BSF Study Questions Revelation Lesson 13, Day 2: Revelation 7:1-3

Summary of passage:  John saw 4 angels holding back the 4 winds of the earth from the 4 corners of the earth.  Another angel with the seal of the living God told the 4 angels to not harm the land until a seal is placed on the foreheads of God’s servants.

Questions:

3)  Holding back the 4 winds of the earth to prevent disasters

4a)  The destructive force of God’s judgment (Hosea 13:15 is another example).

b)  He is marking all His people before judgment descends.  He is protecting them, saving them from destruction.  A secondary meaning may be God is giving His people more time to come to Him and repent and be saved, “not wanting anyone to perish” (2 Peter 3:9).  He is full of grace, mercy, compassion, patience, and love.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  By allowing me to live both earthly and eternally.  By choosing me in the first place to belong to Him.  God’s mercy is hard to describe.

Conclusions:  4c is weak in asking “how”.  Makes it broad.  “Why” would have been more fitting for this passage and the book of Revelation as a whole.  Rest of the questions dissects passage well.

End Notes:  In chapter 6, Jesus is revealing impending judgments upon the world with the breaking of the seals.  Here, in chapter 7, God sends an angel to first seal His people, a pause if you will, before judgments begin (Rev 9:4).

The 4 corners of the earth correspond to the 4 points on a compass, meaning being the entire earth, all of creation.  The 4 living creatures represent all of creation.

Some scholars say the 4 winds refers directly back to the 4 horsemen in Revelation 6 since “spirits” is the same Hebrew word as “winds” in Zechariah 6:1-8.

Another angel sealed the people of God.  Seals were common in the ancient world.  They were used by emperors and other people’s of import to seal communications by placing a special mark in the damp clay which authenticated and protected its contents.  They were also used by property owners to show ownership and seals on packages to show possession.  The best analogy is like branding cattle–a mark placed on something to show ownership.

The seal will be God’s name (Rev 14:1).  We see this in Ezekiel 9:4 given to the righteous before judgment of Jerusalem (it was the Hebrew letter Taw, made like an X or +.

Jesus was sealed (John 6:27).  Believers are sealed with the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 1:21-22; Ephesians 1:13; 4:30).

The sealing is for protection from the coming judgments (Rev 7:9-17; 9:4) and to mark His people.  Unbelievers will be marked with the sign of the beast (Rev 13:16-17).

It’s a comfort and a challenge to believers.  He is with us and we are called to turn from Satan.

BSF Study Questions Matthew Lesson 13, Day 2: Matthew 13:1-8, 18-23 and Luke 8:4-15

Summary of passages:  Matthew 13:1-8:  The same day that Jesus’ Mother and Brothers show up, Jesus sat by a lake.  Such large crowds gathered that he got in a boat and retreated to the middle of the lake to teach.  He told them the parable of the sower who scattered seeds which fell in different soils.  Those that fell in no soil got eaten up.  Those that fell on shallow soil withered because it had no root.  Those that grew amongst thorns were choked. Only those that fell on good soil produced a crop.

Matthew 13:18-23:  Jesus breaks up different kinds of people who hear the Word.  Those that hear the message and do not understand, the evil one comes and snatches it away–the seed along the path.  Those that hear the word and receive it but falls away quickly when trouble comes because he has no root–the seed in the rocky places.    Some hear the word but are choked by worries of life–the seeds with the thorns.  Only those who hear the word and understand it produce a good crop.

Luke 8:4-15:  Luke records the same parable but a shorter version.  BSF has us read Jesus’ explanation here (but not in Matthew verses 10-17 which is not sitting well with me) about why he speaks in parables.  The parables allow more people to understand the Word.  The disciples have been gifted by God with an understanding of the kingdom but many have not received such a gift.

Important differences in the passage:  Luke is succinct and a bit better.  He explains for those who don’t mature in the word fall away in times of life’s worries, riches, and pleasures.  Only those with a good and noble heart and who PERSEVERE retain God’s word and thus produces a good crop.

Questions:

3a)  A parable is a short, simple, everyday story with a point meant to convey a complex idea simply.  The definition of a parable according to Webster’s Dictionary is “comparison; a usually short fictitious story that illustrates a moral attitude or a religious principle.”

b)  Yes and no.  He had been performing a lot of miracles as his primary way of showing and explaining the kingdom of God until he became frustrated in chapter 11 as people still failed to believe.  So he is beginning to switch to more stories to reach a wider audience.

It’s difficult to answer a definitive yes here because we only have a handful of Jesus’ teachings and actions recorded.  So much of his life we just don’t know.

c)  Luke says the seed is the word of God (Luke 8:11).

4)  “it [seed] was trampled on”; “withered because they had no moisture”;  “the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts so that they may not believe and be saved”; “in the time of testing they fall away”; “choked by life’s worries, riches, and pleasures and they do not mature”; “those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.”

