“God Thinks Twice”
Click below to download the Cornerstone Connections leader’s guide and student lesson. This week’s resources also include two lesson plans and a discussion starter video which offer different ways of looking at the topic. Each lesson plan includes opening activities, scripture passages, discussion questions, and real-life applications.
Beginning of the End
(Patriarchs and Prophets) ch. 28
God Gives His Law on Mount Sinai
Instead of reflecting on the way God has led them, the Israelites allow their minds to idle and become subject to disbelief. God tells Moses He’s giving up on them.
God’s people singing and dancing in a worship ritual to a golden calf seems like the least likely thing that Moses would see when he came down from Mt. Sinai. He must have pinched himself, wondering if he was asleep in a strange nightmare. Sadly, it was not a dream. The people of God had so quickly replaced their faith and hope in God with the chaotic worship of a golden calf. Worshiping that calf, the Israelites became a laughing stock in the eyes of their enemies, because even their enemies knew that they had been freed from Egyptian captivity by the God of Heaven.
Forgetting God leads to foolishness. Just like Moses coming back from the mountain, Jesus is going to come back from heaven. He wants His people to be patient and faithful as we wait for Him. Our name “Adventist” is defined as someone who is looking expectantly for Jesus’ return. In this time of history, it is more important than ever that we keep our focus on Jesus and His mission. The world is full of “golden calves,” but as we stay faithful to God we can avoid the meaningless distractions they offer.
OPENING ACTIVITY: SPORTS IDOLS
Athletes are often admired and even idolized because they are entertaining, rich, physically fit, and win championships. For athletes, the quest to win becomes a type of idol. It was reported in an article entitled “Superhuman Heroes” published in the The Economist, that a survey was given to about 200 athletes. They were asked if they would be willing to risk their personal health and wellbeing by taking performance enhancing drugs. One of the questions had a pretty extreme response, because it found that 50 percent of the athletes said, “they would be willing to take a drug that would help them win every competition in a five year period, even if they knew it would kill them at the end of five years.” The desire to put your hope in something is strong, and some are even foolish enough to risk their life to pursue what they define as success.
BIBLE STUDY GUIDE
Read each Bible passage, then discuss the questions.
21 He said to Aaron, “What did these people do to you, that you led them into such great sin?”
22 “Do not be angry, my lord,” Aaron answered. “You know how prone these people are to evil.
23 They said to me, ‘Make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.’ 24 So I told them, ‘Whoever has any gold jewelry, take it off.’ Then they gave me the gold, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf!”
25 Moses saw that the people were running wild and that Aaron had let them get out of control and so become a laughingstock to their enemies.
7 Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man! This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. 8 I gave your master’s house to you, and your master’s wives into your arms. I gave you all Israel and Judah. And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more. 9 Why did you despise the word of the Lord by doing what is evil in his eyes? You struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and took his wife to be your own. You killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. 10 Now, therefore, the sword will never depart from your house, because you despised me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your own.’
11 “This is what the Lord says: ‘Out of your own household I am going to bring calamity on you. Before your very eyes I will take your wives and give them to one who is close to you, and he will sleep with your wives in broad daylight. 12 You did it in secret, but I will do this thing in broad daylight before all Israel.’ ”
13 Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.”
Nathan replied, “The Lord has taken away your sin. You are not going to die.
For a Relational Bible Study (RBS) you’ll want to get into the Scripture passage and encourage the youth to imagine participating in the story while it’s happening. Then you will be able to better apply it to your own situation today.
You will need to ask God for the Holy Spirit to be present as your small group discusses the questions (no more than 3-6 people in a group is recommended). Start with the opening question. It is a personal question and the answer is unique for each individual. There is no right answer and nobody is an expert here, so don’t be surprised when you hear different responses. You are depending on the Holy Spirit to be present and to speak through your group. Say what God prompts you to say, and listen to what others share.
Take turns reading the chapter out loud. Follow that with giving the students some time to individually mark their responses to the questions (a PDF version of the handout is available as a download). This gives each person a starting point for responding when you start to share as a group. Next, begin the discussion by asking the students to share what they marked and why on each question as you work your way through. Feel free to take more time on some questions than others as discussion warrants.
