Digital Eagle

October 19, 2010

Bible Study: Fiery Serpents

Filed under: Bible Study — Stephen aka DigitalEagle @ 11:22 pm

This week our lesson is about the Fiery Serpents by the Red Sea.  You can find the story in Numbers 21.

The context of the story starts with the rejection of Edom, in which Edom rejected the Isrealites’ request to travel through their land.  This forced the Israelites to travel around their land in a much more difficult route.  This brought them again to complaining and wishing they were back in Egypt.

The biggest question in understanding this story is what is this “fiery serpent”.  Here are some thoughts.

Wikipedia’s article on Fiery Flying Serpents offers some thoughts.  The three options offered are a Pterosaur, Seraph, and Saw Scale Viper.  The Pterosaur is an interesting thought, which I had never heard.  The article about the Ropen lends credence to the possibility that such an animal may have existed.  The reptile part fits the serpent description and the bioluminescence fits the fiery part.

The Seraph is another option that could fit.  Remember that in the garden of Eden, Satan did take the form of a snake.  This wouldn’t be the only time that God has released permission for demons or Satan’s servants to afflict human-kind.

The Saw Scale Viper is an option that fits well too.  Wikipedia has an article that explains more about the snake: Echis.  The flying description as found in the Isaiah passages might refer to the powerful strike of the snake: “These snakes are very aggressive and will strike vigorously from the position described above. When doing so, they may overbalance and end up moving towards their aggressor as a result; most unusual behavior for a snake.”  These snakes are very deadly: “Bites from Echis species result in more human fatalities than from any other venomous snakes.”

The Bible Encyclopedia’s article about the Fiery Serpent offers some more ideas.  The Heie Sursurie and Heie Thiare were options that I couldn’t find information on, but the naja haje was very interesting.

The naja haje is one of my favorite options.  It is the Egyptian Cobra.  The Bible Encyclopedia describes it as a “swift-springing, deadly snake”.   Wikipedia has a nice article on the snake: Egyptian Cobra.  A section of the article talks about the significance of the snake to the Pharaoh.  I think is only fitting to have this snake punish the Israelites who were wishing they were back with the Pharaoh!

The Horned Viper was another option to which I saw references.  Although I can’t find the referring article again, Wikipedia has an article about them: Cerastes.

No matter what the option, one point is definitely clear: the result was no fun.  All of the snakes I read about had a bad bite.  The symptoms were things like rotting flesh, bleeding, vomiting, diarrhea, convulsions, etc.  The Bible says that many died.  I believe the point is that God takes complaining seriously especially when it comes to forgetting and disbelieving God.

As always, God comes to the rescue with His mercy.  God tells Moses to make an image of these snakes on a pole.  When the people have the faith to look at the pole, they are mercifully healed.

Wikipedia has an article about the Nehustan that talks about this image.  I think it is neat that the EMS uses the Star of Life as its symbol.  It has the Rod of Asclepius at its center, which I thought was Moses’ serpent, but the Wikipedia article lists the primary source as a Greek god.

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June 3, 2010

Bible Study: Isaac’s Faith

Filed under: Bible Study — Stephen aka DigitalEagle @ 7:07 am

In Sunday School, we are studying how Jacob tricked his brother Isaac for the blessing.  In attempting to let Bible interpret Bible, I was searching for any New Testament references to the story, and I found this verse in Hebrews 11:20:

By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come.

The amazing thing here is that God attributes that blessing to faith.  The natural question is how is it faith when Isaac tried to give the blessing to the oldest son even though God prophesied that the youngest son would get it?  You can see that prophesy in Genesis 25:23:

And the LORD said unto her, Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger.

I agree the Gill’s commentary in that it was his faith in giving the blessing:

but yet notwithstanding this, Isaac might do it in faith, believing that the person he blessed would be blessed, though he was mistaken in him; and which he confirmed when he did know him,

God had promised Abraham that he would make a nation out him, and remember that God is very vocal about Abraham’s faith in believing this promise.  If you look at Isaac’s blessing, he is passing along this promise of creating a nation along.  Here is Isaac’s blessing to Jacob from Genesis 27:28-29:

Therefore God give thee of the dew of heaven, and the fatness of the earth, and plenty of corn and wine: Let people serve thee, and nations bow down to thee: be lord over thy brethren, and let thy mother’s sons bow down to thee: cursed be every one that curseth thee, and blessed be he that blesseth thee.

You can find that blessing that Isaac was passing along in Genesis 12:1-3 where God was promising the blessing to Abraham if he would follow God to that promise land:

Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.

I noticed two points of similarity.  First, both blessings speak of nations.  Second, both blessing speak of God’s treating others the way they treat Abraham or Jacob or Israel: blessing for blessing and cursing for cursing.  God was crediting Isaac with this faith that God would keep his word in building a mighty nation out their decedents even though Isaac would never see it in his life time.

