After the Israelites defeated the Amorites, Balak (the king of Moab) was afraid the Israelites would destroy his nation as well. Balak offered a man named Balaam riches, popularity, and worldly status if he would curse the Israelites. However, the Lord directed Balaam not to curse the Israelites, so Balaam blessed them instead.
Before class, place a picture of the Savior at the front of the room. Place two long pieces of tape about three feet apart and parallel to each other on the floor so they look like a path that leads to the picture of the Savior.
As you begin the lesson, explain that the space in between the tape represents the path back to God. Invite a student to stand on the path. Explain that the student represents all of us as we seek to return to God. Then ask the following questions (you may want to write them on the board before class):
What tactics does Satan use to entice us to get off the path that leads back to God?
What are some practices that would help us stay on the path back to God?
Ask the student to return to his or her seat. Invite the class to look for principles that will help them answer the questions as they study Numbers 22–24.
Summarize Numbers 22:1–6 by explaining that after the Israelites defeated the Amorites, Balak (the king of Moab) was afraid the Israelites would destroy his nation as well. To avoid being destroyed, Balak asked a man named Balaam to curse the Israelites.
Invite a student to read Numbers 22:6 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for why Balak asked Balaam to curse the Israelites. Invite them to report what they find.
Invite a student to read Numbers 22:7 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how Balak tried to convince Balaam to curse the Israelites. (You may need to explain that “the rewards of divination” refers to at least a portion of the payment the king had prepared for Balaam.)
Invite a student to read Numbers 22:12–13 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what God told Balaam not to do.
What did God tell Balaam not to do?
According to verse 13, how did Balaam respond to the leaders Balak had sent?
Invite a student to read Numbers 22:15–17 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what King Balak did after Balaam refused his offer.
According to verse 15, whom did King Balak send to deliver his message to Balaam?
What did King Balak offer Balaam this time?
What truths about how the adversary entices us to sin can we learn from the methods Balak used to entice Balaam to disobey the Lord? (Students may identify a variety of principles, but make sure it is clear that the adversary sometimes uses promises of riches, popularity, and worldly status to entice us to commit sin.)
To help students understand this truth, ask them what unrighteous actions they have seen people do or heard of people doing to gain riches, worldly status, or other things that may lead to pleasure. You may want to list their comments on the board.
How might the adversary use riches, popularity, or worldly status to distract youth from missionary service?
How might these things distract someone from getting married or having children? (Consider asking additional questions that may be relevant.)
Ask students to recall from their home-study lesson how Balaam responded to Balak’s second offer. (He chose to go with Balak’s men [see Numbers 22:18–21]. The Joseph Smith Translation of Numbers 22:21 adds the phrase “if thou wilt,” implying the use of agency on Balaam’s part.) Ask students to describe what happened to Balaam because he ignored God’s instructions and warnings and went with Balak’s men. (He was rebuked and warned by an angel [see Numbers 22:22–34].)
In their study at home, one principle students identified from Balaam’s experience is that we put ourselves in danger when we ignore the Lord’s instructions and warnings.
Remind students of the path on the floor, representing the straight and narrow path that we must follow to return to Heavenly Father. Invite students to write in their class notebooks or scripture study journals a few ways they can avoid danger and have the spiritual strength to stay on the straight path that leads back to their Heavenly Father. Invite a few willing students to share what they wrote.
How do you think Balaam put himself in danger by ignoring the Lord’s warning?
What possible danger could come to others because of Balaam’s disobedience?
Summarize Numbers 22:36–24:9 by explaining that when Balaam arrived in Balak’s kingdom, the king again promised Balaam wealth, popularity, and worldly status if he would curse Israel. However, instead of cursing the Israelites, Balaam blessed them. Balak asked Balaam to curse Israel two more times, but both times Balaam blessed them instead.
Invite a student to read Numbers 24:10–13 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how Balak responded after the third time Balaam blessed the children of Israel.
What did King Balak say Balaam had lost because he had chosen to obey the Lord?
How is King Balak’s response similar to what Satan does to tempt us?
According to verses 12–13, how did Balaam respond to King Balak?
How do you think we can develop the strength to resist temptations to sin when the adversary promises riches, popularity, and worldly status?
Conclude by sharing your testimony of the truths taught in today’s lesson. Encourage students to apply what they have learned so they can remain on the path that will lead them back to their Heavenly Father.
Ask students to consider the following questions: What miracle did Joshua perform that was like a miracle Moses performed? What caused the walls of Jericho to come tumbling down? Ask them to think of times when they have faced daunting tasks. Explain that as they study the experiences of Joshua and the Israelites as they entered the promised land, they will learn important truths about how the Lord can help them do challenging things.