Three Keys to Unlock Prophecy

How to Unpack Difficult Scripture Passages

By Todd Wethall — Study Content Specialist 

I have a confession – I have struggled to read through the Old Testament prophets. Maybe you can relate. 

As a long, long, long-time BSFer, I did my best to swallow the passage whole and glean something close to an answer. I was quick to respond in my group to the simple questions and avoid eye contact with the deeper, more challenging ones.  

But I had to ask: Is this what God intended for me? Is this how God wants me to encounter, understand, and be transformed by Him?   

I don’t think so. 

In the midst of People of the Promise: Kingdom Divided, you may be weary. So much rebellion. So much judgment. Perhaps it even sounds redundant. But God has something deep for us to uncover. He longs for us to understand our utter need for Him and see His glory amid the darkness of fallen humanity.

BSF has taught countless people, like me, not only to read God’s Word but how to unpack His Word. As I encounter God through the Bible, I approach His prophecy much like I approach any part of His Word.

I look at context. I look for meaning. And I look for Jesus. 

The minor prophets may seem cryptic or unrelatable, but I have discovered deep meaning through this approach. As an example, let’s look at the book of Amos.

I look at context. I look for meaning. And I look for Jesus. 

What is the context? 

Ask: How would the original audience have heard this passage? What makes this passage unique?  

Amos spoke to Israel during the height of wealth and prosperity. The people worshipped, they sacrificed, and they declared, “God is with us!” Unsurprisingly, God declared judgment on their neighbors. But in a shocking twist, Amos’ narrative shifted. The same accusations brought against God’s enemies applied to His own people.  

Beneath their pretense of piety, the people were ruled by selfish ambition and decadence. They oppressed the poor and accepted bribes – God declared “the times are evil.” Judgment was coming for those who refused to repent of their false morality. 

What is the meaning? 

Ask: What is the passage saying about God? What does it say about His people? What is God saying to me (Is there something I’m supposed to know or do from this passage)? Why should I care?

Amos’ words are strikingly relevant. If we’re honest, we can admit that people have not changed since 750 BC. With vivid imagery, Amos foretold “wailing in all the streets and cries of anguish in every public square” (Amos 5:16). But God offered hope. At the heart of His warnings, God revealed His character. He is holy, He is judge, He is righteous. And He is love.

God willingly dealt with the people’s sin. He could have counted them as lost. He had every right to let them rot from the inside out. But the One “who made the Pleiades and Orion, who turns midnight into dawn and darkens day into night, who calls for the waters of the sea and pours them out over the face of the land” pursued His people (Amos 5:8). He exposed their false sense of security to offer a new way forward. Speaking into the darkness, God’s Word brought light.

I see myself in Amos’ words. I see my sin and long for hope. The words of Amos lead me to repentance. They bring me to my knees in worship. They soften my heart in gratitude for Jesus. They stir my heart toward joyful obedience.

Speaking into the darkness, God’s Word brought light.  

What does this teach me about Jesus? 

Ask: What does this passage say about the Son of God? 

While the name “Jesus” may not be obvious, the book of Amos (and the rest of God’s prophecy) was not recorded in a vacuum. Each word is part of the grand narrative of God’s story. And we can read Amos with the Savior in mind. Through the prophets, God’s Word entered into humanity’s darkness. Through Jesus, that Word became flesh.

The last six verses of the book of Amos (9:11-15) conclude with the glorious promise of restoration. Repaired shelter, restored ruins, rebuilt cities, and new wine certainly foretold of preserving a remnant of Israel. But it also promises a future restoration of heaven and earth – pointing to the return of Jesus. When life feels hard or overwhelming, this is a promise you can cling to. 

Each word is part of the grand narrative of God’s story.

What if I’m still struggling? 

Reading a book like Amos can feel overwhelming, but in BSF we don’t wander through Scripture alone. Through our BSF groups, we can share our struggles. On a tough week, be honest with your group. In moments of inspiration, celebrate together. God preserved these prophetic books for a reason, and they aren’t just for Bible scholars. When we read these warnings with Jesus as our hope, the gift of eternal salvation becomes more precious with every verse.

Todd Wethall

Study Content Specialist

Todd Wethall serves as a Study Content Specialist at BSF. Having been involved in BSF – as a class member, Group Leader, Teaching Leader, and HQ staff member – since 1993, Todd credits this ministry as having the greatest earthly influence on His life in the growth of His intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. Todd and his wife, Holly, are blessed with two children, their spouses, and two new grandchildren.

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213 Comments

  1. how do I get study guide for John?

    Reply
    • Hi Jim! Materials for the John study will be released in June and July to members. You will receive an email at that time.

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  2. Thank you so much for this article. It has truly help me on how read, understand and see what the Lord is trying to teach me through these Old Testament events. I am very grateful to BSF for all that I’ve learned through their studies.

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  3. I have a question, which prophecies are yet to be fulfilled? I was reading John 11 and verses 25,26 stated about not dying at all?

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  4. Great points and right on target….I am lucky to have a great group, open and sharing. It helps get through the difficult parts.

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  5. Thank you for sharing this with us. This helps me a lot. As I read the Old Testament I am so hurt by what I am seeing. I long for people to be saved by Jesus. He is the Only Way, the Only Truth, and the Only Life. While I’m reading I feel the heaviness of the judgements and punishments but then I read God saying “Then you will know that I Am God”, I have great relief knowing that God is waking us up. Even now during Covid, I know that God is waking us up. But after I read the Old Testament I am so relieved to remember that I am under grace, not the Law. For the past three years God is growing me in my relationship with Him. I was so afraid that I could lose Him that I was trembling. I am learning that Jesus holds me. I can’t lose Him because I am sealed by His Holy Spirit. When I wonder if I can lose Him, He tells me that I am His. I am so thankful to Jesus for dying on the cross for me and rising from the grave. He is my hope. I need to always remember and understand God’s grace for me in Christ alone. God bless you in Jesus’ Name. Jodi

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  6. This blog was so inspiring and helpful
    T
    I’m going to ask the essential questions as i read about my God….. my desire is to draw nearer to him
    🙏👆

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  7. I am falling in love with the word of God again and again as I read the Prophets and see our Messiah all throughout. I have also started to learn Hebrew and the many root word meanings that bring the words of the Bible alive. I am always delighted to keep finding new insights as God gives me aha moments with well read passages. BSF is a blessing of a learning environment combined with heartfelt fellowship. I am so thankful.

