Stephen's History Lesson (Part 2)
Stephen continued his history lesson to the Sanhedrin council in Acts 7:44-50:
"Our fathers had the tabernacle of witness in the wilderness, as He appointed, instructing Moses to make it according to the pattern that he had seen, which our fathers, having received it in turn, also brought with Joshua into the land possessed by the Gentiles, whom God drove out before the face of our fathers until the days of David, who found favor before God and asked to find a dwelling for the God of Jacob. But Solomon built Him a house. However, the Most High does not dwell in temples made with hands, as the prophet says: 'Heaven is My throne, and earth is My footstool. What house will you build for Me? says the LORD, or what is the place of My rest? Has My hand not made all these things?'"

Stephen here reminded them of the tabernacle which God had commanded the Israelites to build. Such was used through David's day. Solomon later built the temple, though no physical dwelling place can possibly be a proper abode for Almighty God. Stephen then quoted from Isaiah 66:1,2 to teach that the temple was never intended as a permanent dwelling place for an omnipresent God (which implies it would come to an end). Stephen's prior words about the temple being destroyed and the Old Testament customs being changed were accurate (cf. Acts 6:14). Stephen was not a blasphemer! The accusations against him were false. The Jews revered their temple far beyond the bounds of legitimacy. They were all too quick to label Stephen a blasphemer simply because he refused to view God as some sort of "idol" that required a temple.

Stephen then launches into his climax - "You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who foretold the coming of the Just One, of whom you now have become the betrayers and murderers, who have received the law by the direction of angels and have not kept it" (Acts 7:51-53).

This brave disciple blasts the Sanhedrin as being hard hearted, stubborn, and rebellious! They probably hadn't heard a rebuke like this since Jesus flayed the scribes and Pharisees in His stinging sermon from Matthew 23. To resist the Holy Spirit is to resist the word He reveals. To resist God's leaders is to resist God Himself. They always resisted God's way, just like their ancestors did!

What a tragic pattern, and the Sanhedrin was responsible for continuing it in the first century! In this final case Stephen mentions, they murdered an innocent Man and refused to heed the Just One Moses predicted was coming. This rebellion of theirs was the worst of all and would have eternal consequences. Though they had received the law and its special privileges, they did not understand how it led to Christ and neither did they obey it. Those who stand against God's will cannot succeed. God's great plan was being meticulously worked out over the centuries. Despite many obstacles and opposition, the divine scheme did not fail. As God's plan reached maturity in the first century through Jesus, it would not now falter under the current hostility arrayed against it. In other words, Stephen is telling the Sanhedrin, in a pointed way, that their resistance to the gospel of Christ is nothing less than fighting against God! Such resistance is futile! Stephen, after laying the groundwork with a history lesson, concludes by putting his accusers on trial! Stephen wasn't guilty of blasphemy, but they were guilty of spiritual blindness and opposition to God's way! You can imagine the effect this rebuke would have had on the council!