Opening Prayer

Father in heaven, thank you for your gifts that are always freely given. Help me to use my gifts to bring you glory, to bless those you have given me to love and care for.

Read ACTS 7:23–43

23 “When Moses was forty years old, he decided to visit his own people, the Israelites. 24 He saw one of them being mistreated by an Egyptian, so he went to his defense and avenged him by killing the Egyptian. 25 Moses thought that his own people would realize that God was using him to rescue them, but they did not. 26 The next day Moses came upon two Israelites who were fighting. He tried to reconcile them by saying, ‘Men, you are brothers; why do you want to hurt each other?’

27 “But the man who was mistreating the other pushed Moses aside and said, ‘Who made you ruler and judge over us? 28 Are you thinking of killing me as you killed the Egyptian yesterday?’[a] 29 When Moses heard this, he fled to Midian, where he settled as a foreigner and had two sons.

30 “After forty years had passed, an angel appeared to Moses in the flames of a burning bush in the desert near Mount Sinai. 31 When he saw this, he was amazed at the sight. As he went over to get a closer look, he heard the Lord say: 32 ‘I am the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.’[b] Moses trembled with fear and did not dare to look.

33 “Then the Lord said to him, ‘Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground. 34 I have indeed seen the oppression of my people in Egypt. I have heard their groaning and have come down to set them free. Now come, I will send you back to Egypt.’[c]

35 “This is the same Moses they had rejected with the words, ‘Who made you ruler and judge?’ He was sent to be their ruler and deliverer by God himself, through the angel who appeared to him in the bush. 36 He led them out of Egypt and performed wonders and signs in Egypt, at the Red Sea and for forty years in the wilderness.

37 “This is the Moses who told the Israelites, ‘God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your own people.’[d] 38 He was in the assembly in the wilderness, with the angel who spoke to him on Mount Sinai, and with our ancestors; and he received living words to pass on to us.

39 “But our ancestors refused to obey him. Instead, they rejected him and in their hearts turned back to Egypt. 40 They told Aaron, ‘Make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who led us out of Egypt—we don’t know what has happened to him!’[e] 41 That was the time they made an idol in the form of a calf. They brought sacrifices to it and reveled in what their own hands had made. 42 But God turned away from them and gave them over to the worship of the sun, moon and stars. This agrees with what is written in the book of the prophets:

“‘Did you bring me sacrifices and offerings
    forty years in the wilderness, people of Israel?
43 You have taken up the tabernacle of Molek
    and the star of your god Rephan,
    the idols you made to worship.
Therefore I will send you into exile’[f] beyond Babylon.

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  1. Acts 7:28 Exodus 2:14
  2. Acts 7:32 Exodus 3:6
  3. Acts 7:34 Exodus 3:5,7,8,10
  4. Acts 7:37 Deut. 18:15
  5. Acts 7:40 Exodus 32:1
  6. Acts 7:43 Amos 5:25-27 (see Septuagint)

New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.


Ask for wisdom from the Holy Spirit to rightly understand difficult texts.

Think Further

The original story of Moses, retold by Stephen, can be found in Exodus 2:11–25. There are differences between these accounts, but that need not trouble us. Both ancient Israel and first-century Christianity were oral cultures in which traditional narratives were told and retold. The stories could be adapted in the telling according to the particular needs of the audience being addressed. Moses’ slaying of an Egyptian slave-driver is set in a context in which this highly privileged Hebrew, brought up as the adopted son of Pharaoh’s daughter, had suddenly discovered the terrible plight of his own people as he ‘watched them at their hard labor.’1 That original story of liberation, of a God who heard the groaning of an oppressed people and acted to set them free, was foundational to Israel’s existence and faith. However, as Stephen retells the story, he stresses the resistance of the ancestors to God’s demands and their desire to return to Egypt! This is the prelude to the accusation of his contemporaries’ rejection of the Messiah Jesus – which will result in his execution.

There is another crucial aspect to the context of this story: many scholars believe that Luke, the author of Acts, is writing decades after the events he describes, after the destruction of Jerusalem and the scattering of the original community of Jewish followers of Jesus. For Luke, the urgent issues were: why had this happened and what should be the relationship between the synagogue and the church? This second question still hovers over us as Christians.


Read Romans 11:17–23 and meditate upon it.

Closing prayer

Almighty God, help me to view the issues of the church and world in the light of your Word. Give me wisdom as I seek your will in your ongoing plan of redemption.

Last Updated on June 7, 2024 by kingstar

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