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  8. Very encouraging to me ,a BSF class member and group leader for more than 20 years

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  9. May I reference these tips by posting them on my Group’s Band page?

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    • Hi Phyllis, you are welcome to share these tips by sharing the link to the article on your page. Thank you!

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  10. Thank you for the tips.

    In the Amos example (9:11-15), I don’t see a promise of the future restoration of heaven and earth. After reading many times, I can only see God’s promise of the future restoration of Israel.

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  11. Todd:
    I love the BSF NOTES but as you mentioned above in “What is the Context” – it would be incredible IF BSF provided us with some of the “context” of the times; the history, and a glimpse into the culture at the time of the scripture we are reading.
    BSF does not want participants to use commentaries, etc., until after the four-fold approach, BUT if BSF provided some context beforehand I think it would help to facilitate “What is the meaning,” “What does this teach me about Jesus.” I think it would bring the scriptures to life.

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    • Agree!! I find myself searching outside resources for context quite often

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  12. Your words are a blessing. Thanks be to God for the Holy Spirit who put it upon your heart to share this with us.

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  13. I am a new reader of the stories in the Bible and would like to begin reading I need guidance

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    • Hi Ann, my name is Jodi. I am a member in BSF. When I was saved by Jesus I became a member of my Grandma’s church. My Pastor told me to read Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. He also had me memorize Philippians 4:4-9. I fell in love with Jesus in the Gospels. I always pray first, asking Jesus to open my mind to His Word. He is the One Who will lead you. God bless you in Jesus’ Name always. He loves you so much.

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  14. Thank you Todd for excellent tips. Great insight!

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  15. Very excellent. Makes me really want to dig in more. Find Jesus in everything I read. Thank you for this helps.

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  16. This reminds me of inductive study where there is observation, interpretation and application. But it goes a further with the third question, “What does it teach me about Jesus?” I hope to dig deeper as I learn to reflect on these questions with the lessons.

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    • Well said.

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  17. Weldone thanks.

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  18. Thank you for your words, so needed to read this. Along, with giving me hope making great applications!

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  19. Appreciate your Posting on these 3 steps to understanding Prophecy , Todd. Reading your struggles gives me encouragement and makes me feel normal as others who has the same
    Struggles and hard in understanding our study in PPKD. This sure would be a great help to us, esp in leading our ladies in our group discussion..😊 thank you so much. All Glory to God!🙏🏻

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  20. Thanks for your comments. Will read them again…don’t want to miss anything!

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  21. This is wonderful help as we see God working through His prophets and his very human family. To me, it is a comfort as I have cried over Uhraine’s unfair situation with Russia! But God is in control and man has a choice as to how he relates to Holy God! We look at our nation today and we have fallen far short of being what God calls us to be! Why hasn’t our nation been called to pray to Our God and Savior for Revelation and love for all mankind in our relationships? We need God now in America and our world!

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    • Amen!

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  22. I appreciate this. I love scripture and without the Old Testament and the hard stuff we can’t fully comprehend and appreciate God’s holy, righteous and just character and the immense price that had to be paid if we were ever to be able to stand righteousness before God. It constantly reminds me of my sin and reminds me to appreciate my savior.

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  23. It’s indeed challenging to understand every prophesy in the Old Testament…. As the Lord says His thoughts are higher than our thoughts. What i do is invite the Holy Spirit to instruct me and guide me as I read through the passages and answer the questions in the module and indeed He does His divine teaching to me. I experience our Lord God to speak to me. There are times when I just stop reading/ answering when I feel the Lord is speaking to me.
    I really appreciate this module, Kingdom Divided. It’s very facilitative to my learning/understanding about the Old Testament. I clearly appreciate the character of God in His dealing with the Israelites, the kings and His prophets.

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  24. Thank you for these questions to ask myself! This was very helpful. I sometimes read these prophecies with confusion but the light of God shines to show me the gift of His salvation and restoration. Praising God for His love, faithfulness and Son, Jesus!!

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  25. Thanks for your support. These lessons do become repetitive. Am looking forward to the next four lessons on Isaiah.

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  26. I love Bible Study Fellowship! I hope you can help me! I used to be able access the bsf questions on my computer, with a split screen & Scripture on the other half the screen. After a glitch with Verizon, my husband changed my password and now I can’t log on to get questions, lectures and notes at all all except on my cell phone. Due to wrist surgery & ongoing problems with it, it’s very awkward to hold my phone in one hand, and hold or prop up the device to read the Scripture and at the same time type in answers to the questions, print & take to my bsf Zoom meeting. Also, I can’t buy the book of questions as it’s too heavy to lift with my funky hand. I’d appreciate a response helping me get through this problem–thanks very much!

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    • Hi Ginger. We are praying for a full recovery! In the meantime, I’ve submitted your request to our member support department. You can also go to mybsf.org and select the “Need technical help? Talk with us” widget.

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  27. You have outlined a great way to study all scripture. What does it say? What does it mean? What does it mean to me? I use it during my daily quiet time along with a journal. Have also used it to lead a weekly Bible Study for some men. Thanks for explaining the method in a clear fashion with a real time example.

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  28. Would someone be willing to be in contact with one who considers himself to be a believer but does not think one has a personal relationship with God. He has not been under biblical teaching for some time. I am his mother in law and know value of BSF and what it could mean for his life. It may not be helpful for him to jump into current study even if he were willing. Is there a ‘come to Jesus’ blog you might suggest?

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    • Hi Shirley! Here are a couple resources you could use:

      1) The WordGo App. If he does not want to join a 30-week BSF study, why not try WordGo? These are 2-4 week courses (produced by BSF) on an app. He can study at his own pace and choose the courses that relate best to his life now. We often suggest the Getting Started courses on the WordGo app for beginners.
      2) The BSF Blog Archives and WordGo Journal archives have some good resources. Here are some articles that may be helpful for you in talking with him! https://www.wordgo.org/journal/preparing-to-share-the-gospel or https://bsfblog.org/sharing-the-gospel-with-family/
      3) We always encourage members to contact their local class leadership and to pray with people in their BSF and church groups. Is there a BSF men’s class near you? You can look for groups here: join.bsfinternational.org.

