BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 17, Day 2: Romans 9:30-33

Summary of passage:  Israel has been denied righteousness because they pursued it by works.  The Gentiles were granted righteousness because they had faith.  This is all according to God’s will.

Questions:

3)  Israel tried to earn righteousness by works and were denied.  The Gentiles had faith and were thus granted righteousness by God.

4)  Pursuing righteous behavior is trying to be more like Jesus, obeying God’s calling and His rules.  Only God can grant us righteous standing.  That is, only He can tell us if our behavior is right or wrong and give His stamp of approval or not.  We cannot make ourselves righteous before God.  Faith is what we need to be granted righteousness.  Faith in Jesus Christ as God’s Son and our Savior.  Without faith all you do is meaningless.

5)  A crucified Savior–Jesus Christ.  The fact Jesus died for our sins and his death covers our sins and saves us and thereby accepting this fact you are saved eternally.  Simple concept.  Hard to accept in its simplicity.

Conclusions:  Paul’s conclusion to Chapter 9, saying faith is the way to righteousness, not works, no matter who you are.

End Notes:  Israel missed the Messiah because they refused to come by faith.  The Gentiles found righteousness even though they weren’t necessarily seeking it.  Israel tried to work for the righteousness of God and couldn’t find it.  The Jews tried to justify themselves before God by performing works according to the law of righteousness instead of the righteousness of faith.  The Jews needed to seek righteousness by faith.

Paul does not use God as an excuse here and His right to choose.  Nope.  It’s all on the Israelites; they did not seek it by faith.  This is Paul presenting the problem from the side of human responsibility and not from the side of God’s right to choose.  Both are responsible for Israel’s unsaved state.

Israel was rejected because she failed to obey her own God-given law, which in reality was pointing to Christ.  She disobeyed, pursued the law–not by faith but by works–failing to believe.  Hence, God rejected Israel.

Paul has already shown in Romans that the only possible way to be saved is through faith, not the works of the law; and that this salvation comes only through the work of a crucified Savior – which was a stumbling block to Israel (1 Corinthians 1:22-23).

BSF Study Questions Revelation Lesson 17, Day 2: Revelation 13:1-6

Summary of passage:  A beast emerges from the sea with 10 horns, 7 heads and 10 crowns on his horns.  On each head was a blasphemous name.  The beast looked like a leopard, had feet like a bear, and the mouth of a lion.  The dragon gave this beast his power, throne, and great authority.  One head had a fatal wound but had been healed.  The whole world followed this beast and men worshiped the dragon who had given the beast power.  The beast exercised his authority for 42 months (3 1/2 years, the time of the Great Tribulation).  He blasphemed God, his name, his dwelling place, and those in heaven.

Questions:

3a)  A beast emerges from the sea with 10 horns, 7 heads and 10 crowns on his horns. On each head was a blasphemous name. The beast looked like a leopard, had feet like a bear, and the mouth of a lion. The dragon gave this beast his power, throne, and great authority. One head had a fatal wound but had been healed.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  I immediately noticed the numbers.  10 is complete authority and 7 is completeness.  Horns are a symbol of power and crowns a symbol of authority.  I am insanely curious about the fatal wound that has been healed (can’t wait to read that commentary).  And the fact everyone followed this hideous beast and worshiped him.

4)  The relationship is very similar in fact.  The only contrast I see is the purposes:  God’s purpose is salvation and live.  The beast’s purpose and the devil’s is eternal damnation and death.  The beast is given authority by the devil and is worshiped as a false god.

5a)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Rely on God and the Word.  If whatever the teaching says doesn’t line up with the Word, it’s false.  Pray.  God will tell you if this person/beast is from Him or not.  Know the signs.  Know God’s word.  Use it as a weapon.  Stand up to peer pressure and the masses.  For me, this is easy.  I’m immediately skeptical if something is popular or a lot of people are doing it.  Then, I usually have the opposite reaction:  I run away and don’t want to follow the crowd.  I like to be unique.

b)  Personal question.  My answer:  My sister firmly believed her husband was going to heaven when he’s not a believer.  I had to correct her with the Word.  She agreed with me.  She had given up on trying to convert him, deluding herself that he would be in heaven with her.  Now, she knows she’s gotta keep on him!

