30 “And when forty years had passed, an Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire in a bush, in the wilderness of Mount Sinai.
31 When Moses saw it, he marveled at the sight; and as he drew near to observe, the voice of the Lord came to him,
32 saying, ‘I am the God of your fathers — the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ And Moses trembled and dared not look.
33 ‘Then the Lord said to him, “Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground.
34 I have surely seen the oppression of My people who are in Egypt; I have heard their groaning and have come down to deliver them. And now come, I will send you to Egypt.”‘
35 “This Moses whom they rejected, saying, ‘Who made you a ruler and a judge?’ is the one God sent to be a ruler and a deliverer by the hand of the Angel who appeared to him in the bush.
36 He brought them out, after he had shown wonders and signs in the land of Egypt, and in the Red Sea, and in the wilderness forty years.
37 “This is that Moses who said to the children of Israel, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your brethren. Him you shall hear.’
38 “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,
39 whom our fathers would not obey, but rejected. And in their hearts they turned back to Egypt,
40 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.’
41 And they made a calf in those days, offered sacrifices to the idol, and rejoiced in the works of their own hands.
42 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?
43 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.’
forty years (v.30) — in Midian — The amount of time Moses spent in Midian is not given in the Old Testament. — 40 years in Egypt and 40 years in Midian = 80-years old at the Exodus (Exodus 7:7).
Angel of the Lord (vs. 30, 35, 38) — God
trembled (v.32) — used (in the N.T.) for trembling at the observance of supernatural phenomena
holy ground (v.33) — because God was there
deliverer (v.35) — redeemer — pointing to Moses as a type of Christ
The Sanhedrin accused Stephen of blaspheming Moses. He showed that it was the Israelites who rejected Moses and His promised Prophet (v.37). Stephen was, in fact, honoring Moses by accepting the Prophet Moses had spoken of (Deuteronomy 18:15 — see Acts 3:22).
congregation (v.38) — the assembly of Israelites at the base of Mount Sinai.
living oracles (v.38) — That is, in effect, “living words and utterances of revelation.” The word translated “oracles” was used by the pagan Greeks of the (supposed) oracular utterances of their gods, in answer to the inquiries of their worshipers. It was then employed by the Greek translators of the Old Testament to represent divine utterances and communications. It is found again in Romans 3:2; Hebrews 5:12; 1 Peter 4:11. They are called “living oracles” because of the divine power and life which lay behind them (cf. John 6:63; Hebrews 4:12; 1 Peter 1:23). Perhaps Stephen would hint to his hearers that the Law which they revered so highly was intended to be a spiritual and effective system, and not merely a dead and mechanical code, observed only with a scrupulous attention to the letter. — The Acts of the Apostles, by Thomas Walker, pages 166-167.
would not obey (v.39) = did not wish to be obedient
rejected (v.39) — repeated from verse 27 to emphasize the Israelites’ rejection of Moses
in their hearts they turned back (v.39) — Exodus 16:3; Number 11:4-5
calf (v.41) — The word rendered “calf,” borrowed from the LXX, really means “a young bull,” and there can scarcely be any doubt that the golden image fashioned by Aaron assumed that special shape. the Egyptians worshiped the sacred bulls Apis and Mnevis, considered as incarnations of Osiris and the sun-god respectively, and the Israelites most probably learned this form of idolatry from them. — The Acts of the Apostles, by Thomas Walker, page 167
God turned (v.42) — same verb as that used in verse 39 — The Israelites turned from God, so He turned from them.
to serve the host of heaven (v.42) — That is “to worship the sun, moon, and stars.” We find references to such a worship in Deuteronomy 17:3; 2 Kings 17:16; 21:3; 2 Chronicles 33:3; Job 31:26-28; Jeremiah 8:2; 19:13. In Egypt, the sun was worshiped under the names Ra, Tum, etc; the moon under the title Aah; while the planets also received special veneration. — The Acts of the Apostles, by Thomas Walker, page 168
book of the Prophets (v.42) — by Hebrew thinking, the 12 Minor Prophets are one book
The quote in verses 42 and 43 is from Amos 5:25-26.
did you offer (v.42) — Yes, the Israelites made offerings to God, but their hearts weren’t in it.
