The Stones of Covetousness

December 31, 2012 at 10:20 am | Posted in Habakkuk, Luke, The Stones that Don't Cry Out | 9 Comments
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The Lord Jesus was moving toward Jerusalem. Those who had plotted to tempt Him, to cause Him to fall into sin, to argue against Him and to try to prove Him a to be a blasphemer, and those who had tried to kill Him, had all failed – because His time had not yet come.

The Lord Jesus, Who had never allowed His followers to engage in a public demonstration for Him, allowed it this one time, and they treated Him like a triumphant King. Garments were laid on the animals and on the road. Palm tree branches were waved and spread before Him (John 12:13). He rode a “colt” (a young donkey) which had not been broken or trained by men, but which submitted to Jesus because He, as the “second Adam” and as God incarnate, had dominion over all creation.

And they brought him to Jesus: and they cast their garments upon the colt, and they set Jesus thereon. And as he went, they spread their clothes in the way.

Luke 19:35-36

The crowd was excited. Many of them had seen this Man – Jesus of Nazareth – perform miracles, heal the blind, even raise a man from the dead. Possibly others – even some of the Disciples – believed Jesus was entering Jerusalem to overthrow the Roman government there. This is indicated by their use of the messianic Psalm 118 (118:26).

And when he was come nigh, even now at 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 that they had seen; Saying, Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest.

Luke 19:37-38

But there were also Pharisees in the crowd, and they were upset.

And some of the Pharisees from among the multitude said unto him, Master, rebuke thy disciples.

Luke 19:39

In the Lord’s response to them, you might recognize a very common modern church expression:

And he answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.

Luke 19:40 (emphasis added)

This expression is used to encourage and exhort people to “liven up” – to get excited in worship – to “get free” – to “loosen up” – to sing louder and with greater emotional enthusiasm. This will be the plea of song leaders and worship ministers all across America this Sunday morning: “We don’t want the rocks to put us to shame – come on, please – if we don’t praise Him, the rocks will! You don’t want us to be outdone by a rock, do you?”

One of the things that happened often in Christ’s ministry on earth is that He would speak a great truth and people would put their own stamp of perception on it. Instead of hearing what He actually said, they heard what they wanted Him to say. When He said that the temple would be torn down, and in three days He would raise it again, they thought He meant the temple building. When He said that in order to see the Kingdom of God you must be born again, they asked Him how someone could get back into his mother’s womb. When He told people that those who eat of His flesh and drink of His blood would have eternal life they were offended at the thought of eating literal flesh. I wonder if Jesus’s followers knew the deeper spiritual meaning when He said, “If these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out?”

I don’t know for sure, but I believe the Pharisees must have known. They were students of the Word. They knew the writings of the prophets. Surely they would have recognized the quote from Habakkuk:

Woe to him that coveteth an evil covetousness to his house, that he may set his nest on high, that he may be delivered from the power of evil! Thou hast consulted shame to thy house by cutting off many people, and hast sinned against thy soul. For the stone shall cry out of the wall, and the beam out of the timber shall answer it.

Habakkuk 2:9-11

See, the followers of Christ wanted Psalm 118 – “Blessed be the King that comes in the name of the Lord!” – but Christ’s point was, “What about Habakkuk 2:11? Thou hast brought shame to thy house! The very stones of the houses cry out!”

Is your house just a pile of stones (or bricks or wood or aluminum siding)? What is it about your house that cries out about the glory of God? About the salvation of Christ? I’m not talking about the materials out of which your home is made. I’m talking about what takes place in your home. If the praises of the Lord are not heard in our homes, we won’t have to worry about the paneling and the bricks crying out in praise. Oh, they’ll be crying out alright – but they’ll be crying, “Covetous! Covetous! I am a house full of furniture! Full of television sets! Full of computers! I am a house full of possessions – of material treasures – I am a monument to covetousness!”

Woe unto him that saith to the wood, Awake; to the dumb stone, Arise, it shall teach! Behold, it is laid over with gold and silver, and there is no breath at all in the midst of it. But the LORD is in his holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before him.

Habakkuk 2:19-20

Let’s make sure our homes are places where the Word of God is taught. Where the fear of God is evident. Where the love of God is shown. Let’s make sure our possessions “keep silence” before Him. The “stones of covetousness” which make up our homes don’t have to cry out, but if they are crying out already, how will we respond?

