July 18, 2021 – Numbers 1 – 9
Lesson Date: July 18, 2021
Focal Scripture Passage: Numbers 1:1-4, 18-19, 46-53; 2:1-3; 3:12-15, 25-37; 4:5-15; 8:5-12; 9:1-3, 15-22
AIM: To lead students to discover that each of the tribes, families, and individuals in Israel had a specific place and duty, and to accept their responsibility as members of the body of Christ.
Before class: Read the notes on Numbers 1 – 9 found in the Sunday School Teacher Book. Write the familiar expression, “A Place for Everything, and Everything it its Place” on the marker board or chalkboard. Have enough copies of the “Arrangement of the Camp of Israel” handouts for your anticipated attendance.
INTRODUCTION (Create Learning Readiness): Read the familiar expression written on the board. Ask: “What does that expression mean?” (everything has an assigned place and it is important to keep everything in its place). Having an assigned place for everything and keeping everything it its place means you will always be able to find what you need when you need it.
Ask: “Have you ever been part of a large organization, such as a large business, a military unit, or even a marching band?” Tell the class large organizations usually have clearly defined divisions of labor; in other words, certain people are responsible for certain jobs. Rather than “A place for everything, and everything it its place,” for large organizations the expression might be restated, “A Job for Everyone and Everyone Doing His Or Her Job.” Erase the expression on the board and write the new one. Tell the students when everyone does his or her part the organization functions like a well-oiled machine.
Tell the class today’s lesson from Numbers 1 – 9 is titled Are You In Your Place? We will learn that God gave the ancient Israelites specific assignments and duties for the tribes, families, and even individuals. We will also consider how this truth relates to our modern churches.
HEART OF THE LESSON (Bible Study):
- Review and Introduction to Numbers.
- Remind the students that we finished the book of Leviticus last Sunday.
- Ask: “What was last week’s lesson about?” (blessings and chastisement).
- Ask if anyone would recite last week’s memory verse (Josh. 24:15).
- Ask a volunteer to read Number 1:1.
- Remind the class that the entire book of Leviticus took place while Israel was camped at Mount Sinai (locate on the Map of Egypt, Sinai, and Canaan), immediately after the completion of the Tabernacle.
- Explain that the book of Numbers begins at the same spot, but covers about 39 years and ends on the plains of Moab, just east of the Jordan River (locate on the Map of Egypt, Sinai, and Canaan).
- Numbers tells about Israel’s journey from Mount Sinai to Kadesh Barnea, their years of wilderness wandering, and their preparations for entering the Promised Land.
- The Census of the People.
- Read Numbers 1:2-4, 18-19.
- Ask: “What did God tell Moses to do?” (count the people).
- Ask: “Who was he supposed to count?” (the men who were at least 20 years of age and were capable of going to war).
- Explain the following:
- Verse 4 reveals that one leader from each tribe helped Moses with this huge task.
- They conducted this census on the 1st day of the 2nd month – exactly 1 month after the completion of the Tabernacle.
- Read Numbers 1:46.
- Tell the class Moses counted 603,550 adult men capable of going to war.
- Ask a volunteer to read Numbers 1:47-53.
- Ask: “Which tribe did they not count?” (the Levites).
- Ask: “What responsibilities did God give the Levites?” (take down the Tabernacle, carry it on their journey, and set it up again when they made camp).
- Ask: “Where were the Levites to pitch their tents?” (around the Tabernacle).
- Summarize: God told Moses to conduct a census of the adult men capable of going to war. There were over 600,000 such men!
- The Arrangement of the Camp.
- Explain that with over 600,000 adult men, the camp of Israel must have consisted of at least 2 million people!
- Ask: “What would have happened if everyone pitched their tents wherever they wanted?” (disorderly chaos).
- Read Numbers 2:1-3.
- Tell the class that our God is a God of order, so He had a plan. Give everyone a copy of the “Arrangement of the Camp of Israel” handout.
- Explain that God placed 3 tribes on each side of the Tabernacle, with the Levites between the people and the Tabernacle.
- Summarize: God had a very orderly plan for the arrangement of the camp of Israel.
- The Levites and Their Duties.
- Ask a volunteer to read Numbers 3:12-15.
- Ask: “Why did the Levites belong to God?” (He claimed them in the place of all the firstborn males of all Israel).
