Acts 7 Bible Study

Bible Study of Acts Chapter 7

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Acts 7 Bible Study


ACTS 7:1-4  1 Then the high priest said, “Are these things so?” 2 And he said, “Brethren and fathers, listen: The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Haran, 3 and said to him, ‘Get out of your country and from your relatives, and come to a land that I will show you.’ 4 Then he came out of the land of the Chaldeans and dwelt in Haran. And from there, when his father was dead, He moved him to this land in which you now dwell.

Who asked, "Are these things so (Acts 7:1)?"
The "high priest" (Acts 7:1), who was either Caiaphas, still the official high priest, or Annas, his father-in-law who had been removed as the high priest by the Romans.

Who is the responder and to whom does he address his response?
It's Stephen (see the end of previous chapter), and his response is addressed to "Brethren and fathers (older men)." Instead of defending himself or seeking to appease the high priest, Stephen is starting to give a sermon to the Sanhedrin and to the others who were gathered.

Where is "Mesopotamia" (Acts 7:2)?
Mesopotamia is a Greek word that literally means, "Meso" or "between", "Potamia" or "rivers", and refers the land between the two rivers of Tigris and Euphrates about 500 miles east of Israel.

What does this mean about the ethnic origin of Abraham and the Jews of the Old Testament?
It traces back to the modern day Iraq.

Where is "Haran" (Acts 7:4)?
Haran is an ancient city about 300 miles northeast of Israel in the modern Turkey. Today, it is no more than a ruin next to a small village. But during the times of Abraham, it was a major city strategically positioned on a major road connecting even larger cities.

Who are "Chaldeans" (Acts 7:4)?
Chaldeans were the people who inhabited Chaldea, the southern province of the ancient Mesopotamia. It's capital was Ur, which was near the modern city of Nasiriya in southern Iraq.

So what is Stephen claiming?
Abraham is originally from Chaldea of Mesopotamia (southern Iraq). On God's command, he moved northwest to Haran, and when his father died, moved southwest to Canaan, the promised land, which is Israel today.

Is he right?
"And Terah took his son Abram and his grandson Lot, the son of Haran, and his daughter-in-law Sarai, his son Abram’s wife, and they went out with them from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to the land of Canaan; and they came to Haran and dwelt there. So the days of Terah were two hundred and five years, and Terah died in Haran. Now the Lord had said to Abram: “Get out of your country, From your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” So Abram departed as the Lord had spoken to him, and Lot went with him. And Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran. Then Abram took Sarai his wife and Lot his brother’s son, and all their possessions that they had gathered, and the people whom they had acquired in Haran, and they departed to go to the land of Canaan. So they came to the land of Canaan." (Genesis 11:31-12:5)

ACTS 7:5-7  5 And God gave him no inheritance in it, not even enough to set his foot on. But even when Abraham had no child, He promised to give it to him for a possession, and to his descendants after him. 6 But God spoke in this way: that his descendants would dwell in a foreign land, and that they would bring them into bondage and oppress them four hundred years. 7 ‘And the nation to whom they will be in bondage I will judge,’ said God, ‘and after that they shall come out and serve Me in this place.’

What is the "it" that Stephen is referring to in Acts 7:5?
The "land" (Acts 7:4) that God promised to Abraham: "Then He said to him, 'I am the Lord, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to inherit it.'"

To what "foreign land" (Acts 7:6) and "nation to whom they will be in bondage" (Acts 7:7) is he referring?
Egypt, where Abraham's descendants will be oppressed as slaves for 400 years before being delivered.

When did God tell Abraham about the bondage of his descendants and His deliverance?
"Then He said to Abram: 'Know certainly that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and will serve them, and they will afflict them four hundred years. And also the nation whom they serve I will judge; afterward they shall come out with great possessions. Now as for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried at a good old age. But in the fourth generation they shall return here, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete." (Genesis 15:13-16) "Then you shall say to Pharaoh, ‘Thus says the LORD: "'Israel is My son, My firstborn. So I say to you, let My son go that he may serve Me. But if you refuse to let him go, indeed I will kill your son, your firstborn.'" (Exodus 4:22-23)

ACTS 7:8-10  8 Then He gave him the covenant of circumcision; and so Abraham begot Isaac and circumcised him on the eighth day; and Isaac begot Jacob, and Jacob begot the twelve patriarchs. 9 “And the patriarchs, becoming envious, sold Joseph into Egypt. But God was with him 10 and delivered him out of all his troubles, and gave him favor and wisdom in the presence of Pharaoh, king of Egypt; and he made him governor over Egypt and all his house.

