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– Remember, this is Stephen giving his final appeal to the high council. He knows they are going to murder him, so he’s got to make this count.
– He is sharing THEIR history, to show them how they AND their ancestors have always persecuted and rejected God’s messengers, just as they did to Jesus, and just as they are now doing with Stephen.
– Stephen introduces us to Moses, someone very important to the Jewish High Council:
– Moses was the original leader of Israel, and rescued them from slavery and captivity.
– He wrote down the Law and the Ten Commandments, handed down from God himself.
– Moses is their HERO. It must really burn that Stephen is preaching about HIM to them.
– Moses was friends with God and knew Him face to face. Stephen is now basically saying that Jesus replaces Moses and the Law as our path to God, and salvation.
– Do you see now why they are so mad?
Read Acts 7:23-29
- Actions have consequences.
– This story represents Moses’ first attempt to rescue Israel, but by his own strength.
– He wants to identify with his people and hates the harsh treatment they receive. This is good!
– Vs 25, “God had sent him to rescue them”, but his actions were NOT according to God’s plan.
– The ends do NOT justify the means.
– The whole story is found in Exodus chapter 2:
– Moses grew up in privilege in the Pharaoh’s house, but one day decided to visit his people.
– His people are slaves, and mistreated. He wants to identify with them. He wants to rescue them.
– Exodus 2:11b-12, During his visit, he saw an Egyptian beating one of his fellow Hebrews. After looking in all directions to make sure no one was watching, Moses killed the Egyptian and hid the body in the sand.
– Acts 7:24b says he “…came to the man’s defense and avenged him, killing the Egyptian.”
– Exodus shows us that he clearly knows what he was doing was wrong, and he tries to hide his sin, but your sin will always find you out.
– Exodus 2:14, …”Are you going to kill me as you killed that Egyptian yesterday?” Then Moses was afraid, thinking, “Everyone knows what it did.”
– Moses got “called out” in his sin. Guilty and shameful, his consequence is that Pharaoh heard what happened and wants him dead, but Moses runs from his consequences.
– Moses, being a guy who was “powerful in both speech and action”, often tried to fix his problems on his own strength, without looking to God.
– This time he escapes the consequences, but next time he won’t be so lucky.
– He led the people into the desert and now they need water. God told Moses to “speak” to the rock and water would come out. This would bring God glory showing He is their provider.
– Moses instead said, “Listen you rebels. Must we bring you water from this rock?” He struck the rock with his staff, and water poured out.
– This puts the focus on Moses, and implies that he was the one that provided water for the people, instead of God. This action had consequences.
– Numbers 20:12, But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, because you did not trust me enough to demonstrate my holiness to the people of Israel, you will not lead them into the land that I am giving to them!”
– Accident? Mistake? Nope! Moses and Aaron took credit away from God for the water, so that the people would finally listen to them and respect them. Because of their disobedience they will not enter into the promised land.
– When Moses broke up the fight between the Egyptian and the Hebrew slave, he could have done the hard thing by standing his ground, knowing it would cost him his privilege, but with integrity.
– This action would have made people revere him, and likely believe that he was sent by God. (This would be sacrificial and costly… like Stephen’s decision to face death for God’s glory)
– Moses instead makes the deceitful decision to kill the man, which made him a sneak and a murderer.
– This decision “testifies” about him, and who he is in God. It ruined his credibility, and discredits God in the process. 40 years in the desert is his consequence.
– We must be careful about the message we are sending to others by our actions. Our negative actions can nullify our words.
– Example: New Lecrae song with cursing in it. He has been doing “crossover” songs with secular artists in the attempt to reach those who really need the gospel. Too far this time?
– He has damaged his Christian credibility. Sell out? Compromise? Poor example to set?
– What if, instead, he got rappers to clean up their act in songs with him? That would speak!
Imagine what the message would be to the lost if a Christian rapper could get the “secular rap game” to stop cursing, and all the other negative stuff in a song or two?
– He may have meant well, but likely tarnished his testimony, and hurt the faith of others.
– Moses killed the Egyptian and ended up side-lined in the desert for 40 years, unused in God’s ministry and calling.
– Verse 25, “God had sent him [Moses] to rescue them”. This means that God had already revealed his plan to Moses, and he knew his calling.
– What if he had repented and reconciled his sin right away? Could God have used him in his obedience to free his people 40 years sooner?
– When we do things on our own, and don’t fully trust that God has a plan for us, we can actually delay the work of God. He must get our hearts right.
– We must grow to a place where He can accomplish His mission through us, without us messing it up. I think sometimes too, that if we can’t get our act together, then he will choose someone else to fulfill the mission. God’s plans WILL come to pass, with or without us!
- God’s timing, God’s plan, not our own.
– How is this for a plan:
– Stephen is an amazing follower of Christ, full of faith, and being martyred only makes his testimony more powerful, and Jesus more glorious!
– His actions kick off a great persecution of Christians, which actually works to spread the gospel even more. His testimony being the needed fuel to drive it.
– Stephen was the right guy, at the right time, with the faith that God could use.
– Psalm 27:14, Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord. (David writes this while fearing death at the hands of his enemies.)
– God has a plan for your life. He will not give up on you, don’t give up on yourself!
– Moses took matters into his own hands, 40 year in the desert, God redeemed him.
– Look in the Book of Jeremiah:
– Israel is prosperous, but now sinning and worshipping idols, their consequence is 70 years in captivity in Babylon. But God has not given up on them yet!
– read Jeremiah 29:10-11 …You may have delayed it, but God has a plan for your future.
– read Jeremiah 29:12-14 …”IF you look for me with your whole heart!” REPENTANCE!!
– Even while still in the consequences of their sin, God still says, “When you pray, I will listen.”
– Repent of your sins and be restored by God. It may not take away the temporary consequences, but it WILL save you from eternal consequences!
– Isaiah 43:25, “I, I am the one who blots out your transgression for my own sake, and I‘ll remember your sins no more.
– 1 John 1:9, God is faithful and reliable. If we confess our sins, he forgives them and cleanses us from everything we’ve done wrong.
– prayer –