Chapter 1-5
THE APOCALYPSE:An exegesis of the Book of Revelation
by Robert F. Riggs



FOREWORD
The original exegesis of the Apocalypse, written by the author, was reviewed by the Baha'i Universal House of Justice and was approved by the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States. It was published and copyrighted by Philosophical Library of New York in 1981 under the title THE APOCALYPSE UNSEALED. Since its publication, the publisher has gone out of business and the work is out of print. There have been many requests for copies of THE APOCALYPSE UNSEALED that could not be satisfied.

This present work represents an attempt to overcome some of the errors and valid criticisms of the original work and to incorporate new knowledge that the author has acquired over the past fifteen years. It includes several additions and modifications that, in the author's opinion, do not violate the spirit of the original work. However, the present work has not been presented for review to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States. The reader is therefore advised to be critical of the opinions and interpretations expressed herein and to reject any that seem at variance with his own beliefs as a Baha'i. The author has made an attempt to point out all significant divergences between the original work and this new work.

Every reasonable attempt has been made to make the new exegesis free of copyright entanglements by alterations in the original wording, by the deletion of major portions of the original work, and by the introduction of new material. As far as the author is concerned, the reader is permitted to make duplicate copies and to distribute them, provided (1) that he/she makes no attempt to obtain a copyright, and (2) that he/she does not realize a monetary profit, and (3) that the ENTIRE work, including this FOREWORD, is reproduced and distributed, and (4) that no alterations and/or additions to the text are to be made without the author's approval . Sections of the text of this work up to 1,000 words in length may be quoted and/or reprinted for the purposes of criticism or commentary without the express permission of the author, provided the source(s) of the quote(s) is/are given.

In BAHA'I NEWS, No. 77, September 1933, Shoghi Effendi tells us that only the words of 'Abdu'l-Baha [regarding biblical exegesis] are truly authoritative, but that if his statements cannot be discovered, we are free to tentatively accept the opinions of scholars.




INTRODUCTION

PREFACE
'Abdu'l-Baha has told us that there are many meanings to every word of the Apocalypse. {1} It is, therefore, axiomatic that this effort does not reveal all the meanings and nuances latent in this astonishing Book. Nor do I make apologies for my first effort, THE APOCALYPSE UNSEALED, published over fifteen years ago. At that time, it was the best that I could achieve. Since then, hopefully, I have gained some added knowledge and new insights. This new effort may remedy some of the weaknesses of my earlier work.

It is my hope and wish, as it was fifteen years ago, that this work will inspire other Baha'i commentators and scholars to continue the work of exegesis, not only of the Apocalypse, but of other Sacred Writings. The Books are unsealed- it is simply a matter of applying one's mind to uncovering the precious jewels that once lay hidden beneath the dross that millennia of 'idle fancies and vain imaginings' have placed over them.

The discussion, for the most part, will be informal. Unless otherwise noted, the King James Version (KJV) will be used, but with occasional references to the REVISED ENGLISH BIBLE (REB), the REVISED STANDARD VERSION (RSV), and the NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION (NIV). Actually, there are no irreconcilable disagreements between these versions, but certain nuances may affect the interpretation.

To avoid cluttering up the text, most biblical and other references will be appended at the end of the book. Notes will be identified by braces around the number; for example {3} means Note number 3. Also I have made an effort, in many cases, to distinguish my own comments with square brackets: [comment]. Hopefully, this will reduce some of the confusion between commentary and text, but the reader is always invited to study the biblical text for himself to see if he agrees.

The letters 'BH' will stand for 'Baha'u'llah,' the letters 'AB' will stand for ''Abdu'l-Baha,' the letters 'SE' will stand for 'Shoghi Effendi.' For example, the claim of Baha'u'llah that He manifests the 'Beginning and the End...,' etc. will be identified as '-BH: GWB, pp 54, 168', meaning that the words are attributed to Baha'u'llah, and can be found in GLEANINGS FROM THE WRITINGS OF BAHA'U'LLAH, pages 54 and 168.

AN OPTION FOR THE READER
Baha'is are neither numerologists nor astrologers; nor do they indulge in any occult practices, unless prayer and meditation be considered 'occult.' However, Baha'is do recognize that the Manifestations have employed number and astrological symbolism in the Sacred Writings, sometimes to conceal, at other times to reveal, spiritual realities.

Ancient esoterica is not everyone's strong suit. The paragraphs that follow may require some careful study by the uninitiated. Unless one has a penchant for it, I suggest that the reader move on to Chapter 1 and return to this Introduction as he/she deems necessary.

ASTROLOGICAL SYMBOLISM
This is probably the most difficult subject for the casual reader to understand. The perplexed are invited to read HAMLET'S MILL, a classic exposition of the subject co-authored by the great de Santillana, a professor of philosophy at MIT when I took his course in the forties. Also, if one is fortunate enough to find a copy, I recommend ASTRONOMY by Dr. Arthur M. Harding. This book was the first to open my eyes to the inescapable conclusion that the Bible is adorned with astrological symbolism. But only 'Abdu'l-Baha seems to have recognized that astrological symbolism is absolutely essential for an understanding of the Apocalypse.

