Who is God?

Lesson 3

 

Lesson Intro For Leaders

There are many examples of stories that can give a weird idea of who God is in the Old Testament. The following eclectic story is used to get to the heart of who God is in our lives and as seen in the Hebrew scriptures. God is a God who is surrounding us with goodness, ready to bless and be with us.

The book of Numbers is a story of people on a journey from a context of economic and racial- ethnic oppression toward a context where justice, righteousness, freedom and joy are envisioned. (Moses led the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt. They wandered through the desert for a long time on their way to the Promised Land.) Their story is one of moving from oppression to freedom, from slavery to justice. Some scholars think that the person who wrote the Adam and Eve and Balaam is the same person. Balak is the leader of the Moabite people and Balaam is a Gentile prophet, a seer of the Divine, a pagan.

 
 

Gathering Questions

The person who’s birthday is in January goes first, then so on through December. (no matter the year).  When you go to question 2, start with the 2nd person in the rotation, and so on so that everyone has a chance to answer first.

  1. What is your favorite movie or tv show?

  2. If you had to choose your favorite Bible Story, what would it be?

  3. If you could make a movie or animated feature about a character in that Bible Story, how would you describe them or what actor would play them?

  4. What is one story in the Bible that you have heard that you don’t “get” or “like”?  It’s okay to voice this—it doesn’t mean you don’t love God.

  5. If you could give yourself one special power or ability, what would you want to be able to do?

 

Opening Prayer

Supplies: Candle (optional)

As a family/group- have one person read the “leader” parts, and the rest of the family/small group respond in the following call & response prayer below adapted from Psalm 136:1-9. Instruct the person leading the prayer to read the leader part and have the rest of group respond with the response “For God’s love forever!”


Leader: O give thanks to the Lord, for God is good

All:         For God’s love lasts forever!

Leader: O give thanks to the God of gods, O give thanks to the Lord of lords

All:         For God’s love lasts forever!


Leader: Who alone does great wonders and by understanding made the heavens

All:         For God’s love lasts forever!

Leader: Who spread out the earth on the waters and made the great lights

All:         For God’s love lasts forever!


Leader: Who made the sun to rule over the day and the moon and stars to rule over the night

All:         For God’s love lasts forever!

Leader: O give thanks to the God of heaven


All:        For God’s love lasts forever!

 

Alternate Opening Prayer

Gracious God, we know that you are good and that you love endures forever! We give thanks, for we know that you are the Lord of lords, the one who does great wonders throughout heaven and earth. You are the creator of all things and for your creation, we give thanks!

Bless this time together that we might be reminded of your love for us, a love that lasts forever! Amen!

 

Group Count

Supplies: Phone or Computer With Internet Access or a Timer

For this activity we are going to challenge your family or group to count as high as you can in one minute without two persons speaking at the same time. If two person speak at the same time then your will need to start again. One person may only say one number at a time and must wait for others to speak before speaking again.

We have supplied a one minute timer below for you to use or you may have someone keep time. Feel free to change the duration based on the size of your group.

 

Scripture Background

A large number of Israelites were about to walk through Moabite land with their animals on the way to the Promised Land. The leader of the Moabite people, King Balak, was afraid for such a large group of people to walk through his territory. As a result, Balak hired Balaam, a prophet and seer of the Divine, to curse the Hebrew people. Balaam asks God about this idea. Balaam gets his donkey and rides towards the Hebrew people in order to curse them. This is what God does in response.”

 

Scripture Reading

Numbers 22:22-35 (NRSV)

God’s anger was kindled because Balaam was going, and the angel of the Lord took his stand in the road as his adversary. Now he was riding on the donkey, and his two servants were with him. The donkey saw the angel of the Lord standing in the road, with a drawn sword in his hand; so the donkey turned off the road, and went into the field; and Balaam struck the donkey, to turn it back onto the road. Then the angel of the Lord stood in a narrow path between the vineyards, with a wall on either side. When the donkey saw the angel of the Lord, it scraped against the wall, and scraped Balaam’s foot against the wall; so he struck it again. Then the angel of the Lord went ahead, and stood in a narrow place, where there was no way to turn either to the right or to the left. When the donkey saw the angel of the Lord, it lay down under Balaam; and Balaam’s anger was kindled, and he struck the donkey with his staff. Then the Lord opened the mouth of the donkey, and it said to Balaam, “What have I done to you, that you have struck me these three times?” Balaam said to the donkey, “Because you have made a fool of me! I wish I had a sword in my hand! I would kill you right now!” But the donkey said to Balaam, “Am I not your donkey, which you have ridden all your life to this day? Have I been in the habit of treating you this way?” And he said, “No.”

