(This was posted yesterday, but the emails were not sent out. I am trying again today).
Devotional on Acts 7 (NIV). God gave Stephen some insights about the faith of the patriarchs. May these insights encourage our faith today!
(Abraham) God had brought Abraham to the same land where Stephen was addressing the angry mob. But, “He gave him no inheritance here, not even enough ground to set his foot on. But God promised him that he and his descendants after him would possess the land, even though at that time Abraham had no child. God spoke to him in this way: ‘For four hundred years your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own, and they will be enslaved and mistreated’” (vv. 4-5). Not only did Abraham believe God even though he had no child, but Stephen, inspired by the Holy Spirit, says that Abraham knew that there would be four centuries of slavery before these promises could be fulfilled. What faith he had! Think of that the next time you are tempted to be impatient with the way God is working in your life.
(Jacob) “Then Jacob went down to Egypt, where he and our ancestors died. Their bodies were brought back to Shechem and placed in the tomb that Abraham had bought” (vv. 15-16). Death in Egypt did not deter Jacob’s faith that God would keep His promises. We learn much from these patriarchs about God’s sovereignty, and supremacy. They were “fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised” (Rom. 4:21).
(Joseph) “Because the patriarchs were jealous of Joseph, they sold him as a slave into Egypt. But God was with him and rescued him from all his troubles. He gave Joseph wisdom and enabled him to gain the goodwill of Pharaoh king of Egypt. So Pharaoh made him ruler over Egypt and all his palace” (vv. 9-10). I personally cherish this kind of faith: God can—and does—bring good out of what is absolutely unthinkable from the human perspective.
(Moses) “Moses told the Israelites, ‘God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your own people’” (v. 37). The faith of the patriarchs pointed them to Jesus. They did not know the details, but they lived out their lives in faith in the promise. Jesus spoke about this element of the patriarchs’ faith: “Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad” (Jn. 8:56). They looked ahead by faith; we also look ahead—by faith—but we are also blessed to be able to look back at their example of faith. We should be absolutely ecstatic that we have been called to join this faithful band in propagating the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ!