The Lord spoke the commandments from Mount Sinai. First, He told Moses to prepare the people. Then on the third day, there was thunder and lightning. The mountain quaked, and there was a thick cloud on the mountain. Then the people heard the sound of a trumpet, and it was very loud. The Lord called Moses to come up onto Mount Sinai and gave him the Ten Commandments.
The very first commandment was about loving the Lord and worshiping Him alone. The Lord said: “I am the Lord your God…. You shall have no other gods before Me…. You shall not bow down to them nor serve them” (Exodus 20:2,3,5).
While Moses was still on the mountain, the children of Israel wanted to make a god to worship. Aaron collected gold earrings from the people and made a golden calf. The people worshiped the calf. The Lord told Moses what they had done, and Moses came down the mountain with the Ten Commandments on two tablets of stone.
When Moses came to the camp, he broke the tablets of stone at the foot of the mountain. Then he destroyed the calf (see Exodus 32:1-8, 15-20).
Read portions of the story:
- Exodus 19:9-20
- Exodus 20:1-5
- Exodus 31:19
- Exodus 32:1-8,15-20
Key parts of the story to discuss with children:
- Where were the children of Israel when the Lord gave them the Ten Commandments? (below Mount Sinai)
- Who went up on Mount Sinai to receive the commandments? (Moses)
- What did the children of Israel hear and see when the Lord gave the Ten Commandments? (thunder, lightning, thick clouds, the sound of a loud trumpet)
- What was the first commandment that the Lord gave? (to love the Lord and to not make any other gods to worship)
- While Moses was on Mount Sinai, what did the children of Israel make to worship as their god? (a golden calf)
Ideas to help us apply this story to our lives:
- The Lord is our God. It is important to love Him and worship Him alone.
- Whatever people love most is like a god that they worship. What are some of the things that people might “worship” instead of the Lord?
- As we think about the first commandment, it can be helpful to remember that love of self is the direct opposite of love to the Lord. And love of the world is the direct opposite of the love of heaven (see Apocalypse Explained 950:3).
- Can we love the Lord without following all of His commandments? “Anyone who supposes that he can love the Lord without leading a life in keeping with His commandments is very much mistaken; for leading a life in keeping with them is what constitutes loving the Lord” (Arcana Coelestia 10578:3).
- The miraculous way the Lord gave the Ten Commandments reinforces the truth that these are the Lord’s laws. So they are spiritual laws as well as moral and civil laws.
Read more about this commandment
- “The First Commandment” by Thomas Hitchcock
Does the first commandment still apply to our lives? We may not be tempted to make physical idols, but there are other ways in which we might disobey this commandment.
- “No Other Gods” by Kurt Horigan Asplundh
The first commandment tells us that we should worship the one true God and have no other Gods before Him. This sounds simple enough. Who would bow before a carved image or worship an idol? The fact is, we all do. The First Commandment is as important for us today as it ever was.
- “Worshiping the One True God” by Brian W. Keith
Worshiping the one God of heaven and earth is the way in which we can forget about ourselves and gain true perspective. Our wants and our ideas pale in comparison to what the Lord offers us.
Projects and activities for all ages
- Picture Giving the Ten Commandments (ages 8-12)
Make a picture of Moses bringing the two tablets of stone down Mount Sinai to help you focus on the miraculous way the Lord gave us the Ten Commandments.
- Identify and Name False Gods - Spiritual Task by Ray and Star Silverman
Notice what occupies your mind and rules over you. Pay attention to whatever it is that separates you from God’s immediate presence. Identify it as a false god and name it.
- Turning Away from False Gods Collage (ages 7-17)
Make a collage showing things people might “worship” or seem to make a higher priority in their lives than the Lord.
- The Worship of Idols Coloring Page by Donald Moorhead
Shows the children of Israel worship an idol as described in Judges 6.
- Conjunction with a Visible God Coloring Page by Marguerite L. Acton
A picture of the Lord God Jesus Christ welcoming us with open arms.
The Lord God Jesus Christ is the one God of heaven and earth. He is all powerful, all knowing, and present everywhere. He wants nothing more than to have us conjoined or bonded to Him and to experience the eternal heavenly happiness that He longs to give us. What is our part in developing this bond? A key step is contained in the first commandment—we must put aside all other gods in our lives and worship the Lord alone.
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