The Lord said to Moses, 2 “Send some men to explore the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the Israelites. From each ancestral tribe send one of its leaders.”
26 They came back to Moses and Aaron and the whole Israelite community at Kadesh in the Desert of Paran. There they reported to them and to the whole assembly and showed them the fruit of the land. 27 They gave Moses this account: “We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey! Here is its fruit. 28 But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large. We even saw descendants of Anak there. 29 The Amalekites live in the Negev; the Hittites, Jebusites and Amorites live in the hill country; and the Canaanites live near the sea and along the Jordan.”
30 Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.”
31 But the men who had gone up with him said, “We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are.” 32 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. 33 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 13:1–33, NIV)
What would you have done, when faced with following God’s commands in the face of seemingly giant odds stacked against you?
Why do you think God would have the people of Israel scout out a land he had already promised to give them?
Why is it easier to listen to the people who are negative than it is to listen to those who are calling you to be faithful?
If you were the people of Israel, how would you move forward at this point, based on what you have read?
The Lord bless you
and keep you;
25 the Lord make his face shine on you
and be gracious to you;
26 the Lord turn his face toward you
and give you peace. (Numbers 6:24–26, NIV)
What is known as the “Priestly Blessing,” these words from God, to Moses, to the priests to give strength to the people. How important is such a blessing from God to you?
What does it mean to be “kept” by God? How does this help you face the challenges of today?
How important is it for you to know that God is the one to give you peace? In what ways have you seen his peace in your life?
How can you say a word of blessing to others, drawing them closer to God through that blessing?
Numbers 36.1 – Deuteronomy 1.46; Luke 5.29-6.11; Psalm 66.1-20; Proverbs 11.24-26
The book of Deuteronomy is basically three speeches given by Moses to the people of Israel just before they enter the Promised Land. Moses would not go into the land with them, he would die before entering. He was aware of this, yet was still trying to encourage the people as the entered. After what we have read about Moses and his relationship with the people of Israel, what do you think your final words to the people would have been if you were him?
How do you think the people felt when they realized what should have taken 11 days travel actually took 40 years?
In what ways do you work to save lives versus destroy them in the way you treat others?
As you tell others to come and listen to you, what stories will you tell them about what God has done for you?
Describe a time when refreshing others has created a time of refreshing for you?
Numbers 33.40-35.34; Luke 5.12-28; Psalm 65.1-13; Proverbs 11.23
God tells his people not to defile the land they live in, for he lives there himself. Do we view the places we live in the same way? What would change in our lives if we assumed God was a co-resident with us in the places we live and spend most of our time occupying?
Why was it important for the people of Israel to drive out the people living in the land of Canaan?
Why do you think people could not help but share the amazing things Jesus had done, even when he told them to not tell others? What have you shared about him today?
What prayers has God answered for you with awesome deeds?
Reward or judgment?
Numbers 32.1-33.39; Luke 4.31-5.11; Psalm 64.1-10; Proverbs 11.22
I often wonder what we would do if Jesus walked in the door today? While I certainly believe we have open access to a relationship with God, I have my suspicions that we would not walk over and give him a high five. Instead, like Simon, I think we would hit the floor, for we are sinful people. In the presence of deity, our sinfulness seems that much greater, doesn’t it? How are you addressing the sinfulness in your life as you come before God today?
A list of the places the Israelites had traveled can only mean the journey is drawing to a close. How do you think the Israelites feel, camped along the Jordan River overlooking the Promised Land?
What implications are there for our own ministry when we read that Jesus insisted that he had to go to other towns to preach?
Who are the enemies you seek protection from? How does your list compare to the enemies of the psalmist?
What can you say … have discretion. How have you seen a lack of discretion render someone helpless and pointless, like gold in a pig’s nose?
