Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Wednesday - Acts 7 - A Sermon for the Ages

OST of what we know about Stephen is found right here in this chapter. Significantly, it really isn't Stephen that we learn so much about here. The chapter presents to us one of the most eloquent gospel sermons ever preached; eloquent, both because of the content and because of the context.

Speaking generally, Stephen respectfully repeated some of the history of Israel before a group of men who knew these stories exceedingly well. He and the Holy Spirit knew where he was going with his speech. His audience did not. If they had known, they would not have allowed him to start, much less finish. Early in the narrative, he pointed out that their own brethren initially rejected both Joseph and Moses. And he noted that both these great patriarchs were chosen by God to deliver their people. In other words, Israel had a habit rejecting God's anointed/appointed deliverers. Stephen then went directly into a strong defense of The Prophet, Jesus Christ. He even pointed out that the revered Moses had prophesied that the Jews needed to be looking for the coming of the ultimate prophet. But, according to Stephen, nothing had changed in Israel over all these centuries. The Messiah was being wrongly rejected just like His forerunners had also been disallowed.

Stephen's Spirit filled sermon was presumably heard by a young man named Saul. Stephen's generous last words would also have been heard by Saul. God was working on this young man Saul. Saul would someday become the apostle Paul. Saul was at this point still a devout orthodox Jew though. He was zealous in his defense of the Old Testament law (as he saw it). Yet truly, he was one of the men who was guilty of killing Stephen. And, he did it in the name of God, (as did the whole Jewish council).  They sincerely believed that Jesus was an imposter, and that Stephen was a tool of Satan.

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