Sabbath School Lesson for July 3-9, 2021

Teresa’s YouTube channel about the Lesson:

Overview of Lesson 2

One group stands out in the Bible as a people who grew restless and rebellious. The Israelites, fleeing bondage in Egypt, experienced bouts of restlessness as they made their way back to Canaan. This week, we looked at several incidents that show us what their rebellion looked like. They were unhappy with…

  • nothing to eat but manna (Sunday)
  • Moses’ leadership (Monday)
  • the spy reports of Joshua and Caleb (Tuesday)

But we also saw…

  • how Moses interceded for them, much the same as Jesus does for us (Wednesday)
  • how our restless spirits and rebellious acts are the same as in the Exodus account (Thursday)

Memory Text: “Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.” 1 Corinthians 10:11 NKJV

The context of this passage indeed talks about the experience of the people who followed Moses out of Egypt. They continued to worship their idols, fell into immorality, and complained that their lives were not good enough.

Our dependence on “things” and our unholy living today also leads many to be discontent and eventually to rebel against God. We can learn much from this biblical example.

Sunday: Restless in a Wilderness (Numbers 11)

After a year of wandering in the wilderness, the children of Israel grew weary of their constant diet of manna, which was provided fresh for them on the ground six days a week. Although the provision of manna was just one of a series of miracles they had witnessed after leaving Egypt, their discontent and ingratitude grew to a dangerous level when they audibly began to complain about their diet.

Their selective memory caused them to ask Moses for the meat, cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic that were plentiful back in Egypt. The hardships and deprivations that came with their slavery there were somehow forgotten. Did they want to go back to that as well?

Moses knew where to take the complaints, however. He took them to God in prayer. He came with questions, to be sure, but His relationship with God permitted him to boldly unburden Himself with the God of the universe.

God answered the people’s request by sending them quail. So much quail that they became sick and many died of a plague from it. What a lesson for us to just count our blessings and be content with the provisions of God.

Bible Verses to Read and Discuss:

Numbers 11:4-6, 10

  • How did complaining about their diet affect the whole encampment, including Moses and even God Himself?
  • Usually it’s good to remember the good times and forget the bad, but why is it also good sometimes to remember the hardships we’ve endured?
  • What can be faulty about our memories of how and why things happen?

Numbers 11:31-33

  • Why do what seem like blessings at first sometimes turn out to be harmful?

Monday: It’s Contagious (Numbers 12)

God had instructed Moses to choose seventy elders to help lead the vast throng leaving Egypt. God had even endowed these elders with a special measure of His Spirit to enable them to make hard decisions on a daily basis. See Numbers 11:16, 17.

But Moses’ brother and sister, Aaron and Miriam, felt left out of leadership and began to question why Moses had more authority than they had. In addition, they seemed to harbor resentment that Moses had married Zipporah, an Ethiopian woman (noticeably an outsider and not one of “them”–Numbers 12:1).

God called the three siblings to come before Him and affirmed the leadership role of Moses, denouncing the complaints that had been brought against him.

When Miriam suddenly and visibly broke out with leprosy, there was no question that their attitudes had been out of line. Upon Aaron’s remorseful pleas, Moses humbly asked God to heal Miriam, which He did, following a seven-day separation from the camp.

Bible Verses to Read and Discuss:

Numbers 12:1

  • Why do you think Zipporah’s ethnic background and darker skin tones may have been problematic for some in the camp?

Numbers 12:3

  • Why is humility an important attitude for a leader to have?

Numbers 12:10

  • Why did God use such a dramatic way to convince Aaron and Miriam that their opinion of Moses was wrong?

Numbers 12:15

  • How might the seven-day separation for Miriam have helped heal their discontent?

Tuesday: Restlessness Leads to Rebellion (Numbers 13)

If we want to see where our discontent and restlessness can take us, look at the story in Numbers 13. They had finally reached Canaan and Moses sent out twelve spies to explore the land they were about to claim as their own.

