Ten Commandments


Scripture Reference: Exodus 19:1-20:20

Story Overview: The Lord knew that His people would need rules so that they could get along and so that they would know how to love and obey Him. When the Israelites came to Mount Sinai, Moses went up on the mountain where the Lord gave him the Ten Commandments. From the mountain the people heard thunder and trumpet sounds and saw lightning and smoke. They were afraid as they saw the awesome power of God. The Lord later wrote these commands on stone tablets that the people carried with them as they travelled.

Suggested Emphasis:God gives us rules to live by because He knows that they will help us be happy.

Memory Work: Memorize the Ten Commandments over the next few weeks.

Background Study
Way to Introduce the Story
The Story
Review Questions
Craft and Activity Ideas
Online Resources


Background Study:
In a dramatic demonstration—thunder, lightening, billowing smoke, trembling mountain, and the blast of a trumpet—God spoke from Heaven and gave His Commands to His people. These Commands were the foundation of their lives. The laws were given to protect and to help them become a great nation.

The Ten Commandments may seem somewhat outdated to your older students because they live in a society where each person is encouraged to decide for himself or herself what is right. Teach them that God’s Commands still protect us and help us today. They are given for our good, not simply to place restrictions on us. Use exciting activities and practical examples to motivate them to obey God’s Commandments this week.

God brought His people out of Egypt and He took care of them as they travelled. After about two months, the people camped beside Mount Sinai. Moses went up on the mountain with God. From Mount Sinai God gave the Ten commandments to His people, who were gathered at the foot of the mountain. The commandments were not yet written on stone. That happened when Moses went back up onto the mountain. At this time Moses simply told the people what the Commandments were.

As God descended upon the mountain in fire, the rumbling of thunder, the flashing of lightning, and the sound of a trumpet made everyone tremble (Exodus 19:16-18). God had a purpose appearing with power. In Exodus 20:20 we discover that God wanted the Israelites to see His power so that they would obey Him.

When Moses explained God’s covenant to the people, they promised obedience. Though no human being (except Jesus) has ever obeyed the Ten Commandments perfectly, they still perform a necessary function today. They give us an objective standard against which to measure our behaviour and are often the instruments the Holy Spirit uses to convict us of sin.

Through the Ten Commandments, God provided guidelines for interaction with God and with other people. God wasn’t just giving Israel a set of laws. He was renewing the covenant He had made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God promised to make Israel His own special people and a holy nation if they would obey Him (Exodus 19:5-6). Just as God wanted His people to obey the Ten Commandments, He wants us to obey Jesus’ commandments (John 15:14). When we do obey Him, we show that the love we profess for Him is genuine.

1-Have no other God before Me- Jehovah is the only real God. His people must not invent or accept any others.

2-Do not make a graven image-Both in Egypt and in Canaan, people made images of people and animals and called them god. The people of Israel were not to make any such thing to be worshipped. God is jealous in a good way, an unselfish way. He wants people to worship Him because that is good for people. It makes them do right, and doing right brings them God’s mercy and blessing.

3-Do not take my name in vain-Do not use God’s name in profane cursing. Do not use His name without really meaning to speak of Him. Some people use His name as an expression of surprise, wonder, or anger. His people should never do that.

4-Keep the Sabbath Day holy-The people of Israel were commanded not to work on the seventh day of the week, Saturday (Genesis 2:1-3). There is no record that He told people to rest on that day until He brought His people out of Egypt to become a separate nation (Exodus 16:22-30). As He gave laws for that nation at Sinai, He commanded its people to rest on the seventh day. He made the Sabbath a sign between himself and the people of Israel (Exodus 31:12-17), and a memorial of their deliverance from Egypt (Deuteronomy 5:15).

5-Honour your father and mother-Parents were commanded to teach God’s Word (Deuteronomy 6:6-7). Children who honoured their parents would then obey God, and God would let them live long and happily in the country He would give them. Ephesians 6:1-3 says that children who honour and obey their parents still can expect longer lives.

6-Do not kill-Other parts of the law command that a murderer is to be put to death (Numbers 35:16-18). This Commandment forbids murder.

7-Do not commit adultery-Husbands and wives should be true to each other as long as they live.

8-Do not steal-It is wrong to take the property of another without paying a fair price for it.

9-Do not lie-God’s people were to be truthful, never lying about others.

10-Do not want what another has-It is bad to want what belongs to someone else unless he or she wants to sell it and we are ready to pay a fair price for it.
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Way to Introduce the Story:
Find pictures of traffic signs. Hold these up and let the children talk about what each one means. Discuss why it is important to obey these rules. What would happen if people did not obey the rules? “Sometimes rules can help us all be safe. If people disobey some of the rules then it makes all of us unhappy. God knew that His people needed rules so that they would know how to worship Him and how to treat other people.”
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The Story:
God’s people had been travelling on their journey from Egypt for over two months. They arrived at the foot of Mount Sinai. The Israelites spread their camp in the desert in front of the mountain. Moses went up onto the mountain to speak with the Lord.

Moses remembered this place because this is where he used to be a shepherd for his father-in-law. This was the same place where he had seen the burning bush. Moses remembered how God had promised to lead Israel out of Egypt. Moses knew that the Lord always did what He said He would do.

On the mountain God spoke to Moses and gave him a message for the people of Israel. Moses called the elders of the people and told them what the Lord had commanded him to speak. This was the message: “If you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession.”

When the people heard God’s message, they responded: “We will do everything the Lord has said.”

The Lord gave special instructions to Moses for the people. They were to wash themselves and their clothing and be ready by the third day. On that day the Lord was going to come down on Mount Sinai. The people were not to touch the mountain. Anyone who touched the mountain was to be put to death.

On the morning of the third day, the people were assembled before the mountain, dressed in their newly-cleaned clothes. As they gazed at the mountain, they saw God’s power demonstrated once more.

A thick cloud was on the mountain. Lightning flashed and thunder rolled down its slopes. Then fire burst out of the mountain and there was a loud trumpet blast. The people trembled with fright when they saw this awesome display of God’s power. The trumpet sound kept getting louder and louder. Then God spoke to Moses. He gave Moses Ten Commandments that He wanted His people to obey.

These are the Ten Commandments from the Lord:
1-You shall have no other gods before me
2-You shall not make for yourself an idol
3-You shall not misuse the name of the Lord
4-Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy
5-Honour your father and your mother
6-You shall not murder
7-You shall not commit adultery
8-You shall not steal
9-You shall not give false testimony
10-You shall not covet

God gave these Commandments to His people because He knew they needed a plan for living. He was preparing the Israelites to become a great nation. God knew that a nation could not be great unless there were good laws. The laws would guide them in the way they were to worship God and in the way they were to treat other people. If the people would obey the laws then they would be happy and they would show the other nations that the nation of Israel followed God.

The people knew that they should obey God’s rules. Later, the Lord wrote the Ten Commandments on stone tablets so that the people could remember them and take them with them as they travelled.
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Review Questions:

  1. What was the name of the mountain where God gave the people the Ten Commandments? Mount Sinai
  2. Who did God give the Ten Commandments to so he could tell the people? Moses
  3. What did God later write the Ten Commandments on? Tablets of stone
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Craft and Activity ideas for the class:

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Online Resources:

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