Steven was on trial for his spreading lies about the Jews. What his accusers did not get, was that Stephen knew his people, their history and their need for a Savior—While not listed, Chapter 7 is a great summary of the history of the Jews to Christ. What is more, it is a recognition that like the rest of the world, the Jewish nation was simply incapable of following God without the assistance of the Lord himself.
Poor Stephen went there—he called them a stiff necked people—Just as God did when they were roaming the desert. He was trying to help them to understand that sin is in their DNA; and they would always want to be independent of God. Well the truth made the Jewish leaders crazy. They dragged Stephen out of town and stoned him to death—the first public act of Church persecution. There holding coats for them was Saul of Tarsus—HMMM, a little foreshadowing!
In our culture, We are at a crossroads. As a nation, we are at a tipping point where we may soon be a persecuted church. Should that time come, we have to be prepared to stand firm and hold on loosely to what we have. Like Stephen, we may see the world turn before our very eyes. If that is the case, we must be ready to sacrifice everything to worship God and follow him closely. If we are ready, like Stephen, then should persecution come, we can be a part of the final victory of the Church!
Help me, Lord to be ready to trade what I cannot keep to gain what I cannot lose! (Jim Elliot).
God Bless You
51 “You stiff-necked people! Your hearts and ears are still uncircumcised. You are just like your ancestors: You always resist the Holy Spirit! 52 Was there ever a prophet your ancestors did not persecute? They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One. And now you have betrayed and murdered him— 53 you who have received the law that was given through angels but have not obeyed it.”
The Stoning of Stephen
54 When the members of the Sanhedrin heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him. 55 But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56 “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”
57 At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, 58 dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul.
59 While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep.