This is part of a new series we’re calling, “Hello, My Name Is… A Series on the Names of God.” Look for the next installments to come throughout February. You can find the latest when you follow Tara’s author archive. We’ll add links to the whole Bible study once it’s complete.
Lesson Four: Adonai
Main Idea: God is our master, and we are his servants. He blesses us with good things when we obey his commands.
Memory Verse: “Those who know your name trust in you, for you, O LORD, do not abandon those who search for you.” Psalm 9:10
- Read lesson, Scripture references, and Romans 6:15-23, Mark 10:45, Philippians 2:7-8, Luke 6:46-49, Matthew 7:21, and James 1:25
- Gather: Bible, lesson plan, dry erase markers or chart paper and markers, index cards, markers or crayons
- To help keep track of the names of God learned over this series, write each lesson’s name of God on the board along with the main idea. Tape a strip of paper over the name, and one over the main idea. Use this to review the lesson as you go. Alternatively, use large flash cards with the name of God on the front and the main idea on the back. Create one of these every week and review with the class as you go.
- Take time to meditate on this lesson and apply it to your own life. Conceptually, God as Master is pretty easy to understand. Practically, it is often very difficult to live by. All too often, I treat God as a divine vending machine, praying for what I want. I may add a “your will be done,” or, “in God’s name,” but really I am missing his Lordship. God as Master means we do his will. Yes, like Abram, we do bring God our concerns and our wishes. But we must do so with the firm belief that God is our Lord, our Master. He is a loving Lord who gives us every good thing. When we remember this, when we remind ourselves that we are humble slaves to the most generous, kind Master, then our worries and wishes often diminish like a flickering candle next to the bonfire of his fierce love for us. Reflect this week on your own relationship with the Master. How do you feel about being a slave? When you meditate on the goodness, the graciousness of our Lord, does it help you to have a heart that is willing to obey his commands?
- Matthew 6:24
- Psalm 16:1-2
- Genesis 15:1-6
- Psalm 119:45
Game: Simon Says
Play as many rounds of Simon Says as time allows. Have the kids volunteer to be Simon. Remember the rules are that whoever is “it,” whoever is Simon that round, tells the other players to do silly things like hop on one foot or act like gorillas. The other players must obey the commands of Simon only when the commands are preceded by the phrase, “Simon says.” For example, if the player who is “it” says, “Simon says touch your nose,” then all players must touch their nose. If the player who is it says, “touch your nose,” then the players are not to touch their nose. If you wish, you can have players be out if they move when they are not supposed to or don’t move when they should. Then the last player left would be Simon next. Or you could let everyone stay in no matter if they mess up, and allow every kid to be Simon for ten commands. The point is that they must listen carefully to Simon to know when to move. Kids also get quite a power trip out of being Simon, and this will help them better understand today’s lesson.
Message: Open in prayer, then say, did you all enjoy playing Simon Says? What is your favorite part about that game? (Allow students to answer.) It’s fun being Simon, isn’t it? We all love being in charge! Our love of being in charge makes today’s name of God a difficult one. It’s an easy enough name to learn about, but when it comes to letting what we know about God change the way we live, this one is a toughie. Today’s name of God is Adonai. (Write “Adonai” on the board.) Adonai appears in the Old Testament over 300 times. We use this name for God a whole lot in English. Adonai means Lord. (Write “Lord” on the board.) What is a lord? (Allow students to answer.) A lord is someone who is in charge of others. Another good way to think of the title Adonai is Master. God is the Boss. (Write “Master/Boss” on the board.)
Raise your hand if you have brothers or sisters. Now, I don’t need to hear the stories right now, just think to yourself, have you ever been playing with a brother, sister or friend and they tell you to do something and you say, “You’re not the boss of me!” We don’t like being told what to do, do we? The thing is, God is the Boss of us. He is our Lord. The name Adonai reminds us that we have a relationship with God. He is our Master, and we are his slaves. You know, I could say we are his servants. That would give a pretty good picture about how we relate to God as Master, but I really like slaves better. It makes me squirm a bit. Slavery is bad, isn’t it? We know that humans should not own other humans. But when we trust in God and turn away from our sins and do our best to follow God, it means we belong to God. We belong to God. We are his. That sounds much better, doesn’t it? But it means the same thing. When we put our faith in God, he becomes our Lord. We become his slaves, his servants, who want to obey his commands.
It’s not like we weren’t already slaves, though. We will always, always serve a master in our lives. That master, that boss, should be God. But sometimes we get it mixed up and instead of giving the Lord our love, our time and our worship, we worship other masters. Can you think of some other things we can let become the masters of our lives instead of God? (Allow students to answer and write their answers on the board. Ideas include: ourselves, playing video games, getting good grades, trying to fit in with the right crowd, having the coolest and newest stuff, or being the best in our sport.)
You see, there is no way around it. One way or another, we will have a master in our lives. We choose to give our time, our energy, our money, our thoughts and our love to something. The thing is, there is only room for one Master on the throne of our hearts. Let’s have a sword drill. Take all fingers and bookmarks out of your Bibles and hold them above your head. When I say go, turn to Matthew 6:24. Go! (Read, or have a student read, Matthew 6:24.) “‘No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and be enslaved to money.’” The word translated as money here doesn’t just mean money. It can mean whatever you treasure more than you treasure your relationship with God. It’s easy to say that we love God more than… staying up late reading a good book, but if we choose to read that good book or play that video game instead of spending time with the Lord, than it’s clear that our master is not God.
