Acts 7:1–8 (NKJV)
1 Then the high priest said, “Are these things so?”Acts 7:1-8
2 And he said, “Brethren and fathers, listen: The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Haran, 3 and said to him, ‘Get out of your country and from your relatives, and come to a land that I will show you.’ 4 Then he came out of the land of the Chaldeans and dwelt in Haran. And from there, when his father was dead, He moved him to this land in which you now dwell. 5 And God gave him no inheritance in it, not even enough to set his foot on. But even when Abraham had no child, He promised to give it to him for a possession, and to his descendants after him. 6 But God spoke in this way: that his descendants would dwell in a foreign land, and that they would bring them into bondage and oppress them four hundred years. 7 ‘And the nation to whom they will be in bondage I will judge,’ said God, ‘and after that they shall come out and serve Me in this place.’ 8 Then He gave him the covenant of circumcision; and so Abraham begot Isaac and circumcised him on the eighth day; and Isaac begot Jacob, and Jacob begot the twelve patriarchs.
This recounting of the life of Abraham by Stephen is a picture of God’s promises–unseen and unfulfilled–being embraced by a patriarch of the faith. Abraham was told some outrageous things by the Lord. He and his wife would bear a child at extremely older ages and that child would bear more children who would grow up to become a large and powerful nation. He recounted the bondage in Egypt and the deliverance leading to the Exodus. He even threw in an allusion to the covenant of circumcision.
While all of this story is inspiring, and part of the salvation history of Israel and the New Testament church, it also has further meaning for Stephen’s sermon. Stephen is setting up the Jewish leaders in the audience to realize that Christ, Whom they rejected just days before, is the Messiah that fulfilled the plan of God for Israel. They crucified Him and He rose again, and they still reject the notion that the Messiah has come. Abraham, their father in the faith, was a man of faith who believed the promise of God and saw a son in his old age. The Jews of Christ’s day did not have that type of faith, and they missed the promise of the Father of a Messiah. Will you believe the promise of God today and receive the blessing therein? Promises unseen will become seen if God’s people will believe!