Intro: Leading into our passage, today, Stephen (a wise servant, miracle-worker, evangelist in the work of Christ) has been accused of dishonoring the temple of God. Disrespecting the temple was not his motive; Stephen was simply trying to explain that God is greater and more important than the temple. In fact, God inhabits hearts that are open to the truth and are willing to seek him by faith. According to Stephen, these teachers had made an idol of the temple rather than allowing the temple to show them something about God and what is required to enter his presence. They missed the obvious.
The temple was a visual tool to understand the holiness of God and how to have access to him. Everything in the temple pointed to Jesus Messiah and the salvation he would bring. The altar represented the need for a sin sacrifice to receive forgiveness—Jesus became the necessary blood sacrifice for us once and for all. The basin for washing represented the cleansing that Jesus would bring to our unrighteousness through the saving and sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit. The lampstand represented the Light of God’s presence that would lead us into the truth—Jesus the Living Word of God. The showbread reminded God’s people he wanted to be their Life and Provider—Jesus is the grace of God. The incense represented the repentant prayers of the righteous—those who would believe and trust in Jesus to enter God’s presence and receive mercy. The curtain that once separated the people from the holy of holies—the Ark of the Covenant—represented God’s desire for relationship, but sin could not enter; so through the covenant of Christ’s love that tore the curtain, believers can now boldly approach the throne of God.
So, in response to the religious leaders’ accusations, Stephen sets out for these temple warriors the many ways they had actually rebelled against God as they occupied the temple and blindly went about their traditions. They had made the temple an idol to be worshiped; therefore they missed and murdered their Messiah when he arrived. Because they did not want to hear the truth about their sinful errors, they eventually silenced Stephen. We serve a God that cannot be contained or controlled; so, may we submit our hearts and lives to the King of creation and live with his miraculous help each day. Have a blessed weekend.
Acts 7:46-51b NLT
46 “David found favor with God and asked for the privilege of building a permanent Temple for the God of Jacob. 47 But it was Solomon who actually built it. 48 However, the Most High doesn’t live in temples made by human hands. As the prophet says,
‘Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool.Could you build me a temple as good as that?’ asks the Lord.‘Could you build me such a resting place?
Didn’t my hands make both heaven and earth?’
51 “You stubborn people! You are heathen at heart and deaf to the truth. Must you forever resist the Holy Spirit?
Prayer: Lord, thank you for giving your life blood for saving us, forgiving us, cleansing and sanctifying us, illuminating us, feeding us, listening to us, and abiding with us. Thank for giving us new life and guiding us to the right way to live. In Jesus’ name. Amen.