Stones of Praise

“Some of the Pharisees from the crowd said to Him, “Teacher, rebuke Your disciples!” But answering, Yeshua said, “I tell you that if these keep silent, the stones will shout out!” (Lk. 19:39-40; cf. Hab. 2:11).

This scene found in Luke chapter 19 is striking. As we read of the triumphal entry of Messiah, riding upon a colt into the city of Jerusalem, He is greeted with shouts of praise (Lk. 19:38). We then find Him weeping over the blindness of the people of Jerusalem (Lk. 19:41-44); and finally, that radical scene of Messiah cleansing the Temple, a preparation of sorts (Lk. 19:45-48).

On Palm Sunday, imagery of the fall feast of Sukkot or Tabernacles, we find joy advancing toward sorrow; a sorrow ultimately transformed into hope. At the time, it was beyond the reach of the disciples to understand what Messiah was doing, what He was fulfilling, and ultimately what He would be creating, not only in those who believed back then, but also we who believe today.

In the three scenes noted above from Luke 19, stones play a vitally important role in the narrative landscape. When the Pharisees call on Yeshua to quiet His disciples, He responds that if He was to quiet them “the stones would cry out.” He then weeps over the destruction of Jerusalem where “they will not leave in you one stone upon another.” Finally, He cleanses the stone Temple of those who would desecrate it.

The triumphal entry is an announcement of judgment, leading to cleansing, and ultimately joy – a joy that must first travel through the depths of sorrow. Stones might cry out. Stones will be toppled. But stones will also be cleansed.

Nevertheless, Yeshua continues to make triumphal entries, even today. He does so in the lives of those who celebrate His coming: “ברוך הבא /Baruch haba…” The apostle Peter, it would seem, draws upon the experience of Palm Sunday when he writes, “As you come to Him, a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones, are being build up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood … His own people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (I Pet. 2:4-5; 9).

Peter explains that we, Messiah’s disciples, are living stones proclaiming the praises of God, built up into a spiritual house – the Dwelling Place of the Living God (I Cor. 3:16). Having been dead in trespasses and sin, we have been made alive to God through Messiah, and now, abiding in His marvelous light, we can praise Him: stones of praise – corrected, toppled, and cleansed.

Have you ever fumbled around in the darkness hoping to find a light or the light switch? Do you remember the feeling when someone turned on the light, and how much easier a little light made everything? Messiah has brought us out of darkness, cleansed us, and from that cleansing an amazing thing happened: He built us up to become His house, a house of praise proclaiming the joy of salvation to all people (Isa. 56:7); no longer hard and rigid like stone, but soft, feeling, vulnerable.

Now, as Messiah continues to enter people’s lives, let us be an escort of praise, knowing Him, and honoring the One who has delivered us from darkness into His glorious, radiant, bright Kingdom that is being revealed, not from the back of a colt, but a mighty white horse. Even so, come Lord Yeshua.

Be well. Shalom.

Prophetic Praise

In Exodus 15:20, Miriam the sister of Aaron and Moses, emerges from the crowd of Israel, moving forward with the women, and sings a song of victory:

“Sing to the Lord, for He is highly exalted! The horse and it’s rider He has thrown into the sea” (Ex. 15:21).

As Israel departed Egypt, with the clothes on their backs, unleavened bread, and plunder from Egypt (Ex. 12:35-36), one person had something more.

Moses led Israel in beautiful song, lifting his voice among those delivered. Miriam lead a song of praise, and a joyous dance with tambourine. Her song had rhythm, and noise.

Why did she bring it, the tambourine? We do not find a command to bring this type of personal item. Did she ask a neighbor for it? Did she conceal it? Or did people hear a rhythmic beat as they walked?

Israel is depicted as a conquering army leaving a battle: the fall of Egypt. As we know from Psalm 105:37 “not one feeble” among the tribes exited Egypt; for they were covered by the blood, and they had consumed the lamb and unleavened bread.

Miriam the prophetess, it would seem, was prophesying victory, when uncertainty surrounded, with a small tambourine; what would appear to be extra weight to carry on a long journey.

Some years ago I recall hearing a rabbi say, “If you are praying for rain, bring an umbrella; if you are praying for sunshine, bring sunglasses.”

With Miriam: when expecting victory, bring an instrument of praise, which then becomes a weapon of warfare (Eph. 6:10-18).

The beat and rhythm of the tambourine, and the shouts of praises, indicated that Israel was no longer hiding or running: they were free (Col. 3:16; cf. Eph. 5:18-20).

What army is pursuing you? What sea lay before you? The sea will open, and the pursuing army will parish; so bring something of praise with you from the outset, and get ready to shout and make a spectacle for the victory of the Living God.

Then your praise will be prophetic, because you were no longer fleeing from an enemy, but moving to a place of praise to the Lord.

Be well. Shalom.