DAY FIFTEEN: Courageous Evangelism
Act 7:19-60 NASB - "19 "It was he who took shrewd advantage of our race and mistreated our fathers so that they would expose their infants and they would not survive. 20 "It was at this time that Moses was born; and he was lovely in the sight of God, and he was nurtured three months in his father's home. 21 "And after he had been set outside, Pharaoh's daughter took him away and nurtured him as her own son. 22 "Moses was educated in all the learning of the Egyptians, and he was a man of power in words and deeds.
Moses becomes an anointed one who is dead (thrown in the Nile to die) is resurrected (taken out of the river of death) and then resurrected to royal power. Moses was provided the best education that Egypt could offer and was respected for his ability to speak and act.
According to history, Pharaoh Thutmose and his wife Queen Ahmose had one child, a daughter, Hatshepsut, who later became supreme ruler. Hatshepsut married her stepbrother Thutmose II as arranged by her father. After her father’s death, her husband Thutmose II became pharaoh, but Hatshepsut was really in power. She co-reigned with her husband from approximately 1504-1482 BC. She was one of Egypt’s greatest rulers. It is thought by some that this may have been the daughter who rescued Moses.
Moses is anointed leader to deliver Israel is rejected, is placed under a death warrant for murder, and buried in the desert where he fled.
God resurrects Moses from exile 40 years later to fulfill the original plan of him being the deliverer of Israel.
35 "This Moses whom they disowned, saying, 'WHO MADE YOU A RULER AND A JUDGE?' is the one whom God sent to be both a ruler and a deliverer with the help of the angel who appeared to him in the thorn bush. 36 "This man led them out, performing wonders and signs in the land of Egypt and in the Red Sea and in the wilderness for forty years. 37 "This is the Moses who said to the sons of Israel, 'GOD WILL RAISE UP FOR YOU A PROPHET LIKE ME FROM YOUR BRETHREN.'
God makes Moses ruler even though the people rejected him. Moses predicts that an ultimate prophet will arise the ultimate Messiah and prophet. So Moses does not claim to be the final or ultimate prophet. The Sadducees at the time one of the main parties that ruled in the Sanhedrin believed exactly that. So Stephen has refuted a key belief that many of them held.
38 "This is the one who was in the congregation in the wilderness together with the angel who was speaking to him on Mount Sinai, and who was with our fathers; and he received living oracles to pass on to you. 39 "Our fathers were unwilling to be obedient to him, but repudiated him and in their hearts turned back to Egypt, 40 SAYING TO AARON, 'MAKE FOR US GODS WHO WILL GO BEFORE US; FOR THIS MOSES WHO LED US OUT OF THE LAND OF EGYPT--WE DO NOT KNOW WHAT HAPPENED TO HIM.' 41 "At that time they made a calf and brought a sacrifice to the idol, and were rejoicing in the works of their hands.
Here we find the people again rejecting God’s leader and wanting to worship idols instead after God had delivered them from slavery in Egypt.
42 "But God turned away and delivered them up to serve the host of heaven; as it is written in the book of the prophets, 'IT WAS NOT TO ME THAT YOU OFFERED VICTIMS AND SACRIFICES FORTY YEARS IN THE WILDERNESS, WAS IT, O HOUSE OF ISRAEL? 43 'YOU ALSO TOOK ALONG THE TABERNACLE OF MOLOCH AND THE STAR OF THE GOD ROMPHA, THE IMAGES WHICH YOU MADE TO WORSHIP. I ALSO WILL REMOVE YOU BEYOND BABYLON.'
Amos 5:23-25 is quoted here that points out that the people were actually worshipping false gods as they turned away from the anointed leadership of Moses.
44 "Our fathers had the tabernacle of testimony in the wilderness, just as He who spoke to Moses directed him to make it according to the pattern which he had seen. 45 "And having received it in their turn, our fathers brought it in with Joshua upon dispossessing the nations whom God drove out before our fathers, until the time of David. 46 "David found favor in God's sight, and asked that he might find a dwelling place for the God of Jacob. 4
The point that is being made here was that it was always known that the temple could not really be God’s house for nothing can contain him, not even the whole universe. Therefore, accusing Stephen of being against the temple as the ultimate place to meet God seems to also fly in the face of the testimony of scripture (Isaiah 66:1)
51 "You men who are stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears are always resisting the Holy Spirit; you are doing just as your fathers did. 52 "Which one of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? They killed those who had previously announced the coming of the Righteous One, whose betrayers and murderers you have now become; 53 you who received the law as ordained by angels, and yet did not keep it."
In killing Jesus the Messiah the anointed righteous one of God they have followed the footsteps of their spiritual fathers and rejected God’s ordained ruler. As God raised up these other rulers HE has not raised up Jesus.
54 Now when they heard this, they were cut to the quick, and they began gnashing their teeth at him. 55 But being full of the Holy Spirit, he gazed intently into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God; 56 and he said, "Behold, I see the heavens opened up and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God."
57 But they cried out with a loud voice, and covered their ears and rushed at him with one impulse. 58 When they had driven him out of the city, they began stoning him; and the witnesses laid aside their robes at the feet of a young man named Saul. 59 They went on stoning Stephen as he called on the Lord and said, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!" 60 Then falling on his knees, he cried out with a loud voice, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them!" Having said this, he fell asleep."
Act 8:1 NASB - "1 Saul was in hearty agreement with putting him to death. And on that day a great persecution began against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles."
How should we then live:
How much of the Old Testament Story could you tell by memory if someone asked you to give an overview of the main events that occurred prior to the birth of Jesus?
Could you point people to see the Messiah Jesus in what had occurred in Old Testament as Stephen does here?
How could you prepare yourself to be ready to suffer and die for your faith?
What experiences have given you greater trust in God’ s plan for your life?
Does Stephen love the people he is preaching to about Messiah Jesus? How does the last couple of verses in chapter 7 help convince of us.
Dear Lord Jesus, give us boldness as Stephen had and not turn from telling others about YOU. Fill us with the holy Spirit that I might have loving boldness to speak to others and worship in Spirit and Truth. Lord have mercy on me and use me as a witness. Amen.