BSF Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1: Lesson 6, Day 2: Ruth 1

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Summary of Passage:

A famine forced the family of Elimelech, an Ephrathite from Bethlehem, to settle in Moab, a neighboring, unbelieving country. Elimelech died, leaving his wife, Naomi, a widow with their two sons, Mahlon and Kilion. Mahlon and Kilion marry, but ten years later, both Mahlon and Kilion die, leaving all without someone to support the family.Image result for ruth 1

The famine had ended so Naomi sets out with her two daughters-in-law named Orpah and Ruth back to Judah. Naomi tells her daughters-in-law, both of whom are Moabites, to return to their families and remarry, so they can be cared for.

Both protest, but Orpah goes. Ruth, however, refuses to leave Naomi’s side. Ruth loved Naomi too much to leave, so they returned to Bethlehem with Naomi being very bitter over her situation. Luckily for them, the barley harvest was just beginning.

BSF Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1: Lesson 6, Day 2: Ruth 1:

3)  Elimelech died, leaving his wife and two sons alone. Her two sons married eventually, but then they died as well. Everyone died except Ruth and the daughters-in-law.

4) Ruth gave up a chance to remarry a Moabite and have children and restart her life. Ruth gave up her land and her gods and all that she knew. I’m not sure Ruth thought about her gains. Moab and Israel were bitter enemies, so Ruth is taking a big risk immigrating to a land where the people may treat her as a despised foreigner. All she knew was she wanted to be with Naomi no matter what and she wanted to be God’s child. She gained a life in God.

5) Personal Question. My answer: It’s easy to get pulled down in the muck of misfortune. Anger, depression, sorrow, grief, heartache, and an overwhelming sadness are human emotions we all face and all must deal with. These emotions do pull us down and affect everything we do including family and decisions. I’ve been very fortunate as I haven’t been through misfortune like others (I’ve had my difficulties but not compared to basic survival needs like how I’ll eat, slavery, torture, back-breaking hard work, etc. like others in this world). My view of God has stayed the same. I question Him and ask Him why, but I don’t doubt Him and turn away from Him. I know it’s all for a reason and if I stay the course (His course), He will never lead me astray.

Conclusions: BSF Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1 Lesson 6, Day 2: Ruth 1:

Such a powerful story of love and pushing through the heartache to still see God in the clearing. Death caused by man’s sin is never easy to abide, but it’s a fact of life and fighting it only creates more misery. I love how Naomi and Ruth stick together in their heartache. Both are grieving severely, but man, created to be together and not apart, is stronger together and both women are stronger as one unit than separately. God is good to give us this story and encourage us when we face the same situation in our lives. Through it all God is there. And He has a plan. Believe in Him.

Read my original posting on Ruth HERE

Amazing video on the entire book of Ruth HERE

End Notes BSF Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1 Lesson 6, Day 2: Ruth 1:

This account begins in the closing days of the Judges, a 400-year period of general anarchy and oppression when the Israelites were not ruled by kings, but by periodic deliverers whom God raised up when the nation sought Him again.

Notable among the Judges were Gideon, Samson, and Deborah. Each of these was raised up by God, not to rule as kings, but to lead Israel during a specific challenge, and then to go back to obscurity.

The days when the Judges ruled were actually dark days for Israel; the period was characterized by the phrase everyone did what was right in his own eyes (Judges 17:618:119:1, and 21:25).

Elimelech and his family had to hike through the desolate Jericho pass, through the Judean wilderness near the Dead Sea, going across the Jordan River, into the land of Moab. This was a definite departure from the Promised Land of Israel, and a return towards the wilderness from which God had delivered Israel hundreds of years before. These were clearly steps in the wrong direction.

God specifically promised there would always be plenty in the land if Israel was obedient. Therefore, a famine in the land meant that Israel, as a nation, was not obedient unto the LORD (Deuteronomy 11:13-17).

Elimelech has intentions to return to Bethlehem, but it turned into ten, tragedy-filled years – and Elimelech never returned to Israel. The name Elimelech means “God is king” – but he didn’t really live as if God was his king.

Life was not easier in Moab.  Elimelech soon died, leaving his wife Naomi a widow with two boys, Mahlon and Chilion, to care for.

Was Elimelech’s death God’s judgment?

