“But as the time of the promise was approaching which God had assured to Abraham, the people increased and multiplied in Egypt, until there arose another king over Egypt who knew nothing about Joseph. It was he who took shrewd advantage of our race and mistreated our fathers so that they would expose their infants and they would not survive. It was at this time that Moses was born; and he was lovely in the sight of God, and he was nurtured three months in his father’s home. And after he had been set outside, Pharaoh’s daughter took him away and nurtured him as her own son. Moses was educated in all the learning of the Egyptians, and he was a man of power in words and deeds. But when he was approaching the age of forty, it entered his mind to visit his brethren, the sons of Israel. And when he saw one of them being treated unjustly, he defended him and took vengeance for the oppressed by striking down the Egyptian. And he supposed that his brethren understood that God was granting them deliverance through him, but they did not understand. On the following day he appeared to them as they were fighting together, and he tried to reconcile them in peace, saying, ‘Men, you are brethren, why do you injure one another?’ But the one who was injuring his neighbor pushed him away, saying, ‘Who made you a ruler and judge over us? You do not mean to kill me as you killed the Egyptian yesterday, do you?’ At this remark, Moses fled and became an alien in the land of Midian, where he became the father of two sons. After forty years had passed, an angel appeared to him in the wilderness of Mount Sinai, in the flame of a burning thorn bush. When Moses saw it, he marveled at the sight; and as he approached to look more closely, there came the voice of the Lord:‘I am the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob.’ Moses shook with fear and would not venture to look. But the Lord said to him, ‘Take off the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground. I have certainly seen the oppression of My people in Egypt and have heard their groans, and I have come down to rescue them; come now, and I will send you to Egypt.’ This Moses whom they disowned, saying, ‘Who made you a ruler and a judge?’ is the one whom God sent to be both a ruler and a deliverer with the help of the angel who appeared to him in the thorn bush. This man led them out, performing wonders and signs in the land of Egypt and in the Red Sea and in the wilderness for forty years. This is the Moses who said to the sons of Israel, ‘God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brethren.’ This is the one who was in the congregation in the wilderness together with the angel who was speaking to him on Mount Sinai, and who was with our fathers; and he received living oracles to pass on to you. Our fathers were unwilling to be obedient to him, but repudiated him and in their hearts turned back to Egypt, saying to Aaron, ‘Make for us gods who will go before us; for this Moses who led us out of the land of Egypt—we do not know what happened to him.’ At that time they made a calf and brought a sacrifice to the idol, and were rejoicing in the works of their hands. But God turned away and delivered them up to serve the host of heaven; as it is written in the book of the prophets, ‘It was not to Me that you offered victims and sacrifices forty years in the wilderness, was it, O house of Israel? You also took along the tabernacle of Moloch and the star of the god Rompha, the images which you made to worship. I also will remove you beyond Babylon.’”
Moses is probably the best-known character in the Old Testament and many chapters of Scripture are devoted to him. Moses was the writer of the first five books of the Bible, called the Pentateuch. At the time of Moses’ birth the nation of Israel was in captivity in Egypt. Moses was born to Jewish parents, but raised in the courts of Egyptian royalty by Pharaoh’s daughter. Moses eventually became God’s representative and the deliverer of the people of Israel.
There are five major events in the life of Moses for us to consider.
After the death of Joseph, who had found favor with the king (Pharaoh) of Egypt and had been the second in command, a new king came to power who did not know of Joseph. The result was a fear of the Israelites because of their sheer number. His fear was that there would be an uprising and the Jews would overthrow him as ruler. Therefore, the Pharaoh decreed that all Hebrew male babies were to be killed at birth. Three months after the birth of Moses, when she could hide him no longer, his mother placed him in a basket and sent him down river to a place where Pharaoh’s daughter came to bathe. Moses’ sister Miriam followed the basket and offered help to Pharaoh’s daughter in finding a woman to nurse the child. Miriam brought the child to Jochebed, the mother of Moses. When he was old enough, Pharaoh’s daughter took Moses and raised him as her own.
Secular Jewish historian Josephus relates stories regarding the upbringing of Moses and said that Pharaoh’s daughter, who raised and educated him, desired that he be the next Pharaoh. She went so far as to convince her father that Moses should lead the Egyptian army against their enemy Ethiopia, which Moses according to Josephus he did successfully. Josephus also said that the Ethiopian princess fell in love with Moses and they eventually were married as a compromise for surrendering their kingdom to Moses. Moses was said to be a most handsome man that turned the heads of all who saw him. According to Acts 7:22, Moses was educated in the wisdom and the culture of the Egyptians. It also says that Moses was mighty in his speech and deeds. The two accounts of the early life of Moses seem to be somewhat compatible.
Moses obviously knew about his Hebrew heritage because at age forty he decided to visit them. The Hebrews (Jews) were slaves at the time and were building the pyramids and many other Egyptian structures. It was at this time that Moses observed an Egyptian mistreating a Jewish worker and defended him by stopping and killing the Egyptian. Thinking his deed had been exposed, Moses fled Egypt to Midian.
In Midian he became a shepherd and married Zipporah, the daughter of Jethro. It was in Midian that Moses had a “face-to-face” encounter with God on Mount Sinai. It was at this encounter that God informed Moses that he had been chosen to lead the children of Israel out of Egypt. Moses did all he could to get out of the task that God had chosen for him. He complained that the Jews would not believe him. God fixed that by giving Moses a rod that turned into a snake before his eyes. Moses complained that he was slow of speech and awkward. God told him that He would be with his mouth and also chose Aaron the brother of Moses who was well spoken to assist him.
