Acts 7:44-51 Contemporary English Version (CEV)
The Truth is always going to be released in some way or another; the Lord who is Truth cannot be silenced. The Word of Truth will always demand a response. We can either take the Truth in or resist it. If we are full of ourselves and sow into a selfish perspective—narcissistic by sin—then we will hate the Truth if it disagrees with our inclinations or agendas. Human flesh fights to dominate the Spirit; always a power struggle. In our passage today, we will see the division the Truth can create when human flesh and the Spirit clash.
Originally, Stephen was chosen by the apostles to feed the needy. Yet, this prophet did so much more than that because he was full of the Spirit. Steven performed many miracles and signs of God among the people. By doing so, he made the narcissistic religious leaders extremely angry. Stephen had power they did not possess. The Counsel falsely accused Stephen of blaspheming against the will of Creator God and the Law of Moses—the Torah. Stephen presented his case, against these accusations, by recounting the Truth of God’s provision for the salvation of Israel through Abraham, Moses, Joshua, and all the way up to and including Jesus. Stephen explained that the Tabernacle was a temporary vessel to house the Spirit until Jesus was sent to make a way for the indwelling of the Spirit in human hearts. Obedient lives would be the outward sign of true inward worship of God; power and blessing would be released through these lives willing to live guided by the Hand of God. Yet, these religious leaders could not bear to hear the Truth; they preferred Temple worship and animal sacrifice over the sacrifice of their flesh. So, they stoned Stephen to silence him in order to preserve their power.
44 The tent where our ancestors worshiped God was with them in the desert. This was the same tent that God had commanded Moses to make. And it was made like the model that Moses had seen. 45 Later it was given to our ancestors, and they took it with them when they went with Joshua. They carried the tent along as they took over the land from those people that God had chased out for them. Our ancestors used this tent until the time of King David. 46 He pleased God and asked him if he could build a house of worship for the people of Israel. 47 And it was finally King Solomon who built a house for God.
48 But the Most High God doesn’t live in houses made by humans. It is just as the prophet said, when he spoke for the Lord,
“Heaven is my throne,
and the earth
is my footstool.
What kind of house
will you build for me?
In what place will I rest?
I have made everything.”
51 You stubborn and hardheaded people! You are always fighting against the Holy Spirit, just as your ancestors did.
Prayer: Lord, thank you for this lesson today from the life of Stephen. I, too, must speak the Truth and be willing to accept the possibility that flesh-driven people may hate me for it. Nonetheless, salvation is about exalting Truth. So lead on Holy Spirit in my life and in the lives of all your children. Help us to use our faith when fear rises within us. May we take our places as sons and daughters to obey your Word and passionately speak your heart. In Jesus’ name. Amen.