And in the thirty-seventh year of the exile of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the twelfth month, on the twenty-fifth day of the month, Evil-merodach king of Babylon, in the year that he began to reign, graciously freed Jehoiachin king of Judah and brought him out of prison.
And what they said pleased the whole gathering, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit…
We are introduced to Stephen today. He was the first disciple listed in the list of men chosen to help serve the widows in Acts 6:5. And he was the first non-apostle attributed with performing “signs and wonders” (6:8).
Luke makes a special attempt to compare Stephen to Jesus as he describes how the Greek Jews sought to accuse Stephen of blasphemy. Stephen’s trial before the Jewish council mirrored Jesus’ trial as they fabricated lies and found false witnesses to testify against Stephen.
Even Stephen’s countenance reflected Jesus, “And gazing at him, all who sat in the council saw that his face was like the face of an angel” (Acts 6:15).
We’ll spend the next three days reading his famous defense before the Jewish council. But his defense would only ensure that he shared the same fate as his Lord, Jesus. Yet another way his life reflected the life of the Savior.
So, as we are introduced to Stephen, we have come to the end of Jeremiah. Jeremiah concludes his book, first with the prophetic destruction of Babylon (Jer. 51). Not only did his prophecy point to the destruction of ancient Babylon, but ultimately to all of what Babylon symbolized – the final destruction of all who stand against God and His people. It is with God’s zeal for protecting His people in mind that we read Jeremiah’s account of the fall of Judah. Interestingly, Jeremiah ends this extremely sad section in the same way that 2 Kings ends – with a shred of hope that the Davidic lineage did not die with the nation. The former Judean king, Jehoiachin, lives and with him lives the hope that God will not abandon his people but will restore the Kingdom and the Davidic King!
I wonder what happened to Jeremiah… What kind of life did he live in Egypt? Did he continue his prophetic ministry, exhorting the people to turn back to their God? Did he die in peace or was he killed for his continued faithfulness to God? However he died, I know he was welcomed in heaven with the words… “Well done, good and faithful servant!”