Sat 17/11/18

1 Corinthians 7:25-40 … GUIDELINES FOR SINGLES AND FATHERS IN A HOSTILE CULTURE.

Q.1. Was it wrong for singles to marry? How dangerous was marrying during times of persecution? What made it wise to hide your beliefs and marital state? – (1 Cor.7:25-32) =

Q.2. Where was the focus for single believers? What added responsibilities did marriage bring? What was Paul’s desire for the believers? – (1 Cor.7:32-35) =

Q.3. What does Paul mean by acting unbecomingly to his daughter? What responsibility did a father fulfill for his single daughter? Is a widow free to marry? – (1 Cor.7:36-40) =

The Unmarried and the Widowed

25 Now concerning[a] the betrothed,[b] I have no command from the Lord, but I give my judgment as one who by the Lord’s mercy is trustworthy.26 I think that in view of the present[c] distress it is good for a person to remain as he is. 27 Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be free. Are you free from a wife? Do not seek a wife. 28 But if you do marry, you have not sinned, and if a betrothed woman[d] marries, she has not sinned. Yet those who marry will have worldly troubles, and I would spare you that. 29 This is what I mean, brothers: the appointed time has grown very short. From now on, let those who have wives live as though they had none, 30 and those who mourn as though they were not mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those who buy as though they had no goods, 31 and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it. For the present form of this world is passing away.

32 I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord. 33 But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife, 34 and his interests are divided. And the unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit. But the married woman is anxious about worldly things, how to please her husband. 35 I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord.

36 If anyone thinks that he is not behaving properly toward his betrothed,[e] if his[f] passions are strong, and it has to be, let him do as he wishes: let them marry—it is no sin. 37 But whoever is firmly established in his heart, being under no necessity but having his desire under control, and has determined this in his heart, to keep her as his betrothed, he will do well. 38 So then he who marries his betrothed does well, and he who refrains from marriage will do even better.

39 A wife is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord.40 Yet in my judgment she is happier if she remains as she is. And I think that I too have the Spirit of God.

Suggested Answers:

Q.1. Was it wrong for singles to marry? How dangerous was marrying during times of persecution? What made it wise to hide your beliefs and marital state? – (1 Cor.7:25-32) = Paul thought it best for people to remain single if God had not given them the gift of singleness (1 Cor.7:6-7). To save them from trouble, it was his opinion that because of the persecution of his days – that it is good for a man to remain as he is (1 Cor.7:25-26 c.f. Acts 8:1-3; 11:19; 18:2; 1 Cor.7:28-29). He indicates that under these conditions life was fleeting and that they should be wary of digging their roots into a life that was soon passing away (1 Cor.7:30-31). Nevertheless, Paul reiterates that – if you marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned (1 Cor.7:28). It was much easier to move and make decisions quickly without the responsibilities of a spouse and children and Paul explains that – I want you to be free from concern (1 Cor.7:32).

Q.2. Where was the focus for single believers? What added responsibilities did marriage bring? What was Paul’s desire for the believers? – (1 Cor.7:32-35) = Paul gives reasons why singleness could be better than marriage by highlighting that – … 32 one who is unmarried is concerned about the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord … 34 The woman who is unmarried, and the virgin, is concerned about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and spirit (1 Cor.7:32 & 34). By comparison the – one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how he may please his wife … and his interests are divided … and the one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how she may please her husband (1 Cor.7:33-34). Paul sought the best for believers and explained – 35 This I say for your own benefit; not to put a restraint upon you, but to promote what is appropriate and to secure undistracted devotion to the Lord (1 Cor.7:35). Paul gives this advice particularly to those gifted not to marry and those experiencing persecution.

Q.3. What does Paul mean by acting unbecomingly to his daughter? What responsibility did a father fulfill for his single daughter? Is a widow free to marry? – (1 Cor.7:36-40) = It needs to be underscored that a father’s unbecoming actions would not be speaking of sexual abuse because this is roundly condemned in the Bible. It seems to be referring to a father reducing his daughter to servitude and preventing her marriage for selfish reasons. He instructs fathers – … if she is past her youth, and if it must be so, let him do what he wishes, he does not sin; let her marry (1 Cor.7:36). Provided the father had a clear conscience to keep his daughter unmarried and provide for her properly then that was acceptable (1 Cor.7:37). So what would make keeping her single better? At a time when there would not be an abundance of Christian husbands, it would be better for a virgin daughter to respect her father’s wishes and not to marry (1 Cor.7:38). Though Paul insists that a widow or widower may be happier not to marry, he makes it clear that such people are free to marry – A wife is bound as long as her husband lives; but if her husband is dead, she is free to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord (1 Cor.7:39 c.f. 1 Cor.7:40).


(Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.)

If you have any queries about your readings, check Bible Commentary via sonic light.com  or discuss it with your Real Life Group leader or email paulh@oakdenbaptist.org.au

©PaulHoogenraad2009

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Fri 16/11/18

Isaiah 44:1-28 … GOD PROMISES A FUTURE TO ISRAEL AND AFFIRMS HIS MESSENGERS.