Conclusions:  I should give up my complaints against BSF.  After 17 lessons, it is abundantly clear this study is about personal application and staying away from all possible interpretations and sticking to the bare bones of Revelation.  Irksome but unavoidable.

However, BSF is the catalyst.  From here, we can go anywhere.  They give me a reason to study Revelation (mainly for you all).  No where else have I seen such a study.  Expectations dashed but that’s part of life and that’s okay.  I’m taking this where I want to go.  And where God wants me to go.  And right now, it’s amazing!  Think of all we’ve learned we’ve never known before!  Think of God and how we all know Him better!  How proud He must be and how now we must share our knowledge in these last days with others to better glorify Him!

End Notes:  We’ve gone from the view of heaven (Revelation 12) to earth now in Revelation 13.

Verse 1:  Some Bibles have John instead of the dragon standing on the shore of the sea.  I’d say it’s probably okay to assume both are there.

Today, we love the sea.  We go surfing.  We go the beach and swim.  We go whale-watching.  Sailing.  Boating.  Tubing.  Water skiing.  Fishing.  Cruising.

In Ancient Times, the sea was a mysterious place.  Most people couldn’t swim.  Most people avoided water altogether, not bathing (for various reasons–most commonly because either they lacked water or people believed bathing actually was bad for them!  This was a common belief up until the twentieth century!) and afraid of it.

Most cultures in fact in their creation stories picture the sea as utter chaos and their gods rose from the sea.  Hence, they saw the sea as a place not for them.  Wild.  Untamed.  Mysterious.

Ancient Sea Creatures
Ancient Sea Creatures

Ancient Greece and Rome did travel the Mediterranean but it was a dangerous place–full of pirates and storms and monstrous sea creatures.  This belief held even up until Columbus’ time.  If you look at an old map, you’ll see sea creatures depicted in the seas and the seas as black–vast, unknown places.

In the Bible Israel has a navy, but the sailors are outsourced (1 Kings 9:26-27).  The sea rages and only God can calm the seas (Psalm 74:12-13; Psalm 89:8-9; Isaiah 57:20).

Note John calls this a “beast” and not a “dragon”.  Hence, this beast is not Satan but one of Satan’s lackeys.  The dragon is Satan (Revelation 12:9).  The Greek word here is a wild and dangerous animal.  Note the beast is rising forth from this place of chaos and unknown and evil.  The first century Christian and even up until the twentieth century would have been petrified of this image.

This beast is like the dragon.  It as well has 7 heads and 10 horns (Revelation 11:3).  As we’ve said before, horns in the Bible is strength and power so 10 horns would be insanely powerful.

The beast, the dragon, and the AntiChrist are all DIFFERENT.  The dragon is Satan.  The beast is Satan’s lackey sent to persecute and kill God’s people in the final part of the Tribulation period.  The Antichrist is a human who is impersonating Christ  The AntiChrist is only mentioned 5 times in the Bible ((1 John 2:18, 2:22, 4:3, and 2 John 7), once twice.

“Anti” means “against”, “instead of”, or “opposite” in Latin.  This person is against Jesus and comes instead of Jesus.  He will be charismatic and a smooth talker, a person sent from the devil with the one purpose to deceive believers and lead them to stray from the True Christ.

The many antichrists that John refers to in 1 John 2:18 are spirits, glimpses, or previews of the AntiChrist.  Scholars interpret this in many ways but I see it as the evil people we see around us that Satan has grabbed hold of and used such as Adolf Hitler.

The Antichrist has many names especially in Daniel such as little horn, the prince that shall come, and son of perdition (2 Thessalonians 2:3).

Note the key difference between the dragon and the beast:  the crowns.  The dragon had 7 crowns in Revelation 12:3 which speaks of absolute and complete power.  Here, scholars differ on what the 10 crowns represents.

