SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
- Stephen has been seized by the Jewish religious leaders and is questioned. He responds with a history lesson of some important Jewish people from the Old Testament. If you'd like a little more of the story of the people he mentions, here you go:
- Abraham was chosen to leave his people and follow God. He was told his descendents would become a great nation, be enslaved and then freed. Abraham believed God and had a son, Isaac, who had a son named Jacob.
- Jacob had twelve sons, one of whom was Joseph. Joseph made his brothers jealous, so they sold him into slavery. Joseph became a slave in Egypt and eventually worked his way up to being the highest ranking leader under Pharaoh. Then a famine hit, which forced Jacob and his sons to travel to Egypt, where Joseph took care of them.
- Long after Joseph’s death, a new Pharaoh became ruler and enslaved Abraham’s descendents. Moses was saved from infanticide and grew up like an Egyptian. Later, he fled to the desert after committing murder. Years later, God appeared to him and sent him back to Egypt to set his people free from slavery.
- Moses took God’s people out of Egypt as God sent plagues and parted the Red Sea. Moses told the people that “God will send you a prophet like me from your own people,” which was a reference to Jesus. God gave them the Ten Commandments, but people didn’t obey. God had them make a large tent called the Tabernacle to be used for worship.
- After Moses, a guy named Joshua led the people into Israel.
- Years later, David became King of Israel and wanted to make a Temple for God. But God chose David’s son, Solomon, to build said Temple.
SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
- As Stephen gave his speech the religious leaders would have been nodding their heads in approval. But then (starting in verse 51) Stephen announced that they had resisted God by murdering Jesus. The religious leaders and other Jews turned into a mob and killed Stephen by stoning (throwing big, heavy stones at him until he died from the trauma). Stephen knew this would be their reaction, but he would rather die than not follow Jesus. We need to do the same. We need to be committed to follow Jesus wherever it leads.
NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
- Where is Jesus leading you, or what is he leading you to do, that you'd rather not? What has been your excuse for not doing what you know you need to? Commit right now to doing God's will, even if it will be difficult and even if you may not like the consequences.