BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 14, Day 2: Romans 8:17-18

Summary of passage:  Since we are God’s children, we are heirs of God and Christ and share in his sufferings and glory.  Our sufferings are miniscule compared to the glory that awaits us.


3)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  Paul suffered terribly as we all know.  He was imprisoned and murdered by the Romans.  He was tortured and beaten, robbed and stoned.  He was scared for his earthly life most of the time and on the run from persecutors.  He was shipwrecked and starving.  This does not affect my understanding of these verses in any measurable way.  When I suffer, it’s nothing compared to Paul or any other 1st century human.  It’s hard to compare apples to oranges.  All I know is my suffering is miniscule to Paul’s and I try not to complain about it.

That being said disregarding Paul who lived 2000 years ago, Paul’s words are encouraging because in my suffering there is hope and a glory that is unseen.  Suffering is fleeting; glory is forever.  And when you think you have nothing you really have everything.

4a)  The definition of glory according to Webster’s Dictionary is “praise, honor, or distinction extended by common consent: renown.  worshipful praise, honor and thanksgiving.  great beauty and splendor; magnificence.”  According to Zondervan’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary, glory is “Great honor or praise; used especially of God’s majestic splendor; weight, burden, wealth, magnificence, honor.  The glory of God is the worthiness of God or the presence of God in the fullness of his attributes in some place or everywhere.”

b)  2 Corinthians 3:18:  “We all reflect the Lord’s glory and are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”

Philippians 3:20-21:  Our bodies will be transformed into Jesus’s glorious body.

Colossians 1:27:  Christ in us is the hope of glory and a glorious mystery.

2 Thessalonians 2:13-14:  We were called and chosen by God to share in Christ’s glory.

Hebrews 2:10:  Jesus brought us to glory through his suffering and death. (read Hebrews 2:9)

5)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  Suffering and glory go hand in hand.  You can’t have one without the other.  Christ suffered; we suffer.  Christ has glory; we have glory.  You have to suffer in order to have glory.  Suffering is a part of life.  It’s something we have to walk through.  It doesn’t last forever–heaven and Jesus are forever.  In heaven, our glory will shine.  Keeping a heavenly perspective through suffering and keeping faith in Christ gives us/me hope during the trials and tribulations of life and will go a long way towards us getting through suffering here on this side of heaven.  Glory outshines the suffering.

Conclusions:  Every question is outside of this passage.

End Notes:  Our sharing in Christ’s suffering is a condition of our future glorification.

Without a heavenly hope, Paul considered the Christian life foolish and tragic (1 Corinthians 15:19). Yet in light of eternity it is the wisest and best choice anyone can make.

This coming glory will not only be revealed to us, but it will actually be revealed in us.

God has put this glory into the believer right now. In heaven the glory will simply be revealed.

BSF Study Questions John Lesson 14, Day 5: John 10:22-42

Summary of passage:  The Feast of Dedication (Hanukkah) arrives in Jerusalem and Jesus is questioned again.  He tells the Jews they do not believe him because they are not his sheep.  His sheep know him and no one can take them away from him.  The sheep are God’s as well and he and God are one.  They tried to stone Jesus and he asked them again why they don’t believe in him and in the miracles.  They tried to seize him and Jesus fled across the Jordan where many came to him and believed in him.


11)  The miracles he performed.  The Jews did not know Jesus.

12)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  Eternal life because they follow him.  All the difference.

13)  They want to stone him or seize him.  Most today want to punish Christians.  He again tries to convince them who he is, using biblical and here irrefutable evidence, but then he flees.  We are to persevere, but not engage in violence.

Conclusions:  Question 12 is wearing on me.  It’s so broad I just keep it simple.  I love how Jesus tries to convince others of who he is but knows when it is hopeless and he’s done all he can so he focuses on those he knows will convert.  Great lesson for us with stubborn people in our lives.

End Notes:  The Feast of Dedication or Hanukkah celebrated the cleansing and re-dedication of the temple after three years of desecration by Antiochus Epiphanes, king of Syria (in 164 or 165 b.c.).  He instituted terror upon the Jews by emptying the temple treasury, instituting laws against Jews laws such as banning circumcision and the bible, and turning the altar into one for the Greek god Zeus.  Thousands of Jews were killed or sold as slaves.

The Greek for “winter” really connotes “stormy weather” here.

