Numbers 13:1–2, 17, 25–28; 14:1–2, 5–10 When life puts obstacles in our paths, we are tempted to abandon the promises the future holds. Why don’t we believe the promises made to us? Caleb and Joshua believed that God would lead Israel to possession of the Promised Land and tried to persuade the people to trust God’s faithfulness.
Lesson 4: September 22, 2019
God Hears Our Cry
Bible Background • NUMBERS 13:1–14:10
Printed Text • NUMBERS 13:1–2, 17, 25–28; 14:1–2, 5–10
Devotional Reading • PSALM 106:1–12, 48
Aim for Change
By the end of the lesson, we will: EVALUATE the reasons for the Israelites’ refusal to listen to Joshua and Caleb, DESIRE deeper trust in the promises of God, and CONFRONT the future in confidence of God’s guidance and provision.
Clara was the only one professing faith in Christ within her extended family. She had grown up learning to be kind, but when a friend at school invited her to youth group she heard the true Gospel for the first time. Clara realized just being kind was not enough; she repented of her sins and accepted salvation that night.
When she was old enough to live on her own, Clara wanted her faith to be seen in all of her life. But her family didn’t understand. Often, she came up against persecution from family members because she would not join in their parties and trips to casinos to gamble. Many of the family members encouraged her to join them and have some fun. Occasionally, two of her cousins would tease her about her faith keeping her from having a good time with the family. A few even wanted to start an argument by saying things which they thought would cause Clara to respond in negative ways. Clara did not argue with them. She simply quietly lived out her faith.
However, Clara looked forward to the gatherings at church with other Christians. She found encouragement and strength from her church family to continue to work out her salvation as she walked daily with God
How is Clara witnessing to her extended family? Our behavior is often a powerful witness to others. How can she further her witness to her family?
“If the LORD delight in us, then he will bring us into this land, and give it us; a land which floweth with milk and honey” (Numbers 14:8, KJV).
“And if the LORD is pleased with us, he will bring us safely into that land and give it to us. It is a rich land flowing with milk and honey” (Numbers 14:8, NLT).
The People, Places, and Times
Promised Land. A hill country east of the Mediterranean Sea and west of the Jordan River, also called Canaan. God promised Abraham that this land would be given to his descendants (Genesis 13:14–17). The Israelites would occupy the Promised Land under the leadership of Joshua, fighting or conquering such people as the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites. The land was described as “flowing with milk and honey,” showing how the land could sustain not just subsistence living, but a life of abundance.
Caleb. This spy was from the tribe of Judah, the tribe that would be associated with royalty, as it produced King David as well as Jesus. Only he and Joshua stood as a voice of courage when the twelve spies returned from the Promised Land (v. 24), saying they could surely take the land. For his faithfulness, God promised to allow him to enter the land. Therefore, when it came time to take the land a generation later, Caleb led his clan to conquer the portion of land allotted to him. He defeated some of the toughest opponents of Canaan, the giant sons of Anak (Joshua 15:13-15).
In Numbers 13 and 14, we find the Israelites near the beginning of their journey in the wilderness to Transjordan. God commands Moses to send one man from each ancestral tribe to spy in Canaan (Numbers 13). Shammua goes from the tribe of Reuben, Shaphat from Simeon, Caleb from Judah, Igal from Issachar, Joshua (Moses changed his name from Hoshea) from Ephraim, Palti from Benjamin, Gaddiel from Zebulun, Gaddi from Manasseh, Ammiel from Dan, Sethur from Asher, Nahbi from Naphtali, and Geuel from Gad. They were to determine the quality of the land and the strength of the people. They conclude that although Canaan is full of good things, the people could be too strong to overcome. As they listed their objections to entering the land God has given them, only Caleb and Joshua dissent (v. 30). Upon hearing the report, the Israelites lament that they had not remained in Egypt and want to choose a leader to help them return. But Joshua and Caleb trust God and encourage the assembly to trust Him, too. Just as the people are preparing to stone them, the glory of the Lord (cf. Exodus 14:10) appears.
The Israelites are tired of wandering, and they can now enter the land that God had given them. Why are they reluctant to claim what God has promised them?