The patriarchs, because they were jealous of Joseph, sold him into Egypt. But God was with him, and rescued him from all his troubles, and granted him favor and wisdom in the presence of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, who made him ruler over Egypt and over all his household. Then a famine occurred throughout Egypt and Canaan, causing great suffering, and our ancestors could not find food. So when Jacob heard that there was grain in Egypt, he sent our ancestors there the first time.
On their second visit Joseph made himself known to his brothers again, and Joseph’s family became known to Pharaoh. So Joseph sent a message and invited his father Jacob and all his relatives to come, seventy-five people in all. So Jacob went down to Egypt and died there, along with our ancestors, and their bones were later moved to Shechem and placed in the tomb that Abraham had bought for a certain sum of money from the sons of Hamor in Shechem.’
You can tell Stephen’s history lesson has taken a slight turn. Instead of talking about the faithfulness of God to His people, he is now focusing on the evil that Jacob’s sons did. They were capable of destroying the promised line and seed of the house of Jacob completely! Or at least they tried.
It is no mistake that Stephen is focusing on this event from Genesis over all of the others.
- Evil men were jealous of the favorite son.
- They got rid of the favorite son through trickery.
- God rescued him (Him?) and brought him back.
- In h(H)is renewed state, he saved all of them and anyone else that would come along.
You can see that Stephen is about to show that Jesus has done all that Joseph did for the patriarchs. Just as Joseph’s brothers were tested and had to change from who they were, Stephen is reaching out to these wicked and jealous leaders to change their ways.
Oftentimes, what we call jealousy is simply wanting something to go a certain way or be a certain way for ourselves. We may or may not want it to go a certain way for others, but that’s not the issue. We want what we want.
Stephen is not forcing the religious leaders to admit what they did or to leave their old ways. He is offering them an exchange. It’s a negotiation.
It’s the same negotiation offered to all of us.
We are more like Joseph’s brothers than we are like Joseph. We are more like the people in the crowd shouting “Crucify!” than we are like Jesus.
When we offer God our guilt and apology for living without Him, He forgives us and gives us His Holy Spirit so that we can live with Him.
That is the exchange. Those are the terms of the negotiation. And in God’s great plan, by His great love for us, we all benefit from it.
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