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Abstract:
Examination of the Bible in light of interpretations of its symbolism offered by Baha'u'llah's Kitab-i-Iqan.

Kitab-i-Iqan:
Key to Unsealing the Mysteries of the Holy Bible

by Brent Poirier

1998
Introduction

The purpose of this paper is to study the Book of Certitude and its application to the Holy Bible, to illumine our understanding of the symbols in the Bible. As Shoghi Effendi wrote about the Iqán:

Revealed on the eve of the declaration of His Mission, it proffered to mankind the "Choice Sealed Wine," whose seal is of "musk," and broke the "seals" of the "Book" referred to by Daniel, and disclosed the meaning of the "words" destined to remain "closed up" till the "time of the end."

"The Sacred Books are full of allusions to this new dispensation. In the Book of Iqan, Bahá'u'lláh gives the key-note and explains some of the outstanding passages hoping that the friends will continue to study the Sacred Books by themselves and unfold the mysteries found therein."
       [From a letter dated 11 March 1923 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer; quoted in "The Importance of Deepening our Knowledge and Understanding of the Faith", compiled by the Universal House of Justice ("The Compilation on Deepening") page 28.]

"Refer to it [the Kitab-i-Iqan] so that you may be informed of the truth of the divine mysteries."
       ['Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions p. 289]

As the Iqan is the most important book wherein Bahá'u'lláh explains the basic beliefs of the Faith, he [Shoghi Effendi] thought a proper rendering of it would infinitely enhance the teaching work in the West."
       [Excerpt from a letter from the Guardian's secretary on his behalf, Bahá'í News #46, November 1930, p. 2.]

"May it help the friends to approach a step further, and obtain a clearer idea of the fundamental teachings set forth by Bahá'u'lláh."
       [Shoghi Effendi in a letter published in Bahá'í News #46, November 1930, p. 2.]

"Shoghi Effendi hopes that you will exert all your efforts first in deepening your own knowledge of the teachings and then strive to attract other people. You should form study classes and read the important books that have been published, especially the Iqan which contains the basic tenets of the Faith. The one who ponders over that book and grasps its full significance will obtain a clear insight into the old scriptures and appreciate the true mission of the Bab and Bahá'u'lláh."
       [The Guardian's secretary on his behalf, in a letter to the Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of St. Louis, Missouri, Compilation on Deepening.]

"Shoghi Effendi hopes that you will exert all your effort to deepen your knowledge of the literature of the Movement, until you become fully acquainted with its spirit and tenets. Unless you do obtain such a firm hold you will never be able to teach others and render real service to the promulgation of the Faith. Of special importance is the Book of the Iqan which explains the attitude of the Cause towards the prophets of God and their mission in the history of society.... Every Bahá'í should master these books and be able to explain their contents to others. Besides their importance, they are interesting and most absorbing."
       [The Guardian's secretary on his behalf, Compilation on Deepening.]

"O thou who are athirst for the water of Life! This manifest Book is the fountainhead of the Water of Life eternal. Drink so much as thou art able from the fountain of the living water. O thou who art seeking after the knowledge of God! Immerse thyself in the ocean of the explanation of the Beauty of the Merciful, so that thou mayest gather from its depths the pearls of the wisdom of God.

"This is a translation of the 'Preserved Tablet,' the 'Expanded Parchment,' the Divine Charter, the Firman of the Merciful, that is, the Book of Iqan which hath emanated from the Supreme Pen and proceeded from the pure lips of the Blessed Beauty (may my soul be a sacrifice to His beloved ones)."
       ['Abdu'l-Bahá, from the frontispiece to 'Ali-Kuli-Khan's translation of the Kitab-i-Iqan, 1913.]
The Guardian also states that the Iqán "cites and elucidates the allegorical passages of the New Testament" [God Passes By p. 139]. We will study two allegorical passages in the Bible in the light of the terms "unsealed" by Bahá'u'lláh and the Master. The Guardian's reference to breaking the seals on the Book, and to disclosing the meanings of the words closed up until the time of the end, is to these words spoken by God to Daniel:
"But you, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end; many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase." Daniel 12:4

"Go your way, Daniel, for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end." Daniel 12:9
Many Bible verses are obviously symbolic, and even people who take the most literal approach to Scripture will agree that they are symbolic [Many Christians will accept that a Bible passage stating that The glory of the Lord " ... touches the hills, and they smoke," (Psalm 104:32) is symbolic, though they may disagree that it is a prophecy of the impact of Bahá'u'lláh's Revelation.] However, when we are dealing with the interpretation of Bible passages that have always been understood to describe literal, outward events, there is an additional challenge. Examples of Bible passages which apparently describe physical events are the story of Moses striking the rock in the desert, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. We will study what these passages mean, in the light of the interpretations by Bahá'u'lláh and 'Abdu'l-Bahá.

At the conclusion of this paper, we will consider why God conceals His meanings in symbols and allegories. The conclusion also expresses my own view that the apparent historical anomalies in the Gospels are due to the fact that they are not describing historical events, but spiritual conditions prevailing in the community of believers at the time, and that these passages of the Bible are accurate as written.

1. BIBLICAL REFERENCES TO "SEALED" TERMS

In the Iqán, Bahá'u'lláh interprets several of the symbolic terms which appear in the Bible; sometimes He does so explicitly [for example, the term "angels" is explicitly interpreted; see below], and sometimes implicitly [on the other hand, some of the symbols are "unsealed" without His expressly indicating that he is providing a key. For example see how Bahá'u'lláh interprets the word "collyrium" to mean the "knowledge of God" below.]. Several of the most important interpretations are indicated on the pages that follow. The list includes some interpretations provided by the Master and the Guardian, which amplify and fill gaps in the body of terms interpreted by Bahá'u'lláh. The key, however, to unlocking the meaning of Scriptural symbolism, is, as the Guardian wrote, the Kitáb-i-Iqán itself.

"EARTH": The human heart

[Iqán p. 46: "In like manner, endeavour to comprehend the meaning of the 'changing of the earth.' Know thou, that upon whatever hearts the bountiful showers of mercy, raining from the 'heaven' of divine Revelation, have fallen, the earth of those hearts hath verily been changed into the earth of divine knowledge and wisdom."]

"HEAVEN": A Revelation from God

[Iqán p. 44: "By 'heaven' is meant the heaven of divine Revelation, which is elevated with every Manifestation, and rent asunder with every subsequent one."]

That part of each Revelation that is subject to change in succeeding Dispensations

[Some Answered Questions p. 67: "Notice how clear and evident it is that the first heaven and earth signify the former Law."]

"GRAVE", "TOMB", "SEPULCHRE": Heedlessness and error

[Iqán p. 26: "Once more hath the eternal Spirit breathed into the mystic trumpet, and caused the dead to speed out of their sepulchers of heedlessness and error into the realm of guidance and grace."] [Iqán p. 119: "Reflect, had these two souls been quickened by the trumpet-call of 'Ali, had they risen from the grave of error by the power of his love, the judgment of death would certainly not have been pronounced against them." ]

Vain and selfish desires

[Iqán p. 92: "For, verily, powerful is He, the King of divine might, to ... bestow upon them a new and everlasting life, and cause them to arise and speed out of the sepulchers of their vain and selfish desires."]

Self [Iqán p. 120: "Behold, all the people are imprisoned within the tomb of self, and lie buried beneath the nethermost depths of worldly desire!"]

"EYESALVE", "COLLYRIUM": The knowledge of God [Iqán p. 31: "Were the eye to be anointed and illumined with the collyrium of the knowledge of God..."]

"ANGELS": People who have replaced faults with divine attributes [Iqán pp. 78-79: "By 'angels' is meant those who, reinforced by the power of the spirit, have consumed, with the fire of the love of God, all human traits and limitations, and have clothed themselves with the attributes of the most exalted Beings and of the Cherubim." Also see Tablets of the Divine Plan p.47.]

Confirmations from God [Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 81: "The meaning of 'angels' is the confirmations of God and His celestial powers."]

"LIGHT":

Kumeyl ibn Ziyad, one of 'Ali's chosen disciples, once demanded of his Master, behind whom he was seated on a dromedary, "What is Truth?" "What has thou to do with the Truth?" answered 'Ali, "for verily it is one of God's mysteries, and a jewel out of His treasure-house." Then said Kumeyl, "O my Master, am I not worthy to share thy secret?"

"Yes," answered 'Ali, "but the matter is a great one." "O my Master," said Kumeyl, "dost thou desire those who beg at the door of thy bounty to be turned away?" "Nay, verily," answered 'Ali, "I will answer the call of such as are troubled, and will sprinkle upon thee somewhat of the overflowing fullness of the Station of the Truth; receive it from me according to thy capacity, and conceal it from such as are unworthy to share it.

"O Kumeyl, the Truth is the revelation of the splendours of Divine Majesty without a sign." "O my Master," said Kumeyl, "I understand not thy meaning; explain it to me further." "The effacement of the conjectured, and the clearing of the known." continued 'Ali. "Explain more fully," demanded Kumeyl. "The rending of the veil by the triumph of the mystery," said 'Ali. [Shoghi Effendi's translation: "Piercing the veils of glory, unaided." Iqan 164] "O my beloved Master," rejoined Kumeyl, "tell me more." "The attraction of the Divine Unity through the nature of the apprehension of its Oneness," added 'Ali.

"Tell me more clearly," repeated Kumeyl. Then said 'Ali, "A light shining forth from the Morning of Eternity and irradiating the temples of the unity." [Shoghi Effendi's translation: "Behold, a light hath shone forth out of the Morn of eternity, and lo! its waves have penetrated the inmost reality of all men." Iqan 102]

This is apparently E.G. Browne's translation of this Islamic Hadith. It is quoted in Christopher Buck, "Symbol & Secret: Qur'an Commentary in Bahá'u'lláh's Kitab-i-Iqan" (Los Angeles: Kalimat Press, 1995), pp. 200-201.

