Ready to enter the capitol…
Tuesday, 24 May 2022
“However, the Most High does not dwell in temples made with hands, as the prophet says: Acts 7:48
Note: You can listen to today’s commentary courtesy of our friends at “Bible in Ten” podcast. (Click Here to listen).
You can also read this commentary, with music, courtesy of our friends at “Discern the Bible” on YouTube. (Click Here to listen), or at Rumble (Click Here to listen).
Stephen has been speaking of the tabernacle, David’s desire to build a house for the Lord, and then acknowledging, “But Solomon built Him a house.” Now, as a clear indication that such a building is only a type of something greater, he substantially conveys the thought of Solomon at the dedication of the temple, beginning with, “However, the Most High.”
The term “Most High” (or “Highest”) is used more than fifty times in Scripture, usually in poetical verses, and mostly in the psalms, but it is also used quite often in Daniel. It speaks of God as being above all else. In Hebrew, the term is El Elyon God Most High. The word elyon refers to that which is at the highest point; that which is uppermost. This term was first used by Abraham –
“Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of God Most High.” Genesis 14:18
It is used to refer to the Lord God being above all other “gods” and of the absolute preeminence –
“Let all be put to shame who serve carved images,
Who boast of idols.
Worship Him, all you gods.
8 Zion hears and is glad,
And the daughters of Judah rejoice
Because of Your judgments, O Lord.
9 For You, Lord, are most high above all the earth;
You are exalted far above all gods.” Psalm 97:7-9
Daniel uses it in relation to the absolute power and authority of the Lord. Of the Most High, Stephen logically states that He “does not dwell in temples made with hands.”
Paul uses the same sentiment in Acts 17 when making his case concerning God while speaking at the Areopagus –
“God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands.” Acts 17:24
The author of Hebrews shows that the tabernacle/temple was only a type, or representation, of the true dwelling of God, heaven itself –
“For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us.” Hebrews 9:24
The words of Stephen, and which are agreed upon in both testaments, is that the temple itself, though a representation of who Jesus is and of what He would do, was a temporary point of worship until the coming of Christ. As noted above, his words are perfectly in line with what Solomon said at the dedication of the temple –
“But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain You. How much less this temple which I have built!” 1 Kings 8:27
As this is so, then a different type of worship will come when the Messiah has fulfilled the types and shadows seen in the rites and rituals of the temple. Jesus stated as much when He noted that true believers will worship God in spirit and in truth. Stephen’s statement now is a defense against the charge made against him in Acts 6:13 –
“This man does not cease to speak blasphemous words against this holy place and the law.”
Stephen is carefully making his case that what has been said about him is untrue. But more, he is showing the council that it is they who have misunderstood the significance of the rites, rituals, and edifices that have made up the history of their people. In doing so, they were unable to see Jesus for who He is when He came among them. This verse now finishes in the middle of a thought with, “as the prophet says.” Stephen will next cite Isaiah to confirm that Scripture bears out what he is conveying.
Life application: Like the nation of Israel, who failed to see that all of their biblically instituted rites and rituals were only types and shadows of the coming Messiah (see Colossians 2:17), the same is true today with the Jewish people. But more, this truth permeates churches as well.
To some extent or another, churches fall back on mandating rites and rituals that are made null and void in Christ. Circumcision, Sabbath worship, tithing, observance of certain feast days, dietary restrictions, and so on. All such things do not bring a person any closer to God. In fact, they bring in a wall that separates them from God.
Because Christ is the fulfillment of these things, mandating them essentially says, “I trust in my own observance of these things to make God happy instead of trusting in Christ who fulfilled these things.”
To mandate something means it is more than simple instruction. If a church wants to have a Passover ceremony to show what it was like before Christ’s coming, that is fine and acceptable. But to mandate observance of the same as a ritual observance sets aside its greater fulfillment in Christ. Be wise and discerning. A little yeast leavens the whole lump.
Trust in Christ, rest in Christ, and look to Christ alone for your righteousness.
Lord God, thank You that Jesus has done all we need to be reconciled to You. We shall fix our eyes on Him and give You glory through this. Surely, we thank You for Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.