Acts 7:44

Austin Capitol grounds.

Friday, 20 May 2022

“Our fathers had the tabernacle of witness in the wilderness, as He appointed, instructing Moses to make it according to the pattern that he had seen, Acts 7:44

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, Stephen completed his citation of Amos 5. In that citation (verse 7:42), he mentioned “the tabernacle of Molech.” Now, he contrasts that with the words of this verse, saying, “Our fathers had the tabernacle of witness.”

This is the edifice detailed in Exodus which was the central part of the sanctuary where the Lord dwelt. The sanctuary was enclosed by hangings forming a courtyard. Within that was kept the brazen altar and the laver. Those led to the tabernacle (also called “tent” when a different word is used) which was a tent where the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place were. It is known by various names in the books of Moses, such as the tabernacle of witness, the tabernacle of the testimony, the tabernacle of the congregation, the tabernacle of meeting, the tabernacle of the Lord, and so on.

Within the Most Holy Place was the ark of the covenant where the presence of the Lord dwelt. This was “in the wilderness.” This edifice was constructed at Sinai and was carried from there to the doorstep of Canaan where the people rebelled. When they were turned back because of their faithlessness, it was carried throughout the wilderness wanderings, and it was eventually taken across the Jordan and into Canaan. This was a temporary, mobile edifice that was constructed “as He appointed.”

The Lord gave Moses explicit and detailed instructions concerning exactly what materials to use, what colors the fabrics were to be, how much certain implements would weigh, how long things would be, and so on. Everything was according to His word and was presented to Moses. The Lord was “instructing Moses to make it according to the pattern that he had seen.”

This was first said to Moses in Exodus –

“And let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them. According to all that I show you, that is, the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of all its furnishings, just so you shall make it.” Exodus 25:8, 9

This is further explained in Hebrews where it says –

“For every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices. Therefore it is necessary that this One also have something to offer. For if He were on earth, He would not be a priest, since there are priests who offer the gifts according to the law; who serve the copy and shadow of the heavenly things, as Moses was divinely instructed when he was about to make the tabernacle. For He said, ‘See that you make all things according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.’ But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises.” Hebrews 8:3-6

The author of Hebrews says that this sanctuary was a “copy and shadow of the heavenly things.” In every detail and in every respect, it anticipated the Person and work of Jesus. As such, it was only a shadow of the good things to come in Christ. As an explicit example of this, the author of Hebrews says of the veil that hangs between the holy and the most holy place pictured the flesh of Jesus –

“Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh.” Hebrews 10:19, 20

As this is so, and it is fully confirmed in the gospels through typology that it is, it tells us that their rejection of the law that was given to them, and which detailed those things concerning the tabernacle, was a rejection of what those things only anticipated, the coming Messiah. When He came, it was no wonder that they rejected Him. The same spirit of disobedience worked in them all along.

Life application: A proper study of the Bible takes a lifetime, and even then, we won’t know all that is contained there. But in order to rightly know what is said, one has to have a right translation. Otherwise, a misunderstanding of important concepts will come about. Therefore, it is important to weed out mistranslations, errors, and contradictions that come about through faulty translational work.

As an example of this, notice the difference between these three sets of verses from the KJV and the NKJV. To make it simple, the error is highlighted. Which version is in error and why? See if you can identify and explain it –

KJV:

According to all that I shew thee, after the pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern of all the instruments thereof, even so shall ye make it. Exodus 25:9

“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 shewed to thee in the mount.” Hebrews 8:5

“It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.” Hebrews 9:23

NKJV:

“According to all that I show you, that is, the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of all its furnishings, just so you shall make it.” Exodus 25:9

“who serve the copy and shadow of the heavenly things, as Moses was divinely instructed when he was about to make the tabernacle. For He said, ‘See that you make all things according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.’” Hebrews 8:5

“Therefore it was necessary that the copies of the things in the heavens should be purified with these, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.” Hebrews 9:23

Now that you have thought it through, you can see that the KJV botched up its translation of Hebrews 9:23, forming a contradiction in the text. The exact opposite of what the Bible says is what they have said. It is the earthly things are COPIES of the heavenly things, which are the pattern.