"TRIBULATION", "OPPRESSION", "HARDSHIP", "DARKNESS": Not knowing where to go to find the truth [Iqán p. 31: "What 'oppression' is more grievous than that a soul seeking the truth, and wishing to attain unto the knowledge of God, should know not where to go for it and from whom to seek it?]

Lacking guidance [Iqán p. 32: "By it is meant that when the Day-star of Truth hath set, and the mirrors that reflect His light have departed, mankind will become afflicted with 'oppression' and hardship, knowing not whither to turn for guidance."]

"DARKNESS": Error [Iqán p. 31: "For the break of the morn of divine guidance must needs follow the darkness of the night of error."]

"LIFE": Possessing faith [Iqán p. 114: "By the terms 'life' and 'death,' spoken of in the scriptures, is intended the life of faith and the death of unbelief."]

THE "BLIND" RECEIVING "SIGHT": An unbeliever receiving faith [Some Answered Questions, p. 102: "Wherever in the Holy Books ...it is said that the blind received sight, the signification is that he obtained the true perception."]

"SUN", "MOON", AND "STARS": The Manifestations of God [Iqán p. 33: "Thus, by the 'sun' in one sense is meant those Suns of Truth Who rise from the dayspring of ancient glory, and fill the world with a liberal effusion of grace from on high. These Suns of Truth are the universal Manifestations of God..."]

and Their companions [Iqán p. 36: "Thus, it hath become evident that the terms 'sun,' 'moon,' and 'stars' primarily signify the Prophets of God, the saints, and their companions, those Luminaries..."]

The clergy of the past Dispensations [Iqán p. 36: "In another sense, by these terms is intended the divines of the former Dispensation, who live in the days of the subsequent Revelations, and who hold the reins of religion in their grasp."]

The teachings which are subject to change and renewal in each succeeding Dispensation [Iqán p. 38: "In another sense, by the terms 'sun', 'moon', and 'stars' are meant such laws and teachings as have been established and proclaimed in every Dispensation, such as the laws of prayer and fasting."]

"BREAD": The perfections, teachings, and bounties of Christ [Some Answered Questions p. 98: "Reflect how clear it is that what Christ meant by the heavenly bread was His spirit, His bounties, His perfections and His teachings..."]

The explanations of the symbols in the Holy Books [Iqán p. 22: "This wronged One will cite but one of these instances, thus conferring upon mankind ... such bounties as are yet concealed ... This is the food that conferreth everlasting life upon the pure in heart and the illumined in spirit. This is the bread of which it is said: 'Lord, send down upon us Thy bread from heaven.']

Heavenly food [Some Answered Questions p. 97: "The bread signifies the heavenly food and divine perfections."]

"EATING" and "DRINKING": Drawing closer to the Manifestation and believing in Him [Some Answered Questions p. 98: "Then it is evident and established that the celestial food is the divine bounties, the spiritual splendors, the heavenly teachings, the universal meaning of Christ. To eat is to draw near to Him, and to drink is to believe in Him."]

Being filled with the grace of the Manifestation and acquiring His perfections [Some Answered Questions p. 99: "It is evident that the heavenly bread did not signify this material bread, but rather the divine nourishment of the spiritual body of Christ, the divine graces and heavenly perfections of which His disciples partook, and with which they became filled."]

"EARTHQUAKE": The hearts of the believers being moved by the Holy Spirit ['Abdu'l-Bahá, quoted in 'Abdu'l-Bahá by Balyuzi, p. 499: "The earthquake is the wave of spiritual life, that moves through all living things and makes creation quiver."]

The hearts being shaken by doubts [Some Answered Questions p. 60-61: "... [T]he lightnings of the anger and the wrath of God will flash, the noise of the thunder of the violation of the Covenant will resound, the earthquake of doubts will take place, the hail of torments will beat upon the violators of the Covenant, and even those who profess belief will fall into trials and temptations.]

"MOUNTAINS" (and "HILLS"):

The renowned and the learned of the past Dispensation ['Abdu'l-Bahá, quoted in 'Abdu'l-Bahá by Balyuzi, p. 499: "The mountains are men of high renown, whose famous names sink into insignificance, when the dawn of the Manifestation fills the world with light. The pomp of Annas and Caiaphas is outshone by the simple glory of the Christ."]

Firm believers [Gleanings From the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh p. 137: "Be ye as firmly settled as the immovable mountain in the Cause of your Lord, the Mighty, the Loving."]

BEING "RAISED FROM THE DEAD": The unbeliever acquires faith [Some Answered Questions p. 101-102: "Wherever in the Holy Books they speak of raising the dead, the meaning is that the dead were blessed by eternal life..."]
"Now it happened after these things that the son of the woman who owned the house became sick. And his sickness was so serious that there was no breath left in him. So she said to Elijah, 'What have I to do with you, O man of God? Have you come to me to bring my sin to remembrance, and to kill my son?' And he said to her, 'Give me your son.' So he took him out of her arms and carried him to the upper room where he was staying, and laid him on his own bed. Then he cried out to the Lord and said, 'O Lord my God, have You also brought tragedy on the widow with whom I lodge, by killing her son?' And he stretched himself out on the child three times, and cried out to the Lord and said, 'O Lord my God, I pray, let this child's soul come back to him.' Then the Lord heard the voice of Elijah; and the soul of the child came back to him, and he revived." I Kings 17:17-22

"Now it happened one day that [the child] went out to his father, to the reapers. And he said to his father, 'My head, my head!' So he said to a servant, 'Carry him to his mother.' When he had taken him and brought him to his mother, he sat on her knees till noon, and then died. And she went up and laid him on the bed of the man of God, shut the door upon him, and went out.... So she departed, and went to the man of God at Mount Carmel.... Then [Elijah] said to Gehazi, 'Get yourself ready, and take my staff in your hand, and ... lay my staff on the face of the child. Now Gehazi ... laid the staff on the face of the child; but there was neither voice nor hearing.

Therefore he went back to meet [Elijah] and told him, saying, 'The child has not awakened.' And when Elisha came into the house, there was the child, lying dead on his bed. He went in therefore, shut the door behind the two of them, and prayed to the Lord. And he went up and lay on the child, and put his mouth on his mouth, his eyes on his eyes, and his hands on his hands; and he stretched himself out on the child, and the flesh of the child became warm. He returned and walked back and forth in the house, and again went up and stretched himself out on him; then the child sneezed seven times, and the child opened his eyes. II Kings 4:18-35
"CLOUDS": Things contrary to the desires of men [Iqán p. 71: "By the term 'clouds' is meant those things that are contrary to the ways and desires of men."]

The annulment of prior laws, customs, and Dispensations [Iqán p. 71: "These 'clouds' signify, in one sense, the annulment of laws, the abrogation of former Dispensations, the repeal of rituals and customs current amongst men, the exalting of the illiterate faithful above the learned opposers of the Faith."]

"SMOKE": Dissension; abrogation of religious standards; the destruction of narrow-minded religious leaders [Iqán p. 76: "The symbolic term 'smoke' denotes grave dissensions, the abrogation and demolition of recognized standards, and the utter destruction of their narrow-minded exponents."]

"WATER": The knowledge of God; life [Some Answered Questions, p. 92: "But the heavenly water and spirit, which are knowledge and life, make the human heart good and pure; the heart which receives a portion of the bounty of the Spirit becomes sanctified, good and pure -- that is to say, the reality of man becomes purified and sanctified from the impurities of the world of nature."]

2. Applying these Bahá'í interpretations to Bible verses:

Now that we have studied some of the interpretations of Bahá'u'lláh and the Master, we can apply them to various Bible verses. Most of the passages which Bahá'u'lláh has quoted in the Iqán which contain these symbolic terms are from the Holy Qur'an and from Muslim Traditions; however, He states that all of the Scriptures of the past contain these same symbols, but for the sake of brevity He did not quote from all of Them. [For example, see Iqán pp. 31-32, 68, 100, 153, and 165.]

The following are Bible verses containing these same terms. [My own interpretations are offered inside brackets for purposes of illustration]:

1. "In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth." (Genesis 1:1)

[Interpretation: God manifests a Revelation, and calls into being His "creation", a community of believers in that Revelation.]

2. "And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away." (Revelation 21:1)

[God inaugurated a new Dispensation which abrogated portions of the former Law, and which renewed the hearts of the believers]

3. "So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just." (Matthew 13:49)

[When the new Revelation appears, the teachers of the Faith will deliver the Message and participate in the "judgment", in which the people, by accepting or rejecting the Message, are divided.]

4. "And it came to pass as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them. And their eyes were opened, and they knew him..." (Luke 24:30-31)

[These believers accepted the teachings of Jesus, and were moved by His Spirit, and they came to recognize His Station.]

5. "And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from birth... He spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and he anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay, and said unto him, 'Go....' He went his way ... and came seeing." (John 9:1-7)

[Jesus taught His Faith to a non-believer, gave him the knowledge of the new Revelation, and bestowed insight on him.] [It is interesting to compare this with the symbol in the dream of Shaykh Ahmad in which he "drew forth the sciences and the assistance of God" from the "adorable saliva" of the Imám Hasan. See P. 1, "Translation of French Foot-notes of the Dawn-Breakers", translating Footnote 3 on page 1 of The Dawn-Breakers.]

6. "The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the Lord." (Joel 2:31) [The people shall be completely devoid of spiritual guidance, prior to the advent of the new Revelation.]

