Today’s readings.. (2 Chronicles 26,27), (Daniel 7), (Acts 7)

Stephen is hauled before the Jewish Council and accused of speaking blasphemous words against the Law and saying the Temple would be destroyed. His speech (in Acts 7) before the Council is a history lesson! Why?  What was his 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 for humans to be awake and aware of God in action, actions which are a response to human faith or lack of it. After Abraham he looks at the work and faith of Joseph.  Then God raised up Moses and when he became really faithful, miracles occurred both in leaving Egypt and in the wilderness when the commandments and the Law was given, also the follies caused by failures of faith and the result..
Then comes the establishment in the land under Joshua; the days of David and the great Temple built by Solomon.   God’s presence was with them, yet God is far greater than just dwelling in the Temple they had built, God said “Heaven is my throne and earth is my footstool” [v.49].  Yet their religious life in Stephen’s time was still built around the Temple! Did they have a relationship with the One God for whom it was built?  No! Stephen portrayed the real lessons for them, the mistakes that their history should teach them – how often their ancestors had not been awake to see God in action but had pursued their own ends.
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, Jesus, … you did just the same as your ancestors did – a folly which they complete my murdering Stephen.  It is evident that Stephen had included in his preaching a warning that the Temple was to be destroyed. And it was, about 35 years later – and their nation as well.
Our 21st Century will surely see the climax of human history. God will act again but the whole world is blind and unprepared just as the Jews were!  An awesome time is coming to destroy the “temples” of the gods of today.  Do we preach a message that is parallel to Stephen’s?  Are we prepared? Is our faith strong enough to endure?  How appropriate are the words of Jesus, “Because lawlessness will abound the love of many will grow cold, but those who endure to the end will be saved.” [Matt.14 v.12,13]. We must have the fellowship of fellow believers to help us to endure.

 

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