Opposition Begins

Many of you can identify with the “Power of Faith.”  It can be different in each of our lives.  Lesson seven in our study on the book of John was centered on John 5: 1 – 47.  The title identified was “Opposition Begins.”  Some of the headings found in Chapter 5 in the book of John, in the bible are:  “The Healing at the Pool; Life through the Son; Testimonies about Jesus.

 

The many toils of strife were chronicled by the apostle John, among others.  John was the messenger who told of the Messiah.  Jesus was faced with opposition, even though he did good.  He healed the lame and cured the sick.  Even though he performed miracles, the Jews considered him a mere man.  Jesus realized that he would be fighting an up-hill battle at the very beginning.  Those in power did not want to feel challenged for their stations in life (positions).  They also wanted to limit anyone from gaining a position that they did not support.

 

Jesus saw an invalid lying by the pool at Bethesda.  Jesus learned that he had been an invalid for thirty eight years; which to many of us is a long time.  Jesus asked him if he wanted to get well. After listening to his reply, Jesus told him to get up and walk.  Ordinarily, Jesus would have healed the man based on his faith.  Faith would have been a requirement, a pre-requisite., for the man to be cured.  In this particular instance, the man did not even know who Jesus was.  Jesus is not limited by a person’s lack of faith, even though he usually heals in response to faith.

 

The Jews questioned the man who had been healed.  They wanted to punish him for performing work on the Sabbath.  Per the NIV footnote of John 5:10 and the Life Change study guide text notes on page 69; “The Law of Moses forbids work on the Sabbath. The rabbis minutely spelled out what constituted work (by 200 AD thirty-nine classes of work were defined). Nehemiah 13:15 and Jeremiah 17:21-27 condemn carrying loads for commercial business on the Sabbath, so the rabbis decided that “taking out aught from one domain into another”(1) was always work. This included carrying a mat. The rabbis had a theory that each commandment should be applied as widely as possible to avoid even accidentally breaking the law.”  They interpreted that the law forbade his carrying of the mat in his possession.  They interpreted that the law forbade the carrying of loads of any kind.  The Jews held Jesus accountable for permitting the man to carry the mat on the Sabbath.  The Jews then persecuted Jesus because he was doing these things on the Sabbath.

 

Jesus was prepared for the opposition.  He was ready to do what it took.  He understood what lengths humans would go to, to maintain their authoritative positions, and positions of power.  Jesus understood that prophecy had to be fulfilled.

 

Sources:

Life Change Series, A NavPress Bible study of the book of John, NavPress, 1987.          (1) Morris, Leon. The Gospel According to John, The New International Commentary on the New Testament (Eerdmans, 1971).

NIV Study Bible, Zondervan Publishing House, 1995

 

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The Woman of Endor

Bible Study for June 11, 2016

Background:  Saul was instructed to “Go and completely destroy those wicked people, the Amalekites; make war on them until you have wiped them out (I Samuel 15:18).  Samuel told him: Why did you not obey the Lord?  Why did you pounce on the plunder and do evil in the eyes of the lord? “But I did obey the Lord, Saul said.   Saul’s explanation was:  The Soldiers took the sheep and cattle from the plunder, the best of what was devoted to God, in order to sacrifice them to the Lord your God of Gilgal ( I Samuel 15:19 and 15:21).  Saul replied, “I have sinned.  I violated the Lord’s command and your instructions.  I was afraid of the people and so I gave in to them (I Samuel 15:24).  But Samuel said to him (Saul), I will not go back with you.  You have rejected the word of the Lord, and the Lord has rejected you as King over Israel! (I Samuel 15:26).

Her character: Compassionate to Saul on the eve of his death, she exercised power by acting as a medium.

Her sorrow: To have delivered a hopeless message to Israel’s king.

