“Then they suborned men, which said ‘We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and against God.’ And they stirred up the people and the elders and the scribes and came upon him and caught him and brought him to the council and set up false witnesses, which said ‘This man ceases not to speak blasphemous words against this holy place and the Law’. . .And all that sat in the council, looking steadfastly on him, saw his face as it had been the face of an angel.”
Acts 6:11-13, 15
Although the heat in our “fiery furnace” experiences may grow quite hot at times, we need never fear—for there’s always “a fourth One in there with us likened unto the Son of God” (Dan. 3:24-25).
Chosen as one of the first seven deacons in the early church in Jerusalem (Acts 6:1-8), Stephen—whose name means “wreath” or “crown”—was a man “full of faith and power, doing many great wonders and miracles among the people” (v.8). In fact, two different times Dr. Luke describes him as being “full of faith” (vv.5, 8)” and “full of the Holy Ghost” (vv.3b, 5a). This shouldn’t surprise us. . .for the two always go together. Glory!!
It’s interesting that Stephen and the six other men were chosen to address problems in the Body (vv.1-3); yet, soon thereafter problems arose from without.
We should never be surprised when such things happen because the evil one “prowls around as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour” (I Pet. 5:8b). That’s why we should always “be sober (Grk. ‘nepho’—‘watchful, keeping watch over, on guard, etc.’) and vigilant (Grk. ‘gregoreuo’—‘to keep awake, stay alert, rouse from sleep, etc.’)”—for our adversary never sleeps and looks for any opportunity to “steal, kill and destroy” (Jn. 10:10a).
Likewise, we should never be surprised when the enemy. . .who is never “able to resist (or refute) the wisdom and spirit by which we speak” (Acts 6:10). . .resorts to evil and underhanded tactics. In Stephen’s case, they “suborned (Grk. ‘hupoballo’—‘to move stealthily, use collusion, lie in wait for, etc.’) men” to speak lies against him (vv.11b, 13). Likewise, they “stirred up the people” (v.12), which basically is the picture of inciting a riot.
Yet, like Jesus, Stephen did not react violently or retaliate to their unjust and sinful ways. Instead, he remained “calm, cool and collected”—for his “mind was stayed upon the Risen Lord” (Is. 26:3; II Cor. 10:3-5; Phil. 4:7-9; Heb. 12:2) and he knew this same One, Who’d suffered far worse than he ever would, would sustain him in the storm.
What a beautiful description of Stephen’s face as the vindictive, vengeful council looked upon him with such hatred: “They saw his face as if it had been the face of an angel.” Hallelujah!! Can, the same be said of us in our difficulties?
Oh, dear Pilgrim, the world cannot understand why we don’t come unglued in the midst of problems or adversities. They can’t understand why we can “rejoice and leap for joy when others hate us, have nothing to do with us, reproach us and slander our good name in public” (Lk. 6:22-23). That’s because they don’t know the Lord Jesus and His “Peace that passes all understanding” (Phil. 4:7; Jn. 14:27). Here’s praying that you, too, will “have the face of an angel today” when trouble comes—simply because Jesus is near.
By Tom Smith Morning Manna Dated July 6, 2010