BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 24, Day 4: Romans 13:3-5

Summary of passage:  Do what is right and you have nothing to fear.  The ruler is God’s servant ready to punish the wrongdoer.  Thus, submit to authorities so you’re not punished and because of conscience.

Questions:

9)  God has a purpose in all rulers.  He used Babylon to punish His people and make them turn to Him and strengthen their faith.  There is a purpose in suffering–to grow us–and there is a purpose in the future that we cannot see.  I can have faith in God and that leaders are in power for His purpose.  I can pray for the leaders to do God’s will.

10)  You must submit to authorities because they are placed in authority by God and by submitting to them you are submitting to God.  Otherwise, you are rebelling against God if you do not.  Also, if you don’t submit, you will be punished if you break the laws.  Furthermore, you submit because it’s the right thing to do.  You submit for the good of all over the good of yourself.

11)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Good I hope.  I tell my kids to respect authority, those in power, and those elected.  I’m a horrible driver in terms of getting angry (which I’m working on).  I’m running for local office.  I’m respectful as well.

Conclusions:  In essence, Days 2, 3 & 4 all have the same point:  God is in control and if you trust in Him then you trust your leaders.  There’s a purpose.  God’s purpose.  Have faith even when you don’t know.

End Notes:  [Taken from yesterday’s, just cut to the commentary that deals only with verses 3-5].

Paul’s idea is that Christians should be the best citizens of all. Even though they are loyal to God before they are loyal to the state, Christians are good citizens because they are honest, give no trouble to the state, pay their taxes, and – most importantly – pray for the state and the rulers.

Paul describes government officials as God’s minister. They have a ministry in the plan and administration of God, just as much as church leaders do.

If the state’s rulers are God’s minister (servant), they should remember that they are only servants, and not gods themselves.

It is through the just punishment of evil that government serves its function in God’s plan of holding man’s sinful tendencies in check. When a government fails to do this consistently, it opens itself up to God’s judgment and correction.

The sword is a reference to capital punishment. In the Roman Empire, criminals were typically executed by beheading with a sword (crucifixion was reserved for the worst criminals of the lowest classes). Paul, speaking by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, has no doubt that the state has the legitimate authority to execute criminals.

We must be subject to government; not only because we fear punishment, but because we know it is right before God to do so.  Christian obedience to the state is never blind – it obeys with the eyes of conscience wide open.  Christians must duly honor the government in order to maintain a good conscience.

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BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 24, Day 3: Romans 13:1-5

Summary of passage:  You must submit to government authorities because God is the one who has given them authority so in essence you are submitting to God.  If you rebel against the government, you are rebelling against God and are therefore subject to judgment.  Do what is right and you have nothing to fear.  The ruler is God’s servant ready to punish the wrongdoer.  Thus, submit to authorities so you’re not punished and because of conscience.

Questions:

6)  God

7)  Glorify, remember, is great honor or praise.  When we obey authority, we are showing our faith in God and His Word.  Thus, we are obeying God when we obey authority, growing our faith, which honors Him.

8 )  Personal Question.  My answer:  He’s not.  I was brought up with police officers in my family and with a healthy respect for those in authority.  I pay my taxes.  I follow the laws.  I respect all elected leaders.  I vote.  I pray for them to lead us in God’s ways.

Conclusions:  As you can see, I didn’t get much out of these questions.  We are coming up to the end of Romans with only 4 chapters left and 6 weeks so expect more of this drawing out phase.

End Notes: [Same as yesterday’s]. Connecting Romans 12, people are not to take vengeance but the government can punish wrongdoers since God gave them the authority to do so.  Paul is speaking to some Jews who refused to acknowledge the authority of the rulers and thus paid no taxes.

“Be subject to” is a significant theme for Romans 13:1-7.  The civil rulers, all of whom were probably pagans at the time Paul was writing.  Christians may have been tempted not to submit to them and to claim allegiance only to Christ.  Even the possibility of a persecuting state did not shake Paul’s conviction that civil government is ordained by God (1 Peter 2:13-17).