Q.1. What astounding promises does God make for a future generation? What does this say about God? How does He explain the reversal of Israel’s fortunes? – (Isa.44:1-8) =

Q.2. Why are idols worthless? Where do they come from? How are the resources to make them used? How is the stupidity of worshiping idols underscored? – (Isa.44:9-20) =

Q.3. On what basis will God’s people be restored? How will Jerusalem be repopulated? How does God treat His messengers? What will Cyrus do? – (Isa.44:21-28) =

Israel the Lord‘s Chosen

44 “But now hear, O Jacob my servant,
    Israel whom I have chosen!
Thus says the Lord who made you,
    who formed you from the womb and will help you:
Fear not, O Jacob my servant,
    Jeshurun whom I have chosen.
For I will pour water on the thirsty land,
    and streams on the dry ground;
I will pour my Spirit upon your offspring,
    and my blessing on your descendants.
They shall spring up among the grass
    like willows by flowing streams.
This one will say, ‘I am the Lord‘s,’
    another will call on the name of Jacob,
and another will write on his hand, ‘The Lord‘s,’
    and name himself by the name of Israel.”

Besides Me There Is No God

Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel
    and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts:
“I am the first and I am the last;
    besides me there is no god.
Who is like me? Let him proclaim it.[a]
    Let him declare and set it before me,
since I appointed an ancient people.
    Let them declare what is to come, and what will happen.
Fear not, nor be afraid;
    have I not told you from of old and declared it?
    And you are my witnesses!
Is there a God besides me?
    There is no Rock; I know not any.”

The Folly of Idolatry

All who fashion idols are nothing, and the things they delight in do not profit. Their witnesses neither see nor know, that they may be put to shame. 10 Who fashions a god or casts an idol that is profitable for nothing? 11 Behold, all his companions shall be put to shame, and the craftsmen are only human. Let them all assemble, let them stand forth. They shall be terrified; they shall be put to shame together.

12 The ironsmith takes a cutting tool and works it over the coals. He fashions it with hammers and works it with his strong arm. He becomes hungry, and his strength fails; he drinks no water and is faint. 13 The carpenter stretches a line; he marks it out with a pencil.[b] He shapes it with planes and marks it with a compass. He shapes it into the figure of a man, with the beauty of a man, to dwell in a house. 14 He cuts down cedars, or he chooses a cypress tree or an oak and lets it grow strong among the trees of the forest. He plants a cedar and the rain nourishes it. 15 Then it becomes fuel for a man. He takes a part of it and warms himself; he kindles a fire and bakes bread. Also he makes a god and worships it; he makes it an idol and falls down before it. 16 Half of it he burns in the fire. Over the half he eats meat; he roasts it and is satisfied. Also he warms himself and says, “Aha, I am warm, I have seen the fire!” 17 And the rest of it he makes into a god, his idol, and falls down to it and worships it. He prays to it and says, “Deliver me, for you are my god!”

18 They know not, nor do they discern, for he has shut their eyes, so that they cannot see, and their hearts, so that they cannot understand. 19 No one considers, nor is there knowledge or discernment to say, “Half of it I burned in the fire; I also baked bread on its coals; I roasted meat and have eaten. And shall I make the rest of it an abomination? Shall I fall down before a block of wood?” 20 He feeds on ashes; a deluded heart has led him astray, and he cannot deliver himself or say, “Is there not a lie in my right hand?”

The Lord Redeems Israel

21 Remember these things, O Jacob,
    and Israel, for you are my servant;
I formed you; you are my servant;
    O Israel, you will not be forgotten by me.
22 I have blotted out your transgressions like a cloud
    and your sins like mist;
return to me, for I have redeemed you.

23 Sing, O heavens, for the Lord has done it;
    shout, O depths of the earth;
break forth into singing, O mountains,
    O forest, and every tree in it!
For the Lord has redeemed Jacob,
    and will be glorified[c] in Israel.

24 Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer,
    who formed you from the womb:
“I am the Lord, who made all things,
    who alone stretched out the heavens,
    who spread out the earth by myself,
25 who frustrates the signs of liars
    and makes fools of diviners,
who turns wise men back
    and makes their knowledge foolish,
26 who confirms the word of his servant
    and fulfills the counsel of his messengers,
who says of Jerusalem, ‘She shall be inhabited,’
    and of the cities of Judah, ‘They shall be built,
    and I will raise up their ruins’;
27 who says to the deep, ‘Be dry;
    I will dry up your rivers’;
28 who says of Cyrus, ‘He is my shepherd,
    and he shall fulfill all my purpose’;
saying of Jerusalem, ‘She shall be built,’
    and of the temple, ‘Your foundation shall be laid.’”