7. "There shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel..." (Numbers 24:17)

[This is a prophecy that a Prophet of God will descend from Jacob, and is identified as such in the margins of many study Bibles.]

8. "I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star."(Revelation 22:16)

[Jesus uses the term "star" to symbolize His spiritual illumination, as well as affirming His holy lineage from David, a lineal descendant of Jacob. This is a fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecy in the previously-discussed verse, Numbers 24:17.]

9. "And they went in unto Noah into the ark, two and two of all flesh, wherein is the breath of life...And every living substance was destroyed which was upon the face of the ground... and Noah only remained alive, and they that were with him in the ark." (Genesis 7:15-23)

[Only the believers in the Prophet Noah were spiritually alive, safely preserved in the "ark" of His Faith, and the other people on the earth were spiritually dead.] [It is interesting to compare the story of Noah and the Ark to this passage referring to the future effect of the World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, from a letter of the Guardian: "... that Ark of human salvation, ordained as the ultimate haven of a society destined, for the most part, to be submerged by the tidal wave of the abuses and evils which its own perversity has engendered."
       Messages to the Bahá'í World 1950-1957, p.104. Also See #1336, Lights of Guidance.]

10. "And it shall come to pass in the last days that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it." (Isaiah 2:2)

[The Universal House of Justice shall have dominion over all the peoples of the earth; over the believers, as well as being superior to the great ones clinging to the past Revelations.]

There is a similar passage in Micah 4:1.

There are many other Bible verses to study that also contain these symbols.

[ Genesis 1:4; Psalms 144:5; Psalms 148:1-3; Proverbs 6:23; Isaiah 2:19-21; Isaiah 40:12; Isaiah 41:15-16; Isaiah 59:8-10; Isaiah 64:1; Jeremiah 4:24; Ezekiel 32:7; Ezekiel 38:20; Daniel 12:3; Amos 5:16-18; Micah 3:5-6; Micah 6:1-2; Habakkuk 3:6; Habakkuk 3:10; Zephaniah 1:15; Haggai 2:6-7; Malachi 4:2-3; Matthew 13:39; Matthew 13:43; Luke 12:1; John 3:14-16; John 4:14; John 5:25-29; John 5:35; John 11:25-26; Revelation 3:18; Revelation 7:16-17.]

3. Bible prophecies of Bahá'u'lláh:

In the Bible there are many references to "The Glory of God". We know from the Bahá'í Writings that some of these refer to Bahá'u'lláh. For example, in one of His Writings, Bahá'u'lláh quotes this passage from the Old Testament: "[T]he splendor of Carmel and Sharon, they shall see the glory of the Lord, and the splendor of our God." [Isaiah 35:2] Bahá'u'lláh then states, in confirmation of the fact that this is a prophecy of Himself, "These passages stand in need of no commentary. They are shining and manifest as the sun, and glowing and luminous as light itself."[1]. We are encouraged to look for other prophecies of Bahá'u'lláh in the Scriptures. As the Guardian's secretary wrote on his behalf,
"The Sacred Books are full of allusions to this new dispensation. In the Book of Iqán, Bahá'u'lláh gives the key-note and explains some of the outstanding passages hoping that the friends will continue to study the Sacred Books by themselves and unfold the mysteries found therein."[2]
'Abdu'l-Bahá made a similar statement about the Kitáb-i-Iqán, when He wrote: "Refer to it, so that you may be informed of the truth of the divine mysteries."[3] The following prophecies of the "glory of the Lord" take on new meaning in light of the words unsealed by Bahá'u'lláh and the Master:

1. "The glory of the Lord shall endure for ever. The Lord shall rejoice in his works. He looketh on the earth and it trembleth; he toucheth the hills and they smoke". (Psalms 104:31-32)

2. "Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain. And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it". (Isaiah 40:4-5)

3. "For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea." (Habakkuk 2:14)

4. "Arise, shine: for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee." (Isaiah 60:1-2)

5. "And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God." (Revelation 15:8)

6. The Revelation of John promised that "one like" Jesus would appear:
Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man ... He had in His right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun... Revelation 1:12-16

... [Ethel Rosenberg] asked 'Abdu'l-Bahá about the meaning of the 'seven churches' mentioned in the Book of Revelation. 'Abdu'l-Bahá replied that the seven spirits and the seven stars mentioned in the Apocalypse refer to the seven letters of the alphabet that constitute the Most Great Name (in Arabic and Persian the title Bahá'u'lláh as well as the name Husayn-'Alí consist of seven letters each) -- and that the seven churches refer to the holy souls who were ignited with the fire of the love of their Lord.
        Ethel Jenner Rosenberg, by Robert Weinberg, p. 70.

4. The allegories: Introduction

Readers of Bahá'í literature may first come into contact with the allegorical meaning of Biblical narratives, upon reading such books as Some Answered Questions. There, 'Abdu'l-Bahá explicitly states that the resurrection of Jesus Christ was not a physical occurrence, and that its meaning is entirely symbolic. In the same Book He states that the story of Moses striking the rock in the wilderness - a narrative which is proof to many Christians that Moses disobeyed God and was therefore not perfect - also does not intend its literal meaning. This directly contradicts the interpretations taught to Christians by the churches for generations.

The allegory of Moses striking the rock in the wilderness:

Most orthodox Christians (and for that matter, many Jews) do not believe that Moses was perfect, because the Bible says that He disobeyed God. In the Book of Numbers in the Old Testament, it states that the Israelites complained to Moses about their lack of water, and Moses prayed. God then told Moses to take his rod, and speak to "the rock", and it would bring forth water. Instead, Moses struck the rock, twice, and water flowed out. The Lord rebuked Moses and told Him that because He had not believed in the Lord, He would not be permitted to enter the Promised Land. For generations, Christians have taken this narrative literally, and used it as primary support for believing in the inferiority of Moses to Jesus Christ.

However, 'Abdu'l-Bahá wrote that Moses was sinless, interpreting this passage symbolically. He explains that although outwardly God's rebuke was addressed to Moses, inwardly it was addressed to the believers.[4] As 'Abdu'l-Bahá explains, it was the Israelites, not Moses, who were disobedient, and that Moses was "...pure from every sin and sanctified from faults."[5]

We learn from the Iqán that the term "earth" refers to the human heart, and that the "rod" of Moses means both the sovereignty and command[6] of Moses, and His teachings[7].

We learn from the Bible itself the meaning of the term "rock" or "stone", which is a type of "earth": In the parable of the sower and the seed told by Jesus Christ,[8] He explains that the Sower sowed the seed of the Word of God in the ground, and that the various kinds of soil described, refer to the condition of receptivity of the heart of the hearer. The seed that fell on "stony" ground refers to the believer who "stumbles", or doubts, in time of persecution.

Therefore, offering an interpretation of this Old Testament narrative in light of the Master's explanation that its true intent is different from its outward meaning, the "rock" is a symbol of the rebellious hearts of the Israelites; the "rod" is a symbol of the educative influence of Moses; His striking of the rock twice instead of speaking to it means that the rebellious believers were unresponsive to Moses' gentle method of spiritual education, and He needed repeatedly to chastise them; the "water" bursting forth from the rock is the believers' knowledge of God, and the vivification of their hearts.

The Bible itself in the Book of Isaiah uses the word "rod" in an obviously symbolic way:
But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.
       (Isaiah 11:4. Also see Some Answered Questions, Page 62.)
Bahá'u'lláh Himself uses some of these same symbols in the Most Holy Book:
O peoples of the earth! God, the Eternal Truth, is My witness that streams of fresh and soft-flowing waters have gushed from the rocks, through the sweetness of the words uttered by your Lord, the Unconstrained; and still ye slumber."[9]
As the Master explains, due to their disobedience, the entrance of the Israelites into the Promised Land was delayed until the time of Joshua.[10] Also, the Master has interpreted the "wilderness" and the "Promised Land" symbolically (See The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 117).

The allegory of the resurrection of Jesus Christ

Now let us try to gain a deeper understanding of the Master's explanation of the resurrection narratives in the Bible. One of the Gospels states:
"On the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb... she...looked into the sepulchre, and saw two angels... she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus... Jesus said to her, 'Mary!' She turned and said to Him, 'Rabboni!' (which is to say, Teacher)....Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord..." John 20:1-18
The Master states that this event is
"...[S]ymbolical; it is a spiritual and divine fact, and not material... Therefore, we say that the meaning of Christ's resurrection is as follows: The disciples were troubled and agitated after the martyrdom of Christ. The Reality of Christ, which signifies His teachings, His bounties, His perfections and His spiritual power, was hidden and concealed for two or three days after His martyrdom, and was not resplendent and manifest. No, rather it was lost, for the believers were few in number and were troubled and agitated. The Cause of Christ was like a lifeless body; and when after three days the disciples became assured and steadfast, and began to serve the Cause of Christ, and resolved to spread the divine teachings, putting His counsels into practice, and arising to serve Him, the Reality of Christ became resplendent and His bounty appeared; His religion found life; His teachings and His admonitions became evident and visible. In other words, the Cause of Christ was like a lifeless body until the life and the bounty of the Holy Spirit surrounded it."[11]
Where does the Bible symbolically say that the Christian community was, in the Master's words, "...troubled and agitated after the martyrdom of Christ"?[12] It may help to note that the Gospel states that when Jesus was crucified, the earth quaked, and to recall that, as we discussed earlier, 'Abdu'l-Bahá has interpreted the symbol "earthquake" to mean "doubts":
"Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the spirit. And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in two from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent..."[13]

"Also, most of the miracles of the Prophets which are mentioned have an inner significance. For instance, in the Gospel it is written that at the martyrdom of Christ darkness prevailed, and the earth quaked, and the veil of the Temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom, and the dead came forth from their graves. If these events had happened, they would indeed have been awesome, and would certainly have been recorded in the history of the times. They would have become the cause of much troublings of heart. Either the soldiers would have taken down Christ from the cross, or they would have fled. These events are not related in any history; therefore, it is evident they ought not to be taken literally, but as having an inner significance."[14]
Therefore, these symbols refer to spiritual events occurring after Christ's crucifixion. The "earth quaking" may be the symbol that 'Abdu'l-Bahá is interpreting when he says that the disciples were "troubled and agitated", implying that the faith of the Christian community was shaken. Perhaps the meaning of the veil of the temple being rent, is the rending of the veils that prevented the believers from recognizing the eternal nature of Christ.

