BEFORE THE STONES CRY OUT!

PASTOR T. O. BANSO

“Then, as He was now drawing near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works they had seen, saying: ‘Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the LORD! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!’ And some of the Pharisees called to Him from the crowd, ‘Teacher, rebuke Your disciples.’ But He answered and said to them, ‘I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out’” (Luke 19:37-40 NKJV).

This message is not on Palm Sunday, which the scripture you’ve just read is often associated with. Some years ago, the Lord showed me something in the scripture that’s more than Palm Sunday.

When Jesus made His triumphal entry to Jerusalem, multitudes of the disciples of Jesus began to rejoice and praise the Lord with a loud voice for the mighty works they had seen. Some Pharisees came to ask Jesus to stop the disciples from praising Him aloud. Replying, Jesus said Replying, Jesus said, “I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out” (verse 40b). Ordinarily, a stone is a non-living thing, and talking about stones crying out would be strange.

Biblical references to stones

Jesus’ reference to the stones crying out in place of those praising Him aloud if they shut up their mouth, is similar to what the prophet Habakkuk said in Habakkuk 2:11: “For the stone will cry out from the wall, And the beam from the timbers will answer it” (NKJV). How can a stone or stones cry out?

Like Jesus, Joshua also treated the stone as an animate object: “Joshua said to all the people, ‘This stone has heard everything the LORD said to us. It will be a witness to testify against you if you go back on your word to God’” (Joshua 24:27 NLT). That suggests that the stone has ears to hear and mouth to talk!

Understanding what Jesus said           

One could literally take the words of Jesus in Luke 19:40 concerning the stones crying out to praise Him since all God’s creatures have a voice. From the Bible, we know that nature can praise the Lord. Psalm 148:3-4 says, “Praise Him, sun and moon; Praise Him, all you stars of light! Praise Him, you heavens of heavens, and you waters above the heavens!” (NKJV).

The Bible records earlier in Psalm 19:1-4: “The heavens tell of the glory of God. The skies display his marvelous craftsmanship. Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make him known. They speak without a sound or a word; their voice is silent in the skies; yet their message has gone out to all the earth, and their words to all the world” (NLT). Some Bible translations say the heavens declare the glory of God. The Hebrew word translated “declare” is caphar, which also means to count, recount, relate, or celebrate.

The Bible tells us that animals praise God! The writer of Psalm 150 says, “Let everything that has breath praise the LORD” (Psalm 150:6 NKJV). The phrase “everything that has breathcould be considered as including other living creatures but some believe it refers to only human beings. However, there is no ambiguity in Revelation 5:13 where the apostle John says, “And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying: ‘Blessing and honor and glory and power be to Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, forever and ever!’” (NKJV).

Every creature, including mountains and hills, praises God. Although we may not understand their languages, God does. Psalm 148:7-12  says: “Praise the LORD from the earth, you great sea creatures and all the depths; fire and hail, snow and clouds; Stormy wind, fulfilling His word; mountains and all hills; fruitful trees and all cedars; Beasts and all cattle; creeping things and flying fowl; kings of the earth and all peoples; Princes and all judges of the earth; both young men and maidens; old men and children” (Psalm 148:7-12 NKJV).

In that scripture, the sea creatures, beasts, cattle, trees, and nature generally are called upon, alongside human beings, to praise the Lord. Verses 13-14 say, “Let them praise the name of the LORD, for His name alone is exalted; His glory is above the earth and heaven. And He has exalted the horn of His people, the praise of all His saints — of the children of Israel, a people near to Him. Praise the LORD!” (NKJV)

What this means is that all other creatures of God can praise Him in their natural ways just as man in his natural way praises God. In that case, human beings cannot starve God of praise. That does not reduce the fact that man is the only creature made in the image of man and He demands worship from him.

I believe what Jesus said to the Pharisees, He’s saying also to the church today and He’s saying to you. If you stop singing aloud to praise Him and if you stop rejoicing in His presence and shouting Hosanna to Him, the stones will immediately cry out to praise Him! But while nature is already praising God, it must never be in your place. Let their praise not be a replacement for yours. It will not be in Jesus’ name.

