Day 7 has arrived and we’re moving right on through The Acts Challenge 2019! I’m glad you’ve decided to join me and hope that you’ve been as blessed, thus far, as I have.
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(Vs. 1) Then said the high priest, Are these things so?
As if simply to set the record straight, the high priest asked Stephen if the false witnesses recorded against him (in the latter part of Chapter 6) were true. Odds are, he didn’t really care what Stephen’s answer was to be, but rather to “look good” in the eyes of the people for at least having asked.
Stephen’s answer was to recount everything as it had started with Abraham, focusing on Moses…
(Vs. 2) And he said, Men, brethren, and fathers, hearken; The God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham, when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Charran,
(Vs. 3) And said unto him, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and come into the land which I shall shew thee.
(Vs. 4) Then came he out of the land of the Chaldaeans, and dwelt in Charran: and from thence, when his father was dead, he removed him into this land, wherein ye now dwell.
(Vs. 5) And he gave him none inheritance in it, no, not so much as to set his foot on: yet he promised that he would give it to him for a possession, and to his seed after him, when as yet he had no child.
(Vs. 6) And God spake on this wise, That his seed should sojourn in a strange land; and that they should bring them into bondage, and entreat them evil four hundred years.
(Vs. 7) And the nation to whom they shall be in bondage will I judge, said God: and after that shall they come forth, and serve me in this place.
The Covenant of Circumcision
(Vs. 8) And he gave him the covenant of circumcision: and so Abraham begat Isaac, and circumcised him the eighth day; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat the twelve patriarchs.
(Vs. 9) And the patriarchs, moved with envy, sold Joseph into Egypt: but God was with him,
(Vs. 10) And delivered him out of all his afflictions, and gave him favour and wisdom in the sight of Pharaoh king of Egypt; and he made him governor over Egypt and all his house.
Even though Joseph went through trial after trial, he wound up in a position of high esteem in a place he had not been born into. Just as Moses was a Hebrew, and an Israelite, who wound up in Egypt, so Joseph was before him.
Joseph, the Famine, & Revelation
(Vs. 11) Now there came a dearth over all the land of Egypt and Chanaan, and great affliction: and our fathers found so sustenance.
(Vs. 12) But when Jacob heard that there was corn in Egypt, he sent out our fathers first.
(Vs. 13) And at the second time Joseph was made known to his brethren; and Joseph’s kindred was made known unto Pharaoh.
(Vs. 14) Then sent Joseph, and called his father Jacob to him, and all his kindred, threescore and fifteen souls.
(Vs. 15) So Jacob went down into Egypt, and died, he and our fathers,
(Vs. 16) And were carried over into Sychem, and laid in the sepulchre that Abraham bought for a sum of money of the sons of Emmor the father of Sychem.
(Vs. 17) But when the time of the promise drew nigh, which God had sworn to Abraham, the people grew and multiplied in Egypt,
A King That Didn’t Know Joseph
(Vs. 18) Til another king arose, which knew not Joseph.
(Vs. 19) The same dealt subtilly with our kindred, and evil entreated our fathers, so that they cast out their young children, to the end they might not live.
As it has been through the ages, when certain people become an affliction to their government, there are plots to get rid of the next generation. So it was with this Pharaoh. He knew that if the Hebrew children gained enough population, it might occur to them that they could overthrow these Egyptians who had been oppressing them. And he wasn’t going to let that happen.
The Birth of Moses Remembered
(Vs. 20) In which time Moses was born, and was exceeding fair, and nourished up in his father’s house three months:
(Vs. 21) And when he was cast out, Pharaoh’s daughter took him up, and nourished him for her own son.
(Vs. 22) And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and in deeds.
We all know the story. Moses was a Hebrew by birthright but raised in the house of Pharaoh. As his “grandson,” he had access to the best of all things and gained wisdom not offered to the Hebrews. Just as Joseph had attained control over things that were never meant to belong to “his people,” by birthright, so it happened this way with Moses. Until he reached the age of 40.
