and their needs.  He puts others first above his own needs.  It could make a difference between a saved soul and not.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Not very.  I’m selfish, I admit it.  To be more compassionate and less consumed with my needs and see the needs of those around me.

Conclusions:  The lesson BSF makes is good:  quit being so selfish and put others first.  However, the lesson is in Mark, not John, since otherwise we’d have no idea Jesus had other plans to begin with.  I think the point still could have been made relying on simply John alone.  Jesus sees the great hunger of his followers and addresses it (and will solve it in the next verses).

End Notes:  This miracle is recorded in all the other Gospels as well with only Mark mentioning how it wasn’t the plan.  Luke tells us Jesus also taught the multitude who was following him and not just those following him up the mountain.

The Sea of Tiberius is the official Roman name for the Sea of Galilee, from the town of Tiberius named after the Roman emperor and founded in 20 AD.  This would be the northeast shore near Bethsaida.

The Greek verbs here are continuing action.  It seems these crowds always followed Jesus and never went away.

John is the only one to date this incident by mentioning Passover.  These crowds could be heading to Jerusalem for that feast.  Passover is a celebration of God’s people leaving Egypt.  Here, Jesus will feed the people just like God did during those tumultuous times.

The mountain Jesus ascended is assumed to be the Golan Heights of today.

Mark tells us it was late in the day and Jesus had been teaching them all day.  Not John.  He cuts to the chase:  Jesus saw a need and is about to address it.

Map of Tiberius, Bethsaida, and the Sea of Galilee HERE

Fun Fact:  Apart from the resurrection, this is the one miracle found in all 4 Gospels.  It shows Jesus as the supplier of human need and sets the stage for his testimony that he is the bread of life (John 6:35).

BSF Study Questions Revelation Lesson 8, Day 2: Daniel 1

Summary of passage:  Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, conquered Jerusalem and carried off artifacts from the temple of God.  He brought in some Israelites of royal blood to train for the king’s service.  Among these was Daniel as well as the famous Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.  Daniel refused to partake of the royal food offered and instead consisted of vegetables and water.

God gave these four increased knowledge and He blessed Daniel with the ability to understand dreams and visions.  These four were the best than the pagan magicians and enchanters in the whole kingdom and were prominently rewarded.  They served Nebuchadnezzar through King Cyrus.


3)  Daniel resolved not to defile himself with royal food and wine.  He set up a test for ten days to consist on nothing but vegetables and water and at the end of ten days he and others looked healthier and better nourished than those eating royal food.  Result:  Daniel did not have to defile himself.

4)  Part personal Question.  My answer;  God gave them knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning.  He gifted Daniel with the ability to understand visions and dreams.  They rose in prominence in the Babylonian political realm.  This shows me how God is faithful to those who are faithful to Him.  He rewards faithfulness.  God is good.  God never abandons His people.

5)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Daniel is the prime example of a Christian living amongst pagans. He excelled with God’s help, achieving success without bending his own principles of integrity and personal and religious beliefs.  He’s the perfect example of how one can serve both God and the state.  His story is encouraging especially today where society is pushing beliefs against the Bible on others.  If we are faithful, God will be as well.

Conclusions:  I’m always skeptical as to why we interrupt our study of one book of the Bible and jump to another book.  I’m so chronologically oriented that I’d prefer to chug on through the book and then come back to others at the end of the study.  I like Daniel and studying him but we can do that in the “study of Daniel”.  I’d rather have spent this time on exploring the subtle nuances of the book of Revelation.  There is so much in Revelation we could spend years studying it.  Will be interested to see how this connects with this study.

End Notes: We are now in the 500’s BC–close to 600 years before Revelation was written.  Nebuchadnezzar showed his sagacity by taking the young men for indoctrination.  This was the best and brightest Judah had to offer and he didn’t want them rising up against him.

Food was a big deal back then.  Royalty obviously ate better than the plebeians–MUCH better.  Most peasants’s diet consisted of watered-down wine, bread or other grains, and little meat.  Royalty ate meat, vegetables, and other exotic foods.  This tactic was to turn the captives dependence on Babylon.

