THE FRUITS OF FAITH
GENESIS 19, 20, 21 and 22
Mysteries of Genesis
IN THE PRECEDING chapter we read that when Jehovah appeared to Abraham the patriarch was sitting in the door of his tent. There is a remarkable parallel here, for Jehovah appeared to Lot as he sat in the gate of Sodom.
Gen. 19:1-11. And the two angels came to Sodom at even; and Lot sat in the gate of Sodom: and Lot saw them, and rose up to meet them; and he bowed himself with his face to the earth; and he said, Behold now, my lords, turn aside, I pray you, into your servant’s house, and tarry all night, and wash your feet, and ye shall rise up early, and go on your way. And they said, Nay; but we will abide in the street all night. And he urged them greatly; and they turned in unto him, and entered into his house; and he made them a feast, and did bake unleavened bread, and they did eat. But before they lay down, the men of the city, even the men of Sodom, compassed the house round, both young and old, all the people from every quarter; and they called unto Lot, and said unto him, Where are the men that came in to thee this night? bring them out unto us, that we may know them. And Lot went out unto them to the door, and shut the door after him. And he said, I pray you, my brethren, do not so wickedly. Behold now, I have two daughters that have not known man; let me, I pray you, bring them out unto you, and do ye to them as is good in your eyes: only unto these men do nothing, forasmuch as they are come under the shadow of my roof. And they said, Stand back. And they said, This one fellow came in to sojourn, and he will needs be a judge: now will we deal worse with thee, than with them. And they pressed sore upon the man, even Lot, and drew near to break the door. But the men put forth their hand, and brought Lot into the house to them, and shut to the door. And they smote the men that were at the door of the house with blindness, both small and great, so that they wearied themselves to find the door.
As Abraham represents the positive side of faith and Lot the negative side, it can also be said that Abraham represents the spiritual consciousness and that Lot is the natural consciousness, which however is turned toward the light. Jehovah appeared to Abraham as three. Spiritual consciousness understands the trinity of being that is spirit, soul, and body. Lot saw Jehovah as two angels, which shows that the natural mind leaves Spirit out of consideration.
When Abraham invited the three into his tent they accepted his hospitality without comment. But when Lot asked the two to spend the night under his roof, wash their feet, and partake of his food, they refused. It took persistent urging on the part of Lot to persuade them to abide with him.
When the unfolding nature (Lot) begins to entertain higher spiritual thoughts (angels), all the evil and degenerate thoughts (men of Sodom) come at once and “compass the house.” They demand that the higher thoughts be put out, or that they be admitted (into mind) to throw them out. When the demand is refused they become violent. Man’s way is to compromise with evil thoughts by giving to them his love and emotion, even if he does not allow them free expression in his mind. Lot offered his daughters to the men of Sodom. When carnal thoughts become strong and numerous enough (compass the house) they assert complete mastery over the individual and tell him: “Stand back . . . This one fellow came in to sojourn, and he will needs be a judge.”
The angels (high spiritual thoughts) whom Lot induced to enter his house, came to his rescue. They struck the men of Sodom (carnal thoughts) with blindness so that they were thrown into confusion and their destructive efforts rendered futile, at least for the time being: blind passions that stop at nothing to gain their ends must be annihilated.
Gen. 19:12-23. And the men said unto Lot, Hast thou here any besides? son-in-law, and thy sons, and thy daughters, and whomsoever thou hast in the city, bring them out of the place: for we will destroy this place, because the cry of them is waxed great before Jehovah; and Jehovah hath sent us to destroy it. And Lot went out, and spake unto his sons-in-law, who married his daughters, and said, Up, get you out of this place; for Jehovah will destroy the city. But he seemed unto his sons-in-law as one that mocked. And when the morning arose, then the angels hastened Lot, saying, Arise, take thy wife, and thy two daughters that are here, lest thou be consumed in the iniquity of the city. But he lingered; and the men laid hold upon his hand, and upon the hand of his wife, and upon the hand of his two daughters, Jehovah being merciful unto him: and they brought him forth, and set him without the city. And it came to pass, when they had brought them forth abroad, that he said, Escape for thy life; look not behind thee, neither stay thou in all the Plain; escape to the mountain, lest thou be consumed.