      We are praying for his heart, your patience, and persistence.

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  29. Thank you Todd. This was very helpful. Blessings.

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  30. This is very helpful. Todd is correct, the back and forth of of the split kingdom has made me weary, what a great uplift we get with Josiah.
    I appreciate the three points Todd has shared and intend to use them.

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  31. So appreciate your voice in our wilderness… often I feel same but am fearful to expound… Gods word is however clear to me regarding Old Testament times and kings and now 2023… we are led to worship and praise and help each other to live the joy and peace in Jesus

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  32. Thanks for the tips.

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  33. Wonderfully written and so helpful for this study! We miss you in Lexington

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    • Hey, Jackie. We, too, miss Lexington, which is where Holly and I were introduced to BSF, which changed our lives. And we are grateful Christian relationships and love are not confined by borders and geography but are unified in the Spirit, centered on Jesus, and are eternal. Praise God!

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    • 0
      Thanks for sharing this. Very helpful. Some time I get sidetracked with trying to figure it out and focus as to what and how.
      God is awesome for giving me this blog.
      Lizzie

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  34. Thank you for a another way to go deeper studying Gods word.

    The first part of your blog, it sounds like you were describing me.

    I will take these steps in this weeks study and put them them to work.

    God bless bother.

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    • Todd, thank you for you encouraging words and reminding me how to get more out of my study and focus on what Jesus wants me to learn through this study. I too am a longtime BSFer and have grown in my walk with the Lord and developed a love for God’s Word.

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  35. This is an awesome way to look at the old testament and its teaching. I often struggle with understanding the old, the new testament is so mich easier to digest. Todd you have brought light to a deeper meaning of seeing Jesus in each passage. Amazing

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  36. Thank you for these 3 steps to unlock prophecy and being candid with your struggle of understanding prophecy. Thank you for your words of encouragement.

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  37. How do average people discover the context? For example you say “Amos spoke to Israel during the height of wealth and prosperity. “
    How do you know this? Where can I find information like that? I hear speakers mention the historical context of their text, but wonder wher they learned it. Is this a stupid question with an obvious answer?

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    • Not a stupid question at all, Peggy. It’s a great one. While the Bible provides some context — who’s speaking, the audience, the timing (such as under a given king’s reign), whether the nation was at peace or war, etc. — it doesn’t provide all context. Bible commentaries or good study Bibles are good sources of the kind of context and color to which you’re referring. Of course, the BSF Notes or your Teaching Leader’s lecture, as a commentary and teaching sources, provide some of that as well.

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  38. Thank you for acknowledging that you struggle with reading through the OT prophets. I don’t know that your suggestions have helped me to persevere through this Divided Kingdom study with its massive reading assignments weekly as well as an almost exclusive focus on God’s wrath and judgment on His people through destruction and death, but it is comforting to read the comments of others sharing that they also are struggling to persevere through this study. I too am very thankful for my BSF leader who is doing such a great job acknowledging how disheartening these assignments can be and doing her best to offer us all hope and encouragement. I have loved BSF for several years, and I’ve been hoping and praying this year that next year’s study will focus on hope and grace since it has been a difficult season for all in recent years with the pandemic, economic changes in the marketplace, and events in our daily personal lives. Thank you, Todd, for serving faithfully at BSF. It is a great organization and the BSF way of Bible study is the best way I know for me to grow spiritually.

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    • Thank YOU, Laura for your honest comments. Your struggle is absolutely understandable and unquestionably shared. Reading about so much sin, death, and destruction is not only a difficult pill to swallow, but it may seem like it is a weekly drenching! The good news is this study is within the context of the entire narrative of the Bible, which is all about Jesus! So, while a study such as this one helps us understand the depths of man’s depravity and God’s rightful judgment, we know these books don’t stand alone. Jesus came and is coming! Despite our and our ancestors’ sin, God has not given up on us, and we get to spend and eternity with Him.

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  39. Thanks for sharing this encouraging information. It is so relevant to this years study. Lesson 16 – Israel’s Exile and Judah’s Reform was challenging to my group; however, as you said, we struggled through it together. BSF’s 4-fold approach to the lesson is also helpful this year. God Bless.

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    • Amen, Erma! That third word in this ministry’s name — Fellowship — speaks to the necessity of community. What a blessing that we get to walk through the Word and sharpen one another together!

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  40. This blob was very helpful. Thank you so much. Agree….this is a hard study! But I have a wonderful group of devoted women in my group and we are struggling together.

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  41. Very encouraging

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  42. Thank you so much for breaking this down. I read the blog, and I am among those who feel intimidated by the scriptures meaning. I will look at it now with the tools you suggest. I want to be more astute with the Word of God.
    Blessings to you and your family🙏

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  43. I appreciate the perspectives in this article.
    I have been in BSF for 14 years. This study, by far, has been the most grueling and difficult study to date. I have been lost many times and nearly come to tears often.
    If I were a first or second year BSF-er, I would have quit weeks/ months ago.
    For me, I will slug through the remaining weeks…. I’m just being very honest with you…

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    • I understand, Jean. But realize you’re not in it alone. As you unpack the passage, do what you can and let the questions be your guide. Your Group Leader is at the ready to help and encourage you. There’s fellowship in your group (and here’s a secret — no one in your group has all the answers, either!). And your Teaching Leader and those of us who contribute to the Notes also are walking with you through the passage. Don’t sweat it if you don’t understand everything. All who love God’s Word will always be Bible students, and we will always be struggling with the text or learning something new. Honestly, there’s no better place to be!

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  44. THANK YOU TODD FOR YOUR INSIGHTS INTO AMOS. IT IS A JOY TO READ YOUR ARTICLE.
    ‘DO NOT BE BRAIN WASHED BY THE WORLD, BUT BE BLOOD WASHED IN CHRIST’. IT IS A CHALLENGE TO APPLY THE SCRIPTURES TO OUR LIVES TODAY, BUT WELL WORTH THE CHOICE.
    GOD BE WITH YOU!

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  45. Thank you very much for your rich insights into unpacking God’s Word. It has been a challenge to me somewhat. However, Could it be possible to reduce the BSF sessions for shorter periods say 1hour to 1½ hrs maximum due to issues of transport logistics, etc on a case by case basis.

