The Twelve Spies and the Wandering Object Lesson

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We like to exaggerate situations at times. We claim we cannot do something because the task seems huge and daunting. This Twelve Spies and the Wandering Object Lesson will help our children to understand that with Jesus we have already won the victory even if life seems hard.

Scripture Focus: Numbers 13

Materials: toy plastic insects

Geography: locate Kadesh (Paran) and Canaan

Background: The Israelites were given freedom from Egypt by the miraculous hand of God. God gave the Israelites some rules called the Ten Commandments. These Commandments would be The Law that everyone in the nation would follow. These laws were given to the people by God to protect them, to set them apart from the other nations, and to teach them how to live for God.

By the time the Hebrews reached Mt. Sinai, they had seen many wonders by God. They were beginning to see God fulfill His promises to Abraham. A nation was beginning to form. A great nation needs rules and they now had the Ten Commandments, as well as many other laws and regulations. God had given Moses the directions to build the tabernacle and the priesthood was set up through the tribe of Levi and the family of Aaron.

Object Lesson for the Twelve Spies:

{Choose 4-5 of the insects. Be sure one is a grasshopper. Hold up each one and have the children identify the insects. Ask:}

12 spies

  • Are these toy insects big or small? [Compared to the real insects, these are very big.]
  • If this grasshopper was real and it looked around the room, would it think it was big or small? [Small]
  • How would the grasshopper perceive us in the room? [It would think we were giants. Be sure to get the word “giants” from the kids.]
  • Since these pretend insects are bigger than real insects, can we say that they are “exaggerated”? Bigger than they really are? [Yes]

Bible Lesson for the Twelve Spies:

All of the people of Israel were organized by tribe. Remember, Jacob had twelve sons. One of those sons, Levi, would be given the responsibility of the tabernacle and given certain cities within each tribe. There is not a tribe of Joseph. But there were the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh. These were the names of the two sons of Joseph. So Joseph, because of his obedience, was granted a double portion of the nation through his sons.

{The following chart is a mnemonic to help remember the names of the twelve tribes. Challenge the kids to memorize the twelve names.}

12tribes{Ask:}

  • Who can name all of the twelve tribes? [They probably won’t be able to.]
  • Who can name at least one of the sons of Jacob? [Joseph, might name Reuben or Judah if they remember the story of Joseph being sold into slavery.]

When the Israelites were at Mt. Sinai, Moses needed to get the people organized. Remember, God is making a great nation. IN order to have a great nation, there needs to be people. Those people need to be organized. God gave them laws and Moses counted the people. He had all of the people gather by families, or tribes. Each tribe was named after one of the sons of Jacob.

S. J. BEDMIZAN is going to help us to remember the twelve tribes. Because the people needed to be organized, or managed, S. J. BEDMIZAN is a manager, or MGR.

{Read through all the names of the tribes. Ask:}

  • What do you notice about these names? Are these all the names? [There is no tribe of Joseph. There is also no tribe of Levi shown. Manasseh is listed two times.]

There is no tribe of Joseph. When Jacob was dying, he blessed each of his sons. Joseph received a double portion of the blessing and so his sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, are listed as two separate tribes. When the tribes eventually settle in the Promised Land, Manasseh received a double portion of land.

The tribes are organized and the people travel to Kadesh. God told Moses to send 12 spies into the Promised Land to scout it out. One spy was to come from each tribe. You know the spy Hoshea well. Moses changed his name to Joshua. Name changing is important! This shows us the God is going to do something amazing with Joshua. Another well known spy is Caleb. He came from the tribe of Judah.

The spies were gone 40 days.

{This next part is a wonderful passage to dramatize with your voice. Talk as the ten spies and then have Joshua and Caleb respond. Model the conversation and then add in the response of the Israelites.}

When they returned, the spies reported to the people that the land was just as God described. There was wonderful land! The fruit was magnificent! In fact two men carried back a huge cluster of grapes!

Joshua and Caleb: Let’s go take the land!!

10 other spies: No! There are large cities and the people are GIANTS!!

They recommended NOT going into the Promised Land. But the other 2 spies, Joshua and Caleb encouraged the people to go and take the land.

Joshua and Caleb:God is on our side! Let us go up at once! Do not rebel or fear! The Lord is with us!

10 Spies and the People: No!

Caleb and Joshua tore their clothes in agony. The Israelites were in the process of picking up stones to hurl at Joshua and Caleb when a heavenly voice called out and God’s glory appeared in the tabernacle.

That voice condemned the Hebrew people for their disobedience. As a consequence of their bad choice to not go into the land, the Hebrews would be required to wander the desert for 40 years. All of the Israelites would die, and their children would be the ones to receive the blessing of the Promise Land. All would die, except for 2 men: Caleb and Joshua.

Life Application of the Twelve Spies:

{Show the grasshopper.}

The ten spies who led the rebellion against Moses, Joshua, and Caleb said that Israel people were like grasshoppers compared to the giants of the land.

  • Do you think the ten spies were exaggerating? [Yes]

Sometimes when we face a hard situation we think we are too little, too unintelligent, or too talent-less to do the job. We think we are grasshopper compared to the giant we are facing. We exaggerate the situation and make it larger than it really is. We forget that God already won the victory.

Joshua and Caleb continued to encourage the Hebrew people and reminded them that God was on their side. Taking the land was going to be hard work, but God was on their side. They couldn’t lose!

But the people rebelled and disobeyed God. Consequently, they died in the wilderness.

Obedience is a big deal to God. In scripture, God tells us that if we love Him, then we will keep, or obey, His commandments. Disobedience is sin and will have consequences just as the Hebrews received a consequence. On the other hand, obedience comes with rewards. Not necessarily rewards here on earth, although God certainly does bless those who love and obey Him, but obedience definitely means heavenly rewards.

The Bible tells us something wonderful about Caleb. It says that he had a different spirit in him and that he followed God fully. Isn’t that what you want? If you have faith in Jesus, then you have a different spirit inside you, the Holy Spirit. And when we follow Jesus by obeying Him, then we follow Him fully.

What can we learn from the Twelve Spies and the Wandering? We need to be like Joshua and Caleb who were ready to obey God even if the fight was going to be hard. We do not want to be like the other ten spies who rebelled and encouraged others to disobey God as well.

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