BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 15, Day 3: Romans 8:29-30

Summary of passage:  Christians are conformed to the likeness of Jesus.  They are predestined, called, justified, and glorified.

Questions:

6a)  Foreknew:  God knows who will come to Him and who won’t and He chose believers as well.

Predestined:  Christians are chosen ahead of time. (Also called election).

[Foreknowledge in Biblical terms is also called election and predestination and are frequently lumped together.  For God to predestine is for him to decree or foreordain the circumstances and destiny of people according to His perfect will. For God to elect if for Him to choose for salvation and/or service a people or a person; the choice is based not on merit but on His free, sovereign love.  Taken from Zondervan’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary].

Called:  We are called by God to be believers.

Justified:  Through Christ’s blood we are able to stand before God.

[We’ve already defined this previously:  Justification is the judicial act of God by which on the basis of the meritorious work of Christ, imputed to the sinner and received through faith, God declares the sinner absolved from sin, released from its penalty, and restored as righteous.  Zondervan’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary.]

Glorified:  Through Christ as well we are glorified.

[We’ve discussed this previously as well:  The glory of God is the worthiness of God, more particularly, the presence of God in the fullness of his attributes in some place or everywhere.  We participate in God’s glory (are able to be worthy) through the sanctifying blood of Jesus Christ.  Zondervan’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary.]

b)  God knows everything.  He’s in control.  He called and chose all believers to be like His Son and justified us.  It’s good news because we are like Jesus and we can be with God forever.

7)  Through our sufferings, persecution, and through the Holy Spirit.  Through His Word which teaches, rebukes, corrects, and trains us and teaches us obedience.  There’s one main reason:  sin.  Temptation, fleshly desires, selfishness, “it’s too hard”, the excuse of “God will forgive us so what’s the point” that Paul refutes.  Jesus’s life was hard.  We don’t want a hard life.  We want an easy life.  The easy life is sin.  The hard life is following Jesus despite yourself.  A Christian life is and supposed to be uncomfortable and painful.  Man by nature hates this.

8 )  Personal Question.  My answer:  Every day is a challenge to be more Christlike and some days I fail miserably.  We are challenged every day to love others, be kind and compassionate, be sympathetic and helpful, be God’s light, and sacrifice for God.  All these little moments in my day are challenges God puts there so little by little I can be more like Christ.  The devil keeps throwing obstacles in my way and God is seeing how much I rely on Him to pull me through.

Conclusions:  Question 6 we’ve seen before and answered before.

End Notes:  Paul explains that God has always planned to save us from beginning to end (predestination).  We work to become more like Christ because that is why God saves us–so that Christ will be of highest honor in the family of God.

God knew us before we knew Him and He knew us before the beginning of the world.

BSF Study Questions The Life of Moses Lesson 24, Day 3: Numbers 23-24

Summary of passage:  Numbers 23:  Balaam builds 7 altars and prepares 7 sacrifices.  He speaks with the Lord who puts words in his mouth, blessing the Israelites instead of cursing them.  Again, Balak brings Balaam to a different spot to curse the Israelites.  God again puts words in Balaam’s mouth, saying He is with His people who will devour those who oppose them.  Balak, not giving up his quest to curse the Israelites, drags Balaam to a third location in Peor and builds 7 more altars and offers 7 more sacrifices.

Numbers 24:  Balaam, now at his third location, finally realizes God will not curse his people.  As a result, the Spirit of the Lord comes upon him and he utters more blessings upon Israel:  they will live abundantly, their king and kingdom will be exalted, and they will devour hostile nations.

Balak, angry at the three blessings instead of the three curses, sends Balaam away with no riches.  Balaam reminds Balak that he told him he would only speak God’s words and then he utters a prophecy against Moab, telling Balak that Israel will crush them along with Edom and Seir.  Salaam utters more oracles:  Amalek will be ruined along with the Kenites, assure, and Eber.

Questions:

5)  First Oracle:  Numbers 23:7-10:  God tells Balak that He cannot curse the Israelites for He has set them apart.

Second Oracle:  Numbers 23:18-24:  God tells Balak that He will not change his mind, that He the Lord is with them, that He brought them out of Egypt, and that the people shall rise like a lion and devour their victims.

Third Oracle:  Numbers 24:3-9:  Balaam utters more blessings upon Israel: they will live abundantly, their king and kingdom will be exalted, and they will devour hostile nations.

Fourth Oracle:  Numbers 24:15-19:  Balaam tells Balak that Moab, Edom, and Seir will all be crushed by Israel.