Solomon’s Colonnade was the name given to the portico which ran along the east side of the outer court of Herod’s temple. It is mentioned in Acts as the place where Peter addressed the crowd the congregated to see the man who had been cured of his lifelong lameness at the Beautiful Gate, and again as the place where the Jerusalem believers regularly gathered for their public witness to Jesus as the Christ (Acts 3:11; 5:12).

Jesus was not teaching.  Simply, he was ambushed by the religious leaders who were blaming him for their unbelief (personal responsibility, anyone?).  They hoped to get him to say he was the king of the Jews so then they could accuse him to the Romans of a coup against the emperor.

Jesus said “I told you and you do not believe” (I’d insert the word idiots afterwards).  He must be getting extremely taxed by these people.  He often didn’t call himself the messiah because it had such weighty political and even military implications.  When he does reveal himself, it’s to non-Jews (such as the Samaritan woman) because it was safer.

Just read all Jesus had told them who he was so far in our study of John:

I am the one who came from heaven (John 3:13, 6:38)

whoever believes on Me has eternal life (John 3:15)

I am the unique Son of God (John 5:19-23)

I will judge all humanity (John 5:19-23)

all should honor Me just as the honor God the Father (John 5:19-23)

the Hebrew Scriptures all speak of Me (John 5:39)

I perfectly reveal God the Father (John 7:28-29)

I always please God and never sin (John 8:29, 8:46)

I am uniquely sent from God (John 8:42)

before Abraham was, I Am (John 8:58)

I am the Son of Man, prophesied by Daniel (John 9:37)

I will raise Myself from the dead (John 10:17-18)

I am the Bread of Life (John 6:48)

I am the Light of the World (John 8:12)

I am the Door (John 10:9)

I am the Good Shepherd (John 10:11)

Pretty cool, huh?  If they don’t understand by now, they never will.  Their hearts will never turn.  Hence, we see Jesus retreat.

Earlier in chapter 10, Jesus tells them they are false shepherds.  He goes one step further here by saying they aren’t even sheep!

Great picture:  we are in both Jesus’ hands and God’s hands.

God and Jesus are one in essence.  “one” here has no gender.  It’s not a person.  Equally God (divine being), distinct in person.

Jesus wanted us to be one as He and the Father are one (John 17:11, 17:21). Such oneness cannot exist without an equality of essence, and all believers have this equality (Galatians 3:26-28), even as the Father and Son have this equality.

The Jews could not refute Jesus so instead they decide to stone him even though there has been no trial.  This is how much of a threat Jesus posed to the rulers.

Jesus answers the religious leaders with the law and an argument from the lesser to the greater.  The judges of Psalm 82 were called “gods” because in their office they determined the fate of other men.  In Exodus 21:6 and 22:8-9, God called earthly judges “gods.”  This is a metaphor and Jesus attempts to show them their fallacy in light of his works and who he is.

He testified as to the complete authority of the Old Testament.

Across the Jordan lay Perea.  There the Jews had no power.

John the Baptist did no miracles but was still a great man.  Great lesson for us as well.  Most of us won’t perform a miracle.  But we can make an impact on others.  Jesus’ work still goes on.

BSF Study Questions John Lesson 14, Day 2: John 10:1-6

Summary of passage:  Jesus uses the metaphor of a shepherd and his sheep to explain himself and believers.  The only way into the pen is through him (the gate).  The one who enters through the gate is the leader (Jesus).  The sheep (believers) follow him and only him and know his voice.  They will not follow a stranger.  They flee from strangers.


3a)  The thieves are unbelievers or evil people or imposters or those who are spiritually blind like the Pharisees from Chapter 9.  The true shepherd is Jesus.  The true shepherd’s sheep are believers are those who believe in and follow Jesus as Lord and Savior.

b)  All people fit in one of these categories.  They either believe in him (the sheep) or they don’t (the thieves and robbers).

4a)  The sheep know the shepherd’s voice and they follow only the shepherd.  They are not deceived by others and they flee from the false shepherds.  The sheep depend on the shepherd for their lives–to feed them and care for them.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  I got a full-time job to help my family.  I’m listening to Jesus to know  how long to stay in that role.  I’m continuing his work for me.  I’m raising my kids.  I’m trying to be a good wife and mother and employee.  I’m trying to return to regular church attendance as well.

