THE SEVENFOLD CLEANSING
Teach Us To Pray
Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and thy flesh shall come again to thee, and thou shalt be clean.
The 5th chapter of II Kings relates the healing of Naaman by Elisha. Naaman was the captain of the hosts of Syria, but he was a leper. The Syrians had brought away captive out of the land of Israel a little maiden, who waited on Naaman’s wife. She said to her mistress, “Would that my lord were with the prophet that is in Samaria! then would he recover him of his leprosy.”
The incident was told to the King of Syria and he sent a letter, with presents of silver, gold, and raiment, to the king of Israel, requesting that he heal his general, Naaman. When the King of Israel read the letter he rent his clothes and said, “Am I God, to kill and to make alive, that this man doth send unto me to recover a man of his leprosy? but consider, I pray you, and see how he seeketh a quarrel against me.”
When Elisha heard of it he sent word, “Let him come now to me, and he shall know that there is a prophet in Israel.”
So Naaman came with his horses and with his chariots and stood at the door of the house of Elisha. And Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and thy flesh shall come again to thee, and thou shalt be clean.”
But Naaman was wroth and went away and said, “Behold, I thought, He will surely come out to me, and stand, and call on the name of Jehovah his God, and wave his hand over the place, and recover the leper. Are not Abanah and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? may I not wash in them, and be clean?” So he turned and went away in a rage.
And his servants came near and spoke to him and said, “My father, if the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldest thou not have done it? how much rather then, when he saith to thee, Wash, and be clean?”
Then he went down and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God; and his flesh came again like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.
This demonstration of spiritual healing doubtless took place just as related, and again and again it has been a source of encouragement to those who have believed in the healing power of God. But to all who read scripture in the spirit this narrative is rich in clues to a method of healing for all men who can discern and use the law set in action by Elisha.
Elisha is often referred to by the Bible commentators as a forerunner of Jesus. His marvelous works are easily recognized as proceeding from the same Spirit that inspired Jesus, and his gentleness and simplicity are paralleled only by those of the great Master.
It is not difficult to see in Elisha an incarnation of the Christ, and he was in a certain degree Christ manifest. Jesus was a fuller manifestation of the same Christ.
If we admit that Elisha is a type of Christ–that is, of the Jehovah or supreme I AM of man–we should admit with equal readiness that the other characters in the narrative are types of various powers or traits common to all men.
Starting with a certain understanding of man in the three departments of his being, spirit, soul, and body, we discern Naaman to represent the will, Syria the intellect, the king of Israel the ruling power in the domain of intellectual thought. The “little maiden” is representative of a rudimentary intuition that has been captured by the intellect and is being made to serve its ends. The river Jordan is the life current flowing into man’s subconscious nature from the one great life. This “river of life” is the source of the natural healing impulse that constantly reconstructs and restores the organism.
The will through its conquests in the sense world has gained the applause of men and is called “great,” “honorable,” “mighty.” This exaltation of will stimulates the personal ego until it ignores any power higher than itself. This supreme egotism stops the flow of spiritual life in the organism and body atrophy sets in. Pride and ambition cut the invisible channels that connect soul and body with the great river of life. The blood then loses its elixir and the flesh its glow of health; decay of skin and extremities follows and the man becomes a leper.
The only remedy for the starved body is the relinquishment by the will of its haughty assumption of dominion. No new life can flow in until the will unclamps its affirmations of supremacy. All men and women belong to the Naaman family, and no one is wholly exempt from the limitations of personal will until he has said with Jesus Christ meekness, “Not my will, but thine, be done.”
Intuition (the little feminine Israelite) points the way to the representative of Jehovah who dwells in Samaria. Personal will loves to make display of worldly possessions and goes to the simple, unpretentious Elisha with a great retinue of servants, horses, chariots, besides presents of silver, gold, and rich raiment. He expects the prophet to call upon his God, wave his hands over the place, and make a great display in the healing. But the gentle prophet tells him in his simple way to bathe in the Jordan seven times. Naaman is wroth at being told to do so slight a thing when he had come so far as such a great outlay. He had expected the prophet to recognize his exalted position and give him special attention. To do such a puerile thing as to bathe in an insignificant stream like the Jordan filled him with indignation.
