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From Strength to Strength: Leadership & Religion

Acts 6

  • Notice Luke switches gears here
    • Number of disciples increasing instead of numbers
      • Just couldn’t keep count?
      • Or following David’s mistaken example of numbering the Israelites?
  • Everything at this point was going through the Apostles
    • Leader Dependent
    • Leader Independent
    • Leader Interdependent
  • Qualifications for Leadership in God’s eyes
    • Known to be full of the Spirit and Wisdom
      • Interesting – because these are qualities that…
        • Any disciple can grow in
        • No disciple can have too much of
  • Number of priest became obedient to the faith
    • God provides what His congregation needs in order to grow
      • Kevin Cushing
      • Arbry
      • Ross Hinshaw

Stephen’s comparison of Moses to Israel’s History

  • Moses was rejected
  • Then came back as… Acts 7:35-36 “this one God sent as a ruler and a redeemer by means of the angel who appeared to him in the bush. This man led them out and performed wonders and signs in the land of Egypt, at the Red Sea, and in the desert for 40 years.”

This chapter records the longest single speech in the Book of Acts as well as the turning point in Israel’s spiritual history.

  • It records the nation’s third important murder (John the Baptist, Christ, and now Stephen) and their final rejection of the message of salvation.
  • In his address, Stephen reviewed the history of Israel and pointed out that the nation always rejected God’s chosen leaders when they first appeared, but received them the second time.
    • Both Moses and Joseph were examples of this pattern (7:13 and 35).
    • This is the very way Israel treated Christ: He was presented to the nation on earth by John the Baptist and the apostles, but it refused Him; but Israel will receive Christ when He appears the second time.

I.     God’s Covenant with Abraham (7:1–8)

The covenant with Abraham is recorded in Genesis 13:14–18, as well as in Genesis 15 and 17.

  • It included the ownership by Abraham’s seed of the land of promise, and the promise of a multiplied seed in the years to come.
    • The seal of this covenant was circumcision.
    • This covenant with Abraham was the foundation of the Jewish nation.
  • God promised the Jews a land and a kingdom; because of their disobedience, they lost possession of the land and failed to receive their kingdom.
  • This covenant with Abraham still stands, however, and will be fulfilled when Christ returns to set up His kingdom on earth.

II.     Israel’s Rejection of Joseph (7:9–16)

Joseph bears a wonderful resemblance to Christ in many ways:

(1) he was beloved of his father (Gen. 37:3; Matt. 3:17);

(2) he was hated by his brethren (Gen. 37: 4–8; John 15:25);

(3) he was envied by his brethren (Gen. 37:11; Mark 15:10);

(4) he was sold for the price of a slave (Gen. 37:28; Matt. 26:15);

(5) he was humbled as a servant (Gen. 39:1ff; Phil. 2:5ff);

(6) he was falsely accused (Gen. 39:16–18; Matt. 26:59–60);

(7) he was exalted to honor (Gen. 41:14ff; Phil. 2:9–10);

(8) he was not recognized by his brethren the first time (Gen. 42:8; Acts 3:17);

(9) he revealed himself to them the second time (Gen. 45:1ff; Acts 7:13; Zech. 12:10); (10) while rejected by his brethren, he took a Gentile bride (Gen. 41:45; Acts 15:6–18).

Stephen’s argument here is that the Jews had treated Christ the way the patriarchs treated Joseph, but he did not bring this accusation out until the end.

  • Messiah-ben-Joseph
    • Just as Joseph suffered to save his people, so Christ suffered to save Israel and all humankind; yet the Jews did not receive Him.

III.     Israel’s Rejection of Moses (7:7–41)

Like Joseph, Moses was strikingly similar to Christ:

(1) he was persecuted and almost slain when a child (Ex. 1:22 and 4:19; Matt. 2:13–20); (2) he refused the world that he might save his people (Heb. 11:24–26; Matt. 4:8–10; 2 Cor. 8:9);

(3) he was rejected the first time he tried to help Israel (Ex. 2:11–14; Isa. 53:3);

(4) he became a shepherd (Ex. 3:1; John. 10);

(5) he took a Gentile bride during his rejection (Ex. 2:21);

(6) he was received by his brethren the second time (Ex. 4:29–31; Acts 7:5);

(7) he delivered the people from bondage through the blood of the lamb (Ex. 12; 1 Peter 2:24).

  • Moses was a prophet (Deut. 18:15–19; Acts 3:22),
  • a priest (Ps. 99:6),
  • and a king (Deut. 33:4–5).

Though Israel had a godly leader and God Himself in their presence (v. 38), they still rebelled and rejected God’s will! “In their hearts they turned back again to Egypt!” (v. 39) They turned to idolatry, and God gave them up. Had they not done the same thing while Christ was with them on earth? Moses performed miracles, met their needs in the wilderness, and gave them the Word of God; Christ also had performed mighty works, fed the people, and had given them God’s Word—yet they turned away!

 

IV.     Israel’s Rejection of the Prophets (7:42–50)

In these verses Stephen refers to Amos 5:25–27 and Isa. 66:1–2.

  • The Jews thought that because they had their temple, they were safe from harm, and God had to bless them.
  • The prophets all warned them that the temple would not assure them of blessing if their hearts were not right.

How can God, who fills all heaven and earth, be confined to a temple made with hands?

  • Israel’s religious life was a formality; they had the outward forms of religion but their hearts were not right with God.
  • They rejected the voice of the prophets, even persecuting and killing them (see Matt. 23:29–39);
  • and when The Prophet (Christ) appeared (v. 37), they rejected His Words and crucified Him!

 

V.     Israel’s Judgment Sealed (7:51–60)

Israel had committed two murders and was about to commit the third.

  • In allowing John the Baptist to be slain, they rejected the Father who had sent John to prepare the way for Christ.
  • When they crucified Christ, they rejected the Son.
  • Now, in slaying Stephen, they were committing the final “unpardonable sin” (Matt. 12:31–32) of resisting the Holy Spirit.
    • God would have forgiven the nation of its treatment of His Son, but He could not forgive the Jews once they resisted the Spirit who witnessed so mightily to His Son.
    • God had given every evidence to the nation that Christ was their Messiah, but they preferred to harden their necks and hearts (7:51). How like sinners today!

[1]


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[1]Wiersbe, Warren W. Wiersbe's Expository Outlines on the New Testament, Page 292. Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1997, c1992.

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