A Blast from the Past


Several years ago, I went home to Indiana for a friend’s wedding. I anticipated seeing old friends and, sure enough, most of my high school graduating class was there. It was an interesting time of retelling old stories where I was the main antagonist. I realized how much I’ve changed since high school, and why I left the town I grew up in so quickly after graduation. I was intrigued by looking back at how I used to be. It reminded me of how far I’ve come and how much I’ve grown and matured. Today’s passage continues the story of Stephen’s speech before his accusers, where he reminded them of their shared history.

  • What stories remind you where you came from?


17 “But as the time of the promise drew near, which God had granted to Abraham, the people increased and multiplied in Egypt 18 until there arose over Egypt another king who did not know Joseph. 19 He dealt shrewdly with our race and forced our fathers to expose their infants, so that they would not be kept alive. 20 At this time Moses was born; and he was beautiful in God’s sight. And he was brought up for three months in his father’s house, 21 and when he was exposed, Pharaoh’s daughter adopted him and brought him up as her own son. 22 And Moses was instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and he was mighty in his words and deeds.

23 “When he was forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brothers, the children of Israel. 24 And seeing one of them being wronged, he defended the oppressed man and avenged him by striking down the Egyptian. 25 He supposed that his brothers would understand that God was giving them salvation by his hand, but they did not understand.26 And on the following day he appeared to them as they were quarreling and tried to reconcile them, saying, ‘Men, you are brothers. Why do you wrong each other?’ 27 But the man who was wronging his neighbor thrust him aside, saying, ‘Who made you a ruler and a judge over us? 28 Do you want to kill me as you killed the Egyptian yesterday?’ 29 At this retort Moses fled and became an exile in the land of Midian, where he became the father of two sons.

30 “Now when forty years had passed, an angel appeared to him in the wilderness of Mount Sinai, in a flame of fire in a bush. 31 When Moses saw it, he was amazed at the sight, and as he drew near to look, there came the voice of the Lord: 32 ‘I am the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham and of Isaac and of Jacob.’ And Moses trembled and did not dare to look. 33 Then the Lord said to him, ‘Take off the sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy ground. 34 I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt, and have heard their groaning, and I 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?’—this man God sent as both ruler and redeemer by the hand of the angel who appeared to him in the bush. 36 This man led them out, performing wonders and signs in Egypt and at the Red Sea and in the wilderness for forty years. 37 This is the Moses who said to the Israelites, ‘God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers.’ 38 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. 39 Our fathers refused to obey him, but thrust him aside, and in their hearts they turned to Egypt, 40 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.’ 41 And they made a calf in those days, and offered a sacrifice to the idol and were rejoicing in the works of their hands. 42 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?
43 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.’

English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


  1. How is Moses described in verse 20? What mission had God given Moses (vs. 35)?
  2. What does “their hearts turned to Egypt” (vs. 39) mean, and what is the sin involved?
  3. What did Moses say God would provide for the Israelites (vs. 37)? How did man’s disobedience affect God’s promise (vss. 38-43)?
  4. Where might disobedience in your life be limiting your experience of the fullness of God’s promise? What do you need to do today to “turn away from Egypt” and toward Jesus?


Stephen was reminding the Jewish leaders and the assembled crowd of their shared history and of the promise God had made to provide a redeemer. It was embarrassing to some, hard to hear for others, but important for all. God promised deliverance, and he delivered. Several times through the process, the Israelites had to be reminded of who they are and where they came from. We are in need of those same reminders, however harsh or sudden or embarrassing they may be. The best part of this story is that God’s grace is shown to us. He has given us Jesus, his promised prophet, the one who is now ruler and redeemer. Praise God!

  • Thank God that he sent the perfect redeemer, Jesus, and that he gives us the grace we need on a daily basis.