THE STEADFAST LOOK AND THE BEST ATTRACTION
“But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up steadfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing on the right hand of God.” Acts 7.55, 56.
Until the Lord becomes our Teacher, we are sure to think that a regular attendance to the ordinances of the Lord’s house is quite sufficient. Stephen cut up all these notions and showed his persecutors how different was the truth.
There were three accusations against Stephen, two of which were not true. Stephen’s accusers said he blasphemed Moses and God. This was not true. He put Moses in his place, and showed them Jesus Christ.
The next accusation was, that he spoke against the holy places. This might be, because he would show a better temple, and a better resting place.
But then Stephen said that Jesus of Nazareth was greater than Moses. In their opinion this was a dangerous doctrine. He looked steadfastly into heaven, and saw the heavens opened – although the earth was closed against him – and saw “the Son of Man standing on the right hand of God.” Such was the beauty and grandeur of the sight, and so fixed was his attention, that he was enabled to say what he did, notwithstanding his sufferings.
The steadfast look means the steadfast look of faith and hope, and prayer to God. There was nothing could draw Stephen’s attention away from this. There was no love like the love of God. When the Lord reveals Himself as our only hope, and shows us our condition under the law, we are sure that nothing but the love of God can reach us.
Thrice happy is the man whose hope is in the mercy and goodness of God. For such, “To live is Christ, and to die is gain,” to rise is gain, and to enter heaven is gain. The Lord Himself is steadfast, and He will make His people what He will have them to be. It is a great thing to have an object to love, and a firm hope of full possession of that object. Our God is almighty, and, having loved His people, He ‘will never leave, nor forsake them.”
There is no attraction like that which met dying Stephen’s eyes. We have our goldfields, our academical honours, our worldly pedestals; but what are they in comparison with this attraction? The glory Stephen saw drew his attention from what they were doing with his body. He was contemplating the glory of God, and while he was so engaged, they took away his life.
The truth embodied in the glory of God and of Christ is another part of this attraction. So, often some portion of the Word comes in and wonderfully encourages us. How many have been refreshed from “If need be, ye are in heaviness …” It is but for a season. Stephen would say, “I am suffering, but there is a needs-be. My body will soon be silent in its native earth, but my spirit will be carried into Abraham’s bosom, amid the songs and praises of angels.”
As we draw near to eternity, what molehills the things of time appear to us! The clouds of mortality will thicken around us as we draw near our earthly end, but the skies above will become brighter and brighter with “the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God.”
Gospel Magazine, 1889