When did God give Abraham "the covenant of circumcision" (Acts 7:8)?
"This is My covenant which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you: Every male child among you shall be circumcised; and you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between Me and you." (Genesis 17:10-11)

If Abraham "begot" Isaac, Isaac "begot" Jacob, and Jacob "begot" the twelve patriarchs, does John 3:16's reference of Jesus being the "only begotten" son of God mean that He came after God the Father or that God the Father sired Jesus as Abraham sired Isaac, Isaac sired Jacob, etc.?
The original Greek word translated, "begot" in Acts 7:8 above is gennaio. The original Greek expression translated, "only begotten" in John 3:16 isn't two words that mean "only" and "begotten" but a single, different word - monogenes - that as used means, "unparalleled" or "incomparable."

Who are the "twelve patriarchs" (Acts 7:8)?
Jacob's twelve sons from whom came the twelve tribes of Israel: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Dan, Napthali, Gad, Asher, Issachar, Zebulun, Joseph and Benjamin (see Genesis 29:31-30:24).

From what kinds of "troubles" (Acts 7:10) did God deliver Joseph?
God had Joseph sold to Pharaoh's captain of the guard, Potiphar, who noticed God's blessings through Joseph and made him the overseer of his house. When Potiphar's wife falsely accused Joseph of attempted rape and he ended up in prison, God prospered him even in prison (see Genesis 39:1-23).

Why did Pharaoh make Joseph "governor over Egypt" (Acts 7:10)?
God gave Pharaoh two troubling dreams and Joseph the ability to interpret those dreams, which foretold Egypt's forthcoming famine, and pointed to Joseph's God-given wisdom to manage it (see Genesis 41:1-45).

ACTS 7:11-16  11 Now a famine and great trouble came over all the land of Egypt and Canaan, and our fathers found no sustenance. 12 But when Jacob heard that there was grain in Egypt, he sent out our fathers first. 13 And the second time Joseph was made known to his brothers, and Joseph’s family became known to the Pharaoh. 14 Then Joseph sent and called his father Jacob and all his relatives to him, seventy-five people. 15 So Jacob went down to Egypt; and he died, he and our fathers. 16 And they were carried back to Shechem and laid in the tomb that Abraham bought for a sum of money from the sons of Hamor, the father of Shechem.

Who are the "fathers" (Acts 7:12) that Jacob sent to Egypt first, and eventually followed?
The patriarchs named above, excluding Joseph (see Genesis 42:1-47:12).

How many relatives did Joseph receive in Egypt?
"Seventy-five" (Acts 7:14).

What is written in Genesis?
"All the persons who went with Jacob to Egypt, who came from his body, besides Jacob’s sons’ wives, were sixty-six persons in all. And the sons of Joseph who were born to him in Egypt were two persons. All the persons of the house of Jacob who went to Egypt were seventy." (Genesis 46:26-27)

What is written in Exodus?
"All those who were descendants of Jacob were seventy persons (for Joseph was in Egypt already)." (Exodus 1:5)

What is written in Deuteronomy?
"Your fathers went down to Egypt with seventy persons, and now the LORD your God has made you as the stars of heaven in multitude." (Deuteronomy 10:22)

Which account is correct?
All of them. The number of Jacob's sons and (grandsons) who went with him to Egypt was 64, as follows:

Reuben Simeon Levi Judah Issachar Zebulun Benjamin Dan Napthali Gad Asher Subtotal
Hanoch
Pallu
Hezron
Carm






Jemuel
Jamin
Ohad
Jakin
Zohar
Shaul




Gershon
Kohath
Merari







Er *
Onan *
Shelah
Perez
(Hezron
Hamul)
Zerah
*died in
Canaan

Tola
Puah
Jashub
Shimron






Sered
Elon
Jahleel







Bela
Beker
Ashbel
Gera
Naaman
Ehi
Rosh
Muppim
Huppim
Ard
Hashim









Jahziel
Guni
Jezer
Shillem






Zephon
Haggi
Shuni
Ezbon
Eri
Arodi
Areli



Imnah
Ishvah
Ishvi
Beriah
(Heber
Malkie)













