May 23, 2021 – Exodus 32

Lesson Date: May 23, 2021

Focal Scripture Passage: Exodus 32:1-35

AIM: To lead students to recognize that even though we belong to God we still sin, and to encourage them to confess their sin and trust in the intercession of Jesus Christ on their behalf.


Before class: Read the notes on Exodus 32 found in the Sunday School Teacher Book. Write the following scripture references on index cards or pieces of paper: 1 John 1:9; 1 John 2:1. Enlist volunteers to look up the verses and be prepared to read them to the class when called upon. Write the following phrases, one below the other, on the marker board or chalkboard:

Redeemed from Bondage

Fellowship with God

Provision for Needs

Promised New Home


INTRODUCTION (Create Learning Readiness): Tell the students that since this is our next-to-last lesson from the book of Exodus it is a good time for a brief review.

Ask: “Where were the Israelites at the beginning of the book of Exodus?” (they were slaves in Egypt; locate on the Map). Tell the class God chose that nation of slaves to be His people. Direct the class’ attention to the first phrase on the board and tell them God sent terrible plagues upon the Egyptians to redeem Israel from bondage. Point to the second phrase on the board and tell the students that God established a new relationship with Israel so they could have fellowship with Him. He led them out into the wilderness (locate Mount Sinai on the Map) where He provided for their needs (point to third phrase). Point to the last phrase on the board and tell the class God continually promised to take them to a wonderful new home (locate Canaan on the map).

Hold up a Sunday School Member Quarterly and remind the students that the theme of our study of Exodus has been Images of Redemption. The experiences of the ancient Israelites foreshadow many of the experiences God’s children go through today. Direct the class’ attention again to the phrases on the board and tell them Christians have been redeemed from bondage to sin. God has established a new relationship with us through which we can have fellowship with Him. The Lord provides for our needs and promises to take us to a wonderful new home.

Tell the students the title of today’s lesson is Do God’s People Sin? Ask: “Since God did all those wonderful things for the ancient Israelites, surely they remained faithful to Him and never sinned – right?” Tell the class that unfortunately that was not the case with the ancient Israelites, any more than it is with us. Explain that even though God redeems us from bondage to sin, establishes a new relationship with us so we can have fellowship with Him, provides for our needs, and promises us a wonderful new home, we still fall back into sin. Tell the class today’s lesson is about Israel’s terrible sin and how to deal with our own sins.



