BSF Study Questions The Life of Moses Lesson 17, Day 2: Leviticus 25:1-7

Introductory Note:  I am not sure why we are skipping Leviticus 24 except that it’s the passage that says “an eye for eye, a tooth for tooth”, which if there’s any passage in Scripture more misunderstood, it’s this one; so why BSF if shying away from it, I don’t know.  If you have a chance, read it.  It’s very short and since it is often quoted, it’s good to know.

Summary of passage:  The Lord decrees to Moses that once they enter the Promised Land, the land is to be sown for 6 years and then have a year of rest and all that is yielded in that year of rest belongs to the people.

Questions:

3a)  When they enter the Promised Land

b)  For 6 years, the Israelites are to sow their fields but he seventh year is to be a year of rest where no crops are sown or harvested and whatever the land yields during the seventh year will be food for the people and their animals.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Not sure.  I think they would have been scared because they would have to be totally dependent on God to provide food for that year.  The people however would have been free to rest and perhaps do other things for God’s glory in all that spare time they would have.

4a)  Personal Question.  My answer:  The 7th year was also a year for canceling debts, freeing slaves, and giving generously to the poor.  I think the year was to strengthen the faith of God’s people and free up time to think more about others instead of concentrating on survival.

b)  They had to be totally dependent on God to provide all their food during the six years and then some to last for the seventh year.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Depending on God for a whole year I think is a lot different than one day a week so in my opinion this question is a bit of a stretch.  For me, my answer is not sure.  Increasing our faith in God’s provision for us should not be relegated to one day a week but should be constantly every day of the year.  Sundays are just like every other day for me:  being with God, reading His word, praying, living His example, and spreading His light.  If I do this, then my faith in His provision can’t help but grow.

Conclusions:  This passage could have been covered with just one question, three parts, instead of two questions, six parts.  I think we all got the point:  rely on God for your provision.  Period.

End Notes:  Deuteronomy 31:9-13 speaks of in this year how the people will assemble to listen and learn God’s laws.  Hence, this year was to allow time for the Israelites to study and learn God’s laws even deeper and for the children to know God’s laws.

This also demonstrated how the land belonged to God, not the people, and how God dictated its use.  It was a testimony of dependence on God.  The people didn’t just say they depended on God; they showed they did.

It’s also what many farmers do today to allow the nutrients to return to the soil or they do this with crop rotation as well.

Leviticus 26:3 again tells the people to obey God’s laws.  Yet we learn in 2 Chronicles 36:20-21 that the Israelites did not allow the land to lay fallow and thus God forced them to allow the land to lay fallow when they were carried off into captivity by the Babylonians.

The Israelites have found ways around this law.  They have rented out their land and allowed Gentiles to farm it for that year and they took a share as payment, thus circumnavigating the law.  However, I don’t think God sees it this way.

BSF Study Questions Matthew Lesson 17, Day 5: Matthew 16:21-28

Summary of passage:  Now Jesus is revealing to his disciples the reason for his being:  that he will die in Jerusalem and suffer for others.  Peter was in denial and told Jesus such.  Jesus rebuked Peter, calling him Satan and a stumbling block to his purpose here on earth.

Jesus tells his disciples that those who come after him must take up their cross and follow him.  People must lose their life in order to save it.  Jesus will reward each person according to what he has done.  Some will not die before the Son of Man comes again.

Questions:

10a)  Peter tells Jesus that he won’t go to the cross and die for our salvation.

b)  Probably for the same reason we don’t want our loved ones to die:  it’s too painful both for Peter who lose his friend and the pain of a crucifixion death that was well-known in ancient times was immense and Peter probably can’t imagine Jesus dying so.

[One commentary I read said Peter did this because he was prideful and having just heard from God about who Jesus truly was in 16:16 that he also thought God was telling him to this as well when it was in fact the devil.  I took the more simplistic, human approach in this one.  I don’t want any of my family to die.  And Jesus was Peter’s family.]

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  When sin tempts us, we are all tempted to ignore what Christ did for us.  For me, any sin which is frequent in my life.  However, I have sympathy here for Peter for he knew Jesus in a way we never can.  He walked beside Jesus.  I can imagine he had other motivations for not wanting Jesus to die like we all do for our relatives.

d)  Satan

11a)  To have all of your sins forgiven and to receive the Holy Spirit.  When Christ was crucified he took our sins upon himself and made us righteous and healed us.

b)  He says that “whoever wants to save his life will lose it but whoever loses his life for me will find it.”

c)  “Lose your life” means you die to sin.  You have been cleansed by the blood of Jesus.  “Take up your cross and follow” Him means the same thing.  You lay down your life (your wants, desires, and sins), surrender yourself to him, to do God’s desires in life.

d)  They will find new life (gain eternal life as well) and be rewarded in heaven for it.

e)  Personal Question.  My answer:  I try to follow God’s will for my life and listen to Him and do His calling and not my own.