Key Scriptures: 1 Samuel 28:3-25

  1. “Please,” the voice insisted, “consult a spirit for me, and bring up for me the one I name.”  This was Saul’s request out of desperation to the Woman of Endor.  In his desperation Saul turns to a pagan practice that he himself had previously outlawed. Saul’s desperation must have been very great for him to consult with a medium to dabble in the occult.
  2. Right from the start, God commended his people not to have anything to do with witch craft in any form.  “A man or woman who is a medium or spiritist among you must be put to death.  You are to stone them; their blood will be on their own heads.” Leviticus 20:27).
  3. “Surely you know what Saul has done. He has cut off the mediums and spiritists from the land. Why have you set a trap for my life to bring about my death?” she replied.  The woman is very cautious about practicing her trade with strangers lest she be betrayed to Saul.  Cut off refers to expelled is used in verse 3; possibly a euphemism for “put to death.”
  4. Then the woman asked, “Whom shall I bring up for you?” “Bring up Samuel,” he said.  This was Saul’s reply to the question asked by The Woman of Endor.
  5. The same Saul who refused to heed Samuel’s prophetic words when he was alive now disobeyed the very laws he had put into effect in order to hear Samuel one last time.
  6. So the woman sat down and yielded herself, making her soul a bridge for the dead to    walk across.
  7. When the woman saw Samuel, She cried out at the top of her voice and said to Saul, “Why have you deceived me? You are Saul!” The episode has been understood in many different ways, among them the following:  1. God permitted the spirit of Samuel to appear to the woman.  2.  The woman had contact with an evil spirit in the form of Samuel by whom she was deceived and controlled.  3.  By using parapsychological powers such as telepathy or clairvoyance, the woman was able to discern Saul’s thoughts and picture Samuel in her own mind.  As Samuel had previously announced (15:26, 28), because of Saul’s unfaithfulness to the Lord, death from the impending battle would come; and his hopes of a dynasty would be dashed and his reign would conclude with a devastating defeat of Israel to the Philistines’.
  8. “An old man wearing a robe is coming up,” she said.  These words are Woman of Endors      interpretation of Samuel appearing.
  9. Samuel said to Saul, “Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?” In an answer to Samuel’s question; Saul admitted that he was in great distress, because God had turned away from him and that God no longer answers him.
  10. Samuel said, “Why do you consult me, now that the Lord has turned away from you and become your enemy? The Lord has done what he predicted through me. The Lord has torn the kingdom out of your hands and given it to one of your neighbors—to David.  Tomorrow you and your sons will be with me. The Lord will also hand over the army of Israel to the Philistines.”
  11. The woman shuddered, the message delivered. Little wonder the king had seemed so desolate. Fear had crushed the life out of his once-strong face, hollowing the eyes, etching deep lines across cheeks and forehead.
  12. Taking pity, she spoke to him: “Look, your maidservant has obeyed you. I took my life in my hands and did what you told me to do. Now please listen to your servant and let me give you some food so you may eat and have the strength to go on your way.”
  13. Kindly, she served what may have been Saul’s last meal. The next day he was dead. Wounded in battle, he fell on his own sword, determined to finish the job before his enemies could reach him. True to form, Saul, who had always tried to control his destiny, controlled even the manner of his death. But he could not control what happened next. Discovering his body, the Philistines celebrated by severing his head and hanging it in the temple of their god. Then they tacked his naked corpse to the walls of a nearby town as a trophy. Israel’s first king had become a gruesome spectacle.
  14. The aged monarch tried desperately to find some advice or guidance from other prophets or priests, but the Lord would not speak to him. As a young man, Saul had been close to God. But after ascending the throne, he became cruel and rebelled against God’s Word. Once he even had a whole village of priests murdered. King Saul had persistently New International Version (NIV)

Women of the Bible, 52 Bible Studies for Individuals and Groups, Copyright © 1999, 2002 by Anne Spangler and Jean Syswerda by Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide

biblegateway.com/devotionals/women-of-the-bible/2014/05/19 This devotional is drawn from Women of the Bible: A One-Year Devotional Study of Women in Scripture by Ann Spangler and Jean Syswerda. Used with permission.

Elizabeth of the bible

Elizabeth of the Bible, January 9, 2016, Key scripture Luke 1:5 – 80

Her name means “God is My Oath”

Luke 1:5 [ The Birth of John the Baptist Foretold ] In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron.

Luke 1:6 (refers to)

  • Elizabeth was a woman the bible calls “upright in the site of God.” Like very few others, male or female, she is praised for observing the Lord’s commandments and regulations without blame. (Footnote) They were not sinless, but were faithful and sincere in keeping God’s commandments.

