Stephen and Joseph

Acts 7.

Notes of an address by P. R. Phare at Hawick 1/1/1898.

During 4,000 years, the responsible man had broken down completely under trial. Stephen's indictment of the Jewish leaders was crushing. It was summed up under four heads, viz., the law broken, the prophets persecuted, the Just One slain, and the Holy Ghost slighted. That was a terse statement of fearful import. But the climax of his arraignment came in the words, "Ye do always resist the Holy Ghost!"

Joseph is described in the prophetic witness of Jacob as a fruitful bough, yet hated and separated from his brethren, on the other hand taken up by God as a type, passing through long trying experience and ultimately blessed in a wonderful place of exaltation. Jacob's love for Joseph was typical of the delight of God in Christ. Joseph's brethren after the flesh were envious and could not brook their father's obvious preference. Joseph was despised, ill-treated and sold for 20 silver pieces. We read that it was for envy that the chief priests delivered the Lord to Pilate (Mark 15:10). Christ was robbed of His kingly glory and Messianic rights, sold for 30 silver pieces and separated from his earthly connections. So the only perfect link between God and man of that order was completely severed in the death of Christ. Notwithstanding that on feast days the world celebrates the birth and death of Christ, He is really rejected here. There is no place in this poor world for Christ! But although rejected here He has been received in the glory by God, from whence He is the dispenser of blessing to the whole universe. The devil stepped on to the virgin soil of God's fair creation and inserted a lie in the mind of the first man. But God raised up another man, viz., Christ, who was here completely for the good pleasure and glory of God. The devil could not stand such a display from God and he did not rest until he succeeded in inducing man to put Christ out of the world by way of the Cross. He thought that he had quenched the light of the world permanently, but in the act he completely outwitted himself. Christ is still the light of the world in an exalted sphere and He has countless thousands of light-bearers reflecting that light to illuminate the darkness of the world! Even as every knee had to bow to Joseph and he was the supreme administrator of all the resources of Egypt, so God has decreed that every knee must bow to Jesus owning Him as Lord, and He is the administrator of all the wealth of heaven! In Gen. 45. we see the affection of Joseph in revealing himself to his brethren and that every Egyptian had to go out from his presence while he was doing so. No matter how cultured the Egyptian was he could not enter in to that affection. So to-day the Lord makes Himself known to His own whom He loves to the end. No philosophic conception can understand that love! The Spirit of God is charged with the mission of revealing to us the glory of that Blessed One. Stephen beheld the heavens opened to enable him to look up into the glory of God and to see Jesus as if ready to come back. Hebrews 2 presents him to the eye of faith as the centre of all God's administration. There are two parts of the purpose of God concerning Christ. He is already set over everything, although everything is not yet put under His feet, but by faith we see Jesus as the One crowned with glory and honour. He is the true antitype of the High Priest clothed with the garments of glory and beauty of the Old Testament. The Hebrews epistle takes us much further in the development of the doctrine presented in Acts 7. There we are told about God's purpose concerning us showing how God is occupied in bringing many sons to glory. He is taking us home to the place of sonship. Stephen became a reflection of his Master, in the brief moment before he was stoned to death. As the first martyr he became the pattern for the long line of witnesses loyal unto death, who were filled with the Holy Ghost and with the vision of the opened heavens and the Glory of God and Jesus there. What a wonderful effect the knowledge of that will have upon us. Otherwise we will be in this benighted and confused world as a ship without a rudder!