Category Archives: Bible study

(Judges 3-7) What Do You Know?

So many questions seem to arise from the Old Testament account of God’s history with Israel. Just in these few chapters in Judges people have asked:

“Who or what toppled the Dagon idol?”

“What kinds of tumors were there, and what caused them?”

“Why would God kill people simply for being curious?”

“How could an entire army of trained soldiers be that afraid of a thunder storm?”

People who think they have to understand everything written in Scripture are foolish. But so is the person who reads Scripture and never tries to understand. It’s one thing to have faith. It’s another to be satisfied with blind faith.

What if you were asked the questions sited above? What if someone who is seeking the truth came to you for answers? What do you know about falling idols, tumors, thunderstorms, and the ark?

What do you know about God? Simply saying you believe is not enough. You need to know what you believe… and why you believe it.

I started telling you how I would answer the questions I shared at the beginning of this post. But I feel God is challenging you to do your own investigation. Just let me encourage you to let Him speak to you through His own words, not the words of a blogger like me, or a study guide, or the internet, unless they point you to specific verses in the Bible that back up what they say. Be careful to not accept opinion as fact. The answers, everything you need to know has been given you by God Himself. I would encourage you to start – and end – in the pages of Scripture to find the answers you are looking for.

So let me ask you again, what do you know? Can you share it with someone who needs to know? I believe God would have us all be ready to give an answer for the hope we have in Him. I believe we need to be ready to share what we know to be true, according to Scripture.

(Joshua 1-5) The Forever Miracle

Do you believe in miracles? Some people read things like the Israelite’s crossing of the Jordan River, and because it would be impossible, write it off as fantasy, folk-lore, imagination. Others come up with what they think are plausible answers like the pull of gravity on that particular day at that exact time…

What these people don’t seem to understand is, if the event could be explained, it wouldn’t be a miracle. If we can understand the “how” of it, it isn’t miraculous. So the question again is, do you believe in miracles?

Do I believe the Jordan River water stopped flowing, that a new generation of Jews crossed over on dry ground like their fathers had crossed the Red Sea? I do.

Can I explain it from a scientific perspective? No.

Have I ever seen river water stop flowing like reported in the book of Joshua? Never.

Then why in the world would I believe it to be true?

Because I believe in the God of the Bible. And because I believe in Him, it’s not that hard to believe in miracles. In fact, I’ve seen even greater miracles than the Jordan River crossing.

Every time a sinner repents and is changed from the inside out through the blood of Jesus, there’s a miracle. There is no greater miracle than true repentance because it’s eternal. All other miracles had a time frame. Not so salvation.

It’s the forever miracle.

(Deuteronomy 29-30) Exempt?

We’ve got a problem. Too many of us live like we believe that if we identify as Christians, if we prayed the prayer and confessed our sins, if we read our Bibles and are good people, we are somehow exempt from the consequences of sin. We believe our sins are “under the blood,” so that sin we commit has already been dealt with. But I wonder.

Too many of us are comfortable with sin in our lives, and in our churches. Listen to what God says through Moses about this in 29:19a:

When someone hears the words of this oath, he may consider himself exempt, thinking, “I will have peace even though I follow my own stubborn heart.”

Is reading God’s Word or hearing a sermon that golden ticket to exemption? Read on:

This will lead to the destruction of the well-watered land as well as the dry land. The Lord will not be willing to forgive him. Instead his anger and jealousy will burn against that person, and every curse written in this scroll will descend on him. The Lord will blot out his name under heaven, and single him out for harm… (19b-21a)

If you are a Christian the bar set for obedience isn’t lowered. In fact, God requires more of us. Didn’t Jesus tell us we commit murder if we hate, we commit adultery if we lust?

Dear one, we are not exempt. I hope you’ll read 30:11-20. God hasn’t hidden what he demands. We are blessed when we obey and cursed when we disobey.

…love the Lord your God, obey Him, and remain faithful to him. For He is your life… (30:20a)

We must remain faithful. That means confessing every sin, praying God will create clean hearts in us and renew steadfast spirits in us. It means dying daily, fleeing temptation, and surrendering our stubborn hearts at the earliest sign of rebellion.

God, through Moses, tells us He has put it all out there. He has told us and shown us life and death, blessing and curse. Then He tells us to choose life.

That’s my prayer for all of us today.

(Deuteronomy 20) Some Things Are Hard To Hear

My Apologetics study Bible included an article by Matt Flanagan entitled, “Does The Bible Condone Genocide?” He tells us the ancient writers used “extravagant exaggerations” as was common in literature at the time. Flanagan sites the fact that the Bible reports some of the nations (like Canaan) continued to have citizens even after it tells us they were wiped out. Therefore, the report of the genocide was exaggerated for literatures’ sake.

