1 And Saul was in hearty agreement with putting him to death.
And on that day a great persecution arose against the
church in Jerusalem; and they were all scattered through
out the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.
2 And some devout men buried Stephen, and made loud
lamentations over him. Acts 9:1–2
“And Saul was in hearty agreement…” Chapter 9 begins. It reveals not only the perspective of Saul, but the heart of Saul. In his blind state, he is in agreement with the deceptive manner and this grave use of power. The people celebrate with Saul, laying their robes at the feet of Saul as they rallied around what they believe to be truth.
They had the right God, but flawed interpretation and understanding. The Word that was to be freeing, had become constricting and cumbersome. The Spirit, which has been absent from their faith practice had now come. Signs and Wonders now appear. Priest in the temple as well as participants in the faith began to believe.
Conviction was falling on the land, and those in power, including Saul, new that they must get out ahead of the growing number of people that were being liberated by the Gospel. The church was being added too daily, which means the temple was loosing membership, which would diminish its power and influence.
Like with Jesus, the religious right used deception to single out one growing in power and influence, shedding the light on truth and giving people hope, killed their hope by killing the one pointing to it. Though Stephen was no criminal, his testimony was stealing people and resources from the powers that be. His power and light threatened them, so they snuffed it out, because it shined light on the fact that the light had left them some time ago. They were no longer surviving because they were the house of the Lord, or the dwelling place of the Spirit, but because the system and structure was strong enough to keep the Kingdom Economy going.
“Saul was in heavy agreement with putting him to death.” Chapter 9 begins. We know this was before Saul met Christ on the Road to Damascus, but its moments’ like this I believe Paul thought back too. The moments his zeal was guided and empowered by falsehood and in correct interpretations of the Scripture. He like many of us will have to revisit the sins we committed and sins we supported in our darkened state.
I wish I could say different, but Saul was no fool. Paul was a Pharisee. He was an expert in the law. He was one that was thought to have the most devote walk with God. This man, who was thought to be an expert along with others, encountered and denied the Messiah, Killed the Messiah, and then plotted against and killed Stephen.
How is it that one so versed in the scripture and the
law could be so blind? How is it that the scripture
could be fulfilled in their presence and they not receive it?
Saul and others were ingrained in a strong system that worked void of the presence of God and the leading of His Holy Spirit. They ceased wanting to people to be obedient to the laws of God, and wanted men to bow down in respect to them. They began to abuse their power, and saw those as disobedient and not worthy of life.
“And Saul was in hearty agreement with putting him to death.” Acts 9:1. Yes, it was beneficial to the system, but let us not over look that Saul was a part of this system. Saul was rising in the ranks, gaining power with each stop. He would surely be at the top of the totem pole if he continued to play the game and support the system; right? Right!
See, it’s easy to find “…hearty agreement…” in taking the life of another when it benefits you. Saul was pleased because each death secured his finances, his career, his social status, and a great legacy. Yep, he like many today, will be asked to stand with truth, and not make the comfortable choice by securing their future.
My fear is that we will loose some Stephens in this present season. The system built will fight to maintain itself and is practices. Remember, most of the law they were enforcing stemmed from their studies and interpretation. Sadly what we see today is the same. Worse, we have many that have misused the scriptures, lying on God and the Holy Spirit to control and to be dictators in their own little kingdoms.