Encourage each person in the group to apply what is discussed to their personal lives and to share with the group what they believe God wants them to do. Then ask them to pray that God will help each of them to follow through in doing so. Remind them to expect that God will show them ways to live out the message of this passage in the coming week, and that they are free to ask others in the group to help hold them accountable.
The people of God were in the wilderness, and for a pack who had witnessed some of God’s greatest miracles to date, they sure were feisty! The people of Israel were suspiciously fast at forgetting who provided those miracles for them, becoming highly impatient with Moses (and by extension, God) when they thought Moses wasn’t going to return. Soon this impatience turned into a lack of faith. With Moses’ disappearance into the cloud on top of Mount Sinai, his older brother, Aaron, served as the fill-in leader. But as the people became impatient, so did Aaron.
When the mob pushed some more, asking for Aaron to make them gods, Aaron complied. We may gasp at the thought of making an idol for others to worship, but it happens all the time today. Consider how many different things people worship, whether it’s in sports, music, movies, or other influencers. “Make us gods! (And we will worship.)”
Our passage today is Exodus 32. The 35 verses tell the familiar story. As you read it, note items that you may have forgotten or that never stuck with you previously. And be ready to discuss this by answering the questions on your own first, and then joining the group discussion in your Youth Sabbath School.
On a scale of 1-10, from patient to impatient, what number are you?
Read Exodus 32:1-35.
When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said, “Come, make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.”
2 Aaron answered them, “Take off the gold earrings that your wives, your sons and your daughters are wearing, and bring them to me.” 3 So all the people took off their earrings and brought them to Aaron. 4 He took what they handed him and made it into an idol cast in the shape of a calf, fashioning it with a tool. Then they said, “These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.
5 When Aaron saw this, he built an altar in front of the calf and announced, “Tomorrow there will be a festival to the Lord.” 6 So the next day the people rose early and sacrificed burnt offerings and presented fellowship offerings. Afterward they sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry.
7 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go down, because your people, whom you brought up out of Egypt, have become corrupt. 8 They have been quick to turn away from what I commanded them and have made themselves an idol cast in the shape of a calf. They have bowed down to it and sacrificed to it and have said, ‘These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.’
9 “I have seen these people,” the Lord said to Moses, “and they are a stiff-necked people. 10 Now leave me alone so that my anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them. Then I will make you into a great nation.”
11 But Moses sought the favor of the Lord his God. “Lord,” he said, “why should your anger burn against your people, whom you brought out of Egypt with great power and a mighty hand?
12 Why should the Egyptians say, ‘It was with evil intent that he brought them out, to kill them in the mountains and to wipe them off the face of the earth’? Turn from your fierce anger; relent and do not bring disaster on your people. 13 Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac and Israel, to whom you swore by your own self: ‘I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and I will give your descendants all this land I promised them, and it will be their inheritance forever.’ ” 14 Then the Lord relented and did not bring on his people the disaster he had threatened.
15 Moses turned and went down the mountain with the two tablets of the covenant law in his hands. They were inscribed on both sides, front and back. 16 The tablets were the work of God; the writing was the writing of God, engraved on the tablets.
17 When Joshua heard the noise of the people shouting, he said to Moses, “There is the sound of war in the camp.”
18 Moses replied: “It is not the sound of victory, it is not the sound of defeat; it is the sound of singing that I hear.”
19 When Moses approached the camp and saw the calf and the dancing, his anger burned and he threw the tablets out of his hands, breaking them to pieces at the foot of the mountain. 20 And he took the calf the people had made and burned it in the fire; then he ground it to powder, scattered it on the water and made the Israelites drink it.
21 He said to Aaron, “What did these people do to you, that you led them into such great sin?”
22 “Do not be angry, my lord,” Aaron answered. “You know how prone these people are to evil. 23 They said to me, ‘Make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.’ 24 So I told them, ‘Whoever has any gold jewelry, take it off.’ Then they gave me the gold, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf!”
