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7. God Gives the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20; Deuteronomy 5)

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Main Point: God gave us His Law to show us our complete need for Him.

Key Verse:

For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The law simply shows us how sinful we are. - Romans 3:20 NLT

Props: 2 pieces of identical clothing – one that is filthy and one that looks brand new


Say: Ever since Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, God’s desire has been to restore the broken relationship between God and people. God made a covenant. A covenant is a promise from God that can never be broken. The covenant stated that God wanted a relationship with the people, but in order to have this loving relationship, they had to turn away from their sin. God promised that He would send a Deliverer to crush Satan (Genesis 3:15). God also made a covenant, a forever promise, with Abraham. God promised that through Abraham’s children everyone on earth would be blessed. God said that Abraham’s famly, called the Israelites, would be His people and that they were to live as an example to the rest of the world.

Years after Abraham died, the Israelites became slaves in the land of Egypt. God sent Moses to deliver them from slavery. Moses led the great Exodus (or “exit”) out of Egypt into the Promised Land.

The Commandments

Say: Read with me, beginning in Exodus 19:1

Exactly three months after the people of Israel left Egypt, they came to the Desert of Sinai. After they started out from Rephidim, they entered the Desert of Sinai. They camped there in the desert in front of the mountain.

Then Moses went up to God. The Lord called out to him from the mountain. He said, “Here is what I want you to say to my people, who came from Jacob’s family. Tell the Israelites, ‘You have seen for yourselves what I did to Egypt. You saw how I carried you on the wings of eagles and brought you to Myself.’ ”

Now obey me completely. Keep My covenant. If you do, then out of all of the nations you will be my special treasure. The whole earth is mine. But you will be a kingdom of priests to serve me. You will be my holy nation.” That is what you must tell the Israelites. - Exodus 19:1-6

Ask: So far, do you think that the Israelites had been trusting God in the wilderness? No, they had been complaining and doubting God’s goodness.

Say: When God gave the “IF-THEN” promise, the Israelites should have admitted that they couldn’t keep their side of their covenant with God. Instead, they readily agreed to God’s way. They said, “We will do everything the Lord has said.” (Exodus 19:8)

The truth is, these people did not understand the depth of their sin problem, and they didn’t understand God’s holiness. God is the Master Teacher, and He gave them a “hands-on” project. He told the people to wash their clothes. This may sound strange to us because we wear clean clothes everyday. But remember, these people had been traveling for 3 months in the desert. Can you imagine how dirty their clothes must have been? Teacher: Show a really dirty piece of clothing.

When God told them to wash their clothes, He was helping the people understand that just as their clothes were dirty, their hearts were polluted as well. They needed God to clean them from the inside out! God wanted the people to be physically and spiritually ready to hear from Him. Teacher: Show that same piece of clothing completely new and clean.

After the people washed their clothes, Moses led the people to the foot of the mountain. God set a boundary line around Mt. Sinai that they were not allowed to cross. They were not to go up the mountain, or even touch the mountain.

The people were warned not to approach God, because He is holy, and they were sinful. God sent thunder and lightning, a thick cloud over the mountain, and a loud trumpet blast. Everyone in the camp trembled with fear and awe of God. God called Moses up to the mountain, and there He gave him the 10 Commandments.

These 10 Commandments would teach the people more about God. It showed that He requires the high standard of perfect behavior because He is perfect. God also gave these rules to show love and protection to His people. These rules would help them keep away from the dangers of sin. The commandments showed the people their need to separate from sin and turn to God.

God wrote the 10 Commandments on two stone tablets. (Exodus 31:18; 32:15-16; 34:1, 28; Dt. 10:4). These commandments were written on stone to symbolize that they could not be changed. Human laws change from time to time, but God’s word never changes.

“Lord, Your word lasts forever. It stands firm in the heavens.” - Psalm 119:89

Ten Commandments

Say: We’re going to talk through the meaning of each of these commandments. The first four commandments are all about our relationship to God. The last six commandments are about our relationship to other people. Let’s look at the commandments in Exodus 20.

Rule #1 (Exodus 20:3) Do not put any other gods in place of Me.

Isaiah 45:5 says, “I am the Lord. There is no other Lord. I am the one and only God.”

Most of us probably do not worship foreign idols, but did you know that even good things could become like a god to us? If toys, family, being popular, video games, sports, hobbies, or anything else becomes more important to you than God is; you have broken this commandment.

Rule #2 (Exodus 20:4-5) Do not make statues of gods that look like anything in the sky or on the earth or in the waters. Do not bow down to them or worship them.

Isaiah 42:8 says, “I am the Lord. That is my name! I will not let any other god share my glory. I will not let statues of gods share my praise.”

No man-made image is worthy of worship – only the true God is. Be careful about directing too much attention to pictures, statues, or symbols of God. God is a spirit, and there is no need to form a physical image of Him or of anything He created (angels).

Rule #3 (Exodus 20:7) Do not misuse the name of the Lord your God.

