Acts 7:1-60 (JDV)
Acts 7:1 “Are these things true?” the high priest asked.
Acts 7:2 “Brothers and fathers,” he replied, “listen: The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he resided in Haran,
Acts 7:3 and said to him: Leave your country and relatives, and come to the land that I will show you.
Acts 7:4 “Then he left the land of the Chaldeans and resided in Haran. From there, after his father died, God had him move to this land in which you are now living.
Acts 7:5 He didn’t give him an inheritance in it – not even a foot’s pace – but he promised to give it to him as a possession, and to his posterity after him, even though he was childless.
Acts 7:6 God spoke about it this way: His posterity would be strangers in a foreign land, and they would enslave and abuse them for four hundred years.
Acts 7:7 I will judge the nation that they will slave for, God said. After this, they will come out and worship me in this place.
Acts 7:8 And he gave Abraham the covenant of circumcision. He fathered Isaac and circumcised him in this way on the eighth day. Isaac fathered Jacob, and Jacob fathered the twelve patriarchs.
Acts 7:9 “The patriarchs became envious of Joseph and sold him into Egypt, but God was with him
Acts 7:10 and rescued him out of all his troubles. He gave him favor and wisdom in the sight of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, who appointed him ruler over Egypt and over his whole household.
Acts 7:11 Now a famine and great trouble came over all of Egypt and Canaan, and our ancestors could find no food.
Acts 7:12 When Jacob heard there was grain in Egypt, he sent our ancestors there the first time.
Acts 7:13 The second time, Joseph revealed himself to his brothers, and Joseph’s family became known to Pharaoh.
Acts 7:14 Joseph invited his father Jacob and all his relatives, seventy-five throats in all,
Acts 7:15 and Jacob went down to Egypt. He and our ancestors died there,
Acts 7:16 were carried back to Shechem, and were placed in the tomb that Abraham had bought for a sum of silver from the sons of Hamor in Shechem.
Acts 7:17 “As the time was approaching to fulfill the promise that God had made to Abraham, the people flourished and increased in Egypt
Acts 7:18 until a different king got up who did not know Joseph ruled over Egypt.
Acts 7:19 He dealt deceitfully with our race and corrupted our ancestors by making them put their infants outside so that they wouldn’t survive.
Acts 7:20 At this particular time Moses was born, and he was handsome in God’s sight. He was nurtured in his father’s home for three months.
Acts 7:21 When he was put outside, Pharaoh’s daughter took him away and raised him as her own son.
Acts 7:22 So Moses was disciplined in all the wisdom of the Egyptians and was competent in his speech and actions.
Acts 7:23 “When he had reached forty years of time, he decided to visit his own brothers, the sons of Israel.
Acts 7:24 When he saw one of them being mistreated, he came to his rescue and avenged the oppressed man by striking down the Egyptian.
Acts 7:25 He assumed his people would understand that God was giving them rescue through him, but they did not understand.
Acts 7:26 The next day he showed up while they were fighting and tried to reconcile them peacefully, saying, ‘Men, you are brothers. Why are you mistreating each other? ‘
Acts 7:27 “But the one who was mistreating his neighbor pushed Moses aside, saying: Who appointed you a ruler and a judge over us?
Acts 7:28 Do you want to take me out, the same way you took out the Egyptian yesterday?
Acts 7:29 “When he heard this, Moses escaped and became an exile in the land of Midian, where he became the father of two sons.
Acts 7:30 After forty years had passed, an agent appeared to him in the unpopulated region of Mount Sinai, in the flame of a burning bush.
Acts 7:31 When Moses saw it, he was amazed at the sight. As he was approaching to look at it, the voice of the Lord came:
Acts 7:32 I am the God of your ancestors – the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob. Moses began to tremble and did not dare to look.
Acts 7:33 “The Lord said to him: Take off the sandals from your feet, because the place where you are standing is sacred land.
Acts 7:34 I have certainly seen the oppression of my people in Egypt; I have heard their groaning and have come down to set them free. And now, come, I will send you to Egypt.
Acts 7:35 “This Moses, whom they rejected when they said, Who appointed you a ruler and a judge? – this one God sent as a ruler and a deliverer through the agent who appeared to him in the bush.
Acts 7:36 This man led them out and performed marvels and signs in the land of Egypt, at the Red Sea, and in the unpopulated region for forty years.
Acts 7:37 “This is the Moses who said to the Israelites: God will get up for you a prophet like me from among your brothers.
Acts 7:38 He is the one who was in the congregation in the unpopulated region, with the agent who spoke to him on Mount Sinai, and with our ancestors. He received living oracles to give to us.
Acts 7:39 Our ancestors were unwilling to obey him. Instead, they pushed him aside, and in their hearts turned back to Egypt.
Acts 7:40 They told Aaron: Make us gods who will go before us. As for this Moses who brought us out of the land of Egypt, we don’t know what’s happened to him.
Acts 7:41 They even made a calf in those days, offered sacrifice to the idol, and were celebrating what their hands had made.
Acts 7:42 God turned away and gave them up to worship the stars of the sky, as it is written in the book of the prophets: House of Israel, did you bring me offerings and sacrifices for forty years in the unpopulated region?
Acts 7:43 You picked up the tent of Moloch and the star of your god Rephan, the images that you made to worship. So I will send you into exile beyond Babylon.
Acts 7:44 “Our ancestors had the tabernacle of the testimony in the unpopulated region, just as he who spoke to Moses commanded him to make it according to the pattern he had seen.
Acts 7:45 Our ancestors in turn received it and with Joshua brought it in when they dispossessed the nations that God drove out before them, until the days of David.
Acts 7:46 He found favor in God’s sight and asked that he might provide a dwelling place for the God of Jacob.
Acts 7:47 It was Solomon, instead, who built him a house,
Acts 7:48 but the Highest One does not reside in handmade places, like the prophet says:
Acts 7:49 The sky is my throne, and the land my footstool. What sort of house will you build for me? says the Lord, or what will be my resting place?
Acts 7:50 Did not my hand make all these things?
Acts 7:51 “You stiff-necked people with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are always resisting the Sacred Breath. As your ancestors did, you do also.
Acts 7:52 Which of the prophets did your ancestors not chase? They even killed those who foretold the coming of the Righteous One, whose betrayers and murderers you have now become.
Acts 7:53 You received the law under the direction of agents and yet have not kept it.”
Acts 7:54 When they heard these things, they were enraged and gnashed their teeth at him.
Acts 7:55 Stephen, full of the Sacred Breath, gazed into the sky. He saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.
Acts 7:56 He said, “Notice, I observe the sky opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!”
Acts 7:57 They yelled at the top of their voices, covered their ears, and with the same passion rushed against him.
Acts 7:58 They dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. And the testifiers laid their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul.
Acts 7:59 While they were stoning Stephen, he called out: “Lord Jesus, receive my breath!”
Acts 7:60 He knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this failure against them!” And after saying this, he went to sleep.
Stephen’s sermon was more like an attorney’s list of grievances in a lawsuit. It points out many of the historical incidents in the life of the Israelites where they resisted what the Sacred Breath wanted to do for them.
The stories of Abraham, Joseph, Moses, David and the prophets illustrated this. The list is summarized in verse 51.
The list makes the case that when God determines to do something, it is often the very people who claim to be his who resist the change, and rebel against his chosen agents.
Lord, make us a people who learn what you are doing, and become proponents of the change, rather than opponents.
In today’s video, I share Bruce Harris’ comments about how Stephen laid the ground work for his presentation of the gospel.