12)  This simply means that some people will be alive when Jesus comes again and never have to experience the penalty of death that came about through our sins.

Another interpretation of this is that you will experience glimpses of God’s power and glory as you lead a Christian, new life.  It’s not all about death.

Conclusions:  Anyone else think Question 11 was a repeat?  In fact, it is.  We answered this question on Lesson 11, Day 5 except the question read “how” instead of “explain what” this means. BSF Notes also tell us exactly what this means in Lesson 11 Notes.  I didn’t think the reference passages were all that helpful either in understanding the meaning.

If you have these notes, I would suggest re-reading them here.  I can’t legally quote anything in the notes but the explanation they give is very, very good.

Hopefully, with repetition, we all understand this now:  that Jesus wants us and all of us to follow him in our lives.  To put him first.  To die to our will and live for him.  Period.

End Notes:  So often we focus on Jesus’s death as for our sins.  But the positive way of putting this is how great is God’s love for us.  God loved us so much He sent his son to die for us.  How many of us parents would do the same thing–to allow our sons to die for strangers?  I wouldn’t. Thus, we must remember the cross is the ultimate sign of God’s love for us despite the tragedy that we had to lose Christ to gain him.

We see Peter’s pride at work as he tries to tell Jesus he is wrong.  Peter is to follow as a disciple, not lead. This is important to remember as in our daily lives we may be thinking we are working for God when the devil sneaks in and we’re not.  In Peter’s case, he focused on “the things of men” instead of on God.  This is a hard one to know when we as humans are just so dumb when compared to God.

BSF Study Questions Genesis Lesson 17, Day 2: Genesis 20 with Genesis 12:10-20 & 21:22-34

Summary of passages:  Genesis 20:  Abraham had been staying near the great trees of Mamre (Genesis 18) and now has moved on to the Negev between Kadesh and Shur.  He stayed in Gerar for a time and again lied about Sarah being his sister.  So, of course, the king of Gerar, Abimelech, took her for his wife.

God rescued Sarah (again) when he came to Abimelech in a dream and told him he had taken a married woman unbeknownst and that is why God has kept him from touching her.  God tells him to return Sarah and Abraham will pray for him so that he may live.  Otherwise, he will die.

Abimelech called in Abraham and chastized him (like Pharaoh did) and asked him why he lied to him.  Abraham again gave his lame excuse of how he was afraid and he wasn’t really lying because Sarah is his half-sister.  Abraham as the head of the household told Sarah to lie for him on their travels.

So afraid of God was Abimelech that he gave Abraham sheep, cattle, slaves, and whatever piece of land he wanted.  He gave silver to Sarah’s “brother” so she would be vindicated for the wrongs he did.

Abraham prayed and God healed Abimelech and his household so that they could have kids again.

Genesis 12:10-20:

Abram went to Egypt due to a famine.  Abram told Sarai to tell the Egyptians she was his sister in order to protect himself because he was afraid the Egyptians would kill him.  So Pharaoh married Sarai (thinking she wasn’t married) and treated Abram well because of it.  He was given sheep, cattle, donkeys, servants, and camels.

The Lord was angry at this so he punished Pharaoh and Pharaoh asked Abram why he lied to him. Pharaoh sent them out of his land.  They returned to the Negev much wealthier from his lie to Pharaoh.

 Genesis 21:22-34:  Abimelech makes a treaty with Abraham probably because he doesn’t trust him.  Abraham said that some of Abimelech’s servants had seized a well. Abraham gifted sheep and cattle to Abimelech and set aside 7 ewe lambs to prove he dug the well.  The place was called Beersheba.  Abimelech returned to Philistine and Abraham planted a tree and called upon the name of the Lord.  Abraham stayed here a long time.

Questions:

3)  Abraham uses the same fear and mistrust in God to tell Sarah to lie for him.  Abraham was well rewarded both times when Sarah was taken.  It was the Lord who saved Sarah both times by inflicting disease in Egypt and appearing to Abimelech in a dream and preventing child-bearing.

Both Pharaoh and Abimelech were innocent, not knowing Abraham had lied to them.

