Faithlife Sermons

Thank God For Persecution part 2

Notes & Transcripts | Handout

Introduction

“Greek philosopher Anaximenes accompanied Alexander the Great on his expedition against the Persians, in the course of which Alexander's forces captured Lampsacus, the birthplace of Anaximenes. Anxious to save his native city from destruction, Anaximenes sought an audience with the king. Alexander anticipated his plea: ‘I swear by the Styx I will not grant your request,’ he said. ‘My Lord,’ calmly replied Anaximenes, ‘I merely wanted to ask you to destroy Lampsacus.’ And so he saved his native city.”Today in the Word, May 6, 1993. http://www.sermonillustrations.com/a-z/a/answers.htm
And so he saved his native city.” Words are important. What we say, what we don’t say, how we say it, when we say it, all these things effect the power and force of our words.
Words are powerful. Alexander’s hasty swear ensured that Anaximenes could protect his city. Yet Anaximenes quick thinking and careful words are what actually saved Lampsacus. What we say, what we don’t say, how we say it, when we say it, where we say it; all these things can effect the power and force of our words. As believers, we are called by God to use our words and speech to impact people with the gospel of Jesus Christ. We are called to “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers” ().
Stephen is given an opportunity to speak. He chooses his words carefully and yet He does not choose careful words. He is not politically correct. He is not wishy-washy. He does not speak to please men. Stephen looks around and sees a crowd. He is asked a question, and he views this as an opportunity to preach the Gospel! Stephen’s message (or speech) contains an introduction (v. 2), three points (1 - vv. 2-16; 2 - vv. 17-43; 3 - vv. 44-50), and a conclusion (vv. 51-53). Must be a perfect sermon template right? Lol. Well, I will break that template today.
An introduction (v. 2), three points (1 - vv. 2-16; 2 - vv. 17-43; 3 - vv. 44-50), and a conclusion (vv. 51-53). Must be a perfect sermon template right? Lol.
An introduction (v. 2), three points (1 - vv. 2-16; 2 - vv. 17-43; 3 - vv. 44-50), and a conclusion (vv. 51-53). Must be a perfect sermon template right? Lol.
He has been accused of blasphemy against God and Moses. The claim was made that he was teaching how Jesus would destroy the temple and the law. This is Stephen’s answer. He answers by giving them an exposition of history.
An introduction, three points, and a conclusion. Must be a perfect sermon template right? Lol.
3 primary accusations against Stephen.
1 – Blasphemy against God 6:11. The accusation of blasphemy against God is primarily dealt with in the first 16 vv. But it is indirectly dealt with in the whole sermon. There are 47 mentions of God either directly or indirectly in the message.
2 – Blasphemy against Moses 6:11. Included in this is the blasphemy of the law (v. 13), and changing the customs (v. 14).
3 – Blasphemy against the temple 6:13. Included in this is the destruction of the temple (v. 14).
Stephen answers these accusations as he preaches.
It seems best to assume that this is a reiteration of what Stephen has been preaching.
We learn three lessons from Stephen’s message.
1 – Answer those who ask.
(have an answer)
2 – Know the Word.
(Stephen runs them from Genesis to his day!)
3 – Be bold.
(if they asked, answer)
Stephen’s Message Incites The Persecution 7:1-53
As we learn these lessons we will be equipped to turn opposition into an opportunity to preach the gospel.
This section teaches us that Stephen’s Message Incites The Persecution 7:1-53.
Have you ever read through this and thought, Why does Stephen start talking about Abraham, the patriarchs, and Moses? I have. This week I believe I discovered the answer and the key is right here in v. 1. Stephen is answering…

The High Priest’s Question v. 1

This is the key to understanding Stephen’s message. The “things” the high priest is asking about are found in the verses we looked at last week. There are three primary accusations that have been made against Stephen.
3 primary accusations against Stephen.
1 – Blasphemy against God in 6:11. The accusation of blasphemy against God is primarily dealt with in the first 16 verses. But it is indirectly dealt with in the whole sermon. There are 47 mentions of God either directly or indirectly in the message.
2 – Blasphemy against Moses also in 6:11. Included in this is the blasphemy of the law (v. 13), and changing the customs (v. 14).
3 – Blasphemy against the temple in 6:13. Included in this is the destruction of the temple (v. 14).
Stephen answers these accusations as he preaches. It seems best to assume that this is a reiteration of what Stephen has been preaching. He has been accused of blasphemy against God and Moses. The claim was made that he was teaching how Jesus would destroy the temple and the law. This is Stephen’s answer. He answers by giving them an exposition of history. This exposition begins with…
It seems best to assume that this is a reiteration of what Stephen has been preaching.
He has been accused of blasphemy against God and Moses. The claim was made that he was teaching how Jesus would destroy the temple and the law. This is Stephen’s answer. He answers by giving them an exposition of history.
7:1-2 – Crowd, question asked. Preach the Gospel!

