The last type of Christ that Stephen points out is David, who “found favour” with God (7:46) because he was a man after God’s own heart (I Sam. 13:14). David did lots of great things, but Stephen points to the one thing he desired to do but God had Solomon do instead: build Him a temple (7:47).
Why? Well, Stephen says David sought to “find a tabernacle” for Him because he’s quoting Ps. 132:1-5, where “find out” means to invent. God lived in a tent, but David wanted to invent a new kind of dwelling place for Him! This is a type of how the Lord came to Israel the first time in the tent of a human body (cf. II Pe. 1:13,14), but will return in a body that is so much grander, it will be like the difference between the tabernacle of Moses and the temple of Solomon.
And He’ll give Israel the kingdom they refused the first time He came. That illustrates the point Stephen’s been making, that just like Israel wasn’t freed from Egyptian bondage during Moses’ first appearance to Israel, but was on his second appearance, so the Jews didn’t get their kingdom during the Lord’s first visit to Israel, but will at His second.
To prove to those unsaved Jews that God didn’t dwell in their temple (Acts 7:48), Stephen quoted Isaiah (v. 49). When God asked, “where is the place of My rest?” He was implying that if He wanted a place to sleep He wouldn’t ask men to build it, He would have made it Himself “in the beginning” (Gen. 1:1) when He “made all things” (Acts 7:50), the all things in heaven and earth (v. 49). Isaiah’s point was that God didn’t dwell in a temple (Isa. 66:1), He dwelt in a “man” (Isa. 66:2), the Lord Jesus (Jo. 10:38).
That was all those unsaved Jews were going to take from Stephen! When he shifted gears and began to indict them (v. 51), it means he must have seen them picking up stones to stone him. “Stiffnecked” (v. 51) means God tells you to do something and your neck is too stubbornly stiff to bow your head and say “Yes, God,” because you turned out of His way (Ex. 32:7-9). Stephen’s use of that word would remind them how God said He’s respond to stiff necks (Ex. 32:9, 10; 33:5)
When he also called them uncircumcised in heart and ears (v. 51), God said He’d punish that too (Jer. 4:4; 6:10, 11). He’s telling the Jewish council that they could expect God’s wrath to fall on them too now that the stoning of Stephen closed their extra year of opportunity to receive the kingdom (Lu. 13:6-9) that Peter offered (Acts 3:19, 20).
Their fathers resisted the Spirit (v. 51) when He spoke to them through Moses (Isa. 63:9,10) and through the prophets (Neh. 9:30). God required the blood of those prophets of that generation (Lu. 11:49, 50) because they’d been given more spiritual light than any generation before it (Mt. 13:17).
The word “disposition” (Acts 7:53) can mean distribution. Stephen is talking about the distributing of the law to Israel with angels (De. 33:2).They “ordained” the law (Gal. 3:19) in the way we ordain men to the ministry, by recommending it.
Gnashing on Stephen with their teeth (Acts 7:54) means they tore into him in wrath (cf. Job 16:9). He responded by telling them about the vision they couldn’t see, that of Christ standing at God’s right hand (7:55, 56). After He ascended, He sat down there (Heb. 10:12) to indicate the work of our redemption was finished. But those unsaved Jews would know that He will rise to judge His enemies (Ps. 110:1), even if “His people” have become His enemies (Isa. 3:13).
The “witnesses” (Acts 7:58) were the false witnesses who they bribed to testify against Stephen (Acts 6:11-14). The Jews were always tearing off their clothes when they were mad (cf.Acts 22:23), and they were murderously mad here.
We see a proof that the Lord was God when Stephen is seen “calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus.” (v. 59). He died as the Lord died, praying for the enemies who were killing him (v. 60 cf. Lu. 23:34). God answered the Lord’s prayer by giving Israel another year. He answered Stephen’s prayer in the sense that the dispensation of the mystery interrupted the judgment the Lord was standing to give. He didn’t answer in that Paul soon wrote “the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost” (I Th. 2:16), and their punishment will still fall in the Tribulation and at the Second Coming that will follow.
Video of this sermon is available on YouTube: The House That David Couldn’t Build – Acts 7:46-60