The Lord Gives Moses the Ten Commandments

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1 The Lord Gives Moses the Ten Commandments (portions of Exodus 19-20, 32-34) By Rev. Kurt Horigan Asplundh Illustrated by Marguerite Acton 2004 General Church Office of Education

2 Have you ever heard anyone recite the Ten Commandments? Do you know what they are? The Lord tells us how to live a good life by following ten rules. They are called the Ten Commandments. The first time people ever heard these rules was long, long ago, when the Lord spoke them out loud from a mountain called Sinai. He gave them to the Children of Israel to tell them how He wanted them to live. They are rules of life for us to follow, too. The Children of Israel went to Mount Sinai after escaping from the land of Egypt. Moses, their leader, brought them there to worship the Lord. They camped at the foot of the mountain and waited while Moses went up the mountain to listen to what the Lord would say. The Lord told Moses that the people should get ready. In three days He would come down on the mountain. No one was to be allowed to go up the mountain or even to touch it, except for Moses and a few other leaders. 1

3 On the third day, the Lord came down in fire and thick smoke with loud thunder and lighting. There was a very loud trumpet sound. The whole mountain shook. Do you think the people were afraid? Yes, they trembled with fear. They didn t dare go too near. Then, when everyone was listening, the Lord said the commandments in a loud voice. He began, saying: I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before Me (Exodus 20:2-3). This was the first and most important commandment. Many people in those days worshipped idols and images, but the Children of Israel were to worship only the Lord. They all heard this commandment. Would they always obey it? The people stood far off, but Moses came near the thick darkness on the mountain where the Lord was. The Lord said to him, Come up to Me on the mountain and I will give you tablets of stone, and the law and commandments which I have written (Exodus 24:12). 2

4 Moses, with Joshua his friend, went up the mountain and disappeared into the cloud that covered it. They stayed there a long time with the Lord while He taught Moses. Moses wrote down all of these things, but he did not write down the Ten Commandments. The Lord Himself wrote the Ten Commandments on two tablets of stone with His own finger. Moses stayed on the mountain for forty days and forty nights. Then the Lord gave him the tablets of stone to carry down to the camp. 3

5 But then, there was a sad part to the story. When Moses and Joshua came down the mountain with the Commandments, they found that the people had made a golden image. They were worshipping a golden calf! They had already forgotten the first rule the Lord gave them, You shall have no other gods before Me! Moses grew hot with anger and threw the tablets to the ground. They broke on the ground! The people had already broken the very first commandment by worshipping an image. Now the tablets with all the commandments were broken! Because they had disobeyed the Lord, the people were punished. Moses had the golden calf burned and ground to powder. Then he scattered the powder on the water and made the people drink it. Many of them died of a sickness because of what they had done. Then they were sorry, and Moses asked the Lord to forgive them. The Lord gave them another chance. 4

6 He told Moses to cut two tablets of stone like the first ones. He said, I will write on these tablets the words that were on the first tablets which you broke (Exodus 34:1). Early in the morning, Moses took these new tablets and carried them up to the top of the mountain. Once again, the Lord came down in the cloud. Then the Lord wrote with His own finger on these new tablets, the same words He had written before. When Moses came down from the mountain this time, no one was worshipping a golden image. The people were waiting for him. When he came near, carrying the tablets, the people saw a wonderful sight. His face shone with a kind of light. This was because he was carrying the Lord s truths. Then, the people were afraid to come near him, but he called them back to teach them what the Lord had said to him. They knew that what he said must be from the Lord because his face shone with brightness while he spoke. 5

7 Can you imagine having something that the Lord Himself had written? These tablets of stone were the most precious things the Israelites had. They made a special wooden chest covered over with gold, called the Ark of the Covenant, to keep the two stone tablets in. On these tablets were their rules of life. The Ark of the Covenant was to go with them wherever they went. We have these same words that the Lord wrote. They are in the Word, in the book of Exodus. The Word is a precious Book to us, just as the tablets of stone were precious to the Children of Israel. It is the Lord speaking to us, teaching us how to follow Him and how to find heaven. 6

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