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WCCCC 2018: Bible Study Leader's Guide

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"Be Reconciled to God" (2 Corinthians 5:20) was the theme from the 2018 Winter Conference by

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WCCCC 2018: Bible Study Leader's Guide

  1. 1. West Coast Chinese Christian Conference 2018 “Be reconciled to God” Bible Study Leader’s Guide
  2. 2. 1 Table of Content Welcome Letter 3 How to use this guide 5 Beginner Level Guide 6 Intermediate Level Guide 6 Advance Level Guide 6 Top 10 List 6 Day 2 – Joshua 7:1-26 “Why have you troubled us? The Lord will trouble you this day.” 7 Beginner Level Guide 7 Ice-breaking Question 7 Passage Theme 7 Interpretation Remarks 7 Key Discussion Questions 8 Discussion Topics / Application Questions 8 Intermediate Level Guide 8 Textual Context 8 Joshua 5-6 8 Old/New Testament Reference 9 Numbers 13-14 9 Joshua 22 9 Advance Level Guide 10 Textual Analysis 10 Full Question Set 17 Day 3– Joshua 22:1-34 “Today we know that the Lord is in our midst” 19 Beginner Level Guide 19 Ice-breaking Question 19 Passage Theme 19 Interpretation Remarks 20 Key Discussion Questions Error! Bookmark not defined. Discussion Topics / Application Questions 21 Intermediate Level Guide 21 Old/New Testament Reference 21
  3. 3. 2 Numbers 13-14 21 Joshua 7 22 Numbers 25 23 Advance Level Guide 24 Textual Analysis 24 Full Question Set 31 Day 4 – Matthew 18:21-35 “Forgive us our debts, as we ourselves have forgiven our debtors” 33 Beginner Level Guide 33 Ice-breaking Question 33 Passage Theme 33 Interpretation Remarks 33 Key Discussion Questions Error! Bookmark not defined. Discussion Topics / Application Questions 34 Intermediate Level Guide 34 Textual Context 34 Matthew 18: 1-20 34 Old/New Testament Reference 35 Genesis 4:23-24 35 Matthew 25:31-46 35 Advance Level Guide 37 Textual Analysis 37 Full Question Set 40 Summary Table 41
  4. 4. 3 Welcome Letter Dear Bible Study Leader, Thank you for your willingness to serve as a Bible Study Leader (BSL) at the 2018 West Coast Chinese Christian Conference. This year’s theme is “Be reconciled to God” As a BSL, you will help facilitate the group discussions around the Scriptures to help each conferee reflect on this theme. Being a disciple of Jesus is a lifelong walk, and only through love and faith can reach the destination In Day 2, you and your group will read and discuss Joshua 7:1-26. There is always an overemphasis on the God’s forgiveness in today’s church, especially in western Christianity as the comfortable life style had overtaken us and make us diminish, or even erased the “wrath of God” part of our faith. From the ten plagues to the exile, the Bible is filled with the wrath of God. And it was not until 1,500 years after the first book of the bible was written, the concept of “God is love” was reached (The Five books of Moses were written around 1500 BCE, First Epistle of John was written around 60-110 CE). Thus, we must always remember the serious consequences of sin and stay vigilant to sin within a community and reconcile to God whenever we find out the sin among us. In Day 3, you and your group will read and discuss Joshua 22:1-34. In this passage, there was a misunderstanding among Israelites, leading to some tribes being suspected of idol worshipping, and a civil war almost break out. But the conflict was avoided when the leaders of both sides sit down and talk it out, realizing that is was all a misunderstanding. This passage reminds us that while stay vigilant to sin is important, it is equally important to investigate and understand each other’s intension before making judgment. Members of Christian community should always reconcile with each other not through covering up sin, but through understanding each other. In Day 4, you and your group will read and discuss Matthew 18:21-35. This passage is a short parable where Jesus talks about a slave, whose huge debt was forgiven by his king, was thrown into jail after he does not show the mercy his king had shown him to a fellow slave who owe him a small amount of money. This parable remind us the important relationship between reconciling with God and reconciling with others, as it was shown in the parable that the king did not forgive the slave’s huge debt because he did not forgive the small debt owe to him by a fellow slave. Of cause, this is not to say that God has a check list of people we should forgive and will send us to hell when we miss one. What God wants from us is, now that we have been forgiven by him, we should show others the mercy that God had shown us, and be motivate to forgive others because of the mercy that God had shown us.
  5. 5. 4 In His service, Bible Study Coordinator Erik Lui, elcidlui@gmail.com
  6. 6. 5 How to use this guide Ezra 7:10, “For Ezra had set his heart to study the law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach the statutes and ordinances in Israel.” As a BSL, the starting point is to set our heart to study the Scriptures. Before we can lead others, we need to be the first student. Read and re-read the text for each Bible study several times. Take advantage of online resources to read the text in a couple of different translations. Understanding Scriptures begins with observing what is there and asking who, what, when, where, why, and how questions of the verses. Proceed to interpret the meaning of the key ideas in the passage. Finally, identify a few application points. Applications call for changes within us. It could be changed in behaviors but it could also be a change in attitude or in our value system. One valuable process in helping us to observe, interpret, and apply the Bible is to do a textual analysis. This approach helps us see the relationship of the ideas in the passage. This guide has a textual analysis of the Bible studies for each day. However, we strongly encourage you to attempt to do one on your own. From the textual analysis, you can develop questions for your group. With your questions, you help your group members to understand the passage and to facilitate sharing of personal perspectives on what is being studied. In this guide, there are sample question sets. Again, we strongly encourage you to prepare your own. You will want to mark time points on the question set so that you can cover the material in the allotted time. You will also want to mark certain questions as ones you want to spend more time on as they dwell upon key verses in the passages. We have also indicated the question types with O (observation), I (interpretation), and A (application). We have included study notes to provide background material and information about parts of the passages that may need some additional explanation. Finally, use the techniques of group dynamics to direct the discussion and encourage participation. A thorough question set will have more questions than what will likely be used. It serves as a roadmap to working through the key points of the text as you lead your group. For Bible study leaders with a different level of skills, this guide has three different levels: the Beginner Level for new Bible study leaders who need a guide to understand the passage; the Intermediate Level for more experienced Bible study leader who is ready to make use of the historical and literal context to lead an insightful Bible study; the Advanced Level is for Bible study leaders who have experience with studying the Bible and want to discover the passages himself/herself.