The most encouraging part of Hebrews 11 is that God never mentions the part that Isaac was about to give the blessing to the wrong son.  Instead, it is all about the faith to pass along such a blessing means that Isaac believed God would keep his promise.  This fact encourages us because it reminds us that God will put our sins as far as the east is from the west.  Now, Isaac and Rebekah did suffer the consequences for the mix up between Jacob and Esau, but as far as God is concerned, that is past and forgotten.  The same is true for our sin.  Once we put our faith in Jesus, our sins are past and forgotten.  God is concerned about our faith in Him.

February 11, 2010

Bible Study: MIT for Jonah

Filed under: Bible Study — Stephen aka DigitalEagle @ 11:16 pm

The time has come for me to decide on an MIT (most important thing) for the story of Jonah.  I chose the fact that “God loves everyone; even the unlovely.”

VeggieTales is major competition here in that a good deal of the kids in our classes have already seen their movie, Jonah.  I really liked the movie, and I thought it did a great job at teaching the story and helping kids understand it.  I believe their MIT was “God is a God of second changes.”  VeggieTales focused on the fact that God gave Ninevah a second chance just as he gave Jonah a second chance to deliver the message.  The movie did a great job teaching how Jonah was a messenger, how the Ninevites were evil, and how the Jews hated them.

I wanted to be different though.  The story of Ninevah is a direct attack on Racism.  Jonah hated all of the Ninevites.  As God pointed out, not all of the Ninevites were wicked.  Some of them weren’t even old enough to know right from wrong, yet Jonah wanted the whole city destroyed.  Doesn’t that describe Racism?

While kids may not be able to understand Racism, they can understand dislike.  Kids can definitely be cruel to their peers in deeds and words.  They need to learn that God loves everyone, good and bad (not their bad deeds, but their person), pretty and ugly.

Picture the person you get mad at the most, the person you dislike the most, or the person you might even admit to hating.  Would you be willing to give them the gospel, or even deliver a message to them?  Would you be as guilty as Jonah?

January 19, 2010

Bible Study: Balaam

Filed under: Bible Study — Stephen aka DigitalEagle @ 8:57 am

Our Sunday School lesson this past week was about Balaam.  Here are some of my thoughts about this person of the Bible.

Bible Passage:  Numbers 22 – 24

Here is my MIT (Most Important Thing) to communicate to the kids (Can you have two things?):

1.  Obey the first time: While Balaam did technically obey, he asked God multiple times to do something that he should not have done.  When you ask for God’s will you should want what God wants; you should not want God to want what you want.

2.  Peer-pressure: There are people out there who want to destroy you.  Balak did not foil the Israelites with the curses of Balaam, but he was able to succeed by tempting them to voilate God’s commands.  God will protect us from evil attacks from robbers and those who seek to destroy us physically, but we have to watch for the “friends” who sneak in and cause us to destroy ourselves.  Actually, God will protect us from those, too, if we let him (1 Corinthians 10:13).

One thing I noticed about the account in the Bible is that they left out a number of things.  I guess God included only what he thought was important.

  • Balaam’s Origin: Numbers doesn’t say much about where Balaam came from.  I guess I am supposed to know where Pethor is.  But, it doesn’t say how Balaam came to know God since it implies he was separate from the people who came out from Egypt.
  • Balaam’s Response to the donkey: I find it odd that Balaam just replies to the donkey as if it is normal to talk to a donkey.  Did God leave it to Sunday School teachers to have fun imaging this interaction?  Was Balaam surprised when he heard the voice?  Did it take a few minutes to find out it was the donkey talking?  Numbers 22:21 says that he went with the Princes of Moab.  So, what did they think about the donkey?
  • Balaam’s instruction to tempt Israel:  Revelation 2:14 says that Balaam taught Balak how to be a stumbling block to Israel.  But, our account in Numbers here doesn’t really describe that.
  • Balaam’s death:  In Joshua 13:22, the Bible says that Israel killed Balaam.  Again, that is not covered here in Numbers.

Treating Animals

While mankind definitely comes first (Gen 1:26 — dominion over all the earth) and the creation never comes before the creator, God still expects us to treat animals properly.  Maybe I am stretching the application a little bit, but God could have communicated about the Angel to Balaam differently.  Instead, he allowed the donkey to defend himself after getting hit those three times.  Remember, Jesus knows even when the sparrow falls (Matthew 10:29).

Nugget of Gold

He hath not beheld iniquity in Jacob, neither hath he seen perverseness in Israel: the LORD his God is with him, and the shout of a king is among them. — Numbers 23:21

Remember Jacob is the trickster.  Even after God did all of those mighty works in Egypt, the Israel still complained and forgot God.  How can God say he hasn’t seen any perverseness?  Israel was His chosen and redeemed people.  He cleansed them from their sin so that he no longer even saw their faults.  In the same way, he can clean us.  All he asks is that we put our trust in Jesus, and he will wash us from all our sin — that is called Mercy!

