BSF Study Questions The Life of Moses Lesson 20, Day 5: Numbers 14:20-45

Summary of passage:  The Lord forgave His people as Moses asked Him too.  However, the punishment for disobedience is that none of them will see the Promised Land except Caleb.  God tells His people to turn around.  The Lord tells Moses except Caleb and Joshua all will die who grumbled against Him–He will grant their wish to die in the desert.  The children will inherit the land but only after wandering for 40 years–one year for each day the Israelites explored the land.

God struck down and killed the men who were responsible for the bad report.  The Israelites repented and went to fight anyways.  But this was disobeying God as well for He has ordered them to turn back.  They were defeated as Moses and the ark remained encamped.


10a)  Yes.  Verse 20

b)  Nevertheless

c)  “Not one of the men who saw my glory and the miraculous signs I performed in Egypt and in the desert but who disobeyed me and tested me ten times–not one of them will ever see the land I promised on oath to their forefathers.”  The Lord “will do the very things I heard you say:  In this desert your bodies will fall–every one of you twenty years old or more who was counted in the census and who has grumbled against me.”  “Your children will be shepherds here for 40 years, suffering for your unfaithfulness.”

Basically, they will all die without entering the Promised Land and they are sentenced to wander the desert for 40 years to wait for them all to die and as punishment to their children.

11a)  No.  People today have a victim mentality and an entitlement mentality.  They deserve only good things and if something bad happens to them, it’s someone else’s fault and thus they should  be taken care of and given payment because of it.

b)  Yes.  Yes.

12a)  By punishing the instigators.  God struck down the men who reported the false report and thus were responsible for leading the others into sin.

b)  They disobeyed AGAIN by deciding to go and take the land when the Lord had already told them they were to turn around.  They were warned by Moses that the Lord was not with them, but they didn’t seem to care–they did it anyways and were defeated because of it.

Conclusions: Loved Lesson 20.  Great stories.  Great moments of people’s disobedience, God’s grace and forgiveness, and consequences of disobedience.  In Numbers 13-14, we see the whole of the Bible condensed into two chapters.  All that’s missing here is Jesus.

End Notes:  Here we see the power of prayer as God says He has forgiven the people because Moses asked.  God listens and He responds.

God recognized Caleb and rewarded him in front of all.  The people on the other hand have more work to do.

Note even Moses and Aaron is included in those who won’t enter the Promised Land.  So they knew.  I wonder what they were thinking.

No excuse will work here–the people rejected the land and now they must pay the consequences.  Even when they decided to obey, their hearts were not in it–they did not trust the Lord.  They only felt sorry for what they did.  And they paid the price.

See Psalm 95:7b-11, Psalm 106:24-27, & Nehemiah 9:16-17 for more.

They will wander only 38 years since they have already been in the desert for 2 years.

Map of Hormah and possible Route through the Desert:

Great map of where the Israelites are headed next:

Close-up of Hormah:


BSF Study Questions The Life of Moses Lesson 20, Day 4: Numbers 14:5-19

Summary of passage:  Moses and Aaron fell facedown in front of the people.  Joshua and Caleb tore their clothes and begged the people to not rebel against the Lord–the land is good and God will grant it to them if they will only trust God.  But the people would not listen–they wanted to stone them.  Here, God can take His people’s unbelief no longer and appears.  He tells Moses he can’t believe the people’s lack of faith after everything He has done for them and again offers Moses to be made into a great nation and have the people struck down.

Moses again says no.  The Egyptians will then hear about it as well as the people occupying the Promised Land and say the Lord did not keep His promises to His people and instead slaughtered them.  Moses asks God to forgive the people once again out of His great love.


8a)  Moses and Aaron recognized the gravity of the situation, the gravity of what the Israelites were doing, the gravity of their rebellion and sin and Moses especially probably knew God’s anger burning right now against the people.  Hence they ignored the people and instead prostrated themselves in prayer to God, knowing full well prayer is what the people needed right now if they were to survive this rebellion against the One, True God.

b)  They had faith in God to bring them to the Promised Land to defeat their enemies.  They trusted God to keep His promises.

c)  The whole assembly might have stoned them to death.

d)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Yes.  When I was young and stupid, I put myself in dangerous situations and trusted people whom I didn’t know and I could have easily been raped or worse.  But I wasn’t and it was only through God’s grace and protection.

9a)  “I will make you into a nation greater and stronger than they (the Israelites)”.  God made the same offer to Moses after the golden calf in Exodus 32:10.

b)  The Egyptians will then hear about the slaughter as well as the people occupying the Promised Land and say the Lord did not keep His promises to His people and question God’s infinite power and say God was not able to bring the people out of Egypt so instead He killed the people.  This is the same reason Moses gave in Exodus 32:11-14.

c)  The Egyptians will hear about it and tell the inhabitants of the Promised Land about it and question God’s goodness, compassion, grace, and abilities to do what He says He will do.  Moses argues that God can display His strength here and show that He is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving of sin and rebellion.  Moses pleads for God to show His great love for the people here and forgive.

