Stephen On the Rejection of Moses – Acts 7

A depiction of the Hebrews' bondage in Egypt, ...

A depiction of the Hebrews’ bondage in Egypt, during which they were forced to make bricks without straw. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As Stephen continues his speech, he tells of how the Israelites went from less than a hundred welcomed guests of the Pharaoh to over 600,000 men plus women and children (Exodus 12:37), who were now slaves. But slavery, as Stephen says, was not the worst of their problems. Their children were being murdered to try to keep their growing numbers down. This clearly is to illustrate the fulfillment of Gods promise to Abraham to “multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore” (Genesis 22:17).

Moses himself had to be hidden to escape death (Exodus 2), and it is here in verse 23 that we learn that Moses, having been raised in Pharaoh’s own house, was 40 years old when “it came into his heart to visit his brothers, the children of Israel.” After striking dead an Egyptian that was beating one of them, Stephen illustrates in verse 26 the betrayal of this prophet of god by one of his own people, after which he fled from Egypt.

Then he tells in verse 30 that it was another 40 years before Moses’ encounter with the burning bush at Sinai (Exodus 3). It is these inspired details from Stephen that help us piece together Moses’ age at different intervals in the Old Testament. But Stephen’s point is that it was this man (led by God, of course) who led them out of bondage — the one they had rejected.

(This year’s reading plan for Luke, Acts, and 1 and 2 Chronicles averages just 15 verses per day – 5 days per week!)
Schedule for this week

Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from Acts here
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from 2 Chronicles here

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please visit this site’s menu item “The Author’s Books” to find out about my published and upcoming books, and for a link to my Facebook Author’s Page.

All of my comments in this blog are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word.

 

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Stephen Preaching On Joseph – Acts 7

English: Joseph and His Brethren Welcomed by P...

English: Joseph and His Brethren Welcomed by Pharaoh, watercolor by James Tissot (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Stephen’s speech before the Sanhedrin continues with the account of Joseph. He recounts how his brothers were jealous of him and sold him into Egypt. But he says that God was with him — that He gave Joseph favor and wisdom before Pharaoh so that he was made to be a ruler over Egypt. An important point to note here (and in the rest of Stephen’s Spirit-filled account of history) is that in each section of time, Stephen continues to show God’s unfailing love and care in all sorts of circumstances.

He goes on to talk about the famine and how Jacob and his family came to live there after Joseph made himself know to his brothers. Stephen mentions 75 coming to live there, whereas Exodus 1:5 says there were 70. But the differences in the Hebrew and the Septuagint can be explained and they harmonize fine (as if it really matters). A good explanation of that subject can be found in this article at ApologeticsPress.org.

(This year’s reading plan for Luke, Acts, and 1 and 2 Chronicles averages just 15 verses per day – 5 days per week!)
Schedule for this week

Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from Acts here
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from 2 Chronicles here

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please visit this site’s menu item “The Author’s Books” to find out about my published and upcoming books, and for a link to my Facebook Author’s Page.

All of my comments in this blog are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word.

 

Exodus 11-12 – A Final Plague / Passover and the Exodus!

Chapter 11 opens with the Lord revealing that this next plague will be the last, and that Pharaoh will let them go – and will drive them away.  So now, he tells Aaron and Moses, it has come to the time that the people will “plunder” the Egyptians simply by asking their neighbors for silver and gold as the Lord had told Moses in Exodus 3:21-22.  Notice that in verse 3 “the Lord gave the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians”.  They will be happy to give them their jewelry!

Then, as God instructed, Moses told Pharaoh how (though all of the people of Israel will be spared, so that the distinction the Lord is making is clear) every firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die.  The passage doesn’t elaborate on Moses walking out from Pharaoh “in hot anger” in verse 8.  But it is hard to imagine that Moses had not become fed up with Pharaoh, as well as the suffering that his stubborn sinful defiance of the Lord was bringing on others.  And so it is with our own sin – more often than we may realize.

Just as Pharaoh had previously ordered the death of  so many of those born to the people of Israel (Exodus 1:16  and Exodus 1:22), that judgment now falls on him and his own people.  As the Lord gives Moses and Aaron instructions for the people to avoid the death that will come to the land, He tells them in verse 2 that this month will become the first month of the year.  As the events that will take place in this time of their deliverance will redefine their lives, it is only fitting that it will even do so to their calendars!