1. God’s Work Through The Patriarchs vv. 2-16

The beginning of v. 2 has Stephen’s introduction. “Brethren and fathers, listen.” That’s it! He already has them hooked because of what has gone on. This section seems to be answering the accusation of blasphemy against God. These verses are very theocentric. God moved Abraham, God didn’t give the inheritance, God prophesied their captivity, God gave the covenant and circumcision, and God was with Joseph. With these references to God in the passage, Stephen clearly refutes the charges. He first reminds his audience of…
vv. 2-16 seem to be answering the accusation of blasphemy against God. These verses are very theocentric. God moved Abraham, God didn’t give inheritance, God prophesied their captivity, God gave the covenant and circumcision. God was with Joseph.

a. God’s faithfulness to Abraham vv. 2-8

Stephen breaks the story of Abraham down into two sections. The first section is…

i. Abraham’s call vv. 2-5a

Stephen begins refuting the charges immediately by referring to “the God of glory” in v. 2. If someone is guilty of blaspheming God, this is not a statement they would make! Stephen’s very first sentence exalts, magnifies, and honors God! He is the God of glory! To Him all glory belongs by right of possession. It is His and no one else’s. This God of glory appeared to Abraham and called him to step out by faith. Abraham first had to exercise belief that this was God talking to Him. Then in v. 3 he had to exercise faith to travel as God had commanded! Abraham is called to leave everything behind and follow the Lord, and in vv. 4-5a, He does! He followed God’s path, leaving Mesopotamia and living in Haran before moving to the land now known as Israel. By faith Abraham follows God’s plan even though he has no inheritance in the land! It has been awhile since we talked about Abraham but I trust that we all remember that He was a man of faith. Though he made His mistakes, he always got back up and pursued the Lord. I pray that is how each of us will behave as well. That brings us to the second section of Abraham’s story as told by Stephen.
a. Faith to trust v. 2
V. 2 The God of glory!
b. Faith to travel v. 3
2. The call to follow vv. 4-5a
a. Follow God’s path v. 4
b. Follow God’s plan v. 5a

ii. Abraham’s covenant vv. 5b-8

Stephen first deals with the covenant land in the end of v. 5. God promised to give the land to Abraham when he didn’t have any of it and to give it to his descendants when he didn’t have any! It takes faith to believe that God will keep His promises! In addition to the land Stephen deals with the covenant descendants in vv. 6-7. It was prophesied that they would be captives for 400 years but after that, God would judge the nation that held them captive and bring them out to serve Him in the land. The sign of the covenant given in was circumcision which Stephen notes in v. 8. Abraham had Isaac and circumcised him according to the covenant and Isaac had Jacob and Jacob had the twelve patriarchs. God was faithful and Abraham was faithful. Stephen next details…
2. Covenant descendants vv. 6-7
Stephen next details…
b. Descendants delivered v. 7
3. Covenant sign v. 8

b. God’s faithfulness to Joseph and Jacob vv. 9-16

Stephen describes three ways God demonstrated His faithfulness in the lives of Joseph and Jacob. First we find God…

i. Faithful in deliverance vv. 9-10

I love the simplicity of v. 9. “God was with him.Joseph is delivered by God’s presence. The jealousy of Joseph's brothers is thwarted by the faithfulness of God! In fact, as the account describes, God used their Jealousy to put Joseph in position to deliver Israel! God uses Pharaoh’s favor for Joseph to deliver him and put him in a position of power in v. 10. God can and does use even the most impossible situations for His glory and our good! After demonstrating His faithfulness in delivering Joseph we find Him…
2. Delivered by Pharaoh’s partiality v. 10

