September 16, 2018

Variations in the three versions of the Bible – two examples

…the Torah, held to be the most ancient of histories, existeth today in three separate versions: the Hebrew, considered authentic by the Jews and the Protestant clergy; the Greek Septuagint, which is used as authoritative in the Greek and other Eastern churches; and the Samaritan Torah, the standard authority for that people. These three versions differ greatly, one from another, even with regard to the lifetimes of the most celebrated figures.

In the Hebrew Torah, it is recorded that from Noah’s flood until the birth of Abraham there was an interval of two hundred and ninety-two years. In the Greek, that time-span is given as one thousand and seventy-two years, while in the Samaritan, the recorded span is nine hundred and forty-two years… Refer to the commentary by Henry Westcott,for tables are supplied therein which show the discrepancies among the three Torahs as to the birthdates of a number of the descendants of Shem, and thou wilt see how greatly the versions differ one from another.

Moreover, according to the text of the Hebrew Torah, from the creation of Adam until Noah’s flood the elapsed time is recorded as one thousand six hundred and fifty-six years, while in the Greek Torah the interval is given as two thousand two hundred and sixty-two years, and in the Samaritan text, the same period is said to have lasted one thousand three hundred and seven years.

Reflect thou now over the discrepancies among these three Torahs. The case is indeed surprising. The Jews and Protestants belittle the Greek Torah, while to the Greeks, the Hebrew version is spurious, and the Samaritans deny both the Hebrew and the Greek versions.

Our purpose is to show that even in Scriptural history, the most outstanding of all histories, there are contradictions as to the time when the great ones lived, let alone as to dates related to others. . 
- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  Ffrom a Tablet, New resources available at Online Baha’i Reference Library of the Baha’i World Center)

March 3, 2016

Ecclesiastes: chapter 12

As to thy question concerning the 12th chapter of Ecclesiastes: This is prophecy regarding the coming of Jesus in that book, the signs and marks of which were fulfilled with the appearance of the Promised One of the Bible; [the Old Testament] but since the Jews did not understand the meaning thereof, so they denied Jesus and— God forbid! —said that He was the deformed (Antichrist). Then it is said by Jesus in the Gospel, that similar signs would appear in the “last day”—or in other words—in the day when Christ will come the second time in this world. 
- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (‘Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Baha, vol. 1)

February 15, 2016

Isaiah: chapter 54

As to thy question concerning the 54th chapter of Isaiah: This chapter refers to the Exalted Leaf, the mother of ‘Abdul-Baha. As a proof to this it is said: “For more are the children of the desolate, than the children of the married wife.” Reflect upon this statement and then upon the following: “And thy seed shall inherit the Gentiles and make the desolate cities to be inhabited.” And truly the humiliation and reproach which she suffered in the path of God is a fact which no one can refute. For the calamities and afflictions mentioned in the whole chapter are such afflictions which she suffered in the path of God, all of which she endured with patience and thanked God therefor and praised Him, because He had enabled her to endure afflictions for the sake of Baha’. During all this time, the men and women [violators of the Covenant] persecuted her in an incomparable manner, while she was patient, God-fearing, calm, humble and contented through the favor of her Lord and by the bounty of her Creator. 
- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (‘Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Baha, vol. 1)

January 9, 2016

Revelation: chapter 21, verses 10 and 17

Thou hast asked in regard to the 10th verse of the 21st chapter of Revelation and to the 17th verse:

Know that the firmament of the bright sun of the world of possibilities is divided into twelve sections, according to mathematical principles, which are called the twelve constellations; likewise, the Sun of Truth manifests and pours forth His bounty in twelve constellations of holiness. By these constellations are meant holy souls who are the manifestations of purity and the dawning-points of the lights of Unity. Observe that in the day of His Holiness the Speaker of God (Moses), there were twelve holy souls who were the leaders of the Truth. In like manner, in the cycle of His Holiness the Spirit (Jesus Christ), note that there were twelve apostles under the shadow of the light of the Most High, and the Sun of Truth was manifested through those bright dawning-places like unto the phenomenal sun. Likewise, in the time of His Holiness Mohammed, consider that there were twelve dawning points of holiness who were the manifestations of confirmation. Such is the case.

