In our study of Acts chapter seven, we see the cost of sharing the truth in the midst of jealousy and persecution. We see here the struggle between religion and the Holy Spirit. It is because of this struggle that Stephen is killed. This same struggle goes on to this day and this study can help us to understand it and stand strong in the face of persecution.
"Then the high priest asked him, 'Are these charges true?' To this he replied: 'Brothers and fathers, listen to me! The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham while he was still in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran. "Leave your country and your people," God said "and go to the land I will show you."" NIV translation
Stephen is being interrogated by the high priest because he was speaking about Jesus. When asked if the charges are true, Stephen does not defend his actions. He begins to talk about the Jewish heritage. This may not make sense to us as our natural inclination is to defend ourselves but, when led by the Holy Spirit, it is possible to remain fixed on God and his work. We have the same power as Stephen displays in this passage. The question is do we rely on God and use it?
"'So he left the land of the Chaldeans and settled in Haran. After the death of his father, God sent him to this land where you are now living. He gave him no inheritance here, not even a foot of ground. But God promised him that he and his descendants after him would possess the land, even though at that time Abraham had no child.'" NIV translation
Stephen is continuing his speech to the Sanhedrin by reminding them of their heritage. He reminded them of Abraham's obedience even when he did not understand what God was doing. Stephen's speech is a good reminder for us today as well in that we can stand on the Word of God even when we do not understand what He is doing.
"God spoke to him in this way: 'Your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own, and they will be enslaved and mistreated four hundred years.' Then he gave Abraham the covenant of circumcision. And Abraham became the father of Isaac and circumcised him eight days after his birth. Later Isaac became the father of Jacob, and Jacob became the father of the twelve patriarchs." NIV translation
Stephen is still giving the Sanhedrin a history lesson. Think of the faith that it took for Abraham to obey when God told him that his descendants will be enslaved for four hundred years.