Suggested Answers:

Q.1. What astounding promises does God make for a future generation? What does this say about God? How does He explain the reversal of Israel’s fortunes? – (Isa.44:1-8) = Judgment must fall on Judah because of its indifference to God. But to keep them from total despondency He reminded them – I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake, and I will not remember your sins (Isa.43:25). More than that, He paints a picture of a bright tomorrow when the devastations He has prophesied will be no more (Isa.44:3-4). This is possible because God will renew His covenant with Israel and – … I will pour out My Spirit on your offspring and My blessing on your descendants (Isa.44:3 c.f. Jer.31:31-34; Joel 2:28-29). This reminds us about God’s heart of grace toward sinners. It reveals that God keeps covenant with those He has chosen – 1 But now listen, O Jacob, My servant, and Israel, whom I have chosen: 2 Thus says the Lord who made you and formed you from the womb, who will help you, `Do not fear, O Jacob My servant; And you Jeshurun (i.e. Upright one) whom I have chosen (Isa.44:1-2). This choice explains why Israel will one day be restored and – … belong to the Lord … whilst enjoying a name of honour (Isa.44:5). No other person or god could have either imagined or proclaimed Israel’s restoration as God has done because – Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: `I am the first and I am the last, and there is no God besides Me (Isa.44:6). The reason He has declared Israel’s change of fortunes is because – … you are My witnesses. Is there any God besides Me, or is there any other Rock? I know of none (Isa.44:8). His stern dealings with the nation and its predicted rise are a sign to the nations.

Q.2. Why are idols worthless? Where do they come from? How are the resources to make them used? How is the stupidity of worshiping idols underscored? – (Isa.44:9-20) = God exposes the folly of holding graven images and wooden idols in reverence and predicts the idolaters will all be shamed (Isa.44:9-11). He describes the care with which the idolater crafts the image when common sense shows they come from creation and the materials used for cooking and heating (Isa.44:12-16). He mocks the trust placed in idols – … He falls down before it and worships; he also prays to it and says, ‘Deliver me, for you are my god’ … No one recalls, nor is there knowledge or understanding to say, ‘I have burned half of it in the fire and also have baked bread over its coals. I roast meat and eat it. Then I make the rest of it into an abomination, I fall down before a block of wood!’ (Isa.44:17 & 19). Yet the idol can neither see nor save even itself (Isa.44:18 & 20).

Q.3. On what basis will God’s people be restored? How will Jerusalem be repopulated? How does God treat His messengers? What will Cyrus do? – (Isa.44:21-28) = The Lord challenges His people to remember that He formed and called them to be His servant. Though they have turned from Him – you will not be forgotten by Me (Isa.44:21). This will happen entirely by the grace of God when – I have wiped out your transgressions like a thick cloud and your sins like a heavy mist. Return to Me, for I have redeemed you (Isa.44:22). He calls on heaven and earth to break out into praise – … For the Lord has redeemed Jacob and in Israel He shows forth His glory (Isa.44:23). No one would have either expected or predicted this (Isa.44:25). But the Lord, the Redeemer, and Creator of the universe is the One – Confirming the word of His servant and performing the purpose of His messengers. It is I who says of Jerusalem, `She shall be inhabited!’ And of the cities of Judah, `they shall be built’ (Isa.44:26 c.f. 2 Pet.2:20-21). All true prophets and servants of God will then be vindicated. God also gives Isaiah the actual name of the foreign shepherd He will raise up to restore Israel before he was even born. The name of King Cyrus is given almost one hundred years before he makes the decree to open the way for Judah to return to the Promised Land (Isa.44:28; 45:1; 2 Chron.36:22-23; Ezra 1:1-2).


(Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.)

If you have any queries about your readings, check Bible Commentary via sonic light.com  or discuss it with your Real Life Group leader or email paulh@oakdenbaptist.org.au

©PaulHoogenraad2009

Thurs 15/11/18

Psalm 36:1-12 … DAVID REVEALS WHY HE TRUSTS GOD AND SHUNS THE WICKED.

Q.1. What attitude to God increases evil? How do the ungodly view themselves? How does David describe the deterioration of the wicked? – (Ps.36:1-4) =

Q.2. How did David view God? What difference does God make to His children? What is David’s prayer Godward and toward the ungodly? – Ps.36:5-12) =

How Precious Is Your Steadfast Love

To the choirmaster. Of David, the servant of the Lord.

36 Transgression speaks to the wicked
    deep in his heart;[a]
there is no fear of God
    before his eyes.
For he flatters himself in his own eyes
    that his iniquity cannot be found out and hated.
The words of his mouth are trouble and deceit;
    he has ceased to act wisely and do good.
He plots trouble while on his bed;
    he sets himself in a way that is not good;
    he does not reject evil.

Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens,
    your faithfulness to the clouds.
Your righteousness is like the mountains of God;
    your judgments are like the great deep;
    man and beast you save, O Lord.

How precious is your steadfast love, O God!
    The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
They feast on the abundance of your house,
    and you give them drink from the river of your delights.
For with you is the fountain of life;
    in your light do we see light.

10 Oh, continue your steadfast love to those who know you,
    and your righteousness to the upright of heart!
11 Let not the foot of arrogance come upon me,
    nor the hand of the wicked drive me away.
12 There the evildoers lie fallen;
    they are thrust down, unable to rise.

Suggested Answers:

Q.1. What attitude to God increases evil? How do the ungodly view themselves? How does David describe the deterioration of the wicked? – (Ps.36:1-4) = David begins the psalm by identifying the heart that produces evil – Transgression speaks to the ungodly within his heart; There is no fear of God before his eyes (Ps.36:1). When people have no fear of God then there is no limit to the evil they can conceive. They flatter themselves and think they can get away with sin (Ps.36:2). You cannot trust what they say because they deal in deceit and their ways turn from good to evil (Ps.36:3-4).