Numbers 30.1-31.54; Luke 4.1-30; Psalm 63.1-11; Proverbs 11.20-21
What is God obligated to do for you? I know, the question probably makes you uncomfortable. It’s a little too direct for our liking. Yet many of us have some sort of idea as to what following God will do for us. We have expectations about the role of Jesus in our lives, just like the Jewish people did about the Messiah. For many of them, they assumed they would receive great reward. Imagine their surprise when the Good News was for the poor, the captives, the blind, etc. How have you seen the Good News of Jesus impact those who need it most, versus those who have it all together?
Why was God so concerned about Israel fully defeating the Midianites?
What reasons might the people in Nazareth have given as to why they were so upset about Jesus’ mention of the widow of Zarephath?
How do you earnestly search for God?
What things do you do to keep your integrity intact?
Numbers 28.16-29.40; Luke 3.23-38; Psalm 62.1-12; Proverbs 11.18-19
One easy way to understand what God is saying in Psalm 62 when he writes “wait quietly” is to think of a child right before Christmas. They can hardly keep still, they are so excited. Everything in them is awash with movement, longing for that moment when they can open their presents. In fact, they may even go so far as to try and peek at the present or at the very least, shake it to so they can determine what is inside. This is NOT the picture of waiting on the Lord. How do you picture someone waiting quietly before God?
Why do you think the people of Israel needed this reminder (see Leviticus 23) about the ways the Feasts were to be performed?
Why is our lineage so important? Why was it important for Luke to include Jesus’ lineage?
How have you received honor because of following God?
In what ways has God brought you life?
Numbers 26.52-28.15; Luke 3.1-22; Psalm 61.1-8; Proverbs 11.16-17
As we continue to follow the story of God’s people Israel, we will soon discover that leadership is an important part of their successes or failures. I think it is significant that Moses, upon hearing he would die soon, is concerned that God give the people a new leader. How well do we plan for leaders of faith in our lives? How can we do a better job of this?
No one on the census of individuals we read yesterday was on the previous census taken before the people wandered the wilderness. Based on what you know about the story of Israel, what should we expect to happen next to the people?
What do John’s responses to the people’s questions of “What should we do…” tell you about what it means to follow Jesus?
How would God’s leading you to “the towering rock” look today? What situations are happening in your life where you need to allow him to lead you and provide you safety?
How have you shown kindness to someone today?
Numbers 26.1-51; Luke 2.36-52; Psalm 60.1-12; Proverbs 11.15
Someone I know, when talking about important decisions or struggles he is facing, admits that he often says to God: “This is a big one, Lord, you better let me handle it.” In what ways do you do the same? And how do we move to a place where we can say to God: “Please help us … human help is useless”?
What significance is there to the fact that we have a whole chapter recording a census of the people of Israel? How does this help us as we work to be better followers of Jesus?
We know Jesus was found at age 12 visiting with the teachers of the law (who were amazed at his understanding, by the way). What other events do you think Mary faced while raising the Son of God that caused her to have to pause and reflect on who her son really was?
How does God’s holiness help give you comfort to rely on his promises?
Why would putting up deposit for a stranger’s debt be a concern for people trying to follow God?
Numbers 24.1-25.18; Luke 2.1-35; Psalm 59.1-17; Proverbs 11.14
Have you ever had one of those “mountaintop” experiences? A moment when your faith and God’s glory seemed to connect in a way that exceeded your everyday ordinary moments? And you never wanted that moment or that experience to end, for fear that joy would go away? It is interesting that the shepherds, after hearing from the heavenly host and after checking out this new-born Messiah for themselves, simply go back to their flocks, praising God. How have you spent your ordinary day today full of praise for an extraordinary God?
Who are people in your life that are ones who hear the words of God and share them with you? How can you listen to them more?
How do you think you would have reacted to Simeon’s blessing had you been Mary or Joseph?
In what ways have you relied on the “unfailing love” of God to sustain you, especially when you were being attacked by your enemies?
Do you have many advisors, who lead you in the way of the Lord? Who else can you include in your list of Godly, wise leaders?