When the Israelites were in the wilderness it was easy to remember that they needed God day by day because they were living in tents and God was sending them manna and quail. God wanted the Israelites to always remember that they are dependent on him, even when they were living in the Promised Land. God commanded that they should have an annual celebration called Sukkot to remember and celebrate his provision. By celebrating the good things that God has done for us we are reminded that we can put our trust in him.
“Every good and perfect gift comes down to us from God our Father…”
– James 1.17a (paraphrase)
Props: Enough tents for the kids to break up into groups of 5 with an adult worker in each tent. A picnic blanket inside each tent with a small platter of fresh snack like apple slices and baby carrots added to the regular snack.
Lesson Intro (Thanksgiving)
Ask the children how many of them celebrated Thanksgiving this week. Ask the children if any of them went camping to celebrate Thanksgiving. That seems like a strange way to celebrate Thanksgiving doesn’t it? Did you know that the Jewish people also have a special holiday that has a lot to do with giving thanks? Part of that celebration is staying in a tent for a week. In fact, the name of the festival is called Sukkot, which means ‘tents’ or ‘booths’. We can learn a lot from Sukkot about why giving thanks is important.
We’re going to do our own little Sukkot celebration today. We’re going to have a little celebration inside the tents that we’ve set up, but before we do we have to understand what we’re celebrating, so everybody needs to listen to the lesson very carefully!
Remind the kids that when the Israelites escaped from Egypt, they left with only what they could carry. Where did they go? Well, they crossed the Red Sea but then they wandered through the wilderness for forty years. What do you think they lived in? Tents! What did they eat during that time? God fed them with manna and quail! They relied heavily on God to feed them and provide for them. The Bible says that their clothes didn’t wear out during that time!
What would it be like for them when they went into the Promised Land? Well, the Promised Land was described as flowing with milk and honey! Did milk and honey really flow there? Not really, but it meant that it would be an abundant place. The Israelites would have everything they needed! Does that mean that they could forget about God? Does it mean that God wasn’t providing for them anymore? No! The Bible reminds us that all good gifts come from God, so God would still be providing for them, just in a different way.
God wanted them to remember that he loves them and that he would take care of them if they followed his ways, so while they were still in the wilderness, at the foot of Mt. Sinai, God spoke to them:
Retell Leviticus 23.33-44 in your own words.
Isn’t it great that we got to celebrate Thanksgiving this week? For us it’s more than just celebrating the stuff that we have, but it’s an opportunity to celebrate the fact that all good gifts come from God! By celebrating the good things that God has done for us we are reminded that we can put our trust in him.
We’re going to break into groups now. Each group will get a tent. You’ll get to create a decoration for your tent and then there’ll be a snack
Prayer: Thank God for sending his Son Jesus and making a way for us to be close to him. Thank him that we can always trust his promises. Pray for wisdom and courage for the children as they seek to follow God.
Review Questions for Small Group*
While we eat our snack, let’s talk about this story!
- Why did God command the Israelites to throw a party and celebrate?
So that they could be joyful and remember all that God did for them.
- What did God do for the Israelites?
He freed them from Slavery in Egypt. He provided food -manna and quail- for them in the Desert. He gave them the 10 commandments so that the Israelites would come to know what God likes. etc.
- Is resting important to God? Why do you think He wanted the Israelites to rest and not work as a way of celebrating?
He wanted the Israelites to see that God was their true provider. God rested on the Seventh day and said that it was good.
- Why did the Israelites celebrate in tents?
To remember that they lived in Tents in the Desert while God provided for them.
- Has God done anything good for you? What good things has he done for you and your family?
- Is it right to thank God for what he has done for us? How can we show him we are thankful for what he has done?
- Are we only thankful for what God has GIVEN us? Should we also be thankful for what God has DONE for us?
Prayer: Pray over the Children that they will be thankful for all the ways that God provides. Ask the Lord to give them eyes to see everything that God does for them. Pray that over their lives they will grow thankful hearts and give glory back to God.
Craft (Pennant Flags)
Supplies: Pennant flag printouts, crayons/markers, string, glue.
Instructions: Have the kids make a pennant. On the one side have it spell out “YAY!”, on the other side have reminders of what God has done for us.
*Thanks to Gerald and Mel Jiminez for the awesome craft idea and review questions!