Q.2. How did David view God? What difference does God make to His children? What is David’s prayer Godward and toward the ungodly? – Ps.36:5-12) = Not only did David fear God, he knew God’s character from his dealings with the godly – 5 Your lovingkindness, O Lord, extends to the heavens, Your faithfulness reaches to the skies. 6 Your righteousness is like the mountains of God; Your judgments are like a great deep. O Lord, You preserve man and beast (Ps.36:5-6). His people revel in His lovingkindness and because of this they feel safe and assured of His abundant provision (Ps.36:7-8). In fact – For with You is the fountain of life; In Your light we see light (Ps.36:9). He prays that the Lord will continue to shower the upright with His mercy and righteousness (Ps.36:10). He calls on God to protect him from pride and the influence of the wicked since they are doomed forever (Ps.36:11-12).


(Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.)

If you have any queries about your readings, check Bible Commentary via sonic light.com  or discuss it with your Real Life Group leader or email paulh@cityreach.com.au

©PaulHoogenraad2009

Wed 14/11/18

Judges 21:1-25 … PLANS FOR THE RESTORATION OF THE TRIBE OF BENJAMIN.

Q.1. How strongly had the tribes of Israel reacted against the sins of the Benjamites? What threat did this pose? What tribe had gone missing? How was Jabesh-gilead punished? – (Jdgs.21:1-12) =

Q.2. What acts of grace were shown to the survivors of Benjamin? Why? How did they explain their actions to the bereft families? Was the solution altogether acceptable? – (Jdgs.21:13-25) =

Wives Provided for the Tribe of Benjamin

21 Now the men of Israel had sworn at Mizpah, “No one of us shall give his daughter in marriage to Benjamin.” And the people came to Bethel and sat there till evening before God, and they lifted up their voices and wept bitterly. And they said, “O Lord, the God of Israel, why has this happened in Israel, that today there should be one tribe lacking in Israel?” And the next day the people rose early and built there an altar and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings. And the people of Israel said, “Which of all the tribes of Israel did not come up in the assembly to the Lord?” For they had taken a great oath concerning him who did not come up to the Lord to Mizpah, saying, “He shall surely be put to death.” And the people of Israel had compassion for Benjamin their brother and said, “One tribe is cut off from Israel this day. What shall we do for wives for those who are left, since we have sworn by the Lord that we will not give them any of our daughters for wives?”

And they said, “What one is there of the tribes of Israel that did not come up to the Lord to Mizpah?” And behold, no one had come to the camp from Jabesh-gilead, to the assembly. For when the people were mustered, behold, not one of the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead was there.10 So the congregation sent 12,000 of their bravest men there and commanded them, “Go and strike the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead with the edge of the sword; also the women and the little ones. 11 This is what you shall do: every male and every woman that has lain with a male you shall devote to destruction.” 12 And they found among the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead 400 young virgins who had not known a man by lying with him, and they brought them to the camp at Shiloh, which is in the land of Canaan.

13 Then the whole congregation sent word to the people of Benjamin who were at the rock of Rimmon and proclaimed peace to them. 14 And Benjamin returned at that time. And they gave them the women whom they had saved alive of the women of Jabesh-gilead, but they were not enough for them. 15 And the people had compassion on Benjamin because the Lord had made a breach in the tribes of Israel.

16 Then the elders of the congregation said, “What shall we do for wives for those who are left, since the women are destroyed out of Benjamin?”17 And they said, “There must be an inheritance for the survivors of Benjamin, that a tribe not be blotted out from Israel. 18 Yet we cannot give them wives from our daughters.” For the people of Israel had sworn, “Cursed be he who gives a wife to Benjamin.” 19 So they said, “Behold, there is the yearly feast of the Lord at Shiloh, which is north of Bethel, on the east of the highway that goes up from Bethel to Shechem, and south of Lebonah.” 20 And they commanded the people of Benjamin, saying, “Go and lie in ambush in the vineyards 21 and watch. If the daughters of Shiloh come out to dance in the dances, then come out of the vineyards and snatch each man his wife from the daughters of Shiloh, and go to the land of Benjamin. 22 And when their fathers or their brothers come to complain to us, we will say to them, ‘Grant them graciously to us, because we did not take for each man of them his wife in battle, neither did you give them to them, else you would now be guilty.’” 23 And the people of Benjamin did so and took their wives, according to their number, from the dancers whom they carried off. Then they went and returned to their inheritance and rebuilt the towns and lived in them. 24 And the people of Israel departed from there at that time, every man to his tribe and family, and they went out from there every man to his inheritance.

25 In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.

 Suggested Answers:

Q.1. How strongly had the tribes of Israel reacted against the sins of the Benjamites? What threat did this pose? What tribe had gone missing? How was Jabesh-gilead punished? – (Jdgs.21:1-12) = The impact of the cut up body of the concubine had galvanised the other eleven tribes against the tribe of Benjamin. Not only did they amass an army of 400,000 soldiers, they had also made a solemn oath declaring – … None of us shall give his daughter to Benjamin in marriage (Jdgs.21:1). But after the event they grieved for the virtual decimation of one of the tribes in Israel (Jdgs.21:2-3). They wanted to help repopulate Benjamin but recognised their inability to help – … since we have sworn by the Lord not to give them any of our daughters in marriage? (Jdgs.21:7). So what to do? Well it had been discovered at the roll-call of the tribes at Mizpah that no members from Jabesh-gilead from the tribe of Gad had been represented (Jdgs.21:8-9). So the army dispatched 12,000 soldiers that slew all but 400 young virgins to provide wives for the survivors of the tribe of Benjamin (Jdgs.21:10-12).

