Introduction: Do you feel God has let you down? Are you unsatisfied
with the life God has given to you? Have you complained that God did
not do more for you? Our lesson this week shows that God is receptive
to complaints, and that He responds to them, but when complaints turn
to rebellion and distrust of God, watch out! We talk about faith. Our
Bible texts suggest that we might better focus on contempt. Let’s
jump into our study of the book of Numbers and learn more!

  1. The Omnivore’s Dilemma

    1. Read Numbers 11:4-6. Do you like variety in your diet?
      Are you sympathetic to the complaint of the people? (I
      like to visit new restaurants to see if they have
      something different and good to eat. On the other hand,
      when I was growing up I ate the same lunch for at least
      five years. During the work week I’ve eaten the same
      breakfast for more than ten years. This is my choice.)

      1. Are the people just complaining about their diet?
        (No, they are longing for Egypt.)

        1. Were the fish free in Egypt? (If you forget
          about the fact that they were unpaid slaves.)

      2. How long a time period are we talking about for this
        same diet? (Read Deuteronomy 1:2. While I do not know
        the total time, the Bible tells us that from the
        giving of the Ten Commandments to the their current
        location was a trip of 11 days!)

    2. Read Numbers 11:7-9. What is good about the manna?

      1. If you were God, what would you think about the
        request for more variation in the menu?

      2. How difficult would it be for God to send down a
        different food every day of the week?

      3. As God, you can do anything. If you were God, what
        would your reaction be to all of this? (Where is the
        gratitude for all that I did?)

    3. Read Numbers 11:10-15. Consider Moses’ complaint to God.
      What do you consider to be the root problem with Moses’
      attitude? (In verse 13 Moses says, “Where can I get meat
      for all these people?” His attitude is that he is
      responsible. His efforts will cure the problems.)

      1. Does Moses look to God for help? (In verse 14 Moses
        seems to ask for help, but again he seems to be
        mostly concerned about himself – “do not let me face
        my own ruin.”)

        1. Consider the last time you complained to God.
          Were you worried about your reputation? Were
          you trying to carry the burden yourself?

      2. If you were coaching Moses in his discussion with
        God, what would you suggest that he say? (Don’t make
        the issue about you. Let God know about the problems
        and let Him decide how to handle it.)

    4. Read Numbers 11:16-17. We read earlier that God was angry
      with the people. How would you characterize God’s response
      to Moses? (It seems most reasonable.)

      1. What has Moses lost? (His authority is now diluted.)

      2. What is the key to leadership? (God’s Spirit!)

      3. Let’s skip down a few verses. Read Numbers 11:24-25.
        This is not the book of Acts. What does this teach us
        today about the Holy Spirit? (That we can expect
        literal manifestations of it.)

        1. Why did they not prophesy again? (God wanted
          them to know they had His Spirit. But, a
          continued physical manifestation was not

    5. Read Numbers 11:31-34. What role did the 70 elders play in
      this? (None. God could have worked through Moses alone.)

      1. Should we be careful what we ask for?

      2. Why do you think the people died? What is the lesson
        for us? (I don’t think the people died because they
        asked for a variation in their diet. I think they
        died because of their attitude. They had no
        gratitude for being freed from slavery. They had no
        gratitude for the food provided. They simply had

  2. Promised Land

    1. Read Numbers 13:1-2. What do you think were God’s motives
      in this? (If you are giving your spouse a wonderful
      present, you are anxious to have them see it.)

    2. Read Numbers 13:26-29. What are the essential elements of
      the report of those sent to explore the land? (It is
      everything that was promised. But, it will be difficult to
      possess it.)

      1. Is there any parallel for us today when it comes to

    3. Read Numbers 13:30. Why did Caleb have to silence the
      people? (The report caused instant discussion. Apparently
      loud discussion.)

      1. What caused Caleb to say this? (He was concerned that
        the people would be discouraged by the report of the
        difficulty of taking the land.)

    4. Read Numbers 13:31. Is this true? (Yes. If they removed
      God from the equation.)

    5. Read Numbers 14:1-4. Is there any logic to the response of
      the people? (If they wanted to die, why not die on the
      field of battle? What not die trying to make a better
      life for yourself?)

      1. Have you ever been guilty of this kind of attitude
        when you faced a major life problem?

    6. Read Numbers 14:5-9. Why did Joshua and Caleb think they
      could take the land? (“Their protection is gone, but the
      Lord is with us.”)

      1. Were they certain that God was with them? (Notice
        verse 8: “If the Lord is pleased with us, He … will
        give it to us.”)

      2. If you had that uncertainty, would you move forward?
        (Remember that it is about God and not about them.
        You move ahead knowing that whatever the outcome, God
        is in charge.)

    7. Read Numbers 14:10. What have the people decided? (That
      Moses, Aaron, Joshua and Caleb have failed them. They are
      guilty of something, perhaps something worthy of death.)

    8. Read Numbers 14:11. Notice that God does not talk about a
      lack of faith, He talks about contempt. What do you think
      about God’s reaction?

      1. When we are encouraging faith in others (or
        ourselves) should we state it in terms of holding God
        in contempt?

      2. Do you think the people were really holding God in
        contempt? Was it simply that they did not think they
        could do it, and the problem was that they left God
        out of the equation? (If you are part of God’s
        people, you can never leave Him out of the equation.
        From God’s point of view it is contempt.)

    9. Read Numbers 14:12-19. Isn’t this an extraordinary dialog?
      Why is this in the inspired record? Why does God want us
      to see this? Is Moses manipulating God?

    10. Read Numbers 14:20. Have these people asked for
      forgiveness? Recall that when we discussed the epistles of
      John ( 1 John 5:16-17) we considered whether we can pray
      for the forgiveness of the sins of others. In Matthew
      18:18 Jesus tells the disciples that they can “bind” and
      “loose” things in heaven. Should you pray for the
      forgiveness of the sins of others (like your children) or
      do you have to be Moses or a disciple to do this?

    11. Read Numbers 14:21-25. Is God giving the people what they
      requested? (Compare Numbers 14:2 and Numbers 14:28-29.)

      1. If God has forgiven them, why are they consigned to
        death in the desert?

    12. In Numbers 14:36-38 we learn that all those who gave a bad
      report died, only Joshua and Caleb survived. This was
      reported to the people. Read Numbers 14:40, 44-45. Were
      the people given a second chance? (No. They had plenty of
      “chances” before, but when it came to entering the
      promised land they had one chance.)

      1. Is there a lesson in this for us today? What does
        this suggest about the “Left Behind” theory of second
        chances for heaven?

        1. What does this suggest about any differences
          between God’s attitude toward forgiveness of sin
          and God’s attitude about the practical results
          of sin? (We skipped over Numbers 12, which
          reveals second (or more) chances for Aaron and
          Miriam. In Numbers 14:22 God says He gave them
          ten chances!)

        2. What does the failure to enter the promised land
          teach us about distrusting God when it comes to
          the major decisions in life?

    13. Friend, many times in these lessons I have invited you to
      be a follower of God. Accepting that invitation carries
      with it the obligation to trust God and not hold Him in
      contempt. Will you determine to trust God today – even
      when you face giants?

  3. Next week: Planning Ahead.