And Lot said unto them, Oh, not so, my lord: behold now, thy servant hath found favor in thy sight, and thou hast magnified thy lovingkindness, which thou hast showed unto me in saving my life; and I cannot escape to the mountain, lest evil overtake me, and I die: behold now, this city is near to flee unto, and it is a little one. Oh let me escape thither (is it not a little one?), and my soul shall live. And he said unto him, See, I have accepted thee concerning this thing also, that I will not overthrow the city of which thou hast spoken. Haste thee, escape thither; for I cannot do anything till thou be come thither. Therefore the name of the city was called Zoar. The sun was risen upon the earth when Lot came unto Zoar.
Jehovah’s promise to Abraham was that He would save the righteous. Here Jehovah’s angels invited Lot to take with him those of his household (thought people) who were ready to advance spiritually. Only Lot, his wife, and his two virgin daughters were prepared to take the step. However after the Lord had delivered them outside the walls of the city Lot (negative faith) was afraid to attempt flight to the mountain (high state of consciousness). He knew he was not fully prepared for such a step. The angels consented to let him escape to the little city of Zoar, the name of which means “reduced,” “made small,” “lessened.” Thus Lot was given opportunity to open his mind to the light to such a degree that seeming negation was minimized in consciousness, and he was blessed with a new understanding of Truth. (“The sun was risen upon the earth when Lot came unto Zoar.”)
Gen. 19:24-26. Then Jehovah rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from Jehovah out of heaven; and he overthrew those cities, and all the Plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground. But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.
Eventually all error must be wiped out of consciousness. In our efforts to overcome the sins of the flesh we pass through strange experiences, and wonderful revelations come to those of us who conform to divine law. The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah by fire represents a mighty purifying process that makes man ready for a great realization of divine life.
Lot’s wife was turned into a pillar of salt. Salt is a preservative, corresponding to memory. When we remember the pleasures of the senses and long for their return, we preserve the sense desire. This desire will manifest itself sometime, somewhere, unless the memory is dissolved through renunciation.
Gen. 19:27-29. And Abraham got up early in the morning to the place where he had stood before Jehovah: and he looked toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward all the land of the Plain, and beheld, and, lo, the smoke of the land went up as the smoke of a furnace.
And it came to pass, when God destroyed the cities of the Plain, that God remembered Abraham, and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow, when he overthrew the cities in which Lot dwelt.
The above Scripture means that after a degree of cleansing or destruction of sense we mentally review our experiences and recognize that nothing is really destroyed but rather transmuted (Abraham beheld the result). Through faith we take stock of the progress we have made and find that we are getting a consciousness of radiant substance (smoke) and of a higher life (heat). Nothing is lost. When sense consciousness is raised to a higher plane all that belongs to it is saved with it. This is represented by Jehovah’s saving Lot’s life.
Gen. 19:30-38. And Lot went up out of Zoar, and dwelt in the mountain, and his two daughters with him; for he feared to dwell in Zoar: and he dwelt in a cave, he and his two daughters. And the first-born said unto the younger, Our father is old, and there is not a man in the earth to come in unto us after the manner of all the earth: come, let us make our father drink wine, and we will lie with him, that we may preserve seed of our father. And they made their father drink wine that night: and the first-born went in, and lay with her father; and he knew not when she lay down, nor when she arose. And it came to pass on the morrow, that the first-born said unto the younger, Behold, I lay yesternight with my father: let us make him drink wine this night also, and go thou in, and lie with him, that we may preserve seed of our father. And they made their father drink wine that night also: and the younger arose, and lay with him; and he knew not when she lay down, nor when she arose. Thus were both the daughters of Lot with child by their father. And the first-born bare a son and called his name Moab: the same is the father of the Moabites unto this day. And the younger, she also bare a son, and called his name Ben-ammi: the same is the father of the children of Ammon unto this day.