Luke 1:7 But they were childless because Elizabeth was not able to conceive, and they were both very old.

Luke  1:13 But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John.

  • Zechariah was Elizabeth’s husband. He served in a priestly division burning incense in the Temple. He had been chosen by God to serve in this privileged position.

 

Luke 1:18

  • Zechariah questioned the angel saying, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in her years.” Because Zechariah questioned the angel, he was silenced, and not allowed to speak until the birth of his son.

Luke 1:24 After this his wife Elizabeth became pregnant and for five months remained in seclusion.

Luke 1:26 [The Birth of Jesus Foretold] In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee.

Luke 1:36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month.

Luke 1:39 [Mary Visits Elizabeth] At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea,

Luke 1:40 where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth.

Luke 1:41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.

Luke 1:56 Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home.

Luke 1:57 [ The Birth of John the Baptist ] When it was time for Elizabeth to have her baby, she gave birth to a son.

Two themes that came to mind after reading the information above: “Faith Rewarded” and The Consequences of Disobedience.

Resources

  1. NIV Study Bible
  2. Syswerda, Jean E, Women of the Bible, Zondervan, 1999
  3. https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=luke+1%3A5-80&version=NIV

The Wise Woman of Abel Beth Maacah

Points and Scripture for  Bible Study September 26, 2015

2 Samuel 20:2, 6-7, 14-22

  • Rather than passively waiting for someone else to save her city, she had the wisdom and courage to act quickly and decisively
  • All the men of Israel deserted King David to follow Sheba, son of Bicri
  • David said to Abishai, “Take your master’s men and pursue him, or he will find fortified cities and escape from us.”
  • All the troops with Joab came and besieged Sheba in Abel Beth Maacah.
  • A wise woman bargained with Joab to save the city of Abel Beth Maacah. She bargained for the lives of the inhabitants of Abel Beth Maacah.
  • Joab acknowledged that his troops were not trying to destroy the City of Abel Beth Maacah. They were only after Sheba, son of Bivri.
  • The woman said to Joab, “his head will be thrown to you from the wall.”
  • Then the woman went to all of the people with her wise advice.
  • They cut off the head of Sheba son of Bicri and threw it to Joab.
  • Joab sounded the trumpet, and his men dispersed from the city, each returning to his home.

2 Samuel 20:2, 6-7, 14-22

2 So all the men of Israel deserted David to follow Sheba son of Bicri. But the men of Judah stayed by their king all the way from the Jordan to Jerusalem.

6 David said to Abishai, “Now Sheba son of Bicri will do us more harm than Absalom did. Take your master’s men and pursue him, or he will find fortified cities and escape us.

7 So Joab’s men and the Kerithites and Pelethites and all the mighty warriors went out under the command of Abishai. They marched out from Jerusalem to pursue Sheba son of Bicri.

14 Sheba passed through all the tribes of Israel to Abel Beth Maakah and through the entire region of the Bikrites,[b] who gathered together and followed him. 15 All the troops with Joab came and besieged Sheba in Abel Beth Maakah. They built a siege ramp up to the city, and it stood against the outer fortifications. While they were battering the wall to bring it down, 16 a wise woman called from the city, “Listen! Listen! Tell Joab to come here so I can speak to him.” 17 He went toward her, and she asked, “Are you Joab?”

“I am,” he answered.

She said, “Listen to what your servant has to say.”

“I’m listening,” he said.

18 She continued, “Long ago they used to say, ‘Get your answer at Abel,’ and that settled it. 19 We are the peaceful and faithful in Israel. You are trying to destroy a city that is a mother in Israel. Why do you want to swallow up the Lord’s inheritance?”

20 “Far be it from me!” Joab replied, “Far be it from me to swallow up or destroy! 21 That is not the case. A man named Sheba son of Bikri, from the hill country of Ephraim, has lifted up his hand against the king, against David. Hand over this one man, and I’ll withdraw from the city.”

The woman said to Joab, “His head will be thrown to you from the wall.”