5a)  God

b)  No soil at all–could not grow.  This represents those who hear the word but do not understand it.

Rocky, thin soil–grew quickly but died in the hot sun and withered with no root.  Those who hear the word, take it in, but then fall when trouble arises.

Soil with thorns–plants grew but were choked.  Those who hear the word but are choked out by things in this world such as worries, wealth, and pleasures.

Good soil–produced a crop.  Those who hear the Word, understand it, retain it, sow it in their hearts, and persevere.

6)  John 14:15:  Those who obey God’s commands have good soil

John 15:5:  Those who remain in God bear much fruit

Acts 5:29:  Those who obey God rather than men have good soil

Philippians 2:12-13:  Obey God who works in you for His purpose

Conclusions:  Many beefs today.  First, you all know I hate skipping around.  I am very chronologically oriented.  I don’t understand why we didn’t read Jesus’ reason for telling parables in Matthew yet we read it in Luke and we were asked about it as well.  Why would we save that to come back to?  I guess we’ll find out soon.  No logic to me here.

Question 6 all had the same answer:  those that obey God have good soil.  And those that obey God more have better soil.  The more you obey, the greater the soil.  Fabulous.  Did we really need 4 verses to understand that?  No.  Should be intuitive.

Finally, for me, this lesson falls right at our Christmas break.  The next lesson is Part 2 in January.  So why split the two parts for a month?  We all know we don’t remember much after a month off if we do our lessons in December (which I do).  Don’t have a part one of a lesson and then wait a month for a part two.  Surely the timing here could be better.

End Notes:  Why did Jesus tell parables?  We must remember in ancient times most people were illiterate and farmers.  They had no experience with wrestling with foreign words and had a very limited vocabulary.  Jesus spoke in parables so they would remember his teachings, hold their interest, and be relatable to their difficult lives.

Also, as Jesus explains in the part we skipped, parables were meant to challenge the listener, to grow those deeper in the word, and to lessen the hardness of those not receptive to the Word.  They began in the face of growing opposition to Jesus so to lessen that, Jesus told parables.  In that sense, they were a form of mercy to those hardened against him because the message was hidden.

Here, Jesus is floating offshore in a boat.  Cool, huh?  I’d like to attend church on a lakeside.

The meaning of the word parable, which is Greek, is “to throw alongside of”, in this case thrown alongside the truth.  One commentator called them “earthly stories with a heavenly meaning.”

The soil represents the responses to the Word, which is us.  The soil on the path are those who never hear the word with understanding.  The soil that withers quickly are those who respond quickly but also wither away in the face of tribulations.  The thorny soil represents those who respond and grow in the Word but fall away in the face earthly things and competition for their attention such as material goods and pleasures.  And the good soil is those who whole-heartedly embrace God and His truth and bear fruit because of it.

At times in our lives, we are all of these.  Sometimes we ignore God, we allow other things and events to take precedence over Him, and at times we bear His fruit.

Notice the Sower (God) is the same as is the seed (His word).  The only thing that changes is the soil (us).

BSF Study Questions Genesis Lesson 13, Day 2: Genesis 14:1-12

Summary of passage:  Basically, the Babylonians attacked a group of peoples living in the Siddim Valley who had been under their control but had rebelled.  The Babylonians defeated or re-conquered them and took even more territory.  The Babylonians sacked Sodom and Gomorrah, which included Lot and his possessions since he was living in Sodom.

Questions:

3a)  Amraphel King of Shinar (Babylonia), Arioch king of Ellasar, Kedorlaomer king of Elam, and Tidal king of Goiim

b)  Bera king of Sodom, Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, Shemeber king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (or Zoar)

c)  Plain of Shinar (or Babylonia)

4a)  Lot put himself in the midst of these pagan countries by choosing the most fertile land as he saw it and pitched his tent near the evil city of Sodom (Genesis 13:11-13) and so he was caught up in the wars and taken along with the rest.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  All of our choices are the same–to either choose God or to not choose Him.  To choose God’s way or something else (either your way, the devil’s way, or some other idol or false god’s way).  This is what all of our choices come down to.  Obedience or disobedience.  It’s as simple as that.

Conclusions:  Didn’t like this lesson because we didn’t learn anything.  Of course, Lot would end up in trouble.  He chose to live with evil people.  The names of these kings are obscure to most and I would wager meaningless.  And the personal question?  I truly don’t think details matter.  What it comes down to is this:  you either choose God or you don’t.  Period.

My kids had this question too and they were stumped.  So this is their answer as well.

I do admire the note at the beginning.  This is unusual.  But it sums up typical ancient times:  people were conquered; the people rebelled; the conquerors put down the rebellion; prisoners and goods were taken.

End Note:  Great home drawn map of the region and the battles!  I love this website:

http://www.generationword.com/notes_for_notesbooks_pg/genesis/14_1.htm