Government authorities serve a purpose for God.  God appoints a nation’s leaders, but not always to bless the people. Sometimes it is to judge the people like we read in Daniel and how God used the Babylonian empire to judge His people.

Paul wrote this during the reign of the Roman Empire. It was no democracy, and no special friend to Christians – yet he still saw their legitimate authority.

“Your Savior suffered under Pontius Pilate, one of the worst Roman governors Judea ever had; and Paul under Nero, the worst Roman Emperor. And neither our Lord nor His Apostle denied or reviled the ‘authority!’ ” (Newell)

Since governments have authority from God, we are bound to obey them – unless, of course, they order us to do something in contradiction to God’s law. Then, we are commanded to obey God before man (as in Acts 4:19).  Paul is describing the ideal rulers here.  Obviously, man is fallen so this is not always the case the rulers will do what is right.

God uses governing authorities as a check upon man’s sinful desires and tendencies. Government can be an effective tool in resisting the effects of man’s fallenness.

Paul’s idea is that Christians should be the best citizens of all. Even though they are loyal to God before they are loyal to the state, Christians are good citizens because they are honest, give no trouble to the state, pay their taxes, and – most importantly – pray for the state and the rulers.

Paul describes government officials as God’s minister. They have a ministry in the plan and administration of God, just as much as church leaders do.

If the state’s rulers are God’s minister (servant), they should remember that they are only servants, and not gods themselves.

It is through the just punishment of evil that government serves its function in God’s plan of holding man’s sinful tendencies in check. When a government fails to do this consistently, it opens itself up to God’s judgment and correction.

The sword is a reference to capital punishment. In the Roman Empire, criminals were typically executed by beheading with a sword (crucifixion was reserved for the worst criminals of the lowest classes). Paul, speaking by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, has no doubt that the state has the legitimate authority to execute criminals.

We must be subject to government; not only because we fear punishment, but because we know it is right before God to do so.  Christian obedience to the state is never blind – it obeys with the eyes of conscience wide open.  Christians must duly honor the government in order to maintain a good conscience.

Fun Fact (taken from Zondervan’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary):  The Bible, by exhortation and commandment, requires submission and obedience to six principal authorities:

  1.  Parents (Ephesians 6:1; Colossians 3:20; 1 Timothy 3:4)
  2.  Teachers (Proverbs 5:12-13)
  3.  Husbands (Ephesians 5:21-22, 24; Colossians 3:18; Titus 2:5; 1 Peter 3:1, 5-6)
  4.  Masters–or today, employers (Ephesians 6:4, Colossians 3:22, Titus 2:9, 1 Peter 2:18)
  5.  Government (Romans 13:1-2, 5: Titus 3:1, 1 Peter 2:13)
  6.  God (Genesis 26:5, Ephesians 5:24, Hebrews 5:9; 12:9, James 4:7)

The supreme test of faith is obedience (1 Samuel 28:18).  The Bible often links obedience to faith (Genesis 22:18; Romans 1:5; 1 Peter 1:14).  Jesus obedience to the Father is the supreme example for Christians.

BSF Study Questions John Lesson 24, Day 3: John 18:1-12

Summary of passage: Jesus and his disciples left the upper room, crossed the Kidron Valley, and stopped in an olive grove. Judas shows up with officials and soldiers armed with weapons. They ask for Jesus who declares himself. Peter drew his sword to defend Jesus and cut off the ear of a servant named Malchus. Jesus chastises Peter, telling him this is his destiny.

Jesus was arrested and bound.

Questions:

6)  He does everything he can to protect his disciples.  He calls attention to himself.  He stuns everyone with his declarative power.  He asks for his disciples to go free.  He stops Peter from defending him so he can fulfill God’s plan for us.  He reminds us this is the cup/plan the Father has given him.  He submits to the soldiers, not fighting or escaping.

7)  John leaves out the entire saga of Jesus asking God for the cup to be taken from him and the disciples falling asleep in the Garden.  He leaves out Judas’ betrayal with a kiss.  He leaves out some of Jesus’ words and how the disciples fled.  He leaves out the healing of the ear.  John keeps it very simple and focuses on Jesus protecting the disciples and fulfilling God’s plan for his life and humanity.

