Use this Golden Calf Sunday School lesson to teach kids about the story of the golden calf.
Lesson: (Note: Always allow students enough time to think about and answer the questions before clarifying the teaching.)
(Summarize Exodus 19-34:7, using the following story and asking questions as you go.)
After God brought Moses and the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt, God told Moses to come up on Mount Sinai with Him so that He could give Moses the laws that the people were supposed to follow. No one else was allowed to come up on the mountain or else they would die. The people saw God coming down like a fire on the mountain. There was a lot of smoke and the mountain shook like there was an earthquake. And the people heard God’s voice, sounding like thunder, but they couldn’t understand what He was saying. Only Moses could understand what God was saying.
Moses up on the mountain for forty days and forty nights, not eating or drinking anything, but just listening to God give him the laws that the people were supposed to follow. God gave Moses two stone tablets and wrote the Ten Commandments on them with His own finger.
At the end of the forty days, it was time for Moses to come back down the mountain. God said, “Moses, I am very angry with the Israelites because they have done something very wrong. They have made an idol while you were up here on the mountain and they are pretending that the idol is Me.”
What is an idol? (An idol is a statue that people pray to and worship.)
And God said, “Moses, because the Israelites are worshipping and praying to the idol they made and pretending that the idol is Me, I am going to kill all the Israelites as a punishment.”
But Moses said, “No, God, don’t do it. Please. Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and how You promised to give their grandchildren the whole land of Canaan. You can’t kill their grandchildren, the Israelites, or else You would be breaking Your promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”
Then God told Moses that He would not kill all of the Israelites. Moses went down the mountain and saw the idol that the people had made. It was a golden calf, a baby cow made out of gold. Moses was so mad that the people were worshipping and praying to the idol instead of God that he threw down the stone tablets God had given him with the Ten Commandments written on them.
He grabbed his brother, Aaron the priest, and said, “Why did you make this idol?”
Aaron said, “You were up on the mountain so long, we didn’t know what happened to you. The people told me to make an idol and I did. They gave me some of their gold earrings and I made it into this golden calf.”
Then Moses took the golden calf idol and melted it in the fire. He took the ashes and put it in the water and made the people drink it to show them the idol is not the real God since it can be broken.
Then Moses yelled, “Whoever is on God’s side, come to me!”
All of the Levites, the priests and the priests’ helpers, came to him. Moses said, “This is the punishment for worshipping the idol. All of you take your sword and kill the Israelites for their punishment.”
The Levites attacked the Israelites who wanted to keep worshipping the idol instead of God and they killed about three thousand people.
The next day, Moses prayed to God again and asked God to forgive the Israelites for making the idol. God said, “I will forgive them, but first, I am going to punish them more so that they know not to worship idols every again.” Then God made a lot of the Israelites get sick and die. After that, the punishment was over.
Then God gave Moses two more stone tablets with the Ten Commandments written on them since Moses broke the first two when he threw them down. And God said, “I love My people and I will forgive them whenever they do something wrong, but I will also punish them when they do something wrong so that they know not to do it again.”