This week we broke down Stephen’s defense as he stood before the Sanhedrin accused of misinformation and dishonoring the Temple and Mosaic Law. It is so easy to skim over his response. As a Jew, for Christianity had not separated off yet, Stephen started with Abraham, the father of the faith and traced its development through the patriarchs to the Egyptian exile. Moses led the people through the desert to the Promised Land. Stephen argues that even as people then resisted Moses’ leadership and turned to idols, the Golden Calf, the same thing was happening now. In the desert they made a Golden Calf. Now the Jews had made an idol of the Temple and were worshipping it rather than the God it represented.
“However, the Most High does not live in houses made by human hands. (v.48)” Stephen called the Sanhedrin “stiff-necked people. Your hearts and ears are still uncircumcised.” Stephen looked up and saw a vision of Jesus at the right hand of God as the people drag him away to stone him. That was intense!
Last Sunday I watched a DVD called “The Love of God is Indescribable” that told how Frederick M. Lehman, father and pastor, with a family of 8 children, struggles to write the hymn “The Love of God”. The children all go on a quest to help him figure out the third verse so they can have it published in 1898 and have money to pay their rent. Charming. Stephen too was trying to say to the Jews that God’s love is greater than the Temple, greater than the Mosaic Law, and in-fact is greater than all our divisions today.
1 The love of God is greater far than tongue or pen can ever tell;
it goes beyond the highest star, and reaches to the lowest hell.The wandering child is reconciled by God’s beloved Son.
The aching soul again made whole, and priceless pardon won.
Refrain: O love of God, how rich and pure! How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure—the saints’ and angels’ song.
2 When ancient time shall pass away, and human thrones and kingdoms fall;
when those who here refuse to pray on rocks and hills and mountains call;God’s love so sure, shall still endure, all measureless and strong;
grace will resound the whole earth round— the saints’ and angels’ song. [Refrain]
3 Could we with ink the ocean fill, and were the skies of parchment made;
were ev’ry stalk on earth a quill, and everyone a scribe by trade;To write the love of God above would drain the ocean dry;
nor could the scroll contain the whole, though stretched from sky to sky. [Refrain]