BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 19, Day 2: Romans 11:1-10

Summary of passage:  God did not reject His people.  They have rejected Him, but not all of them.  God has chosen a remnant (the elect) by grace and the others hearts’ were hardened towards Him.

Questions:

3)  God has chosen some to believe in His Son.  Paul was chosen despite not believing in Christ in the beginning and Elijah was chosen as well, being the only one left standing.

4)  A remnant is those chosen by God through grace to believe in Christ.

5)  Part personal Question. My answer:  God shows grace to the elect or those chosen.  It is all by God’s grace that we are chosen.  It is out of our control.  He knows all.

Conclusions:  A lot more here.  We are studying this same passage tomorrow so we shall see what that brings.  Please see End Notes for more in-depth analysis.

End Notes:  In the Old Testament, the Jews and Israel are God’s elect, those chosen to be those whom God revealed Himself and His will to, and through whom he could exhibit and declare to the world his purposes and salvation.  In the New Testament, Jesus is the Elect One, and through Him the church, replacing the old Israel in the purposes of God.  This new race is mostly composed of poor and ordinary people (1 Corinthians 1:27-29).

The question as to whether the Jews are, as a people, still the elect of God is faced by Paul here in Romans 9-11 in the light of the salvation of God in and through Jesus.  In chapters 9 & 10 Paul painfully admits that, on the whole, the Jews did not believe in Christ.  Despite all the advantages of Old Testament history, they “stumbled over the ‘stumbling stone'” (Romans 9:32).  In chapter 11, Paul goes back over that history and asks whether it was futile.  Will the Jews come to believe in Christ some day?  Did their tragic experience produce any advantage for the rest of the world?  This chapter clearly shows God’s eternal love for his chosen people.  Paul will conclude with a poetic outburst, celebrating God’s mysterious ways of working on earth.

Paul answers in Chapter 11:  If Israel’s rejection of the gospel was somehow both consistent with God’s eternal plan (Romans 9:1-29) and Israel’s own choosing (Romans 9:30-10:21), then does this mean that Israel’s fate is settled, and there is no possibility of restoration?  No!

For one, Paul is a Jew and he has been saved. We first look to ourselves for God’s grace.  There is a remnant of Jews who embrace Jesus and like Elijah, God will work through them for the sake of the others.  God often works in small groups and in the first century Jews believers in Christ were small and in Elijah’s time it was just him!

A remnant is “something left over”.  In the Bible, it’s those who would survive God’s judgement and become the new, true Israel.  The elect are those whom God has chosen for salvation out of His great love, not merit.

And it is by God’s grace (not works), and elect was chosen.  God enlightens whom He so chooses because He’s God and can do whatever He wants.  The Jews of Paul’s day were so secure in their idea of being the chosen people that the very idea became the thing that ruined them.  This spiritual dullness had continued since Isaiah’s day.

The passage from Psalm was probably originally spoken by David concerning his enemies; Paul uses it to describe the results of the divine hardening.

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BSF Study Questions John Lesson 19, Day 2: John 14:15-20

Summary of passage:  Obey Jesus out of love for him.  The Father will send us the Spirit of Truth (Holy Spirit) to be with us and in us and we will live.

Questions:

3)  He says distinctly in verse 20 “I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you” (through the Holy Spirit).  Jesus explains the Holy Spirit as a Counselor God will send to be in you and he will be of the same kind.

4)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  Jesus says the Holy Spirit lives with you and will be in you and that the disciples will know him.  “On that day” meaning Pentecost when the Holy Spirit is given to believers is when the relationship will change.  I have the Holy Spirit.

5)  Personal Question.  My answer:  That I will live because Jesus lives.  It’s great comfort to know I’ll be in heaven with the Father.

Conclusions:  Some days I feel as if I’m not much help and this is one of those days.  The questions were broad so it’s hard to narrow it down.

End Notes:  This is the first in a series of important passages about the Holy Spirit since Jesus has not mentioned it before.

Love is not just an emotion or a feeling.  Jesus says love is an action, doing, keeping his commandments.  This shows you love him.  Love, like faith, cannot be separated from obedience.  You don’t have to enter a convent and give up everything.  It’s simple.

Here is the 2nd Assurance:  Jesus will ask the Father to send the Holy Spirit to help believers.

“Counselor” is the ancient Greek word parakletos.  The idea is someone called to help someone else or it could be an advisor, a legal defender, a mediator, or an intercessor.  It’s often translated as “Comforter” which comes from the Old English and Latin.

