As we go through Acts 7, I am emphasizing parts of Stephen’s address before the Sanhedrin, hoping to show how the young Messianic leader put forth not only his defense but that of the Gospel as well. Throughout Stephen’s address he points to Israel’s history—a solidified revelation of how God has interpreted himself and his relationship with mankind in such a manner that God’s people’s eyes were always directed toward the future. It was a history of faith and expectation. The problem in Stephen’s day was the Jewish authorities wrongly defined their present service to God with the past.
Stephen attempted to show his present listeners that the patriarchs’ vision was not upon the known past but the unknown future. To embrace the past as a goal would cause one to fulfill his present and consequently his future by repeating the same mistakes of one’s history. Stephen pointed out that the Sanhedrin was leading the Jewish nation down the path of judgment, just as their fathers who had slain the prophets of God (cp. Matthew 23:27-32).
In Acts 7:29 we discover that after Moses had two sons in Midian and dwelt in the land for 40 years (v.30), he met with God, the Angel of the Lord in the burning bush atop of Mt. Sinai (vv.30-34). Here he was commissioned by God to go to his brethren who had rejected him, but he now would become their ruler and deliverer (Acts 7:34-35). Moses brought them out after he had done many wonders and signs (v.36). Similarly, the Prophet that Moses said would be like him (v.37), Jesus, also delivered not only the Jews but the world from the bondage of sin, after he had done many signs and wonders in the land of the Jews (Acts 2:22).
It was when the Grecian Jews of the Diaspora came to see Jesus that he claimed “the hour has come” that he would be glorified (John 12:23). Jesus pointed to his death and the deliverance it would bring to the world (John 12:24-33). Jesus had come down (John 6:38, cp. Acts 7:34) to deliver not only the Jews, but the entire world from sin.
As the Grecian Messianic Jews came of age and began taking responsibility for themselves (Acts 6:1), they wished to walk with Christ together with their elder brothers, the Palestinian Jews, as equals (Acts 6:1). This announced the fulfillment of an era in the life of the Body of Christ that would emulate that of their Savior and Lord. As Jesus claimed upon the arrival of the “second son,” the Grecian Jews, their desire to see him or know him pointed to his glorification (John 12:23), in that all men would now be drawn to him (John 12:32). It would, therefore, be fulfilled in the lives of these Grecian Messianics (cp. Acts 1:8; Psalm 22:27) that they would be the first to honor Christ in death, letting their lives become the seed that would reap the nations (John 12:24-26; cp. Acts 8:1-4; 11:19-21) for Christ.
There is a peculiar story concerning Moses in route to Egypt to deliver his people. Apparently, Moses had his first son, Gershom, circumcised but not his second, Eliezer. Just before he arrived in Egypt to deliver God’s people from bondage, Moses’ life was threatened by God, himself. It seems that Moses’ wife, Zipporah, had abhorred the act of circumcision and had not performed the rite on their second child. To save her husband whose life was now in God’s hands, she circumcised Eliezer and threw his foreskin at Moses’ feet (Exodus 4:24-26). Moses was as good as dead to her, but she received him back through the shed blood of her son. Not only does this foreshadow the resurrection after the death of Jesus, but one can show that this act brought Moses, the Savior, to Egypt, and therefore to the nations through the shedding of the blood of the second son—in the case of Acts, Steven, a Hellenist Messianic Jew (and others like him),—all the Grecian Messianic Jews had to flee Judea and the ruling authorities by going into the lands of the Gentiles where they could be safe. And, where they were, the King was; and where the King was, the Gospel was preached.