5 7 4 6 (8-2) 5 4 11 2 5 8 7 64

How is "64" reconciled with what is written in Genesis 46:26-27?
Jacob also had a daughter named Dinah (Genesis 46:15), who is a sister of the 12 Patriarchs, and Asher had a daughter named Serah (Genesis 46:17), so indeed, "All the persons who went with Jacob to Egypt, who came from his body, besides Jacob’s sons’ wives, were sixty-six persons in all." And Jacob himself, as well as Joseph and his two sons, Mannaseh and Ephraim in Egypt counted for 4 more, so "All the persons of the house of Jacob who went to Egypt were seventy."

How about Exodus 1:5, which states that the "descendant" of Jacob were 70?
The same Hebrew word - yarek - is translated in English as "descendants" in Exodus 1:5 and "came from his body" in Genesis 46:26. Yarek literally means "loins, thigh, the area of genitals, the area of procreative power" and "base", hence the above translations.

But doesn't Deuteronomy 10:22 state, "Your Fathers went to Egypt WITH seventy persons?"
The Hebrew preposition translated "with" is "be", which also means, "in" or "through".

How about the "seventy-five people" in Acts 7:14?
Acts 7:14 states that "all his relatives" were 75 people, and "relatives" includes Joseph's surviving sisters-in-law.

What is Stephen referring to in Acts 7:16?
The fact that the bones of Joseph were carried out from Egypt and eventually buried in the Samaritan city of Shechem (called "Nablus" today), after the Jews conquered the promised land: "The bones of Joseph, which the children of Israel had brought up out of Egypt, they buried at Shechem, in the plot of ground which Jacob had bought from the sons of Hamor the father of Shechem for one hundred pieces of silver, and which had become an inheritance of the children of Joseph." (Joshua 24:32)

Who bought the place where the bones were buried - Abraham or Jacob?
Acts 7:16 says, "And they were carried back to Shechem and laid in the tomb that Abraham bought for a sum of money from the sons of Hamor, the father of Shechem," while Joshua 24:32 says, "they buried at Shechem, in the plot of ground which Jacob had bought from the sons of Hamor the father of Shechem for one hundred pieces of silver." So which account is correct? They are both correct. Notice that Acts 7:16 states, "tomb", while Joshua 24:32 states, "plot of ground." Hamor and his sons were contemporaries of both Jacob and Abraham, who lived to be 175 years old and died when Jacob, his grandson, was 15 years old. Apparently, when Jacob returned to Canaan after years of servitude to his uncle, Laban (see Genesis 29:1-33:20), he bought the "plot of ground" around the "tomb" that belonged to his grandfather. A common error is to confuse Abraham's ownership of this tomb in Shechem with the tomb that he bought in Hebron when his wife Sarah died and he had no place to bury her (see Genesis 23:1-20) and where he, as well as his son Isaac, were later buried (Genesis 49:29-32). These are two different tombs, since Hebron is south of Jerusalem, while Shechem is well north of it.

ACTS 7:17-21  17 "But when the time of the promise drew near which God had sworn to Abraham, the people grew and multiplied in Egypt 18 till another king arose who did not know Joseph. 19 This man dealt treacherously with our people, and oppressed our forefathers, making them expose their babies, so that they might not live. 20 At this time Moses was born, and was well pleasing to God; and he was brought up in his father’s house for three months. 21 But when he was set out, Pharaoh’s daughter took him away and brought him up as her own son.

How can the later king not have known that Joseph was the one who saved his ancestor's reign?
During the 4 centuries that the Hebrews spent in Egypt, the country went through two political upheavals. In the 17th century BC, all but the southern part of Egypt was conquered by the Hyksos, a Semitic people who came from the (Middle) East. There is dispute on whether this conquest was military, enabled by superior weaponry (e.g., possible introduction of the chariot, sharper arrow tips and stronger bows made of composite materials) or a more gradual migration lasting decades (less likely), but there is no dispute over the fact that the Hyksos reigned for just over a century until 1570 BC when Ahmose led the Egyptians in the south to kick the Hyksos out of Egypt and established the 18th Egyptian dynasty with himself as the new Pharaoh. So the "another king" mentioned above wasn't a descendant of the Pharaoh whose neck Joseph had saved, but was the descendent of Ahmose and therefore truly "another" king.

