J. C. Philpot - Daily Portions
"And I will make thy windows of agates, and thy gates of carbuncles, and all thy borders of pleasant stones." Isaiah 54:12
Upon Zion in her time-state "the Sun of righteousness" does not shine in all his brightness; the "windows of agate," whilst she is in the flesh, temper his rays. Her prospects, too, are not fully bright and clear; as the Apostle speaks, "We see through" (or in) "a glass darkly;" we have not those clear views which the saints have in glory, where they see Jesus face to face. We have prospects sometimes, I hope, in our souls, of God, and Christ, and heavenly glory; but still these views are but semi-transparent, streaked and clouded like a window of agate, not bright and clear as a pane of plate glass. But as Daniel opened his windows toward Jerusalem, that he might see by faith what he could not see by sight, so should we aim to look towards the heavenly Jerusalem, that by faith we may there "see him who is invisible."
But the Lord speaks of Zion's "gates." "And thy gales of carbuncles." The carbuncle is of a blood-red colour; and why should the Lord have chosen that Zion's gates should be of this peculiar hue? May we not, without wresting the figure too closely, believe that there is some mystic allusion here to the blood of the Lamb? As scarlet wool was taken by Moses, when he sprinkled the people, and as Rahab's house was marked by a scarlet thread, may there not be something here significant in the colour of the gates? But "gates," or doors, not only give exit, but admission. How does God hear prayer, and answer it too? Only through the "gate of carbuncle." Prayer ascends through Jesus, and answers descend through Jesus; groans through Jesus enter the ears of the God of Sabaoth, and through the same bleeding gate of mercy do answers drop into the soul. Our poor self-righteous hearts can hardly comprehend this; we think we must have a good frame, or bring a good deed, or something good in ourselves, to make our prayers acceptable to God. Perish the thought! It is nothing but the spawn of self-righteousness. The "gates of carbuncle," the open wounds of the Lamb, through these every prayer ascends, through these every answer comes down; and if we set up anything else, or make a gate of human merit, we do despite to the Spirit of God, and pour contempt upon the grace and blood of the Lamb.
"And all thy borders of pleasant stones." God's providential dealings, which often form the outer setting of his inward mercies, are of pleasant stones. North, south, east, west, all Zion's borders are of precious materials. The daily events of life, the circumstances of family, station, employment, success, or the contrary, the ties of domestic affection, with all those varied circumstances which seem rather the borders and outer courts than the inner sanctuary of gracious experience--yet all these are of divine material and workmanship. Viewed by faith, every event and circumstance of life, however apparently grievous, is a pleasant stone; for Zion is a king's daughter, and the meanest of all her courts is made of pleasant stones. For of wisdom, that is, vital godliness, we read, "Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace."
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