Challenge 4 Moses


The story shown in bold is explored in full in the Big Bible Challenge book.

Stories in this challenge

Moses is born                        Exodus 2:1–10

God speaks to Moses          Exodus 3:1–10

No escape!                            Exodus 11

Free to go!                             Exodus 12:21–28,50,51

Over the sea                        Exodus 14:15–29


COMMON tips for this and every challenge

  • Always have a Bible in a child-friendly translation available, as you take the Big Bible Challenge. Even when the Bible verses are printed in the Big Bible Challenge book, find them in a Bible as well. This will help the child gain confidence in handling the Bible and become familiar with its size and number of pages.
  • Finding your way around the Bible can be a challenge in itself! Each reading from the Bible is shown in a certain way, like this:

Genesis 2:15–22.

  • Use the Index or Contents page of the Bible to help you find the book (or books) in the Bible for the readings in this challenge. In this example, the book title is ‘Genesis’.
  • Each book of the Bible is in chapters. In this example, the reading is in chapter 2.
  • Each chapter is split into verses. In this example, the verses are 15–22. In most Bibles, the verse numbers are printed very small.
  • Many of the challenges have five readings from the same part of the Bible, so use a bookmark to keep your place and it will be easier to find the Bible reading next time.
  • The Bible consists of many ‘books’ collected together and presented as one. See if you can work out what sort of ‘book’ you are exploring: is it history or is it a letter? Are you reading words spoken by a prophet or written as a song?
  • Spend time looking at and chatting about the artwork in the Big Bible Challenge. Find out more online in ‘How does the Big Bible Challenge work?’
  • When you have finished this challenge, use the simple evaluation sheet [here: hyperlink]. Find out more online in ‘How does the Big Bible Challenge work?’


COMMENCE: your introduction to this part of the Bible

Challenge 3 ended with Joseph and his whole family reconciled and living happily and comfortably in Egypt. In the years that have passed since then, things have changed for the Israelites. A new king (Pharaoh) has come to power that sees the Israelites as a potential danger to the security of Egypt. His solution is to make use of their numerical strength and turn them into slaves. Challenge 4 introduces one of those Israelite slave families and their baby son, Moses; and it gives a dramatic account of how God gave the Israelites their freedom.

As an Israelite baby, Moses was miraculously rescued by one of Pharaoh’s daughters. Having grown up in the Egyptian court, on impulse he attempted to set the Israelites free from slavery by force – resulting in his need to flee the country.

The Israelites were still in Egypt and they must have wondered where God was and what he was doing. But he sees their plight. He meets with Moses, reveals something of his character – chiefly that he is mysterious and beyond full human comprehension – and commissions Moses. Moses may not seem the ideal person for the job – he certainly didn’t think so. Nevertheless, it is through him that God works.

God’s salvation, when it came, involved death. The Passover was a key festival for Israel, remembering the deliverance from Egypt. But it takes on a far greater significance when Jesus becomes our Passover (1 Corinthians 5:7). When God delivers his people from slavery, he shows himself to be a saving God and foreshadows his ultimate act of salvation.


CONNECT: the five stories in this challenge

The featured story in Challenge 4 is the last in the set: ‘Over the sea’. You could begin your challenge with this climax and then look back to the earlier events to discover what led to this amazing escape. Or begin with ‘Moses is born’ and follow the adventure, in story-order. Whatever order you choose, the message is still the same: when God decides to do something, nothing can stop him!

As this challenge begins, God’s people, the Israelites, are living in Egypt but they are no longer free and happy. They are slaves and the king of Egypt, the Pharaoh, makes them work hard and treats them cruelly. The king wants them to work hard for him but he is also afraid because there are so many Israelites. As the story begins, the king has ordered that all Israelite baby boys will be drowned in the river!

The word ‘exodus’ means the ‘way out’ or ‘departure’ and, by the time you get to the end of Challenge 4, you will know who goes out, where they went from, where they were going to, who took them – and who tried to stop them.


