August 24, 2012
- By Ed Powell
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"All who were sitting in the Sanhedrin looked intently at Stephen, and they saw his face was like the face of an angel." Acts 6:15
Stephen presents his penetrating message before the powerful ruling council of the Sanhedrin. He recounts a condensed history of Israel and concludes with a penetrating accusation..."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 didn't persecute? They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One. And now you have betrayed and murdered him..." (Acts 6:51-52). "When they heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him...they all rushed at him, dragging him out of the city and began to stone him" (Acts 7:54-59).
What a scene of anger, guilt, and fanatic retribution! But look more closely and see the hand of God in it all. All who were sitting in the council, looking intently at Stephen, SAW HIS FACE, LIKE THE FACE OF AN ANGEL!" (Acts 6:15). What had happened? "Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God,' and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. "Look," he said, "I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God" (Acts 7:54-56). What a miraculous scene! Dying from the stoning by these cruel, malicious men, Stephen's countenance radiated with the glory of God...his face like that of an angel. God's glorious light shone upon him...HIS approval of such a stalwart man sold out to God!
Look more closely. "While they were yet 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.'" (Acts 7:59-60). Only God could endue a man with such grace, love, and compassion for those who so mercilessly stoned him to death. These Sanhedrin rulers were moved by the presence and power of God, so radiant in Stephen's face and evident in his life. Never had they seen such divine grace, or radiant love, shinning through one so cruelly stoned.
But there's more! "They cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, and cast him out of the city, and stoned him; and the witnesses laid their clothes at a young man's feet whose name was Saul." Saul looked on this whole dramatic encounter with intriguing interest.
He heard first-hand Stephen's forceful and convicting words to the Sanhedrin. He saw an unwavering, unflinching man of God stand true to his faith, even to the giving of his life. This made an indelible impact on Saul. Was it by accident that Saul was there? I think not. This was an appointment made in heaven, where Saul could see a man whose life was wholly given to God! An incredible impact...a scene that never left him!
Then Saul, who with zeal and sincerity persecuted the Christians...MET GOD! I'm sure Paul (formerly Saul) reflected many times upon this martyrdom of Stephen, and thanked God for such a man whose life radiated with the glory of God, and whose life had a penetrating influence upon him.
YOU can be a STEPHEN...YOU can radiate the glory of God...YOU can have an eternal impact on someone who may be standing by. Let God have ALL of you. HE will change your life from "what you are" to "what He wants you to be!"
© 2007 by Ed Powell. Used by permission.
This page was reprinted by permission from: http://www.litmin.org/dare.php?row=237&date=2012-08-24
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