Evening Bible Study
The book of Numbers is the history of the Israelites while they wandered in
the wilderness for forty years, as they made their way from the deliverance out
of Egypt, to the conquering of the Promised Land.
We’ve seen much about the organizing of this nation of slaves into a lean,
mean fighting machine.
They’ve now made their first three day trip, a kind of “test run” to see
how things are going. It kind of ends in
a disaster. The people started
complaining and grumbling about how things are going.
Numbers 12 -
:1 Then Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman
whom he had married; for he had married an Ethiopian woman.
–This was probably a black woman.
This is Miriam and Aaron’s first complaint against their brother.
Miriam and Aaron had a problem with Moses because he had married to a black
What happened to Zipporah
the daughter of Jethro (Played by Yvonne De Carlo in the
Ten Commandments and also known as Lily Munster)? We don’t know.
biblical? Weren’t the Israelites told
not to marry other peoples?
(Dt 7:1–4 NKJV) “When the Lord your
God brings you into the land which you go to possess, and has cast out many
nations before you, the Hittites and the Girgashites and the Amorites and the
Canaanites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites, seven nations
greater and mightier than you, 2 and when the Lord
your God delivers them over to you, you shall conquer them and utterly destroy
them. You shall make no covenant with them nor show mercy to them. 3 Nor shall
you make marriages with them. You shall not give your daughter to their son,
nor take their daughter for your son. 4 For they will turn your sons away from following
Me, to serve other gods; so the anger of the Lord
will be aroused against you and destroy you suddenly.
The commands were against marrying certain races because of their beliefs,
not because of the color of their skin.
Note: The prohibition is not
against marrying any other nationality, only these seven particular nations.
God was concerned that their intermarriage with these particular peoples
would cause them to fall away from God.
The issue is not whether races can intermarry, but whether your marriage to
another person will draw you away from the Lord.
No room for racism.
The way we treat people should be based upon their relationship to Jesus,
not the nationality of their ancestors.
(Ro 10:12 NKJV) For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the
same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him.
(Col 3:11 NKJV) where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor
uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in
:2 So they said,
“Has the Lord indeed spoken only through Moses? Has He not spoken through us
also?” And the Lord heard it.
This was their second complaint against Moses.
They challenge Moses’ authority.
They were saying that it wasn’t fair that since God had spoken through them
too, they too should have equal authority with Moses.
Keep in mind who Miriam and Aaron were.
They were Moses’ older brother and sister.
They want a little respect.
Notice who is paying attention to this complaint.
God is paying attention.
There are going to be times when you are unfairly challenged.
It does not go unnoticed before God.
:3 (Now the man Moses was very humble, more than all men who were on the
face of the earth.)
– anav – poor, afflicted, humble,
Some have a problem with the fact that this verse is in Scripture, since
Moses was the one who wrote the first five books of the Bible. Doesn’t it seem kind of strange for a person
to write about themselves that they were the most humble person in the world?
1. Maybe Joshua added this comment
2. The Holy Spirit is causing Moses
to write about this. Since it was true,
would the Holy Spirit have Moses write it?
3. Maybe Moses is simply saying that
he had a hard time understanding why Aaron and Miriam had such a hard time with
his leadership, because he certainly wasn’t an overbearing kind of leader, but
was trying to be very humble. Maybe?
:4 Suddenly the
Lord said to Moses, Aaron, and Miriam, “Come out, you three, to the tabernacle
of meeting!” So the three came out.
Notice, God does the defending for Moses.
It’s hard when people criticize you to not try to defend yourself.
:5 Then the Lord came down in the pillar of cloud and stood in the door of
the tabernacle, and called Aaron and Miriam. And they both went forward.
:6 Then He said, “Hear now My words: If there is a prophet among you, I,
the Lord, make Myself known to him in a vision; I speak to him in a dream.
Apparently, this is the primary way the Lord would speak through prophets,
either by dreams (received while asleep), or visions (trance-like state, while
:7 Not so with My servant Moses; He is faithful in all My house.
:7 servant …
faithful – This is why Moses was different, because he was faithful.
The writer of Hebrews quotes this passage:
(Heb 3:1–15 NKJV) —1 Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling,
consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Christ Jesus, 2 who was
faithful to Him who appointed Him, as Moses also was faithful in all His house.
3 For this One has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as He
who built the house has more honor than the house. 4 For every house is built
by someone, but He who built all things is God. 5 And Moses indeed was faithful
in all His house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which would be
spoken afterward, 6 but Christ as a Son over His own house, whose house we are
if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end.
The way Moses was faithful was by being a servant.
