“O thou afflicted, tossed with tempest, and not comforted, behold, I will lay thy stones with fair colours, and lay thy foundations with sapphires. And I will make thy windows of agates, and thy gates of carbuncles, and all thy borders of pleasant stones. And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children” (Isaiah 54:11-13, KJV).
This is an amazing prophecy! The “pleasant stones” mentioned in verse 12 are jewels. Most everyone knows that a diamond was once just a piece of coal that has been worked on by the elements for years. God’s Word is telling us, “Your afflictions are meant to change you into something beautiful — something precious to me.”
The “windows of agates” are a type of quartz, made transparent by fire. The “windows” aspect has to do with eyes or vision. God is saying that trusting him through your afflictions will give you clear vision, discernment. It will allow you to see into the unseen — with crystal clarity!
Most scholars believe the phrase “gates of carbuncles” more accurately reads “gates of pearl.” Pearls form from a grain of sand in the belly of an oyster. The grain is injected with fluid and then grated and irritated until it becomes a pearl.
When you think of all the grating, irritation and friction in your life, can you visualize a pearl being formed? Most of us can only feel the pain and agitation of being rubbed the wrong way; it takes real trust to envision a pearl being fashioned by God. Nonetheless, every pearl is a memento of suffering, pain, friction and time.
I believe Isaiah is talking about the beauty of Jesus Christ in this passage. In other words, affliction, when allowed to accomplish its work, brings about a people who shine forth the beauty of Christ’s character. We are made into precious jewels that will adorn His holy city coming down from heaven.