Randy. HS friend, now in Texas.
Saturday, 23 April 2022
“But when the time of the promise drew near which God had sworn to Abraham, the people grew and multiplied in Egypt Acts 7:17
Note: You can listen to today’s commentary courtesy of our friends at “Bible in Ten” podcast. (Click Here to listen)
You can also read this commentary, with music, courtesy of our friends at “Discern the Bible” on YouTube. (Click Here to listen), or at Rumble (Click Here to listen).
The previous verse detailed the highly complicated statement from Stephen concerning the purchase of land by Abraham. With that stated, Stephen now continues with another note concerning Abraham. This helps to confirm the evaluation of the previous verse. The narrative is concerning the land of promise and how it is connected to Abraham personally. It explains why Stephen mentioned things the way he did. With that understood, Stephen says, “But when the time of the promise drew near.”
This is obviously speaking about the chosen line of inheritance, meaning the line of Jacob through his sons, during their stay in Egypt. It is based on the words of verse 7:15 that said, “So Jacob went down to Egypt; and he died, he and our fathers.”
God had said to Abraham “that his descendants would dwell in a foreign land, and that they would bring them into bondage and oppress them” (verse 7:6). That included both Canaan and Egypt. With the time in Egypt drawing to a close, Stephen notes, “which God had sworn to Abraham.”
The promise is noted in verse 7:5. Even though Abraham did not receive even as much as the step of a foot, God had promised the land of Canaan to him as a possession. The details about the timing and events were then conveyed and the covenant sign (circumcision) was then noted. After that came many more details concerning how Israel wound up in Egypt, but the connection to Canaan, though seemingly in the background, remained central to everything Stephen was relaying.
The entire thought was centered on the promise to Abraham, inclusive of Abraham’s purchase of the land from Hamor the father of Shechem. It is at that time, when the promise to Abraham was to come after four hundred years – and which included bondage and oppression – that “the people grew and multiplied in Egypt.”
The exponential growth in Egypt became a central point in the ongoing narrative. That will be seen in the verses to come. But noting it shows this. Israel is no longer a small clan of people consisting of seventy-five relatives. Rather, it has grown into a great multitude. How the Egyptians would deal with such a large group will be conveyed in the verses ahead by Stephen.
Life application: Stephen is chronicling the history of his people to the leaders of his people. He isn’t doing this to show them what a great historian he is. He is doing so as an indictment against them for not seeing what God is trying to convey, right from their own history.
Many key events in their history, in which God dealt with them intimately, are recorded as being outside of the land of Canaan. They are also prior to the law of Moses. The fact that the promise of the inheritance is prior to the law, and that many of the interactions with God are outside of the inheritance, should clue the leaders of Israel into the fact that Canaan is only typical of something else.
Further, that the promise was made prior to the law should clue them in that obtaining it cannot be by law observance. As it was given by promise (an act of grace), and the law is contrary to grace, then the law must simply be a tool to teach the people of Israel their need for grace. Paul explains this quite clearly in Galatians 3.
What Stephen is relaying – in what may seem to us as somewhat obscure words – is something that should have been perfectly understandable to his audience. But even if it went right over their heads, more lessons from Stephen will be forthcoming that will continue to demonstrate Israel’s constant resisting of the Holy Spirit.
As this is so, and as the Holy Spirit is intending to highlight the work of God in Christ, then it is no wonder that they missed the significance of Christ Jesus when He came. Keep thinking about how God is revealing Christ in the pages of the Bible as you read. That is the main focus of what God wants us to see.
Lord God, the way the Bible is written, it just keeps giving us new things to think about. Even after thousands of years of it being read and studied, new insights continue to come forth. What a precious treasure Your word is. May we be willing to consider it and to apply its precepts to our lives each and every day we live! Amen.