January 4th, 2007
One of the problems of living in polite society is that you often have to keep your true thoughts to yourself. You often have to bite your tongue when what you would really like to do is to let it rip and tell it like it really is. If you were able to let loose and “tell it like it is” with no fear of consequences and no fear of offending anyone other than someone you intended to offend, what would you say? A surprising feature of most rants is that they are usually on subjects which are quite unimportant in the overall scheme of things. But how would you “tell it like it is” about the most important subject of all?
The Acts of the Apostles — Chapter 7
7:1 The high priest asked, “Are these things true?”
7:2 Stephen said, “Brothers and fathers, listen. The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham, when he was in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran, 7:3 and said to him, ‘Leave your land and your relatives, and go to a land which I will show you.’ 7:4 Then he left the land of the Chaldaeans, and lived in Haran. When his father was dead, God moved him from there to this land, where you are now living. 7:5 He did not give him any inheritance in it, not even enough to put a foot on. But he promised in the future to give it to him and to his descendants after him to possess, although he still had no child. 7:6 God foretold this: that his descendants would live as foreigners in a foreign land, and that they would be enslaved and mistreated for four hundred years. 7:7 ‘I will punish the nation that enslaves them,’ said God, ‘And after that will they come out, and serve me in this place.’ 7:8 He gave Abraham the covenant of circumcision. So Abraham became the father of Isaac, and circumcised him the eighth day. Isaac became the father of Jacob, and Jacob became the father of the twelve patriarchs.
7:9 “The patriarchs were jealous of Joseph, and sold him into slavery in Egypt. God was with him, 7:10 and rescued him from his troubles, and gave him favour and wisdom before Pharaoh, king of Egypt. Pharaoh made him governor over Egypt and all his household. 7:11 A famine occurred in the land of Egypt and Canaan, causing great suffering. Our forefathers could not find any food. 7:12 When Jacob heard that there was grain in Egypt, he sent our forefathers there the first time. 7:13 On the second time Joseph revealed himself to his brothers, and Joseph’s family was introduced to Pharaoh. 7:14 Joseph sent for Jacob his father and all his relatives, seventy-five people. 7:15 Jacob went to Egypt, where he died, and so did our forefathers, 7:16 and their bodies were brought back to Shechem to be placed in the tomb that Abraham purchased for a sum of silver from the sons of Hamor of Shechem.
7:17 “The time drew near for fulfilment of the promise which God had sworn to Abraham, and the people grew and multiplied in Egypt. 7:18 There was a different king, who knew nothing about Joseph. 7:19 He took advantage of our people, and mistreated our ancestors, forcing them to abandon their babies, so that they would die. 7:20 At that time Moses was born, exceedingly handsome. He was looked after for three months in his father’s house. 7:21 When he was abandoned, Pharaoh’s daughter took him, and reared him as her own son. 7:22 Moses was instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians. He excelled in his studies and in what he did. 7:23 But when he was forty years old, he decided to visit his relatives, the children of Israel. 7:24 He saw one of them being mistreated by an Egyptian and defended him, and avenged him by striking the Egyptian. 7:25 He imagined that his brothers understood that God was using him to rescue them, but they failed to understand.
7:26 “The next day he came upon some men fighting, and urged them to make peace, saying, ‘You are brothers. Why are you hurting each other?’ 7:27 But the one who was in the wrong pushed him away, saying, ‘Who made you a ruler and a judge over us? 7:28 Do you want to kill me, as you killed the Egyptian yesterday?’ 7:29 Moses fled when he heard that, and lived as a foreigner in the land of Midian, where he became the father of two sons.
7:30 “When forty years had passed, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in the wilderness of Mount Sinai, in the flames of a burning bush. 7:31 When Moses saw it, he was amazed at the sight. As he approached, the voice of the Lord came to him, 7:32 ‘I am the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ Moses trembled, and dared not look. 7:33 The Lord said to him, ‘Take your sandals off your feet, because the place where you’re standing is holy ground. 7:34 I have seen the suffering of my people in Egypt, and have heard their groaning. I have come to rescue them. So come, I will send you into Egypt.’
7:35 “This was the same Moses that the people had rejected, saying, ‘Who made you a ruler and a judge?’ Now God sent him as leader and rescuer by the hand of the angel who appeared to him in the bush. 7:36 This man led them out from Egypt, after performing wonders and signs, through the Red Sea, and through the wilderness for forty years. 7:37 This is the same Moses who said to the people of Israel, ‘The Lord our God will raise up a prophet for you from among your brothers, like me.’ 7:38 This is the one who was in the assembly in the wilderness with our ancestors when the angel spoke to him on Mount Sinai, and he received living words to give to us. 7:39 Our ancestors refused to obey and rejected him, and wanted to turn back to Egypt, 7:40 saying to Aaron, ‘Make us gods that will go before us. As for this Moses, who led us out of the land of Egypt, we don’t know what has become of him.’ 7:41 They made a calf, and brought a sacrifice to the idol, and celebrated the thing they had made. 7:42 But God turned away from them, and handed them over to worship the host of heaven, as it is described in the book of the prophets, ‘Did you offer to me slaughtered animals and sacrifices forty years in the wilderness, O house of Israel? 7:43 No, you adopted the tabernacle of Moloch, the star of your god Rephan, the idols which you made to worship. I will send you away beyond Babylon.’
7:44 “Our ancestors had the Tabernacle in the wilderness, constructed according to the plan as God commanded Moses. 7:45 Our ancestors, in their turn, brought it in with Joshua when they entered the territory of the nations which God drove out before them, and it stayed there until the days of David, 7:46 who found favour with God, and asked to be allowed find a permanent house for the God of Jacob. 7:47 But it was Solomon who built him a house. 7:48 However, the Most High does not dwell in temples made with hands. As the prophet says, 7:49 ‘Heaven is my throne, and the earth a footstool for my feet. What kind of house will you build me?’ asks the Lord, ‘Or what is the place of my rest? 7:50 Didn’t my hand make all these things?’
7:51 “You stubborn people are uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit! You are just like your fathers. 7:52 Which of the prophets didn’t your fathers persecute? They killed those who foretold the coming of the Righteous One, and you have now become betrayers and murderers of him. 7:53 You received the law by the direction of angels, but failed to keep it!”
7:54 When they heard this, they were so furious that they were grinding their teeth. 7:55 But he was filled with the Holy Spirit and looking resolutely into heaven, saw the glory of God, with Jesus standing at the right hand of God, 7:56 and said, “I can see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!”
7:57 But they shouted out, and blocked their ears, and rushed at him. 7:58 They dragged him out of the city and stoned him. The witnesses left their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. 7:59 They stoned Stephen as he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!” 7:60 He knelt down, and said with a loud voice, “Lord, don’t hold this sin against them!” When he had said this, he fell unconscious.
Entry Filed under: Courage