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We say that we own Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior … but what evidence is there to support our claim? The Sanhedrin claimed to be the pillars of spiritual leadership for the entire nation of Israel, yet Stephen in Acts 7 exposes them as frauds and charlatans. It is Stephen that is truly following in the footsteps of the patriarchs; that is truly embracing God’s great prophet Moses as well as the prophet that would come after Moses = the Lord Jesus Christ.

Matt. 10:32-33 “Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven.”




True in the case of Moses …. True in the case of Jesus Christ

A. (:30a) Credential of Enduring Extreme Testing –

The Wilderness Battle

Moses: “And after forty years had passed,”

Christ: Tested by Satan in the wilderness for forty days and forty nights

Moses was not truly ready until after this difficult 40 year period. Needed to be humbled and dependent on the power of God.

God is not in a hurry; He prepares each of His servants in a unique way for their unique divinely appointed task. Moses had acted impulsively in trying to step up to the plate and function as the deliverer of God’s people. His efforts did not end well – partly because of the blindness of God’s people (Stephen’s emphasis here) but also due to his acting impulsively rather than waiting submissively upon God for His timing.

God is preparing you in some way. May take a long time to humble us. Still using us during this period of preparation …. But maybe there is a larger task God has in mind for us down the road. It is a constant spiritual battle to remain faithful and obedient when it doesn’t appear like God is doing anything huge in our circumstances.

God is preparing to send his special Redeemer

B. (:30b) Credential of Commissioning Theophany –

The Burning Bush Miracle

– Moses: “an angel appeared to him in the wilderness of Mount Sinai, in the flame of a burning thorn bush.” later God will appear to Moses on Mt Sinai for giving of the law

– Christ: He Himself is God Incarnate – sent down from Father in heaven; come in the flesh to fully reveal God; John 1

This was not just one of the created angels. This was the special and unique angel of the Lord – says that God spoke to Moses out of the bush – preincarnate Christ at work as in other places in the OT = God Himself holding a special meeting with Moses – truly a divine appointment; what a privilege for God to appear to Moses – it looked like he was out of the game; far from the promised land; obscurity; loneliness; a Nobody shepherd going about his daily tasks;

God reveals Himself to us every time we open up our hearts to His revelation in His Word; God meets with us and speaks with us – this is the Living Word of God

Lenski: This angel is always the specific revelation and personification of God himself. . . This was not an ordinary fire but a miracle of God.

Remember the tongues of fire on Day of Pentecost

Bock: no place was too desolate for God’s presence

Nothing unusual about something burning in the desert; but a miracle that the thorn bush is not consumed = something you would normally use for kindling – burns easily and quickly –

Self existence of God; dependent on nothing outside of Himself; eternally existent one;

God is preparing to send His special Redeemer

C. (:31-32a) Credential of Approving, Authoritative Divine Voice –

The Great I AM

– Moses: “And when Moses saw it, he began to marvel at the sight; and as he approached to look more closely, there came the voice of the Lord: ‘I am the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob.’”

– Christ: Voice of God commending Jesus at His baptism – Matt. 3:17 “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased”; voice on Mt of Transfiguration; angel at Ascension

Covenant keeping God – faithful to His promise to Abraham

God is preparing to send His special Redeemer

D. (:32b-33) Credential of Recognizing and Responding to the Holiness of God –

The Sandals Test

– Moses: “And Moses shook with fear and would not venture to look. But the Lord said to him, ‘Take off the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.’”

– Christ: John 1:27 “It is He who comes after me, the thong of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.” Testimony of John the Baptist – Holiness of Christ; sinless; spotless lamb of God; perfect sacrifice for sin – the just died for the unjust; took upon Himself our sin in His own body on the cross

Stott: This statement was central to Stephen’s thesis. There was holy ground outside the holy land. Wherever God is, is holy.