Similarly, where does the Bible symbolically state that "the disciples became assured and steadfast"? Perhaps the answer lies in the allegory that each of the believers who came to the tomb, saw one or more "angels". One of the interpretations 'Abdu'l-Bahá has given for this term, as we saw earlier, is a confirmation of God. Also, when the Master states that the Cause of Christ was like a lifeless body, and after the disciples became assured they arose to serve Him, perhaps He was referring to a passage such as this, which contains several "unsealed" terms:
"... [A]nd the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the graves after His resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many."[15]
It should be noted that the Gospel states that "dead" arose from their "graves" "after His resurrection", that is, after the Christian community came to life, which again shows that the meaning is that the believers moved out of their condition of torpor and spiritual death after their recognition of the eternal Station of Jesus Christ.

Another symbolic reference to the disciples' steadfastness and assurance might be the reference to Jesus eating with His disciples after the crucifixion. As the Master explained, Jesus Himself expressed that "eating" meant coming to Him, and "drinking" meant believing in Him;[16] so the disciples having a meal with Jesus after His resurrection means that they drew closer to Him and their faith in Him was strengthened.

Jesus said to His disciples:
"I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst." (John 6:35)
Elucidating this verse, 'Abdu'l-Bahá said:
"Notice that 'coming to Him' He expresses as eating, and 'belief in Him' as drinking. Then it is evident and established that the celestial food is the divine bounties, the spiritual splendors, the heavenly teachings, the universal meaning of Christ. To eat is to draw near to Him, and to drink is to believe in Him."
       (Some Answered Questions, p. 98)
Shoghi Effendi links this meaning which Jesus gave to "eating" to the "meals" of Christ with the disciples after the Resurrection:
"We do not believe that there was a bodily resurrection after the crucifixion of Christ, but that there was a time after His ascension when His disciples perceived spiritually His true greatness and realized He was eternal in being. This is what has been reported symbolically in the New Testament and been misunderstood. His eating with His disciples after resurrection is the same thing."
        From a letter on behalf of the Guardian, "High Endeavours" pp. 69-70, "Lights of Guidance," 2nd Edition, p. 368.
We read in the Gospel of Luke that following the crucifixion of Jesus, two of the disciples were walking down the "Road to Emmaus" speaking of the tragic events in Jerusalem and trying to resolve them in their own minds:
"And it came to pass, that, while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them. But their eyes were held that they should not know him.... And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them. And their eyes were opened, and they knew him..." Luke 24:13-31
In another place when Jesus gives "bread" to His disciples, He refers to it as His "body":
And as they did eat, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and brake it, and gave to them, and said, "Take, eat: This is my body." (Mark 14:22)
The symbolic meaning of "eyes" being "opened" and "seeing" is well-established in the New Testament; it refers to belief. (Matthew 13:13-16; Mark 8:18; Luke 8:10 and 10:23) This event depicts, in symbolic language, these disciples' recognition of their Lord. In the words of Shoghi Effendi, they "perceived spiritually His true greatness and realized He was eternal in being."

Likewise Mary Magdalene "saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus." (John 20:14) She thought Him to be the gardener. That is, she "saw" Him but did not "recognize" Him, just as with the believers on the Road to Emmaus, whose "eyes" were "holden." Then in John 20:16 and 20:18 Mary recognizes her Lord and realizes He is eternal in being. She returns and tells the disciples, and they "see" Him (John 20:20). Then Thomas places his hands into His Lord's "body" and "sees" and believes. Also in Luke Chapter 24 verses 39-44, the disciples "eat" "bread" with Jesus and believe in Him.

Likewise during the days of Joseph there was a "famine" in the land of Canaan and the brothers of Joseph came to Him for food (Genesis 42:5). Also see the Book of Certitude pp. 29-32, Isaiah 59:7-9, and these words from the Prophet Amos:
Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord." (Amos 8:11)
Compare Mary Magdalene not recognizing Jesus in the Garden, and the disciples on the road whose "eyes" were "holden" to the brothers of Joseph:
"And Joseph saw his brethren, and he knew them, but made himself strange unto them, and spake roughly unto them; and he said unto them, 'Whence came ye?' And they said, 'From the land of Canaan to buy food.' And Joseph knew his brethren, but they knew not him."
Joseph then revealed Himself to His brothers, saying "There will I nourish thee... And, behold, your eyes see." (Genesis 45:11-12).

All of these are symbolic depictions of the believers attaining faith in each succeeding Revelation.

After His resurrection, Jesus appeared to many people; however, none of these were non-believers. The post-resurrection appearances of Jesus Christ were all to believers.[17] This is because these were not "appearances" in the physical sense of the word. Rather, these are allegorical depictions of these believers regaining their faith and steadfastness, realizing the eternity of Christ, and arising to serve His Cause. In that sense, Jesus could not "appear" to a non-believer, by definition, and that is why the Bible contains no such reference.

Another important key to understanding the resurrection narratives is provided by the Guardian:
"We do not believe that there was a bodily resurrection after the crucifixion of Christ, but that there was a time after His ascension when His disciples perceived spiritually His true greatness and realized He was eternal in being. This is what has been reported symbolically in the New Testament and been misunderstood. His eating with His disciples after resurrection is the same thing."[18]
Where does the Gospel symbolically state that the disciples "perceived spiritually His true greatness and realized He was eternal in being"? In the passage quoted above (John 20:1-18), Mary Magdalene at first did not "recognize" Jesus, and later did, when she exclaimed "Teacher"; then she went to the other disciples and told them that she had "seen" the Lord. Likewise, the eyes of the believers on the road to Emmaus were "holden" until Jesus gave them "bread" and their "eyes were opened and they knew Him".[19] Perhaps these are the symbols the Guardian and the Master are referring to when they write that the disciples came to perceive the true greatness of Christ.

Some people have said that a proof that the Bible is inaccurate is that the resurrection narratives are somewhat different in each Gospel. For example, the Gospel of Matthew states that Mary Magdalene and the other Mary first came to the tomb, and they saw one angel; while the Gospels of Luke and John state that men believers came with the two women, and they saw two angels.[20] My own understanding of these apparent disparities, is that they are different because they are not referring to physical events. Each narrative is describing the re-awakening of the faith of different believers, of different "visits" to the "tomb" in the "garden". I believe in fact, there are no disparities: Each narrative is a symbolic depiction of another group of believers going on the spiritual journey from doubt to faith. They enter the "tomb" of unbelief, and see an "angel" or two angels - receiving confirmations of God. The "stone" of doubt has been removed; one Gospel states that an angel "...rolled back the stone from the door, and sat on it;"[21] that is, the believers who were in doubt received confirmations from God that made them victorious over the doubt. This is further shown in another passage in the Gospel:
"Afterward He appeared to the eleven as they sat at the table; and He rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who had seen Him after He had risen."[22]
That is, Jesus relates their "hardness of heart" to their doubt; and it is consistent with 'Abdu'l-Bahá's interpretation given in Some Answered Questions, that the stone in front of the tomb is symbolic of the believers' doubt. It is also noteworthy that the Gospel states that during one time that Jesus ate with the disciples, He "...opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures."[23] That is, that His "eating" with the disciples meant, in fact, that He was nourishing them with the meanings of the Scriptures. The Gospel also states that Jesus ate honey with the disciples. The Bahá'í Writings do refer to the "honey of reunion", so perhaps this is a symbolic reference to the sweetness of the experience of the believers regaining their faith;[24] the Bahá'í Writings state, as we have seen, that it was not a physical meal.[25]

Note that Mary Magdalene was the first to go to the tomb, the first to see an angel, the first to recognize Jesus, the first to go to the other disciples and tell them what she had "seen". The meaning is that Mary Magdalene was the first believer to arise from her spiritual torpor, the first whose faith was re-awakened. 'Abdu'l-Bahá has commented on the significance of this: "Mary Magdalene was a villager of lowly type, yet that selfsame Mary was transformed and became the means through which the confirmation of God descended upon the disciples."[26] So significant was this in religious history, that 'Abdu'l-Bahá is reported to have stated, "There was one name that always bought joy to the face of Bahá'u'lláh. His expression would change at the mention of it. That name was Mary of Magdala."[27]

Comparison between the two narratives

Having considered that the story of Moses striking the rock twice so that water would flow out, and the narrative that the rock was rolled away from the tomb of Jesus Christ are both allegorical in nature, a similarity suggests itself. Both narratives really refer to a weakened condition of the faith of the community of believers: they deal with the believers doubting or rebelling, and being rebuked. 'Abdu'l-Bahá states that the "reproach" addressed by God to Moses, really was addressed to the followers of Moses;[28] I believe this is symbolically depicted by Moses striking the rock. Similarly, Jesus "rebuked" the hardness of heart of His disciples,[29] symbolically depicted by the "stone" in front of the "tomb", which was later rolled away when the believers received the confirmations of God.

