Acts 7:37

Horse, rider, and rifle.

Friday, 13 May 2022

“This is that Moses who said to the children of Israel, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your brethren. Him you shall hear.’ Acts 7:37

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).

The previous verse described Moses, by the hand of the Angel, bringing Israel out and showing wonders and signs in Egypt, in the Red Sea, and in the wilderness for forty years. Stephen now says, “This is that Moses.”

The words are stated to emphatically show that it is the same Moses and none other. Stephen continues, noting that the same man who led Israel is the same man “who said to the children of Israel.” Again, the words are not without purpose. Just as it is the same Moses who did all the great things for Israel, so it is the same man who spoke out words of instruction to them in the law of Moses. And within that law, Moses said, “The Lord your God will raise up for you.”

What Moses says is law, it includes prophecy, and it is the word of the Lord. Therefore, when he wrote out the law, it became binding upon those who would receive it. It is as if Moses was still there with them in the council as Stephen spoke. Just because the man had died and been buried, the weight of his words continued as if he was sitting there speaking them out directly to this body of leaders.

As they were words of prophecy as well, when he said that an event would happen in the future, and when that event met up with the stream of time, whatever that event was had to be considered as happening by the will of the Lord and treated as such. It was not to be neglected, overlooked, or dismissed as an aberration. As for the event now referred to by Stephen, it is an event already proclaimed to this same council by Peter as fulfilled in the coming of Jesus Christ. It is that God shall raise up “a Prophet like me from your brethren.”

The words are stated in Deuteronomy 18:18 and are explained in the commentary of Acts 3:22. In short, Moses was a prophet of the Lord, and after him came many more prophets whose words were often carefully recorded and maintained, becoming the basis for Israel’s Scriptures. However, none of these were “like” Moses, apart from the fact that they were prophets. The difference between Moses and all others was that the words of Moses formed the basis of the law. He was the one who initiated the covenant.

And more, not only did he initiate the covenant, but he also performed the priestly role in its initiation, serving at the altar and ministering the blood. Though he was not to continue in the role of priest, he did serve in this function initially.

And further, not only did he serve in these ways, but he also served as the legislator of the covenant. No other prophet would be like Moses in all of these ways. His position in Israel was unique and distinct from all other prophets.

As Moses said that the Lord would raise up a Prophet like him, it meant that this prophet would – by default – be the Initiator, Priest, and Legislator of a New Covenant. This is carefully and minutely explained to Israel in the book of Hebrews where Jesus is said to be “greater than” Moses and Aaron in all ways. With this understood, Stephen repeats the words of Moses that were already spoken to this council by Peter, saying, “Him you shall hear.”

In the Hebrew of the referenced verse from Moses, there is an added stress in the word translated as “you shall hear.” This is indicated by the structure. It says, elav tishmaun – “Him you shall certainly hear.” Further, the sense of the word “hear” is not just to listen to the audible sounds, but to heed them and to obey them.

As such, there will be no excuse for rejection of this Prophet. The people must heed the words He speaks. It is a command of Moses, and it is a provision specifically directed by the Lord. Further, the people were to heed him, as Peter says, “in all things, whatever He says to you.”

The basis for these words is found also in Deuteronomy 18 –

“And the Lord said to me: ‘What they have spoken is good. 18 I will raise up for them a Prophet like you from among their brethren, and will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him.’” Deuteronomy 18:17, 18

The words of the Prophet are equated directly to the words of the Lord. Therefore, to reject the Prophet’s words is to reject both Moses and the Lord. What is said by Him is to be heard and obeyed.

Because this is clearly to be understood from the law itself, no person of Israel – to whom the Law of Moses was given – could (or can) say that he was being obedient to Moses if he rejected this Prophet that Moses spoke of and that Peter now refers to. To reject Jesus is to reject Moses. Jesus said this explicitly to them –

“Do not think that I shall accuse you to the Father; there is one who accuses you—Moses, in whom you trust. 46 For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me. 47 But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?” John 5:45-47

In rejecting Moses, the people would reject the Lord who commissioned Moses. The logical progression of thought is that only condemnation could result from a rejection of Jesus. The words of Peter in Acts 3, and the words of Stephen now, can be put side by side to see their parallel nature –

“For Moses truly said to the fathers, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your brethren. Him you shall hear in all things, whatever He says to you. 23 And it shall be that every soul who will not hear that Prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people.’” Acts 3:22, 23

“This is that Moses who said to the children of Israel, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your brethren. Him you shall hear.’” Acts 7:37

The two testimonies before the council stand as witnesses to them. If they are rejected, they stand as witnesses against them. But more, the words of Moses that they have cited are their own witness. The apostles are simply confirming that these words do, in fact, point to Christ Jesus.

Life application: Israel of today is taught by their own rabbis that Ezekiel 36 is fulfilled in their return to the land. Ezekiel was a prophet under the law of Moses, and his words prophesied of events that would happen in confirmation of what Moses had already recorded –

“If any of you are driven out to the farthest parts under heaven, from there the Lord your God will gather you, and from there He will bring you. Then the Lord your God will bring you to the land which your fathers possessed, and you shall possess it. He will prosper you and multiply you more than your fathers. And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.” Deuteronomy 30:4-6

“For I will take you from among the nations, gather you out of all countries, and bring you into your own land. 25 Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. 26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them. 28 Then you shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; you shall be My people, and I will be your God.” Ezekiel 36:24-28

It is the epitome of hypocrisy to claim that the Lord has favored them and brought them back to the land while ignoring the very words of the Lord that say they were exiled for their rejection of Jesus. Even though these words of Acts are found in the New Testament, they are based upon the words of the Law of Moses, they have been witnessed and testified to, and the witness stands as a historical record, bearing authority as such.

Picking and choosing what applies and what does not from the word of the Lord does not solve anything. It only confuses things even further. This is what Israel has done and continues to do. It is, unfortunately, what innumerable denominations, churches, and individual pastors, preachers, and teachers do. What is not liked about the prescriptions from the word is simply ignored. This is not a healthy way of taking in what the Lord is saying, and it can only lead to sadness in the end.

Let us take all things in their proper context, adhere to what is prescribed in the proper dispensation, and be willing to accept what is presented for what it is – the word of God that is to guide our life and conduct before the Lord.

Lord God, help us to be responsible with our analysis and application of Your precious word. It is far too important to dismiss or only partially apply it to our lives. Rather, may we be willing to carefully adhere to Your word, allowing it to guide our steps all the days of our lives. Amen.