Tom: In this our Understanding the Scriptures segment, we’re in the Book of Acts, we are at Acts:7:9: “And the patriarchs, moved with envy, sold Joseph into Egypt: but God was with him, And delivered him out of all his afflictions, and gave him favor and wisdom in the sight of Pharaoh, king of Egypt; and he made him governor over Egypt and all his house.” Now, Stephen is giving those who are interrogating him some background from the Scriptures.
Dave: Showing them that he is not a heretic. He knows what has gone before; he knows the heritage. Tom, it’s a bit like what we’ve been talking about in the first segment - psychology, psychological counseling, psychotherapy. I sometimes facetiously - maybe I shouldn’t be facetious - but I sometimes say, “You know, look at Joseph: he was hated by his brothers; they were going to kill him. His parents didn’t like his dreams, his brothers sold him into Egypt where he was a slave of Potiphar…”
Tom: Dysfunctional family, of course.
Dave: Yeah, well, very! “And he was falsely accused of sexual immorality by Potiphar’s wife because he rejected her; thrown into prison, and you know, this is horrible - prison in those days, likely never to get out of there, where he is languishing. And how is he going to survive all of these trials? Well, fortunately, there was a local Christian psychologist not too far away who was able to come in once a week and build up Joseph’s self-esteem, etc.” And the audience laughed, you know, when you say that.
Well, if Joseph didn’t need that - look at his problems! - why should you need it with problems that are a whole lot less serious than his?
What does Stephen say? “But God was with him!” We need to get back to trust in God and not try to pamper ourselves, or try to take some drugs or psychological counseling somehow to get out of our troubles.
But the Bible is all about people who have very serious problems, serious troubles. Read the faith chapter: sawn asunder, they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, they were destitute, tormented, afflicted, dwelt in dens and caves of the earth, of whom the world was not worthy! And they all triumphed through psychological counseling? No, they all triumphed through faith!
Tom: Mm-hmm. That’s Hebrews Chapter 11.
Dave: Right, that famous faith chapter. And Galatians:5:22 starts out, “The fruit of therapy, you know, is love, joy, peace…”
No, no, it says, “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, and so forth: against such there is no law.”
So we have Christians today turning from the Spirit, from the Word, to therapy, to counseling, to some drug that will dull them to their problems and prevent them from learning the lesson of faith that God wants them to learn.
Tom: Dave, you know, sometimes I think if I were a psychotherapist - and my father was a psychiatrist, so I have those lines; I could get into that.
Dave: Sure, it’s in the genes.
Tom: If I put on my marquee out in front - I’d have a marquee - and I could put on the marquee what I am offering those who would come to me for counseling, and it would be the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, all these things…I’d be the wealthiest man alive, I think. People would line up for miles around to come to me. Yet the Word of God offers it for free!
Dave: Tom, they wouldn’t line up, and you would starve, because they do not want the truth! Remember Jesus, John:8:45, He said, “Because I tell you the truth, you believe me not.” So the truth is the last thing they want. They don’t want the fruit of the Spirit, Tom. They want something else. They want a do-it-yourself kit religion. But anyway, I’m sorry, I got us a little off the track.
Tom: Well, let me pick up with verse 11: “Now, there came a dearth over all the land of Egypt and Canaan, and great affliction: and our fathers found no sustenance. But when Jacob heard that there was corn in Egypt, he sent out our fathers first. And at the second time Joseph was made known to his brethren; and Joseph’s kindred was made known unto Pharaoh. Then sent Joseph, and called his father Jacob to him, and all his kindred, threescore and fifteen souls. So Jacob went down into Egypt, and died, he, and our fathers, and were carried over into Sychem, and laid in the sepulcher that Abraham bought for a sum of money of the sons of Emmor the father of Sychem.”
Dave: Well, Tom, he’s reciting more of the history and I guess we’ll find out why. He’s giving some examples, of course. He’s building up to how they rejected Christ, and he’s pointing out Joseph was rejected by his brethren, rejected by his family, but then God used him as the savior, actually, because if Joseph hadn’t been in Egypt, they wouldn’t have gathered - from those seven years of abundance - gathered enough harvest and stored it away to take care of themselves and others. So this is like Christ.
Then there was famine and they had to go and take from what Joseph had stored for them, and they didn’t even know who he was. That’s, again, another picture of Christ, that “He came to His own and His own received Him not.” They didn’t know who Joseph was. But one day they will know him. It says, “The second time…” I think that speaks of the Second Coming. Verse 13 says, “And at the second time, Joseph was made known to his brethren.” So I think the Second Coming of Christ, He will be known to the Jews who rejected Him the first time.
Then it talks about this cave of Machpelah there in Hebron. It belongs to the Jews. All the Jewish patriarchs were buried there, their wives. Not one Arab was buried there, and yet the Arabs have taken over Hebron. They have had pogroms slaughtering Jews down through history, chasing the Jews out. They built a mosque there, and they claim that this is their land; this is their cave. They’re not even related. Ishmael, from whom the Arabs claim to be descended, was buried hundreds of miles away. There’s no Muslim or Arab buried there.
So he’s just recounting this for them. Verse 17: “…when the time of the promise drew nigh, which God had sworn to Abraham, the people grew and multiplied in Egypt.” That was all foretold. If we go back to Genesis:15:13, God said to Abraham, “Your seed…” Now, today there’s a controversy. Who is the seed - the descendants of Ishmael, the descendants of Isaac? God said, “Your seed, the seed that will inherit the land, will be slaves for 400 years in a land, a foreign land, and then I will deliver them; then I will bring them to this land.” Well, who did that happen to? It happened to the Jews. It didn’t happen to the Arabs. It didn’t happen to the descendants of Ishmael. And it happened exactly as God said.
So it’s rather important what he is laying out.
And, Tom, we need to do this when we’re preaching the gospel, because the gospel was foretold. We have all the signs. We have the prophesies. It’s all fulfilled in Christ, and I love the way Stephen is laying this out.
And he gave them the feast of the Passover. The feast of the Passover is kept by Jews - not by Gentiles, not by Muslims, not by Arabs. And that is the proof that these people, the Jews, are the ones to whom this land belongs. And Stephen is going through this history. It’s terrific what we have in the Bible.