Never stop praising God. It is foolishness for a man to think that he is the best thing that has ever happened and, therefore, becomes proud before God. There is nothing we have that we have not received from Him. It is a privilege to praise Him. It should not be seen as a burden. God desires our praise, but know that He can do without your praise as a person if your heart is not right with him. Every child of God, including those in ecclesiastical positions, must know this. “I tell you that if these keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out.”

Don’t let God replace you           

I was meditating on this verse one day when the Holy Spirit began to lead me to see beyond praising the Lord. I saw that what Jesus said concerning praise, He is saying concerning every other aspect of the life of a Christian because our entire life is supposed to be worship to God and not just some minutes of singing worship songs. “And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice — the kind he will accept. When you think of what he has done for you, is this too much to ask?” (Romans 12:1-2 NLT). Your whole life should be offered to God as a sacrifice.

Has God given you a vision? Do you have an assignment from God? Has God been speaking to you for some months or years to do something for Him? Do you know beyond doubt that there is a specific thing God wants you to be doing? What is the level of your obedience or simply put, have you started obeying God? Is your obedience partial or complete?

God does not change but He changes people. God’s programme here on earth remains the same but He can change the personalities, the human agents that He uses. Think about that!

Is God asking you to do something and you’re failing to do it? – You’re still bargaining with God. You had better obey before the stones cry out. I speak of stones not in the literal sense but as a metaphor.

Beyond the natural stone, I consider stones as alternative people that God can raise up to occupy your present position if you don’t keep your place; they’re people you may not give any chance who God will count worthy and use in your place if you become proud. They’re the “foolish things of this world” that the Lord will use to confound you, the wise. It’s happened before and it’s still happening. Once God sees that they have a right heart and they make themselves available, He gives them ability.

Jesus as Stone

The Bible is so clear on the issue of Jesus Christ being a stone – not a literal stone. Ephesians 2:20 calls Jesus the cornerstone. The Bible also calls him the stone which the builder rejected which became the chief cornerstone, a scripture first seen in Psalm 118:22 and later referred to in the New Testament. “Therefore it is also contained in the Scripture, ‘Behold, I lay in Zion A chief cornerstone, elect, precious, and he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame.’ Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious; but to those who are disobedient, ‘The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone,’ and ‘A stone of stumbling and a rock of offense’” (1Peter 2:6-8 NKJV).

The phrase “a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense” is first mentioned in the Bible in Isaiah 8:13-14: “The LORD of hosts, Him you shall hallow; Let Him be your fear, and let Him be your dread. He will be as a sanctuary, but a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense to both the houses of Israel, as a trap and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem” (NKJV). Isaiah again makes reference to the cornerstone in Isaiah 28:16: “Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: ‘Behold, I lay in Zion a stone for a foundation, a tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation; Whoever believes will not act hastily’” (NKJV).

Jesus is our cornerstone; He is our sure foundation. And if our lives are built on Him, we’ll never be shaken. Jesus also made reference to the Old Testament prophecy pointing to Him as the cornerstone. “Jesus said to them, ‘Have you never read in the Scriptures: ‘The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone. This was the LORD’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes’?  ‘Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it. And whoever falls on this stone will be broken; but on whomever it falls, it will grind him to powder’”  (Matthew 21:42-44 NKJV). Mark 12:10-11 and Luke 20:17-18 record the same thing.

Believers as Stones

Just as the Bible refers to Jesus as stone, indeed our cornerstone and chief cornerstone, it also refers to believers as stones. “Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God,  having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit”(Ephesians 2:19-22NKJV).

In this passage, Jesus is clearly referred to as the chief cornerstone and believers as “having been built”; believers are equally referred to as “the whole building, being fitted together.” There is no mention of stone with reference to believers. But 1 Peter 2:4-5 makes this very clear. “Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (NKJV).

