Acts 7

Read Acts 7.

At the conclusion of Acts 6, Stephen had been seized and brought before the council on charges supported by false witnesses. The charge? That Stephen was obsessed with destroying the law and the temple and everything that had been handed down from Moses. So we can only imagine the surprise of the council when–given the opportunity to answer his accusers–Stephen offers a stirring account of the history of Israel, beautifully recounting the promises and faithfulness of God. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses–they all trusted the promises of God. And God kept his promises. “So far, so good,” we might think. Stephen doesn’t seem to be anti-Moses at all.

But then things take a turn. Stephen wasn’t anti-Moses, but his answer to the charges was even more scandalous. According to Stephen, his hearers were anti-Moses:

[51] “You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you. [52] Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered, [53] you who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it.”

Acts 7:51-53, ESV

Stephen’s careful accounting of Israel’s history may have at first been a pleasant stroll down memory lane, but now, it was a jarring indictment. Resisting the Holy Spirit and harming–rather than hearing–God’s prophets was a pattern. And if we’re honest, it still is. It can be hard for us to entertain the possibility that we’re the ones misunderstanding, that we’re the ones misbehaving, that we’re the ones failing to walk with the Spirit. It’s easy to read Acts 7 and place myself in Stephen’s shoes, but where am I more like the crowd–stiff-necked and hard-hearted? Where am I more like Saul–silently watching while others are in danger? I pray today that we find ourselves full of the Holy Spirit instead of resisting the Holy Spirit.

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