When the soul reaches a certain stage of unfoldment the natural progressive quality of faith shows a tendency toward spiritual growth. Lot here represents natural faith in a state of evolution, yet his living in a cave in the mountain denotes that this faith is still in the clutches of materiality. The feminine forces of faith (daughters of Lot) reflect the parent desire for continued perpetuation of their line. There was no other masculine principle on the plane of consciousness on which these feminine forces were functioning (“there is not a man in the earth to come in unto us after the manner of all the earth”). Through stimulating life (wine) the seed idea was implanted by the father principle (Lot) in receptive soil and brought forth fruit.
Moab, son of Lot’s eldest daughter, represents the thought that perpetuates body consciousness. It is found in the idea of organized substance (“flowing from the father”) but it is impregnated with the lusts of the flesh. Referring to the Moabites, Jeremiah says, “Cursed be he that doeth the work of Jehovah negligently.” So Moab represents one phase of the lusts of carnal mind for expression through the flesh. While Moab pertains to the body and the most external conditions of life, there is something good in him, or at least a possibility of good.
Ben-ammi, the name of the son of Lot’s youngest daughter and father of the Ammonites, means “son of my people,” “son of my kindred,” “son of my tribe,” which points to segregation and personal selfishness. This thought is the source of the clan, then the nation. When this egotism is exalted the nation looks on itself as being superior to all other nations and proceeds to compel them to acknowledge this superiority by force of arms. The Ammonites waged constant war against the Israelites but were eventually defeated.
Gen. 20:1. And Abraham journeyed from thence toward the land of the South, and dwelt between Kadesh and Shur; and he sojourned in Gerar.
The name Shur means “going round about,” “wall,” “fortification,” “ox.” Shur represents the never-ceasing progress, unfoldment, and development of man. In his evolution man has apparently always moved in cycles; but each time he comes again to his starting place he seems to be a little in advance of his former state. When he begins to awaken spiritually his progress is more rapid. There is also a thought of strength and might (“wall,” “ox”).
The name Kadesh means “pure,” “bright,” “holy,” “sacred.” Kadesh represents the inherently pure, sinless, perfect, ideal state in the depths of the consciousness of every individual.
Abraham “dwelt between Kadesh and Shur; and he sojourned in Gerar.” Gerar symbolizes subjective substance and life. Abraham had on one hand Kadesh –the inherently pure, sinless, ideal state–and on the other hand Shut (unceasing progress) while he had his existence in Gerar (substance and life). Thus does faith (typified by Abraham) develop in the spiritually awakening individual.
Gen. 20:2-13. And Abraham said of Sarah his wife, She is my sister: and Abimelech king of Gerar sent, and took Sarah. But God came to Abimelech in a dream of the night, and said to him, Behold, thou art but a dead man, because of the woman whom thou hast taken; for she is a man’s wife. Now Abimelech had not come near her: and he said, Lord, wilt thou slay even a righteous nation? Said he not himself unto me, She is my sister? and she, even she herself said, He is my brother: in the integrity of my heart and the innocency of my hands have I done this. And God said unto him in the dream, Yea, I know that in the integrity of thy heart thou hast done this, and I also withheld thee from sinning against me: therefore suffered I thee not to touch her. Now therefore restore the man’s wife; for he is a prophet, and he shall pray for thee, and thou shalt live: and if thou restore her not, know thou that thou shalt surely die, thou, and all that are thine.
And Abimelech rose early in the morning, and called all his servants, and told all these things in their ears: and the men were sore afraid. Then Abimelech called Abraham, and said unto him, What hast thou done unto us? and wherein have I sinned against thee, that thou hast brought on me and on my kingdom a great sin? thou hast done deeds unto me that ought not to be done. And Abimelech said unto Abraham, What sawest thou, that thou hast done this thing? And Abraham said, Because I thought, Surely the fear of God is not in this place; and they will slay me for my wife’s sake. And moreover she is indeed my sister, the daughter of my father, but not the daughter of my mother; and she became my wife: and it came to pass, when God caused me to wander from my father’s house, that I said unto her, This is thy kindness which thou shalt show unto me: at every place whither we shall come, say of me, He is my brother.
