Tabernacle

True Tabernacle

Tabernacle
ACTS 7 COMMENTARY
Acts 7:42-43 Moloch

Acts 7:44-50 Tabernacle

Acts 7:51-56 Stiff-necked
ACTS 7:44  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,

What is the "tabernacle of witness in the wilderness" (Acts 7:44)?
The tabernacle was an elaborate, portable tent that served as the Jews' temple of the LORD while they wandered in the wilderness for forty years until they could settle in the promised land. The tabernacle was custom designed by God Himself, who gave precise instructions on its construction to Moses.

How large was the tabernacle?
The most sacred place of the tabernacle, called "Most Holy Place," was a 15 feet x 15 feet (4.6 meters x 4.6 meters) square. It housed the Ark of the Covenant that contained the stone tablets on which God had written the Ten Commandments. Extending eastward from the Most Holy Place and separated by a veil from it was the tabernacle's "Holy Place," which had the same width (15 feet or 4.6 meters) as the Most Holy Place but was twice as long (30 feet or 9.1 meters). The Holy Place housed the Altar of Incense, the Lampstand, and the Table of Showbread. Together, the tabernacle's Most Holy Place and the Holy Place measured 15 feet (4.6 meters) wide and 45 feet (13.7 meters) long. Surrounding the tabernacle was its outer courtyard, which measured 75 feet (22.9 meters) wide and 150 feet (45.7 meters) long and was enclosed by a fence. Located inside the Outer Courtyard and facing the tabernacle's entrance from the east was the Alter of Burnt Offering where sacrifices of animals were offered to the LORD. See Exodus 25:1-27:21 for precise details.

ACTS 7:45-46  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.

What did the Jews bring into the promised land?
The tabernacle.

What did King David want to do?
Build a permanent temple for God in Jerusalem.

ACTS 7:47-50  47 But Solomon built Him a house. 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?’

Who ended up building God's temple in Jerusalem?
"Solomon" (Acts 7:47), but Stephen is quick to point out that God, the divine Creator for whom the earth is merely a "footstool" (Acts 7:49), doesn't actually live in temples made with human hands.

Why does he say that?
Stephen wasn't speaking to give a history lesson to those who already knew it. They had accused him of blaspheming against Moses, the law and the temple in Jerusalem. Stephen was pointing out that Moses and the temple weren't to be worshipped. Moses was a murderer who couldn't even speak properly (see Moses), and the temple wasn't holy. God doesn't live in it and it doesn't even house the bones of the ancestors whom they revere. Those bones are in the land of the Samaritans (see Shechem), whom the Jews despised as unclean half-breeds. As for the law, while God was giving it to Moses, their ancestors were busy worshipping idols (see Exodus 32 and Moloch). Stephen is clearing the idols of his audience off the table, and is about to bring down the hammer.