you also took up (v.43) — the word used in the original Hebrew in Amos is the word used when describing the priests and Levites “taking up” the ark and the tabernacle. It isn’t known if they actually carried idols with them — it may mean that they carried idol worship in their hearts.
the tabernacle of Moloch (v.43) — The word for “tabernacle” is the same as is used in verse 44 of the “tabernacle of the testimony,” and is probably employed of set purpose to denote both the true and the counterfeit. The real becomes counterfeit when the heart is wrong. This translation follows the LXX of Amos 5:26, and has something to be said in its favor. But the word used by the prophet in the original Hebrew (siccuth) is not the usual one for “tabernacle” (ohhal), though it closely resembles the usual word for “booths” (succoth), which is regularly employed of the Feast of Tabernacles (booths). It is regarded, therefore, in the Revised Version as a proper name; and, instead of “moloch,” we have the words “your king,” which are a literal translation of the original Hebrew (the Hebrew for king being melech). Thus the whole sentence in Amos now runs “Ye have borne Siccuth your king.” Now, in the Accad language anciently spoken in North Babylonia, we meet with the word Sakkut or Sakkus as a name of the planet Saturn, with a Babylonian equivalent Kaawanu. The general opinion of scholars now is that the Hebrew word Siccuth or Sikkuth, which occurs nowhere else, represents the Accadian Sakkut and stands for Saturn. The Hebrews, in transliterating idol names, were accustomed to alter them slightly, chiefly from a spirit of contempt for them. If this conjecture is correct, then Amos really said “Ye have borne (not the tabernacle of the Lord but) Saturn your king.
Stephen, of course, used his vernacular Bible, the LXX version of the Old Testament, and the lesson which he pointed from that version was forcible enough. Moloch was the sun-god, who was widely worshiped by various branches of the Semitic race. Frequent references to his worship occur in the Bible (Leviticus 18:21; 20:2; 1 Kins 11:7; 2 Kings 23:10; Jeremiah 32:35). — The Acts of the Apostles, by Thomas Walker, pages 170-171.
the god Rephan (v.43) — So runs the LXX rendering of Amos. In the English version, we now find “Chiun your images.” It has already been pointed out that the Babylonian equivalent of Sakkut, the non-Semitic word for Saturn, is Kaawanu, which curiously resembles Chiun, the term employed in the original by Amos. The latter word, therefore, is probably a Hebrew transliteration of Kaawanu or Kawan, and, like Siccuth, represents the planet Saturn. The name for Saturn in Persian is still Kaiwan.
“Rephan” may, perhaps, be a linguistic alteration deliberate or otherwise, by the Greek translators of the word Kawan or Chiun. Some, however, think that it stands for the Egyptian Repa, a title, it is said of the god Set (Saturn); and that it was adopted by the LXX translators, writing in Egpyt, as the nearest local equivalent for the god Chiun. The matter is not clear enough to be dogmatic about.
The parallelism which predominates in Hebrew poetry favors this interpretation:
Ye have borne Sikkuth (Saturn) your king;
Yea, Chiun (Saturn) your images;
The star of your god
Which ye made to yourselves.
— The Acts of the Apostles, by Thomas Walker, pages 171-172
beyond Babylon (v.43) — in Amos, it says “beyond Damascus,” but Stephen was including what was now historical fact — that the Israelites had been captive in Babylon.
Such was the tendency of even God’s covenant people to despise His prophets and to depart from His Word. In the minds of the rulers Stephen left the question: Were they doing this again by rejecting Christ? And were they too, perhaps, in danger of being “given up” to even greater evils?
It was not Stephen, it was they who were despising Moses and the law. Had not Moses himself said: “A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; Him shall ye hear” (verse 37).
What Stephen, tactfully, did not quote, but what the rulers well knew, was the rest of the prophetic declaration, where God goes on to say: “And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto My words which He shall speak in My name, I will require it of him” (Deuteronomy 18:19).
Did not this prophecy about Messiah clearly indicate that the Old Covenant was a temporary institution? Did it not prove that Christ was to supersede Moses? And the remarkable part is that Christ had not come to destroy the law, but to fulfill it (Matthew 5:17) and to bring in the New Covenant by the shedding of His blood and the coming of His Spirit, so that Israel might caryr out the law from the heart (Read carefully Jeremiah 31:31-34, Acts 21:20). — Acts Dispensationally Considered, by C.R. Stam, page 226.