  7. 7. 6 Beginner Level Guide The beginner level guide aims to provide an easy to understand guide for new Bible study leaders who are not familiar with summarizing the theme of the text. Although the guide gave a summary of the text, please try to read and prepare the passage and try your best to understand the advanced level guide Intermediate Level Guide The Intermediate level guide aims to fill in more information regarding the passage, including Old Testament references and background information so that a Bible study leader can lead the group into a deeper discussion regarding the passage. To understand the intermediate level guide, please look at the beginner level guide first. Advance Level Guide The advanced level guide aims to encourage Bible study leaders to discover the theme of the text and the potential discussion topic for the passage themselves. If you have any trouble understanding the idea in the advanced level guide, please look at the beginner level guide and intermediate level guide first. Top 10 List 1. Pray for the Spirit to give you a humble heart and thoughtful mind as you prepare and lead. 2. Observe what is in the text by reading the text carefully. 3. Thou shalt do a textual analysis of the passage. (Please see the textual analysis in Advanced Level Guide for reference) 4. Interpret the Biblical material in light of its context. 5. Read the Bible passage again. 6. Prepare questions for the group that needs more than a “yes” or “no” answer. 7. Save the application until the group has a good understanding of the theme of the passage. 8. Use the tools of group dynamics to keep the group on track. 9. Did we say you should read the Bible passage again yet? 10. Stick to the text and pray that the Spirit speaks to the group through the text.
  8. 8. 7 Day 2 – Joshua 7:1-26 “Why have you troubled us? The Lord will trouble you this day.” Beginner Level Guide Ice-breaking Question 1. How did you become a Christian? 2. What will you do when you find out someone in the church is sinning/committing a crime? Passage Theme To reconcile with God, the church must purge any evil within them. Please read Joshua 7:1-26 The logic of the passage goes as follows: 1. The defeat at Ai a. Achan took the spoil of war from Jericho, which should belong to the Lord alone as He commanded. This caused the Lord to be angry at the Israelites as a whole. (vv. 1) b. The Lord allowed the Israelites to be overconfident and be defeat during the siege of Ai. (vv. 2-5) c. Joshua questions why the Lord allowed them to defeat, which would make the name of the Lord be ashamed and blasphemed among the Canaanites (vv. 6-9) 2. The Zeal Sin of Achan a. The Lord explained why the Israelites were defeated at Ai and instructed Joshua on how to find the culprit (vv. 10-15). b. Joshua followed the instruction of the Lord and eventually confront Achan, and Achan confessed his sin (vv. 16-21) c. Joshua found all the spoil of war from Achan’s home and order the Israelites to stone Achan to death and burn all that he had. And the anger of the Lord turns away from the Israelites (vv. 22-26) Interpretation Remarks 1. From verse 1, the Lord, as well as the readers know that Achan had sinned, yet the Lord never tell Joshua about that and just allow the Israelites to lose the siege of Ai, resulting in the death of thirty-six people.
  9. 9. 8 2. It is clear that Achan was not one of that thirty-six people who died in Ai, nor any of the thirty-six people are related to Achan’s sin in any way, which shows us that the Lord allowed Achan’s sin to cause the death of thirty-six people. 3. When Joshua plead to the Lord by raising his concern over the name of the Lord among the Canaanites, the Lord answers Joshua by showing there is a sin within the community, which shows that the Lord would rather let his name be blasphemed than tolerating sin within his people. 4. Although not clearly stated, Achan’s family were also stoned to death because of the sin of Achan, which shows again that innocents died because of one person’s sin. Key Discussion Questions 1. Why wouldn’t the Lord warn the Israelites about the sin of Achan? 2. Why would God let the thirty-six innocent people die during the siege because of Achan’s sin? 3. Between damaging His name and allowing sin to be within his people, which one did the Lord choose? Why? 4. Why was it so complicated in searching Achan? Why didn’t the Lord just tell Achan’s name to Joshua instead? 5. Why did Achan’s family have to be stoned for the sin of Achan? Application Questions 1. As shown in the above passage, one’s sin has great impact to the community and would lead to God’s wrath on us. Therefore, what can we do if God did not tell us that people sin among our community? 2. How can we avoid suffering from the consequences of the sins committed by others? Intermediate Level Guide Textual Context Joshua 5-6 The siege of Jericho is an important context to understand the sin of Achan. In ancient time, spoils of war are distributed based on merit, whoever achieve more in the battle get more. Therefore, in verse 18-19, when the Lord declares all the gold, silver, bronze, and iron belongs to the treasury of the Lord, hinting that all merit of the battle belongs to the Lord.