This food was not kosher (acceptable food that satisfies the Jewish law) and was food used to sacrifice to idols and was used socially.  Daniel wanted no part of it.

Great example of being faithful to God in the little things.  Faith first.  The rewards.

Also note Daniel’s protest is peaceful and courteous.  You gain nothing with meanness.  Furthermore, he showed concern for the chief who was worried about repercussions.  He did not put that man’s life at risk.  Godly wisdom at its best.

Just for Fun:  Actual menu served at a royal feast in 1387 (Medieval Times):

14 oxen lying in salt

2 oxen, fresh

120 heads of sheep, fresh

120 carcasses of sheep, fresh

12 boars

14 calves

140 piglets

300 marrow bones

lard and grease, enough

3 tons of salt venison

3 does of fresh venison

50 swans

210 geese

50 capons of high grease

8 dozen other capons

60 dozen hens

200 pair rabbits

4 pheasants

5 herons and bitterns

6 young goats

5 dozen young hens for jelly

12 dozen young hens to roast

100 dozen pigeons

12 dozen partridges

8 dozen young rabbits

10 dozen curlews

12 dozen whimbrels

12 cranes

wild fowl, enough

120 gallons milk

12 gallons cream

40 gallons of curd

3 bushels of apples

11 thousand eggs

Taken from It’s Disgusting and We Ate it! by James Solheim

Typical Roman Fare (Taken from Ancient Agriculture by Michael & Mary B Woods):

The poor Romans lived on bread, olives, mashed beans, chickpeas, wine, cheese, salted fish, and very small amounts of meat.  A treat would be honey, milk, or porridge.

Rich Romans had lavish banquets, a sampling of which would consist of oysters, mussels, swans, venison, lobsters, pheasants, pig, duck, turkey, gazelle, etc.

Wealthy Romans would often stuff themselves at these banquets and then would visit the vomitorium, a room just off the banquet hall, where they would stick a straw down their throats, vomit, and then return to stuff themselves again.

All such a waste when the poor all around would be starving.

BSF Study Questions The Life of Moses Lesson 8, Day 2: Exodus 19

Summary of passage:  Three months after leaving Egypt (Number 3 again), the Israelites enter the Desert of Sinai. Here, Moses goes up to God on Mount Sinai to receive God’s Word and Laws for His people.  God tells His people if you obey Him and keep His covenant, you will be a treasured possession and a holy nation.  Moses tells the people this and they agree.  Moses returns to God who tells Moses He will speak to him in a dense cloud so that all the people will hear Him and put their trust in Moses.

God told Moses to prepare the people for His coming by washing and consecrating themselves. The people are not to touch the mountain until the ram’s horn sounds or else they will die.

On the third day (3), God descended Mount Sinai as He promised in fire.  Trumpets blasted and Moses and God spoke.  Then God called Moses to the top of Mount Sinai and told him again not to allow the people to come up to Him but to bring Aaron with him.  Moses obeyed.


3)  His amazing love and care for us.  An eagle is considered the top of the food chain in the bird world.  It is also a symbol of power and majesty.  God is carrying us to Him, caring, shielding, guarding, catching and hovering over us the entire time.  See commentary below for more.

4a)  “If you obey me fully and keep my covenant.”

b)  “You will be my treasured possession”, “You will be for me a kingdom of priests”, and “a holy nation”  The people responded “We will do everything the Lord has said.”

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  With gratitude and honor.  By praising Him.  By extending mercy to others as God has for me.  By doing all in my power to be the holy nation He has called me to be.

5)  God appeared to the people in a dense cloud and allowed the people to hear Him speak with Moses so that they will always put their trust in Moses.

6a)  That they are unworthy to stand on the same ground God does for they are unholy.  Thus, the people need to be holy to be with God and thus need to purify themselves (or nowadays to accept Jesus as their Savior) in order to be with God.  Still, there is a separation of sin from God.  But if God is holy, then the people must strive to be holy as well by following His decrees.

b)  Jesus Christ.  Through faith in Jesus we are justified and thus able to stand with God in His presence through His grace and mercy.  Praise Him!

