Teach students about the Tabernacle and about Jesus’ sacrifice for us. Includes a teaching guide, 2 games, and a craft.
Note: This lesson could be divided into three lessons if you wish: Building the First Church, Bring Our Offerings, and What They Did at the First Church
Needed: paper, crayons or markers, offering plate, supply of coins, (optional: soft play balls or paper wads)
Intro Activity: What Can You Do to Help?
Have the students draw themselves doing one thing that they can do to help at the church. Help them think of something if they can’t come up with something on their own.
Summarize Exodus 35:30-36:7 , using the following story and asking the included questions as you read.
After God brought the Israelites out of Egypt and gave them His rules, the next thing they had to do was build the first church so that they could worship God in it. The first church was called the Tabernacle.
Then, Moses said to the Israelites, “See, the Lord has chosen Bezalel and has put the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit, to live inside of him and has given him talents and skills to build the Tabernacle church and to make all the furniture and decorations for the church. And God has made people to help him.”
God gave Bezalel three things. What were they? (The Holy Spirit to live inside of him, talents and skills to build the church, and people to help him.)
Do you think God could give you the Holy Spirit to live inside of you? (Yes. The Holy Spirit lives inside of everyone who believes in Jesus.)
Do you think God can give you talents and skills to help at church? (Yes. God gives everyone some kind of talent. It’s different for everyone. We have to think about what kinds of talents and skills God has given to us and think about how He wants us to use those skills to help at church.)
Why do you think God gave Bezalel people to help him at the church? (Building the church and making everything was a big job. God knew that Bezalel would need help. That’s why we need to help at church too. One person can’t do it all by themselves. We all need to do our part to make it the best it can be.)
So, Bezalel started working to build the Tabernacle church, just like Moses had told him. But he needed some things to do his work.
If you were building a church, what kinds of things would you need? (Suggestions could include wood, metal, cloth, etc.)
So, the rest of the people brought their offerings to Bezalel at the church so that he could buy the things he needed.
Do you think our church needs money to do the things we do? (Yes.)
What kinds of things does our church need money for? (Paying the pastor and the other workers, paying our electricity and water and gas bills, money to help people, etc.)
Where does the church get the money for that stuff? (From people’s offerings.)
Just like the people needed to bring their offerings to the church back in Moses and Bezalel’s time, so we need to bring our offerings to church now.
And the people brought so much offering to the church, that Moses said, “We have enough money, everyone! Stop bringing your offerings!”
Do you think Moses was happy that the people had brought enough money? (Yes.)
And we can be happy to have enough money for our church, too, but to make that happen, everyone has to do their part in bringing their offerings.
If you get an allowance or you get birthday money or anything like that, you should learn how to do your part by bringing part of that money to church and giving it as an offering to God.
Game: Give it Away
Divide students into two teams. Give one team a handful of pennies. Have them keep as much as they think they need, giving a rationale for each cent. Question their decision on what they need to keep their money for and what they don’t. You are trying to get them to see the difference between needs and wants.
Tell them to give away the rest, putting it into an offering plate. The leader takes some of that money, explaining that it’s for the church to pay its bills, and then gives the rest to the other team. Now, ask the second team to keep what they need from what they’ve been given by the first team. Again, they put their extra into the offering.
Then, the leader pulls out more money to give to the first team to reward them for their generosity. The more they gave away during their round, the more they receive as a reward from God. They are also given the offering from team two. This is how offering works and how God rewards us for it.
Play three rounds. At the beginning of each round, the money that the teams kept is “spent” on their necessities and recycles back into the leader’s supply.
When the Tabernacle, the first church, was finished, what do you think the people did there? (Help students brainstorm to name some of the things we do in church today, explaining that those things that we do are some of the same things that they did back then.)
One thing that the Israelites did back then that we don’t do today is they killed animals during church!
God’s rule is that when someone does something bad, when they sin, they are supposed to be put to death. When you sin, God says you have to die. That’s the punishment.
But God doesn’t want you to die and He didn’t want the Israelites to die, either. So, He made a way for the people to be forgiven when they sinned so that they wouldn’t have to die.
God said that if you did something wrong and sinned, you could bring an animal, like a sheep or a cow, to the church, and then, the pastor, whom they called a priest back then, would kill the animal, and the animal would die instead of you.
It was like God was pretending that the animal had done the wrong thing and could be punished instead of you. When the animal was killed, God forgave you for what you had done.
Do we still do that today? Does the pastor kill animals in church? (No).
How we can be forgiven for the wrong things we’ve done? (Listen to responses).
Instead of killings animals to take our punishment for us, Jesus came and died on the cross and took our punishment. Jesus died so that we don’t have to. When we believe in Jesus, God forgives us for all of our sins.
Jesus coming to die for us was like someone volunteering to get spanked or grounded for us when we were the ones who did something wrong. Jesus loved us enough to come die and go through the worst punishment ever so that we could be forgiven for our sins. When we believe in Jesus, God forgives us and takes us to Heaven when we die.
So, let’s remember that we can all do things to help in church like Bezalel did. We can all bring our offerings to church to help the church pay for things like the Israelites did. And we can do all the things that Israelites did in the first Tabernacle church in our church, except Jesus came to die for us and forgive us for our sins so that we don’t have to kill animals anymore.
Game: Taking Our Place
Play a game of dodge ball with soft play balls or paper wads. When one team starts to accumulate a lot of players in the “Out” zone, run in and say that you’ll take their place being out. They can get back in the game. Do the same for the other team. Keep doing it as long as time allows. Then, explain that just like we were taking the place of people who were out, Jesus took our place on the cross. He took our punishment so that we could be forgiven for our sins.
An alternative is a game of two-team tag. Take the place of students who are tagged and out of the game.
Father, thank You for giving all of us ways that we can help in Your church. And thank You for sending Jesus to die for us so that we could be forgiven for our sins. Help us to live for You every day and to do our part to help Your church. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.
This lesson is included in my book, Slaves to Conquerors: Children’s Sunday School Lessons for Exodus – Joshua.