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    • Dan – thank you for asking! Your Group leader might have more insight into your class logistics. Also – you can find your Class Administrator’s contact here: https://join.bsfinternational.org/
      Search for your group and you can contact your Class Administrator through that channel

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  46. Thank you for the in sights on how to plow through the challenging books of the Bible, indeed it is all about our real life application and seeing our Redeemer the Lord Jesus Christ in it all.

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  47. I thank God for BSF bc it’s like getting a degree from seminary but with more intimacy in the study. It is non threatening to discuss and ask questions in a group setting.

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  48. I like ! Thanks for sharing !

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  49. Thank you so muuch for this article. It was very helpful because at times I have felt overwhelmed during my reading and study. I will definately follow the suggested steps in the article.

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  50. Thank you for this vlog because I am also struggling understanding the Bible.

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  51. Thank you for sharing this very important method. This gives me a totally new perspective on how I look at such passages.

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  52. Thank you appreciate your understanding and explanations

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  53. Thank you for this message. It helped me to better understand what God is trying to say to us through the prophets of old.

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  54. Thank you for your thoughts. Very helpful

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  55. Thanks for this encouragement. The current study, People of the Promise: Kingdom Divided, has been challenging for me and others in our group, but thankfully we have excellent leadership who have supported and stepped us through it. I love how you’ve simplified the focus — on Jesus! Nevertheless, I appreciated BSF so much and thank God for ALL that I’ve learned in my years involved in it!!

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  56. Thank you for sharing, prophecy is challenging to understand.

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  57. This article was very helpful, it gave me a different perspective, which is what I enjoy most about BSF.

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  58. I struggle with knowing if I am being an example for my grandchildren on a daily basis. None of my family, my daughter and her husband and my two grandchildren, with whom I reside, believe in God. Even though they have been raised in the church and confirmed. I pray for God’s guidance everyday. Please pray for me to know what I am suppose to be doing. Thanks, Connie

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  59. Todd’s remarks were very helpful to me. I have been plowing through 2 Kings and 2 Chronicles. It feels like walking in mud. I know each lesson should be approached with an open mind and heart. But, it has been tough going!
    Knowing that others sometimes have trouble and difficulty understanding these prophets helps me. I will start each day’s questions with a new attitude and pray for the Holy Spirit’s help.

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    • I have felt the same way
      I have a parallel Bible with four parallels
      And often it does help in understanding
      Pray before I begin

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  60. Thank you for this message. I am loving this study. Your comments are a great encouragement and I will keep them in mind with each weeks study.

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  61. HALLELUJAH! Thank you Jesus for this enlightenment!! This is my second year in BSF. I intentionally joined because I had a desire for a deeper understanding of God’s word and a desire for a closer relationship with my Heavenly Father. I’ve often felt overwhelmed and over my head!!! I’ve learned not to give into my feelings to give up; I continue to press my way forward through the guidance of the precious women in my study group. They are a TREMENDOUS source of encouragement and love and helping me along on this journey! They are truly a GIFT from God!!!

    Your tips to approaching challenging scripture I pray will serve me well in my goals to grow in Christ.

    Bless You!

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  62. You have given me an approach to Bible study, as I am having trouble with understanding the assigned chapters. I will try your approach to studying the lessons.

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  63. Good afternoon Mr. Wethall,
    Your message about Amos could not have come at a better time!
    Thank you for sending it!

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  64. Thank you for this! It was very helpful and gave me great insight in the study we are doing this year.

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  65. Thank you so much!
    I love: God longs for us to understand our utter need for Him and see His glory amid the darkness of fallen
    humanity! As applicable today as then! I am so enjoying seeing God and His amazing love for all mankind!

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  66. Wonderful article. It spells out the ‘how’ and will apply these into my BSF journey.

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  67. These tips have helped me a lot. The same as all others texts.
    Thank you.

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  68. I am a long-time CL in the preschool program. In recent years BSF has incorporated the gospel message in each Bible story we teach. That has made the OT studies rich and foundational to my faith. Teaching little ones opens door of understanding and growth that have blessed me beyond measure.

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  69. This blog has really been of help to me. Thanks for the good explanation.

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  70. I have great difficulty reading all the BSF love in the comments. My group leader disenrolled a brother for basically asking too many questions about the current and difficult Kingdoms text. I have many of the same questions about all this judgement, but don’t feel able to discuss. Thanks for the article I don’t feel quite as alone.

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  71. Thank you Todd! There is no Word of God without Jesus in the center!

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  72. Todd,
    Thank you for your blog. I have struggled through the study of the Old Testament and how it relates to me. Its like a riddle trying to discover the deeper meaning behind the Word and trying to figure out what it means. Why couldn’t the Bible been written in simpler terms for a better understanding? I will take your advise as I study the word of God. I have been in BSF for years and I think Im finally getting it as to how to study the Bible and answer its questions. Although, I struggle on how it can relate to me at times. Maybe I lead a boring life. I listen to the other women in my group and feel sorry for those who are struggling in their lives. I do love how we pray for one another.

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  73. 👍very much appreciated. God bless the BSF family. I love and cherish the study materials. Giving a blessed opportunity to study the word in a deeper, meaningful way

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  74. What a wonderful article. Had to laugh at not making eye contact. My GM’s laugh about doing this very thing. This understanding of what we all face is encouraging and so helpful to me. And the thought of finding Jesus is brilliant. Last week it was the immensity of the sacrifices that is no longer necessary because of Jesus. Thank you.

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  75. The new revision of the major and minor prophets is so wonderful to be 2 years vs. 1. Thank you for always improving on our knowledge and understanding of HIS inspired words….. The Holy Bible.

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  76. For years I have wanted to thank and hug the people who write the Notes and the Lessons. It’s so nice to see a face and have a name. I’m always stunned by the respect, care, and seriousness with which you folks develop each Lesson and each Study.

    So, Todd Wethall, I’m sending you a great big E-HUG and thank-you and would like you to pass it around to everyone who participates in this incredible adventure at BSF. That’s okay, I’ll wait…

    Thank you and GOD Bless you(s) and all you do. GOD is Shining Through! I can see JESUS smiling ear to ear.! How beautifully FATHER answers our prayers.

    P.S. I live in Pennsylvania too so “ditto” to Diana’s comment.