The devil is the accuser.  Hence, “Helper” for the Holy Spirit.

“Another” means in the same kind.  So the Counselor is in the same kind as Jesus and the Father and hence, the Trinity.  Besides Jesus in essence.

The Holy Spirit will not be temporary–he will be with us “forever.”

The Spirit is characterized by truth in essence and action.  He brings people to the truth of God.  All three persons of the Trinity are linked with truth.  The world takes no notice of the Spirit of God.

The Holy Spirit was already with the disciples (Jesus) but it would be in them (John 20:22).  Acts 1:8 tells us the disciples will receive power when they receive the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit eliminates the distance between Jesus and ourselves.

Jesus’ 3rd assurance:  He will not leave them as orphans, but will come to them.  To the Hebrews, the disciples of a particular teacher called him father; his scholars were called his children, and, on his death, the disciples were considered orphans.

Jesus repeats this promise from 14:3 and fulfills it when he rises again after the cross.

Because Jesus lives is the only reason we still live.  The Holy Spirit allows us a union with God here on earth.

BSF Study Questions Revelation Lesson 19, Day 4: Revelation 14:6-13

Summary of passage: John sees 3 angels. The first proclaims the eternal gospel to the earth and says to turn to God because the judgment has come. The second says how Babylon has fallen. The third warns that whoever worships the beast or bears his mark will have God’s fury, be tormented with burning sulfur, and have no rest. God says blessed are the dead who die in the Lord.

Questions:

9a)  The mark of the beast appears on those who have chosen to worship Satan instead of God.  They may prosper here but for eternity they will drink from the cup of wrath which Jesus did for believers and be tormented for eternity day and night by burning sulfur.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  I touched on this last lesson about how I wish more churches would discuss the consequences of choosing Satan over God.  Unbelievers face a grim, dismal, and undesirable future in hell. It is not a pretty picture.  Fully understanding what unbelievers face (and we’ll see more details later on in Revelation and talk more about this) does make me more concerned especially about family members and loved ones who don’t believe.  Yet at the same time, knowing we all have a choice, there are no excuses for not knowing Him, lends me little compassion at times especially when I read about indiscriminate killings and abuse.

10)  Personal Question.  My answer:  God encourages the saints (those who accept Christ during the Great Tribulation) to be steadfast during the judgments and remain faithful and their deeds will be remembered in heaven.  Same goes for us–our deeds will follow us to heaven.  What we do here matters.

Conclusions:  Good lesson.  I like the emphasis on what happens to those who don’t believe.  Very important since like I said a lot of churches these days focus on “kind, loving, and accepting Jesus” and ignore the wrath of God.

End Notes:  See YESTERDAY’S notes.

BSF Study Questions Revelation Lesson 19, Day 2: Revelation 14:1-5

Summary of passage:  Jesus is standing on Mount Zion with the 144,000.  A loud roar came from heaven and a new song was sung by the 144,000 redeemed who are blameless, pure, followed Jesus, and purchased and offered as first fruits to God.

Questions:

3a)  John saw Jesus and the 144,000 redeemed standing on Mount Zion.  He heard a sound from heaven like a roar of rushing waters and like a loud peal of thunder and like harpists playing their harps.  He also heard a new song being sung by the 144,000.

b)  They had been redeemed from the earth.  They did not defile themselves with women and were pure.  They followed the Lamb wherever he goes.  They were purchased from among men and offered as first fruits to God.  They’re blameless and no lie has ever crossed their mouths.

4)  Believers were purchased by the blood of the Lamb, cleansed and justified, and marked with a seal to be redeemed to heaven and have eternal life with God.  God chose us ahead of time to follow Jesus. (Ephesians).  We were redeemed or purchased through Christ’s blood (1 Peter).

5a)  By treating our bodies as a temple of the Holy Spirit, refraining from sexual immorality (1 Corinthians 6:18), and honoring God with our bodies.  We are imitators of God and live a life of love, avoiding sexual sin, impurity, greed, obscenity, foolish talk, coarse jokes; instead, living a life of thanksgiving and holy.  We obey and live as children of light (good, righteous, and truthful).  We are wise, making the most of every opportunity, filled with the Spirit instead of wine, speaking to others with psalms, hymns, and songs, thanking God always, submitting to Him (Ephesians 5:12-21).

Be Christ-like with love, spirit, and purpose.  Treat others better than yourself and put others first.  Have a Christ-like attitude, be a servant, humble, obedient, and act according to God’s purpose.  Don’t complain or argue and be glad and joyful.  (Philippians).