In the two passages, Jesus Christ is referred to first as the chief cornerstone and later as a living stone. A temple in the Bible is a tabernacle of worship and in the Old Testament, it is so clear that physical temples are built with stones among other things. This is very explicit in the account of the temple built by Solomon in 1 Kings 5:17-18.

When the book of Ephesians talks of being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit, it is talking of spiritual or “Holy temple” built with stones – spiritual stones just as you use physical stones in the case of a physical temple.

No temple is built with one single stone! Many stones are used. The same is true of the “whole building” spoken of in Ephesians 2:21: “In whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord” (NKJV). The builder determines what he does with each stone. He knows what he wants. No stone dictates what the builder should do with it or where it should be.

Since believers are stones – living stones (1 Peter 4-5) – we should learn from the attitude of the physical stones and the builder’s authority over them. No stone argues with the builder. Any stone that is found unsuitable is dropped for another.

All believers are stones, in the household of God. It is significant that Jesus specifically called Peter a stone. “Now when Jesus looked at him, He said, ‘You are Simon the son of Jonah. You shall be called Cephas’ (which is translated, A Stone)” (John 1:42 NKJV).

But it is not only Peter who is qualified to be referred to as a stone. All believers are stones. Where one stone refuses to do what the builder (God) who has the building plan would want to be done, He has no choice ultimately than to drop that stone and allow another stone to cry out (to do what the former was supposed to do). Remember God does not change; He changes people. Never think there is no substitute for you. Be alive to your responsibility and your Kingdom service before the stone cries out. God created you original, of a truth, but if you fail him, there is always a replacement.

A man must see his conversion and his call to service as a privilege. When a man fails in his responsibilities towards God, he is giving an opportunity for stones (other Christians) to take his place. There is nobody who doesn’t have a substitute, No man is indispensable. Nobody can become an obsacle to God because of his gifts, talents, riches, accomplishments, office, or title.

Adam’s Example

Adam and Eve fell in the Garden of Eden but that did not end the programme of God for the human race. When the first Adam fell, God sent the last Adam – Jesus Christ. “And so it is written, ‘The first man Adam became a living being.’ The last Adam became a life-giving spirit’” (1Corinthians 15:45 NKJV).  But unlike Adam who was created holy but trespassed and death entered into the world through the sin of this one man, God’s grace and gift came by the grace of another man – JESUS CHRIST. 1 Corinthians 15:22 says, “Everyone dies because all of us are related to Adam, the first man. But all who are related to Christ, the other man, will be given new life” (NLT).

Jesus came to fulfill God’s programme stalled by Adam’s sin (Romans 5:12-20). God doesn’t change but He changes people. I pray that God will have no reason to change you. But know that you need God more than He needs you.

Eli’s Example

The stone cried for Eli in the person of Samuel because of the sins of his two sons – Hophni and Phinehas – and God’s dissatisfaction with Eli’s attitude to their sin.

God cancelled His earlier promise that Eli’s house and his father’s house would minister before Him forever. “Therefore, the LORD, the God of Israel, says: The terrible things you are doing cannot continue! I had promised that your branch of the tribe of Levi would always be my priests. But I will honor only those who honor me, and I will despise those who despise me. I will put an end to your family, so it will no longer serve as my priests. All the members of your family will die before their time. None will live to a ripe old age. You will watch with envy as I pour out prosperity on the people of Israel. But no members of your family will ever live out their days. Those who are left alive will live in sadness and grief, and their children will die a violent death” (1Samuel 2:30-33 NLT). This promise was made in Exodus 29:9: “And you shall gird them with sashes, Aaron and his sons, and put the hats on them. The priesthood shall be theirs for a perpetual statute. So you shall consecrate Aaron and his sons” (NKJV). The promise which was older than Eli himself was thus revoked.

Samuel, after the death of Eli, replaced him as Judge in Israel in fulfilment of 1 Samuel 2:35: “Then I will raise up a faithful priest who will serve me and do what I tell him to do. I will bless his descendants, and his family will be priests to my anointed kings forever” (NLT).

