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The Significance of Stephen’s Death!

17 Nov

70 Weeks Prophecy.- 2jpg

Stephen was one of the “Seven” (Acts 6:3, 5) that were anointed for their labor in the word of God and the leadership of the Grecian Jewish believers who resettled in Jerusalem. Apparently he was a very outspoken believer, testifying and proving that Jesus was the Messiah (Acts 6:9-10). It should be noted that he got himself into trouble, because those who opposed him couldn’t refute his testimony, just as was the case of Jesus during his ministry. It should also be understood that false witnesses were used to testify against Stephen, just as it was concerning Jesus when he was brought before the Sanhedrin. These similarities are not coincidences. This was the first time blood was shed among the believers since the crucifixion.[1]

Stephen was accused of speaking blasphemy against the Temple and Moses (or the Law—God’s word). In Acts 7 when the high priest asked Stephen to give an account of himself, Stephen mentioned three of Israel’s important forefathers: Abraham, Joseph and Moses. God met with Abraham in Mesopotamia and called him away from his family and blessed him. God blessed Joseph in the land of Egypt, so that he was able to save his entire family. He met with Moses in Median, appearing to him in a bush, and commissioned him to lead Israel out of bondage in Egypt. In each case God blessed his people without their having a Temple, and each one of them were outside the Promised Land. Stephen claimed God didn’t need a Temple to bless or to dwell with his people. This is essentially what Jesus told the woman at the well in the Gospel of John, saying that the time was coming when those who worship God will do so in spirit and in truth (John 4:23-24).

Stephen concluded by saying when David wanted to build a Temple, God as much as took issue with his desire, asking what house could he possibly build for him, since he (God) created everything that exists (Acts 7:46-50), thus implying the universe is too small to contain him (cf. 1Kings 8:27; 2Chronicles 2:6)!

It was at this time his accusers rushed upon him and took him out of the city and stoned him to death. Stephen’s death was very significant in the early church. It represents a kind of dividing line for what occurred before and what occurred afterward. The Gospel was preached to the Jews alone before Stephen’s death, but afterward it went to the Samaritans, who were a mixed race and only partly Jewish, and then to the gentiles. Why should this be so? Why is it that Stephen’s death should point to this?

I mentioned in an earlier post that the first half of the 70 Weeks Prophecy was fulfilled during Jesus public life. It would seem logical for the second half of that prophecy to be fulfilled immediately. However, this isn’t quite so. It **should** have been completed immediately, because that would have meant the Jewish nation repented and received Jesus as the Messiah. However, that didn’t occur. Therefore, the second half of the week would be fulfilled in judgment upon the nation (70 AD), instead of its vindication had the days been fulfilled immediately (34 AD).

Notice that the 1260 days according to my previous study, had been fulfilled at the cross on Passover day. Jesus lay in the tomb for three days and three nights. Salvation is pictured as a time of harvest, and the Wave Sheaf offering took place during the eight-day Passover season. It occurred on the first day of the week following the weekly Sabbath that fell between the two Holy Day Sabbaths (the 15th and the 21st days of the first month) that occurred during this Festival. This offering represented the blessing of the harvest season. Nothing could be harvested until this offering was made. It represents the resurrected Jesus appearing before God, being accepted for the rest of the harvest that would come after him.

Why is this important to Stephen’s death? Well, if we would count 1290 days from the time of the Wave Sheaf offering (on Resurrection Sunday) in 31 AD they would end on the Day of Atonement, 3 ½ hears later. This was the day of national repentance. If the 1290 days immediately followed the 1260 days, it would have meant the Jews, as a nation, repented and received Jesus as their Messiah. They didn’t and, instead, killed Stephen. Stephen represents their unrepentance and their rejection of Jesus. Jesus said in Revelation 2:20-21 that he gave the Jewish nation (Jezebel) a season to repent but they didn’t. These days were that season. They didn’t end in repentance, so the second half of the week was delayed due to unbelief, just as it was with ancient Israel when Moses took them out of Egypt. Instead of immediately going into the Promised Land, they spent 40 years in the wilderness, because of unbelief. Stephen’s death exposes the unbelief and the rebellion of the Jewish nation, and also points to the extent of the grace of God, looking for a wicked nation to repent.

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[1] This study has been revised to point to a different ending of the 1290 days, which is the completion of Daniel’s 70 Weeks Prophecy. Originally, I had those days ending at Stephen’s death, but I’ve found that Stephens’ death proves they could not have ended on that date – the Day of Atonement 34 AD. That was a day of national repentance, and the death of Stephen proves the nation didn’t repent.

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3 Comments

Posted by on November 17, 2009 in Prophecy, Religion

 

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3 responses to “The Significance of Stephen’s Death!

  1. Chad Ray

    April 22, 2012 at 10:45

    Ed,
    This is fantastic! I started browsing your site to find information on an acusation someone made against Paul (saying he disobeyed the Holy Spirit.) Your scriptural answers were helpful. I am currently in a conversation with a Hebrew Roots person. The information found in this article is
    going to be helpful for that situation. Seems like you have redeemed the time since your retirement.
    Thanks again for all the information.
    Chad

     
  2. Paul

    January 22, 2012 at 02:04

    Brother, thank you for your collective work on these difficult passages. I continue to read your work and studies with interest. I have always felt there was something very significant about the account of Stephen’s death and his manner of speech to the council, aside from him being the first martyr of Christ (as if that isn’t significant enough!).

    One thing I have always noticed about Stephen’s testimony before the Sanhedrin is that he seems to be reversing roles with this council and is in fact representing the side of the PROSECUTION in GOD’S case against THEM…rather than making any defense of HIMSELF. It’s as if he is an expert (Spirit-filled!) prosecuting attorney for CHRIST. He gives them the entire dirty laundry list of evidence to make a water-tight case for conviction. I believe this was their last possible and formal chance to somehow make one last-ditch effort and come to their senses. To me, it is a beautiful representation of the loving-kindness, long-suffering, and grace of our Lord in the case of the children of Abraham. He longed for them to come to knowledge of Him as their Messiah so He could restore them, but though he pleaded His case against them, they would not. The seventy weeks were DONE and the blood of Stephen officially sealed their final hearing and rejection of the New Covenant and locked in the course of judgment to shortly come in A.D. 70.

    If you read this account and stop at ACTS 7:54 at the point where it says “When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart…….”, you will see it’s THE turning point. If you didn’t already know the result in hind-sight, the text COULD have gone another way right there. WHAT IF…instead of them gnashing on Stephen with their teeth… WHAT IF…being “cut to the heart”, they fell on their faces in complete shame and utter humility before God and repented?? Wow….what a HUGE potential turning point for them.

    Blessings and peace in Christ Jesus our Lord!

     
    • Ed Bromfield

      January 22, 2012 at 14:02

      Paul, hello again! I agree, that Stephen does act like a prosecuting attorney, but he does defend himself. His defense has to do with the history of Israel fulfilled in Christ. I wrote a series of blogs (9) concerning Stephen’s arrest and his defense. It begins on November 23 of last year and continues to December 24th. If you wish to read them click HERE. That is the beginning study and just follow the dates to December 24th.

      Lord bless you.

       

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