God called Moses to the mountain for 40 days and 40 nights. During this time he gave him instructions for the tabernacle and the offerings. When God finished speaking to Moses on Mount Sinai, he gave him two tablets of stone inscribed by the very finger of God. They contained the Ten Commandments.
Meanwhile, the people of Israel had become impatient waiting for Moses to return with a message from God. Moses had been gone for so long that the people gave up on him and begged Aaron (Moses' brother) to build them an altar so they could worship.
Aaron answered them, "Take the gold earrings off your wives, your sons and your daughters. Bring the earrings to me." So all of the people took off their earrings. They brought them to Aaron. He took what they gave him and made it into a metal statue of a god. It looked like a calf. He shaped it with a tool. Then the people said, "Israel, here is your god who brought you up out of Egypt." Exodus 32:2-4
Then they held a festival and bowed down to worship their idol. So quickly they had fallen back into the idolatry they were accustomed to in Egypt and disobeyed God's new commands. Especially after what they witnessed before Moses went up to Mt Sinai (remember that from the last lesson?)
When Moses came down from the mountain with the tablets of stone, his anger burned when he saw the people given over to idolatry. He threw down the two tablets, smashing them to pieces at the foot of the mountain.
He took the calf the people had made. He burned it in the fire. Then he ground it into powder. He scattered it on the water. And he made the people of Israel drink it. Exodus 32:20
Later God instructed Moses to chisel two new stone tablets, just like the ones he had written with his own finger.
Have you ever seen anything made out of real gold? Show the children golden jewelry.
Today we are going to learn about a time when the Israelites made something called an "idol" - or a statue of a cow made out of gold.
Read story from a Children's storybook Bible for younger children.
For older children, read story straight from the Bible or tell the story yourself.
Scripture for Kids to Read Aloud Exodus 32:1-8
First, ask the children if they have any questions about the story. What to do if you don't know the answer?