It is hard to say that this was the direct hand of God’s judgment. Why bad things happen to good people is a hard questions to answer. What is certain, however, is that the change of scenery didn’t make things better.

We sometimes think we can run away from our problems, but find our problems follow us. That’s because you can’t escape you–fallible, imperfect sinner.

Mahlon and Chilion took wives among the Moabite women, named Orpah and Ruth. Again, this was not in obedience to God; God commanded the Israelites to not marry among the pagan nations surrounding them.

Ten years pass and both the sons die, leaving all the women widows. To be a childless widow was to be among the lowest, most disadvantaged classes in the ancient world. There was no one to support you, and you had to live on the generosity of strangers. Naomi had no family in Moab, and no one else to help her. Indeed, these were desperate times.

Why was Naomi deciding to return to Bethlehem significant?

From distant Moab, Naomi heard that God was doing good things back in Israel. She wanted to be part of the good things that God was doing.

Our life with God should make others want to come back to the LORD just by looking at our life. Our walk with the LORD should be something that makes others say, “I want some of that also!”

Naomi took action. Many hear of the good things God is doing in the lives of others, and only wish they could have some of it – instead of actually setting out to receive it. Naomi could have stayed in Moab all of her life wishing things were different, but she did something to receive what God had to give her. She took action. Where do you need to take action today?

By telling the Moabite women to go back to their families this was the best thing for the two women. Their families would care for them. She blessed them and prayed they would remarry.

Deal kindly is the ancient Hebrew word hesed. “Hesed encompasses deeds of mercy performed by a more powerful party for the benefit of the weaker one.” (Huey)

In Ruth 1:9, Naomi described marriage as a place of rest: The LORD grant that you may find rest, each in the house of her husband. God intends that each marriage be a place and source of rest, peace, and refreshment in life.

From the crying going on, it is obvious the women had grown to love one another.

According to the laws of ancient Israel, if a young woman was left widowed, without having had a son, then one of her deceased husband’s brothers was responsible for being a “surrogate father” and providing her with a son. Naomi here says that she has no other sons to give either Orpah or Ruth.

Naomi realizes their sin

Naomi realizes their disobedience and says their calamity is of their own making. They were disobedient,  leaving the Promised Land of Israel and marrying their sons to Moabite women.

However, Naomi is returning to God; she’s not running away. She was not bitter against God. She is drawing closer to Him, not going further away from Him.

Naomi didn’t accuse God of doing something wrong against her. She acknowledged His total control over all circumstances. It was actually an expression of trust in Him.

What does Naomi’s return to Israel teach us?

  • If we will return to Him, His hand will go out for us again! Naomi had no idea – not the slightest – of how greatly God was going to bless her in a short time.
  • Ruth’s declaration to follow God is made upon seeing Naomi’s action to return to Him. Actions do speak louder than words.

Ruth forsakes her gods for Naomi’s God.

People should be able to look at your life, just as Ruth looked at Naomi’s, and say “I want your God to be my God.” Your trust in God and turning towards Him in tough times will often be the thing that draws others to the LORD.

The Long Walk Home

Image result for ruth 1It was a long walk from Moab to Bethlehem, and the trip was mostly uphill. We can imagine along the way Ruth asking her mother-in-law Naomi all about the God of Israel and the land of Israel.

Bethlehem was just a village with probably a hundred or so people; everyone in the village would have known everyone else and remembered those who had left years ago.

The name Naomi means “pleasant”; the name Mara means “bitter.” Naomi used this to tell the people of Bethlehem that her time away from Israel, her time away from the God of Israel, had not been pleasant – it was bitter.

Naomi wasn’t ones of those who says “fine” when asked how she’s doing. She’s not going to pretend all is right in her world. She tells it like it is.

So many of us pretend life is find instead of dealing with our problems. We run away instead of draw close.

Naomi was not bitter against the LORD. She knew the answer to her problems lay in getting right with God.

Themes of Book of Ruth

  • The answer to our problems lies in turning towards God, not running away from Him.
  • It all begins with one decision: to go back to God. So many blessings come from that decision (the Lord Jesus whose relative is Naomi) that you don’t know about.
  • God blesses those who turn towards Him.
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BSF Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1: Lesson 5, Day 5: Joshua 24:14-33

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Summary of Joshua 24:14-33:

Joshua tells the people to fear the Lord and serve Him in all your faithfulness. Choose whom you will serve: the Lord or pagan gods. The people repeated their history and swore to obey and serve God. The Israelites witnessed for themselves that they chose to serve the Lord and not bring disaster on themselves for doing otherwise.

