But our ancestors refused to obey him. Instead, they rejected him and in their hearts turned back to Egypt.
You stiff-necked people! Your hearts and ears are still uncircumcised. You are just like your ancestors: You always resist the Holy Spirit!
Chapter seven of Acts is the incredible story of Stephen after he was one of seven selected by the Apostles in chapter six. When he was chosen, he was described as a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit (6:5) and a little later as a man full of God’s grace and power, performed great wonders and signs among the people (6:8). Because of this, members of the Synagogue of Freedmen argued with Stephen, But they could not stand up against the wisdom the Spirit gave him as he spoke (6:10). As a result they had some false story planted against Stephen and he was arrested and brought before the Sanhedrin, then we move to chapter seven.
When asked if the charges against him were true, he gave an amazing answer starting with v2 and continuing through v47 his answer was an incredible summary of the history of the Jews from Abraham to the time of Solomon. It was during this historical summary we have our first verse of the day which was preceded by
37 “This is the Moses who told the Israelites, ‘God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your own people.’ 38 He was in the assembly in the wilderness, with the angel who spoke to him on Mount Sinai, and with our ancestors; and he received living words to pass on to us.
Notice two things in those two preceding verses, Moses told them God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your own people which was clearly about Jesus and second he brought instructions from God, living words to pass on to us. And it was those living words of instructions they refused to obey as they rejected Moses and God as they in their hearts turned back to Egypt against God and His plans for them. That is when they made the golden calf as an idol to worship.
Stephen continues on through Solomon building a temple for God and concludes with Isaiah 66:1-2a
49 Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. What kind of house will you build for me? says the Lord.
Or where will my resting place be? 50 Has not my hand made all these things?
From here we have Stephen’s accusation against the Sanhedrin beginning with our second verse of the day
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.”
They hated what Stephen had to say and were furious as they could not deny the truth of what he had said. Then he said (v50) “Look, I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” Of course the Son of Man was/is Jesus. Having such hard uncircumcised hearts they dragged Stephen outside the city and stoned him to death laying their coats at the feet of Saul.
59 While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep.
An incredible story about an incredible man of faith, Stephen, the first martyr of the Christian faith. It is a great way to start our week on this Monday giving thanks for such a man as we approach Thanksgiving Day.