Bible Study (Acts 7:9-29) – Wednesday January 3, 2024

As Stephen continued his offensive defense before the Sanhedrin, he transitions from speaking about God’s presence with Abraham to now speaking about God’s presence with Joseph. Jacob’s 10 oldest sons (or the “patriarchs” as Stephen called them), treacherously sold Joseph into slavery because of their jealous rejection of their younger brother; but God was with Joseph, even as he was taken as a slave to Egypt. And it was God who rescued him, giving him great favor before Pharaoh through a transcendent wisdom to interpret dreams. As a result, Joseph was lifted up from slavery to become ruler of Egypt under Pharaoh.

But the story of Israel and God’s promise to Abraham did not end there. A famine occurred that devastated the land of Egypt and also in Canaan, where Jacob and his sons lived. In desperation, Jacob’s sons went to Egypt to find food, and they were saved from starvation by none other than Joseph. On their second trip to Egypt for more food, the brothers recognized his identity. Thus, the one they had rejected had become their savior, God’s chosen preserver of God’s covenant people. Joseph brought Jacob and the entire family down to Egypt to keep them alive, and God assured Jacob that He would be with them in this far-off place. Jacob and all his sons, including Joseph, died in Egypt; but they were buried back in the land of promise, each of these men carrying the promise and the presence of God with them wherever they went!

Now Stephen had also been accused of blaspheming Moses and the law; so next, he skillfully addresses this by moving on from Joseph to Moses. God had promised Abraham a period of 400 years where his progeny would suffer affliction. As the end of that time approached, God blessed the people of Israel living in Egypt with great multiplication of their families; but He also raised up a Pharaoh who did not honor Joseph or have any regard for Joseph’s people. He treated them with the same treachery of Joseph’s brothers, enslaving the people of Israel and also seeking to murder their infant sons! It was through this heavy affliction that God would bring salvation to His people through their next deliverer, Moses.

In this era of death, in the bleakest of conditions, Moses was born … at the right time! And he was regarded favorably by God, for Moses’ birth and future work was a reminder that God was present with His people. God preserved Moses from the death that many other Israelite infant boys experienced, even causing the daughter of Pharaoh herself to personally rescue Moses from death in the Nile River. This woman mercifully lifted Moses up from the water, raising him as her own son. In his upbringing, Moses received the pinnacle of worldly, natural wisdom found within the pagan world. And God used this worldly wisdom to shape Moses into a man who was distinguishably impressive: mightily effective in speech and action.

When Moses reached 40, he was impressed upon by God to investigate the plight of his enslaved countrymen … this with the intent of helping them. But what he thought was helpful, his people did not. He saved a Jewish man being beaten by an Egyptian taskmaster, killing the Egyptian and burying his body in the sand. The next day, he attempted to mediate peace between 2 Israelites fighting amongst themselves. But they did not understand that God had appointed him as their deliverer and thrust him aside, rejecting Moses and his help. When he realized that it was becoming known that he had killed an Egyptian, he fled to Midian. There, Moses dwelt as an exile, where God continued to be with him, giving him 2 sons through marriage to a Midianite woman.

With Moses now exiled from Egypt as a common criminal, Israel was as far away from salvation as it could get. HOW would they be saved? HOW would God’s promise to Abraham come to pass? HOW could God possibly be with them? In the coming verses, Stephen will address such concerns.

You can listen to this teaching on Acts 7:9-29 by clicking on the following link: Stephen’s “Offensive” Defense (Part 2)