Stephen’s Sermon–Abraham’s Promised Descendents

F.B. Meyer held meetings in Northfield, Mass., and large crowds thronged to hear him. Then the great British Bible teacher G. Campbell Morgan came to Northfield and people were soon flocking to hear his brilliant expositions of scripture. Meyer confessed at first he was envious. … More

Envy

The picture of Abraham is followed by the picture of Joseph. As the Sanhedrin rejected Jesus, the sons of Jacob united to get rid of Joseph. Both were motivated because of envy (v. 9). Joseph was rejected by his brethren, sold for the price of a  slave, handed over to Gentiles, and made to suffer for sins, which were not his own. However, he later became their deliverer as God set in motion a chain of circumstances that brought Joseph’s kinsmen to his feet. The key to Joseph’s life is summed up in his own saying in Genesis 50:20. At that time his brothers were afraid that, after the death of Jacob, Joseph would take vengeance on them for what they had done to him. Joseph’s answer was, “As for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good.” Joseph was the man for whom seeming disaster turned to triumph (v. 10). Sold into Egypt as a slave, wrongfully imprisoned, forgotten by the men he had helped, the day came when he became prime minister of Egypt.

Stephen showed the Jewish people how they had resisted God’s plans for them, beginning with their treatment of Joseph. Stephen did not need to tell all of this story in order to make obvious applications to Christ. That which happened in Joseph’s day will be repeated on a bigger scale to one day drive the Jews to Jesus. The years of Egyptian exile ran their course (vv. 11-16). Finally, the time came for God to do what he had promised and by then the number of people had increased (v. 17).

There was a change of leadership in Egypt (v. 18). The rapid multiplication of the Jews in Goshen caused great alarm. Tension began to build.  Pharaoh’s solution was similar to what Hitler did many years later. Pharaoh’s gas chamber was the Nile River, as every male Hebrew born after the date of the decree was to be cast into the river (v. 19). Just think of the terror and heartache in every Hebrew home as their newborn sons were torn away by a member of Pharaoh’s Gestapo and flung living or dead into the Nile.

Application

I need to be asking if I have any problem with the sin of envy. How do I feel when others have success in areas I would like to be doing? Lord, help me to be honest and keep short accounts.

Acts 7:9-19 (English Standard Version)

"And the patriarchs, jealous of Joseph, sold him into Egypt; but God was with him and rescued him out of all his afflictions and gave him favor and wisdom before Pharaoh, king of Egypt, who made him ruler over Egypt and over all his household. Now there came a famine throughout all Egypt and Canaan, and great affliction, and our fathers could find no food. But when Jacob heard that there was grain in Egypt, he sent out our fathers on their first visit. And on the second visit Joseph made himself known to his brothers, and Joseph's family became known to Pharaoh. And Joseph sent and summoned Jacob his father and all his kindred, seventy- five persons in all. And Jacob went down into Egypt, and he died, he and our fathers, and they were carried back to Shechem and laid in the tomb that Abraham had bought for a sum of silver from the sons of Hamor in Shechem. "But as the time of the promise drew near, which God had granted to Abraham, the people increased and multiplied in Egypt until there arose over Egypt another king who did not know Joseph. He dealt shrewdly with our race and forced our fathers to expose their infants, so that they would not be kept alive."

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