Conclusions:  Anyone else while reading this wished to be back with Moses to see God in the cloud and hear Him speak?  How awesome!  I’m always jealous that Moses is the one who gets to speak to God.  I imagine myself to be him.

End Notes:  Awesome commentary by Matthew Henry HERE about eagle’s wings.  Amazing our God!

Definition of pinion according to Webster’s:  “the terminal section of a bird’s wing including the carpus, metacarpus, and phalanges.”  Our carpus and metacarpus is our hand and phalanges are our fingers.

So here God is carrying us in His hands.  These feathers are also the feathers that are clipped to prevent a bird from flying.  These are the primary feathers so to speak, the most important ones.  Reports exist of mother eagles carrying their young on their wings. Here God is telling us He is protecting us with all of His strength and carrying us and supporting us every step of the way, beginning from our youth.  He catches us when we fall and carries us till we can fly again.  He is protecting us because an arrow would have to pass through His body before it would hit the babies on His back.

We are going to hang out for 57 chapters until Numbers 10 here in the Wilderness of Sinai, an approximate one year period with the Israelites.  Shows you how important the events there are.  Here is where Moses met God at the burning bush.

IMPORTANT!  No one is sure exactly where Mt Sinai lies today.

God calls His people here “the house of Jacob” because they are acting more like Jacob than Abraham or Isaac right now.

God delivers Israel so that they can be with Him.

Israel is a special treasure to God.  They have the unique purpose of keeping God’s Word and spreading it to the world. We non-Jews should constantly remember Israel in our prayers as they struggle constantly for survival in today’s world. They (and we) are set apart, a holy nation, for His purposes.  We are His; thus, we are special.

At the trumpet sound, the people could come to God.  Revelation, anyone?

Notice it’s the third day God comes.  Number 3 again.

It’s important to note the differences here between the Old Covenant and the New Covenant. Where Moses stands in OT, Jesus stands in NT.  Jesus interceded for us so ALL can come to God.  Here, only Moses can.  Jesus brought grace, forgiveness, and justification. Here, the people are afraid and excluded.  With Jesus, we are loved and included.  One more thing we should be on our knees for–His Son, Jesus Christ.

BSF Study Questions Matthew Lesson 8, Day 2: Matthew 7:1-6

Summary of passage:  Jesus says to not judge for you will be judged in the same manner you judge others.  He admonishes hypocrites.  Be wary of those not prepared to receive Christ for they will turn and tear you to pieces.


3a)  Judging, according to Webster’s Dictionary, means:  “to form an opinion about through careful weighing of evidence and testing of premises”.

Galatians and Ephesians say love one another and don’t speak unwholesome to others (only words of encouragement).  Philippians says to help others, put others first, and don’t complain so that you shine.  Basically, we are allowed to judge others, to say what they are doing is right or wrong, only in a spirit of love and helpfulness, and one by which we hold ourselves to as well.

Often, we form an opinion without careful weighing of evidence.  We jump to conclusions about others and therefore treat them differently than we should; not with a kind heart or spirit of love.

b)  That we will be judged in the same way that we judge.  Judging people from a standard we ourselves do not abide by is hypocritical and wrong.  We often attempt to correct others’ faults instead of our own.  Yet we must be discerning and recognize those hardened towards the message.

c)  “Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned.  Forgive, and you will be forgiven.  Give, and it will be given to you.”   If you do that, you will receive a good measure.  If you are judgmental, you are unable to lad anyone and both of you will fall.

4a)  Matthew 18:15-17:  Other believers

Galatians 1:8:  Those who pervert the gospel of Christ (see verse 7)

Galatians 6:1-5:  Other believers

2 John 7-11:  Deceivers and unbelievers

c)  First deal with your own faults.  Then go and speak to that person alone about his fault.  If that person is still being obstinate, then take one or two other believers along.  Finally, take that person to the church.  If they refuse to listen, treat them as a pagan or a tax collector (which back then was horrible so I wouldn’t recommend this).