Why does God conceal these meanings in symbolic language? A full discussion of this theme is beyond the scope of this paper. However, the general reason that God conceals His meanings in His Words, appears to be to divide the peoples of the world. As the Book of Daniel states:
"Go thy way Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end. Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly; and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand."[30]
Likewise, Jesus said to His disciples,
"To you it has been given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to the rest it is given in parables, that seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand."[31]
Repeatedly in the Kitáb-i-Iqán Bahá'u'lláh expresses this same theme:
"Know verily that the purpose underlying all these symbolic terms and abstruse allusions, which emanate from the Revealers of God's holy Cause, hath been to test and prove the peoples of the world; that thereby the earth of the pure and illuminated hearts may be known from the perishable and barren soil. From time immemorial such hath been the way of God amidst His creatures, and to this testify the records of the sacred books."[32]
A further insight into the reason for allegories is contained in these words of 'Abdu'l-Bahá:
"Divine things are too deep to be expressed by common words. The heavenly teachings are expressed in parable in order to be understood and preserved for ages to come. When the spiritually minded dive deeply into the ocean of their meaning they bring to the surface the pearls of their inner significance. There is no greater pleasure than to study God's word with a spiritual mind."[33]
The Guardian of the Cause wrote that in the Bahá'í Faith, "[T]he divine inspiration of the Gospel is fully recognized..."[34] To me this means that the authors of the Gospels did not write what they witnessed; they wrote what they were told to write. They were not historians or chroniclers like Nabíl; they were more like spiritual stenographers, who wrote what they were inspired by Christ and God to write. Their guidance was not such as would make them infallibly accurate historians. Much of the content of the Gospels is allegorical in nature, and the Gospel authors wrote in the symbols they were instructed to write in. These meanings lay hidden in the Gospels, until Bahá'u'lláh unsealed them; and the key to all of the unlocking of Scriptural symbolism, is the Kitáb-i-Iqán.

WHO DO BAHÁ'ÍS BELIEVE JESUS CHRIST IS?

Exactly who the Bible says He is.

Bahá'u'lláh wrote:
"Were any of the all-embracing Manifestations of God to declare, 'I am God!' He verily speaketh the truth, and no doubt attacheth thereto. For it hath been repeatedly demonstrated that through their Revelation, their attributes and names, the Revelation of God, His name and His attributes, are made manifest in the world..." (Book of Certitude, p. 178)

"In every instance, they have voiced an utterance that would conform to the requirements of the occasion, and have ascribed all these declarations to Themselves, declarations ranging from the realm of divine Revelation to the realm of creation, and from the domain of Divinity even unto the domain of earthly existence. Thus it is that whatsoever be their utterance, whether it pertain to the realm of Divinity, Lordship, Prophethood, Messengership, Guardianship, Apostleship or Servitude, all is true, beyond the shadow of a doubt."
       (Book of Certitude, p. 181)
DIVINITY

The "divinity" of Christ is affirmed in the following verses of the Bible:
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." John 1:1

"I and My Father are one." John 10:30
The divinity of Christ is upheld in the Bahá'í teachings. As Shoghi Effendi wrote:

"As to the position of Christianity, let it be stated without any hesitation or equivocation that its divine origin is unconditionally acknowledged, that the Sonship and Divinity of Jesus Christ are fearlessly asserted, that the divine inspiration of the Gospel is fully recognized, that the reality of the mystery of the Immaculacy of the Virgin Mary is confessed, and the primacy of Peter, the Prince of the Apostles, is upheld and defended. ... Such are the central, the solid, the incontrovertible principles that constitute the bedrock of Bahá'í belief, which the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh is proud to acknowledge, which its teachers proclaim, which its apologists defend, which its literature disseminates, which its summer schools expound, and which the rank and file of its followers attest by both word and deed."
        (The Promised Day is Come, pp. 109-110)

LORDSHIP

The "Lordship" of Jesus Christ is upheld in these Bible verses:
"For the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath." Matthew 12:8

You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am." John 13:13

"Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming." Matthew 24:42
PROPHETHOOD

Jesus Christ is referred to as a "Prophet" in these verses of the Bible:
"I will raise up for them a Prophet like you from among their brethren, and will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him." Deuteronomy 18:18

"But Jesus said to them, 'A prophet is not without honor except in his own country and in his own house.'" Matthew 13:57

"Nevertheless I must journey today, tomorrow, and the day following; for it cannot be that a prophet should perish outside of Jerusalem." Luke 13:33

"So the multitudes said, 'This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth of Galilee.'" Matthew 21:11
MESSENGERSHIP

Jesus Christ is referred to as a "Messenger" in these verses of the Bible:
"Behold, I send My messenger [John the Baptist] and he will prepare the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple, even the Messenger of the covenant [Jesus], in whom you delight." Malachi 3:1

[That the "Messenger" is John the Baptist is confirmed in Matthew 11:10]
APOSTLESHIP

Muhammad is not the only Manifestation of God referred to as an "Apostle." In this verse from the New Testament, Jesus is referred to as an Apostle:
"Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Christ Jesus ... " Epistle of Paul to the Hebrews 3:1
SERVITUDE

The servitude of Jesus is referred to in these verses:
"Behold! My Servant whom I uphold, My Elect One in whom My soul delights!" Isaiah 42:1 [Matthew 12:17-18 confirms that this verse refers to Jesus]

"For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many." Mark 10:45

"Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a servant, and coming in the likeness of men." Phillipians 2:5-7
SAVIOR

"Then the angel said to them, '... For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.'"

THE RETURN OF THE ENEMIES OF THE NEW MANIFESTATION

Bahá'u'lláh writes (Iqán, p. 149) that the persecutors of the Manifestation of God in every age, are the "return" of the persecutors of an earlier age:
"And now, be fair; How could those people living in the days of Muhammad have existed, thousands of years before, in the age of Adam or other Prophets? Why should Muhammad, that Essence of truthfulness, have charged the people of His day with the murder of Abel or other Prophets? Thou hast none other alternative except to regard Muhammad as an impostor or a fool--which God forbid!--or to maintain that those people of wickedness were the self-same people who in every age opposed and caviled at the Prophets and Messengers of God, till they finally caused them all to suffer martyrdom."
Jesus uses the same image as did Bahá'u'lláh--the persecutors of Abel--to state that His clerical enemies were the "return" of the wicked religious leaders of an earlier Dispensation:
"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! ... you are sons of those who murdered the prophets... that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah ... whom you murdered ... " Matthew 23:29-35
THE IMAGE OF "DRYNESS IN THE SEA"
A lover feareth nothing and no harm can come nigh him: Thou seest him chill in the fire and dry in the sea.
       (Bahá'u'lláh, The Seven Valleys)
In the days of Noah, those who entered the Ark of His faith were protected from the flood that destroyed all else on the earth. (Genesis 7:19-23)
The Ark and the Flood we believe are symbolical." (From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, October 28, 1949: Bahá'í News, No. 228, February 1950, p. 4; Lights of Guidance, 2nd edition, p. 508, #1716)
In Moses' Day, He led the believers through the sea He cleft:
And Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the LORD caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided. And the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea upon the dry ground: and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left. (Exodus 14:21-22; see also Qur'an 20:79-80)
This is, to me, a symbol of the guidance Moses gave His loved ones. They walked in firmness, on ground that was not slippery, and were protected by their obedience from that which would have killed them.

Elijah, too, with His "garment" cleft the waters and provided dry ground for the holy ones in His time:
And fifty men of the sons of the prophets went, and stood to view afar off: and they two stood by Jordan. And Elijah took his mantle, and wrapped it together, and smote the waters, and they were divided hither and thither, so that they two went over on dry ground. (II Kings 2:7-8)
The Prophet Jonah was kept in the belly of a fish, protected from the boiling sea around Him; and eventually, when the Lord spoke to the fish, "it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land." (Jonah 2:6-10)

What is this "dryness?" 'Abdu'l-Bahá explains:
"... [I]n chapter 21, verses 1, 2 and 3 of the Revelation of St. John, it is said: 'And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea....' Notice how clear and evident it is that the first heaven and earth signify the former Law. For it is said that the first heaven and earth have passed away and there is no more sea -- that is to say, that the earth is the place of judgment, and on this earth of judgment there is no sea, meaning that the teachings and the Law of God will entirely spread over the earth, and all men will enter the Cause of God, and the earth will be completely inhabited by believers; therefore, there will be no more sea, for the dwelling place and abode of man is the dry land. In other words, at that epoch the field of that Law will become the pleasure-ground of man. Such earth is solid; the feet do not slip upon it.
       (Some Answered Questions, pp. 67-68)
There is an interplay between the Writings of the Bab and the Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, containing important references to the dwellers in the divine Ark:
Indeed God hath created everywhere around this Gate oceans of divine elixir, tinged crimson with the essence of existence and vitalized through the animating power of the desired fruit, and for them God hath provided Arks of ruby, tender, crimson-coloured, wherein none shall sail but the people of Bahá, by the leave of God, the Most Exalted; and verily He is the All-Glorious, the All-Wise.
        (The Bab, The Qayyumu'l-Asma, Chapter LVII; Selections from the Writings of the Bab, pp. 57-58)

Seek thou the shore of the Most Great Ocean, and enter, then, the Crimson Ark which God hath ordained in the Qayyum-i-Asma for the people of Bahá. Verily, it passeth over land and sea. He that entereth therein is saved, and he that turneth aside perisheth. Shouldst thou enter therein and attain unto it, set thy face towards the Kaaba of God, the Help in Peril, the Self-Subsisting, and say: "O my God! I beseech Thee by Thy most glorious light, and all Thy lights are verily glorious." Thereupon, will the doors of the Kingdom be flung wide before thy face, and thou wilt behold what eyes have never beheld, and hear what ears have never heard.
        (Bahá'u'lláh, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, pp. 139-140)

