Stephen was before the Sanhedrin, charged with false accusations. The High Priest asked him if they were true. He didn’t even go there. Instead, he gave a wonderful speech drawing his listeners right back to the time of Abraham and his call by God to leave Mesopotamia and head for the ‘promised land’.
He enlarged on the family history, including references to Isaac, Jacob, the patriarchs and Joseph. He reminded them of the Hebrews’ trip to and stay in Egypt, and how God called Moses to lead the Hebrews out of Egypt; how Moses had been rejected, and yet God had performed miraculous signs and they left Egypt, crossed the Red Sea and lived in the Desert.
He reminded the people how the Hebrew leaders wanted to serve a golden calf and return to Egypt. How they forsook God and turned to the worship of stars. How God had given them the Tabernacle as a place for His Name, and how David had wanted to build a Temple but that Solomon was the one who did it.
At that point Stephen quoted the Scriptures that reminded them that God is too big to live in man-made dwellings. Then suddenly, Stephen burst out in righteous indignation; he likened his listeners to the religious leaders that preceded them – those who had rejected God’s ways and killed his prophets and finally Stephen accused them of murdering the Promised Messiah – Jesus.
He ended by challenging them that they had indeed received the Law directly from God but had not put it into practice. He cut through the sham. He ignored their trumped-up accusations and gave them a history lesson, which would also act as a light shining into their darkened souls. He would not succumb to their rhetoric, to their puny ideas, values and hypocrisy. He would try and help them see through their own duplicity and regain the truth of God.
He knew that the Word of God has power and is sharper than any two-edged sword. He knew that his job was to expose the truth so that those who wished to receive it could do so. He would reveal the truth and leave the outcome to God.
That can prove to be risky. That can prove to be dangerous. That can prove to be personally fatal. Which is probably why many people try not to leave the outcome to God, so compromise the message in order to protect the one delivering it.
That was not Stephen’s way. He would not compromise. He would not back down. He would tell it like it is, and allow the Holy Spirit to do His work. Stephen knew that the Kingdom of God and its future was far more important than his own comfort or future plans. He would say his piece and relax in the arms of God.
Oh that we had more people like Stephen alive today. People who will reveal the Word of God as it is and let God do the rest. I guess that is what the Alpha course does, doesn’t it?