Lesson: Moses and the People of Israel

Story of Moses Bible Lessons

This is the 4th lesson of a 5-part series based on the life of Moses. This free Children’s Church lesson plan was first written for elementary aged students. It covers the story of the Israelites and how they kept grumbling. This material could also be used as the Bible lesson for children’s Sunday school. Be sure to consider your own ministry context and modify it as needed.

Click here to view the series index, or you can leave a comment to add your ideas to this lesson plan.

Bible Story: Moses and the People of Israel
Scripture: Exodus 16:2-4,6-8,11-15, 17:1-6
Target Age Group: Age 6 – 11 (U.S. Kindergarten – 5th Grade)
Learning Context: Children’s Church
Target Time Frame: 60 minutes
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Learning Objectives: After this lesson, the children will demonstrate an understanding of what the people were like by reenacting the story.

Life Applications: It’s easy to let a complaining attitude take over when things are not going our way. As God’s children we need to trust that he is in charge and will work things out. Sometimes delays are the fault of our own disobedience and sometimes they are meant to help us grow. In either case, grumbling displeased God and should be avoided.

Items Needed:

  • Bible: Exodus 16:2-4,6-8,11-15, 17:1-6. There is a detailed explanation below to help bring out some of the important parts of the story.
  • 1 paper plate per child, crayons
  • Sand (different colors if possible), liquid glue, small bowls, plastic spoons, craft sticks

Worship: Use Songs about Moses (extra print out) to lead the children to sing before the Bible lesson.

Teaching Plan: Moses and the People of Israel

Welcome Activity
Welcome activities are things to have out for the children to do as they are arriving for class. These activities will get them engaged as soon as they arrive and will help the transition from their parents.

Let each child color (using crayons) a paper plate. Please make sure each child’s name gets on their plate. These will be used later in the lesson.

Worship: Moses Songs

Bible Lesson Introduction

What does it mean to complain? What do you usually complain about? We will find out what the people of Israel complained about in our Bible lesson today.

Bible Lesson
Have the children open their Bibles Exodus 16:2-4,6-8,11-15, 17:1-6. To help them find it, use the following questions. Answers are in italics.

  • Which part of the Bible is Exodus in? Old Testament
  • What book of the Old Testament is Exodus? #2

Read Exodus 16:2-4,6-8,11-15, 17:1-6(NIV) aloud to the children.
2 In the desert the whole community told Moses and Aaron they weren’t happy with them. 3 The Israelites said to them, “We wish the Lord had put us to death in Egypt. There we sat around pots of meat. We ate all of the food we wanted. But you have brought us out into this desert. You must want this entire community to die of hunger.”
4 Then the Lord spoke to Moses. He said, “I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people must go out each day. Have them gather enough bread for that day. Here is how I will put them to the test. I will see if they will follow my directions.
6 So Moses and Aaron spoke to all of the people of Israel. They said, “In the evening you will know that the Lord brought you out of Egypt. 7 And in the morning you will see the glory of the Lord. He has heard you say you aren’t happy with him. Who are we? Why are you telling us you aren’t happy with us?”
8 Moses also said, “You will know that the Lord has heard you speak against him. He will give you meat to eat in the evening. He’ll give you all of the bread you want in the morning. But who are we? You aren’t speaking against us. You are speaking against the Lord.”
11 The Lord said to Moses, 12 “I have heard the people of Israel talking about how unhappy they are. Tell them, ‘When the sun goes down, you will eat meat. In the morning you will be filled with bread. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God.’ ”
13 That evening quail came and covered the camp. In the morning the ground around the camp was covered with dew. 14 When the dew was gone, thin flakes appeared on the desert floor. They looked like frost on the ground. 15 The people of Israel saw the flakes. They asked each other, “What’s that?” They didn’t know what it was.
Moses said to them, “It’s the bread the Lord has given you to eat.
1 The whole community of Israel started out from the Desert of Sin. They traveled from place to place, just as the Lord commanded.
They camped at Rephidim. But there wasn’t any water for the people to drink. 2 So they argued with Moses. They said, “Give us water to drink.”
Moses replied, “Why are you arguing with me? Why are you putting the Lord to the test?”
3 But the people were thirsty for water there. So they told Moses they weren’t happy with him. They said, “Why did you bring us up out of Egypt? Did you want us, our children and our livestock to die of thirst?”
4 Then Moses cried out to the Lord. He said, “What am I going to do with these people? They are almost ready to kill me by throwing stones at me.”
5 The Lord answered Moses. He said, “Walk on ahead of the people. Take some of the elders of Israel along with you. Take in your hand the wooden staff you used when you struck the Nile River. Go. 6 I will stand there in front of you by the rock at Mount Horeb. Hit the rock. Then water will come out of it for the people to drink.” So Moses hit the rock in the sight of the elders of Israel.

