Two Brave Spies
TEXT: Numbers 13:17-33; 14:1-9, 36-38
- supplemental scriptures
The students will be able to explain that because Joshua and Caleb trusted God, the report they brought back was that God was well able to give them the land.
- memory verse
Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. — Proverbs 3:5
- bible lesson outline
Introduction: Before opening your class session, put 12 round stickers on a sheet of paper. (If using white stickers, put them on a colored sheet of construction paper. If colored stickers are used, a white background paper would be appropriate.) As you begin your class time, explain to your group that today you are going to talk about 12 men. Draw features on the 12 stickers, describing the characteristics of the 12 spies as you do so. On 10 of the stickers, draw scared or unhappy features. On two stickers, make smiling faces. Ask your class: "What made these two men different?"
- The sticker faces represent 12 men who were sent to spy out the land of Canaan.
- Ten of the spies, though they recognized the good things about the land they saw, were afraid of the strength of the people that lived there, and the walled cities.
- Joshua and Caleb said that they were well able to overcome the inhabitants of the land with the help of the Lord.
- The Children of Israel chose to believe the report of the ten spies, rather than that of Joshua and Caleb.
Climax: God brought judgment on the ten spies and all the Children of Israel above twenty years of age, and they perished in the wilderness and were not allowed to go into the promised land. Joshua and Caleb were able to go in.
Conclusion: The voice of the majority is not always right. It is better to trust the Lord than in the thinking of man.
Response: The students will be able to relate the story of the 12 spies and explain that a courageous stand for the right will always be honored by God.
- background information
Although Joshua and Caleb recognized the strength of the Canaanites and the greatness of the walled cities, they did not despair as did the other ten spies, because their focus was not on the problems but on the power of God. Caleb stilled the people and declared, "Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it" (Numbers 13:30). As a consequence for their courageous stand the people wanted to stone them to death, but their faith did not go unheeded by God. Moses announced to the congregation that of all the people twenty years or older only those two would enter the Promised Land (Numbers 14:30). Joshua went on to become the leader in Moses' stead, and Caleb received the special promise that he and his seed would be given the land into which he went "because he had another spirit with him, and [had] followed [God] fully" (Numbers 14:24).
Although he had to spend the next forty years listening to the complaining of the people, enduring their backslidings, and watching all his contemporaries die, when the time came to reenter the promised land, Caleb still had the same vigorous faith and was able to say, "As yet I am as strong this day as I was in the day that Moses sent me . . . Now therefore give me this mountain . . ." (Joshua 14:11-12).
- in-class activities
- Have a treasure hunt in the classroom. Hide clues. The children are to act as spies and seek the hidden treasure according to the clues, as spies would do.
- Trace the cluster of grapes onto meat trays, tagboard, or some other heavy paper (see Patterns). The paper should be green or purple, or you might want to use white so the children can color the grapes. Poke holes around the grapes where indicated. Use a contrasting color of yarn to lace through the holes. For a simple "needle" use a bobby pin and tie the yarn to the curved end.
- Make a tile puzzle for each of your students (see Patterns). You can make these from real tiles or cut them from heavy paper. There are many pairs and opposites in this story; i.e., Moses/Aaron, 12/spies, milk/honey, good/bad. You might want to work together with your class as they match the puzzle pieces or let the children race to see who can be the first to match all their tiles. When the puzzles are together, talk about what each matching set of words stands for.
- Make two pretend report cards which the spies might have filled out regarding the land of Canaan. Fill out the first card as the ten spies might have filled it out, making favorable marks for each category, but under the section marked "Remarks" writing that the cities were high walled, the people strong, and thus the recommendation would be to leave the area and go elsewhere. Fill out the other card as Joshua and Caleb would have done, marking favorable responses for each category, but under the "Remarks" section writing "With God's help we are well able to take the land." Categories for marking could include: scenery, space available, fruitfulness of land, quality of ground, development of urban areas.
- Why were the two spies different from the others?
- Did the two spies who brought the good report see all the bad things too? Why were they not afraid?
- How does God feel about fearful, doubting people?
- How do we know that we can trust God to help us even when everything seems really bad?
- Whose report would you have believed if you had been there? Why?
- What are some problems you face? Is God able to help you through these problems?
- pre-school suggestions
- Make a bean bag game with yes and no questions for the children. Have enough questions so each one has a chance to answer and win a small prize (sticker, balloon, etc.). Make the questions simple; for example, Did the spies find milk and honey in Canaan land? Was Moses one of the spies? Use a cupcake pan and put one question in each section. Let the children take turns tossing the small bean bag into the pan and answering their question. (Teacher: At this young age it is okay if they drop it from close range.)
- Give each child a blank sheet of drawing paper. Set out crayons for all to use. Have the children draw pictures of some things the spies found in the Land of Canaan. Let them tell about their pictures. Then they may take them home or display them in a place that you have prepared.
- Use the flip chart of the Two Brave Spies to tell the story (see Patterns).
- Let the children make a mobile of three good things that the 12 spies found in the Land of Canaan (see Patterns).
- review ideas
Use a broomstick or closet pole. Blow up green balloons and attach them to the stick as grapes. Inside each balloon have a question pertaining to the lesson. Have two boys come up to hold the ends of the cluster of grapes. Divide the department into two teams and have them take turns popping a balloon with a pin and answering the question inside. Reward the winning team.
Make a paper chain. On each link of the chain have a question written pertaining to the lesson. Give each question a point value of one to five depending on its difficulty. Have each child pick a question from one end of the chain. If they answer correctly they are rewarded according to the point value.
Make the dramatic highlight of your review with two students bringing in a large cluster of grapes on a pole. The grapes could be green or purple balloons tied together.
Let two students be prepared to be the spies. Let the rest of your group interview them about what they found in the land they went to see.