Complaining Israelites

Complaining Israelites – Teach One Reach OneScripture: Numbers 10-11

Learning Objectives:

  • Students will learn that the Israelites complained a lot about everything.
  • Students will learn that God expects us to focus on being grateful for our blessings and not constantly about our hardships.
  • Students will learn that God sometimes will give us what we ask for even if it really isn’t what we need to teach us a lesson.
  • Students will participate in an activity to help them better understand the Bible story and the Biblical concepts in it.

Guiding Question: Why does God not want His people to constantly whine and complain?

Materials: water pitchers, tonic water, tap water, cups, plates, napkins, cooked quail meat, “manna” cookies, (optional: costumes for students to wear, tents and items for students to move from place to place, etc.)

Procedure: Tell students that they are going to go on a journey today experiencing some of the things that have happened so far to the Israelites. Choose students to play the roles of Moses, Aaron, Joshua and the Israelites. If you have costumes and props have the students get dressed and prepared for their journey. Tell Moses, Aaron and Joshua (remind students that Joshua was the assistant to Moses at this time) that they are to lead the Israelites through the wilderness. (Note: Have stops on the journey pre-set with volunteers to help serve food and drink), If possible give Moses, Aaron and Joshua directions that will take the class outside and wandering around a bit before reaching each stop. This should put the “Israelites” in the mood for whining and complaining. Pull a few Israelites aside and secretly tell them you want them to whine loudly and complain about everything during the journey. Secretly remind Moses, Joshua and Aaron they are the leaders and are responsible for making sure everybody stays on the journey, participates and are motivated to keep going.

Once “Moses” leads the “Israelites” for awhile, have them stop and tell them the story of the bitter water from Ex 15:22-26. If possible re-enact the story. Give the students tonic water to drink for the “bitter” water and tap water for the sweet water. Have Moses lead the students farther. At the next stop have the students sit and tell them the story about Manna from Ex 16:1-5. (If students are forgetting to complain, quietly remind them and complain loudly yourself).

Tell students no one today knows for sure how manna tasted but it may have been something like this. Give them manna cookies. Ask students to imagine have manna as the only dish for breakfast, lunch and supper for days then weeks then months. How tired of it would they be? How would they react? Have “Moses” lead the “Israelites” (still complaining) to the last stop.

Share with them the story of Quail from Number 11. Allow the students to taste quail meat (most butchers can order quail if they don’t carry it. It is affordable and it only takes a few pieces to give a lot of students a taste) As students are eating have them discuss how they felt on your little review “journey”. What are some reasons all of the complaining made God and even the leaders so upset and angry. Remind students that God had just delivered the people from horrible slavery. Discuss what the people should have been grateful for instead of complaining. Ask the students how all of the complaining might have affected Moses and Aaron and their leadership. What about Joshua, who was in training to become the next leader? What about the people themselves? Ask the students what things they complain and whine about a lot. What should they be grateful for instead? How does their whining and complaining have a negative effect on others? Challenge the students to be more aware of their complaining and make an effort to stop.

Additional Questions:

  • What are common complaints in church?

Supplemental Activity: Have advanced students interview various church leaders. What complaints do they hear the most? How can complaining hurt the church. Have the students share their results.