Take a Hike with Jesus! Sunday School Lesson on the Presence of God
Mountains are pretty incredible places, and can be inspirational for Christians seeking deeper faith. The Bible contains a lot of significant stories involving mountains, and this lesson highlights one of them. God often chose to meet people in special places, and made or renewed covenants there. However, mountains aren’t the only way to grow closer to God. He is everywhere! His presence is at all times and in all places, and we don’t even need special equipment to access it!
Children are literal thinkers, and might often wonder how or where to “find” God, imagining that perhaps He is in the sky or church buildings. It’s helpful for them to realize that we do not need to go somewhere or do anything special to be in His presence. God is always with us! He’s not just in a cloud or on a mountain top. Because of the blood of Jesus, we have direct access to the throne room of the king, and He wants to hear from us as His beloved children.
Passage: Exodus 24:9-18
Target Audience: Kindergarten-6th grade
Materials Needed: Construction paper; paper plates; cotton balls; glue; markers or crayons; pictures of mountains; popsicle sticks; camping gear; tape; scissors; decorative supplies; Bibles.
Lesson Opening: This passage involves an exciting scene on a mountain with God. There are several important Biblical mountains, but this one in particular focuses on Moses, and also involves some wild cloud cover! Open with some activities to spark thought and introduce themes. Some possible ideas include:
- Mysterious mountains…display several pictures or maps that feature large mountain peaks. You might also consider discussing people who have scaled high mountains, and what makes those feats impressive. Explain that the Bible gives us some important stories involving mountains, and one of those will be covered today.
- Camping preparation relay: Set out various camping supplies at one end of the room. Have students form two groups, and take turns racing to gather the camping gear that they think would be most important for a mountain expedition. Have each side set up their “camp” and explain why the objects they picked seemed most important.
- Count the clouds: hide cotton balls around a room, forty in total. Invite students to locate and gather the “clouds”, and then count them to view what forty looks like (since Moses was on the mountain forty days and nights). This is especially positive for younger students.
- What commandments? This lesson involves the giving of the law in the form of the Ten Commandment tablets. Have students identify what the commandments are, and if extra time or attention allows it, have them play charades or pictionary with the commandments!
- Fulfilled in Christ: You might also describe (briefly) within this lesson the significance of the Transfiguration, and how Jesus appeared on a mountain to some of His friends (Moses was there then, too!).
Explain to students that today’s lesson is about God’s presence. In the Bible, God appeared to people in various times and ways. Sometimes we think that God is not as much active as He was then, or that we don’t hear from Him in the way we want to. But God is always with us, even if we don’t feel or realize it. Because of Jesus, we can talk to God anytime, anywhere!
Sunday School Bible Lesson for Kids: Exodus 24:9-18
This passage is from the Old Testament, highlighting the visit that Moses made to meet God on Mount Sinai. For younger students, you could consider acting out the story in a sense, or incorporating some interactive elements with the clouds and voices. You might also have students take turns reading these verses, or you could choose to read them out loud and pause to explain and discuss what is being said.
Then Moses and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel went up, 10 and they saw the God of Israel. There was under his feet as it were a pavement of sapphire stone, like the very heaven for clearness. 11 And he did not lay his hand on the chief men of the people of Israel; they beheld God, and ate and drank. -Exodus 24:9-11
Set the stage by explaining what is happening in this passage. It takes place after the exodus from Egypt, when the people of God were in the wilderness. God was preparing to renew His covenant with the people, reminding the Israelites of His love and faithfulness. God called Moses up onto a place called Mount Sinai, along with some priests. This part of the passage says that they were “under his feet”, which might mean that they didn’t see God’s face, because His face was actually too wonderful and glorious to look at closely and live! That’s how mighty and amazing God is. But they were with God, and even ate and drank with Him, to show that they were with Him in fellowship.
Ask: Have you ever been to a camp or on a mountain? What’s it like? Where do you feel the closest to God?
The Lord had extra special instructions for Moses. He called him up onto the mountain…
The Lord said to Moses, “Come up to me on the mountain and wait there, that I may give you the tablets of stone, with the law and the commandment, which I have written for their instruction.” 13 So Moses rose with his assistant Joshua, and Moses went up into the mountain of God. 14 And he said to the elders, “Wait here for us until we return to you. And behold, Aaron and Hur are with you. Whoever has a dispute, let him go to them.” -Exodus 24:12-14
Moses assigned some elders to watch over the people, and he went up to meet God on the mountain. God called him to receive the law (ten commandments) for the people. This was a pretty big deal! Moses knew that he could trust his leaders to help the people in his absence.
Ask: Who do you go to when you need help and have to have someone reliable?
Then Moses went up on the mountain, and the cloud covered the mountain. 16 The glory of the Lord dwelt on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days. And on the seventh day he called to Moses out of the midst of the cloud. 17 Now the appearance of the glory of the Lord was like a devouring fire on the top of the mountain in the sight of the people of Israel. 18 Moses entered the cloud and went up on the mountain. And Moses was on the mountain forty days and forty nights. -Exodus 24:15-18
This is really quite an amazing scene. God’s glory was covering the mountain like a cloud. Then it says that God’s glory was like a devouring fire. Moses dared to enter that area, coming to the Lord. He stayed there in God’s presence, and was given the Law as a reminder of God’s love and presence with the people.
Ask: Does this sound scary to you? Or exciting?
Explain that God wants us to enter His presence. He is not just on fiery mountains or out in the wilderness. He is always with us, and promises to stay with us! He wants us to come to Him. We can be in God’s presence no matter where we are or what we’re doing. He invites us into His glory and presence and will always hear our prayers. We might not always think we feel God, but He is with us no matter what!
Note: If time allows, you may wish to connect this to other mountain stories in the Bible, such as Mount Moriah, Ararat, Zion, Olivet, Calvary, or the Transfiguration. There are many “mountain moments” to explore!
Close with prayer, thanking God for His presence and asking for help to recognize it in our lives.