Q.2. What acts of grace were shown to the survivors of Benjamin? Why? How did they explain their actions to the bereft families? Was the solution altogether acceptable? – (Jdgs.21:13-25) = The congregation of Israel expressed their sorrow and sent a message of reconciliation to the surviving soldiers of Benjamin because – … There must be an inheritance for the survivors of Benjamin, so that a tribe will not be blotted out from Israel (Jdgs.21:17). They gave the 400 maidens to these Benjamite men … but there were still insufficient wives for all the men (Jdgs.21:14). The rest of the tribes could not break their vow lest they brought a curse upon themselves so they advised the Benjamites  – 20 … Go and lie in wait in the vineyards, 21 and watch; and behold, if the daughters of Shiloh come out to take part in the dances, then you shall come out of the vineyards and each of you shall catch his wife from the daughters of Shiloh, and go to the land of Benjamin (Jdgs.21:20-21). They promised to subdue their families from reprisals yet in this way had found a way to keep from breaking their vows to God (Jdgs.21:18, 22). Thus Benjamin – … went and returned to their inheritance and rebuilt the cities and lived in them (Jdgs.21:23). Then everyone returned to their families in their respective tribal territories (Jdgs.21:24). The solution was far from satisfactory with massacres and kidnappings to cover the ravages of sin. Perhaps the best explanation comes from the last words of the book of Judges – In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes (Jdgs.21:25). Nevertheless, we learn from history that we have learnt little from history!?


(Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.)

If you have any queries about your readings, check Bible Commentary via sonic light.com  or discuss it with your Real Life Group leader or email paulh@oakdenbaptist.org.au

©PaulHoogenraad2009

Tues 13/11/18

Genesis 40:1-23 … JOSEPH INTERPRETS DREAMS FOR THE KING’S CUPBEARER & BAKER.

Q.1. Why were the king’s cupbearer and baker in jail? How did Joseph get involved with these men? What did Joseph understand about dreams? – (Gen.40:1-8) =

Q.2. What interpretation did Joseph give the king’s cupbearer? What appeal did he make to the cupbearer? – (Gen.40:9-15) =

Q.3. Why did the baker share his dream with Joseph? What did it mean? Were the interpretations accurate? Did the cupbearer remember Joseph? – (Gen.40:16-23) =

Joseph Interprets Two Prisoners’ Dreams

40 Some time after this, the cupbearer of the king of Egypt and his baker committed an offense against their lord the king of Egypt. And Pharaoh was angry with his two officers, the chief cupbearer and the chief baker, and he put them in custody in the house of the captain of the guard, in the prison where Joseph was confined. The captain of the guard appointed Joseph to be with them, and he attended them. They continued for some time in custody.

And one night they both dreamed—the cupbearer and the baker of the king of Egypt, who were confined in the prison—each his own dream, and each dream with its own interpretation. When Joseph came to them in the morning, he saw that they were troubled. So he asked Pharaoh’s officers who were with him in custody in his master’s house, “Why are your faces downcast today?” They said to him, “We have had dreams, and there is no one to interpret them.” And Joseph said to them, “Do not interpretations belong to God? Please tell them to me.”

So the chief cupbearer told his dream to Joseph and said to him, “In my dream there was a vine before me, 10 and on the vine there were three branches. As soon as it budded, its blossoms shot forth, and the clusters ripened into grapes. 11 Pharaoh’s cup was in my hand, and I took the grapes and pressed them into Pharaoh’s cup and placed the cup in Pharaoh’s hand.” 12 Then Joseph said to him, “This is its interpretation: the three branches are three days. 13 In three days Pharaoh will lift up your head and restore you to your office, and you shall place Pharaoh’s cup in his hand as formerly, when you were his cupbearer. 14 Only remember me, when it is well with you, and please do me the kindness to mention me to Pharaoh, and so get me out of this house. 15 For I was indeed stolen out of the land of the Hebrews, and here also I have done nothing that they should put me into the pit.”

16 When the chief baker saw that the interpretation was favorable, he said to Joseph, “I also had a dream: there were three cake baskets on my head, 17 and in the uppermost basket there were all sorts of baked food for Pharaoh, but the birds were eating it out of the basket on my head.” 18 And Joseph answered and said, “This is its interpretation: the three baskets are three days. 19 In three days Pharaoh will lift up your head—from you!—and hang you on a tree. And the birds will eat the flesh from you.”

20 On the third day, which was Pharaoh’s birthday, he made a feast for all his servants and lifted up the head of the chief cupbearer and the head of the chief baker among his servants. 21 He restored the chief cupbearer to his position, and he placed the cup in Pharaoh’s hand. 22 But he hanged the chief baker, as Joseph had interpreted to them. 23 Yet the chief cupbearer did not remember Joseph, but forgot him.

