BSF Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1: Lesson 5, Day 4: Joshua 24:1-13

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Summary Joshua 24:1-13:

Joshua assembled all the people at Shechem and reminded them of all God has done for them since calling Abraham to the Promised Land. This includes their time in Egypt, the parting of the Red Sea, the wandering, the fight for the land east of the Jordan River, and the fight against Jericho and all the Western Kings. God did it all. God gave it all. God provides all.

BSF Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1: Lesson 5, Day 4: Joshua 24:1-13:

10) Personal Question. My answer: God had it all planned out. God did it all, and the Israelites did nothing. I love seeing God’s hand and knowing He has it all and I don’t have to worry. It’s a great comfort in times of trial. God has a plan. Give it over to Him.

11) God has history all planned out in His own time. God does it all. He loves us enough to plan for eternity. Who else in this world does?

12) Part personal Question. God is great, and we don’t remember that enough. It’s easy to push God aside in our busy lives and not think about Him. We have to remember Him and what he’s done for us continually. And the details and little things matter like food and shelter—all the things we take for granted every day.  My answer: we need to remember all God has done for us for 2 main reasons: 1) we have hope in the bad times 2) in the good times we don’t become prideful and think it’s us doing it all. God does is all. We’re merely His players.

It’s important to be a good witness, to tell of times in our past when God has been faithful. It encourages and strengthens other Christians and it may influence others to become Christ-followers. Re-living those moments strengthens your faith as well. We can’t let activities in our lives push God out. He is central, and we must keep Him there.

Conclusions: BSF Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1 Lesson 5, Day 4: Joshua 24:1-13:

It’s important to keep history alive or we are doomed to relive it. Most of the Israelites weren’t alive to experience a lot of what Joshua spoke about. Our past gives us courage to face our future. Courage and hope–two things we all need more of in this world.

End Notes BSF Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1 Lesson 5, Day 4: Joshua 24:1-13:

This was a dramatic last gathering of Israel before the passing of Joshua. It may or may not be part of the same farewell described in Joshua 23. No specific place of gathering is mentioned in Joshua 23, so it could have been part of this same meeting at Shechem.Image result for shechem

Shechem is modern day Tel Balata. This ancient city was situated on the floor of a valley with Mount Gerazim and Mount Ebal forming the respective walls. The contour of the land resulted in a natural amphitheater, the acoustics of which were so good that the human voice carried to exceptional distances.

Image result for shechemImportant Events that Happened at Shechem:

Shechem was a place of rich history for Israel. Four notable events happened here in the lives of the patriarchs. In the first two instances, we see Shechem was a place of calling and commitment. In the second two, we see Shechem as a place of shame.

  1. Abraham came into the Promised Land and first camped at Shechem. There God appeared to Abraham and confirmed His promise; Abraham built an altar to the Lord there (Genesis 12:6-7).
  2. When Jacob came back into the Promised Land, he first camped at Shechem. He purchased land at Shechem and built an altar there, calling the place, El Elohe Israel (God, the God of Israel, Genesis 33:16-20).
  3. Jacob’s sons Simeon and Levi deceptively lured the men of Shechem into a massacre, murdering all the men of the city (Genesis 34).
  4. God told Jacob to go to Bethel. Jacob did so and commanded all in his household to put away their idols. Jacob took those idols and buried them at the terebinth tree near Shechem (Genesis 35:1-5).

Some scholars believe the Israelites presented themselves before the tabernacle, which seems at this time to have been at Shiloh (Joshua 18:1). Either they presented themselves before God without the tabernacle, or it was moved to Shechem for this occasion.

We saw this same occurrence of the people presenting themselves to God in Exodus 19:17.

Joshua’s speech has many similarities to the much longer speeches given by Moses in Deuteronomy. Both speakers pattern their speeches after a treaty between a ruler and his people.

Here we see Joshua as a prophet, speaking God’s words. Prophecy is not necessarily a prediction of the future. It can simply be a uniquely direct and spontaneous word from God. The Lord reminded Israel that their forefathers came from the other side of the Euphrates River and worshipped pagan gods there.

At every point, Joshua emphasizes that God is the sole source of their success. Joshua reminds the people of all that God has done and of their obligation under the covenant with God.

What do We Learn from Joshua’s Farewell Speech?

  1. Note God does not remind the Israelites of their sin. It has already been forgotten (Jeremiah 31:34).
  2. All of God’s blessings are undeserved. A reminder of this should make the Israelites (and us) extremely grateful to God for all He has done in our lives.

BSF Study Questions John Lesson 4, Day 5: John 3:22-36

Summary of passage:  After Jesus’ time with Nicodemus, he and his disciples began spreading the word of God in the Judean countryside and baptizing people.  John the Baptist was also still baptizing people at this same time.  An argument arose between the followers of John the Baptist and other Jews.  They were saying Jesus is baptizing as well.  John said that’s fine for Jesus is giving the same gift from heaven.  Jesus is above John the Baptist since he came from heaven.  He speaks the words of God and has been given everything by the Father.  Whoever accepts Jesus will have eternal life.

