Sunday School lessons for Gospel Doctrine Class

Thursday, April 26, 2018

“Look to God and Live”


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If you began walking in a straight line while looking backwards, do you think it would be difficult? Would you wonder off the path from your straight line? How far do you think you could go before wondering from the straight line? Would it be hard for you to press forward to the future while looking backwards at what you once knew?  

In many ways This description of walking while looking back can be compared to the Israelites' journey from Egypt.  Despite the blessings the Israelites received from the Lord, their fear and lack of faith often caused them to wish they had not left Egypt and this yearning for Egypt delayed and complicated their journey to the promised land.  What could have taken them eleven days to travel took forty years due to their lack of faith. 

The book of Numbers takes the children of Israel from Sinai to Canaan. The period of wilderness wanderings described in the book of Numbers lasted for about thirty-eight years and nine months. Why such a long period to transverse such a relatively short distance? One group of scholars has written: "The journey from Sinai to Kadeshbarnea by way of the Gulf of Aqaba takes only eleven days (Deut. 1:2). The direct route would be but a few days less, and by way of Edom and Moab hardly more than a couple of weeks. Numbers makes clear that the thirty-eight-year period was punishment for lack of faith, so none of the unbelieving generation would enter the land (cf. Deut. 1:35f.)." 1  (Studies in Scripture Vol 3 Robert Millet) 

Are we that way in our life?  Does it take us longer, or do we make things harder because we fear and lack the faith to trust in the Lord?  Today we study the journey of the Israelites to help us overcome those desires and fears of the world and look to the Savior and his prophets for guidance so that we may stay on the course, the straight line, and not be deceived but be safe in the Gospel.  

The Book of Numbers

The book of Numbers is an account of the census and organization of the migrating tribes of Israel and an overview of some of the tribulations suffered by them as they traveled in the wilderness toward the land of promise. They were to endeavor by obedience to the law to become "a peculiar treasure" unto the Lord, "a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation" (Ex. 19:5-6). They suffered because they repeatedly lapsed into doubt, insecurity, and complaints about their condition rather than trusting constantly in the Lord and humbly supplicating him for the satisfaction of their needs. They knew that God lives and had helped them many times but fell to doubting and wondering whether he would help again. Thus even today we may learn applicable lessons from Numbers. 

The history of most of Israel's forty-year sojourn in the wilderness is covered in the book of Numbers. Exodus ended at the dedication of the tabernacle at Sinai during the first month of the second year, and Numbers begins with events on the first day of the second month (Ex. 40:17; Num. 1:1). Numbers ends, and Deuteronomy begins, during the fortieth year after Israel left Egypt (Num. 33:38-49; Deut. 1:1-5).

Many later scriptures allude to events recorded in the books of Moses. Psalm 105 reviews events from Genesis and Exodus; Psalm 106, from Exodus and Numbers. Psalm 107 generalizes about people's struggles and hopes as they sought the land of promise; it tells of their blessings when they turned to repentance and faith in the Lord. In the New Testament, Hebrews 3:7-19 reviews history and lessons from the book of Numbers. Indeed, some one hundred twenty items quoted in the New Testament are from the books of Moses (BD, "Quotations").  (Old Testament Student Manual) 

Part 1.  Numbers 11 The Lord answers the Israelites’ desire for meat by sending them quail and smiting them with a plague.

In Numbers 11. The Israelites complain about the manna and desire to eat meat (11:1–9). Moses asks the Lord for guidance and for help in bearing his burdens (11:10–15). As instructed by the Lord, Moses gathers 70 elders to assist him (11:16–17, 24–30). The Lord answers the Israelites’ desire for meat by sending them an overabundance of quail and smiting them with a plague because of their greed and overindulgence (11:18–23, 31–35).

One of the more obvious lessons to be learned through Moses' experience with wayward Israel is that signs and wonders do not insure conversion or obedience. God saw fit to perform miracle after miracle to deliver Israel from Egyptian bondage, and to preserve his chosen people from death in the deserts. But the people were hardened in their hearts and were neither moved nor motivated for any length of time by the supernatural. A modern revelation has affirmed that "faith cometh not by signs, but signs follow those that believe" (D&C 63:9). In a sense, the story in Numbers is a dramatic but tragic drama, a story of unrequited love. On the one hand we witness the hesed of the Lord, his infinite kindness and covenant love for his covenant people; he literally would not let Israel go (see Jacob 6:4-5). On the other hand, we witness Israel's difficulty with receiving and appreciating God's offer to make of her his peculiar treasure, his holy nation of kings and priests, queens and priestesses (see Ex. 19:5-6). In addition, Jehovah straitened his people for their rebellion and chastened them for their failure to heed his word and the directives of his anointed servants. (Studies in Scripture Vol 3 Robert L Millet)

Even though manna was a great blessing from the Lord, the Israelites began to complain about it. The people's complaints were sometimes burdensome, especially when they showed ingratitude. When they complained about manna and wished for the succulent and flavorful foods of Egypt (Num. 11:4-5), both Moses and the Lord were exasperated, and Moses cried out for help to bear his leadership burdens (Num. 11:14-15).