Resources

Wikipedia: Balaam

June 4, 2009

Bible Study: The Potter

Filed under: Bible Study — Stephen aka DigitalEagle @ 6:47 am

Last Sunday, our pastor preached on the God’s potter illustration.  It is found in Jeremiah 18:1-10:

The word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying, Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will cause thee to hear my words. Then I went down to the potter’s house, and, behold, he wrought a work on the wheels. And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it. Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying, O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the LORD. Behold, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel. At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, and to pull down, and to destroy it; If that nation, against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them. And at what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it; If it do evil in my sight, that it obey not my voice, then I will repent of the good, wherewith I said I would benefit them.

The sermon inspired me to post my own thoughts:

The key verse is verse 4:

And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it.

  • The vessel was “made of clay”: Clay is a type of soil or rock.  God formed “man of the dust of the ground” according to Genesis 2:7.
  • The vessel was “marred in the hand of the potter” not BY the hand of the potter.  I think of Job in that it wasn’t God who caused all of the disaster: it was Satan and God just allowed it.
  • I picture a rock or some hard place in the clay that is not moldable.  As the pot spins, it would catch the potter’s hand and instead of fitting the form He was making, it would cut into the surrounding clay.  The potter would have to pull that rock out before He could continue.  God is constantly refining us and removing those rebellious, sinful spots from us.
  • “he made IT again” not he threw it away and started again with another piece of clay.  He is the God of second chances.  II Peter 3:9 says he is longsuffering and not willing that any should perish.  It doesn’t matter what we have done, God is in the bussiness of remaking.

May 21, 2009

Illustrations for Kids

Filed under: Bible Study — Stephen aka DigitalEagle @ 6:52 am

Yesterday, I was searching for a fun illustration for our Awanas group.  I found several of them, and wanted to share/preserve them for use later.

I first thought of the illustration using Iodine and water:

Cleansing Blood of Jesus

Here are some instructions that might help:

Nothing Gold Can Say

This is another way of doing it:

YouTube: Cool Gospel Presentation

Here are the instructions for doing this:

The Story of Hank

Because I couldn’t find the chemicals to use that illustration, I ended out using this one:

The Pop Quiz

March 17, 2009

Bible Study: April Fool’s Day 3

Filed under: April Fools,Bible Study — Stephen aka DigitalEagle @ 10:15 am

This morning, I came upon this verse:

A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.

— Proverbs 17:22

Is it possible that April Fool’s Day could be therapeutic?  If it brings a smile, I would say so.

Graphics Lend Credibility

Filed under: Bible Study — Stephen aka DigitalEagle @ 12:35 am

Dilbert.com

A Sunday School teacher several weeks told a great story about this fantastic creature that went through a cycle sort of like a butterfly.   He had a great power point presentation with pictures to back it up.  He even passed around some specimens.  He had a biology degree and plenty of experience to back it all up.  Come to find out, he made the whole thing up.  The specimens were things you might even be able to find in your backyard and they were totally unrelated.

The point was that just because books have all these pictures and charts and seemingly “scientific” evidence, we assume that evolution is true.  If you really look at the facts, creationism really makes more sense.

February 20, 2009

Bible Study: April Fool’s Day 2

Filed under: April Fools,Bible Study — Stephen aka DigitalEagle @ 12:37 pm

Building on the previous post,  here is another thought about April Fool’s Day.  April Fool’s Day is not a holiday for the truth!

The Bible says that Jesus is the truth:

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

— John 14:6

The verse says Jesus is the truth, not that He is truthful.  If he was just truthful, one dishonest slip or action would simply mean that he is just not quite as full of the truth.  But, the truth is His identity.  One dishonest slip and Jesus ceases to be who He claims.  The truth is important to Christ!

We are called to be like Jesus, which could only mean that we should strive to be honest in all things.  For example, Paul said:

Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.

I Corithians 11:1

We follow Jesus’ example not to obtain salvation, but because of what He did for us.  After receiving salvation from Him, following His example is the least we could do.  Any, maybe it will lead others to accepting His free gift of salvation.

In conclusion, any April Fool’s joke should at least be clear in that it is a joke.  You should not leave the reader or observer to doubt when all is said and done what is the truth.  The goal should be to make people laugh, not deceive them.

February 17, 2009

Bible Study: April Fool’s Day

Filed under: April Fools,Bible Study — Stephen aka DigitalEagle @ 12:48 pm

Is April Fool’s Day Biblical?  Well, I know that the Bible is still applicable on April Fool’s Day, but God wants us to enjoy life and have fun at the same time.  So, this year, I would like to explore humor guidelines and April Fool’s Day from the perspective of the Bible.  So, if you have any input, please sound off in the comments.

First thought:

Master, which is the great commandment in the law?  Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment.  And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

— Matthew 22:36-39

The golden rule still applies on April Fool’s Day.  We should ask ourselves this question before any joke: would I want this joke played on me?  That doesn’t mean we can’t play any jokes, but we want the other person to laugh, not get angry.

Please let me know if you have any other ideas for where to take this study.  I started by looking up “funny” and “humor” in my Thompson Chain study Bible, but I didn’t find either.

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