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31 May, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 7 — Philippians 4

Study 7 From the Book of Philippians is: Philippians 4

With this study, we end the book of Philippians. Tomorrow we will start the book of Ezekiel
1.     Note in detail how the believer’s relationship to the Lord should make a difference (a) to his own condition, (b) to his attitude to circumstances, and (c) to his relationship to people. Note the importance of the mind and its right use; and note what God can do for our minds. Cf. Is. 26:3. Examine your own life to discover ways in which you may trust Christ to make you ‘different’.
2.     What teaching is implicit in this passage about (a) the bond effected by Christian giving; (b) the need for regularity in it; (c) the way God looks at it; and (d) the need for regularity in it; and (d) the way in which He repays it? Cf. Lk. 6:38
1.     Verse 5.  ‘The Lord is at hand’: this may mean either that the Lord is close by, at their side (cf. Ps. 119:151), or that His coming is imminent.
2.     Verse 18. ‘A fragrant offering’ (RSV), or ‘an odour of a sweet smell’ (AV, RV): a phrase used in the Old Testament of acceptable offerings. Cf. Gn. 8:21; Lv. 1:9, 13; Eph. 5:2.

30 May, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 6 — Philippians 3:12-21

Study 6 From the Book of Philippians is: Philippians 3:12-21

1.     Verses 12-17.  Once a person knows he is ‘saved’ or ‘justified’, what attitude should he adopt to life?  Even after he has ‘grown up’ as a Christian and become ‘mature’, what concern should still dominate his thoughts? What is he never justified in doing? How in consequence ought I to be acting?
2.     Verses 18-21.  What kind of outlook, interest and expectation should a Christian have, and why? By contrast, what kind of appetite and interests dominates some?  What difference should the cross of Christ make to my daily life? Cf. Gal. 5:24; 6:14.
1.     Verse 12, 15. ‘Perfect’ or ‘mature’: the Greek word means ‘having reached its end’. It was used of persons who were full-grown or mature.
2.     Verse 20. The thought here is that Christians here on earth are a colony of heavenly citizen, just as the Philippians’ were proud to think of themselves as a colony of Romans citizens.  Cf. Acts 16: 12, 21

29 May, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 5 — Philippians 3:1-11

Study   From the Book of Philippians is: Philippians 3:1-11

Paul now turns to another subject—possibly, as some think, resuming his writing after a break.  His subject now is the essential character of the Christian life from its beginning in justification by faith to its glorious consummation at the coming of the Lord; and he illustrates the theme from his own life.

1.     What three characteristics of the true people of God are given in verse 3? How far are they true of me?
2.     Examine carefully the reasons for ‘confidence in the flesh’ which Paul enumerates in verses 4-6. Are there not many church-goers today who are relying for salvation on just such grounds as these? What, in contrast to all this, is the position of the true Christian? What choice does Paul show needs to be made in order to become one?
3.     Faith in Christ as the sole ground for acceptance with God led, in Paul’s case, to intense desire to know Christ; nothing else seemed to him of any value (verses 8, 9). Along what two lines in particular did he want a deeper knowledge (verse 10), and to what end (verse 11)?
1.     Verse 2. Note the empathic ‘look out’, repeated three times. A word meaning ‘incision’ or ‘mutilation’ is here used instead of ‘circumcision’, because the circumcision on which they insisted was harmful rather than helpful to spiritual well-being. Cf.  Gal. 5:2-4; 6:12-15.
2.     Verses 3, 4. ‘Confidence in the flesh’: i.e., reliance upon outward privilege and personal merit. ‘We are the true circumcision’: i.e, the true people of God. Cf. Rom. 2:17, 23, 28,29.