Aaron joined Moses in Midian and they returned to Egypt with God’s message to Pharaoh to let the Israelites go free. Most of us know the story of how Moses and Aaron confronted Pharaoh and related God’s message to “let my people go.” Pharaoh’s heart hardened with each plague that God sent upon him. It was only after the angel of death was sent to take the life of every first-born child, which included Pharaoh’s son did Pharaoh let the children of Israel go free. The only .thing that prevented the death of the first-born of Israel was the blood of a lamb that was placed over the mantle of their doors. This, of course, was an obvious demonstration of God’s deliverance then and in the future in the Person of Jesus Christ. (Exodus 11:1-12:14)
After Pharaoh agreed to let Israel leave Egypt, he had a change of mind and assembled his army and pursued the Israelites. The Egyptians were about to overtake Israel as their backs were to the Red Sea. Moses was directed by God to raise his staff and the sea parted and Israel went across on dry land. The Egyptians followed, as God knew they would, and the sea engulfed them, killing them all. God, once again, provided the protection that Israel needed from her enemies and showed Himself to be all powerful.
The journey to the Promised Land began after God had destroyed the Israelites’ enemy. It took forty years for Israel to make what some scholars say should have been an eleven- day journey into the land God had promised them.
During their journey the Israelites murmured and complained about everything. God provided for their every need including food from Heaven and water to drink. He provided protection from enemies that they met along their journey. Also along the way, God gave Moses instructions to relate to the nation regarding His mandates to avoid the pagans and their gods. These instructions were ignored and finally God sent Moses up Mount Sinai to receive the Ten Commandments written on tablets. Upon his return Moses found the Israelites worshipping idols to other gods and engaging in all forms of debauchery. In his anger, upon seeing this, Moses threw the tablets of the Ten Commandments to the ground and broke them.
Eventually, Moses was able to lead his people to the Promised Land, but was prevented from entering into it, along with anyone above the age of forty, because of his sin and their sin of disobeying God. Moses’ sin happened when the nation of Israel was once again complaining that they had no water. God commanded Moses to speak to a rock and water would flow from it. Instead, Moses in his anger hit the rock with his staff. This simply act of disobedience was grave enough in the sight of God to keep Moses from entering the Promised Land. Moses died on a mountain overlooking the Promised Land, but God did show him the land before he died. Moses died and was buried by God in a place that no one knew. (Deuteronomy 34:1-8)
Moses should have been slain because he was a male child. The dynasty in Egypt at that time was the Thutmose dynasty. Thutmose I came to the throne and started a new dynasty. He had a son (whom he called Thutmose II) whose wife was Hatshepsut. She only had a daughter, and there had to be a man to inherit the throne. Thutmose II had a son by a concubine who would be known as Thutmose III. Hatshepsut adopted the baby Moses and intended to make him the heir of the throne. Moses was born under the edict of destroying the male children. God’s plan however was greater than man’s devices. It was man’s plan to eliminate the male children but it was God’s plan to overrule.
To the Jews the hill on which the Temple was located was holy. The buildings of the Temple were holy. But Jesus Christ appeared to Moses, not in the Temple of Jerusalem where the Sanhedrin was seated in judgment of Stephen, but out in the Arabic peninsula. And that spot was just as holy, if not more so, as the Temple would be or could be. This is the point that Stephen is making by explaining the true meaning of the story of Moses. They accused Stephen of blaspheming Moses and later on the Temple, but he was pointing out to them that any place is holy where the Lord Jesus Christ (Jehovah) is located.
The judges are now being judged but they don’t realize it yet. Once they understand they were being judged they were going to kill Stephen. This was the only court in the land that stood for law and order and yet because they were religious, and because they were so filled with hypocrisy and legalism, and because they had rejected Jesus Christ as Savior, they are going to silence Stephen by stoning him to death. The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is the Lord Jesus Christ. The founder of Israel is the Lord Jesus Christ. Moses’ attitude toward the Lord Jesus Christ was one of faith, one of respect and one of love, and he completely understood the grace of God. All of these things were totally foreign to the Sanhedrin. To them the Temple was holy ground and they accused Stephen of blaspheming it. The Temple actually spoke of the Lord Jesus Christ, but when you reject Christ as Savior you have ritual without reality and therefore the Temple was meaningless to the Sanhedrin.
Stephen reminds them that holy ground is any place the Lord Jesus Christ happens to be. The priests were famous for taking off their sandals before they entered the Temple because the Temple was “holy ground,” and yet right out in the desert Moses took off his sandals right then and there because the holy ground is any ground where the Lord Jesus Christ is. This was a “slap in the face” to the Sanhedrin and they began to get what Stephen was saying. They had accused and judged Stephen but Stephen was actually accusing and judging them for their hypocrisy.
Stephen was comparing the Sanhedrin to that group of Jews who rejected God and His Word. When there is rejection of Christ it sets up a vacuum into which comes some form of religion. Religion rejects all doctrinal viewpoint and that was what the Sanhedrin were doing. The Sanhedrin suddenly discover that instead of Stephen being the one guilty of blasphemy against Moses that he was saying that they were the ones; that they were exactly the same as that generation which refused Moses as God’s spokesman and leader. The Sanhedrin had rejected the leadership of Christ just as that previous generation had rejected the leadership of Moses.
God’s plan goes on in spite of the negative volition of believers or unbelievers. Stephen was saying to the Sanhedrin that God’s plan goes on in spite of the Crucifixion because Jesus Christ will come back, He will rule Israel, but in the meantime God’s plan would go because He was raising a new kingdom, the Church.