August 1, 2021 – Numbers 13 – 14
Lesson Date: August 1, 2021
Focal Scripture Passage: Numbers 13:1-3, 17-20, 23, 26-33; 14:1-10, 19, 29-38
AIM: To lead students to discover the consequences suffered by the ancient Israelites’ because they refused to believe and obey God, and to consider the consequences they may face if they refuse to trust God and obey His commands.
Before class: Read the notes on Numbers 13 – 14 found in the Sunday School Teacher Book. Write the lesson title, “Costly Disobedience,” across the top of the marker board or chalkboard. Below it, write the following lesson outline:
- God’s Instructions
- The Spies’ Report
- Israel’s Rebellion
- Terrible Consequences
INTRODUCTION (Create Learning Readiness): Read the lesson title to the class. Ask: “Can you name any situations in which disobeying instructions might cost you something?” A few examples include: a student who fails to follow instructions will receive a lower grade; an employee who disregards the boss’ instructions will not be praised, promoted, or rewarded on the job; soldiers who disobey orders in combat may unnecessarily endanger themselves or others; children who do not obey instructions face punishment; drivers who fail to follow instructions may hurt or kill someone.
Ask: “When we were small children and our parent said, ‘Jump and I will catch you,’ what did we do?” (we jumped into their arms). Ask: “Why did we do that?” (because we believed and trusted that our parent would indeed catch us). Point out the fact that trust (or belief) and obedience go hand in hand. When someone we trust gives us instructions we are much more likely to obey.
Tell the students in this important lesson from Numbers 13 and 14 we are going to learn that the ancient Israelites’ lack of trust in God led them to disobey Him, which resulted in terrible consequences.
HEART OF THE LESSON (Bible Study):
- Ask: “What was last week’s lesson about?” (moving forward while looking back).
- Ask if anyone would recite last week’s memory verse (1 John 2:15).
- God’s Instructions.
- Read Numbers 13:1-3.
- Ask: “What did God tell Moses to do?” (send men to study and survey the land).
- Explain the following:
- God had already promised to give them the land: that was a settled issue.
- The purpose of this spy mission was not to determine whether they could take the land, but to learn all they could about it.
- The Israelites were at Kadesh Barnea in the Wilderness of Paran (locate on the Map of Egypt, Sinai, and Canaan) when they sent the spies to study the land.
- Ask a volunteer to read Numbers 13:17-20.
- Tell the class these verses contain Moses’ instructions to the spies.
- Ask: “What kinds of things were the spies to investigate?” (the nature of the people, their cities, and the land).
- Tell the students the spies did as Moses instructed them. They came back after 40 days of searching out the length and breadth of the land.
- Read Number 13:23.
- Ask: “What did they bring back with them?” (incredibly large fruit).
- Summarize: God directed the Israelites to send spies to study the Promised Land. They brought back some of the abundant fruit of the land.
- The Spies’ Report.
- Read Numbers 13:26-29.
- Tell the class the spies told Moses and the people about the land and showed them the fruit they had brought back.
- Ask: “What did they say about the land?” (it was very fruitful: a land flowing with milk and honey).
- Ask: “What did they say about the people who lived in the land?” (they were great and lived in great walled cities; they also saw giants in the land).
- Ask a volunteer to read Numbers 13:30-33.
- Ask: “What did Caleb say they should do?” (go up and possess the land because they were “well able” to take it).
- Ask: “How did the other spies respond to Caleb’s confidence?” (they had no confidence: they said the land would swallow them up; they said they felt like tiny grasshoppers in comparison to the inhabitants of the land).
- Tell the students the spies brought back “an evil report” about the land.
- Remind the class that God had already promised to give this land to the Israelites and drive out the inhabitants before them.
- Summarize: The spies brought back an evil report, saying the Israelites were not strong enough to conquer the land.
- Israel’s Rebellion.
- Ask a volunteer to read Numbers 14:1-4.
- Ask: “According to verse 1, how did the Israelites respond to this report?” (they cried and wept all night).
- Ask: “According to verse 2, how did they treat Moses and Aaron?” (they murmured against them).
- Ask: “What did they say in verse 2?” (we wish we had died in Egypt or in the wilderness).
- Ask: “What did they ask in verse 3?” (Why has the Lord brought us out here to die at the hands of our enemies, leaving our wives and children to fall prey to evil men?).
- Ask: “What did they want to do?” (return to slavery in Egypt).
- Ask: “What was their plan?” (appoint a new leader to take them back to Egypt).
- Read Numbers 14:5-9.
- Ask: “What did Moses and Aaron do?” (fell on their faces before the whole assembly).
