Stephen is on trial for his life before the Jewish council (7:1), but rather than defend himself, he preaches Christ from the shadows of their Old Testament. God isn’t called “the God of glory” (7:2) until the Psalms, so Stephen was telling them he was going to read Him back into the story of Abraham. That would get them to thinking about how he would be reading Christ back into their Old Testament as well!
God telling Abraham to leave his home was a shadow picture of Galatians 4:4. Abraham waited till his father was dead (Acts 7:4), and the Lord waited till his father Joseph was dead before starting his ministry (Jo. 2:11,12; 19:27).
Abraham didn’t get his inheritance in the promised land on his first trip to earth (Acts 7:5 cf. Heb. 11:9), but he will in his second trip in the resurrection. That pictures how the Lord didn’t get His inheritance on His first trip to earth (Mt. 8:20) but will inherit all things in His resurrection (Heb. 1:1, 2).
God told Abraham that his seed would have to suffer bondage to Pharaoh (Acts 7:6), a shadow-type of how Christ’s seed will have to suffer bondage to the Antichrist. God judged Pharaoh (7:7) and He will judge Antichrist (Rev. 19:20). Abraham’s seed had to go through that time of trouble because the iniquity of the Amorites wasn’t full (Gen. 15:14-16), and Christ’s seed will have to endure the Tribulation because the iniquity of the Antichrist will not yet be full (Dan. 8:23,24).
Of course, before Abraham’s seed could inherit the promised land they’d need a Savior, and we see one pictured in Abraham’s son Isaac (Acts 7:8). God promised Abraham a son and he got tired of waiting for him and produced his own son named Ishmael. That’s a shadow of how God promised Abraham’s seed a messiah, and they will get tired of waiting for him and will produce a false messiah in the Tribulation.
Joseph’s brethren (Acts 7:9) conspired to kill him (Gen. 37:18) like the Lord’s brethren did (Mt. 21:38; Mark 3:6), and for the same reason (Gen. 37:11; Mt. 27:17). They stripped Joseph (Gen. 37:23), another shadow of the Lord (Mt. 27:28). Of course, Joseph’s brethren got the Ishmaelites to do their dirty work (Gen. 37:22, 28), just like the Lord’s brethren got the Romans to do theirs. God was with Joseph in the pit (Acts 7:9) the way He was with the Lord in the tomb (John 16:28, 32). In all this, Stephen is reminding the Jews that Joseph’s brethren were wrong when they thought they got rid of him, just as they were about Christ when they crucified Him.
God not only delivered Joseph out of the pit, He made him governor of Egypt and the world (Acts 7:10). Just as God delivered Christ out of the “pit” of the tomb (Ps. 40:1, 2) and will someday make Him “governor” of the world (Ps. 22:28).
That’s when the Lord was supposed to be made Israel’s king, but something else had to happen first, the “dearth” of Acts 7:11 that foreshadowed the Tribulation. Joseph’s brethren had no sustenance then, and the Lord’s brethren will have nothing to eat in the Tribulation either without the mark of the beast (Rev. 13:16, 17). The Tribulation would have had to come to purify unbelievers out of Israel before the kingdom even if they’d received their messiah (Zech. 13:7-9).
Joseph’s brethren didn’t recognize him the first time they went to him for food, but did the second time (Acts 7:12, 13). That’s a type of how the Lord’s brethren in Israel didn’t recognize Him the first time He came, but they will the second time He comes (Zech. 12:10). Joseph’s brethren were troubled at his presence (Gen. 45:3) as the Lord’s brethren will be at His second coming (Rev. 1:7).
Joseph’s brethren were made known to Pharaoh (Gen. 45:16-18 cf. Acts 7:13) and they were soon enjoying “the fat of the land,” and someday the Lord’s brethren will be enjoying the fat of the land in the kingdom of heaven on earth.
At this point in Joseph’s life, there was nothing left to do except call “all his kindred” (Acts 7:14) to enjoy the fat of the land with them, just as the Lord’s brethren will do with His brethren to enjoy the fat of the land in the kingdom (Mt. 24:31). Stephen’s hearers among the Jews must have seen these types or they wouldn’t have stoned him!
Video of this sermon is available on YouTube: Preaching Christ in the Shadows – Acts 7:1-14