Monday, May 11

Reader: “Moses said, ‘God will raise up for you a Prophet like me”

Response: “from among your own people.’ ”

Scripture: Acts 7:17-40

“As the time drew near when God would fulfill his promise to Abraham, the number of our people in Egypt greatly increased. But then a new king came to the throne of Egypt who knew nothing about Joseph. This king exploited our people and oppressed them, forcing parents to abandon their newborn babies so they would die.

“At that time Moses was born—a beautiful child in God’s eyes. His parents cared for him at home for three months. When they had to abandon him, Pharaoh’s daughter adopted him and raised him as her own son. Moses was taught all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and he was powerful in both speech and action.

“One day when Moses was forty years old, he decided to visit his relatives, the people of Israel. He saw an Egyptian mistreating an Israelite. So Moses came to the man’s defense and avenged him, killing the Egyptian. Moses assumed his fellow Israelites would realize that God had sent him to rescue them, but they didn’t.

“The next day he visited them again and saw two men of Israel fighting. He tried to be a peacemaker. ‘Men,’ he said, ‘you are brothers. Why are you fighting each other?’

“But the man in the wrong pushed Moses aside. ‘Who made you a ruler and judge over us?’ he asked. ‘Are you going to kill me as you killed that Egyptian yesterday?’ When Moses heard that, he fled the country and lived as a foreigner in the land of Midian. There his two sons were born.

“Forty years later, in the desert near Mount Sinai, an angel appeared to Moses in the flame of a burning bush. When Moses saw it, he was amazed at the sight. As he went to take a closer look, the voice of the Lord called out to him, ‘I am the God of your ancestors—the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.’ Moses shook with terror and did not dare to look.

“Then the Lord said to him, ‘Take off your sandals, for you are standing on holy ground. I have certainly seen the oppression of my people in Egypt. I have heard their groans and have come down to rescue them. Now go, for I am sending you back to Egypt.’ 

“So God sent back the same man his people had previously rejected when they demanded, ‘Who made you a ruler and judge over us?’ Through the angel who appeared to him in the burning bush, God sent Moses to be their ruler and savior. And by means of many wonders and miraculous signs, he led them out of Egypt, through the Red Sea, and through the wilderness for forty years.

“Moses himself told the people of Israel, ‘God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from among your own people.’ Moses was with our ancestors, the assembly of God’s people in the wilderness, when the angel spoke to him at Mount Sinai. And there Moses received life-giving words to pass on to us.

“But our ancestors refused to listen to Moses. They rejected him and wanted to return to Egypt. They told Aaron, ‘Make us some gods who can lead us, for we don’t know what has become of this Moses, who brought us out of Egypt.’”

Reader: “The word of the Lord.”

Response: “Thanks be to God.”

Some thoughts:

We pick up Stephen’s defense from last Friday’s passage (May 8th). His recitation of the history of the people of Israel continues. He began with Abraham and the God-given covenant of circumcision. He carried the story through the patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and concluded this portion with the family of Jacob and his twelve sons in Egypt under the leadership of Joseph. Stephen then moved on to the next great pillar of Judaism, Moses. The giving of the Law to Moses was central to the nation of Israel. From the book of Deuteronomy, Stephen quoted Moses’ prophetic words regarding a coming Messiah. The Israelites had a history of rejecting the prophets, a history which did not end with the Old Testament, as Stephen pointed out. That Moses was a great prophet was accepted by all, yet the Pharisees knew full well how the congregation in the desert had rejected his leadership, wanting to return to Egypt. Stephen pointed out that God had disclosed himself outside of the Temple, revealing himself to a man, Abraham, to a family, to the patriarchs, to a nation, to the Israelites in the Exodus, in worship liturgy, and supremely in Jesus Christ. In using these examples, Stephen was also showing how God’s people were consistently slow to accept the words of the prophets and, in fact, often rejected their message, even killing some. The punchline in Stephen’s presentation before the Pharisees is coming tomorrow! Not only did the Israelites and their leadership, the Pharisees and the Sadducees, have a pattern of rejecting God, this is the same pattern of our world, our societies, and our cultures. We want to control. We want power. We want to be our own gods. It is possible God is humbling people and nations through the world-wide crisis we are facing. The question is, will people and nations humble themselves before God and seek forgiveness? That remains to be seen.

Music: “Agnus Dei”    Voces8   There are only 8 people singing, no overdubs, one on a part!    (Samuel Barber) 


Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world

Have mercy on us.

Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world

Have mercy on us.

Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world

Grant us peace.


Lord God, we are an arrogant and a proud people. Though made in your image, we have sought to reshape our image after our own fashion. There is an unrepentant part of us that always seeks rebellion against you and your word. We have rejected you with pride and bear the consequences of our foolishness. We tell ourselves nothing bad will happen when we act selfishly. The difficult stories in the Bible are what happened to those disobedient people, not to us. The truth is, you love and care for your people and at times bring judgment upon those you love. Forgive us as a people, Lord. Forgive me, Lord, for the many times I have rejected you when I knew perfectly well what was right. Grant that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit who indwell me may so shape me through discipline and love, that I may conform more and more to one who is being made in your image, and as a result bring glory and honor to you, my Creator and Redeemer. This I pray through Jesus Christ, my Lord. Amen.      ―Daniel Sharp