Year of the Bible – Revelation 4 – 11:19




Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. – Revelation 5:8

An angel was sent from God to help the Apostle John testify to the world about Christ and about “what must soon take place.” John’s testimony came directly from Christ Jesus Himself, in His resurrected and glorified state. John received from Christ a series of exhortations to be delivered to the seven churches of Asia Minor (modern day Turkey). Each of the congregations was struggling with intrusions of false doctrine, with heresies and false prophets who were attempting to corrupt the pure doctrines and teachings of Christ. For each congregation, Christ gave both warning and encouragement, reminding them that perseverance and faithfulness would be richly rewarded. Beginning in Chapter 4, John receives permission to see into the future, to see what would happen in his own time and in the coming generations. He is given a scroll with writings on two sides (Law and Gospel), with seven seals (things that no man could know or understand or have the authority to determine). As each of the seals is broken, John receives a vision of the judgments of God upon the world, the unbelieving world that refuses to repent and worship the Lamb of God. In Chapter 7 John sees the Church of heaven and watches as they worship before the throne of God. They are singing the words of our liturgy. They are distinctly seen and known for who they are: These are the ones who have come out of the great tribulation, who have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. (7:14) John is witnessing the totality of all saints as they worship God in the new creation. Contained within the event of the final seal being opened are seven trumpet blasts, each one bringing forth a judgment from God upon the earth. The trumpet blasts make clearer the things that God is doing in bringing the world into judgment, climaxing at the end of time. Finally, when the seventh trumpet sounds, the end of time comes and the Kingdom of the Messiah “begins”—that is, brings to an end the rule of sin and evil in the world.

Questions – Revelation 4

  1. Who was sent to John to help him testify to Christ?
  2. Who did John see when he entered into his vision?    
  3. What are the names of the cities where the seven churches were located? 
  4. What does the number 7 represent?
  5. Seven seals and seven trumpet blasts – what do they represent?

© John W. Fiene | Artwork by Brian McFarland

Year of the Bible – Acts 27:1-44




But now I urge you to keep up your courage, because not one of you will be lost. – Acts 27:22

The Apostle Paul was about to be transported to Italy to stand trial before the Emperor. He was placed into the hands of a soldier in the Imperial Regiment. As the ship set sail, conditions on the seas determined a course that placed everyone at great danger. The ship was carrying 276 passengers along with a large quantity of goods. As the ship was attempting to pass by the south side of the island of Cyprus, it was struck by a “Northeaster”, a storm that drove it out into the deep and uncharted waters of the Mediterranean Sea. It was so fierce that the ship was expected to sink. The Apostle Paul, however, was able to bring comfort and consolation to the passengers and soldiers. Since God was protecting him for the sake of the Gospel that he was bringing to the world, so also were the passengers being protected by God as well. No one was lost, though the ship was destroyed.

Questions – Acts 27

  1. Why was the Apostle Paul being sent to Rome, Italy?
  2. If a prisoner had the potential to escape, what was the Roman soldier in charge supposed to do?
  3. Why was the Apostle Paul certain that he would not die in the storm?
  4. What were the benefits that the other passengers experienced because they were with the Apostle Paul?
© John W. Fiene | Artwork by Brian McFarland

Year of the Bible – John 3:22 – 4:54


John 3:22


But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God. – John 3:21

A leader of the people came to him by night (as though he were afraid and ashamed) and wanted Jesus to explain Himself. Jesus made it very clear that a true disciple of Christ would courageously step forward into the light and make his faith known before all men. Without that courage, flowing out of a rebirth of the heart, there could be no enlightenment. A true disciple would be baptized publicly, and in accepting the praise of God, would also willingly accept the scorn or rejection of men. Jesus declared emphatically: “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.” (3:36)

The members of this new Messianic Kingdom are not necessarily the people one would expect. In John 4 a Samaritan woman met Jesus at a well. He delicately guided her into an understanding of who He was: First by revealing to her that He is aware of her sinful past; then by revealing to her that through faith in Him, she could obtain the gift of truly worshipping God—and thereby receive eternal life in His eternal Kingdom. Unlike the great leader of Israel, this sinful woman went and spoke of Jesus to everyone she knew, realizing that it would also expose her for her sinful life.

