Yee Haw! Texas State Capitol grounds.
Saturday, 14 May 2022
“This is he who was in the congregation in the wilderness with the Angel who spoke to him on Mount Sinai, and with our fathers, the one who received the living oracles to give to us, Acts 7:38
Note: You can listen to today’s commentary courtesy of our friends at “Bible in Ten” podcast. (Click Here to listen)
Following in the same thoughts as Peter from Acts 3, Stephen implicitly tied Jesus in with the “Prophet like Moses” from the previous verse. He did this by noting that Moses had admonished Israel to hear that coming Prophet. Now, he continues with his words about Moses, saying, “This is he who was in the congregation in the wilderness.”
In the Hebrew Old Testament, two main words are used to define those in the wilderness: qahal – assembly, and edah – congregation. The two words are similar in meaning but are distinct enough that a good translation will render them consistently as “assembly” and “congregation” to show the difference between the two. The word Stephen uses is the Greek word ekklésia. It can signify either word from the Hebrew. It refers to a group that is assembled, whether religious or secular (such as in Acts 19:32).
His use of the word simply indicates that the people of Israel had been called together as a people, assembling for a purpose. In this case, the assembly is defined by the next words, saying, “with the Angel who spoke to him on Mount Sinai.”
The congregation of those assembled met with the Angel of the Lord, meaning a visible/audible manifestation of God. As God is Spirit, it is a reference to the Lord Jesus who is the Angel (Messenger) of the Lord seen at that time and throughout the Old Testament.
The people were called together to hear the law spoken forth. They agreed to the conditions set forth, and they accepted the rule of the Lord over them. As such, they accepted Moses as the Lord’s representative. With this understood, Stephen confirms that not only Moses, but the people had heard this, saying, “and with our fathers.”
The people as an assembly had gathered at the foot of Sinai. They had heard the words of law, and they were overcome with terror at what they had heard. This is found just after the giving of the Ten Commandments –
“Now all the people witnessed the thunderings, the lightning flashes, the sound of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they trembled and stood afar off. 19 Then they said to Moses, ‘You speak with us, and we will hear; but let not God speak with us, lest we die.’” Exodus 20:18, 19
The people agreed that hearing the voice of the Lord was too much for them. And so, they asked Moses to speak out the words of law and they would hear – meaning obey – them. This is then reflected in the final words of the verse, saying, “the one who received the living oracles to give to us.”
This refers again to Moses. The people accepted that Moses would receive and transmit the word of the Lord to them. These are then called “the living oracles.” Some translations incorrectly say, “lively oracles,” “words of life,” or “life-giving.” Such translations are not the intent. It is a verb and signifies that the oracles are alive and active.
In Deuteronomy 33:2, Moses says, “From His right hand, fire-law for them” (CG). The meaning is that the law is alive and both purifying and consuming. This is the intent of what is given. These oracles are what work in Israel to either purify them as a people in their obedience or to consume them in their disobedience.
Life application: In Hebrews, it says –
“Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience. 12 For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. 13 And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.” Hebrews 4:11-13
This is the same thought as that of what Stephen presents to the council as he speaks to them. It is the same thought that we are to remember as well. Assuming the person is saved by faith in Christ, there is still the need to develop in Him. We are saved out of sin to live in holiness. This is what the Word of God is given for. We can learn what is pleasing to Him. We can learn how to walk properly before Him. We can avoid those things that are contrary to His nature.
Let us make use of this wonderful word. We will not lose our salvation if we don’t learn the word, but our life will never be one that is properly conducted unless we apply it to our walk before Him. Read the word, think on it, and let it fill you so that it can guide your actions, your conduct, and your words all the days of your life.
Glorious God, thank You for the wonderful words that You have given to us in the pages of Scripture! It is a living and powerful word that can mold us into Your image if we will just learn it and apply it to our lives. Help us in this, O God. May we do so, and may we be pleasing in Your sight as we walk before You in holiness. Amen.