Joshua renewed the covenant with the Lord for the people and wrote down the laws in the Book of the Law of God and marked the place with a holy stone to be a witness to the words spoken at Shechem.

Joshua died at 110 years old and was buried in his inherited land in Ephraim. Israel continued to serve God after Joshua’s death. Joseph’s bones were re-buried at Shechem. Eleazar died as well.

BSF Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1: Lesson 5, Day 5: Joshua 24:14-33:

13) Part personal Question. My answer: Choose whom you will serve: the Lord or pagan gods. Every day we choose to serve God by doing what Jesus would do or serve ourselves by putting our interests first, and doing what we want to do. We choose sin over obedience. By discouraging instead of encouraging. By not forgiving instead of forgiving. By withholding help. Being mean. Choosing to hurt others.

14) Part personal Question. My answer: Joshua has known the Israelites for 100 years now. He understands man’s nature, and I’m sure he knows they will one day turn from God. He wants to reiterate the importance in hopes the Israelites will stay true to God. Joshua is seeking a deep commitment, not a light-hearted agreement. Repetition is a good tool for learning and imprinting in one’s mind. Say something over and over again, and it becomes truth.

15) God wants the people to only love and obey and worship. He wants our undivided devotion. With godly jealousy God is the recipient of our desire. We are jealous for the will of God in a situation. We are jealous for Him to be glorified. Godly jealousy wakes us up at night to intercede for a lost loved one. Godly jealousy motivates us to confront a sinning brother or sister when we don’t want to, in order to save them from the enemy (James 5:20). Godly jealousy created difficulties and sorrows for Paul because he refused to stop speaking the truth, even when his hearers did not want to listen (2 Corinthians 5:14). Godly jealousy is love in action (1 Corinthians 13:4–7).

Conclusions: BSF Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1 Lesson 5, Day 4: Joshua 24:1-13:

I love how Godly jealousy is love in action. Read this SNIPPET to see where I got my answer to question 15. We so want God in our lives that we’re jealous when we don’t have Him.  Jealousy is when you covet something for yourself. Godly jealousy is when you covet God in any situation. Awesome!

End Notes BSF Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1 Lesson 5, Day 4: Joshua 24:1-13:

There were all kinds of gods the Israelites had encountered in Canaan:

  1.  Joshua 24:2-4–on the other side of the Euphrates were the gods of Sumerian and Babylonian culture – gods of heritage.
  2.  Joshua 24:5-7a –on the other side of the Red Sea were the gods of ancient Egypt – gods of upbringing.
  3.  Joshua 24:7b-13 and 24:15 –as the Israelites crossed the Jordan there were the gods of the Amorites – gods of your culture

Joshua states one of the most famous verses and bible sayings here: “As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” The Hebrew here has a fuller meaning as in continuous action: I have chosen and I will continue to choose God.

What Choices Has Joshua Made?

  • Joshua chose to fight against the Amalekites – choosing when it might cost everything.Image result for incredible animal photos
  • Joshua chose to reject the golden calf – choosing when the flesh might be satisfied.
  • Joshua chose to serve the Lord by serving Moses – choosing a humble place.
  • Joshua chose to believe God’s promise about the Promised Land – choosing against the majority.
  • Joshua chose to recognize the leadership of the Captain of the LORD’s army – choosing surrender to God.
  • Joshua chose to take leadership of Israel and lead them into the land – choosing faith instead of unbelief.

Joshua recognizes he was responsible for the choice of his household to serve the Lord as well.

Joshua’s choice to serve God showed:

  • No hesitation.
  • He was not influenced by others.
  • It was solemnly made
  • It was openly made.
  • He followed through.
  • He never strayed and followed God his entire life.

Joshua wants full commitment to follow God and a knowledge of the consequences if not. Jesus expressed the same kind of warning, explaining that following Him took total commitment (Luke 14:25-33). It wasn’t that Jesus didn’t want followers, but He did not want lightly made and easily broken commitments.

Why the Stone as a Witness?

The covenant needed the testimony of two witnesses, the people and the stone. Therefore, this was a binding covenant before God (Deuteronomy 19:15).

