“God will raise up a prophet for you from your own people as he raised me up.”
In this passage, Stephen is continuing his prophetic narration of the history of Israel. The Exodus narrative is critical to the very formation of the Jews as a people; but those who were in the Exodus were, as Stephen reminds us again and again, stubborn and sinful. They repeatedly rejected Moses despite his clear appointment by God as the one to lead them out of Egypt. And Moses had foreshadowed the rising of Messiah from out of his descendants.
Of many messengers that God sent to his people, Moses was not among those who were killed. But the continuous rejections surely took a toll on him, and he did not live to see the fulfillment of the promise given to him.
Stephen too is a messenger and a prophet. But unlike the messengers who simply conveyed the message without truly “owning” that message, Stephen does not shrink from it. He does not wrap it in fragrant garments. He lays it out, unmistakable and utterly offensive to his hearers. And he will not shrink from its consequences.
There is a time to heed authority, and a time to defy it.
There is a time to tell the old story, and a time to graft our new story onto the old root.
There is a time to prserve our life, and a time to lay it bare before the consequences.
Lord, give us grace to know the times we are in, and to act with that grace. Amen.