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  77. This is very helpful. I intend to follow his blog. Thank you for helping in my journey. Blessings

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  78. Thank you Todd for sharing this method of a deeper understanding a difficult passage and finding the relevance for my life.
    I came to BSF in 1980 here in Ft. Worth. Next to my salvation, BSF has been the greatest gift God has given me. I was a TL for 30 years and since retirement, I have struggled to discover how to take a much deeper dive into difficult passages. This method will help me with that. Thank you.

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  79. Thank you for these key ambitions in directing and encouraging us in our Old Testament studies.
    I must admit that it has been difficult to stay in the study but I’ve gleaned much from it. I remember as a child that it took a long time for me to grasp all of the gospels even with repetition and direction. I expect that same pattern will get me more and more clarity of how God wants us to Love Justice and Love Others on many different avenues of our lives.

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  80. I’m grateful for your sharing.I could identify with you in your earlier days in bsf. I’ve come a long way thanks to bsf fraternity for equipping bsfers with indispensable tools of navigating the Bible. Much appreciated .

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  81. I’m attending BSF for the first time. I have been having a hard time getting through the lessons. Thank you for this timely blog, It will help me as I continue this study with helpful information to use in reading and understanding the Bible passages. This was very helpful. Thank you.

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  82. I can feel the Spirit speaking through you as I read. I was overwhelmed this week doing Homiletics Lesson 16. After reading this I put on Bible Gateway and listened to the passages again. God opened my eyes! Why do I study and serve? For God’s glory! To be strengthened to live in a fallen world and be His disciple. I use your words “To see my sin and long for hope.” Repent. Seek Jesus. Pray for His Spirit to fill us so we can serve in humility for His glory. May the Lord bless your ministry!

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    • Judy – thank you for sharing! SO encouraging!

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  83. Thumbs up. Great 👍 reminders . Great encouragement! Thanks 🙏

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  84. Wow. This surely spoke to me. I saw myself in the discussion group as indicated here…Consolation. I am not alone. It is my first time encountering the minor prophets and truth be told, it was tough. When the lecture was given, I wondered when I shall be able to “get it”. Thanks for this piece, it has given me some insight.

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  85. Yes! Yes! Yes! Todd~Thank you for your transparency and encouragement! Timely indeed. Thank you Lord for BSF and the body of Christ who sharpens and encourages.

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  86. Thank you, Todd Wethall , fpr the refreshment that this blog has given me. In the midst of difficult passages and long reading assignments of BSF People of Promise Kingdom Divided, I sometimes forget to look for Jesus in the chapters and verses. Indeed, the Old Testament points to Jesus Christ and I must always look for Him in my readings.

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  87. Thank you. This is very helpful, otherwise my stance would be to just read through it and say – yes the people are at it again! Same old, same old story!

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  88. Thank you Todd, this was so encouraging: Look at content, Look for meaning, Look for Jesus! He is our hope always!!

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  89. Thank you Todd,
    Your words were reassuring especially “I long for hope.
    The words of Amos lead me to repentance. They bring me to my knees in worship.
    They soften my heart in gratitude for Jesus. They stir my heart toward joyful obedience.”
    These words just expressed the same desire in me and the result I have in reading the Word of God and participating in BSF every week.
    Thank you for enlightening me. Choice of words to express not only your feelings, but draw out those of your readers Regards,

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  90. Thank you! This blog was right on time. So helpful.

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  91. Thanks for sharing. This made me understand better that GOD loves us despite our terrible sins.

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  92. Thank you so much Todd for the encouragement. All you have shared sounds very familiar. I have the desire to persevere despite not understanding everything. But I have been blessed through the discussions, the lectures have been great, the notes and teaching at my church seem to tie in well with whatever we are studying.

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  93. Dear Todd,

    Thank you so much for sharing. The study helps me to understand more about God. The word of God give strength and hope..

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  94. Dear Todd and BSF team,
    I will echo Diana’s message – this is a well-timed message for me and certainly many others. My wife and I moved to Hungary in July 2022 and I am in the middle of my first year working in a foreign country that is in the midst of economic and social crisis. The war between Russia and Ukraine is on the northeastern border, and over a million Ukrainian refugees have fled to Hungary. As an English teacher, I am a witness to the Hungarian educational system in crisis due to poor wages and a teacher shortage that is likely to get worse when a majority of teachers retire within the next 5 years.

    But in the midst of challenges, God’s Word is my rock. It is tempting to simply read an encouraging Bible verse each day and call it good. But God is challenging me to stay with BSF and struggle through some of the most challenging passages in all of Scripture. Todd, I learned a long time ago to read within context, look for meaning and application, but aside from the familiar Messianic prophecies, it rarely occurs to me to look for Jesus. This is just the advice I need to to stay encouraged in a year when I am desperate for Good News.

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  95. Thank you for this guide and encouragement.God bless you

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    • The more things change, the more they stay the same. Very helpful comments

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  96. Thank you, Todd. I am not such a long-time BSFer but over time, I have come to make sense out of passages that did not make sense to me. for example all these passages of who was the son of who used to be drudgery to me, but now in context and with the illuminating work of the Holy Spirit, they make perfect sense, and the bible enjoyable to study. But I still struggle, only that I struggle with hope.

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  97. Thank you so much for this perspective on understanding and dissecting hard passages. I don’t want to microwave through the Word of God. Context, Meaning and Jesus!!!

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  98. Thank you for sharing..I am in such need of God..your words were guiding and hopeful to me and am comforted in my struggle

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  99. My first year in BSF about 45 years ago was The History of Israel and The Minor Profits. The prophets looked impossible at first. But I learned that we have within us the Holy Spirit who guided our individual study! I didn’t need a stack of commentaries to begin to understand those difficult passages. Our Teaching Leader’s lecture and our Notes filled in most of the blanks. Most of all, I was challenged to apply the scriptures to my daily life. I praise God for the wonderful opportunity to study with BSF. I miss it.

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  100. Thank you for your encouragement. Yes, Isaiah is overwhelming but the message of a certain HOPE now by the HOLY ONE JESUS and the day of judgment is clear. Time of extended GRACE prompts me to live out the Gospel and share the gospel each day. Request prayers for spiritual endurance through the changing times. May God bless the entire BSF Community abundantly.

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  101. Thank you for reminding us to look for Jesus and to look for what God is teaching me.

