The Golden Calf
Exodus 32; 34
“The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.” Exodus 15:2a
God led His people into the wilderness, but He did not leave them there alone. The Lord was with His people. He provided meat, bread, and water. He guided them to Mount Sinai, where He met with their leader, Moses. The Lord came down on the mountain in fire, and He spoke through thunder. The Israelites could not have ignored His presence.
But when Moses went up on the mountain and did not return for several weeks, the Israelites felt abandoned. They appealed to Moses’ brother, Aaron: “Come, make gods for us who will go before us because this Moses, the man who brought us up from the land of Egypt—we don’t know what has happened to him!” (Ex. 32:1)
Aaron’s response led the people to commit a terrible sin. He gathered gold from the people and made an image of a calf, and the people worshiped the golden calf. God saw what the people were doing, and He told Moses to go down the mountain at once. Moses confronted his brother. Aaron claimed that when the people gave him the gold, he threw it into the fire, and “out came this calf!” (Ex. 32:24)
God punished His people for worshiping a golden calf, and Moses returned to the mountain to ask the Lord to forgive the Israelites’ sin. Moses could not atone for the people’s sin; God said He would hold the people accountable for their sins, but the Lord did not abandon the Israelites.
Introduce your children to the concept of idolatry. An idol is anything a person puts in the place of God. Explain that idolatry is a sin. The Israelites deserved to be punished for their sin. In the same way, we deserve to be punished for our sin. Point out that God’s people sinned against God, and Moses asked God to forgive them. Moses acted as their mediator, standing for them before God. Moses could not do anything to make up for their sin, but we have a better Mediator—Jesus. Jesus paid for our sin on the cross and stands for us before God. When we trust in Jesus, our sins are forgiven.
Check this session’s Activity Page and Big Picture Card as well as the Gospel Project for Kids Family App for ways to interact with the Bible content this week.
BIBLE STORY SUMMARY:
- God’s people worshiped a golden calf.
- God was angry with the people’s sin.
- Moses asked God to forgive them.
KEY PASSAGE: Exodus 15:2a
BIG PICTURE QUESTION:
- What is worship? Worship is celebrating the greatness of God.
FAMILY DISCUSSION STARTERS:
- Define idol as anything a person puts in the place of God. Talk with children about things you are tempted to put before God. Ask if they can think of anything that might be an idol for them.
- Who talks to God for us when we sin?
- How can we be forgiven when we sin?
- Identify a people group that worships physical idols. Pray for that people group to worship
the one true God. Pray that your family would worship God alone.
- Model confession by confessing sin in front of your children this week.