22 Then the woman went to all the people with her wise advice, and they cut off the head of Sheba son of Bikri and threw it to Joab. So he sounded the trumpet, and his men dispersed from the city, each returning to his home. And Joab went back to the king in Jerusalem.The second of two “wise women” portrayed in 2 Samuel lived in a fortified city in northern Israel. More straightforwardly than the story of the wise woman of Tekoa (2 Samuel 14), this narrative depicts what must have been typical leadership activities of a woman in this accepted position against the larger political tensions of David’s reign.

  1. The NIV Study Bible, Zondervan, 1995. (All Scriptures)
  2. Women of the Bible, 52 Bible Studies for Individuals and Groups, Jean E. Syswerda, Zondervan 1999.

Potiphar’s Wife – 10 Points for Bible Study 06/06/2015

Genesis 39

  1. The wife of a prosperous and influential Egyptian, she was unfaithful and vindictive, ready to lie in order to protect herself and ruin an innocent man.
  2. She caught Joseph by the cloak and directed him to come to bed with her. Joseph left his cloak in her hand and ran out of the house. She told Potiphar that Joseph (a Hebrew slave) came to make sport of her. Potiphar took Joseph and put him in prison.
  3. Potiphar’s wife likely led a life of relative ease and prosperity.
  4. She had no children. She was rich, bored and idle. She had no purpose. She did not seem to love her husband.
  5. She was in constant contact with Joseph, because he ran the household.
  6. She became infatuated with Joseph because of their constant interfacing and his successful running of the household.
  7. She took her revenge on Joseph, for refusing her advances toward him, by accusing him of rape.
  8. She seemed to have been a lonely and bored woman, thrown into the company of an attractive man.
  9. She decided that a male slave should be available to her as the master’s wife, if she wished for him to be available. By Egyptian culture, slaves were available to their masters. By the Israelites’ Moral Code, sex with boys was forbidden. The Hebrew way of thinking was that a woman was the exclusive sexual property of her husband.
  10. She blamed her husband for the bringing of trouble into their home, in the form of a      foreign slave.

Genesis 39:2, 4, 6 – 8, 11 – 12, 16 – 20

39:2  The Lord was with Joseph and he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master.  [Though Joseph’s situation changed drastically, God’s relationship to him remained the same.]  [“The Lord was with Joseph” this fact is mentioned several times here]

39:4  Joseph found favor in his eyes and became his attendant.  Potiphar put him in charge of his household, and he entrusted to his care everything he owned.

39:6 – 8  So he left in Joseph’s care everything he had; with Joseph in charge, he did not concern himself with anything except the food that he ate.

Now Joseph was well-built and handsome, and after a while his master’s wife took notice of Joseph and said, “Come to bed with me!”

(NIV footnote 39:6-7) “But he refused. “With me in charge,” he told her, “my master does not concern himself with anything in the house; everything he owns he has entrusted to my care.  [left in Joseph’s care everything he had.]  As Laban had entrusted his flock to Jacob’s care.  Joseph had full responsibility for the welfare of Potiphar’s house, as later he would have full responsibility in prison and later still in all Egypt.  Always this Israelite came to hold the welfare of his “world” in his hands – but always by the blessing and overruling of God, never by his own wits, as his father Jacob had so long attempted.  In the role that he played in Israel’s history and in the manner in which he lived it, Joseph was a true representative of Israel.  [took notice of.]  Looked with desire at.  The phrase is used in the same sense in Akkadian in Section 25 of the code of Hammurapi.”

39:11 – 12  One day he went into the house to attend to his duties, and none of the household servants was inside.  She caught him by his cloak and said, “Come to bed with me!”  But he left his cloak in her hand and ran out of the house.

39:16 – 20  She kept his cloak beside her until his master came home.  Then she told him this story.  “That Hebrew slave you brought us came to me to make sport of me.  But as soon as I screamed for help, he left his cloak beside me and ran out of the house.”

When his master heard the story his wife told him, saying, “This is how your slave treated me,” he burned with anger.  Joseph’s master took him and put him in prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined.

But while Joseph was there in the prison, {21 the Lord was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the warden.}  [39:20  place where the king’s prisoners were confined.  Though understandably angry, Potiphar put Joseph in the “house of the captain of the guard” – certainly not the worst prison available.]

