This is the Moses who said to the Israelites, ‘God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers.’ 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. Our fathers refused to obey him, but thrust him aside, and in their hearts they turned to Egypt, 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.’ And they made a calf in those days, and offered a sacrifice to the idol and were rejoicing in the works of their hands. 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?
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.’
Comment: Stephen is now on dangerous ground. His, Stephen’s, relationship to Moses, the Law, Jewish worship practice and Jesus is the reason that he was on trial at the moment. I find it very interesting and pertinent that his first point is that Moses had said that ‘God would raise up another prophet like me.’ The Christians took that promised prophet who was to come was Jesus! You wonder how many of the judges picked up this point. The following is a very quick summary but Stephen underlines that Moses received the law from God on Mount Sinai. The slaves, led out to become the tribe of God, refused to worship according to God’s orders; they chased many and very heinous ‘gods’. The passage ends with the threat of the Jews being exiled to a distant and very foreign area – beyond Babylon. It doesn’t sound as if Stephen is currying favour. Regardless his judges knew it was the truth.
Prayer: Again I thank You, God, that our faith isn’t a blind leap into the dark but built on time/space historical truth.