THE PROMISE OF SALVATION
GENESIS 15, 16, 17 and 18
Mysteries of Genesis
THE PROMISE of salvation is for everyone. But man must attain it. Man must be like a child at school. He must study the lessons and pay attention. Those who are following Jesus find that they have lessons every day, in mind must listen to inspiration, and like Jesus, must pray all night when the big problem comes up. If they are faithful to the Spirit they always gain the victory. The teacher is the Holy Spirit, and all get their lessons in their own way, some through inspiration, some through dreams, some through visions, some through flashes of understanding. Spirit uses the avenue most accessible and open to the student.
This avenue may change. In fact it often does as man unfolds. The majority of students get understanding through the quickening of their own spiritual mind, but as a rule they do not have faith enough to make it powerful. Here the Spirit comes to the rescue and confirms the new understanding in dreams, sometimes in visions. As one cultivates a knowledge of the symbols and a regular word is established the leading becomes definite. All doubts are erased from consciousness. Thousands of persons in this age and day have attained a state of mind in which they commune regularly with Christ.
To be saved according to the standard set up by Jesus we must sit with Him upon His throne in the kingdom of heavens. This kingdom is to be attained, not after we are dead but while we are still in the body.
Faith in things spiritual is not born full-orbed and perfect. It has its stages of growth in man. The parable of the mustard seed is applicable in this as in many other instances. Up to the time of Abraham man had a primitive consciousness of Spirit. The story of Abraham shows us how the consciousness of soul and of the soul’s relation to God dawns in the race mind, beginning a long period of growth that reaches perfection in the Christ demonstration on the part of Jesus. Therefore Abraham’s history and his varied experiences are to be read as having to do with the evolution of the soul. The early stages of this soul growth are symbolized in the experiences of Abraham, the typical man of faith.
The earliest growths of faith are not deeply rooted. We find Abraham at first living in a tent, which indicates that faith had not yet become an abiding quality in the consciousness of man. Through certain activities of the mind faith takes a firmer hold and finally establishes the “firmament” mentioned in the 1st chapter of Genesis.
Abram and Sarai, as they were called before their names were changed to Abraham and Sarah, were both old and had no children. Symbolizing faith and soul, respectively, they were as yet without visible fruit (manifestation). Deep within his heart Abraham cherished an intense desire for a son as heir to his own growing faith and the perpetuation of his own spiritual vision. This desire was later to lead to a test of his faith in the reality of the unseen and in the power of Spirit to bring the unseen into visible manifestation.
Not only was Abraham to be himself blessed and given a great name, but he was to be a blessing to the race in turn. This required something positive of him; namely the establishment of a faith in the invisible good as being present and active to the exclusion of a negative faith in or acceptance of appearances. Thus the promise of God to Abraham was not alone the promise of a son to gratify his personal desires; it was a promise that, with a spiritual background to his life, the impossibilities confronting the natural man would no longer exist and were to be put out of mind. Abraham was the founder of the faith that “with God all things are possible.”
Abraham’s son and the great nation that he was to father were thus first formed in Abraham’s mind by faith in the all-potency of Spirit. The formation of the Christ, the Son, in the individual follows the same law and involves the whole man, spirit, soul, and body. The changes that take place in the mind and in the body of one who begins to exercise the faculty of faith should occasion no surprise. Sense states of mind have formed groups of cells and fixed them in consciousness in certain relations that are not in accord with spiritual law. The activity of faith in mind and body breaks up these crystallized cells, builds up new combinations and establishes them in the body in divine order and harmony. Thus the soul (Sarah) that seems barren of fruit is by faith in Spirit made to bring forth joyously (Isaac).
Gen. 15:1-11. After these things the word of Jehovah came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward. And Abram said, O Lord Jehovah, what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless, and he that shall be possessor of my house is Eliezer of Damascus? And Abram said, Behold, to me thou hast given no seed: and, lo, one born in my house is mine heir. And, behold, the word of Jehovah came unto him saying, This man shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir. And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and number the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be. And he believed in Jehovah; and he reckoned it to him for righteousness. And he said unto him, I am Jehovah that brought thee out of Ur of the Chaldees, to give thee this land to inherit it. And he said, O Lord Jehovah, whereby shall I know that I shall inherit it? And he said unto him, Take me a heifer three years old, and a she-goat three years old, and a ram three years old, and a turtle-dove, and a young pigeon. And he took him all these, and divided them in the midst, and laid each half over against the other: but the birds divided he not. And the birds of prey came down upon the carcasses, and Abram drove them away.
This is a lesson of encouragement to those who are faithful yet see no visible fruits of their faith. Jehovah said, “Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.” Whoever works under the divine law is protected, and the result is sure to come. Active faith in the spiritual powers of Being is productive of tremendous results: “I will multiply your seed as the stars of heaven.” The outward evidence of the inward reality may be delayed because we are holding in mind some idea that prevents the manifestation. It is estimated that the best telescopes reveal as many as two billion stars. This illustrates the generative power of faith working in the formless substance of spiritual being. Things of form are limited and can bring but limited reward. Working in the formless, one is working in the free range of the whole expanse of the heavens, and the results are like the innumerable stars, beyond all computation.
The fulfillment of this faith in God may not come at once. A way may be opened in the consciousness for its descent into externality. But keep on believing. “He believed in Jehovah; and he reckoned it to him for righteousness.” Then find out why you do not have the visible evidence. Abram asked for specific evidence. He said, “O Lord Jehovah, whereby shall I know that I shall inherit it?” Then follow instructions for a sacrifice. Some ideas on the sense plane must be sacrificed, especially those that have been holding back the demonstration. A heifer, a she-goat, a ram, a turtledove, and a young pigeon are mentioned. These represent ideas of physical strength, human will, and subconscious resistance. The idea of physical strength should be given up for the realization that its source is spiritual. Sacrifice your human will, and the divine will will work its perfect way in you. Deny away all subconscious resistance to the workings of divine law. Let peace and patience pervade your mind, while ever knowing that swiftness is characteristic of all spiritual action. Look for a swift fulfillment of all that you are holding in faith, and if it be delayed, know that some sacrifices are necessary. In all this process continue to drive away, by denial, all the “birds of prey,” as Abraham did. Faith is quickened and increased by a denial of all inability, which seems real to the mind of sense. Affirm that the boundless, limitless power that creates the stars, can accomplish in your world all that it has promised or that you have desired.
Abraham’s greatest desire was to bring forth a son. Our greatest desire is like unto it, for it is to bring forth the Son, the Christ, in our consciousness and in our life. God’s promise applies in both cases, and the method is the same: the limited ideas of sense must be sacrificed for the limitless power of Spirit.
In a dream God revealed to Abraham that his descendants should be sojourners in a strange land (Egypt) for four hundred years, and should then come into Canaan with great substance and power to claim it as their own country.
God’s promises are not vague nor veiled in mystery. If they seem so or if anything about our religion seems hazy or indefinite to us, it is because our understanding has not been developed sufficiently to comprehend the fullness of it. Through his repeated contacts with God Abraham grew in understanding; in like manner we also grow by continually “practicing the presence.”
Eliezer, steward of the house of Abraham, represents the highest intellectual concept of the Deity. The name Eliezer means “God is my help,” “God is my success.” Eliezer of Damascus points to the will, which directs the temporal affairs of the illumined ego (Abraham). The power of the will in the management of one’s house or body is so important that egotism results, and the spiritual man sees that this must not be perpetuated, so he asks for a “son,” a projection of his exalted ideals; which was fulfilled in Isaac.
Gen. 15:12-21. And when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and, lo, a horror of great darkness fell upon him. And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be sojourners in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years; and also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance. But thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace; thou shalt be buried in a good old age. And in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorite is not yet full. And it came to pass, that, when the sun went down, and it was dark, behold, a smoking furnace, and a flaming torch that passed between these pieces. In that day Jehovah made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates: the Kenite, and the Kenizzite, and the Kadmonite, and the Hittite, and the Perizzite, and the Rephaim, and the Amorite, and the Canaanite, and the Girgashite, and the Jebusite.
Abraham’s vision is fulfilled in the enslavement of the Children of Israel for four hundred years in Egypt and their final deliverance.
The sun represents the light of Spirit, but we sometimes have periods when this illumination is obscured (“the sun was going down”) and we become negative in consciousness (Abraham fell into a “deep sleep” or stupor). Thus we make contact with the subconscious (land of Egypt), in which region abides substance. The realm of the subconscious needs the enlightenment of Israel; Israel also needs substance to complete its manifestation.
The name Kenite means “of or belonging to Kain,” “possessions,” “welding.” The Kenites are thought to have been a tribe of the Midianites; therefore like the latter, they represent the carnal consciousness of man. However they possess an element not possessed by the Canaanite nations that were to be utterly destroyed. The thoughts represented by the Kenites of our text, though seemingly of the carnal or sense man, contain a measure of judgment, discrimination, and impulse toward good that brings about their final upliftment into salvation. (One of the meanings of Midian is “judgment.”)
The name Kenizzite means “centralized strength,” “possessor,” “hunter.” The Kenizzites represent the thoughts of man having to do with the animal phase of his nature, with animal strength and activity.
The name Kadmonite means “primeval,” “prototype,” “eternal.” The Kadmonites represent error, carnal thoughts about life.
The name Hittite means “broken in pieces,” “sundered,” “terror.” The Hittites represent thoughts of opposition, resistance, and fear.
The name Perizzite means “rustic,” “dweller in the country.” The Perizzites lived in the hill country of Canaan, like the Canaanites. These tribes represent thoughts in the subconscious mind that seem to be at enmity with Spirit, but they are fundamentally part of the principle and when so recognized can be redeemed and become part of the perfect man. This is exemplified by the Israelites making friends with the Kenites.
(For Rephaim see interpretation of Gen. 14. For Amorite, Canaanite, Girgashite, and Jebusite see interpretation of Gen. 10.)
Euphrates means “fruitfulness.” These tribes and nations represent the fruits of sense consciousness.
Gen. 16:1-15. Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, bare him no children: and she had a handmaid, an Egyptian, whose name was Hagar. And Sarai said unto Abram, Behold now, Jehovah hath restrained me from bearing; go in, I pray thee, unto my handmaid; it may be that I shall obtain children by her. And Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarai. And Sarai, Abram’s wife, took Hagar the Egyptian, her handmaid, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan, and gave her to Abram her husband to be his wife. And he went in unto Hagar, and she conceived: and when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress was despised in her eyes. And Sarai said unto Abram, My wrong be upon thee: I gave my handmaid into thy bosom; and when she saw that she had conceived, I was despised in her eyes: Jehovah judge between me and thee. But Abram said unto Sarai, Behold, thy maid is in thy hand; do to her that which is good in thine eyes. And Sarai dealt hardly with her, and she fled from her face.
And the angel of Jehovah found her by a fountain of water in the wilderness, by the fountain in the way to Shur. And he said, Hagar, Sarai’s handmaid, whence camest thou? and whither goest thou? And she said, I am fleeing from the face of my mistress Sarai. And the angel of Jehovah said unto her, Return to thy mistress, and submit thyself under her hands. And the angel of Jehovah said unto her, I will greatly multiply thy seed, that it shall not be numbered for multitude. And the angel of Jehovah said unto her, Behold, thou art with child, and shalt bear a son; and thou shalt call his name Ishmael, because Jehovah hath heard thy affliction. And he shall be as a wild ass among men; his hand shall be against every man, and every man’s hand against him; and he shall dwell over against all his brethren. And she called the name of Jehovah that spake unto her, Thou art a God that seeth: for she said, Have I even here looked after him that seeth me? Wherefore the well was called Beer-lahai-roi; behold, it is between Kadesh and Bered. And Hagar bare Abram a son: and Abram called the name of his son, whom Hagar bare, Ishmael. And Abram was fourscore and six years old, when Hagar bare Ishmael to Abram.
Abraham and Sarah did not doubt God’s promise of a son, but as yet their faith in the all-creativeness and all-power of God was weak. The spiritual child (Isaac) is brought forth only through faith.
Abraham took Sarah’s maid Hagar and had a son by her. The name Hagar means “wanderer,” “fugitive,” “to flee one’s country.” Metaphysically Hagar represents the natural or animal soul in man, which is a servant to the higher, more spiritual soul represented by Sarah. The thoughts of the animal soul are not lifted up to a very high plane and are therefore likely to be sensual, selfish, or unholy, which reacts to produce a state of fear or uncertainty (wanderer). This sensual must give way to the spiritual. It cannot stand in the presence of the Christ Truth but flees before it. In development from the lower to the higher there is often a seeming contention between the spiritual and physical. (Sarah cast out Hagar.)
Hagar’s son, being the fruit of the union of faith with natural will and affection on a lower plane of expression, was not recognized by Jehovah as an heir of the promise.
There is an important lesson in this for everyone who is growing in faith and seeking to bring forth the fruits of Spirit according to the promise. No true spiritual demonstration is made unless the divine law is recognized and obeyed. When we try to demonstrate through our own personal will and effort, we find that we fall short.
Paul gives us an interpretation of this allegory in Galatians 4:21-31. He calls Sarah the freewoman and Hagar the bondmaid. We who are born of Spirit in the Christ consciousness are sons of the freewoman and the “children of promise.” Those born of the bond-maid (the outer or material) are of the flesh and are cast out from the inheritance of Spirit.
Beer-lahai-roi (“the well of the living one who seeth me,” “the well of the vision of life”) was the name of “a fountain of water in the wilderness, by the fountain in the way to Shur,” where the angel met Hagar when she fled from Sarah. Beer-lahai-roi represents the recognition by the individual that his life is divine, is spiritual (“the well of the living one that seeth me”), and is for the whole man. Even the outer or physical man and the human side of the soul are sustained by the life of God, “the living one.” It was beside this well that the Lord met Hagar and instructed her to return to Sarah, and also blessed her son Ishmael, who was yet to be born. Ishmael refers to the outer or flesh consciousness. Isaac (who later lived by this well) symbolizes divine sonship. When it is understood that there is but one life and that it is everywhere present in its fullness, the entire man will be lifted up into eternal life.
Beer-lahai-roi also symbolizes God as the guiding light of both the inner and the outer man (the well of the vision of life).
The name Bered means “strew,” “scatter,” “seeding.” Bered represents the sowing of ideas (seed thoughts) in the mind that the individual may begin to act on them consciously and make them fruitful.
(For Shur and Kadesh see interpretation of Gen. 20:1.)
Gen. 17:1-8. And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, Jehovah appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be thou perfect. And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly. And Abram fell on his face: and God talked with him, saying, As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be the father of a multitude of nations. Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for the father of a multitude of nations have I made thee. And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee. And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee and to thy seed after thee. And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land of thy sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.
“I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be thou perfect.”
According to the Scofield Bible, the word Almighty is a translation of the Hebrew El Shaddai, one of the names applied to God in the Old Testament. El means the “Strong One,” and shad means “the breast, invariably used in Scripture for a woman’s breast. Shaddai therefore means primarily ‘the breasted.’ God is ‘Shaddai’ because He is the nourisher, the strength-giver, and so, in a secondary sense, the satisfier, who pours Himself into believing lives.”
It was revealed to Abram that he should henceforth be called Abraham, which means “father of a multitude.” The change in name always denotes a change in character so pronounced that the old name will no longer apply to the new person. We read that Jacob’s name was changed to Israel, Simon’s to Peter, and Saul’s name was changed to Paul. The change of name applies to everyone who changes from sense to Spirit, as is indicated in Revelation 2:17: “I will give him [that overcometh sense] a white stone, and upon the stone a new name written, which no one knoweth but he that receiveth it.” The new name, Abraham, “father of a multitude,” when we apply it individually means that our faith is to be expressed by bringing the multitude of our thoughts into the realm of Spirit and under the guidance of the Christ.
Through Abraham God called His “chosen people.” Some have thought that God’s choice of a particular nation or race is out of harmony with the idea of fatherly love and impartiality toward all His children, and so have rejected part of God’s purpose before they understood it in its wholeness. Justice to all is seen when the “elect” (select) are considered in their rightful place in the divine plan of redemption. The Jews are the seed of Abraham, and through them is the whole human race blessed by the coming of Jesus.
When Abraham (faith) first catches this large vision of his good, multiplied “as the stars of the heavens,” he is not concerned with details, which will work themselves out later. The particular channel through which this great expression would come was not revealed to Abraham in the first promise. The specific thing, the birth of a son to Sarah to be called Isaac, was a much later revelation. All the facts in connection with the call of Abraham, his experiences, and the several promises made to him by Jehovah God are very important to us, for the great plan of redemption cannot be understood without them. All these promises have not been fulfilled even yet, but the word of God stands sure, and there can be no failure in their fulfillment.
Jehovah on His first contact with Abraham made him a certain promise, namely that his descendants should become a great nation in which all the people of the earth would be blessed. This was rather abstract and indefinite: Abraham was to leave his old life and environment, give up his home, and go into a new and unknown land (state of consciousness).
Jehovah made His second appearance to Abraham when he was camped under the oak of Moreh, in the land of Shechem. At that time he was on his way down to Egypt, keeping the commandment “Get thee out of thy country . . . unto the land that I will show thee.” Here he received Jehovah’s promise “Unto thy seed will I give this land.” This shows us that Abraham is progressing in understanding, that God is becoming more definite to him, and the promise more specific.
Jehovah next appeared to Abraham after he had separated himself from Lot and returned to the land of Canaan. This time the promise was still more definite, namely that Jehovah would give him and his seed forever this very land that he saw and walked upon, to the eastward, westward, northward, and southward. Nothing indefinite or theoretical about that! Yet the promise was still indefinite as regards the descendants, who were to be as numerous as the dust of the earth.
The indefinite nature of this part of the promise was due to Abraham’s lack of understanding and complete faith, for somewhere in his mind was a doubting thought caused by the fact that his wife Sarah was barren. When we doubt God’s promises by speculating how He can keep them, or when we set up limitations on His power, we of course fail to comprehend, and the promises seem vague and indefinite.
Canaan means “lowland”; it symbolizes the body. The redeemed body is the Promised Land, and when man rediscovers this lost domain all the promises of the Scriptures will be fulfilled.
Gen. 17:9-14. And God said unto Abraham, And as for thee, thou shalt keep my covenant, thou, and thy seed after thee throughout their generations. This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee: every male among you shall be circumcised. And ye shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of a covenant betwixt me and you. And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every male throughout your generations, he that is born in the house, or bought with money of any foreigner that is not of thy seed. He that is born in thy house, and he that is bought with thy money, must needs be circumcised: and my covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant. And the uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken my covenant.
Circumcision is symbolical of the cutting off of mortal tendencies, and is indicative of purification and cleanliness. One is circumcised in the true inner significance of the word only by being thoroughly purified in soul. Then, the glory of the inner soul’s cleansing and purifying action works out into the outer consciousness and the body and sets one free from all sensual, corruptible thoughts and activities. “Circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit not in the letter.” Thus man becomes a new creature in Christ Jesus.
