We are studying Numbers 14:10-20 for Sunday, September 29. This is the next part of the story of the Israelites NOT entering the land right away – the part where God forgives them for not wanting to go ahead with the project. [Study notes on the text are here.] Here are a few questions about the text we might want to think about ahead of time, or discuss in class:
V10 mentions that “the glory of YHWH appeared” in the tent of meeting. The glory of YHWH is a sure sign of God’s presence; its appearance seems to imply that the Israelites don’t always see this particular sign, although they have seen it before. How important is it to have a sign of God’s presence, do we think? Why is that?
[More personal] What do we take as a sign, or signs, of God’s presence? What signifies God’s presence for us? How important is our awareness of God’s presence for us? What patterns do we notice in that awareness? What are our thoughts about that?
What do we understand God to be angry about in v11, do we think? (That is, do we think it is the Israelites’ disobedience, or ingratitude, or lack of trust, or … what?) Why do we think that? (For instance, something in the text, something we have heard along the way, …what?) What difference does it make what we think here? What would be the consequences of thinking one thing rather than another?
[More personal] Does thinking this way affect the way we act in our own lives? How? Why is that?
[A lot more personal] If we had been Moses, how appealing would God’s proposal in v12 have been? Why?
What does Moses’s effort to persuade God to forgive the Israelites tell us about Moses? What does the fact that God forgives the Israelites tell us about God?
How do we feel about that? (That is, are we comfortable with this information about God, uncomfortable, what?) Why is that, do we think?
Moses’s intercessory prayer makes a difference in the outcome of the story. How does that part of the story support, or challenge, our understanding of prayer? Why is that, do we think?
[More personal] Have we ever been in a position to intercede for someone? Were we aware of how that turned out? How did that turn out?
God forgives the Israelites in v20, and also imposes some consequences on the Israelites. Do we think God’s actions towards the Israelites are like God’s actions towards us, or towards others? Why, or why not?
What are the implications of this story for us, do we think? Why do we think that? What will we do about that, do we think? Why?