Here was the leader of 2 million people, and the two
qualities that God brings out about him that stand out the most was that he was
humble, and he was a servant.
(Mk 9:35 NKJV) And He sat down, called
the twelve, and said to them, “If anyone
desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.”
So you want to be in leadership?
Learn to be a servant.
Tired of those lowly jobs you always get stuck with? Guess what?
You’re learning to serve.
Jesus also said,
(Mk 10:45 NKJV) For even the Son of Man
did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for
The greatest leader of all time didn’t come to be served,
but to serve.
The author of Hebrews goes on to make a point of all this:
7 Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says: “Today, if you will hear His voice, 8 Do
not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, In the day of trial in the
wilderness, 9 Where your fathers tested Me, tried Me, And saw My works forty
years. 10 Therefore I was angry with that generation, And said, ‘They always go
astray in their heart, And they have not known My ways.’ 11 So I swore in My
wrath, ‘They shall not enter My rest.’ ” 12 Beware, brethren, lest there be in
any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; 13 but
exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be
hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. 14 For we have become partakers of
Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end, 15
while it is said: “Today, if you will hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts
as in the rebellion.”
Don’t stop being faithful.
Don’t stop being a servant.
:8 I speak with
him face to face, Even plainly, and not in dark sayings; And he sees the form
of the Lord. Why then were you not afraid To speak against My servant Moses?”
:8 face to face
To be honest, as close as Moses got to God, he never actually saw God’s
God said to Moses:
(Ex 33:20 NKJV) But He said, “You cannot see My face; for no man shall see
Me, and live.”
(Jn 1:18 NKJV) No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who
is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.
In reality, the closes Moses ever got was to see God’s “back” side.
(Ex 33: 23 NKJV) Then I will take away My hand, and you shall see My back;
but My face shall not be seen.”
:9 So the anger
of the Lord was aroused against them, and He departed.
What a scary thing! God gets so
upset He leaves.
The consequences of sin - separation from God.
:10 And when the cloud departed from above the tabernacle, suddenly Miriam
became leprous, as white as snow. Then Aaron turned toward Miriam, and there
she was, a leper.
:10 she was leprous
God had stricken Miriam with immediate leprosy, apparently causing her to
be so grotesquely disfigured, that she looked like a partly formed fetus coming
at an ill timed birth (vs.12)
Remember that this was in response to her rebellion against Moses’
Rebelling against authority.
I’m not saying that sometimes it isn’t called for. But we better be careful if we are being
Excuses for Not Eating
writes, “When my daughter-in-law noticed that her two-year-old daughter was
ignoring her food, she said, “Keri, why aren’t you eating?” Keri replied, “I
can’t eat; God told me not to.” Her mother chided: “God wouldn’t tell you not
to eat your supper.” Keri looked up at the ceiling, then conceded, “Well, maybe
it was Moses.””
Esther F. Schmidt, Coldwater, OH. Christian Reader, “Lite Fare.”
God’s Word to Saul:
(1 Sa 15:23 NKJV) —23 For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, And
stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of
the Lord, He also has rejected
you from being king.”
(1 Pe 2:18–19 NKJV) —18 Servants, be submissive to your masters with all
fear, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the harsh. 19 For this is
commendable, if because of conscience toward God one endures grief, suffering
:11 So Aaron
said to Moses, “Oh, my lord! Please do not lay this sin on us, in which we have
done foolishly and in which we have sinned.
Remember, Aaron is the “High Priest”!
Shouldn’t he have the kind of “clout” it takes to talk to God? Shouldn’t he be asking God for forgiveness?
He realizes that he can’t go to God to plead for help, he needs to go to
Moses to ask for forgiveness.
Be reconciled to others.
There are times when the appropriate response for our sin is NOT going to
God and asking for forgiveness, but going to the other person you’ve offended.
(Mt 5:23–24 NKJV) —23 Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and
there remember that your brother has something against you,24 leave your gift
there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother,
and then come and offer your gift.
:12 Please do not let her be as one dead, whose flesh is half consumed when
he comes out of his mother’s womb!”
:13 So Moses
cried out to the Lord, saying, “Please heal her, O God, I pray!”
:13 Please heal her
– Here’s the beauty of Moses’ heart.
He’s been treated very badly by Aaron and Miriam, and now he’s turning
around and praying for Miriam.
If it was me, I might have said to myself, “She deserves everything that’s
coming to her.” Or, “I’ll just let her
suffer for a little while...”
(Mt 5:43–44 NKJV) “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your
neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those
who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully
use you and persecute you,
:14 Then the
Lord said to Moses, “If her father had but spit in her face, would she not be
shamed seven days? Let her be shut out of the camp seven days, and afterward
she may be received again.”
