Acts 7:38 This is he [Moses], that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in the mount Sina [Sinai], and with our fathers: who received the lively oracles to give unto us:

39 To whom our fathers would not obey, but thrust him from them, and in their hearts turned back again into Egypt,

40 Saying unto Aaron, Make us gods to go before us: for as for this Moses, which brought us out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him.

41 And they made a calf in those days, and offered sacrifice unto 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, O ye house of Israel, have ye offered to me slain beasts and sacrifices by the space of forty years in the wilderness?

43 Yea, ye took up the tabernacle of Moloch, and the star of your god Remphan, figures which ye made to worship them: and I will carry you away beyond Babylon.

II Kings 17:7 For so it was, that the children of Israel had sinned against the Lord their God, which had brought them up out of the land of Egypt, from under the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and had feared other gods,

8 And walked in the statutes of the heathen, whom the Lord cast out from before the children of Israel, and of the kings of Israel, which they had made.

9 And the children of Israel did secretly those things that were not right against the Lord their God, and they built them high places in all their cities, from the tower of the watchmen to the fenced city.

10 And they set them up images and groves in every high hill, and under every green tree:

11 And there they burnt incense in all the high places, as did the heathen whom the Lord carried away before them; and wrought wicked things to provoke the Lord to anger:

12 For they served idols, whereof the Lord had said unto them, Ye shall not do this thing.

17 And they caused their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire, and used divination and enchantments, and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the Lord, to provoke him to anger.


MEMORY VERSE: …I am broken with their whorish heart, which hath departed from me, and with their eyes, which go a whoring after their idols: and they shall lothe themselves for the evils which they have committed in all their abominations.

—Ezekiel 6:9b


CENTRAL THOUGHT: Israel became ungrateful, forgetful and impatient in the wilderness and made a calf of gold; then went farther and served the sun, moon, and stars, Molech, Remphan, and other gods. They made high places and groves, and set up images and burnt incense unto them. They committed abominable deeds, offered their children as sacrifices, and used witchcraft, provoking God to jealous anger and crushing His heart, as an adulterous wife breaks the heart of her husband.




Acts 7:38 “Church in the wilderness”: assembly; congregation. From the Greek word ekklesia, which means “called out.” This is referring to God’s people having been called out of Egypt. “Lively”: having vital power of itself and exerting the same upon the soul. “Oracles”: the words or utterances of God. —Thayer’s Greek Lexicon

Acts 7:40 “Wot”: to know; be aware; perceive.

Acts 7:43 “Tabernacle”: the small tent or house in which was contained the image of the god. “Moloch”: comes from the Hebrew word signifying king. “Name of the idol-god of the Ammonites, to which human victims, particularly young children, were offered in sacrifice. According to the description in the Jalkut on Jeremiah 7:31, its image was a hollow brazen figure, with the head of a calf or an ox, and outstretched human arms. It was heated red-hot by fire from within, and the little ones placed in its arms to be slowly burned, while to prevent their parents from hearing their dying cries the sacrificing-priests beat drums.” —Thayer’s Greek Lexicon. “Star”: used for the image of Saturn, the ancient, pagan star-god. The Hebrew in this place (Amos 5:26) is, “Chiun your images, the star of your god.” “Remphan”: Chiun in Hebrew was called Remphan in the language of Egypt. Stephen is quoting here from the Septuagint, in which translation the word Chiun is Rephan, easily changed into Remphan, the Coptic (a language spoken in Egypt) name for Saturn or Mars, both of which planets were worshiped as gods of evil influence. Whether Molech, Chiun, Rephan, or Remphan, all are the same with the Serapis of the Egyptians, and the calf of the Israelites.

II Kings 17:9 “High places”: places of worship, at first on hills and mountains, later on artificial mounds or platforms, under green trees, and in cities. Used for Israel’s worship of Jehovah in the times of Samuel and David; then Solomon built platforms or chapels to Molech and Chemosh on a hill near Jerusalem. Jeroboam made high places for the golden calves in Bethel and Dan, and various other idolatrous high places were erected, which later were destroyed by Hezekiah and Josiah.

II Kings 17:17 “Divinations”: The foretelling of secret things or things to come, by unlawful arts and practices. “Enchantment”: to whisper or mutter after holding communication with serpents. Also, referring to a conjecturer, that discovers hidden things by a superstitious use of words or ceremonies, by observation of water or smoke, etc.—Pulpit Commentary; Matthew Poole’s Commentary.

Ezekiel 6:9 “Broken”: Ruptured; crushed [heart].