December 17, 2015

Christ did not attain His Messianic station and His perfections at the moment of His baptism, when the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in the form of a dove – He was already and “has always been, and will ever remain, in the loftiest heights of sanctity”

But as to that holy Reality of which Christ says “the Father is in the Son”, [Cf. John 14:11 and 17:21] it has neither beginning nor end: Its “beginning” refers merely to His revelation of His own station. Thus, by way of analogy, He likens His silence to sleep: A man who is silent is like one who is asleep, and when he speaks, it is as though he has awakened. And yet the sleeping and the wakeful man are one and the same person: No change has taken place in his station, his loftiness, sublimity, inner reality, or innate nature. It is merely that the condition of silence has been likened to sleep, and that of manifestation to wakefulness. A man, whether sleeping or awake, is the same man: Sleep is simply one possible state, and wakefulness another. And so it is that the period of silence is compared to sleep, and the period of manifestation and guidance to wakefulness.

In the Gospel it is said: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God.” It follows then that Christ did not attain His Messianic station and His perfections at the moment of His baptism, when the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in the form of a dove. Rather, the Word of God has always been, and will ever remain, in the loftiest heights of sanctity. 
- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (Excerpt from a table talk, authenticated by ‘Abdu’l-Baha; ‘Some Answered Questions’ – 2014 revised translation by the Baha’i World Centre. To see the entire talks please visit ‘Talks of ‘Abdu’l-Baha)

April 26, 2015

Words of Jesus addressed to His Disciples

Ponder the words of Jesus addressed to His disciples, as He sent them forth to propagate the Cause of God. In words such as these, He bade them arise and fulfil their mission: 'Ye are even as the fire which in the darkness of the night has been kindled upon the mountain-top. Let your light shine before the eyes of men. Such must be the purity of your character and the degree of your renunciation, that the people of the earth may through you recognize and be drawn closer to the heavenly Father who is the Source of purity and grace. For none has seen the Father who is in heaven. You who are His spiritual children must by your deeds exemplify His virtues, and witness to His glory. You are the salt of the earth, but if the salt have lost its savour, wherewith shall it be salted? Such must be the degree of your detachment, that into whatever city you enter to proclaim and teach the Cause of God, you should in no wise expect either meat or reward from its people. Nay, when you depart out of that city, you should shake the dust from off your feet. As you have entered it pure and undefiled, so must you depart from that city. For verily I say, the heavenly Father is ever with you and keeps watch over you. If you be faithful to Him, He will assuredly deliver into your hands all the treasures of the earth, and will exalt you above all the rulers and kings of the world.' 
- The Báb  (Quoted by Nabil in ‘The Dawn-Breakers’, translated and edited by Shoghi Effendi)

March 15, 2015

Each of the Manifestations of God is “a mirror of God, reflecting naught else but His Self, His Beauty, His Might and Glory”

God witnesseth that there is no God but Him, the Gracious, the Best-Beloved. All grace and bounty are His. To whomsoever He will He giveth whatsoever is His wish. … We recognize in the manifestation of each one of them [God’s Manifestations, Prophets, Messengers], whether outwardly or inwardly, the manifestation of none but God Himself, if ye be of those that comprehend. Every one of them is a mirror of God, reflecting naught else but His Self, His Beauty, His Might and Glory, if ye will understand. All else besides them are to be regarded as mirrors capable of reflecting the glory of these Manifestations Who are themselves the Primary Mirrors of the Divine Being, if ye be not devoid of understanding. No one hath ever escaped them, neither are they to be hindered from achieving their purpose. These Mirrors will everlastingly succeed each other, and will continue to reflect the light of the Ancient of Days. They that reflect their glory will, in like manner, continue to exist for evermore, for the Grace of God can never cease from flowing. This is a truth that none can disprove. 
- Baha’u’llah  (‘Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah’)

February 15, 2015

Prayer Christ said while on the cross

O My beloved Lord, how long wilt Thou abandon Me to them? Lift Me up unto Thee, shelter Me close to Thee, make Me a dwelling by Thy throne of glory. Verily art Thou the Answerer of prayers, and Thou art the Clement, the Merciful. O My Lord! Verily this world with all its vastness can no longer contain Me, and I love this cross, out of love for Thy beauty, and yearning for Thy realm on high, and because of this fire, fanned by the gusts of Thy holiness, aflame within My heart. Help me, O Lord, to ascend unto Thee, sustain Me that I may reach unto Thy sacred Threshold, O My loving Lord! Verily Thou art the Merciful, the Possessor of great bounty! Verily Thou art the Generous! Verily Thou art the Compassionate! Verily Thou art the All-Knowing! There is none other God save Thee, the Mighty, the Powerful!' 
- Jesus Christ  (Quoted by ‘Abdu’l-Baha in 'Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu'l-Baha')

January 11, 2015

The meaning of Jesus’ remarks: “I go away and come again unto you.”

