“Unit 13: Day 3, Numbers 13–14,” Old Testament Study Guide for Home-Study Seminary Students (2014)
“Unit 13: Day 3,” Old Testament Study Guide
As directed by the Lord, Moses sent 12 spies to explore the land of Canaan and report what they found. After 10 of the spies gave “an evil report” (Numbers 13:32), the Israelites feared that the people in the land were too strong to conquer. They did not trust the Lord. As a result of the Israelites’ unfaithfulness, the Lord declared that they would wander in the wilderness for 40 years.
Read the following rhyme quoted by President Thomas S. Monson:
Dare to be a Mormon;
Dare to stand alone.
Dare to have a purpose firm;
Dare to make it known.
(“Dare to Stand Alone,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2011, 61.)
- In your scripture study journal, list some circumstances in which you might need to decide whether to stand alone or among the minority in defending your faith or standards. Then briefly explain the challenges of the circumstances you listed.
As you study Numbers 13–14, look for lessons you can learn from Israelites who defended their faith and from Israelites who did not.
The Lord had led the children of Israel through the wilderness near the land that He promised to give them if they were faithful to Him. The promised land—the land of Canaan—was already inhabited by other people. On the accompanying map (or on Bible Maps no. 2, “Israel’s Exodus from Egypt and Entry into Canaan”), trace the journey from Rameses (in Egypt) to Mount Sinai and from Mount Sinai to Kadesh-barnea, near the land of Canaan.
In Numbers 13:1–16 the Lord instructed Moses to select one member from each of the tribes to carry out an important task. (Notice that the descendants of Joseph were divided into two tribes—Ephraim and Manasseh—and that a member was not sent from the tribe of Levi.) Read Numbers 13:17–20, looking for what Moses commanded these 12 men to do according to the Lord’s instruction.
Numbers 13:21–26 explains that the 12 spies spent 40 days investigating the land and then returned with their reports and fruit they brought from the land.
Complete the following chart by reading the scripture references listed and briefly summarizing what you read in the space provided. As you read, imagine you are in the position of the Israelites at that time. Ponder the thoughts or feelings they may have had that prompted them to respond in the ways they did.
The Israelites’ response to the 10 spies’ report (Numbers 14:1–4):
Joshua and Caleb’s report of the land and people (Numbers 14:6–9):
- Answer the following question in your scripture study journal as though you were Joshua or Caleb: The other spies are convinced that the Israelites cannot overcome the people in Canaan. Why are you so sure that they can?
Read Numbers 14:9, looking for a phrase that indicates why Joshua and Caleb believed the Israelites could overcome the people in Canaan.
One principle we can learn from Joshua and Caleb’s words and example is if we know the Lord is with us, we can overcome fear and more courageously stand for righteousness.
Ponder times when you have had to stand alone because of your faith like Joshua and Caleb did. As you ponder your experiences, read the following statement by President Thomas S. Monson:
“As we go about living from day to day, it is almost inevitable that our faith will be challenged. We may at times find ourselves surrounded by others and yet standing in the minority or even standing alone concerning what is acceptable and what is not. Do we have the moral courage to stand firm for our beliefs, even if by so doing we must stand alone? …
“… May we ever be courageous and prepared to stand for what we believe, and if we must stand alone in the process, may we do so courageously, strengthened by the knowledge that in reality we are never alone when we stand with our Father in Heaven” (“Dare to Stand Alone,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2011, 60, 67).
- Answer the following questions in your scripture study journal:
When have you felt that God was with you as you stood for righteousness?
How did it help you to know that God was with you?
Consider sharing what you wrote with a family member or friend.
How would you compare the Israelites’ response to circumstances you might face today when you stand for what is right?
Read Numbers 14:22–23, 29–33, looking for consequences the Israelites would receive for choosing to rebel against the Lord and His servants.
According to Numbers 14:29–30, of all the Israelites 20 years or older, who were the only ones that would be blessed to enter the promised land?
Read Numbers 14:24, looking for why Caleb would enter the promised land. You may want to mark what you find.
When the Lord said Caleb “had another spirit with him,” it could have meant that Caleb was filled with faith and courage rather than doubt and complaints.
You may notice that the Lord also said Caleb and his descendants would have an inheritance in the promised land because he “hath followed me fully.” One principle you may want to write in your scriptures is that to receive all of the Lord’s blessings, we must choose to follow Him fully.
This principle is illustrated in Numbers 14:40–45. In these verses we learn that after the Lord declared that the Israelites would not enter the promised land at that time, some of them ignored His words. These Israelites set aside their earlier fears of the people who occupied the land of Canaan and went to battle against them. However, because the Lord was not with these rebellious Israelites, they were defeated.
Ponder how you can show the Lord that you will follow Him fully.
As you read the following statement by Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, mark words or phrases that can help you know how to follow the Lord fully: “[You] will encounter people who pick which commandments they will keep and ignore others that they choose to break. I call this the cafeteria approach to obedience. This practice of picking and choosing will not work. It will lead to misery. To prepare to meet God, one keeps all of His commandments. It takes faith to obey them, and keeping His commandments will strengthen that faith” (“Face the Future with Faith,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2011, 34).
- Set a goal of how you will follow the Lord more fully. If this goal is not too personal, write it in your scripture study journal. Otherwise, you may simply write in your scripture study journal that you have set a personal goal to follow the Lord more fully.
- Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:
I have studied Numbers 13–14 and completed this lesson on (date).
Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: