Acts 7: 1-29

Written by kathleen on Mar 01, 2015 in - No Comments

Acts 7: 1-29 

The History Channel

Serving faithfully first as a waiter, then as a deacon, then as a miracle-worker, we now see Stephen as a theologian par excellence. Here in chapter 7, Stephen gives a defense that is absolutely brilliant. A masterpiece of logic and theological understanding, it is one of the most profound and powerful arguments in all of Scripture

This is precisely what Paul said would happen when he wrote that those who use the office of deacon well, purchase for themselves a  good standing and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus. 1 Timothy 3:13.

And as Stephen boldly proclaimed and declared the truth of the gospel, it caused great consternation among the enemies of the church.   In this sermon, as Stephen gives a panorama of Old Testament history. We shouldn’t think Stephen instructed the Sanhedrin on points of Jewish history they were ignorant of. Instead, Stephen wants to emphasize some things revealed in Jewish history they may not have considered: For example; That God has never confined Himself to one place (like the temple), and that the Jewish people have a habit of rejecting those God sends to them!

1 Then the high priest said, “Are these things so?” 2 And he said, “Brethren and fathers, listen: The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Haran 3 and said to him, ‘Get out of your country and from your relatives, and come to a land that I will show you.’

Stephen began his defense by reminding his accusers that God appeared to their father, Abraham, not in the Holy City of Jerusalem, but in the pagan city of Mesopotamia, where worship centered around a moon goddess.

He then recounts Abraham’s journey from Ur of the Chaldees to Haran, then from Haran to Canaan, amounting to a somewhat roundabout obedience to God’s command.

When Abraham lived in the land of the Chaldeans and received this command and promise, he did not immediately obey. First, he did not immediately go to “a land that I will show you” Second, he did not leave his relatives; taking with him his father (who died in Haran) and his nephew Lot.

Yet Abraham’s partial obedience did not take God’s promise away. Instead, it meant the promise was “on hold” until Abram was ready to do what the Lord said. Just like our promises are always in tact as well; but sometimes we choose to put them on hold by our actions!

The promise didn’t “progress” until Abraham left Haran and his father behind and went to the place God wanted him to go.

Abraham became a pilgrim because spirituality is not static—it’s dynamic. So when we keep flowing we keep growing we will keep expanding our understanding if we remain open to the moving of God by His Holy Spirit. Our goal should be what Paul prayed in

Col 1:9-12 For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; 10 that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11 strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy; 12 giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light.

4 Then he came out of the land of the Chaldeans and dwelt in Haran. And from there, when his father was dead, He moved him to this land in which you now dwell.

Abraham left Mesopotamia and stopped in Haran, evidently at the suggestion of his father, Terah. The years in Haran were lost until Terah passed away and Abraham got moving again. The point for you and me is simply this: Whenever we stop and park, we’re missing it. There must be continual movement and growth in spirituality. It’s a pilgrimage we’re on—not a place we arrive. Not going forward is backsliding

5 And God gave him no inheritance in it, not even enough to set his foot on. But even when Abraham had no child, He promised to give it to him for a possession and to his descendants after him

He reminds them Abraham owned no land—only a promise. Even at the end of his life, the only portion of the land he actually possessed was the cave he purchased in which to bury his wife (Genesis 23:9).

6 But God spoke in this way: that his descendants would dwell in a foreign land, and that they would bring them into bondage and oppress them four hundred years. 7 ‘And the nation to whom they will be in bondage I will judge,’ said God, ‘and after that they shall come out and serve Me in this place.’

While Abraham’s descendants were in Egypt—away from the Promised Land they grew and multiplied. Therefore in remembering Jewish history, Stephen is reiterating the fact that “place” is not important. The Jews grew and multiplied not in the Promised Land, but in Egypt.

8 Then He gave him the covenant of circumcision; and so Abraham begot Isaac and circumcised him on the eighth day; and Isaac begot Jacob, and Jacob begot the twelve patriarchs.

God said, “Abraham, I want you to circumcise your son. Deal with the area that speaks of reproductive energy in the flesh.” And Abraham did it. Without a temple, by faith Abraham obeyed God.

9 “And the patriarchs, becoming envious, sold Joseph into Egypt. But God was with him 10 and delivered him out of all his troubles, and gave him favor and wisdom in the presence of Pharaoh, king of Egypt; and he made him governor over Egypt and all his house.

Again, Stephen is emphasizing the spiritual presence of God with Joseph all the time.

Joseph did not need to go to the temple to be close to God. There was no temple! Instead, God was with him all the time.

God was with Joseph not only when he was in Israel, but when he was in Egypt. Just as God’s Holy Spirit is with those who are born again!  John 14:15-18 “If you love Me, keep My commandments.16 And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever 17 the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.

Joseph is a perfect picture of Jesus Christ.…

•Joseph’s brothers were “moved with envy.” Pilate knew it was for envy” that they delivered Jesus unto him

•Joseph was sold for twenty pieces of silver. Jesus was sold for thirty pieces of silver.

•Joseph was punished for sins he did not commit. Jesus, the sinless One, was punished for our sins.

•Joseph was cast into prison. Jesus descended into the “prison” of the earth Ephesians 4:9

•Joseph became ruler of the prison. Jesus preached in hell and led captivity captive Ephesians 4:8

•Joseph miraculously was freed from prison. Jesus miraculously arose from the grave. The picture is perfect.