ii. Faithful in departing vv. 11-14

Famine comes into the land but because of Joseph’s position there is food in Egypt. This gives Jacob and family the cause to depart in vv. 11-12. Much could be said about Joseph’s time in Egypt, about his position, imprisonment, and plan to defeat the famine. But Stephen summed all that up in v. 9 with the phrase “God was with him.” The end result is that Jacob sends his sons to get food from Egypt. Through this Jacob is given the call to depart in vv. 13-14. Joseph is revealed to his brothers the second time they go to Egypt. They all meet Pharoah and Joseph calls Jacob to join him in Egypt. This is another difficult task. To leave the promised land and travel to Egypt took a massive step of faith for Jacob! The family is restored and preserved through the faithfulness of God in leading them out of the promised land and into Egypt. But this also brings about the enslavement that had been prophesied. Stephen is leading up to Moses and his defense against that accusation of blasphemy. But first he displays how God is…
b. Food v. 12
2. The call to depart vv. 13-14
a.
b. Restoration v. 14

iii. Faithful in death vv. 15-16

In v. 15 Jacob travels to Egypt and dies. However, according to v. 16, the bodies of the patriarchs were carried back to Egypt for burial! Though Genesis only records this trip for Jacob, it appears that this practice was carried out for all of his sons as well. Exodus records the carrying of Joseph’s bones with the Israelites as they leave Egypt. They are all buried in the same place.
2. Departure v. 16
What has Stephen done here? He has magnified the reality of God’s faithfulness to Israel demonstrating his understanding of who God is and How God has worked on the nation’s behalf! God is faithful to His people from birth to death! He calls us to walk by faith and faithfully sustains us every step of the way! Stephen is not blaspheming God! He is passionate about who God is and what He has done. Now to answer the second accusation of blaspheming Moses. Stephen continues his history lesson by describing…

2. God’s Work Through Moses vv. 17-43

Having answered the accusation of blasphemy against God, Stephen moves on. This section answers the accusation of blasphemy against Moses as well as the changing of the law and customs. This is the longest of the three sections as Stephen must demonstrate his respect for Moses and obedience to the law while simultaneously giving evidence of Israel’s rejection of God and the law. Through it all Stephen continues to exalt the Lord. Stephen tackles this is three parts. The first is God’s…

a. Equipping Moses vv. 17-29

Moses is equipped by God in two ways. First he is…

i. Equipped in childhood vv. 17-22

In describing Moses’ childhood Stephen presents the situation of Israel in vv. 17-19. As the time approach for God’s promised deliverance of from Egypt, the nation is growing and multiplying in Egypt. However, A pharaoh comes to power who didn’t know Joseph and so he oppressed them and persecuted them forcing them to kill their own children. This is the setting into which Moses is born. God’s faithfulness is demonstrated as Stephen describes Moses’ childhood education in vv. 20-22. At his birth, Moses is described as well pleasing to God. His family kept him until three months old and through a series of events he ends up being adopted by Pharaoh’s daughter and trained in the court of Egypt. The result of this training is that Moses is mighty in words and deed. God is sovereignly at work in Moses’ life to equip him to lead Israel out of Egypt! Having been equipped in childhood, he is also…
a. Growing v. 17
b. Forgotten v. 18
c. Oppressed v. 19
2. Childhood education vv. 20-22
a. Pleasing v. 20
b. Adopted v. 21
c. Trained v. 22

ii. Equipped in circumstances vv. 23-29

Moses is equipped and prepared through some difficult circumstances. The first is how both he and the nation of Israel are failing to understand what God is doing. This is seen in vv. 23-25. Moses fails to understand God’s timing. He is 40, he visits his brethren and ends up killing an Egyptian in defense of an Israelite. This was neither God’s method, nor God’s timing! Moses took matters into his own hands because he thought the timing was right and that Israel would understand. V. 25 tells us bluntly that they didn’t understand. In vv. 26-29 this leads to Moses’ fleeing as his sin of murder is uncovered. He sees some Israelite fighting with each other and questions them only to have what he had done to the Egyptian revealed. As a result, Moses’ flees to Midian where he has two sons. Though this could be looked at as a failure, the rest of the story makes it clear that God is preparing Moses! These trials and difficulties are the tools used by God to make Moses the leader he needs to be! After His equipping of Moses we find God…
1. Failing to understand vv. 23-25
b. Understanding God’s deliverance v. 25
2. Fleeing sin uncovered vv. 26-29
a. Uncovered by fighting v. 26
b. Uncovered by flaunting vv. 27-29
c. Uncovered by fleeing v. 29