Galatians says to restore that person gently but be careful you are not drawn into that sin.  Help with others’ burdens but be careful of your actions as well.

5)  We must be careful not to give what is sacred to those who would only trample upon it (unbelievers who will never be open to Christ or who are openly opposing Christ).  Hypocritical believers also must not be given what is sacred.  We must correct in a Godly manner and preach pearls to those who are ready to receive the message.  If they are hardened to Christ (2 Corinthians 4:4), then we should not waste our time (Acts 19:9).

I found Acts 13:44-51 the most helpful.  It basically says if people (here the Jews) reject the message of Christ, move on and tell others.  Some are false prophets and will lie and try to deceive you.  Be wary.

Conclusions:  I have mixed reactions to this lesson.  I actually stopped and came back because I just was not feeling the message or the questions.  Sometimes I’m in the mood to go all over the Bible and sometimes I’m not and today was an “I don’t feel like working” day.  Hence, my judgement (yes, read irony here) becomes cloudy.

In essence, we are all called to share the Gospel but we ourselves must be careful and loving.  If people are not prepared to receive the word, move on.  Don’t batter or judge them because of it.  Give them time and then approach them again but continue looking for prepared hearts–all out of love and kindness.

We must remember God chooses those who will ultimately receive Him (John 6:44; 15:16 & 2 Thessalonians 2:13 & 2 Timothy 1:9).  We must wait on His time and try again later.

BSF Study Questions Lesson 8, Day 2: Genesis 8:20-22

Summary of passage:  Noah built an altar after he left the ark and sacrificed burnt offerings to the Lord. The Lord said he would never again curse the ground because of man even though his heart is evil from childhood and destroy living creatures.


3a)  Personal Question.  My answer:  It was the first thing Noah did after more than a year aboard the Ark.  He gave God thanks through worship for all God’s goodness to him.  He also sacrificed animals (a BIG deal since there weren’t really any to spare).  This one act brought about God’s resolve to never destroy the earth again–because there is goodness in man despite the evil inclinations of the heart.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Great question because I really don’t have a daily time of worship with my family.  It’s something we’ve fallen out of and it ends up being usually on Sundays only.  Something to work on and pray about!

c)  It’s hard to say since details on sacrifices to God from Adam to Noah are not recorded.  We know Abel killed animals for God and these were accepted.  I believe burnt (animal) offerings were around since Abel’s time and that Noah had probably done them before.  In this case after the Ark, however, I believe God did not order Noah to sacrifice to him and He was pleasantly surprised by Noah’s act of sacrifice–hence, God’s determination to never destroy man or the earth again.

Since Noah walked with God (Genesis 6:9) I believe he knew how to please and praise our Lord.  Hence, I believe Noah offered this sacrifice to God of his own free will, knowing the cleansing power of blood over sin.

4a)  Psalm 27:6:  Sacrifice with shouts of joy; sing and make music to the Lord

Psalm 51:17:  A broken spirit, a broken and contrite (penitent) heart–come with a penitent heart, truly sorry for sins

Romans 12:1:  Your bodies

Ephesians 5:2:  Live a life of love like Jesus

Philippians 4:18:  Gifts to others in this case Paul is speaking of monetary aid

Hebrews 13:15-17:  Praise to God, do good and share with others; obey your leaders

1 Peter 2:5:  Spiritual sacrifices (ourselves) to God

b) Personal Question.  My answer:  All in a sense because 1) I need to work on all and 2) because they all cost me something like God sacrificed Jesus at such a high cost.

Conclusions:  Great lesson on how we can and should sacrifice to God and how we are even if we don’t recognize it as such.  My take-away was the daily time as a family with God.  I do my lesson alone in the wee hours of the morning.  I need to model this for my kids so they see what I do.  I do help them with their lesson but we do it Sunday night.