Where the healing of the soul exists, however, there is so much joy and happiness that the believer is not afraid of exposing personal sin. How does one get this great joy and forgiveness? Not just by exposing sin, but by believing God’s Word of pardon. The spoken work of Jesus forgiving sins is all that we need to have our sins forgiven before God.

To make that point, that believing Jesus is enough, even though we might not see His forgiveness or a miracle attached to it, Jesus tested an official who came to him to have his son healed. He wanted the official to trust in His Word, to believe by faith. He told him to go home because his son had already been healed. The man went trusting, believing, and his son lived. Not only did the man believe in Jesus as his savior from that very moment, so also did his entire family.

 Questions – John 3:22 – 4:54

  1. If a person is really seeking forgiveness of their sins from Jesus, will they remain a secret Christian?  
  2. What is God’s attitude towards the unbelieving world?
  3. What special kind of people does God accept as worshippers?
  4. What pain must always go along with forgiveness?    
  5. In what way did Jesus test the official to see if he had faith in His Word?

© John W. Fiene | Artwork by Brian McFarland

Year of the Bible – Daniel 3:1-5:30

Daniel 3:1



The Lord we serve is able to save us . . . and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. – Daniel 3:17

Only a remnant of people survived and went into captivity in Babylon (modern day Iraq). It was often the case that after a nation was destroyed, the nobility of the vanquished country would be deported and raised to learn (and love) the ways and customs of their conquering masters. The young Jewish nobles were deported to be schooled in the literature and learning of the Babylonians. Four of them rose to prominence. Each was given a new Babylonian name: Daniel was renamed Belteshazzar; Hananiah became Shadrach; Mishael became Meshach; Azariah became Abednego. These four were devout and faithful to their God, the God of Israel. For their uncompromisingly faithful service and integrity, God richly blessed them. In a series of stunning events throughout the reign of King Nebuchadnezzar, the four Jewish wise men came to be elevated to the highest positions of authority in the land of Babylon.

The first major event began with a dream of Nebuchadnezzar. The King wanted the wise men of Babylon to tell him what he dreamt one night — without telling them the content of his dream first. In other words, to prove their wisdom, they had to tell him something that only he knew. As Joseph had done many years before in the land of Egypt, God used Daniel to interpret the dream of the king, so in gratitude and respect, Nebuchadnezzar promoted Daniel as his chief seer and wise man.

In a second test of faithfulness, the proud king decided to have an image of gold made of himself and to require that all his subjects bow down and worship it. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, as worshippers of God, refused, choosing death rather than to worship an image of the king. God used their faithfulness to prove that He could not only deliver His servants from the wrath of those who opposed their faith, but that in the process He could also convert the very king who was doing the persecuting. Each time, Nebuchadnezzar found himself praising the God of Israel as the true God of heaven and earth.

In a third test (chapter 4), Nebuchadnezzar has another dream. The dream revealed what God was going to do to humble Nebuchadnezzar. The Babylonian King had become the greatest and most powerful king of the entire civilized world. Daniel warned the king of the verdict of condemnation that stood against him, and prescribed a way for God’s judgment not to fall upon him and his people: “Renounce your sins by doing what is right and your wickedness by being kind to the oppressed. It may be that then your prosperity will continue.” (4:27) But the king did not listen and instead found himself in a state of insanity, out of which God later restored him, and through the humility that the king learned from God, he was able to become the greatest king in the world, the first in what was about to be a succession of kingdoms leading to the Messianic Kingdom. In the visions of Nebuchadnezzar, God pointed out the future kingdoms that were to come.