Suggested Answers:

Q.1. Why were the king’s cupbearer and baker in jail? How did Joseph get involved with these men? What did Joseph understand about dreams? – (Gen.40:1-8) = For those that know the story, God was intervening in Joseph’s life when – 2 Pharaoh was furious with his two officials, the chief cupbearer and the chief baker. 3 So he put them in confinement in the house of the captain of the bodyguard, in the jail, the same place where Joseph was imprisoned (Gen.40:2-3). Joseph was familiar with how God revealed the future through dreams and he recognized when the king’s cupbearer and baker were troubled. Contrary to the negative view some have about Joseph, he is no ‘big-head’ and upon hearing about their dreams he gives glory to God – … “Do not interpretations belong to God? Tell it to me, please.” (Gen.40:8).

Q.2. What interpretation did Joseph give the king’s cupbearer? What appeal did he make to the cupbearer? – (Gen.40:9-15) = After hearing the chief cupbearers dream – 12 Then Joseph said to him, “This is the interpretation of it: the three branches are three days; 13 within three more days Pharaoh will lift up your head and restore you to your office; and you will put Pharaoh’s cup into his hand according to your former custom when you were his cupbearer (Gen.40:12-13). He responds further by explaining his plight and asking that the cupbearer inform the king – 14 Only keep me in mind when it goes well with you, and please do me a kindness by mentioning me to Pharaoh and get me out of this house. 15 For I was in fact kidnapped from the land of the Hebrews, and even here I have done nothing that they should have put me into the dungeon.” (Gen.40:14-15).

Q.3. Why did the baker share his dream with Joseph? What did it mean? Were the interpretations accurate? Did the cupbearer remember Joseph? – (Gen.40:16-23) = Obviously Joseph was not only task-centred but he genuinely cared about others. The baker was encouraged by the dream’s meaning and hoped for a similar outcome for himself. But the interpretation of his dream was horrible – within three more days Pharaoh will lift up your head from you and will hang you on a tree, and the birds will eat your flesh off you (Gen.40:19). We are not given the baker’s response but the dreams came to pass exactly as Joseph had said – Yet the chief cupbearer did not remember Joseph, but forgot him (Gen.40:23 c.f. Gen.40:20-22). But not only did the dreams of the cupbearer and baker come true, so would the dreams God gave to Joseph (c.f. Gen.37:5-9). . Praise the Lord that people may forget but the Lord will never forget us. In fact He cannot forget us as He reminded Israel – 15 “Can a woman forget her nursing child and have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, but I will not forget you. 16 “Behold, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands … (Isaiah 49:15-16). But we learn that God’s timetable is not necessarily the same as ours!


(Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.)

If you have any queries about your readings, check Bible Commentary via sonic light.com  or discuss it with your Real Life Group leader or email paulh@oakdenbaptist.org.au

©PaulHoogenraad2009

Mon 12/11/18

Matthew 21:18-32 … JESUS SHOWS THAT FAITH IS ABLE TO CHANGE EVERYTHING.

Q.1. Why did Jesus curse the figtree? In what way was the figtree a spiritual barometer of Israel? How does Jesus connect the cursing of the figtree with prayer potency? – (Mt.21:18-22) =

Q.2. Why did the chief priests and elders question the authority of Jesus? Why did Jesus refuse to give a straight answer? Did the religious leaders respect the authority of John? – (Mt.21:23-27) =

Q.3. What was the point of Christ’s parable of the two sons? How did the tax collectors and prostitutes respond to John’s call? Why would God accept these ‘lawbreakers’? – (Mt.21:28-32) =

Jesus Curses the Fig Tree

18 In the morning, as he was returning to the city, he became hungry.19 And seeing a fig tree by the wayside, he went to it and found nothing on it but only leaves. And he said to it, “May no fruit ever come from you again!” And the fig tree withered at once.

20 When the disciples saw it, they marveled, saying, “How did the fig tree wither at once?” 21 And Jesus answered them, “Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen. 22 And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.”

The Authority of Jesus Challenged

23 And when he entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came up to him as he was teaching, and said, “By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?”24 Jesus answered them, “I also will ask you one question, and if you tell me the answer, then I also will tell you by what authority I do these things. 25 The baptism of John, from where did it come? From heaven or from man?” And they discussed it among themselves, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say to us, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’26 But if we say, ‘From man,’ we are afraid of the crowd, for they all hold that John was a prophet.” 27 So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And he said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.

The Parable of the Two Sons

28 “What do you think? A man had two sons. And he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ 29 And he answered, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he changed his mind and went. 30 And he went to the other son and said the same. And he answered, ‘I go, sir,’ but did not go.31 Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before you. 32 For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him. And even when you saw it, you did not afterward change your minds and believe him.