4 And the mixed multitude that was among them fell a lusting: and the children of Israel also wept again, and said, Who shall give us flesh to eat?
5 We remember the fish, which we did eat in Egypt freely; the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks, and the onions, and the garlick:
6 But now our soul is dried away: there is nothing at all, beside this manna, before our eyes.
7 And the manna was as coriander seed, and the colour thereof as the colour of bdellium.
8 And the people went about, and gathered it, and ground it in mills, or beat it in a mortar, and baked it in pans, and made cakes of it: and the taste of it was as the taste of fresh oil.
9 And when the dew fell upon the camp in the night, the manna fell upon it.
10 Then Moses heard the people weep throughout their families, every man in the door of his tent: and the anger of the Lord was kindled greatly; Moses also was displeased.
What prompted their complaint?   Numbers 11:4–5  they began to think about and desire the meat and other food they had eaten in Egypt. 
What are the dangers of wanting more than we already have?  We can become greedy, lustful, or spoiled and forget to be humble and grateful.  
The Israelites became so lustful for meat that they lost their focus on the promised land and began to wish they had not left Egypt (Numbers 11:4–6
What are some modern-day examples of people giving up great blessings in order to satisfy immediate desires?  Not paying tithing to have extra money, not attending Sunday meetings and working overtime or volunteering to work, or to make it a Sunday funday...disagreeing with or blaming the Prophet or leaders of the church or wards for our problems or troubles of the world...
Why do people do this? How can we overcome such temptations?
How did the Lord answer the Israelites’ desire for meat?   Numbers 11:18–20, 31–33
18 And say thou unto the people, Sanctify yourselves against to morrow, and ye shall eat flesh: for ye have wept in the ears of the Lord, saying, Who shall give us flesh to eat? for it was well with us in Egypt: therefore the Lord will give you flesh, and ye shall eat.
19 Ye shall not eat one day, nor two days, nor five days, neither ten days, nor twenty days;
20 But even a whole month, until it come out at your nostrils, and it be loathsome unto you: because that ye have despised the Lord which is among you, and have wept before him, saying, Why came we forth out of Egypt?
Moses became so burdened by the sins of the Israelites that he asked the Lord to take his life Numbers 11:14–15
14 I am not able to bear all this people alone, because it is too heavy for me.
15 And if thou deal thus with me, kill me, I pray thee, out of hand, if I have found favour in thy sight; and let me not see my wretchedness.
If ever there was a person who deserved exaltation strictly on the basis of patient endurance, such a one was Moses the Lawgiver. The children of Israel had spent centuries in Egyptian bondage and had become accustomed to the ways and whims of their taskmasters. Slavery was an abominable life, but it did have advantages: life was simple, daily bread was provided, and one could easily predict the events to transpire. Deliverance from captivity was glorious, but (to the Israelites) it did have its drawbacks: "Who shall give us flesh [meat] to eat? We remember the fish, which we did eat in Egypt freely; the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks [onion-like plants], and the onions, and the garlik: But now our soul is dried away: there is nothing at all, beside this manna, before our eyes" (Num. 11:4-6). The patience of both Moses and Jehovah was certainly tried to the limit during the wilderness wanderings. Moses began to ask: Why have you given me such burdens? Are these my children? Have I borne them, and if not, why am I responsible to take them to the land of their inheritance? Bending under the weight of their murmurings, Moses sighed: "I am not able to bear all this people alone, because it is too heavy for me" (see Num. 11:5-14).  (Studies in Scripture Vol 3 Robert L Millet)
How did the Lord give him relief?   Numbers 11:16–17   Seventy men were called to assist Moses.  
16 And the Lord said unto Moses, Gather unto me seventy men of the elders of Israel, whom thou knowest to be the elders of the people, and officers over them; and bring them unto the tabernacle of the congregation, that they may stand there with thee.
17 And I will come down and talk with thee there: and I will take of the spirit which is upon thee, and will put it upon them; and they shall bear the burden of the people with thee, that thou bear it not thyself alone.
The Lord wisely determined to share the burden of leadership. Moses was instructed to select seventy elders of Israel and "bring them unto the tabernacle of the congregation, that they may stand there with thee." The Lord continued: "And I will come down and talk with thee there: and I will take of the spirit which is upon thee, and will put it upon them; and they shall bear the burden of the people with thee, that thou bear it not thyself alone" (Num. 11:16-17). The Lord then assured Moses that he would provide meat for the Israelites the next day...(Studies in Scripture Vol 3 Robert L Millet)
What great blessings did these men receive?  Numbers 11:24–29.