Here, the 10 crowns are limited power and represent only power over 10 nations.  Most scholars believe the 10 crowns are distributed amongst the 10 heads but some believe they are all on one head.  Most scholars believe this is the same beast as in Daniel 7:7 where the 10 crowns are 10 nations.

It is in Daniel 7 & 2 that the 10 kingdoms are the Roman Empire.  Daniel saw 3 world empires and 1 yet to come which is when Jesus comes.  Most scholars believe some form of the Roman Empire will appear again since we haven’t seen Jesus reign yet.

Some commentators see the beast as the Roman Empire or even anti-Christian political power that began in John’s time and continues today.  The Roman emperors were addressed and worshiped as gods which would fit the blasphemous names.

Verse 2:  The beast reflects the beast from Daniel 7.  Recall the 4 beasts represented 4 empires which arose from Daniel’s time to John’s time:  Lion–Babylon.  Bear–Medo-Persian.  Leopard–Greece.  Fourth beast–Rome.  Most scholars believe the fourth empire is the final world empire under Satan because Rome was never conquered; it gradually split apart.  Hence, the 10 kingdoms will come from the split Roman Empire.

Finally, the beast is a man.  either a man possessed by an evil spirit or one raised from the dead.  The beast is empowered by Satan.  He took the offer Jesus refused (Matthew 4:8-10).

Interesting Side Note:  Daniel begins with the beast and works backwards to the lion; whereas, John begins with the lion and ends with the beast.  Why?  Because Daniel was seeing into the future and John was recounting the past.

Verse 3:  Scholars are not sure what the mortal wound represents.  It could be a result of God’s judgment. It’s mentioned again in Revelation 13: 12 & 14.  This beast is imitating Jesus in every way even here by dying and being raised again.  This will confound and deceive many.  Does the beast actually die and is resurrected?  Well, only God can has the power to do that so many think it will only appear the beast was resurrected to trick many.

Some see the wounded head as a real historical figure, the likely choice is Nero.  He committed suicide but rumors arose that he fled to Rome’s enemy, Parthia, and would return one day to re-conquer Rome.  Several pretenders did arise during the first century AD and this myth was perpetuated.  It found its way into apocalyptic writings of the time as well.

Some see the beast’s wound as the destruction of the Roman Empire in 476 AD and then rose again under Justinian in AD 554.  But this would not apply to the first century Christians whom John was writing to.

What’s important here is that the beast will rise and fool the world and be need to be ready.

Verses 5-6:  The mouth in scripture is the symbol for the thoughts that are revealed in talk. An evil man has a “bad mouth” (Psalm 10:7).  The mouth of the beast utters evil — blasphemy — though the world does not recognize it for what it is.  Daniel 7:8:  “This horn had…a mouth that spoke boastfully.”  “The king…will say unheard-of things against the God of gods.  He will be successful until the time of wrath is completed.” Daniel 11:36

The beast has full reign for 42 months (3 1/2 years or the Great Tribulation).  He speaks against those who are taken in the rapture (if you believe Christians are spared).

Note that 3 1/2 years is half of the number 7, which represents perfection or completion in the Bible.  Some scholars think this represents the time between the first and second coming of Christ.  Most believe, however, it’s a time of great persecution of Christians and the disagreements is who will be present for the persecution.

Quick Review:  Pre-tribulationists believe Jesus will come to remove the church from earth just before the Great Tribulation.  Post-tribulationists believe the church will go through a time of trials before Jesus returns.  Mid-tribulationists believe the church will be taken away during the Tribulation and not face these horrible persecutions by the beast we are studying.

In Sum:  The beast will reign and gather followers in the first half of the Tribulation.  Then he will be assassinated.  Satan will be cast from heaven.  Satan will raise the beast from the dead (or appear to do so) and empower him to deceive even more people.

BSF Study Questions Matthew Lesson 17, Day 2: Matthew 16:1-12; Mark 8:10-21

Summary of passages:  Matthew 16:1-12:  The Pharisees and Sadducees asked Jesus to show them a sign from heaven.  Jesus replied that they wouldn’t be able to interpret the sign because they are wicked and adulterous.  No sign will be given except the sign of Jonah.

