Stephen’s History Lesson
Following from the previous chapter, the high priest heard false testimonies about Stephen. Essentially, Stephen was in court and it was his turn to provide his defense. So Stephen starts a history lecture.
Stephen starts with how God appeared to Abraham and gave him the covenant of circumcision. Then, came Isaac and Jacob, and the twelve patriarchs.
Stephen explains in great lengths how Joseph’s brothers (the patriarchs) hated Joseph, and sold him into slavery to Egyptians. But God was with Joseph, and used this evil act for good by raising Joseph to become ruler of Egypt and saving the people from a great famine.
The Israelites multiplied significantly while in Egypt, but then a pharaoh that didn’t know Joseph came to power and enslaved the people. And Moses was born. While Moses led the people out of Egypt, performing amazing miracles—such as splitting the Red Sea—-the people asked Aaron to craft them an idol.
Our fathers refused to obey [Moses], but thrust him aside, and in their hearts they turned to Egypt, saying to Aaron, ‘Make for us gods who will go before us. As for this Moses who led us out from the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.’Acts 7:39-40
Every Other Prophet
After Stephen reminded the Jews about how their fathers rejected Joseph and Moses, he added that they also rejected every other prophet that ever came. They also rejected Jesus, and right this moment, they are rejecting Stephen.
You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered, you who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it.Acts 7:51-53
Of course, the Jews were not happy to hear this from Stephen. They feel beyond offended, and stoned Stephen.
Remember when the Jews faced Jesus and would name-drop Moses? Well, turns out that the Jews didn’t treat Moses much better than Jesus. Or Stephen.
But this applies to Joseph as well, and pretty much all the prophets.
Why is that?
I believe it’s because of human sin and foolishness in general. These people had their minds focused on the short-term, not the long-term.
Even after Moses led the people out of Egypt, when the people were hungry, they wanted to go back to Egypt and return into slavery. When Moses went on a journey to receive the Ten Commandments, they grew impatient waiting for Moses to return and asked Aaron to create an idol.
The people were thinking about the short-term, things like food and convenience; they completely forgot about the long-term, things like the promised land and God’s covenant.
Coming back to present-day, how are we rejecting God? Just like how these extremely educated Jews know the stories of Joseph, Abraham, and the prophets, they still chose to reject Jesus.
We have the Bible to tell us of these stories, so we know them too. Are we still choosing to reject Jesus? And if so, how?
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