BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 21, Day 4: Romans 12:2; Galatians 1:3-5; and Ephesians 2:1-2

Summary of passages:  Romans 12:2:  He urges us to not conform to this world but to allow God to renew our mind so that we can know His will for us.

Galatians 1:3-5:  This is part of Paul’s greetings to the church of Galatia where he offers up grace and peace from God and Jesus who sacrificed himself for you to rescue us from our sins and this evil age according to God’s will forever.

Ephesians 2:1-2:  Here Paul reminds the church of Ephesus how they were dead in their transgressions and sins when they lived in the world which is ruled by Satan who is still working in those unsaved by Christ.


10)  The world is the world system that contains evil and corruption and is opposed to God and rebels against Him.

11)  Those who love the world are not in God.  The world–the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does.  The world is temporal.  In my own words, the world is anything opposed to God’s Word and His will.  Anything the devil has a hold of.  Any temptation you face.

12)  Personal Question.  My answer:  The world tries to justify sin.  And it puts a high priority on self.  I fight against selfishness every day and it’s hard not to get caught up in doing what “feels good.”  I’ve found putting God at the center of all you do helps to break the influence of the world and re-focus your attention on Him, His ways, His goals and priorities.

Conclusions:  It’s important to realize the influence of the world on yourself, which has some influence if you interact with anyone at all especially unbelievers.  Satan is sneaky and is always seeking your weaknesses.  Use His weapons (the Word, prayer, etc) against him always.

End NotesRomans 12:2:  So the world system with all its evil and corruption is opposed to God and His ways and is in rebellion.  Paul reminds us we must resist it.

Renewing the mind is the opposite of conforming the world.  The battle takes place in the mind.  Hence, Christians must think differently than non-believers.

Today the world is based on feelings.  Do what you feel is right.  Oh, you don’t want to work today.  Then don’t.  The government will take care of you.  Etc.  Also, the world is based on doings.  Just tell me what to do.

Paul says here we must know what God’s word says in our mind. We cannot blindly follow our whimsical feelings and follow the crowd of doers who are “doing” but accomplishing nothing.

“Transformed”:  This is the ancient Greek word metamorphoo – describing a metamorphosis. The same word is used to describe Jesus in His transfiguration (Mark 9:2-3).

Fun Fact:  The only other place Paul uses this word for transformed is in 2 Corinthians 3:18: “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”  For Paul, this transformation and renewing of our minds takes place as we behold the face of God, spending time in His glory.  Note this is a process, not a single event.

“Then”:  After the spiritual transformation just described has taken place.

“Test and approve what God’s will is”:  The proof is the live that you live.  What God wants from the believer here and now.

“Good”:  That which leads to the spiritual and moral growth of the Christian.

“Pleasing”:  To God, not necessarily to us.

“Perfect”:  No improvement can be made on the will of God.

In sum, from Chapter 11 Paul writes if we keep in mind the rich mercy of God to you – past, present, and future (by the mercies of God) and as an act of intelligent worship, decide to yield your entire self to Him (present your bodies a living sacrifice) and resist conformity to the thoughts and actions of this world (do not be conformed) by focusing on God’s word and fellowship with Him (be transformed by the renewing of your mind) then our life will be in the will of God through the power of the Holy Spirit.  And others will witness this.

Galatians 1:3-5:  Written by Paul to the churches in Galatia around 50 AD.

“Grace and peace to you”:  This was Paul’s familiar greeting, drawing from the traditional greetings in both Greek culture (grace) and Jewish culture (peace). Paul used this exact phrase five other times in the New Testament.

Fun Fact:  Paul used the word grace more than 100 times in his writings. Among all the other writers of the New Testament, it is only used 55 times. Paul was truly the apostle of grace.

“These two terms, grace and peace, constitute Christianity.” (Martin Luther)

Note the first thing Paul says about Jesus is he gave himself for our sins.  Throughout the epistle Paul points the Galatians to the centrality of the cross. He cannot wait to make this plain, and we find a reference to it in his very first sentence.

Jesus gave. We know from John 3:16 that God the Father so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son. Yet God the Father was not the only giver; Jesus also gave. Jesus is a loving, giving God and a loving, giving Savior.