28 May, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 4 — Philippians 2:19-30

Study 4 From the Book of Philippians is: Philippians 2:19-30

1.     What is said here or can be inferred about the character and career of Epaphroditus? Note carefully how the two workers here mentioned personally exemplified the virtues considered under the previous study, i.e., they had the mind of Christ. Compare verses 20, 21 with 4, 5; and verses 29, 30 with 5:8. Examine your own life in relation to these standards. 
2.     What phrase occurs three times in this passage and several other times in the letter? What clue does 4:2 give as to one reason for this repeated emphasis? Are our hopes for the future and our relationships under the same sway as Paul’s?

27 May, 2017

Search The Scriptures—Study 3 — Philippians 1:27-2:18

Study 3 From the Book of Philippians is: Philippians 1:27-2:18

1.     Make a list of the things (a) to be coveted, and (b) to be avoided in one’s life as a member of a company of Christians.  Then pray, and by God’s grace determine, that these things shall be (a) realized and (b) avoided in your own Christian fellowship. Note especially the direct connection between these things and witness to those who are not Christians.
2.     What two qualities of personal character and conduct are here shown to be supremely exemplified in the incarnation and the redemptive work of the Son of God? What ground have we for hoping to be able to have and to express the same qualities?  How ought we to act in consequence?
3.     Why does disunity amongst Christians discredit the gospel? What does Paul here teach about (a) the motive for unity, and (b)the power by which it may be achieved?
Note. 2:6-11. It is generally thought that these verses are here quoted by Paul from an early Christian creedal hymn. It is worth committing this section to memory and exploring it in depth.

26 May, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 2 — Philippians 1:12-26

Study 2 From the Book of Philippians is: Philippians 1:12-26

1.     The things that had happened to Paul must have seemed calamitous to those who loved him.  Why did he himself view the situation differently? What lesson about suffering may a Christian draw from Paul’s attitude?
2.     What was Paul’s attitude as a Christian (a) to life, and (b) to death?  What were his reasons for choosing one rather than the other?  What were his overriding concerns?  Have you faced every possibility that lies before you in the same way?
3.     What temptation in Christian service is it clear from this passage that Paul steadfastly resisted?  How had others succumbed? What kind of slant might their preaching have had in relation to Paul? In what shape does the same temptation come to us? What should be our chief reason for Joy? Cf. Jn. 3:25-30.

25 May, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 1 — Philippians 1: 1-11

Study 1 From the Book of Philippians is: Philippians 1:1-11

1.     Verses 3-7. Why is the joy with which Paul remembers the Philippians remarkable? Cf. Acts 12:22; 1Thes. 2:2. How had they made up for the treatment given to Paul at the start? What made him sure that they were now permanently on the right road?
2.     Verses 8:11. What twofold preparations for the return of Christ does Paul pray that the Philippians will make?  Is it really, they who are to make it? Cf. 2:12, 13. How will this preparation be reflected in their character and behaviour? Express Paul’s petitions for them in your own words, and then use them in your own praying.
3.     Make a list of the places in the Epistle where Paul stresses that the is writing to all the Philippians Christians.  (see especially verses 1, 3, 7, 8.) Does any part of the letter suggest a reason for this?
1.     Verse 1. ‘Saints’; a name for the people of Christ as ‘holy’ or set apart for God’s possession and service.
2.     Verse 5.  See 4:15, 16.
3.     Verse 6. ‘The day of Jesus Christ’: i.e., the coming day of His manifestation in glory, in the light of which the truth about men’s lives will be revealed. Cf. 2:16; 1 Cor. 1:7, 8; 3:13; 2 Thes. 1:9, 10.

24 May, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 0 — Introduction of Philippians

Study 0 From the Book of Philippians is: The Introduction of the Book of Philippians

Paul had a special love for the Christians in the church at Philippi (see 1:8; 4:1). From the beginning, they had entered into his labours and sufferings with financial support and prayerful personal interest (1:5, 19; 4:15, 16).  Shortly before this letter was written they had greatly encouraged him by sending a gift to Rome, where he was a prisoner (4:10, 14, 18). His letter is marked to an unusual degree by personal affection for his readers, and consists largely of an account of his personal experience of Christ, with special reference to his circumstances as a prisoner.
The church in Philippi seems to have been singularly free from both serious error in doctrine and moral lapses.  At the same time, there were threatening dangers. A measure of friction had arisen between certain members, and in the earlier part of the letter Paul urges the importance of being of one mind in the Lord. He also warns them against other dangers, and urges them to stand fast in the Lord. It is in this connection that the main doctrinal passages of the letter occur, namely in 2:5-11 and 3:1-21.
The letter is dominated by a spirit of joy and peace, and is an outstanding witness to the power of Christ to lift the person weighed down with the sorrow and suffering of earth to rejoicing and gladness in the Lord.