b. Employing Moses vv. 30-36

Spending 40 years in Midian, Moses is called to deliver his people by God appearing to him and speaking through the burning bush. The bush gets Moses attention and draws him in and there the Lord speaks to him. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob speaks to Moses from this burning bush! I love Moses’ response in v. 32. “Moses trembled and dared not look.” He is commanded to take off his shoes because where God is, that is holy ground. This is the God we serve today! The God of faithful men, the God of power, a holy God. How do we come into His presence? We come with trembling and reverence, yet through the blood of Christ we also come with boldness! In v. 34 we learn that God saw the oppression of His people, He heard their groaning, and He came to deliver. Yet notice God’s method of deliverance. He is sending Moses. I confess to you that I cannot wrap my head around the reality that God uses people like us to accomplish His purposes! Stephen reminds these religious leaders of something very significant. This Moses they accuse him of blaspheming? He’s the one rejected by Israel in the wilderness! God sent Moses to be ruler and deliverer, yet the people rebelled against him and continually rejected him! With God’s power Moses brought them out, he performed signs and wonders in Egypt, at the Red Sea, and in the wilderness.
1. A burning bush vv. 30-31
a. The angel of the Lord v. 30
b. The voice of the Lord v. 31
2. A Holy God vv. 32-33
a. God of our Fathers v. 32
b. Holy ground v. 33
ii. Employed to deliver vv. 34-36
1. Delivered from oppression vv. 34-35
this Moses you say I blaspheme? He’s the one our father’s rejected!
2. Delivered from unbelief v. 36
What is Stephen doing here? He is reminding them that Moses’ ministry wasn’t confined to giving them the law. He first delivered them from bondage. Jesus came to deliver from bondage! He is reminding them of Israel’s continual hard heartedness and rejection. Which leads him into his final point about Moses.

c. Enduring rejection vv. 37-43

Having already mentioned the rejection of Moses by Israel, Stephen now turns to how this rejection ultimately leads them to reject God Himself. There are three parts to this rejection. First we have the…

i. Rejection predicted v. 37

Stephen references a prophecy by Moses about the Messiah. It isn’t until this point that Stephen gets to Christ. He has been setting the stage. They will listen to the prophet when they didn’t listen to Moses. That is the implication Moses is giving. They have rejected Moses but a prophet is coming whom they will finally hear! But not until His second coming. Having been predicted we next have…
They will listen to the prophet when they didn’t listen to Moses.

ii. Rejection performed vv. 38-41

The men Stephen is confronting have championed the law but their traditions have broken it. Stephen is reminding them of how their ancestors promised to obey the Law but ultimately rejected it. They reject the law in vv. 38-39a. Moses received the oracles of God to give to Israel. He received them from God Himself! Yet the fathers rejected those oracles and would not obey them. Their rejection of the law led ultimately to a rejection of the lawgiver. In vv. 39b-41 we see them first turning their hearts, and then their worship, away from God. This is how rejection of God plays out. When our hearts are turned from the Lord it will not be long until our actions follow. They ask Aaron to make them a god. They claim they don’t know what happened to Moses even though they can see indication of God’s presence with him on Mount Sinai! They willingly and deliberately turn to the worship of a false idol! Offering sacrifices and rejoicing in it. And so, with the rejection predicted and performed, we find their…

iii. Rejection punished vv. 42-43

a. The Law given v. 38a
b. The Law rejected vv. 38b-39a
2. Rejecting the Lawgiver vv. 39b-41
a. Turned hearts vv. 39b-40
b. Turned worship v. 41
iii. Rejection punished vv. 42-43
When we relentlessly pursue sin, there may come a moment where God turns us over and lets the full consequences rain down. That is what He does with Israel here. God gives them up to the worship of these false idols. They sacrifice animals to false gods and ultimately God gives them up to Babylonian captivity. When we pursue sin we find only bondage.
Stephen has been accused of blaspheming Moses, the law, and the customs. What he is demonstrating here is that true blasphemy starts in the heart! It starts with an unwillingness to obey the Lord and His commands! Stephen is not a blasphemer. He knows the history of Moses. He knows the history of the law! He knows that true worship is heart worship, not lip service. Stephen is saying, “look, this is what I have been teaching. There is no blasphemy of Moses here.” And so he moves to the last accusation, that of destroying the temple. To answer this accusation Stephen presents the reality of…
2. Given to Babylon v. 43

