1 How is the gold become dim! how is the most fine gold changed! the stones of the sanctuary are poured out in the top of every street.

The scriptural use of stone speaks to us of a foundation, a pillar, a witness, and as an object of support or soundness. We find that stone pillars were used as a remembrance of covenants or agreements. We call to mind the incident ofthe strife between Jacob and Laban, and the pillar of witness that they set up, giving it the name of Mizpah, meaning

"The heap of witness."

Peter the apostle, was called Cephas, meaning a rock or stone.

His record of faithful service gives force to his typical name. In the dark days toward the end of Christ's ministry when asked if he would leave his Master, he said-

"To whom shall we go?-thou hast the words of eternal life" (Jhn. 6:68).

With these things in mind, Peter was later inspired to write

"Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ" (1 Pet. 2:5).

And he continues, quoting from the Old Testament Scriptures-

"Behold I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious ...

Unto you therefore he is precious" (1 Pet. 2:6 7).

In the wilderness wanderings at Rephidim, Moses was commanded to smite the Rock to make provision for Israel's thirst for life-giving water. The spiritual thought of this incident is

shown by the words of Paul and Peter- .

"Our fathers did all drink the same spiritual drink; for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them; and that Rock was Christ" (1 Cor. 10:4).

"This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner" (Acts 4:11).

The prophet Jeremiah would witness the desolations which had been brought upon the glorious Temple of Solomon by generation after generation of wickedness, plunder and neglect; finally culminated by the destruction under Nebuchadnezzar. Jeremiah records the details of the devastation both of Temple and city in the final chapter of his prophecy, chapter 52.

But to such a man of faith the literal Temple was but a temporary stepping stone to the spiritual Rock which was to come afterwards. His mind was on the stones of faith, those prophets and faithful men who had suffered and died to maintain alight the embers of the Spirit's teaching.

There are many illustrations which could be shown of the pouring out of the lively stones from God's Temple at the hands of wicked men, both in imprisonments and death. It was a long and bitter record Israel had inscribed against God's faithful ones-

"Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets and wise men, and some of them ye shall kill and crucify ... that upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias, son of Barachias" (Matt. 23:34-35).

It was shortly after this that Christ's disciples pointed out the Temple of Herod with its beautiful stones, to whom he replied

"There shall not be left one stone upon another" (Matt. 24:2).

All the literal stones would be thrown down. Another day of darkness was fast approaching for Israel. It was brought about by the Roman legions under Titus in AD. 70. The ruined state was to continue until the end of Gentile times. The Abomination that maketh desolate still stands on the glorious holy mountain.

Is it possible that Christ had a deeper meaning in his words when referring to these stones? Isn't it possible that the real stones are again the faithful servants who have been poured out in the top of every street, through the long night of Gentile times? Pagan and nominal "Christian" alike have lent their hands to the destructive work.

The destruction and scattering of the living stones is but for a period. The glorious return of the Chief Cornerstone and the resurrection to endless life of the faithful stones draws very near.

...So also the lively stones

"Behold the Tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them, and be their God" (Rev. 21:3).

Bro EF Higham Snr