Suggested Answers:

Q.1. Why did Jesus curse the figtree? In what way was the figtree a spiritual barometer of Israel? How does Jesus connect the cursing of the figtree with prayer potency? – (Mt.21:18-22) = Jesus had become hungry and looked for fruit from a solitary figtree. When He found no fruit, He cursed the figtree (Mt.21:18-19). His response seems strange to us but not to His disciples. His action simply drew attention to the withered tree and not any blemish on His character (Mt.21:20). Jesus had fasted for forty days and fed the multitudes so the cursing of the tree must have been symbolic (Mt.4:2; 14:19-21; 15:36-38). This is even clearer when we consider the context of His clashes with the religious rulers in Jerusalem. All the synoptic Gospel writers include (i) The triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. (ii) The cleansing of the temple. (iii) The challenge of the priests and elders of Christ’s authority. (iv) The parable of the two sons. (v) The parable of the landowner. These parables were directed at the failure of Israel as a nation. Though these incidents are reported in a different order, only Matthew and Mark include the cursing of the figtree. The Lord had come to the religious capital looking for fruit but found none. The cursing of the figtree gave an opportunity for Jesus to answer the disciples’ question – … How did the fig tree wither all at once? (Mt.21:20). Jesus then laid down a crucial lesson for praying – all things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive (Mt.21:22). He suggested that even greater mountains can be moved – if you have faith and do not doubt (Mt.21:21). Mark adds Christ’s teaching over a greater miracle – the difficult prayer for extending forgiveness to an offender (Mk.11:25-26).

Q.2. Why did the chief priests and elders question the authority of Jesus? Why did Jesus refuse to give a straight answer? Did the religious leaders respect the authority of John? – (Mt.21:23-27) = Jesus regularly taught in the temple complex from early in the morning to the evening (Lk.21:37-38). The chief priests and elders were outraged that He had cleansed the temple and were jealous at the excited response of the people (Lk.21:47-48). So they questioned who gave Him authority to act as He did (Mt.21:23).  Jesus could have given them a straight answer but knew that they had already rejected His claims. So with great perception He posed them with a question of the authority of the baptism of John the Baptist (Mt.21:25). They were unable to answer Him because either way they would be incriminated for – 25 … If we say, `From heaven,’ He will say to us, `Then why did you not believe him?’ 26 But if we say, `From men,’ we fear the people; for they all regard John as a prophet (Mt.21:25-26). They had not respected either John or the prophets (c.f. Mt.21:32; 23:29-35). They answered Jesus – … “We do not know.” He also said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things” (Mt.21:27).

Q.3. What was the point of Christ’s parable of the two sons? How did the tax collectors and prostitutes respond to John’s call? Why would God accept these ‘lawbreakers’? – (Mt.21:28-32) = Matthew alone recalls this parable that was applicable to His Jewish audience – 28 “But what do you think? A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, `Son, go work today in the vineyard.’ 29 And he answered, `I will not’; but afterward he regretted it and went. 30 The man came to the second and said the same thing; and he answered, `I will, sir’; but he did not go (Mt.21:28-30). They hid behind their religiosity but acknowledged that only the obedient son had done his father’s will (Mt.21:31). Jesus then applied a scathing denunciation against these leaders – 31 … Truly I say to you that the tax collectors and prostitutes will get into the kingdom of God before you. 32 For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him; but the tax collectors and prostitutes did believe him; and you, seeing this, did not even feel remorse afterward so as to believe him (Mt.21:31-32). Not surprisingly, they were enraged against Him (Mt.21:45-46).


(Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.)

If you have any queries about your readings, check Bible Commentary via sonic light.com  or discuss it with your Real Life Group leader or email paulh@oakdenbaptist.org.au

©PaulHoogenraad2009

Sat 10/11/18

1 Corinthians 7:1-24 … TEACHING ON SINGLENESS, MARRIAGE, SEPARATION, AND DIVORCE.

Q.1. What issues was the apostle addressing with the Corinthian church? How do we reconcile the idea of touching a woman with the practice of kissing in the church? What makes marriage helpful? – (1 Cor.7:1-2 c.f. 1 Cor.16:20 etc.) =

Q.2. What sexual responsibility must each spouse fulfill? Is there any justification for sexual abuse? When is sexual abstinence in marriage permissible? Why is it not advisable? – (1 Cor.7:3-5) =

Q.3. When is it better to marry than stay single? Was Paul addressing normal circumstances?  What is taught about the separation of believers and unbelievers? Why should we be cautious to separate? – (1 Cor.7:6-16) =

Q.4. What point is Paul making? Why should we keep to the status in which we were called? How does belonging to Christ change everything? – (1 Cor.7:17-24) =

Principles for Marriage

Now concerning the matters about which you wrote: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

Now as a concession, not a command, I say this.[a] I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has his own gift from God, one of one kind and one of another.

To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single, as I am. But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.

10 To the married I give this charge (not I, but the Lord): the wife should not separate from her husband 11 (but if she does, she should remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband), and the husband should not divorce his wife.

12 To the rest I say (I, not the Lord) that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her. 13 If any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him. 14 For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. 15 But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so. In such cases the brother or sister is not enslaved. God has called you[b] to peace. 16 For how do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?

Live as You Are Called

17 Only let each person lead the life[c] that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him. This is my rule in all the churches.18 Was anyone at the time of his call already circumcised? Let him not seek to remove the marks of circumcision. Was anyone at the time of his call uncircumcised? Let him not seek circumcision. 19 For neither circumcision counts for anything nor uncircumcision, but keeping the commandments of God. 20 Each one should remain in the condition in which he was called. 21 Were you a bondservant[d] when called? Do not be concerned about it. (But if you can gain your freedom, avail yourself of the opportunity.) 22 For he who was called in the Lord as a bondservant is a freedman of the Lord. Likewise he who was free when called is a bondservant of Christ. 23 You were bought with a price; do not become bondservants of men. 24 So, brothers,[e] in whatever condition each was called, there let him remain with God.

