Lesson Two: Trust in God’s Faithfulness - Exod 3-4, Numbers 13-14, Deut 7, 34
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever!
Hebrews 13:8 (NET)
I am not sure we have many examples of faithfulness today. People used to take pride in being people of their word. Instead, we hear couples speak oaths of faithfulness at their wedding who simply decide they want to be free or happy, forsaking the vows that they made to one another. In the business world executives try to find ways to get around the contractual commitments made when they find those agreements less than profitable. Every day I come across people who do not follow through with the commitments and responsibilities they have agreed to shoulder, even in the church.
God is so different from the world’s norm because he always carries out the promises he has given. He is a faithful God, who can be trusted to fulfill all that he has said in his word. Just as he was faithful to the promises to Abraham that we studied last week, so he will be faithful to his promises to you (Heb. 13:8—learn your memory verse).
1. By way of review, what promises did God make over and over to Abraham, as you saw last week? (Look back at Gen. 12:1-3; 15:13-16.)
God is indeed a God of his word—faithful to fulfill all of his promises. We saw last week that the descendants of Abraham inherited the promises through Isaac, Jacob, and his twelve sons, who founded the twelve tribes of Israel. One of these sons was Joseph, whose story is told in the latter part of Genesis. Although his brothers sold him into slavery in Egypt, that became the means of saving his entire family during a famine. God orchestrated the events so that his word would be fulfilled.
Review Gen. 15:13-14.
2. What did God tell Abraham would happen to his descendants? How did this happen according to Ex. 1:8-14?
Read Exodus 3:1-4, 8-10.
3. What was God’s plan to rescue his people out of slavery in Egypt? (Be sure and write down from which verses you get answers like this so that you can quickly find them again.)
Read Exodus 3:11-4:17.
More light: Write down the arguments/excuses that Moses tried to use with God.
Read Isaiah 6:1-8.
4. Compare Isaiah’s response to God’s call in Is. 6:1-8 to Moses’ response.
5. Sharing question: Is there something God has called you to do as a believer that you have failed to do, but have instead excused yourself, essentially arguing with God? It could be something specific to you or something he calls all believers to do. Be specific and openly confess your failure to your group.
6. Responding to God: Write a prayer of confession over this sin and a prayer of commitment, trusting that God will empower you as he did Moses. Ask for the faith and the courage to obey.
God was at work though Moses to make good the promise of deliverance that he gave Abraham. Moses did go to Egypt and obey God. All that God promised Moses, God performed.
7. List God’s promises to Moses in Ex. 3:19-22.
Exodus 7-10 chronicles nine miraculous plagues that God sent upon Egypt to compel Pharaoh to release the Jewish people. Because the ruler still would not permit them to leave, God sent one last, severe plague on the Egyptians. In it, he provided a beautiful picture of the salvation that he would eventually bring to us in Jesus Christ.
More Light: Read about the plagues in Ex. 7-10, considering the great power of God to make his promises come true.
Read Exodus 12:21-32, 40-41.
8. Describe God’s instructions for the first Passover. What were the people to do? What were the consequences of failing to obey?
9. How did the Passover picture the salvation that we have in Jesus? (Read John 1:29.)
10. Why did God require the Jews to continue observing Passover throughout their generations (v. 42)?
11. Sharing question: Describe a time in your life when you learned firsthand that God is faithful to his promises, or describe a current situation where you need to trust him.
12. Responding to God: Write a prayer or poem of celebration for God’s faithfulness to his word.
After the Jews left Egypt, they spent some time at Mount Sinai receiving God’s law, entering a covenant with him, and building a Tabernacle in which God would dwell in a special sense right in their midst. Just over a year later, they set off for the Land of Promise, called Canaan, the same land God gave to Abraham and his descendants according to his word in Genesis.
It has been estimated that approximately two million Jews were part of this traveling company led by God through a cloud by day and a fire by night.3 They eventually came to the edge of the Promised Land and stopped at Kadesh-Barnea.
Read Numbers 13:1-3, 25-33; 14:1-10, 26-35.
13. What was the report of the ten spies and their advice to the people? How did Caleb and Joshua’s report differ and why?
14. What was the root cause of the disobedience of the Israelites who were unwilling to enter the land promised by God? (See Heb. 3:15-19.) How does that attitude lead to disobedience to God?
15. What consequences followed their disobedience?
The same sin is always at the root of disobedience. Joshua and Caleb saw clearly through the darkness while the other spies could only see the darkness. We, too, can focus on the darkness or on the power and faithfulness of God.
More light: Skim Numbers 15:32-17:12; 20:1-25:18. Note some of the events that happened during this time.
16. Sharing question: In what area do you struggle most to obey God? It could be that you fail to be pure in your thoughts. You may tell white lies to your friends or boss. You may not be faithful to what you say you will do. You may not be content. You may choose to please others rather than God. You may struggle to prioritize giving to God’s kingdom work. There are so many options! We all struggle with specific sins more than others. (Be honest here and be willing to be real with your group. It’s time for Christian women to take off the masks and love one another.) What are you failing to believe about God that leads to this disobedience? Think of a specific characteristic of God that lies at the root of your unbelief. Share it with your group.
17. Responding to God: Confess your disobedience and your unbelief. Ask God for the grace to believe him in the areas where you struggle. Write your thoughts below.
Over and over we have seen God’s faithfulness to his promises. Just as he fulfilled his word to deliver the people from Egypt, so he was faithful to his promise that they would die in the wilderness rather than enter the land. Only those who had been children at the time of the spies’ report were able to possess the Land of Promise.
