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This phrase is seldom used in Scripture, but when mentioned, the occasion is most memorable. It is first used in Gen. vii. 11, where God opened the windows of heaven to pour out his wrath and indignation on the old world, and the rain was so violent, and of such continuance, that not a living creature escaped, except the few who were in the ark. Were we to contrast with this, God's opening the windows of heaven to pour out a blessing, it would open a field for the most pleasing and profitable considerations. We have another account of the windows of heaven in 2 Kings vii. 1, 2, where Elisha prophesied that plenty was just at hand, but a great man said, * Behold, if the Lord would make windows in heaven, might this thing be?” The reply to Elisha was in the language of unbelief, and plainly intimated that such a thing was most unlikely, and altogether impossible without a miracle, and even in a miraculous
way most improbable. With its ingenuity, faith should take the weapon of Satan and unbelief, and employ it against themselves. Speaking of opening the windows of heaven to pour out a blessing, with an allusion to this passage, affords these precious truths :that the Lord can and will bless, when to carnal sense and reason it seems wholly impossible: that rather than the Lord will not bless his people, he will act as a wonder-working God, and perform miracles of mercy: and that when God has said he will bless, faith may safely rely upon his word, and expect the blessing in spite of every obstacle.
As the windows of heaven literally mean the clouds—the vehicles of rain ; spiritually they mean
the prophecies and promises which are the vehicles of Divine influences. When God promises to open the windows of heaven, and pour blessings on the New Testament church, he particularly means that to them should be accomplished the Old Testament prophecies and promises. When these were given, they were in a great measure sealed and locked up; but in New Testament times, they are all set open and pour out their precious contents. Of old, the church had only the shadow; now she has the substance. Spiritual blessings in their progress may
be compared to the waters which issued out from un the threshold of the sanctuary, Ezek. xlvii. 1–6. At first they were to the ankles; afterwards to the loins ; and at last they became waters to swim in, a river that could not be passed over. Of old, the windows of heaven might be compared to a cloud like a man's hand; now, and especially in the latter day glory, they become so great as to cover the heaven. Then the Lord, as it were, sprinkled his blessings only on a few in the land of Judea ; now he opens the windows of heaven and pours them out plentifully and extensively. To the New Testament belongs the accomplishment of the beautiful prophecy, Hos. i. 10, 11, “ Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured, nor numbered, and it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people, there it shall be said unto them, Ye are the sons of the living God. Then shall the children of Judah, and the children of Israel, be gathered together, and appoint themselves one head,
and they shall come up out of the land: for great shall be the day of Jezreel.” And also, chap. ii. 23, “ I will have mercy upon her that had not obtained mercy: and I will say to them which were not my people, Thou art my people; and they shall say, Thou art my God."
The idea of opening the windows of heaven to pour out the blessing intimates that the Lord will bless in the appointed way. Naturally, the way to remove famine is to open the clouds and send rain. At the end of a great famine, recorded i Kings xviii. 41, Elijah prayed and it rained. When our heavens over our heads are made brass, and the earth that is under us as iron, famine must ensue; but when the rain comes, in the language of Hosea, the heaven hears the earth, and the earth Jezreel. It is exactly so with spiritual blessings. The Lord makes his people feel their need, and cry to him. He hears from heaven, pours out the blessing, and produces spiritual plenty.
The manner of expression points out the heavenly origin of spiritual blessings. They come from above. A man can receive nothing except it be given him from above. No blessing can reach us without the appointment and gift of God. Salvation is wholly of grace. God alone can open the windows of heaven, and he only can open our shut hearts. He removes every obstacle in the way of the blessing, both on his part and ours.
In fine, we cannot think of the windows of heaven being opened without recollecting God's cheerfulness in pouring out the blessing. He
He opens these windows
as a proof that his heart is not shut, that he is rich in mercy, and delights to give. This promise proves that his bowels yearn to his people, and that he is loath to give up with them. Opening these windows, he
pours out blessings that there shall not be room enough to receive. He removes all their ills, and supplies all their wants. He defends them against all attacks, and supports them in every trial. He will make all who plead his promise, and prove him, happy without interruption or end! We shall now subjoin a few inferences.
1. This subject points out the nature and effects of sin. It pours contempt upon God's authority, and neglects the duties enjoined by him. While highly dishonouring to God, it is hurtful to the sinner, draws down judgments, and, if persisted in, will land him in hell. Here it brought on a famine, and provoked God to withhold the blessing. The sins of believers cannot be less provoking, but are often more heinous. God's jealousy burns hottest near his altar. Though he forgives the iniquities of his people, he takes vengeance of their inventions. God has many ways of pleading a controversy with his own people, with which the world is unacquainted. He takes away his Spirit, and hides his face. He frowns in his providential dispensations. As the saints by their provocations have a great hand in drawing down judgments, they often suffer signally in the common calamity. The most favoured saints at this time felt the severity of famine, as well as the most careless sinners.
2. It points out the nature and design of the judgments inflicted on a professing people. They are chastisements and punishments for past sins. They are calculated to bring sin to remembrance, without which none can be suitably exercised about their former iniquities. Judgments have a gracious design as to futurity. They are intended to turn men from the evil of their ways, and reclaim them. Their language is, Turn you at my reproof. They are always mixed with mercy, and these on whom they are inflicted may say, we “ will sing of mercy and judgment.” In general they are an evidence that God has not said concerning a people, “Let them alone.” They are often heaviest where God has the greatest design of grace. This is implied in his address to Israel, Amos iii. 2, “ You only have I known of all the families of the earth; therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities.” They are designed in a particular manner as warnings to fly from the wrath to come, and should be viewed as coming from God with this inscription, “ I hate sin, and must punish it; I have borne long, and your cup is full: my patience is abused, and I must strike the stroke : if temporal judgments are so grievous, what must future wrath be! Be warned, and fly from it: now consider this, ye that forget God, lest I tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver."
3. Proper work and exercise under tokens of the Lord's anger. We should perform duty, and pay the tithes. Prosperity without the performance of duty is cursed; and these calamities and afflictions which do not bring us back to duty are unsanctified. With