  10. 10. 9 From the text, we can see that it makes sense that all the gold, silver, bronze, and iron should belong to the Lord as it was the Lord who break down the wall of Jericho, allowing the Israelites to conquer the city. Therefore, these gold, silver, bronze, and iron are called things under the ban, for they belong to the Lord. Thus, Achan’s act of taking some of the gold for himself is actually stealing from the Lord. Moreover, from the Lord’s command of destroying the things under the ban (vv. 15) shows us that God does not really need those spoil at all. Old/New Testament Reference This text did not reference any other text but has text that is related to and was referenced in later books. Numbers 13-14 Although not directly related, Numbers 13-14 can be an important passage as Joshua, one of the two last first generation Israelites who had experienced the story in Numbers 13-14, and Achan, a second-generation Israelite who have not experience this story, are both in this story. In Numbers 13-14, ten of the twelve spies sent by the Israelites to scout the promised land discouraged the people to enter the land. As a result, the Israelites, afraid of dying when entering the Promised Land, want to return to Egypt. (Numbers 14:1-4) Therefore, God announced his punishment toward the rebellious people by not allowing a whole generation to enter the Promised Land until all the people of that generation die out. (Numbers 14:27-35) On the contrary, Caleb and Joshua risk their life to convince the people of Israel, (Numbers 14:10) and ends up being the only people of that generation to enter the Promised Land. (Numbers 14:30). This makes Joshua’s words to convince Achan to confess, “My son, I implore you, give glory to the Lord, the God of Israel, and give praise to Him; and tell me now what you have done. Do not hide it from me.”, deeply meaningful. To Joshua, having experienced God’s verdict on Israelites’ sin in Numbers 13-14, he knows all too well the result of not giving glory to the Lord, and Achan clearly doesn’t know how terrible it is to have sinned against the Lord. Joshua 22 This event referenced again in Joshua 22, where it was brought up as a warning against the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh by the leaders of the rest of the Israelites, who believe their act of building an altar was turning away from God. Note that at that point, it is nearly thirty to fifty years after the incident, yet it is said that the sin of Achan is stilled a reminder to them to that days. This shows us the seriousness of that sin.
  11. 11. 10 Advance Level Guide Textual Analysis • But the sons of Israel o acted unfaithfully § in regard to the things under the ban, • for Achan, o the son of Carmi, o the son of Zabdi, o the son of Zerah, o from the tribe of Judah, o took some of the things under the ban, • therefore o the anger of the Lord § burned against the sons of Israel. • Now o Joshua § sent men • from Jericho o to Ai, § which is near Beth-aven, § east of Bethel, § and said to them, • "Go up • and spy out the land." • So o the men § went up § and spied out Ai. o They § returned to Joshua § and said to him, • "Do not let all the people go up; o only about two or three thousand men need go up to Ai; • do not make all the people toil up there, o for they are few." • So o about three thousand men from the people
  12. 12. 11 § went up there, • but o they § fled from the men of Ai. o The men of Ai § struck down • about thirty-six of their men, § and pursued them • from the gate as far as Shebarim § and struck them down • on the descent, • so o the hearts of the people § melted § and became as water. • Then o Joshua § tore his clothes § and fell to the earth on his face • before the ark of the Lord • until the evening, o both he and the elders of Israel; o and they § put dust on their heads. o Joshua § said, • "Alas, O Lord God, o why did You § ever bring this people over the Jordan, § only to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, § to destroy us? o If only we had been willing to dwell beyond the Jordan! • O Lord, o what can I say § since Israel has turned their back before their enemies? o For § the Canaanites and all the inhabitants of the land
  13. 13. 12 • will hear of it, § and they • will surround us • and cut off our name from the earth. o And what will You do for Your great name?" • So o the Lord § said to Joshua, • "Rise up! • Why is it that you o have fallen on your face? • Israel has sinned, o and they have also transgressed My covenant § which I commanded them. o And they have even § taken some of the things under the ban § and have both • stolen • and deceived. o Moreover, they have also put them among their own things. • Therefore o the sons of Israel § cannot stand before their enemies; o they § turn their backs before their enemies, o for they have become accursed. • I will not be with you anymore o unless you destroy the things under the ban § from your midst. • Rise up! o Consecrate the people o and say, § 'Consecrate yourselves for tomorrow, § for thus the Lord, • the God of Israel, • has said, o "There are things under the ban § in your midst, O Israel.
  14. 14. 13 o You cannot stand before your enemies § until you have removed the things under the ban from your midst." o In the morning then § you shall come near by your tribes. o And it shall be that § the tribe which the Lord takes by lot shall come near by families, § and the family which the Lord takes shall come near by households, § and the household which the Lord takes shall come near man by man. o It shall be that the one who is taken with the things under the ban shall be burned with fire, § he § and all that belongs to him, o because he has transgressed the covenant of the Lord, o and because he has committed a disgraceful thing in Israel.'" • So o Joshua § arose early in the morning § and brought Israel near by tribes, • and the tribe of Judah was taken. o He § brought the family of Judah near, o and he § took the family of the Zerahites; o and he § brought the family of the Zerahites near man by man, • and Zabdi was taken. o He § brought his household near man by man; • and Achan, o son of Carmi, o son of Zabdi, o son of Zerah,
  15. 15. 14 o from the tribe of Judah, o was taken. • Then o Joshua § said to Achan, • "My son, o I implore you, o give glory to the Lord, § the God of Israel, o and give praise to Him; o and tell me now what you have done. • Do not hide it from me." • So Achan o answered Joshua o and said, § "Truly, § I have sinned against the Lord, • the God of Israel, § and this is what I did: • when I saw among the spoil o a beautiful mantle from Shinar o and two hundred shekels of silver o and a bar of gold fifty shekels in weight, • then I o coveted them o and took them; § and behold, • they are concealed o in the earth o inside my tent o with the silver underneath it." • So o Joshua § sent messengers, o and they § ran to the tent; o and behold, o it § was concealed • in his tent
  16. 16. 15 • with the silver underneath it. o They § took them • from inside the tent § and brought them • to Joshua • and to all the sons of Israel, o and they § poured them out before the Lord. • Then o Joshua and all Israel with him, § took • Achan o the son of Zerah, • the silver, • the mantle, • the bar of gold, • his sons, • his daughters, • his oxen, • his donkeys, • his sheep, • his tent • and all that belonged to him; o and they § brought them up • to the valley of Achor. o Joshua § said, • "Why have you troubled us? • The Lord will trouble you this day." • And o all Israel § stoned them with stones; o and they § burned them with fire § after they had stoned them with stones. o They § raised over him
  17. 17. 16 • a great heap of stones o that stands to this day, o and the Lord § turned from the fierceness of His anger. • Therefore o the name of that place § has been called the valley of Achor • to this day.