Also in 1Kings 2:26-27, we see the removal of Abiathar from the priesthood in fulfilment of God’s word to cut off the house of Eli. “And to Abiathar the priest the king said, ‘Go to Anathoth, to your own fields, for you are deserving of death; but I will not put you to death at this time, because you carried the ark of the Lord GOD before my father David, and because you were afflicted every time my father was afflicted.’ So Solomon removed Abiathar from being priest to the LORD, that he might fulfill the word of the LORD which He spoke concerning the house of Eli at Shiloh”(NKJV). But that didn’t mean the end of priesthood in Israel. The priesthood continued in Israel since no man can stop God’s work. No family can stop God’s programme. The stone cried out for Eli and his father’s house.

Saul’s Example

Saul is another person that the stone cried out in his place. He sinned against God and He rejected him and the stone cried out in his stead. “‘How foolish!’ Samuel exclaimed. ‘You have disobeyed the command of the LORD your God. Had you obeyed, the LORD would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. But now your dynasty must end, for the LORD has sought out a man after his own heart. The LORD has already chosen him to be king over his people, for you have not obeyed the LORD’s command.” (1 Samuel 13:13-14 NLT). David was the stone that replaced Saul. For every Saul, there is a David!  God will not replace you with someone else. Nobody will take your place in Jesus’ name.

Queen Vashti’s Example

God knows the end from the beginning. He knew there would come a time when Haman, an Agagite – a descendant of Agag, king of  the Amalekites, whom Saul spared and was later ordered killed by Samuel – would want to get the Jewish race eliminated. He, therefore, perfected His plan to preserve His people unknown to anybody. Queen Vashti must vacate her office for disobeying King Xerxes, her husband.

Esther became the Queen in place of Vashti. It was Esther that pleaded later the case of the Jews, including herself before the king. Indeed, like Mordecai himself said, Esther became the Queen for such a time for that purpose (Esther 4:14). When Queen Vashti refused to do the wish of her husband, the stone cried out. God allowed it.

Solomon’s Example

The stone cried out in place of Solomon and, more importantly, in place of his father’s house as a result of his sin. He made God angry because his heart had turned away from the LORD God of Israel who had appeared to him twice. “So the LORD became angry with Solomon, because his heart had turned from the LORD God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice, and had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods; but he did not keep what the LORD had commanded” (I Kings 11:9-10 NKJV). God tore the kingdom from him and gave it to his subordinate but He did not allow it to take effect during his reign. When Rehoboam, his son, became king, the kingdom was torn from him. Jeroboam, his father’s subordinate, was given ten tribes to rule over while Rehoboam had only two for the sake of David and Jerusalem, the city chosen by God to put His name.

Whoever will not allow God to have His way, He removes. Whoever will not allow Him to rule, He overrules. Will you allow Him to rule in your life?

Uzziah’s Example

The Bible says concerning Uzziah, the king of Judah, “His fame spread far and wide, for the Lord gave him marvelous help, and he became very powerful”(2 Chronicles 26:15 NLT). Unfortunately, Uzziah couldn’t handle the fame that God brought him into; it went into his head. He assumed wrongly that he was responsible for the exploits that brought him fame. From then, he began to get things wrong. He became so proud that eighty-one priests could not prevent him from intruding into the office of the priest to burn incense. Right there in the temple, God caused leprosy to break loose on him.