After the Babylonian kingdom would come the kingdom of the Persians and Medes. They would fall to the kingdom of Alexander the Great. After the Kingdom of the Greeks would come the Kingdom of the Romans, and out of the Roman Empire would come the Messianic Kingdom, a Kingdom that would be eternal. As Belshazzar succeeded his father, Nebuchadnezzar, he gave orders to have the gold and silver goblets, taken from the holy temple in Jerusalem, and he used them to drink and praise the pagan gods of gold, silver, bronze, iron, wood and stone. As he spoke, a hand appeared and wrote an inscription upon the wall. Daniel was called to interpret the words. MENE TEKEL PERES. “Mene: God has numbered the days of your reign and brought it to an end. Tekel: You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting. Peres: Your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.” (5:26-28) That same night King Belshazzar was murdered and his kingdom was given over to Darius the Mede – either the regional ruler or the regional name of King Cyrus, liberator of the Jews.

 Questions – Daniel 3:1 – 5:30

  1. What did the Babylonians do for the young men of Israel taken into the service of the king?
  2. What do you see in the character of these young men that was so great?
  3. How did God demonstrate that He was with and protecting the three men who would not bow down to the idol?
  4. What lesson did Nebuchadnezzar have to learn from God?
  5. What kingdoms followed the Kingdom of the Babylonians?
  6. Explain the meaning of the words “Mene Tekel Peres.”

© John W. Fiene | Artwork by Brian McFarland

Year of the Bible – 2 Chronicles 34:1-36:23




The king stood . . . and renewed  the covenant in the presence of the Lord – to follow the Lord . . . with all his heart and soul. – 2 Chronicles 34:31

King Josiah was a most beloved king to the people of Israel. Not only does God’s Word commend him by saying: “He walked in the ways of his father David”, but it adds, “not turning aside to the right or to the left.” (34:2) Josiah kept his focus, sought to reform his nation and the true worship of Israel, and did not let himself be distracted from this high and noble cause.

One of the first things that Josiah did was to restore the temple building, the house of God, the place of divine worship. He collected funds from all the people, and with the money he hired skilled people to undertake renovation. While they were restoring the temple, something ancient and wondrous was discovered. They discovered—rediscovered—the “Book of the Law”, the Pentateuch, the first five books of Moses. Amazingly, prior to this time, things had gotten so pagan, so careless and worldly, that God’s Word was no longer read, heard or studied, and the Bible was lost. Josiah immediately had it read to him.

As he heard it for the first time, he realized just how far astray the people of Israel had wandered from God’s commands. Overwhelmed with great sorrow at what had taken place, he ripped and shredded his clothing to demonstrate his repentance. He knew that he and the people of Israel were under the condemnation of the law and that God was very angry with His people for their neglect of God’s Word.

The king wanted to know the thoughts of God, so he sent for a prophetess, a woman named Huldah (34:22). She told Josiah that disaster was going to fall upon the Israelites, but that since Josiah was repentant, he would not experience this disaster in his lifetime. So Josiah had the Holy Scriptures read to all the people of Israel and they renewed their covenant with God. For the first time in many years, the king and all of Israel celebrated the Passover. Josiah and his officials, at their own expense, provided the entire nation with sheep and goats so that they could celebrate the Passover. Not since the time of Samuel the Prophet had Israel celebrated the Passover as they did that day. How wonderful that God’s people once again had a righteous king to rule over them!

