Acts 7

1The high priest said to Stephen, “Are these things true?” 2Stephen answered, “My Jewish fathers and brothers, listen to me. Our glorious God appeared to Abraham, our ancestor. Abraham was in Mesopotamia. This was before he lived in Haran. 3God said to Abraham, 'Leave your country and your people, and go to the country I will show you.’ 4So Abraham left the country of Chaldea. He went to live in Haran. After Abraham’s father died, God sent him to this place here, where you live now. 5But God did not give Abraham any of this land. God did not give him even a foot of it. But God promised that in the future he would give Abraham this land for himself and for his children. (This was before Abraham had any children.) 6This is what God said to him: 'Your descendants will live in another country. They will be strangers. The people there will make them slaves and do bad things to them for 400 years. 7But I will punish the nation that made them slaves.’ And God also said, 'After those things happen, your people will come out of that country. Then your people will worship me here in this place.’ 8God made an agreement with Abraham; the sign for this agreement was circumcision. And so when Abraham had a son, he circumcised his son when he was eight days old. His son’s name was Isaac. Isaac also circumcised his son Jacob. And Jacob did the same for ˻his sons. These sons later became˼ the twelve fathers. 9”These fathers became jealous of Joseph ˻(their younger brother)˼. They sold Joseph to be a slave in Egypt. But God was with Joseph. 10Joseph had many troubles there, but God saved him from all those troubles. Pharaoh was the king of Egypt. He liked Joseph and respected him because of the wisdom that God gave Joseph. Pharaoh gave Joseph the job of being a governor of Egypt. He even let Joseph rule over all the people in Pharaoh’s house. 11But all the land of Egypt and of Canaan became dry. It became so dry that food could not grow there. This made the people suffer very much. Our fathers could not find anything to eat. 12But Jacob heard that there was food ˻stored˼ in Egypt. So he sent our fathers there. (This was their first trip to Egypt.) 13Then they went there a second time. This time, Joseph told his brothers who he was. And Pharaoh learned about Joseph’s family. 14Then Joseph sent some men to invite Jacob, his father, to come to Egypt. He also invited all his relatives (75 persons altogether). 15So Jacob went down to Egypt. Jacob and our fathers ˻lived there until they˼ died. 16Later their bodies were moved to Shechem. They were put in a grave there. (It was the same grave that Abraham had bought in Shechem from the sons of Hamor. He paid them with silver.) 17”The number of Israelites in Egypt grew. There were more and more of our people there. (The promise that God made to Abraham was soon to come true.) 18Then a different king began to rule Egypt. He knew nothing about Joseph. 19This king tricked ˻(deceived)˼ our people. He was bad to our ancestors. The king made them put their children outside to die. 20This was the time when Moses was born. He was a very fine child. For three months they took care of Moses in his father’s house. 21When they put Moses outside, Pharaoh’s daughter took him. She raised him like he was her own son. 22The Egyptians taught Moses about all the things they knew. He was powerful in the things he said and did. 23”When Moses was about 40 years old, he thought it would be good to visit his brothers, the Israelites. 24Moses saw an Egyptian man doing wrong to an Israelite man. So he defended the Israelite. Moses punished the Egyptian for hurting the Israelite; Moses hit him so hard that he died. 25Moses thought that his Israelite brothers would understand that God was using him to save them. But they did not understand. 26The next day, Moses saw two Jewish men fighting. He tried to make peace between them. He said, 'Men, you are brothers! Why are you doing wrong to each other?’ 27The man who was doing wrong to the other man pushed Moses away. He said to Moses, 'Did anyone say you could be our ruler and judge? No! 28Will you kill me like you killed the Egyptian man yesterday?’ 29When Moses heard him say this, he left Egypt. He went to live in the land of Midian. He was a stranger there. While Moses lived in Midian, he had two sons. 30”After 40 years Moses was in the desert near Mount Sinai. An angel appeared to him in the flame of a burning bush. 31When Moses saw this, he was amazed. He went near to look closer at it. Moses heard a voice; it was the Lord’s ˻(God’s)˼. 