Sabbath School Lesson for October 2-8, 2021

Teresa’s YouTube channel about the lesson:

Overview of Lesson 2

This week we will look at some background history, so we will better understand the setting for Moses’ final speeches in Deuteronomy. This history will include…

  • Moses’ past intercession for his people (Sunday)
  • how God’s prophecies had been fulfilled, with forty years finally bringing them out of the wilderness (Monday)
  • the organization God promoted that had blessed them and made their numbers grow (Tuesday)
  • their sad lack of faith in Kadesh Barnea where they were first told to enter Canaan and settle there (Wednesday)
  • the sad, shocking condition of some of the pagan tribes that God told them to destroy (Thursday)

As the Hebrews sat on the border of Canaan, the land God had long ago promised would be theirs, Moses repeatedly reminded them of the Lord’s dealing with them in the past. This was meant to give them confidence in God’s presence that would guide them through the eventful days ahead.

Memory Text: And they “all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ.”  1 Corinthians 10:3, 4 NKJV

God, through His Son, had supported them during every crisis they endured. For everyone then and now, He created us, sustains us, and will redeem us. But in specific, miraculous ways, the children of Israel had seen and would continue to see their heavenly Benefactor at work for them in every way possible.

Sunday: The Ministry of Moses

Although Moses wasn’t perfect (his past mistakes would even keep him from entering Canaan), he was in love with the people he served. More than once, he interceded with God for them–even to the point of offering his own life for theirs after the golden calf experience (Exodus 32:31, 32).

This intercessory ministry at such a crucial time in salvation history would make Moses a type of Christ. The Messiah would also have a mission to intercede and save His beloved people from the slavery of sin (Hebrews 7:25).

When Moses pleaded with God to “forgive their sin” (Exodus 32:32), the original language actually means “bear their sin”. Moses understood fully the seriousness of their disobedient actions and the need for their Redeemer to bear it for them in a sacrificial way.

Studying the ministry of Moses teaches us what it means to truly love others above ourselves.

Bible Verses to Read and Discuss:

Exodus 32:32 and 1 Peter 4:24

  • Why was Moses willing to even be blotted from the book of life, in order to save God’s people?
  • Was it appropriate for Moses to make such a strong commitment? Why or why not?

Hebrews 7:25

  • Why is Jesus the only one able to save us “to the uttermost”?

Monday: Fulfilled Prophecy (Deuteronomy 1:1-6)

Order, precision, and balance are found everywhere in the physical universe, even in the declining state of our world of sin and degradation. This observation helps us have faith in the precision of God’s predictions. We can be confident that His prophecies, at least the ones that aren’t conditional, will occur right on schedule.

The timing of Moses’ speech, “in the fortieth year” (Deuteronomy 1:3) is no surprise, when we remember that God commanded them to wander in the wilderness for that amount of time–forty years, for each day the spies were in the land doing their self-appointed task (Numbers 14:34). In the Bible, the number forty seems to indicate a long period and it usually involves some type of testing, trial, or probation.

Other precise, prophetic time periods, including those in Daniel 2, 7, and 8, are evidence of God’s foreknowledge and control. Seeing how God has ordered the past allows us to trust Him with our future. Thus Moses’ purpose was to instill confidence in God through these farewell addresses.

Bible Verses to Read and Discuss:

Deuteronomy 1:3 and Numbers 14:34

  • Why was the number “forty” used frequently in the Bible; what does it seem to represent? (i.e. it rained forty days and nights during the Flood, Jesus prayed and fasted forty days in the wilderness, etc.)

Tuesday: A Thousand Times More Numerous (Deuteronomy 1:9-17)

Moses reviewed their history by first reminding them of their forty-year journey and taking them back to the beginning of that trying time. He pointed out in the passage today how they were instructed to organize themselves and appoint tribal leaders, in order to function most effectively. This system seemed to work remarkably well. Having leaders over thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens (1 Deuteronomy 1:15), Israel could truly be called an organized assembly.

The apostle Paul described a similar system of organization in 1 Corinthians 12. People of the New Testament church were to function as one, but with different roles being performed by the members, according to their spiritual gifts. Recent denouncements of “organized religion” aren’t valid, in light of our God-given assignment to be organized and unified in the appointed task of spreading the gospel.