If spiritual faith through the affectional side of one’s nature (Sarah) makes union with the controlling unregenerate will in the subconscious (Abimelech) there is a reversal of the progressive law and bodily ills (the plagues of Egypt) are brought forth, as we noted with reference to a previous experience of Abraham. (See interpretation of Gen. 12:10-20.) However in an instance like this, when faith, lacking understanding, would have repeated the error, the soul has progressed until the subconsciousness has come under the guidance of Spirit, and the plagues that came as a result of a former mistake are not repeated on this occasion.
Abimelech (unregenerate will) was quickened to the point where he could receive instruction through dreams. Spirit revealed to Abimelech the true relationship between Abraham and Sarah, and thus he was saved from making an unlawful union.
When Abimelech (will) faced Abraham (pioneering faith) with the fact, Abraham admitted that he had lost sight of the possibilities of the divine omnipresence and was not aware that the all-knowing Spirit could penetrate into every consciousness. “Because I thought, Surely the fear of God is not in this place.” Abraham and Sarah were of the same blood and therefore he said truly, “She is my sister.”
Gen. 20:14-18. And Abimelech took sheep and oxen, and men-servants and women-servants, and gave them unto Abraham, and restored him Sarah his wife. And Abimelech said, Behold, my land is before thee: dwell where it pleaseth thee. And unto Sarah he said, Behold, I have given thy brother a thousand pieces of silver: behold, it is for thee a covering of the eyes to all that are with thee; and in respect of all thou art righted. And Abraham prayed unto God: and God healed Abimelech, and his wife, and his maid-servants; and they bare children. For Jehovah had fast closed up all the wombs of the house of Abimelech, because of Sarah, Abraham’s wife.
This is a situation where there is apt to be contention between the soul and the body consciousness unless adjustment is made. Pioneering faith (Abraham) in union with the spiritual soul (Sarah) issues in a high realization of both soul and body. It is only the highest emanation of body consciousness that is ready for transmutation, consequently there needs to be an equalizing and adjusting power to establish peace and safety in the body consciousness in order to avoid some form of plague. To teach this truth Abimelech (the ruling power that controls the substance side of man’s being), his wife, and maidservants are represented as being unproductive for a season, but as being healed through faith (Abraham interceded with God).
Gen. 21:1-7. And Jehovah visited Sarah as he had said, and Jehovah did unto Sarah as he had spoken. And Sarah conceived, and bare Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him. And Abraham called the name of his son that was born unto him, whom Sarah bare to him, Isaac. And Abraham circumcised his son Isaac when he was eight days old, as God had commanded him. And Abraham was a hundred years old, when his son Isaac was born unto him. And Sarah said, God hath made me to laugh; every one that heareth will laugh with me. And she said, Who would have said unto Abraham, that Sarah should give children suck? for I have borne him a son in his old age.
Isaac was born after Abraham and Sarah were both past the age of bringing forth. So we when born of the Spirit through faith are born not “of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” The natural man has no power to bring forth the “new man” in Christ Jesus. The natural man brings forth Hagar’s son, who is not the chosen heir. The new man is a “new creature,” begotten not of the flesh but of the divine word. This begetting represents the forming of a new state of consciousness, the consciousness referred to by Paul when he expressed the hope to the Galatians that “Christ be formed” in them.
As one gains a certain inner satisfaction from doing a good deed, so in repeatedly following the promptings of Spirit one accumulates a fund of satisfaction that finally breaks forth in laughter. Isaac was not born until Abraham and Sarah had reached old age–had accumulated a “faith consciousness.” Note the different kinds of laughter in this allegory. Abraham laughed questioningly, hopefully, when it was announced that Sarah would bear a son. Sarah laughed incredulously when the promise was announced to her. Both Abraham and Sarah, with their friends, laughed joyfully and thankfully when Isaac was born.