Abimelech and Pharaoh gave everything to Abraham to atone for their wrongs (shouldn’t it have been the other way around?).  We are told Abraham prayed for Abimelech to be healed and we are not told in Pharaoh’s case but Abraham could have prayed for them as well.

In both instances, God leaves the healing, the repentance, up to Abraham.

4a)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Abraham tells Abimelech he does this so he won’t be killed just like in Egypt.  I think he truly doesn’t care about Sarah to do this twice.  He seems to have some problems to me–selfishness, not trusting in God, egotistical even.

Why is Abraham moving to these places (Egypt and Negev) if he is fearful of the kings?  What is his reasoning?  Or is he that greedy for good land for his flocks and for his self-preservation that he just doesn’t care?

b)  People do this all the time especially in terms of the work environment.  They would rather stab you in the back to climb the corporate ladder than help you.  They do this with land fights as well.  Anytime man wants something he throws his comrades under the bus.  We see it in war situations, politics, and power plays.

5a)  He didn’t suffer just like in Egypt.  In fact, he prospered even more by being given sheep, cattle, and slaves.

Here’s the guy who one minute is refusing bounty from the King of Sodom (Genesis 14:22:24), has God appear to him in Genesis 15 and say He is his great reward, and then the next selling his wife again to a king of a foreign land.  Does Abraham expect to be rewarded like he was in Egypt?  Is he using Sarah for material gain?  It seems to me to be so.  Or he is completely untrusting of God who appeared to him and turning his back on Him.

b)  Others will get hurt due to our actions.  God is receiving no glory for His work when we don’t trust.  Relationships are broken (I’m sure Sarah didn’t appreciate or respect Abraham after all this as much).

6a)  He did not treat Abraham as he deserved.  He did not retaliate against Abraham.  He forgave Abraham’s sin and redeemed him in others’ eyes.  He gave Abraham good things out of it.  Through grace and love, He did not get angry or accuse.  He showed compassion on Abraham, knowing he is merely a man, formed out of dust, and inherently sinful.  He loved Abraham and did not remove righteousness from him.  Instead, God corrected.

b)  Abraham gave Abimelech sheep and cattle.  It seems Abraham brought peace for we are told Abimelech and Phicol, his commander of his forces, returned to Philistine without a fight.  Abraham may have prevented war just by having his presence there and God protecting Abraham.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  He has loved me despite my sins.  He has humbled me with this nasty flu I caught.  He has blessed me with my husband being home to take care of me.  In His mercy, I have faith my husband will land a job this week so in that sense I am grateful.

Conclusions:  Did Abraham NOT learn from Egypt?  The whole “calling your wife your sister” thing didn’t have such a great ending so why would he do it again?  God had to intervene (again) and rescue Sarah.  What an idiot!  Abraham’s explanation is flimsy to say the least!  It’s like he’s floundering.  He’s definitely indifferent that’s for sure!

AND did you pick up that Abraham is partly blaming GOD for his actions.  Verse 13 “And when God had me wander from my father’s household…”  SERIOUSLY?  God, the One, True God has called you to greatness and now you are blaming Him for your lies, your fear, your lack of trust, and apparent incompetency to handle such a charge.

Hey, God!  Call me!  Like Isaiah saying, “Here am I!  Send me!” (Isaiah 6:8)  Use me. How many of us would jump at such a chance to be made the father of nations and then we blame God for the hardships along the way.  Can you picture a little kid jumping up and down, waving their arms, waiting to be chosen???  Unbelievable!  Definitely NOT Abraham here.

And then Abraham is rewarded for it!  It’s like Abraham is taking advantage of God’s protection over his family to see what he can get out of the deal.  Ridiculous in my opinion.

But we see God’s grace throughout it all and I’m assuming that’s why both of these passages are recorded.  God loved Abraham despite his bad choices.  Just as He loves us when we make bad choices.  God redeemed Abraham just like He redeems us afterwards.

Even if our choices are idiotic, repetitive, fearful, and doesn’t make sense to anyone God loves us and offers us His grace.  Always.  God is good!

Maps:  Map of Gerar and Beersheba where the treaty was made: http://www.keyway.ca/htm2001/20010115.htm

Another map of Gerar:  http://www.biblicalzionist.com/gerar.htm

Another interesting map showing Negev and Zoar from Lesson 16:  http://www.ibiblemaps.com/m002.html

This one I am just including so you can see Mamre (you do have to scroll down a bit):  http://www.israel-a-history-of.com/sodom-and-gomorrah.html

End Note:  The Abimelech in Genesis 21 is NOT the same Abimelech in Genesis 20. Abimelech was a generic title for ruler amongst the Canaanites and is not a specific name. Question 6b makes it seem like it’s the same guy when it’s not.