  1. Review.
    • Remind the students that we are studying the Old Testament book of Exodus.
    • Ask: “What was last week’s lesson about?” (the Mercy Seat).
    • Ask if any volunteer would recite last week’s memory verse (1 John 4:10).
  2. Israel’s Sin.
    • Explain the following:
      • Moses was up on Mount Sinai meeting with God. The rest of the Israelites were camped at the foot of the mountain.
      • While Moses was on the mountain the Lord gave him many new laws for the people and detailed plans for the construction of the Tabernacle.
      • Moses was on the mountain forty days.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Exodus 32:1-6.
    • Ask: “According to verse 1, what did the people demand that Aaron do when they realized Moses had been gone a long time?” (make them gods to lead them).
    • Ask: “What did they say about Moses?” (they didn’t know what had become of him).
    • Remind the students that the first and second commandments (Ex. 20:3-6) forbid worshiping other gods or making idols.
    • Ask: “How did Aaron respond to their sinful request?” (he went right along with it, making an idol of a golden calf)
    • Ask: “What did the people say about the golden calf at the end of verse 4?” (“These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.”)
    • Ask: “According to verse 5, what else did Aaron do?” (built an altar to the false god and proclaimed a feast to it).
    • Ask: “What does verse 6 say the people did?” (offered sacrifices to the golden calf).
    • Tell the students that verse 6 is quoted in 1 Corinthians 10:7. The Greek word translated “play” in that verse clearly refers to sexual immorality.
    • Tell the class that while Moses was receiving God’s Law up on the mountain the Israelites were having a drunken orgy!
    • Summarize: While Moses was up on Mount Sinai receiving God’s laws, the Israelites fell into idolatry and immorality.
  3. God’s Anger.
    • Read Exodus 32:7-10.
    • Ask: “Why did God tell Moses to go down to the people?” (because they had corrupted themselves).
    • Note that in verse 8 God told Moses exactly what the people had done.
    • Ask: “How did God describe the Israelites in verse 9?” (a stiff-necked people).
    • Ask: “What did God say in verse 10 that He would do if Moses did not intervene or intercede?” (utterly destroy them and raise up a new nation from Moses).
    • Summarize: God was angry at the Israelites for their terrible sin. He offered to destroy them and make a new nation from Moses’ descendants.
  4. Moses’ Intercession.
    • Tell the class Moses did not stand idly by; he immediately talked to God on behalf of the children of Israel. Moses begged God not to destroy the nation.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Exodus 32:11-14.
    • Ask: “According to verse 12, what did Moses say the Egyptians would think if God destroyed Israel in the wilderness?” (they would think He took them out of Egypt for that purpose; they would think God was just playing games with the Israelites).
    • Tell the students in verse 13 Moses reminded God of His promise to multiply the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel (Jacob) and of His promise to bring them into the Promised Land.
    • Ask: “What happened in verse 14?” (the Lord turned from His stated intention to destroy Israel).
    • Summarize: Moses interceded for sinful Israel and God spared them from destruction.
  5. The Terrible Cost of Sin.
    • Read Exodus 32:15-18.
    • Explain the following:
      • Moses went down from the mountain carrying the two stone tablets on which God had written His Laws.
      • He reunited with Joshua, who was waiting partway up the mountain.
      • The two men heard loud noise coming from the camp of Israel below.
    • Ask: “What did Joshua think the noise was?” (the noise of warfare).
    • Tell the class that Moses told him it was not the noise of battle, but of riotous partying.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Exodus 32:19-20.
    • Ask: “How did Moses feel when he saw what the people were doing?” (very angry).
    • Ask: “What did he do with the two stone tablets?” (threw them down at the base of the mountain and broke them).
    • Tell the students that Moses took the golden calf, burned it in the fire, and ground it to powder. He spread the powder on the water and made the people drink it.
    • Tell the class that next Moses confronted Aaron.
    • Read Exodus 32:21-25.
    • Ask: “What did Moses ask Aaron in verse 25?” (What did the people do to cause you to bring this terrible sin upon them?).
    • Tell the students that Aaron claimed the people forced him to make the golden calf; he also lied to Moses, saying he threw the gold in the fire and the golden calf jumped out.
    • Ask: “What did Moses see in verse 25?” (that the people were naked).
    • Ask: “Why were the people naked?” (because Aaron had made them that way). This was a shame and reproach.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Exodus 32:26-29.
    • Explain the following:
      • Moses asked who was on the Lord’s side, and the Levites came to him.
      • Moses told them to take their swords and go throughout the camp, killing anyone who persisted in idolatrous and immoral behavior.
      • They killed 3,000 men that day!
    • Summarize: Sin cost Israel their stone tablets of God’s Law, it brought them rebuke and shame, and it cost the lives of 3,000 men. Sin always carries a terrible price!
  6. Moses’ Self-Sacrificing Love for the People.
    • Read Exodus 32:30.
    • Ask: “Did Moses minimize the seriousness of the peoples’ sin?” (no).
    • Stress the fact that sin is a serious matter; it doesn’t help to try to dress it up or make it sound better than it is.
    • Read Exodus 32:31-35.
    • Tell the students that Moses begged God to forgive their sin.
    • Ask: “What did he say God should do if He would not forgive the people?” (blot Moses out of His book; in other words, kill him).
    • Stress the fact that Moses was willing to put his life on the line on behalf of his people.
    • Tell the class that God said no one would die but those who were guilty. The Lord sent plagues among the people because of their sin.
    • Summarize: Moses exhibited self-sacrificing love for His people, foreshadowing the kind of love Jesus has for us.


PERSONAL APPLICATION: Ask: “Wouldn’t you think people whom God had freed from slavery, who had seen Him do miraculous things on their behalf, and who ate the food He provided for them every day would refrain from sinning against Him? Wouldn’t you think they would obey every one of His commands?” Unfortunately, that is not always the case.

Tell the students that today’s lesson reminds us that human beings have a sin nature. Even though we have been redeemed and seen God act in miraculous ways, we still have a natural tendency toward sin and evil. Ask: “How many of you will admit that you are a sinner?”

Remind the class that when Israel sinned God wanted to destroy them. This reminds us that, “the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23). Ask: “What prevented God from destroying the Israelites?” (Moses interceded for them). Moses placed Himself between the righteous anger of God and the sinful people. Moses admitted that their sin was terrible, but he was willing to put his life on the line on behalf of his people.

Tell the class that even though we belong to Jesus Christ we still sin. Ask the previously enlisted volunteers to read 1 John 1:9 and 1 John 2:1. Ask: “What should we do when we sin?” (confess our sins and trust in the advocacy and intercession of Jesus Christ on our behalf).

Ask: “Do you need to confess any sins right now?” Ask everyone to bow their head and close their eyes. Encourage them to confess their sins and trust in Christ’s intercession. Voice a closing prayer.


CONCLUSION: Encourage the students to memorize 1 John 1:9 and to confess their sins as soon as they are aware of them. Give everyone a copy of the Sunday School Member Quarterly for the Summer quarter. Tell them in two weeks we will continue the story of Moses and the Israelites as we study the books of Leviticus and Numbers.

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