Thus it is that Jesus, Himself, declared: “I go away and come again unto you.” Consider the sun. Were it to say now, “I am the sun of yesterday,” it would speak the truth. And should it, bearing the sequence of time in mind, claim to be other than that sun, it still would speak the truth. In like manner, if it be said that all the days are but one and the same, it is correct and true. And if it be said, with respect to their particular names and designations, that they differ, that again is true. For though they are the same, yet one doth recognize in each a separate designation, a specific attribute, a particular character. Conceive accordingly the distinction, variation, and unity characteristic of the various Manifestations of holiness, that thou mayest comprehend the allusions made by the creator of all names and attributes to the mysteries of distinction and unity …. 
- Baha’u’llah  (‘The Book of Certitude’)

November 16, 2014

Appearances of the Primal Will of God in various Manifestations

In the time of the First Manifestation the Primal Will appeared in Adam; in the day of Noah It became known in Noah; in the day of Abraham in Him; and so in the day of Moses; the day of Jesus ….. 
- The Báb  (‘Selections from the Writings of the Báb’)

September 20, 2014

Recognizing the Manifestation of God when He comes

… consider the people unto whom the Gospel was given. Having no access to the apostles of Jesus, they sought the pleasure of the Lord in their churches, hoping to learn that which would be acceptable unto God, but they found therein no path unto Him. 
- The Báb  (‘Selections from the Writings of the Báb’)

August 10, 2014

“…the Son of Man hath power on earth to forgive sins”

It is also recorded in the Gospel according to St. Luke, that on a certain day Jesus passed by a Jew who was sick of the palsy, and lay upon a couch. When the Jew saw Him, he recognized Him, and cried out for His help. Jesus said unto him: “Arise from thy bed; thy sins are forgiven thee.” Certain of the Jews, standing by, protested saying: “Who can forgive sins, but God alone?” And immediately He perceived their thoughts, Jesus answering said unto them: “Whether is it easier to say to the sick of the palsy, arise, and take up thy bed, and walk; or to say, thy sins are forgiven thee? that ye may know that the Son of Man hath power on earth to forgive sins.” This is the real sovereignty, and such is the power of God’s chosen Ones! All these things which We have repeatedly mentioned, and the details which We have cited from divers sources, have no other purpose but to enable thee to grasp the meaning of the allusions in the utterances of the chosen Ones of God, lest certain of these utterances cause thy feet to falter and thy heart to be dismayed. 
- Baha’u’llah  (‘The Book of Certitude’)

May 18, 2014

An example of the divine mystery of true “abasement”

Thus Jesus, Son of Mary, whilst seated one day and speaking in the strain of the Holy Spirit, uttered words such as these: “O people! My food is the grass of the field, wherewith I satisfy my hunger. My bed is the dust, my lamp in the night the light of the moon, and my steed my own feet. Behold, who on earth is richer than I?” By the righteousness of God! Thousands of treasures circle round this poverty, and a myriad kingdoms of glory yearn for such abasement! Shouldst thou attain to a drop of the ocean of the inner meaning of these words, thou wouldst surely forsake the world and all that is therein, and, as the Phoenix wouldst consume thyself in the flames of the undying Fire. 
- Baha’u’llah  (‘The Book of Certitude’)

January 5, 2014

The meaning of verses such as: “Ye must be born again.” And, “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”

… Jesus said: “Ye must be born again.” Again He saith: “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” The purport of these words is that whosoever in every dispensation is born of the Spirit and is quickened by the breath of the Manifestation of Holiness, he verily is of those that have attained unto “life” and “resurrection” and have entered into the “paradise” of the love of God. And whosoever is not of them, is condemned to “death” and “deprivation,” to the “fire” of unbelief, and to the “wrath” of God. In all the scriptures, the books and chronicles, the sentence of death, of fire, of blindness, of want of understanding and hearing, hath been pronounced against those whose lips have tasted not the ethereal cup of true knowledge, and whose hearts have been deprived of the grace of the holy Spirit in their day. . Even as it hath been previously recorded: “Hearts have they with which they understand not.” 
- Baha’u’llah  (‘The Book of Certitude’)

September 8, 2013

A verse from the Gospel: “Heaven and earth shall pass away: but My words shall not pass away.”

