“this moses, whom they rejected, saying, ‘who made you a ruler and a judge?’—this man God sent as both ruler and redeemer by the hand of the angel who appeared to him in the bush. this man led them out, performing wonders and signs in egypt and at the red sea and in the wilderness for forty years. this is the moses who said to the israelites, ‘god will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers.’ this is the one who was in the congregation in the wilderness with the angel who spoke to him at mount sinai, and with our fathers. he received living oracles to give to us. our fathers refused to obey him, but thrust him aside, and in their hearts they turned to egypt, saying to aaron, ‘make for us gods who will go before us. as for this moses who led us out from the land of egypt, we do not know what has become of him.’ and they made a calf in those days, and offered a sacrifice to the idol and were rejoicing in the works of their hands. but God turned away and gave them over to worship the host of heaven, as it is written in the book of the prophets:
“‘did you bring to me slain beasts and sacrifices,
during the forty years in the wilderness, o house of israel?
you took up the tent of moloch
and the star of your god rephan,
the images that you made to worship;
and i will send you into exile beyond babylon.’ [act 7:35-43]
stephen continues his sermon, emphasizing that the sanhedrin, who is so keen on protecting their traditions:
then they secretly instigated men who said, “We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God.” [acts 6:11]
these men only care about the glory of God when it suits them–like their fathers before them, they refuse to obey the clear teaching of scripture–their eyes are blind and they seek to make idols for themselves. the council had a lot to lose–political power, position, wealth, recognition–and in that blindness, most of these men will die with lives devoted to false religion.
what of us? do we only seek God’s presence when it is convenient? are we ashamed when we must pit our faith against the world?
the world asks–
“who made you (Jesus) a ruler and a judge?” but we know the truth:
for as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. and he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment. [john 5 26-29]
he is the judge–and he will judge righteously–will we like many of the israelites and many of the council, and the world, chase false images and idols for our entire lives only to die with regret in our hearts and separation from Jesus for eternity?
let it not be so! today is the day of salvation!–because of Jesus’ sacrifice, we are given a chance to confess, repent and turn to him, our true God and true king! let us not reject the new and better moses, Jesus our deliverer, our judge, and our ruler who has lead us out of the wilderness and into the marvelous light!