The verses in Acts are from Stephen’s speech before the high priests and rulers of the Jews. In his brief history of the Jews from Abraham’s time to the time of the prophets, he accurately describes the progress of idolatry in the hearts of the children of Israel. Though they had just seen a great deliverance from Egypt and manifestation of God’s power at Sinai, they immediately resisted God’s commands through Moses and, in their hearts, turned back to Egypt. They demanded a god they could see, when faced with a little space of waiting for Moses to come back from the mountain where they couldn’t see or know what was happening to him.

We can determine from the account in Exodus what preceded this blatant turning away from God to idols. As soon as God had delivered them from Egypt, they murmured at the Red Sea and said they had been better off in Egypt. Three days after the miraculous deliverance at the Red Sea, they murmured again at the bitter waters of Marah. God answered Moses’ cry for them and healed the waters. Again into the wilderness, and again into murmuring—this time it was longing for the meat and bread of Egypt. Again Moses cried to God and was answered by a supper of quail that night and the miraculous rain of bread the next morning, which continued every day, with the exception of Sabbath days, for forty years—tasty morsels of super-food containing all the nutrients a body needed for not just surviving, but thriving in the wilderness conditions. The fourth murmuring was for water in the Rephidim area near Mount Horeb. This time God told Moses to strike the rock. As he did, out came gushing streams of water, enough for the more than a million people and their flocks and herds.

Ungratefulness > discontent > murmuring > impatience > bitterness > rebellion > idolatry; intrigue > secret attraction > seduction > open worship > immorality > child sacrifice > witchcraft: these became familiar patterns all down through the history of the Israelite nation.

—Sis. Angela Gellenbeck




1. Called Out: What did Stephen call the sojourning Israelites?

2. Turning Back: How did Stephen describe the beginning backsliding of the Israelites?

3. Self-Centered: The rebellious Israelites rejoiced, not in the Lord but in ___?______.

4. What Else Could He Do?: In response to their continual apostasy, God “turned and _______ _____ ___ . . .”



Paul, in I Corinthians 10, lets us know that these events in Israel’s history were written for our learning and admonition. What may we learn?

To guard our desires. Idolatry in our lives many times begins with legitimate desires. I just want to be thought well of. I just want to get married. I want an education and a good- paying job. I want to excel in my field.

To not be idolaters. Allowing our desires to control us causes us to bow at the altar of those desires. The foolish pursuit of financial gain, the drawing power of glamour or fashion, or the addiction of pornography—all are idols in the hearts of men and women.

To flee fornication. We fool ourselves by thinking we can hang on to idols in our hearts and keep from the downward moral slide that always results. How many times has this happened to individuals, who never intended to do something “that bad” but found themselves caught in the snare of the devil? Immorality led the Israelites even further into the sacrificing of their children. Consider the epidemic in our country of aborting unwanted babies. Deceptively called “a woman’s right to choose,” abortion is a horrible step in the downward journey which began by unlawful desires, led to immorality, and then to murder.

To not tempt the Lord. In Exodus 17 the Israelites tempted the Lord by saying, “Is the Lord among us, or not?” Doubting God’s presence and questioning God are downward steps to idolatry put out there by the devil in his seduction process. Many people end up consulting with other means to find answers for their lives—fortune tellers and palm readers, horoscopes, meditation and yoga, psychiatrists, self-help gurus and motivational speakers.

To not murmur. We humans think we have a right to have things the way we want them. Complaining is the fleshly way to get something to change in our situation. It is a way to throw blame, punish someone, or manipulate others in order to make them look bad and make us look better. What is the idol here? Our own self-image, comfort and pleasure.

The modern idols of beauty, sensuality, fame, wealth, and selfish pleasure are leading men, women, boys and girls down the dark pathway that ends in destruction.

—Sis. Angela Gellenbeck




The descent into idolatry was very quick. When Moses was gone just forty days the Israelites were ready for something new; something they could see. Having a mixed multitude along with them didn’t help matters. This was a company of troublemakers, and they caused much damage to the people of God. The constant whining and complaining was very trying I’m sure.

It behooves us today to watch the company we keep. Notice in Numbers 11:1-6 the murmuring and ingratitude that was coming from the camp. They were bringing accusations against God, saying “Who shall give us flesh to eat?” When the spirit of a person or group begins to question the providence and goodness of God, and then begins to prescribe to Him how He should send them the necessary supplies and what kind it should be, know that something is wrong!

In verse forty-two of our lesson the sin of the people was so bad that “God turned.” God gave up on them. Because of the spiritual adultery they were committing—murmuring complaining—it was too much, and God gave them up to work the works of the flesh to their own destruction.

Let this be a lesson for us today: Let us love God with all our heart, mind, and strength.

—Bro. James Bell