24 And Moses went out, and told the people the words of the Lord, and gathered the seventy men of the elders of the people, and set them round about the tabernacle.
25 And the Lord came down in a cloud, and spake unto him, and took of the spirit that was upon him, and gave it unto the seventy elders: and it came to pass, that, when the spirit rested upon them, they prophesied, and did not cease.
26 But there remained two of the men in the camp, the name of the one was Eldad, and the name of the other Medad: and the spirit rested upon them; and they were of them that were written, but went not out unto the tabernacle: and they prophesied in the camp.
27 And there ran a young man, and told Moses, and said, Eldad and Medad do prophesy in the camp.
28 And Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of Moses, one of his young men, answered and said, My lord Moses, forbid them.
29 And Moses said unto him, Enviest thou for my sake? would God that all the Lord’s people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his spirit upon them!
“In answer to Moses’ request for help, seventy men were chosen and endowed with the ‘spirit that was upon him’ (i.e., upon Moses; it means they were endowed with some of the same authority and spiritual gifts) so that they were able also to ‘prophesy.’ When some people objected that two of the men were prophesying who did not come out for the ceremony of installation, Moses said wishfully, ‘Would God that all the Lord’s people were prophets and that the Lord would put his Spirit upon them!’ He refused to forbid them to prophesy.
“(Note that we live in a dispensation when all members of the congregation of the Lord may have the gift of prophecy, and other gifts, by virtue of the fact that all who are baptized are given the ‘Gift of the Holy Ghost.’ Probably some of us do not exercise it however.)
“On such spiritual gifts in Paul’s time, see I Corinthians 12:4–10.” (Rasmussen, Introduction to the Old Testament, 1:115.)
In this material is another evidence of Moses’ greatness. Some leaders would be threatened if subordinates evidenced gifts and abilities similar to their own because then their own status and position would be jeopardized. Not so with Moses. In answer to Joshua’s complaint, Moses asked, “Enviest thou for my sake?” (Numbers 11:29). Not only was he not threatened by this remarkable sharing of his spiritual power, but he expressed the desire to have every single Israelite share the same power with him.  (Old Testament Student Manual) 
Part 2 Numbers 12 The Lord chastens Miriam and Aaron for speaking against Moses
In Numbers 12  Miriam and Aaron speak against Moses, complaining about his marriage to an Ethiopian woman and challenging him as their presiding authority (12:1–3). The Lord chastens and punishes Miriam and Aaron for their murmuring (12:4–16).
Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses as their presiding authority, pointing out that they too had received revelation Numbers 12:2 
According to Josephus, when Moses was a general of the Egyptian army in the attack against the Ethiopians, he married an Ethiopian woman as a political alliance to end the war (see Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, bk. 2, chap. 10, par. 1).
The ostensible reason for Miriam’s and Aaron’s complaining was that the Ethiopians were non-Israelite descendants of Cush. The real reason for the complaint, however, seems to have been jealousy motivated by Moses’ position as spiritual leader and prophet of Israel.
“This elevation of Moses excited envy on the part of his brother and sister, whom God had also richly endowed and placed so high, that Miriam was distinguished as a prophetess above all the women of Israel, whilst Aaron had been raised by his investiture with the high-priesthood into the spiritual head of the whole nation. But the pride of the natural heart was not satisfied with this. They would dispute with their brother Moses the pre-eminence of his special calling and his exclusive position, which they might possibly regard themselves as entitled to contest with him not only as his brother and sister, but also as the nearest supporters of his vocation. Miriam was the instigator of the open rebellion, as we may see both from the fact that her name stands before that of Aaron, and also from the use of the feminine verb.” (Keil and Delitzsch, Commentary, 1:3:75.)  (Old Testament Student Manual)
What was the Lord’s reply to their complaint?  Numbers 12:5–9
5 And the Lord came down in the pillar of the cloud, and stood in the door of the tabernacle, and called Aaron and Miriam: and they both came forth.
6 And he said, Hear now my words: If there be a prophet among you, I the Lord will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream.
7 My servant Moses is not so, who is faithful in all mine house.
8 With him will I speak mouth to mouth, even apparently, and not in dark speeches; and the similitude of the Lord shall he behold: wherefore then were ye not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?
9 And the anger of the Lord was kindled against them; and he departed.
What are the limits to our right to receive revelation?  Elder James E. Faust said: “The prophets, seers, and revelators have had and still have the responsibility and privilege of receiving and declaring the word of God for the world. Individual members, parents, and leaders have the right to receive revelation for their own responsibility but have no duty nor right to declare the word of God beyond the limits of their own responsibility” (Conference Report, Oct. 1989, 9; or Ensign, Nov. 1989, 8)