Final Three Oracles:  Numbers 24:20-24:  Balaam says that Amalek, the Kenites, Asshur, and Eber all will come to ruin.

6a)  He is taking Balaam to different places in order to physically see the Israelites and in a vain effort to find a place where God may curse His own people.  Balak strikes me as a man who doesn’t give up easily.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Nothing lately but usually when I do this I don’t like the answer the first person gave me so I go to another person hoping they will give me answer–and it’s usually the answer I want to hear, not a different one.  I haven’t done this in quite some time.  I think I’ve learned my lesson from doing this.  I ask God and my husband.  That’s about it.

7)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Balaam is a pleaser.  He takes the path of less resistance and finally bows to God’s will only because he realizes he is defeated and is out for own self-preservation.

Conclusions:  Surprisingly, I liked this lesson.  It was fun to watch God have fun with Balaam, uttering blessings instead of curses each time.  You can almost see the frustration on Balaam’s face, knowing with each utterance he was getting less and less of an earthly reward.

It was fun to watch Balak be frustrated and to see him moving Balaam from place to place as if that would make God change his mind.  It is very comical, and you can almost see God from up above laughing at them!  I like to think God has a sense of humor like his creation, man, does.

End Notes:  Numbers 23:  Oracle means prophecy.  We tend to think of oracles as false prophets as the word was popularized by the Greeks who uses oracles to tell the future as indeed this is the first definition of the word in Webster’s Dictionary:  “a person (as a priestess of ancient Greece) through whom a deity is believed to speak.”  Another definition:  “an answer or decision given by an oracle.”

Interestingly, this is a latin word meaning “to speak.”  Well, the Greeks didn’t speak Latin so they themselves didn’t use the word “oracle”.  As most Bibles were written down in the Middle Ages which used Latin as the language of writing, this word is not all that old.  In my opinion, this is not a great translation here and prophecy would be better (which by the way is a Greek word meaning “the inspired declaration of divine will and purpose”) which fits here much better as indeed some bible translations use the word prophecy and not oracle.

Here we see God speaking through Balaam, obviously not a godly-man.  But God uses all for His purposes.

Note how Balaam would like “to die the death of the righteous” but not live like the righteous.  He wants the good life but not the work that goes along with the good life.

Both men are exasperated!  Balak wants a curse and Balaam wants money but neither gets what they want for God is in charge here.

God educates Balak about who he is dealing with and who His people are and that Balak has no chance against them.

Wild ox here is translated different ways:  unicorn, ox, rhinoceros, or goat.  The Hebrew word here which occurs 9 times in the Old Testament (twice in our readings–24:8) means one horn.

Balak is frustrated, saying at least don’t bless them if you won’t curse them!  Funny how God works.

Numbers 24:  Three times Balak offered up rams and bulls in an effort to have the Israelites cursed.  This would have been quite the expense at the time.

We see that Balaam did try to evoke sorcery  (24:1) to curse the Israelites, but it didn’t work so seemingly he gave it up.  Hence, Balaam and Balak are cursed by God in the third oracle.

The oracles are progressive:  first, Balak does not receive a curse, next he gets a blessing instead of a curse and finally he himself is cursed.  You’d think he’d learn his lesson!

The fourth oracle is a bonus per se.  Balaam, realizing he won’t get paid, just keeps speaking.  This is about Jesus as he is the start and the scepter and will rule over all nations.  This prophecy was also fulfilled by King David (2 Samuel 8:2,14).

Without the curse, Balak realizes he cannot defeat the Israelites so wisely he does not attack like he wanted to back in Numbers 22.  Instead, he returns home, defeated.

Balaam:  His name possibly means devourer or glutton.  He was evidently a professional magician of a nomadic clan.  He obviously had a reputation of getting gods on his side.  God spoke through him 7 times!  Was Balaam converted to God’s side?  No.  Next we hear of him is Numbers 31:8 where he dies.  He is condemned in 2 Peter 2:15, Jude 11, and Revelation 2:14.  He is credited with suggesting the tactic of using sex to defeat the Israelites, resulting in 24,000 deaths (Numbers 25:9; 31:16).

He has been called by scholars the Judas of the Old Testament as he seems faithful at times but greed turns him to evil.

Seven books of the Bible mention Balaam.  This shows how important these events were in Israelite history.  God uses a pagan and a magician in a land full of pagans and magicians as a warning:  He is coming and He shall win.

Summarized from Zondervan’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary by J.D. Douglas and Merrill C. Tenney:

Balaam is held up as an example of pernicious influence of hypocritical teachers who attempt to lead God’s people astray.  No bible character is more severely excoriated.