We do not lie, we confess our sins and are purified. (1 John 1)

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Loving others who are hard to love.  Guarding my mouth sometimes and speaking only praises.  Not complaining.  Being humble.  Putting others first.  Serving.

Conclusions:  We were all over the place in the Bible with only one question on Revelation.  We’ve explored this topic before this year in our study on how we are to live in Lesson 7, Day 5 when we read Ephesians 4.  We saw it in Lesson 8 Day 2 with how Daniel stayed true to God.

Going to other places in the Bible can be a good thing, but I feel like sometimes during this study that’s all we do.

Also, these week-long breaks make it harder for me to remember where we were at in Revelation.  Stopping and having to go back two weeks to remember what had just happened, so I have context for this week takes valuable time.  It feels like a stop, jerk, and go again motion that jars me and reorienting myself is frustrating.

End Notes:  Revelation says history will end with a loud bang.  Yet John repeatedly says this will bring peace on earth as God rules over a restored heaven and earth.  Here we see the heavenly choir again sandwiched between tribulation and judgment like an interlude.  This is to reassure us that all creation will once again be in harmony.

We last saw the 144,000 in Revelation 7 (BSF Lesson 13) where we learned they are the remnant, a group of believers (some say Messianic Jews some scholars say a mix of Jews and Gentiles) who were sealed or protected from the tribulation and have been martyred for their faith (we know this because they are in heaven).  Here, the beast has not defeated them and they emerge victorious.  Revelation 7 shows the 144,000 at the beginning of the Great Tribulation and here we see them at the end of it.

Again, the 144,000 is representative of all God’s people.  Yes, they are a specific group, but in the end, we will share in God’s glory as well.

Coming up in Revelation 14, we will find out what happens to the beast and does he defeat the followers of Christ (no because of the 144,000).

Mount Zion is the place where Christ gathers his redeemed and begins his rule over earth (Psalm 48, Isaiah 24:23, Joel 2:32, Obadiah 17 and 21, Micah 4:1, 4:7).

Satan copied the idea of the seal (Revelation 13:16-17) from God.

The sound from heaven like the road of rushing water and a loud peal of thunder is the voice of God (Revelation 1:15 and 4:5).

The elders have harps (Revelation 5:8).  Worshiping God and singing Him a song transports us to the foot of God at His throne.  Note the song was learned on earth and no one else can sing it but the 144,000.  Part of our job here on earth is to learn this song by accepting Jesus and drawing close to him.  Only then once we are saved will we have the new song in our hearts.

Identity of the 144,000:  are they symbolically pure (virgins) or are they literally?  Up for debate.  They could be celibate just during the time of the Great Tribulation or could be celibate meaning without engaging with pagans.

The term “virgins” is not used in the NIV.  The Greek word parthenos can be both men and women so the 144,000 are a mix of men and women.

Israel is referred to as a virgin in the Bible, reinforcing some scholars belief that the 144,000 represents all believers (2 Kings 19:21; Isaiah 37:22; Lamentations 2:13; Jeremiah 18:13; 31:34, 21; Amos 5:2).

We see them described as first fruits.  First fruits was the first portion of the harvest offered to God in the Old Testament (Leviticus 23:10-14).  The nation of Israel is said to be the first fruits (Jeremiah 2:3), bringing the Gentiles to God.  In the New Testament we see first fruits being used to describe Christ rising from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:20) or the first converts in a region (Romans 16:5; 1 Corinthians 16:15).  Hence, some scholars believe all believers are considered as the first fruits (or choice offering) to God.

God often speaks of the purity of His people in terms of sexual immorality as Paul does in 2 Corinthians 11:2.

However, here, most scholars agree the 144,000 are Jews who came to faith in Jesus during the Tribulation and who now will serve as the first fruits of God’s harvest and bring in the rest of the Jews.  They are holy and pure, not of the world.  Ultimately, remember, they will bring in all of us–the church (See End Notes on Lesson 13, Day 3 for more discussion of the 144,000).

Fun Fact:  This is the only place in Revelation we see “Mount Zion” used.

BSF Study Questions The Life of Moses Lesson 19, Day 4: Numbers 12:1-3

Summary of passage:  Miriam and Aaron, Moses’ siblings, wonder if God has only spoken through him and if God has spoken through them as well.  They talk about Moses’ wife.  God heard them.

