Today's Lectionary Text
Acts 7:17-29But as the time drew near for the fulfillment of the promise that God had made to Abraham, our people in Egypt increased and multiplied until another king who had not known Joseph ruled over Egypt. He dealt craftily with our race and forced our ancestors to abandon their infants so that they would die. At this time Moses was born, and he was beautiful before God. For three months he was brought up in his father’s house; and when he was abandoned, Pharaoh’s daughter adopted him and brought him up as her own son. So Moses was instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians and was powerful in his words and deeds.
When he was forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his relatives, the Israelites. When he saw one of them being wronged, he defended the oppressed man and avenged him by striking down the Egyptian. He supposed that his kinsfolk would understand that God through him was rescuing them, but they did not understand. The next day he came to some of them as they were quarreling and tried to reconcile them, saying, ‘Men, you are brothers; why do you wrong each other?’ But the man who was wronging his neighbor pushed Moses aside, saying, ‘Who made you a ruler and a judge over us? Do you want to kill me as you killed the Egyptian yesterday?’ When he heard this, Moses fled and became a resident alien in the land of Midian. There he became the father of two sons.
God loves you. God keeps promises. God will give us what we need.
Those are three things that we know from scripture, but they also are concepts that we all, at times, can forget as we struggle with whatever hurdles we encounter in life.
In today’s scripture, Stephen is facing the biggest of hurdles. He’s on trial for his life in front of the Council in Jerusalem. His crime: Proclaiming Christ.
Stephen uses his opportunity in front of the Jewish leadership to give his audience a history lesson. By retelling the story of Moses – in this passage the beginning of the prophet’s narrative – Stephen reminds the leaders of how the Hebrew people became enslaved under harsh treatment. He reminds them of how a person different from them – the pharaoh’s daughter – saved the man who would help free God’s chosen people.
Stephen then makes a key point by stating the ancient Israelites didn’t understand that they were being rescued. Stephen was trying to make his audience aware that they, in their day and age, were not understanding that God once again was showing his love by keeping a promise. He was giving them a much-needed opportunity to be rescued from sin and death – through Jesus.
Stephen’s powerful monologue ends later in chapter 7 with an account of him being stoned to death, making Stephen the first recorded martyr in our scriptures. But it’s appropriate that the story ends with a brief aside that “… Saul approved of their killing him.”
That Saul later would be renamed Paul, yet another person God uses to show that our Creator loves us, keeps promises and through Paul’s letters, that God still gives us what we need to be drawn closer to Him.
– Todd Seifert, director of communications
Prayer for Reflection
Gracious God, thank you for continually showing us that you love us, that you keep your promises to save us and that you will keep giving us what we need. Help us to remember that we can always rely on you, regardless of our circumstances. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
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