God’s Word of Spiritual Renewal
Acts 7:1-22: Stephen is questioned by the High Priest, and he begins his defense by recounting Israel’s history. In today’s reading, Stephen’s speech begins with the call of Abraham and then continues with the story of the patriarchs and the birth of Moses.
Before our ancestor Abraham had gone to live in Haran, the God of glory appeared to him in Mesopotamia.
1The High Priest asked Stephen, “Is this true?”
2 Stephen answered, “Brothers and fathers, listen to me! Before our ancestor Abraham had gone to live in Haran, the God of glory appeared to him in Mesopotamia 3and said to him, ‘Leave your family and country and go to the land that I will show you.’ 4 And so he left his country and went to live in Haran. After Abraham's father died, God made him move to this land where you now live. 5 God did not then give Abraham any part of it as his own, not even a square foot of ground, but God promised to give it to him, and that it would belong to him and to his descendants. At the time God made this promise, Abraham had no children. 6 This is what God said to him: ‘Your descendants will live in a foreign country, where they will be slaves and will be badly treated for four hundred years. 7 But I will pass judgment on the people that they will serve, and afterward your descendants will come out of that country and will worship me in this place.’ 8 Then God gave to Abraham the ceremony of circumcision as a sign of the covenant. So Abraham circumcised Isaac a week after he was born; Isaac circumcised his son Jacob, and Jacob circumcised his twelve sons, the famous ancestors of our race.
9 “Jacob's sons became jealous of their brother Joseph and sold him to be a slave in Egypt. But God was with him 10 and brought him safely through all his troubles. When Joseph appeared before the king of Egypt, God gave him a pleasing manner and wisdom, and the king made Joseph governor over the country and the royal household. 11 Then there was a famine all over Egypt and Canaan, which caused much suffering. Our ancestors could not find any food, 12and when Jacob heard that there was grain in Egypt, he sent his sons, our ancestors, on their first visit there. 13 On the second visit Joseph made himself known to his brothers, and the king of Egypt came to know about Joseph's family. 14 So Joseph sent a message to his father Jacob, telling him and the whole family, seventy-five people in all, to come to Egypt. 15 Then Jacob went to Egypt, where he and his sons died. 16 Their bodies were taken to Shechem, where they were buried in the grave which Abraham had bought from the clan of Hamor for a sum of money.
17 “When the time drew near for God to keep the promise he had made to Abraham, the number of our people in Egypt had grown much larger. 18At last a king who did not know about Joseph began to rule in Egypt. 19 He tricked our ancestors and was cruel to them, forcing them to put their babies out of their homes, so that they would die. 20 It was at this time that Moses was born, a very beautiful child. He was cared for at home for three months, 21 and when he was put out of his home, the king's daughter adopted him and brought him up as her own son. 22He was taught all the wisdom of the Egyptians and became a great man in words and deeds.
The High Priest’s opening question refers to the lies that Stephen’s opponents bribed some men to say (see 6:13-14 from yesterday’s reading). In response, Stephen recounts Israel’s history. What does his speech reveal about God? Have you ever been a victim of someone’s lies? If so, how did you handle the situation?
God of glory, I stand on your Word, trusting in your promises. You alone are the God of my salvation, and I thank and praise you for your steadfast love. Amen.
Acts 7:23-43: Stephen continues his speech before the Council.