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Bible references are to the Anglicised New International Version (NIV-UK) unless noted otherwise
RANDOM THOUGHTS ON WINDOWS? No, not the Microsoft computer giant that seems to rule our lives these days. I’m thinking about glass windows, marvelling at such a brilliant invention and wondering what life would be like without them. Sunlight is so valued that many dwellings, offices and factories are built to allow the maximum natural illumination. The conservatory extension to one’s house has become a most desirable luxury.
Of the thousands of uses for glass, the fitting of windows into human habitations must be of the greatest benefit. What would we do without it? There is no positive record as to when glass was first produced, as it dates back to prehistoric times. A naturally occurring substance, glass is not really a human invention. Certain kinds of rock, when melted in extreme heat, such as occurs in a volcano, and then cooled and solidified quickly, create natural glass.
Modern technology has so advanced the production of glass that we now see multi-storey buildings apparently made entirely of it. This is something of an illusion: the basic framework is steel, but the effect is that of a glass curtain wrapped around the structure. Love them or loath them, such buildings are here to stay, mainly in the interests of utilising solar energy.
You will have seen pictures of the so-called ‘Gherkin Tower’ ― one glass building that has captured the affection of many Londoners, and voted by international architects in 2005 as the most admired new edifice. Gaps in each floor provide six shafts that serve as a natural ventilation system. Air sandwiched between two layers of glass creates a giant double glazing effect and insulates the office space. At forty storeys, that’s a lot of windows!
Noah’s Ark had a window that could be opened and closed (Genesis 8: 6). Was it glazed? Some authorities say that early windows may have been only an opening covered with lattice-work. There is no firm evidence, but it seems feasible that even at that early point in history the craft of glass making was practised. The Israelite spies in Jericho were let down through the window of a house built against the town wall, and many years later the Apostle Paul escaped from Damascus in a similar way (Joshua 2: 15; 2. Corinthians 11: 33).
‘Windows of heaven’ is a poetic reference to God’s dwelling place, from which His will is dispensed ― the floodwaters in Noah’s day, or a bountiful blessing to Israel if they would keep His commandments, as the prophet Malachi reminded them in our heading text. Of a downpour we still say ‘the heavens opened’, and unexpected benefits are called ‘pennies from heaven’. Challenging the patriarch Job, his companion asks (Job 37: 18), ‘Can you join [God] in spreading out the skies, hard as a mirror of cast bronze?’
This leads us to the subject of mirrors, or looking glasses as they were once called. How many do you have in your house? I was surprised to count fourteen in my modest dwelling, but they were probably a rarity in biblical times. Early mirrors were made of copper, possibly also of bronze. They would not shatter like glass, but would be subject to distortion, being malleable, and would offer a less than perfect image. The Apostle Paul alluded to such imperfection in his discourse on love: ‘Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known’ (1 Corinthians 13: 12).
Does anyone here enjoy cleaning windows? One or two ― but mostly I see your grimaces! Housework is definitely not my favourite pastime, and window cleaning I loath, so it becomes a vexation when successive professional window cleaners I hire to do the job for me disappear without trace. Who can blame them?
Insurance companies regard the cleaning of windows as the riskiest profession in Britain. Daredevil window wipers have been ranked ahead of lifeguards, ambulance drivers and even circus performers in the dangerous jobs league table. A recent radio documentary presented an interesting insight into the work, which does have its appeal for those who enjoy the challenge of scaling skyscrapers. But sheer boredom must be the daily challenge to the house-to-house worker. When it emerged that many window cleaners are Jehovah’s Witnesses, I recalled that two who had formerly done a good job for me but had eventually vanished, were of that persuasion. When my present window cleaner next appeared and I mentioned the programme and the two Jehovah’s Witnesses, he smilingly told me: ‘And now you have a third!’ I was not surprised. All three are very pleasant, polite and efficient.
Self-Cleaning Glass! I pricked up my ears when I heard of that! Cleaning my windows on the inside is still a job I put off too long. But the latest innovation will not be affordable, or even available perhaps, for some time, so we shall have to carry on and enjoy the feeling of virtue each time the job is done!
An unidentified author wrote that ‘A smile is the light in the window of your face that tells people you’re at home.’ How infectious a smile can be, and what a blessing it is to have a ready smile. Some can grin from ear to ear, an endearing trait. And of course a real smile shines through the eyes, as Luke observes: ‘Your eyes light up your entire being. A pure eye lets sunshine into your soul’ (Luke 11: 34 – The Living Bible).
The Scriptures contain interesting references to laughter, but rather surprisingly there is no actual mention of smiling. But then, how can we laugh without a smiling face? Jesus must surely have lit up the fellowship with His disciples, and had the children laughing with delight at His stories.
Some hymn writers have pictured a smiling God, for example:
Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.
– William Cowper, 1774
A smiling face! Picture our loving Heavenly Father looking down through the windows of Heaven as He pours out a blessing for His faithful children. While we are not under the Jewish Law that required the people to pay their tithes ― a tenth of their income, into the Temple treasury ― our love for the Lord and our commitment to His service prompts us to be cheerful givers, not merely in financial matters, but in all of our little services and sacrifices for Him and His cause.
Do I want sunshine in my soul? Then I must keep my facial windows bright and shining! It may not always be easy, but let’s all keep smiling, trusting in the Lord’s providence, remembering that when we smile at Him we shall receive a like response, His answer to the prayer of Numbers 6: 24-26:
The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD turn his face towards you and give you peace.
Copyright October 2010 ukbiblestudents.co.uk
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Scriptures not quoted in text:
Genesis 8: 6: ‘After forty days Noah opened the window he had made in the ark.’
Joshua 2: 15: ‘So she let them down by a rope through the window, for the house she lived in was part of the city wall.’
2 Corinthians 11: 33: ‘But I was lowered in a basket from a window in the wall and slipped through his hands.’