Even though Miriam was apparently healed, she still had to go out of the
camp and be quarantined for seven days.
This is the same treatment an “unclean” person got.
Consequences for sin.
We get the idea that if we just confess our sin, that God forgives us, and
life goes on just as though it never happened.
Wrong! There are still consequences
If I were to go out and commit adultery, and then confess my sin, I may be
forgiven by God, I may be even forgiven by my wife, but I still may contract
Just the other day someone asked me about a situation where a young wife
was unfaithful to her husband, committed adultery, and became pregnant with the
other man’s baby. The husband was willing
to reconcile, but what do you do about the baby? What do you do about the man who is the
father of the baby?
Sin has consequences.
There was a
little boy with a bad temper. His father gave him a bag of nails and told him
that every time he lost his temper, to hammer a nail in the back fence. The
first day the boy had driven 37 nails into the fence. Then it gradually
dwindled down. He discovered
it was easier to hold his temper than to drive those nails into the fence.
Finally the day came when the boy didn’t lose his temper at all. He told his
father about it and the father suggested that the boy now pull out one nail for
each day that he was able to hold his temper. The days passed and the young boy
was finally able to tell his father that all the nails were gone. The father
took his son by the hand and led him to the fence. He said, “You have done
well, my son, but look at the holes in the fence. The fence will never be the
same. When you say things in anger, they leave a scar just like this one. You
can put a knife in a man and draw it out. It won’t matter how many times you
say I’m sorry, the wound is still there. A verbal wound is as bad as a physical
(Ga 6:7–8 NKJV) —7 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man
sows, that he will also reap. 8 For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh
reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap
Note: Miriam wasn’t shut up forever, but only
for seven days!
Though there may be consequences for sin, Praise the Lord that they don’t
all last forever (unless you don’t believe in Jesus)
:15 So Miriam
was shut out of the camp seven days, and the people did not journey till Miriam
was brought in again.
:16 And afterward the people moved from Hazeroth and camped in the
Wilderness of Paran.
– Apparently the people were pretty shook up about what happened to Miriam.
She was a favorite of the people.
She was looked on as part of a trio, the three people God used to deliver
Israel from Egypt:
(Mic 6:4 NKJV) —4 For I brought you up from the land of Egypt, I redeemed
you from the house of bondage; And I sent before you Moses, Aaron, and Miriam.
Wait for the restoration
God’s heart is always toward restoration, when it’s wanted.
The people waited until Miriam was restored, and didn’t leave without her.
(Ga 6:1 NKJV) —1 Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who
are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering
yourself lest you also be tempted.
Numbers 13 -
:1 And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying,
:2 “Send men to spy out the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the
children of Israel; from each tribe of their fathers you shall send a man,
every one a leader among them.”
:2 which I am
God didn’t say that He might
give them the land, He said “I am
God is promising them that He is going to give them the land.
The purpose of sending spies into the land is not to decide whether or not
to go into the land, or to decide if they are able to handle going into the
The purpose of the spies was to let the people know what they were getting
Sometimes we get our directions confused.
OK, so this not-so-bright University of Texas football player goes to Boston for the
holidays to visit some relatives. While
there, he attends this party. Spying a
pretty, young coed, he decides he’ll approach and try to make some time. He
breathes into the palm of his hand to check his breath, unbuttons the top two
buttons of his shirt and walks up to her and says in his most sultry voice
possible, “Where does you go to school?” The young lady, not impressed in the
least, looks away, rolls her eyes and says curtly, but politely, “Yale.” The
Longhorn looks her somewhat perplexed and repeats in a loud voice, “WHERE DOES
YOU GO TO SCHOOL?”
The Israelites are going to be a little confused about their directions.
God is telling them to report on the Promised Land, not decide whether or
not to go there.
God is not opposed to people knowing what they are getting into.
:3 So Moses
sent them from the Wilderness of Paran according to the command of the Lord,
all of them men who were heads of the children of Israel.
:4 Now these were their names: from the tribe of Reuben, Shammua the son of
:5 from the tribe of Simeon, Shaphat the son of Hori;
:6 from the tribe of Judah, Caleb the son of Jephunneh;
:7 from the tribe of Issachar, Igal the son of Joseph;
:8 from the tribe of Ephraim, Hoshea the son of Nun;
:9 from the tribe of Benjamin, Palti the son of Raphu;
:10 from the tribe of Zebulun, Gaddiel the son of Sodi;
:11 from the tribe of Joseph, that is, from the tribe of Manasseh, Gaddi
the son of Susi;
:12 from the tribe of Dan, Ammiel the son of Gemalli;
:13 from the tribe of Asher, Sethur the son of Michael;
:14 from the tribe of Naphtali, Nahbi the son of Vophsi;
:15 from the tribe of Gad, Geuel the son of Machi.
