The imagery of the Bible has as much to say to us as the narrative.

On their second visit, Joseph told his brothers who he was, and Pharaoh learned about Joseph’s family. After this, Joseph sent for his father Jacob and his whole family, seventy-five in all. Then Jacob went down to Egypt, where he and our fathers died. Their bodies were brought back to Shechem and placed in the tomb that Abraham had bought from the sons of Hamor at Shechem for a certain sum of money. Acts 7:13-16 (The Message)

It was the second time Joseph’s brothers came down to Egypt and asked him for help that Joseph disclosed to them who he was. We know that he made them suffer through imprisoning his sibling who he had made sure they would bring with them that time. This is not the most important image that Stephen is trying to get across though, it is the image of the faithfulness of God in restoring their remains to the tomb of Abraham. Between these events there is four hundred years but Stephen skates over the period of slavery in order to bring the listener to realize that God did what he promised Abraham. After four hundred years of slavery God looked favorably on his people and brought them out of the land of their slavery.

Today we want everything now, four minutes, never mind four hundred years, is too long to wait. What we need to grasp is that the faithfulness of God is to give greatest consideration to the big picture. It isn’t that the small person doesn’t matter, quite the contrary, God cares intimately about each person and every thing he has made. What we need to see is that Almighty God has a plan for the big picture, to which he is equally faithful. While contemporary religion encourages us to focus in on our own needs, the real gospel is about a God who has the best interest of all tribes and nations at heart too.

May we be focused on the big picture of the faithfulness of God and not consumed by the small picture of our own wants and needs. Amen.