BSF Study Questions Isaiah Lesson 17, Day 4 Isaiah 40:21-26

Summary of passage:  Isaiah asks who doesn’t know about God who sits enthroned above the earth and stretches out the heavens like a canopy.  He reduces rulers and princes to nothing with a mere blow of his breath.  “To whom will you compare me?” says the Holy One.  To the heavens since he brings them all out and calls each by name.  None are ever missing.

Questions:

7) That God is the Creator of the Universe and Earth.  God is the one and only.

8 )  Personal Question.  My answer:  People are wicked in general and will do wicked things or are elected by wicked people.  These rulers all serve God’s purpose (think King of Assyria) so they come to power by His will.  Maybe to teach people a lesson or about Him.  But God merely has to blow on them and they are gone.

9a) Look to the Heavens, the stars that God calls by name

b) Nothing or no one.

c) Personal Question.  My answer:  Looking at the stars at night reminds me how insignificant I am in comparison to infinite space.  So when life loses control, I can look at the stars and know God is in control of everything–the stars, the moon, and my life.  He can do any thing since He created everything.

Conclusions:  What I got out of this was my last line I wrote:  He can do anything since He created everything (another one to go up on my mirror).  But, I yearned for more here.  I yearned to study more.  I yearned for more of His word.  I yearned for more of Him.  I guess that’s one of the lasting legacies of a good bible study such as BSF:  making you yearn for more of Him.

BSF Study Questions Isaiah Lesson 17, Day 3 Isaiah 40:18-20

Summary of passage:  Isaiah asks who or what will we compare God to.  If we compare Him to an idol, an idol is first cast and then covered in gold and silver chains.  A poor man selects good wood (presumably instead of metal or some material more durable for an idol that a richer man would choose) and looks for a skilled craftsman to make sure his idol does not topple.

Questions:

5a) A craftsman and a goldsmith and a poor man who looks for a skilled craftsman.  A craftsman casts the idol in an image and a goldsmith covers it in gold and silver ornaments and a poor man tries to find someone who will make a nice idol without it toppling over.

b)  Psalms 115:4-7; 135:15-18  Idols are made by the hands of men; they cannot speak, see, hear, smell, feel, walk, talk and those who make them and trust in them will be like them (the idols)

Jeremiah 10:8-16  Idols are worthless, objects of mockery; they are a fraud with no breath in them; they will perish from the earth.  Idol-makers are foolish and senseless.  The makers are shamed by their idols and when their judgment comes, they will perish.

Habakkuk 2:18-19  Idols have no value since a man has carved it; they have no breath in them and cannot give guidance.  Woe to idol-makers who trust in their own creation.

c) God is Creator; idols are created.  God made people; people make idols.  God breathes life; idols are breathless.  God speaks and God lives; idols don’t.  God sees, hears, smells, feels, and answers prayers; idols just sit there.  God is everything; idols are nothing.  Structurally speaking, God is the action and idols are acted upon.  God is the verb.  Idols are nouns.  God does.  Idols  don’t do anything.

6a) Celebrities, money, material objects and wealth, other people in power

b) Sometimes I envy everything in 6a but as far as actual worship, I am not sure.  But I do allow life elements to get put before God–busy deeds such as surfing Internet and just getting caught up in the day-to-day living instead of being still and knowing He is God.  I am guilty of allowing life to lead me at times but as always I am trying to keep Him as my center in my fallible human way.

Conclusions:  First Commandment:  You shall have no other gods before me.  Second Commandment: You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.  You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.  Exodus 20:3-6

I would think these are important to God since they are above the others we tend to remember:  don’t commit murder, adultery, steal, or covet your neighbor’s house or wife.

Bowing down and praying to foreign idols was a real problem in Isaiah’s time.  The influence of foreign cultures and their gods was one of the sins that led to God’s punishment of exile of His chosen people. People were (and are today) easily influenced and didn’t have the benefit of technology and an interconnected world as we do to more easily know the One, True God.

We, in the twenty-first century, have trouble relating to such a culture since ours is mostly homogenous in the sense people worship one God.  But instead of a physical idol like a golden calf or something, people today do worship other things such as material wealth, people, etc so in this sense we can relate.

It’s important to be cognizant of our God, who admits he is jealous over us (of all insignificant things!) and of putting Him first and to make sure He knows He is first in our hearts.