Easter - 2018

Monday, October 8, 2012

Learning from our personal history lesson!

Acts 7:51-53
“You stiff-necked people! Your hearts and ears are still uncircumcised. You are just like your ancestors: You always resist the Holy Spirit! Was there ever a prophet your ancestors did not persecute? They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One. And now you have betrayed and murdered him— you who have received the law that was given through angels but have not obeyed it.”

Stephen's speech is a history lesson as a persuasive presentation against the sinful nature of a fallen man toward a restored relationship with his creator. We can review it and see key points to the presupposition above.

1. Stephen starts at the beginning of God's revelation to mankind that He will come and establish a restored relationship. That restored relationship will come through the seed of Abraham. (7:5)

2. Stephen moves to the consequences of a sinful heart in the patriarch's jealousy. He reviews and establishes Joseph's commitment to God and how God use Joseph's history and abilities to protect Abraham's restoring seed. (7:10)

3. Stephen points to how the people flourished in Egypt and then became slaves from which Moses was called out as a baby for tremendous living and God used Moses to save the people. (7:20)

4. Stephen reminds the listeners that even though the people were crying for a rescue, as slaves the people listened to their sinful nature and rebelled against God and Moses. (7:25)

5. Stephen describes how Moses remained in the dessert for 40 years and then heard a call from a burning bush. God reveals He has heard the cry of the people and it is time to bring Abraham's seed to a new place in the world. (7:30-34)

6. Stephen establishes that the same Moses who had been rejected, returned and led the people through the Red Sea and into the dessert land. The same Moses established that a prophet would come to save the people from their sinful nature. (7:38)

7. Stephen reminds the listeners in the history lesson that once again the people rely on the sinful nature and rebel. Steven tells the listeners that when the people do not lean on God, God turns away from them. (7:42)

8. Stephen talks about the tabernacle and how the Kingdom flourished when it listened to God and worshiped, but when the people turned their ears away from God, they struggled and their lack of listening to God was the Kingdom's eventual demise. (7:48)

9. Stephen proclaims that God doesn't live in a box made by men, but that the world is only a footstool to God. Steven quotes Old Testament Isaiah as his proof of God's dwelling place. (7:49-50)

10. Stephen concludes his history lesson and persuasive speech by telling, revealing, and declaring that the people of Israel have not changed and are as stubborn as they ever were in listening to the God that has saved them. He reveals and convicts the people of rejecting their history as seed from Abraham, rejecting the One that Moses said would come to save them, and rejecting God by forcing Him into religion instead of relationship. (7:51-53)

I doubt this is the first time this had been said in the first few years of the early Christians. Thus, I also think the Apostles approved of Stephen. They thought enough of him to make him one of those to bring unity to the bady of believers within the group by selecting him to serve the widows. It is more like this is the first recording of it and it is possible that the layout and outline might be the first to be presented, but it seems more plausible that Stephen gave a great evangelistic speech that resonates through out history and Luke is trying to explain why the Jews listening became so irate so quickly. Steven took everything they held dear and pointed to their abuse of it. No one likes to look in the mirror and see that what they have done is reject the very essence of that which we hold dear.

That is why everyone should take a serious look at their history and examine what it says about how badly we rely on our sinful nature verses God's restorative love and power!

Looking, examining, and learning so as to please the god I serve and to work out my salvation in fear and trembling. Won't you join me? You know I love ya, Don

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