Conclusions:  This is one of my favorite analogies of Jesus and believers.  They didn’t understand at the time, but they will.  It’s a consolation to all of us who don’t understand God’s will at the time but we follow anyways.  One day it will be clear to us–even if that day is on the other side of heaven.

End Notes:  So right after Jesus healed the blind man and the religious leaders threw a fit cause it was on the Sabbath and didn’t believe Jesus did it, Jesus talks about actually caring for people instead of caring more for legalities and rules.

In OT times and ancient Near Eastern culture, the shepherd symbolized the royal caretaker of God’s people.  God himself was called the “Shepherd of Israel” (Psalm 80:1, 23:1; Isaiah 40:10-11; Ezekiel 34:11-16, Zechariah 10:2) and he had given great responsibility to the leaders (shepherds) of Israel, which they failed to respect.  God denounced these false shepherds (Isaiah 56:9-12; Ezekiel 34) and promised to provide the true Shepherd, the Messiah, to care for the sheep (Ezekiel 34:23).

“I tell you the truth” is common in John’s Gospel and indicates a solemn assertion about Jesus and/or his ministry.

Political and spiritual leaders were often called shepherds in the ancient world (Isaiah 56:11, Jeremiah 31:5).  Jesus explained that not everyone among the sheep is a true shepherd; some are like thieves and robbers.  One way to tell the difference is how they gain entry among the sheep.

The idea is that there is a door (a gate), a proper way to gain entry. Not everyone who stands among the sheep comes that way.  Some climb up some other way.

The religious leaders Jesus is speaking about gained their place among God’s people (the sheep) through personal and political connections, ambition, manipulation, and corruption.

A true shepherd comes through love, calling, care, and sacrificial service.

God wants His people to be led, fed, and protected by those who come in love.

The watchman knows the true shepherd.  Towns of that time would have a watchman who watched over all the people’s sheep at night.

A shepherd knows all of his sheep and they know him.  A shepherd may even name the sheep and the sheep may even know their name.  He calls them and they follow.

According to Adam Clarke, there are 6 marks of a true shepherd in these verses:

· He has a proper entrance into the ministry

· He sees the Holy Spirit open his way as a doorkeeper to God’s sheep

· He sees that the sheep respond to his voice in teaching and leadership

· He is well acquainted with his flock

· He leads the flock and does not drive them or lord it over them

· He goes before the sheep as an example

BSF Study Questions Revelation Lesson 14, Day 4: Revelation 9:1-21

Summary of passage:  The 5th angel sounded his trumpet and a star that had fallen to the earth opened the Abyss from which smoke rose which darkened the sky and unleashed locusts who tortured those without the seal of God on their foreheads.  They suffered severe agony–so much so they wished for death but were not granted it.

The locusts had human faces, wore crowns, had hair and lions’ teeth.  They wore breastplates and their wings were loud.  They had tails like scorpions and tortured people with them for 5 months.  Their king was Abandon or Apollyon or Destroyer.

The 6th angel sounded his trumpet, releasing 4 angels who were bound at the Euphrates and killed 1/3 of mankind.  Troops came forth with breastplates.  The horses had lions’ heads and they spewed fire, smoke, and sulfur.  They had snakes’ tails.

The rest of mankind who survived this still did not repent.


9)  The first four seals and trumpets are judgments against the earth.  In the first four seals, these were the four horsemen bringing tyranny, war, famine, and death on the earth.  In the first four trumpets, these were ecological destruction of the vegetation, seas, fresh waters, and sky.

The last three seals focused upon heaven: the cry of the martyrs, cosmic disturbances, and the heavenly prelude to the seven trumpets.  The last three trumpets will speak of hell and the demonic.  These judgments are against man himself.

10a)  The people who had the seal of God on their foreheads.  Believers marked for salvation or the remnant.  “Servants of God” Rev (7:3).

b)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  They were to be tortured for five months and the agony would be like the sting of a scorpion.  Unbelievers need to repent now or face misery ahead.

11)  They were worshiping demons and false idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone, and wood.  They were killing others, doing magic arts, being sexually immoral, and stealing.  It’s everywhere today.  People worship themselves, other people, material items, their jobs, their kids, spouses, or other religions and their gods.  We still have murder, black magic, the occult, immorality, and stealing.  Man’s nature does not change.  This includes his sin nature as well.