This covenant is similar to other ancient times covenants between a king and his people, especially among the Hittites.

Where did Joseph’s Bones come from?

This may seem like an inconsequential point, but it fulfills Genesis 50:25. God likes to tie up loose ends. This is also mentioned in Hebrews 11:22 as an example of Joseph’s faith. For well over four centuries Joseph’s remains have been preserved in Egypt, waiting for the fulfillment of the Promised Land. For 40 years, the tribes have carried Joseph’s bones during their desert wanderings. Now, at least, Abraham’s descendants have come home.

Eleazar was a witness to the crossing of the Red Sea. Another link to the past is gone.

We are still called to conquer our wildernesses–this time, Jesus is our guide. Is he your guide through the wilderness?

Fun Fact: The Israelites established at least 7 memorials to remind future generations of what God has done in their lives (see chapters 4, 7, 8, 10, 22). Even if people forgot their debt to God, the land would speak its own story.

A Look Ahead–Free Choice

The choice may seem obvious: choose God, especially after all He has done for the Israelites. Still, the Israelites have a choice: follow God or follow the gods of those whose land they have entered. For now, all swear allegiance to God. But as we’ll see in Judges, many choose otherwise.

BSF Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1: Lesson 5, Day 3: Joshua 23

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Summary Joshua 23:

Joshua, old himself, calls the Israelites together and reminds them of all God has done for them and tells them God will be with them to take the rest of the Promised Land. He tells them to be strong and obey all the laws written in the Book of the Law of Moses. He tells them to not associate with the nations that remain among them and not to serve their gods. Hold fast to God.

God fights for them and one of them is equal to 1000 enemies because of this so Love God. Joshua warns them not to intermarry with the pagans nor ally with them or God won’t drive them out. Instead, they will become snares, traps, whips, and thorns.

Joshua says he is to die soon. God has kept all his promises and God’s anger will burn against them and they will die if they forsake him and worship other gods.

BSF Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1: Lesson 5, Day 3: Joshua 23:

6) Joshua calls the Israelite leaders together and reminds them of all God has done for them and tells them God will be with them to take the rest of the Promised Land. He tells them to be strong and obey all the laws written in the Book of the Law of Moses. He tells them to not associate with the nations that remain among them and not to serve their gods. Hold fast to God.

7) God is faithful. God keeps His promises. God is with us. God does not forsake us. We are powerful in Him. God is just. God will punish us if we turn from him.

8 ) Joshua warns them not to intermarry with the pagans nor ally with them or God won’t drive them out. Instead, the Canaanites will become snares, traps, whips, and thorns. The Israelites are to love God and obey God.

Joshua says he is to die soon. God has kept all his promises and God’s anger will burn against them, and they will die if they forsake the Lord and worship other gods.Image result for obedience to god

9) Part personal Question. My answer:  Joshua addresses the leaders separately for two reasons: 1) Practical. There are simply too many Israelites nowadays to call them all together. 2) There are higher expectations placed on leaders of the people by God than others, so Joshua expects them to lead by example and convey the message to the Israelites. We need strong, Godly leaders to guide us. When you find them, you keep them.

Conclusions: BSF Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1 Lesson 5, Day 3: Joshua 23:

I’m always amazed at how simple it is to get to heaven: choose Jesus and obey. Here, the Israelites must obey God and love Him. Not hard one would think, but, in actuality, it is. Joshua also says to avoid those who sin because they may influence you to sin and turn from God. We as Christians needs to love sinners, but we don’t have to be best friends with them. which I think is where people mess this one up.

End Notes BSF Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1 Lesson 5, Day 3: Joshua 23:

The Israelites number in the millions. It would be like getting the whole state of Delaware to a meeting! Thus, be effectively communicating to the leadership, Joshua can get his message across.

Joshua begins by giving glory to God. He does not begin by listing all he’s done and his military accomplishments.

Each tribe must still fully possess what God has given them. There is still work to be done, and we all have a part to play.

How will Israel succeed?

  • With courage to have complete obedience to God.
  • Don’t even talk about the Canaanite gods. Stay as far away from sin as possible.
  • Love God.
  • Separate from ungodly influences and don’t compromise.

God is faithful.

Joshua repeats the principle of blessing for obedience and cursing for disobedience that was a part of Israel’s covenant with God (Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28). God will be just as faithful to judge as He had been to bless.

