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Lesson Prep

Background Scripture (read 2-3 times during the week)

Numbers 13-14

Story Summary

The book of Numbers begins with the Israelites preparing for their journey and entry into the promised land. This is the same land that was promised to Abraham back in Genesis. 

Moses began by taking a census of all the tribes, mainly to see how many men were available for military service. He established the Levites in control of the tabernacle.  God also established an arrangement of the tribal camps around the tabernacle. During this time, the Israelites celebrated the second passover meal. 

The Israelites traveled from the wilderness near Sinai to the promised land. They grumbled again about the food they had to eat. They were tired of manna. God sent them quail (It was 3 feet deep on the ground.) God sent a plague on the people for their complaining and greediness (Numbers 11:4-35). Miriam and Aaron talked against Moses. The Lord became angry and Miriam was struck with leprosy. She spent 7 days outside the camp before she was brought back in (Numbers 12:1-16).

So Moses sent men to check out Canaan. (See Numbers 13:17-20). He sent 12 spies out, one leader from each tribe to explore the promised land. 

At the end of 40 days, the men returned from checking out the land and reported on what they found to Moses, Aaron and the whole community of Israel. The people were at Kadesh in the Desert of Paran. There the men reported to Moses and Aaron and all of the people. They showed them the fruit of the land. They gave Moses their report. They said, "We went into the land you sent us to. It really does have plenty of milk and honey! Here's some fruit from the land. "But the people who live there are powerful. Their cities have high walls around them and are very large. We even saw members of the family line of Anak there.  The Amalekites live in the Negev Desert. The Hittites, Jebusites and Amorites live in the central hill country. The Canaanites live near the Mediterranean Sea. They also live along the Jordan River." Then Caleb interrupted the men who were speaking to Moses. He said, "We should go up and take the land. We can certainly do it." But the men who had gone up with him spoke. They said, "We can't attack those people. They are stronger than we are."  The men spread a bad report about the land among the people of Israel. 

10 of the spies were afraid of taking the land. Caleb and Joshua had faith that God would help them do it. But the 10 spies convinced the rest of the Israelites that certain doom was ahead for them. In chapter 14, we see the entire people of Israel afraid that they will be killed in the land God specifically told them they were going to inhabit. "We wish we had died in Egypt or even in this desert. Why is the Lord bringing us to this land? We're going to be killed with swords. Our enemies will capture our wives and children. Wouldn't it be better for us to go back to Egypt?" (Numbers 14:2-3).

Moses then spends the rest of the chapter reminding them of what God had already done for them, and chastised them for their lack of faith. In fact, the 11 spies who gave the bad report of the land were killed by a plague. And Moses informed them that all men 20 years or older would die before they entered the promised land. Only Joshua and Caleb were allowed to enter. Because the people rebelled against the Lord and lacked faith in his ability to help them take over the land, they were subjected to 40 years of wandering in the desert, one year for each day they explored the land.

The term flowing with milk and honey builds on the idea of the land producing food that the Israelites can freely enjoy. Up until now, they have been given manna in the desert. They are only allowed to have enough for each day. The promised land has abundant food for them to enjoy. 

What You Will Need

Snack Suggestion
fruit (There the men reported to Moses and Aaron and all of the people. They showed them the fruit of the land. Numbers 13:26b), milk and honey combs cereal or biscuits with honey

Resource Sheet

12 Spies Coloring Sheet

This coloring sheet depicts the 12 spies looking into Canaan. Can the children find all 12 spies?

Lesson

1. Warm Up

get your kids talking and engaged

Do you like to wait? Where do you dislike waiting the most (line at store, dr. office, waiting for the bathroom, waiting for recess time or dessert time, etc)?

Can you imagine waiting 40 years for something? Think of someone you know that is 40 years old. That would be their entire lifetime! Listen in the story where the Israelites had to wait 40 years, as a result of their lack of faith in God. 