Note the many similarities in the Lord’s instructions for this first passover (and all those that will follow) to what we know from the New Testament concerning “our passover lamb,” Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 5:7) – the blood, the unleavened bread, the sacrifice each will make of a lamb in their behalf, just to name a few.

Even the command in verse 46 that “you shall not break any of its bones” reminds us of John 19:36 as it points to Psalm 34:20.  The blood on the doorposts from the lambs for the plague to “pass over” them will also be a symbol of their obedience, as will their remembrance and observance of the passover for generations to come (verses 24 ff).

As the Lord said would be so, there was a great cry in the land as no house was untouched by death (verse 30); and Pharaoh does indeed hasten their departure in verses 31-32, as do the Egyptian people.  The Lord gives them the Passover proclamation in verses 43-49; and 430 years after 70 people of the house of Israel (Jacob) entered Egypt, more 600,000 of them (besides women and children) went out.

The reference to “by their hosts” in verse 51 has military connotations; but it is God who fought the battle for the people of Israel, as we are reminded of the meaning of Jacob’s new name – “God fights” (Genesis 32:28).

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Robert
___________________
image © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

Exodus 10 – The Eighth and Ninth Plagues

Moses and Aaron return to Pharaoh at God’s instruction; and in verses 3-6 they tell him of the great destruction that the locusts are about to cause on the land because of his defiance of the Lord.  In verse 7, his servants come to the same conclusion that his “magicians” did previously, and basically ask him how much longer he plans to keep this up and let the people suffer.  So Pharaoh calls Moses and Aaron back in, but still he thinks he is the one that is in control, rather than the Lord, and tries granting them half-concession (v. 8-11).  Partial obedience is no obedience where the Lord is concerned!

Not a green thing remained, neither tree nor plant...

“So Moses stretched out his staff over the land of Egypt” (verse 13-15), and the destruction by the locusts is devastating.  Pharaoh offers fake repentance; and the next plague – of darkness – makes foolish their worship of the sun, as the people of Israel enjoy light through it all (verse 23).  Still, he tries partial obedience.   But Moses, having now matured in the Lord, lets him know this is not acceptable in verses 25-26.

The events of God’s word as written in Hebrew are not always chronologically placed in succession; and some believe that the exchange between Pharaoh and Moses in 27-28 actually occurred during the warning about the tenth plague in 11:8.  This seems to be given some credence by Moses’ statement in verse 29, “As you say! I will not see your face again.”

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Robert
___________________
image © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

Exodus 9 – The Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Plagues

There is a lot going on in this chapter as God accomplishes His objectives.  It is helpful, though to step back for a moment and fully realize that is precisely what He is doing.  Freeing the descendants of Israel (Jacob), and even placing them in the land He had promised would be easily accomplished by the creator of the universe – as would punishing Pharaoh for his defiance.  He gets all of those things done in His own time, but He is teaching His people, and the world in the process.

The Fifth Plague: Egyptian Livestock Die

The plagues, as assaults upon the foolishness of the worship of specific false “gods,” exposes such man-made creations as the empty promises that they are, which ultimately can facilitate the very destruction that falls on those that worship them.  The same can be said of the empty things that man tends to “worship” today – fortune, sex, and selfish pleasure, to name a few.  Those same plagues demonstrate that all of the things of the earth itself come from our one true God, who shows Himself in these verses to be sovereign over them all.

Further comments on Pharaoh’s “heart condition”

(I apologize for the length of today’s blog, but I feel the need to give my comments about this subject more adequately because of its troubling nature to some people – and because of the urgency of what it means to us today)

Notice again in verse 34, as in Exodus 8:15 and 8:32, the text says that Pharaoh hardened his heart – just as we are told elsewhere in these chapters, as well as other books (such as in 1 Samuel 6:6). Most honest readers will admit to being somewhat disturbed at some point by the other passages in Exodus that refer to God being the one that hardens Pharaoh’s heart – as if God actually caused Pharaoh’s own demise, when he might otherwise have been repentant.  And indeed many commentators and theologians, by their interpretations, have not only failed to adequately dispel those concerns, rather their analysis has often actually increased those feelings.

While it is true that the Lord is sovereign over all, and can choose to show mercy on whom He wishes (as Paul reminds us in Romans 9:16-18), the suggestion that He in any way was the cause of Pharaoh’s failure to obey is a terrible misunderstanding of the scripture as it was written, and indeed the very nature of our Lord.  God tells us in his word that he “desires all people to be saved” (1 Timothy 2:4), and God never lies (Titus 1:1-2).  Moreover, He is without injustice, as said beautifully in the NKJV version of Deut 32:4:

He is the Rock, His work is perfect;
For all His ways are justice,
A God of truth and without injustice;
Righteous and upright is He.