If ye seek God, it behooveth you to seek Him Whom God shall make manifest, and if ye cherish the desire to dwell in the Ark of Names, ye will be distinguished as the guides to Him Whom God shall make manifest, did ye but believe in Him. Verily then make your hearts the day-springs of His exalted Names as recorded in the Book, and ye shall, even as mirrors placed before the sun, be able to receive enlightenment.
       (The Bab, The Kitab-i-Asma, "The Book of Names," Chapter XVI; Selections from the Writings of the Bab, p. 131)
The Guardian has pointed out (Citadel of Faith, p. 95) that this following reference refers to the members of the Universal House of Justice:
Ere long will God sail His Ark upon thee, and will manifest the people of Bahá who have been mentioned in the Book of Names.
        (The Tablet of Carmel, Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 5)
This last quote shows that in its essence, it is the Covenant that is the Ark. As 'Abdu'l-Bahá said:
The Covenant of God ... is a lifeboat and ark of salvation. All true followers of the Blessed Perfection are sheltered and protected in this ark. Whoever leaves it, trusting in his own will and strength, will drown and be destroyed.
       ('Abdu'l-Bahá, quoted in "The Covenant, Daily Readings from the Bahá'í Teachings," {George Ronald: Oxford, 1989} p. 128)
And the Guardian wrote through his secretary:
He feels you, and dear Fujita too, should devote particular attention to deepening the friends in the Covenant, which is the ark of safety for every believer.
       (Letter dated October 6, 1950; Japan Will Turn Ablaze, p. 54)
This same image was used in the Old Testament:
And the priests that bare the ark of the covenant of the LORD stood firm on dry ground in the midst of Jordan, and all the Israelites passed over on dry ground, until all the people were passed clean over Jordan. (Joshua 3:17)
Those who do not trust in the Covenant, are drowned:
It is for this reason that at the beginning of every Dispensation a vast multitude, who fondly imagine that their deeds are for God, become drowned and ungodly, and perceive this not, except such as He guideth at His behest. It is better for a man to guide a soul than to possess all that lies between East and West.
        (Selections from the Writings of the Bab, p. 95)

Approach not those who are drowned in the sea of this world, but rather be enkindled by the fire of the love of God.
        (Tablets of 'Abdu'l-Bahá Abbas, Volume I, p. 74)
As the Guardian wrote of these days:
... [T]he process of integration, as demonstrated by the increasing cohesion, the multiplication, and the reinforcement of the foundations, of the institutions of the embryonic Bahá'í World Order, which, now, under the impact of the forces released by a World Spiritual Crusade, deriving its authority from the Will and Testament of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, and launched for the express purpose of executing the Divine Plan bequeathed by Him to His followers in the evening of His life, is contributing, unnoticed by a generation forgetful of its God, and already in the shadow of His Visitation, to the building up, slowly but irresistibly, of that Ark of human salvation, ordained as the ultimate haven of a society destined, for the most part, to be submerged by the tidal wave of the abuses and evils which its own perversity has engendered.
       (Shoghi Effendi, Messages to the Bahá'í World, p. 104)
Another meaning of being "dry in the sea" is to be the recipient of divine protection. As Bahá'u'lláh wrote:
The friends of God shall win and profit under all conditions, and shall attain true wealth. In fire they remain cold, and from water they emerge dry. Their affairs are at variance with the affairs of men. Gain is their lot, whatever the deal. To this testifieth every wise one with a discerning eye, and every fair-minded one with a hearing ear.
        (Bahá'u'lláh, quoted in the Compilation on Crisis and Victory; Compilation of Compilations, Vol. I, p. 154)
In this vein, 'Abdu'l-Bahá wrote of one of the Hands of the Cause of God:
Things came to such a pass that in the end whenever there was an uproar Mulla 'Ali would put on his turban, wrap himself in his 'aba and sit waiting, for his enemies to rouse and the farrashes to break in and the guards to carry him off to prison. But observe the power of God! In spite of all this, he was kept safe. "The sign of a knower and lover is this, that you will find him dry in the sea." That is how he was. His life hung by a thread from one moment to the next; the malevolent lay in wait for him; he was known everywhere as a Bahá'í - and still he was protected from all harm. He stayed dry in the depths of the sea, cool and safe in the heart of the fire, until the day he died. After the ascension of Bahá'u'lláh, Mulla 'Ali continued on, loyal to the Testament of the Light of the World, staunch in the Covenant which he served and heralded.
        ('Abdu'l-Bahá, "Memorials of the Faithful," p. 11)

. . . [T]he Ark of Bahá'u'lláh's Covenant has, ever since those days, been steadily pursuing its course contemptuous of the storms of bitter misfortune that have raged, and which must continue to assail it, as it forges ahead towards the promised haven of undisturbed security and peace.
       (Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 84)

Blessed art thou, O My name, inasmuch as thou hast entered Mine Ark, and art speeding, through the power of My sovereign and most exalted might, on the ocean of grandeur, and art numbered with My favored ones whose names the Finger of God hath inscribed.
       (Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 302)
AND GOD HIMSELF WILL BE WITH THEM

The Jewish Scriptures, as a sign of the greatness of this Day, make the most emphatic promise that God Himself will come to the earth:
"The wilderness and the wasteland shall be glad for them, and the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose; it shall blossom abundantly and rejoice, even with joy and singing. The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it, the excellence of Carmel and Sharon. They shall see the glory of the Lord, the excellency of our God. Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. Say to those who are fearful-hearted, be strong, do not fear! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God, He will come and save you." (Isaiah 35:1-4 NKJ)
Bahá'u'lláh quotes this verse, and emphasizes both its importance as a sign of the greatness of His Day, and its being an explicit reference to Himself. Please note how the Guardian's translation makes more clear Isaiah's reference to Bahá'u'lláh:
"Isaiah saith: ... 'The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose. It shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice even with joy and singing; the glory of Lebanon shall be given unto it, the splendor of Carmel and Sharon, they shall see the glory of the Lord, and the splendor of our God.' These passages stand in need of no commentary. They are shining and manifest as the sun, and glowing and luminous as light itself."
        (Bahá'u'lláh, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 146)
By stating that this needs "no commentary," Bahá'u'lláh appears to be saying that the intent of the verses as referring to Himself is obvious.

Isaiah provides another promise that God Himself will come to the earth, and "feed His flock":
"Behold, the Lord God shall come with a strong hand. And His arm shall rule for Him; Behold, His reward is with Him, and His work before Him. He will feed His flock like a shepherd ..." (Isaiah 40:10)
Micah, too, promises that God shall "come from Assyria," modern-day Iran, and the people, like a flock of sheep, shall be fed "in the midst of Carmel" for the period of the Israelites wanderings in Egypt -- 40 years:
"Then she that is mine enemy shall see it, and shame shall cover her which said unto me, 'Where is the LORD thy God?' mine eyes shall behold her: now shall she be trodden down as the mire of the streets. In the day that thy walls are to be built, in that day shall the decree be far removed. In that day also he shall come even to thee from Assyria, and from the fortified cities, and from the fortress even to the river, and from sea to sea, and from mountain to mountain. Notwithstanding the land shall be desolate because of them that dwell therein, for the fruit of their doings. Feed thy people with thy rod, the flock of thine heritage, which dwell solitarily in the wood, in the midst of Carmel: let them feed in Bashan and Gilead, as in the days of old. According to the days of thy coming out of the land of Egypt will I shew unto him marvelous things." (Micah 7:10-15)
In the New Testament, there is another definite promise that God Himself will come to the earth:
"And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, 'Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God." (Revelation 21:3)
This theme, the advent of God on the earth, was frequently elaborated upon by Bahá'u'lláh:
"This people have repudiated all these verses, that unmistakably testify to the reality of 'attainment unto the divine Presence.' No theme hath been more emphatically asserted in the holy scriptures."
        (Bahá'u'lláh, The Book of Certitude, p. 139)
One of the Notes to the Kitab-i-Aqdas prepared under the supervision of the Universal House of Justice addresses this important subject as follows, under the heading quoted from Bahá'u'lláh, "Verily, there is none other God besides Me":
The Bahá'í Writings contain many passages that elucidate the nature of the Manifestation and His relationship to God. Bahá'u'lláh underlines the unique and transcendent nature of the Godhead. He explains that "since there can be no tie of direct intercourse to bind the one True God with His creation" God ordains that "in every age and dispensation a pure and stainless Soul be made manifest in the kingdoms of earth and heaven". This "mysterious and ethereal Being", the Manifestation of God, has a human nature which pertains to "the world of matter" and a spiritual nature "born of the substance of God Himself". He is also endowed with a "double station":

The first station, which is related to His innermost reality representeth Him as One Whose voice is the voice of God Himself... The second station is the human station, exemplified by the following verses. "I am but a man like you." "Say, praise be to my Lord! Am I more than a man, an apostle."
Bahá'u'lláh also affirms that, in the spiritual realm, there is an "essential unity" between all the Manifestations of God. They all reveal the "Beauty of God", manifest His names and attributes, and give utterance to His Revelation. In this regard, He states:
Were any of the all-embracing Manifestations of God to declare: "I am God", He, verily, speaketh the truth, and no doubt attacheth thereto. For it hath been repeatedly demonstrated that through their Revelation, their attributes and names, the Revelation of God, His names and His attributes, are made manifest in the world...
While the Manifestations reveal the names and attributes of God and are the means by which humanity has access to the knowledge of God and His Revelation, Shoghi Effendi states that the Manifestations should "never ... be identified with that invisible Reality, the Essence of Divinity itself". In relation to Bahá'u'lláh, the Guardian wrote that the "human temple that has been the vehicle of so overpowering a Revelation" is not to be identified with the "Reality" of God.
Concerning the uniqueness of Bahá'u'lláh's station and the greatness of His Revelation, Shoghi Effendi affirms that the prophetic statements concerning the "Day of God", found in the Sacred Scriptures of past Dispensations, are fulfilled by the advent of Bahá'u'lláh . . . .
       (The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, pp. 233-234, Note 160)
In His last great work Bahá'u'lláh further elaborates this theme of the Divinity of the Manifestation, and the promises in the Scriptures that God Himself will come to the earth:
Gracious God! Such references as have been made to Divinity and Godhead by the holy ones and chosen ones of God have been made a cause for denial and repudiation. . . . The Imam Sadiq hath said: "When our Qa'im will arise, the earth will shine with the light of her Lord." Likewise, a lengthy tradition is attributed to Abi-'Abdi'llah - peace be upon him - in which these sublime words are found: "Thereupon will He Who is the All-Compelling - exalted and glorified be He - descend from the clouds with the angels." And in the mighty Qur'an: "What can such expect but that God should come down to them overshadowed with clouds?" And in the tradition of Mufaddal it is said: "The Qa'im will lean His back against the Sanctuary, and will stretch forth His hand, and lo, it shall be snow-white but unhurt. And He shall say: 'This is the hand of God, the right hand of God, that cometh from God, at the command of God!'" In whichever manner these traditions are interpreted, in that same manner let them also interpret that which the Most Sublime Pen hath set down.
       (Bahá'u'lláh, "Epistle to the Son of the Wolf," pp. 111-112)
Likewise, in the Tablet of Ishraqat, Bahá'u'lláh explains that He fulfills the promises that God Himself will come to the earth:
Thou art the One Who hath unlocked the door of knowledge before the faces of Thy servants that they may recognize Him Who is the Day-Star of Thy Revelation, the Dawning- Place of Thy signs, the Heaven of Thy manifestation and the Sun of Thy divine beauty. In Thy holy Books, in Thy Scriptures and Thy Scrolls Thou hast promised all the peoples of the world that Thou Thyself shalt appear and shalt remove the veils of glory from Thy face, even as Thou didst announce in Thy words unto Thy Friend through Whom the Day-Star of Revelation shone brightly above the horizon of Hijaz, and the dawning light of divine Truth shed its radiance among all men, proclaiming: 'The Day when mankind shall stand before the Lord of the worlds.' [Qur'an 83:6] And before Muhammad Thou didst impart this glad-tiding unto Him Who conversed with Thee, [Moses] saying: 'Bring forth thy people from the darkness into the light and remind them of the days of God.' [Qur'an 14:5] Moreover Thou didst proclaim this truth unto the Spirit [Jesus] and unto Thy Prophets and Thy Messengers, whether of the remote or more recent past. If all that which Thou hast sent down in glorification of this Most Great Remembrance, this Great Announcement, were to stream forth from the wellspring of Thy most august Pen, the inmates of the cities of knowledge and understanding would be dumbfounded, except such as Thou wouldst deliver through the potency of Thy might and wouldst protect as a token of Thy bountiful favour and Thy grace. I bear witness that Thou hast in truth fulfilled Thy pledge and hast made manifest the One Whose advent was foretold by Thy Prophets, Thy chosen ones and by them that serve Thee. He hath come from the heaven of glory and power, bearing the banners of Thy signs and the standards of Thy testimonies. Through the potency of Thine indomitable power and strength, He stood up before the faces of all men and summoned all mankind to the summit of transcendent glory and unto the all-highest Horizon, in such wise that neither the oppression of the ecclesiastics nor the onslaught of the rulers was able to deter Him. He arose with inflexible resolve and, unloosing His tongue, proclaimed in ringing tones: 'He Who is the All-Bountiful is come, riding aloft on the clouds. Advance, O people of the earth, with shining faces and radiant hearts!'
       ("Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh," pp. 114-116)
There is a Tradition in Islam that the Promised One will speak a Word that will put to flight the chieftains of the earth. This is referred to in Nabil's Narrative:
One of his disciples, one day, questioned Shaykh Ahmad concerning the Word which the promised One is expected to utter in the fulness of time, a Word so appallingly tremendous that the three hundred and thirteen chiefs and nobles of the earth would each and all flee in consternation as if overwhelmed by its stupendous weight. To him Shaykh Ahmad replied: "How can you presume to sustain the weight of the Word which the chieftains of the earth are incapable of bearing? Seek not to gratify an impossible desire. Cease asking me this question, and beseech forgiveness from God."
       (The Dawn-Breakers, pp. 14-15)
Bahá'u'lláh unveiled that Word, "I":
In the past the divines were perplexed over this question, a question which He Who is the Sovereign Truth hath, during the early years of His life, Himself heard them ask repeatedly: 'What is that Word which the Qa'im will pronounce whereby the leaders of religion are put to flight?' Say, that Word is now made manifest and ye have fled ere ye heard it uttered, although ye perceive it not. And that blessed, that hidden, that concealed and treasured Word is this: '"HE" hath now appeared in the raiment of "I". He Who was hidden from mortal eyes exclaimeth: Lo! I am the All-Manifest.' This is the Word which hath caused the limbs of disbelievers to quake. Glorified be God! All the heavenly Scriptures of the past attest to the greatness of this Day, the greatness of this Manifestation, the greatness of His signs, the greatness of His Word, the greatness of His constancy, the greatness of His pre-eminent station. Yet despite all this the people have remained heedless and are shut out as by a veil. Indeed all the Prophets have yearned to attain this Day. David saith: 'Who will bring me into the Strong City?' [Psalms 60:9 and 108:10]* By Strong City is meant 'Akka. Its fortifications are very strong and this Wronged One is imprisoned within its walls. Likewise it is revealed in the Qur'an: 'Bring forth thy people from the darkness into the light and announce to them the days of God.' [Qur'an 14:5]

The glory with which this Day is invested hath been explicitly mentioned and clearly set forth in most heavenly Books and Scriptures. However, the divines of the age have debarred men from this transcendent station, and have kept them back from this Pinnacle of Glory, this Supreme Goal.
       (Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, pp. 258-259)

       * This reference is not given in "Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh."

And yet again, in one of His Tablets, Bahá'u'lláh writes:
In the Book of Isaiah it is written: "Enter into the rock, and hide thee in the dust, for fear of the Lord, and for the glory of His majesty." [Isaiah 2:10] No man that meditateth upon this verse can fail to recognize the greatness of this Cause, or doubt the exalted character of this Day - the Day of God Himself. This same verse is followed by these words: "And the Lord alone shall be exalted in that Day." [Isaiah 2:11] This is the Day which the Pen of the Most High hath glorified in all the holy Scriptures. There is no verse in them that doth not declare the glory of His holy Name, and no Book that doth not testify unto the loftiness of this most exalted theme.
        ("Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh," p. 13)
And, yet again, in the Most Holy Book itself, in the course of His address to the Rulers of America, Bahá'u'lláh asserts His Divinity:
Hearken ye, O Rulers of America and the Presidents of the Republics therein, unto that which the Dove is warbling on the Branch of Eternity: "There is none other God but Me, the Ever-Abiding, the Forgiving, the All-Bountiful." Adorn ye the temple of dominion with the ornament of justice and of the fear of God, and its head with the crown of the remembrance of your Lord, the Creator of the heavens. Thus counselleth you He Who is the Dayspring of Names, as bidden by Him Who is the All-Knowing, the All-Wise. The Promised One hath appeared in this glorified Station, whereat all beings, both seen and unseen, have rejoiced. Take ye advantage of the Day of God. Verily, to meet Him is better for you than all that whereon the sun shineth, could ye but know it. O concourse of rulers! Give ear unto that which hath been raised from the Dayspring of Grandeur: "Verily, there is none other God but Me, the Lord of Utterance, the All-Knowing." Bind ye the broken with the hands of justice, and crush the oppressor who flourisheth with the rod of the commandments of your Lord, the Ordainer, the All-Wise.
        (The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, p. 52, Paragraph 88; see also page 80, paragraph 167)
In the Most Holy Book, Bahá'u'lláh states that the Manifestation's claim to Divinity is "assigned exclusively to this sublime, this unique and wondrous Revelation."
       (The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, p. 72, Paragraph 143)

BAHÁ'U'LLÁH IS THE RETURN OF CHRIST

In the last chapter of the last book of the Old Testament, God states:
"Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord." [Malachi 4:5]
The people asked John the Baptist if he was the return of Elijah, and he said that he was not:
"Now this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, 'Who are you?' ... And they asked him, 'What then? Are you Elijah?' He said, 'I am not.' 'Are you the Prophet?' And he answered, 'No.'" [John 1:19-21]
But Jesus stated that John the Baptist was Elijah:
[Jesus said to them] "Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist ... And if you are willing to receive it, he is Elijah who is to come. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!" [Matthew 11:11-15]
Abdul-Bahá states in Chapter 33 of "Some Answered Questions":
"Then if John was Elias, why did he say, 'I am not?' And if he was not Elias, why did Christ say that he was? The explanation is this: Not the personality, but the reality of the perfections, is meant -- that is to say, the same perfections that were in Elias existed in John the Baptist and were exactly realized in him.... Therefore when Christ said, 'This is Elias,' He meant: This person is a manifestation of the bounty, the perfections, the character, the qualities and the virtues of Elias...."
Though there appears at first glance to be a discrepancy in the Scripture, we can approach the Scripture with confidence to find the unity of its meaning, as:
"All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness..." [II Timothy 3:16]