By translating this as PATTERNS, they have brought error into their translation. As such, don’t just rush through your reading of Scripture, but think about what is said. Mull it over. When such an obvious error is identified, do a thorough study. Read various translations, study the original Hebrew or Greek, if available, and find out what is correct. In this, you will not be left thinking the Bible has an error.

Instead, you can place the blame for such a botched-up job right where it belongs, meaning with the human translators of God’s infallible word. When such an error is identified, make sure to then make a margin note correcting the error. When the Bible transfers to someone else, they won’t have to go through all the pains of checking that you did.

Lord God, Your word is too precious to just rush through. Help us to carefully contemplate it and to revel in its perfection all the days of our lives. Thank You for Your wondrous word! Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Acts. 7:43

Memorial to the 36th Infantry Division

Thursday, 19 May 2022

You also took up the tabernacle of Moloch,
And the star of your god Remphan,
Images which you made to worship;
And I will carry you away beyond Babylon.’ Acts 7:43

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).

Stephen had just begun to quote Amos 5 in the previous verse. He now continues with that here. His citation does not completely match the Hebrew, which says –

“‘You also carried Sikkuth your king
And Chiun, your idols,
The star of your gods,
Which you made for yourselves.
27 Therefore I will send you into captivity beyond Damascus,’
Says the Lord, whose name is the God of hosts.”

Noting these differences, Stephen begins with, “You also took up the tabernacle of Moloch.” A tabernacle is a tent in which an entity dwells. This would have been carried by the people in a procession as was common among the pagans, and which is seen even in parts of the world today. Moloch is the god of the Ammonites. In the Old Testament, he is noted as Molech.

Worship of Molech was expressly forbidden five times in the book of Leviticus. Solomon made a high place to Molech in 1 Kings 11:7. Also, in Jeremiah 32:35, it says –

“And they built the high places of Baal which are in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, to cause their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire to Molech, which I did not command them, nor did it come into My mind that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin.”

Despite the differences in the English, the translation of the Hebrew is exceedingly close to Stephen’s words. The name Sikkuth is spelled similarly to Succoth, or “tabernacle.” And the words “your king” are closely associated with Molech, which comes from the Hebrew word meaning “king.”

The reason for saying “tabernacle” here is certainly because he is making a play on words, connecting the thought to what is coming in verse 44. There, he will refer to the “tabernacle in the wilderness,” showing a contrast between this tabernacle and that one.

Stephen next says, “And the star of your god Remphan.” This clause can be seen to be quite different from the Hebrew. The explanation for the difference is provided by the Pulpit Commentary –

“Rephan, or Raiphan, or Remphan, as it is variously written, is the LXX. translation of the Hebrew Chiun in Amos 5:26. The best explanation of this is that Rephan is the Coptic name of the planet Saturn, well-known of course to the LXX., and that Chiun is the Hebrew and Arabic name of the same star, which they therefore translated by Rephan.”

Stephen next says, “Images which you made to worship.” Stephen returns to the thought of verse 7:41 which referred to the golden calf and which said, “and rejoiced in the works of their own hands.” Israel had a proclivity to fashioning gods instead of trusting in the uncreated God. In this, they were completely disobedient to Moses, and thus to the Lord.

Stephen finishes with, “And I will carry you away beyond Babylon.” Although this seems completely contradictory to the Hebrew that reads “Damascus,” it is evident that if one is carried beyond Babylon, he has been carried beyond Damascus. John Gill provides a thorough account of this –

“…in Amos it is beyond Damascus, and so some copies read here, which was in Babylon; and explains the sense of the prophet more fully, that they should not only be carried for their idolatry beyond Damascus, and into the furthermost parts of Babylon, but beyond it, even into the cities of the Medea, Halah, and Habor, by the river Gozan; and here is no contradiction: how far beyond Damascus, the prophet does not say; and if they were carried beyond Babylon, they must be carried beyond Damascus, and so the words of the prophet were fulfilled; and Stephen living after the fulfilment of the prophecy, by which it appeared that they were carried into Media, could say how far they were carried; wherefore the Jew (i) has no reason to cavil at Stephen, as if he misrepresented the words of the prophet, and related things otherwise than they were.”