This was somebody that the Bible had recorded earlier in his reign that he did what was right in the sight of the Lord (2 Chronicles 26:4). But he died a leper and was denied the honour of being buried in the burial ground for kings. “But when he had become powerful, he also became proud, which led to his downfall. He sinned against the Lord his God by entering the sanctuary of the Lord’s Temple and personally burning incense on the incense altar. Azariah the high priest went in after him with eighty other priests of the Lord, all brave men. They confronted King Uzziah and said, ‘It is not for you, Uzziah, to burn incense to the Lord. That is the work of the priests alone, the descendants of Aaron who are set apart for this work. Get out of the sanctuary, for you have sinned. The Lord God will not honor you for this!’ Uzziah, who was holding an incense burner, became furious. But as he was standing there raging at the priests before the incense altar in the Lord’s Temple, leprosy suddenly broke out on his forehead. When Azariah the high priest and all the other priests saw the leprosy, they rushed him out. And the king himself was eager to get out because the Lord had struck him.  So King Uzziah had leprosy until the day he died. He lived in isolation in a separate house, for he was excluded from the Temple of the Lord. His son Jotham was put in charge of the royal palace, and he governed the people of the land” (2 Chronicles 26:16-21 NLT).

Uzziah’s life teaches us to be consistent in our walk with God, not to be carried away by our success, and to remain within the scope of our assignment.

Uzziah died a leper. But before he died, his son replaced him as king. The stone cried out in his place, and the stone was his son. That means leprosy disqualified him from continuing as king. Jotham, therefore, came to the throne earlier than he would have if Uzziah’s reign had not been terminated while he was still alive.

Jotham was wise. When it was his turn, he didn’t make the mistake of his father. “Jotham was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Jerushah the daughter of Zadok. And he did what was right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his father Uzziah had done (although he did not enter the temple of the LORD). But still the people acted corruptly” (2 Chronicles 27:1-2 NKJV). Did you see that? He followed the good deeds of his father but avoided intruding into the priests’ work of burning incense in the Temple.

Not all children are as wise as that. Some children today still repeat the mistakes of their fathers; the failures of their fathers are replicated in their lives. This pattern is seen a lot among the kings of Israel and Judah. They didn’t learn from the mistakes of their fathers so they were consumed. The problems of your fathers shall not become your problems in Jesus’ name. You will not fall into the errors of your ancestors. The victories of your parents shall be multiplied in your life in Jesus’ name.

Judas’ Example

After betraying Jesus Christ, his master, Judas, one of the 12 disciples who had been with him, saw all the miracles and also could lay hands on the sick and were healed according to the Master’s mandate (Luke 9:1-2, 6), committed suicide.

In Acts 1, we see lots being cast to get a replacement for him since he had lost his place. In verse 26, the lot fell on Mathias. He was the stone in place of Judas. Thus Psalm 109.8 was fulfilled:  “Let his days be few, and let another take his office” (NKJV).  Nobody will take your office in Jesus’ name. It is high time all believers realized that any opportunity to serve in the house of God is an opportunity to be blessed. God loves you but He has also made provision for the stones in case you disappoint Him. Don’t let Him replace you.

Conclusion

Before the stones cry out, serve Him today with gladness (Psalm 100:2). Serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul (Deuteronomy 10:12). Serve Him in newness of the Spirit (Romans 7:6). If you’ll not praise Him or stop praising Him, God will raise others who will praise Him. If the adults won’t praise Him or stop praising Him, God will put His praises in the mouth of babies and sucklings.  “You have taught children and nursing infants to give you praise. They silence your enemies who were seeking revenge” (Psalm 8:2 NLT). God will get babies and sucklings – children and infants – to praise Him if adults are unwilling.

Disobedience led to the fall of Adam and the subsequent eviction from the beautiful garden. Disobedience also caused Saul his throne. The disobedience of Solomon by following after strange gods made God tear the kingdom from him. Before the stones cry out, will you obey him?

Whatever the anointing God has given you and the grace of God upon your life, whatever the exploits that God is doing through you and the level He has promoted you to, don’t be proud like Nebuchadnezzar. It’s not about you; it’s about God. Judas fell away from the position of an apostle and went to his own (proper) place where he belonged. Take heed lest the stones should cry out in your stead! I pray that you will not fail God in Jesus’ name.

TAKE ACTION!

If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.

Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto you today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank you, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.

I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The Lord be with you.

dsc_0581T. O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
Phone No: +2348155744752, +2348033113523
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Email: cedarministryintl@yahoo.com,
cedarministryng@gmail.com
Website: www.cedarministry.org