New Article: November 2021
It's A Whole New Ballgame!
Stephan, in the book of Acts, realized that Jesus was the biggest game changer of all. That this one of a kind Jesus painted the most complete redemptive picture ever. Born again and filled with the Holy Spirit, Stephan stepped up to the plate and ran with the revelation, evangelizing his part of the world where signs, wonders and miracles followed him. He transitioned into the new leaving the old behind without blurring the lines between the old and new!
As a foreign-born Jew who spoke Greek, this follower of Jesus became one of the Greek believing minorities that lived in Jerusalem. During one of their home group meetings, the apostles chose seven deacons for service. Stephan, one of the seven, was recognized as one who had special gifts for evangelism. We read that he was full of grace and power, and that the Holy Spirit was at work in him and through him as he humbly submitted to its leading. He was in full swing with the new!
As a young Greek, Stephan heard those amazing stories of a God who divided the Red Sea, of a God whose presence filled the Holy of Holies. He was there when Jesus stepped forward with a whole new priesthood. He was there when the old covenant transitioned into the new covenant, how a long-standing priesthood that came out of the tribe of Levi gets repositioned with a better priesthood that now comes out of the tribe of Judah, — the land of the kings. Born again he is filled with the fire of Holy Spirit and becomes a powerful example of a living temple that exemplified that new priesthood. A better covenant and a whole new priesthood!
Stephan now finds himself in a courtroom surrounded by 71 men. These men are very influential, very powerful, and have little regard for this disciple of Jesus. Several men rose up to against Stephen but had a tough time holding their own ground against the wisdom and the Spirit that Stephan walked in. Frustrated, they stirred up the people bringing all kinds of accusations against this innocent follower of Jesus.
Obviously, his extreme message not only rocked the local clergy, but it also got him dragged into court. For a clergy that pursued form over substance, words over deeds, and tolerance over righteousness, this courtroom was going to be one big showdown. Stephen's defense was that Israel's religious leaders had failed to recognize that God did tell His people ahead of time that they could expect a change. Prophetically it was all over the very scrolls that they embraced.
God is always on the move, and he was on the move once again. Stephan stressed that they had falsely concluded that the present state of their religiousness was the final act of God's plan when it comes to revelation and redemption, — when it clearly was not.
Stephen was charged with speaking against Moses, against God, against the temple, and against the law and the customs handed down by Moses. These were serious charges but Stephan’s defense was that when God takes the initiative, — great changes do occur.
God took the initiative with Abraham and in his obedience Abraham headed towards the new land that came with an upgraded covenant, — but not without its many challenges. God took the initiative with Moses and in his obedience Moses headed towards the new land that came with an upgraded covenant, — but not without its many challenges. And now God has taken the initiative once again through his only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, who now comes with the complete fulfillment of both covenant and priesthood, along with a whole new land called the kingdom of heaven, — but again, not without its many challenges.
As Stephan presented his case before the Sanhedrin, his defense was not directed to get him off the charges. His defense was pure Christianity! He systematically began to lay it all out by saying: “Our ancestors had the tabernacle of the covenant law with them in the wilderness. It had been made as God directed Moses, according to the pattern he had seen. After receiving the tabernacle, our ancestors under Joshua brought it with them when they took the land from the nations God drove out before them. It remained in the land until the time of David, who enjoyed God’s favor and asked that he might provide a dwelling place for the God of Jacob. But it was Solomon who built a house for him. However, the Most High does not live in houses made by human hands. The Lord clearly spoke through one of his prophets saying that heaven is his throne, and the earth is his footstool. What kind of house do you plan to build for him? Where will his resting place be that you have for him? Was it not by his hand that all these things were made?
The message that Stephan presented back in his day is the very message that needs to be presented once again for us today. The temple of old has been done away with, but somehow, in our creative expression on how we think the temple needs to look like, we’ve resurrected many of the old walls that now hinder. Walls that have institutionalized many back into all kinds of temple duties.
We have blurred the lines and muddied the waters mixing the old and new, which is the very reason why we need to revisit what it is that Stephan was emphasizing in that Sanhedrin courtroom. That very temple that Holy Spirit seeks to dwell in, has once again been usurped as the knowledge that is coming out of that camp is mostly an interpretation that comes with an academic slant, instead of the fire of the Holy Spirit that brings the needed revelation to help people move forward with those much needed breakthroughs. Once again we have settled for second best instead of allowing Holy Spirit to teach us what it is that we need to know.
When we fill the wrong temple, we deny the Holy Spirit to maximize us. Instead of being that full time dwelling place for the Holy Spirit, we now compromise it by being that place of visitation only. The Spirit of prophecy, that Spirit of revelation was always meant to be a full time dynamic part in our lives, — filling us, inspiring us as it moves us to where we need to be. God is on the move and we need to be part of that movement.
According to Stephan, because of what Jesus did for us, we now have the ability to go above and beyond what we could ever think or imagine. This containment and the re-creation of the old mixed with the newhas misaligned us into the many false religious narratives that are out there, along with a charismatic gospel that has been distorted on so many levels. Stephen reminded the court that before any temple was raised in Jerusalem, God had Moses construct a tabernacle, a movable tent like structure for worship. Later, when Solomon built the temple in Jerusalem, he conveyed in a prayer that the Most High does not dwell in houses made with hands, but that the Lord God may make use of a temple to further his purposes, but he is not confined to it.
During court, Stephen brought his argument to a powerful conclusion by quoting the book of Isaiah: “ Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. What sort of house will you build for me? What sort of resting place will you design for me? My hand made all these things, did it not ? ” - Isaiah 66:1,2 / Acts 7:49,50 The message from Stephan has now become a present day message for us today as God is once again on the move with the latter day season that now stands before us!
According to Stephan’s message, the real question for us today is: Do we walk in the blurred model of the old and new that we are surrounded with, or do we fully engage with that better covenant, that new priesthood? To powerfully move in this present season, we need to be that temple that Stephan defined during his defense. No longer are we to walk in the misdirected of the old, but to realign ourselves in the new. The Sanhedrin’s of today are keeping many in that walled religious structure and mindsets that have hindered many from being that living temple, that dwelling place for the Holy Spirit.
For the times that we are walking in today, we need to prioritize the Holy Spirit. We need to dial into being that living temple for the Holy Spirit. The gospel of the Kingdom that Jesus released is all part of the temple package. What Stephan laid out before the Sanhedrin court is where we need to be today! Living temples filled with the fire of God, — flexing the kingdom here on earth as it is in heaven.
Ekklesia Rising Canada / JesusMinistries.ca