In order to continue the sequence of verses in Habakkuk, this session is an adaptation of a study that we did earlier this year to fit in with the message of Easter.
Habakkuk 2:11 ASV
“For the stone shall cry out of the wall, and the beam out of the timber shall answer it.”
A Wall of Stones and Timber
Isn’t this a strange concept? Stones calling out of a wall? And beams replying?
Habakkuk was creating a picture for us of the ancient practice of building walls with three layers of stone followed by a layer of timber.
“The inner courtyard of the temple had walls made out of three layers of cut stones with one layer of cedar beams.” (1 Kings 6:36)
So these words related to the walls of Babylon which were most likely constructed in this way.
Often, buildings erected in this way were made from material gained from conquered nations. The walls and timbers of Babylon were the product of hard labour by Israeli slaves. Habakkuk is describing the stones and the timber as witnesses to the cruelty of the Babylonian conquerors.
A Wall Gives a Message
- Can you recall an occasion in the Bible when this happened?
A wall cried out when God condemned Belshazzar. While he and his courtiers were feasting, God wrote the words, “MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN” across the wall. Belshazzar called Daniel to interpret the words.
His interpretation was, ‘God has numbered the days of your reign and brought it to an end. You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting. Your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.’ (Daniel 5:1,26-28 NIV)
God used a wall.
Let’s look at some other objects God used in Scripture.
Stones Echo Praise
On what we refer to as Palm Sunday. Jesus entered the city of Jerusalem on the back of a donkey in fulfilment of the prophecy of Zechariah (Zechariah 9:9). There the crowd welcomed Him, chanting,
“Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”
But the Pharisees took exception to this and demanded, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!” So Jesus responded with that familiar phrase,
“I tell you, if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” (Luke 19:38-40)
The reaction of the crowds to the coming of the “Son of David…the king who comes in the name of the Lord” was one of uninhibited, spontaneous praise.
God welcomes spontaneous, sincere praise.
- How spontaneous is your praise of God? At home? In your church?
- How much is your praise held back by what others might think?
All Nature Praises
The only ones who were not infected by the joy of the occasion were the conservative, ritualistic religious leaders. They did not approve of this behaviour. It was to them that Jesus said, “If they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.“
Jesus, the Son of God welcomed their behaviour and made it abundantly clear that if mankind chose to remain silent, nature would burst forth into praise.
- Have you noticed how the psalms speak of nature participating in praising God?
“Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth, burst into jubilant song with music.” (Psalm 98:4)
“Let the rivers clap their hands, let the mountains sing together for joy.” (Psalm 98:8)
Again in Isaiah, we read:
“Tell the heavens and the earth to celebrate and sing; command every mountain to join in the song.” (Isaiah 49:13 CEV)
“..the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.” (Isaiah 55:12)
On that wonderful day in Jerusalem, Jesus’ disciples, the crowd, and the children were uninhibited in their praise. They allowed themselves the freedom to release their emotions. After they waved palm branches, they placed them on the road to form a carpet.
They did the same with their outer garments, then they shouted out words of praise. Even the children got caught up in the spirit of praise.
This annoyed the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They demanded, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!”
Jesus simply responded, “I tell you, if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”
A Greater Reason to Praise
You and I have even more reason to praise the Lord. True praise and worship is the overflow of the love and respect that we have for Jesus and for what He has done. It is an expression of the joy that He has brought into our lives.
Jesus said, “I tell you, if (my disciples do not praise me) the stones will cry out.”
Are we going to be outdone by nature? Nature can but praise Jesus for its creation. We praise Jesus that mankind is the highlight of creation. We praise that we have become a new creation through faith in our Saviour.
Make a point each day in your quiet time to first praise God for something He has done for you during the last 24 hours, before bringing any requests to Him.
If you haven’t yet read the background to the prophecy, please do. It will benefit you throughout our time together.