Acts 7:36-40
Acts 7:36 (KJB)
He brought them out, after that he had showed wonders and signs in the land of Egypt, and in the Red sea, and in the wilderness forty years.
Stephen shortens the narrative and tells them that Moses brought them out and God, through the hands of Moses, had shown them great signs and wonders, especially the ten plagues which literally destroyed Egypt. Then came the crossing of the Red Sea where Israel went through on dry ground and Pharaoh and his army tried to pursue. God then closed the waters all around them and completely destroyed Pharaoh and the whole Egyptian army. Egypt would have been a ripe target for every country surrounding them since they had no leadership and no army to protect them. (Psa 136:14-15 KJV) And made Israel to pass through the midst of it: for his mercy endureth for ever: {15} But overthrew Pharaoh and his host in the Red sea: for his mercy endureth for ever. Then during the course of all forty years of wilderness wandering, Moses had shown them many other signs and wonders but unfortunately, along with them came much opposition to Moses from the people. Before we condemn them, how many times have we sinned against God after He had freed us from the world system?
Acts 7:37 (KJB)
This is that Moses, which said unto the children of Israel, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear.
Hear - Hear, understand, and obey
(Deu 18:15 KJV) The LORD thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken; Stephen now looks beyond Moses in the area of the prophets. Here he is prophesying the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ who would eventually come through the line of Judah. Stephen includes this because he wants to makes sure they understand that Jesus was the prophesied one that Moses looked forward to. Jesus was not just going to be a prophet of words, as the Son of God, He was and is to be obeyed. The word “hear” is not just a word of physically hearing the words Jesus would say but of understanding them and obeying them. Of course, this would require that a person be saved because the unbeliever could not obey Christ.
Acts 7:38 (KJB)
This is he, that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in the mount Sina, and with our fathers: who received the lively oracles to give unto us:
Church - Called out assembly
Lively - Living
Oracles - Words or the Scriptures
Stephen now refers to the fact that Moses was with the church in the wilderness. God had called them out of Egypt and now they were in the wilderness as a called out or set apart assembly. Stephen also recounts the fact that God Himself was with the Fathers whom God also gave Scripture to. In this verse though it is pointing to the fact that Moses had given them the living words of God. Remember, the law was alive because they were guidelines for living and worshipping God. It contained within them that the pattern for the tabernacle, which was a foreshadow of Christ. The law was a great shadow of things to come and that is why it was living Scripture. (Heb 8:5 KJV) Who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern showed to thee in the mount. God spoke to Moses in Mount Sinai because the people were afraid when they saw the lightning and thunder. (Exo 19:16 KJV) And it came to pass on the third day in the morning, that there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount, and the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud; so that all the people that was in the camp trembled. God wanted Israel to know that they were not dealing with a false god like the many which were in Egypt. God was a living God and He wanted to convey this to Israel that He was powerful and He would be their guide and bring them safely into the promised land if they would obey Him. No false god of Egypt ever showed himself so mightily, as a matter of fact, never even showed themselves that they truly existed. (Psa 135:15-17 KJV) The idols of the heathen are silver and gold, the work of men's hands. {16} They have mouths, but they speak not; eyes have they, but they see not; {17} They have ears, but they hear not; neither is there any breath in their mouths.
Acts 7:39 (KJB)
To whom our fathers would not obey, but thrust him from them, and in their hearts turned back again into Egypt,
(Exo 24:18 KJV) And Moses went into the midst of the cloud, and gat him up into the mount: and Moses was in the mount forty days and forty nights. Moses had spent 40 days and nights upon Mt. Sinai waiting to receive the words of God. It was during this time that the people thought that Moses was dead. (Exo 32:1 KJV) And when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down out of the mount, the people gathered themselves together unto Aaron, and said unto him, Up, make us gods, which shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him. By the time that Moses did come down from the mountain, the people had already been worshipping the golden calf which Aaron made. Their hearts had turned from God who delivered them to the false gods of Egypt. (Num 11:5 KJV) We remember the fish, which we did eat in Egypt freely; the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks, and the onions, and the garlic: Their hearts had turned back to Egypt and all they remembered was the food they received. It was not that the Egyptians were feeding them with good food as a reward but to keep them strong bodied to do the work. What they also failed to remember was bondage and the whip of the taskmaster. In the day we live in which is 2,000 years removed from the time the Lord Jesus Christ made the promise that He would return, how many are turning back to the ways of the world simply because they do not think the Lord will keep His promise? (Heb 10:37 KJV) For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry.
Acts 7:40 (KJB)
Saying unto Aaron, Make us gods to go before us: for as for this Moses, which brought us out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him.
Wot not - Do not know
Since their hearts had already turned back to Egypt, the next step for them was to take the thoughts they had of returning and put those thoughts into action. They decided that they could not go back without a peace offering of some kind so they had decided to make a god of gold which would precede their return. (Exo 32:4 KJV) And he received them at their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, after he had made it a molten calf: and they said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. They had also blasphemed by stating that it was the golden calf that freed them from Egypt instead of the God of their fathers. The golden calf was made to be the image of Apis, which was the chief deity of the Egyptians. If the Egyptians saw a great crowd coming at them with Apis in the forefront, then the Israelites thought they would be welcomed back.