Once that entire generation died, Moses took the people a second time to the border of the land. There he gave his farewell sermon to the people. In it, he recounted God’s faithfulness and the people’s faithlessness. He gave them God’s final instructions for possessing the land and warned them of the consequences of disobedience.
Read Deut. 7:1-6, 17-23.
More light: Read all of Deut. 7, and write down your thoughts.
18. What did God instruct the people of Israel to do with the inhabitants of the Promised Land? Why? (This will become important when we get to the period of the Judges.)
Consider the situation—the Israelites would not get this land without a fight. They were facing war as they entered the land.
19. How did Moses encourage the people not to fear? What were they to remember (Deut. 7:17-19)?
20. Sharing question: How can you apply this principle? What mighty deeds has God done in your life?
Read Deut. 34:1-12.
21. What happened to Moses before the move into the land?
22. How did God prepare Joshua for leading the people?
23. Responding to God: Thank God that he prepares you for any task that he gives you. Ask him for the insight to see any task that you have left undone out of unbelief and fear. Talk to him about moving forward with that task.
If faith is essential to our lives, we want to grow in our understanding of God so that we do trust him.
24. Look up these verses and write down your insights into God’s character:
a. Deut. 34:5-8
b. Psalm 135:5, 6
c. Psalm 136:1
d. Psalm 147:15
e. 2 Tim. 2:13
f. 1 John 1:9
25. Sharing question: Which of the above verses applies to the unbelief that you mentioned on Day Three in #16 & #17? Why did you choose it?
More light: What story in the Bible illustrates the characteristic of God that you chose? Read the story and consider what you learn about God from it.
26. Illustrate in some way that quality of God that answered the previous question (#25). A stick picture would be fine! We aren’t all artistsJ
27. Responding to God: Read Ps. 145:1-7 and speak of his greatness to others today. Write down what you said and to whom you spoke it.
The stories we have read aren’t just facts out of a history book; they contain truths that will change your life if your heart is open to God. So far, we have seen that God reaches out to us to draw us to himself. He calls us to follow him, and he blesses the faith that responds. We have also witnessed that God is faithful to his word in the lives of his people. If we are to see clearly through our present darkness, we must understand these truths so that we depend upon them when all seems unclear.
Being married to a corporate executive had all the perks of living a good life – country club living, tennis, fancy cars and a large beautiful home. Then the unexpected day arrived when the company my husband worked for was sold and he lost his job. We were momentarily stunned, but not concerned. After all, there were many other corporations out there.
Months went by without any new prospects for work. There were younger corporate executives in the marketplace working for less pay. The savings dwindled, the bills piled up. We prayed, we went to church, we continued serving and trusting God, yet many more months went by without income. We kept waiting for the outpouring of income to support our lifestyle that we trusted God for, but it didn’t come. On the outside, we looked like we had it all together; but on the inside, we were crying. And, of course, pride was in the way of letting others know how bad things were.
Finally, on a particular Sunday morning, we were getting ready for church when my husband called from the shower for a bar of soap. When I replied that we were out, it was the last straw. We fell apart and acknowledged that we were in serious trouble and would have to change our lifestyle. We were out of money and didn’t even have change in our pocket to buy bath soap! We left for church that morning in total despair, questioning the provision and faithfulness of God.
The pastor’s message that day was from Isaiah 43:18-19. “Do not call to mind the former things, or ponder things of the past. Behold, I will do something new. Now it will spring forth; will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, rivers in the desert.”
My husband and I listened to this message with tears running down our faces. We felt God was telling us to forget our old lifestyle, to be willing to accept a new way of life; and as we let go, he would provide in this wilderness time of our lives.
When we arrived home, there was a promotional package in a plastic bag hanging from the front door knob. Inside the bag was a bar of soap – the name of it was Spirit, and it was blue! (the color of my bathroom) We burst out laughing! How unusual for a promotional package to be delivered on a Sunday, but God used the timing and the product to, not only put a little humor in our situation, but to prove his faithfulness in even the little things. We learned from this experience that trusting in God’s faithfulness is not just for the future – a week, a month, a year; but faith is living moment by moment trusting that God is faithful in that very moment! Then, those moments link together for a future of experiencing God’s faithfulness.
That date in August of 1993 was a turning point in our lives. We have never regained that lifestyle, but we don’t miss it. God had something totally different in mind for us. Our financial circumstances did not improve, but our faith did. God has been faithful to provide for our needs moment by moment as we live by faith trusting Him. To God be the glory!
Sometimes it is helpful for us as mothers to see that God disciplines his disobedient children so that we will not be afraid to discipline our children. When the children of Israel flatly refused to enter the land that he had promised them, God punished them. They were unable to receive the gift. Instead, they were nomads for the remainder of their lives, never able to rest in their own land.
When your children adamantly refuse to obey you, you must deal with them because of their attitudes. The size or significance of what you requested of them is not the issue. It is an issue of rebellion in the heart.
As adults, we are called to submit to God himself. It takes an obedient, willing heart to do so. We must teach our children to obey when they are young so that they are prepared to submit to God when they are older.
As a child I did not like to obey my mother. I had a rebellious heart. Because she did punish me in an effort to teach me obedience, I learned that obedience is a better choice. Just as I paid the price for rebellion, it is also risky to disobey God because he will discipline when necessary. Heb. 12:6 says, “For those whom the Lord loves he disciplines, and he scourges every son whom He receives.” If you truly love your children, you will follow God’s model of discipline because you want the best for them and that means obedience to God, who knows what is best in every situation.
Ask God for the wisdom to consistently discipline your children and teach them obedience. Pray specifically for each of your children.
3 Note in The MacArthur Study Bible, Ed. John MacArthur (Nashville, TN: 1997), 113.