Showing posts from October, 2016

What are Signs and Symbols there for?

Revelation has long been my favorite book of the Bible. Knowing Ezekiel is full of symbols too, I've been looking forward to reading him in our study of the prophets. And here we are! Ezekiel, signs and symbols for all! (33) Signs, Symbols and Ezekiel While Jeremiah preached to the remnant in Jerusalem, Ezekiel and Daniel spoke to different groups of exiles in Babylon. What do you suppose these exiles missed most about their home, and especially about Jerusalem? Ezekiel uses lots of symbols as he describes his visions. Why might symbols have been particularly important to exiles? 1.        Read Ezekiel 1:1. The canal and associated flooded lands were probably near Babylon, at Nippur. If so, it was the site of some extensive religious buildings dedicated to Bel. Living there would not have been uncomfortable physically, but it would have been very foreign, probably very uncomfortable spiritually. How might we feel, living in a foreign land dedicated to foreign gods, or

Why did Babylon fall?

Last week we didn't finish the study, so I've separated the section on true and false prophets from the section on the fall of Babylon. As a result, I find myself looking at Babylon's creation celebration, Jeremiah's prediction of its demise, and Belshazzar's feast in a whole new light. Enjoy. (32) Babylon Must Fall Jeremiah has prophesied (see last week) that Babylon is God’s instrument at work within the nations. This might have sounded rather like saying ISIS is God’s instrument. How hard might it have been for the remnant in Jerusalem to believe Jeremiah? 1.        If Babylon is certifiably doing God’s will, should the people in Babylon all behave like Babylonians? 2.        Is there a sense in which Babylon might model what being in the world but not of the world might mean? Read John 17:14-16, Romans 12:2. Just because Babylon is doing God’s work doesn’t make it good. Jeremiah goes on to prophesy how Babylon will fall. 1.        How does kn

How can you tell when someone's a false prophet?

So Daniel was in Babylon and Jeremiah was in Jerusalem, and the world was falling apart. We're up to the part where Jeremiah tells the exiles to settle down and makes lives in a foreign land, much to the annoyance of those who feel they can't live anyplace but here. It should make for a fun Bible study this week. (31) True and False Prophets Jeremiah is not the only prophet in Zedekiah’s court after Nebuchadnezzar’s deportations. 1.        Which two well-known prophets have been deported? Where were they sent? Can you see God’s hand in choosing where to send them? 2.        Do you suppose they wanted to be deported? Do you suppose Jeremiah wanted to be left behind? How do you respond when God gives you something you don’t want? 3.        Before reading on, do you imagine God had all the false prophets deported, all of them left behind, or a mixture? Hananiah is one of the prophets left behind in Jerusalem.  But Jeremiah might be the only true prophet. 1

Meanwhile, back in Jerusalem...

Our last study showed Daniel witnessing to God's power in Nebuchadnezzar's court. But there were still Jews in Jerusalem - still a king and prophets in Jerusalem. So this week we look at how the remnant was looking at current events. Back to Jeremiah... (30) Meanwhile, back in Jerusalem Daniel was among the first exiles removed from Jerusalem. While he was growing up in the pomp and ceremony of the Babylonian court, Jeremiah remained at the Jerusalem court, serving under the puppet king Zedekiah (who replaced Jejoiachin). 1.        Read 2 Kings 24:15-19, Jeremiah 52:1-2 Why might the same passage be repeated in two different places? 2.        Read Jeremiah 27:1-6. Why might some translations and some interpretations name Zedekiah, others Jehoiakim? 3.        Read Jeremiah 27:7-8. How do we decide when to rebel and when to submit to secular authority? 4.        Read Jeremiah 27:9-10. Are we ever tempted to think we know what God wants? How do we tell the dif

Daniel In The Firing Line

Continuing with familiar stories from Daniel's well-spent youth, this week's studies look at three men in a fire, and an interpreter of dreams who'd really rather keep the interpretation secret. Enjoy. (29) Daniel in the Firing Line The third story of Daniel is another familiar one, but it’s set in a very unfamiliar historical world—a real historical world, however; not an imaginary one. 1.        Read Daniel 3:1. Why do you think Nebuchadnezzar does this? (It’s probably a wood statue overlaid with gold) a.        Could it be related to that first dream with the head of gold? b.       What do we, business leaders, national leaders etc do that might be similar to this, and what tempts us? 2.        Read Daniel 3:2. What is Nebuchadnezzar doing? a.        Okay, we don’t demand that other people worship Hollywood or other nations worship American-style democracy… do we? How do we risk making other nations and faiths view us this way? b.       Is Neb