We had a daily time with God during homeschool but we have gotten away from that due to the busyness of our lives.  Been convicted of that one.

BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 8, Day 2: Acts 15:1-12

Summary of passage:  Men from Judea (Judaizers) came down to Antioch and began preaching that people must be circumcised to be saved.  Paul and Barnabas disagreed strongly so they traveled to Jerusalem to debate the issue with the elders. On their way, they told how the Gentiles had been converted (basically stirring up the troops for their cause).

Upon arrival, Peter got up and recounted his vision given to him from God some 10 years earlier.  He told them God accepted the Gentiles as proven when He gave them the Holy Spirit, which purified their hearts just like the Jews.  He asks them why are they testing God with a yoke not even they could bear?  It is through the grace of the Lord Jesus alone that everyone is saved.  Paul and Barnabas backed up Peter’s vision with the telling of the wondrous signs and miracles God has performed amongst the Gentiles.


3)  The Christians at Antioch had the attitude:  Everyone can be saved as long as you have faith and belief in Jesus Christ our Savior.  The Jerusalem Christians put additional conditions on this claim:  They added you must have faith and belief in Jesus Christ but you also must be circumcised.

4a) Because now the Gentile believers outnumbered the Jewish Christians (my study Bible says between Acts 10 and Acts 15 ten full years had passed), making them the minority.  And we all know it’s the will of the majority that rules (elects leaders, etc).

Gentiles are everyone outside the Jewish faith–a huge number of eligible converts even back then.  Enough to completely overwhelm the Jews.  In today’s terms, think of the number of Jews today versus every other religion.  Even back then they could see the potential ramifications of allowing others into their faith.  They would be a small voice amidst a huge crowd.

b)  Circumcision was a custom taught by Moses, saying all believers had to be circumcised.

Circumcision has a fascinating history.  In the beginning in Old Testament times beginning with Abraham (who was circumcised at the age of 99), all believers had to be circumcised.  “You are to undergo circumcision, and it will be the sign of the covenant between you and me,” God says in Genesis 17:11.  It was a way for God to make his people; to set them apart.  Anyone who was “bought” or converted had to be circumcised as well.

Now, when God says something people tend to listen.

The Council is referring to Mosaic Law as given in Exodus 12:43-49 where God decrees to celebrate Passover, one must be circumcised first.  If one is circumcised, “he may take part like one born in the land” (verse 48).  Here, God extends his covenant made with Abraham in Genesis to Gentiles in Exodus.

This Law holds UNTIL ACTS 10 where God reveals His plan for the Gentiles to Peter and Peter baptized Cornelius without being circumcised.  This is the verifiable proof God accepts all and Jesus died for all.  However, the law was broken with Jesus’ death. But the people are slow to understand this.

So, let’s remember the times:  the Jerusalem Christians have been performing circumcisions for millennium now.  Never questioned.  Tradition.  So it seemed only natural to continue this tradition even after Christ died.

I’m not convinced they fully understood the full meaning, implications, and ramifications of Jesus’ death yet.  After all, it had only been 20 years or so, not even a full generation had passed.  A lot of these people may even have seen Jesus alive–a real human being, God incarnate.

So, yes, they are still holding on to their traditions fiercely.

Also, this was probably a power play.  Circumcision in infancy is not fun.  But in adulthood it can be akin to major surgery and takes a while to get over (for a great story on this see Genesis 34 Dinah and the Shechemites–gives you a greater understanding of the aftermath).  Most men didn’t want to undergo such a procedure.  So if it were conditional for being a Christian, less would convert (and if the men didn’t convert odds were their wives wouldn’t either) and the Jews would retain more power.

c)  I’ve wondering if the question is supposed to be Peter here instead of Paul because Peter is the one quoted in Acts 15:7-11, retelling how God gave him the words (Acts 10) at Cornelius’ house that God makes no distinction in who is to be saved since it is through His grace alone that we are saved.