Why did the later "king" deal "treacherously" with the Hebrews in Egypt?
The Hebrew population had grown so fast that they outnumbered the Egyptians, and Pharaoh began to fear their uprising, especially if Egypt were to be attacked by another country:  "And Joseph died, all his brothers, and all that generation. But the children of Israel were fruitful and increased abundantly, multiplied and grew exceedingly mighty; and the land was filled with them. Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. And he said to his people, “Look, the people of the children of Israel are more and mightier than we; come, let us deal shrewdly with them, lest they multiply, and it happen, in the event of war, that they also join our enemies and fight against us, and so go up out of the land.” Therefore they set taskmasters over them to afflict them with their burdens. And they built for Pharaoh supply cities, Pithom and Raamses. But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew. And they were in dread of the children of Israel. So the Egyptians made the children of Israel serve with rigor. And they made their lives bitter with hard bondage - in mortar, in brick, and in all manner of service in the field. All their service in which they made them serve was with rigor." (Exodus 1:6-14).

Do you see any parallel today to the above phrase, "the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew"?
This is what persecution does to true Christianity - it expands it, like trying to put out an oil fire by throwing water on it.

How did the king make the Hebrews "expose their babies, so that they might not live"?
He tried to have the Hebrew midwives kill all newborn boys. When that didn't work, he commanded that the newborn boys be thrown into the river: "Then the king of Egypt spoke to the Hebrew midwives, of whom the name of one was Shiphrah and the name of the other Puah; and he said, “When you do the duties of a midwife for the Hebrew women, and see them on the birthstools, if it is a son, then you shall kill him; but if it is a daughter, then she shall live.” But the midwives feared God, and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but saved the male children alive. So the king of Egypt called for the midwives and said to them, “Why have you done this thing, and saved the male children alive?” And the midwives said to Pharaoh, “Because the Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women; for they are lively and give birth before the midwives come to them.” Therefore God dealt well with the midwives, and the people multiplied and grew very mighty. And so it was, because the midwives feared God, that He provided households for them. So Pharaoh commanded all his people, saying, “Every son who is born you shall cast into the river, and every daughter you shall save alive." (Exodus 1:15-22)

What lessons do the actions of the midwives hold for us today?
Obey those who have authority over us only when their commands are are in obedience to the Lord.

How did the Pharaoh's daughter take away Moses to bring up as her own?
When Moses' mother could no longer hide him, she floated him down the river in a covered basket, watched by Moses' older sister. When Pharaoh's daughter found the basket and Moses, his sister offered to find a nurse for Pharaoh's daughter and brought her mother - i.e., Moses' mother - whom Pharaoh's daughter offered to pay to nurse Moses for her. So Moses' mother ended up getting paid to nurse her own son. (see Exodus 2:1-10)

ACTS 7:22-29  22 And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and deeds. 23 “Now when he was forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brethren, the children of Israel. 24 And seeing one of them suffer wrong, he defended and avenged him who was oppressed, and struck down the Egyptian. 25 For he supposed that his brethren would have understood that God would deliver them by his hand, but they did not understand.v26 And the next day he appeared to two of them as they were fighting, and tried to reconcile them, saying, ‘Men, you are brethren; why do you wrong one another?’ 27 But he who did his neighbor wrong pushed him away, saying, ‘Who made you a ruler and a judge over us? 28 Do you want to kill me as you did the Egyptian yesterday?’ 29 Then, at this saying, Moses fled and became a dweller in the land of Midian, where he had two sons.

What was Moses like at 40-years of age?
"Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and deeds." (Acts 7:22)

Why did Moses flee at the Hebrew's words?
He had killed the Egyptian and buried him in the sand, thinking that nobody had witnessed his murder. When he learned that his crime was known, he fled to escape being arrested and executed by Pharaoh. (see Exodus 2:11-15)

ACTS 7:30-36  30 “And when forty years had passed, an Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire in a bush, in the wilderness of Mount Sinai. 31 When Moses saw it, he marveled at the sight; and as he drew near to observe, the voice of the Lord came to him, 32 saying, ‘I am the God of your fathers - the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ And Moses trembled and dared not look. 33 ‘Then the Lord said to him, “Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground. 34 I have surely seen the oppression of My people who are in Egypt; I have heard their groaning and have come down to deliver them. And now come, I will send you to Egypt.”’ 35 “This Moses whom they rejected, saying, ‘Who made you a ruler and a judge?’ is the one God sent to be a ruler and a deliverer by the hand of the Angel who appeared to him in the bush. 36 He brought them out, after he had shown wonders and signs in the land of Egypt, and in the Red Sea, and in the wilderness forty years.