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  102. Thank you Todd for your enriching support and encouraging inputs. I must however admit this year’s study has been overwhelming, especially the long lessons involving large spans of lessons to cover. Many have struggled with indepth study resulting in covering lot of ground, but cultivating very little. I pray your insight would reignite our passion to study the lessons diligently not to gain academically but Spiritually. God bless you

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  103. Thanks Todd for the key points and encouraging to perservere understanding the Word. I look forward to more reveals thru the OT.

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  104. Thank you for penning this. I can relate to feeling overwhelmed by what seems like watching a bloody movie 😬. I almost gave up on my lesson today 😬 and I have been a BSFer for years. I am so glad I didn’t because the Lord sure met me as I prayed along with King Hezzekiah and comforted by the positive words by prophet Isaiah.

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  105. Todd, thank you so much. I hope everyone who is struggling is encouraged to read your post. The study of Hosea was heartbreaking to me as I imagined what being married to an adulterous person would be like. Then in our lecture, we were encouraged to see ourselves not as Hosea, the victim, but as Gomer. What a sinking feeling that gave me as I realized how our—my—sin has broken my loving Father’s heart. But I also saw that God, with His relentless, faithful love, continues to pursue me. I am thankful everyday for BSF’s faithful service to God in helping us to see the truth and to apply it. Thank you again for your words and may God richly bless all of you at HQ.

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  106. I truly appreciate this blog. As a group leader, I have endeavored to encourage the ladies in my group not to be overwhelmed. I am sending them this blog. They are struggling particularly with the corruption of humanity. I think it is incumbent on us, as children of God, to recognize our propensity to sin; but if we are so consumed by our own wickedness that we are disheartened, we are missing the main point! Against the blackest backdrop of mankind’s depravity, God’s character… His patience, compassion, holiness, long-suffering, and love… is exulted. In the deepest darkness, the Light of Jesus shines infinitely brighter!

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  107. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us and we can grow together.

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  108. Dear Todd et al:
    well timed, this message–it’s the middle of dreary winter here in Pennsylvania–gray every day. I am keeping up with the readings–though challenged! This email was just the boost I needed! Thank you!

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    • Discovering this message in my inbox today proved to be another awesome example of God’s perfect timing as well as His compassion and love. I have been struggling with many of these lessons and was just about to hang it up. God sent help via Todd’s article with a message that was exactly what I needed to hear at this precise moment in time. In addition, God used the comments from my brothers and sisters in Christ to help me realize that I am not the only one struggling. I am strengthened and encouraged. Our God proves again and again that He truly is an awesome God!

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    • Todd. Thank you for your insights. Study of ancient Israel in Kingdom Divided is convicting me of my own daily struggle with sin. Praise God for His love and new mercies every day.

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  109. Thank you for your words of encouragement and reminding us that there’s always a promise we can cling to. It’s all about Jesus.

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  110. I found this helpful. Thank you.

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  111. Thank you!!! Appreciate these so much!!

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  112. Thank you for this message It is a little overwhelming going thru these books in the Old Testament. Finding ways to unfold it is welcomed. this came at just the right time.

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  113. This blog is so timely. I appreciate having different study tools to better understand God’s Word and the message He has just for me.

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  114. Thanks, Todd for sharing your comments regarding understanding the Old Testament. Studying the old testament has indeed been a challenge. The one saving grace I had in studying the old testament has been to pray before each study and ask God to show me what he wants me to get from each lesson. I like your methods and can’t wait to apply them to my study. Thanks again for sharing.

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  115. Thank you Todd! Yes, reading these books is a challenging feat, but your perspective will be very helpful moving forward. I will write these questions in my Lesson Book to consider them when reading an especially challenging book or even one that seems familiar. BSF has been an especially enlightening resource for my journey with God.

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    • Thank you for your comments, Yvonne.

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  116. i have been in BSF since 1980 . There was a time I thought I should quit to make sure someone else has a chance to be in BSF. I realized I need this discipline in my life for the rest of my life. It truly helps me not only be a hearer of the word but a doer. My life is changed because of being in the word of God through BSF . Praise God for such an incredible ministry. I am forever grateful. PTL

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  117. Thanks for sharing these principals Todd. There have been several in my discussion group that have said they have been having a hard time understanding the minor prophets. Your thoughts are very helpful. They will help us to move forward to unpack these complex thoughts from our God.

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  118. thank you for being so transparent

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  119. Thank you for this BSF blog. Just coming out of lesson 16, 2 Kings 15-20 with 2 Chronicles 26-32 was pretty intense. All your points were very helpful.

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    • Thanks Todd’s very inspiring message and content.

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  120. This was extremely helpful. Thank you Brother Wethall.

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  121. Wonderful essay! Helpful as I’m just discovering to see Jesus every where in God’s Old Testament story. Thank good Todd!

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  122. I love your blog. It is very relevant and helpful. However, perhaps you can give some advice on how to deal with the overwhelming amount of reading we are required to do for this study. Honestly, reading 15 chapters in one week is a lot to try to absorb. I am very frustrated with the mountain of reading. I am ready to quit and try again next year when the study will take shorter sections and dive deep to understand a concept instead of trying to cover 700 years in one year. Any insight would be helpful.

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  123. Thank you, Todd, for these tips for studying God’s Word! They are also words of encouragement. The minor prophets can be hard but God wants us to dig deep.

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  124. Really enjoyed the way Todd presented the book of Amos.It defiantly got me thinking and put things into perspective. Thank youTodd, thank you BSF

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  125. This was interesting and helpful! Another way to gain insight to Scripture passages is to pray before you begin and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal what He wants you to take away from this study. For me, it works every time.

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  126. Agreed I focus on Jesus and find the spiritual truths a progressive revelation to exalt His glory

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  127. What is written is true . I never paid much attention to these minor prophets before, only now with BSF, I am actually reading and paying attention.A loving God always kept remnant of people to carry on His promises to Abraham and King David in-spite of people doing evil in the eyes of God . When you look back His love overflows during the Exodus one generation was not allowed to the promise land, He saved Noah and family during floods, He used Daniel , Jeremiah, Ezekiel, to keep the faith and worship to go forward. In AD 70 s when Roman Empire burned Jerusalem and the temple, persecuted Christians ran to neighboring countries and the disciples established churches. The Christian persecutor Saul became the apostle of the gentiles and wrote most of the books in NT. The Jews were scattered around the world for more than 10 centuries, but He brought them back to Israel in 1948 and the country was reestablished, after the persecution of Jews all over the world.. We can’t fathom God’s How and When plans . But it is showing the way how it is connected like a pearl necklace. With the current world situations and increasing lawlessness and godlessness we are not very far towards the second coming. So let us prepare ourselves to be with the Bridegroom , because no one knows when.