The Lord’s part in the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart was that He forced him over and over again into a position that he would not otherwise have been in – to face undeniably, the impotence of his false “gods,” to see for himself the might and sovereign power of the one true God – and knowing this, to make up his mind whether he would obey or defy.  God absolutely knew Pharaoh’s heart, but know this for certain – Pharaoh chose to defy the Lord.

This is where the relevance for us today is so sad because we see it for (in?) ourselves far too often.  By our continued defiance to God, insisting instead to live in sin and worship our own “gods,” we are quite capable of hardening our own hearts.   Paul warns in Romans 8:7-8, which I quote below (keeping in mind that the “mind set on the flesh” refers to both unbelievers and to those unwilling to truly repent, who are by definition in bondage to sin):

7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God,
for it does not submit to God’s law;
indeed, it cannot.
8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Robert
___________________
image © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

 

Exodus 8 – The Second, Third, and Fourth Plagues

The Lord was very deliberate, as is always the case, in His choices of the particular forms of plagues that he would introduce through Moses and Aaron.  Though we might not fully understand them all, it is clear that the “gods” of the Egyptians were being mocked, and thus shown not to be the real God.  The first one of this chapter (the second plague) – of frogs – in verses 1-15 was obviously chosen to show the foolishness of worshiping their false god Heket (or Heqet), the Egyptian frog-goddess.

"...shall come up into your house and into your bedroom..."

The cycle that will be repeated in other plagues begins:

  1. The hardship on Pharaoh and the people (just think about v. 3-4, and later about verse 13!)
  2. Pharaoh sees God’s power, promises to Moses, and asks him to “plead with the Lord” (v. 8)
  3. The respite (v. 12-13)
  4. Pharaoh then hardens his heart again and will not listen (v. 15).

Once again, the “magicians” do their thing; and again, they are powerless to reverse the plague – hence number 2 above, as the Lord intended. They were unable to mimic the third plague in v. 16-19, and tell Pharaoh that “This is the finger of God”, but he just returns to step 4 above.  Many believe that the fourth plague of v. 20 ff was of the “biting” type of fly.  The difference with this plague in v. 22-24 was that God would bring this upon the Egyptians, and not His people – so that they would “know that I am the Lord in the midst of the earth.”

(Side Note: Interesting articles about the mythological frog goddess can be found at “Ancient Egypt Online” and at “Ancient Egypt: the Mythology“.  Both sites also have information on the mythological “god” Khephera, which may have to do with the insect plagues.)  For this writer’s interpretation of the references that these chapters make to the “hardening of Pharaoh’s heart,” please see previous post for  Exodus 7, but especially tomorrow’s posting for Exodus 9.

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Robert
___________________
image © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

Exodus 7 – Moses and Aaron Before Pharaoh

God reassures (and encourages) Moses in verse 1 and is scripting their audience with Pharaoh, as shown in verse 2.  The repeated mention of the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart by God in verse 3 and elsewhere is troubling for some people.  This is best understood as further hardening – Pharaoh has already made it very clear that he does not know the Lord (Exodus 5:2) – and Pharaoh has “gods” of his own.  The sense of the word “know” as it is used here is as much about defiance, as it is about being ignorant of His identity.  The plagues to come shortly will not only demonstrate who the real God is (verse 5 “The Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord”), they will show those “gods” to be false and powerless.

The Lord does all of this to demonstrate His power to them, and to “the people of Israel.”  Note the repetition throughout these early chapters in Exodus (and later chapters as well) of the theme “I am the Lord” and “you shall know that I am the Lord your God.  The Lord is making clear who He is, and that He is keeping the promises He made to their fathers.  He mentions those promises made to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob together (as in Exodus 6:8) often in these chapters in order to drive this home.

Modern day Nile river

Moses and Aaron present the first sign with staff, as God had instructed.  We do not know if the mimicry of Pharaoh’s “magicians” in verse 11 is some sort of trick or by some evil or demonic supernatural power.  But see in verse 12, that their “parlor games” are swallowed up quite literally by what God has done.  Then, the first plague – turning the water in the Nile to blood – is introduced by Aaron’s staff, as God commanded.  Once more, the mimicry of these “magicians” might be impressive if instead they reversed the effects of the plague – but they cannot truly fight God!  And now, the Egyptian people suffer because of their ruler’s heart (verses 23-24).