  18. 18. 17 Full Question Set • What happened in verse 1? (O) o Did Joshua and the rest of the Israelites know this? (I) o Why wouldn’t the Lord warn the Israelites about the sin of Achan? (I) o What can we do if the Lord would not always tell us the sin committed within our community? (A) • Which city was Joshua planning to attack next (O) o What preparation did Joshua make? (O) § Why did Joshua make these preparations? (I) o How many Israelites went up to siege Ai? (O) o What was the result of the siege? (O) § How many died from the siege? (O) • Were the thirty-six people died from the siege relate to Achan? (O/I) • Why would God let the thirty-six innocent people die during the siege because of Achan’s sin? (I) • What can we do to avoid innocent people suffering because of someone sinning? (A) • How did Joshua and the elders of Israel respond to the defeat? (O) o What would be the result of this defeat as suggested by Joshua? (O) o What is Joshua’s main concern over this defeat? (O/I) o What negative impact would this defeat bring to the Lord? (I) § Why would the Lord allow the reputation of his name to be damaged? (I) § Between damaging His name and allow sin to be within his people, which one did the Lord choose? Why? (O/I) • How can we apply this principle today? (A) • What was God’s instruction to Joshua on how to find the culprit? (O) o Why did the method of finding Achan have to be this complicated? Why didn’t the Lord just tell Achan’s name to Joshua? (I) o Did Achan confess his sin? (O) o Was Achan given a chance to repent? (O/I) § Why would the Lord not give Achan a chance to repent after he confesses his sin? (I) § Are there situations where the Lord would not give us a chance to repent? (I) § How can we avoid not being given a chance to repent? (A) o Was Achan the only person suffering the consequences of his sin? (O)
  19. 19. 18 § Why does Achan’s family have to be stoned for the sin of Achan? (I) § How can we avoid suffering the consequences of the sin committed by others? (A)
  20. 20. 19 Day 3– Joshua 22:1-34 “Today we know that the Lord is in our midst” Beginner Level Guide Ice-breaking Question 1. Have you met brothers/sisters who act out of his/her self-interest? 2. How would you get along with them? Passage Theme Anyone who acts against the Lord within a community can lead to God’s wrath upon the whole community. Therefore, to reconcile with God, the community must be vigilant of the sins they commit. At the same time, the community should also be careful not to wrong brothers and sisters for sins they did not commit. Please read Joshua 22:1-34 The logic of the passage goes as follows: 1. The tribe of Reuben, the tribe of Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh settled down a. The tribe of Reuben, the tribe of Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh, after fulfilling their promise to Moses, helping their brother to gain the promised land, was summoned by Joshua to bless them and allow them to return to their land to the east of Jordan. (vv. 1-9) 2. Suspicion of sin a. The tribe of Reuben, the tribe of Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh built an altar on their land, leading to the rest of the Israelites gathered together and ready to attack them. (vv. 10-12) b. The military leaders of the Israelites, along with Phinehas, the priest, were sent to meet the tribe of Reuben, the tribe of Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh, raising their concern of them building an altar to worship idols, and its result may lead to God’s wrath upon the whole Israelites (vv. 13- 20) c. The tribe of Reuben, the tribe of Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh explain to the leaders of the rest of the tribe that they are not building the altar to worship idols, but to remind their descendants that they are part of the people of God. (vv. 21-29) 3. Reconciliation between the tribes
  21. 21. 20 a. Phinehas and the leaders of the Israelites are pleased with their explanation, thus stopped the rest of the Israelites from attacking the tribes in the east of Jordan River. (vv. 30-34) Interpretation Remarks 1. This passage can not be read without reading Numbers 32 first, as that was the root of the problem we see in Joshua 22 2. The leaders of the Israelites referenced the incident of Peor (Numbers 25), which was the story that was read in the first Bible study. The line “Is not the iniquity of Peor enough for us” was using a commonly seen writing style/method called Kal Vahomer (Light and heavy) in the Bible. The Logic goes as follow: a. In the incident of Peor, 24,000 died because the leaders of the Israelites, a number much smaller than 24,000, lure and encourage the Israelites to worship idols. b. The tribe of Reuben, the tribe of Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh, approximately 110,580 people according to Numbers 26 c. If a few leaders of Israelites turned away from God and leads to the death of 24,000 people, how many more will die when 110,580 people turn away from the Lord? 3. The problem of the tribe of Reuben and the tribe of Gad was that they had shown their selfishness back in Numbers 32 when they were trying to convince Moses that they do not want to fight with the rest of their brothers in the promised land but stay safe in the land east of the Jordan River. Moses points out their selfish act would discourage other Israelites from entering the promised land. 4. In Numbers 32, Moses had agreed to allow them to settle at the east of the Jordan River if they are willing to fight with their brothers in the promised land. On top of that, worrying about the tribe of Ruben and the tribe of Gad would break away from the rest of the Israelites, Moses had arranged the half-tribe of Manasseh to be with those two tribes. As we see at the beginning of Joshua 22, they had fulfilled their promise and was blessed by Joshua to settle on the land east to the Jordan River. 5. Despite all these, the tribe of Reuben and the tribe of Gad settling down on the east of Jordan river ultimately had a negative impact on the unity of the people of Israel as a civil war almost breaks out because of that. 6. The Bible study leader should be aware that this text put equal weight on both removing sins from a community as well as be careful when discerning whether one sins. Leaning towards either one side is dangerous. The method employed by the Israelites mirrors the method Jesus suggested in Matthew 18:15-20 where a few leaders were brought into the meeting as a witness.
  22. 22. 21 Discussion Questions 1. What did Joshua say to the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh? 2. What did the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh do when they settled down at Gilead? 3. What were the concerns of the Israelites’ leaders? Why? 4. What explanation did the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh give? Why did they build the altar? 5. What caused all these misunderstanding and disunity among the people of Israel? Application Questions 1. Why would God’s wrath fall on the whole group when only a small part of these people sinned against God? What can we do to avoid God’s wrath falling on the whole community? 2. What can we do to avoid misunderstanding and disunity within our church? 3. How can we stay vigilant to avoid misunderstanding and disunity among our community? Intermediate Level Guide Old/New Testament Reference Numbers 13-14 This text does not reference the event in Numbers 13-14 directly, but since Number 32, the perquisite text to understand Joshua 22, had referenced this text, we should look at it as well. The way Numbers 32 reference Numbers 13-14 is actually the same in how Joshua 22 reference Numbers 25, where both are using the writing style/method called Kal Vahomer (Light and heavy) The story in Numbers 13-14, known as the event of the twelve spies. In Numbers 13-14, the Israelites sent twelve spies (scouts to be more exact, as it does not look like a covert operation in any sense, and Hebrew word used here does not mean spies) into the promised land. The twelve spies return, all report that the land is as good as God had promised. Two of the spies, Joshua and Caleb, immediately encourage the people to go and conquer it, while the other ten spies discourage the people by stating the people of that land are much stronger than the Israelites. Swayed by the discouragement from the ten spies, the people came to believe that God wants to send them to their death, they decided it is better to return to Egypt. As a result, God punished all the Israelites to stay in the wilderness until all the first-generation Israel
  23. 23. 22 who wants to return to Egypt died. Out of six hundred thousand first-generation Israelite men, only Joshua and Caleb can enter the promised land for they risk their life to convince the people to enter the land. There is no official record as to what causes the ten spies to decide to discourage the people, genuine fear may be the most possible reason. Compare this to the request of the tribe of Reuben and the tribe of Gad in Numbers 32, the reason behind their request are more selfish (the fear of death is more innate and less controllable), and more people (10 out of 600K vs 2 out of 12 tribes, 1/60000 vs 1/6) are participating in the act of discouragement. It is reasonable why Moses is extremely concern about this request. Note that since neither the ten spies nor the tribe of Reuben and the tribe of Gad are openly antagonizing against the Israelites or had any secret evil intention to “taking down the people of God”, their genuine fear/genuine selfishness are much deadlier. Because these fear and selfishness are so small that they are barely recognizable, yet the destructive impact on the people of God is huge. Which makes us a question: how many of these little selfish intentions are hidden within the church waiting to explode? How many had exploded and cost a heavy lost? Joshua 7 Joshua 7 was referenced in this text, and it is thematically like Numbers 32 and Numbers 13-14. In this text Achan, out of his greed and selfishness, took the spoil of war during the siege of Jericho, leading to Israelite losing in the first siege of Ai. This text’s theme “selfishness of a few lead to the punishment of the whole” is the same as the theme of Numbers 32. But unlike Joshua 7, there is no actual law or the word of God that the tribe of Reuben and the tribe of Gad are violating, and Moses was able to stop it from happening before it begins. This theme, “selfishness of a few leads to the punishment of the whole”, however, is rarely heard within the church today. It is true that in Ezekiel 18, God refute the idea that the son should bear the punishment for the father’s iniquity, and clearly state that He deals justly with individuals, but on the other hand, it is unquestionable that there are numerous examples in the Old Testament of the fallout of a sinful act falls on all within the community. There is no explanation as to how God can deal justly with individuals while having the fallout of a sinful act falls on all, thus we can only take both to be true at the same time. When we start taking this theme seriously, we will have to ask ourselves: If ten spies giving bad report caused six hundred thousand people to turn against God, one Achan’s greed caused thirty-six innocent people’s death, how many unfaithful spies, greedy
  24. 24. 23 Achan is in the church today? How many destructive impacts have they caused within the church? Numbers 25 This text is directly referenced in Joshua 22. Since it was the first Bible study text used, we will not go into the details on this text but focus on the use of the writing style/method called Kal Vahomer (Light and heavy) between Joshua 22 and Numbers 25. In the incident of Numbers 25, 24,000 Israelites died, mostly by the plague that was sent by the Lord. And we also know from that text the plague was stopped because Phinehas killed the Israelite leader who brought a Midianite woman to his relative to commit adultery. Which means if Phinehas did nothing, the Plague will spread until all Israelites died from it. There is no indication that all the 24,000 Israelites who died from the plague had sinned against the Lord. But based on the act of the Israelite leader killed by Phinehas and the Lord’s initial command of executing all leaders, we can safely assume that it was the leaders who sinned against God, which was only a drop in the bucket compared to the 24,000 died in the plague. From Numbers 26, we know the tribe of Reuben has 43,730 people, the tribe of Gad has 40,500 people, and the tribe of Manasseh has 52,700 people, which makes half the tribe of Manasseh be 26,350 people. Adding all the numbers up, there are a total 110,580 people living in the east of Jordan River. If a few leaders of Israelites sinned against God leads to 24,000 died, how much more would die if all the people in the east of Jordan, 110,580 people in total, sinned against God? And combining this with the Joshua 7, we can safely conclude that even if a few within the community had sinned against God, God’s wrath will come to the whole community nevertheless, which leave the responsibility of finding out who had sinned against God to the whole community. This explains why the Israelites are so concerned that they immediately gather and ready to attack the tribes settling to the east of the Jordan River.