How did Moses react when God told him that He would send him to Egypt to deliver the Hebrews?
At first, he resisted: "Then Moses said to the LORD, 'O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither before nor since You have spoken to Your servant; but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.'" (Exodus 4:10)

Since Acts 7:22 says that he was "mighty in words", was Moses lying to God about being "slow of speech and slow of tongue"?
No, the Moses who was "mighty in words" had become "slow of speech and slow of tongue" after 40 years of being a shepherd, and this wasn't by accident. Relying on the "wisdom of the Egyptians" (Acts 7:22) and his own words and deeds, Moses had "supposed that his brethren would have understood that God would deliver them by his hand." (Acts 7:25) The result was failure, murder and self-exile. God may have intended for the 40 years to be a period during which to cleanse Moses of the 'wisdom' of Egypt, as well as his self-reliance, pride and human abilities, so that there would be no mistake that Israel was delivered "by the hand of the Angel who appeared to him in the bush", not Moses' hand.

What kinds of "wonders and signs" were shown in Egypt, Red Sea and the wilderness?
Egypt was hit by ten plagues. The Red Sea was parted. And God led, fed and gave them water for 40 years in the wilderness (see Exodus 5:1-17:7).

ACTS 7:37-41  37 “This is that Moses who said to the children of Israel, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your brethren. Him you shall hear.’ 38 “This is he who was in the congregation in the wilderness with the Angel who spoke to him on Mount Sinai, and with our fathers, the one who received the living oracles to give to us, 39 whom our fathers would not obey, but rejected. And in their hearts they turned back to Egypt, 40 saying to Aaron, ‘Make us gods to go before us; as for this Moses who brought us out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.’ 41 And they made a calf in those days, offered sacrifices to the idol, and rejoiced in the works of their own hands.

When did Moses say "The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your brethren. Him you shall hear"?
In Deuteronomy 18:15: "The LORD your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren. Him you shall hear."

How do we respond to the cults and religions that refer to this verse to legitimize their leader?
Keep reading: "And it shall be that whoever will not hear My words, which He speaks in My name, I will require it of him. But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in My name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die.’ And if you say in your heart, ‘How shall we know the word which the LORD has not spoken?’ - when a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the thing does not happen or come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him." (Deuteronomy 18:19-22) Notice that a prophecy coming true does not automatically qualify the person as a prophet of God, since those possessed by Satan can also foretell the future to a limited extent through demonic - not Godly - powers, hence the proliferation of fortune tellers. But a prophecy that does not come true, as is the case for those uttered by the leaders of cults and the other religions, disqualifies the person as a prophet of God.

What "living oracle" did Moses receive to give to Israel?
The instructions that God gave to Moses on Mount Sinai, including the Ten Commandments.

What are they?
"1 And God spoke all these words, saying: 2 “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. 3 “You shall have no other gods before Me. 4 “You shall not make for yourself a carved image - any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; 5 you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, 6 but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments. 7 “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain. 8 “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it. 12 “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you. 13 “You shall not murder. 14 “You shall not commit adultery. 15 “You shall not steal. 16 “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. 17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.” 18 Now all the people witnessed the thunderings, the lightning flashes, the sound of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they trembled and stood afar off. (Exodus 20:1-18)

What is the First Commandment?
“You shall have no other gods before Me." (Exodus 20:3)

What qualifies as such "gods"?
Anything that you put "before" God.

Such as?
It could be something distant and remote as a Hindu god or something close like your work, wealth, house, car, favorite TV show or sport and even family or friends. It is everything and everyone that you "end up" prioritizing or that get in your way of obeying, worshipping and glorifying God.

What is the Second Commandment?
"You shall not make for yourself a carved image - any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; 5 you shall not bow down to them nor serve them."

Why did God limit this Commandment to just "carved" images instead of including "all" images?
There were no oil paintings on canvas in those days. To those who received this Commandment, "carved" images were "all" images, as to us today. God knows our visual nature (He made us) and our inclination to worship what we can see and/or touch, and gave us this Commandment to specifically prohibit it.