Paul opposes it because it would restrict those who can be saved by God.  Also, Paul has seen God’s work first hand in the miraculous signs and wonders God has done amongst the Gentiles.  Would God do such wonders if he didn’t want the Gentiles to know Him?  No.  God wouldn’t have shown up.  So one can intuit that God wants the Gentiles as much as He does the Jews based on the acts God has performed.

5)  Peter is referring to the vision God gave him on his journey to Cornelius the Roman Centurion’s house that told him that God does not show favoritism amongst His people and everyone is now eligible for redemption thanks to Jesus’ death on the cross.

Conclusions:  Even amongst believers there is resistance to newcomers and new commandments.  People are inherently resistant to change and this is a great illustration of it here.  The Judaizers were probably resentful of the Gentiles and still held prejudices about them.

In today’s time, not all change can be good.  Some traditions are thrown by the wayside that shouldn’t be (like the Native American way of life 150 years ago) that was forced upon them.

Yet change is inevitable.  We must adapt or we’ll spend our lives bitter, resentful, and ultimately broken people.  We are powerless to stop change in the end if the majority approve it.  We can only pray that it is God’s will and we conform to His will. We must follow our inner faith and our true north, which if aligned with God’s heart, will never lead us astray.

End Note:  What I am coming to discover and believe (especially from this lesson–this is my second day I’ve worked on this and counting) is that God’s people (which is everyone by the way) did not understand what Jesus’ death meant.  They just didn’t get it!

Which I can understand.  There wasn’t a huge explosion.  Every day life didn’t change for most people because Jesus died. Everyone still struggled to survive from one day to the next.

So, as we’re following the apostles along we are following them as they begin to understand the full implications of Jesus’s death.  How Jesus’s death changed everything!  So what we’re seeing here is slowly revelations are being made (like Acts 10 where Peter sees that the Gentiles are equal to the Jews) to the apostles who then are trying to convey this to others (including the leaders).

We have the benefit of 2000 years between us and Peter and Paul.  We know what happened after they died (for we have the rest of the Bible!).  We have almost 2000 years of church doctrine and history to study and learn from.

So it’s hard for us to understand what’s happening in the Bible because we (I believe) understand (at least more so than in the apostles time) what happened after.  We know what Jesus’s death meant.  They didn’t.

So some of this stuff (like the circumcision debate–which was HUGE in that time) is no big deal to us.  Why?  Because we already know it’s not a big deal to God.  But they didn’t!

Do you follow me here?

So it’s hard for us to understand the Bible because we understand so much more than they did.

Now, I’m not saying we “get” it.  I’m not saying we know everything.  What I am saying is this:  we have the benefit of history and knowledge that the disciples just didn’t immediately after Jesus’s death.

They had to fight tradition.  We don’t.  They waged battles for us that we reap the benefits of.  They worked out God’s will slowly over time which we don’t have to.

Maybe you all caught this but I didn’t until this Lesson:  Acts 10 is HUGE in terms of God’s proof of accepting us (me and you if you’re not Jewish) into His kingdom.  I think God did this so His people would understand He is for everyone, regardless of circumcised or not.

I think the argument was meant to rest here in Acts 10 but the debate was far from over as we see in Acts 15.

This website is AWESOME.  You can keep clicking forever and learn all about circumcision, God’s laws, and how it all changed and when in the New Testament.  You gotta read this site!!!

Caveat to this website and others I post on my site:  If you follow along with the arguments made here, this site concludes that only circumcision was done away with and the rest of God’s laws from the OT still stand.

The first page says very clearly to decide for yourself what you believe and to look to God’s word (the Bible) to answer your questions.

This website has Jewish overtones but it’s meant to answer questions for everyone.

Still, it does a great job of laying out the circumcision argument.

We all have our own beliefs.  The links I put on my site are for information gathering purposes.  I post links that have given me a greater understanding of God’s word.  Do I believe all the conclusions on these sites?  No.  But I go for the facts, not the interpretations.  We all have minds that can draw our own conclusions.