Today some members of the Church fall into a similar trap. Because the Lord blesses them with the gifts of the Spirit, they think that they have equal or superior status to the presiding priesthood authority. Soon they are led into apostasy if they do not humble themselves and submit to the Lord’s servants called to preside. Even if Moses’ wish had been granted and every soul in Israel had received the gift of prophecy (see Numbers 11:29), Moses would still have been the one chosen by the Lord to preside. One question that arises is, Why was only Miriam, and not Aaron, punished with leprosy when both had participated in the opposition? There are two possible reasons. First, as Keil and Delitzsch pointed out, Miriam was the instigator of the attack on Moses’ right to preside. Thus, her sin was the more grievous. Second, for Aaron to seek priesthood leadership demonstrated pride and self-aggrandizement. He aspired to a position to which he had not been called. When Miriam sought that position, she not only demonstrated pride but also sought to set up an order contrary to God’s system of government. From the beginning, the priesthood callings and the right to preside were given to men. Miriam’s attempt to achieve equality with Moses was a serious breach of that divinely instituted system of order.  (Old Testament Student Manual) 
The Lord chastened and punished Miriam and Aaron for complaining about Moses’ marriage to an Ethiopian woman. Numbers 12:1, 9–10
1 And Miriam and Aaron spake against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married: for he had married an Ethiopian woman.
9 And the anger of the Lord was kindled against them; and he departed.
10 And the cloud departed from off the tabernacle; and, behold, Miriam became leprous, white as snow: and Aaron looked upon Miriam, and, behold, she was leprous
 "given the high and holy position of Moses in regard to the Eternal One—the Lord inquired of Miriam and Aaron, "were ye not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?" (Num. 12:8). The Lord's anger was kindled against the two, for these (above all others, being closest to Moses) should have known better; the heavens expected finer things from them. Miriam was stricken with leprosy, 21 in this case an outward evidence of inward uncleanness. After pleadings by Aaron, intercession by Moses, and the prescribed seven days outside the camp, Miriam was released from the dreaded disease (Num. 12:10-16). And no doubt she and Aaron were released from the more serious disease—rebellion. Presumably they came to appreciate in a dramatic way that one "is not truly converted until he sees the power of God resting upon the leaders of this Church, and until it goes down into his heart like fire." (Studies in Scripture Vol 3 Robert L Millet)
How are we affected when we criticize Church leaders? Doing so drives the spirit away and allows the adversary in who can eventually take one over...
How can our criticism of Church leaders affect our family and friends?  My personal experience with this is quite heartbreaking.  My brother severely criticizes the leaders and prophet, and has become a member of a group that makes its duty to lead all astray from the leaders and the church.  In the past he has even made fun of me and my faith, and more recently when I refused to denounce the church and its leaders, it tour us apart...
Numbers 12:3 says that “Moses was very meek.” What does it mean to be meek?
President Gordon B. Hinckley said, “Meekness implies a spirit of gratitude as opposed to an attitude of self-sufficiency, an acknowledgment of a greater power beyond oneself, a recognition of God, and an acceptance of his commandments” (“With All Thy Getting Get Understanding,” Ensign, Aug. 1988, 3–4)
How did Moses show his meekness when Miriam was punished for rebelling against him?  Numbers 12:13–15  Rather than being pleased with his authority to preside over his sister, he pleaded with the Lord to heal her. He and his people postponed their journey until she was healed.
13 And Moses cried unto the Lord, saying, Heal her now, O God, I beseech thee.
14 And the Lord said unto Moses, If her father had but spit in her face, should she not be ashamed seven days? let her be shut out from the camp seven days, and after that let her be received in again.
15 And Miriam was shut out from the camp seven days: and the people journeyed not till Miriam was brought in again.
How can we be meek, even when people criticize or turn against us?
How does it help us to respond to criticism with meekness?
Part 3 Numbers 13–14. Moses instructs 12 men to search the land of Canaan
In Numbers 13–14. Moses instructs 12 men to search the land of Canaan (13:1–20; note that “Jehoshua” in verse 16 is a form of the name Joshua). They return with favorable reports of the land’s resources, but all except Joshua and Caleb fear the inhabitants and desire to return to Egypt (13:21–14:10). The Lord tells Moses that the faithless and complaining Israelites will wander in the wilderness 40 years, until all of the adult generation are dead but Joshua and Caleb (14:11–39).
