35 “This Moses, whom they rejected, saying, ‘Who made you a ruler and a judge?’—this man God sent as both ruler and redeemer by the hand of the angel who appeared to him in the bush. 36 This man led them out, performing wonders and signs in Egypt and at the Red Sea and in the wilderness for forty years. 37 This is the Moses who said to the Israelites, ‘God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers.’ 38 This is the one who was in the congregation in the wilderness with the angel who spoke to him at Mount Sinai, and with our fathers. He received living oracles to give to us. 39 Our fathers refused to obey him, but thrust him aside, and in their hearts they turned to Egypt, 40 saying to Aaron, ‘Make for us gods who will go before us. As for this Moses who led us out from the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.’ 41 And they made a calf in those days, and offered a sacrifice to the idol and were rejoicing in the works of their hands. 42 But God turned away and gave them over to worship the host of heaven, as it is written in the book of the prophets: “‘Did you bring to me slain beasts and sacrifices, during the forty years in the wilderness, O house of Israel?
43 You took up the tent of Moloch
and the star of your god Rephan,
the images that you made to worship;
and I will send you into exile beyond Babylon.’ (Acts 7:35-43)
History of Israel 3. Moses, Israel’s Greatest Leader
In his defence, Stephen continues to speak with praise of Moses ‘the ruler and saviour’ of Israel. Several times he says, ‘This Moses …’( mo she ‘di ):
v.36 this Moses, whom they had rejected, led their escape from Egypt
v.38 he, Moses, would speak with God’s angel (in a special tent that he constructed – read about it next time, v.44)
v.39 to Moses God gave the Law for worship and daily living
v. 37 this Moses spoke of a prophet to come one day, some one like himself (As for these words, the Jews believed they foretold the coming of the Messiah)
However the Israelites refused to obey him. They did not want the guidance given by God in the tent; rather they wanted the guidance of gods (v.43) whose golden idols they could see.
God would punish them, said the prophets. The example quoted came true in years to come.