Jesus gave the greatest thing anyone can give–Himself.  There is a sense in which we do not even begin to give until we give ourselves.  Why did Jesus give himself?  For our sins.  If God did not do something to save us, our sins would destroy us. So out of love, Jesus rescues us.

The purpose of Jesus’s sacrifice is to glorify God.  Yes, we are saved.  But it’s for the glory of God.

Ephesians 2:1-2:   Paul ended the last chapter by considering that the ultimate example of God’s power was the resurrection of Jesus. Now Paul considers what the implications of Jesus’ resurrection power are for our life.

Paul is speaking of spiritual death here not physically, mentally, emotionally, etc.  Transgressions is crossing God’s boundaries.  Sins is falling short of God’s standards.

Satan is the ruler of the kingdom of air and is active in those who are disobedient to God.

Once walked is our old self.  We should now feel uncomfortable with sin in our new life.  Satan guided us in the old life.  Now God does.

This is a unique title that speaks to Satan’s authority and realm of influence.


BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 20, Day 3: Romans 11:33-34

Summary of passage:  We humans are too stupid to know God’s wisdom and knowledge.


6)  Wisdom and omniscient

7)  Part personal Question.  My answer:

1 Kings 8:39:  “Forgive and act; deal with each man according to all he does, since you know his heart (for you alone know the hearts of all men).  Forgiving others is always a challenge.  If we keep Jesus in the forefront of our minds, forgiving is easy.  I need to release bitter feelings and bloom here where I’m planted instead of in the past.

Job 9:4:  “His wisdom is profound, his power is vast. Who has resisted him and come out unscathed?”  God is in control.  He knows what He’s doing.  We cannot hope to know or do more than God.

Job 28:12-28:  Only God knows and has wisdom.  Man needs only to fear God and shun evil.  God himself will handle the rest.  You cannot find wisdom by searching.  God is the source of wisdom.  I need to pray to Him for guidance in my life and to help me understand what is happening around me.  Only God knows the plans He has laid for me and where I’m going.

Psalm 147:4:  “He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name.”  Knowledge.  God knows everything and puts everything in its place.  God is in control of everything that happens in my life.

Proverbs 3:19:  “By wisdom the Lord laid the earth’s foundations, by understanding he set the heavens in place (verse 20) by his knowledge the deeps were divided, and the clouds let drop the dew.”  God is Creator of all things.  Everything works together to create this amazing place we live.  God does not need my help to accomplish anything.  He needs me to pray and obey.  Period.

8 )  Personal Question.  My answer:  He’s everywhere in my life.  One of the ways is in my family.  When I was young I had a vision of being a world traveler, never marrying, never having kids, always on the move.  Then I met my husband and all that changed.  I have 3 beautiful kids because of it and I can’t imagine my life without them. God knew this all along.  I’m glad I’m not in charge!

Conclusions:  So comforting to know God does it all.  So humbling to admit and know I’m ignorant of God’s ways.  Good lesson of showing us to surrender our need to be in control and our need to know everything.  We don’t and we’re not.  The sooner you admit this and depend upon Him, the less drama will be in your life and the more content you shall be.

End Notes:  [Same as Yesterday’s]

Paul is reflecting upon God’s overarching plan for the ages and all of mankind.  Paul realizes and states here how God’s ways are beyond men and we have no hope of figuring out His plan for the future.  God’s wisdom and knowledge are beyond him.

The quotations from Isaiah 40:13 and Job 41:11 emphasize both God’s wisdom and sovereign conduct; no one can make God their debtor.

You’ll never be able to repay God for all He’s done for you.  His is a debt only Jesus can clear.

The plan is God’s.  Only He can accomplish this plan.  All for God’s glory, honor, and pleasure.

The fact that Paul can’t figure out God makes him glorify God all the more. When we understand some of the greatness of God, we worship Him all the more passionately.

BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 12, Day 2: Romans 7:1-6

Summary of passage:  Paul uses an example from the law (marriage) to explain what Christ’s death means.  In Jewish law, a married woman is bound to her husband as long as he lives.  If he dies, she is released from this law.  If she remarries while her husband is still alive, she is still bound to her first husband.  This is the same relationship when Christ died.  With his death, we (believers) were released from the law and free to serve in the Holy Spirit.


