11 O thou afflicted, tossed with tempest, and not comforted, behold, I will lay thy stones with fair colours, and lay thy foundations with sapphires.First, I think we can interpret this as a promise of literal heavenly mansions. This isn’t hard when we remember that Christ spoke of many mansions in His Father’s house and that He would go and prepare a place for us. These verses are like a window into heaven to watch the building process. As the righteous mourn over wickedness and repent, every godly tear shed adds a jewel to their celestial mansion. “Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted” (Matthew 5:4).
12 And I will make thy windows of agates, and thy gates of carbuncles, and all thy borders of pleasant stones. (Isaiah 54:11-12)
Second, I think that we can interpret this as a promise of a glorious resurrection. In verse two, Isaiah speaks of a tent (a temporary home), but in verses 11-12 he speaks of a glorious building, something much more permanent. This corresponds with our knowledge that the mortal body is a temporary home to our spirit, but the resurrected body will be the permanent home of our spirit.
Further, the architectural features that are described by Isaiah—stones, foundations, windows, gates, and borders—can roughly correspond to parts of the body. The foundation on which the body stands is the feet. You could think of the “stones” as the toes. The windows to our soul are definitely our eyes. The gates could be our mouth. Our borders, as the outside of our body, could be our arms, our profile or shape, or our skin. You may think I’m stretching a little as I come up with these connections, but the overall interpretation of these verses as a testimony of the resurrection is still valid.
A third interpretation of these verses is as a promise of the restoration of the gospel and the organization of the church. Previous dispensations were begun and faded away like a tent raised in the wilderness which later collapsed in sandstorms. Verses 11-12 give the Lord’s promise that he would lay the foundations of this gospel dispensation with jewels and treasures (representing priceless truths) and continue to add more and more jewels in every feature. This is certainly true; in every feature of our faith we find value.
Stones and foundations = knowledge of God’s nature (through direct revelatory experience and through additional scriptures revealed), priesthood authority and keys
Windows = prophets, seers, and revelators through which light and guidance from God is transmitted
Gates = priesthood ordinances such as baptism whereby people enter the kingdom of God
Borders = sphere of stewardship and responsibility (callings), ward and stake boundaries, and most literally, the smallest branches of the church at the very outskirts
Really the jewels can represent three different things:
- The truths restored
- The good works from the people gathered as God works through them
- The people themselves who are gathered
We have seen that there are multiple interpretations of these two verses of Isaiah and they can be discerned through our testimony of the gospel, of the restoration, of the sanctity of the family, of the resurrection, and of the promise of a place in the celestial kingdom.