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Wednesday, June 29 2011

The Stoning Of Stephen

While some regard stoning as "barbaric" (does anyone really believe that hanging, the electric-chair, or a firing squad are any more "civilized"?), stoning has a surprising-to-many Christian-applied origin - not merely by Christian-professing people who copied it from others, but from Jesus Christ Himself.

First, consider Who "the LORD God" of the "Old Testament" actually was (and still is):

The Holy Scriptures

"10:1 Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; 10:2 And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea [see also Why Through The Sea?]; 10:3 And did all eat the same spiritual meat; 10:4 And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.

10:5 But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness.

10:6 Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted. 10:7 Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play. 10:8 Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand. 10:9 Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents." (1 Corinthians 10:1-9 KJV)

It was the "Rock" Who commanded that those who rebelled against Him were to be stoned for violating His Law, including (ironically?) the parts of it that were themselves written on tables of stone. Examples:

"20:1 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 20:2 Again, thou shalt say to the children of Israel, Whosoever he be of the children of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn in Israel, that giveth any of his seed unto Molech; he shall surely be put to death: the people of the land shall stone him with stones." (Leviticus 20:1-2 KJV)

"20:27 A man also or woman that hath a familiar spirit, or that is a wizard, shall surely be put to death: they shall stone them with stones: their blood shall be upon them." (Leviticus 20:1-2 KJV)

"24:16 And he that blasphemeth the name of the LORD, he shall surely be put to death, and all the congregation shall certainly stone him: as well the stranger, as he that is born in the land, when he blasphemeth the name of the LORD, shall be put to death." (Leviticus 24:16 KJV)

"15:32 And while the children of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man that gathered sticks upon the sabbath day [see also Why Observe The True Sabbath?]. 15:33 And they that found him gathering sticks brought him unto Moses and Aaron, and unto all the congregation. 15:34 And they put him in ward, because it was not declared what should be done to him. 15:35 And the LORD said unto Moses, The man shall be surely put to death: all the congregation shall stone him with stones without the camp. 15:36 And all the congregation brought him without the camp, and stoned him with stones, and he died; as the LORD commanded Moses." (Numbers 15:32-36 KJV)

"That Rock was Christ"

The stoning form of execution was commanded by the LORD for those who were genuinely guilty of violating God's Law, which included blasphemy. Consider then the incongruity that the "lawyers" (see Why Did The Lawyers Hate The Messiah?) attempted to stone the Messiah after they falsely accused Him of violating the very Law that He originally gave to them.

The Stoning Of Stephen

"10:22 And it was at Jerusalem the feast of the dedication [see Christ's Hanukkah], and it was winter. 10:23 And Jesus walked in the temple in Solomon's porch [see also The Strait Gate]. 10:24 Then came the Jews round about him, and said unto him, How long dost thou make us to doubt? If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly.

10:25 Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father's name, they bear witness of me. 10:26 But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you. 10:27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: 10:28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. 10:29 My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand. 10:30 I and my Father are one.

10:31 Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him. 10:32 Jesus answered them, Many good works have I showed you from my Father [see The By-The-Book Messiah]; for which of those works do ye stone me?

10:33 The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God.

10:34 Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods? 10:35 If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken; 10:36 Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God? 10:37 If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not. 10:38 But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works [see Works Means Obedience]: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him. 10:39 Therefore they sought again to take him: but he escaped out of their hand" (John 10:22-39 KJV)

The Son of God was prevented from being executed by stoning, however Stephen, a true man of God, was put to death in that way by the very same people who tried to stone the Christ. In the case of Stephen, it wasn't a matter of a mistaken judgment - they knew Stephen was innocent. They murdered Stephen after they "set up false witnesses, which said, This man ceaseth not to speak blasphemous words against this holy place, and the law" because "they were not able to resist the wisdom and the Spirit by which he spake." By stoning an innocent man, knowingly and deliberately, they exhibited of themselves the very reason why and to whom that sort of execution was intended by the LORD.

"6:8 And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people. 6:9 Then there arose certain of the synagogue, which is called the synagogue of the Libertines, and Cyrenians, and Alexandrians, and of them of Cilicia and of Asia, disputing with Stephen. 6:10 And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake.

6:11 Then they suborned men, which said, We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses, and against God.

6:12 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, 6:13 And set up false witnesses, which said, This man ceaseth not to speak blasphemous words against this holy place, and the law" (Acts 6:6-13 KJV)

Stephen's defence is found in Acts 7:1-53. Like Jesus Christ, Stephen merely spoke the Truth - to which they "stopped their ears" and "stoned him."

"7:54 When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth. 7:55 But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, 7:56 And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.

7:57 Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, 7:58 And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man's feet, whose name was Saul.

7:59 And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. 7:60 And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep." (Acts 7:54-60 KJV)

"8:1 And Saul was consenting unto his death.

And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles. 8:2 And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him. 8:3 As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison.

8:4 Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word." (Acts 8:1-4 KJV)

Fact Finder: Who was the "Saul" (in the verses quoted above) who participated in the killing of Stephen? Why was he forgiven?
Acts 22:3-20 and see Was Paul Among Them?


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This Day In History, June 29

1194: Sverre became King of Norway.

1438: Albrecht II ("the Bear") was crowned king of Bohemia after being crowned king of Hungary and Germany earlier in the year.

1529: The Second Treaty of Barcelona, a peace settlement between Emperor Charles V and Pope Clement VII which made the Spanish Habsburgs dominant in Italy.

1613: The original Globe Theater in London burned down during the first performance of Shakespeare's Henry VIII.

1807: During the Russo-Turkish War, Admiral Dmitry Senyavin defeated the Ottoman fleet at the Battle of Athos.

1855: The Daily Telegraph was first published in London.

1880: France annexed Tahiti.

1925: King George V opened Canada House in Trafalgar Square in London. Canada House is the official building for Canada's High Commissioner and staff in Britain.

1937: Joseph Armand Bombardier patented the Bombardier snowmobile.

1943: Germany began to withdraw its U-Boats from the North Atlantic in anticipation of the Allied invasion of Europe.

1946: In response to murders and bombings by Jewish resistance in "Palestine," including the June 17 blowing up of 10 of the 11 bridges connecting the land of Israel to surrounding nations, the British conducted dawn raids and arrested over 2,700 Jews. The incident was later used as the pretext for the "Zionist" (see Anti-Zion Is Anti-Christ) bombing of the King David Hotel a little over 3 weeks later. Listen to the Sermons The Balfour Declaration, The Ottoman Empire and The European World Wars to understand why Britain was given to control much of the Middle East at that time, and how their presence there permitted the people of Judah (who once again failed to recognize their deliverer) to fulfill the prophecy about their return to the land of Israel.

1966: U.S. planes bombed Hanoi and Haiphong for the first time in the Vietnam War.

1967: Israel removed barricades to re-unify Jerusalem.

1974: Isabel Peron was sworn in as President of Argentina, taking over from her husband Juan Peron who became ill.

1995: A department store in Seoul collapsed, killing 502 people in South Korea's worst peacetime disaster.

1995: The U.S. Space Shuttle Atlantis docked with the Russian space station Mir for the first time.

2002: South Korean and North Korean naval forces engaged in a brief firefight. Six South Korean sailors were killed and a North Korean vessel was sunk.

2006: The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that President George W. Bush's plan to try Guantanamo Bay prisoners in military tribunals violated U.S. and international law. The trials continued anyway.





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Copyright © Wayne Blank