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  128. All this is great but some of this stuff is still hard to digest, particularly when there is so much material to go through in a particular day &, at the same time, balance other competing priorities.

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  129. I am so glad I too the time to read this blog. Our lesson this week is really difficult and the questions are not the type I like. They’re more like busy work. I think questions like Todd told us to ask would lead us deeper into Gus’s Word! I appreciate all BSF has done for me.

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  130. This was helpful if only to know others are struggling. I dislike skimming some chapters but I get bogged down if I don’t. I cannot see how these lessons are helping me grow spiritually.

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  131. This season it is the volume of material which is overwhelming…. I have been BSF for over 15+ yrs. I recall in years past with OT study where the sections were broken down into smaller sections. I wish that there was more thought to the extreme time that is required to cover these lessons. I myself get weary, and I also hear that from many.
    I think targeting to spend no more than 1 hour a day in the study would be a much better breakdown, allowing the text to digest, rather than trying to meet a goal of finishing the lengthy material, and only get a surface level of understanding.

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  132. Thank you so much for your insight. I was struggling this week and had to keep reading the passages over and over.

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  133. Thank you Todd . You met me exactly where I am. I love the word and begin to be bogged down.God bless you and your family.

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  134. Thank you so much, encouraging indeed, such rich study! Much to take in much to glean from. So assuring of God love for us!

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  135. I usually don’t read these. But when i read this one it immediately answered what I needed to hear. God is awesome. Thank you all.

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  136. Thank you for the encouragement and confirmation.

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  137. This was a very good read, i will going forward look at those 3 ideas,context,meaning and Jesus. Thank uou for this insight..this has been tough,but i know if these words are in the Bible they are important!

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  138. Thanks, Todd! Your encouragement is timely.

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  139. I feel better reading some of the comments. Maybe I’m not alone, after all. I am retired and this is my 2nd year of BSF and I have to say, I have been totally overwhelmed and on the verge of stopping for this year every single week (except for one). I have felt like something is wrong with me that I don’t seem to be “getting it” like some of the other ladies in my class. I’m hanging in there, mainly because I have made a commitment to this and will continue to pray that the Lord will provide understanding.

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  140. Having spent the better part of this day struggling through this weeks lesson, this blog couldn’t have come at a better time! BSF has been a major blessing in my life for many years. Thanks.

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  141. This blog was very helpful to me. Encouraging as well.

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  142. An encouraging blog! Thank you!

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    • Thank you for the encouragement.

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  143. This was extremely helpful. I don’t feel comfortable expressing my difficulties in group but I found this comforting. I do however wish I could have had this outlook last week….. I will take this forward.

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  144. Hi Brother Todd,
    Thank you so much for your honest sharing! Knowing that I am not alone struggling with these prophet books.
    Thank you for the studying tips for me to move forward to unpack God’s Word and be transformed by His powerful Word!
    Thank you BSF for this Blog that brings encouragement!
    May the Lord be glorified! 🙏🏻

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  145. I was struggling, very much, but your words gave me specific actions to avoid being overwhelmed. When you first listed the three steps, I thought how oversimplified. However, your explanation was so personal, I felt the Spirit’s comforting peace. Thank you.

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  146. Thank you BSF and Todd for these insights. Very much appreciated. As I read through the doom and gloom I can see Jesus extending his hand of hope.

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  147. Thank you Todd for this timely encouragement. This Study has indeed been challenging. I am a Children’s Leader and have the awesome, and humbling, privilege of helping young minds understand these ancient words and apply them to their lives today. Only through the power of the Holy Spirit is this even possible.

    But it is also very encouraging to see them learn and understand. We do a lot of acting out of these passages. They are engaged and their young minds grasp and remember more than we would have ever thought!

    All glory to God.

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  148. Thank You for this post!! I am seeing a depressing pattern of defeat and blindness. It was getting so redundant I am discouraged and bored. But I recognize that God never gets bored. Never gives up. And sends His son to set us free (eventually). How we need Jesus!!

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  149. Great help! Thank you!

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  150. So good!! I personally have read the Bible from cover to cover over 10 times in my walk with the LORD. I love reading and studying with nothing but my Bible, pen and notebook. Each time I come to the prophets I can only gain a little more understanding than before, trusting that I’ll understand it better by and by.
    This is the first time I’ve studied the prophets with a group and a plan. I’m gaining so much now.
    With this article, my expectation has grown by leaps and bounds!!!
    Thank you so very much for sharing this!!! I am so excited!!❤️❤️

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  151. I have been unable to attend our online group for several months because of work and tiredness. Isn’t it amazing I return now, for the lessons and insights I need most right now?

    Thank you Father for taking care of your daughter!

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  152. This was fantastic and especially citing the book of Amos. That one was especially difficult for me and a lot of our group as well.
    Thank you so much for this blog entry. Separating it out into 3 categories is brilliant and simple!!

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  153. Thank you for the reminder to take a minute to process.

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  154. Thank you- I’m moving onward!!😀

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  155. The BSF e-mail which pointed me to your article couldn’t have been more timely. Perhaps, God sent me this article at just the right moment, when I was feeling extremely overwhelmed by the length and challenge of the passages we are studying. Thank you for this much needed source of encouragement!

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  156. This is such a good revelation of the prophets; I am having a hard time with the lessons, but if I look for these things, then it is no longer cryptic and nebulous. I am in the International Bible group, find myself very challenged with these “Kingdoms divided” lessons. Thanks for sharing your knowledge and wisdom.

