Crossroads: Why Do We Have Rules?


Exodus 20:1-17

Your Story

Talk about a time when you didn’t follow the rules and got in trouble/got hurt. Talk about why that rule was in place.

My Story and the Bible Story

When I was in first grade, we had a fire drill. Our teacher told us we needed to be quiet as we walked outside. Well, when I was in first grade, I had a hard time being quiet. I talked all the time. And so, I wasn’t quiet during the fire drill. And my teacher knew it. She called my mom and told her about it, and I got in trouble. Looking back on it, I know now why my teacher wanted us to be quiet. We needed to be quiet so we could hear directions. It’s okay if one person is talking. But if everyone is talking, it would be really hard to hear directions. In fact, if that fire drill hadn’t been a drill, if it was an actual fire, we could have gotten hurt if we couldn’t hear directions. That rule was there not to get us in trouble or to ruin our fun, but to keep us safe. My teacher wanted to make sure all of us were safe.

God does the same thing for the Israelites. Moses came down from Mount Sinai with a list of rules, not so the Israelites would get in trouble all the time, but to keep them safe, to help the community grow and help the individuals lead full lives. Read Exodus 20:1-17. From The Message: God spoke all these words: I am God, your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of a life of slavery. No other gods, only me. No carved gods of any size, shape, or form of anything whatever, whether of things that fly or walk or swim. Don’t bow down to them and don’t serve them because I am God, your God, and I’m a most jealous God, punishing the children for any sins their parents pass on to them to the third, and yes, even to the fourth generation of those who hate me. But I’m unswervingly loyal to the thousands who love me and keep my commandments. No using the name of God, your God, in curses or silly banter; God won’t put up with the irreverent use of his name. Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Work six days and do everything you need to do. But the seventh day is a Sabbath to God, your God. Don’t do any work—not you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your servant, nor your maid, nor your animals, not even the foreign guest visiting in your town. For in six days God made Heaven, Earth, and sea, and everything in them; he rested on the seventh day. Therefore God blessed the Sabbath day; he set it apart as a holy day. Honor your father and mother so that you’ll live a long time in the land that God, your God, is giving you. No murder. No adultery. No stealing. No lies about your neighbor. No lusting after your neighbor’s house—or wife or servant or maid or ox or donkey. Don’t set your heart on anything that is your neighbor’s.

God gave the Israelites those rules to keep them safe, to help them know how to worship God, and to show them how to live. Taking a day of rest was really important because it helped them be ready for the next week. It also reminded them that they are not God and they do not have to try to be in control of everything. God wanted to make sure that they treated their neighbors well. God wanted to make sure the Israelites knew that they were God’s people. In a time when everyone around them was worshipping a lot of different gods (because in those days people believed there were gods for lots of different things), God wanted the Israelites to know that they had one God, the one true God.

Why do you have to follow rules? You follow rules for the same reason the Israelites did: rules keep you safe. Rules like “don’t play in the road,” “look both ways before you cross the street,” “don’t talk to strangers,” “don’t talk during the fire drill,” and “don’t touch the stove,” keep you safe. They help you to know what is dangerous, and they keep you safe. You also follow rules to keep your neighbors (anyone you are around) safe. Rules like “don’t hit” and “don’t take what doesn’t belong to you” keep your neighbors safe. They help us be nice to each other and help others. We follow rules for all kinds of reasons. Rules keep us and the people around us safe. And God’s rules show us how we should live. So the next time you have to follow a rule, think about why you follow it. Does it keep you safe? Does it keep the people around you safe? Does it help you live a great life? Rules can be frustrating, but they also help us.


• What rules are the hardest for you to follow? Why?
• Think about some of the rules you have as a family. Talk about some of the reasons behind those rules.
• As a family, decide what will happen if someone breaks one of those rules. Talk about why that will happen.


Thank God for giving us rules to live by so that we can live our best lives. Ask for help in following the rules.

Jessica Asbell is currently serving as the Minister to Children at First Baptist Church of Roswell, GA. She has worked with children in various capacities at several churches, including Winter Park Baptist in Wilmington, NC, First Baptist of Decatur, GA, and Highland Hills Baptist in Macon, GA. She has a Master of Divinity from McAfee School of Theology and a BBA from Mercer University. In her spare time she loves to read, watch movies, and of course spend time with her sweet kitty, Lucy.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Comment