Which, to me isn’t so much exaggeration as it is disobedience. The Israelites may have wiped out a village or two, but obviously didn’t do a complete job elsewhere. The hard truth is that in Old Testament scripture, God didn’t only condone genocide, He commanded it.

Now, before you get too angry with me, or angry with God, you need to take a look at the whole picture. Here is what seems to be overlooked by some:

When you approach a city to fight against it, make an offer of peace. If it accepts your offer of peace and opens its gates to you, all the people found in it will become forced laborers for you and serve you. However, if it does not make peace with you but wages war against you, lay siege to it. (20:10-12)

Before the Israelites went to war against a city they were to offer a peaceful solution. God wanted those people to come to Him on His terms, and be saved. Their refusal cost them their lives.

There are two things I take away from this today:

  1. God will not demand nor condone genocide after the cross. Jesus fulfilled all the requirements of the Law, and made it plain our enemy is no longer flesh and blood. His kingdom is spiritual. We must protect His spiritual kingdom by eradicating sin from among us with the same completeness the Old Testament Jews were told to eradicate people who rejected God. We will not be commanded to kill people. We are commanded to destroy sin in our lives.
  2. The Jewish people had to fight against Canaanites during their entire existence as recorded in the Old Testament. Had they obeyed, and truly dealt with God’s enemies like He told them to, their lives would have looked a lot different. Better. Peaceful. The same goes for us. How much grief do we face when we simply play around with sin, when we hold on to that sinful thought or feeling, when we aren’t exactly honest, or when we tolerate sin even in small doses? The Canaanites didn’t just go away on their own. And neither does sin.

Yes, it’s hard to even think about the genocide God ordered in the Old Testament. But these were not innocent people. They were people who would rather die in their sin than accept the peace God offered if they’d only surrendered.

That sin you are holding onto isn’t innocent, either.

(Numbers 21-25) Are You Listening?

Two things from the Balak/Balaam account struck me this morning.

The first is the importance of knowing God’s Word. Balaam was adamant when he said he would only speak God’s words and nothing else. He spoke only God’s words to Balak, even though it was not at all what Balak wanted to hear, and in fact, had the potential to cause Balaam a great deal of trouble, maybe even death.

The thing is, many of us can quote a verse here and there to support a belief:

God is love.

Judge not.

I will never leave or forsake you.

He will give you the desires of your heart.

All scriptural. All truth. But what I noticed about Balaam is that he didn’t pick and choose the parts of the words God gave him that would make him look good, or would make Balak happy. God gave Balaam the words, and Balaam quoted them to Balak exactly as God had spoken them.

We can’t quote, “God is love” without also declaring His holiness, His Lordship, and the fact He punishes sin without mercy. We can tell each other “judge not” but we must also tell each other to address sin in lives so those sins can be forgiven by God. We can rest assured God will never leave us, but that promise is for His children only. He does leave those who reject Him by holding onto sin. God gives us the desires of our hearts when we trust Him, when His desires become ours. Do you know where to find the verses that complete the verses I quoted above? You should. They are God’s words.

God not only speaks to us through His written word, He uses Scripture to speak through us to hearts that are in need of His saving grace. When we witness to someone we shouldn’t be sharing our opinions about Scripture. We should be using Scripture honestly, pointing out the very verses that speak to their need of Jesus, and allowing God’s own words to move in hearts.

We have got to put down the commentaries and shut down the internet, and open the precious pages of the Bible to hear God’s voice. We need to study God’s words to show ourselves approved by Him so that we are fully equipped to share God’s Word with others. God’s words. Not ours.

The second thing that struck me today is how Balak tried to finagle God into giving him what he wanted. Three times he tried to manipulate God into putting a curse on the Jews.

Maybe if I sacrifice here I’ll get what I want.

Maybe over there God will give me the desire of my heart.

Maybe there on that mountain. Maybe there God will do what I say.

Have you ever tried to manipulate God? You go to church thinking God will reward you with what you want. You’ve heard that if you claim it, you can have it… so you claim it loud and clear, believing that is the key to getting God to move. You convince yourself that if you quit swearing, or drinking, or if you sing in the choir, lift your hands and pray out loud God will do whatever you ask.

Is that how you see God working in Scripture? Can God be manipulated into being your magic genie?

Goes back to my first point. Read the Bible. Read it again. Pray for understanding. Then live it, use it, love it. The answers to your questions are there. God’s plan of salvation is there. God’s hope for the future is there. God’s instructions about how we should treat others, what He thinks of sin, what Jesus did on the cross, and what He wants you to do because of it is there.

