This is the first in a series of seven posts based on Acts 6-7 and the martyrdom of Stephen, exploring if it is a foreshadow of end-time persecution for the Church.
Please either listen to the short audio clip above or read the notes below or both at the same time!
Acts 6:1 describes the need for provision regarding the widows among the Hebraic Jewish families. The apostles were occupied with the ministry of teaching and prayer. Seven brothers were chosen to fulfil this vital ministry of provision.
Acts 6:1 ‘In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Grecian Jews among them complained because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food.’
In the end-times there will be a great need for all of us to take care of each other, in much the same way as communities do in times of war.
Revelation 6:5-6 speaks of food supplies being reduced to survival quotas, especially to those who refuse to take the infamous ‘mark of the beast.’
Revelation 6:5 ‘…I looked and there before me was a black horse! Its rider was holding a pair of scales in his hand…a quart of wheat for a day’s wage…’
Revelation 13:17 ‘so that no-one could buy or sell unless he had the mark of the beast or the number of his name.’
There will also be a great number of refugees who will be fleeing persecution and they will need to be cared for.
We saw in the first Exodus how God miraculously provided for the Jewish people as they travelled through the desert and we can expect God to do the same when the time comes.
Matthew 25:34-46, which is embedded in Jesus’ teachings on the end-times, warns that those who feed and shelter the needy will be rewarded and those who refuse will be punished. There is a strong argument to be made that the needy described here are the brothers of Christ, that is, the Jewish nation.
Matthew 25:36 ‘I needed clothes and you clothed me. I was sick and you looked after me. I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
Matthew 25:40 ‘The King will reply, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’
Many great testimonies have come out of the Holocaust of those who risked everything to help those who were being persecuted. Sadly, to our shame, there were also governments that turned their backs and refused to help.
When the full thrust of the end-time persecution takes hold then Jesus will be expecting his Church, his body, to be fully engaged in helping those in need.
Tomorrow we explore the spiritual wisdom of Stephen. To get there now please click here.
Thank you for reading this.