Conclusions:  Anyone else sick after this passage?  Again, the people reject God.  Again, He offers them undeserved grace and mercy.  God is infinitely good and man is infinitely bad.  Deja vu.

Our God is amazing as is Moses.  For all of Moses’ weaknesses, he resisted the greatest temptation of all–to be made great.  Moses’ love for the people is second only to God’s and Jesus’.

End Notes:  Note the difference between Aaron and Moses’ response to the rebellion and Caleb and Joshua’s response.  Caleb and Joshua attempt to persuade the people of God’s goodness, remind them of God’s promises, and get them to repent and turn to the Lord.  Aaron and Moses, more experienced and older, flat out appeal to God’s grace–for grace is what these people need right now.

You know that when God shows up here it probably isn’t good.  I can just imagine God in heaven, looking down at His people, seething with anger and punishment.  And then when the people want to stone the two guys who are standing up for Him!!  God couldn’t take it any longer!

We see the core of man’s evil here:  kill those of faith.  The devil (and thus man when we are turned away from God) cannot stand belief and thus must be stamped out entirely.

Note how God does not even speak to the people; He goes to Moses.  The people are too far in their rebellion to hear Him.  This begs the question of us:  are we too far away from Him to hear Him as well?

Their rebellion makes no sense after all God has done for the people so He tells Moses He will grant their wish–death–and start over with Moses instead.  The new nation would be better and stronger!

I can’t help but wonder what would have happened if Moses had accepted God’s offer.  What would be look like today?  What “greater” and “stronger” would have looked like?  If life would have been easier because we were “greater” and “stronger”?  One can only imagine!

Moses’ zeal for God’s glory is hard to imagine!  I wonder how many of us could/would do the same thing!  How many of us guard God’s glory in a similar way?

People would doubt God’s ability and man’s sin would win out over God’s ability to conquer sin.

Moses quotes God back almost word-for-word God’s description of Himself in Exodus 34:6-8.  How powerful and persuasive!  Moses is saying “God, you told me who you were.  Now act in accordance with who you are”.

Moses appealed to God’s glory, power, and promises; but what made God say yes to Moses was Moses’ heart.  Moses’ love for the people and disregard for himself is what made God say yes.  Here we see one of God’s purposes for this rebellion:  to turn Moses’ heart into a heart like Jesus (Romans 8:29).  For if God is for us, then who can be against us?

I can almost see God breathe a sigh of relief here:  amidst all this rebellion, there is light–and the most powerful kind of light–God’s heart in all of us.

Take away:  we see the power of a heart like Jesus’.  There are no limits to what God can do if you have faith and trust that He will do what He says He will do.

BSF Study Questions The Life of Moses Lesson 20, Day 3: Numbers 13:26-14:4

Summary of passage:  The 12 scouts came back and reported what they had found in the Promised Land. They said it does flow with milk and honey, but the people who live there are powerful and the cities are large.  We saw descendants of Anak (giants).  Caleb suggests to go up and take possession of the land.  However, the others say they can’t attack the people for they are stronger than they are and are of great size.  They say they saw the Nephilim there.

All the community complained against Moses and Aaron, asking why God brought them there and saying they should have stayed in Egypt.  They wanted to choose a new leader and return to Egypt.


5)  But

6a)  Caleb had to go against the majority and step out in faith and say “we can take this land God has given us.”  He may have lost friends and he was definitely risking his life.  It took courage, faith, and trust in God–and he will be rewarded!

b)  10

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  No.

7a)  Moses and Aaron (the leaders)–ultimately God since God placed Moses and Aaron as their leaders. Caleb and Joshua called it what it was in verse 9:  “Do not rebel against the Lord”.  No sugar-coating here!

Their situation was false first of all.  They believed their situation to be one of impossibility.  They believed the 10 men who said the land was full of giants and Nephilim when it wasn’t.  They believed it would be impossible to defeat such men.  Thus, they wanted to turn around and go back to Egypt.

b)  “We” blame others when we should be blaming ourselves for lack of faith.  A better question here would be to replace the pronoun “we” with “you”.  It is always our fault even though we never admit it because we let circumstances dictate our response instead of trusting God.

Conclusions:  I don’t like the personal questions here.  6c I couldn’t come up with anytime “in faith” and 7b didn’t go far enough.

This passage is packed here and if you’re not careful, you’ll miss the significance and I don’t think BSF did a very good job of unpacking this passage with the questions.  This rebellion was the defining moment of the Israelites, the moment that sealed their fate and punishment to wander the desert for the rest of their lives.

Ever since the Exodus, we have seen the Israelites go back and forth in their faith.  Here, there is no going back and there is no forgiveness for this rebellion.  Punishment is administered and it is just.  As we’ll see Moses begs one more time for the people and for God’s forgiveness (which God grants) but with this punishment tacked on.  We will see the sparing of Caleb and Joshua and hopefully we will take to heart the lesson of trusting in God whole-heartedly always.

End Notes:  With the word “but” the lack of faith is on full display.