Circumcision is the first step toward the eventual elimination of generation. This was fulfilled in the life of Jesus who taught and demonstrated regeneration. He spiritualized both soul and body, and thus made the great demonstration over death. “Verily I say unto you, that ye who have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit on the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”
Gen. 17:15-21. And God said unto Abraham, As for Sarai thy wife, thou shalt not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall her name be. And I will bless her, and moreover I will give thee a son of her: yea, I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of peoples shall be of her. Then Abraham fell upon his face, and laughed, and said in his heart, Shall a child be born unto him that is a hundred years old? and shall Sarah, that is ninety years old, bear? And Abraham said unto God, Oh that Ishmael might live before thee! And God said, Nay, but Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant for his seed after him. And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee: behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation. But my covenant will I establish with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear unto thee at this set time in the next year.
The name Sarai means “bitter,” “contentious,” “dominative.” The name Sarah means “princess,” “noble woman,” “noble lady.” Sarai’s name was changed to Sarah. In spiritual symbology woman represents the soul or intuitive part of man. Sarah is the higher phase of the soul. In Sarai the soul in contending for its rightful place in consciousness; the individual is just recognizing the fact that his affection and emotions are in essence divine and must not be united with material conditions but with Spirit. In Sarah this is more fully realized and expressed.
The name Ishmael means “whom God hears,” “whom God understands.” Metaphysically Ishmael represents the fruit of the thoughts of the natural man at work in the flesh. However, God hears and understands the outer man of flesh as well as the inner man of Spirit, for he too must be redeemed from error and corruption. The name Ishmael can also be said to denote that state of consciousness which recognizes God but which, because of the seeming opposition of the outer world, does not express itself according to the highest standards. In other words, Ishmael represents personality, which has its real source in the I AM but which goes wrong in its activity.
In its struggle to attain light, understanding, in contacting the outer or manifest world, it becomes involved in error.
The Lord Jehovah established His everlasting covenant with the promised heir of Abraham and Sarah, whose name was to be called Isaac.
Gen. 17:22-27. And he left off talking with him, and God went up from Abraham. And Abraham took Ishmael his son, and all that were born in his house, and all that were bought with his money, every male among the men of Abraham’s house, and circumcised the flesh of their foreskins in the selfsame day, as God had said unto him. And Abraham was ninety years old and nine, when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin. And Ishmael his son was thirteen years old, when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin. In the selfsame day was Abraham circumcised, and Ishmael his son. And all the men of his house, those born in the house, and those bought with money of a foreigner, were circumcised with him.
When Abraham received the light in regard to circumcision he not only conformed to the law himself but he ordered all the male members of his family to follow his example. Metaphysically interpreted, this means that the central ego (Abraham) catches the light or lays hold of the dominant idea and transmits it to all states of consciousness in its domain.
Critics have accused religion of being too general, abstract, and idealistic. Some have said that the teachings of Jesus are not “practical” in this age. These critics are invariably looking at religion from a general and abstract point of view. They consider such promises as the one made to Abraham that he should be the father of a great nation, with descendants as many as the stars of heaven, allegorically rather than the terse and very definite promise “Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son.”
From a careful study of Genesis, especially the story of Abraham, we should be able to see that our religion is either a purely speculative philosophy or a practical principle applicable to daily living, depending on our point of view and our understanding of it.
Gen. 18:1-5. And Jehovah appeared unto him by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day; and he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men stood over against him: and when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself to the earth, and said, My lord, if now I have found favor in thy sight, pass not way, I pray thee, from thy servant: let now a little water be fetched, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree: and I will fetch a morsel of bread, and strengthen ye your heart; after that ye shall pass on: forasmuch as ye are come to your servant. And they said, So do, as thou hast said.
Here we have a most interesting account of another of Jehovah’s appearances to Abraham. This time Abraham was sitting “in the tent door,” inactive because of “the heat of the day.” The tent was pitched under the oaks of Mamre, and Jehovah’s appearance here was the most definite of all. The oak tree denotes something strong and protective. In many places in the Bible God’s protection is compared to an oak tree. We are told that God is our strength, our deliverance, our refuge from the storm. The name Mamre means “fatness,” “firmness,” “vigor,” “strength,” and Mamre symbolizes endurance, renewed life, and abundant substance. Thus we see that faith (Abraham) has in and around itself everything needful for growth and for its firm establishment in consciousness.
