Lesson 5: September 29, 2019

Numbers 14:10–20 Everyone wrongs others, even those who love them and those whom they love. When we have done wrong, is forgiveness possible? According to Numbers, God forgave the rebelling people of Israel and promised to lead their descendants forward to the Promised Land.

God Forgives

Bible Background • NUMBERS 14:10–23
Printed Text • NUMBERS 14:10–20 | Devotional Reading • PSALM 103:1–14

Aim for Change

By the end of the lesson, we will: COMPREHEND the significance of Moses’ intercession for the people of Israel, REPENT of rebelling against God’s plans and not trusting God’s strength, and ASK for forgiveness for our sins.

In Focus

Even after counseling, Carla and her husband, Al, decided to divorce after twentythree years of marriage. Their teenage children, Nikki and George, wanted their parents to work out their issues and blamed their mother. Carla felt it was time to tell them the truth about why she was divorcing their father.

As Carla began to say why they were divorcing, George interrupted her. “We already know, Mom. You are so busy working at your fancy news anchor job. You are never home. Dad always made time to attend our school activities but not you.”

“George, I am so sorry that I’ve worked so many hours. About six years ago, I discovered your father was having an affair. They have four-year-old twin boys. I tried to work it out with him, but he wants to be with her. Plus, your father spent all the money in your college saving accounts. So I’ve been working extra hard to replenish that money. Please forgive me for not always being there, and try to forgive your father.” George hugged his mother. “Mom, I’m sorry. I didn’t know the truth. I understand and forgive you. But it may take some time for me to forgive Dad.”

Nikki shrugged her shoulders, “I don’t care. I will never forgive you. I may even ask Dad if I can live with him.”

How difficult do you find it to forgive others whom you love but have wronged you?

Keep in Mind

“Pardon, I beseech thee, the iniquity of this people according unto the greatness of thy mercy, and as thou hast forgiven this people, from Egypt even until now” (Numbers 14:19, KJV).

“In keeping with your magnificent, unfailing love, please pardon the sins of this people, just as you have forgiven them ever since they left Egypt” (Numbers 14:19, NLT).

The People, Places, and Times

Numbers. The book of Numbers is the fourth book out of five that compose the Pentateuch. It gives us an account of Israel’s journey from Mount Sinai to the plains of Moab on the border of Canaan, the Promised Land. The name of this book does not adequately communicate the book’s actual theme of faithfulness of God and the faithlessness of God’s people. The English name (taken from the Greek translation) refers to the fact that the book begins and ends with censuses of God’s people. In Hebrew, however, Numbers is called Bemidbar (beh-MEED-bar), “in the wilderness.” The Hebrew title is apt because it is actually about a familiar cast of characters (Moses, Aaron, Miriam, Caleb, and Joshua) who lead the Israelites through the wilderness for forty years.

Background

God had delivered the Israelites from slavery in Egypt (Exodus 14). He provided all their needs as they journeyed toward Canaan. But before they entered Canaan, God had to prepare the people first. God had requirements the people had to agree to follow. So while the Israelites were camped at Mount Sinai for a year, they received all the laws and requirements needed to live as a new nation in a new land. All the people agreed to fully obey all God had commanded.

Before they could depart from Mount Sinai, Moses was commanded by the Lord to take a census of all the people. They had to determine how many men were fit for military duty, as they would soon encounter enemies in Canaan (Numbers 1–4). According to God’s command, Moses divided the men into various assignments for military responsibilities and what they would carry. The Lord also wanted the people to remain pure, so strict guidelines were given to Moses (Numbers 5:1–10:10). Moreover, Moses also had to oversee the dedication and consecration of the tabernacle and all its furnishings.

The Israelites set out for the Promised Land, and that is when the people started complaining. Their complaints included: (1) their general misfortunes (11:1), (2) lack of meat (v. 4), (3) jealousy of Moses’ authority (12:1–16), and (4) fear of battle against the men who inhabited the Promised Land (13:1–14:4).

How should we respond to God’s gracious acts of love and forgiveness?