"Then as the culmination of these 40 years, a messenger appeared to him in the Mount Sinai desert, in a bush that was all aflame in fire. And Moses was enthralled by the vision and as he moved toward it to take a closer look, the voice of the Lord came to him: 'It is I, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham and of Isaac and of Jacob.' In his trembling Moses dared not look any further. And (it was) the Lord (who) said to him: 'Take off the shoes from your feet, since the place where you are standing is holy ground. I have indeed seen the oppression of my people in Egypt and the groaning I have heard and I have come down (to take decisive action) to take them out of that. And now, follow. I am going to send you to Egypt'. The very same Moses, to those who repudiated him with 'Who makes you ruler and judge over us?' God indeed sent as both ruler and deliverer by the directions given by the messenger that had appeared to him in that bush. It was he who led them out by the enactment of many wondrous acts and signs both in Egypt and at the Red Sea, and for a full (further) 40 years in the desert. This is (the same) Moses who said to the Israelites, 'God will raise up a prophet for you from among your brethren (just) as he raised me up.' This is the same one who was in the assembly in the desert when the messenger spoke to him on Mount Sinai and he was there with our fathers. And he (it was who) received the life-giving oracles to hand on to us. Our fathers continuously refused to obey him, thrusting him aside, turning in their hearts to Egypt as when they said to Aaron, 'Make gods for us so that they can go before us; as for this Moses fellow who brought us out from the land of Egypt, we simply do not know what became of him.' And so, in those days, they made a calf, offering sacrifices to this idol, rejoicing in the works of their hands. But God turned from them and gave them over to the worship of the host of heaven, as it is written (for us) in the book of the prophets: 'Are you going to offer chosen beasts and sacrifices for 40 years in the desert, O house of Israel? And you did this, taking the tent of Moloch and Rephan's star, figures you made to worship; and I will remove you far away from Babylon.'" (Acts 7:30-43/transliteration by Bruce C Wearne)


EVOKING ISRAEL'S PAST: Stephen speaks about the role Moses (depicted above) played in the history of Israel during his defence before the Sanhedrin. PICTURE: Artgeek3Kwww.freeimages.com


The story of God's deliverance of the people of Israel is recounted.

The part of Stephen's address would have been well known to his Egyptian-based accusers as well as to the Sanhedrin. Stephen was reminding the council just how much God's own people depend upon the actions of God Himself, to circumvent their tendency to cast God's servant, and God Himself, aside.

Read this portion again and notice how Stephen describes God's intervention on behalf of His people.

His very own chosen sons and daughters, from Jacob, from Isaac, from Abraham, would have been locked out of His favour by the hardness of their own hearts if He had not acted.

Notice how Stephen tells the story so that at every turn in the road, though God's own people are bent toward turning back and tearing up God's plans, that was never the end of it. His people may declare "Enough! Finish! We have a new god now!" but just because people tell God to get lost does not mean He ever does.

He continues to go out of His way to find those sheep from His flock that have wandered away. Such declarations are not the end of the matter. He is there keeping His promises and will surely return to save His rebellious sons and daughters from their sins. That's Stephen's message.

Stephen reminds the council how God describes Himself as Holy. Stephen is calling upon them to consider how the Holy One works, to look at the record again and see how God dealt with Israel, with mankind. It is a sorry story. But it is not the end, even though it most certainly would have been had God Himself not intervened to cut short our rejection of Him.

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