Acts 7: 30-37Written by kathleen on Mar 08, 2015 in - No Comments
Facing Reality part 1
We are continuing to study Stephen’s sermon in Acts, chapter 7, beginning at verse 30
Some people have said, and it’s nothing new, it’s rather old, “Forget about the Old Testament. All we really need is the New Testament.” And there are many people who carry around a New Testament who know very little about the Old Testament. Some people would say, “Well, Abraham and Moses have very little to do with us. All we need to do is stick to the things that are revealed at the coming of Christ and afterwards.” And they would cut off the New Testament from the Old, even Christ from Israel.
The fact is our faith in Jesus Christ is rooted upon the fact of the Old Testament, that He is the Redeemer promised to Israel, the one who fulfills all of the Old Testament types, patterns and prophecies.
This is the way Stephen directs his attention, and the attention of his hearers, in chapter 7.
Now, we’ve already learned about Stephen. He was one of the seven chosen leaders of the early church, dynamic, full of the Holy Spirit, full of faith, full of grace, full of power. He came preaching to Grecian Jews or Hellenist Jews who had been scattered proclaiming the Messiahship of Jesus Christ.
As a result of the power of his message and the miracles that he performed, he was arrested and charged with blasphemy. The charges were “He blasphemes God, Moses, the law and the Temple,” the most sacred things in Israel.
And so now Stephen sets about to defend himself before the Council, or the supreme court of Israel.
Remember the church is beginning to explode. It has already reached Jerusalem. People have been saved.
Dynamic things have been happening. Miracles have been happening by the hundreds, perhaps the thousands. The resurrected Christ has gone to be with the Father and sent His Holy Spirit to empower this new dynamic church, and they’re really doing the job. They have become a threat to Judaism.
And now the threat has not only filled Jerusalem, but it threatens to extend itself outside of Jerusalem with these non-Jerusalem Jews. The religious leaders panic and they realize that their whole religious system can come apart at the seams unless somebody stops this thing called Christianity.
Stephen is now a very dynamic voice for Christianity, and so they decide they must stop Stephen, even as they tried to stop Peter and John. So they capture him and charge him with blasphemy, all on the basis of false testimony by perjured witnesses.
Now, Stephen begins to preach and in his sermon he does four things that weave their way through the whole sermon. Number one, he tries to gain their interest. He knows that if they’re going to hear what he says, they’re going to have to want to hear it. They’re going to have to have a desire to listen to this. And so he talks about their favorite subject and builds his whole sermon on their own history.
The second thing that he wants to do in his message is answer the charges that he’s a blasphemer. He wants to prove that it was perjury, that he is no blasphemer, that he believes in God, Moses, the law and the Temple, and that he believes they are God ordained
Third thing he wants to do is indict them for killing their Messiah.
The fourth thing he wants to do is present Messiah.
Is Christianity really anti-God, anti-Moses, anti-law and anti-Israel’s Temple? No! And it’s a good thing; Stephen defended those things, not only himself but all Christians since then who are challenged on the basis of the same charges.
As Christians (Followers of Jesus) we believe in the God of Israel. We believe God ordained Moses. We believe God ordained the law. We believe God ordained His Temple and His Tabernacle, all for a specific time and a specific purpose. And it was His mind and His will. We’re not against those things.
So Stephen defends himself and all Christianity. But at the same time, he is indicting and proclaiming Christ. And that’s important.
We will see these four things woven throughout chapter 7 as defending himself is the key, and so he defends himself first of all against the charge that he blasphemed God, and we saw that last week from verses 1 through 16,
Now, to blaspheme means to take that which is sacred and call it worthless. They had accused him of blaspheming God, counting God as…their God as worthless, valueless, as nothing.
And so he begins by defending himself against that charge in verse 2 and holds their attention and defends himself against the charge that he didn’t believe in God. He does two things there. First of all, he says, “the God of glory” as he acknowledges God in His fullness. Glory means the fullness of God’s attributes,
But as he moves into that through the first eight verses, he then realizes he must do the other two things. That is, he must indict them for executing their Messiah, and, secondly, he must present Messiah.
So he begins to indict them in verse 9 as he begins to recite the history of Abraham.. “And the patriarchs,” who were the 12 sons of Jacob, and all the tribes of Israel were begun by those patriarchs.
So every Jew went back to one of those patriarchs as his father. And then he says “The patriarchs, moved with envy, sold Joseph into Egypt.”
So he’s beginning to set the pattern for indictment by first of all acknowledging that they, in turn, had rejected Joseph, who was God’s select.
Then as he goes on down through verse 16, just reviewing Joseph’s life in just little vignettes. And he does it for a very important purpose, and that is to present Christ, for Joseph was a picture of Jesus Christ. He was a type of Christ.
Then continuing history, he flows right into Moses reminding them
Moses went over to the land of the Gentiles and raised up a family. Remember his wife, Zipporah? He married her over there and he fiddled around in the desert for 40 years herding sheep.
