The Ten Commandments
A lesson from the Rotation.org Writing Team
with video clips and a memory game
In this lesson, participants will view and discuss two videos clips from the movie, “The Ten Commandments” and play a game to help remember the commandments.
This lesson has an extra focus on commandments 1 and 2 (no other gods, no idols).
Read the Bible Background at Rotation.org. It provides a quick overview of the story behind the Ten Commandments with many interesting insights.
- Read the Bible Background
- Have at least one Bible ready to read or click the Bible links to open the passage online
- One sheet of paper for each person
- One pencil or marker for each person
- A rubberband or piece of tape for each person
- A TV or computer to view the lesson PDF and show the Videos
- Be prepared to view the two YouTube videos linked in the lesson
Open and Save this lesson as a PDF to share it with members of your congregation.
Tech Tip: View this PDF on a computer or SmartTV so that the video links can be clicked to open YouTube from the PDF. Otherwise, copy/paste or type the YouTube URLs from the PDF into your browser’s address field. The two video clips are from the movie, “The Ten Commandments,” the 1956 classic.
Introduce the story of the Exodus starting with the Hebrews in Egypt and the confrontation between Moses and Pharaoh. Have your group help you “remember what came next in the story.”
Quickly recall the story leading across the Red Sea and stopping at Mt. Sinai to receive the Ten Commandments. Show Mt. Sinai's approximate location in the Middle East on a globe or map or draw it on a piece of paper. You can also open this map image on the right.
Ask: Why would God want to give his people rules to live by? How do rules help us?
Play Video Clip 1: Moses Receives the Ten Commandments
YouTube Link: https://youtu.be/VQRjp_62uj0 - 5:53 minutes.
Explain that the video clips are from a famous movie and show Moses receiving the Commandments up on top of Mt. Sinai -- while the Hebrews down below decide to make their own god out of gold and make their own rules. (You will talk more about the Golden Calf after the second video clip.)
This clip from the movie begins with Moses on top of Mt. Sinai speaking with God, cuts to the scene happening back in the Israelite camp where the people are building a golden calf god of their own, and then finishes with God completing the commandments.
“The Finger of God” – a quick game
Let’s see how many of the Ten Commandments you can write with YOUR finger just like God did . Give everyone a marker or pencil and have them fasten it to their index finger using either a piece of tape or a rubberband. Have the point of the pencil extend about 2” from the tip of the finger. Now, without gripping the pen and using only your index finger that has the pen attached to it, begin writing down as many of the Ten Commandments as you can using keywords to keep it short. If you’re in a group, take turns adding a commandment to the group’s paper tablets. Don’t help each other and don’t give any hints.
Notes: You’re going to replay this game at the end of this lesson, so keep your pencils and paper ready. For non-readers have them draw symbols of whatever commandments they can remember (or you want to give them hints about).
Then read Exodus 20:1-21 to see how many you got right!
Play Video Clip 2: Moses, the Golden Calf, the People Repent, the Journey Continues
YouTube link: https://youtu.be/3dnx8Yuyo1o
“Moses Breaks the Tablets - The Ten Commandments 1956” - 8:17 minutes
Introduce the second video clip: Remember when we asked “why would God want to give his people rules to live by?” – In this next video clip from the movie, we’re going to see what can happen when people are left without any rules to live by. The clip depicts the 32nd Chapter of Exodus right after God had written the Ten Commandments and given them to Moses to give to the people.
Play the clip and then answer the following questions...
Questions and Comments:
- Which of the Ten Commandments were the people breaking in a BIG way? (Making and worshipping the golden calf breaks the first two -- which is probably why God was so mad!)
- What “gods” do people “worship” today? (Think of things that rule people's lives or misguided values that people devote themselves to.)
- Have you ever gotten mad at people for not following the rules? Share a time.
- Moses certainly got mad, but were you surprised when God got mad too?
- Do you think that was just “Hollywood” or does God get mad at us for real?
- What in the world today do you think makes God really mad?
- What in your life do you think God might be kind of mad or disappointed about?
Comment: Some parts of the Old Testament, like those in the Exodus story, at times portray God as angry and punishing. It makes for a great story and movie, but it’s quite a contrast to the life and teachings of Jesus.
Do this: Imagine it was JESUS instead of Moses coming down holding the Ten Commandments. What would Jesus have done and said when he found the people sinning?
Read John 13:34 to discover how Jesus responds to us, and how he asks us to respond to others –even those who anger us.
Jesus was once asked to name the most important commandment – and he named TWO! Can you guess which ones he said were the most important?
‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” Matthew 22:36-40.
Closing “Finger of God” Game (Part 2!)
Grab your pencils again and fasten them to your index fingers. This time take turns watching each other try to write a version of either John 13:34 or Matthew 22:36-40 (feel free to condense it to its essential keywords).
Try this: First draw the shape of a heart and write your words inside it. (“bind them on your fingers, write them on the tablet of your heart.” Proverbs 7:3)
Close with a prayer thanking God for the Ten Commandments and asking God for the strength and commitment to keep them. Thank God for turning his anger and disappointment towards us into love and forgiveness, and pray for the strength to turn our anger and disappointments into loving acts towards each other as well.
If you have a few extra minutes…
What’s this “love” that Jesus is talking about in those two passages about The Commandments? The Apostle Paul took a crack at defining that “love” in one of the most famous passages of the Bible, First Corinthians 13. You could even call it, “The Commandments of Love.” Take a look.
Optional Questions About the Ending of the Movie:
Doesn’t it seem strange that Moses the Law Giver, the guy who brought his people the Ten Commandments, ten rules to live by would “proclaim liberty throughout the land?” What is liberty? Isn’t “liberty” doing whatever you want?
What do God’s “Ten Rules to Live By” FREE us to enjoy?
The Israelites of the Old Testament believed they had to follow God's Commandments to win God's favor....to become righteous and be rewarded. Jesus turned that around by teaching that we are supposed to live by the rule of "love" in gratitude for being loved by God, and not out of fear. For example, we "honor" parents because we love them, not because we fear them. We are honest because God has been honest with us. We don't kill or hurt because God is all about "life" and being merciful.
Notes about the First Clip:
The first clip dramatizes Exodus 31:18 through Chapter 32, the story of Moses going up Mt. Sinai to receive the Ten Commandments, while the people below decide to make a golden calf and worship it.
Notes about the Second Clip:
The first half of the second clip continues the Exodus 32 story of the Golden Calf, Moses’ arrival carrying the Ten Commandments, asking people to decide who is for the Lord, and throwing the tablets. Thankfully, the movie version of the story leaves out the sons of Levi killing the idol worshippers, and instead, shows a few lightning bolts and a great chasm swallowing them up. The movie’s sequence of events is a little different than that of the scripture.
The second half of the second clip condenses some of the key scenes and verses in Exodus 33, 34, 35, and 36. In the clip, Moses highlights many of the key points in these chapters, saying, “And to prove whether they would keep the commandments, He made them wander in the wilderness for 40 years.” “In the Ark they carry the law you brought them. You taught them not to live by bread alone.” Then we see Joshua receiving Moses’ blessing, staff, and cloak, and famously respond, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Then Moses ascends Mt. Nebo and gives a benediction to proclaim liberty.
True fact: Moses never physically made it into the "Promised Land." He died and was buried in a valley below Mt. Nebo before the Israelites were led into the Promised Land by Joshua. (Deuteronomy 34) The Promised Land, while also describing the Land of Canaan, is also like the Kingdom of God -- a vision of the future God wants for his children.
Written by the Rotation.org Writing Team
Copyright Rotation.org Inc.