Can we at least hang and worship images of Jesus?
No. For one, we don't know what He looked like, other than that He wasn't handsome: "For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, and as a root out of dry ground. He has no form or comeliness; and when we see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him." (Isaiah 53:2) More importantly, God's interdiction above includes even His own image ("in heaven above"). God is far too great to be portrayed visually, and He wants us to worship Him directly in spirit, not through images of any kind.

What is the Third Commandment?
"You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain." (Exodus 20:7)

What are some modern examples of taking God's name in vain?
"Oh my God!", "God d... it!", "For God's sake!", "Jesus Christ!", "Jeez", etc. God's holy name should be verbalized only in love, worship and reverence, not to express surprise, frustration, shock or to swear regardless of how common blaspheming His name has become in our culture today, for God warned that He "will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain."

What is the Fourth Commandment?
"Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates." (Exodus 20:8-10)

So who is supposed to work - or who are employers supposed to work - seven days a week?
Nobody.

To whom does the seventh day belong - employees or employers?
Neither. It belongs to God: "seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God."

What are we supposed to do on the seventh day?
"keep it holy."

What does that mean?
The Hebrew word translated "holy" is qadash, which means, "unique and pure", hence the nature of God, but also "consecrated or dedicated to service and loyalty to God."

Do your activities on your seventh day express your "service and loyalty to God"?
...

What are the remaining six Commandments?
Fifth: "Honor your father and your mother."
Sixth: "You shall not murder."
Seventh:"You shall not commit adultery"
Eighth:"You shall not steal."
Ninth:"You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor."
Tenth:"You shall not covet... anything that is your neighbor's"

How many of these Commandments have you broken?
...

When did Israelites turn their hearts back to Egypt and make and offer sacrifices to a golden calf?
They made and sacrificed to a golden calf when Moses was with God on Mount Sinai and didn't descend for a while (see Exodus 32:1-35). As for turning their hearts back to Egypt, it was a constant, recurring affair. At the Red Sea, in the desert, at Mount Sinai and even in the Promised Land, whenever things became a bit uncomfortable, the Israelites complained and talked of how good things had been in Egypt, which was untrue.

ACTS 7:42-43  42 Then God turned and gave them up to worship the host of heaven, as it is written in the book of the Prophets: ‘Did you offer Me slaughtered animals and sacrifices during forty years in the wilderness, O house of Israel? 43 You also took up the tabernacle of Moloch, And the star of your god Remphan, images which you made to worship; And I will carry you away beyond Babylon.’

Where in the book of the Prophets is this written?
In the book of the prophet Amos: "'Did you offer Me sacrifices and offerings in the wilderness forty years, O house of Israel? You also carried Sikkuth your king and Chiun, your idols, the star of your gods, which you made for yourselves. Therefore I will send you into captivity beyond Damascus,' says the LORD, whose name is the God of hosts." (Amos 5:25-27)

Who are "Sikkuth", "Chiun", "Moloch" and "Remphan"?
"Moloch" was an ox-headed idol to whom the pagans used to sacrifice their children. "Remphan" was a celestial body, supposedly the planet Saturn, that the Egyptians used to worship. Both are Greek names (Stephen, who was speaking, was a Hellenist). "Sikkuth" and "Chiun" are the Hebrew names, respectively, of these idols. Not having heeded God's command to drive out all pagans from the Promised Land, the Hebrews were constantly dabbling in and ensnarled by their pagan idolatry, even to the extent of worshipping distant stars and planets from their days in Egyptian captivity. The result was a return to painful captivity, so that they can once again turn to God and cry out to Him in repentance for deliverance. Sound familiar?

Why does Acts 7:43 and Amos 5:27 respectively say, "beyond Babylon" and "beyond Damascus"?
When the Jews were conquered and exiled to the far corners of Babylonia, they passed Damascus, the current capital of Syria, on their way.

ACTS 7:44-50  44 "Our fathers had the tabernacle of witness in the wilderness, as He appointed, instructing Moses to make it according to the pattern that he had seen, 45 which our fathers, having received it in turn, also brought with Joshua into the land possessed by the Gentiles, whom God drove out before the face of our fathers until the days of David, 46 who found favor before God and asked to find a dwelling for the God of Jacob. 47 But Solomon built Him a house. 48 “However, the Most High does not dwell in temples made with hands, as the prophet says: 49 ‘Heaven is My throne, And earth is My footstool. What house will you build for Me? says the Lord, Or what is the place of My rest? 50 Has My hand not made all these things?’