Religion is not the dolorous thing that many have pictured it, much to its loss and to ours as well. On the contrary religion should make man joyful. God is not to be served in the spirit of bondage to a taskmaster but in the spirit of happiness. In Deuteronomy we read: “Because thou servedst not Jehovah thy God with joyfulness, and with gladness of heart, by reason of the abundance of all things; therefore shalt thou serve thine enemies . . . in hunger, and in thirst, and in nakedness, and in want of all things.” If one’s prayers are not answered or one fails to demonstrate the reason may perhaps be found here.
Those who persistently exercise faith in God find there is generated in their mind a condition that gradually grows into a conviction of the permanent presence of divine substance within, and this gives rise to the most exquisite joy. Inward ecstasy is what gives the countenance of peace to the saint and of illumination and purity to the sister of mercy. It is experienced by all who pass into the second degree of faith (Isaac, son of Abraham).
Gen. 21:8-21. And the child grew, and was weaned: and Abraham made a great feast on the day that Isaac was weaned. And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne unto Abraham, mocking. Wherefore she said unto Abraham, Cast out this handmaid and her son: for the son of this handmaid shall not be heir with my son, even with Isaac. And the thing was very grievous in Abraham’s sight on account of his son. And God said unto Abraham, Let it not be grievous in thy sight because of the lad, and because of thy handmaid; in all that Sarah saith unto thee, hearken unto her voice; for in Isaac shall thy seed be called. And also of the son of the handmaid will I make a nation, because he is thy seed. And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and took bread and a bottle of water, and gave it unto Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, and gave her the child, and sent her away: and she departed, and wandered in the wilderness of Beer-sheba. And the water in the bottle was spent, and she cast the child under one of the shrubs. And she went, and sat her down over against him a good way off, as it were a bowshot: for she said, Let me not look upon the death of the child. And she sat over against him, and lifted up her voice, and wept. And God heard the voice of the lad; and the angel of God called to Hagar out of heaven, and said unto her, What aileth thee, Hagar? fear not; for God hath heard the voice of the lad where he is. Arise, lift up the lad, and hold him in thy hand; for I will make him a great nation. And God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water; and she went, and filled the bottle with water, and gave the lad drink. And God was with the lad, and he grew; and he dwelt in the wilderness, and became, as he grew up, an archer. And he dwelt in the wilderness of Paran: and his mother took him a wife out of the land of Egypt.
When Isaac was weaned (symbolizing his readiness to take a forward step in soul responsibility) Ishmael, Hagar’s son, mocked him. Such mockery is the experience of everyone in the new birth. The thoughts that are the fruit of the mind of flesh rise up within him and mock the new man. Here the overcomer has a definite work to do. The animal soul (Hagar, the bondmaid) and the natural desires (her son) must be cast out. As Abraham grieved when Hagar was banished, so we sometimes grieve at giving up the fruits of material thinking brought forth by the natural man.
In the development of spiritual faculties, of which faith (Abraham) is one, there is an ascending movement of the consciousness that is felt and understood by the individual having the experience but that is difficult to explain to one who has not yet entered upon that plane of development. The faculty of faith grows stronger with each trial, and when it is obedient to the Lord as its divine guide, it finds an added pleasure in the exercise of both mind and body at every upward step. Each function of man’s organism is spiritual at its foundation, and when he exercises it as intended by Divine Mind his every breath and every heartbeat is a song of joy. Even the most earthly functions may be spiritualized and become sources of unending pleasure, while when they are under the control of the animal mind of man they become demoralizers of the body. Under divine guidance the retrogression produced by mere animalism may be harmonized and purified through the descent of the fires of Spirit. This is what happened to Sodom and Gomorrah, which represent the desires and activities pertaining to generation.
When we have faith in God and the ways of Spirit, we are willing to give up all our material pleasures if such be the instruction of the inner guide. This giving up is symbolized by the sacrifices so often referred to in the history of the Children of Israel. The body and its vital forces are in perpetual action, which is progressive under the divine law. When the law is disregarded there is a waning of the higher forces that brings a sense of discomfort. It is frequently through pain that we are brought to see the error of our ways. Then we should hasten to find the law of being that will give real satisfaction without inharmony.