23 May, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 5 — Lamentations 5

Study 5 From the Book of Lamentations is: Lamentations 5

With this lesson, we end the book of Lamentations. Tomorrow, we will delve into the book of Philippians.
1.     How would you infer from this chapter that it was written some time after Jerusalem had fallen?  How would you sum up the conditions in the land?  How does this chapter illustrate what is said in Heb. 12:11? Contrast the present disposition of the people with what they formerly said (Je. 5:11, 12; 18:18).  What did they still lack?
2.     With verse 16, cf. Je.13:18, and with verse 21, Je. 31:18. Consider how much God’s word spoken before through Jeremiah meant to the people at such a time.  Cf. Jn. 13:19; 14:29; 16:4
Note. Verse 9. A reference to the danger of attack from desert robbers when the people ventured out to reap the harvest.

22 May, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 4 —Lamentations 4

Study 4 From the Book of Lamentations is: Lamentations 4

1.     Make a list of the statements in this chapter which emphasize the extraordinary severity of the divine judgment.  Notice how all the classes of the community are affected.  What is the particular cause here assigned for so great a calamity? Cf. Je. 23:9-14.
2.     With verse 17, cf. Je. 2:36, 37; 7, 8; and with verse 20, cf. Ps. 146:3, 4; Je. 17: 5, 6.
1.     Verse 6a. Note the variants in mg.
2.     Verse 20. A reference to King Zedekiah; cf. Je. 39:4-7

21 May, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 3 — Lamentations 3

Study 3 From the Book of Lamentations is: Lamentations 3

1.     In verses 1-20 the poet, speaking in the name of the community, pours out his heart ‘like water before the presence of the Lord’ (2:19). Notice the change from the minor to the major key at verse 21. What causes it? Do the psalmists’ experiences in Pss. 42:1-5 and 73:16, 17a provide a clue?
2.     Consider how remarkable is the appearance here, in verse 22-42, of such a noble expression of assurance concerning God’s mercies. What aspects of God’s character are most emphasized in these verses, and what should be our attitude of mind an spirit in time of affliction or chastisement? Cf. Joel 2:12-14. Why is it both foolish and wrong for a man to complain and murmur in time of chastisement (verses 37-39)? Cf. Je. 5:19-24; Pr. 19:3.
3.     In verses 43-54 the poet, in the name of the people, again pours out his heart before the Lord and, having done so, is strengthened to pray again, and receives comfort.  What is his prayer (verses 55-66)? What factors in the poet’s situation might lead us not to judge this prayer for requital too harshly?
1.     Verse 20. An alternative reading is, ‘Thou wilt surely remember and bow down to me’ (Gottwald)
2.     Verse 38.  The word ‘evil’ is used here in the sense of misfortune or calamity. Cf. Am. 3:6; Is. 45:7.
3.     Verse 63. Cf. Jb. 30:9