Conclusions:  Surprised on questions on the identity of the Star or the king.  No questions on what the locust represent or the Abyss or the demons.  From previous lessons and this one, BSF is only asking questions that probably have a straight-forward interpretation.  They are avoiding any questions that are up for debate or speculation.

In one way that’s good because it simplifies the study and avoids conflict amongst different viewpoints.  However, in another way it’s bad because it’s good to think about these things, their possibilities, and what exactly is God saying through John.  Knowing God’s Word and Him is the point of bible study and trying to figure out what He is trying to tell us enables our growth with Him.

Please see all of my End Notes which explore the passage and possible explanations.  I do my best to include all the possibilities but feel free to add more if I miss something.

One more caveat:  Beware of commentaries that assert something absolutely.  That is more likely the writer asserting his point of view than exploring the whole text.  Remember a lot of these symbols have different interpretations.

End Notes:  This is the 5th and 6th Trumpets.

5th Trumpet:  Scholars suggest this is not a literal star but a person.  Who is the star?  Suggestions are Nero, the devil, Satan, an angel, or even Jesus.  Some believe it’s an angel.  Whether the angel is good or bad depends on if the angel is the same angel at in 9:11.  If they are the same, then the angel is evil.  If not, then the angel could be a good angel sent to administer the judgments on earth.

Because the star is fallen, this suggests its Satan.  However, because the star is given the key to the Abyss, it can’t be Satan because Satan is not the ruler of Hell, God is.

What is the Abyss?  Probably Hell.  The abyss is a prison for certain demons (Luke 8:31, 2 Peter 2:4, and Jude 6).  It is located inside the earth (Eph.4:9) and as we will learn it serves as the holding cell for all unsaved disembodied spirits (Rev.20:13-15).

Fun Fact:  The Greek word means “very deep” or “bottomless” and the Hebrew word means “primeval deep”.  This word occurs 9 times in the New Testament and 8 times in the book of Revelation.

Smoke represents divine judgment used as well in the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen 19:28).

The key is the power over the Abyss.  Since Jesus possesses the key (Rev 1:18) some scholars see the star as Jesus handing over the key to Satan to unleash his demons upon the earth in judgment.  Jesus is described as the morning star (Rev 22:16).

These demons probably won’t be seen by mankind (Ephesians 6:11-22).  John sees them only because they are revealed to him.  Thus, man may only see the destruction of the demons which would be natural disasters.  Hence, it’s easy to see why at the end the survivors still don’t turn to God.  They just don’t “see.”

The locusts are symbolic as evinced by their resembling something other than locusts.  They are symbolic of the demons that will be allowed to enter earth.  Locusts are agents of God’s judgment (Exodus 10:4-14, Deuteronomy 28:38, 1 Kings 8:37, 2 Chronicles 7:13, Joel 1:4, 2:2-9; Nah.3:15-17, and Amos 4:9).  They will be an army.

The people are tortured to bring them to repentance (verse 20-21).  They will not die.  Scorpions stings rarely kill.  Why not?  Perhaps in God’s infinite grace, He is giving them a foreshadow of death in hopes some will still repent.

Why 5 months? The lifespan of a locust is 5 months.  Hence, for as long as the locusts live, they will be tortured.

The repetition of “like” means it was hard to describe and therefore not exact.  This is the time of the Great Tribulation.  Locusts have no king (Proverbs 30:27)–another reason they aren’t literal.

The king is Satan.

“Woe” is from Rev 8:13.

Preterist interpretation:  The suffering represents the Roman siege against Jerusalem from 66-70 AD.   The locusts is the Roman empire (crowns on their heads).  The beast represents the Roman Empire (Rev 11 & 13:1-8; 17:7-11).  This concludes that the object of God’s wrath is the Jewish nation and has already taken place with no future meaning.

The three woes are:

1) invasion of the locust-demons torturing rather than killing man

2)  Another demonic invasion and an earthquake that destroys a tenth of Jerusalem following the death and resurrection of God’s two witnesses (Rev.11:14)

3)  The inhabitants of the earth will experience Satan’s fury as he is banished (Rev.12:12).

The servants of God (those were the seal) are only exempt from the first woe.

6th Trumpet:  The horns of the golden altar are the prayers of God’s people.  In the tabernacle, the golden altar was of incense or the people’s prayers.  Those fleeing judgment could seek mercy by taking a hold of the  horns (1 Kings 1:50-51; 2:28).

