BOOK BY BOOK BIBLE STUDY
BIBLE STUDY LESSON
For Sunday January 15, 2011
STEPHEN ADDRESSES THE COUNCIL
(Be bold and stay focused on the LORD)
In Acts chapter 7, verses 2-53, Stephen delivers the longest recorded speech in the Book of Acts. It was an Oration that would lead to his death, and caused him to become the first Martyr, after JESUS, in the Christian Church. His speech enraged the Jewish religious leaders, and caused “hatred’s insanity” to rear its ugly head like no other time since the recent Crucifixion of CHRIST. Once again the religious leaders had lost all sense of proportion, and totally forgot about the mercy that they had, so often, preached about in the Temple.
Stephen’s long and eloquent speech refuted the three most basic things that a first century Jew revered most. First of all, he refuted their belief that their land, the “Promised Land”, was the only land good enough to be deemed holy. He reminds them that GOD’s work often took place outside of the “Promised Land” (i.e. Mount Sinai; Exodus 3:5). He also reminded them that, wherever GOD is, it is there, that is considered to be “Holy Ground” (Acts 7:2-36).
Secondly, Stephen refuted their belief in the superior power of Moses, and his hand-delivered laws. He points out to them that even Moses foretold of a coming PROPHET who would be greater than himself, and he told them that, when HE comes, HE should be the one that they listen to (Deuteronomy 18:15). He also reminds them how the Israelites even rejected Moses, and embraced idols, just as they had rejected JESUS, and killed HIM (Acts 7:37-43).
And finally, he refuted their beliefs about the Temple. The Jews saw the Temple as a symbol of GOD’s past workings with Israel, and the only place by which GOD could dwell among them in the present. They could not see GOD dwelling among them in the person of JESUS CHRIST, and neither could they recognize the work and presence of the HOLY SPIRIT among them. As a result, they had no problem, not only killing JESUS, but they had no problem killing any of GOD’s many messengers HE had sent among them over the years, who, were only armed with GOD’s eternal truth.
And so we see that, Stephen had not only knocked down the three greatest pillars of the Jewish Faith, but he had also exalted JESUS by proclaiming HIM to be the MESSIAH. And that is why JESUS, Stephen, all of the Old and New Testament Prophets, and most of the New Testament writers and thinkers who died Martyrs, had to die.
It is the opposition of both the willing, and, the unwitting components of satan, that, Christians, who are true followers of the LORD, must endure. We know that, for JESUS, the only way back to the glory of Heaven was through the Cross, and so it is with those of us who follow HIM. With open eyes, JESUS accepted the circumstances of the Cross, so that, whosoever believes in HIM will not ever perish, but rather, will always have and enjoy, “Everlasting Life”.
(1). “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction”. We, as Christians,
first of all need to come to rest in this thought involving Physics, because it
also applies spiritually, especially when we first begin our Christian walk. The
more you act like a Christian in society, the more opposition satan is going to
send your way. Be ready and stay strong by studying GOD’s word, by prayer,
and, by associating and fellowshipping with other Christians.
(2). We also receive opposition from our own sin nature within, however, by
continuing to fill ourselves with the word of GOD, by prayer, and by allowing
the HOLY SPIRIT to work within us, soon our Christian walk will move from
being a thing of struggle, to being a thing of peace.
Pray constantly and earnestly to GOD for wisdom, strength, and courage in facing the pressures of opposition from the forces of satan that are very busy trying to steal, kill, and destroy the lives of HIS people. Pray also for the boldness of Stephen in your application of the word of GOD in your everyday life.
KEY VERSE: Acts 7:52
DEVOTIONAL PASSAGES: Psalm 23, Psalm 34:17-19, Isaiah 54:10, Isaiah 41:13