32The Lord said, 'I am the same God your ancestors had—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ Moses began to shake with fear. He was afraid to look at the bush. 33The Lord said to him, 'Take off your shoes, because the place where you are now standing is holy ground. 34I have seen my people suffer much in Egypt. I have heard my people crying. I have come down to save them. Come now, Moses, I am sending you back to Egypt.’ 35”This Moses was the same man the Israelites said they did not want. They had said to him, 'Did anyone say you could be our ruler and judge? No!’ Moses is the same man that God sent to be a ruler and savior. God sent Moses with the help of an angel. This was the angel Moses saw in the burning bush. 36So Moses led the people out. He did powerful things and miracles. Moses did these things in Egypt, at the Red Sea, and then in the desert for 40 years. 37This is the same Moses that said these words to the Jewish people: 'God will give you a prophet. That prophet will come from among your own people. He will be like me.’ 38This is the same Moses who was with the gathering of God’s people in the desert. He was with the angel that spoke to him at Mount Sinai, and he was with our ancestors. Moses received commands from God that give life. Moses gave us those commands. 39”But our ancestors did not want to obey Moses. They rejected him. They wanted to go back to Egypt again. 40They said to Aaron, 'Moses led us out of the country of Egypt. But we don’t know what has happened to him. So make some gods to go before us and lead us.’ 41So the people made an idol that looked like a calf. Then they brought sacrifices ˻(gifts)˼ to it. The people were very happy with what they had made with their own hands! 42But God turned against them. God finished trying to stop them from worshiping the army ˻of false gods˼ in the sky. This is what is written in the book of the prophets: God says, 'You Jewish people did not bring me blood offerings and sacrifices in the desert for 40 years; 43You carried with you the tent ˻(place of worship)˼ for Moloch ˻(a false god)˼ and the image of the star of your god Rephan. These were the idols you made to worship. So I will send you away beyond Babylon.’ 44”The Holy Tent was with our ancestors in the desert. God told Moses how to make this tent. He made it like the plan that God showed him. 45Later, Joshua led our ancestors to capture the lands of the other nations. Our people went in and God made the other people go out. When our people went into this new land, they took with them this same tent. Our people received this tent from their fathers, and our people kept it until the time of David. 46God was very pleased with David. David asked God to let him build a house ˻(temple)˼ for him, the God of Jacob. 47But Solomon ˻(David’s son)˼ was the person who built the temple. 48”But the Most High ˻(God)˼ does not live in houses that men build with their hands. This is what the prophet writes: 49'The Lord says, Heaven is my throne. The earth is a place to rest my feet. What kind of house can you build for me? There is no place where I need to rest! 50Remember, I made all these things!’” 51˻Then Stephen said,˼ “You stubborn Jewish leaders! You have not given your hearts to God! You won’t listen to him! You are always against what the Holy Spirit is trying to tell you. Your ancestors did this, and you are just like them! 52Your ancestors persecuted every prophet that ever lived. Those prophets said long ago that the Righteous One ˻(Christ)˼ would come. But your ancestors killed those prophets. And now you have turned against the Righteous One and killed him. 53You are the people that received the law ˻of Moses˼. God gave you this law through his angels. But you don’t obey this law!” 54The Jewish leaders heard Stephen say these things. They became very angry. The Jewish leaders were so mad that they were grinding their teeth at Stephen. 55But Stephen was full of the Holy Spirit. Stephen looked up into the sky. He saw the Glory of God. He saw Jesus standing at God’s right side. 56Stephen said, “Look! I see heaven open. And I see the Son of Man standing at God’s right side!” 57Then the Jewish leaders all shouted with a loud voice. They closed ˻(covered)˼ their ears with their hands. They all ran at Stephen together. 58They took him out of the city and threw rocks at him until he was dead. The men who told lies against Stephen gave their coats to a young man named Saul. 59Then they threw rocks at Stephen. But Stephen was praying. He said, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!” 60He fell on his knees and shouted, “Lord, don’t blame them for this sin!” After Stephen said this, he died.

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