When the Israelites reached the border of the land of Canaan, Moses sent 12 men to search the land, its resources, and its people Numbers 13:17–20
17 And Moses sent them to spy out the land of Canaan, and said unto them, Get you up this way southward, and go up into the mountain:
18 And see the land, what it is; and the people that dwelleth therein, whether they be strong or weak, few or many;
19 And what the land is that they dwell in, whether it be good or bad; and what cities they be that they dwell in, whether in tents, or in strong holds;
20 And what the land is, whether it be fat or lean, whether there be wood therein, or not. And be ye of good courage, and bring of the fruit of the land. Now the time was the time of the firstripe grapes
As the people of Israel approached the land of Canaan the Lord commanded that men be sent into the promised land as spies (Num. 13:1-20). One representative from each tribe received the assignment to "see the land, what it is; and the people that dwelleth therein, whether they be strong or weak, few or many; And what the land is that they dwell in, whether it be good or bad; and what cities they be that they dwell in, whether in tents, or in strong holds" (Num. 13:18-19). They were told to discover whether the land was productive, and, further, to "bring [back] of the fruit of the land" (Num. 13:20).  (Studies in Scripture Vol 3 Robert L Millet)
What report did they bring of the land’s resources? Numbers 13:23–27
23 And they came unto the brook of Eshcol, and cut down from thence a branch with one cluster of grapes, and they bare it between two upon a staff; and they brought of the pomegranates, and of the figs.
24 The place was called the brook Eshcol, because of the cluster of grapes which the children of Israel cut down from thence.
25 And they returned from searching of the land after forty days.
26 And they went and came to Moses, and to Aaron, and to all the congregation of the children of Israel, unto the wilderness of Paran, to Kadesh; and brought back word unto them, and unto all the congregation, and shewed them the fruit of the land.
27 And they told him, and said, We came unto the land whither thou sentest us, and surely it floweth with milk and honey; and this is the fruit of it.
What did the 10 men besides Caleb and Joshua report about the people who lived in Canaan?  Numbers 13:28–33
28 Nevertheless the people be strong that dwell in the land, and the cities are walled, and very great: and moreover we saw the children of Anak there.
29 The Amalekites dwell in the land of the south: and the Hittites, and the Jebusites, and the Amorites, dwell in the mountains: and the Canaanites dwell by the sea, and by the coast of Jordan.
30 And Caleb stilled the people before Moses, and said, Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it.
31 But the men that went up with him said, We be not able to go up against the people; for they are stronger than we.
32 And they brought up an evil report of the land which they had searched unto the children of Israel, saying, The land, through which we have gone to search it, is a land that eateth up the inhabitants thereof; and all the people that we saw in it are men of a great stature.
33 And there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, which come of the giants: and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight.
 Ten of the spies felt the people of the land of Canaan too formidable to be conquered;... The congregation of Israel, lacking in faith, accepted the report and recommendation of the ten spies, began to murmur again against Moses, and cried out: "Would God that we had died in the land of Egypt! or would God we had died in this wilderness!" (Num. 14:2). The people began plans to return to Egypt.   (Studies in Scripture Vol 3 Robert L Millet)
At this point in history, Israel was just a few months out of Egypt, and they had been given the law of God. The Lord indicated that it was then time to go in and possess the promised land. He commanded that a reconnaissance group be sent into Canaan to reconnoiter the land. The evidence of the richness of the land was irrefutable, and the spies even brought back a cluster of grapes carried on a staff between two men to demonstrate the beauty and richness of the produce (see Numbers 13:23). Yet the spies, except for Joshua and Caleb, reported that, despite the richness of the land, there was no hope for driving out the inhabitants. The exaggerated tone of their negative report shows in the use of such words as “very great,” the land “eateth up the inhabitants thereof,” “all the people … are men of great stature,” “we saw the giants,” “we were … as grasshoppers” (vv. 28, 32–33; emphasis added).  Such an exaggerated report of itself was bad enough and demonstrated the lack of faith of the ten men who gave it. But the national tragedy began when Israel hearkened to their report. They openly rejected the numerous evidences of God’s power that had been almost daily fare and began to cry out that it would have been better for them never to have left Egypt. Nor did the murmuring stop there. A movement was started to reject Moses and choose a leader that would take them back to Egypt (see Numbers 14:4 and Nehemiah 9:17, which suggest that they actually chose the leaders who would take them back)  (Old Testament Student Manual)

