After the religious leaders arrested Stephen, he stood before the religious council and explained to them how God had guided their history as a nation to lead them to Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Stephen began with the life of Abraham, whom God led to go to the promised land. God promised Abraham that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars and that he would become a great nation. God gave him a son, Isaac, and he became the father of Jacob. And Jacob had twelve sons, and his youngest son, Joseph, eventually became the second-highest official in Egypt, only next to Pharaoh. God used Joseph to interpret dreams to preserve the nation of Israel and Egypt. Joseph's father and brothers moved to Egypt, where they grew in numbers. After Joseph died, a pharaoh, who did not know Joseph, enslaved the people of Israel in Egypt, and God raised up Moses to deliver the people of Israel from slavery in Egypt and led them to the promised land that God promised to Abraham. They were in the wilderness for forty years before they arrived in the promised land. During that time, God led them to make a tent of meeting, also called the tabernacle, where God's presence resided among the Israelites. It was also during that time that the people of Israel fell to idolatry, where they worshiped the golden calf. Many of them died because of what they did.
When Moses died, Joshua continued to lead the people of Israel and God used him to conquer the promised land. Eventually, David became the king of Israel after he replaced Saul. David planned to build God a temple to replace the tabernacle or the tent of meeting, but his son, Solomon, built it. And Stephen continued, saying, "However, the Most High does not live in houses made by human hands. As the prophet says: 'Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. What kind of house will you build for me? says the Lord. Or where will my resting place be? Has not my hand made all these things?' The problem the religious leader had was that they idolized the temple itself instead of the God who dwells in it. Because of their stubborn heart, they rejected God from their hearts. Everything they did in the temple was only to make themselves feel good, thinking they were all accepted by God with their daily religious rituals. (Acts 7:1-53).
The lesson that we can learn from this is that God only accepts us through our faith in our Lord Jesus. God cannot accept us through our religious practices if our hearts are not surrendered to God. God always looks at our hearts. We are His forever when we believe in Jesus, and we should no longer be afraid of our salvation. We are secured forever. The sad part about the religious leaders is that they were very close to God but were far away from Him because of their unbelief in the Lord Jesus.
Ask yourself these questions for application: (Think through them carefully, meditate on them while answering them, and let the Spirit of God speak to you). Why does God not accept the religious leaders in spite of their rich history with God? Where is my heart before God at this moment? Is it close to God or distant? What should I do to be close to God again?
Father in Heaven, you know my heart. Please draw my heart near to you. Please do not let my heart become cold. You are the only one who can bring peace to my soul and fill the longing of my heart. Please forgive me for neglecting you by becoming busy with the things of this world. Please soften my heart again before you. In your name Jesus, I pray. Amen.