Rejection Leads to Rejection
In these verses, Stephen, who was accused of blaspheming against Moses, quickly walked his accusers through almost 1000 years of Israel's history of rejecting God's Word and His servants. Stephen began with Moses whose authority was challenged many times in the wilderness journey, starting with the exodus experience in leaving slavery (Exodus 14:10-16). He ended up describing the Israelites' captivity in Babylon.
Once on the other side of the Red Sea, with the Egyptian army all drowned, the people were free from slavery. However they did not trust God and longed to go back to the way of life they had known. They complained to Moses about all they did not have and were not thankful for their freedom (Exodus 17:3). They grumbled about food and water, comforts and culinary variety: and despite God's severe punishments, the survivors continued to grumble (1 Corinthians 10:1-12).
Even while Moses was receiving the law from God at Mount Sinai, the people demanded that Aaron should make a golden calf, like the idols of Egypt, to worship. That was the start of a millennium of idolatry. Eventually, God did not resist their repeated evil desires, which disobeyed His law and dishonoured His Name. So He used the evil oppression of the Assyrians and Babylonians to put His people back into exile and slavery; as Amos explained about 700 years later (Amos 5:25-27).
If we honour the Lord, He will honour us; but if we reject God, He will ultimately reject us (1 Samuel 2:30). That even applied to Moses and Aaron, who were not allowed to enter the Promised Land because they had also grumbled against God (Numbers 20:12). Today, there are many sentimentalists who say that because God loves everybody He does not mind what we do. That is a cruel lie (Jeremiah 23:17) because God will let us harvest what we have sown, unless we repent and plead for His mercy (Galatians 6:7-10). That is the wonder of the grace of Christ; forgiveness for rebels and righteousness for sinners. It is for all - for us, our friends and colleagues. There is therefore both potency and urgency in acting on it and proclaiming the gospel to others. Stephen was not afraid to do so; are you?
© Dr Paul Adams