How do some of us make the same error as these 10 men? President Gordon B. Hinckley said:  “Ten of the spies were victims of their own doubts and fears. They gave a negative report of the numbers and stature of the Canaanites. … They compared themselves as grasshoppers to the giants they had seen in the land. …“We see some around us who are indifferent concerning the future of this work, who are apathetic, who speak of limitations, who express fears, who spend their time digging out and writing about what they regard to be weaknesses which really are of no consequence. With doubt concerning its past, they have no vision concerning its future” (Conference Report, Oct. 1995, 93–94; or Ensign, Nov. 1995, 71)
How did the report of Caleb and Joshua differ from the report of the other 10 men?  Numbers 13:30; 14:6–9.
30 And Caleb stilled the people before Moses, and said, Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it.
6 And Joshua the son of Nun, and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, which were of them that searched the land, rent their clothes:
7 And they spake unto all the company of the children of Israel, saying, The land, which we passed through to search it, is an exceeding good land.
8 If the Lord delight in us, then he will bring us into this land, and give it us; a land which floweth with milk and honey.
9 Only rebel not ye against the Lord, neither fear ye the people of the land; for they are bread for us: their defence is departed from them, and the Lord is with us: fear them not.
Caleb of the tribe of Judah and Joshua of the tribe of Ephraim, on the other hand, said: "Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it" (Num. 13:30)... Caleb and Joshua—men of both faith and courage—cried out in response: "If the Lord delight in us, then he will bring us into this land, and give it us; a land which floweth with milk and honey. Only rebel not ye against the Lord, neither fear ye the people of the land" (Num. 14:8-9). This was a spirit of faith, an attitude akin to that of Nephi, son of Lehi, who remarked: "If God had commanded me to do all things I could do them" (1 Ne. 17:50). In the same vein Ammon, the son of Mosiah, exulted after marvelous missionary success: "I do not boast in my own strength, nor in my own wisdom. . . . Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things" (Alma 26:11-12; cf. Phil. 4:13). The response of the people of the house of Israel to Caleb and Joshua's appeals? "All the congregation bade stone them with stones."   (Studies in Scripture Vol 3 Robert L Millet)
Why were Caleb and Joshua unafraid of the inhabitants of Canaan?  Numbers 14:9. 
9 Only rebel not ye against the Lord, neither fear ye the people of the land; for they are bread for us: their defence is departed from them, and the Lord is with us: fear them not.
What are some ways that we can follow the example of Caleb and Joshua when we face difficult situations?  President Gordon B. Hinckley said:  “There is no place in this work for those who believe only in the gospel of doom and gloom. The gospel is good news. It is a message of triumph. It is a cause to be embraced with enthusiasm.  “The Lord never said that there would not be troubles. Our people have known afflictions of every sort as those who have opposed this work have come upon them. But faith has shown through all their sorrows. This work has consistently moved forward and has never taken a backward step since its inception. …  “This is an age of pessimism. Ours is a mission of faith. To my brethren and sisters everywhere, I call upon you to reaffirm your faith, to move this work forward across the world. You can make it stronger by the manner in which you live” (Conference Report, Oct. 1995, 94–95; or Ensign, Nov. 1995, 71–72)
How did the congregation react to the words of Caleb and Joshua?   Numbers 14:10
10 But all the congregation bade stone them with stones. And the glory of the Lord appeared in the tabernacle of the congregation before all the children of Israel.
How did the Lord punish the Israelites for their continual murmuring and their desire to return to Egypt? Numbers 14:22–23, 26–35 
22 Because all those men which have seen my glory, and my miracles, which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have tempted me now these ten times, and have not hearkened to my voice;
23 Surely they shall not see the land which I sware unto their fathers, neither shall any of them that provoked me see it:
26 And the Lord spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying,
27 How long shall I bear with this evil congregation, which murmur against me? I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel, which they murmur against me.
28 Say unto them, As truly as I live, saith the Lord, as ye have spoken in mine ears, so will I do to you:
29 Your carcases shall fall in this wilderness; and all that were numbered of you, according to your whole number, from twenty years old and upward, which have murmured against me,
30 Doubtless ye shall not come into the land, concerning which I sware to make you dwell therein, save Caleb the son of Jephunneh, and Joshua the son of Nun.