Jesus has redeemed us from the curse of the law (Galatians 3:10-14), so we no longer have to experience God’s curse. Instead, we are corrected (Hebrews 12:7) and will experience a lack of blessing if we do not abide in Jesus.

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BSF Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1: Lesson 5, Day 2: Joshua 22

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Summary Joshua 22:

The eastern tribe that had before been asked to help the Israelites conquer the Promised Land on the western side of the River Jordan are now released from their service and able to return home. Joshua left them departing words of advice that we all need: “keep the commandment and the law that Moses the servant of the Lord gave you on the other side of the Jordan: to love the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to obey his commands, to hold fast to him and to serve him with all your heart and all your soul.”

Joshua blessed the men and sent them away—but not empty handed. They had their share of the plunder from their enemies and were to share it.

On the way home, the Israelites built an “imposing altar” to God. Well, the rest of the Israelites took this as a sign they were turning from God so they sent representatives to see what was going on. They were afraid God’s wrath would fall upon them (like it did with Achan) and they would all suffer for this rebellion.

The Eastern Israelites explained this altar was indeed an altar to God—a witness altar—that witnesses they are indeed God’s people for the Easterners were afraid the Westerners would one day exclude them from God since they were on the Eastern side of the Jordan River. Appeased, the Western Israelites returned home happy.

BSF Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1: Lesson 5, Day 2: Joshua 22:

3)  Joshua told them they had done all Moses had commanded them to do, and they had done all he had asked them to do left them departing words of advice that we all need: “keep the commandment and the law that Moses the servant of the Lord gave you on the other side of the Jordan: to love the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to obey his commands, to hold fast to him and to serve him with all your heart and all your soul.

4) They were afraid God’s wrath would fall upon them (like it did with Achan and Peor), and they would all suffer (or perhaps be killed as well) for this rebellion.

The Eastern Israelites explained this altar was indeed an altar to God—a witness altar—that they are indeed God’s people for the Easterners were afraid the Westerners would one day exclude them from God since they were on the Eastern side of the Jordan River.

Deuteronomy tells us the Lord commanded the Israelites to only sacrifice burnt offerings at the place he commands as well as Leviticus 17:8-9.

5) Personal Question. My answer: Make sure you have all the facts first before accusing others of wrong-doing. Often, we don’t understand the situation or the other person’s side, and we get ourselves into trouble when we shouldn’t. We should confront with God’s heart, with a willingness to help, and with a clear idea of what God would want out of the situation. Come with an open mind.

Conclusions: BSF Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1 Lesson 5, Day 2: Joshua 22:

How frequently this happens in our lives when something simple blows up into something big—all because we didn’t have all the facts, and we didn’t take the time to discover all the facts. Many a relationship has been hurt and impacted by being falsely accused of something without a chance to explain ourselves. Great Biblical example of dealing with confrontation and misunderstandings.

End Notes BSF Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1 Lesson 5, Day 2: Joshua 22:

The Eastern tribes had fulfilled their obligation and helped the Israelites take the Western side of the Promised Land. Now it was time to return home. Joshua tells them what he tells all the Israelites all the time: Keep the commandments and the law, love God, follow God, obey God, and serve God. He then blesses them. The Eastern tribes left with riches and probably with a bit of sorrow to leave their brothers.

Before crossing the Jordan, the men build an altar, which was a place of sacrifice. When the other Israelites heard an altar had been built, they immediately gather arms to go and purge this scourge from the nation. There is no discussion, only action. They were going to fight to defend God’s holiness.Image result for joshua 22

Phinehas led the group because he had the authority as High Priest over the whole nation. The Israelites thought that the altar at the Jordan represented a rival place of sacrifice and worship, to compete with God’s tabernacle, presently at Shiloh.

Why the misunderstanding?

God had clearly commanded that there was one place of sacrifice and burnt offerings for Israel: Also you shall say to them: Whatever man of the house of Israel, or of the strangers who dwell among you, who offers a burnt offering or sacrifice, and does not bring it to the door of the tabernacle of meeting, to offer it to the LORD, that man shall be cut off from among his people. (Leviticus 17:8-9)

What lessons do we learn from this misunderstanding amongst the Israelites?

ii. We understand from this that we cannot worship God any way we please, or justify a manner of worship just because we like it. First and always, our worship must be pleasing to God. We must worship Him in spiritand in truth. (John 4:24)

The reference to Peor was an example of when Israel had been punished for rebellion against God before. Peor was when Israel’s men had sex with Moabite women, and they gave themselves over to the worship of the Moabite gods. In judgment, God sent a plague that killed 24,000 people.

