Stephen said that “He (Moses) supposed that his brothers would understand that God was giving them salvation by his hand, but they did not understand” (7:25). Though Moses had grown up in Pharaoh’s house, and though “Moses was instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians” (7:22), he was also, quite obviously, aware of his lineage and aware of the prophecy and promises of redemption and deliverance from the bondage of Egypt, that had been made to the people of Israel (thus his desire to visit his people). Though Moses could be said to have been acting ahead of God’s timing in attempting to take matters into his own hand and stir a revolution through his actions, he did believe that his brothers would comprehend what he was doing and would rally to his side. However, as was said, it is reported as part of Israel’s understanding of the Moses narrative, they did not understand.
All too unfortunately, we recognize that, according to the Gospel narratives about Him, Jesus received much the same response. Everywhere Jesus went, and in all that He did and said, He showed His brethren, God’s people, the salvation of their God. He showed them renewal and restoration and healing and power, demonstrating God’s return to His people and its Temple by being the place of the forgiveness of sins. He showed them all of those things that constitute God’s promised salvation. He consistently showed them, as He worked out His vocation and presented Himself as the Messiah, that He was the One that was fulfilling the promise of God’s covenant faithfulness to His people, which was to give them a Redeemer and to deliver them from the curse of oppression and domination by foreign rulers of all kinds, be they temporal kings, spiritual forces, or the ravages of disease and death---the corruptions of a created world afflicted with the effects of man’s rejection of the charge to bear the divine image.
As it was said of Moses, so it can too be said of Jesus, that His people did not understand. Not only did most not recognize Him as the prophet like Moses, but their history was littered with stories of the rejection of prophets. Jesus laments His own rejection by His brethren, saying “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it!” (Luke 13:34a). Alas, it would seem that Jesus was well aware of the possibility that many, for one reason or another, would have eyes that could not see and ears that could not hear.
Stephen continues on with his dissertation, staying focused on Moses and his belief that his brethren would understand that he was attempting to bring them their long-hoped-for rescue from foreign subjugation (part of salvation), he says, “And on the following day he appeared to them as they were quarreling and tried to reconcile them, saying, ‘Men, you are brothers. Why do you wrong each other?’” (Acts 7:26) One of the men quickly stands up to Moses and references the act of killing the Egyptian, which Moses thought had gone un-witnessed. The man said to Moses, “Who made you a ruler and a judge over us? Do you want to kill me as you killed the Egyptian yesterday?” (7:27b-28)
How does this relate to Jesus? Where do we find this paralleled? Well, it could easily be said that at the time of Jesus there was much quarreling taking place in Israel, brother against brother. This, of course, is no different than the situation in which we find ourselves in our own day. There were various factions pitted against each other in politics and religion. There were Roman government appeasers, along with zealots who desired to throw off the Roman yoke by violent means. There were Sadducees who argued against the Pharisees. There were different schools for the interpretation of the law. There were separatist groups such as the Essenes, who had retired into the desert in an isolated community. There was much quarreling among brothers.