" ... for God is not the author of confusion but of peace ..." [I Corinthians 14:33]
The Bahá'í interpretation that the "return" means the return of the "bounty, ... perfections, ... character, ... qualities, and ... virtues" is supported by this verse from the Gospel:
[But the angel said] "He [John the Baptist] will also go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah..." [Luke 1:17]
This fact, that John the Baptist fulfils the prophecy of the Return of Elijah, illumines the relationship between Christ and Bahá'u'lláh. Just as God promised that Elijah would return, Jesus said:
"However, when He, the Spirit of Truth has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me ..." [John 16:13]
This is generally understood to be a prophecy of the inspiration of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. However, it can be seen to be a prophecy of the appearance of the One to succeed Jesus when compared to the following verses. In the following words, spoken by God to Moses, we see the terminology God uses to foreshadow the appearance of a Manifestation of God:
"I will raise up for them a Prophet like you from among their brethren, and will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him." [Deuteronomy 18:18]
This is universally understood by Christians to be a prophecy of Jesus Christ from the Jewish Scriptures. Look carefully at how the "Prophet" is foretold in the previous verse, and compare it to these words of Jesus, describing the source of His Revelation:
"For I have not spoken on my own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak. And I know that His command is everlasting life. Therefore, whatever I speak, just as the Father has told Me, so I speak." [John 12:49-50]
Now we can see that this prophecy by Jesus of the One to follow Him is in the same spirit, and again, refers to a Person:
"However, when He, the Spirit of truth has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me..." [John 16:13]
'Abdu'l-Bahá, interpreting these words of Jesus, states:
"Now consider carefully that from these words, 'for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak,' it is clear that the Spirit of truth is embodied in a Man Who has individuality, Who has ears to hear and a tongue to speak."
        [Some Answered Questions p. 109]
In confirmation of His being the fulfilment of this verse, Bahá'u'lláh writes in His Most Holy Tablet, His Tablet to the Christians:
"Verily, He Who is the Spirit of Truth is come to guide you unto all truth. He speaketh not as prompted by His own self, but as bidden by Him Who is the All-Knowing, the All-Wise. Say, this is the One Who hath glorified the Son and hath exalted His Cause."
        ["Tablet to the Christians," Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh p. 12]
Jesus promised that He would return with a new name, and He associated this name with the name of the "city of God," the "new Jerusalem." The Bible associates this city with the name of Bahá'u'lláh, whose Name means "The Glory of God."

Jesus said:
"He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. And I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name." (Revelation 3:12)
John saw this City, and said:
"And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, having the glory of God." (Revelation 21:10)
Bahá'ís believe that Bahá'u'lláh is the promised return of Christ, and that His very Name is prophecied in the Revelation of John, as well as in Isaiah 35:2.

HOW BAHA'U'LLAH SPEAKS OF HIS REVELATION

1. this most mighty Revelation.
2. this mighty, this glorious Revelation
3. this mighty, this transcendent Revelation
4. this sublime, this beauteous Revelation
5. this sublime and momentous Revelation
6. this sublime, this unique and wondrous Revelation
7. this mighty, this sublime, and most holy Revelation
8. this most sublime and momentous Revelation
9. this inestimable, this wondrous, and sublime Revelation
10. this most manifest, this lofty, this shining and glorious Revelation
11. this most manifest and all-glorious Revelation
12. this wondrous Revelation
13. this most exalted, this most holy, this mighty, and wondrous Revelation
14. a Revelation direct from God
15. this God-given, and ever-enduring Revelation,
16. God's Revelation
17. this most potent Revelation
18. this Supreme Revelation
19. this Revelation whose influence hath pervaded all created things
20. this most effulgent, this most holy, and manifest Revelation of His Beauty
21. this holy, this glorious, and exalted Revelation
22. this new and wondrous Revelation
23. this wondrous and transcendent Revelation
24. this mysterious and transcendent Revelation
25. this pre-eminent and glorious Revelation
26. this glorious, this august Revelation
27. this Most Great Revelation
28. this wondrous Revelation, this transcendent and divine Faith
29. this sacred, this mighty, and most exalted Faith
30. the changeless Faith of God, eternal in the past, eternal in the future
31. this, Thine inviolable Faith
32. His resistless, His irrefutable and most exalted Faith
33. the true Faith of God
34. this upright Faith
35. this all-compelling Cause
36. this pre-eminent Cause
37. this momentous Cause
38. this impregnable Cause, this glorious Announcement
39. this inviolable, this mighty and enlightened Cause
40. this wondrous and most exalted Cause
41. this wondrous Cause of God
42. this most wondrous Cause
43. this all-compelling Cause
44. this glorious Cause
45. My mighty and unassailable Cause
46. God's holy Cause
47. His great and mighty Cause
48. this Most Great Cause
REFERENCES
    1. Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 190
    2. The Most Holy Tablet, Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 12
    3. Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 240
    4. The Most Holy Book, p. 61, paragraph 116
    5. Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 14
    6. The Most Holy Book, p. 71-72, paragraph 143
    7. Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 10
    8. Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 288
    9. Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 183
    10. Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 105
    11. Prayers and Meditations by Bahá'u'lláh, p. 276
    12. Proclamation of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 34
    13. Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 117
    14. The Most Holy Book, p. 32, Paragraph #37.
    15. Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 82
    16. Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 271
    17. Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 95
    18. Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 97
    19. Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 273
    20. Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 294
    21. Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 330
    22. Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 324
    23. Book of Certitude, p. 112
    24. Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 325
    25. Book of Certitude, p. 227
    26. Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 247
    27. Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 79
    28. Book of Certitude, p. 252-253
    29. The Most Holy Book, p. 36, paragraph 45
    30. Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 136
    31. The Bab, Selections from the Writings of the Bab, p. 193.
    32. Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 105
    33. The Bab, the Qayyumu'l-Asma, Selections from the Writings of the Bab, p. 41
    34. The Bab, the Qayyumu'l-Asma, Selections from the Writings of the Bab, p. 63
    35. Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, pp. 57-58
    36. Tablet of Tarazat (Ornaments), Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 44
    37. Tablet of Tarazat (Ornaments), Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 44
    38. Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 260
    39. Tablet to Siyyid Mihdiy-i-Dahaji, Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 201
    40. Book of Certitude, p. 65
    41. Book of Certitude, p. 77
    42. Book of Certitude, p. 88
    43. Tablet of Ishraqat (Splendours), Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 132
    44. Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 235
    45. The Most Holy Book, p. 62, Paragraph #117
    46. Book of Certitude, p. 83
    47. Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 83
    48. Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 162
NOTES
    [1] Epistle to the Son of the Wolf p. 146.
    [2] "The Importance of Deepening our Knowledge and Understanding of the Faith", p. 28.
    [3] Some Answered Questions, p. 289.
    [4] Chapter 44 of Some Answered Questions, "Explanation of the Rebukes Addressed by God to the Prophets", pp. 167-170.
    [5] Some Answered Questions p. 170.
    [6] Iqán p. 11: "And when His [Abraham's] day was ended, there came the turn of Moses. Armed with the rod of celestial dominion..."
    [7] Selections From the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá p. 160: "The meaning is that certain personages guided the people with a staff grown out of the earth, and shepherded them with a rod, like unto the rod of Moses...at one time the Teachings of God were as a staff, and by this means the Holy Scriptures were spread abroad, the Law of God was promulgated and His Faith established."
    [8] Matthew Chap. 13; Mark Chap. 4; Luke Chap. 8.
    [9] A Synopsis and Codification of the Kitáb-í-Aqdas, p. 16.
    [10] Some Answered Questions p. 169.
    [11] Some Answered Questions, p. 104
    [12] Some Answered Questions p. 104
    [13] Matthew 27:50-51
    [14] Some Answered Questions pp. 37-38
    [15] Matthew 27:51-53
    [16] See Footnote 27 above.
    [17] Mary Magdalene (Matthew 16:9, John 20:11-18); Other women believers (Matthew 28:9-10); Two disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35); Peter (Luke 24:34); Ten disciples (John 20:19-25); Eleven disciples (John 20:26); The Apostles at the Sea of Tiberias (John 21:1-25); The great commission to the disciples at Galilee (Matthew 28:16-20); Five hundred believers (1 Corinthians 15:6); All the apostles (Acts 1:4-11); James (1 Corinthians 15:7); Paul (Acts 9:3-6, 1 Corinthians 15:8); John (Revelation 1:10-18).
    [18] Lights of Guidance p. 368; High Endeavours pp. 69-70
    [19] Luke 24:16 and 24:30-31.
    [20] Compare Matthew 28:1-2; Luke 24:1-5; and John 20:1-12.
    [21] Matthew 28:2.
    [22] Mark 16:14.
    [23] Luke 24:45. See Footnotes 24, 26 and 27 above, for 'Abdu'l-Bahá's explanations of "eating" and "bread", which include the explanation that the believers partook of heavenly food, and Bahá'u'lláh's use of the symbol "bread" in Footnote 25 to mean His interpretation of the meanings of the Scriptures.
    [24] Seven Valleys p. 7; Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá p. 24.
    [25] Also see Some Answered Questions, p. 99.
    [26] Promulgation of Universal Peace p. 421
    [27] The Diary of Juliet Thompson, Kalimat Press 1983, page 321.
    [28] Some Answered Questions p. 169.
    [29] Mark 16:14. Also see the text accompanying Footnote 62.
    [30] Daniel 12:9-10
    [31] Luke 8:10. Compare Isaiah 6:9.
    [32] Kitáb-i-Iqán p. 49.
    [33] 'Abdu'l-Bahá in Paris p. 78, quoted in "The Importance of Deepening our Knowledge and Understanding of the Faith", p. 18.
    [34] The Promised Day is Come p. 109.
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