|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
7:42-50 Stephen upbraids the Jews with the idolatry of their fathers, to which God gave them up as a punishment for their early forsaking him. It was no dishonour, but an honour to God, that the tabernacle gave way to the temple; so it is now, that the earthly temple gives way to the spiritual one; and so it will be when, at last, the spiritual shall give way to the eternal one. The whole world is God's temple, in which he is every where present, and fills it with his glory; what occasion has he then for a temple to manifest himself in? And these things show his eternal power and Godhead. But as heaven is his throne, and the earth his footstool, so none of our services can profit Him who made all things. Next to the human nature of Christ, the broken and spiritual heart is his most valued temple.
Verse 44. - The testimony for witness, A.V.; even as he appointed who spake for as he had appointed, speaking, A.V.; figure for fashion, A.V. Chrysostom calls attention to the mention of the wilderness, as showing that God's presence and service were not confined to Jerusalem.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Our fathers had the tabernacle of witness in the wilderness,.... The Ethiopic version adds, "of Sinai"; there it was that the tabernacle was first ordered to be built, and there it was built, and set up; which was a sort of a portable temple, in which Jehovah took up his residence, and which was carried from place to place: of it, and its several parts and furniture, there is a large account in Exodus 25:1. It is sometimes called Ohel Moed, or "the tabernacle of the congregation", because there the people of Israel gathered together, and God met with them; and sometimes "the tabernacle of the testimony", or "witness", as here; Exodus 38:21 Numbers 1:50 because the law, called the tables of the testimony, and the testimony, it being a testification or declaration of the will of God, was put into an ark; which for that reason is called the ark of the testimony; and which ark was placed in the tabernacle; and hence that took the same name too. The Jewish writers say (k), it is so called,
"because it was a testimony that the Shekinah dwelt in Israel'';
or as another (l) expresses it,
"it was a testimony to Israel that God had pardoned them concerning the affair of the calf, for, lo, his Shekinah dwelt among them.''
This tabernacle, in which was the testimony of the will of God, what he would have done, and how he would be worshipped, and which was a token of his presence, was among the Jewish fathers whilst they were in the wilderness; and is mentioned as an aggravation of their sin, that they should now, or afterwards, take up and carry the tabernacle of Mo. The Alexandrian copy reads, "your fathers"; the sense is the same.
As he had appointed; that is, as God appointed, ordered, and commanded:
speaking unto Moses, Exodus 25:40
that he should make it according to the fashion he had seen; when in the Mount with God; Hebrews 8:5 for it was not a bare account of the tabernacle, and its vessels, which he hearing, might form an idea of in his mind; but there was a visible form represented to his eye, a pattern, exemplar, or archetype of the whole, according to which everything was to be made; which teaches us, that everything in matters of worship ought to be according to the rule which God has given, from which we should never swerve in the least.
(k) Baal Hatturim in Exodus 33.21. (l) Jarchi in ib.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
44. Our fathers had the tabernacle of witness in the wilderness—which aggravated the guilt of that idolatry in which they indulged, with the tokens of the divine presence constantly in the midst of them.
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