Moses the Leader

Whole schoolRE
Moses meets with God on Mount Sinai.

Introduction

The following outline explores the life of Moses and his call to be a great leader for God.

Moses was called by God to reflect the light of God to the people of Israel and to lead them out of slavery through the waters to freedom. He encountered that light in the burning bush in the desert; he followed that light in the bright cloud that went before them as they escaped Egypt; and he witnessed the majesty of that light in the fire and lightning that surrounded Mount Sinai. It was within the heart of this shekinah glory on the mountain that God not only spoke to Moses to give him the Ten Commandments and the pattern for making the Tabernacle but also that Moses was granted a glimpse God’s glorious light as God passed by, along with the words: The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, and abounding in love and faithfulness (Exodus 34:6, NIV).

It was following this second mountain top experience that Moses most clearly began to reflect this light, when everyone saw that the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God (Exodus 34:29). This is the main focus in the following session outline but there is also an overview of the whole story of Moses up to this point.

Preparation

Use the retelling of the story from The Barnabas Children's Bible, page 62, story 61.
The focus story in the Bible is found in Exodus 33 and 34.

Development

1. Use the following warm-up idea, with plenty of mime and actions from the whole class, as a way of retelling the story of Moses up to the moment when God calls him to climb Sinai for the second time.

Moses was born and was a beautiful baby... - rock a child in your arms

But the Pharaoh wanted to kill all the baby boys. - run on the spot trying to hide the baby in terror

Moses was hidden in the bulrushes along the River Nile... - crouch down low, hiding the baby

But was found by Pharaoh’s daughter, who decided to keep him. - lift the baby up high and say in a sweet voice ‘who’s a pretty boy then?’

Moses grew up in the Pharaoh’s court... - dance like an Egyptian!

But Moses never forgot he was really a Hebrew child. - dance to a Jewish rhythm, like step to the left 1, 2 clap, and then step to the right 1,2 clap, as in the rhythm of the chorus ‘Jesus put this song into my heart’

One day he saw his people being treated badly and he fought and killed an Egyptian guard. - conduct a mock fight

He then had to run for his life. - run hard on the spot

He became a shepherd in the land of Midian. - start counting sheep; add in some sheep noises

One day he saw a bush on fire. - shade eyes and looked intently at an imaginary bush

It was shining with a light that did not dim.. - shield your eyes

He took off his shoes and approached the light. - mime this action, tiptoeing carefully on the spot

God spoke to him and gave him the job of leading his people to freedom. - make a shocked face

God promised that he would be with him and give him help. - make a scared face

Moses went to Pharaoh and said ‘Let my people go’. - stamp one foot on the ground and say the words loudly

The Pharaoh refused again and again. - turn around with slumped shoulders and shake head

Many strange and terrible things happened in the land of Egypt. - mime your way through the plagues quickly with actions for: tasting blood in the water, dodging hopping frogs, swatting flies, making animal noises, scratching boils, killing gnats, swiping at buzzing locusts, groping in the dark, dodging hailstones, and weeping for dead sons

Finally Pharaoh let the people go and Moses led the people to freedom. - march off with determination

But the Pharaoh changed his mind... - run faster and faster

And they were trapped by the Reed Sea... but God opened up a way to go. - walking gingerly across a muddy sea bed

They arrived safe on the other side and were free. - jump for joy!

Moses led them through the desert. - tramp across the sand, wiping their foreheads in the heat

The people grumbled but God provided them water from the rock... - gulp, gulp

And food for each day. - munch, munch

Finally they arrived at Mount Sinai. - look up in awe

God’s holy mountain was ablaze with light. - shield eyes

Only Moses went up the mountain and was away for 40 days and 40 nights - looking at watches, indicating time passing with a finger

The people thought he’d gone missing, so decided to make a golden calf to worship. - all bow down

Suddenly Moses appeared and he was angry. - angry Moses looks

He smashed the Ten Commandments he had brought down with him. - great smashing noise

He felt like giving up as a leader of this people... - despairing looks

But God called him up the mountain again. - climbing actions

What would happen next?

2. Moses, the great leader, had already given so much of himself that he must have truly despaired that the people forgot God so easily. God had been faithful in bringing them safely out of Egypt, taking them across the desert and showing them the way to go. But all the thanks God got was that they turned to other gods instead.

As a class talk through the following questions:

  • Why do you think this happened?
  • What would you think about it all, if you were Moses?
  • Does this sort of thing happen today?
  • What do you think God feels like when people so easily forget all the good things that God does for them?

3. Moses’ second mountain top experience was truly amazing!

Read the story from The Barnabas Children's Bible, page 62.

Set up a series of simple freeze-frames in small groups to tell this part of the story. You could storyboard these together at the end or use a digital camera to capture the different stages of the dialogue.

God and Moses talk together often at the Tent of Meeting... ‘face to face, as a man speaks with his friend’ (Exodus 33:11, NIV).

God tells Moses to go on with the people but without God's presence (33:1-3).

Moses decides to continue with the work and wants God to bring them all to the new land (33:13).

God promises to go with them (33:14).

God calls Moses up the mountain for a second time (34:2).

God says God will give Moses a glimpse of God’s glory (33:19-23).

Moses catches a glimpse of God’s back (34:6).

God reminds Moses (and us!) how amazing God is (34:6).

Moses writes out the Ten Commandments for a second time (34:27-28).

Moses comes back down the mountain shining with the reflection of the light of God in his face (34:29).

Moses has to put a veil over his face, because it is so bright (34:33).

Encourage the children to capture the drama of talking with God, puzzling about what to do next, asking God to be with him, hiding in the cleft of the rock, being dazzled by the glorious light of God, writing out the Ten Commandments, reacting to the shining face of Moses.

4. As a creative response to the whole story of Moses and the theme of light, focus on the different ways light is reflected, first from the bush, then from the cloud, then on the mountain and finally from Moses’ face.

Cut out shapes for each of these objects and cover them with various reflective materials, such as kitchen foil, fluorescent paper, silver card, small craft mirrors and so on. Now shine a bright torch light on to the different objects to reproduce what happened in the story. The bright light represents God and each of the objects and people reflect that light.

Attach the various objects to a bigger piece of card to act as an overall visual for the story.

5. With older children, you might like to look at what Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 3:7-18, in the New Testament. Here he uses this very story to help us to think about how Christians are meant to reflect the light of God, like Moses.

6. For a reflection on this story, use the words about God that come in this story (and elsewhere in the Bible) - see Exodus 34:6. This is a description of God that is cherished by Jews, Muslims and Christians alike.

Print off this verse in different Bible versions (see Biblegateway).

Mount each part of the verse on a separate piece of card and then use each as a focus for a class reflection.

What do the children think is meant by each phrase? Can they put it into words of their own? For example:

God’s grace and kindness... link to the need for help both to express and to receive kindness in our day-to-day lives.

God’s patience and slowness to anger... link to those times when we get angry too quickly and for the wrong reasons.

God’s steadfast love... link to those people we know who are especially in need and feel that no one loves them.

God’s faithfulness... link to a determination to stick by our own promises to others.

Acknowledgements

Photo by Etienne Bösiger on Unsplash