We see three things of God’s rule in the world through the story of Balaam:

1)  God overrules man’s sinful rule and his desire to bring his own purposes to pass.

2)  God’s promises prevail no matter the odds always.

3)  God guards His people from threats even when they are not even aware of them (like Balak who wanted to attack them).

Overview of BSF’s Study of The Life of Moses

We will begin our story like every good sequel:  a brief review of where we left off (Joseph dying and God’s people in Egypt from the book of Genesis), some background information about what’s happened since to the characters left (all of whom have died and a new tyrant has taken over), and the ‘inciting incident’ as it’s known in book writing–the event that sets everything in motion–Pharaoh’s order to kill every Israeli born-boy.

Exciting, right?  The book of Moses contains some of the most well-known stories (and subsequent movies) in the Bible.  Classic stories of good versus evil (Pharaoh versus Moses and God).  Awesome miracles.  Triumphs and tragedies.

Should be a good year!

In fact, one-eighth of the Bible is devoted to the Story of Moses (so probably a lot of reading this year).  That is nearly two-thirds the length of the New Testament.  Should be a clue on how important Moses is to God.

Time period?  Ancient Times.  Exact dates differ from scholars but probably either 1520 BC or 1225 BC can we place Moses’ birth.  350 years since we left Joseph.  God’s people are now slaves, working on Pharaoh’s vast building projects.  Oppressed.  God has been silent all those years. Now is the time for liberation and God chooses Moses.  To him has fallen the task of uniting God’s people, telling them God is with them and they must flee, and leading them through it all.

Moses will not be alone (although he may sometimes feel like he is like we all do); by his side will be God.  (After all, Moses is the first person recorded in the Bible to work miracles).  He talks with God, sees God, is the closest to God.  He wrote many of these books we will study.  He is revered by Jews as the liberator.  He is indeed special.

Moses’ name is said to mean “drawing out” (Exodus 2:10) from a Hebrew word but some scholars speculate it was Egyptian.  Note how no one else in the Bible has the name of Moses so many other great OT leaders.  Little is known of Moses’ childhood but as an adopted son to Pharaoh’s daughter, he would have had the best education of the times.

The Book of Moses is divided into two parts.  The first 20 chapters will fly by as they describe the exciting events of Israel’s flight from Egypt.

Rembrandt_-_Moses_with_the_Ten_Commandments_-_Google_Art_Project
Moses by Rembrandt Courtesy of Google Art Projects

The last 20 chapters focus on the laws and regulations given to God’s people for how to live: moral rules, civil and social rules, religious and ceremonial rules.

This second half is just as important, if not more so, than the first half for all of God’s laws will point to the Redeemer, Jesus Christ, and we must look for Jesus in this half.  This part may be difficult to read and boring but if you have Jesus in mind, you will power through it along with Leviticus, Deuteronomy, and Numbers.

Hebrews 7-10 will help us connect the Old Testament to the New and Moses to Jesus.  It should be read along with this study.

Exodus 32-35 is where Moses speaks to God.  This will probably be my favorite part for I often wonder what it would have been like and what it will be like when I get to heaven to speak with God, hear His voice, see His face.

We will cover a lot of God’s history this year but for me this will be about Moses.  How God chose a man who was far from perfect, gave him incredible abilities to do His will, how Moses succeeded and failed when he obeyed God and disobeyed God, how he sinned and how he was punished, and how God still loved him and forgave him in His mighty grace.

All this applies to everyone of us.  We will be able to see parts of ourselves in Moses and see how God is always there, loving us every step of the way.  Moses was born a Hebrew slave but rose up to be God’s right hand man.  He was chosen by God for a purpose and he accomplished it.  This is true for us all.  With faith, we too will accomplish our purposes as well.

This will be an exciting yet challenging year to say the least.

If you have Zondervan’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary or a similar one, you can look up “Moses” and read a short summary of all that happens in his life.  I highly recommend this before class so you have an idea of where we start, where we are going, and where we’ll end.

Please feel free to share this post with your friends and family who are on the fence about BSF and are wondering what we will learn this year.  At the end of this post is a share button which you can click on and share via email, Facebook, Twitter, etc.  So invite your friends and family for one of the most colorful and impactful characters in the Bible and for an in-depth study of some of the most well-known stories in the Bible as well!

God bless and many hugs and kisses from the bottom of my heart!

Side Note:  Did anyone else know Rembrandt painted Moses?  I didn’t until I did this post.  He is most well-known for his self-portraits and portraits of others that I had missed this one.  Cool stuff in my book!!