3)  Christ’s death grants us the Holy Spirit within (basically Christ within), uniting us closer to him.  Baptism as well.  His death crucified our old life into something new.

4a)  His death freed us from the law.  We belong to Christ so we can bear fruit to God.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer I’m sick of answering:  I’m trying to walk the path God wants me to and that path walks me through work, family, community, etc.  The freedom is in my attitude and beliefs and steps on that path.

5)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  These are opposites in every facet of life.  We either live and work for God or the devil/death.  We either sin or we don’t (new way versus old way).  Life of the Spirit is avoiding all sin which is the old way of the written code (sinful nature).  I’m gonna take issue with “patterns”.  I walk in the Spirit with stumbles (sin) on that path.  There is no pattern to it.  It’s either you walk with God or you don’t.  You won’t be perfect in your walk with Him, but the pattern is the same.

Conclusions:  Could Question 4b be any broader?  Question 5 has one answer:  opposites and I think we all can see that. There’s not a variety of ways to say it.

End Notes: In Romans 6:14, Paul told us that you are not under law but under grace. After the discussion in Romans 6:15-23 regarding practical implications of this, he now explains more completely how it is that we are no longer under the dominion of the law.

The ancient Greek wording here has no word “the” before law. This means Paul speaks of a principle broader than the Mosaic Law, which includes our innate law of creation and conscience.

Paul makes the point that death ends all obligations and contracts.  It decisively changes a person’s relationship to the law.

In Romans 6:3-8, Paul carefully explained that we died with Jesus and we also rose with Him, although Paul there only spoke of our death to sin. Now he explains that we also died to the law.  Paul wanted to make it clear to all that the law does not dictate our living nor sanctification before God.  We can’t do anything to win salvation.  With this freedom, however, we aren’t free to sin as Paul has carefully explained.  We are free to be married to Jesus and serve God and His will, not ours.

The law’s power to condemn no longer threatens believers.

Under the law, we did not bear fruit to God. Instead we bore fruit to death, because the law aroused the passions of sins within us.  The fruit of our union with the law was a physical and spiritual death–a separation from God.

To bear fruit to death: Paul will explain this problem of the law more fully in Romans 7:7-14.  We can only bear fruit to God if we’re free from the law because the law stimulates sin since the natural human tendency is to desire the forbidden thing.

Sinful nature is usually translated sinful flesh, which refers to the sinful state of human beings, often presented as a power in opposition to the Spirit.

When we are united to Christ the fruit of holiness is produced.

Verse 6 summarizes Romans 7:1-5.  The law does not justify nor sanctify us.  With Christ’s death, we are released from the law and free to serve God better.

BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 3, Day 5: Romans 2:25-29

Summary of passage:  Paul says what matters is keeping the law and what’s in your heart, not outward conformity. Circumcision of the heart by the Spirit is what matters.


12a)  Circumcision is the cutting of the foreskin from a boy’s penis as an outward sign (sign of the covenant God gave to Abraham) that boy belongs to God.  It would show how that person belongs to God and has been chosen out of all the people on the earth for God’s plan.  Pride by definition is “the quality or state of being proud as in inordinate self-esteem or conceit.”  Pride is excessive.  We are all equal in God’s eyes.

b)  Going to church, taking communion, volunteering, mission trips, tithing, doing what Jesus would do, praying, etc.

13)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  Circumcision of the heart by the Spirit (the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit within Titus 3:5).  It means God cares about what kind of person I am, how I’m following Him, and my intentions behind what I do.  I fail. We all do.  As long as my intent was out of love and kindness, God forgives.

Conclusions:  Love how Paul lays it all out and says it is about the heart and being a hypocrite will get you nowhere with God.  Faith in Jesus trumps all.  Always.  You can walk about and think you’re the best thing on this planet and you won’t get into heaven.  Instead, walk around, seeking ways to listen to God, obey God, and open your heart to others.

End Notes:  Again, in first century AD Jews believed that circumcision guaranteed salvation. He might be punished in the world to come, but could never be lost.