:16 These are the names of the men whom Moses sent to spy out the land. And
Moses called Hoshea the son of Nun, Joshua.
– “Yahweh is salvation”
This is the Hebrew name of Jesus.
This fellow is the servant of Moses.
He will one day be the general in charge of conquering the Promised
:17 Then Moses sent them to spy out the land of Canaan, and said to them,
“Go up this way into the South, and go up to the mountains,
:18 and see what the land is like: whether the people who dwell in it are
strong or weak, few or many;
:19 whether the land they dwell in is good or bad; whether the cities they
inhabit are like camps or strongholds;
:20 whether the land is rich or poor; and whether there are forests there
or not. Be of good courage. And bring some of the fruit of the land.” Now the
time was the season of the first ripe grapes.
:20 first ripe
grapes – somewhere around July or August. (see grape pic)
God times this espionage mission to coincide with seeing ripe fruit.
Eyes wide open
Moses gives the parameters for the spies.
He tells them what they are to be looking for.
Note: Again we need to see that Moses is not
telling them that their job is to decide whether or not the nation is capable
of entering into the land. As far as
Moses is concerned, that is a given. God
has already promised that they would be given the land.
Is it “spiritual” to study something before getting into it?
I think some people would find fault in the fact that spies were sent at
all. Some people would respond and say,
“God promised, they should have just gone into it.”
But God Himself commanded that spies be sent.
(2 Co 5:7 NKJV) —7 For we walk by faith, not by sight.
Some people think this Scripture means that we have to walk with our eyes
closed. Not at all! God wants our eyes wide open, but we need to
learn to make our decisions based on faith, not upon sight.
Make decisions by faith. But keep
your eyes open so you can see what God is going to do!
It’s kind of like some of my premarital couples. Most of them seem to have already heard from
God that He wants them to be married.
But it sure is valuable to spy out the land first to find out just what
you’re getting into.
:21 So they
went up and spied out the land from the Wilderness of Zin as far as Rehob, near
the entrance of Hamath.
– this is where they are now, at Kadesh Barnea
Hamath – the farthest north that the spies will travel, it is near Mount
Hermon, about even with the city of Damascus.
:22 And they
went up through the South and came to Hebron; Ahiman, Sheshai, and Talmai, the
descendants of Anak, were there. (Now Hebron was built seven years before Zoan
– one of the homes of Abraham, as well as his burial place. It will be a majorly important city in Israel
becoming the capital of the tribe of Judah.
–an Egyptian city also known as “Tanis” (Raiders of the Lost Ark – where the Ark had been
hidden), which had been built around 1730 BC, about three hundred years
:22 descendants of
Anak – also called “Anakim” (not Skywalker)
Anak was apparently the father of a race of giants.
We’re going to come across several different names for the giants in the
land as we go through Numbers and Joshua.
Though there were other cities that contained giants, this seems to be the
only one they encountered on their spy mission.
I think it’s interesting that when Joshua eventually portions out the
land, that he gives the city of Hebron to Caleb, one of the good spies, who, as
an old man, goes up and kills the giants, just like God said he could do.
Promised Lands and Giants.
We kind of get the idea that if God is leading me, then there will be no
problems in my life. WRONG!
Paul wrote to the Corinthians and talked about how he felt God was leading
(1 Co 16:8–9 NKJV) But I will tarry in Ephesus until Pentecost. 9 For a great
and effective door has opened to me, and there are many adversaries.
He felt God leading him to stay in Ephesus awhile. He felt there was an “open door”. He also knew there was lots of trouble.
Whenever we talk about “Promised Lands”, we ought to also remember that
there will be giants in the land.
Be careful not to run from difficulties.
It may be simply one of the “giants” in the land. It may be a time to exercise faith, not flee.
Look at how David handled his “giant”
(1 Sa 17:48 NKJV) So it was, when the Philistine arose and came and drew near to
meet David, that David hurried and ran toward the army to meet the Philistine.
David had a sense of God’s help. He knew whose side God was on. When the battle came, David RAN towards the
giant, not away.
:23 Then they
came to the Valley of Eshcol, and there cut down a branch with one cluster of
grapes; they carried it between two of them on a pole. They also brought some
of the pomegranates and figs.
:24 The place was called the Valley of Eshcol, because of the cluster which
the men of Israel cut down there.