Moses Tries to Understand
(Vs. 23) And when he was full forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brethren the children of Israel.
(Vs. 24) And seeing one of them suffer wrong, he defended him, and avenged him that was oppressed, and smote the Egyptian:
(Vs. 25) For he supposed his brethren would have understood how that God by his hand would deliver them: but they understood not.
(Vs. 26) And the next day he shewed himself unto them as they strove, and would have set them at one again, saying, Sirs, ye are brethren; why do ye wrong one to another?
(Vs. 27) But he that did his neighbor wrong thrust him away, saying, Who made thee a ruler and a judge over us?
(Vs. 28) Wilt thou kill me, as thou diddest the Egyptian yesterday?
Killing the Egyptian seemed like the right thing to do at the time. The oppression against his brethren was more than he could bear. But when he saw the Hebrews fighting with one another, he couldn’t understand what they were trying to accomplish. So much that he asked.
Having thought his murderous deed was hidden, Moses had gone back to visit the Hebrews again. That’s when he found out they had seen and apparently made it known throughout their ranks that Moses had murdered the Egyptian. And at that thought, he fled into the land of Madian.
Moses Flees Into Madian
(Vs. 29) Then fled Moses at this saying, and was a stranger in the land of Madian, where he begat two sons.
(Vs. 30) And when forty years were expired, there appeared to him in the wilderness of mount Sina an angel of the Lord in a flame of fire in a bush.
(Vs. 31) When Moses saw it, he wondered at the sight: and as he drew near to behold it, the voice of the LORD came unto him,
(Vs. 32) Saying, I am the God of thy fathers, the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. Then Moses trembled, and durst not behold.
(Vs. 33) Then said the Lord to him, Put off thy shoes from thy feet: for the place where thou standest is holy ground.
Moses and Jonah share a bit in common, though not under the same circumstances. Moses knew, even before he killed the Egyptian, that God was going to save the Hebrew children. He wondered why they didn’t understand it themselves. But, instead of staying to do his part in that freedom, something he might have been able to do from the standpoint of a royal descendant, he ran away.
But, as He always does, God meets us where we are when HE needs us… not when WE are ready! At the age of 80, I’m sure Moses thought he was “home free” so to speak, in never having to worry about returning to Egypt. Especially since he already had a family in this new land.
But things just don’t always work out the way we want them to or think they will.
(Vs. 34) I have seen, I have seen the affliction of my people which is in Egypt, and I have heard their groaning, and am come down to deliver them. And now come, I will send thee into Egypt.
(Vs. 35) This Moses whom they refused, saying, Who made thee a ruler and a judge? the same did God send to be a ruler and a deliverer by the hand of the angel which appeared to him in the bush.
(Vs. 36) He brought them out, after that he had shewed wonders and signs in the land of Egypt, and in the Red sea, and in the wilderness forty years.
(Vs. 37) This is that Moses, which said unto the children of Israel, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear.
(Vs. 38) This is he, that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in the mount Sina, and with our fathers: who received the lively oracles to give unto us:
(Vs. 39) To whom our fathers would not obey, but thrust him from them, and in their hearts turned back again into Egypt,
(Vs. 40) Saying unto Aaron, Make us gods to go before us: for as for this Moses, which brought us out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him.s
When Moses had gone upon the mountain to receive from God commandments for His people, he was there a long time. So long, in fact, that the people left behind thought something might have happened to him.
Instead of waiting, though, they decided to go on and create themselves a God they could worship. Because even when people cry out against their “ruler and judge,” it is always apparent that that’s what they want. Whether it is that they think they can be better justified by a king or leader or their choosing, or they just need to feel some manner of restraint, I don’t know. But some things are obvious.
After Moses, disappeared, they called for other Gods.
The Golden Calf and Moses
(Vs. 41) And they made a calf in those days, and offered sacrifice unto the idol, and rejoiced in the works of their own hands.
