Friday, May 8, 2009

Sunday School - the law and sacrifices (2) the law

How do you teach the Old Testament law to children? More than 600 commands, from "Do not cook a young goat in its mother's milk" Exod 23:19 to "'If a man sleeps with his daughter-in-law, both of them must be put to death" (Lev 20:12)!

The obvious place to start is with the 10 commandments: the "words of the covenant" spoken by God out of fire, cloud and deep darkness (Exod 34:28, Exod 19-20, Deut 5). For these 10 words are the foundation of God's law and covenant with Israel.

Besides, the giving of the 10 commandments on Mount Sinai is a rollicking good story! As I told the story, the kids drew and pasted the events on a poster (I cut out the shapes beforehand). I can't remember a more enjoyable Sunday School lesson!

We started with Mount Sinai when the Israelites arrived there after a 3 month journey through the desert from Egypt, and God told them to get ready for his coming in 3 days time:

On the third day, there was deep darkness on the mountain:

There was thick cloud:

There was thunder and lightning:

God descended on the mountain in fire, and smoke billowed up as if from a furnace:

The mountain trembled, a trumpet blast sounded, and God spoke from out of the fire, cloud and darkness:

God spoke 10 words which he later wrote on 2 tablets of stone:

We read through the 10 commandments, holding up 1 finger for each until we reached 10 fingers (I explained adultery as "not keeping your promise to the person you're married to"). I asked the kids which ones they could remember, and we ran through them again, holding up 10 fingers.

I didn't want to teach that we have to keep this law today: we don't. (Interestingly, when I asked the kids whether we have to obey the 10 commandments, half said "yes" and half "no" - probably a lower degree of confusion than adult Christians!).

To the Israelites, God said "be careful to do what the LORD your God has commanded you" (Deut 5:32). But to us he says, "Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law" (Gal 3:25).

Jesus obeyed the 10 commandments perfectly on our behalf. When he died, he took the punishment we deserve for disobeying the law. We no longer have to obey the law (Gal 3:25, Rom 6:15, 18, 7:4, 8:2, 10:4). Instead, God asks something far harder: to love him and others with everything that's in us (Matt 5).

Only 2 commands remain, the heart of all the rest. We held up 2 fingers as we talked about these: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength" and "'Love your neighbour as yourself" (Mark 12:30-31 cf John 13:34, 15:12, Rom 13:9-10, Eph 5:1-2, 1 John 3:16, 23, 4:21, Jam 2:8).

My 5 year old son Thomas, after hearing that we don't need to keep the 10 commandments, said, "Does that mean we get to KILL PEOPLE?" I disappointed him by asking, "If we love people, will we kill them?" "NO!" "If we love people, will we steal from them?" "NO!" "If we love God, will we worship idols?" "NO!"

Love fulfils everything the law demands and more (Matt 5:17, Rom 13:8, 10, Gal 5:14, 6:2). Here's our "before and after" picture for the book we're making this term (brown for the tablets of stone?? I had trouble picking a colour for this one!).

This Sunday, we'll be talking about the tabernacle - God's royal tent - and we'll start making a tabernacle model. I'm looking forward to it!

1 comment:

Anna said...

I love it. I'm looking forward to seeing the tabernacle too.