We find Israel sinning against God by a single individual who kept the gods of the countries that they had overtaken. This resulted in him and his family and all of his possessions being taken and burned and a pile of stones heaped upon them. Yeah, they weren’t going to do that again. The next chapter we see Israel taking over the territory of Ai through a brilliant military maneuver, and they also weren’t spared. The city was burned, the people were killed, and the people of God enjoyed a massive military victory.
We then see that the power and the might of Israel was increasing to the point where the nations surrounding them were terrified of them, to the point that Gideon is able to squeeze out a treaty from them for safety through deception. I guess whatever it takes, but it does result in the Gideonites being slaves and water bearers for the Israelites for the rest of their generations. I guess that is better than genocide. A lot of that happening in these chapters
In Acts we see the first Christian martyr, our friend Stephen who was chosen to be a deacon back in chapter 6. But his martyrdom doesn’t happen before he is able to give the full Gospel message of how Jesus came to save all of humanity through the people of Israel and how Jesus is logically the Messiah. The listeners weren’t crazy about being called stiff-necked, among other things, and so they stoned him to death. He was able to ask God to take his Spirit and to ask God not to hold this act against them. Very Christlike as he reflects similar words to what Jesus mentioned in his death on the cross.
Simon the magician makes an appearance and it becomes clear to him that the Holy Spirit is not something you can buy. Then Philip, who along with Stephen and a few others became deacons back in chapter 6, is reintroduced in one of my favorite Gospel sharing passages in all of Scripture. If you look at Philip’s strategy on how he gives the Gospel to the Ethiopian Eunuch, for me it is the model for how we are to share the Gospel. You make yourself present to people, you respond to their question, you give the Gospel based upon their need, and you baptize as they request. You minister to people to the extent that they ask to be ministered. Not more, not less.
Saul is introduced to us in chapter 8 as he approved of Stephen’s killing, and now in 9 he is approached by Jesus in a vision who throws him off his proverbial horse. Paul is blinded and becomes Saul and the rest is history. We’ll see more of him later, but for now let’s see this image from my favorite painter of all time, Caravaggio.