3. God’s True Dwelling vv. 44-50

This is Stephen’s answer to the accusation about the destruction of the temple. He is going to remind them of where God dwells. He first reminds them of God’s…

a. Historical dwelling vv. 44-47

Through God given direction Moses had the tabernacle built and it was with the nation all the years in the wilderness. The tabernacle was then brought into the land with Joshua and remained until the time of David. David had a desire to build a house for God but was denied that desire. Instead, David collected the materials and the temple was built by Solomon. This is history that everyone in Israel knew. Stephen brings it up to make his larger point. Any dwelling that men can build for God is an…
ii. God Given desire vv. 46-47
1. The desire of David v. 46
2. The building of Solomon v. 47

b. Inadequate dwelling vv. 48-50

The houses built for God by men are inadequate because of God’s who He is. He is the Most High! Nothing can contain Him! Solomon noted this when he was dedicating the temple. (S).
i. Because of God’s person v. 48
1 Kings 8:27 NKJV
“But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain You. How much less this temple which I have built!
We serve the God of heaven and earth and He cannot be contained in buildings! As Stephen continues he quotes emphasizing that man made dwellings are inadequate for God because of His presence. The heavens are only like a throne for God! Our earth, our entire world, is simply like His footstool! There is no house that can be build for Him. There is no place we can make for Him to rest! The one who fills heaven and earth cannot be contained! We think we are so important, but compared to the power and majesty of God, our world is a mere speck! The dwellings we build for God are also inadequate because of His power. We see this in v. 50. He made everything. He made the heavens, He made the earth. He spoke all things into existence! How foolish it is to think that a building could be God’s dwelling! Stephen’s point is that the temple is not as important as the God who it was made for! Israel has become so consumed with the temple that they have forgotten God!
Stephen has answered all the accusations. He has demonstrated that He is a follower of God, obedient to the Law, and not out to destroy the temple. He could stop here. But this is not enough. These men need to be confronted with the reality of who Jesus is and what they have done through their rejection and crucifixion of Him! They need to face…
iii. Because of God’s power v. 50
Stephen has answered all the accusations. He has demonstrated that He is a follower of God, obedient to the Law, and not out to destroy the temple. He could stop here. But this is not enough. These men need to be confronted with the reality of who Jesus is and what they have done through their rejection and crucifixion of Him! They need to face…

4. God’s Indictment Of Israel vv. 51-53

This is a powerful and bold indictment. The purpose here is to cut through the lies these men have been telling themselves. They have been believing that they are in the right. That they are religious and holy and above reproach. What Stephen says here unmasks their hypocrisy. Though the power of the Holy Spirit he levels three accusations against them. The first accusation is of…

a. Resisting the Holy Spirit v. 51

When he calls them uncircumcised he is accusing them of being out of conformity with the covenant. Having just mentioned circumcision as the sign of the covenant in v. 8 this accusation is especially hard hitting. Notice that he doesn’t accuse them of being out of conformity in action. Actions are not their problem! They conform outwardly. They look good! If you were looking at a lineup of spiritual men these are the guys you would pick every time! But in their hearts and ears, they have abandoned the covenant of God. They have turned their backs on the God of glory. Because they have abandoned God in their hearts, they resist the Holy Spirit. “Resist” is the Greek word ἀντιπίπτω (antipiptō) meaning oppose; resist. To counteract, to oppose and (try to) mitigate the effects of something by contrary actions.
Resist – ἀντιπίπτω (antipiptō)
Stephen is accusing them of actively working against the Holy Spirit. “Stephen! This isn’t the kind of thing you say to the spiritually elite!” Don’t you know where this could take you? There comes a moment when truth needs to be spoken regardless of the audience. These men are standing against the Holy Spirit and have become just like their fathers. Stephen is saying that these men, who accused him of blasphemy, are just like those who rejected Moses, the Law, and the Lord God Almighty! Beloved, this is boldness. And he isn’t finished yet. The second accusation is of…
The second accusation is of…

b. Refusing the prophets v. 52a

This is simply a matter of historical record. The nation of Israel persecuted virtually every prophet they ever had! “Persecute” is the Greek word διώκω (diōkō) meaning pursue. To persecute (for beliefs). To subject to systematic harassment and attack.
Persecute – διώκω (diōkō)
All through the major and minor prophets we find them being persecuted, harassed, and killed. This is how they have resisted the prophets. I believe that in Stephen’s mind is the more recent death of John the Baptist. This attitude that their father’s displayed is still alive and well in them. Like their fathers they refuse to listen to the prophets. Refuse to hear their words. Refuse to submit to the Holy Spirit. Do we? The third accusation is of…
The third accusation is of…