In Paul’s day, some Rabbis taught that God will measure the Gentiles one way and the Jews another.

Circumcision (or baptism – or any ritual in itself) doesn’t save anyone.  In the ancient world the Egyptians also circumcised their boys but it did not make them followers of the true God.  Even in Abraham’s day Ishmael (the son of the flesh) was circumcised, but it did not make him a son of the covenant.

Deuteronomy 10:16 says that it’s the heart that matters.  Another example of God’s people taking His word and twisting it to fit what they wanted it to fit.

Having the law is not enough. God requires righteousness (acting in accord with divine law), obeying His law.

This answers the question of “what about the Pygmy in Africa who has never heard about Jesus?”.  He would be guilty because no one is perfect.  He needs forgiveness for sins and only Jesus’s blood grants that.

More importantly, if you’re one of those who is concerned about the Pygmy, ask yourself this:

  1.  What about you who hear the gospel, but reject it? What excuse is there for you?
  2.  What about you, who are commanded to take the gospel to that Pygmy in Africa (Matthew 28:19), but refuse to do it?

What matters is God’s praise, not man’s (John 5:41, 44: 12:43; 1 Cor 4:3-5).  Evidence of our salvation and rightness with God is found in our hearts and we see it in the fruit we leave behind.

William Newell summarizes Romans 2 with Seven Great Principles of God’s Judgment:

– God’s judgment is according to truth (Romans 2:2)

– God’s judgment is according to accumulated guilt (Romans 2:5)

– God’s judgment is according to works (Romans 2:6)

– God’s judgment is without partiality (Romans 2:11)

– God’s judgment is according to performance, not knowledge (Romans 2:13)

– God’s judgment reaches the secrets of the heart (Romans 2:16)

– God’s judgment is according to reality, not religious profession (Romans 2:17-29)

BSF Study Questions John Lesson 5, Day 3: John 4:11-18

Summary of passage:  The Samaritan woman at the well asks Jesus where to get this living water he speaks of and if he’s greater than Jacob.  Jesus tells her the water he brings will give eternal life.  She asks where to get this water so she won’t thirst.  Jesus tells her to bring back her husband.  She says she has no husband.


6a)  Ordinary water never quenches thirst.  The water Jesus offers will forever quench thirst and bring eternal life.

b)  In Ancient Times, living water was the name for bubbling water. However, for Jews living water is associated with God (Jeremiah 2:13; 17:13).  Jesus is also living water (John 6:35).  Holy Spirit is living water (John 6:63; John 7:37-39).

c)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  People thirst for ordinary water as a basic human need for survival.  People also thirst for success, power, status, material things, relationships, children, other human desires, etc.  Thirsting for other things outside God can take precedence.  This is when it’s dangerous.  Thirst for God first and the other things second.  Then will you be satisfied.  Prioritize.  For me, only Jesus satisfies the basic needs of my soul.  Everything else is meaningless without Him.

7a)  She showed belief by asking for the water that won’t lead to thirst but unbelief by equating living water with ordinary water when she gave her reason for wanting the water so she wouldn’t have to make daily trips to the well.  She was practical; Jesus wants spiritual.  Jesus told her to go and get her husband.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Jesus humbles you to the point you have to acknowledge his precedence in your life.  When we are the most blinded, he shows up to guide us on our path.  For me, it has been bankruptcy and losing it all.  It’s also the constant money struggles we have with my husband’s job being so tied to the economy and the sins in my life.  It’s all about dependence on Him and Him alone.  When that’s all in place, life is full of contentment.

Conclusions:  Love the difference of the waters and the different representations in the Bible (although they are all the Triune God).  Jesus takes a basic need and turns it into an essential need–one even more important that water itself–our spiritual health.

End Notes:  Drinking is God’s supply and man’s need.  We drink through faith and take in and choose God.  It’s simple–even easier than eating.

One sip of Jesus usually isn’t enough.  We must drink and drink and drink of God to satisfy our needs.  The expression “welling up” means leaping up.  It is vigorous and abundant.

Why ask for her to fetch her husband?  Remember from YESTERDAY we spoke of how men don’t speak to women in public.  This conversation is long and Jesus recognizes the need for her husband to be present in order to continue talking.

