"I tell you," he replied, "if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out." Luke 19:40
If stones could cry out, what exactly would they say? The saying goes, “if walls could talk...”, but what if stones could talk? Looking at the Old Testament, stones have one overarching cry; “The kingdom of God is advancing!”.
Jacob had quite the rock collection. It began in a way he could have never anticipated during a time of movement. Fleeing a rather awkward situation at home with a murderous brother whose blessing he had stolen, Jacob had set out for Harran in Genesis 28. He chose a stone to rest his head on. He then dreamt of an open heaven from which angels were descending and ascending. God spoke to him saying he was to be given the land he rested on and, “Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring. I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” (v. 14-15). As the spiritual offspring of Jacob, we lay hold of this promise as today God continues to spread the gospel to the west, east, north, and south until ALL PEOPLES OF THE EARTH have been blessed. God will not stop until He has done what He promised. Upon awakening, Jacob placed the rock as an anointed pillar to remind him of what He had heard. The kingdom of God is advancing!
In Genesis 35, we find Jacob back at this same site but with a new rock. This time God tells him he is being given a new name, and with that new name a new legacy.
“God said to him, 'Your name is Jacob, but you will no longer be called Jacob; your name will be Israel.' So he named him Israel. And God said to him, 'I am God Almighty; be fruitful and increase in number. A nation and a community of nations will come from you, and kings will be among your descendants. The land I gave to Abraham and Isaac I also give to you, and I will give this land to your descendants after you.'” Genesis 35:10-12
God is specific to say that this new legacy is not just for him- it is for his descendants...a community of nations even! That legacy is the meaning of the name Israel; God prevails. He marks the occasion with a stone monument.
A portion of those descendants- the Israelites- were led by Moses in the desert. This man had probably two of the most famous rocks of all. Before God gave him these commandments, He told Him the purpose for those commandments. The purpose was that God's kingdom was advancing, and they needed (just as we need) to obey as He commanded in order to manage all He was about to give them.
“Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites.” Exodus 19:5-6
Joshua was another to add to this Holy rock collection. In Joshua 4 the long-awaited crossing the Jordan into the promised land is marked by none other than stones. The kingdom of God was again advancing! They were taking new land. These stones, however, were not for others to know that they had claimed the land. It was a reminder to themselves and future generations of God's age-old promise to be with them and their descendants and how He DELIVERED on that promise.
“to serve as a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever'.” Joshua 4:6-7
As we continue through the month of April we are going to keep adding to our spiritual “rock collection”. As we review each of these, however, take inventory of your own spiritual rock collection. When is a time that God has met you in the midst of your trouble like Jacob as he fled Esau? That's a rock for your collection. When did you stop being the “old you” and receive your new identity to be reborn in Christ? That's a rock for your collection. What are the ways in which God has commanded us to live? Those are rocks for your collection. When is a time where God came through for you in such a profound way that recalling it or telling it to others builds your faith again? That's a rock for your collection. Because what we are building with these rocks is a temple. Before Jesus died He made reference to tearing down the temple and raising it in three days, but is says “But the temple he had spoken of was his body.” John 2:21. WE are now the body Christ has here on earth. It is through our hands and feet and lips that His kingdom continues to advance! So stone by stone, let us build up the temple in our hearts to complete what He began in spreading His redeeming love and truth until ALL PEOPLES OF THE EARTH have heard.