Discuss Bible Lesson
2 In the desert the whole community told Moses and Aaron they weren’t happy with them. 3 The Israelites said to them, “We wish the Lord had put us to death in Egypt. There we sat around pots of meat. We ate all of the food we wanted. But you have brought us out into this desert. You must want this entire community to die of hunger.”

So the Israelites are complaining because they are hungry. Don’t they remember what it was like to be slaves in Egypt?

4 Then the Lord spoke to Moses. He said, “I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people must go out each day. Have them gather enough bread for that day. Here is how I will put them to the test. I will see if they will follow my directions.
6 So Moses and Aaron spoke to all of the people of Israel. They said, “In the evening you will know that the Lord brought you out of Egypt. 7 And in the morning you will see the glory of the Lord. He has heard you say you aren’t happy with him. Who are we? Why are you telling us you aren’t happy with us?”
8 Moses also said, “You will know that the Lord has heard you speak against him. He will give you meat to eat in the evening. He’ll give you all of the bread you want in the morning. But who are we? You aren’t speaking against us. You are speaking against the Lord.”
11 The Lord said to Moses, 12 “I have heard the people of Israel talking about how unhappy they are. Tell them, ‘When the sun goes down, you will eat meat. In the morning you will be filled with bread. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God.’ ”

God hears the complaining and tells Moses what to do. He will give them bread in the morning and meat in the evening. God always provides!

13 That evening quail came and covered the camp. In the morning the ground around the camp was covered with dew. 14 When the dew was gone, thin flakes appeared on the desert floor. They looked like frost on the ground. 15 The people of Israel saw the flakes. They asked each other, “What’s that?” They didn’t know what it was.
Moses said to them, “It’s the bread the Lord has given you to eat.

God followed through with what He said (of course)!

1 The whole community of Israel started out from the Desert of Sin. They traveled from place to place, just as the Lord commanded.
They camped at Rephidim. But there wasn’t any water for the people to drink. 2 So they argued with Moses. They said, “Give us water to drink.”
Moses replied, “Why are you arguing with me? Why are you putting the Lord to the test?”
3 But the people were thirsty for water there. So they told Moses they weren’t happy with him. They said, “Why did you bring us up out of Egypt? Did you want us, our children and our livestock to die of thirst?”

The people are wandering around the desert because of the unbelief that they have had. And now they are complaining again! Now they want water!

4 Then Moses cried out to the Lord. He said, “What am I going to do with these people? They are almost ready to kill me by throwing stones at me.”
5 The Lord answered Moses. He said, “Walk on ahead of the people. Take some of the elders of Israel along with you. Take in your hand the wooden staff you used when you struck the Nile River. Go. 6 I will stand there in front of you by the rock at Mount Horeb. Hit the rock. Then water will come out of it for the people to drink.” So Moses hit the rock in the sight of the elders of Israel.

God has Moses hit a rock to get water for the people.

Bible Lesson Activities

Activity: Sand Picture

“Where were the people of Israel wondering around in our Bible Story today? (allow for responses) They were wondering around the desert for 40 years! That’s a long time! Does anyone know what the desert has a lot of? (allow for responses) The desert has a lot of sand. Today we are going to make a picture out of sand to remind us of the people of Israel.”

  • Give each child their colored paper plate
  • Have the children spread glue all over their paper plate (you may want to let them use craft sticks to spread the glue better – optional)
  • While the children are spreading their glue, put the sand in the small bowls with a couple of plastic spoons in each bowl
  • Demonstrate to the children how, by using the spoon, to pour sand onto their picture. Have the children shake the sand around their paper and them to pour the extra back into the bowl for someone else to use.
  • If you have different colors of sand, allow the children to use their imaginations.

Activity: Bible Verse Memorization
“The whole community of Israel started out from the desert. They traveled from place to place, just as the Lord commanded.” Exodus 17:1

Have the children do the following hand motions along with repeating the words after you, to help them learn the Bible Verse:

The whole community of Israel: wave both arms in front of you as though you were showing a large group
Started out: start to walk around
From the desert: swipe your hand across your forehead as though you were hot
They traveled: walk in place
From place to place: point to different areas in the room
Just as the Lord commanded: make a “saluting” motion – bringing a flat hand up to your forehead as though you were in the army
Exodus 17: hold up all 10 fingers and then 7 fingers
1: hold up 1 finger

Do this a few times with the children. Make it fun for them to do the motions and say the words. Involving them in active learning is essential for memorization.

Activity: The Desert Obstacle Course
“What is our Bible Verse about today? (allow for responses) Yes, the people of Israel complained a lot and had to wonder around the desert. We are going to act like we are the people of Israel. Our classroom is going to become the desert and we are going to wonder around in it.”

Place items from around the room in some sort of a path for the children to follow. For example:
* Chairs to go around
* A carpet square to step over
* A chair to crawl under

Let the children know that the people of Israel complained while they were in the desert. They kept forgetting how God took care of them.

Evaluation: Have the children reenact the story.

More Help for Teachers: Browse our free Bible coloring pages or lessons for Sunday School. We also have a growing selection of game ideas for children’s ministry.