– “cluster” – we think it’s located near Hebron
This must have been a HUGE
cluster of grapes, since it took two men to carry it.
There is fruit in the Promised Land.
When God has a plan for you, and He guides you into the promises He has
made for your life, there will be FRUIT!
There might be giants, but there will also be fruit.
(Je 29:11 NKJV) For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of
evil, to give you a future and a hope.
:25 And they
returned from spying out the land after forty days.
:25 forty days – this number will be relevant in the next chapter.
:26 Now they
departed and came back to Moses and Aaron and all the congregation of the
children of Israel in the Wilderness of Paran, at Kadesh; they brought back
word to them and to all the congregation, and showed them the fruit of the
– play “Twelve Spies Route” video clip.
:27 Then they
told him, and said: “We went to the land where you sent us. It truly flows with
milk and honey, and this is its fruit.
We’ve got some good news and some bad news.
The idea of milk
and honey refers to the fruitfulness of the land.
A land flowing with milk means
that there would be good pasturing for their cattle and flocks, hence, lots of
A land flowing with honey
meant that the there was a land perfect for farming, making a great place for
bees to make honey.
It doesn’t mean that there were milk and honey spigots on every rock.
This is the “good” half of the report.
the people who dwell in the land are strong; the cities are fortified and very
large; moreover we saw the descendants of Anak there.
:29 The Amalekites dwell in the land of the South; the Hittites, the
Jebusites, and the Amorites dwell in the mountains; and the Canaanites dwell by
the sea and along the banks of the Jordan.”
These are all the people who are living in the land where the Israelites
are heading. These are some of the
nations that Israel is going to conquer.
Here comes the bad part...
Even though this is bad news, it is what they were sent out to do.
Up through verse 29, the spies are doing exactly what they were sent out to
do, report back on what the land was like.
Again, there is no lack of faith in finding out that there are a few giants
stalking in the land that God has promised you.
:30 Then Caleb quieted the people before Moses, and said, “Let us go up at
once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it.”
:31 But the men who had gone up with him said, “We are not able to go up
against the people, for they are stronger than we.”
:32 And they gave the children of Israel a bad report of the land which
they had spied out, saying, “The land through which we have gone as spies is a
land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people whom we saw in it are men
of great stature.
:33 There we saw the giants ( the descendants of Anak came from the
giants); and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in
Pros and Cons
Some of us have been taught that a good way to make decisions is to think
it through, to make a list of “pro’s” and a list of “con’s”, and then go with
the list that is heaviest.
Sometimes this is okay, and sometimes God may want us to do this, but there
may not be much room for faith in it.
And sometimes our thinking is a bit off…
old men were at the doctor for a memory test. The doctor said to the first old
man, “What is one plus one?” “Two hundred seventy-four,” he replied. The doctor
said to the second man, “It’s your turn. What is one plus one?” “Tuesday,” replied the second man. The doctor
said to the third man, “Okay, your turn. What’s one plus one?” “Two,” said the
third man. “That’s great!” said the doctor. “How did you get that?” “Simple,”
said the third man. “I subtracted 274 from Tuesday.”
—John Fehlen, Stanwood, Washington
We may not see the issues like God sees the issues. Sometimes we don’t have all the facts. Sometimes our thinking is off.
The whole issue comes back to God’s promise in verse two:
“the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the children of Israel”.
In making decisions for our lives, it’s okay to look at the pro’s and con’s
of a decision. That’s what sending in
spies is all about. It’s good to know
what you’re getting into. Do it with
your eyes open.
But we need to also keep in mind that if there were no “pro’s”, and only a
big list of “con’s”, that God could still be wanting us to go into a situation,
just so we could learn to trust Him and watch Him deliver us through all the
A great example of handling giants.
Could you imagine David sitting down and making a list of pro’s and con’s
before deciding to fight Goliath?
see, under the “pro’s”, I won’t have to pay any more taxes, I get to marry the king’s daughter, that all
sounds pretty good. Under the “con’s”,
let’s see, Goliath is a little bigger and more experienced than me, so I guess
I could end up
dead, what good is a tax free income if you’re dead?”
Summary: Pro’s and con’s are valuable in letting
us know what we’re getting into. But if
our decisions are based solely upon pro’s and con’s, then we might risk losing
an opportunity to use our faith, and an opportunity to see God doing wonderful
things in our lives.
The life of faith is not an easy one.
Sometimes God wants us to take on the giants.
The life of faith is not an obvious one.
Sometimes the right decision is not the easy one.
How do I know what I’m supposed to do?
Be open. Pray. Read.
Wait. Ask advice.
But also know that sometimes we are just learning. Sometimes we make mistakes.