The action of Abraham is an example of this practice. After giving up animal gratification and purifying the mind of sense thoughts (banishing Hagar and Ishmael), he experienced a greater pleasure from a more interior or spiritual action of the same function. Isaac was the fulfillment of Abraham’s greatest desire. But the use of the natural functions must also be raised to a higher plane. On each of the ascending stages in bodily transmutation there is a residuum of the last preceding stage remaining in consciousness. This too must be purified so that the whole man may be a fit temple for the Holy Spirit.
The seemingly inhuman treatment of Hagar and Ishmael by Abraham and Sarah is symbolical of the activity of forces at work in the soul of man. The natural soul (Hagar), lacking real understanding of the newly awakened spiritual soul (Sarah), looks on it with a jealous and antagonistic eye. The product of the thoughts of the natural man at work in the flesh (Ishmael) reflects the natural soul’s attitude and scoffs at the possibility of joy brought about through mere pleasure in spiritual life. Such an attitude brings about a separation between the spiritual state of consciousness and the natural state that depletes the supply on the natural plane.
The wilderness of Beer-sheba represents in individual consciousness the multitude of undisciplined and uncultivated thoughts. Even in this state of mind a person can hear the voice of God. God spoke to Hagar, which opened her eyes to the truth that the well of living water was close by and that she and her son would be amply sustained and prospered.
This tells us that even the outermost part of man (the body) is to be saved and to be given the chance to unfold and become efficient in all its activities.
Ishmael became an archer, which indicates that he was an expert at hitting the mark. Later he left Beer-sheba and “dwelt in the wilderness of Paran.” The name Paran means “region of caverns,” “region of searching,” “place of much digging.” Paran represents the multitude of seemingly confused and undisciplined thoughts of the subconscious mind; also a place or period of much earnest searching after Truth. That “his mother took him a wife out of the land of Egypt” means that Ishmael (fruits of the flesh) through Hagar (the natural soul) unites with the feminine force of materiality.
Gen. 21:22-34. And it came to pass at that time, that Abimelech and Phicol the captain of his host spake unto Abraham, saying, God is with thee in all that thou doest: now therefore swear unto me here by God that thou wilt not deal falsely with me, nor with my son, nor with my son’s son: but according to the kindness that I have done unto thee, thou shalt do unto me, and to the land wherein thou hast sojourned. And Abraham said, I will swear. And Abraham reproved Abimelech because of the well of water, which Abimelech’s servants had violently taken away. And Abimelech said, I know not who hath done this thing: neither didst thou tell me, neither yet heard I of it, but today. And Abraham took sheep and oxen, and gave them unto Abimelech; and they two made a covenant. And Abraham set seven ewe lambs of the flock by themselves. And Abimelech said unto Abraham, What mean these seven ewe lambs which thou hast set by themselves? And he said, These seven ewe lambs shalt thou take of my hand, that it may be a witness unto me, that I have digged this well. Wherefore he called that place Beer-sheba; because there they sware both of them. So they made a covenant at Beer-sheba: and Abimelech rose up, and Phicol the captain of his host, and they returned into the land of the Philistines. And Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beer-sheba, and called there on the name of Jehovah, the Everlasting God. And Abraham sojourned in the land of the Philistines many days.
The name Phicol means “spokesman for all,” “all-commanding,” “every tongue.” Phicol was the captain of the host of Abimelech and represents the seeming all-sufficiency of sense consciousness in man at a certain stage of his evolution. He was a Philistine, a Philistine denoting sense consciousness.
