Tuesday 1-31-17, Modesto, California
Today we read Exod 28 – 29 and Acts 7
S = Scripture O = Observation A = Application P = Prayer SOAP for the soul.
S. Acts 7:48-51 The Most High doesn't live in temples made by human hands. As the prophet says, 'Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. Could you ever build me a temple as good as that?' asks the Lord. 'Could you build a dwelling place for me? Didn't I make everything in heaven and earth?' "You stubborn people! You are heathen at heart and deaf to the truth. Must you forever resist the Holy Spirit?...” NLT
O. Deacon Stephen was causing waves among the Jews, performing miracles of healing the sick and preaching Jesus, their Messiah. Now he had been falsely accused: "This man is always speaking against the Temple and against the law of Moses. We have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy the Temple and change the customs Moses handed down to us." Acts 6:13-14 NLT
In his “defense” Stephen covers the entire history of the Israelites from Abraham to Solomon who built the first glorious temple. Then he reminds them how their forefathers murdered their God-sent prophets and now they, like their forefathers, had murdered their “Messiah”.
Stephen says nothing to directly refer to the accusation of the false witnesses, not a word to defend himself… although he points out that their wonderful temple isn’t good enough for God anyway. He does not live in temples made with human hands.
Instead he turned the tables upon them. They are now the accused and God Himself is their Accuser.
A. I think I probably would have quit while I was ahead, but not this Holy Spirit filled, Stephen. He went for the juggler vein… using words like “stubborn, heathen at heart, deaf to the truth, resistant to God’s Holy Spirit, murderers, and disobedient of God’s laws.” And God looked down from heaven and smiled, but He did nothing to save this brave, faithful servant, Stephen. He let him die under a rain of stones. It cost Stephen his life, but another young man was present at the stoning site… a young zealous Jew, probably yelling encouragement to the killers. His name was Saul.
If I had been standing by watching this scene thinking, “This cult has to be silenced”, what might have happened to me as I hear him announce clearly that he sees Jesus, standing by the throne of God… and then prays for his murderers in his dying breath. Certainly, that scene was never erased from Saul’s (Paul’s) memory. He later calls himself a murderer.
P. Oh! Lord Jesus, burn the scene of Your cross on my heart until I am filled with fervor to pour out my life for You, just as the Apostle Paul later did. Amen.