Here is a complete set of four lessons for…
Joshua and Caleb and the Twelve Spies
Summary of all workshops in this Rotation:
- Drama: The children will go “spying” on 2 scavenger hunts to find props that will help them to tell the Bible Story.
- Art: Create dioramas depicting various scenes from the story.
- Science: Perform several experiments that reinforce the story. (Note: Requires using the book Amazing Science Devotions for Children's Ministry.)
- Games: Some active games to reinforce the content and a “Zonk” game to test their knowledge of the Bible story.
Bible Passage: Numbers 13 and 14
Key Verse/Memory Verse: “…the Lord is with us. Do not be afraid of them” ---Numbers 14: 9b
Joshua and Caleb put their faith and trust in God and His strength and power, while the 10 other spies worried about the superior size and strength of the enemy and the comparative weakness of the people of Israel.
By the end of this Rotation, the students will:
- Find the story in the book of Numbers.
- Understand that God’s way is the right way and that we should trust Him
- Realize that since God is with us, we have nothing to fear.
- Understand that our fears can paralyze us if we rely on ourselves and not God
- Relate the story to scary or upsetting situations in their own lives.
The people of Israel have left Mt. Sinai, where they received the 10 commandments. After some further travels, they camp in the desert of Paran. The Lord tells Moses to send some spies to explore the land of Canaan, which the Lord was giving to Israel. Moses sends one representative from each of the 12 tribes, including Caleb (tribe of Judah) and Hoshea/Joshua (tribe of Ephraim). Moses gives them explicit directives on what they are to find out: numbers and strength of the current inhabitants, towns, fertility of the soil, types of plants and produce. After 40 days, the spies return to give their report.
The group of spies agrees about the goodness of the land and its produce, but then the reports begin to differ. The majority of the spies go on to say that the inhabitants of the Promised Land are powerful and of such great size that “we seemed like grasshoppers”. They spread these bad reports among the people. Caleb has a different opinion—to take possession of the land “for we can certainly do it”. The people of Israel believe the negative reports and complain and rebel against Moses and the Lord. They lacked trust in God and forget about all the miracles that God has already performed on their behalf in the recent past (the plagues, crossing the Red Sea, manna and quail, etc). They said they would rather die in Egypt or in this desert than to go into the Promised Land. Joshua and Caleb remind the people that “the Lord will give it [the land] to us” and “the Lord is with us. Do not be afraid.” These words have no effect on the people. In fact, they were ready to stone Joshua and Caleb, but this did not happen due to the appearance of the “glory of the Lord”.
The Lord is angry at the way the people are treating Him with contempt. He considers striking them all down with a plague, and starting over with Moses to create a faithful nation. Moses appeals to God and His gracious nature not to carry out this threat. The Lord forgives His people, but there are consequences. The people had said that they would rather die in the desert than to be led into Canaan to die by the sword, and this is what happened to them. Everyone who was age 20 or over would die in the desert—the only exceptions were faithful Joshua and Caleb. The people would wander in the desert for 40 years: one year for each day of the spies’ travels, giving enough time for that generation of people to die. The 10 spies who spread the bad report were struck down right away by a plague.
The people go against God’s judgment and try to enter the land of Canaan right away. God is not with them in this venture, and the attempted invasion fails.
There are some points to consider based on this story.
• Joshua and Caleb and the 10 spies saw the same evidence, but had very differing interpretations. Joshua and Caleb were yielded to the Spirit of God, so their interpretation of the problem and their approach to the problem differed from that of the 10 spies.
• The 10 spies were thinking about the superior size and strength of the enemy and the comparative weakness of the people of Israel. Joshua and Caleb put their faith and trust in God and His strength and power.
The Interpreter's Bible. Nashville: Abingdon, 1984. Print.
A lesson set written by folks from St. John Lutheran Church
Forest Park, IL.
For their Rotation program called "Salvation Stations—A Journey of Faith"
A representative of Rotation.org reformatted this post to improve readability.