Because it is essential, I am forced to present a brief introduction to the subject, knowing full well that the serious reader will have to pursue the subject elsewhere.

According to ancient astrological theory, the fixed stars were located on an enormous crystalline 'celestial sphere.' A band of stars demarcated the region on the celestial sphere through which traveled the sun and the other six known planets ('wanderers'). This band was called the zodiac ('circle of beasts'), and consisted of 12 constellations of fixed stars. The names of the twelve constellations or 'signs' were and are still called:

ZODIACAL ORDER - SIGN OR CONSTELLATION - (ENGLISH NAME)
1- Aries (Ram) 2- Taurus (Bull) 3- Gemini (Twins) 4- Cancer (Crab) 5- Leo (Lion) 6- Virgo (Virgin) 7- Libra (Scales) 8- Scorpio (Scorpion) 9- Sagittarius (Archer) 10- Capricornus (Goat) 11- Aquarius (Water Bearer) 12- Pisces (Fishes)

The zodiac was considered to be the 'true earth.' The stars and planets that inhabited the true earth were called the 'lords of time,' the originators of history, with earthbound man playing the role of mere spectators to 'earthshaking' cosmic events.

Since the earth is tilted on its axis, we have the four seasons of the year, caused by the angle at which the sunlight reaches the earth. The more nearly overhead the sun appears at noon, the hotter the day. During the summertime, the sunlight reaches the earth at a steep angle - during wintertime, the sunlight reaches the earth at a shallow angle.

The four seasons are related to the four 'corners' or 'pillars' of the sky. These 'pillars' are the constellations in the zodiac where the sun is located at the equinoxes and solstices. The equinoxes are the two events during the year when the days and nights are of equal duration, roughly March 21, the Spring equinox, and September 21, the Fall equinox. The two solstices are the events when the day is longest and shortest, roughly June 21, the Summer solstice, and December 21, the Winter solstice.

If one connects the 'four corners' of the zodiac with imaginary straight lines, one obtains the 'square earth.'

At first thought, it would seem that the four corners of the square earth should remain fixed throughout all eternity. Alas, this is an error. Actually, since the earth rotates on its axis, it is subject to what is called the 'gyroscopic precession effect.' Everyone who has spun a toy top has witnessed the gyroscopic precession effect that causes a tilted top to 'precess' about its vertical axis at a relatively slow rate. Since the earth is tilted on its axis, it too precesses. The rate is very slow, one complete cycle of precession requiring roughly 25-thousand years.

A little reflection should convince the reader that the gyroscopic precession effect will cause the equinoxes and solstices to precess also, with the dawning place of the sun at, say, the Spring equinox, to move along the zodiac. This movement is called the Precession of the Equinoxes.

The 12 signs of the zodiac are envisioned as 12 'doors' or 'houses.' Because of the Precession, the sun enters a different 'house' at springtime about once per 2-thousand years and causes us to enter a new astrological 'Age.' The phenomenon was well known to the ancient astrologers, and it was used as a title of the Age of human history in which one lived. If the sun rose in Aries at the Spring equinox, it was called the Age of ARIES. If the Spring equinox was in Pisces, it was called the Age of PISCES, etc. Actually, every astrological Age had a double name, e.g. ARIES-Libra, PISCES-Virgo, etc. The double name comes from the names of the constellations or 'signs' where the sun rises at both the SPRING and Fall seasons of the year. Modern astrologers say that we are now entering the Age of AQUARIUS-Leo or Leo- AQUARIUS.

This isn't quite the whole story, since the Precession will cause the sun to complete the whole 'circle of beasts' and to reappear in Aries at Springtime after a 'time circle' of about 25-thousand years. Accustomed as we are in the post-Newtonian world to open-ended 'linear time,' the ancient concept of circles ('infinities') of time is difficult to grasp. However, mind-boggling Baha'i Era concepts such as the relativity of time, black holes, and oscillating universes, are forcing us to accept the validity of such paradoxes, at least in the physical realm. Apparently, the ancient astrologers held analogous concepts applicable to the realm of the spirit.

The numerical order of the Precession is opposite to the zodiacal order. That is, the constellation seems to gradually lag behind the equinoxes. For example, during the Age of Pisces, the Spring equinox was in Pisces, the twelfth sign in the zodiacal order. Now the Spring equinox occurs in Aquarius, the eleventh sign in the zodiacal order. This fact will become significant in later chapters.

Next, we consider some astrological symbolism in the Book of Genesis. Genesis 49 is a word picture describing the signs of the zodiac and are correlated with the names of the 12 tribes:

Reuben, 'boiling over with water,' is Aquarius (the Water Bearer)

Simeon and Levi, 'the brethren,' are Gemini (the Twins)

Judah,'the lion's whelp,' is Leo (the Lion)

Zebulon, 'who shall dwell at the beach of the sea,' is Pisces (the Fishes)

Issachar, 'a gelded donkey lying down in the cattle pens (REB)' is Taurus (the Bull)

Dan, 'a serpent in the way,' is Scorpio (the Scorpion)

Gad, 'a troop shall press upon him; but he shall press upon their heel,' is Aries (the Ram). [Aries, being the first sign of the zodiac, 'presses upon their heel' in the circular zodiac.]