Are these the 4 angels from Rev 7:1?  Scholars are unsure.  We do know they are divinely appointed to carry out God’s will.

The Tigris and Euphrates River was the cradle of civilization and the first place nomads settled down.  In the Bible, it’s probably where the Garden of Eden was located.  Here, the firsts occurred:  first settlement, first sin, first murder, first revolt against God, first war, etc.  Here, it marks the boundary of Babylon and was the extent of the Promised Land.  The Assyrian and Babylonian empires centered around Mesopotamia and were the historic enemies of Israel.  In fact, they still are today as Syria and Iraq are now the name of the countries.  Note the people never changed; just the name.

God works on a specific timetable (verse 15).  We just don’t know it.

Again, the horsemen are demons.  The number is meant to be infinite.  Most scholars agree this is a demon army sent to kill humans, released by the 6th angel on the command of the voice (God or Jesus).

Amazing how man never learns and keeps right on sinning.  Scary too.  How much we rely on our eyes and when we can’t “see”, we don’t believe.  Why God calls us to believe;  it’s the hardest thing we will ever have to do.

BSF Study Questions Revelation Lesson 14, Day 3: Revelation 8:6-13

Summary of passage:  The first 4 trumpets.

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.


6)  First Trumpet: unleashes 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.

Second Trumpet:  unleashes 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.

Third Trumpet:  unleashes 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.

Fourth Trumpet:  strikes one-third of the sun, moon, and stars, turning them dark, eliminating one-third of the day and night.

7)  Part personal Question.  My answer: God shows mercy by only striking 1/3 of the resources. These are partial judgments (Zechariah 13:8-9).  God is warning people to turn to Him before it’s too late, offering up another undeserved chance at repentance.  This shows me God’s love and compassion and mercy and grace for and to mankind.  Awesome!

8a)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Love, compassion, mercy, grace.  We see His omnipotence, His total control over everything.  We see His goodness.  We see His judgments and justness in punishing sin.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Profound gratitude.  Depth of love for Him.  My desire to do His will instead of mine grows more each day, pushing a bit more selfishness away.  Worship in awe and wonder.

Conclusions:  8 repeated 7 and made it personal.  In the immediate sense, my worship of God has not changed.  As I take in and absorb the book of Revelation and learn more about God’s goodness and grace my worship should become more meaningful and deeper.

Number of times asked in this study how our worship is affected:  Total of 7:  Once in Lessons 2, 3 & 10, Twice in Lessons 9 & now twice in this lesson.

End Notes:  Same as yesterday’s.  See HERE.

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.

BSF Study Questions Matthew Lesson 14, Day 4: Matthew 13:47-50

Summary of passage:  Jesus tells the parable of the net where he says the kingdom of heaven is like a net that catches all kinds of fish.  After the catch, the fish must be sorted and the good will be kept but the bad will be thrown in the fiery furnace at the end of the age by the angels (the fishermen).


8a)  God’s word or law (verse 47)

b)  believers (verse 48)

c) non-believers (verses 48-50)

d)  Angels (verse 49)

e)  The good fish will be separated from the bad fish who will be thrown in a fiery furnace (verse 49-50)

9a)  Angels are harvesters and here they are the fishermen (the sorters if you will).  The weeds are burned in the fire as are the bad fish.  Both mention this will happen at the end of the age.  The angels will separate the wicked from the righteous in both.  Verse 42 & 50 are identical “they will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

b)  To convince unbelievers to believe for the picture is so gloom for them.  And as a warning to unbelievers.  As encouragement to us that one day sin will be eradicated from our world.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Believed in Jesus and witness to unbelievers.

Conclusions:  Question 9c would be more for unbelievers who don’t know their future.  This one is very clear on its meaning:  you believe or you don’t and if you don’t you burn.  Simple.

End Notes:  Jesus reveals that the world will remain divided up until the very end; that he will not bring about peace to all.

BSF Study Questions Genesis Lesson 14, Day 5: Genesis 15:9-21

Summary of passage: Again, Abram questions God, asking for reassurances of this promise.  God tells Abram to bring him a heifer, goat, ram, dove, and a pigeon.  Abram cut these in half (except the birds).

Abram fell asleep and the Lord revealed that Abram’s descendants will be strangers and enslaved for 400 years.  But that God would punish this nation and they will emerge with great possessions.  Abram will die in peace and at an old age.

