"As the time drew near for God to fulfill his promise to Abraham, the number of our people in Egypt greatly increased.1
Then another king, who knew nothing about Joseph, became ruler of Egypt.2
He dealt treacherously with our people and oppressed our forefathers by forcing them to throw out their newborn babies so that they would die.3
"At that time Moses was born, and he was no ordinary child. For three months he was cared for in his father's house.4
When he was placed outside, Pharaoh's daughter took him and brought him up as her own son.5
Moses was educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians6 and was powerful in speech and action.
"When Moses was forty years old, he decided to visit his fellow Israelites.
He saw one of them being mistreated by an Egyptian, so he went to his defense and avenged him by killing the Egyptian.
Moses thought that his own people would realize that God was using him to rescue them, but they did not.
The next day Moses came upon two Israelites who were fighting. He tried to reconcile them by saying, 'Men, you are brothers; why do you want to hurt each other?'
"But the man who was mistreating the other pushed Moses aside and said, 'Who made you ruler and judge over us?7
Do you want to kill me as you killed the Egyptian yesterday?'
When Moses heard this, he fled to Midian, where he settled as a foreigner and had two sons.8
"After forty years had passed, an angel appeared to Moses in the flames of a burning bush in the desert near Mount Sinai.
When he saw this, he was amazed at the sight. As he went over to look more closely, he heard the Lord's voice:9
'I am the God of your fathers,10 the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.' Moses trembled with fear and did not dare to look.11
"Then the Lord said to him, 'Take off your sandals; the place where you are standing is holy ground.12
I have indeed seen the oppression of my people in Egypt. I have heard their groaning and have come down to set them free. Now come, I will send you back to Egypt.'13
"This is the same Moses whom they had rejected with the words, 'Who made you ruler and judge?'14 He was sent to be their ruler and deliverer by God himself, through the angel who appeared to him in the bush.
He led them out of Egypt15 and did wonders and miraculous signs16 in Egypt, at the Red Sea17 and for forty years in the desert.18
"This is that Moses who told the Israelites, 'God will send you a prophet like me from your own people.'19
He was in the assembly in the desert, with the angel20 who spoke to him on Mount Sinai, and with our fathers;21 and he received living words22 to pass on to us.23
"But our fathers refused to obey him. Instead, they rejected him and in their hearts turned back to Egypt.24
They told Aaron, 'Make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who led us out of Egypt--we don't know what has happened to him!'25
That was the time they made an idol in the form of a calf. They brought sacrifices to it and held a celebration in honor of what their hands had made.26
But God turned away27 and gave them over to the worship of the heavenly bodies.28 This agrees with what is written in the book of the prophets: " 'Did you bring me sacrifices and offerings forty years in the desert, O house of Israel?
You have lifted up the shrine of Molech and the star of your god Rephan, the idols you made to worship. Therefore I will send you into exile'29 beyond Babylon.
"Our forefathers had the tabernacle of the Testimony30 with them in the desert. It had been made as God directed Moses, according to the pattern he had seen.31
Having received the tabernacle, our fathers under Joshua brought it with them when they took the land from the nations God drove out before them.32 It remained in the land until the time of David,33
who enjoyed God's favor and asked that he might provide a dwelling place for the God of Jacob.34
But it was Solomon who built the house for him.35
"However, the Most High36 does not live in houses made by men.37 As the prophet says:
" 'Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool.38 What kind of house will you build for me? says the Lord. Or where will my resting place be?
Has not my hand made all these things?'39
"You stiff-necked people,40 with uncircumcised hearts41 and ears! You are just like your fathers: You always resist the Holy Spirit!
Was there ever a prophet your fathers did not persecute?42 They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One. And now you have betrayed and murdered him43--
you who have received the law that was put into effect through angels44 but have not obeyed it."
When they heard this, they were furious45 and gnashed their teeth at him.
But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit,46 looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.47
"Look," he said, "I see heaven open48 and the Son of Man49 standing at the right hand of God."
At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him,
dragged him out of the city50 and began to stone him.51 Meanwhile, the witnesses52 laid their clothes53 at the feet of a young man named Saul.54
While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit."55
Then he fell on his knees56 and cried out, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them."57 When he had said this, he fell asleep.58