Stephen was a mighty man of God. He was faithful and never backed down in the face of opposition. He died proclaiming God’s word.
Who was Stephen? Who opposed him? What was Stephen’s message? What was the response to Stephen’s message?
Rebellious nation of Israel (37-53)
“37 This is that Moses, which said unto the children of Israel, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear.38 This is he, that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in the mount Sinai, and with our fathers: who received the lively oracles to give unto us:39 To whom our fathers would not obey, but thrust him from them, and in their hearts turned back again into Egypt,40 Saying unto Aaron, Make us gods to go before us: for as for this Moses, which brought us out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him.41 And they made a calf in those days, and offered sacrifice unto the idol, and rejoiced in the works of their own hands. 42 Then God turned, and gave them up to worship the host of heaven; as it is written in the book of the prophets, O ye house of Israel, have ye offered to me slain beasts and sacrifices by the space of forty years in the wilderness? 43 Yea, ye took up the tabernacle of Moloch, and the star of your god Remphan, figures which ye made to worship them: and I will carry you away beyond Babylon.44 Our fathers had the tabernacle of witness in the wilderness, as he had appointed, speaking unto Moses, that he should make it according to the fashion that he had seen.45 Which also our fathers that came after brought in with Jesus into the possession of the Gentiles, whom God drove out before the face of our fathers, unto the days of David;46 Who found favor before God, and desired to find a tabernacle for the God of Jacob.47 But Solomon built him an house.48 Howbeit the most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands; as saith the prophet,49 Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool: what house will ye build me? saith the Lord: or what is the place of my rest?50 Hath not my hand made all these things?51 Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye.52 Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers:53 Who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it.”
Stephen is making the point that Israel had been rebellious in the past and his hearers were also rebellious. He accuses them of being stiffnecked and resisting the Holy Spirit. He said that they were murderers and they had not kept the law.
Stephen did not water down his witness. He was bold and truthful. Unsaved people do not like the truth about themselves.
When we witness, do we present the gospel with boldness or do we water it down? We need to be sensitive to the moving of the Holy Spirit, but should always tell the “good news” boldly.
Tom Stearns, WASI Chaplain, 1-907-715-4001 email@example.com