Then the Lord opened the eyes of Balaam, and he saw the angel of the Lord standing in the road, with his drawn sword in his hand; and he bowed down, falling on his face. The angel of the Lord said to him, “Why have you struck your donkey these three times? I have come out as an adversary, because your way is perverse before me. The donkey saw me, and turned away from me these three times. If it had not turned away from me, surely just now I would have killed you and let it live.” Then Balaam said to the angel of the Lord, “I have sinned, for I did not know that you were standing in the road to oppose me. Now therefore, if it is displeasing to you, I will return home.” The angel of the Lord said to Balaam, “Go with the men; but speak only what I tell you to speak.” So Balaam went on with the officials of Balak.

 

Bible Story Continued

The next morning, Balaam tells King Balak to build him seven altars and then sacrifice seven bulls and seven rams. Despite the sacrificial offerings, God tells Balaam what to say and then Balaam blessesthe Hebrew people. Balak is annoyed. King Balak tries a second time, moving to a new place, building new altars and making new sacrifices. A second time Balaam can only bless the Hebrew people. King Balak is even more annoyed. King Balak decides to try a third time, again moving to a new place, building new altars and making new sacrifices. A third time Balaam can only bless the Hebrew people and he even curses King Balak! Finally, both King Balak and Balaam give up on cursing the Hebrew people. No matter the circumstances, our loving God is always working towards goodness in and around us. In this instance, Balaam’s lack of cursing gave better space for God to work.”

 

Digging Deeper Questions

Surface: 

  • Have you ever been going in one direction and then discovered you went the wrong way? How does that feel?

  • What do you think makes something good?

  • How is God bringing goodness into your life right now?

Deeper: 

  • Balaam eventually speaks with God before going to curse the Hebrew people. Have you ever checked with God before you did something? Why did you do that?

  • How would you feel if you had a talking animal set you straight in your ways?

  • How can we recognize God’s goodness unfolding around us without angels, talking donkeys or other miracles? 

Deepest: 

  • Have you ever been asked to do something when you felt you had no or little choice in the matter? How does that feel? 

  • God prevents Balaam from cursing the Israelites. What do you think this reveals about God?

  • Do you think God still works to bring goodness into the world, even while bad things are happening to us? Why or why not?


* We have a forum for any questions that come up during our lessons. Feel free to use it to ask any questions that come up during any of our lessons. Our leadership team of directors will do their best to answer these questions. Click here to visit that forum. 

 

The Story of Balaam Comic Strip

We have included this video to help tell the story of Balaam. We encourage you to read the scripture first as it may make following the story a bit easier. Have each student create a blank comic strip with a piece of paper. (We have included an example below.) 


Give them time to watch the video and create a comic strip based on the story of Balaam. At the end have everyone who want to share show and explain their comic. You can also post a picture of your comic on our forums and we might showcase them on our website and social media. We might also send you something from our Online Snack Shack. 

 

Pillow Case
Scavenger Hunt

Supplies: A pillowcase or some other bag

Get a pillowcase off your bed or some other bag and grab 3-5 items that represent them (for children ask for favorite things.). Give 3 min to be back. Make sure to keep the contents of the bags a secret.


Have a few campers volunteer to try and guess what may be in someone else’s pillowcase. See how many you can discover without anyone showing!

Depending on how much time you have let campers share one or more of the items they chose and why they chose them.


After you finish, answer the following questions:

  • What made this activity hard?

  • What helped you guess the items you did?

  • How many people here do you know?

  • What could this activity say about God or our faith? (How well does God know us? Would he know everything we would choose?)

 

Closing Discussion

Spend some time discussing and reflecting on this lesson and then close with a prayer below.

  • After this lesson, how would you answer the question: Who is God?

  • How can you work to bring God's goodness into the world? 

What to Remember:

God loves by surrounding everything with goodness

 

Getting Ready for Prayer

(Optional)

Given that God surrounds everything with goodness:

  • Does the ground vibrate with joy when we stomp our feet?  Try.

  • Does the air vibrate with joy when we clap our hands?  Try.

  • Do the walls vibrate with joy when we stomp our feet and clap our hands at the same time?  Try.


While you think about these questions:  sit on the floor, legs crisscrossed and let the joy of God’s goodness wrap around you during this prayer.  

 

Closing Prayer

Invite the students to pray with you as you read the prayer below.


Gracious God: 

Bless the Lord, O my soul.

    O Lord my God, you are very great.

You are clothed with honor and majesty,

     wrapped in light as with a garment.

You stretch out the heavens like a tent,

     you set the beams of your chambers on the waters,

you make the clouds your chariot,

    you ride on the wings of the wind,

 you make the winds your messengers,

    fire and flame your ministers.

 You set the earth on its foundations,

    so that it shall never be shaken.

I will sing to the Lord as long as I live;

   I will sing praise to my God while I have being.

May my meditation be pleasing to him,

   for I rejoice in the Lord.

In the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen. 

* (Taken from Psalm 104: 1-6, 33-34) NRSV

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