-Stephen now makes his defense before the high priest and the Council of the Jews. He develops the history of the Jewish nation recounting many of the events of the Torah (Genesis-Deuteronomy) and made an argument for their continued disobedience to the Word of God and His prophets. His conclusion was that they were stubborn and unfaithful in heart and had ears that were resisting the work of the Holy Spirit just like their forefathers (Acts 7:51). Stephen practically pronounces his own death sentence by standing up to the hypocrisy and obstinacy of these religious leaders. These leaders are of the spirit to persecute the prophetic Word of the Lord and do not keep the oracles of God (Acts 7:52-53).
-Stephen is caught up in their fury and dragged out of the city to be stoned. He remains full of the Holy Spirit and actually sees the glory of God in Heaven as he is being persecuted with Jesus standing at His right hand. As the stones came crashing on his fragile flesh, he cried out for the Lord to receive his spirit and not hold this sin against them. He departed earth the first Christian martyr in a blaze of Spirit-filled glory.
-Besides all of this a young man by the name of Saul (the Apostle Paul) was with them and the witnesses laid their robes at his feet for the stoning. This man would later become one of the most ardent promoters of Christ in the early church. The Lord had heard and blessed the prayer of Stephen as at least one of these angry men eventually turned to Jesus and received complete forgiveness.
-*Application* The words here of Stephen make me think of how difficult it is for high religious people in authority to receive a prophetic word. What I mean from a prophetic word is a word from Scripture that pertains to an event or circumstance that needs correction. It is hard for men, or women, in power to come into conformity with the Word of God sometimes, especially when it is coming from someone they feel like is beneath them on the authority ladder. However, God calls the prophets to take a stand when no one else will or can. He does this over and over again in the Scriptures and still does this in the modern age. Paul, in 1 Thessalonians 5:20-21, teaches not to despise the prophetic utterances, but to examine all things carefully holding fast to what is good. The issue here is pride. Correction on a matter causes one to humble himself or herself. This is exactly what the religious leaders of Stephen’s time, Jesus’ time, many of the kings’ time, and even our current time in the church have great problems with and do not want to accept. Remember this statement that will change your life, “Pride make excuses, humility makes adjustments.” This is what God desires from all of us.
Verses to Memorize: Acts 7:51