Archive for February 1st, 2006

That is exactly how I felt reading Acts 7 — It’s like the final scene in an episode of Perry Mason, where there is a long monologue that builds and builds to a crescendo, culminating in the final breakdown of someone saying “I did it, I did it, it was ME!” In this case, Stephen is pointing the finger right back at his accusers.

Stephen’s defence before the council is basically a recitation of Genesis and Exodus, highlighting the historical instances where all the people now revered as heroes in the OT were persecuted by their own people. In other words, hindsight is 20-20, so when are you guys going to learn that Jesus is the real deal! I would jump right to the point, but Stephen takes his time, going through the whole narrative, patiently leading up to his scorn-filled conclusion:

7:51 “You stubborn people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are always resisting the Holy Spirit, like your ancestors did! 7:52 Which of the prophets did your ancestors not persecute? They killed those who foretold long ago the coming of the Righteous One, whose betrayers and murderers you have now become! 7:53 You received the law by decrees given by angels, but you did not obey it.”

“It’s me, Stephen! You’re talking about me!!”

(this post has been edited for content and has been rated PG)

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2:32 These are the Israelites, numbered according to their families. All those numbered in the camps, by their divisions, are 603,550. 2:33 But the Levites were not numbered among the other Israelites, as the Lord commanded Moses.

2:34 So the Israelites did according to all that the Lord commanded Moses; that is the way they camped under their standards, and that is the way they traveled, each with his clan and family. – Numbers 2:32-34

3:40 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Number all the firstborn males of the Israelites from a month old and upward, and take the number of their names. 3:41 And take the Levites for me – I am the Lord – instead of all the firstborn males among the Israelites, and the livestock of the Levites instead of all the firstborn of the livestock of the Israelites.” 3:42 So Moses numbered all the firstborn males among the Israelites, as the Lord had commanded him. 3:43 And all the firstborn males, by the number of the names from a month old and upward, totaled 22,273. – Numbers 3:40-43

As I began to read the book of Numbers this morning something dawned on me. God was fulfilling his promise to the people of Israel right before their eyes. God had promised Abraham, Isaac and Jacob that there descendants would be a great nation. When God ordered a census of the Israelites we find out that this was well on its way to being the truth. There were over 600,000 men who were able to serve in the army. When you consider that you had to be male and over 20 years of age to be counted in this number you quickly realize that the total number of Israelites numbered well into the millions. For some reason, in my mind, I always envisioned the Israelites as this small band of people going in to conquer a hostile land vastly outnumbered. I pictured them in the 100,000 to 200,000 range. However, God had prepared them for such a time as this. God was making the way for them to go into their homeland and possess it. They were no longer one family searching for dry ground and they floated in a ark. They were a covenant people blessed by God.

I realized as I thought about this that my misconception was based upon my inability to see this God sized dream for humanity. I was still thinking of these people as a rag tag group of slaves and wanderers. In reality, they were the people of God. They were the people destined to bring our savior into the world. This reminds me that God is a God of big dreams and I just need to be on board.

Heavenly Father,

I am amazed at how you prepared the way for your son. I am amazed at how you created a nation from one family. I am amazed that even though this nation was far from perfect in its reverence and service to your cause, that these millions of people still largely served and followed you. I pray that you would give Christ-followers of today, the passion to join together, put aside petty differences and join on this mission you have laid out before us. I pray for unity in your name. I love you Lord. Amen.