25 Moses saw that the people were running wild and that Aaron had let them get out of control and so become a laughingstock to their enemies. 26 So he stood at the entrance to the camp and said, “Whoever is for the Lord, come to me.” And all the Levites rallied to him.
27 Then he said to them, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘Each man strap a sword to his side. Go back and forth through the camp from one end to the other, each killing his brother and friend and neighbor.’ ”
28 The Levites did as Moses commanded, and that day about three thousand of the people died.
29 Then Moses said, “You have been set apart to the Lord today, for you were against your own sons and brothers, and he has blessed you this day.”
30 The next day Moses said to the people, “You have committed a great sin. But now I will go up to the Lord; perhaps I can make atonement for your sin.”
31 So Moses went back to the Lord and said, “Oh, what a great sin these people have committed! They have made themselves gods of gold. 32 But now, please forgive their sin—but if not, then blot me out of the book you have written.”
33 The Lord replied to Moses, “Whoever has sinned against me I will blot out of my book. 34 Now go, lead the people to the place I spoke of, and my angel will go before you. However, when the time comes for me to punish, I will punish them for their sin.”
35 And the Lord struck the people with a plague because of what they did with the calf Aaron had made.
1. Why did the Israelites ask Aaron to make them some gods?
2. Why did the Israelites worship the golden calf like pagans?
3. What was God’s reaction when the Israelites worshiped the golden calf?
4. If you were Moses, what response would you have given to Yahweh?
5. If you were Moses, what response would you have given the Israelites?
6. Why did Moses go back up the mountain to Yahweh?
7. How can people give up on a God who has done so much for them?
8. Why didn’t God give up on the Israelites? Why doesn’t God give up on you?
How could the Israelites do that? After all that God had done for them, why did they resort to a golden calf—a god that Yahweh had dominated in the fifth plague on Egypt (Exodus 9:1-7)? And yet we know that story (and more) of how God’s people have turned to other gods around them. Often we choose a god we can see and touch over one that we can’t. Sometimes we want a god we can use as a good luck charm or maybe one we can tame so we can control it rather than submit to it. But God wants an intimate friendship with us—not simply to be used by us or for us to be used by Him. And when we know God, our response is intimacy and worship. But that requires some patience!
If you’re already patient, this might seem easy to you. Are you able to share your patience with others? Here are a few ideas for you to put into practice this week as you apply the Scripture to your life. Use one of these, or adapt it, or come up with your own. But be sure you ask the Holy Spirit to live out God’s will through your life this week, starting with our passage in Exodus 32.
MAKE US GODS
Who are today’s idols? It might depend on your age and where you live, but God wired us to worship so we’re always looking for idols of some type.
One reason the Israelites grew impatient at the bottom of Mt. Sinai was because they weren’t on God’s timetable. How long are we supposed to wait? While God seems to have “all the time in the world!” that doesn’t mean those of us who rarely live to 100 have so much time. So, we get impatient when God doesn’t follow our timetable.
What if the Miracles of Jesus are more than meets the eye?
What if there is so much more to each story than we see?
What if each time Jesus did something supernatural, He was inviting us to look deeper?
Beyond the healing.
Beyond the deliverance.
Beyond the acts that defied the laws of nature.
What if Jesus were inviting us to see something bigger?
Something more amazing about the love of God.
What if the ultimate Miracle is that God can transform us?
The Miracle Series is an interactive study of 15 of Jesus’ awe-inspiring encounters while here on earth. These lessons, and messages are designed to connect with teens and youth and take them on a journey of discovery. Included in this kit is everything you need:
We invite you and your youth to not just study the Miracles of Jesus but to experience The Miracle.
1. Activity / Busy Bags for Kids
Help parents stay sane. Assemble bags with activities to keep small children busy.
Cost: Less than $5.00
2. Placemats For Meals On Wheels
Cheer up the homebound. Thoughtfully decorated placemats are a lovely extra to bring to meal recipients. If you’re able to laminate the placemats, all the better!
Cost: Less than $5.00
3. Deliver Meals For Meals On Wheels
Help fight hunger. Pick up and deliver meals to seniors and people with disabilities.
Cost: Less than $5.00