Accusations seems to be a theme that I'm seeing in my study of Acts. My last blog is about the Prophetic Accusation given to Moses by the one questioning his authority to interfere. This is being recounted to the High Council of Jews by Stephen in his own defense against stopping his preaching and doing miracles of healing and deliverance.
As Stephen goes on, he is recounting the history of the Jews that no one there can deny. He even quotes their prophets regarding the Messiah. But when he gets to the following, it turns into an accusation against them.
“You stiff-necked people! Your hearts and ears are still uncircumcised. You are just like your ancestors: You always resist the Holy Spirit! Was there ever a prophet your ancestors did not persecute? They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One. And now you have betrayed and murdered him, you who have received the law that was given through angels but have not obeyed it.” Acts 7:51-53 NIV
This is as far as they will let him go. The next verse tells us what their immediate reaction was. My King James Version puts it this way, "When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth. Act 7:54 KJV This is why I"m calling it a "heart cutting accusation". Nothing's worse than being accused of what's true and not wanting to hear it. When it comes to a large, powerful, organization against one person, and it's entrenched in it's ideology and narrative, it's instant rage! The kind that automatically manifests in violent expression.
When it says, "they gnashed on him with their teeth..." it doesn't mean they attacked him like a pack of dogs biting. It literally means to strike the teeth together, and maybe growling at Stephen like dogs would. It fostered a mob mentality, not unlike we witness today with some protests, often against a single person who has spoken out. In the realm of the Spirit, we describe that as manifesting a demonic spirit.
Stephen's reaction to this attack is to look up! And as he does, he tells them he sees heaven opened up and the Son of Man (Jesus) standing on the right hand of God. This really fires up the council further. First they don't believe Jesus is the son of God, and second their teachings say no man can see God and live. This is all the proof they need to kill him. Shut him up forever and set an example to others of like minds and faith.
"Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, And cast him out of the city, and stoned him..." Acts 7:57&58 Like many stories recounted in the Bible, I sometimes find things amusing. I read with my imagination and this brings to mind someone with their hands over their ears saying, "La, la, la, la..." as a way to let someone know they are NOT listening! They did this to Stephen. And the mob mentality, once again, took over and they all ran, attacked him, dragged him out of the city and stoned him.
If we think we are ready to stand our ground like Stephen did, this might be a good lesson to learn. First, know that some of the things we say will feel like a direct attack on those listening. Second, realize that people entrenched in their points of view are likely to become agitated to the point of feeling like we are 'cutting their hearts'. After, all, it's in our hearts where our beliefs live.
Third, being filled with the Holy Spirit of God is important, but the most important thing is to, "LOOK UP" and engage with the One who you are standing up for. He will show himself real and strong even if the situation brings you into His presence through death.
ON the other side, we have to guard our hearts against those who accuse us with "heart cutting accusations" that we don't gnash our teeth, cover our ears and chant "la,la,la,la...." and become part of a mob mentality that becomes verbally abusive and violent. It may come to that. God forbid.
NOTE: A different take would be to do a study on what it means to have our heart and our ears "circumcised". Maybe another blog from this reading. There's so much.
My favorite time of day is first thing in the morning as I grab my Bible, my journal, a pen and sometimes a cup of coffee. If I'm traveling I look for a quiet corner of a hotel lobby or rearrange my room to face the window. At home I have a favorite spot with good light and my laptop near by to check out word meanings.