11 Now a famine and great trouble came over all the land of Egypt and Canaan, and our fathers found no sustenance.

When his brothers rejected Joseph, what happened? Famine came. The same was true in Stephen’s day. When the Jews rejected Jesus Christ, a spiritual famine came upon the land.

12 But when Jacob heard that there was grain in Egypt, he sent out our fathers first. 13 And the second time Joseph was made known to his brothers, and Joseph’s family became known to the Pharaoh. 14 Then Joseph sent and called his father Jacob and all his relatives to him, seventy-five people. 15 So Jacob went down to Egypt; and he died, he and our fathers.  16 And they were carried back to Shechem and laid in the tomb that Abraham bought for a sum of money from the sons of Hamor, the father of Shechem.

During a time of famine, Joseph’s brothers went to Egypt for help. They stood before the Prime Minister of Egypt, not recognizing him to be their own brother. As Joseph began to question them when they appeared before him a second time, they admitted that they had sinned greatly against their brother. Then, in that emotional scene, Joseph said, “I am Joseph” (Genesis 45:4). It wasn’t until the second time they saw him that Joseph’s brothers realized who he was. So, too, after going through a time of famine, drought, and tribulation, Israel will finally recognize Jesus in His Second Coming (Romans 11:26 All Israel will be saved)

17 “But when the time of the promise drew near which God had sworn to Abraham, the people grew and multiplied in Egypt 

18 till another king arose who did not know Joseph. 19 This man dealt treacherously with our people, and oppressed our forefathers, making them expose their babies, so that they might not live. 20 At this time Moses was born, and was well pleasing to God; and he was brought up in his father’s house for three months      

Stephen shifts gears here. He had spoken of Abraham in relation to “the place”—the land of Israel—and he proved that the land was not really the issue, since Abraham had an encounter with God in Babylon, and since God’s people had prospered and multiplied even in Egypt.

He continues his history lesson. As the nation of Israel multiplied and grew—not in Israel, but in Egypt—Pharaoh saw their number grow from seventy-five to two million. Fearing a rebellion, he sought to reduce their population by ordering the destruction of all Jewish baby boys. Where did Moses’ mother get the idea of putting him in a boat? I suggest that, being a godly woman, she knew the Scriptures and was reminded of Noah’s family in danger during those dark times. I point this out from the “Book of Bob” not merely for the sake of speculation—but for application. Reading the Bible is a wonderful thing to do; studying to show yourself approved is even better because it will help you out in very practical ways and in all areas of life.

And now he develops his argument further as he speaks of Moses in relation to a procedure, proving that God is not confined to the law or to a piece of property, but to a Person—Jesus Christ.

21 But when he was set out, Pharaoh’s daughter took him away and brought him up as her own son. 22 And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and deeds

The historian Philo says that he learned arithmetic, geometry, and every branch of music, the hieroglyphics, the Assyrian language, and the Chaldean knowledge of the heavens, and the mathematics concerning them; he had a command of language, and a large flow of words, and could speak properly and pertinently upon any subject yet was not a magician, or skilled in unlawful arts;

23 “Now when he was forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brethren, the children of Israel. 

Moses returned to his brethren not out of curiosity, but out of kinship. Raised in the house of Pharaoh, he left the palace to serve his brothers

24 And seeing one of them suffer wrong, he defended and avenged him who was oppressed, and struck down the Egyptian. 25 For he supposed that his brethren would have understood that God would deliver them by his hand, but they did not understand. 26 And the next day he appeared to two of them as they were fighting, and tried to reconcile them, saying, ‘Men, you are brethren; why do you wrong one another?’ 27 But he who did his neighbor wrong pushed him away, saying, ‘Who made you a ruler and a judge over us? 28 Do you want to kill me as you did the Egyptian yesterday?’29 Then, at this saying, Moses fled and became a dweller in the land of Midian, where he had two sons.

Notice that the ministry of Moses was two-fold. When he left the palace of Pharaoh to identify with his brothers as they baked bricks for Pharaoh, and when he defended the Israelite who was being beaten by the Egyptian, he was trying to bring liberation to God’s people.

When he intervened in the argument between the two Israelites, he tried to bring reconciliation among God’s people.   Just as we are to do both within the body of Christ as well as bringing the message of God’s reconciliation to the unbeliever!

2 Cor 5:18 Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation,

He supposed that his brethren would have understood that God would deliver them by his hand, but they did not understand: When Moses offered deliverance to Israel, he was rejected with hate, as the people of Israel denied that he had any right to be a ruler and a judge over them.

Like with Moses many people today don’t understand and here’s the reason why they don’t understand 1 Cor 2:13-15 These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 14 But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

The same is true of Jesus. When He left heaven and came to this Earth, it was to bring freedom to us and reconciliation among us many didn’t understand!

John 1:10-11 He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. 11 He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him.

Jesus came into this world, and all of creation acknowledged Him. The winds obeyed Him. The water supported Him. The rocks were ready to cry out to Him. But there was one segment of creation that received Him not: man. Human nature is the only part of nature that refuses to worship God

John 1:12…as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.

Stephen’s message to the rulers of Israel was plain: “You have rejected Jesus, who was like Moses yet greater than him, and you deny that Jesus has any right to be a ruler and a judge over you.”

That is still the same message today for the name “Jesus” means “Jehovah is salvation.”

THEREFORE: you will receive power or right to become a son / daughter of God when you believe that Jesus is not merely a Savior, or even the Savior, but that He is your Savior.