8 )  Personal Question.  My answer:  Jesus loves us so much to suffer and die for us and I need to love him as much–or at least as much as is humanly possible here on earth.  Seeing God’s plan being fulfilled helps me to know God will fulfill His plans for my life as well.

Conclusions:  Good to read the other accounts and see the differences.  I love how all taken together gives us the whole picture of that night.  It would have been amazing to have been there!

End Notes:  The Kidron was a small stream that was the drainage from the temple, and would be reddish from the blood of thousands of Passover lambs. This would have been a vivid reminder to Jesus of His soon sacrifice.  Info on Kidron Valley HERE  Cool maps of Jesus’ last 24 hours HERE and HERE

John did not name this as the Garden of Gethsemane, but the other Gospel writers did (Matthew 26:36 and Mark 14:32). Jesus often met there with His disciples, perhaps to sleep for the night under the shelter of the olive trees or in a nearby cave. Hence, why Judas knew Jesus would be there that night and why Jesus went–so Judas could easily find him knowing he was searching for him.

John does not go into detail in the Garden, leaving that to the other apostles to do so.

Judas came with many soldiers, expecting a struggle. How he didn’t know our Lord! Jesus could have wiped them out with a word. This harkens to the Garden of Eden. Man lost that round. He would win this round!

Jesus speaks first for 2 reasons: 1) He wanted any potential violence to be directed to Him and not to His disciples. 2) Jesus wanted Judas and the detachment of troops to announce their evil intention.

IMPORTANT NOTE: I am: Jesus answered them with two words in both English and in the Greek (ego eimi). He did not say, “I am he”–that was added by translators and not in the original text. Jesus was consciously proclaiming himself God, just like he did throughout his testimony on earth (John 8:58; 6:48, 8:12, 9:5, 10:9, 10:11-14, 10:36, 11:25, 14:6).

This explains why all fell back. When Jesus proclaims himself “I am” the power and presence of God overwhelms the soldiers and they are afraid. We’re talking probably upwards of 500 soldiers sent to arrest Jesus and all were petrified. Jesus could have escaped then, but he didn’t. For our sakes.

Jesus asks them again who he is in order to shock them back to reality. He repeats I am but with less force. He willingly gives himself up and asks for his disciples to go free. Sacrificial love. The show of power was to protect them as well. This was a command to let them go. He promised the Father he would protect them (John 17:12). There would be no harm to his disciples as long as Jesus was there! This was also the signal for the disciples to slip away, which they did all except Peter and John.

John is the only writer to identify Peter as the one with the sword. Peter was fulfilling his promise to protect Jesus (Matthew 26:35).

Cutting off the right ear is significant. Scholars say this meant Peter, holding the sword in his right hand, must have attacked the high priest’s servant from behind, because it would be near impossible to cut off his right ear if he was facing the servant Malchus. It is entirely possible that Peter deliberately chose a non-solider, and attacked him from behind. This was not a shining display of courage. And given the fact we know Peter is about to deny Jesus 3 times, this was probably an impulsive display that was safe for him.

Why is the servant mentioned by name here? Scholars speculate that Malchus may have eventually become a Christian and would have been known to the early Christian community at the time of this writing. This is a pattern we see throughout the rest of the Gospels and Acts.

Peter’s thoughtless action may have erupted into violence and the disciples getting hurt. Jesus stops Peter for his own good and for the disciples. And so he could die on the cross. John leaves out how Jesus healed the man’s ear (Luke 22:51).

The cup signifies suffering and the wrath of God. It came from the Father. God is in control.

The captain was a Roman and the others were Jews. Both were complicit in Jesus’ death. Jesus consented to be bound. He could break those easily.

BSF Study Questions John Lesson 24, Day 2: John 18:1-27

Summary of passage:  Jesus and his disciples left the upper room, crossed the Kidron Valley, and stopped in an olive grove.  Judas shows up with officials and soldiers armed with weapons.  They ask for Jesus who declares himself.  Peter drew his sword to defend Jesus and cut off the ear of a servant named Malchus.  Jesus chastises Peter, telling him this is his destiny.

