Manna and Quail / 12 Spies in the Promised Land Sunday School Lesson

Close your eyes and picture this.

You are one of two million people who have just been freed from slavery in Egypt.

After spending your entire life in slavery you are free for the first time.

You follow Moses out of Egypt and into the desert. You hope that Moses knows where he is going because you do not.

Moses leads you to the edge of the Red Sea. But you get mad because you don’t see a way across. Eventually God uses Moses to part the Red Sea right in front of your eyes and you walk across on dry ground.

You have heard that Moses is going to take you to the Promised Land but you have no idea where that is or what it looks like.

At this point you are in the middle of the desert…

you have no idea where you are, and you don’t know where to go.

It might have seemed for a while like Moses was in control of the situation but now it is obvious that he is not. You are lost in the middle of the desert.

What has God done? Why are you in the middle of the desert with no idea where to go?

Alright everyone look up here.

What is Moses supposed to do?

Can he find a sign that says promise land this way!?

I doubt Moses found a sign like this in the desert!

Does he even have a road to follow?


Moses and 2 million freed slaves are in the middle of the desert and have no idea where to go.

Then God does something amazing. God shows them that even in this difficult place He is in total control.

By day the LORD went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night.
Exodus 13:21

God sends “cloud GPS” to guide the Israelites, the freed slaves, through the desert.

The clouds would not only provide direction but likely they would provide relief from the desert.

During the day the pillar of cloud probably gave them shade from the hot desert sun. And if you’ve ever been to the desert before you know that at night it gets very very cold. So the pillar of fire would have kept them warm!

Even with clouds and fire God is showing them that He is in complete control.

As if that weren’t enough God does something else.

If you’ve ever had an animal before, like maybe a dog, how did you train that animal to learn that you were in control? How did you teach your dog to listen to you?

When you told him to sit the first time did he listen? No!

No matter how many times you told your dog to sit he didn’t listen to you.

But then you showed him that you had a treat in your hand! And all of a sudden your dog listen. When you told him to sit, he sat down!

You teach your dog that you are in control through food. A very similar thing happens here.

God is going to show the Israelites He is in control through their food.

Then the LORD said to Moses, “I will rain down bread from heaven for you.
Exodus 16:4

Bread comes from the sky and water comes from a rock. This is definitely God because I’ve never seen bread fall from heaven!

I don’t want you to think that big loaves of bread were falling from the sky… God would rain down little seeds everyday. The people would collect lots of those seeds, grind them up and make their bread from that.


And this bread was pretty tasty. In Exodus, Moses describes the bread as tasting like a pastry made with oil. That sounds like some good stuff!

But it wasn’t too long until the people started to complain. And this did not go over very well with God.

The people said….

Who shall give us flesh to eat? 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: But now our soul is dried away: there is nothing at all, beside this manna, before our eyes.
Numbers 11:4b-6

They were literally wishing to go back to Egypt and be slaves instead of having God take care of them on the way to the Promised Land.

God gives them what they want. He sends over two feet of quail to cover the desert floor. The people are thrilled.

But God is not happy with the way they have been complaining so He causes many of them to get very very sick from the quail meat.

God has shown them over and over that He is in control and that He is taking care of them but they still complain and wish for a different life.

Eventually they get to the edge of the Promised Land.

Moses sends 12 spies to go check it out. Even though God has promised this land to them they want to check it out for themselves first.

When the spies come back two very different things.

Why not print out these verses on separate strips of paper and have kids read them out loud, acting as if they were the spies!
Why not print out these verses on separate strips of paper and have kids read them out loud, acting as if they were the spies!

One of them says…

“We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey! Here is its fruit.
Numbers 13:27b

At this point everyone is very excited. This is sounding like a very good place to live!!!

But then the spies continue to talk…

But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large.
Numbers 13:28a

After getting the people’s hopes up they say it’s not worth it because the land is full of giants and people who will defeat them if they try to take the city for themselves.

In other words, there are some really good things in the Promised Land, but God isn’t in control and can’t take care of the giants for them.

At this point all the people start to talk and worry and wonder why they ever came…

Caleb, who was also one of the spies, talks…

Silence! “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.”
Numbers 13:30

Caleb is the only one that is convinced that God can do what He said He would do.

Caleb is the only one that is convinced that God is in control.

The people get so mad at Caleb for thinking that they can take the city by themselves that they talk about stoning him. They are furious!

The problem is, God is angry at them for not believing that He can take care of this.

So he sends the Israelites back into the desert where they came from to wander around for the next 40 years.

Everyone over 20 years old will die before the people have a chance to enter the Promised Land again.

God proved to 2 million slaves, by taking them out of Egypt, by parting the Red Sea, by giving them cloud GPS, by feeding them bread from the sky, and by many other ways that He was in control.

God proved to them over and over again that He would take care of them.

But they still didn’t believe him.

Do you believe that God is in control of your life?

When things don’t go the way you want them to, when your friends pick on you, when you have to repeat a grade in school, when people don’t like you, do you still believe that God will take care of you?

Do you still believe that God is in control?

He is, and just like the Israelites he will always take care of you. All you need to do is trust him.

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