Parents have rules for children to live by at home. Businesses have rules for employees to work by. Organizations have constitutions by which they operate. The Church has the Bible and in the Bible God provides rules for Church Governance. Although the true Church started long before Moses, God gave Moses a set of Ten Words (The Ten Commandments) as His required code for all moral, ethic, religious and social interaction. Whether it was the Church then (Israel) or the Church today (Christianity), God requires obedience to His “rule book”.
Ac 7:38 “He was in the assembly in the desert, with the angel who spoke to him on Mount Sinai, and with our fathers; and he received living words to pass on to us.”
1) Why is Stephen dealing with Moses at such length? The Jews of his day believed he was disrespecting Moses and the Law. Stephen speaks at length about the vital role and importance Moses makes to the community of Gods people.
(1) The assembly refers to congregation of likeminded people with a common identity … Israel, the people of God … Church of God. We must be very clear about this issue. These people who left Egypt and slavery and bondage were not just a nation of people. These people were a special people, a chosen people, the people of God for the worship and knowledge of God. The thread running throughout the Old Testament about the Church of God is taken up in the New Testament referring to God’s special people.
1Pe 2:9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
(2) The angel is not mentioned in Exodus 19. Perhaps the “angel” in Stephen’s thinking relates to the Theophany at the Burning Bush, with the Angel of the Lord being the pre-incarnate Jesus Christ. Taking it this way, a better understanding of the rest of the verse is achieved because on the Mount Sinai, God speaks to Moses … and the Angel of the Lord is indeed God the Son. We ought never to get confused about who God is. He is God the Father, God the Son and God the Spirit, One God.
(3) The Living Words are The Ten Words or Ten Commandments. Right there in the desert God gave His Church a “code” by which to live. This governed the way they related to Him as their God and each other as the subjects of their God. The True Church of God (Invisible Church) today is governed by the complete Bible which is God’s Word:
2 Tim 3:16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
(4) This Living Word was not just given to Moses. It was given to the Church, both in the desert and to the Church that came out of the desert to the very day Stephen spoke. He includes the two phrases “and with our fathers” and “to pass on to us”. This shows that he does not disrespect Moses, the Law and even the fathers of Israel. Rather he is showing that they are all key ingredients to the Gospel Message of Jesus. He is using Biblical Theology to prove the flow to the Promised Messiah. This is a great lesson to those who are pastor teachers. When we handle the Bible correctly, we tell the Truth resulting in teaching God’s people His Word accurately.
2 Tim 2:15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.
God is good to us His Church and on top of free grace He has freely given us His Word to govern us in holiness making that demonstrates our love and gratitude to Him as well as to develop loving relationships as we interact with each other. Many say we need to exclude doctrine and just love each other and be happy. What they are saying is we must ignore God’s Truth, live as we please … which includes sin and we shall be happy … and what they don’t say is that God will be angry! God places us His people together within the assembly (Church), to be governed by His perfect Word so that we will be happy and He will be delighted in us His people!
2) Now Stephen becomes very bold … not out of his own, but based upon Israel’s history as the Spirit puts words into his mouth.
Ac 7:39 “But our fathers refused to obey him. Instead, they rejected him and in their hearts turned back to Egypt.”
He will say something similar to them as he ends talking … but for now he looks at their forefather and how they rejected God and His Word that was to govern their hearts. Look what was in their hearts! Egypt! The slavery, the oppression, the idolatry … they wanted that back. If it was in their hearts, that is what they were thinking about! If you look at how the New Testament Letters and the Gospels are crafted by God you will easily identify that the minds of God’s people need to be fixed upon Jesus all the time because if they are not, the heart starts to hanker for the old ways of sin and rebellion. It does not matter who it is, stop daily devotions and stop daily prayer times and you give space to the old man to return with all his corruption and evil. Friend do not think you are excluded. Never forget the enemy is cunning. He might not be able to snatch you out of Jesus’ hands but he is able to seduce you into the old ways of rebellion. Be warned. If need be, read through Ephesians chapter 6:10-18. Be on your guard. Be dressed for battle. Be ready to fight, for your soul is so valuable that Jesus gave His Blood to purchase it so that you, as one of God’s precious possessions, may live within His Church in heaven forever! Let’s look at some passages to assist us in remaining on track with our eyes fixed upon Jesus.
Dt 11:18 Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 19 Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 20 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates, 21 so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land that the LORD swore to give your forefathers, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth.
Read these verses again and note the “doing words” fix, tie, bind, teach, talk and write. To live within the Word, action is needed.
Gal 5:25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.
As a believer we have a duty to keep up to the Spirit. How? He have the Word … as we live in the Word we will be keeping in step with the Spirit.
Lord, may I not be prone to wander and prone to leave the God I love as I live and dwell in Your Word, getting to know what You want from me and me applying all instructions to my soul day by day until I’m with You in heaven. Amen.