Jesus was arrested and taken to Annas, Caiaphas’ father-in-law.  Peter and John followed Jesus.  John went with Jesus while Peter waited outside.  When asked by a little girl if he was one of the disciples, Peter denies Jesus for the first time.

Annas questions Jesus who is struck by a soldier.  He’s shipped off to Caiaphas.  Meanwhile, Peter denies Jesus a second and third time.  A rooster crows.

Questions:

3)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  Jesus does not hide.  He admits who he is.  He answers truthfully questions put to him.  He does not lie to save his skin.  He goes to the garden knowing he will be arrested when he could have ran and hid.  It’s inspiring to do the work God has for me like Jesus did God’s work for him.

4)  He knew he would be arrested that night and he still went anyways.  He admits who he is.  He dies so not one of us will be lost.  He tells Peter not to fight for him.  He denies nothing to Annas about who he is or what he said.  He willingly takes the hits and the punches and eventually his death for us.

5)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  He never shrinks from any of this.  He accepts his fate and goes out with dignity and self-respect.  He never denies who he is.  He willingly takes all of our sin on him and suffers.  My sufferings pale in comparison.  I remember what Jesus did for me and live for him every day.

Conclusions:  Major focus today on Jesus’ demeanor during his arrest and how that strengthens us.  We are spending all week on this passage so we’ll probably break it down further.  No fear in the face of God’s plan.  Perfect!

End Notes:  The Kidron was a small stream that was the drainage from the temple, and would be reddish from the blood of thousands of Passover lambs.  This would have been a vivid reminder to Jesus of His soon sacrifice.  Info on Valley HERE  Cool Maps of Jesus’ last 24 hours and his movements HERE and HERE

John did not name this as the Garden of Gethsemane, but the other Gospel writers did (Matthew 26:36 and Mark 14:32). Jesus often met there with His disciples, perhaps to sleep for the night under the shelter of the olive trees or in a nearby cave.  Hence, why Judas knew Jesus would be there that night and why Jesus went–so Judas could easily find him knowing he was searching for him.

John does not go into detail in the Garden, leaving that to the other apostles to do so.

Judas came with many soldiers, expecting a struggle.  How he didn’t know our Lord!  Jesus could have wiped them out with a word.  This harkens to the Garden of Eden.  Man lost that round.  He would win this round!

Jesus speaks first for 2 reasons:  1)  He wanted any potential violence to be directed to Him and not to His disciples.   2)  Jesus wanted Judas and the detachment of troops to announce their evil intention.

IMPORTANT NOTE:  I am: Jesus answered them with two words in both English and in the Greek (ego eimi). He did not say, “I am he”–that was added by translators and not in the original text.  Jesus was consciously proclaiming himself God, just like he did throughout his testimony on earth (John 8:58; 6:48, 8:12, 9:5, 10:9, 10:11-14, 10:36, 11:25, 14:6).

This explains why all fell back.  When Jesus proclaims himself “I am” the power and presence of God overwhelms the soldiers and they are afraid.  We’re talking probably upwards of 500 soldiers sent to arrest Jesus and all were petrified.  Jesus could have escaped then, but he didn’t.  For our sakes.

Jesus asks them again who he is in order to shock them back to reality.  He repeats I am but with less force.  He willingly gives himself up and asks for his disciples to go free.  Sacrificial love.  The show of power was to protect them as well.  This was a command to let them go.  He promised the Father he would protect them (John 17:12).  There would be no harm to his disciples as long as Jesus was there!  This was also the signal for the disciples to slip away, which they did all except Peter and John.

John is the only writer to identify Peter as the one with the sword.  Peter was fulfilling his promise to protect Jesus (Matthew 26:35).

Cutting off the right ear is significant.  Scholars say this meant Peter, holding the sword in his right hand, must have attacked the high priest’s servant from behind, because it would be near impossible to cut off his right ear if he was facing the servant Malchus. It is entirely possible that Peter deliberately chose a non-solider, and attacked him from behind. This was not a shining display of courage.  And given the fact we know Peter is about to deny Jesus 3 times, this was probably an impulsive display that was safe for him.