What "tabernacle" is Stephen talking about above?
It was an elaborate, large mobile tent where the ark of the covenant that contained the stone tablets on which God had written the Ten Commandments were housed, incense to God burnt, and in the courtyard of which burnt animal sacrifices were presented to God while the Israelites wandered in the wilderness and until their conquest of the Promised Land ended. (see Exodus 25:1-27:21).

What house did Solomon build for God?
Stephen is talking about the first temple of Jerusalem, and is quick to point out that God, the divine Creator for whom the earth is merely a footstool, doesn't actually live in temples made with human hands.

Why does he say that?
Stephen wasn't giving a history lecture to those who already knew it. They had accused him of blaspheming against Moses, the law and the temple in Jerusalem. Stephen had been preaching to point out that Moses and the temple weren't to be worshipped. Moses was a murderer who couldn't even speak properly, and the temple wasn't holy. God doesn't live in it and it doesn't even house the bones of the ancestors whom they revere. Those bones are up in the land of the Samaritans whom the Jews despised as unclean half-breeds. As for the law, while God was giving it to Moses, their forefathers had been busy making and worshipping idols. Stephen is clearing off the table his audience's idols, and continues below.

ACTS 7:51-53  51 "You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you. 52 Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who foretold the coming of the Just One, of whom you now have become the betrayers and murderers, 53 who have received the law by the direction of angels and have not kept it."

Is it true that the Jews persecuted the prophets?
Throughout the Old Testament, God used prophets to correct Israel when the people sinned against God. But the people didn't want to listen and kept persecuting the prophets. Even Jesus said, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!" (Matthew 23:37)

Who else is Stephen saying that they betrayed and murdered?
Jesus, the "Just One" who had been foretold by the prophets. This is the climax of Stephen's sermon. After tearing into their idolatry of Moses, their laws, their ancestry, their land and their temple, Stephen concludes by pointing out that the only one who deserved their worship - Jesus Christ, the Just One - was the one they betrayed and killed. Calling members of the revered Sanhedrin, "uncircumcised" in any shape or form was a stinging rebuke. What is commonly known as the longest sermon given by a disciple of Christ in the entire New Testament is also arguably the hardest hitting, and the vessel wasn't even one of the twelve Apostles.

ACTS 7:51-56  54 When they heard these things they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed at him with their teeth. 55 But he, being full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, 56 and said, "Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!"

What was the Sanhedrin's response?
They were so incensed that "they gnashed at him with their teeth".

What was Jesus' response?
He was so pleased with Stephen that He opened the heavens and let Stephen see Him in His glory in heaven, and perhaps to invite him up right then and there.

ACTS 7:57-60  57 Then they cried out with a loud voice, stopped their ears, and ran at him with one accord; 58 and they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul. 59 And they stoned Stephen as he was calling on God and saying, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.

What didn't the Sanhedrin do?
They were so angry with Stephen that they just killed him without even bothering to take him to the Romans to have him crucified.

Why did they lay down "their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul" (Acts 7:58)?
Stoning typically involved immobilizing the victim by binding his or her hands and feet, pushing him or her over a short cliff if one is available, and then picking up and throwing down sizeable rocks to crush the victim below (The cliff was typically high enough to give the dropped rocks velocity and perhaps for the fall to break the legs of the victim but not high enough for the fall itself to kill the victim). Layers of clothes that would impede picking up and heaving rocks were apparently left with a "young man named Saul" who most likely was too young to participate in the execution but old and eager enough to play the role of cloakroom attendant for the executioners.

What became of Saul?
He became one of the greatest persecutors of Christians until God turned him into one of His greatest apostles and the pen with which to write two-thirds of the New Testament.

How did Stephen die?
Forgiving his murderers and asking Jesus to receive his spirit, like Jesus asked the Father while on the cross. Stephen didn't have a long ministry. He didn't spend decades taking the Gospel to distant lands like Saul would later do. He died after giving one sermon in front of the Sanhedrin, but what a sermon it was. The God-inspired and pleasing courage with which he - a nobody in the eyes of the world - presented the Truth to the most powerful men of his day should inspire all present and future nobodies in the eyes of the world.

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