Introduction: Have you had a time in your life when you felt you had
an excuse for sinning? You had so many things going wrong that it
was easy to slip and fall? Have you been disappointed when a
spiritual leader you trusted fell into sin? Do you have a different
standard for yourself than for your leaders? Should you? Our lesson
this week is about a leader who fell during a difficult time in his
life. Let’s dive into our lesson and learn more!

  1. Family Trouble

    1. Read Numbers 20:1. The text starts out “in the first
      month.” The first month of what? They had been in the
      desert for decades! (Recall that in Numbers 14:32-34 God
      sentenced those who did not trust Him and who refused to
      enter Canaan to wander for forty years in the desert and
      die there. Numbers 33:38 suggests that the forty years
      that they had been told they would wander in the desert
      was at an end. This is probably the first month of their
      fortieth year of wandering.)

      1. Do you think Moses expected his sister Miriam to
        die? (We know she was older than Moses because she
        watched over him when he was placed in a basket in
        the Nile river to save his life. Exodus 2:1-4.
        Perhaps she was included in those who were sentenced
        to die in the desert because of their rebellion.)

      2. How would you feel if you were Moses? (She was not
        only his older sister, she was part of the
        “administration team” for the Israelites.)

    2. Read Numbers 20:2-5. These would be the new generation of
      people. Has their faith improved? Has their attitude
      gotten any better?

      1. What do you think about their suggestion that they
        would have been better off dying with the older

      2. Why is Egypt the point of reference? Why not plead
        to have God take them quickly into Canaan? (They had
        no vision and no trust. They thought going back to
        slavery was preferable.)

    3. Read Numbers 20:6-8. In your opinion, are Moses and Aaron
      doing the right thing? (Yes, they immediately turn to God
      to solve the problem.)

      1. What do you think about God’s message that Moses
        should “speak” to the rock?

        1. Read Genesis 1:3 and Exodus 17:5-6. Do you
          think it is significant that God now tells
          Moses to speak to the rock rather than strike
          the rock? (It more closely parallels the power
          of God shown in the Creation. No physical act
          is required, only a verbal command. A new level
          of power is given to Moses.)

        2. Why does Moses need to take his staff (Numbers
          20:8) if he only needs to speak?

    4. Read Numbers 20:9-11. What do you find troubling about
      Moses’s statement to the people? Or, is Moses just
      telling them the truth – that they are rebels?(The first
      problem is that Moses seems to claim that Aaron and he
      will produce the water, not God. Second, in the past God
      has declared the people to be rebelling and Moses has
      interceded for them. Now, Moses is condemning them.)

      1. Even though Moses strikes the rock instead of
        speaking to it, the water comes out anyway. Why is
        that? Why would God perform the miracle even though
        Moses has not followed directions? (God honors Moses
        even though Moses is not honoring God.)

    5. Read Numbers 20:12. What is the error of Moses and Aaron?
      When God says “You did not trust Me enough to honor Me,”
      to what, exactly, is God referring? What trust, what
      honor? (God can create by merely speaking. He delegated
      that to Moses – a very high honor. Instead of giving the
      glory to God, Moses not only claims the power for
      himself, but he strikes the rock – as if he needed to
      perform a physical act to perform the miracle. Moses
      claims the credit and he does it his way.)

      1. What do you say about the punishment? Does it seem

        1. Put yourself in Moses’ place. What would you
          argue in your defense? (I’m still upset because
          of the death of my sister. These people are
          driving me crazy – they never seem to learn. It
          was a very small error.)

        2. Put yourself in God’s place. What would you say
          to Moses? (The whole issue is about trust in
          Me. How can the people ever learn to trust Me
          if you will not trust Me (by simply speaking)?
          How can the people trust Me if you claim My

        3. Does the punishment have any practical impact
          on the trust question? (To the extent that the
          people trust (and blame) Moses, if they are
          required to go into Canaan without him, they
          will more clearly realize God is the source of
          their victory.)

  2. Aaron’s End

    1. Read Numbers 20:23-29. Put yourself in Moses’ place. His
      sister dies and four months later ( Numbers 33:38) your
      brother dies. What are your thoughts about God? What are
      your thoughts about your impending death?

      1. Why does Moses take the garments off Aaron? (This
        was the symbolic passing of the authority of the
        High Priest from Aaron to Eleazar.)

        1. What kind of emotion can you see in this
          process for the three of them? (Moses may feel
          that some of this is his fault for striking the
          rock. Moses has now lost his brother and co-leader. Aaron is dying because of his sin – and
          without entering the promised land. The son
          realizes that the end has come for his beloved

        2. When people come to the end of their life, they
          look back and make a judgment about it. What
          judgment would Aaron make?

        3. Have you had some hard things come into your
          life? Things that, if you are honest, have to
          do with a failure on your part? How should you
          accept them?

        4. Read Jude 1:9 and Matthew 17:3. I’m getting
          ahead here, but what does this teach us about
          God’s love and care for us when we experience
          hard things because of our sins? (We don’t know
          what happened to Aaron, but it has been
          revealed to us that God was more than fair when
          it came to Moses. He was taken to the ultimate
          promised land – and immediately.)

        5. What is the lesson for us? (Both Aaron and
          Miriam (Moses’ sister) were involved in
          rebellion. Aaron was old and this was a good
          way to die. However, to the extent that he died
          before entering Canaan, it is a warning to us
          to trust God and not rebel against Him. Do not
          take credit for God’s power.)

  3. Nehushtan

    1. Read Numbers 21:4-6. Should the people have learned
      something from Aaron’s death?

      1. Would it be reasonable for them to believe that
        their last round of complaining had led to the death
        of Aaron and the judgment against Moses?

    2. Read Numbers 21:7-9. We just learned that when God says
      to do something we should do it. Why do you think God had
      Moses make a snake image to save them?

      1. Read John 3:14-15. If Jesus is like this serpent,
        why not make a lamb and put it on a pole? Doesn’t a
        snake represent sin? How can Jesus be like the
        snake? (The snake does represent sin. The sins of
        the people were killing them. The first step to
        salvation is to acknowledge your sin – to admit that
        you are a sinner in need of grace. Thus, looking at
        the snake is the acknowledgment of your sin.)

      2. Read 2 Kings 18:3-5. Why did Hezekiah destroy the
        snake that Moses made? (The people had been
        worshiping it. They were treating it like an idol.)

        1. Is there a lesson in this for us today? (We
          need to face and confess our sins. However, we
          should not later be “worshiping” our sinful
          past by bragging to others about it. Our goal
          is to confess and turn away from sin, not bask
          in it.)

    3. Friend, we all go through difficult times. Instead of
      using those as an excuse to distrust God, in tough times
      we need to trust Him more. Will you ask God right now to
      give you a spirit of trust and gratitude and take away
      your spirit of rebellion?

  4. Next week: The “Madness” of the Prophet.