Suggested Answers:

Q.1. What issues was the apostle addressing with the Corinthian church? How do we reconcile the idea of touching a woman with the practice of kissing in the church? What makes marriage helpful? – (1 Cor.7:1-2 c.f. 1 Cor.16:20 etc.) = The context of the chapter suggests that Paul was giving principles for interpersonal relationships. It appears some Corinthians were leaving their unbelieving spouses and pairing up with other believers. He also discusses the thorny question of singleness for believers (1 Cor.7:17,20,24). The apostles upheld the general cultural practice of sharing a holy kiss so physical contact was not taboo in the churches (Rom.16:16; 1 Cor.16:20; 2 Cor.13:12;1 Thes.5:26; 1 Pet.5:14). But here Paul acknowledges the danger of sensual physical touch that is a prelude to sexual expression (1 Cor.7:1). He was well aware of the danger of falling into sexually immoral (Gk: porneias) behaviour and so advised – But because of immoralities, each man is to have his own wife, and each woman is to have her own husband (1 Cor.7:2). Marriage reduces the temptation of sexual immorality.

Q.2. What sexual responsibility must each spouse fulfill? Is there any justification for sexual abuse? When is sexual abstinence in marriage permissible? Why is it not advisable? – (1 Cor.7:3-5) = Jesus reinforced God’s original intention for marriage when He quoted from Genesis – 4 … that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, 5 and said, `For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? (Mt.19:4-5). Consequently, both the male and female have conjugal responsibilities to each other (1 Cor.7:3-4). The decision to abstain sexually must be by mutual agreement – … so that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control (1 Cor.7:5). Whenever spouses stay apart it increases sexual temptation in its various forms. But there is nothing in the Bible to excuse sexual abuse since God has not called us for the purpose of impurity (c.f. 1 Thes.4:3-7).

Q.3. When is it better to marry than stay single? Was Paul addressing normal circumstances?  What is taught about the separation of believers and unbelievers? Why should we be cautious to separate? – (1 Cor.7:6-16) = Paul was probably a widower and seemed to have been part of the Sanhedrin (1 Cor.7:8; 9:5; Phil.3:5-6). He understood the advantage of singleness. The unmarried can give an undivided focus on pleasing the Lord and undistracted devotion to Christ rather than pleasing their spouse (1 Cor.7:32-35). Nevertheless, he accepted that to pursue singleness required a special gift from God (1 Cor.7:7). Furthermore – if they do not have self-control, let them marry; for it is better to marry than to burn with passion (1 Cor.7:9). Paul also alludes to the prevailing persecution that made singleness a better option – I think then that this is good in view of the present distress, that it is good for a man to remain as he is (1 Cor.7:26). The Lord had given direct teaching on some matters (1 Cor.7:10). Other issue were not addressed by Him and Paul, under inspiration of the Holy Spirit, gave his direction on how these were to be dealt with (1 Cor.7:6,8,12). Christ taught that a spouse should not leave the marriage (Mt.19:3-9; 1 Cor.7:10). Leaving a marriage is permissible provided that person does not remarry (1 Cor.7:11). He tells the Corinthians that a believer is not to send the unbelieving spouse away – Yet if the unbelieving one leaves, let him leave; the brother or the sister is not under bondage in such cases, but God has called us to peace (1 Cor.7:15). Paul here seems to give the case for divorce when a spouse abandons their marriage covenant. He advises caution in breaking up a marriage because a believer can have a sanctifying influence over the unbelieving spouse (1 Cor.7:16).

Q.4. What point is Paul making? Why should we keep to the status in which we were called? How does belonging to Christ change everything? – (1 Cor.7:17-24) = Paul writes to urge the Corinthians to stay in the marital status they have been called to – as the Lord has assigned to each one, as God has called each, in this manner let him walk. And so I direct in all the churches (1 Cor.7:17 c.f. 1 Cor.7:20, 24). This he applies to those that are married and those that are single. Nevertheless, he accepts that not all are called to stay single. He uses the example of circumcision to show that ‘to be or not to be’ is of little importance. Rather – … what matters is the keeping of the commandments of God (1 Cor.7:19). In other words, being single is not superior to being married. What matters is pleasing God. Though Paul accepted that it was preferable to be free from slavery both slaves and those that are free can equally serve and please God (1 Cor.7:21). The fact is that Christ has changed the status of all believers – 22 For he who was called in the Lord while a slave, is the Lord’s freedman; likewise he who was called while free, is Christ’s slave. 23 You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men (1 Cor.7:22-23). The essential issue is how God views us not how others or even society views us. Regardless of our status, we should live lives that are pleasing to God.


(Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.)

If you have any queries about your readings, check Bible Commentary via sonic light.com  or discuss it with your Real Life Group leader or email paulh@oakdenbaptist.org.au

©PaulHoogenraad2009