“May 9–15. Numbers 11–14; 20–24: ‘Rebel Not Ye against the Lord, Neither Fear,’” Come, Follow Me—For Individuals and Families: Old Testament 2022 (2021)
“May 9–15. Numbers 11–14; 20–24,” Come, Follow Me—For Individuals and Families: 2022
Record Your Impressions
Even on foot, it wouldn’t normally take 40 years to travel from the wilderness of Sinai to the promised land in Canaan. But that’s how long the children of Israel needed, not to cover the geographical distance but to cover the spiritual distance: the distance between who they were and who the Lord needed them to become as His covenant people.
The book of Numbers describes some of what happened during those 40 years, including lessons the children of Israel needed to learn before entering the promised land. They learned about being faithful to the Lord’s chosen servants (see Numbers 12). They learned about trusting the Lord’s power, even when the future seems hopeless (see Numbers 13–14). And they learned that being faithless or untrusting brings spiritual harm, but they could repent and look to the Savior for healing (see Numbers 21:4–9).
We’re all like the Israelites in some ways. We all know what it’s like to be in a spiritual wilderness, and the same lessons they learned can help us prepare to enter our own promised land: eternal life with our Heavenly Father.
For an overview of the book of Numbers, see “Numbers” in the Bible Dictionary.
In Numbers 11:11–17, 24–29, notice the problem Moses faced and the solution God proposed. What do you think Moses meant when he said he wished “that all the Lord’s people were prophets”? (verse 29). As you ponder these verses, consider these words of President Russell M. Nelson: “Does God really want to speak to you? Yes! … Oh, there is so much more that your Father in Heaven wants you to know” (“Revelation for the Church, Revelation for Our Lives,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2018, 95).
However, saying that everyone can be a prophet doesn’t mean they all can lead God’s people the way Moses did. The incident recorded in Numbers 12 makes this clear. As you read this chapter, what cautions do you find? What do you feel the Lord wants you to understand about personal revelation and following the prophet?
As you read Numbers 13–14, try to put yourself in the place of the Israelites. Why do you think they wanted to “return into Egypt”? (Numbers 14:3). Are you ever like those who were pessimistic about entering the promised land? How would you describe the other “spirit” Caleb had? (Numbers 14:24). What impresses you about the faith of Caleb and Joshua, and how might you apply their examples to situations you face?
See also Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Gordon B. Hinckley (2016), 75–76.
Book of Mormon prophets knew the story recorded in Numbers 21:4–9 and understood its spiritual significance. What do 1 Nephi 17:40–41; Alma 33:18–22; and Helaman 8:13–15 add to your understanding of this story? As you study these passages, think about the spiritual healing you hope for. The Israelites had to “[behold] the serpent of brass” (Numbers 21:9) to be healed. What do you feel inspired to do to more fully “look upon the Son of God with faith”? (Helaman 8:15).
When Balak, the king of Moab, learned that the Israelites were approaching, he called for Balaam, a man known for pronouncing blessings and curses. Balak wanted him to weaken the Israelites by cursing them. Notice how Balak tried to persuade Balaam (see Numbers 22:5–7, 15–17), and think about temptations you face to go against God’s will. What impresses you about Balaam’s responses in Numbers 22:18, 38; 23:8, 12, 26; 24:13?
- Numbers 11:4–6.
How did Moses show that he was “very meek” in Numbers 12 or in other scripture passages you’ve read? You might review Elder David A. Bednar’s explanation of meekness in his message “Meek and Lowly of Heart” (Ensign or Liahona, May 2018, 30–33) or in “Meek, Meekness” in Guide to the Scriptures (scriptures.ChurchofJesusChrist.org). What do we learn about how we can become more meek? What blessings can come as we do so?
Two (or more) members of your family could pretend to “spy out” (Numbers 13:17) another part of your home as if it were the promised land. Then they could each give a report based on Numbers 13:27–33 or Numbers 14:6–9. What do we learn about faith from the two different reports in these verses? How can we be more like Caleb and Joshua?
After reading Numbers 21:4–9, along with 1 Nephi 17:40–41; Alma 33:18–22; and Helaman 8:13–15, your family could make a serpent out of paper or clay and write on it or on paper some simple things you can do to “look upon the Son of God with faith” (Helaman 8:15).
For more ideas for teaching children, see this week’s outline in Come, Follow Me—For Primary.
Suggested song: “Jesus, the Very Thought of Thee,” Hymns, no. 141.