20 May, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 2 — Lamentations 2

Study 2 From the Book of Lamentations is: Lamentations 2

Verses 1-9 deal particularly with the devastation of buildings in Judah and Jerusalem, and the rest of the chapter with the sufferings of various classes of the inhabitants.
1.     Try to imagine the desolation here portrayed and the intensity of the people’s sorrow. Cf. 1:12. What is said of God’s right hand in verses 3:4?  Contrast with this such passages as Ex. 15:6, 12: Pss. 63:8; 139:10.
2.     What evidence in this chapter suggests that already the disaster of the judgment is having one of its intended effects? Cf. 2 Ch. 7:13, 14. Are we, as God’s children, as sensitive as we ought to be to His disciplinary dealings?
1.     Verse 2 ‘Habitations’: i.e., country dwelling as opposed to ‘strongholds’.
2.     Verse 4. ‘Tent’ here denote the city.
3.     Verse 6a refers to the Temple. ‘He has broken down his tabernacle like a garden hut’ (Gotwald)
4.     Verse 22a. Instead of summoning worshipers to a festival, God has called together ‘terrors on every side’, so that none of His people escaped. Cf.Is

19 May, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 1 — Lamentations 1

Study 1 From the Book of Lamentations is: Lamentations 1
Verses 1-11 depict the covenant people in the guise of a widow.  The second half of the chapter is a lament by the desolate widow herself.
1.     What ingredients make up Jerusalem’s cup of sorrow, e.g., loneliness, bereavement, reversal of fortune, etc.? Make a list of them. How and why had Jerusalem come to such a pass? See especially verse 5, 8, 9, 12, 14, 17, 18, 20; and cf. Heb. 10:29-31; Lv. 26:27-33.
2.     Do you find any note of resentment in this complaint? ‘The sense of tragedy is heightened by the recognition that it was avoidable.’ What is commendable in the attitude of this chapter? Note verse 18, and cf. Ps. 51: 3, 4; Dn. 9:6-8; Rom. 3: 4-6.
1.     Verse 2. ‘Lovers… friend’s i.e., neighboring peoples with whom the had sought alliance. Cf. Je. 30:14
2.     Verse 6. ‘Her princes…’: cf. Je. 39:4, 5.

18 May, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 0 — Introduction to Lamentations Book

Study 0 From the Book of Lamentations is: Introduction to Lamentations

The book of Lamentations consists of five songs or elegies, the theme of which is the sorrows of Judah and Jerusalem in the siege and destruction of the city.  The cause of these calamities is traced to the sin of the people bringing God’s judgment upon them, and the songs contain confessions of sin, statements of faith and hope, and prayer for the restoration of God’s favour.
Tradition from the time of the Lxx has assigned the authorship of the songs to the prophet Jeremiah.  In the Hebrew Bible, however, the book is anonymous, and is placed not among ‘The Prophets’, but in the section known as ‘The Writings’. The book certainly has close affinities with Jeremiah. Chapter 1-4 seem to be the work of an eye-witness of Jerusalem’s fall; and if not by Jeremiah himself, may well be the work of one of more of his associates, such as Baruch. Chapter 5 probably dates from a slightly later period.
The songs are written in acrostic form. In chapters 1, 2 and 4 each verse begins with a fresh letter of the Hebrew alphabet in order. In chapter 5 the acrostic form is not followed.  This acrostic arrangement is partly an aid to memorization, but also seems intended to give a sense of completeness in confession of sin and grief.  

17 May, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 35 — Jeremiah 51:59 – 52:34

Study 35 From the Book of Jeremiah is: Jeremiah 51:59 – 52:34

With this study, we end the book of Jeremiah. Tomorrow we will start with the book of Lamentations.
1.     51:59-64. Note the date of this incident.  AT the time, Babylon was rising to the height of her power and glory, and Jeremiah was convinced that she would enjoy complete supremacy over the nations. See chapter 28 which belongs to the same year.  How, then, does this commission which Jeremiah gives to Seriah illustrate the truth of Heb. 11:1, that ‘faith is…the conviction of things not seen’?
2.     Chapter 52 is very similar to the 2 Ki. 24:18-25:30. It tells once more the story of the fall of Jerusalem, the destruction of the Temple and the captivity of the people, perhaps to emphasize how complete was the fulfillment of Jeremiah’s words.  For example, compare verse 3 with 7:15; verse 6 with 14:15-18; verses 8:11 with 34:3; verse 13 with 7:14; 9:11; 19:13; 32:28, 29; verse 15 with 16:9-13; 21:9; verses 18, 19 with 27:19-22. See 1:12. Do you believe this, and live by it?
Note. 52:24. ‘The three keepers of the threshold’: denoting three high officials of the Temple who had charge of the three gates.