Phinehas was the one who stopped the plague by making a dramatic stand for righteousness in the midst of gross sin.

Just like Achan, Phinehas knew that the sin of these tribes would reflect on the whole nation. He knew that no one really sins unto himself.

Phinehas offers the returning Israelites to come to their land to avoid sin. This would have been a great sacrifice of land for the eastern side of the Jordan, but all that mattered was eradicating sin.

Who among us are willing to sacrifice to help others? We tell people to stop sinning, but are not willing to help them if it costs us something.

How does the Eastern Tribes respond when accused of sin?

  1. The eastern tribe go to God first who knows their hearts. He is our refuge when we’re misunderstood.
  2. The eastern tribes put themselves in the shoes of the westerners and can see why they think what they think. We all must try to see the other person’s point of view in misunderstandings.
  3. The eastern tribes then explain themselves and acknowledge once again the western tribes concerns. They wanted to remain connected to their western brethren, and this is how they chose to do so.

The explanation is accepted, and the relationship between the western tribes and the eastern tribes is restored.

What lessons do we learn from this misunderstanding amongst the Israelites?

We cannot worship God any way we please, or justify a manner of worship just because we like it. First and always, our worship must be pleasing to God. We must worship Him in spirit and in truth. (John 4:24)

How to Respond to Misunderstandings with God’s Heart:Image result for altar at geliloth joshua 22

  • Have a concern for God’s holiness.
  • Have the courage to confront in love.
  • Attempt to reconcile before you fight.
  • You are willing to sacrifice to help them; don’t confront unless you are willing to help.
  • You will see the situation from the perspective of the other person.
  • You will believe the best of one another.

BSF Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1: Lesson 4, Day 5: Skim Joshua 21

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Summary Joshua 21:

The Levites receive towns and pasturelands as their inheritance out of the other tribes’ promised land as the Lord had commanded through Moses. They received a total of 48 towns scattered about within the other tribes’ land–4 from each tribe.

Every promise of God was now fulfilled as all of Israel took possession of the Promised Land and all the Israelites’ enemies fell.

BSF Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1: Lesson 4, Day 5: Skim Joshua 21:

12) The Levites were the priests to the people who were to be dispersed amongst the people in order to instruct the tribe in the law and lead worship. They only received towns because they were to depend completely on God, not on the land. They were called to serve God. God was “their share.”

13) The Levites were the priests to the people who were to be dispersed amongst the people in order to instruct the tribe in the law and lead worship, so that all can hear God’s word. Remember, no one could read in ancient times but the priests. The people only knew of God from them.

14) 1 Peter says our inheritance “can never perish, spoil, or fade–and it’s kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.” The deposit is the Holy Spirit as Ephesians says was given to us as a gift from having believed in Christ as our salvation, which guarantees our inheritance (heaven and eternal life) until the Last Days.

15) Part personal Question. My answer: God keeps His promises–all of them. God is with me no matter what, directing me, taking care of me, fulfilling my every need. He is there, helping me in all my trials. He is the hope we all need.

Conclusions: BSF Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1 Lesson 4, Day 5: Joshua 21:

I love how God is there in the details (the allotting of land) as much as He’s there in the big picture (the taking of the Land). I love how this ends: With all of God’s promises fulfilled. Such hope. Even though it took 40 years. It’s all in God’s timing and not ours. Patience and He will do what He says He’ll do.

[Note on “Skim”]: I believe this is the first time ever I have seen BSF tell us to “skim” a passage of the Bible. I don’t believe God wants us to just “skim” His word ever. If it’s in the Bible, it’s important, it’s there for a reason, and it’s for us from God. Please don’t “skim” anything. You may miss that one phrase that is exactly what God wants you to hear. Save skimming for the news.

End Notes BSF Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1 Lesson 4, Day 5: Joshua 21:

God would be the Levites’ inheritance (Joshua 13:14, and 13:33).Image result for joshua 21

The Levites are the only ones without their own land and together. God wanted the Levites “sprinkled” all throughout the land of Israel. He never intended there to be one “state” of Levi, but every tribe was to have the priestly influence and presence in their midst.

