I have certainly seen the oppression of My people in Egypt, and have heard their groans, and I have come down to deliver them; come now, and I will send you to Egypt.  Acts 7:34

Stephen, the First Martyr

Stephen, a new disciple, was filled with the Holy Spirit.  From the start he’s on fire – working miracles and signs: bringing people to the new faith in Christ.  His opponents seized him and took him before Sanhedrin, the Jewish court.  They falsely accused him of blasphemy.  He responds by explaining all of salvation history starting from the Old Testament.

How God had appeared to Abraham to send him out.

Depart from your country and your relatives… God promised offspring after him… But God spoke to this effect, that his offspring would be aliens in a foreign land and that they would be enslaved and mistreated.

“And, whatever nation to which they shall be in bondage, I Myself will judge,” said God, “And after that they will come out.” 7:2-7

and to Moses.

I have certainly seen the oppression of My people in Egypt, and have heard their groans, and I have come down to deliver them; come now, and I will send you to Egypt.  Acts 7:34

Stephen demonstrates from the OT that the Hebrew people have always resisted the Lord.  They have  killed the prophets who foretold the coming of the Holy One.  Now the present generation has betrayed and murdered their Messiah.

Which one of the prophets did your fathers not persecute?  And they killed those who had previously announced the coming of the Righteous One, whose betrayers and murderers you have now become; you who received the law as ordained by angels, and yet did not keep it. 7:52, 53

The yelling crowd drags Stephen out of the city and stoned him to death.  There has been no trial, no verdict, and the Sanhedrin lacks authority to condemn anyone to death.   Stephen has been murdered by a mob.

…falling on his knees, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them!” And having said this, he fell asleep. 7:60

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Persecution and martyrdom.  It’s not a pretty picture.

Have no illusion about this world.  These people have been sent out as workers.  Their rewards are not in this world.

Living in a temperature controlled environment where all my basic needs are met, it’s hard to relate to their experiences.  But then, I see how inadequate those chosen by God were also.

Abraham was cowardly and Moses was timid.

Moses shook with fear and would not venture to look. 7:32

They were no Navy SEALs either.

Let’s remember that what’s required is not my capability but faith in God and the power of Holy Spirit.  Willingness to hear and do what he says.  Grandpa ended one of his sermons simply by saying “Let’s go to work.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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