Jesus confronts the woman about her sinful past–her 5 husbands.  Jesus is not trying to embarrass the woman–he’s trying to get her to realize her sinful life and her need for him.  Apparently, the woman is living with yet another man.  Jesus rightfully says this is no marriage in his eyes.  She must recognize herself as a sinner first in order to drink of the living waters.  Good lesson for us all!

Jews held a woman could divorce two or at the most three times.  Her life is incredibly immoral by Jewish standards.

BSF Study Questions Revelation Lesson 24, Day 4: Revelation 19:11-16

Summary of passage:  John now sees a white horse with a rider called Faithful and True in heaven.  He wears a robe of blood, has blazing eyes, and wears crowns. His name is the Word of God.  He is followed by an army of heaven.  Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword to strike down the nations and on his robe and thigh is written “King of Kings and Lord of Lords.”


9)  Jesus.  It all starts with God/Jesus and ends with Him.  He is the bearer of Truth and He is faithful to His promises.

Note:  Revelation 3:14 is Jesus speaking, calling himself “the faithful and true witness”.

10)  Personal Question.  My answer:  His robe is dipped in blood shows how he has sacrificed for me to be righteous before God and how he brings justice.

11)  Personal Question.  My answer:  This question should be in the present tense in my opinion.  We are called to be Faithful and True to God and His word and if I do that, I’ll lead a life worthy of God’s calling.

Conclusions:  Weak.  Very, very weak.  With so much imagery here, this is the best BSF can come up with?

End Notes:  This is Jesus’s Second Coming.  Zechariah 14:3-4 tells us when Jesus returns He will come first to the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem.  This answers the plea of Isaiah in 64:1-2 as well as the great multitude and the survivors of the Great Tribulation where Israel as a whole will turn to Jesus.

A horse in battle was rare in ancient times.  Only the officers rode horses.  Hence, we see Jesus as powerful and full of honor.  Probably not the same horse as in Revelation 6:2.

In Revelation 6:2 we see white as victory.  In Revelation 7:9, we see the multitude wearing white robes symbolizing victory because of their faithfulness.

The rider is no doubt Christ from all the Messianic references in this passage.

In Revelation 1:14 and 2:18 we saw eyes as flames of fire in the description of Christ.  The fire burns through to our soul, revealing all of our dirty secrets, lies, and deceit.

This is a different crown word here than before.  There are two Greek words used in the Revelation for “crown.” One is “Stephanos” is the crown of achievement used in connection with the Church (Rev.2:10; 3:11), the twenty-four elders (Rev.4:4, 10), Israel (Rev.12:1), Jesus Christ (Rev.14:14), the locust-demons (Rev.9:7), and the Antichrist (Rev.6:2).  The other is “diadema”, which is the crown of royalty and authority.  It’s used in connection with seven worldly kingdoms and the ten yet-future kings that make up the heads and horns of the image of the beast (Rev.12:3; 13:1).
In this case, Jesus is wearing many “diadems” at His Return which are the crowns associated with the kingdoms of man.  Some scholars believe Jesus is wearing the beast’s crowns as a sign of victory over the beast.  Others suggest the crown shows Jesus as triumphant over man and the whole earth and its inhabitants.

The war is a war of righteousness from verse 11.

We saw the sharp sword coming out of Christ’s mouth in Revelation 1:16.  This is of course the Word, not a literal sword.  We see the robe dipped in blood in Isaiah 63:1-6 and scholars debate whether it’s the blood of his enemies or His blood shed for our sins.  Either is quite possible.  He is going to strike down the nations and rule with an iron scepter comes from Psalm 2:9 and Isaiah 11:4.  Treading the winepress of the fury of God we saw in Revelation 14:17-20.

Note the location Christ’s name is written:  his thigh.  We saw this in Genesis 24:2,9; 47:29 as the location where oaths were made.  It will be easily visible to all.  Some scholars suggest the name no one knows is in fact Yahweh.

This is the beginning of the final battle–Armageddon.  The armies are believers (Jude 14-15; Revelation 17:14).  Angels will also accompany Christ as well (Deuteronomy 33:2; Psalm 68:17).  Their weapon is the fine linen they wear–the blood of Christ.  All we need for victory!