… there is yet another verse in the Gospel wherein He saith: “Heaven and earth shall pass away: but My words shall not pass away.” Thus it is that the adherents of Jesus maintained that the law of the Gospel shall never be annulled, and that whensoever the promised Beauty is made manifest and all the signs are revealed, He must needs re-affirm and establish the law proclaimed in the Gospel, so that there may remain in the world no faith but His faith. This is their fundamental belief. And their conviction is such that were a person to be made manifest with all the promised signs and to promulgate that which is contrary to the letter of the law of the Gospel, they must assuredly renounce him, refuse to submit to his law, declare him an infidel, and laugh him to scorn. 
- Baha’u’llah  (‘The Book of Certitude’)

June 9, 2013

“Verily the Spirit of Truth is come to guide you unto all truth”

The voice of the Son of Man is calling aloud from the sacred vale: ‘Here am I, here am I, O God my God!’ ... whilst from the Burning Bush breaketh forth the cry: ‘Lo, the Desire of the world is made manifest in His transcendent glory!’ The Father hath come. That which ye were promised in the Kingdom of God is fulfilled. This is the Word which the Son veiled when He said to those around Him that at that time they could not bear it... Verily the Spirit of Truth is come to guide you unto all truth... He is the One Who glorified the Son and exalted His Cause... 
- Baha’u’llah  (Quoted by Shoghi Effendi in a letter dated February 8, 1934; ‘The Dispensation of Baha’u’llah’)

January 20, 2013

“The Comforter… is now come”

The Comforter Whose advent all the scriptures have promised is now come that He may reveal unto you all knowledge and wisdom. Seek Him over the entire surface of the earth, haply ye may find Him. 
- Baha’u’llah  (Quoted by Shoghi Effendi in a letter dated February 8, 1934; ‘The Dispensation of Baha’u’llah’)

November 18, 2012

“He that had ascended unto it [heaven] is now come”

Followers of the Gospel, behold the gates of heaven are flung open. He that had ascended unto it is now come. Give ear to His voice calling aloud over land and sea, announcing to all mankind the advent of this Revelation—a Revelation through the agency of which the Tongue of Grandeur is now proclaiming: ‘Lo, the sacred Pledge hath been fulfilled, for He, the Promised One, is come!’ 
- Baha’u’llah  (Quoted by Shoghi Effendi in a letter dated February 8, 1934; ‘The Dispensation of Baha’u’llah’)

June 15, 2012

Those who rejected Christ when He came unto them

Consider those who rejected the Spirit [Christ] when He came unto them with manifest dominion. How numerous the Pharisees who had secluded themselves in synagogues in His name, lamenting over their separation from Him, and yet when the portals of reunion were flung open and the divine Luminary shone resplendent from the Dayspring of Beauty, they disbelieved in God, the Exalted, the Mighty. They failed to attain His presence, notwithstanding that His advent had been promised them in the Book of Isaiah as well as in the Books of the Prophets and the Messengers. No one from among them turned his face towards the Dayspring of divine bounty except such as were destitute of any power amongst men. And yet, today, every man endowed with power and invested with sovereignty prideth himself on His Name. Moreover, call thou to mind the one who sentenced Jesus to death. He was the most learned of his age in his own country, whilst he who was only a fisherman believed in Him. Take good heed and be of them that observe the warning. 
- Baha’u’llah  (Lawh-i-Aqdas (The Most Holy Tablet) [Sometimes referred to as Tablet to the Christians],‘Tablets of Baha’u’llah Revealed after the Kitab-i-Aqdas’)

May 17, 2012

The Tree of Life

O leaf upon the Tree of Life! The Tree of Life, of which mention is made in the Bible, is Bahá'u'lláh, and the daughters of the Kingdom are the leaves upon that blessed Tree. Then thank thou God that thou hast become related to that Tree, and that thou art flourishing, tender and fresh.

The gates of the Kingdom are opened wide, and every favoured soul is seated at the banquet table of the Lord, receiving his portion of that heavenly feast. Praised be God, thou too art present at this table, taking thy share of the bountiful food of heaven. Thou art serving the Kingdom, and art well acquainted with the sweet savours of the Abha Paradise.

Then strive thou with all thy might to guide the people, and eat thou of the bread that hath come down from heaven. For this is the meaning of Christ's words: 'I am the living bread which came down from heaven ... he that eateth of this bread shall live forever.'[John 6:51, 58] 
- ‘Abdu'l-Baha  (Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Baha)