2. Teach the Story

teach a holistic story

Provide a brief summary of the Israelites on the move from Mt. Sinai to the promised land (Canaan). 

Read story from a Children's storybook Bible for younger children.

For older children, read story from an age-appropriate Children's storybook Bible or tell the story yourself.

3. Bible Mastery

give them basic Bible skills

Scripture for Kids to Read Aloud: Numbers 13:17-20, 13:26-30, 14:1-8

4. Comprehension Questions

make sure they understand the story

First, ask the children if they have any questions about the story. What to do if you don't know the answer?

  • Why did the spies go into the land of Canaan? (to check out the land)
  • How many spies did Moses send to explore the land of Canaan? (12 spies)
  • How long were the spies gone? (40 days)
  • What were some things that the spies were to look for? (what the land is like, what the people are like, what kind of towns they live in, how is the soil, are there trees, bring back some fruit)
  • What good things did the spies report? (The land was flowing with milk & honey, brought back grapes)
  • The spies also reported that the people of the land were so huge that they seemed as small as __________________? (grasshoppers)
  • How many of the spies were confident that God would allow them to take the land? (2: Caleb and Joshua)
  • What did the Israelites decide to do? (grumble & complain, want to go back to Egypt)

5. Faith Questions

help them apply the story to their lives and open up a conversation about faith and the gospel; close with prayer
  • Caleb and Joshua had faith that if God told them to go into the promised land, that he would make them succeed.
  • Do you have faith that if God asks you to do something, he will help you succeed?

6. Memory Verse

hide God's Word in their heart
I can do everything through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13 (NIV)

Reinforcement Activities

I spy

Scripture Numbers 13:2 Send some men to check out the land of Canaan. I am giving it to the people of Israel. Send one leader from each of Israel's tribes.

  • Play I spy
  • Moses sent out 12 men to explore the promised land.

Exploring

Scripture Moses sent them to check out Canaan. He said, "Go up through the Negev Desert. Go on into the central hill country. See what the land is like. See whether the people who live there are strong or weak. See whether they are few or many. "What kind of land do they live in? Is it good or bad? What kind of towns do they live in? Do the towns have high walls around them or not? How is the soil? Is it rich land or poor land? Are there trees on it or not? Do your best to bring back some of the fruit of the land. Numbers 13:17-20

Supplies magnifying glass, samples from outside-if not collecting with your class

  • Make a name tag using paper and string, to go around their necks, one for each student.
  • Put one name of the tribes of Israel on each tag.
  • Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, Benjamin, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher and Joseph.
  • Take your students outside to explore.
  • Collect samples of the things that are growing (grass, leaves, flowers)
  • Take a look at the soil. Allow them to feel the soil.
  • What is the land like? Is it flat or hilly?
  • Take samples inside and examine them, using a magnifying glass.

Biome study

Scripture Numbers 13:17-20 Moses sent them to check out Canaan. He said, "Go up through the Negev Desert. Go on into the central hill country. See what the land is like. See whether the people who live there are strong or weak. See whether they are few or many. "What kind of land do they live in? Is it good or bad? What kind of towns do they live in? Do the towns have high walls around them or not? How is the soil? Is it rich land or poor land? Are there trees on it or not? Do your best to bring back some of the fruit of the land." It was the season for the first ripe grapes.

Supplies books of different biomes, paper, pens, Bibles

  • Provide books about different biomes (grasslands, desert, rain forest, temperate forests
  • Have students make lists that describe the biome that is assigned to them.
  • What types of plants grow in different parts of world?
  • Where would you want to live, related to climate and terrain?
  • Look in Numbers 13:26-28 How did they describe the land? How is that different from the desert where they had crossed after they left Egypt?

Debate Team

Scripture Numbers 13:30, 14:4

  • Have class split into two groups.
  • One group (11 spies) will try to convince the others to go back to Egypt.
  • The other group (Caleb) will convince the class to take over the promised land.

