Solid ground, Acts 7:1-8:
‘7Then the high priest asked Stephen, ‘Are these charges true?’ 2 To this he replied: ‘Brothers and fathers, listen to me! The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham while he was still in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Harran. 3 “Leave your country and your people,” God said, “and go to the land I will show you.” 4 ‘So he left the land of the Chaldeans and settled in Harran. After the death of his father, God sent him to this land where you are now living. 5 He gave him no inheritance here, not even enough ground to set his foot on. But God promised him that he and his descendants after him would possess the land, even though at that time Abraham had no child. 6 God spoke to him in this way: “For four hundred years your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own, and they will be enslaved and ill-treated. 7 But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves,” God said, “and afterwards they will come out of that country and worship me in this place.” 8 Then he gave Abraham the covenant of circumcision. And Abraham became the father of Isaac and circumcised him eight days after his birth. Later Isaac became the father of Jacob, and Jacob became the father of the twelve patriarchs. ‘NIV
F.B. Meyer said something like this: ‘’We stand on concrete whenever we can point to any promise of God and say, ‘Do as you have said.’ ‘’ An old hymn contains this verse: ‘’Faith, mighty faith, the promise sees, and looks to that alone; laughs at impossibilities, and cries, ‘It shall be done.’ ‘’ We are starting to look at Stephen’s long sermon. It shows a breadth and depth of Biblical knowledge. He had a big picture understanding of God’s purpose to bring the Messiah into the world. The general tenor of his message is that again and again, in their history, the people of Israel rejected their God-sent deliverers and prophets. He appeals to them not to make the same mistake with Jesus. Might not He prove a great blessing in their generation, as Joseph and Moses, for example, had been in their’s?
It is true, as someone observed, that popularity may be purchased at the cost of Biblical truth; but Stephen was not trying to appear on any human honours’ list. For this great sermon he got stoned. (There is more than one way to stone a preacher by the way.) Like Peter and John on an earlier occasion, Stephen spoke with courtesy to those who were out to get him (1, 2a). However hostile people may be towards us, there is no place for rudeness on our part. ‘’By the humility and gentleness of Christ, I appeal to you…’’ (2 Corinthians 10:1).
We think of Abraham as the father of the faithful. When God called him, he had to leave behind what, for that time, was a highly civilised culture with wonderful ‘modern’ amenities. There was sacrifice involved in following God. There always will be. Abraham had nothing to go on but the bare word of God (5), but that was enough. ‘’God’s people live on promises, not on explanations’’ Warren W. Wiersbe. What God told Abraham about the future was remarkably fulfilled (6,7). We are on solid ground when we trust the promises of God. Meyer points out that the promises of God lit up the weary years of Egyptian bondage. Stephen’s sermon causes me to think about Psalm 29:3: ‘’The voice of the LORD is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the LORD thunders over the mighty waters.’’
Mighty waters were rising up against Stephen, but the voice of God in and through him thundered over those mighty waters. The voice of the Lord must ultimately prevail – whatever men may say or do. ‘’The God of glory’’ (2), who called Abraham, was calling again through His servant Stephen.
PRAYER: Lord increase our faith!