  25. 25. 24 Advance Level Guide Textual Analysis • Then o Joshua § summoned • the Reubenites • and the Gadites • and the half-tribe of Manasseh, § and said to them, • "You have kept all that Moses o the servant of the Lord o commanded you, • and have listened to my voice o in all that I commanded you. • You have not o forsaken your brothers these many days to this day, • but have o kept the charge of the commandment § of the Lord your God. • And now the Lord your God o has given rest to your brothers, o as He spoke to them; • therefore o turn now o and go to your tents, § to the land of your possession, • which Moses o the servant of the Lord • gave you • beyond the Jordan. • Only be very careful o to observe § the commandment § and the law § which Moses • the servant of the Lord • commanded you, o to love
  26. 26. 25 § the Lord your God o and walk § in all His ways o and keep § His commandments o and hold fast to Him o and serve Him § with all your heart § and with all your soul." o So Joshua § blessed them § and sent them away, o and they § went to their tents. • Now o to the one half-tribe of Manasseh § Moses had given a possession in Bashan, o but to the other half § Joshua gave a possession among their brothers • westward beyond the Jordan. o So when Joshua § sent them away to their tents, § he blessed them, § and said to them, • "Return to your tents o with great riches o and with very much livestock, o with silver, gold, bronze, iron, o and with very many clothes; • divide the spoil of your enemies with your brothers." o The sons of Reuben and the sons of Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh § returned home § and departed from the sons of Israel • at Shiloh o which is in the land of Canaan, • to go to the land of Gilead, • to the land of their possession o which they had possessed, § according to the command of the Lord • through Moses.
  27. 27. 26 • When o they § came to the region of the Jordan • which is in the land of Canaan, o the sons of Reuben and the sons of Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh § built an altar • there by the Jordan, • a large altar in appearance. o And the sons of Israel § heard it said, • "Behold, the sons of Reuben and the sons of Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh o have built an altar § at • the frontier of the land of Canaan, • in the region of the Jordan, • on the side belonging to the sons of Israel." o When the sons of Israel § heard of it, o the whole congregation of the sons of Israel § gathered themselves • at Shiloh § to go up against them in war. • Then o the sons of Israel § sent to the sons of Reuben and to the sons of Gad and to the half- tribe of Manasseh, into the land of Gilead, • Phinehas o the son of Eleazar o the priest, • and with him ten chiefs, o one chief for each father's household § from each of the tribes of Israel; o and each one of them § was the head of his father's household • among the thousands of Israel. o They § came
  28. 28. 27 • to the sons of Reuben and to the sons of Gad and to the half-tribe of Manasseh, • to the land of Gilead, o and they § spoke with them saying, • "Thus says the whole congregation of the Lord, o 'What is this unfaithful act § which you have committed against the God of Israel, • turning away from following the Lord this day, § by building yourselves an altar, • to rebel against the Lord this day? o Is not the iniquity of Peor enough for us, § from which we have not cleansed ourselves to this day, § although a plague came on the congregation of the Lord, § that you must turn away this day from following the Lord? o If you rebel against the Lord today, § He will be angry with the whole congregation of Israel tomorrow. o If, however, the land of your possession is unclean, § then cross into the land of the possession of the Lord, • where the Lord's tabernacle stands, § and take possession among us. o Only do not § rebel against the Lord, § or rebel against us § by building an altar for yourselves, • besides the altar of the Lord our God. o Did not Achan § the son of Zerah § act unfaithfully in the things under the ban, • and wrath fall on all the congregation of Israel? § And that man did not perish alone in his iniquity.'"
  29. 29. 28 • Then o the sons of Reuben and the sons of Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh § answered and spoke to the heads of the families of Israel. • "The Mighty One, God, the Lord, • the Mighty One, God, the Lord! • He knows, o and may Israel itself know. • If it was o in rebellion, o or if in an unfaithful act against the Lord § do not save us this day! • If we have built us an altar o to turn away from following the Lord, o or if to offer § a burnt offering § or grain offering on it, § or if to offer sacrifices of peace offerings on it, o may the Lord Himself require it. • But truly we have done this out of concern, o for a reason, saying, § 'In time to come your sons may say to our sons, • "What have you to do with the Lord, o the God of Israel? • For the Lord has made the Jordan a border between us and you, o you sons of Reuben and sons of Gad; o you have no portion in the Lord." § So your sons may make our sons stop fearing the Lord.' • "Therefore we said, o 'Let us build an altar, § not for burnt offering § or for sacrifice; o rather it shall be a witness § between us and you § and between our generations after us, § that we are to perform the service of the Lord before Him
  30. 30. 29 • with our burnt offerings, • and with our sacrifices • and with our peace offerings, § so that your sons will not say to our sons in time to come, • "You have no portion in the Lord."' • Therefore we said, o 'It shall also come about if they say this § to us § or to our generations in time to come, o then we shall say, § "See the copy of the altar of the Lord • which our fathers made, • not for burnt offering • or for sacrifice; • rather it is a witness o between us and you."' • Far be it from us that we should o rebel against the Lord o and turn away from following the Lord this day, o by building an altar § for burnt offering, § for grain offering § or for sacrifice, § besides the altar of the Lord our God • which is before His tabernacle." • So when o Phinehas the priest o and the leaders of the congregation, even the heads of the families of Israel who were with him, § heard the words • which the sons of Reuben and the sons of Gad and the sons of Manasseh spoke, o it § pleased them. • And o Phinehas the son of Eleazar the priest § said to the sons of Reuben and to the sons of Gad and to the sons of Manasseh, • "Today we know that the Lord is in our midst,
  31. 31. 30 o because you have not committed this unfaithful act against the Lord; • now you have delivered the sons of Israel o from the hand of the Lord." • Then o Phinehas the son of Eleazar the priest and the leaders § returned • from the sons of Reuben and from the sons of Gad, • from the land of Gilead o to the land of Canaan, o to the sons of Israel, § and brought back word to them. o The word § pleased the sons of Israel, o and the sons of Israel § blessed God; o and they § did not speak of going up against them in war • to destroy the land o in which the sons of Reuben and the sons of Gad were living. o The sons of Reuben and the sons of Gad § called the altar • Witness; § "For," they said, "it is a witness between us that the Lord is God."
