R - Exodus 13:2b, 8, 9c, 14, 16, 21-22
2c - The first offspring of every womb among the Israelites belongs to me
8 - On that day tell your son, “I do this because of what the Lord did for me when I came out of Egypt
9c - the law of the Lord is to be on your lips
14 - When your son asks you, “What does this mean?” say to him, “With a mighty hand the Lord brought us out of Egypt.”
16 - And it will be like a sign on your hand and a symbol on your forehead.
21-22 - By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night. Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people.
- Acts 7:35, 37, 39, 51-53, 59-60
35 - This is the same Moses who they had rejected with the words, “Who made you ruler and judge?” He was sent to be ruler and judge by God himself.
37 - This is that Moses who told the Israelites, God will send you a prophet like me from your own people.
39 - But our fathers refused to obey him. Instead, they rejected him and in their hearts turned back.
51-53 - You stiff-necked people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are just like your fathers: you always resist the Holy Spirit! Was there ever a prophet your fathers did not persecute? They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One. And now you have betrayed and murdered him - you who have received the law that was put into effect through angels have not obeyed it.”
59-60 - While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep.
E - In Exodus 13, God has just given them instructions for the Passover and allowed them to walk out of Egypt rich and free. HE has just killed every firstborn Egyptian, and now he turns and tell His people - every firstborn belongs to me - animal and human. This will be a son to your children, and you are to use it to instruct them. God was putting things in place to allow fathers to pass on a legacy - that God’s mighty right hand has saved them and will always save them. Then the chapter ends with this picture of God leading His people - by cloud and by fire. He perfectly leads them. HIs plan and way is perfect…. and he never leaves them. Then you read Acts 7 and holy cow. Stephen is brought before the Sanhedrin and just rolls through all of this history we have been reading about - genesis to exodus. He points out that Moses was appointed by God, and they all know this, and yet their own fathers rejected his leadership and didn’t follow him correctly. Then Moses promises that there will one day be a prophet like him that will lead them - JESUS!!!!! - and they receive him they same way their fathers received moses - the rejected him. They are stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart - they are the circumcised people but their hearts are far from him. Stephen shares the truth with them and they stone him for it. His response - Father receive my spirit and do not hold this sin against them!!!!!!!!
A - Legacy. Sums it all up. God called the people of Israel out of slavery and handed them a perfect plan for life and godliness. He gave them the law and taught them how to live. He showed them how to hand down this legacy from generation to generation, and yet they failed completely at this task. Why? Their hearts were uncircumcised and far from Him. From the beginning they rejected God’s appointed leader and way, and they trusted in their own understanding. The rest of the OT is time after time of this truth coming into the light - unless your heart is solely and completely surrendered to the Lord, you will fail. Legacy. Every person will pass on a legacy, either for good or for bad. Most of Israel passed on a bad legacy. And Stephen so beautifully points this out. They have always rejected God’s way, because it is the way of humility and trust. But their “fathers” and they themselves have always wanted to do it their way. In Stephen’s day, they revered the writings of the prophets, yet when those prophets were alive and writing, their fathers rejected and persecuted them. Stephen so beautifully connects this to the present situation - you have rejected Jesus and yet HE is the perfect prophet, priest, and king. You have killed the righteous one. Then they get really mad and stone Stephen to death. What does Stephen do? He prays for God to not hold their sin against them!!! Wow. Sounds eerily like Jesus prayer on the cross, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” All I see and hear throughout all of this is one word - Legacy! In Christ we have such a legacy to walk in. The disciples walked in it. They passed it on to Stephen. They taught Barnabas. Barnabas taught Paul, who was Saul who watched and approved of Stephen’s death. And this process continues on throughout history of missionaries and believers who laid down their life on behalf of others. They live such lives of obedience to Christ that to die is gain, to quote Paul. So today, what legacy will I choose? Will I choose to get caught up in my own life and with my own desires and pass on a legacy of pride and selfishness? Or will I choose humility, suffering, and love? The way of the cross. “If any man would lose HIs life for my sake, He will find it.” I want life in Him, and I want to walk in the legacy of two thousand years of believers who have gone before me. And I want to pass that legacy on to physical and spiritual children. I, we, can trust God to lead us. He is the sovereign Lord, and He is so good. He came down from heaven to set us free, and we are free indeed. I choose Christ. I choose death to self, and life in humble obedience to Him. Even if it costs me everything, it is worth it. I want a heart that loves so much, that even when they are stoning me, I cry out for their forgiveness and salvation!!