BSF Study Questions Revelation Lesson 14, Day 2: Revelation 8:1-13

Summary of passage:  Jesus opens the 7th seal and heaven becomes silent.  7 angels who stand before God were given 7 trumpets.  Another angel with a golden censer came and stood at the altar and offered up prayers with incense for all the saints.  The prayers and smoke went up to God.  The angel took the censer, filled it with fire, and threw it at earth, causing thunder, rumblings, lightning, and earthquakes.

The 1st angel sounded his trumpet, unleashing hail and fire mixed with blood upon the earth.  One third of the trees and earth was burned up and all the green grass burned.

The 2nd angel sounded his trumpet, unleashing a mountain on fire into the seas.  One third of the sea turned to blood, one-third of the sea creatures died, and one-third of the ships were destroyed.

The 3rd angel sounded his trumpet, unleashing a burning star (named Wormwood or Bitterness), which fell from the sky onto a third of the rivers and springs, turning the waters bitter and killing people who drank the water.

The 4th angel sounded his trumpet, striking one-third of the sun, moon, and stars, turning them dark, eliminating one-third of the day and night.

Then an eagle flew over the earth, calling out to the inhabitants warnings that the last three angels were about to sound their trumpets.


3a)  “There was silence in heaven for about half an hour.”

b)  Scholars speculate the silence is so the prayers of the saints can be heard, maybe even the prayers of the martyrs from Rev 6:9-11.  Overall, the silence is to emphasize it’s importance.  How all must pay attention to Jesus’ judgments.

In the Old Testament, silence was called when God was about to act (Habakkuk 2 and Zechariah 2:13).

c)  They are accepted and judgment is rendered by the angel taking the censer, filling it with fire from the altar, and hurling it to earth, resulting in thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning, and an earthquake (all symbols of God’s judgment).  God is answering their cries in Chapter 6 here.

4a)  Joel 2:1:  The day of the Lord, the final judgment

Exodus 19:14-17:  God’s presence

Numbers 10:2:  Moses used them for calling the community together and for having the camps set out when ready to move.

Joshua 6:2-5: As a signal for God to come and administer judgment by bringing the walls of Jericho down.

1 Thessalonians 4:16:  Signals God coming down from heaven after the judgments to raise the dead in Christ to live again.

In general, trumpets in OT times were used to announce important events and as signals in war.

b)  Coming judgments on earth and mankind.  God’s battle alarm during the Great Tribulation.

5)  Personal Question.  My answer:  When Jesus comes, the judgment and destruction will be quick but not immediate to all.  No one knows when this time will come.  Our time is limited here and every moment is precious to accomplish His work.  I have to persevere in His work and not let the devil distract me or discourage me.  I pray for my time to be stretched.

Conclusions: Love how we see the number 7, the number of completion, here and everywhere in the bible.  Love how God is so faithful up the end, giving everyone time to come to Him, giving unmerited warning after warning.  God is so good!  Revelation is heating up!

End Notes:  The first four trumpets are in Revelation 8.

The first 6 seals were opened one by one beginning in Revelation 5.  Then we paused in Revelation 7 to introduce the 144,000 sealed and the great multitude.  So there was a pause in the Bible before the 7th seal was opened by John and now a pause in heaven for the 7th seal.

30 minutes is a long time when the prayers never cease in heaven (Rev 4:8).

In the Old Testament, trumpets sounded the alarm for war and threw the enemy into a panic, or they called an assembly of God’s people.

“The” 7 angels probably refers to specific angels who surround the throne of God, or archangels as scholars say.  2 are named in the Bible, Michael (Jude 9) and Gabriel (Luke 1:19).

Some see the “other angel” as Jesus, referring to Jesus being referred to as the angel of the Lord in the Old Testament.  However, the Greek word used here means “another of the same kind” so most scholars agree this is another angel.