1. The NIV Study Bible, Zondervan 2008 Edition (All scriptures)

2. Women of the Bible, 52 Bible Studies for Individuals and Groups, Jean E Syswerda, Zondervan, 1999, pg. 221.

Lydia – 10 Key Points for Bible Study on March 14, 2015

Lydia – A Woman of the Bible

by Lisa Jones

Our Lesson on Lydia comes from Acts 16:6-40 in our main text Women of the Bible by Jean E Syswerda. Here are some important points. These points may not directly answer the questions on pages 219-220.

  1. Her name signifies that she was a woman of Lydia, a region in Asia Minor.
  2. She was a Gentile adherent to Judaism.
  3. She is described as a successful businesswoman; because she was a dealer of purple cloth. Purple cloth was expensive and valuable as a sign of nobility or royalty so she was a wealthy businesswoman.
  4. As head of household she was either widowed or single.
  5. So strong was her faith, that her entire household followed her example and was baptized.
  6. She extended hospitality to Paul and his companions, even after their imprisonment.
  7. From the city of Thyatira. This small city was known for its commerce in Asia Minor. It was in an area noted for its abundant crops and the manufacture of purple dye.
  8. A worshiper of God. This term was used for Gentiles who believed in the Jewish God, Yahweh. Although they believed in God, they were not yet believers in Christ.
  9. A woman whose heart God opened. Paul shared the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ and through God’s divine work, she believed. She apparently was baptized right away along with the members of her household. Lydia’s household probably included children and servants. Whether the entire household believed or not, they now lived in a Christian home.
  10. A willing servant. When God opened her heart, she believed wholeheartedly. She became a servant, tending to the needs of the missionaries. Later in Paul’s mission, he returned to Lydia’s home where he met with believers. Lydia had apparently become an active member of the church.

Mary Magdalene —10 Key Points for Bible Study on February 28, 2015

Our Lesson on Mary Magdalene comes from Matthew 27:56, 61; 28:1, Mark 15:40, 47; 16:1-19; Luke 8:2; 24:10; John 19:25; 20:1-18 of our main text Women of the Bible by Jean E Syswerda. Here are some important points. These points may not directly answer the questions on pages 211-212.

Mary Magdelene
Her name means “Bitterness”
Ten points of information:
1. Mistakenly characterized as a prostitute.
2. She was possessed by seven demons. She probably suffered from a serious mental or physical illness from which Jesus delivered her.
3. She went to the tomb where Jesus was buried and saw that the stone had been rolled away, at the entrance. She explained to the two angels that she saw that the body of her Lord had been taken away and that she did not know where to find him. She was the first to see the Resurrected Jesus Christ.
4. She cried out in Aramaic “Rabboni” (which means teacher) when she recognized who Jesus was.
5. She was one of several women who took the time out to play a role in the ministry of Jesus. She traveled with Jesus and the twelve disciples. She cared for their needs during the time that they were not earning a living.
6. The women that cared for Jesus and his disciples used their own financial resources to support Jesus and his disciples. They either had no children or their children were grown.
7. They spent their time purchasing food; preparing it; and serving it; while Jesus was teaching and healing.
8. Perhaps they found homes for Jesus and his disciples to stay in during their travels.
9. When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body.
10. She announced to the disciples that she had seen the Lord. She informed them that he told her to tell them that he was ascending to his Father and our Father, to his God and our God.

Scriptures:
Matthew 27:56 – Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee’s sons.
Matthew 27:61 – Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting there opposite the tomb.
Matthew 28:1 –  After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.
Mark 15:40 – Some women were watching from a distance, Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joseph, and Salome.
Mark 15:47  Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses saw where he was laid.
Mark 16:1 – When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body.
Luke 8:2 – And also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases. Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out;
Luke 24:10 – It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles.
John 19:25 – Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.
John 20:1 – 18 – Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. (2) So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!” (3) So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. (4) Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. (5) He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. (6) Then Simon Peter came along behind him and went straight into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, (7) as well as the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head. The cloth was still lying in its place, separate from the linen. (8) Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. (9) (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.) (10) Then the disciples went back to where they were staying. (11) Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb (12) and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot. (13) They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?” “They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” (14) At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus. (15) He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?” Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.” (16) Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”). (17) Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my Brothers and tell them, I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.” (18) Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news. “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.