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The Misunderstood Just One

July 2, 2015 – The identity of the unknown "Just One" (the coded expression used by Stephen in Acts 7 to name the messiah) is disclosed in the end of days together with the already disclosed name of the man of sin. The Mystery of Iniquity encompasses both unappreciated iniquity and unrecognized holiness.
"Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which showed before the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers?" Acts 7:52 Stephen challenges his jurors to see themselves for what they are. They are in rebellion against the Spirit of God.
Stephen seems deliberately to let the cat out of the bag. For the first of two times – the second time was right before stoning -- he says his secret plainly in the full light of day. He is their messiah. He knows that they are fully determined to put him to death; and he cannot dissuade them. He tells them (by the way, as it were) that they have now murdered the Just One, whom they have already convicted and sentenced in their hearts. You are betrayers and murderers, just like your fathers.
Israel, says Stephen, has already slain those that came before the coming of the Just One: messengers and harbingers of the coming messiah. Two messengers are prophesied before the Coming of the Messiah by the Old Testament. "Isaiah" makes the way straight before the Coming of the Lord; and "Elijah" turns the hearts of the fathers to the sons, and the sons to the fathers, that the people might be spared Destruction.
Stephen says of the Just One, the messiah, that now (at this time) he has been delivered over to betrayers and murderers. He is referring to his own jury and the guilty verdict that he knows is sure to come. He speaks plainly. No one understands his language. The Christians take him for a Christian, and the Jews take him for no one, a man beneath notice. With his execution, the fate of the Jewish people was set for two thousand years.
The anti-Christ and the Christ came as a pair in the First Coming, and they come again as a pair in the Second Coming. They are the daystar and the sun.
Jesus was God's faithful and true servant until he took his fate into his own hands to make God responsible for the holiness of an act of human sacrifice that deeply insults God's majesty.
The haste of Jesus to die on the cross compelled God to make prosper a form of Jewish faith whose doctrines are deeply offensive. God loved what He hated after Jesus finished his race to Resurrection. God helped the new religion to grow abundantly by appointing a heavenly gardener of ability whose name and nature are hidden in plain sight in the Acts of the Apostles.
God rules the insulting Christian Church that He loves greatly through a greatly loved intermediary, even the Son of Man that came secretly in the days of Jesus and died quietly at Jewish hands after a religious trial on a charge of blasphemy.
According to Daniel, one like a son of man comes with the clouds of heaven and ascends to the Ancient of days, and is brought near Him, and is given dominion and glory and a kingdom; that all peoples and languages shall serve him in an everlasting dominion that shall not pass away. Daniel 7: 13-14.
Chapters 6 and 7 of the Acts of the Apostles provide unappreciated evidence of a wrongly appreciated man. The long, brilliant courtroom lesson in Judaism that Stephen the Christian Minister addresses to Jewish jurors that hold his life in their hands makes no explicit reference to Jesus. Jesus is not named, not once. Compare this speech to the speech of Peter and Paul that speak only of Jesus, for He is the Truth and the Light.
What is the charge of blasphemy that puts Stephen on trial for his life? "This man ceaseth not to speak blasphemous words against this holy place, and this law. For we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy this place, and shall change the customs which Moses delivered us." Acts 6: 14
"And all that sat in the council, looking steadfastly on him, saw his face as if it had been the face of an angel." Acts 6:15
Stephen has been preaching freely. At his trial he abundantly displays his powers of frank and direct speech. He pulls no punches. He lets his accusers have it right between the eyes. They always oppose the Spirit of God. They always persecute the prophets of God. Now they have murdered the messengers of the Just One, and the Just One himself.
No one accuses Stephen of proclaiming Jesus as the messiah of the Jews. No one says that he asked them to look on Jesus as on God in heaven. Stephen is charged with saying that "this Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy this place (the Temple), and shall change the customs which Moses delivered us."
This adds up to a claim that the messianic age has been irretrievably set in motion by Jesus, whose coming is an unmistakable omen of the imminent arrival of the messiah.
Stephen's trenchant and eloquent defense of his practice of Judaism against a charge of blasphemy is steeped in the lessons and outlook of the Old Testament. It is obvious – compare him to Peter and Paul -- that Stephen is not a Christian. He does not believe in Jesus as God in heaven. There is no evidence that Stephen ever believed that Jesus was Israel's Just One.
Stephen does not mention Jesus by name at his trial. He makes no reference to the crucifixion or the Resurrection. According to the Acts of the Apostles, convicted of blasphemy and sentenced to die, Stephen finally delivers a strange prayer in the moment before he is stoned. As he prepares to die, Stephen allegedly addresses Lord Jesus in heaven, and prays to him to accept his soul.
If one word of New Testament testimony must be viewed as a late addition to the text, it is the insertion of one crucial word into the text by an editor intent on having the reader understand the text rightly. The editor and not a true witness placed the name, Jesus, in the mouth of dying Stephen. Stephen obviously said, "'Lord, receive my spirit.'" He also said, "'Lord, lay not this sin to their account.'"
The forged insertion – done for the best of motives, no doubt, as an aid to the reader -- of Lord Jesus into the dying speech of Stephen turns a Jew into a Christian. It is clear from the text that Stephen was a Jew that addressed all religious questions, including the life and ministry of Jesus, from an Old Testament point of view. From Stephen's point of view, at his trial he was the same as Jeremiah being put in prison.
Stephen sympathized with the religious rebels. He knew that God was at work. Stephen was on Jesus's side – he knew that a holy voice had been unjustly and prematurely silenced -- without feeling any call to alter his Old Testament outlook.
Stephen said as he awaited death by stoning, "'Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing on the right hand of God.'" This language does not refer to Jesus. Stephen is describing his vision of his coming reception in heaven as death is about to come upon him. Stephen speaks here (as at his trial) with both directness and disguise. He makes nothing clear while letting the cat fully out of the bag.
To say nothing in particular while disclosing his special secret and advancing his special claim is the particular art of the Son of Man.
It makes no sense that plain-spoken Stephen would have entirely refrained from mentioning Jesus while on trial for his life on a charge of blasphemy if he believed that Jesus was the Truth and the Light. Stephen gave his defense over to a prolonged accusation of his accusers in the classic and typical manner of an Old Testament prophet. He attacked them again and again for being bad Jews just like their ancestors whose sins are told in the Bible.
At his trial Stephen brought out the weapons of Jewish prophecy. He became the accuser of his people in the Name of his God. Stephen stood perfectly alone – no one had any idea what his life was about -- in a confrontation with evil and ignorance as his fathers had done before him. He is buried with the Christians. He is accounted a Christian by both Jews and Christians when he was the greatest Jew of his age.
Paul delivered a Christian interpretation of the crucifixion and resurrection. By the blood sacrifice of the innocent Lamb, the sins of the world are washed away. This is outstanding Christian theology. In Old Testament Jewish circles, such talk is thrown out of court. Human sacrifice is pagan and abhorrent. It is not a Jewish practice. God does not rule by ordering or honoring human sacrifice. God does not wash away sins in the blood of the innocent. It is not His style. He swore it to Abraham when He spared the life of Isaac.

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