How do you respond to the holiness and majesty and righteousness of God? Not in some casual, flippant attitude – but in holy fear and trembling – Moses did not run forward to hug the burning bush (not a good idea); respond in obedience as God’s servant; recognize your sinfulness and huge gap between great God and small little me

Lenski: This is an Oriental idea: to remove the sandals in the presence of a superior, to walk in bare feet in any sanctuary.

God is preparing to send His special Redeemer

E. (:34) Credential of Loving Compassion for the Deliverance of God’s People –

The Commitment to Action

– Moses: “’I have certainly seen the oppression of My people in Egypt, and have heard their groans, and I have come down to deliver them; come now, and I will send you to Egypt.’”

– Christ: Matt. 9:36 “Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them”

Luke 19:10 “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” – went about healing people; look at the early healing ministry of the apostles – Who was really interested in meeting the deep needs of the people? It wasn’t the Sanhedrin

God sees the suffering and heartache of His people; His is concerned for our circumstances; He hears our groans and sighs and cries for help and deliverance; Just as He has delivered us spiritually from the power and bondage of sin He will deliver our bodies from their suffering and give us a new body appropriate for glory

God is preparing to send His special Redeemer – How will he be received???


A. (:35-38) Pattern of Rejecting God = a bad track record; poor discernment; blindness

1. (:35) Rejection of Divine Rule

“This Moses whom they disowned, saying, ‘Who made you a ruler and a judge?’ is the one whom God sent to be both a ruler and a deliverer with the help of the angel who appeared to him in the thorn bush.”

(Luke 1:68 – prophecy of Zacharias – “He has visited us and accomplished redemption for His people and raised up a horn of salvation for us”; 2:38 – came to accomplish “the redemption of Jerusalem”; Hebrews 9:12; Titus 2:14 – “Who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.”)

Repetition of phrase “this one” (houtos — five times) to point out the identity of the one rejected by Israel

Bock: This ongoing, divinely given status of Moses as the sent one is underscored by the use of the perfect-tense verb apestalken. This point is made more emphatic when one realizes that all the verbs around this perfect tense are aorists.

Sent by God – answers the key question of source of authority

Do you really want Jesus to rule over you?

2. (:36) Rejection of Divine Power

“This man led them out, performing wonders and signs in the land of Egypt and in the Red Sea and in the wilderness for forty years.”

What a tremendous leader – had over 2 million people following him

3 specific groupings of powerful miracles (wonders and signs):

– before Pharaoh in Egypt – ended in death of first born

– at the crossing of the Red Sea – ended in Egyptian army drowning in Red Sea

– in the wilderness for forty years – ended with complaining, unbelievers dying off

What type of judgment awaits the Sanhedrin and Jerusalem and the temple for the rejection of divine power?

Do you really tremble before Jesus as the judge who will soon return to hold you accountable?

3. (:37) Rejection of Divine Revelation – Moses = prototype of great Prophet who would come

“This is the Moses who said to the sons of Israel, ‘God shall raise up for you a prophet like me from your brethren.’”

Bock: for all of you – Dative of Advantage

Longenecker: Moses pointed beyond himself and beyond the instruction that came through him to another whom God would raise up on the future and to whom Israel must give heed and that, therefore, Israel cannot limit divine revelation and redemption to the confines of the Mosaic law.

John 6:14 says, “Then those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world.”

How are you responding to God’s great revelation of Himself in the person of His Son Jesus?

He is the one mediator between God and man

4. (:38) Rejection of Divine Law – Moses = Mediator of the Law

“This is the one who was in the congregation in the wilderness together with the angel who was speaking to him on Mount Sinai, and who was with our fathers; and he received living oracles to pass on to you.”

Stephen shows great respect for the law, just as he has for the ministry of Moses

Same angel of the Lord who was in the burning bush was with Moses on Mt Sinai at the giving of the Law

Word of God is not dead … but living

Lenski: The fifth “this one” brings out this mediatorship of Moses which made him the type of the eternal mediator.

