Statue of man with firefighter-looking hat and boy in left arm. Lamp in right hand. hmmm
Tuesday, 10 May 2022
“I have surely seen the oppression of My people who are in Egypt; I have heard their groaning and have come down to deliver them. And now come, I will send you to Egypt.” Acts 7:34
Note: You can listen to today’s commentary courtesy of our friends at “Bible in Ten” podcast. (Click Here to listen).
You can also read this commentary, with music, courtesy of our friends at “Discern the Bible” on YouTube. (Click Here to listen), or at Rumble (Click Here to listen).
In the previous verse, the Lord instructed Moses to take his sandals off because the place where he stood was holy ground. Stephen now continues with the words of the Lord, saying, “I have surely seen the oppression of My people who are in Egypt.”
Stephen follows the wording and structure of the Hebrew. In Exodus 3:7, it reads, “seeing, I have seen, the oppression.” The Greek now reads, “having seen, I saw.” The structure is a Hebraism that displays emphasis. Thus, the Lord is emphatically stating that He is fully aware of the treatment being received by Israel from the Egyptians. Stephen continues with his words, paraphrasing what is said in Exodus, “I have heard their groaning.”
The groaning (or outcry) is specifically stated to be because of their taskmasters. Their lives were in bondage, and they suffered oppression in that state. As such, Stephen continues with, “and have come down to deliver them.”
The words “have come down” are an anthropomorphic way of saying that the Lord is attentive to their cries and intends to now deliver the people. It is as if a ruler has stepped down from His throne in order to assist those under Him, or as a person being called to help another in a time of crisis. In this, one cannot help but see the parallel to Jesus –
“For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.” John 6:38
The Exodus account is being equated directly to the state of the world under law. It is a state of bondage because by the law is the knowledge of sin, and the wages of sin is death. The call of Moses to lead the people out of the bondage of Egypt is only a typological anticipation of Jesus’ coming down to free the world from the bondage of sin. This is what Stephen is focusing on. With that, he next skips over several verses from Exodus and finishes the words of this verse with, “And now come, I will send you to Egypt.”
Moses is being called to go from a place outside of Egypt to the land of Egypt itself. It is he who is to be the Lord’s instrument to bring the Israelites out to freedom from their oppression. Likewise, Jesus is the Lord’s instrument to bring humanity out to freedom from their bondage. As Jesus said –
“Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, ‘If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. 32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.’” John 8:31, 32
In response to this, it next says –
“They answered Him, ‘We are Abraham’s descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How can You say, “You will be made free”?’” John 8:33
And then, in His reply to them, we read –
“Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. 35 And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. 36 Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.” John 8:34-36
Stephen is taking the council back to school, tutoring them on what they had failed to see when Jesus came. What man needs is freedom from sin. Being free in a nation or in a society gives people a false sense of security. Only when the true oppressor is identified and removed can a human truly be considered free.
Notice how Stephen focuses on the negative aspect of bondage and skips over the benefit of having that removed when his words are placed side by side with the corresponding Exodus narrative –
“I have surely seen the oppression of My people who are in Egypt; I have heard their groaning and have come down to deliver them. And now come, I will send you to Egypt.”
“And the Lord said: ‘I have surely seen the oppression of My people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows. 8 So I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and large land, to a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites and the Hittites and the Amorites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites. 9 Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel has come to Me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them. 10 Come now, therefore, and I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring My people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.’” Exodus 3:7-10
Stephen left out the words concerning bringing the nation into the land of promise for a reason. The council sat there in that land. As such, they thought that they were in a right standing and favor with the Lord. But Stephen’s words are intended to make them think. Canaan was only a typological representation of something far greater – freedom in Christ from the bondage of the human soul to sin. Heaven, a return to paradise, it is the benefit of that state.
Life application: The Bible is written for man’s benefit. When we read about God in words like, “He came down,” “His right hand,” “His arm is not shortened,” and so on, we are reading anthropomorphisms that help us to see what the Lord is doing or what He is like in a way that we can understand. God doesn’t have a right hand, nor does He sit on a throne. God is Spirit.
When the Bible says that the sun also rises, that is for man’s benefit. The sun does not rise. The earth rotates. As it does, from man’s perspective, the sun appears to come up and go down. The Bible refers to the four corners of the earth (Isaiah 11:12). The earth is a sphere. It doesn’t have corners. However, the words are given for man’s benefit as he stands on the ground.
This is actually very important to remember because there are people who claim the earth is flat. To justify this, they misuse Scripture – twisting it – in order to confuse people. Why would they do this? It isn’t because they are religious at all. It is because by getting people to believe that they have been lied to, those who “understand the truth” can now wield authority over their newly made disciples. It is a return to bondage.
In the end, all such control tears people away from focusing on Christ Jesus. Be wise and be aware of what the Bible is saying and why. How easy it is for people to get pulled away from the truth, simply because they have failed to read, know, and understand the word.
Heavenly Father, thank You for the wisdom You have displayed in the creation. We live on a beautiful ball, suspended upon nothing, as it moves through space. We have the warmth of the sun and the soft light of the moon. The stars twinkle and shine to delight our eyes. Thank You for Your care of us through such wonderful detail. Amen.