c. Rejecting the gifts vv. 52b-53

The first gift Stephen accuses them of rejecting is that of Jesus the Christ. That is who he is talking about in the end of v. 52. The prophets who foretold the coming of the Just One were killed! Who is the Just One? Well, it’s the same one they betrayed and murdered. Jesus is the only one who can claim to be just or righteous. He is the one they had killed. This means that Jesus is the one the prophets foretold! He is the one Moses was talking about back in v. 37! Jesus is the prophet like Moses and they killed Him! They rejected their Messiah! And in v. 53 Stephen accuses them of rejecting the law. The law was given to Moses by God and, in some way, the angels. Yet Israel as a whole and these men in particular have not kept it. “Kept” is the Greek word φυλάσσω (phylassō) meaning follow; watch; guard; observe. To conform one’s action or practice to.
i. Rejecting the Christ v. 52b
Kept – φυλάσσω (phylassō)
ii. Rejecting the law v. 53
What Stephen is saying is that these men have failed to conform their lives to the Law. Oh they look like they have outwardly, but as he already said, they have refused to conform their hearts. Stephen has been accused of some serious things. He has answered those accusations and given a scathing indictment against these religious leaders who conform outwardly, but inwardly reject God and His Word. How will the council respond? We’ll talk about that next time.

Conclusion

At the beginning of the message I mentioned that we learn three lessons from Stephen. I want to review those a little bit and challenge us to make some application from Stephen’s example. I also want us to consider whether we are more like Stephen, or like the religious leaders here. The first lesson was to…
3 lessons.
1 – Answer those who ask.
The key here is to have an answer. Stephen is asked a question by the High priest, and he answers! says (S).
1 Peter 3:15 NKJV
But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;
When this verse is mentioned, it is often the “be ready” phrase that is emphasized. However, being ready without ever speaking is pointless. The whole goal here is not only to be ready, but to give the defense! To give the answer! That is what Stephen does here. He is ready, filled with the Spirit, faith, and grace, and being ready, He answers. I want to challenge us to not only be ready, but to answer. The second lesson is to…
2 – Know the Word.
Stephen takes them from Genesis to his day! He does it succinctly, clearly, and with a specific goal in mind. When we are not in the Word on a daily basis and at church whenever possible, we are crippling ourselves. Back in the days of riding horses there was a method of keeping a horse from running away when camping out. This method is called a hobble (S). When we ignore the Word, we hobble ourselves. We make ourselves unusable! We cannot answer those who ask if we do not know the answer! Answer those who ask. Know the Word. The third lesson is to…
3 – Be bold.
Don’t simply say what you think they want to hear. Don’t water down the message to make it easier! If they asked, answer! Take full advantage of the opportunities God gives. There is balance needed here. Because we also don’t want to answer when they don’t ask. We need to be able to discern the difference between boldness and offensiveness. Be bold, but be loving.
The final thing I want to challenge us with is this,
Are we guilty of trying to look good on the outside, while refusing to conform our hearts to Christ?
I pray that we would answer those who ask by speaking the Word of God in boldness and love.
#375 “Jesus Calls Us”
Acts 7:1-53
Acts 7:1–53 NKJV
Then the high priest said, “Are these things so?” And he said, “Brethren and fathers, listen: The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Haran, and said to him, ‘Get out of your country and from your relatives, and come to a land that I will show you.’ Then he came out of the land of the Chaldeans and dwelt in Haran. And from there, when his father was dead, He moved him to this land in which you now dwell. And God gave him no inheritance in it, not even enough to set his foot on. But even when Abraham had no child, He promised to give it to him for a possession, and to his descendants after him. But God spoke in this way: that his descendants would dwell in a foreign land, and that they would bring them into bondage and oppress them four hundred years. ‘And the nation to whom they will be in bondage I will judge,’ said God, ‘and after that they shall come out and serve Me in this place.’ Then He gave him the covenant of circumcision; and so Abraham begot Isaac and circumcised him on the eighth day; and Isaac begot Jacob, and Jacob begot the twelve patriarchs. “And the patriarchs, becoming envious, sold Joseph into Egypt. But God was with him and delivered him out of all his troubles, and gave him favor and wisdom in the presence of Pharaoh, king of Egypt; and he made him governor over Egypt and all his house. Now a famine and great trouble came over all the land of Egypt and Canaan, and our fathers found no sustenance. But when Jacob heard that there was grain in Egypt, he sent out our fathers first. And the second time Joseph was made known to his brothers, and Joseph’s family became known to the Pharaoh. Then Joseph sent and called his father Jacob and all his relatives to him, seventy-five people. So Jacob went down to Egypt; and he died, he and our fathers. And they were carried back to Shechem and laid in the tomb that Abraham bought for a sum of money from the sons of Hamor, the father of Shechem. “But when the time of the promise drew near which God had sworn to Abraham, the people grew and multiplied in Egypt till another king arose who did not know Joseph. This man dealt treacherously with our people, and oppressed our forefathers, making them expose their babies, so that they might not live. At this time Moses was born, and was well pleasing to God; and he was brought up in his father’s house for three months. But when he was set out, Pharaoh’s daughter took him away and brought him up as her own son. And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and deeds. “Now when he was forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brethren, the children of Israel. And seeing one of them suffer wrong, he defended and avenged him who was oppressed, and struck down the Egyptian. For he supposed that his brethren would have understood that God would deliver them by his hand, but they did not understand. And the next day he appeared to two of them as they were fighting, and tried to reconcile them, saying, ‘Men, you are brethren; why do you wrong one another?’ But he who did his neighbor wrong pushed him away, saying, ‘Who made you a ruler and a judge over us? Do you want to kill me as you did the Egyptian yesterday?’ Then, at this saying, Moses fled and became a dweller in the land of Midian, where he had two sons. “And when forty years had passed, an Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire in a bush, in the wilderness of Mount Sinai. When Moses saw it, he marveled at the sight; and as he drew near to observe, the voice of the Lord came to him, saying, ‘I am the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ And Moses trembled and dared not look. ‘Then the Lord said to him, “Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground. I have surely seen the oppression of My people who are in Egypt; I have heard their groaning and have come down to deliver them. And now come, I will send you to Egypt.” ’ “This Moses whom they rejected, saying, ‘Who made you a ruler and a judge?’ is the one God sent to be a ruler and a deliverer by the hand of the Angel who appeared to him in the bush. He brought them out, after he had shown wonders and signs in the land of Egypt, and in the Red Sea, and in the wilderness forty years. “This is that Moses who said to the children of Israel, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your brethren. Him you shall hear.’ “This is he who was in the congregation in the wilderness with the Angel who spoke to him on Mount Sinai, and with our fathers, the one who received the living oracles to give to us, whom our fathers would not obey, but rejected. And in their hearts they turned back to Egypt, saying to Aaron, ‘Make us gods to go before us; as for this Moses who brought us out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.’ And they made a calf in those days, offered sacrifices to the idol, and rejoiced in the works of their own hands. Then God turned and gave them up to worship the host of heaven, as it is written in the book of the Prophets: ‘Did you offer Me slaughtered animals and sacrifices during forty years in the wilderness, O house of Israel? You also took up the tabernacle of Moloch, And the star of your god Remphan, Images which you made to worship; And I will carry you away beyond Babylon.’ “Our fathers had the tabernacle of witness in the wilderness, as He appointed, instructing Moses to make it according to the pattern that he had seen, which our fathers, having received it in turn, also brought with Joshua into the land possessed by the Gentiles, whom God drove out before the face of our fathers until the days of David, who found favor before God and asked to find a dwelling for the God of Jacob. But Solomon built Him a house. “However, the Most High does not dwell in temples made with hands, as the prophet says: Heaven is My throne, And earth is My footstool. What house will you build for Me? says the Lord, Or what is the place of My rest? Has My hand not made all these things?’ You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who foretold the coming of the Just One, of whom you now have become the betrayers and murderers, who have received the law by the direction of angels and have not kept it.”
Acts 7:48-53
Acts 7:48–53 NKJV
“However, the Most High does not dwell in temples made with hands, as the prophet says: Heaven is My throne, And earth is My footstool. What house will you build for Me? says the Lord, Or what is the place of My rest? Has My hand not made all these things?’ You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who foretold the coming of the Just One, of whom you now have become the betrayers and murderers, who have received the law by the direction of angels and have not kept it.”
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