31 But your little ones, which ye said should be a prey, them will I bring in, and they shall know the land which ye have despised.
32 But as for you, your carcases, they shall fall in this wilderness.
33 And your children shall wander in the wilderness forty years, and bear your whoredoms, until your carcases be wasted in the wilderness.
34 After the number of the days in which ye searched the land, even forty days, each day for a year, shall ye bear your iniquities, even forty years, and ye shall know my breach of promise.
35 I the Lord have said, I will surely do it unto all this evil congregation, that are gathered together against me: in this wilderness they shall be consumed, and there they shall die.
"How long will this people provoke me?" the Lord asked Moses, "and how long will it be ere they believe me, for all the signs which I have shewed among them?" (Num. 14:11). Again we have confirmed the fact that faith in God and a quiet trust in his purposes do not necessarily follow on the heels of signs and miracles (see D&C 63:9). The Lord Jehovah became so irritated with Israel that he proposed to disinherit them as his chosen people and cause his holy nation (in keeping with the promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob) to come through Moses and his posterity. Again the greatness and magnanimity of Moses became evident as he pleaded and interceded: "Pardon, I beseech thee, the iniquity of this people according unto the greatness of thy mercy, and as thou hast forgiven this people, from Egypt even until now" (v. 19). The Lord granted pardon so far as the notion of disinheritance was concerned, but promised instead that no one of the children of Israel over twenty years of age—with the exception of Caleb and Joshua—would live to enter the promised land. "Your children shall wander in the wilderness forty years, and bear your whoredoms, until your carcases be wasted in the wilderness" (v. 33). In addition, the ten spies who brought "the evil report" died in a plague sent by the Lord. The language of a Proverb points up this lesson in the wilderness: "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths" (Prov. 3:5-6).(Studies in Scripture Vol 3 Robert L Millet)
Little wonder that the anger of the Lord was kindled. In a great intercessory prayer, Moses pleaded for mercy for his people (see Numbers 14:13–14). He did not excuse the behavior of his people, but only emphasized the long-suffering mercy of the Lord. Israel was spared destruction but lost the privilege of immediately entering the promised land. For the next thirty-eight years they were to wander in the harsh wilderness of Sinai. During that time they could have conquered the inhabitants of the land of promise, built cities, eaten the fruit of the land flowing “with milk and honey” (Numbers 13:27), and raised their children in comfort and peace. But they would not, and so all above the age of twenty who had repudiated the power of the Lord, except Joshua and Caleb, were to die in the wilderness. (Old Testament Student Manual)
How did he punish the 10 men who delivered the negative report of Canaan?  Numbers 14:36–37 
36 And the men, which Moses sent to search the land, who returned, and made all the congregation to murmur against him, by bringing up a slander upon the land,
37 Even those men that did bring up the evil report upon the land, died by the plague before the Lord.
How did he bless Caleb and Joshua for their faithfulness?  Numbers 14:24, 38
24 But my servant Caleb, because he had another spirit with him, and hath followed me fully, him will I bring into the land whereinto he went; and his seed shall possess it.
38 But Joshua the son of Nun, and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, which were of the men that went to search the land, lived still.
Part 4 Numbers 21:1–9. Moses makes a serpent of brass and tells the people that if they look at it, they will be healed
In Numbers 21:1–9. The Israelites destroy the Canaanites who come against them (21:1–3). The Lord sends fiery serpents as punishment for the Israelites’ incessant complaining (21:4–6). Moses makes a serpent of brass, fastens it to a pole, and tells the people that if they look at it, they will live (21:7–9).
Although the Lord helped the Israelites defeat the attacking Canaanites, the Israelites continued to murmur. As the children of Israel "journeyed from Mount Hor by the way of the Red Sea" to go around Edom, the murmurings of the people began again: "Wherefore have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? for there is no bread, neither is there any water; and our soul loatheth this light bread [manna]" (Num. 21:4-5). 
How did the Lord punish them?  Numbers 21:6
6 And the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died.
How did the Israelites respond to this punishment? Numbers 21:7
After the people realized their plight they pled with Moses to intercede for them. "And the Lord said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: And it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live" (v. 8). Moses obeyed, and those who looked to the brazen serpent lived.