Jesus warned his disciples to be on their guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.  Stumped and lacking faith as usual, Jesus explained to the disciples some more and they figured out yeast is teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

Mark 8:10-21:  Here, Mark records that upon asking for a sign, Jesus replies that no sign will be given.  Jesus warns them to be careful of the yeast of the Pharisees and of Herod.  Not understanding what Jesus is meaning by yeast, Jesus asks them do they still have hard hearts and eyes that cannot see.

Questions:

2a)  They should have known that Jesus just wouldn’t perform a miracle that served no purpose or showed them a sign.  Besides, they should have known who he was by the miracles he performed and the prophecies he fulfilled.  Jesus had given them many, many signs.  They shouldn’t need another.  They shouldn’t need a sign.

b)  Luke 12:54-59 has a great interpretation of this.  We can interpret the signs by looking to the Bible for prophecy (mostly in Revelation) that says when Jesus will come again and what are the signs so that we can look for them and be ready.  Basically, get right with God now and you won’t have to worry when the End Times come.

c)  Jesus’ resurrection.  The sign of Jonah was when Jonah was in the belly of the huge fish for three days and three nights which foreshadows how Jesus will be the heart of the earth (or will die) and rise again after three days.

3a)  The yeast was the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

b)  They were thinking about their physical/immediate needs more than their spiritual needs.

c)  It showed that their first thought (main concern) was literal and immediate and not long-term. They are walking around with the Messiah and all they think about is food!  Our thoughts reveal our heart and what is first in our lives.  Yes, we must satisfy our basic needs to survive; but more importantly we wouldn’t be here without Him who gave us the life to sustain.  Honor Him and the rest will follow.

d)  We are too caught up in the physical/immediate needs of living as well.  It’s easy to stay “busy” and go from one activity to another with no thought of God in our lives.  He is often an afterthought, what we think about at the very end of the day if we are lucky.  God wants to be first so we have to de-clutter our lives and make a conscious effort to put Him first.  Remember who is in control so our life can reflect that.

Conclusions:  Anyone else wonder what’s the difference between the Pharisees and the Sadducees?  Apparently, they were enemies and the fact they were working together against Jesus should tell you something about how much of a threat Jesus was to their way of life/teaching/thinking.

Pharisees:  The word probably originates from a Hebrew word meaning “separated.”  They were one of three sects of Judaism along with the Sadducees and the Essenes.  The Pharisees were the most influential and the most strict in terms of obeying the law.  They arose when the Jews were forced to Babylon and the need arose for someone to keep the traditions and the law alive.

“They pledged themselves to obey all facets of the traditions to the minutest detail and were sticklers for ceremonial purity.  In truth, they often made life difficult for themselves and bitter for others.  Some were haughty and arrogant because they believed they were the only interpreters of God and his Word.” Quoted from Zondervan’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary by Merrill C Tenney and J.D. Douglas P. 1118

Thus, this evolved into what we see here with Jesus:  external was more important than internal.  However, they were highly regarded by most Jews because they kept the laws intact.

Sadducees:  The Sadducees were more political in nature and consisted of the Jewish aristocracy.  They differed widely with the Pharisees in terms of doctrine and politics.  They held only to the written law and rejected all other traditions of the Pharisees.  They denied the resurrection of the body, did not believe in angels or spirits, and most importantly did not believe in the divinity acting in the world but that man himself was responsible for his destiny.

Yet they joined the Pharisees against Jesus our of fear that he would ruin them politically.  They opposed the early church vigorously.  However, they disappeared with the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in 70 AD.

I am ambivalent about this lesson.  I think the most important thing is to be prepared and making sure those around you are prepared.  Do not be fooled by false teachings but know His truth.  Then, you will not fail.

End Notes:  Yeast/leaven is usually a sign of corruption and sin in the Bible as we explored in Lesson 14 Day 2. The Jews have had this interpretation since the beginning (Exodus 12:8, 12:15-20).