“51 “You stiff-necked people! Your hearts and ears are still uncircumcised. You are just like your ancestors: You always resist the Holy Spirit! 52 Was there ever a prophet your ancestors did not persecute? They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One. And now you have betrayed and murdered him—53 you who have received the law that was given through angels but have not obeyed it.” Acts 7.51-53
To get the gist of the narrative, its imperative to read Acts 7.1-53, the whole entry. This is an amazing account of the story of God’s people. (Take a moment, open your Bible, and do that now….)
Stephen retells the story from the beginning of when the people came into the land with Abraham, and then Joseph, and the entire deliverance story with Moses, out of Egypt and into the wilderness. He goes into the account of Moses who received the commandments of God and faced the rejection of God by the people. The historical account of the Jewish people given by Stephen is illustrative of the current rejection of Gods prophets, namely Jesus, by the Jews.
This is not the first time, nor would it be the last that Israel rejected God as Savior. The people rejected many prophets throughout the Old Testament. And now, with Jesus on the scene, God’s very own son, they rejected him too by putting him to death. Stephen’s rebuke is unbridled. He does not hold back calling the people ”stiff-necked” with ”hearts and ears” that are still uncircumcised. Ouch. He tells them that like their ancestors, ”you always resist the Holy Spirit!” Stephen says they persecuted every prophet, even killing those ”who predicted the coming of the Righteous One.” And now, he continues, ”you have betrayed and murdered him, i,e, Jesus.
Stephen was speaking the truth by reminding them of their historical role as God’s people. And how often those people, not learning from their mistakes, would persecute the very messengers God sent their way. It’s ironic because as we will see very shortly, they will persecute Stephen also.
Why is it that we typically avoid the Lord’s rebuke? Even those we know historically that God is faithful, that he loves us, and has the best for us? Why do we so often run away from the purposes and plans he has for our lives? Why do we reject the very people he sends our way to convey his love and convict us of sin? Is it because we love sin more than we love the Savior?
Heaven help us! If history is any indicator, then our modern church will reject the Lord, forsake his Word, and reject the Holy Spirit. Can you name any examples of that happening today?
“Come Lord Jesus, have your way with us. Help us find strength in you and grace in your Word. Help us hold firm to your teaching and to know the power of your message to save us. Forgive us Father when we reject Jesus, the Savior, the Messiah, sent to save us. Help us release our hold upon evil and the darkness and cling to the light. For you are good and your love endures forever.” Amen