You can’t manipulate God. But you can get to know His heart, and transform into the man or woman He wants you to be by listening to His voice through His own words. You can’t hear Him if you aren’t reading those words for yourself. Read the Bible.

And listen.

(Numbers 11-15) It Will Kill You

God wants us to take a good look at sin from His vantage point. Whether it’s the coveting of what non-believers seem to enjoy as in the case of the Jews wishing they were back in Egypt where they were well fed; not trusting God like the Jews who campaigned against going into the Promised Land; or open defiance of God’s Law like the Jewish man who gathered firewood on the Sabbath, God wants us to know He will not tolerate sin in any shape or form.

You want meat like the Egyptians? You’ll get meat. And it will kill you.

You can’t trust God to give you what He’s promised? Don’t go into Canaan. And it will kill you.

You think an act of disobedience is no big deal because you think collecting wood is more important? Go get your wood. And it will kill you.

How much more clear can God be? You can defy Him, reject Him, rationalize your sin…

and it will kill you.

That is a death, my friend, worse than anything you can imagine. That death, eternal agony, void of any hope, endless pain and suffering is the death God wants you to understand.

Your only hope is to confess and repent of your sin, accept the fact that Jesus paid your death sentence, and allow Him to cleanse you and give you the power to be obedient.

You can live in your sin… but God wants you to know it will kill you.

(Leviticus 15-27) What Does This Have To Do With Me?

Sometimes we might be tempted to gloss over chapters like the ones here in Leviticus because we live after the cross, right? Didn’t Jesus come to fulfill the Law? I’m certainly not going to go out and stone someone for saying something bad about his dad, or for sleeping with his mother’s brother’s wife’s daughter, am I? Of course not.

But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t important things for me to learn from all of Scripture. Here’s what I believe God is saying these verses have to do with me:

Following God’s Law involves honesty, integrity, compassion, justice, honor, and hard work. The blessings for obediences are many. The consequences for disobedience are severe. What are some of the areas covered in these chapters in Leviticus?

  1. Respect for one another. That includes protecting each other from diseases, physical diseases as spelled out here, but also from the disease of sin. Just like an unclean person needed to wash themselves so as not to expose others to their uncleanness, we must wash ourselves in the blood of Jesus, so sin in us doesn’t touch others and cause them to sin. Sin is a communicable disease. We need to respect each other by taking care of the sin in our lives so that it doesn’t spread.
  2. Fair treatment of each other. This includes employers’ treatment of workers as well as the workers’ treatment of employers. These chapters speak against our current welfare system and socialism in that help did not come from government, but from individuals looking out for individuals facing hard times – and only for a period of time until the needy individual is able to go back to work. Our perpetual governmental support of non-workers in this nation today is not only against God’s Law and extremely unfair – it is fiscally irresponsible. The chapters here in Leviticus point out that we are to be working, respecting those in authority as well as those who work for us, and always do our jobs in obedience to God.
  3. Honoring God. It addresses idolatry, worship of God, and honoring God with our bodies. But one thing my Apologetics Bible pointed out from chapter 24 was that blasphemy brings guilt on those who hear it as well as on the blasphemer. Recently I have been convicted by some of the TV shows I watch, and the books I read. The common use of God’s name as an exclamation mark, the vulgar word used for the sex act, and the two combined in a shockingly blasphemous manner have become as commonplace as the casual use of the words “hell,” “damn,” and “OMG.” Now, I can tell myself I can handle listening to those things without them effecting me, that the show or book is harmless. But I have to understand that what I have heard cannot be unheard. The blasphemy (which God takes very seriously) has entered my mind. I am guilty.
  4. Sin. We cannot ignore sin. We can’t condone it, rename it, or participate in it. And if we commit a sin, either intentionally or at the hands of another, we are guilty, we have to confess it and repent. “Be holy” is God’s command. And you can’t be holy if sin exists in your life.

There, of course, is much more in these chapters. If you read them, and I hope you do, God may point out other truths He wants you to hear. These chapters are included in God’s Word for a reason. Don’t miss what He has to say.

These things definitely have everything to do with you.

(Exodus 26-31) Plans and Blueprints and Details

Why did God think it was important to have every tiny detail of the tabernacle spelled out? My brain doesn’t work like this. I honestly don’t care how many rings held a pole or if the covering hung over six inches or six feet or not at all.

