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IBC Women’s Blog September 13, 2019

IBC Women’s Blog September 13, 2019

Move together through Acts: Chapters 7-8 By Jodie Montgomery

When we get to Acts 7-8, we hear that the Gospel is mightily spreading through the voices of the martyrs. Stephen faces the priests and Saul is actively persecuting the church after heartily agreeing with putting Stephen to death. The scattered go about preaching. Suffering for the Gospel ignites the message.

Let’s review Stephen’s last words as he, with “the face of an angel”, faces opposition. He uses the opportunity to defend himself to teach an Old Testament Bible lesson. Stephen reminds his accusers that:
God directed Abraham to leave his country and come to the land promised by God. Abraham moved in obedience to God.
Abraham experienced hardship (father died, no inheritance in new land, no child) yet He believed God’s promises.
Abraham also knew God spoke of hardship for Abraham’s descendants, 400 years of enslavement prior to the judgment of their enemy and deliverance.
Abraham was given the covenant of circumcision and became the father of Isaac, Jacob and the twelve patriarchs of Israel.
Due to jealousy, the patriarchs mistreat Joseph yet God made Joseph a governor that would deliver his brothers, Israel.
In fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham, the people increased and were mistreated by the king over Egypt. Moses, sent by God to rule and deliver, was rejected. The people preferred Egypt and captivity over the mercy of God. Years passed, God faithfully delivered Israel out of Egypt.
God continues to bless the people, they increase.
The Jewish fathers were known to repudiate God and to serve idols made by their own hands.
God faithfully gave the nation the land, dispossessing the nations through Joshua.
David found favor in God’s sight and desired to build a house for Him. Solomon built the house however,  God was not to be constrained by human hands. 

At this point in the lesson, Stephen boldly rebukes the religious leaders as stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, resisting the Holy Spirit as their fathers did. Though Stephen is “on trial”, he has presented a case against the religious leaders of Israel based on Old Testament history and their belief that their genealogy justifies them. The leaders are cut to the quick and hatefully respond to Stephen. Acts confirms Stephen as the one full of the Holy Spirit and ready for the glory of God. 

In Stephen’s final moments he calls on the Lord Jesus to receive his spirit. Through Stephen we witness the heavens open up and the mercy of God. We also see that believing in Christ as Messiah is not for the faint of heart.