Then the Lord appeared (many believe) in the smoke and united the pieces, making a covenant with Abram, giving his descendants this land.


11)  God says that Abram’s descendants will be strangers in a country not their own and they will be enslaved and mistreated for 400 years (Exodus 6:1; 12:31-36; 40 and most of Exodus tells of God’s plan to free the Israelites from the Egyptians).

God will punish the nation they serve as slaves and afterward the descendants will come out with great possession.  This is shown in Exodus as God punished the Egyptians when Pharaoh refuses to release the Israelites.

In modern history, Egypt as an empire and great civilization no longer exists thanks to Alexander the Great and the Roman Emperor Octavian.  Also, the country of Israel exists today.

Abram will go to his fathers in peace and be buried at a good old age (Genesis 25:7-8).

In the fourth generation, your descendants will come back to Canaan to the land God gives them.

12a)  God as fire:  Genesis 15:17; Exodus 3:2-6 God appearing in burning bush; Exodus 13:21 God leading the Israelites at night as fire; Exodus 19:18 the Lord descending on Mt. Sinai in fire; 1 Kings 18 has Elijah answering the challenge by God coming as fire.  This is God as fire.

God used fire as a sign He accepted sacrifices:  Judges 6:21; 1 Kings 18:38; 1 Chronicles 21:26; Leviticus 9:24

God uses fire as judgment:  Genesis 19:24 when He burned Sodom and Gomorrah; Exodus 9:23; Numbers 11:1; Numbers 16:35 where God consumed people in fire.

Fire used to show God’s glory and holiness:  Daniel 7:9; Isaiah 33:13-15

God himself is a consuming fire in Deuteronomy 4:24

God the Son as light: 1 John 1:5, John 3:18-20; John 9:5; Romans 13:12

b) Personal Question.  My answer:  I’m reminded of a Greek myth that tells of how man first received fire.  It was given to them as a gift by Prometheus who was punished by Zeus because Zeus did not want man to have fire.  Prometheus was chained to a rock and forced to endure an eagle pecking at his liver for the rest of his days.

Fire is essential for living and surviving.  We have to cook our food and fire is what has been used for millenia.  Light is essential for seeing.  Otherwise we are blind.

Basically, God is essential for living since He is fire and light.  Without Him we cannot eat.  We cannot survive.  We cannot see.

Man could not exist without fire.  For the Sun itself is a ball of fire from nuclear explosions.  Furthermore, fire changes things.  Look at wood and metals.  Thus, if God is fire and fire changes things, then God changes things, namely us.

13)  Because He wants as many as possible to see the “light” and come to Him; to see His kindness and repent before it’s too late.

14a)  To the river of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates.  This would be from modern-day Egypt to Iraq, which would include Lebanon, Syria, Kuwait, Jordan, Palestine, Iraq, and parts of Egypt and Saudi Arabia.  The river in Egypt is most likely the Nile River.  The Hebrew word for the river used here means “large river” so probably the Nile.

b)  Under Solomon (1 Kings 8:65) and possibly under Jeroboam II (2 Kings 14:25).

Conclusions:  I loved the study of fire in the Bible and I only mentioned a tid-bit of ways fire is used.  It also symbolizes evil, the devil, greed, the Holy Spirit, etc.  Fire changes and purifies.  This I LOVE!  Since God is fire God changes and purifies!  Awesome!

I was also reminded by this SITE where I learned about fire how Greek, Aramaic, and Hebrew are much more expressive languages than English and the way fire is used depends on translations and meanings.  These languages have many more meanings for some words than English does.

This is just an interesting ARTICLE on the Promised Land boundaries with maps.  However, this article is propounding a world viewpoint.

Maps of Promised Land:  This was interesting.  I found various maps of the Promised Land the Scriptures used to back up the boundaries.  Here is what I found:  This Link specifically uses Genesis 15:18-21  This one shows King Solomon’s boundaries with references.

MAP of Modern Day Israel against Solomon’s Empire in 990 BC.

Another MAP of Modern-Day Israel, showing Gaza, West Bank, and Golan

End Note:  I liked this lesson because it prompted me to learn more.  I spent two days looking up references and finding all these websites.  If I hadn’t of done this, this lesson wouldn’t have had the impact it did on me.  Please see HERE for the spiel this one comment inspired.