We talked a lot about the censer (picture HERE) last year in the study of the Life of Moses as it was used extensively by God’s people, the Israelites, in Old Testament days.  A censer is a container in which incense is burned typically during a religious ceremony.  Also known as a thurible (rooted in the Greek word meaning “to sacrifice”), it is still used in Christian ceremonies including used by Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, some Lutheran and Anglican churches, and others.

Prayer and incense are closely associated in the Bible.  The aroma of incense was pleasing to God.  The idea is as the smoke drifts to heaven, so do our prayers.  Here, before anything happens, the prayers of God’s people are heard.  Similar to David’s cries in Psalms 18:6-8, 12-13.

Note how the prayers of God’s people set in motion the consummation of history.  Our prayers are powerful and we should pray for Jesus to come (Rev 22:20) as Peter suggests our conduct as well may hasten his arrival (2 Peter 3:10-12).

Scholars say the prayers are accepted and God is responding to the saints’s prayers with the censer being hurled back to earth.  God in action is depicted as thunder, lightning, and rumblings (Exodus 19:16-19).

The sense is that the saints’ prayers are thrown back to earth with God’s judgment.

The 7 seals bring the 7 trumpets.  God’s judgment was not immediate.  Some believe John is describing the same judgments just using different images.  Some believe the judgments are listed in order.  What’s important is the judgments will happen.

1st Trumpet:  We don’t know if the hail and fire were red or red was the result of the burning.  Hail and fire are common in God’s judgments (Exodus 9:22-25; Ezekiel 38:22).  Sodom and Gomorrah experienced this.

2nd Trumpet:  Not a literal mountain.  Something LIKE a mountain.  A meteor is suggested here.  Again, the blood may either be the cause or the effect.

Here, the sea is the Mediterranean Sea.  In the first century AD, the known world was what the Mediterranean Sea touched.  China was a far off, distant place but no seas were associated with it.  America was 1400 years from discovery.

We see the Nile turned to blood as well in Exodus 7:20-21.

In Daniel 2 we see a rock striking a statue that became a huge mountain (Dan 2:35), representing God’s kingdom (Dan 2:44-45).

Is the mountain a symbol for nations?  (Jeremiah 51:25, 51:27, 51:30) Probably not.  Here, this passage is literal.

3rd Trumpet:  This could be a comet or meteor or something else altogether at God’s will.  Again, some say the star represents Attila and the Huns or the Vandals sacking Rome or any other nation destroyer.  For me, it’s literal again.

Wormwood was a plant with a bitter taste common in Palestine.  We see it in Jeremiah 9:15; Jeremiah 23:15).  The suffering will be bitter.  Most Israelites got their water from the springs.

4th Trumpet:  Matthew 24 appears again:  Jesus says “the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.”  Again, this is indicative of the Great Tribulation as only 1/3 of the earth will be affected.  We know in the final judgment all will be affected (Rev 6:12-14).

In the next 3 trumpets one-third of the earth’s population will die.

Note the 3 repetitions of the word “woe”.  This same word was used by Jesus in Matthew 23 in the 7 woes.  It is used as an exclamation of profound grief.  The 3 woes correspond to the 3 remaining judgments to come in Chapters 9 and 11.  The 7 bowls judgment is the 3rd woe in chapters 15-16.

Note “inhabitants of the earth”.  These are the unbelievers as the believers are called “saints”.  This is used extensively in Revelation for those hostile to God (Rev 3:10; 8:13: 11:10; 13:8; 12, 17:2,8).

The word translated as “midair” is used only in Revelation.  Scholars say it is used to signify a specific location, a view of the entire earth from heaven.

Some translations have “angel” here instead of “eagle.”  The Greek words for angel and eagle are very similar in spelling.

An eagle is a harbinger of doom in the Bible (Deut 28:49-50).  Ezekiel 17 has the eagle being Babylon, bringing destruction to Jerusalem.

People on earth will know these events are from God and not merely natural disasters (Revelation 16:9, and 16:11, Revelation 19:19).

The first 4 judgments reveal God’s severity of judgment.  He takes out man’s subsistence (food and water) and routine (day and night).  Yet, He shows mercy by only striking 1/3 of the resources.  These are partial judgments (Zechariah 13:8-9).  Again, God is warning people to turn to Him before it’s too late, offering up another undeserved chance at repentance.