34 I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt, and have heard their groaning, and I have come down to deliver them. And now come, I will send you to Egypt.’…..
……51 “You stiff-necked people, 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 announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered, 53 you who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it.”
54 Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and they ground their teeth at him. 55 But he, 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 he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” 57 But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together at him. 58 Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. 59 And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.
Being sent by God is a concept we see often in the Bible. Ever notice how often it goes really well versus really badly? In our reading today in Acts 7, we see an example of both. Moses, was sent to Egypt, and felt unqualified to do so. He encountered ridicule, grumbling and complaining. He wasn’t killed in the line of duty, however.
God had different plans for many of the prophets, for Jesus and for Stephen. He may have plans for us that could involve pain, prison, suffering, persecution, or murder. Are we ready? What are the implications for missions if we boldly trust in God for whatever HIS plans are for us? We will go to the hard places. We will expect hard things, rather than be surprised. He has told us that in this world we will have trouble. And in Matthew 5, we have just read “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” In addition, Jesus said, “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” 1 Timothy 3:12 is even more direct: Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,