I’ve shared my church is in the middle of a building project. There are plans and blueprints and details I don’t understand – or care to understand. But before I walk through those doors and sit in a chair under that roof, I’m going to be very glad someone thought about the feet and inches and materials and placement, and cared enough to not only understand those details, but made sure they were carried out to the letter so the building doesn’t come crashing down on my head.

Now, I know every detail God recorded here in these chapters in Exodus have symbolic meaning and draw a beautiful picture of God’s Sovereign plan of salvation. But when I read this I can’t help but think, not so much of the plan, but the Planner, not so much of the building but the Architect, the Master Designer who not only drew up those plans, but oversaw the process of turning His plans into an amazing place of worship there in the desert. That tabernacle would not come crashing down on the Israelites because it was designed by God Himself and built by people who followed His blueprints to the letter.

That gives me peace and joy today as God’s tabernacle in 2021. Because as interested as God was in every detail of that Old Testament tabernacle, He is infinitely more interested the details of my life. And if I follow the blueprint, if I build according to the plans He has laid out in His Word, I won’t come crashing down even in the middle of a virus scare, or a job loss, or a medical setback, or a change in government.

So I am thankful God included these details I read today here in the book of Exodus. It reminds me how invested He is in the details of my life. The Master Designer is my peace and joy and hope.

(Genesis 26-30) What is Bible Prophesy?

Did God arrange the circumstances surrounding Isaac, Rebekah, Esau, and Jacob so that His prophesy concerning the elder son serving the younger son would come true?

If you believe that, you are saying God caused Rebekah and Jacob to deceive Isaac. You are saying God caused them to sin in order to fulfill prophesy.

And you would be wrong.

Bible prophesies are not predictions of things to come in the future. Bible prophesies are reports of what happened in the future – past tense. God, who exists outside of time, has already seen the end. He knows what will happen in our future as a result of our choices. Our future. Not His.

Bible prophesy demonstrates that God is who He claims to be. He does not orchestrate life on earth. We are not puppets. This is not a video game He’s playing. God doesn’t manipulate your or me or the Presidential election.

But He knows what happened in our future because He is already there.

There are certainly times when He intervenes, when answers to prayer defeat Satan, when our obedience results in blessing instead of judgment. And God can tell us what those results will be because He saw them happen before we experienced them. There are times when Scripture tells us things happened so that prophesy would be fulfilled. Or, these things happened so that we would make the connection between these things that happened, and the Sovereign God who told us it would happen.

When we read about, or see in our lifetime, Bible prophesy fulfilled, let’s let it cause us to fall on our faces before our Sovereign God who is not bound by time. Let it encourage us to know that He is with us, and will be with us all the way. Let’s realize that nothing happens that will surprise Him because He’s already seen it happen.

Bible prophesy is a gift. It allows us to get a glimpse of God as He was, is, and always will be. Then, to think this awesome God loves us enough to die for us so that we can be with Him is beyond amazing.

I pray we will read Bible prophesy with the intent of knowing God better instead of trying to put circumstances on a timeline. It’s not about the prophesy. It’s about the God who has already been there, done that.

Bible prophesy is all about God.

(Genesis 1-2) A New Year, A New Study of God’s Word

For some time now I’ve had the conviction that having faith, being a follower of Jesus is not enough. Oh, it’s enough to get me into heaven. But it’s not enough to be obedient. I believe we all need to study to show ourselves ready to do God’s work, to give an answer for the hope we have in Jesus.

Now, I am not an intellectual. I am not a deep thinker. There is more to this life that I don’t understand than do. But I bought a Christian Standard Apologetics Study Bible, and I intend to dig in this year.

My prayer is that as I look at God’s Word in light of opposing views, and with the help of men who have studied much more than I, I will be able to defend what I know to be true. I don’t want to be satisfied with merely believing, I want to be able to express why I believe in a clear and factual manner. I think God wants that of me.

Did God create the universe with a word? Is the earth thousands or billions of years old? Was Adam a physical man, or a symbol for humankind? Is there Truth, morality, a standard of right and wrong? Is God real?

I don’t intend to write an apologetic study guide this year. I won’t be posting my thoughts every day. And I seriously doubt I’ll finish my study by this time next year. But I will touch base every now and then to let you know what I’m learning. Pray for me.

As with any commentary, I will listen to what these people have researched. But I will let God’s Word be the final authority. I want nothing more than to know God as He is, and to be able to share Him with people who don’t.

I pray you will be reading the Bible every day in 2021. I pray that you will ask God to challenge and encourage you, to reveal Himself to you more and more, and equip you to be the obedient servant He intends for you to be.

It’s a new year. Let’s make it a year to grow in grace and knowledge of our dear Savior. One day at a time.