16 May, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 34 — Jeremiah 51: 1-58

Study 34 From the Book of Jeremiah is: Jeremiah 51: 1-58

This chapter may be divided as follows: Babylon’s doom and Israel’s vindication (verses 1-10); summons to the attackers to press home their assault (verses 11-14); The Lord in contrast to idols (verses 15-19); the Lord’s fierce anger against Babylon (verses 20-26); capture of the city (verses 27-33); Israel’s wrong avenged: let her hasten her escape (verses 34-57); summing up God’s judgment upon Babylon (verse 58).
1.     In the time of her prosperity the idols of Babylon seemed powerful and mighty; but now in the hour of her fall how do they appear? See verses 15-19, and cf., 1, 2; Ps. 146: 5-10
2.     What, according to chapters 50 and 51, were the sins of Babylon which called down upon her such terrible vengeance? How far are these sins prevalent in the world today?
1.     Verse 1. Note mg. The Hebrew means literally ‘the heart of those who rise up against me’.
2.     Verse 3a. The Hebrew is difficult. Either it means that the defenders of Babylon need not trouble to fight, for it will be of no avail (cf. verse 30; 31:4; 32:5b); or the text is to be amended, e.g., by omission of the negatives.
3.     Verse 20. A reference to Cyrus, the conqueror of Babylon.
4.     Verse 27. ‘Ararat, Mimi and Ashkenaz’ were three peoples north of Babylonia earlier conquered by the Medes.
5.     Verse 36. ‘Her sea’: perhaps a reference to the great lake Nebuchadrezzar constructed for the defence of the city, or perhaps to the Euphrates.
6.     Verse 55a. ‘Her mighty voice’: i.e., the noise of the great city. Verse 55b refers to the roar of the attackers.
7.     Verse 58c. ‘So ends the toil of nations, ends in smoke, and pagans waste their pains’ (Moffatt).

15 May, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 33 — Jeremiah 49:34 – 50:46

Study 33 From the Book of Jeremiah is: Jeremiah 49:34 – 50:46

Elam was a country north of the Persian Gulf and east of Babylon. This prophecy, delivered soon after the first deportation from Judah om 597, no doubt warns the exiles against expecting relief from this direction. Jeremiah looked ahead, beyond the judgment of which Babylon was to be the instrument, to the time when Babylon herself would be judged. Chapter 50  may be divided as follows: Babylon’s falls (verses 1-3); a message of comfort to Israel (verses 4-7); attackers to begin their work (verse 14-16); Israel’s return to her land and to her God (verses 17-20); the attackers bidden to press on (verse 21-28, 29-34, 35-40); description of the attackers (verses 41-46).
1.     Why are God’s people to be restored?
2.     Consider the solemn truth that, while God may use a nation as His instrument, this does not absolve that nation from responsibility before God. Why would Babylon receive no mercy? See especially verses 7, 11-15, 24-25, 27-29, 31; Is. 14: 5, 6, 17; 47:6, 7; 51:22, 23; La. 1:7.
1.     50:2. ‘Bel’ and ‘Merodach’ are names of the supreme god of Babylon.
2.     50:7. Cf. 40:3.
3.     50:16. A reference to foreigners in Babylon. Cf. 46:16 and Note.
4.     50:21. ‘Merathaim’ (perhaps a name for southern Babylonia) and ‘Pekod’ (a people of eastern Babylonia) are probably used here because they are very close to the Hebrew words for ‘double rebellion’ (or ‘bitterness’) and ‘punishment’ (or ‘visitation’) respectively.
5.     50:36a. Cf. Is. 44:25