  32. 32. 31 Full Question Set ● When does this story happen? (O/I) o What did Joshua do? (O) ▪ What did Joshua say to the Reubenites and the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh? (O) ● Why did Joshua say that? (O/I) ● Where are the Reubenites and the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh settling down? (O) ● What was the advice Joshua giving the Reubenites and the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh? (O) o What is the importance of this advice? ● What did the Reubenites and the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh do when they settle down? (O) o What was the response of the rest of the Israelites? (O) ▪ Why would they respond in such a way (I) o What did the leaders of Israelites do? (O) o What were the concerns of the Israelites leaders? (O/I) o What did they think the Reubenites and the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh are doing? (O) o Why did they have concerns over what they do? (O/I) o What was the suggested solution the leaders give? (O) ▪ Why did they provide such solution? (I) ▪ What did the leaders think the reason the Reubenites and the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh turn to worship idols is? (I) o What example the did leaders bring up regarding their actions? (O) ▪ Why are those examples brought up? (O/I) ▪ What would happen to all the Israelites when some of them sinned against God? (O/I) ▪ Why would a small group of people sinned against God lead to God’s wrath falling on the whole group? (I/A) ▪ What can we do to avoid God’s wrath falling on the whole community? (A) ● What was the explanation the Reubenites and the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh gave? (O) o What was the altar for? (O) ▪ Why did they build the altar? (O/I) ▪ Why would the Reubenites and the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh worry the disunity between their descendant and the descendant of the rest of the Israelites? (I)
  33. 33. 32 ▪ What could lead to the disunity between the descendant of the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh and the descendant of the rest of the Israelites? (I) ● How did the leaders of Israelites response to the explanation given by the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh? (O) o What did the Israelite do when they heard this explanation from the leaders of Israel? (O) o What started all these misunderstanding and disunity among the people of Israel? (O/I) o What can we do to avoid misunderstanding and disunity within the church? (A) o How can we find a balance so that we can stay vigilant while avoiding misunderstanding and disunity? (A)
  34. 34. 33 Day 4 – Matthew 18:21-35 “Forgive us our debts, as we ourselves have forgiven our debtors” Beginner Level Guide Ice-breaking Question 1. Have you ever held a grudge against a fellow brother? Why? Passage Theme God will not forgive us if we do not forgive our brother from our heart Please read Matthew 18:21-35 The logic of the passage goes as follows: 1. Parable of forgiveness a. Peter asked if forgiving his brother up to seven times is good enough, Jesus replies to him by raising it up to seventy times seven times, then started telling a parable (vv. 21-22) b. In the parable, a king confronts a slave who owed him ten thousand talents and is planning to sell the slave, his family, and all that he has to repay the debt. The slave pleads, and the king forgives him the debt. (vv. 23-27) c. The forgiven slave met a fellow slave who owed him a hundred denarii and demands him to repay the debt. The slave pleads, and but was thrown into prison until he pays back all that he owed (vv. 28-31) d. Other slaves told the king what happened, the king was furious and handed the slave who owed him ten thousand talents to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed. (vv. 32-34) e. Jesus concludes the parable by stating that God would do the same if one does not forgive his brother from his heart. (vv. 35) Interpretation Remarks 1. One talent is six thousand denarii, one denarius is the average wage for a day. Using average annual salary (50,000 USD) and assuming an average worker works 260 days a year (52 weeks x 5 days), the average daily salary is around $192.30, which means a denarius worth $192.3, one hundred denarii worth about $19,230, ten thousand talent worth about $11,538,000,000. 2. When the king said “Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, in the same way, that I had mercy on you?”, the key words are “in the same way that I had”, God expects more than just forgiving fellow brother, he expects us to
  35. 35. 34 be like him, and forgiveness is just one of the many aspects we can be like him. Therefore, the reason why God would not forgive us was not that we have not forgiven one arbitrary person in our life, but because we are not a forgiving person just like He does. Discussion Questions 1. According to Jesus, how many times should one forgive others? 2. How much did the slave owe to his king? How much is that worth today? 3. How much did the fellow slave owe to the slave? How much is that worth today? 4. How did the king react when he heard what his slave did to the fellow slave? Why would the king do that? 5. What did the king expect from his slave after he had freed him from his debt? Application Questions 1. What does God expect from us provided that now we are forgiven of our sins? 2. With that said, how can we meet God’s expectation? 3. Why would God not forgive us if we do not forgive our brothers? Intermediate Level Guide Textual Context Matthew 18: 1-20 The whole passage starts with the disciples asking who is greatest in the kingdom of Heaven. Jesus answers saying that one who humbles himself like a child is the greatest in the kingdom. Whoever receives this humbling person in Jesus name receives Jesus. But whoever causes him to stumble, which likely means rejecting him according to the context, is going to the eternal fire (vv. 1-9). Jesus then uses a parable to emphasize the importance of this humble little one, likely to discourage the disciples sinning against them. Then Jesus goes on to talk about how to handle sin within the community (vv. 10-20). The famous verse “For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.” (vv. 20) is in fact specifically talking about God is among those who are gathering to make a judgment whether to cast someone out of the church (vv. 17) and give them wisdom.