At first, the reports coming in were positive. It was a bountiful land, as they had been told. They described it as flowing “with milk and honey”. But then, less hopeful reports reached them about the strong fortifications and armies there. The men they saw were even giants, much bigger and more powerful than they were.

Fear then took over, and the whole camp became determined that they were too weak to do the task. Only two spies, Joshua and Caleb, tried to convince them otherwise. But the crowd mentality took over and rebellion was inevitable. They even threatened to stone Joshua and Caleb.

Bible Verses to Read and Discuss:

Numbers 13:27, 28

  • Why are people more attracted to negative reports than good, positive ones? How is this seen, even in our news media today?
  • What kind of news and entertainment do you find yourself drawn to? And how can we better control what we see and hear?

Numbers 14:3, 4

  • Who were they rebelling against?
  • How far did the rebellion go?
  • Why do we always tend to blame our leaders for our troubles–even today?
  • Who is really to blame most of the time?

Wednesday: An Intercessor (Numbers 14)

It was clear that the rowdy mob was also angry with Moses and Aaron. They even wanted to select new leaders who would take them back to Egypt (Numbers 14:4). Joshua and Caleb tried to reason with them, but it was useless. Fear had taken hold of the crowd and full-scale rebellion was about to have dire results.

Moses, however, pleaded for the people before God, asking for mercy for His wayward children. God offered to eliminate the troublemakers and start a new nation under Moses, but Moses made it clear that his concern was for those who had rebelled.

His intercession is an example of how Jesus intercedes for us. God, through His grace, offers forgiveness even to the most restless and rebellious, if we come to His Son for mercy.

There would be consequences for their uprising though. They wanted so badly to return to the wilderness that God declared that they would all die there. It would be their children, the next generation, who would be ready to enter the Promised Land. In addition, they were told that only Joshua and Caleb would be granted the privilege of seeing their goal achieved. Their faithfulness would be rewarded.

Bible Verses to Read and Discuss:

Numbers 14:12-16

  • What reasons did Moses give for God to spare the rebellious ones?
  • Why is it important to consider God’s reputation and will, as well as our own desires and ideas?

Thursday: Faith Versus Presumption

Half-hearted commitment often leads us to choices that rely on presumption rather than faith. The children of Israel assumed that since God hadn’t punished them with immediate death for their rebellion that they could take it upon themselves to reverse their previous position.

They prepared and launched an attack on the tribes in Canaan, without the approval of Moses or God. They wrongly thought they were acting out of faith, but, of course, their impulsive actions failed.

1 Corinthians 10:1-11 describe what led the Israelites to their rebellious thoughts and actions. They continued to…

  • worship their idols (or things)
  • commit sexual immorality, and
  • complain about their situation

When fear also enters the picture, the result most likely leads to faithless actions like the one in our story. But, we are no different today. Our materialism and unholy lifestyles, coupled with our discontent with life and our leaders, can only lead to faulty assumptions about what God has planned for us.

The fear this pandemic has created only fuels the flames of discontent and leads many Christians to embrace unbiblical theories about what is happening in the world.

Bible Verses to Read and Discuss:

Numbers 14:39-45

  • Why did the Israelites plan this attack?
  • Why did it fail?

1 Corinthians 10:6-10

  • What three things were the Israelites doing that were wrong?
  • In what ways are these misbehaviors the same things people struggle with today?
  • What impact does fear have on our decisions?

Friday: Final Thoughts

It should be easy to spot restlessness (an attitude) and rebellion (an action). But many times we falsely see something else and are misled by untrue, presumptuous theories that only lead to more discontent. We saw this happen repeatedly in the stories in Numbers 11-14 this week.

We wonder what preserved Moses from partaking in the uprisings and instead working with God to quiet them. Numbers 12:3 tells us that Moses was very humble. Any time we forget to humble ourselves, not only before God but even before others, we will find ourselves likely to be led away with the crowd, just as so many were back then.

“Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” Philippians 2:3, 4 NKJV

Humility is a great safeguard for our faith. It worked for Moses and it can work for us.

Next Week: The Roots of Restlessness

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