Despite his great faithfulness, however, Josiah made a fatal mistake. The Pharaoh of Egypt brought his armies north to help the Assyrians do battle with the Babylonians at Carchemish. The rise of Babylon as a great power was due to God’s own plan and will, so God spoke through Pharaoh Neco to warn Josiah not to interfere with his battle plans. Josiah chose to side with Assyria—contrary to God’s will—and, in doing battle with Pharaoh Neco, lost his own life in battle. Jehoahaz, his son, became king, but within three months was deported by Neco to Egypt. He was replaced by his brother, whose name was changed by Neco to Jehoiakim. But Jehoiakim was attacked by King Nebuchadnezzar and taken into captivity into Babylon, and along with the king, Nebuchadnezzar also took the sacred articles of the temple. Jehoiachin was put on the throne, but deposed three months later. His uncle, Zedekiah, took his place, but he was an evil king and he did great evil in God’s sight, refusing to humble himself under the preaching of Jeremiah the Prophet.

With no righteous king to lead them, the priests and officials began to grow corrupt. God’s anger was aroused and the Babylonians finally came and destroyed Jerusalem once-and-for-all. A few people were taken into captivity and became servants of Nebuchadnezzar. The rest were killed, the walls of Jerusalem were broken down. All palaces were burned. The people went into captivity for seventy years, until the reign of Cyrus, King of Persia.

Questions – 2 Chronicles 34:1 – 36:23

  1. What words are used to emphasize the faithfulness of Josiah as he sought to reform both church and state?
  2. What did Josiah rebuild as the first act of reform?
  3. What was it that the priests discovered in their renovations?
  4. What was God going to do to His people because of their neglect of the Word of God and His commands?
  5. What special privilege did God give to Josiah because he was repentant?
  6. How did Josiah die?
  7. What foreign king destroyed Jerusalem?
  8. What king liberated the Jews living in captivity in Babylon?

© John W. Fiene | Artwork by Brian McFarland

Year of the Bible – Psalm 127-133

Psalm 127-133
My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning. – Psalm 130:6


Psalm 127
God’s blessings make small things into great things, small amounts into large quantities, small efforts into huge accomplishments. If God does not bless our work, small things remain small and eventually disappear. From this psalm we can identify some of the many blessings that God showers down upon us in daily life – things for which He deserves our thanks. What are the ones described in this psalm?

Psalm 128
Unbelievers often try to make us feel that we will not experience happiness or prosperity if we remain faithful to God. We may not become instantaneously famous. We may not become ridiculously rich, but God does make His children famous and rich in different ways, ways that are reflected in this psalm. Can you list them?


Psalm 132
Prior to the time of King David, Jerusalem did not have a temple. The ancient tabernacle (a portable tent) was some 500 years old when David began to rule and it was not located in the city of Jerusalem. Why did David desire to have the Tabernacle in Jerusalem? The reasons are reflected in this psalm: a. Because God would dwell in it (7-8); b. Because God’s presence would guarantee the protection and prosperity of the Israelites (15, 18); c. Because these protected and prosperous people would one day have an eternal King to rule over them (God promised David that there would always be one of his descendants upon the throne of Israel – which came to be fulfilled in Jesus 11); d. Because through the Messiah, eternal life and salvation would come to God’s people (16).


Psalm 133 
What pleases God? It can be very painful when people share the same faith and Savior and yet become contentious and bitter towards each other. The servant of God is what he is, not because he is better than any other, but because God has chosen him, set him apart, and given him the Holy Spirit that he might serve as a faithful servant of God. This psalm uses the vivid image of Aaron (the High Priest and brother of Moses) being anointed with oil (Oil representing the Holy Spirit). Some had become jealous of Aaron and Moses and this angered God. God does not show favoritism, but he does choose some people to carry out His holy work of ministry. What pleases God, therefore, is the people of God living in peace and unity as they receive God’s gifts – without contention or jealousy.


Questions – Psalm 127-133 

  1. What do you want out of marriage?
  2. What are the qualities of a good spouse?
  3. What do you need to have before you get married?
  4. What is the end-goal of marriage?
  5. What serves to be the foundation of trust in a marriage?
  6. What do you want your children to experience between themselves, above all other things?
  7. What does God have to do with you giving your children an inheritance?
  8. Why do parents want their children to respect them?
© John W. Fiene | Artwork by Brian McFarland