“Home-Study Lesson: Numbers 1–21 (Unit 13)” Old Testament Seminary Teacher Manual (2014)
“Unit 13,” Old Testament Seminary Teacher Manual
This lesson can help students understand that even though we have all sinned, if we look to Christ, He will heal us of our sins, pains, and sicknesses.
For a dramatic effect, quickly pull a toy snake from a bag, or display a picture of a poisonous snake. Then ask:
What would you do if you were bitten by a poisonous snake?
What are possible cures for poisonous snakebites?
Show a box labeled “Snakebite Kit” into which you have put a picture of Jesus Christ. Without opening the box, tell students that there is a cure for snakebites inside the box. Explain that as they study Numbers 21, they will learn how some Israelites were cured from the snakebites and how the story relates to us spiritually.
Explain that because the Israelites were not allowed to travel through the land of Edom, their journey was more difficult. Invite a student to read Numbers 21:4–5 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how the Israelites felt and reacted because of the difficulty of the way they had to travel.
How did the children of Israel react to the difficulty of journeying around the land of Edom?
Invite a student to read Numbers 21:6 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what happened because the children of Israel spoke against Moses and the Lord. Direct students to verse 6, footnote a, to help them understand that the word fiery means poisonous.
Invite a student to read Numbers 21:7–9 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the children of Israel did after they had been bitten.
Who did the Israelites first turn to for help?
What did the Lord tell Moses to do to help the people who had been bitten?
What did the people need to do to be healed?
Write on the board: poisonous serpent bites = sin and its consequences.
How do you think sin is similar to being bitten by a poisonous snake?
What could the venom of sin do to us if we do not get help?
Ask students to guess what is in your snakebite kit. Open the box and show the picture of Jesus Christ.
Display the picture Moses and the Brass Serpent (Gospel Art Book , no. 16; see also LDS.org).
What did the serpent on the pole point the Israelites’ thoughts to? (The Savior’s suffering and His Atonement.)
According to verses 8–9, what did the children of Israel need to do to be healed?
Based on this account, what must we do to be healed from the poisonous effects of sin? (Students responses may vary, but make sure they identify the following principle: If we look to Christ, He will heal us of our sins, pains, and sicknesses. Write this principle on the board.)
To help students understand this principle, discuss the following question:
What are some ways we can look to Jesus Christ so that we can be healed of our sins?
Write the following scripture references on the board: John 3:14–15; Alma 33:19–22; Helaman 8:14–15. Explain that these scripture passages help us better understand the account of the brazen serpent in Numbers 21:1–9. Consider inviting students to write these cross-references in their scriptures near these verses.
Divide the class into three groups. Assign each group to read one of the scripture references. Invite them to read their assigned scripture, looking for what it teaches about the account of the brazen serpent. After sufficient time, invite one student from each group to teach what they learned to the class. Then discuss the following questions:
Why do you think some people refused to look at the brazen serpent? Why do you think others choose to look?
What is required for us to look to the Savior to be healed from the effects of sins, pains, and sicknesses?
Invite a student from each group to share his or her feelings for Jesus Christ’s power to heal us from our sins, pains, and sicknesses.
To help students understand one way we can apply this principle and look to Christ for healing from our sins, pains, and sicknesses, invite them to look again at the picture of Moses and the brass serpent.
What role did Moses play in helping the children of Israel to be healed?
How do Moses’s actions relate to the principle written on the board?
Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by President Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:
“Jesus Christ has prescribed a very clear method for us to repent and find healing in our lives. The cure for most mistakes can be found by seeking forgiveness through personal prayer. However, there are certain spiritual illnesses, particularly those dealing with violations of the moral law, which absolutely require the assistance and treatment of a qualified spiritual physician. …
“If you … wish to return to full spiritual health, see your bishop. He holds the keys and can help you along the pathway of repentance” (“The Key to Spiritual Protection,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2013, 28).
Why is it necessary to get help from a bishop or branch president as we look to Christ so He can heal us of our sins, pains, and sicknesses?
Invite students to consider what they need to do in order to look to Christ to be healed from the venom of sin. Encourage them to make a commitment to look to the Savior so they can be healed from the effects of sin.
Summarize Numbers 21:10–35 by explaining that after the children of Israel were healed by looking to Christ, they defeated the Amorites and the people of Bashan, who fought against them. Testify that like the children of Israel, if we will look to Christ, we will be given the strength to overcome sin and face the challenges before us.
Invite students to imagine how they would react if they heard an animal speak to them. Explain that as they study Numbers 22–36, they will learn how the Lord warned Balaam through his donkey. Tell them that in Deuteronomy 1–26 they will learn about how to become the Lord’s peculiar people.