- Ask: “What did Joshua and Caleb do?” (tore their clothes as a sign of grief and distress, and begged the people not to rebel against the Lord).
- Ask: “According to verse 8, what did Joshua and Caleb say would determine whether they could occupy the good and fruitful land?” (“If the Lord delight in us”).
- Tell the class the other 10 spies focused on the size of their enemy, but Joshua and Caleb focused on God and His promises. Joshua and Caleb realized it was not the size of their enemy that would determine their success – it was the size of their God.
- Ask a volunteer to read Numbers 14:10.
- Ask: “What were the people about to do to Joshua and Caleb?” (stone them to death).
- Ask: “What appeared at the Tabernacle in the sight of all the people?” (the glory of the Lord).
- Summarize: In spite of God’s promises and His miraculous provision in the past, the Israelites chose to rebel against Him.
- Terrible Consequences.
- Explain the following:
- The Lord asked Moses how long the Israelites would provoke Him and refuse to believe Him, in spite of all the miracles they had witnessed.
- God said He would destroy the people and raise up a new nation from Moses’ descendants.
- Just as he did in Exodus 32, Moses interceded for the rebellious Israelites.
- Ask a volunteer to read Numbers 14:19.
- Explain the following:
- Moses asked God to pardon the people.
- God agreed to pardon them (v. 20), but there was still a terrible price to be paid for their disobedience.
- Read Numbers 14:29-34.
- Ask: “What was the cost of disobedience for the adults?” (everyone twenty years old and older would die in the wilderness).
- Ask: “Who would be allowed to enter the land?” (their children, whom they thought would fall prey to the evil inhabitants of the land).
- Ask: “Who else would be allowed to enter the land?” (Caleb and Joshua).
- Ask: “What was going to happen to all the other adults?” (they would die in the wilderness).
- Ask: “How long would Israel wander in the wilderness?” (forty years – a year for each day the spies searched out the land).
- Read Numbers 14:36-38.
- Ask: “What happened to the ten faithless spies?” (God killed them on the spot).
- Ask: “What happened to Joshua and Caleb?” (they lived).
- Explain the following:
- This was a vivid object lesson about believing God.
- The ten faithless spies didn’t believe or trust God so they didn’t obey His commands.
- They died in the wilderness without ever experiencing the Promised Land.
- Joshua and Caleb believed God and obeyed His commands, so they lived under His blessings and survived to enter and dwell in the wonderful Promised Land.
- Summarize: Because of their disobedience, all the adult Israelites were sentenced to die in the wilderness, as the nation wandered for forty years.
- Explain the following:
PERSONAL APPLICATION: Tell the students that the next morning, the Israelites went up to the top of the hill and looked at the beautiful land that would have been theirs. They foolishly decided to try to take the land anyway, once again disobeying God’s instructions. Moses warned them not to go, but they went anyway. They suffered an embarrassing defeat and were driven back by the inhabitants of the land.
Stress the fact that the ten faithless spies convinced the rest of the nation that they could not take the land. They led the people to disobey God. That choice proved costly: the ten spies died immediately from a plague, Israel was sentenced to wander in the wilderness for forty years rather than enter the Promised Land immediately, and all the adult Israelites were doomed to die in the wilderness. Their disobedience carried a heavy price tag! Disobedience is still costly. Our disobedience today may cost us – and our descendants – for years to come.
Ask: “Do you believe and trust God enough to obey His commands?” Tell the class you are going to read three of God’s very clear commands. Read Acts 3:19; Acts 17:30; and 1 John 3:23. Ask: “Do you understand those commands?” They are really very simple.
Tell the students that God commands us to repent and to believe in Jesus Christ. Those are commands, not suggestions. The only way a person can ever truly obey those commands is to believe and trust God. The ten spies and couldn’t believe and trust God so they suffered very serious consequences. Joshua and Caleb believed and obeyed God, so they received great blessings.
The same is true for us today. If we refuse to believe God we will not obey Him and we will suffer eternal consequences – hell’s torment. If, on the other hand, we believe God, trust God, and obey His commands, we will be eternally blessed. The choice is ours, and we will make that choice based on whether we believe God or not.
Tell the class God also gives us a warning and choice. Read Hebrews 3:12 and Deuteronomy 11:26-28. Tell the students if any of them do not know Jesus Christ as Savior you hope they will believe Him and obey His commands today. Offer to talk to any who might have questions after class or at a later time during the week. Lead a closing prayer.
CONCLUSION: Ask the students to memorize Deuteronomy 11:26-28. Encourage them to believe and obey God in all things. That’s the only way to experience God’s blessings.
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