Watch verse 30 “And when forty years had passed, an Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire in a bush, in the wilderness of Mount Sinai. 31 When Moses saw it, he marveled at the sight; and as he drew near to observe, the voice of the Lord came to him, 32 saying, ‘I am the God of your fathers — the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ And Moses trembled and dared not look. 33 ‘Then the Lord said to him, “Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground. 34 I have surely seen the oppression of My people who are in Egypt; I have heard their groaning and have come down to deliver them. And now come, I will send you to Egypt.”‘
Sinai is also Mount Horeb as in Exodus 3:1, so you don’t get confused if you see them used interchangeably.
So why did Stephen go over all that about ‘I am the God of your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob’?”
Because God was establishing the covenant again. God said, “I promised Abraham, ‘I’ll bring you into the land and it’ll be yours.’ I repeated it to Isaac. I repeated it to Jacob.’ and God came back to Moses with the promise of the fulfillment of the covenant that He made that they would go into the land.
God finally said, “It’s the time of the promise and now after 40 years, I’m going to take the people into the land, and you’re going to be My man. You’re going to be the one that’s going to do it Moses
And He says the same thing today to any of you who are feeling the pressures of some Pharaoh or the bondage of some burden.
If you’re wondering “Where is He?” “I’ve been waiting so long. Why isn’t He working?” He is working—but in ways we may not see for perhaps many years or possibly until we get to heaven. Rms.8:28
You see all the while the children of Israel were slaving in Egypt, the Lord was working in the Promised Land—which at that time was inhabited by Amorites, Jebusites, Hittites, Hivites, Canaanites, Perizzites,!
So God, who is slow to anger and full of mercy, gave these people four hundred years to get it together—to repent and to turn from their wicked ways.
Yet for four hundred years while Israel was in Egypt they fell deeper and deeper into depravity—offering their babies on the red hot arms of Moloch, practicing indescribable sexual lifestyles, living heathen, pagan lives.
Therefore after a grace period of four hundred years, God was fully justified in saying to the Jews upon their release from Egypt, “Rid the land of these people.”
For us today the Lord still declares, “I have seen. I have heard. I am come.” Trust Him to come at the right fullness of time to deliver you
35 “This Moses whom they rejected, saying, ‘Who made you a ruler and a judge?’ is the one God sent to be a ruler and a deliverer by the hand of the Angel who appeared to him in the bush.
Stephen drove the point home by reminding his Jewish audience that not only did they reject Joseph, failing to recognize him until they saw him the second time—but they did the same thing to Moses
36 He brought them out, after he had shown wonders and signs in the land of Egypt, and in the Red Sea, and in the wilderness forty years.
God’s appearance to Moses at the burning bush is important to Stephen, because it shows that God’s presence is not limited to the temple. God is bigger than the temple, and Moses did not need the temple to be close to God.
So he’s done three things in the second section. In defending himself against the charge of blasphemy; he has continued to recite their history and hold their interest and he has indicted them for rejecting Moses. As he said, “You blaspheme Moses.” He flips the table and says, “You’re the ones that have been doing that. Look at Egypt. Your fathers blasphemed Moses. They rejected him. But that’s no shock. They did it with Joseph, too.”
37 “This is that Moses who said to the children of Israel, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your brethren. Him you shall hear.’
Moses promised that there would come after him another Prophet and warned that Israel should take special care to listen to this coming Prophet.
As you hear him say there’s coming another great prophet in the days to come? “He will be of your brethren,” comma, what are the next two words? “Like me; Him shall ye hear.” Moses said, “People,- God’s got another deliverer in mind for you. He’ll be just like me. And when He comes along and you recognize that He’s like me, listen to Him. Listen to all that He shall say to you.”
Every Jew knew that passage in Deuteronomy they knew everything about the coming Christ, and if they looked at the facts they’d see that Christ paralleled Moses in every way.
That’s the point; they knew all the facts. Moses was rejected the first time but accepted the second time, and so will be Jesus Christ.
Moses was a great redeemer. So was Jesus Christ.
Moses leads people out of bondage. So does Jesus Christ.
Moses was a shepherd. So is Jesus Christ.
So the history of Moses is the foreshadowing of the history of Christ
Moses said, “You look, and when you see one like me, you listen to him. He’s your Messiah.”
But they had looked, but they had not seen. And Jesus said of them, You are blind leaders of the blind. (Making their own road to heaven)
Just like Israel rejected Moses, so there are many who are rejecting Jesus, who is the Prophet Moses spoke of.
Moses, just like Jesus, led the congregation of God’s people, enjoyed special intimacy with God and brought forth the revelation of God.
Israel continued to reject Moses, even after God had demonstrated that he was their deliverer. In their hearts they turned back to Egypt . . . and they made a gold calf as an idol
How are you dealing with Jesus Christ? Have you received Him as your deliverer, as the one who can save you?
If not what is the Idol you have created?