Lord God, You are my Creator, Redeemer, and King. May my worship today be worthy of You. Thank You, Lord.
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.
It’s better to declare the truth and be rejected than to withhold it just to be accepted.
Stephen’s brilliance is seen in the way he reminds his hearers of aspects of their story they have conveniently ignored. They are God’s people, but often by default and never by merit. One thing never changed: they were experts at grumbling, even after deliverance from Egypt. Such a spirit can easily become endemic in a church, so that any initiative is met with open hostility. It is a tribute to those God raises up that they are not deflected from their task. Moses did set God’s people free, and he led them to the Promised Land via Mount Sinai.
Here the law was given, the very law that Stephen is accused of speaking against. Stephen’s accusers gave the impression that they were, from day one, guardians of the law, but the facts tripped them up. While Moses was still receiving instruction from God the people were already planning to break the law. In one of the most shameful episodes of their history, they pined for Egypt, rejected Moses, and persuaded Aaron to construct an idol for their worship! Indeed, their subsequent history would demonstrate a continuing addiction to idolatry until, finally, it was purged by their exile.
Here, too, they were given the blueprint for worship, first in the tabernacle, later the temple. These were to take center stage, both in their journeys and, later, in the Promised Land when finally established by Solomon. Both were simply a visual aid, however. They weren’t intended to be structures in which God could be contained. The people still rebelled. God raised up prophets to call the people to return to him and get ready for the one who was still to come, but they persecuted the prophets and murdered the Righteous One. Their response, now, to Stephen was the same: “pick up a stone!” Nothing changes!
It’s easy to make “the way we do things” an obstacle to seeing what new things God would teach us. Is this a problem for you? If so, what will you do?
Lord, forgive me that so often I live looking backward and not forward, not anticipating Your leading into the future.
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