What did the Lord tell Moses to do when Moses asked him to take the fiery serpents away? Numbers 21:8–9.

8 And the Lord said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live.
9 And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived.
  What did each person need to do to be saved from the bites of the fiery serpents? The brazen serpent, like so many incidents in Israel's wanderings and religious life, was a type, an actual historical reality which pointed beyond itself to a greater and more powerful reality. What is remarkable is that these things were known long before Calvary. Nephi the son of Helaman, approximately twenty years before the coming of Christ to earth, spoke of the testimony of Moses regarding the Redeemer. "Yea, did he [Moses] not bear record that the Son of God should come? And as he lifted up the brazen serpent in the wilderness, even so shall he be lifted up who should come." Nephi continued: "And as many as should look upon that serpent should live, even so as many as should look upon the Son of God with faith, having a contrite spirit, might live, even unto that life which is eternal" (Hel. 8:14-15). Alma (ca. 75 B.C.) had made reference to the messianic prophecies of Zenos and Zenock and then affirmed that "these are not the only ones who have spoken concerning the Son of God. Behold, he was spoken of by Moses; yea, and behold a type was raised up in the wilderness, that whosoever would look upon it might live. And many did look and live. But few understood the meaning of those things, and this because of the hardness of their hearts. But there were many who were so hardened that they would not look, therefore they perished. Now the reason they would not look is because they did not believe that it would heal them" (Alma 33:18-20).
Nephi and Alma, two Book of Mormon prophets, taught that many Israelites died because they would not look at the brass serpent. Why didn’t they look?  1 Nephi 17:41; Alma 33:18–20
But there were many who were so hardened that they would not look, therefore they perished. Now the reason they would not look is because they did not believe that it would heal them" (Alma 33:18-20).
‘And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived.’ (Num. 21:7–9.)  “‘How silly,’ some must have said. ‘How can such a thing cure me? I’ll not show my stupidity by paying any attention,’ and some would not look. …“And today many say, ‘How silly! How could accepting Christ save me?’ They will not turn their heads to look nor incline their ears to hear. They ignore the great witness that comes from these conferences. We ought to, indeed we must, heed the counsel of these men, for the Lord said, ‘What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same.’” (Conference Report, Oct. 1968, pp. 75–76.)
Whom did the brass serpent symbolize? John 3:14–16; Helaman 8:13–14
14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:
15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.
16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
13 But, behold, ye not only deny my words, but ye also deny all the words which have been spoken by our fathers, and also the words which were spoken by this man, Moses, who had such great power given unto him, yea, the words which he hath spoken concerning the coming of the Messiah.
14 Yea, did he not bear record that the Son of God should come? And as he lifted up the brazen serpent in the wilderness, even so shall he be lifted up who should come.
Just as the children of Israel needed to look at the brass serpent to live, we need to look to Jesus Christ to receive eternal life.  Alma 37:46–47; Helaman 8:15)
46 O my son, do not let us be slothful because of the easiness of the way; for so was it with our fathers; for so was it prepared for them, that if they would look they might live; even so it is with us. The way is prepared, and if we will look we may live forever.
47 And now, my son, see that ye take care of these sacred things, yea, see that ye look to God and live. Go unto this people and declare the word, and be sober. My son, farewell.
What does it mean to look to Christ?  Helaman 8:15
15 And as many as should look upon that serpent should live, even so as many as should look upon the Son of God with faith, having a contrite spirit, might live, even unto that life which is eternal.
How do many people today make the same error as the Israelites who would not look at the brass serpent?  Alma 33:20.  They do not look to Jesus Christ because they do not believe that doing so can save them.
20 But few understood the meaning of those things, and this because of the hardness of their hearts. But there were many who were so hardened that they would not look, therefore they perished. Now the reason they would not look is because they did not believe that it would heal them.
Elder Carlos E. Asay said: “We, like Israel of old, must rivet our eyes and minds upon … Christ if we hope to gain eternal life. … Our looks must not be allowed to wander across the way or to become fixed upon the perishable things of the world. The eye … must be trained to look upward. We must look to God and live!” (Conference Report, Oct. 1978, 81; or Ensign, Nov. 1978, 54)
Alma taught that just as the way to be healed from the fiery serpents was easy, the way to eternal life is easy.  Alma 37:46  
46 O my son, do not let us be slothful because of the easiness of the way; for so was it with our fathers; for so was it prepared for them, that if they would look they might live; even so it is with us. The way is prepared, and if we will look we may live forever.
In what sense is the way to eternal life easy?
How do some people try to complicate the way to eternal life? Jacob 4:14  They look beyond the simple, saving principles of faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, and obedience.) How can we keep our focus on faith in Christ?
14 But behold, the Jews were a stiffnecked people; and they despised the words of plainness, and killed the prophets, and sought for things that they could not understand. Wherefore, because of their blindness, which blindness came by looking beyond the mark, they must needs fall; for God hath taken away his plainness from them, and delivered unto them many things which they cannot understand, because they desired it. And because they desired it God hath done it, that they may stumble.
Part 5 Numbers 14:4 “Let us return into Egypt” 
What was the response of the Israelites when they were:
Trapped between the Egyptians and the Red Sea?  Exodus 14:10–12
Given nothing to eat but manna?  Numbers 11:4–6, 18–20
Challenged with the task of conquering the land of Canaan? Numbers 14:1–4
Discouraged by the difficult journey in the wilderness?  Numbers 21:4–5
Their response was always to murmur, give up and return to Egypt. 
Why do you think it was so difficult for the Israelites to forsake Egypt?
What are some things that are difficult for us to forsake today?
How can we strengthen each other as we strive to turn away from old habits or worldly attitudes?

Conclusion
The book of Numbers teaches us where we should look for guidance :  
  1. Look to the prophet (Numbers 12)
  2. Look to the promised land—for us, the celestial kingdom (Numbers 13–14)
  3. Look to the Savior (Numbers 21:4–9)

We must look past the things of the world and to be unafraid of the “giants” that distract us from the things that are most important and testify that if we will “look upon the Son of God with faith” (Helaman 8:15) and follow his prophets, we will be blessed in this life and in the life to come.
Resources:  
Ensign
Conference Reports
Old Testament Student Manual Genesis-2 Samuel
Studies in Scripture Vol 3 Robert L Millet






















































Latter-day Saint commentary of the Old Testament Ellis Rassmussen








The Fall of Adam and Eve

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