Twist In the Tale
Loving Lord, here I am before You. I’m an empty vessel needing to be filled, an aching soul needing to be healed.
Read Acts 7:35-53
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.
“God made us in his image and we have returned the favor” (Voltaire, 1694-1778). Unfortunately, that’s often true.
The theme of rejection grows stronger. The people long for Egypt, they build a calf to worship in place of God (40, 41), they replace the tabernacle with the temple (47-50). At one level the temple is a fitting focus for the worship of God, but from the start dangers are evident. It will confine God, seeing him as static rather than dynamic, and will undermine Israel’s role as a pilgrim people (2 Sam. 7:5-11a). This suggests a fatal flaw in Israel’s thinking throughout the generations. The golden calf, the construction of the temple, the rejection of the prophets—each in its own way demonstrates the desire to control God. We want a God we can accommodate to our way of thinking rather than the all-powerful Creator of the universe. We create a god in our own image; one that will not make inconvenient demands of us.
The time has come for Stephen to apply the ancient story to the present situation. The ultimate rejection has taken place in the crucifixion of the One whom God had sent (52). There are overtones of Peter (Acts 2:23,36) and of Jesus himself (Matt 21:33-46). The crucifixion took place in a specific historical, geographical and social context, but it is the culmination of the historic rebellion of Israel and of the human race (Rom. 5:12-14). Stephen reinterprets the story to convict the Jewish leaders of his time, but the same story convicts us all, albeit in different ways.
Stephen’s defense to the charge is to argue that it is not he but the leaders who have really betrayed God’s purposes. That has been the point of the long retelling of Israel’s story. However, because this is a story common to all humanity we can reinterpret it so that our contemporaries see a different reality.
Recall the people you thought about yesterday. Pray for them and ask for the opportunity to speak to them wisely and sensitively about Christ.
Lord, sometimes I cling to a vision of You as I want You to be, and fulfilling Your promises according to my vision. Forgive me and renew me.
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