  36. 36. 35 Old/New Testament Reference Genesis 4:23-24 This is an obscure reference. Due to the nature of the Hebrew language and how it is translated to Greek, the language of the New Testament, the seventy times seven can also be translated to seventy-seven. Using seventy seven was a reference to Genesis 4:23-24, where Lamech, a descendant Cain, had taken the protection promise God gave Cain, “whoever kills Cain, vengeance will be taken on him sevenfold” (vv. 15) and turn it into a personal statement of vengeance, “For I have killed a man for wounding me; And a boy for striking me; If Cain is avenged sevenfold, Then Lamech seventy- sevenfold.” (vv.23-24) Therefore, using the number seventy-seven/ seventy times seven, Jesus is directly answering Lamech and stating against his thirst for vengeance, and teaching us that we should thirst for forgiving others as much as Lamech thirst for vengeance. Matthew 25:31-46 Like the this passage, Matthew 25:31-46 is another parable, and also like the parable, the conclusion of the parable in Matthew 25:31-46 seems to suggest that if one does not give food, drinks, clothes to their brothers, visit them when they are sick or in prison, or give them place to stay when they are stranger to the land, then he can not inherit the kingdom. But this leaves us a question, is this an arbitrary checklist that God will keep track of? Would someone be sent to hell simply because he never visits someone in prison? Of cause, that is clearly not how God makes his final judgment. If the thing God concerns the most is the action, then Jesus will not be criticizing the Pharisees for being hypocritical. The answer to this puzzle is the list of the action itself, which are all actions that God had done in the Five books of Moses. Giving food and water to Israelites while they are in the wilderness, giving the promised land to them while they were stranger in Egypt, visiting Abraham right after his circumcision, making clothes for Adam and Eve, being in prison with Joseph. And if someone read the Bible carefully, he would discover this and if he loves God, he would want to be like God and start doing what God had done, namely the action on the list. The point is not about the action itself, although they good things to do, but the desire to be like God, to have the character of God. Therefore, this passage is thematically like the parable in Matthew 18, where forgiveness is one of the characters of God, and one who loves God would imitate Him and start forgiving others from their heart. Ultimately
  37. 37. 36 both parables aim at showing us that those who can inherit the kingdom are the ones who desire to have the character of God and imitate God.
  38. 38. 37 Advance Level Guide Textual Analysis • Then o Peter § came § and said to Him, • "Lord, • how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? • Up to seven times?" o Jesus § said to him, • "I do not say to you, up to seven times, • but up to seventy times seven. • "For this reason o the kingdom of heaven § may be compared to • a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. • When o he § had begun to settle them, o one who owed him ten thousand talents § was brought to him. • But o since he did not have the means to repay, o his lord § commanded him • to be sold, o along with § his wife § and children § and all that he had, • and repayment to be made. • So o the slave § fell to the ground § and prostrated himself before him, saying, • 'Have patience with me • and I will repay you everything.'
  39. 39. 38 • And o the lord of that slave § felt compassion § and released him § and forgave him the debt. • But o that slave § went out § and found one of his fellow slaves • who owed him o a hundred denarii; o and he § seized him § and began to choke him, § saying, • 'Pay back what you owe.' • So o his fellow slave § fell to the ground § and began to plead with him, saying, • 'Have patience with me • and I will repay you.' • But o he § was unwilling § and went and threw him in prison • until he should pay back what was owed. • So o when his fellow slaves § saw what had happened, o they § were deeply grieved § and came and reported to their lord • all that had happened. • Then summoning him, o his lord § said to him, • 'You wicked slave, • I forgave you all that debt o because you pleaded with me.
  40. 40. 39 • Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, o in the same way that I had mercy on you?' • And o his lord, § moved with anger, § handed him over to the torturers • until he should repay all that was owed him. • My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, o if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart."
  41. 41. 40 Full Question Set • How many times did Peter propose one should forgive his brother who had sin against him? (O) • How many times one should forgive his brothers according to Jesus? (O) o Why up to seventy times seven? What is special with this number? (I) o Does it mean we should count and stop forgiving someone once he had offended us more than four hundred and ninety times? (I) • What was this parable is compared to? (O) o Who was the king in this parable? (O) o Who were the slaves in this parable? (O) • How much does the slave owe to his king? (O) o How much does ten thousand talent worth today? (I) o Why would the king order to sell that slave, his family and all he had? (O/I) o Would sell that slave, his family and all he had to be enough to repay the debt? (I) o What did the slave do to plead for the king’s mercy? (O) o Why did the king forgive the slave’s debt? (O) o How much debt do we owe to God? (A) • What did the slave do when he saw the fellow slave who owes him money? (O) o How much do a hundred denarii worth today? (I) o What did the slave who owe a hundred denarii do to plead for mercy? (O) o Did that slave forgive the debt of his fellow slave? (O) o Compare to how much we owe to the Lord, does our brother owe us much? (I/A) • What did other slaves do when they saw what happened? • What did the king do when he heard the news? (O) o Why would the king do so? (I) o What did the king expect from that slave after he had forgiven his debt? (O) o What does God expect from us now that we are forgiven? (I/A) § How can we meet such expectation? (A) • Why would God not forgiving us if we do not forgive our brothers? (I/A)
  42. 42. 41 Summary Table Day 2 3 4 Text Joshua 7:1-26 Joshua 22:1-34 Matthew 18:21-35 Context The Israelite made their first step in conquering the promised land and had taken Jericho The Israelites were in the promised land, and have divided land between the tribes Jesus was teaching about the what a proper relationship within the faith community should be Content Achan stole from the Lord, leads to the Israelites lose in their siege against Ai. Joshua eventually confronts Achan, Achan confessed his sin and is stoned for his sin. The tribe of Ruben and Gad, built an altar at the east of Jordan, leading to the rest of the Israelites misunderstand them as worshiping idols. Phinehas, now a priest, resolve the tension between the people Jesus tells the parable of two debtors. Challenge To reconcile with God, we are required to actively confront the sin that is among us, whether it is a vice in us or a person in our community. An evil in a small section of a faith community can lead to God’s wrath coming upon the whole community, thus it is vital to be vigilant and purge all evil from the community. But at the same time, we must be careful and handle it calmly When sin is confronted, and the other party has repented, it is vital for us to forgive him/them, for God’s forgiveness towards us depends on our forgiveness towards others

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