Life application: Stephen is talking to the lead council of Israel, and he is citing things that are a part of their history. Though the Hebrew Old Testament and the Greek New Testament do not appear to match, the differences are settled by including both the Greek Old Testament and analysis of the customs, cultures, and languages of the surrounding countries that the people of Israel were fully aware of.

Throughout Acts 7, the council is not seen to stop Stephen and correct him. This would have occurred if what he said was not considered acceptable. Luke is simply chronicling what was said and what happened. And more, if the record of what Luke had said was not compatible with what was considered a reasonable understanding of the citation of the Old Testament, such as that found here, there would have been countless critiques of it throughout the years, starting immediately after Acts was published.

On the other hand, scholars have analyzed every word of the book of Acts and have been able to reasonably settle any difficulties. As this is so, we can be content that we have a reliable record of what was said, and that it is fully in accord with an acceptable interpretation of the passages set before the council.

When people attempt to disparage your faith by disparaging the Bible – and they will – be ready to defend it. There are difficulties in it, but there are reasonable explanations for each of them if you are willing to put in the time and effort to understand them. Don’t be shy about this. Stand up for the word. It is the basis for our faith in the Lord. As Paul says, “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”

Lord God, thank You for those scholars who have come before us, and who have carefully analyzed the Bible, seeking out its mysteries and finding reasonable solutions to very difficult passages that arise at times. Their work helps us to have greater confidence when we speak to others, and it helps us to want to go further in opening up the treasures that are still awaiting us in Your word. We are surely blessed as this stream of effort continues, even to this day. Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

Acts 7:42

Wednesday, 18 May 2022

Then God turned and gave them up to worship the host of heaven, as it is written in the book of the Prophets:
‘Did you offer Me slaughtered animals and sacrifices during forty years in the wilderness,
O house of Israel?
Acts 7:42

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 said, “And they made a calf in those days, offered sacrifices to the idol, and rejoiced in the works of their own hands.” Now Stephen continues to describe the conduct of Israel, saying, “Then God turned.”

The idea here is that in forsaking the Lord, the Lord will forsake them. It is the warning Joshua gave to the people –

“But Joshua said to the people, ‘You cannot serve the Lord, for He is a holy God. He is a jealous God; He will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins. 20 If you forsake the Lord and serve foreign gods, then He will turn and do you harm and consume you, after He has done you good.’” Joshua 24:19, 20

In God’s turning, Stephen next says, “and gave them up.” Instead of continuing to appeal to Israel to do what is right and to worship Him, the Lord essentially says, “Ok. Have it your way. If you will not worship me, we’ll see if the gods you do serve will help you.” That is the same thought found in the Song of Moses –

“He will say: ‘Where are their gods,
The rock in which they sought refuge?
38 Who ate the fat of their sacrifices,
And drank the wine of their drink offering?
Let them rise and help you,
And be your refuge.’” Deuteronomy 32:37, 38

The Lord allowed Israel to follow their own gods, and when times of trouble came, they had no one to turn to. The gods they trusted in were out “having a party” and too busy to help apparently. In actuality, they didn’t exist because they were not gods at all. Stephen next says that God gave them up “to worship the host of heaven.”

It is a term describing the sun, moon, planets, and stars. The word “host” signifies an army. Their regular movements and the way they are set in the heavens is as if they are arrayed for battle. The worship of this host is seen, for example, in 2 Chronicles –

“Manasseh was twelve years old when he became king, and he reigned fifty-five years in Jerusalem. But he did evil in the sight of the Lord, according to the abominations of the nations whom the Lord had cast out before the children of Israel. For he rebuilt the high places which Hezekiah his father had broken down; he raised up altars for the Baals, and made wooden images; and he worshiped all the host of heaven and served them. He also built altars in the house of the Lord, of which the Lord had said, ‘In Jerusalem shall My name be forever.’ And he built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of the Lord.” 2 Chronicles 33:1-5

These and other such verses refer to Israel serving and worshipping the created “host of heaven” rather than the Creator of those hosts. To support his words to the council, Stephen next quotes Scripture, saying, “as it is written in the book of the Prophets.”

