Title: Moses and Pharaoh
Scripture: Exodus 5-7:13
Target Age Group: 3rd-5th grade
Supplies: Sponge, rock, pan, pitcher of water, white paper, pencils, light and dark-colored crayons
Bonus Ideas: Compare this lesson plan with our larger series on Sunday School lessons on the life of Moses. Younger children may enjoy these “Moses Songs” for preschoolers.
Ask: How many of you have been in an airplane?
Say: As you’re cruising along at 35,000 feet, are you able to see the pilot? (No) But you know that he’s in the cockpit flying the plane right? You can trust that even though you can’t see him, he’s in control of the plane. Sometimes when you’re flying the pilot has to do something unexpected to keep the plane and everyone in it safe. Sometimes he might have to make a steep turn so that you feel like you’re falling sideways a little. Other times the plan might be bumped along by turbulence. You might not be able to see the pilot, so you don’t know what he’s doing and why, but you know he’s always in control right?
Say: Today we’re going to hear the next part of Moses’ story and we’ll learn that even when we can’t see it, God is in control.
Tell the Story
Say: God had spoken to Moses through the burning bush and told him to go back to Egypt to lead the Israelites out of slavery. Moses was afraid and had a hard time trusting God because Moses didn’t feel like he was good enough for such a big job.
Ask: Have you ever felt like you weren’t good enough to do something?
Say: The time finally came for Moses to go back to Egypt. God had promised that Aaron would help him speak to Pharaoh, since Moses had difficulty speaking. Aaron met him in the desert and together they went before Pharaoh to ask him to free the Israelites from slavery.
Ask: How do you think they felt? (Allow time for kids to respond.)
Say: The Israelites were in slavery in Egypt. Pharaoh made them work long hours making bricks to build temples and pyramids all over Egypt. Do you think he wanted to lose all that free labor? (No way!) Let’s read God’s word and hear Pharaoh’s response.
Read Exodus 5:2: “Pharaoh said, ‘Who is the Lord, that I should obey him and let Israel go? I do not know the Lord and I will not let Israel go.’”
Say: Pharaoh didn’t know the One True God. He only knew about puny little Egyptian gods who didn’t have any real power. So Pharaoh had no idea how powerful God really is! He soon would though… Not only did Pharaoh refuse to let the Israelites go, but from then on he made their work even harder! He said that the slaves would have to keep making the same number of bricks, but they wouldn’t be provided with the straw they needed. That meant they would have to go gather their own straw before they could make their bricks. Now the work would take even longer!
Ask: How do you think the Israelites felt about Moses and Aaron?
Say: The people were angry! They didn’t want to work even harder, but because of Moses and Aaron their lives were even worse than before. They didn’t believe that God was really going to rescue them from Pharaoh. They had forgotten how powerful God was and how much He cared for them.
Say: Moses felt terrible and he went before God and asked Him why things were so much worse. God reminded Moses that He was the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God didn’t forget about the covenant He had made to Abraham years and years earlier to give His people their own land. Let’s hear again from God’s Word what else God said to Moses…
Read Exodus 6:5-8: “I have heard the groaning of the Israelites, whom the Egyptians are enslaving, and I have remembered my covenant. Therefore say to the Israelites, ‘I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. I will free you from being slaves to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with might acts of judgment…And I will bring you to the land I swore with uplifted hand to give to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob, I will give it to you as a possession. I am the LORD.”
Say: God told Moses to return to Pharaoh and this time they would perform a sign (or miracle) that would demonstrate God’s power to him. God told Aaron to throw his staff down on the ground, and when he did, it became a snake! Pharaoh wasn’t impressed. He called his magicians and they also threw down their staffs, which also became snakes. Suddenly Aaron’s staff ate up the others! Pharaoh still didn’t believe that God was powerful, and he hardened his heart and refused to let the people go.
Ask: Was Pharaoh in control? (No way!)
Say: It looked like things were going all wrong for Moses and Aaron. God had sent them before Pharaoh to free the Israelites and all they’d accomplished was making the work even harder for the people. Pharaoh had hardened his heart against God even though God performed a miracle in front of him.
Ask: Have things ever not gone your way so you felt like God was no longer in control? Maybe you prayed for something that didn’t happen, or you felt like God wasn’t listening when you cried out to Him. (Allow time for kids to respond.)
Say: It might not always seem like it, but God has a plan, and nothing (and no one) can stop His plan!
Ask: Do you remember what happened to Jesus?
Say: He was arrested and killed right in front of all his friends and family! They probably thought that God had forgotten about them too. They couldn’t see that God had a bigger plan; that He was in control. But what happened three days later? That’s right! Jesus was resurrected! Even though the disciples couldn’t see it, God was still in control. In fact, God used Jesus’ death as part of His great big plan.
Ask: Does anyone know what plan God had when Jesus died?
Say: Jesus died as a way to take the punishment that our sin deserves. God’s great big plan was to rescue us from sin just like He would rescue the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. Let’s pray together and thank God for always being in control and for working out His great big plan to save us!
Pray Father God thank you for rescuing us from slavery to sin the way you rescued the Israelites from slavery to Pharaoh. We know that we can trust you to be in control even when we can’t see it and even when it looks like everything is going wrong. Thank you for showing us grace and love everyday! Amen.
What did God ask Moses and Aaron to do? (Go before Pharaoh and ask him to free the Israelites from slavery.)
What was Pharaoh’s response? (He made the workload even harder by not providing the straw for the people to make bricks.)
What was the miraculous sign that God performed before Pharaoh? (Aaron’s staff became a snake and swallowed up the staffs of Pharaoh’s magicians.)
What do you think it means that Pharaoh hardened his heart?
How are we like Pharaoh sometimes today?
Learning Activity 1: God is in Control
Supplies: White paper, pencils, and crayons; popsicle sticks, or other small items with an edge to use for writing
Encourage the kids to think about something in their life that it feels like God isn’t in control of.
Pass out paper and have the kids write out briefly what that thing is (in pencil)
Have them color over what they wrote in light-colored crayons, totally covering the whole page.
Next, have the kids take a dark crayon and color completely over the layer of color, pressing fairly hard onto the paper so that there is a layer of dark crayon wax.
Using the end of a popsicle stick, their fingernail, or other item have the kids scrap away the wax to write “God is in control” on their paper. The lighter colors from underneath will appear in the words.
Encourage the kids to pray and ask God to help them trust Him in every circumstance throughout the week.
Learning Activity 2: Soft Heart, Hard Heart
Supplies: Small sponge, stone, glass of water, pan
Ask one child to read Exodus 7:13, “Yet Pharaoh’s heart became hard and he would not listen to them, just as the LORD had said.”
Show the kids the sponge and the rock. Pass both around so they can feel each.
Explain that God wants our hearts to be soft toward Him so he can fill us with His Word. When our hearts are soft, that means we are willing to listen to God and obey Him, even when it is difficult.
Explain that the water is like God’s Word. Slowly pour a few drops onto the sponge and watch as it is quickly soaked up. Now pour a few drops on the rock. The water will simply drip off onto the pan.
Ask: Is it easier for us to know God and have a relationship with Him if our hearts are hard or soft?
Ask: If are hearts are hard toward God will we be able to understand His Word? (No)
Explain that Pharaoh hardened his heart toward God and wasn’t willing to obey. God would later punish Pharaoh for his disobedience.