As we attempt to be organized in such a way, we will be blessed as the Israelites were. Our Christian numbers will multiply as the stars of heaven, as Moses spoke of in Deuteronomy 1:10, 11.

Bible Verses to Read and Discuss:

Deuteronomy 1:10, 11

  • Why is God anxious to multiply our numbers?
  • Can growth in numbers come to be more important more than our spiritual growth? What might be the result and what might be the remedy for that situation?

Deuteronomy 1:13

  • What kind of men was God looking for at that time?
  • How would these qualities make them successful in their positions of authority?

Wednesday: Kadesh Barnea

What better place for Moses to repeat the story of the reason why it took forty years to get back to the border of Canaan. It was their parents’ lack of faith when the twelve spies returned with their frightening reports. Their hesitancy back then led to their refusal to enter the land God had promised them.

Moses’ intercession for the people at that time was notable. God was ready to allow a pestilence to wipe them out. He would start over again with a new people from Moses’ descendants. But we read in Numbers 14:11-20 how Moses prayed to God that another way be found that would better express His mercy.

So God determined the disciplinary action that was needed for this faithless group so long ago. Forty years would be needed to prepare their children for the task God had for them. None of those living at the time would be able to cross over and live in Canaan, except Joshua and Caleb, the faithful spies who had recommended following God’s lead to enter and take the bountiful land of “milk and honey” (Numbers 14:8).

Bible Verses to Read and Discuss:

Numbers 14:12, 15-19

  • What was Moses’ argument and why did God listen to Moses’ reasoning and act differently in this situation?
  • What does this intercessory prayer show about Moses’ character?

Thursday: The Iniquity of the Amorite (Deuteronomy 2 and 3)

Many have a difficult time understanding parts of Israel’s history which describe total tribes being destroyed under God’s direction. Moses reviews some of this history in chapters 2 and 3 of Deuteronomy. Is our merciful God capable of endorsing such wholesale slaughter, we must ask?

A more thorough examination of the events, however, coupled with knowledge about the culture of ancient paganism, brings us to the conclusion that this destruction was sometimes warranted. Indeed, it was no doubt the most merciful option available at the time. The harsh brutality of living in these tribes would have been so severe that it was more humane to eliminate all its citizens, including women and children, the most vulnerable victims of their cruelty.

With God’s guidance, we discover the tribes were treated differently though. Under God’s instruction, some tribes were dealt with diplomatically (Deuteronomy 20:10, 11), and others were defeated without total eradication of their population. Only God could judge fairly the level of each tribes’ iniquity (Genesis 15:16).

We, too, must continue to trust in God’s goodness and mercy, despite these troubling, yet honest, reports of conquest, recorded by Moses.

Bible Verses to Read and Discuss:

Deuteronomy 2:33, 34, 20:10, 11, and Genesis 15:16

  • How and why did God deal with pagan tribes that inhabited Canaan?

1 Corinthians 10:1-4 and John 14:9

  • Why do we still find it hard to understand who God is, and find ourselves at times questioning His actions?

Friday: Final Thoughts

Reviewing the history of ancient Israel, even the unpleasant occurrences, gave hope to God’s people. It reminded them that God fulfills His promises and that He would fight for them as they entered the Land of Promise. By following His instructions, God’s grace and justice would prevail.

In the final days we are living in, we also can be fortified in trusting God by educating ourselves with this ancient history. Their situation was similar to ours. On the brink of His Second Coming, we are about to enter another Promised Land, a heavenly one. Seeing how God has operated in the past helps us understand what we are experiencing now. We, too, will encounter obstacles, fight battles of many kinds, and experience the final justice that only God can bring.

Moses was wise to review how they got there, and we, too, are wise when we review our past. Looking at events that have come before us can help us get to where we’re going. Even examining our own individual past provides us with spiritual strength to face more trying times ahead.

Do not hesitate to study history. It makes us wiser and stronger, and will draw us closer to God. The patience of the saints will always be based on our faith and obedience to His will (Revelation 14:12). Knowing the past will help us know God’s will, because it never changes.

Next Week: The Everlasting Covenant

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