CONSIDER: what this challenge means today

The stories of Moses are exciting narratives: there are strong characters and dramatic events. Make the most of the stories in these Bible passages: children love stories and adventure – and this challenge is full of them. If your child enjoys the Bible readings in Challenge 4, show them the longer passages in a Bible and try reading more of the story together. Read aloud and use different voices for the characters, make sound effects or move around the room, or building, as the action of the story moves from place to place.

Challenge 4 is about God rescuing his people from slavery in Egypt. Each part of the story shows how God set out to rescue his people in many different ways. This series of rescue events comes together in the key story as Moses and the people go ‘Over the sea’ to freedom. The power of God and the delight of his rescued people are just a taste of what will happen in the New Testament, when the children will be finding out about Jesus: God’s ultimate rescue plan.

The story of Exodus is an exciting one, but it’s not without its challenges when using it with children. The story has some elements that may seem excessive to our twenty-first-century eyes and that may prompt difficult questions. Don’t expect children to react in the same way as you do, though, as they often accept the ways of God much more quickly than adults. Do be ready to help, if they are struggling with aspects of the story. However, the picture of God as one who hears the problems and struggles of his people and reaches down to rescue them is one that everyone can identify with in some way. The whole story is packed with rescues, many of which are way outside most children’s experience. These will engage the children’s interest and help them think about God and what he wants to say to them.

Children are familiar with the feeling that things aren’t going their way. They often aren’t in control of what happens in their lives. It can sometimes seem that, even when they think everything is in place, their desired outcome never happens. As the Exodus story unfolds, help them think about how powerful God is, and that he always keeps his promises, even when things don’t seem to be going the way we would like.

CLARIFY: issues that may arise from this challenge

Moses killed a man

God knew that his people were in trouble, and had a plan to rescue them and give them freedom from slavery. Moses was going to be part of that plan and God kept him safe, not only saving him from drowning in the river but giving him a royal home and the best education. When he grew up, Moses tried to free God’s people but he did not do it in God’s way.

Explain that Moses went to live in the Pharaoh’s palace. He was brought up as an Egyptian but he did not forget that he was really an Israelite. The Egyptians treated their slaves badly and one day Moses tried to help. He tried to stop an Egyptian from hitting a slave – but ended up killing the Egyptian! Moses had tried to free God’s people from slavery but had done something very wrong himself. He ran away and spent many years living and working as a shepherd, in a desert region, far from Egypt.

It is not necessary to try to excuse what Moses did: he did something wrong and he paid the price, with many years of exile from his home and family. Moses’ life had been complicated but that does not justify what he did. He knew he’d done the wrong thing, too. The good news, for Moses and for us, is that God can still use people who fail or who get things wrong. It doesn’t mean that it was all right for Moses to kill someone – but it does mean that God’s plans are greater than our mistakes.


Killing the firstborn sons

God’s words are not empty – he does what he says he will do. If you or your child happens to be a firstborn child, this final plague will give you an extra shudder. Each plague gets worse than the one before: this is the worst it can get. It is a terrible event and there is no need to try and disguise that fact. The people  of Egypt (and the animals) suffered because their leader would not do as God asked. He had many opportunities but would not agree. The death of the firstborn sons, including the Pharaoh’s own son, was the thing that eventually convinced Pharaoh to let God’s people go – but only after he had ignored all other signs – and, even then, he changed his mind soon after.

COMMUNICATE: talk with God

Moses and the people of God discovered that God was their protector. He had the power to keep them safe and to rescue them from troubles and dangers.

Invite your child to draw a place or a situation where they want God to protect them. It might be at school, when they’re riding their bike or when they have to do something they don’t like. When they have finished, ask them to look at their piece of paper while you say a prayer asking God to protect them in that place or situation. Suggest that they put the picture by the side of their bed so they will see it often and remember that God will protect them.

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