Follow the Leader

Scripture Numbers 12:1 Miriam and Aaron began to say bad things about Moses. Numbers 14:2-4 The people of Israel spoke against Moses and Aaron. The whole community said to them, "We wish we had died in Egypt or even in this desert. Why is the Lord bringing us to this land? We're going to be killed with swords. Our enemies will capture our wives and children. Wouldn't it be better for us to go back to Egypt?" They said to one another, "We should choose another leader. We should go back to Egypt."

  • Play follow the leader.
  • Miriam and Aaron questioned Moses' leadership.
  • The Israelites wanted to choose a new leader and go back to Egypt.

Scavenger Hunt

Scripture When Moses sent them to explore Canaan, he said, “Go up through the Negev and on into the hill country. See what the land is like and whether the people who live there are strong or weak, few or many. What kind of land do they live in? Is it good or bad? What kind of towns do they live in? Are they unwalled or fortified? How is the soil? Is it fertile or poor? Are there trees on it or not? Do your best to bring back some of the fruit of the land.” (It was the season for the first ripe grapes.) Numbers 13:17-20

Supplies Scavenger hunt list, one per group

  • Go on a scavenger hunt to bring back items.
  • Split class into two or more groups.
  • Give each group a list of items.
  • Have students bring back 10 of the 20 listed items.
  • First group to return with items wins!
  • Use resource sheet or come up with your own list of items.

Clothespin Grasshopper

Scripture But the men who had gone up with him said, “We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are.” And they spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored. They said, “The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size. We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim). We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.” Numbers 13:31-33

Supplies clothespin, green paint, green pipe cleaners, straight pins, googley eyes, hot glue gun

  • Paint clothespin green.
  • Open clothespin and place pipe cleaner inside. (Can add a small drop of glue to hold into place)
  • Bend pipe cleaner for grasshopper legs.
  • Glue googley eyes to front.
  • Glue straight pins to front for antennae.

Bible Verse Balloon Grapes

Heads up! Grape cluster balloons will need to be prepared prior to class

Scripture When they reached the Valley of Eshcol,[b] they cut off a branch bearing a single cluster of grapes. Two of them carried it on a pole between them, along with some pomegranates and figs. Numbers 13:23

Supplies purple balloons, strips of paper with words from Bible Memory verse, tape, green paper for grape vine leaves

  • Blow up 11 purple balloons.
  • Put one strip of paper with a different word (plus the reference) from the Bible memory verse in each balloon.
  • Attach balloons to wall in a triangle shape (to look like a cluster of grapes). Add green paper for leaves to complete grape.
  • Make more than one grape cluster, if class is large and split into groups.
  • Ask comprehension questions from story.
  • If a student answers a question correct, allow them to take a balloon off of cluster and pop balloon to get out paper strip.
  • Once all balloons have been popped, have students put Bible Verse strips in order to complete memory verse.

Toilet Paper Roll Binoculars

Scripture When Moses sent them to explore Canaan, he said, “Go up through the Negev and on into the hill country. See what the land is like and whether the people who live there are strong or weak, few or many. Numbers 13:17-18

Supplies 3 toilet paper rolls, per student, string, hole puncher, stickers, markers or stamps for decoration

  • Cut one toilet paper roll open, lengthwise.
  • Place two toilet paper rolls inside the open one. (This will help hold them together.
  • Place a rubber band or two around all rolls to hold together, firmly.
  • Punch two holes and attach a string
  • Allow students to decorate binoculars.

Learning 10 commandments- commandment #4

Scripture Remember to keep the Sabbath day holy. Exodus 20:8

Supplies colored beads, leather, string

  • Teach the fourth commandment.
  • When the child can tell you each commandment correctly, without assistance, they are given a bead for a bracelet.
  • Keep the bracelet in the classroom and when they have learned all 10 commandments, they get to take it home.
  • To help them remember the commandments, you can separate them into 2 groups for the children.
  • The first four commandments are concerning our relationship with God.
  • The last six are concerning our relationship with others.