B. (:39-43) Pattern of Embracing Idolatry

1. (:39) Embracing Worldliness = a Heart Reversal to Enmity Against God

“And our fathers were unwilling to be obedient to him, but repudiated him and in their hearts turned back to Egypt,”

Prefer the bondage and suffering of sin to the freedom of living for God and pursuing a life of righteousness; bad choice – Hebrews – Moses refused to choose the pleasures of this world back in Egypt but instead chose to suffer with the children of Israel and walk by faith

Are you a friend of the world or a friend of God?? Can’t be both – world is at enmity with God

2. (:40-41) Embracing Self Made Idols over the One True God

“saying to Aaron, ‘Make for us gods who will go before us; for this Moses who led us out of the land of Egypt– we do not know what happened to him.’ And at that time they made a calf and brought a sacrifice to the idol, and were rejoicing in the works of their hands.”

One of the lowest points of Israel’s history; cannot trust in the invisible God; cannot be patient for God’s timetable; prefer idols made by their own hands like the nations around them; how could Aaron have facilitated such idolatry??

Lenski: the contemptuous use of outos

Bruce: The invisible presence of God was not enough for them; they craved for something that they could see. When Moses was absent, communing with God on Mount Sinai, they persuaded Aaron to manufacture “gods that shall go before us.”

Imperfect tense – ongoing, continual rejoicing and celebration

Bock: Usually this verb was used of worship for Yahweh at feasts, so this use is particularly cutting (Lev. 23:40; Deut. 12:7, 12, 18). The association of idols with the work of human hands is also common in the OT and Judaism (Isa. 40:19-20; 44:9-17; Ps. 115:4; Hos. 8:5)

Making merry – same verb used in story of the Prodigal in Luke 15:23

3. (:42) Embracing the Creation over the Creator – Worshipping Sun, Moon, Stars

“But God turned away and delivered them up to serve the host of heaven; as it is written in the book of the prophets, ‘It was not to Me that you offered victims and sacrifices forty years in the wilderness, was it, O house of Israel?”

Bruce: [quoting W. Manson] In other words, what Amos meant, according to Stephen, was not that God had not commanded sacrifices and oblations, but that Israel had diverted its offerings and its sanctuary to idolatrous purposes.

Cf. Rom. 1:24-28 for the type of judgment that occurs when God takes his hands off and allows sinners to suffer the hardening brought about by their own sin

Constable: The Israelites turned from Moses to idolatry, and in this their high priest, Aaron, helped them. Consequently God gave them over to what they wanted (cf. Rom. 1:24). He also purposed to send them into captivity as punishment (Amos 5:25-27).

MacArthur: Did you know that God also did that with Israel? In Hosea 4:17 we find the shocking words, “Ephraim is joined to idols; let him alone.” God said, “I’ve had it!” and so He let them continue worshiping idols, something they did from the time of the wilderness wandering all the way to the Babylonian Captivity. Because they refused to worship Him, God allowed the Israelites “to worship the host of heaven.” This is a reference to all the stars and planets that the Egyptians worshiped.

4. (:43) Embracing Forms of Pagan Worship

“You also took along the tabernacle of Moloch and the star of the god Rompha, the images which you made to worship them. I also will remove you beyond Babylon.”

Kent: Stephen’s quotation of Amos 5:27 differs from the OT. Both the Hebrew text and the LXX say “Damascus.” The prophet Amos was foretelling the exile of the northern kingdom under the Assyrians which would take them beyond Damascus. More than a century later, the southern kingdom was captured because of her similar disobedience to God and was deported to Babylon. Stephen has merely substituted this phrase in order to use this Scripture to cover the judgment of God on the entire nation.

Bock: The point is that such idolatry is a pattern of Israelite behavior and that it results in national judgment.

Longenecker: The inescapable inference from Stephen’s words is that Israel’s shameful behavior and God’s drastic response to it find their counterparts in the nation’s rejection of Jesus.


God’s presentation of Jesus Christ as the divinely appointed redeemer is clear. There is no other salvation except through Jesus Christ. There is one name under heaven through whom you must be saved. Threat of God’s judgment is clear throughout this passage.