In the same manner, Christians (being priests, 1 Peter 2:5 and 2:9) are to be “sprinkled” all throughout the world and society, instead of heading off to make a “Christian country” somewhere.

Further note the Levites or the priests received their cities last of all the tribes. Priests are appointed to serve, not to be served, and there is something priestly about letting others go first.

Historical Notes: This is the point where Israel stopped commemorating Passover as if equipped to travel as described in Exodus 12:11). Now they will eat the Passover reclining at rest (as described in John 13:23) because the LORD had given them rest in the land.

Our take-away from Joshua:

Any failure to fully possess the land was not because God had not made adequate provision, but because Israel had failed to fully follow the LORD.

Ask yourself: God has been completely faithful to you and made provision for continual victory. He has given greatly, but what do you possess?

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 People of the Promised Land 1: Lesson 4, Day 3: Skim Joshua 15-19

Image result for joshua 15-19

Summary of Joshua 15:

The allotment of land for the tribe of Judah is laid out, which includes Hebron, the land Joshua gave to Caleb as his reward. Caleb drove out the Anakites from Hebron. He gave his daughter in marriage to whoever captured Kiriath Sepher in Debir. This was Othniel, son of Caleb’s brother. Judah cannot drive out the people in Jerusalem.

Summary of Joshua 16:

The allotment of land for Ephraim and Manasseh is laid out. However, they could not dislodge the Canaanites living in Gezer who became forced labor for the Israelites instead.

Summary of Joshua 17:

A continuation of the allotment of the land for the tribe of Manasseh. The daughters of the tribe of Manasseh also received an inheritance because there were no male heirs born. Again, the Israelites were unable to drive out the Canaanites in a few pockets, but did eventually force them into labor. Here, we see the first complaint as the people of Joseph (whose sons were Ephraim and Manasseh) claimed their portion of land given was too small. Joshua said to go and clear the forests then in the land of the Perizzites and Rephaites.Image result for map of promised land tribes land

The people complained again about how these people were superiorly armed with iron chariots. Joshua told them to quite underestimating their power. They have a huge army and can easily drive out the Canaanites in the forested hill country.

Summary of Joshua 18:

A gathering took place at Shiloh at the Tent of Meeting to divide up the rest of the land amongst the remaining tribes. Joshua appearing a bit aghast, asks those remaining why they haven’t taken over their share yet? Joshua is dividing the land into 7 parts once surveys are taken and will cast lots before God to divide them up. The tribe of Benjamin receives their lot.

Summary of Joshua 19:

The allotment of the land for the tribes of Simeon, Zebulun, Issachar, Asher, Naphtali, Dan, and Joshua are assigned. The Simeon’s inheritance was taken from Judah’s since Judah’s portion was huge and more than they needed. The Danites had trouble defeating the Canaanites in their territory alloted so they took Leshem instead, thus dividing themselves in the land.

Finally, Joshua himself received his inheritance–the town of Timnath Serah in Ephraim.

BSF Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1: Lesson 4, Day 3: Skim Joshua 15-19:

6) God includes these detailed lists of land boundaries, so there would be no doubt and no disputes amongst the Israelites in the future. It shows how God keeps His promises to His people by giving them the land He promised hundreds of years before. We see God reward both Caleb and Joshua with land for being the only two men of faith.

7) Caleb gives his daughter to the strongest warrior, ensuring a strong husband and her protection in the future. His daughter, Acsah, asked Caleb for land, and he gave it to her as well. The Lord also put in provisions for when a man does not have a son (see also Numbers 27:1-11 & Numbers 36), which would ensure the father’s name would not vanish. The daughters also had to marry within the clan so the land would stay within the original tribe’s hands. This ensures that every Israelite will possess the inheritance of his fathers. The Lord provides for those who ask and seek Him (Matthew 7:7).

8 ) The Manassites’ complained that their portion of land given was too small. Joshua said to go and clear the forests then in the land of the Perizzites and Rephaites. The people complained again about how these people were superiorly armed with iron chariots. Joshua told them to quite underestimating their power. They have a huge army and can easily drive out the Canaanites in the forested hill country. In essence, they did not want to fight for the land; all they wanted was a free hand out.