Questions:

8a)  Miriam helped save Moses’ life.  Once his mom placed him in the basket and set him afloat (Exodus 2), Miriam watched over the baby until it was found.  She’s the one who suggested to Pharaoh’s daughter if she should get a Hebrew wet nurse for the baby.

Miriam becomes a prophetess (Exodus 15:20) and lead the women in a song of praise to the Lord after their harrowing escape from Egypt.  She’s a leader of the Israelites as well.

b)  Moses’ Cushite wife.  She is jealous and probably looks down on foreigners and believes herself superior.

9a)  He says nothing.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Anger.

Conclusions:  Again we study just the first three verses of the chapter like Day 2.  Short and sweet. We see jealousy here on full display and probably a yearning for power and prestige among the people.  A universal human emotion that gets us all at times.

End Notes:  Scholars believe Miriam is the leader here.  In the Greek, a feminine singular verb is used here.  Also, her name before Aaron’s indicate she is foremost here.  Furthermore, she is one singled out for punishment by the Lord (Numbers 12:10).

Exodus 2:16-22 says that Moses’ wife is from Midian.  This is a contradiction in the Bible and scholars can only guess here.  Was this a possible second wife of Moses’?  Was Zipporah originally from Cush?  Was Zipporah’s family from Cush originally and then they moved to Midian?  All are possible.

Cush is modern-day Ethiopia so Moses’ wife would have had dark skin and would have stood out amongst the olive-complexion of the Israelites.

The real reason God is upset here is that Miriam and Aaron attack Moses’ spiritual authority. This is where God draws the line and says that Moses is special.

God hears everything always.

Since Moses wrote these words, did he call himself the humblest man on earth?  That would be pride, the opposite of humbleness.  Scholars think these words were added later possibly by Joshua who knew Moses so well.

Scholars question the translation of “humble” here.  The origins of the word suggest “meekness” or “afflicted” and elsewhere in the Bible, it is translated as such.

BSF Study Questions The Life of Moses Lesson 19, Day 3: Numbers 11:4-35

Summary of passage:  The “rabble” complain now about only having manna to eat.  God is angry and Moses is angry as well.  Moses asks God why did He give them those people to care for.  He tells God the burden of these people is too heavy to bear alone and he wants to die for God doing this to him.  (Moses is complaining as well here).

God agrees to anoint 70 leaders to help Moses with the people.  God also says he will provide meat for the Israelites for 30 days until they will loathe meat because they have so much of it.  Moses lacks faith and asks God how he is going to do such a thing.  God says He will.

God put His spirit upon the 70 elders who now prophesied.  Then God drove quail from the sea for the people to eat.  However, God still being angry, struck the Israelites with a plague.

Questions:

5a)  The fish, cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic they ate there.

b)  That they were slaves.

6a)  He became so exasperated that his faith began to waver in God and he even asked to die rather than deal with these people alone.

b)  No.

c)  He agreed to anoint 70 elders to help Moses with the people and to provide meat for the Israelites so they would stop grumbling.

d)  Personal Question.  My answer:  With peace that it would all turn out alright.

7a)  God deemed they would have meat for 30 days until the point they loathed it.

b)  Before the people could even taste the meat, he struck them with a plague.

Conclusions:  A couple questions I thought were left hanging and could have been expounded upon more.  I love God’s response!  It’s like “Fine.  I’ll show you!”  Be careful what you ask for!  I picture Moses’ tirade and it isn’t exactly pretty.  While I can understand His frustration, I don’t understand His doubt.

End Notes:  The word “rabble” at the beginning includes the non-Israelites who accompanied them to Egypt.  So everyone is complaining.

The Israelites are traveling with a huge flock of goats and sheep so if they wanted meat, it was freely available as well as any wild game they came across in the desert.  It’s as if they were too lazy to do it themselves and wanted God to provide it, but they went about it in totally the wrong way.

Funny how the Israelites remember the good in Egypt and not the bad–the whippings, the work, etc. They have forgotten God’s promises of the Promised Land ahead in favor of the hardships to get there.  This is true for us today.  God’s best is ahead of us, not behind.

Complaining against what God provides is complaining against Him.  The manna was very nutritious in every way and yet the Israelites were bored.  How sad!

Moses allows the people’s unbelief to infect him and he doubts God as well.  God allowed this to happen to Moses to test him as well.  It’s how God grows our dependence on Him.  Here we see the earliest argument of “If you really loved me, Lord, then why did you do this to me?”.  God’s response:  “Because I love you.”  Great testament for our lives.  We see what God does.  He answers our prayer and then some.  He also brings about judgment as well.  Great lessons here of caution against the negativity of others and how God grows our faith every day in the midsts of our “why me’s?”.