Next time, we will take a look another of The Stones that Don’t Cry Outthe Stones of Condemnation.

Turning Up the Heat – Part 1

March 19, 2010 at 9:30 am | Posted in Bible Studies | 13 Comments
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Lord, let us hear from You. Thank You for Your patience, for Your love, for Your saving grace. One of the benefits of our salvation is having ears to hear. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. In the precious name of Christ I pray. Amen.

And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness.

Malachi 3:3

This verse says He shall sit, and the “He” is the Lord Jesus. It is partially a reference to a time when He shall come to defeat the Antichrist, and shall establish His kingdom on Earth for 1000 years. Not all theologians believe in this, but many of those who do call it the Millennial Reign. But Malachi 3:3 also speaks of the work of Christ in the lives of believers today.

If you have been born again – if you have been saved – if your name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life – if you have trusted Christ as your Savior – then this verse applies to you. I want us to notice 3 things about this verse:

1. The position of the Refiner
2. The purpose of the refining
3. The product of the refining

The Position of the Refiner

When we look at the position of the refiner, we are a little concerned: “And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver…” Sitting is a position that we usually equate with laziness or a lack of concern.

[Let me pause here for a brief tangent on the topic of “sitting.” If you are a Christian boy or man – especially a teen-aged boy or young man – do not let yourself be caught sitting while someone else is working in front of you. A lady who is carrying something heavy should never have to excuse herself to get by you because you are loitering in her way. As someone who has been frustrated in the past by the failure of unbiblical church “youth groups,” I have seen this happen numerous times. If you are in a position of leadership in church youth ministry, or, more to the point, if you are a Christian parent or elder, please stress to teen-aged boys and overgrown “youth group” males that they are to be:

Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;

Romans 12:11

The desire of the slothful killeth him; for his hands refuse to labour.

Proverbs 21:25

Slothful is the Bible word for lazy. A Christian should be diligent, not lazy.]

Okay, back to the point: We see the that the Refiner in Malachi 3:3 is sitting – sitting before a hot cauldron or pot of molten silver. In this illustration, you and I, as Christians, are the silver. And we are in the heat, but the Refiner is just sitting. We are tempted to ask, “What do you mean He’s sitting? I’m in the fire! Things are really getting hot for me! I’m having troubles – troubles at work, trials at home, suffering in my body! Why is He just sitting? Doesn’t He care?”

The temptation to think this way comes from a misunderstanding about the nature of God. God is not a nervous parent, up at 2:30 a.m., pacing the floor, wringing His hands, waiting for the phone to ring, and muttering, “Why won’t My son call me if he’s in trouble? Why won’t My daughter come home – I don’t know where she is?” Nor is He snoring soundly while His children are getting into all sorts of trouble beyond the realm of His consciousness. No, the Refiner of silver sits because He’s in it for the long-haul.

I work in an office, and when I have some very important paperwork to attend to, I sit down and pay attention. The Refiner must pay close attention. He will not let the refining fire He’s attending cool down too much or get too hot. Our Lord sits as a Refiner because He is determined to do a thorough and complete job.

Another reason the Refiner is sitting is because He is the King, and is in total control. He’s sovereign. When an earthly king receives his subjects, he sits and they stand. They are nervous and stressed. They want their requests granted, but they are uncertain. The king is sure. He is calm and regal. He knows he has the power. If he declares it to be, it is so. Our Lord Jesus, the Master Refiner, is sitting because He paid a high a price for us, and He wants us to be pure. He’s not sitting because he doesn’t care – He’s sitting because he does care.

I believe it was Charles Spurgeon who used the analogy of an infant with a dirty face. This child is crying because his mother is vigorously scrubbing his face clean. The child is greatly agitated, but the mother is smiling, calm, and humming a merry tune. The mother has the peaceful and purposeful assurance that a clean face is the best thing for her child at that moment. How often we cry to the Lord to be relieved of our sufferings! We do not realize that the relief we are crying for would not be good for us. Our Lord loves us too much to let us stay defiled. He paid too high a price for His silver and gold to let it remain full of impurities.

That is the position of the Refiner: sitting. Next time, we will delve a little more into the the purpose of the refining.


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