Caleb, on the other hand, wanted to fight for his inheritance and his land and instead of asking for an unoccupied piece of land, Caleb asked for the hill country where the feared Anakites dwelled so he could drive them out himself. He relied on the Lord to do whole-heartedly what God said He would do.

Nothing is impossible with God. Have faith. He will guide you through the impossible every step of the way like He did with Caleb. God wants us to choose the good fight for Him and use God’s strength to spread the word and give God the glory. If we do, our rewards will be riches.

Conclusions: BSF Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1 Lesson 4, Day 3: Joshua 15-19:

We see God keep His promises, but the people still must do their part and continue to kick out the Canaanites. We see the difference in gratitude and ingratitude to what the people have been given with Caleb’s example and the example of the tribe of Manasseh and the tribe of Dan. Great reminder for us that although God provides, He doesn’t want us to sit idly by and not do anything.

[Note on “Skim”]: I believe this is the first time ever I have seen BSF tell us to “skim” a passage of the Bible. I don’t believe God wants us to just “skim” His word ever. If it’s in the Bible, it’s important, it’s there for a reason, and it’s for us from God. Please don’t “skim” anything. You may miss that one phrase that is exactly what God wants you to hear. Save skimming for the news.

End Notes BSF Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1 Lesson 4, Day 3: Joshua 15-19:

Joshua 15:

Caleb was not only a man of great and bold deeds (the driving out of the children of Anak), but also a man who encouraged others to great and bold deeds as we saw with the giving of his daughter in marriage. Anyone bold enough to conquer a city for a woman is in love indeed. Caleb’s daughter inherited his boldness. We see her asking for blessing and choice springs. You cannot receive unless you ask. (Matthew 7:7)

We begin to see and in Judges 1 how pockets of Canaanites remain. Albeit Jerusalem is on a hill, Judah should have been able to drive them out if they had had faith in God. Instead, David must do so (2 Samuel 5:6-10). These unconquered tribes will become thorns in Israel’s side.

Joshua 16:

We see again how within the Promised Land important work remains to be done and battles still to be fought (like in our own lives) as the Canaanites live in the land of Ephraim. Perhaps the Israelites wanted forced labor (to be lazy and not do the work themselves in essence). This does not justify their disobedience to God. If you can subject people to work for you, you can certainly conquer them completely, especially since Gezer was a city that Joshua had already conquered (Joshua 10:33 and Joshua 12:12).

Compromising God’s word and picking and choosing what to obey and not to obey is a sin. It’s the beginning of so much more and worse sins such as idolatry and immoral worship. This came to the people of Israel and the Canaanites are the reason why we see so many struggles in the days of the Judges.

Why did the Israelites allow some Canaanites to stay?

  • They wanted peace at any cost. Remember it took 7 long years to conquer the Promised Land. I’m sure many are weary of fighting.
  • They wanted wealth.

What do we Learn from the Israelites’ incomplete possession of the Promised Land?

  • Obeying God is a marathon. It’s hard. It’s unglamourous. It’s a lot of work.
  • The Israelites fell short of what God had for them – Will you fall short as well?

Joshua 17:

It was highly unusual for women to receive an inheritance and why it’s mentioned here. It was more important that the land remain in the ancestral families than it was to follow this custom. Therefore, the daughters of Zelophehad could inherit their father’s land. This is a decision arrived at by Moses (Numbers 27:1-11) and expounded on by God (Numbers 36).

Manasseh failed like Ephraim to drive out the Canaanites (Joshua 16:10). The Israelites lacked determination and fortitude to do so.

Manasseh and Ephraim, large tribes, complain about the amount of land allotted to them. They have plenty of land, Joshua says. You just have to go and work to have it (clear the forests, etc). Joshua was a direct descendant of Joseph and one of them, so perhaps they thought he would show them favor.

Theme of Joshua 17: If you desire more, have faith first in where God has placed you and in what He has given you. More will surely come if you do so.

Joshua 18:

Why would the Israelites hesitate to take the Promised Land?

Note the hesitation on the Israelites part to go and take the land. Probably they are afraid; afraid of change. Maybe even a bit incredulous: really?  This is all ours? Also, remember these people have been wandering the wilderness for 40 years with never a real home, living out of tents and nomadic, so the idea of living in a real “home” is a foreign (and perhaps scary) concept for them.

Joshua 19:

Joshua received his share but at the very end. He received humbly and after everyone else was taken care of–just like Christ.