Questions:

13)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  John said it’s fine Jesus is around and humbled himself by saying Jesus is greater than he since Jesus is from heaven.  He is joyful at Jesus’ presence.  The joy of others doing the same thing as you.

14)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  John says Jesus if “the one who comes from above”, “The one whom God has sent”, “the one who comes from heaven”, “the one above all”, the Son of God, and the one to bring eternal life.  The same.

Conclusions:  John’s reaction to Jesus is what’s important here.  He’s not jealous that people are going to Jesus instead of him.  He’s joyful and happy.  We should all be that way when our competitors in life do better than we do.  It’s very hard to repress that selfishness that arises but John’s example is inspiring to do so.

End Notes:  Notice John’s focus:  Jesus’ work in Judea.  The other gospels focus on Jesus’ work in Galilee.  Map HERE of region.

Jesus is continuing the work of John the Baptist, who was doing the work God told him to do.  Jesus baptized and preached repentance, the same as John.  All we know is we’re in the region of Judea.

Where John was (Aenon near Salim) is disputed.  Aenon means “springs”, which makes sense since you need water to baptize.  Two locations are suggested:  one is 7 miles south of Bethshan and the other near Shechem.

The details of the argument is unknown.  What’s important is John’s reaction:  joy!  Jesus is here.  Let him come!

John responds to his disciples:  all I have is Jesus’, Jesus is the one who he’s announcing is coming and has come (his life’s purpose), and he’s just the best man–not the bridegroom.  The friend of the bridegroom arranges many parts of the wedding for the groom and is there only to help, which is John the Baptist’s role.  Saying Jesus is the bridegroom is saying he’s God.  All would have recognized from the Old Testament that Israel is the bride of Yahweh.

John is happy that Jesus is winning disciples.  That is John’s job–to bring them all to Jesus.  He’s doing a good job at evangelism.

Jesus is greater; the servant is less.  This John understood.  He kept doing the job he was sent to do even if the crowds lessened.  He’s still doing God’s work, which changes for us all.

Scholars debate whether verses 31-36 is John the Baptist still speaking or John the Apostle adding commentary.

Jesus is greater than everyone else and has first-hand knowledge of heaven since he’s from heaven.  This who we trust:  those who’ve been there and done that.  Jesus is the only one who’s been to heaven and back to tell.

No one will believe John says.  Jesus will be rejected.  He is prophesizing here.  This is relatively speaking.  Some did believe but most did not.

The Spirit is given freely to us all (without measure).

“The one whom God has sent” is a key theme in John’s Gospel (John 4:34; John 17:3).

“Without limit” here is debated:  is God giving the Spirit to only Jesus or to all believers?

“Has” means eternal life is a present possession, not something the believer will only obtain later.

Fun Fact:  “The Father loves the Son” is used only twice in the book of John (again in 5:20).  But a different Greek word is used in each case.

Using “the Son” to designate Jesus is a theme in this Gospel.

The wrath of God is brought upon man by himself.  God doesn’t do it.  Wrath is not a passion or an outburst.  It’s God’s displeasure that sin brings.  It’s God’s righteousness against unrighteousness.  So many churches these days downplay God’s wrath.  But without God’s wrath, there is no judgment, no morals, no values.

“God’s wrath” means that God is actively opposed to everything evil.

Fun Fact:  This is the only time John uses “wrath” in his Gospel.

“Abides” or “remains” means God’s wrath is for eternity (total and permanent) unless you accept Jesus who takes God’s wrath.

Conclusions to Lesson 4 and John 3:

John 3 is a must read for any Christian and a great place to point unbelievers.  It states:

You must be born again (John 3:7)

The Son of Man must be lifted up (John 3:14)

God must increase (John 3:30)

Man must decrease (John 3:30)

BSF Study Questions Genesis Lesson 25, Day 4: Genesis 35:1-5

Summary of passage:  God told Jacob to settle in Bethel and build Him an altar there. So Jacob and his household prepared to move, ridding themselves of their idols, purifying themselves, and changing their clothes.  Jacob buried the foreign gods and their rings under an oak at Shechem.  God protected them as they went so they would not suffer repercussions from the slaughter of Shechem.

Questions:

9a)  Go to Bethel and build Him an altar

b)  Jacob vowed that the Lord would be his God and he would give a tenth if he returned safely to his father’s house.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  To go where God wants me and follow His lead in my life and worship him by following his commands, which include tithing, praying, obeying, reading His word, praying, and much more.

10a)  “To get rid of the foreign gods you have with you, and purify yourselves and change your clothes.”

b)  2 Corinthians says to purify yourself from everything that contaminates body and spirit in order to perfect holiness.  Ephesians tells us to put on our new self in the attitude of the mind in order to be righteous and holy.  1 John tells us to confess our sins and walk in the light and the blood of Jesus shall purify us from the unrighteousness. And to keep ourselves from idols.

c)  Acts recounts how people renounced sorcery by burning their scrolls.  An idol is anything we value and/or worship more than God.  This can be our kids, our spouse, any material items such as our house, car, or job.  And an image of an idol like in ancient times such as a Buddha statue or what-have-you.  (Anyone reminded of the study of Isaiah here?)