It would be pretty depressing if that were the end of our lesson. Thankfully, it isn’t! King David trusted God to be his Master. Listen to what David sang in Psalm 16:1-2. “Keep me safe, O God, for I have come to you for refuge. 2 I said to the Lord, “You are my Master! Every good thing I have comes from you.” This is what we need to remember every day. God is our Master. He keeps us safe and gives us every single good thing in our lives. Video games aren’t bad. Getting good grades and being a good athlete aren’t bad. These are good things that God gives us! Our Lord gives us, his slaves, good things.
Let’s look at one more story about Adonai, God our Lord. The first time we see the name Adonai is in Genesis, chapter 15. Now to give you some context, in this story we see the Lord speaking with Abram. Later God will change his name to Abraham. As in, Father Abraham Had Many Sons. (If you are familiar with this classic Sunday school song, sing the title to remind the kids of whom you are speaking.) Anyway, Abram has been following God for a while now. He even left his home and everyone he knew to follow God. God has promised Abram that he will make a great nation out of Abram’s descendants. But in chapter 15, Abram still doesn’t even have one kid, let alone great grandkids to start a nation from. Listen to how his conversation with God goes in Genesis 15:1-6. The name Adonai is in there, but it’s a little hidden. We’ll talk about that after I read. “Some time later, the Lord spoke to Abram in a vision and said to him, ‘Do not be afraid, Abram, for I will protect you, and your reward will be great.’ 2 But Abram replied, ‘O Sovereign LORD, what good are all your blessings when I don’t even have a son? Since you’ve given me no children, Eliezer of Damascus, a servant in my household, will inherit all my wealth. 3 You have given me no descendants of my own, so one of my servants will be my heir.’
4 Then the Lord said to him, ‘No, your servant will not be your heir, for you will have a son of your own who will be your heir.’ 5 Then the Lord took Abram outside and said to him, ‘Look up into the sky and count the stars if you can. That’s how many descendants you will have!’
6 And Abram believed the Lord, and the Lord counted him as righteous because of his faith.”
I love this. At first it just sounds like Abram is being a little whiny, doesn’t it? But before he brings his worries to God, he calls God his Master. It’s in verse two. This translation (The New Living Translation) says “Sovereign LORD.” Some translations say “The Lord GOD.” (Write both these translations on the board, emphasizing the all caps.) What do you remember from last week about how the name Yahweh is hidden in the Bible? (Allow students to answer.) Instead of writing the Holy name of God, most Bible translations substitute “Adonai,” or “Lord” in place of “Yahweh.” But they write it in all caps so you can tell the difference. It gets tricky when you run into passages like this. Abram said, “Adonai Yahweh,” or, “My Master, Yahweh.” Writing it as “Lord LORD just looks funny. So here it says Sovereign LORD, and it means “Master Yahweh.” Abram is showing that he believes in God and trusts him. And the Lord, our Master, called Abram a righteous man because he believed in God as his Master.
Understanding God as Elohim and Yahweh helps us understand God as Adonai. We don’t like to be told what to do. We don’t like the idea of being slaves to a Master, even when that Master is God. But when we remember that God is the Strong Creator who made everything just by speaking, and that God is I AM, who is and who was and who will always be no matter what we do, then it becomes easier to accept that God is our Lord, our Master, our Boss. He doesn’t give us rules and commandments to obey because he is mean, or because it helps him be better at being God. Why do you think Adonai gives us rules? (Allow students to answer.) We have the commandments in the Bible because they help us live better, happier lives. Psalm 119:45 says, “I will walk in freedom, for I have devoted myself to your commandments.” When we believe in God and do our best to follow his commands, he sets us free from sin and gives us eternal life forever in Heaven with him! Being a slave doesn’t sound bad at all when you look at it that way, does it? We get to be freed from sin and slaves to the Lord because the Lord sent his son, Jesus to earth. Jesus came as a slave to God. He served everyone he met in love. He never sinned, and he died on the cross to take the punishment for our sins. Jesus is the reason we get to be slaves to God, and he is the perfect example of how we serve God.
Close in prayer.
Craft: Coupon Cards
(Say the following to your students.) We see in the Bible that Adonai, our Master, gives us, his slaves, every good thing in our lives. We also see that Jesus is the perfect example of what it means to be a slave to God. It means that instead of doing whatever you want whenever you want to do it, you do what God wants you to do. The greatest commandments, as found in Mark 12:30-31, can be summed up as “Love God, love others.” We show God that we love him when we love and serve others. So today you will make coupon cards. I want you to think of at least three people in your life that you can serve. Think of a way you can serve each of these people that would be especially nice for them. For example, you can make a card for your mom saying you will wash the dishes. Maybe your brother or sister would like a card saying you will play a game they want to play with them. You will write one service on the front of each card, like “I will take out the trash.” On the back you will write the name of the person you are giving the card to. Now some rules for these coupon cards: you can’t put the chores you are already expected to do on these. If it is your job to take out the trash, you are not doing a special service, you are just doing your job. Come up with extra special ways to serve the people you love, just like Jesus serves. Also, when someone asks to redeem the card you give them, when they are ready to have you do the service, you must stop what you are doing and do the service with a smile on your face, without complaining a single time. Everyone understand? Okay then, let’s get to work! (Allow each student to decorate at least three coupon cards for three different people. Help them to come up with appropriate services. Doing your little sister’s homework for her or washing the car by yourself are too much… not punching your sister when she annoys you is not a good idea for a service either. If making coupon cards is too difficult for your group, have them draw a picture of themselves serving others.)