14 May, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 32 — Jeremiah 49:1-33

Study 32 From the Book of Jeremiah is: Jeremiah 49: 1- 33

This chapter contains prophecies on four neighbouring nations, namely Ammon (verses 1-6), Edom (verses 7:22), Damascus (verse 23-27, and Kedar and the kingdoms of Hazor (verses 28-33). Ammon was concerned along with Moab in the two incidents mentioned in the introduction to chapter along with Moab in the two incidents mentioned in the introduction to chapter 48. Antagonism between Israel and Edom was long standing, and Edom had recently taken advantage of the fall of Jerusalem in 587 BC to occupy cities in southern Judah (Ob. 10-14). Edom had also considered revolt against Babylon (27:3). Kedar was a nomadic Arabian tribe, and Hazor is probably used collectively of the region occupied by semi-nomadic Arabs (cf. 25:23, 24).
1.     What was Ammon’s sin against Israel? Cf. Am. 1:13; Ex. 20:17; Lk. 12:15. In what was her trust placed? Cf. 48:7; Pr. 10:28; Mk. 10:23, 24. What was to be her punishment?
2.     Notice the vivid metaphors describing the severity of Edom’s fate, as e.g., in verses 9, 10, 19, 20. Note, too, its comprehensiveness, from Teman and Bozrah in the north, to Dedan, south of Edom in Arabia. Why is the judgment against Edom (Essau’s descendants) so severe? Cf. verse 16; Mal 1:2-4; Heb. 12:16, 17.
3.     The sins that brought judgment upon Damascus and Kedar are not specified. Read again 25:15-38, and note the reasons given there for judgment upon nations mentioned in this chapter.
1.     Verses 1, 3. ‘Milcom’ was the national deity of the Ammonites.  The Ammonites took advantage of the deportation of the Gadites by the Assyrians in 733 Bc (2 Ki. 15:29).
2.     Verse 3.  The word ‘daughters’ here refers to towns and villages which looked to Rabbah as their head. In verse 4 ‘daughter’ refers the whole people.
3.     Verse 8. ‘Dwell in the depths’: i.e., hidden away from observation. Cf. verse 30.
4.     Verse 17. ‘Hiss’ i.e., draw in the breath with astonishment, gasp.
5.     Verse 19, 20.  The picture of a lion coming up out of the jungle on the fringe of Jordan and doing what pleases with the flock, no shepherd being able to challenge him.

13 May, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 31 — Jeremiah 48

Study 31 From the Book of Jeremiah is: Jeremiah 48

Within Jeremiah’s lifetime, Moab was in league with the Chaldeans against Judah during Jehoiakim’s reign (2 Ki. 24:2; cf. Je. 12; and later, in Zedekiah’s reign discussed with other nations a possible revolt against Babylon (27:1-11).
1.     The chapter may be divided into five sections: verses 1-10, verses 11-20, verses 21-27, verses 28-39, verses 40-47. What heading would you give to each of these sections to sum up its contents?
2.     What reason for the judgment is given in verse 11? What warning should we take for ourselves? Cf. Dt. 8:11-18; Is. 47: 8-11; Am. 6:1-7; Zp. 1:12. What other reasons for the judgment are set forth in this chapter.
1.     All the numerous places-names refer to Moabite territory. Some have not been identified, including ‘madmen’ (verse 2; the lxx reads ‘Yet you, i.e., Moab, shall be brought to silence’).
2.     Verses 7, 13. ‘Chemosh’: the god of Moab. ‘Bethel, their confidence’: see Am. 5:5; 10-13 for false worship at Bethel. Bethel means ‘house of God’, and there may be present also an allusion to false trust in the Temple; see Je. 7:1-15.
3.     Verses 11, 12. An illustration from the treatment of the juice of grapes.  It is left in a vessel until a sediment called ‘lees’ has formed at the bottom; then the liquid is poured into another vessel, and so repeatedly, until the liquid is clear. Moab had experienced no such purifying process, and so retained its original unrefined character.
4.     Verse 26. ‘Make him drunk’ : i.e., stagger with shock and despairing grief. Cf. 13:13; 25:16.