Shortly after God brought the people of Israel out of Egypt, they traveled through the desert to Sinai where they camped in front of Mount Sinai. Mount Sinai, also called Mount Horeb, is a very significant place. There God met and spoke with Moses, telling him why he had rescued Israel from Egypt. God had chosen these people to be made into a holy nation, his treasured possession. "Now obey me completely. Keep my covenant. If you do, then out of all of the nations you will be my special treasure. The whole earth is mine." Exodus 19:5
There at the base of this mountain, God held a dialogue with the Israelites through Moses.
God told Moses to have the Israelites go through a 2-day preparation period. We don't know much about what this 2-day period entailed. The scripture does tell us that they were supposed to wash their clothes and abstain from sexual activity. Other than that, God just tells Moses: "have the people ready".
God also told Moses that he was going to appear before the Israelites on the third day. He told Moses to warn the people not to try to go up the mountain - not to break through the boundaries Moses was to put in place.
On the morning of the third day, they were greeted with thunder and lightning. A thick cloud covered the mountain and a trumpet gave a very loud blast (where did the trumpet come from?!?!?!). This made the people very afraid. But it didn't stop there.
Moses led the people out of their camp, to the foot of the mountain. Smoke covered the mountain because God appeared on the mountain in fire. The smoke was rolling up the mountain like the smoke from a furnace. The mountain shook and the sound of the trumpet kept getting louder and louder. Moses called out to the Lord, and God answered him.
I can understand why the people trembled in fear...
God invited Moses up to the top of the mountain and again warned him that the people should set themselves apart for God, and not approach the mountain. God then asked Moses to go down and invite Aaron to come up with him.
So, there is thunder, lightning, a thick cloud, fire rolling down the mountain, smoke going up the mountain, the mountain is rumbling as it shakes, and a trumpet is sounding, getting louder and louder and louder. Would you go up to the top of that mountain if you were invited?
So Moses and Aaron got to the top of the mountain, and God gives them the 10 Commandments.
Commandments #1-4 teach us how to show love towards God.
Commandments #5-10 teach us how to show love towards others.
You can do several things to get the kids' attention to start this lesson:
Ask the children: how do you feel about thunderstorms? Do you like watching the lightning or do they make you a little nervous?
Today, we're going to learn about a time when God appeared to the Israelites in a thunderstorm and gave them some very important directions.
Read story from a Children's storybook Bible for younger children.
For older children, read story from an age-appropriate Children's storybook Bible or tell the story yourself.
As you are teaching the lesson, write the commandments on a poster board to display in your classroom.
Try your best to help the students really get a feel for what was happening on that moutain, but be sensitive (especially in younger classrooms), not to scare them.
Scripture for Kids to Read Aloud Exodus 19:16-19; Exodus 20:3, 4-5, 7, 8, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17
First, ask the children if they have any questions about the story. What to do if you don't know the answer?