We can also see through Moses him pouring his heart out to God–his anger, his frustrations, his pains, his anxieties.  We need to take it to God more and pour out on Him our troubles–but not question His character nor His goodness.

God did not answer Moses’ request to not “face his own ruin.”  For in our weaknesses, we find God.

God picked Godly men to help Moses and support him.  This is a good lesson for us–we need to not be afraid to ask for help and to accept it in our Christian walk.

Moses could not see how God would provide meat.  This is often the case.  We cannot see how God will do something and frankly we don’t need to see.  All we must do is believe.

The anointing of the men with the Spirit is key here–one cannot do God’s work without His blessing and His heart.  God needed to make sure these men were His to act for Him.

Joshua here is only looking out for Moses.  He is not jealous in any way like Moses suggests.  He (like many others) wasn’t privy to what was going on with the 70 men, so he was merely alerting Moses to what he saw happening.

Quail by the millions migrate over the Sinai Peninsula every year.  Note how the quail landed outside of camp.  We should know that nothing good is outside of God.  If this were to be a blessing, the quail would have landed smack in the middle of camp.  Here we see God’s judgment coming.

This is an important lesson for the Israelites to take to heart:  don’t let your cravings control you or get in the way of your relationship with God.  It’s about the spiritual, not the physical.

Psalm 78:27-31, 106:13-15 speak to this incident.

BSF Study Questions Matthew Lesson 19, Day 5: Matthew 18:21-35

Summary of passage:  Peter asks how many times should you forgive someone who has sinned against you.  Jesus says 77 times.  Then he tells the parable of a servant who owed his master millions of dollars.  He begged for mercy and the master let him go and canceled the debt.  But when that servant was owed a few dollars by another man, he had the other man he choked him and had him thrown in jail over it!

When the master found out, he had the servant called in and told him he should have had mercy on the man just like he had and he had him tortured because of it.  Jesus says God will do the same thing if we do not forgive others.

Questions:

12a)  Peter thinks there is a limit on the number of times you can forgive someone before not forgiving them and possibly throwing them in jail or what-have-you.  Asking about his brother shows he doesn’t get the parallel between God’s forgiveness of us and our forgiveness of others.

b)  The world follows Lamech’s view:  that if he is wronged 7 times he will have his revenge 77 times. The world does not forgive; it only seeks vengeance.  Jesus said to forgive unlimited times.  Lamech said to seek vengeance unlimited times.

13a)  It is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants who owed him so much money that they would never be able to repay it and therefore had to be forgiven or face eternal hell.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  We must forgive others since God has forgiven us the immensity of our sins for our sins are 77 times greater (or infinitely times greater) than any other sin committed against us by others.  We forgive over and over again as God does us.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  It would be a calmer place to live.  Less stressful.  More encouraging.  Happier.  If we truly understood the enormity of our sins then nothing others did to us would matter.  Strife would end.

d)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Oh, Lord, forgive me that which does not deserve forgiving.  Without your grace I would be nothing.  Thank you, oh Lord, for your forgiveness of my sins and help me to show my gratitude as I forgive others.  Amen

Conclusions:  I liked this lesson.  Very powerful parody in the undeservedness of God’s forgiveness and how we are to extend the same to others.  Always easy to say and not so easy to apply in life, thus making it a good lesson to hear over and over again.

End Notes:  If you were a first century Jew, you were taught you could only forgive someone up to 3 times and that’s it.  Here, Peter doubles that, thinking himself generous, which of course, Jesus says is ridiculous.  This is Peter, after all.

Note the anger of the man who had basically just been set free by his master.  He grabbed the guy by the throat very threateningly and demanded payment.  How many times have we done the same thing:  our anger so overpowering us that we blow something up that was so very minor in our lives?

The man was blind to his own sin (as we so often are and why we need people to point it out like Lesson 4 just pointed out) and instead of mercy now received justice.  Note we deserve justice but God gives us mercy anyways if we ask His forgiveness and repent.

Since God who forgives (when He doesn’t need to since He has nothing to be forgiven of) us who are full of sin, we must forgive others who need forgiveness every day of our lives.  We have no right to hold onto grievances.

You can forgive sins but the sinner still faces consequences like in the case of murder.

Forgive others or you yourself will be tortured.