Nephilim means giants and are the offspring of the sons of God and the daughters of men in Genesis 6:4.  There is debate if the sons of God were fallen angels who then laid with human females or if they were the offspring of Seth.

The Anakites are descendants of Anak (Joshua 15:13) and were compared to giants by the spies here.

Scholars say since each tribe was represented and 10 of the 12 tribes lacked faith that this shows the hearts of the majority of the people:  they lacked faith in God as well.

When the Israelites blame Aaron and Moses, they are really blaming God here for their problems. They expected the path to the Promised Land to be easy.  But we must remember Jesus’ example–the hardest single act ever done on this earth.  Who are we to question God’s methods?

This chapter is a stark contrast to the first 10 chapters of Numbers.  The people have been prepared, organized, and purified and right when the time has come, their true hearts are revealed.

We need to be careful what we wish for because the Israelites wanted to die and God grants their wish when they do not make it to the Promised Land.

This is deep-seated rebellion when the Israelites accuse God of bringing them to the land to die. We can be angry at God but the anger is never justified because God has done nothing to provoke our anger.

Israelites were rejecting God’s path for them.  They wanted their own path.  Note the words used here:  “we should choose” instead of God choosing.  “We should go back” instead of God wanting us to go.  Tragic, tragic tale here we all need to take heed of.

Take away:  This moment of rebellion scholars say is the most decisive event since the exodus from Egypt. All the Israelites have to do is trust God and they cower in fear and unbelief.  Here, God realizes His people are not ready for the Promised Land and with this act they seal their fate of having to roam the desert for 40 years.

Best part:  Caleb and Joshua will have the last laugh as they are the only adults to make it to the Promised Land.  God is good indeed!  He rewards the faithful beyond belief!

BSF Study Questions The Life of Moses Lesson 20, Day 2: Numbers 12:16-13:25

Summary of passage:  The people are camped in the Desert of Paran.  The Lord told Moses to send out leaders from each tribe to explore the land of Canaan.  Moses obeyed and sent out 12 men, including Joshua from the tribe of Ephraim.  Moses sent them up through the Negev to explore the land and see if it was fertile, who lived there, what were the towns like, etc.  After 40 days of traveling throughout the land, they returned.


3a)  The Lord told Moses to sent out leaders from each tribe to explore the land of Canaan (the land He is giving them–that’s the promise).

b)  To see what they were up against.  Every good leader does reconnaissance.  Like Moses says in verses 17-20, he lists some reasons:  to see what the land is like, if the people are few and if they are strong, what the towns are like, the soil, the fruit, etc.

c)  (Same answer I just gave in b):  To see what they were up against. Every good leader does reconnaissance. Like Moses says in verses 17-20, he lists some reasons: to see what the land is like, if the people are few and if they are strong, what the towns are like, the soil, the fruit, etc.  He tells them to explore Canaan.

d)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Don’t compare this question to Moses’ directive. Moses was ordered by God to explore the land first.  Note the word “consider”.  My answer:  If it is on God’s order, you go without consideration.  If you are unsure, you pray first.  You then need to be prepared either way:  know what you are getting into so you can better serve God in your circumstances.  Research the area, etc.

4a)  Some of the land is a desert but it is fruitful as exhibited by the cluster of grapes, pomegranates, and figs.

b)  40 days

c)  Deuteronomy tells us they are strong and tall.  Joshua tells us that he gave Caleb, a descendant of Anak, land in Judah called Hebron.  Numbers tells us the descendants of Anak are stronger than the Israelites (or so they believe–this is Numbers 13:31) and are of great size.  They say the Nephilim live there and the Israelites are afraid to go.

Conclusions:  I liked the idea of 3d.  We should know what we are getting into when the Lord calls us to  something new.  However, that doesn’t mean we should not do it if if is not to our liking (like we’ll see in the rest of Numbers 13 and 14 where the Israelites rebels and through a huge fit out of their fears).  There is a fine line between obedience and dissent and turning away from God when we don’t like something He presents to us.

Map of Negev and Hebron:

Map showing route of 12 explorers (really small though):

Map of the 12 scouts with explanation:[pageGallery]/3/

End Notes:  Deuteronomy contradicts Numbers.  Deuteronomy 1:22 makes it seem like the idea to send out spies was the people’s idea and not directly from God.  Moses just tells them to go and take the land the people want to check it out first.  This leads scholars to speculate that maybe Moses asked God how to send out the spies and not whether or not he should send them out or not.  Either way:  the people’s faith is tested and that is God’s plan.

Joshua’s first name of Hoshea means “salvation”.  Moses changes it to Joshua, meaning “Yahweh is salvation.”

Scholars believe Moses doubted God’s word of what the land was like (flowing of milk and honey–Exodus 3:8 and good–Exodus 13:5) and wanted to find out for sure.  Here, Moses exhibits unbelief.  So we are left wondering:  would they have turned around if the land had been a barren wasteland?

Note the 40 days–a favorite testing period of God’s from the ark to wandering the desert for 40 years.

More on the Nephilim and the Anak tomorrow when we are assigned to study them.