Story profiles provide a simple overview of the story along with highlights and points of interest. The story summary is written for kids. When possible, we try to provide an approximate date for the event covered in the story. A printable PDF for this profile is available here and all related activities are listed here.
Bible Story: God Gave Moses His Laws (AKA: Moses and the 10 Commandments)
Bible Text: Exodus 20:1-21
God’s Unfolding Story Element: God chose a special people.
Moses and the people had been walking for many days. God told Moses it was time for the people to rest for a while. Daddies set up tents and mommies fixed places for their children to sleep. Everyone was probably happy to get a chance to rest.
The place where God told Moses to set up camp was in front of a mountain. It was called Mt. Sinai. God asked Moses to walk up the mountain where they would talk. God knew it would be important for His children to know how to show their love to Him and to one another, so God gave Moses some rules or laws for the people.
One time Moses was on the mountain for more than a month. God wrote His laws on stone tablets and gave them to Moses. In turn, Moses passed along to the people the ten laws or commands God wanted them to follow. Some of those laws were:
- I am God, love Me.
- Only worship God and not anyone or anything else.
- Always use God’s name in a right and proper way.
- Obey your father and mother.
- Do not take something that does not belong to you.
- Always tell the truth.
God loved His people and wanted them to love Him. All of God’s commandments would help the Israelites show their love to God and to other people.
These rules are still important for us to follow even today. When we obey them, we show that we love God and love others.
- God gave His people the 10 Commandments to help them know how to live so they would have a better life and honor Him.
- God has revealed Himself to us through the Bible and through Jesus in a way that we can understand and know what He expects. We don’t have to wonder about what God wants or what He is like. He has told us in the Bible.
- God has spoken to us through the Bible and Jesus because He loves us and wants the best for us. This was true with Israel and it is true with us today.
- Each of the Ten Commandments is important and conveys a principal by which we should live today. As your kids are able, talk about the various commandments and what the principal behind each is. You can find an article that interprets each of the commandments on the site.
Point(s) of Interest:
- The time the Israelites spent at Sinai was very close to two years from the time they arrived. During this time God gave Moses many laws regarding how the people were to live and worship Him. Some of the laws were given to Moses on the mountain (Sinai) while some were given from the Tabernacle after it was completed (Lev. 1:1). The story summary above is essentially a single representation of all the times God spoke to Moses. The first list of the 10 Commandments is found in Exodus 20. There are two times recorded that tell of Moses spending 40 days on the mountain and they come later (Ex. 24:18; 34:28). The record of the sin of the golden calf is placed between Moses’ two 40-day trips. We should be careful, then, about saying God gave Moses all of the Law in one setting. For children, however, it’s okay simply to note that God gave Moses His laws while they were at Mt. Sinai.
- The 10 Commandments are a relatively small part of the total Law that was given at Sinai. Much of the Law governed the nature of worship, the specifications of the Tabernacle, and laws governing the sacrificial system. The 10 Commandments provide a foundational set of principles that should govern any people or nation. You can read more about Interpreting the 10 Commandments.
The Exodus probably occurred around 1446 B.C*. Exodus 19:1 tells us the Israelites came to Sinai exactly three months after leaving Egypt. It wasn’t long after their arrival that Moses received the 10 Commandments, so it’s likely the 10 Commandments were given in 1446 or 1445 B.C.
*See Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., EBC, p. 291. Compare with Bright, p. 123. We’ve chosen to go with an earlier date for the Exodus.