- Remind the students that when God killed all the firstborn males of Egypt, He claimed all the firstborn of Israel as His possession (Ex. 13:2).
- Ask: “What did God tell Moses to do next?” (count all the Levite males at least 1 month old).
- Explain to the class that the tribe of Levi was divided into three families: the sons of Gershon, the sons of Kohath, and the sons of Merari.
- Quickly read through Numbers 3:25-37 and briefly explain to the class the responsibilities of each of those three families.
- Gershon – the Tabernacle tents, coverings, the hanging for the door, the hangings of the court, and the door of the court.
- Kohath – the Ark of the Covenant, Table of Shewbread, Candlestick, vessels, utensils, and the veil separating the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place.
- Merari – the boards, bars, pillars, sockets and hardware for the Tabernacle and the courtyard.
- Summarize: God gave specific duties to the three families of Levites to carry different parts of the Tabernacle and its furnishings.
- Disassembling the Tabernacle for Travel.
- Read Numbers 4:5-15.
- Explain the following:
- These verses detail the precise and exacting manner in which every piece of the Tabernacle and its furnishings had to be packed up, carried, and then reassembled.
- Each family had specific duties to perform.
- The sons of Kohath could not touch any of the Tabernacle furnishings carelessly or irreverently, or else they would die.
- Tell the class in chapters 5 – 7 God gave the people laws concerning cleanliness and vows, and the leaders of each tribe gave gifts to the Lord.
- Summarize: God gave specific instructions for disassembling and transporting the Tabernacle.
- Consecrating the Levites.
- Ask a volunteer to read Numbers 8:5-12.
- Explain the following:
- Before the Levites could begin their important work they had to be consecrated – ritually cleansed and set apart for God’s service.
- This consecration ritual involved washing, shaving, and changing clothes.
- They also placed their hands on the head of a sacrificial animal, which was then killed to make atonement for them.
- Summarize: God gave instructions for consecrating the Levites for their special duties.
- Israel on the Move.
- Tell the students that the ancient Israelites observed the Passover on the 14th day of the 1st month of the 2nd year (Num. 9:1-3).
- Read Numbers 9:15-22.
- Tell the class these verses explain how God directed the Israelites to move and to set up camp in the wilderness.
- Ask: “How did they know when to take down their camp and move forward?” (when the pillar of cloud and fire lifted up from the Tabernacle and moved ahead).
- Ask: “How did they know when to stop and make camp?” (when the pillar stood still in one place).
- Ask: “According to verse 18, at whose command did Israel move forward or stay in their camp?” (the Lord’s).
- Explain that according to verse 22, sometimes God directed the Israelites to stay in one location for only two days, but other times He might have them stay a month or even a year in one place.
- Summarize: God miraculously led the Israelites every step of their journey through the wilderness.
PERSONAL APPLICATION: Tell the students that the children of Israel at this point in their history provide a beautiful picture of God’s people following God’s leadership, obeying God’s man, and organized for effective ministry. Each person and each family had a specific responsibility; as long as everyone did their part the entire body of more than two million people functioned smoothly.
Ask: “What would happen if somebody failed to do his job?”
Ask the class to imagine if the pillar of cloud moved ahead and everyone started taking down their tents, but the sons of Kohath were away at a ball game or simply decided that they didn’t want to work that day. Ask: “What would have happened?” (their job would not have been done, hindering the progress of the entire nation).
Ask: “Did God make any provision for one tribe or family filling in for others who failed to do their job?” (no). Stress the fact that if certain families or individuals did not do their job, then the body would not have been able to function as it should. They might not have been able to move at all, simply because someone was not in his place of service.
Tell the class the same is true for God’s church. He has given each one of His children a special place in the body of Christ. Your place of service might be different from someone else’s, but it is important, nonetheless. The Bible says it this way: “But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased Him” (1 Cor. 12:18).
Ask: “Are you one of God’s children? If so, God has given you a job to do in His church. It is your job and no one else is responsible to do your work for you.”
Ask: “Are you in your place? Are you doing the job God has for you in His church?” Tell the students if they are not, they should confess their sin and get busy doing what God has called them to do. Lead a closing prayer of confession and commitment.
CONCLUSION: Ask everyone to memorize 1 Corinthians 12:18. Tell the students there are always jobs to be done in their Sunday School class. Invite them to talk to you or your Class Coordinator about finding a place of service in the class.
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