We should always respect God’s name. God’s name should not be used lightly. Our culture in general shows great disrespect for God’s name. Often His name is used while cursing or joking. The Bible clearly tells us to not misuse God’s name; always speak God’s name with respect.

Rule #4 (Exodus 20:8) Keep the Sabbath Day holy.

God was telling the people that their bodies needed one day a week for rest and worship. As with all of God’s rules, this was for their own (and our own) benefit. Even today, our culture promotes over-busyness. Activities dominate many people’s lives. God wants us to be still and quiet so that we can listen to Him.

Rule #5 (Exodus 20:12) Honor your father and mother.

God wants our homes and family life to be peaceful and filled with love. Children should be respectful and obey their parents. God provides parents to help, protect, and teach their children. By respecting their parents, kids show that they respect God’s provision for them.

Ask: What are some ways that you can show respect to your parents? Obey the first time; don’t talk back; have a happy attitude; speak nicely.

This commandment has a promise in it. It says that if you honor your parents, you will live a long time on the earth. Deuteronomy 5:16 also promises that things will go well in your life if you respect your parents. Raise your hand if you want things to go well in your life. God has made a promise to you. Respect and obey your parents and watch this promise come true!

Rule #6 (Exodus 20:13) Do not murder.

God created man in His own image, and God gives life to all. It is wrong to take away life from another person. But even more than that, God tells us that if we WISH that someone were dead, that is the same thing as murder! (Matthew 5:22)

Rule #7 (Exodus 20:14) Do not commit adultery.

When a person is married, God tells them that they are to show romantic love only to their husband or wife. The Bible also tells us all to have pure thoughts toward other people.

Rule #8 (Exodus 20:15) Do not steal.

Stealing is taking something that does not belong to you. This even includes stealing answers from another person’s test.

Ask: Have you ever had something stolen from you? It feels terrible, doesn’t it! God is the one who provides what we have. We should trust that God gives us everything we need. Taking things away from other people shows we do not trust God’s provision.

Rule #9 (Exodus 20:) Do not lie.

Say: God can do anything – except for this: God cannot lie! (Hebrews 6:18 says that it is impossible for God to lie. In the New Testament, Jesus declares that He is the Way, the TRUTH, and the Life. (John 14:6)

Just the opposite, Satan is the father of lies. The Bible says that lying is his native language. (John 8:44) Most of us in this room speak English. The Bible says that Satan speaks LIES. This commandment warns us not to be like Satan, but rather to be like God and speak the truth.

Rule #10 (Exodus 20:) Do not covet.

This means that we should not want what other people have. The Bible tells us to be content with what we have.

Hebrews 13:5 says, “Don’t be controlled by love for money. Be happy with what you have. God has said, ‘I will never leave you. I will never desert you.’”

Say: The people were beginning to understand God’s standard of holiness and their sinful ways. Soon they would realize that there was no way to keep all of these commandments perfectly, all the time, on their own. They desperately needed God!


Key Verse:

For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The law simply shows us how sinful we are. - Romans 3:20 NLT


Main Point: God gave us His Law to show us our complete need for Him.

Teacher Note: The interesting thing to note here is that these 10 Commandments really were not new. God had already written them in the hearts of people. We can see in prior Scripture that each of these laws had already been addressed; these laws were previously understood. In giving the 10 Commandments, God compiled these truths, reiterating His standard of righteousness.

1. Do not worship any other gods. - Genesis 35:2 NIV: ‘Get rid of the foreign gods.’
2. Do not make any idols. - Genesis 31:30 NIV: Laban to Jacob: ‘But why did you steal my gods?’
3. Do not misuse the name of God. - Genesis 24:3 NIV: ‘I want you to swear by the Lord.’
4. Keep the Sabbath holy. - Genesis 2:3 NIV: ‘God blessed the seventh day and made it holy.’
5. Honor your father and mother. - Genesis 27:41 NIV: ‘The days of mourning my father are near.’
6. Do not murder. - Genesis 4:9 NIV: ‘Where is your brother Abel?’
7. Do not commit adultery. - Genesis 39:9: ‘How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?’
8. Do not steal. - Genesis 44:4-7 NIV: ‘Why have you stolen my silver cup?’
9. Do not lie. - Genesis 39:17 NIV: ‘[Joseph] came to me to make sport of me but he ran.’
10. Do not covet. - Genesis 12:18; 20:3 NIV: ‘You are as good as dead because of the woman you have taken; she is a married woman.

© 2007  All rights reserved worldwide. May be reproduced for personal, nonprofit, and non-commercial uses only. 

Unless otherwise noted the Scriptures taken from: Holy Bible, New International Reader’s Version, (NIrV®)

Copyright © 1995, 1996, 1998 by International Bible Society  /  Used by permission of IBS-STL.  All rights reserved worldwide.

Special thanks to John R. Cross, The Stranger on the Road to Emmaus, GoodSeed International.

Related Topics: Children, Children's Curriculum

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