Word@Work, Let God's Word energise your working day!

Rejection Leads to Rejection

Acrs 7:39-43
'But our ancestors refused to obey him. Instead, they rejected him and in their hearts turned back to Egypt. They told Aaron, "Make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who led us out of Egypt – we don't know what has happened to him!" That was the time they made an idol in the form of a calf. They brought sacrifices to it and revelled in what their own hands had made. But God turned away from them and gave them over to the worship of the sun, moon and stars. This agrees with what is written in the book of the prophets: "Did you bring me sacrifices and offerings for forty years in the wilderness, people of Israel? You have taken up the tabernacle of Molek and the star of your god Rephan, the idols you made to worship. Therefore I will send you into exil" beyond Babylon.' (NIVUK)

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?

Loving God. Thank You for the Bible's examples of Your patience as You draw people to repentance, and also for the examples of when You gave people over to their own desires and allowed them to reap what they had sown. Please forgive me for my rebellion and selfish faithlessness; please renew me by Your Holy Spirit and give me a new desire to trust and follow You. And may I also have the courage to declare Your mercy and grace to my friends and colleagues while there is still time for them to respond to You in repentance. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
Bible Book: 

© Dr Paul Adams