The Hebrew Bible of today is divided into three sections, commonly referred to as the Tanakh. It is an acronym combining the first letters of those sections, the Torah (the books of Moses also known as the Pentateuch or simply “the Law”); the Nevi’im (the Prophets); and the Ketuvim (the Writings). A similar division is referred to by Jesus in Luke 24 –

“Then He said to them, ‘These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.’” Luke 24:44

As for Stephen’s words noting the book of the Prophets, he specifically cites the book of Amos, saying –

“Did you offer Me slaughtered animals and sacrifices during forty years in the wilderness,
O house of Israel?”

The words are specifically being remembered from Amos 5:25 –

“Did you offer Me sacrifices and offerings
In the wilderness forty years, O house of Israel?”

The words of Stephen will continue to cite Amos, but the question of Amos 5:25 begs a negative answer. Israel was out worshipping other gods, failing to give the Creator of the heavenly host credit for His handiwork. But right in the same chapter of Amos, the Lord is directly credited with the creation of these things –

“He made the Pleiades and Orion;
He turns the shadow of death into morning
And makes the day dark as night;
He calls for the waters of the sea
And pours them out on the face of the earth;
The Lord is His name.” Amos 5:8

The Pleiades and Orion were, and still are, known constellations. It is He who made them. Their structure and placement are according to His wisdom alone. Why worship the lesser? The Lord is the Creator.

Life application: The Bible does not deny that there is structure and order in the alignment of the stars. On the contrary, it acknowledges it. These heavenly bodies tell their own stories. This is acknowledged in several places in both testaments. An example of this is found in Jacob’s blessing upon his son, Judah –

“The scepter shall not depart from Judah,
Nor a lawgiver from between his feet,
Until Shiloh comes;
And to Him shall be the obedience of the people.” Genesis 49:10

The words here are believed to be the heavenly sign that the Magi understood to refer to the coming of the Messiah. When Leo, Regulus, and the moon were in a particular alignment, the coming of Messiah was known to have occurred. Likewise, Peter has already spoken in Acts 2 of the moon turning to blood. That refers to an eclipse. Such events are placed or timed according to God’s purposes.

Having said that, there is no reason why we should try to predict the future based on such events. This is as common as holes in a donut shop, but it is not a sound way of determining the future. Only after the event takes place should we expect to understand that it has been fulfilled. Eclipses come and go, the movement of the planets and stars continue to take place with their set precision, and we are to be about worshipping the Creator of those things. His wisdom in how such things align is up to Him and we will understand it after those things are revealed.

Heavenly Father, You have truly displayed wisdom in how You have structured all things. We can see it in the movement of the sun, moon, planets, and stars. And yet, we err when we look to them to reveal to us our destinies. Rather, we should look to You, the Creator of them, for our hope, our joy, and our delight. May we never substitute that which is less for the joy that is found in You alone. Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Acts 7:41

Cuba War Veterans. Capitol, San Antonio.

Tuesday, 17 May 2022

And they made a calf in those days, offered sacrifices to the idol, and rejoiced in the works of their own hands. Acts 7:41

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).

Included among other words in the previous verse, Stephen quoted the people of Israel saying, “Make us gods to go before us.” He continues with that now, saying, “And they made a calf in those days.”

The word translated as “they made a calf” is found only here, moschopoieó. It is not used in the Greek Old Testament. It comes from moschos (a calf, heifer, or bull) and poieó (to construct or make). Stephen coins a new word to show the disdainful nature of what occurred. The event is recorded in Exodus 32 –

“And Aaron said to them, ‘Break off the golden earrings which are in the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.’ So all the people broke off the golden earrings which were in their ears, and brought them to Aaron. And he received the gold from their hand, and he fashioned it with an engraving tool, and made a molded calf.
Then they said, ‘This is your god, O Israel, that brought you out of the land of Egypt!’” Exodus 32:2-4

The reason for making this calf is not perfectly evident without understanding the symbolism. It said in Exodus 32:39 that “their hearts turned back to Egypt.” Vincent’s Word Studies explains how the calf is so intimately connected to Egypt –