Why is the servant mentioned by name here?  Scholars speculate that Malchus may have eventually become a Christian and would have been known to the early Christian community at the time of this writing.  This is a pattern we see throughout the rest of the Gospels and Acts.

Peter’s thoughtless action may have erupted into violence and the disciples getting hurt.  Jesus stops Peter for his own good and for the disciples.  And so he could die on the cross.  John leaves out how Jesus healed the man’s ear (Luke 22:51).

The cup signifies suffering and the wrath of God.  It came from the Father.  God is in control.

The captain was a Roman and the others were Jews.  Both were complicit in Jesus’ death.  Jesus consented to be bound.  He could break those easily.

Annas was the power behind the throne in Jerusalem. He himself had been High Priest from AD 6 to 15. Four of his sons had also held the high priesthood and Caiaphas was his son-in-law.  His name meant “Yahweh is gracious”.  He is still called the high priest in Acts 4:6 when Peter and John are arrested.

One reason John reminds us of what Caiaphas said in John 11:49-52 is to show that the judgment against Jesus was already decided. It would not be a fair trial.  He would die for the people.

John who had the connections is the reason they had access to the high priest’s house and the reason we know what went on there.

A mere girl scares Peter enough to deny Christ and then he tries to blend into the crowd and shrink himself by standing around a fire with others.  How tragic!

Jesus was not going to throw his disciples under the bus.  He never mentions them.  He asks for evidence in asking for others to testify to his words.  This should have been the first step Annas should have taken for one accused of crimes.  But there would be no fairness here for Jesus.  He was a threat that had to be annihilated.

The first blow is laid upon Jesus be an unnamed official.  Jesus calls the man out and having no answer, Annas sends Jesus on, still bound.

Luke 22:61 indicates that Peter could see Jesus and see him being slapped.  No doubt his fear increased and he lied twice more.  John is also present and Peter lied in front of John. The same question is asked in the same way, using the negative.  The questioners expected the answer “No”, not expecting a follower of Jesus amongst them.  The questioner is identified differently in all  Gospels (Matthew 26:71; Mark 14:69; Luke 22:58).

John would know Malchus’ relative and a relative would be eager to know if this was the man who cut off his relative’s ear.  Matthew 26:74 tells us Peter cursed this denial.  He was adamant and he was a coward.

The rooster crowing fulfilled what Jesus said in John 13:38, and would have immediately reminded Peter of the prediction Jesus made in the upper room.  And I would imagine shame would have flooded Peter.

BSF Study Questions Revelation Lesson 24, Day 4: Revelation 19:11-16

Summary of passage:  John now sees a white horse with a rider called Faithful and True in heaven.  He wears a robe of blood, has blazing eyes, and wears crowns. His name is the Word of God.  He is followed by an army of heaven.  Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword to strike down the nations and on his robe and thigh is written “King of Kings and Lord of Lords.”

Questions:

9)  Jesus.  It all starts with God/Jesus and ends with Him.  He is the bearer of Truth and He is faithful to His promises.

Note:  Revelation 3:14 is Jesus speaking, calling himself “the faithful and true witness”.

10)  Personal Question.  My answer:  His robe is dipped in blood shows how he has sacrificed for me to be righteous before God and how he brings justice.

11)  Personal Question.  My answer:  This question should be in the present tense in my opinion.  We are called to be Faithful and True to God and His word and if I do that, I’ll lead a life worthy of God’s calling.

Conclusions:  Weak.  Very, very weak.  With so much imagery here, this is the best BSF can come up with?

End Notes:  This is Jesus’s Second Coming.  Zechariah 14:3-4 tells us when Jesus returns He will come first to the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem.  This answers the plea of Isaiah in 64:1-2 as well as the great multitude and the survivors of the Great Tribulation where Israel as a whole will turn to Jesus.

