Wednesday 06 May 2020

Bible Book:

'or what is the place of my rest?' (v. 49b)

Acts 7:44-50 Wednesday 6 May 2020

Psalm: Psalm 34:1-10


Yesterday we had a huge passage while today we have just a tiny part of Stephen’s speech to the Sanhedrin. It is a real pity because the story of Stephen is so beautiful and powerful. At the beginning of chapter 6 he is one of seven chosen to distribute the food to the widows and orphans (as the apostles describe it “to wait on tables”). It is one of those times when God’s sense of humour is so clear. The apostles appoint Stephen to wait on tables in verse 5 so they can do more important things and yet by verse 8 we find “Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, performed great wonders and signs among the people”.
Surely, God must laugh at our attempts to treat some people and some jobs as more important than others. What does it say about the change in understanding about key workers in the UK who have kept the country running through the pandemic while being considered unskilled by the Home Office?

The story moves on through a plot against Stephen (does it remind you of the plot against Jesus?) in the second half of chapter 6 before the key speech to the Sanhedrin of which today's passage forms part.

At various times through the history of the people of Israel we see changes in their understanding of where God “rests”, of “what kind of house” God needs. That was a key part of the anguish of Psalm 137 ("How could we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land?” (v. 4) because God was thought to have been left back in the Temple in Jerusalem.) That question was again live, real and pressing after the death and resurrection of Jesus. Where was God now and what home was needed for God to rest in?

How appropriate then to consider this passage now, at a time when churches around the world are locked and closed. Stephen is challenging the Sanhedrin’s understanding of the Hebrew Scriptures, how they understand who God is and where God lives.


To Ponder:

  • Where is God’s House when the churches are locked? Where is God resting now?
  • Jesus challenged the authorities to see himself replacing the temple (John 2:19), Stephen does the same. What do we need to hear today for our understanding of what is church?
  • Can you share some examples of where the tables have been turned by those who were undervalued because of their job or role?
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