My goal in posting links to sites is this:  I do my research and post what I find interesting; the sites I learned from.  Hopefully, I cut out some of the work for you all.  That being said you must always be vigilant when it comes to fact versus opinion, especially when researching theological issues.

I don’t have all the answers.  I am still struggling myself to understand Old Testament theology.  But I know what I believe about what Jesus did for me on the cross.  And this I hold dear to.

In my humble opinion, Jesus nullified everything in the Old Testament in terms of conditions of being saved.  Obviously, such laws as the Ten Commandments still stand.

Jesus died.  If you believe in him and what he did for you on the cross and have faith, Bam!  Saved.  Done with.  Over.  You accept Jesus.  You get to Heaven.  That’s what I believe.

I believe in a God without conditions except this one.  I don’t need to do anything to get to Heaven.  I don’t have to earn Heaven. I don’t have to watch what I eat or sacrifice lambs and the like.

Sorry for the spiel.  Point being:  take what you can from these sites that I post.  Take what aligns with your beliefs and leave the rest.  Learn about the Old Testament and how God has set up everything for Jesus’ coming.  You will deepen your relationship and your appreciation for God and Jesus.

Then share your knowledge with others.  And your beliefs.  Making distinctions between fact and belief.  For there is a difference.  Caveat emptor!

BSF Study Questions Isaiah Lesson 8, Day 2: Isaiah 11:1-5

Summary of passage: Isaiah predicts the Messiah (the Branch) shooting up from the stump of Jesse’s line.  The Spirit of the Lord will be with the Branch who will judge and rule with righteousness, justice, and faith.


3a) It’s a prediction of the coming of Jesus Christ who will have the Spirit of the Lord and a reminder of the promise God made to David that his line will rule forever (2 Samuel 7:12-16).

b) The stump of Jesse-David’s line has fallen from God’s grace.  The Branch is the Messiah, here representing new growth from the decayed stump which will bear fruit.

4) He will not judge by appearances or rumor or hearsay but with righteousness and justice.  He will always be faithful.  The Spirit of the Lord will be upon Him, bringing wisdom, understanding, counsel, power, knowledge, and fear of the Lord.

5) Exodus 31:3; 35:31  He fills you with the Spirit of God–skill ability, and knowledge in all crafts

Judges 6:34; 11:29; 13:25; 14:6  The Spirit of the Lord came upon His servants, stirring them to action

Numbers 11:25  They took of the Spirit of the Lord and prophesized

1 Samuel 10:10; 16:1-13  The Spirit of the Lord came upon Saul and David in power (as chosen leaders)

John 15:26; 16:13  Spirit of Truth will guide you and testify about God

Romans 8:9; 1 Corinthians 6:19; 12:13  The Spirit of God (Christ) lives inside you (your body).  You were baptized into Christ.  God bought and paid for your body so it needs to be treated as such–as a temple to honor God with.

Romans 8:15-16  Spirit of the Father–God adopted us as His own.  We are His children.

Acts 1:8; 4:31  Spirit of Witnesses–speak/spread the Word of God

Ephesians 1:13  Marked with God’s seal (with His Holy Spirit) which guarantees our inheritance as God’s possession.

Conclusions:  Lots of passages today.  Time consuming but worth the effort.  In BSF, you get to learn not just about the book of Isaiah but the whole Bible and how the books are all related.  It’s nice to have BSF do the leg work in finding all the related passages and you have the privilege of enjoying the connectedness of it all.

I enjoyed seeing how important the Spirit part of God is in our lives and how He lives in us in many ways, which is exhibited through our skills (work), our calls to action, our words, our morals and values, our bodies, and as His possession.  I also recently learned through this study and have been able to see how Jesus was planned all along by God to save us, which this passage confirms.  It’s comforting to know in the midst of rebellion there is an end to the war.

Special Note:  I changed two passages:  1 Samuel 10:11 to 1 Samuel 10:10 and John 16:14 to John 16: 13 because they made more sense to me.  The ones in the notes did not reference the Spirit directly but these did so I’m assuming these are typos.  I will get with my small group leader on this to confirm.