Week 13: Psalms 1-17

Prepare these questions for Sunday, June 2, 2013.  We will not meet on May 26 due to Memorial Day.

The book of Psalms is very different from most of the books we have been reading so far.  A Psalm is a song written to be used in worship and set to music.  We don't know the tunes anymore and the wording is sometimes awkward because these songs have been translated over and over from the ancient Hebrew (the language in which they are thought to have been written). Having said that, the Psalms are still beautiful poetry with powerful imagery and often comforting concepts. Some Psalms list the author (most are attributed to King David) or give a brief explanation about when/why they were written, but many stand alone as poems to God.

1.  What topics are covered in these first Psalms?

2.  Read Psalm 8 carefully.  What does this Psalm say about God and how He feels/acts toward mankind?

3.  Read Psalm 15.  Use your own words to describe the kind of person who "will not be shaken" (some translations read "will not be moved").  How do you compare to these qualities at this point in your life?

4.  What do you like (or dislike) about this collection of poetry as opposed to the law and history books we have been reading so far?

Week 12: Numbers 22-36

Prepare these questions for Sunday, May 19, 2013.

The second half of Numbers has just as many details as the first and is also rather violent.  Try to imagine what it would have been like to be part of this mass of millions of people and how organization and record keeping could have improved life for the people.

1.  Who was Balaam and what unusual events happened to him?

2.  A lot of these chapters detail conflicts between the Israelites and those they encounter (Moab and the Midianites, for example).  There are also very specific stages of their journey chronicled in Chapter 33.  What use could these records have for future generations of Israelites?

3.  How did the Israelites divide up Canaan among themselves when they finally reached that land?  What problems or benefits might this have caused?

4.  Why was the accuracy of the census so important to the Israelites in these chapters?

Week 11: Numbers 1-21

Prepare these questions for Sunday, May 19, 2013.
We will not meet May 12 due to Mother's Day.

The book of Numbers is named after the detailed accounting figures from a couple of censuses that are recorded in its pages.  Some of it is rather tedious to read, but there are also some pretty interesting stories about the Israelites' time in the desert.  In these chapters we are still following Moses and company in an attempt to reach Canaan, the land God promised the Israelites way back in Genesis.

1.  Why does the Bible include all the really specific census data recorded in Numbers?

2.  What is the purpose and/or moral of the description of the Lord providing quail in chapter 11?

3.  In chapters 13 and 14 the Israelites near Canaan and send scouts to report back to Moses and the rest of the nation.  What is their report? How do the people react?  What is God's response to their reactions?

4.  What miraculous events happen in chapters 20 and 21?  What do these events say about the attitudes and general feelings of the Israelites at this time?

Week 10: Leviticus 16-27

Prepare these questions for Sunday, May 19, 2013.
We will not meet on May 5 due to Service Sunday or May 12 due to Mother's Day.

1.  Chapter 16 is about the Jewish holiday Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.  What is the scapegoat and what was its purpose?

2.  Eating blood is forbidden in Chapter 17 (how disappointing, right?).  What reasons are given for this rule?  Any guesses why that would matter to God?

3.  Throughout Chapters 18-26 the phrase "I am the Lord" is repeated (sometimes "I, the Lord your God, am holy").  What does this tell you about the purpose for so many rules and regulations for the Israelites?

4.  Some of these regulations seem clear or obvious (do no have sexual relations with close relatives), some are kind of confusing (do not wear cloth woven with two kinds of material--does that mean cotton-poly blends are out?), and some are controversial (homosexuality, tattoos, and mediums are all mentioned here).  Why do you think there is such a wide range of topics in these verses?  How do they apply to today's world?