June 10, 2018
MAN-MADE RELIGION REJECTS THE TRUE GOD
Stephen reminded the Jewish rulers that even though God allowed Solomon to build Him a Temple, He had no need for a man-made dwelling. Sinful man always prefers his man-made religion with his man-made gods and man-made temples. Didn’t the Israelites reject Moses and ask his brother, Aaron, to make them “some gods” to lead them? So Aaron fashioned them a golden calf to worship. Stephen accused the Jewish leaders of rejecting Jesus just as their forefathers had rejected Moses.
The same is true today. People prefer their man-made religion. But God is looking for those who will repent of their sins and receive Jesus as Lord and Savior. God doesn’t live in temples made by human hands, but He willingly lives in human hearts that have been changed by the love of Jesus.
June 9, 2018
THE MAKING OF MOSES
In Stephen’s defense before the Jewish high council, he spoke of God’s preparation of Moses as Israel’s deliverer. Moses lived 40 years as a prince of Egypt, adopted by the Pharoah’s sister and raised as her own son. He was given a royal education. Yet, after fleeing Egypt and living 40 years in the wilderness as a shepherd, he seems to have lost his confidence. When God called him to deliver Israel, he complained that he was “slow of speech” (Ex. 4:10). Moses may have been making an idle excuse, or he may have lost his self-confidence. But God reminded Moses that He had made man’s mouth and sent him back to Egypt anyway.
Moses’ 120 years of life can be divided into three 40 year segments. The first 40, he lived as a prince. The second 40, he lived as a fugitive hiding in the wilderness, working as a shepherd. And the final 40 years, he led Israel out of captivity. The first 40 gave Moses confidence, so much so that he tried to be Israel’s deliverer in his own strength. The second 40 humbled him, so that he was totally dependent on God.
It took 80 years to make a Moses that God could use. How long has God been working on you?
June 9, 2017
Stephen’s defense before the Jewish council was amazing in its span and understanding of Jewish history. He offered a condensed version of the Old Testament story starting with Abraham and steadily progressing to the 1st Century time of Jesus. But it wasn’t just a summary. It offered profound spiritual insights on the ancient faith story.
Consider the Moses part of the story. Here, Stephen described not only the facts of Moses’ life, but his motivations. Stephen described Moses as being aware of his God-given calling to be the deliverer of Israel when he was only 40 years old. So, when he fled to Midian after killing the Egyptian, he wasn’t just fleeing Pharoah’s judgment, he was fleeing God’s call.
Stephen’s commentary on the Old Testament helps us understand the storyline from God’s perspective. He establishes the best practice for our reading today. For the best way to understand the Old Testament is through the lens of the New Testament and through the person of Jesus.
Stephen tried to help the Jewish council understand that their history had always pointed to Jesus, that He was the fulfillment of their Hebrew Scriptures. Yet, they would not believe. And they sentenced Stephen to be stoned to death.
June 10, 2016
The newly appointed deacon, Stephen, was stoned to death for his witness, becoming the first Christian martyr. His verbal defense of the gospel before his accusers was a Spirit-inspired masterpiece, boldly proclaimed. He reminded them that it was Moses, whom they claimed to follow, that spoke of a coming prophet who would mediate God’s Word to them (Deut.18:14-19). Then, he compared them to the Israelites in the wilderness who rejected Moses, for they had rejected the Righteous One whom God had raised up “from their brothers,” Christ Jesus. Stephen was essentially preaching the words of Jesus, who said, “For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me” (John 5:46).
June 10, 2012
Today’s OT and NT reading were both about the Temple. Here, Stephen gives his defense before the Sanhedrin before they have him stoned. He tried to turn them from man-made religion to God’s graceful provision in Jesus. But they wouldn’t listen.