Title: The Golden Calf
Scripture: Exodus 32
Target Age Group: 3rd-5th grade
Main Point: Where sin is great, God’s grace is greater
Supplies: Play-Doh, Grey and brown construction paper, scissors, markers, index cards with books of the Bible on them
Get the kids’ attention as you use the Play-Doh to fashion some type of animal. It doesn’t have to be a work of art, just something simple. When you’re done make a show of exhibiting your creation.
Say: Check out this awesome animal I just made! Pretty cool huh? You know what, maybe this animal has special powers. What do you think? (Let kids answer.)
Say: You’re right. This animal is just something I made out of Play-Doh. There’s nothing special about it, and it certainly doesn’t have any special power. Wouldn’t it be silly to think that something I made with my own hands would have power? But that’s exactly what happens in the story we’ll hear today.
Tell the Story
Say: Today we will continue reading from the book of Exodus. Last week we heard the story of God giving His people the 10 commandments.
Ask: Who remembers the name of the man that went up on the mountain to talk to God? (Moses.)
Say: Moses was up on Mt. Sinai for a very long time, while the Israelites waited down below. After awhile, they began to think Moses was not coming back, so they started to get anxious. If Moses didn’t return, who would lead them out of the desert? How would they get to the Promised Land? So they came up with a plan.
Read from your Bible: Exodus 32:1
Ask: What did the people want Aaron to do? (Make a god that they could worship and who would lead them.)
Ask: What was wrong with their plan? (God is the one true God. He has commanded us not to worship any other gods! The people had fallen into idolatry by asking for Aaron to make a god for them to worship.)
Say: Aaron gave in to what the people asked him to do. He told them to give him all their gold jewelry, which he melted down and formed into the shape of a calf. (Show the picture of the golden calf.)
Ask: What can this calf do? (Nothing.) Could it lead the people out of the desert? (Nope.) Was it powerful to save them from their enemies? (No way!)
Say: It was not only ridiculous, but sinful for the Israelites to worship the image of a calf that Aaron had created.
Say: While Moses was still in God’s presence, God knew what the people were doing down below. God told Moses that the people had already forgotten about Him, and He would destroy them because of their sin. Moses knew that he had an important job to do, to speak to God on behalf of the Israelites. Let’s read from God’s Word and find out what Moses said.
Read from Your Bible: Exodus 32: 11-13
Say: Instead of destroying all the people, God listened to Moses and decided to save them. Do you remember our main point? Let’s say it together.
Main Point: Where sin is great, God’s grace is greater.
Say: Moses came down the mountain carrying the two tablets that God had inscribed with the 10 commandments. When Moses saw the Israelites worshiping the golden calf he got so angry that he threw the tablets to the ground, breaking them into many pieces. He couldn’t believe that the people were so quick to forget God even after all God had done for them. Moses then burned up the golden calf with fire, ground it into powder, and poured the powder into the drinking water and made the Israelites drink it!
Ask: Do we ever forget God? (Allow time for kids to respond.)
Say: Forgetting God doesn’t always mean creating a golden calf to worship. Sometimes forgetting God means thinking we don’t need Him or that He’s not powerful enough to help us. The Israelites had forgotten God, and their forgetting led them into sin.
Ask: Does anyone know what a mediator is? (Someone who is in the middle-that speaks on behalf of someone else.)
Say: Moses was a mediator for the Israelites. He stood in God’s presence and spoke to Him for them. He would also listen to God and tell the people what He had said. God listened to Moses, not because Moses was perfect or without sin, but because God had chosen him to be the mediator. Moses loved and cared about his people, but even he couldn’t take away their sin. He could only talk to God and ask God to have mercy on them.
Ask: Did you know that we have a mediator today?
Say: We don’t need Moses as a mediator because we have Jesus! He is the man in the middle, with God on one side and us on the other. Jesus is the perfect mediator because He is completely sinless, and He is the only One Who can take our sin away. God’s grace is so much bigger than our sin. Even when we do really really bad things, we can never sin so much that Jesus’s sacrifice can’t cover us. The Israelites did a really really bad thing in worshipping the golden calf, but God still forgave them and loved them as His chosen people.
Say: When we declare that Jesus is our King, and we give our lives to Him, He takes away our sin and makes it possible for us to have a real relationship with God! That’s exciting news! We can thank God today for His incredible grace in our lives. We’ll pray and thank God in just a minute for His great grace, but first let’s practice our main point one more time.
Main Point: Where sin is great, God’s grace is greater.
Pray …. God thank you so much for giving us a perfect mediator in Jesus. We thank you for your great grace in our lives and for providing a way for us to be saved from our sin.
- What was the main point from our lesson? (Where sin is great, God’s grace is greater.)
- Why did the Israelites want Aaron to make a god for them to worship? (They didn’t think Moses was ever coming back and wanted a god to take care of them and lead them out of the desert.)
- What is a mediator? (Someone who stands in the middle and speaks on behalf of one group to another.)
- How was Moses the mediator for Israel? (He spoke to God on behalf of the Israelites so that God wouldn’t destroy them.)
- How did God show mercy on the Israelites? (He didn’t destroy them when they sinned.)
Learning Activity 1: 10 Commandments Craft
Supplies: Grey or brown construction paper, scissors, markers
- Ask the class to see how many of the 10 commandments they can name. Write them on the board (in order) as they think of them.
- Pass out the construction paper to each child and instruct them to cut out 2 tablet shapes.
- Encourage the kids to write the 10 commandments on the two tablets.
- Ask what happened to the 2 tablets that Moses carried down Mt. Sinai that God had written on Himself. (When Moses saw the people worshipping the golden calf he threw down the tablets and they broke, symbolizing that the people had broken their covenant with God.)
Bible Skills Activity: Books of the Bible Race
Supplies: Index cards with the books of the Bible written on them
- Explain that we’re going to start learning the books of the Bible!
- Pass out the books of the Bible cards Depending on your class size the kids might have several. Help the kids open their Bibles to the table of contents so they have a reference guide.
- Clear off some floor space where the kids will lay down their cards. When you say “Go”, start a timer and have the kids race to put their books in the right order. You can do the exercise several times to see if they get faster with each round.