(Side note: A very interesting explanation of the Egyptian “gods” relative to their being mocked by each of the 10 plagues in this and following chapters can be found in this link to an article by Dr. David Livingston calledThe Plagues and The Exodus)

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Robert
___________________
image © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

Exodus 6 – God Promises Deliverance

Speaking of Himself in third person in verse 1, God tells Moses that he will see what the Lord will do, as he delivers them with “a strong hand”.  God is very patient with Moses and his doubt, as He is building faith – the faith, not only of Moses and Aaron, but of the people of Israel as a whole.   He restates His covenant with them in verses 3-4.

God is specific about what He wants Moses to say to the people in this chapter, as others.  But verse 9 says that “they did not listen to Moses, because of their broken spirit and harsh slavery”.  This did not come as a surprise to Lord.  He knew they would not listen at that point, but He also knew that they and their children’s children would remember the things that He had Moses tell them over and over (as in verses 6-8) – “I am the Lord” — “I will redeem you” — “I will take you to be my people” — “I will deliver you”  — “and you shall know that I am the Lord your God”.

Moses is discouraged, but God tells him to go again to Pharaoh, and tells him in no uncertain terms that he and Aaron will in fact be bringing the people of Israel out of Egypt (verse 13)!  The genealogies beginning in verse 14 are intended to demonstrate to the reader how Moses and Aaron descend from the house of Israel (Jacob), just like any one of more than 600, 000 others (Exodus 12:37).

Verse 30 shows that Moses is still not convinced that anyone will listen to him now.

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Robert
___________________
image © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

Exodus 5 – Making Bricks Without Straw

Just as God had told Moses would be the case, Pharaoh does not let the people go, or even grant the request to let them go worship (verses 3-4).  Instead, he states that because of Moses and Aaron, they are idle now; and he orders that they make their same quota of daily bricks without being given any straw.

Sun-dried mud bricks that could be similar to what was made in Biblical times

This means they have to labor and spend time to gather their own straw before they can even begin the work they were already doing previously (verse 11).  When they are not as productive, they are then beaten.  The foremen of the people then grow angry at Moses and Aaron for getting them in this situation.

Moses is discouraged and seems to think that he was right in the first place – surely God had made a terrible mistake in sending him to speak in His behalf – and now look what has happened to the people!  Moses has some growing to do before he will learn to trust the Lord any better than they have so far (verses 22-23).  Like Moses, we do not know all of God’s intentions, or understand all of His reasons or His timing.  But He is going to accomplish what He wills, and He will use whoever He chooses in order to do it – and in His own time.

(Side note: Interesting – to me at least – article in this link about brick making at BibleStudyTools.com)

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Robert
___________________
image © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

 

Preview of this week in Exodus \ Feb Week 2 Summary Posted

Did You Know…

…that you can find out what the text of a Bible passage says, just by sending a quick email with just the chapter and verse?

For example, send an email to esvpassages@gnpcb.org with “ESV Joshua 24:14-15” (without the quotes) in the subject, and the folks at Crossway Bibles (it’s actually an automatic service) will reply with the passage’s text!

This week in Exodus

We will begin with the Burning Bush in Exodus, as the Lord speaks to Moses after 400+ years have passed since his talk with Jacob.

We will finish the week with the opening round of the battle of wills between the Lord and Pharaoh in chapter 7, as God prepares to show Pharaoh, His people, and the world that there is only one God – and that He is keeping His promises.

We will learn about the purpose and meaning of the “plagues,” and what is meant by the “hardening” of Pharaoh’s heart (there will surely be more about that in the following week, as well).  I hope you will learn as much from this part of God’s word as I am being blessed with.  The Bible never stops teaching us, as long as we keep reading it!

Summing up

Each weekend, I am now posting a page-length PDF of one week of chapter summaries (on the website’s “Summaries” page), current to the beginning of the previous week.  I have posted the summary for Week 7 (February Week 2) of the schedule I am following.  This short PDF document (less than 2 pages, with the month’s schedule) contains condensed comments about the readings of Genesis chapters 39, 40, 41, 42 and 43, with hyperlinks to the ESV version of each chapter for listening or reading, and joins the summaries for other weeks already posted there.

___________________
Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.
/Robert

image © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers