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.’
This section shows the result of Israel’s desire for false gods (Acts 7:34-40). It is a summary of Exodus 32:4-6.
And they made a calf in those days, offered sacrifices to the idol, and rejoiced in the works of their own hands.
Israel loved a god in the form of a calf they could see and handle with their hands.
Then God turned and gave them up to worship the host of heaven,
God turned away from Israel and allowed them to choose a path of rebellion, a road of revolution against Him. God’s response was to give them over to worship “the host of heaven.” The “host” is the worship of the sun, moon, and stars. God’s standard is His exclusive worship because His nature stands in opposition to anything less than who He is. Heavenly bodies are false and deceptive deities (Deut 4:19).
as it is written in the book of the Prophets:
Stephen quoted Amos 5:25-27 (LXX) in this and the next verse, where God promised them exile beyond Babylon. The “book of the Prophets” refers to the Minor Prophets, a single book in the Hebrew Bible.
‘Did you offer Me slaughtered animals and sacrifices during forty years in the wilderness, O house of Israel?
Amos indicated that apostasy was no new aberrance by Israel. They brought sacrifices to God, but corrupt sacrifices (Isa 43:22-24). God always rejects any adulteration of truth.
You also took up the tabernacle of Moloch, And the star of your god Remphan, Images which you made to worship;
The Sanhedrin accused Stephen of threatening the Temple (Acts 6:13), but here he warns them that it was the nature of the nation Israel to turn to other gods.
The worship of Moloch involved child sacrifice (Lev 18:21; 20:2-5) and originated in Canaan. Moloch was a sun god. The god Remphan is unknown today, but it may refer to the Egyptian god Repa, a reference to a range of gods.
And I will carry you away beyond Babylon.’
Stephen quoted Amos 5:27 here, where Amos’s reference is “beyond Damascus,” which refers to the Assyrian exile of the northern kingdom of Israel. Both the Hebrew language and its translation into Greek, the Septuagint, use “Damascus” and not “Babylon.” Stephen’s addition of “beyond Babylon” refers to a later deportation of Judah to Babylon. Both exiles came as a result of apostasy by the nation. The term “beyond Babylon” probably referred to the entire nation.
When people turn to apostasy, they defraud God of due worship.
Israel repeatedly failed to worship God and to respond to His appeals (2 Kgs 17:16; 21:3; Jer 19:13). We also live in a day where God has given our culture over to apostasy (Ro 1:24-28).
Ironically, while Moses received divine revelation of the law, Israel concurrently was in a state of apostasy (Ex 32:1, 23).