Teachers of Truth are constantly having to meet this egotism of the personal will in their students. The intellectual method of gaining knowledge is so ponderous: so many books have to be studied and so many things memorized that the simple methods of Truth are considered childish. In modern medical practice a paralytic might be dosed, serumed, X-rayed, and what not. Jesus healed such a case by simply saying, “Son, be of good cheer; thy sins are forgiven.”
Jesus said He accomplished this through the faith of those who brought the sick to Him. There must be faith action before the forces that restore the life to the organism can be set in operation. The laborious methods of the medical profession are all for the purpose of stimulating the healing forces of nature. Nature is the servant of mind, and when lawful thoughts are enthroned in consciousness, nature restores the natural harmony existing between spirit, soul, and body. When the use of right thoughts and words is understood, nature’s work is so easily accomplished that the intellectual man is nonplused and shakes his head with incredulity; or he goes away like Naaman, wroth at the seemingly crude and unheard-of prescription. However Naaman’s servants prevailed upon him to give Elisha’s remedy a trial, and when he had bathed in the Jordan seven times, “his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.”
The first step in all spiritual healing is faith, and the next is receptivity. Where the pride and fullness of intellect is dominant there is little opportunity for the subconscious stream of life to do its cleansing work. The proud Naaman must first be humbled before he can be healed, and the proud flesh be taken out of his heart before the proud flesh can be cured in his body.
Elisha apparently took no part in the healing, simply directing Naaman to bathe in the Jordan seven times. But there was a deep undercurrent of Spirit power at work in Elisha. He represented the higher self of the Naaman consciousness, which had been quickened. Jesus referred to this incident in Luke 4:27: “There were many lepers in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.”
Elisha told Naaman to bathe in the Jordan seven times. Seven is a cardinal numeral and in ancient times was regarded as having mystical significance, that is, as symbolizing perfection, besides being loosely used for any indefinite considerable number, much as twenty or a hundred is used now. Peter used it in this sense when he said, “How oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? until seven times?” Jesus replied, “Until seventy times seven.”
Seven is so universally used as a mystical number that there must be some reason for this in the fundamental arrangement of the natural world. In Solomon’s Temple was the seven-branched candlestick. We know that this Temple represented the body of man and that the seven lights were symbols of seven centers in the organism, through which intelligence is expressed. Everybody knows five of these centers: seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling, touch. There are two in addition to these, which we may call intuition and telepathy. The solar plexus is the organism of intuition and the brain the organ of telepathy.
All these centers of light have been dimmed by sin. Hence sin has also been given a sevenfold classification, viz., pride, anger, lust, covetousness, envy, gluttony, sloth. The great purifying river of life must wash away these sins and their leprosy in the body. To bring this to pass man must deny in sevenfold measure the darkness of error that obscures the inner light and life. These seven washings are to be repeated until the whole body is clean.
The eye represents the discerning capacity of the mind.
My eyes are no longer darkened by thoughts of deception, concealment, or lust. The cleansing life and light of Spirit makes pure and clean these eyes, and through all-seeing Mind I have spiritual vision.
The ear represents the receptive capacity of the mind.
My ears are no longer stopped by the sensitiveness and willfullness of the little self. I am no longer bound by personality. I now bathe in the great ocean of life, and I am free in boundless Spirit. I hear the voice of Truth only and rejoice.
The nose represents the initiative capacity of the mind.
The cleansing life of Spirit frees my mind of all thoughts of fear, timidity, and incapacity. I am bold, free, courageous Spirit, and I can do all things through Christ.
The tongue represents the judging capacity of the mind.
Sense appetite no longer clogs the clear discernment of my spiritual judgment. The cleansing life of Spirit quickens and cleanses my taste, and I eat and drink only what my body requires under divine law.
Feeling represents the loving capacity of the mind.
I am no longer in bondage to the thought that sensation is in matter. The cleansing life of Spirit dissolves all fleshly lust for sense pleasure. I am Spirit, and I desire the clean, pure currents of life to flow through every part of my body, so that all may be made clean.
Intuition is the natural knowing capacity of the mind.
The cleansing life of Spirit purifies my heart, and I trust the “still small voice” within my soul.
Telepathy is thought interchange.
The cleansing life of Spirit clears my mind of ignorance and materiality, and I see the activity of ideas and understand their import independently of human language. As God gave Daniel “knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom: and . . . understanding in all visions and dreams,” so He gives me and all His children the original ideas of His great mind to use as we will.
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Teach Us To Pray
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