The name Beer-sheba means “well of the oath,” “well of fulfillment,” “well of the seven.” Abraham represents the first activity of the faith faculty in man’s consciousness. Abimelech represents the will, which though unregenerate at this stage of man’s unfoldment, recognizes faith and its attainments (Abraham and his possessions). Abimelech fears that he and his kingdom will be overrun by Abraham and his everincreasing family and household. On the other hand, Abimelech’s servants take by force the well that Abraham had dug. This latter means that the life forces, which have been discovered and laid hold of by faith’s activity, have been utilized and corrupted by the fleshly man instead of being retained for the use of the mental and spiritual. The covenant between Abraham and Abimelech denotes the establishing of a right relation in consciousness between the spiritual and so-called material. Beer-sheba represents the establishing of this agreement (“well of the oath”) between the inner and the outer, wherein faith and its adherents (higher thoughts) are given ample room in the organism and are allowed to retain possession of the well (reservoir of life) that they have been instrumental in bringing to light. On the other hand, the higher thoughts of faith realize that they must not harm or destroy the outer man (Abimelech and his kingdom).
To swear by the seven is to covenant that the thing promised will be fulfilled, the number seven representing fulfillment of the natural law.
Gen. 22:1-18. And it came to pass after these things, that God did prove Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham; and he said, Here am I. And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son, whom thou lovest, even Isaac, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt-offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of. And Abraham rose early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son; and he clave the wood for the burnt-offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him. On the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off. And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass, and I and the lad will go yonder; and we will worship, and come again to you. And Abraham took the wood of the burnt-offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son; and he took in his hand the fire and the knife; and they went both of them together. And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold, the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt-offering? And Abraham said, God will provide himself the lamb for a burnt-offering, my son: so they went both of them together.
And they came to the place which God had told them of; and Abraham built the altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar, upon the wood. And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son. And the angel of Jehovah called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I. And he said, Lay not thy hand upon the lad, neither do thou anything unto him; for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son, from me. And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and, behold, behind him a ram caught in the thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt-offering in the stead of his son. And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovah-jireh: as it is said to this day, In the mount of Jehovah it shall be provided. And the angel of Jehovah called unto Abraham a second time out of heaven, and said, By myself have I sworn, saith Jehovah, because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son, that in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heavens, and as the sand which is upon the sea-shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.
The story of the near sacrifice of Isaac illustrates the truth that we must be willing to give up the pleasures of sense without question if we are to have the consciousness of the greater satisfactions of Spirit. Being willing and obedient in submitting our sensations to the law of Spirit, we then find that we do not at all sacrifice the real inner joy but only its coarser expression in physical generation (which is represented by the ram).
It seemed to Abraham that the law of Spiritual growth demanded the slaying of Isaac, the whole consciousness of joy. At various stages of unfoldment there are trials as well as triumphs, and those who have but a transient faith in the wisdom and power of Spirit are apt to give up and turn back before the process is complete. (Abraham did not turn back.) Moriah, the name of the land where Abraham was sent to make his sacrifice, signifies the “bitterness of Jehovah.” So we find that the changes that take place in consciousness sometimes are bitter experiences, and it takes a strong faith to believe that good will come out of them. Yet it always does come when there is steadfast obedience to God and faith in His goodness. The successful meeting of such trials gives great power to the body and brings a sure reward. Abraham became the father of a multitude as numerous “as the stars of the heavens, and as the sand which is upon the sea-shore.” The child was not sacrificed although Abraham took every step in preparation. After he had successfully passed this test, the angel of the Lord repeated the promise of the covenant: “By myself have I sworn, saith Jehovah . . . and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.”
In the regeneration man must be willing to sacrifice his greatest pleasure in life (Isaac). But when he has given up willingly, made the spiritual surrender, he finds that it is not the joy of life that he sacrifices but only the sensuous aspect of joy.
Faith in God (Abraham) and obedience to the divine law brings forth a serene peace and joy. Christians well know that the development of faith and obedience does cause one to become inwardly happy and outwardly serene. Jesus had this inward happiness, and He tried to pass it on to His disciples: “These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.”
The name Jehovah-jireh means “Jehovah will see,” “Jehovah will behold,” “Jehovah will provide.” It signifies “I am the provider.” If we expect to demonstrate prosperity from without, we find it a slow process; but if we know that the I AM is the provider, we have the key to the inexhaustible resource.
Gen. 22:19. So Abraham returned unto his young men, and they rose up and went together to Beer-sheba; and Abraham dwelt at Beer-sheba.