(Vs. 42) Then God turned, and gave them up to worship the host of heaven; as it is written in the book of the prophets, O ye house of Israel, have ye offered to me slain beasts and sacrifices by the space of forty years in the wilderness?
(Vs. 43) Yea, ye took up the tabernacle of Moloch, and the star of your god Remphan, figures which ye made to worship them: and I will carry you away beyond Babylon.
Both the tabernacle of Moloch and the star of Remphan were objects of pagan worship. Moloch was represented by a cow head on a human body with outstretched arms fashioned to receive sacrifices from the people. Remphan was a god of Egyptian origin, also mentioned as “Chiun” in the book of Amos. This god was supposed to represent Saturn and was also represented by stars in images and statues.
The Wilderness Tabernacle
(Vs. 44) Our fathers had the tabernacle of witness in the wilderness, as he had appointed, speaking unto Moses, that he should make it according to the fashion that he had seen.
See Exodus Chapter 31 for the specifics and cross references.
(Vs. 45) Which also our fathers that came after brought in with Jesus into the possession of the Gentiles, whom God drave out before the face of our father, unto the days of David;
As it turns out, there is much commentary and debate as to the translation of “Jesus” in this specific verse. Some Bibles, such as the 1611 KJV, has notes at the bottom that reference “Jesus” as another translation for “Joshua” and as such, this verse if obviously talking about Joshua.
I have prayed to have eyes open to the revelation of the Scripture, but I have not received that clearly. I felt it was important enough to mention since this is the time frame obviously being spoken of. However, I cannot comment myself, because there are good arguments for both.
The Tabernacle Gives Way to the Temple
(Vs. 46) Who found favour before God, and desired to find a tabernacle for the God of Jacob.
(Vs. 47) But Solomon built him an house.
David had had a great desire to build a house for God. He hated the fact that while he, himself, enjoyed a house made of cedar, God dwelt in a tent. You can read this story in 2 Samuel Chapter 7 and see that God would not allow it at that time
(Vs. 48) Howbeit the most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands; as saith the prophet,
(Vs. 49) Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool: what house will ye build me? saith the Lord: or what is the place of my rest?
(Vs. 50) Hath not my hand made all these things?
Turning Away from God
(Vs. 51) Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye.
(Vs. 52) Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers:
(Vs. 53) Who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it.
Stephen summed up his story-telling, which had encompassed the many ways the forefathers had turned to idol worship rather than rightly worshiping God, by reminding them that they were walking in those same footsteps. While their forefathers had turned away the prophets and the laws of God, these men had turned away God Himself!
Stephen Stoned to Death
(Vs. 54) When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth.
(Vs. 55) But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God,
(Vs. 56) And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.
(Vs. 57) Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord,
(Vs. 58) And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, whose name was Saul.
Even though their hearts were murderous, and they followed through with their plans, they still managed to “comply with custom.” It was Levitical Law (Leviticus 24) that stated a cursed offender had to be taken outside the camp to be stoned. Even Jesus was crucified outside of the city, again, in compliance with the custom of that day.
(Vs. 59) And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.
Some people believe that the spirit stays within the body until the resurrection. However, this verse (and many like it) make it plain that at the point of death, our spirits leave our body, to be present, as Paul said, with the Lord.
(Vs. 60) And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.
The body is the portion of ourselves that “falls asleep” when we die. The spirit is what animates the body and gives it breath, as is seen in Genesis 2:7 when God breathed life into Adam. Without it, that life is gone and the spirit cannot remain. While there is much debate about this issue, the book of Job makes it plain.
If he set his heart upon man, if he gather unto himself his spirit and his breath; All flesh shall perish together, and man shall turn again unto dust. If now thou hast understanding, hear this: hearken to the voice of my words. (Job 34:14-16)
See you tomorrow, when we will be taking a look at Acts Chapter 8!
Please feel free to share your thoughts below! And thank you for reading!
Ever In His Service,