Among the psalms of worship, lament, intercession, history, and others, are a collection of songs that proclaim God’s greatness as seen in nature. Three of these are Psalms 29, 148, and 19. Psalm 29 describes God as a thunderstorm, His voice and nature seen in the thunder, in the waves, in the winds, in the animals taking shelter – all of these proclaim glory to God. Likewise, all nature is called to praise Jehovah in Psalm 148, from creatures of the deep to the stars of the heavens. Finally, the heavens testify God’s name in Psalm 19.
Nature is called upon time and again to give praise to God. Jesus calls on this imagery during the last week of His ministry. As He rides into Jerusalem in Luke 19:36, multitudes welcome Him in praise. They sing from Psalm 118 as Jesus passes by, calling Him their king, bearing testimony of His name. In verse 39, the Pharisees call on Jesus to rebuke His overenthusiastic followers, understanding the undercurrents of their worship. Jesus responds by claiming that, should His followers fall silent, nature itself, even the stones on the ground, would cry out.
When the Stones Cried Out
By the end of this week, Jesus is arrested, tried unfairly, and crucified. Who testifies on Jesus’ behalf now? In Matthew 26:56, the disciples abandon Him. Later in the same chapter, Peter goes so far as to deny association with the Christ. In verses 59-61, no religious leaders testify in Jesus’ name. In fact, they seek false testimony to condemn Him. In John 19, none in the multitudes – many of whom would have been praising Jesus earlier that week – cry out for Jesus’ release. Instead, they call for His death.
Pilate partially tries to speak on Jesus’ behalf. One of the thieves on the cross expresses belief, but who would listen to the testimony of a criminal? Then, in Matthew 27, after Jesus cries, “It is finished,” darkness descends for three hours – in the middle of the day. The veil of the temple tears top to bottom, and the earth shakes, rocks torn and broken. Up to this point, silence has been the only testimony for Jesus. Now, the rocks cry out in testimony of Jesus’ divinity.
The Testimony of Living Stones
In the last supper of John 17, Jesus prays that the Father will glorify Him with His past glory. Hebrews 1:3 calls Jesus the radiance of God’s glory, and John 1 equates Jesus with God. These rocks testify God’s glory among man as in Psalms 29, 148, and 19. They proclaim the culmination of salvation’s wondrous plan. When all others are silent, nature proclaims God’s glory.
Two thousand years later, stones still cry out His glory. In I Peter 2:5, Peter calls those who follow Jesus living stones. Philippians 1:11 calls on us to be filled with righteousness as testimony to God’s glory. Every word and action of our lives should proclaim God’s glory. When all others are silent, we should bear testimony of our God and Savior. As living stones, we proclaim His greatness with one voice, living for Him and because of Him.
lesson by Tim Smelser