Passage: Acts 7
This is a long chapter, and at first it seems like Stephen is just trying to stall off his inevitable execution, but as he recounts Israel's history, it paints a picture of a loving God who remains faithful to a people who continually turn their backs upon Him.
v1-8 - Israel's story begins with their patriarch, Abraham, who was called out of the blue to move his massive operation to what would become the promised land where he would become the father of many nations. God also told him that Abram's descendents would be enslaved for 400 years, but would return to worship God.
v9-16 - Stephen tells of how Israel's time in Egypt began when Joseph was sold into slavery but was lifted up by God to become the #2 ruler in Egypt, and in doing so saved the entire area from seven years of famine. Later Joseph was reunited again with his father and brothers.
v17-36 - God brought the 400 years of slavery He had predicted to Abraham to a close by raising up Moses, a young man who escaped the extermination order Pharaoh had give regarding Hebrew baby boys and ended up being raised as an Egyptian prince. Yet the Israelites initially rejected Moses, sending him into exile until God appeared to him from the burning bush and sent Moses back to rescue His people.
v37-43 - Stephen recounts how Israel rejected God numerous times as they wandered through the desert.
v44-50 - Despite their recurring rejections, God dwelt with His people, at first in a portable tent called the tabernacle, and later in an amazing temple built by Solomon. Although the temple of Stephen's day was a replacement built later after the first temple was destroyed, the Establishment was incensed when Stephen quoted scripture reminded them that an omnipresent God does not live in houses made by human hands (v48).
v51-53 - Stephen finishes his epic speech concluding that Israel has always resisted the Holy Spirit, just as they were then.
v54-60 - As the establishment freaks out, Stephen looks up and sees the Son of Man (Jesus) sitting at God's right hand. This is the final straw, and Stephen is stoned by the mob. It's at this time Luke introduces a new main character in the story: Saul (v58, 60)
Old Testament References - Add even more value to your daily Bible reading by reading a related passage from the Old Testament
Choose one of the characters recounted in Stephen's speech and read a bit of their story:
Abraham: Genesis 12:1-9
Joseph: Genesis 41
Moses: Exodus 3:1-17
Solomon: 2 Samuel 7:8-16
Use the comment box below to discuss one or more of these questions. For every comment or reply you post, you will receive an entry for this month's prize.
What lesson do you take from Stephen's history of Israel?
In what ways are God's people today (the Church) vulnerable to the same mistakes the ancient Israelites made?
Follow the AAA Prayer Pattern:
ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: Our Father whose throne is in heaven, and whose footstool is the earth (v49)
ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Pray that God will break your heart of sin so that you do not resist the Holy Spirit (v51)
ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED:
Watch the week 3 video - The REAL God sermon series