"STEPHEN'S MESSAGE TO THE COUNCIL."
I. "MEN, BROTHERS, FATHERS."
A. A polite address of the council.
B. Note it wasn't "ladies and gentlemen." There were no ladies on the religious council.
II. "THE GOD OF GLORY APPEARED TO OUR FATHER ABRAHAM."
A. He takes them back to the beginning of the history of the nation.
1. It all began when God called Abraham to leave Babylon to journey to a land that God would show to him, that He would give to him and his descendants.
2. He is not declaring to them another God. He is talking about the God of glory that appeared to Abraham.
3. This is very important, for we read that Stephen was doing great miracles and wonders among the people.
a. In the law they were commanded that
If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and gives you a sign or a wonder,
And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spoke unto you, saying, Let us go after other gods, which you have not known, and let us serve them;
Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the LORD your God is proving you, to know whether ye love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.
Ye shall walk after the LORD your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him.
And that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death; because he hath spoken to turn [you] away from the LORD your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed you out of the house of bondage, to thrust you out of the way which the LORD thy God commanded you to walk. So shalt you put the evil away from your midst.
b. Right off the top Stephen is assuring them that he is not talking about another god, but the God of glory, the God of Abraham.
B. God's first call came to Abraham while he was still living in Babylon.
1. Abraham left Babylon and with his family journeyed as far as Haran. There they remained till the death of Terah.
2. The call of God was then renewed to Abraham, so he began his journey with Lot his nephew.
3. Abraham seems reluctant to step out in full obedience. First he takes his family and remains in the land.
4. When his father dies, he continues his journey, however he takes his nephew Lot with him.
5. You are now dwelling in that land.
C. Abraham did not receive any inheritance in the land, yet the whole land was promised to him for a possession to him and his seed.
1. God spoke of his seed existing though Isaac was not yet born, and would not be born until years later.
2. This is another demonstration of how God dwelling outside of time can speak of things as existing before they ever exist, for He knows that they are going to exist.
3. The only part of the land that Abraham ever possessed was the cave of Machpelah that he bought from Ephron to bury his wife Sarah.
D. God had told Abraham that his descendants would dwell in a strange land for four hundred years.
And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land [that is] not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years;
And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance.
1. I want you to note what a good working knowledge of the scriptures that Stephen possessed.
E. God made His covenant with Abraham.
And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I [am] the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect.
And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly.
And Abram fell on his face: and God talked with him, saying,
As for me, behold, my covenant [is] with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations.
Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee.
And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee.
And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee.
And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.
And God said unto Abraham, Thou shalt keep my covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations.
This [is] my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after you Every man child among you shall be circumcised.
And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you.
And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every man child in your generations, he that is born in the house, or bought with money of any stranger, which [is] not of thy seed.
He that is born in thy house, and he that is bought with thy money, must needs be circumcised: and my covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant.
1. Paul spoke to the Romans in his letter concerning the true circumcision.
For circumcision verily profiteth, if thou keep the law: but if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision.
Therefore if the uncircumcision keep the righteousness of the law, shall not his uncircumcision be counted for circumcision?
And shall not uncircumcision which is by nature, if it fulfil the law, judge thee, who by the letter and circumcision dost transgress the law?
For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither [is that] circumcision, which is outward in the flesh:
But he [is] a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision [is that] of the heart, in the spirit, [and] not in the letter; whose praise [is] not of men, but of God.
2. Moses also spoke of the circumcision of the heart.
Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiffnecked.
And the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live.
3. Philip is addressing a council that is proud of their heritage. They boasted of their position as God's people, they gloried in their fathers.
4. Philip has been accused of speaking against their customs that they had received by tradition from their fathers.
5. Philip is going to show them as Jesus did their fathers of whom they boasted, were far from saints.
6. Their fathers were wrong on more than one occasion, in fact, their whole history was one of spiritual failure.
F. He will pass quickly through their history from Abraham to Joseph where he will show them one of the early mistakes of their fathers.
II. THE PATRIARCHS, THAT IS, THE FATHERS OF THEIR TWELVE TRIBES, MOVED OR MOTIVATED BY ENVY, SOLD JOSEPH INTO EGYPT.
A. Jacob had two wives. One whom he loved dearly, and another who had been pawned off on him by his cunning father-in-law.
1. The one wife, Leah who became his wife through deceit, was very prolific, and seemed to bare him sons immediately.
2. The other wife who was his true love was barren.
3. She finally gave Jacob her handmaid as a surrogate mother, to Jacob to bare sons for her.
4. Finally Rachael became pregnant and she bore a son of Jacob who immediately became Jacob's favorite because of his love for Rachael.
5. His ten older brothers, seeing their father's devotion to their younger brother became envious of him.
6. To make matters worse, Joseph had a dream that he shared with his brothers that did not help matters.
a. He dreamed that his brothers and he were binding sheaves and his brother's sheaves all bowed down to his sheaf.
b. In another dream he observed the sun, moon, and the eleven stars made obeisance to me.
c. This dream even upset his father a bit.
7. They plotted to kill their brother saying, "Let's see what happens to his dream." But they instead sold him as a slave for twenty pieces of silver to merchant men who were headed to Egypt.
8. This first time they rejected God's revelation to them that Joseph was to be their leader and refused to bow to his authority, seeking rather to get him out of their lives.
9. "But God was with him." What did God do for him?
a. "God was with him."
b. He delivered him out of all of his afflictions.
c. Gave him favor and wisdom.
d. Got made him governor over Egypt.
10. What was the end result? We see Joseph's brothers bowing to him when he has become the governor over all of Egypt.
11. They should begin to see the parallels.
a. They sought to get rid of Jesus who was sold by one of His disciples for 30 pieces of silver.
b. God has highly exalted Him and given Him a name that is above all names, that at the name of Jesus, every knee should bow, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.
12. The first time their fathers came to Egypt, they did not recognize Joseph, but the second time he was made known to them and Joseph's family was made known to the Pharaoh.
So Jacob went down into Egypt, and died, he, and our fathers,
And were carried over into Sychem, and laid in the sepulchre that Abraham bought for a sum of money of the sons of Emmor [the father] of Sychem.
And he bought a parcel of a field, where he had spread his tent, at the hand of the children of Hamor, Shechem's father, for an hundred pieces of money.