—————

This was in imitation of the Egyptian bull-worship. Several of these animals were worshipped at different places in Egypt. Apis was worshipped at Memphis. Herodotus says: “Now this Apis, or Epaphus, is the calf of a cow which is never afterward able to bear young. The Egyptians say that fire comes down from heaven upon the cow, which thereupon conceives Apis. The calf which is so called has the following marks: He is black, with a square spot of white upon his forehead, and on his back the figure of an eagle. The hairs in his tail are double, and there is a beetle upon his tongue” (iii., 28). He was regarded by the Egyptians, not merely as an emblem, but as a god. He was lodged in a magnificent court, ornamented with figures twelve cubits high, which he never quitted except on fixed days, when he was led in procession through the streets. His festival lasted seven days, and all came forward from their houses to welcome him as he passed. He was not allowed to reach the natural term of his life. If a natural death did not remove him earlier, he was drowned when he reached the age of twenty-five, and was then embalmed and entombed in one of the sepulchral chambers of the Serapeum, a temple devoted expressly to the burial of these animals.

Another sacred bull was maintained at Heliopolis, in the great Temple of the Sun, under the name of Mnevis, and was honored with a reverence next to Apis. Wilkinson thinks that it was from this, and not from Apis, that the Israelites borrowed their notions of the golden calf. “The offerings, dancing, and rejoicings practised on the occasion, were doubtless in imitation of a ceremony they had witnessed in honor of Mnevis during their sojourn in Egypt” (“Ancient Egyptians,” 2 sen, vol. ii., p. 197). A third sacred bull, called Bacis, was maintained at Hermonthis, near Thebes. It was a huge, black animal, and its hairs were said to grow the wrong way. Other bulls and cows did not hold the rank of gods, but were only sacred.

—————

With this symbol of Egypt now before them, Stephen next says that the people “offered sacrifices to the idol.”

Sacrifices were made as offerings of devotion, for appeasement, for atonement, for fellowship, and so on. In offering sacrifices, they were aligning themselves with this idol as a representation of the Lord (YHVH). Aaron stated this explicitly. This was in violation of the covenant they agreed to when the Lord spoke out the Ten Commandments. Rather than obtaining favor, they were bringing wrath down upon themselves. Stephen then finishes the verse with “and rejoiced in the works of their own hands.”

The thought of this and the previous clause are found in Exodus 32 –

“So when Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it. And Aaron made a proclamation and said, ‘Tomorrow is a feast to the Lord.’ Then they rose early on the next day, offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.” Exodus 32:5, 6

The thought of rejoicing in the work of their own hands means that they fashioned their own god, and they were thus participants in their own supposed reconnection to the divine. This is what Adam and Eve did when “they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings” (Genesis 3:7). They were attempting to reestablish the connection to God that had been lost, covering over their sinful state in order to restore a propitious relationship with Him. But the Lord rejected that. It is not through our effort, but through His that a covering is provided and restoration is realized.

Israel made the same mistake, rejecting the Lord and attempting to obtain their own path to appeasement, atonement, and fellowship.

Life application: The same concepts come up again and again in Scripture, attempting to help us think through what is going on. In the case of salvation, Paul says that it is by grace through faith. It is not of ourselves, but rather it is the gift of God.

If you ask almost any teacher or preacher if that is so, they will immediately agree with it. They could do no less. The words are clear, precise, and unambiguous. And yet, no sooner do many avow that this is true, then they immediately turn around and inject their own works back into the equation. They may do it by saying you can lose your salvation. They may do it by saying you must submit to the law of Moses or certain precepts from it. They may say that you need to give up your sin before you can be saved, and so on.

Such things either directly contradict the notion of salvation being a gift that comes by grace through faith, or they put the cart before the horse by claiming you must do something before receiving the gift (which is contradictory as well).

Be sure to keep simple what is simple. Don’t allow anyone to rob you of the very basics of theology and be sure not to rob others of them as well. Grace! Grace! We are saved by God’s grace! Why should we take such a pure and simple message and tarnish it? Hold fast to the grace of God that is found in Jesus Christ our Lord.