The two young men represent masculine forces that have been trained for service under the supervision of pioneering faith. Beer-sheba represents the establishing of a right relationship in consciousness between the spiritual and the seemingly material. Faith (Abraham) and the young masculine thoughts dwell in the state of consciousness represented by Beer-sheba, and it is in the light of this fact that the following incidents are to be understood.
Gen. 22:20-24. And it came to pass after these things, that it was told Abraham, saying, Behold, Milcah, she also hath borne children unto thy brother Nahor: Uz his first-born, and Buz his brother, and Kemuel the father of Aram, and Chesed, and Hazo, and Pildash, and Jidlaph, and Bethuel. And Bethuel begat Rebekah: these eight did Milcah bear to Nahor, Abraham’s brother. And his concubine, whose name was Reumah, she also bare Tebah, and Gaham, and Tahash, and Maacah.
Milcah represents the soul in its function of expressing dominion, wisdom, and good judgment. The soul of man on its feminine side is intuitional and often perceives or senses things that, while they are not perceived by the outer or more active and positive part of the individual consciousness, should be heeded by it.
Nahor symbolizes a piercing and breaking up of the individual sense consciousness hitherto unpenetrated by Truth so that a new line of thought may be brought forth.
Nahor and Milcah united to produce eight children (states of consciousness), whose names are interpreted here.
(For Uz see interpretation of Gen. 10.)
The name Buz means “despicable,” “contempt,” “despised.” Buz represents a scornful, scoffing state of thought, which is despicable in the light of Truth. The name Kemuel means “God stands,” “God’s righteousness.” Kemuel symbolizes the righteousness and judgment of God in the process of becoming ascendant in individual consciousness, of growing and taking a firmer hold; also of bringing about a closer union of the true, higher, spiritual thoughts of the mind in order to establish the adjustment that is needed for the further progress of the individual.
The name Chesed means “an astrologer,” “a magus,” “wisdom.” Chesed represents a certain type of wisdom, a wisdom that is psychical in its nature rather than spiritual.
The name Hazo means “vision,” “revelation,” “agreement.” The arousing of a higher desire in man (Nahor) through the activity of faith (Abraham) causing the piercing of the darkness of material belief and opens the way for a new and clearer insight into Truth. This new insight is symbolized by Hazo.
The name Pildash means “flame of fire.” Pildash represents zeal, ardor, the result of a quickening that has taken place in consciousness.
The name Jidlaph means “dropping,” “distilling,” “tearful.” Jidlaph represents a very negative type of thought in man.
The name Bethuel means “dweller in God,” “abode of God.” Bethuel represents unity with God; a conscious abiding in Him.
Rebekah (the name of Bethuel’s daughter) means “tying firmly,” “snare,” “beauty that ensnares.” Rebekah represents the soul’s natural delight in beauty.
Reumah (the name of Nahor’s concubine means “lofty,” “sublime,” “pearl.” Reumah symbolizes the soul or feminine principle in man elevated to a place of appreciation, of high esteem, in consciousness.
By Reumah, Nahor had four children, whose names are given here.
The name Tebah means “slaughter,” “slaying,” “life guard.” Tebah represents an active thought of or strong belief in self-defense (“life guard”) that is very destructive (“slaughter,” i. e., of animals or persons).
The name Gaham means “flaming,” “burning,” “charring.” Gaham symbolizes the heat of sense consciousness brought to a climax, a focus, and burning itself out. This is caused by the higher desires (Nahor and Reumah) that have been aroused by the awakening of faith (Abraham) in the individual. Thus a reaction sets in, the whole consciousness revolts against sense beliefs, and a measure of purification is accomplished.
The name Tahash means “burrowing,” “diving,” “ram.” Tahash symbolizes an increase of life activity in the organism but an activity more of the animal than the spiritual kind.
The name Maacah means “squeezed,” “compressed.” Maacah represents an oppressively aggressive character. He is of the outer sense man.
(For Aram see interpretation of Gen. 10:27-32.)
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Mysteries of Genesis
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