“He lifted up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men stood over against him.” Faith must “lift up” its eyes above all material things and look to the spiritual as the source of all. Having done that, it will perceive the truth in its triune aspect. Abraham saw Jehovah as “three men.” Jehovah is always the central figure,
but we must not lose sight of the fact that, although the one Mind is the omnipresent source of all, it manifests itself as a trinity of spirit, soul, and body, or spirit, consciousness, and substance. When faith lifts up its eyes and catches this vision, then indeed hath Jehovah appeared unto it, and His promises are sure and clear.
Abraham’s bringing water to wash the feet of his guest or guests symbolizes the necessity of purifying the consciousness by the use of denials. The “morsel of bread” for the strengthening of the heart represents substance in its relation to the renewing of one’s inner strength and courage; also the necessity of using affirmation (eating bread) for the growth of the soul. Abraham recognized the triune aspect of Jehovah in manifestation, for he talked to the three men as though they were one man, whom he addresses as “my lord.” This “my lord” is the I AM.
If by faith in Spirit we receive the higher ideas and entertain them as though they were realities instead of “figments of the imagination,” as the faithless term them, we thereby open the way for a new state of consciousness. Many Truth seekers try to visualize God by thinking of the divine master Jesus and surround themselves with pictures of Him to aid the eye of faith.
Jehovah goes into the details of His former promise to Abraham (faith) at greater length because through his faith he has now comprehended God in a more particular and practical way. At the time of the former promise Jehovah was understood in an abstract and transcendent way, and His promise was abstract and vast in scope: that Abraham should be the father of multitudes. Now Abraham (faith) sees God in His triune manifestation as spirit, soul, and body, like unto “three men,” which is a definite and practical conception. The promise is renewed and made specific in its terms. Abraham is to be the father of a nation, because his wife Sarah is to give birth to a son. This is a definite promise that cannot be misunderstood by Abraham or long postponed by Jehovah.
Since the human race is made up of individuals all patterned after the one divine-idea man, we can see in the history of these Bible characters the story of their own spiritual development both as individuals and as a race. Our understanding of the life of Abraham will not be complete unless we consider it in both these relations to us.
Gen. 18:6-15. And Abraham hastened into the tent unto Sarah, and said, Make ready quickly three measures of fine meal, knead it, and make cakes. And Abraham ran unto the herd, and fetched a calf tender and good, and gave it unto the servant; and he hasted to dress it. And he took butter, and milk, and the calf which he had dressed, and set it before them; and he stood by them under the tree, and they did eat. And they said unto him, Where is Sarah thy wife? And he said, Behold, in the tent. And he said, I will certainly return unto thee when the season cometh round; and, lo, Sarah thy wife shall have a son. And Sarah heard in the tent door, which was behind him. Now Abraham and Sarah were old, and well stricken in age; it had ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women. And Sarah laughed within herself, saying, After I am waxed old shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also? And Jehovah said unto Abraham, Wherefore did Sarah laugh, saying, Shall I of a surety bear a child, who am old? Is anything too hard for Jehovah? At the set time I will return unto thee, when the season cometh round, and Sarah shall have a son. Then Sarah denied, saying, I laughed not; for she was afraid. And he said, Nay; but thou didst laugh.
The feast that Abraham set before Jehovah symbolizes the new vital forces in the bodily organism (tent)–which shares in the spiritual unfoldment–producing a new state of consciousness (Isaac) in spite of what seems advanced age or deterioration of bodily vigor. Isaac represents the pleasure and joyousness of life. The incredulity of Abraham and Sarah symbolizes the doubts of the natural man.