A horse in battle was rare in ancient times.  Only the officers rode horses.  Hence, we see Jesus as powerful and full of honor.  Probably not the same horse as in Revelation 6:2.

In Revelation 6:2 we see white as victory.  In Revelation 7:9, we see the multitude wearing white robes symbolizing victory because of their faithfulness.

The rider is no doubt Christ from all the Messianic references in this passage.

In Revelation 1:14 and 2:18 we saw eyes as flames of fire in the description of Christ.  The fire burns through to our soul, revealing all of our dirty secrets, lies, and deceit.

This is a different crown word here than before.  There are two Greek words used in the Revelation for “crown.” One is “Stephanos” is the crown of achievement used in connection with the Church (Rev.2:10; 3:11), the twenty-four elders (Rev.4:4, 10), Israel (Rev.12:1), Jesus Christ (Rev.14:14), the locust-demons (Rev.9:7), and the Antichrist (Rev.6:2).  The other is “diadema”, which is the crown of royalty and authority.  It’s used in connection with seven worldly kingdoms and the ten yet-future kings that make up the heads and horns of the image of the beast (Rev.12:3; 13:1).
In this case, Jesus is wearing many “diadems” at His Return which are the crowns associated with the kingdoms of man.  Some scholars believe Jesus is wearing the beast’s crowns as a sign of victory over the beast.  Others suggest the crown shows Jesus as triumphant over man and the whole earth and its inhabitants.

The war is a war of righteousness from verse 11.

We saw the sharp sword coming out of Christ’s mouth in Revelation 1:16.  This is of course the Word, not a literal sword.  We see the robe dipped in blood in Isaiah 63:1-6 and scholars debate whether it’s the blood of his enemies or His blood shed for our sins.  Either is quite possible.  He is going to strike down the nations and rule with an iron scepter comes from Psalm 2:9 and Isaiah 11:4.  Treading the winepress of the fury of God we saw in Revelation 14:17-20.

Note the location Christ’s name is written:  his thigh.  We saw this in Genesis 24:2,9; 47:29 as the location where oaths were made.  It will be easily visible to all.  Some scholars suggest the name no one knows is in fact Yahweh.

This is the beginning of the final battle–Armageddon.  The armies are believers (Jude 14-15; Revelation 17:14).  Angels will also accompany Christ as well (Deuteronomy 33:2; Psalm 68:17).  Their weapon is the fine linen they wear–the blood of Christ.  All we need for victory!

BSF Study Questions Revelation Lesson 24, Day 2: Revelation 19:1-5

Summary of passage:  Nothing new here.  The roar of the great multitude praised God’s glory and power and salvation and His just judgments against the great prostitute.  The servants’ blood has been avenged by the burning city and the 24 elders and 4 living creatures fell down and worshiped God.

Questions:

3)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  Salvation, glory, and power.  Salvation means eternal life with God.  Glory is God’s amazing holiness and justice.  Power is God’s control over the universe.

4)  Personal Question.  My answer:  God’s justice, truth, power, glory, and salvation.  Salvation for I am forgiven and promised a place in heaven by God’s side for all of eternity.

We’ve been asked about God’s attributes as well before:  Lesson 2 Day 4, Lesson 14 Day 3

5a)  Salvation, justice, and permanence (the city of Babylon has been destroyed and it will never rise again).

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  We’ve been asked this before (Lesson 2 Day 4, Lesson 3 Day 5, Lesson 9 Day 2 & Day 5, Lesson 10 Day 5, Lesson 14 Day 3, Lesson 16 Day 4 .  It doesn’t do either of those listed.  My worship stays the same.

Conclusions:  All personal application questions.  Like I said in my summary, no new information here.  It’s a repetition of what we’ve just seen in heaven.  John is summarizing.  This day’s questions should have been combined with the third day’s.  Weak lesson.

End Notes:  In Revelation 18 the inhabitants of the world mourned Babylon’s fall.  Here, God’s people celebrate it.  We see heaven rejoicing throughout the book of Revelation for Christ’s return and God’s culmination of His plan for mankind happening or about to happen (Revelation 4, 5, 7, 11, 15, 16).