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  157. I prayed God please help me with these lessons, I don’t understand.
    After I prayed I checked my email,
    God is good!! I just didn’t expect the
    answer to my prayer to be so quick
    Thank you for this!!
    I feel redeemed and ready to get back to work, getting to know our
    Precious living God

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  158. Agree! With a focus on God as the main character, it has made understanding a lot easier for me. When my kids were in high school drama, and perhaps had a minor part, I would focus on their every move on stage. But sometimes IWith a focus on God as the main character, it has made understanding a lot easier for me. When my kids were in high school drama, and perhaps had a minor part, I would focus on their every move on stage. But sometimes I didn’t get the gist of the story because I paid a little attention to the main character. God is the main character in these stories! Focusing on him and his character, and what we are to learn from this can make it so much easier. That’s my opinion anyway!

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    • Ann- that has helped me too! Just a simple question “What does this tell me about God?” has been a huge help. Thank you for that encouraging perspective!

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  159. Thank you thank you thank you! I’m struggling mightily this year, and had even considered dropping out till next year. “Why can’t I understand this, it’s in the Bible and there’s meaning here…why can’t I find it? “. “Locusts AGAIN??”

    With this blog post in mind, I’ll approach future lessons with a different mindset, with renewed hope of finishing the year.

    Thank you

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    • Cindy me too!!!! Ugh hard year. I have found the only way for me to not feel like I’m reading a completely different book than the Bible is to peek at the notes for the following week…. It has kept me sane.

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  160. Perfect timing. I was struggling today.

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  161. Thank you, Todd.

    Your support is appreciated.

    Kingdom Divided is a difficult study as it forces me to look at the present state of my life and my country which was dedicated to the LORD at its inception. This saddens and challenges me.

    I am thankful to have found BSF this year and look forward to the many studies to come.

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  162. Thank you for this. I don’t understand a lot but I ask Jesus to help me and I am understanding much better. Thank you again for your encouraging words.

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  163. Encouraging and challenging words for us. May we continue to grow and persevere together through our BSF studies. Thank you 🙏🏻✝️❤️

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  164. Thank you
    So helpful

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  165. I have been a BSFer since the mid 1990s, yes I am old! I have never been as overwhelmed and discouraged as I have been with the study this year. Surely it has been rewritten? I was out some years after I finished the entire study but returned for Isaiah and have remained in the study since that time. So I have studied this scripture before, but I do not recall the volume of scripture to read, the very long notes, nor the amount of questions to answer as is required in this year’s study! May I recommend that this become a two year study next offering? I do worry about overwhelming our new and younger members with this study. Just a suggestion by an older retired member who loves Bible Study Fellowship and has recommended it to many others.

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    • Virginia’s entire post could have been written by me!

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    • Thanks, Virginia. You are exactly correct regarding the amount of reading and the length of the notes following the lesson. Last year’s notes were so succinct and compelling in their brevity. This year the lengthy notes will put you to sleep without a strong dose of caffeine.

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    • I first did the Israel and Minor I first did the Israel and Minor Prophets study in 1993 (or maybe 94). Now that was big!! Sometimes 14 pages of notes. But we need to see the love and patience of God, yet know His wrath and judgment are real! The Old Testament is essential to get the “big picture” and see God’s solution in the New Testament – His only Son, Jesus!!

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    • Thank you for this observation! This is my first year in BSF and I’m finding it very overwhelming. Learning a lot and finding lots of help from our group discussions though. Praying I make it to the end with all these helpful suggestions and Gods love and guidance!

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    • Dear Virginia,
      Thank you for saying exactly what I have been feeling about this year’s study. I have in fact stopped attending my BSF group after a few lessons because I do not have time for the long hours needed for each week’s study. I was so looking forward to studying and understanding the prophetic books, but having to digest one book each week is beyond me. I hope BSF will listen to your suggestion.

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  166. This is exactly what I needed to hear and read. As our house burned down on Christmas Eve. 2022. I will look to see Jesus in our circumstances. Thank you

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    • I have struggle with the lessons at the beginning. Now I study and apply it to me, my church and my daily walk in life.
      God had mercy on his wayward chosen people and He never change.

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    • I’ll be praying for you, Misty. I have a prayer board in my prayer closet and you and your family will be added top and center. I am so sorry for your loss, but I feel God has special things for you and your family
      as he always brings joy out of pain.

      Many prayers and love go to you!

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  167. Wow! What timing. I’ve been traveling, not getting lessons done and intended on skipping them because of the repetitive content. Thank you for telling me what I needed to hear. I, too, have been shaped in my Christian journey by BSF, more than anything else. Thank you BSF!

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  168. God is amazing. I was struggling so hard to understand and glean from what I am reading. I had just prayed in tears asking for help when I picked up my phone and saw this email. Thank the Lord!

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  169. Thank you! PPKD has been challenging to read, study and teach BUT GOD has been faithful. It is the prayer of our leadership that we and our class members will not grow weary but persevere until the final lesson is complete. Your encouragement is such a help.

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  170. THANKS!

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  171. I am Loving this study very much, excellent notes and it is opening up and answering a lot of questions that I had.

    Blessings

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  172. Todd
    It is great to hear and see how God is Magnified through BSF servers like you.
    Thank you for helping many growth closer to the Lord.
    I believe in focusing in the need for BSF to focus on the younger generations.

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  173. Timely article Todd, I appreciate your honesty from your heart. Sometimes I too wonder why something is in the Bible. I still wonder why the axe head that did not float, is in the Bible. Yes it is good to recognize what we struggle with.
    I have been in BSF for over 20 years and every year, I continue to learn more about God, and His plan for this world. And how sin has destroyed so much.
    Thank you

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  174. Thank you for your input and encouragement. I have been struggling with the last two lessons and your insight helps break it down into more meaningful context. I also need to remember to pray prior to studying the lessons.

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  175. Well done! Good read ♥️

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  176. Thank you for this blog. It was very helpful in looking at another way to process scripture.

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  177. I started attending BSF in the early eighties and completed it and then attended the evening class when an additional class was added. It was a tremendous blessing. I would love to begin again since I have just retired from working full time at the age of 84. All of my notes were lost when I retired and moved so I will be starting over.

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    • Hi Elaine! We would love to have you back. You can go to join.bsfinternational.org and search for groups near you! If there is not a group near you, you can always join a BSF Online class. Thank you!

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      • I am pleased to know that I am not alone in the struggle to understand the Kings, Prophets, and Israel/Judah. I also feel frustrated. Thanks for your approach.

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    • What perfect timing! I have been struggling with the last two lessons. Great encouragement & guide to unpack the study. Blessings.

      Reply

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