Acts 7:37–50 (NKJV)
37 “This is that Moses who said to the children of Israel, ‘The LORD your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your brethren. Him you shall hear.’Acts 7:37-43
38 “This is he who was in the congregation in the wilderness with the Angel who spoke to him on Mount Sinai, and with our fathers, the one who received the living oracles to give to us, 39 whom our fathers would not obey, but rejected. And in their hearts they turned back to Egypt, 40 saying to Aaron, ‘Make us gods to go before us; as for this Moses who brought us out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.’ 41 And they made a calf in those days, offered sacrifices to the idol, and rejoiced in the works of their own hands. 42 Then God turned and gave them up to worship the host of heaven, as it is written in the book of the Prophets: ‘Did you offer Me slaughtered animals and sacrifices during forty years in the wilderness,
O house of Israel?
43 You also took up the tabernacle of Moloch,
And the star of your god Remphan,
Images which you made to worship;
And I will carry you away beyond Babylon.’
Stephen continues his message to the Jewish leadership, reminding them of the role of the great prophet Moses, and how Jesus is that prophet for the day. He reminds them of how their own ancestors worshipped a golden calf, and the prophets spoke judgment upon them for their idolatry, promising exile beyond Babylon. Stephen was a well-versed, knowledgeable man, who brought the Jews own history and prophetic Scriptures to bear upon the situation before them now. Jesus is a prophet like unto Moses, but is also the Son of God Himself. He also reminds them of their idolatrous way of holding on to the traditions of old, not allowing God’s own Son, Jesus Christ, to be the object of worship.
44 “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, 45 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, 46 who found favor before God and asked to find a dwelling for the God of Jacob. 47 But Solomon built Him a house.Acts 7:44-50
48 “However, the Most High does not dwell in temples made with hands, as the prophet says: 49 ‘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?
50 Has My hand not made all these things?’
Stephen then goes on to describe the building of a tabernacle by Moses, and then a temple by Solomon. These structures served as places that the Lord could dwell in times gone by. However, the Lord asks the question, “What house will you build for me?” This again changes things, or at least completes them. God cannot be contained in a house. He is not to be limited as to what and where He can be. God is amazing and holy and bigger than anything we know.
In these two thoughts, Stephen is taking the responsibility for determining who God is out of the hands of men and restoring it to the voice of God. His Son changed the structure of the leadership of the kingdom of God. Jesus is now on the throne and serves as Prophet, Priest, and King. With this shift, the authority and control of men as the leaders of the Kingdom is no longer absolute and supreme. God is back in control! So, the way men and women of God worship and serve God is universal and omnipresent, not controlled and in a box. God is everywhere, speaking to all men, and exploding on the horizon with a view to permeating world with the presence of the Holy Spirit. The Worship War is over before it begins. There are still people trying to control who can worship and what that worship looks like, even to the point of turning traditions and opinions into an idolatrous shell of worship. However, God is taking His presence to all the world, to all flesh, and He wins!
Artwork from https://www.britannica.com/topic/golden-calf