We saw the great multitude in Revelation 7:9-14 who came out of the great tribulation.  It was in Revelation 6:10 where the martyred saints cried out for justice and here we see that prayer answered.  Revelation 4 is where we met the 24 elders and the 4 living creatures.

Fun Fact:  Hallelujah appears 4 times here in Revelation 19 but no where else in the New Testament.  Hallelujah is a two-word transliteration of the Hebrew phrase for “Praise the Lord”.  It is found 24 times in the book of Psalm.

In verse 5 the “voice from the throne” could be Jesus but more likely is one of the attending angels at God’s throne.  The words the voice speaks is from Psalm 113:1; 115:13.

Similar language in terms of speaking of the End Times judgement:  Isaiah 34:10 and Deuteronomy 32:43.

BSF Study Questions The Life of Moses Lesson 24, Day 4: Numbers 25:1-5

Summary of passage:  While Israel camped, the men engaged in sexual immorality with Moabite women.  The Israelites joined them in worshipping false gods and God’s anger burned.  The Lord ordered those who engaged in false god worship killed.

Questions:

8a)  To indulge in sexual immorality with pagan women and join them in worshipping false gods, breaking two of the ten commandments and the law against being with unbelievers.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  The consequences of that sin.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Not sure here.  I didn’t worship any false gods.  I did worship God.  He continues to provide for my every need in every way always.

9)  The people are about to cross over into the Promised Land.  They need to be godly people and fulfill God’s will and desire for them to be separate and a standard to look up to.  Plus, everything is going well for the Israelites.  Their enemies are afraid.  God just blessed them through Balaam.  Now, one of the oldest tricks in the book, sexual sin, is threatening to take down the Israelites.  God must stop this now.  It must be made clear to the Israelites that this sin is unacceptable.  As most of us know, sin and especially sexual sin, only leads to more sin.  And sin God will not tolerate.

Conclusions:  I liked this in how we see the devil never giving up in trying to take down God’s people.  I like how God answers:  swiftly and severely.  I didn’t like the personal questions at all.  They took the wind out of this passage for me as I paused and had to deliberate.  This passage speaks for itself and sometimes I think the passage gets lost when we try to inject ourselves and our experiences.  Instead of being about God’s word, it’s about us.  History is history and yes we learn from history, but facts are facts.

Example:  John F Kennedy was killed by Lee Harvey Oswald for no other reason than for evil purposes and to gain notoriety.  In all the history books I’ve read about this historical event, not one has asked me about myself personally or how I applied his death to my life.  It was a tragic event as history both past and present are full of tragic events.  This will never change because man himself never changes.  Deep down we are sinners.  The devil grabs a hold of some people and never lets go despite God’s word.  Deep down we are all capable of murder.  Deep down we are undeserving of God’s mercy.  Deep down we are evil.

Point being:  not everything applies to us personally.  We all know if you do evil, you will face consequences either here on earth or in heaven.  We all know (even unbelievers) deep down who we should worship and who we shouldn’t worship.  We all know as Balaam discovered we will either be blessed or cursed by our decisions.

I am utterly frustrated here with the broad generalizations that are so broad (not even sexual sin is pinpointed here) that I am left with a headache in trying to figure out how to narrow it down.

End Notes:  In some Bible translations you will see Midianites instead of Moabites here. They are indeed separate peoples who at the time were living in the same general area.

We’ve seen Baal before, a constant threat to the Israelites as he was a popular fertility god that promoted sexual sin.

Note how Balak could not curse the Israelites but God can and does–because of disobedience. We ourselves bring upon our own destruction, not others.

Balaam is credited with suggesting this idea of sending in women to seduce the men (Numbers 31:16; Revelation 2:14).  However, he didn’t live very long (Numbers 31:7-8).  God’s judgment was swift upon him.

Map of Shittim:  http://www.jesuswalk.com/moses/maps/map-shittim-peor-topo-750x356x300.jpg

This map shows just how close the Israelites are to the Promised Land and God is taking no chances in His plans being thwarted now:  http://www.bibletrack.com/notes/image/Jericho.jpg