Thursday, June 4, 2009

In your face! (Acts 7)

"Never make excuses. Your friends don't need them, and your enemies won't believe them."

Beware of marginal people who want to break into the inner circle. The Austrian politician who comes to power in Germany. The Georgian thug who inherits the already-brutal Russian dictatorship. This chapter continues the confrontation between Stephen, a deacon named in the last chapter, and a synagogue of folks from the fringe (present-day Turkey and Egypt) who wanted to curry favor with the Jewish powers in Jerusalem. When the representatives of this marginal community were unable to contend with the force of Stephen's eloquence, they resorted to fraud and force. They dragged Stephen before a hostile court by means of false testimony. These were not ignorant men -- they knew that the penalty for bearing false witness was the same as the penalty they sought to impose upon their victim. Since they were seeking the death penalty, they each knew that, as far as God was concerned, they had earned the death penalty themselves. Many scholars believe that one of the enraged false witnesses was that most famous Jew from Kilikya, Saul of Tarsus.

Evidently, Stephen knew better than to expect justice, let alone mercy, from this high court. Rather than defending himself, he engages the listeners' attention with several long stories. Of Joseph, betrayed, humiliated, exiled, yet becoming the key to his nation's survival. Of Moses, betrayed, humiliated, exiled, yet becoming the key to his nation's survival.Then, he got to his point:
Act 7:51 "Ey dik kafalılar, yürekleri ve kulakları sünnet edilmemiş olanlar! Siz tıpkı atalarınıza benziyorsunuz, her zaman Kutsal Ruh'a karşı direniyorsunuz.
Act 7:52,53 Atalarınız peygamberlerin hangisine zulmetmediler ki? Adil Olan'ın geleceğini önceden bildirenleri de öldürdüler. Melekler aracılığıyla buyrulan Yasa'yı alıp da buna uymayan sizler, şimdi de Adil Olan'a ihanet edip O'nu katlettiniz!"
And, a few words:
  • Siz tıpkı atalarınıza benziyorsunuz -- You / just like, exactly like / your fathers / you are like.
  • her zaman Kutsal Ruh'a karşı direniyorsunuz -- every, all / time / the Holy / Spirit / against / you hold out, you resist
  • Atalarınız peygamberlerin hangisine zulmetmediler ki? -- Your fathers / the prophets / which / did they not persecute / hmmm?
When you hear a story, you tend to imagine yourself as the hero, and listen with intensified interest. The fate of the Soviet Union was sealed when bootleg copies of The Gulag Archipelago got back to Mother Russia, and the nomenclatura discovered that they were the villains, rather than the heros, of the story of their history. The messengers who bring this kind of news are rarely popular. Yet, their message takes root in some hearts, with results that outlive the messengers.

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