Gen. 18:16-33. And the men rose up from thence, and looked toward Sodom: and Abraham went with them to bring them on the way. And Jehovah said, Shall I hide from Abraham that which I do; seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? For I have known him, to the end that he may command his children and his household after him, that they may keep the way of Jehovah, to do righteousness and justice; to the end that Jehovah may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him. And Jehovah said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous; I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know.
And the men turned from thence, and went toward Sodom: but Abraham stood yet before Jehovah. And Abraham drew near, and said, Wilt thou consume the righteous with the wicked? Peradventure there are fifty righteous within the city: wilt thou consume and not spare the place for the fifty righteous that are therein? That be far from thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked, that so the righteous should be as the wicked; that be far from thee: shall not the Judge of all the earth do right? And Jehovah said, If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sake. And Abraham answered and said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, who am but dust and ashes: peradventure there shall lack five of the fifty righteous: wilt thou destroy all the city for lack of five? And he said, I will not destroy it, if I find there forty and five. And he spake unto him yet again, and said, Peradventure there shall be forty found there. And he said, I will not do it for the forty’s sake. And he said, Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak: peradventure there shall thirty be found there. And he said, I will not do it, if I find thirty there. And he said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord: peradventure there shall be twenty found there. And he said, I will not destroy it for the twenty’s sake. And he said, Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak yet but this once: peradventure ten shall be found there. And he said, I will not destroy it for the ten’s sake. And Jehovah went his way, as soon as he had left off communing with Abraham: and Abraham returned unto his place.
The time has now arrived in the development of spiritual consciousness when faith (Abraham) must be fully awakened to the truth that all belief in the expression of sensuality must be entirely put away. Sodom is to be destroyed. But the man of faith is not yet entirely out of his sense consciousness. Sodom (“hidden wiles”) represents an obscure or concealed thought habit. Gomorrah (“material force”) represents a state of mind adverse to the law of Spirit. These wicked cities of the plain are located within man, and before he can come into a realization of the promised “son” that he desires so much he must consent to a thorough purification from the sins that go on in them. The purification is by fire and must be absolutely complete.
The remainder of the chapter concerns Jehovah’s revelation to Abraham of His intention utterly to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah because of their great wickedness; also Jehovah’s agreement to save Sodom if only ten righteous men could be found in it. The tendency to plead to be allowed to keep old habits of thought on the ground that there is some good in them is a characteristic of man’s early stages of development. We try very hard to save some of our secret habits and sense thoughts. At first we reason that there must be quite a few good things in the old thoughts, ideas, and ways. Then we are a little less sure about there being “fifty” and we come down to “ten.” But there are not even ten righteous, and the old consciousness must be destroyed. Error must be wholly wiped out of the consciousness, and the sooner we consent to accept the fullness of the regenerative law the sooner we shall enter the kingdom.
Sodom represents the very lowest form of sense desire in the procreative center. Today we derive from the word Sodom the name of an unmentionable vice. Yet the spiritual-minded Abraham persisted in the belief that there must be some good in Sodom. Jehovah showed him otherwise. The tendency to plead that there must be good in sense habits persists very strongly. We cannot conceive why these functions, which seem so necessary to the reproduction of the race, should not be under the divine law. We have not yet awakened to the fact that they are but an external and counterfeit expression, a degenerate imitation, of divine reproduction.
Do not hold the thought that your so-called natural functions are divine. They are great mysteries to the human consciousness, to be understood when we have acquired spiritual wisdom. The race has gone through some strange experiences, and wonderful revelations come to those who get beneath the surface of things. There are those walking the earth today who could startle the world with revelations of Truth about the things right under our eyes that we do not see. Resolutely turn your back on all the forms of sense thought and seek no excuse for them. Then you will gradually begin to see the light within the light.
All these incidents, men, and places represent states of consciousness in the individual. The men represent the human desires that are still attached to the senses (Sodom and Gomorrah); the incidents denote their method of operation, and the places indicate their sphere of activity.
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Mysteries of Genesis
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