Conclusions:  Anyone else see a problem with the fact Jacob’s family had idols lurking around and it was only when God told them to leave did they see the need to dispose of them?  I’m sure as soon as they reach Bethel more idols will appear.

The WORST part:  Jacob, as supposedly the head of God’s chosen people, seemingly knew about these idols and condoned them!  It seems he only got rid of them because God spoke to him again.  Maybe he felt guilty.  Or maybe they were too heavy to carry across country!

Jacob is chastizing his family mildly.  It’s almost an after-thought.  “Oh, yeah, by the way, you need to get rid of those idols you’ve had for 10 years now.”  Seriously???

There is definitely some failed leadership going on here.  This explains a lot about today’s society where the man does not take the primary role in the family and our children are failing because of it.

It’s safe to assume Rachel still had her idols here so she is setting the example that it’s okay to possess these idols.  God doesn’t care.  Wrong!

The changing of their clothes was symbolic here.  Just like circumcision was an outward sign of being God’s chosen people the changing of the clothes here in OT times is an outward sign that they are changing their minds, their attitude, their character, and their ways and turning to God.  It’s like the Ephesians passage we read.  They are taking off (literally) their old selves and putting on their new and turning to God for their salvation.

The earrings also must have had some kind of pagan association since they got rid of those as well.  We must also get rid of anything ungodly and separate ourselves from the world like Jacob did when he moved to Bethel away from the corruption of Shechem.

Good opportunity to learn from Jacob’s failing miserably as the head of his household and God’s and re-examine our own lives and see where we are failing in God’s call, where we are worshipping idols, where we are failing to set the example for others around us, how we can place ourselves away from worldly influences as much as possible, and how we can put God and His will back at the center of our lives.  That’s my prayer anyways.

Map of Bethel:  Quick reference point.  Bethel is in red and Shechem is right above it.

http://www.keyway.ca/htm2002/bethel.htm

BSF Study Questions Genesis Lesson 24, Day 5: Genesis 33

Summary of passage:  Jacob sees Esau coming towards him with 400 men so he divides up the women and children, putting the maidservants first, then Leah and her kids and finally Rachel and Joseph in the rear (obvious preference here).  He went ahead and bowed 7 times to greet his brother.

Esau ran to meet Jacob and welcomed him with open arms.  They wept and kissed.  Jacob introduced his family and then insisted that Esau keep his gift of animals, saying to see his face is like seeing God’s.

Esau offered to accompany Jacob the rest of the way home, which Jacob refused, citing the fact his herds had a lot of babies and needed to go slow.  Esau offered to leave some of his men with Jacob but Jacob refused that as well.

So Esau went back to Seir while Jacob went to Succoth to shelter.  Then he ventured on to Shechem where he bought the land upon which to pitch his tent.  He set up an altar.

Questions:

14a)  He bowed down to the ground 7 times upon meeting Esau.  He calls himself Esau’s servant and his lord.  He insists Esau keep his peace offering of animals.

b)  They both wept.  He compared seeing Esau’s face to seeing God’s face (no light statement).

c)  Esau is genuinely glad to see Jacob.  He runs to him, embraces him, kisses him, and he weeps.  He asks to meet Jacob’s family and he attempts to refuse Jacob’s gift of animals. A selfish man would have gladly accepted.  He offers to accompany Jacob back “home” and to offer an escort of men as well.

15)  No where does it say in this passage Jacob passed 10 years at Shechem.  In fact, it doesn’t say.  This is a guess by scholars based off of a guess at Dinah’s age.  Genesis 31:13 seems to imply that God is calling Jacob to Bethel.  And in Genesis 35:1, God specifically calls Jacob to Bethel.

We all know if God calls, you go and go NOW!  Don’t wait!  Like the servant’s example in bringing back Rebekah, we must do God’s will and promptly.  There is no time to wait. Especially when we know life is so very short.

Conclusions:  In that culture, the act of Esau accepting the gifts was an act of forgiveness.  You never accepted gifts from an enemy.  With Esau’s acceptance, all was put right between the two brothers.

Jacob is still afraid of Esau.  He doesn’t want Esau to accompany him and he ends up lying to him, saying he will follow him when Jacob instead goes the opposite direction. Despite having wrestled with God, Jacob is STILL not trusting God to be in control and lead him.  Jacob inserts “Jacob” instead of “Israel” here and lingers where he should not.

Plus, Genesis 31:13 seems to imply God is calling Jacob to Bethel.  So why does he stop here in Shechem?  Fear.  Obstinance.  Desire to still be in charge.

One commentary I read suggested Jacob wanted to be close to the city (based off of Genesis 33:18), which is speculation in my view.  I believe Jacob just wanted to be away from Esau so he went in the opposite direction and stopped somewhere, which happened to be Shechem.

Interesting, however, to note that Jacob is repeating Lot’s sin of wanting to be close to Sodom.  As we shall see in chapter 34, sinful people have an unduly influence upon the godly.

Map Work:  Map of Shechem and Bethel with Jabbok River HERE

Another one with Succoth and Peniel HERE