God with Us

OPENING PRAYER

Almighty God, remind me through Your Word of Your continued faithfulness to me.

 

Read: ACTS 7:1–16

Then 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 mistreated. 7 But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves,’ God said, ‘and afterward 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.

9 “Because the patriarchs were jealous of Joseph, they sold him as a slave into Egypt. But God was with him 10 and rescued him from all his troubles. He gave Joseph wisdom and enabled him to gain the goodwill of Pharaoh king of Egypt. So Pharaoh made him ruler over Egypt and all his palace.

11 “Then a famine struck all Egypt and Canaan, bringing great suffering, and our ancestors could not find food. 12 When Jacob heard that there was grain in Egypt, he sent our forefathers on their first visit. 13 On their second visit, Joseph told his brothers who he was, and Pharaoh learned about Joseph’s family. 14 After this, Joseph sent for his father Jacob and his whole family, seventy-five in all. 15 Then Jacob went down to Egypt, where he and our ancestors died. 16 Their bodies were brought back to Shechem and placed in the tomb that Abraham had bought from the sons of Hamor at Shechem for a certain sum of money.

 

Reflect: ISN’T IT EASIER TO FACE DIFFICULT SITUATIONS IF WE HAVE SOMEONE WE TRUST ALONGSIDE US?

Stephen is on trial for his life. But rather than defending himself against his accusers, he goes on the offensive, and his speech concludes with his own accusation of those who are trying him (51–53). That is not where he begins however; he tells the story of God’s dealings with Israel in order to make his points.

This first part of Stephen’s speech focuses upon the patriarchs, especially Abraham and Joseph. Although Stephen has a wealth of material to draw upon, he highlights a few key points about the patriarchs. It is God who takes the initiative, calling Abraham in order to establish his people (2,3). Abraham’s response is one of obedience, even when God’s promises have not yet been fulfilled (5). The twelve patriarchs are less honorable: they sell Joseph into slavery (9), but God is not foiled. He knew of their jealousy in advance (6–8), and he turns the brothers’ opposition on its head, using it to preserve his people through Joseph.

Stephen wants his listeners, both the Jewish council and us, to see that it is God who guides, protects and rescues his people—often in unexpected ways. He is with us even in adverse circumstances.

 

APPLY

God is with you every day through his Spirit. Think of what it means to have the Spirit with you in every circumstance.

 

CLOSING PRAYER

All-knowing God, I praise You for knowing the future. You have all things planned in advance for our good and Your glory.

 

Syndicated via Scripture Union. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Terry Schneider