Today’s readings.. Deuteronomy 16, Ecclesiastes 8, Acts 7

Stephen’s speech (in Acts 7) before the Jewish Council is a history lesson!  Why?  For what purpose?

He reviews all that had happened since the time of Abraham.   Didn’t the members of the Council know their history?

As we read the chapter we see Stephen is tracing the things God had instigated since he called Abraham from his homeland in Ur.  The lesson is clearly that his people should be aware and awake to the actions of God, If they are they will respond in faith. His lesson then looks at the experiences of Joseph in Egypt when God acted and miracles occurred.  Next there are the incredible events when they leave Egypt – and more drama at Mt Sinai and the 10 commandments are given and a tabernacle created.  Then comes the establishment in the land under Joshua and the days of David. His final point is the great Temple built by Solomon, which was rebuilt by Herod just before the time of Christ, 46 years of work!  His audience evidently gloried in the sense of prestige the Temple gave them in the eyes of the people. The tragedy is that the thinking of his audience was focussed on themselves more than on their Creator.

God is far far greater than just dwelling in a temple, the climax of his speech is to quote Isaiah, “Heaven is my throne and earth is my footstool” [v.49]   That was the climax of the history lesson, which had aimed to portray the real lessons for them of the relationships with God that they should have learned from the failures in history.

Stephen suddenly challenges them, “You stiff necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit (God in action) as your father’s did … “ [v.51]   He accuses them, you “betrayed and murdered … the Righteous One” [v.52      What brave words … and now they murder Stephen, but that event was in time to be the catalyst in the conscience “of a young man named Saul” [v.58] who was to become a “chosen vessel” and lead to an incredible life of dedication, “for all things work together for good (of God’s purpose) for those who are called according to his purpose” [Rom. 8 v.28]. This is the lesson of Scripture as we trace the outworking of these events.

Can you see God working in your life?  Are you co-operating?

 

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