Lord God, forgive us for always trying to fashion our own path to salvation by rejecting the simple message of grace that Your word speaks of. Help us to never add to the glory of what You have done through the giving of Jesus. His cross! His death! His burial! His resurrection! What could we ever add to that? Only after receiving it will we attempt to please You with lives lived in holiness. Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Acts 7:40

Front view of the Yee Haw Rider. Austin Capitol grounds.

Monday, 16 May 2022

saying to Aaron, ‘Make us gods to go before us; as for this Moses who brought us out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.’ Acts 7:40

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, Stephen noted that the fathers rejected Moses and “in their hearts they turned back to Egypt.” With that in mind, he continues by citing the words of the people, what they were “saying to Aaron.”

Aaron is Moses’ older brother and the person who had been with him as they confronted Pharaoh numerous times. He personally spoke for Moses as his mouthpiece. He saw the signs, wonders, and miracles that led to the Exodus. If anyone would be expected to wait for and support Moses, it would certainly be him. And yet, the people came to him with a demand, saying, “Make us gods to go before us.”

The verb is future, and the wording is more precise. The Greek reads, “Make us gods which shall go before us.” The idea is that they were to fashion their own gods that would be used as emblems to be carried before them as they marched. With this understood, Stephen continues with the words of the people, saying, “as for this Moses who brought us out of the land of Egypt.”

The people acknowledged that it was Moses who conducted them out of Egypt. As Moses spoke on behalf of the Lord, it is thus a rejection of the Lord. The agreement for Moses to serve in this capacity – by receiving the word and passing it on to them – had already been made and they were bound to it. And yet, they ignored this in their rush to hurry into making their own future. As this is so, they continue by saying, “we do not know what has become of him.”

It is a pathetic excuse for their statement. Moses had ascended the mountain. The presence of the Lord was clearly visible upon the mountain. If they didn’t believe Moses, they could have simply walked up the mountain and checked on his state. However, if they believed that they were accountable to the Lord and would be punished by Him for going up the mountain, then it meant that they knew the Lord was there.

Either way, they were completely without excuse for their words. Stephen’s inclusion of this account is a clear presentation to the council that they were doing exactly the same thing. They, like Aaron, were there to transmit the words of Moses. The council knew what Scripture had prophesied concerning the Lord. And yet, they turned their back on Moses, and thus they turned their back on the Lord. They did this by looking to fashion their own gods to lead them – gods of self, legalism, and so on. They were following the same pattern as their fathers in their actions towards the Lord.

The words of Stephen in this verse are found in Exodus 32 –

“Now when the people saw that Moses delayed coming down from the mountain, the people gathered together to Aaron, and said to him, ‘Come, make us gods that shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.’” Exodus 32:1

Life application: As is apparent, whether we have a visible manifestation of the Lord right in front of us or not, our inclination as people is to reject Him. How often do we hear others say (or personally think ourselves) that they would believe if they just had a sign from God? “Why doesn’t He clearly show Himself so that we can believe?”

Two things can be considered from this type of thinking. First, “No. No, you wouldn’t.” Even if God wrote His name in the stars, people would certainly ignore it and claim the form of the letters in the alphabet were derived from the pattern of the stars. Thus, the stars came before the alphabet, being the basis for it. Or they would find some other reason to disbelieve.

Secondly, however, God has revealed Himself in the stars, in the sun, in the flower, and in the workings of the bumblebee. The wisdom of God is found throughout the universe, from the smallest particle we can contemplate to the overall structure of the universe itself. It is seen in the complexity of the human brain and in the intricate fashioning of the hand of man. God’s power, intellect, and glory are seen in all such things. And yet, we ascribe all of this to random chance and evolution.

Expect no sign. It is very likely that you wouldn’t believe it anyway. You have already been given ten billion times ten billion signs. If you cannot believe based upon what He has done, you will not believe anything else He might do. Rather, by simple faith, accept that He is God, that He has given us His word, and that He has sent His Son to bring us back to Himself. This is what God finds pleasing. Have faith and be pleasing to Him.

Lord God, You look for faith in Your faithless creatures, so a little bit will do. And when we have faith, help us to increase it daily by thinking about You and what You have done for us in the giving of Christ Jesus. Thank You for Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.