Setting the Scene
Consciously give to the Lord any worry, anxiety or distraction before turning to read and study God’s Word.
Read Acts 7:1-16
 Then the high priest asked Stephen, “Are these charges true?”  To this he replied: “Brothers and fathers, listen to me! The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham while he was still in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Harran.  ‘Leave your country and your people,’ God said, ‘and go to the land I will show you.’  “So he left the land of the Chaldeans and settled in Harran. After the death of his father, God sent him to this land where you are now living.  He gave him no inheritance here, not even enough ground to set his foot on. But God promised him that he and his descendants after him would possess the land, even though at that time Abraham had no child.  God spoke to him in this way: ‘For four hundred years your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own, and they will be enslaved and mistreated.  But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves,’ God said, ‘and afterward they will come out of that country and worship me in this place.’  Then he gave Abraham the covenant of circumcision. And Abraham became the father of Isaac and circumcised him eight days after his birth. Later Isaac became the father of Jacob, and Jacob became the father of the twelve patriarchs.  “Because the patriarchs were jealous of Joseph, they sold him as a slave into Egypt. But God was with him  and rescued him from all his troubles. He gave Joseph wisdom and enabled him to gain the goodwill of Pharaoh king of Egypt. So Pharaoh made him ruler over Egypt and all his palace.  “Then a famine struck all Egypt and Canaan, bringing great suffering, and our ancestors could not find food.  When Jacob heard that there was grain in Egypt, he sent our forefathers on their first visit.  On their second visit, Joseph told his brothers who he was, and Pharaoh learned about Joseph’s family.  After this, Joseph sent for his father Jacob and his whole family, seventy-five in all.  Then Jacob went down to Egypt, where he and our ancestors died.  Their bodies were brought back to Shechem and placed in the tomb that Abraham had bought from the sons of Hamor at Shechem for a certain sum of money. Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
ReflectHow would you describe the way Stephen begins his answer?
“Are these charges true?” Rather than replying with a straightforward “yes” or “no,” Stephen takes the opportunity to teach his accusers a history lesson. Does he think they’ll be convinced of his innocence if he demonstrates an accurate knowledge of Jewish history? By the time we reach the end of Stephen’s sermon, we understand that he is presenting two major arguments for his defense: first, that Jewish leaders have often rejected God’s prophets and, second, that the entire history of Israel was setting the scene for Jesus. God chose Abraham to become the father of a nation through which his salvation would come to the world (Gen. 12:3). Israel was founded and set apart so that this nation would know God and reveal him to the nations. God’s plan is often much wider and deeper than we can comprehend. We only see the small part which directly affects our own life, but God’s vision goes far beyond that. Whether it is by serving like Stephen, or by obstructing like the Jewish leaders of the day, we all play a part in God’s great plan to bring salvation to all the earth.
Pray that God’s will be done in your own life, in your church, in your nation and throughout the world.
Good Lord, I won’t always understand all You are doing, but I’m thankful that You are at work in Your world.
Click here to sign up to receive the EXTRAs via email each quarter.
© 2024 Scripture Union U.S.A. All rights reserved. Reproduction of the whole or any part of the contents without written permission is prohibited.
Discovery is published in the USA under license from Scripture Union England and Wales, Trinity House, Opal Court, Opal Drive, Fox Milne, Milton Keynes, MK15 0DF.