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.’
Stephen now turned to Israel’s apostasy while in the wilderness, as seen by their worship of the golden calf.
whom [Moses] our fathers would not obey, but rejected.
Stephen mentioned here for the third time that Israel of Moses’ day rejected their great leader (Acts 7:27, 35). The third occurrence was the wilderness wanderings after God delivered them through the Red Sea and provided food for their journey.
The word “rejected” carries the idea of pushed aside. Israel pushed Moses aside in this verse and Acts 7:27. To put aside God’s messenger is to set aside God. Israel was stubborn in their unbelief.
And in their hearts they turned back to Egypt,
God delivered Israel through the Red Sea and the wilderness wanderings for 40 years, yet they wanted to go back to Egypt, where they were persecuted.
saying to Aaron,
Stephen directly quoted Exodus 32:1, where Israel asked Aaron to make gods for them to worship.
‘Make us gods to go before us; as for this Moses who brought us out of the land of Egypt,
Not only did Israel reject Moses’ leadership but that of his brother Aaron as well. They appealed to Aaron to make them gods that they could physically see and, therefore, trust.
we do not know what has become of him.’
Moses was absent for such a long time on the mount that Israel wondered what had happened to him. Nevertheless, they rejected Moses and his God.
Repeated sin creates the danger of establishing a stronghold on the believer.
Satan tempts the believer to return to previous sin, sin that was a stronghold (Ex 16:3; 17:3; Nu 11:5; 14:2-3).
Israel turned to gods they could understand, to the gods of Egypt. People itch for something new, a new religion, a new philosophy (2 Ti 4:3). It is one thing to create a god from one’s own mind, but it is another thing to twist God’s revelation into something other than His intention.