Asher, 'the weigher of bread,' is Libra (the Scales)

Nephtali, 'a hind let loose,' is Capricorn (the Goat)

Joseph, 'whose bow abides in strength,' is Sagittarius (the Archer)

Benjamin, 'ravening as a wolf, devouring his prey by morning, dividing the spoil at night,' is Cancer (the Crab)

The 12 sons have been named but one sign remains- Virgo (the Virgin). This sign is 'veiled,' and is correlated with Dinah, Jacob's daughter (Gen 30:21).

In addition to the names 'Pisces,' etc., the ancient Jewish astrologers named the signs of the zodiac after the twelve tribes in the manner suggested in Genesis. Thus the name of the first sign was 'Gad/Aries'; the second sign was 'Issachar/Taurus', etc.

It is hoped that this brief discussion will permit the reader to move on. An effort will be made to elaborate on the subject as the Apocalypse unfolds.

LETTER-NUMBER MYSTICISM (GEMATRIA)
Gematria is the name given to one form of letter-number mysticism that was extensively used in ancient mystical literature. It flows naturally from the fact that ordinary letters were used BOTH as letters and as numbers. The result was that some numbers would spell significant words, and some words had significant numerical values. Gematria was used in the Greek, Hebrew, and Arabic languages. The letters with their numerical equivalents are given in the following Table:

Numbers 1 through 9: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

Greek: alpha, beta, gamma, delta, epsilon, stigma*, zeta, eta, theta

Hebrew: aleph, beth, ghimmel, dallet, hay, waw, zayn, hayt, tayt

Arabic: alif, hamza, beh, jim, dal, ha, waw, ze, he, ta

Numbers 10 through 90: 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90:

Greek: iota, kappa, lambda, mu, nu, xi, omicron, pi, goppa*

Hebrew: yod, khaf, lammed, mem, noun, sammekh, ayn, phay, tsadde

Arabic: ye, kef, lam, mim, nun, sin, ain, fe, sad

Numbers 100 through 900: 100, 200, 300, 400, 500, 600, 700, 800, 900

Greek: rho, sigma, tau, upsilon, phi, chi, psi, omega, sampi*

Hebrew: qof, raysh, sheen, tay, final khaf, final mem, final noun, final phay, final tsadde

Arabic: qaf, re, shin, te, se, khe, zai, dad, za

Number 1000:

Greek: (none)

Hebrew: large aleph

Arabic: ghain

* The Greek letters stigma, goppa and sampi were used only in numerical work. In literary works, the numerical values 6, 90, and 900 were generated by a combination of other letters.

By 'literal value' I mean the gematrical value. It is obtained by totaling the numerical values of the letters in the word or phrase. For example, the Greek letter 'Alpha' has the value 1. The Greek letter 'Omega' has the value 800. Therefore 'the Alpha and the Omega' has the literal value of 801.

An important case is the name Baha'. In Arabic it is spelled 'Beh, alif, ha, hamza.' Its literal value is (2 + 1 + 5 + 1) = 9.

The fundamental idea of gematria is explained by Plato in his CRATYLOS: the force of a name is to found in its numerical value, while words and phrases of the same value may be substituted without loss of meaning.

By 'archetypal value' I mean the value obtained by 'cabalistic contraction.' It is obtained by successively adding the numerical components of a number until a single digit is obtained. For example, the archetypal value of 801 is (8 + 0 + 1) = 9. Another example: the archetypal value of 7,637 is obtained by first adding (7 + 6 + 3 + 7) to obtain 23. Then add the resulting numerical components (2 + 3) to obtain 5. Thus the archetypal value of 7,637 is 5.

SOME NUMEROLOGY
The significance of the numbers Four and Seven should be discussed very briefly to better understand why these two numbers were used extensively in ancient sacred literature.

Among the ancients, the Four was considered representative of the World of Man. For example, there were 4 'elements' (fire, air, earth, water), 4 societal levels (man, village, city, nation), 4 seasons (spring, summer, fall, winter), 4 eras of human growth (infancy, youth, maturity, old age), and 4 eras of historical growth (gold, silver, bronze, iron). The list goes on.

Today, we recognize, e.g., that 4 colors are needed to color a political map (without colonies) {4}, and, essentially, anything that can be 'ex-plained' (i.e. 'taught from a plane surface') through appropriate definitions, can be reduced to 4 initial categories.

Seven was a highly spiritual number, the union (sum) of heaven (3) and earth (4). Some ancients considered 7 to be the 'number of opportunity.' {5} As a symbol of opportunity, recall that animals entered Noah's ark by sevens. {6} Some considered 7 to be the 'number of expiation and sacrifice.' For example, Jacob spent 7 years in servitude for Leah and 7 more years for Rachel {7}, the Ark of the Covenant was in the land of the Philistines for 7 months {8}, and the Israelites were in bondage for 7 decades. {9} As the number of 'trial and punishment,' recall that 7 years was the legal limit of slavery under Mosaic law. Again the list goes on, and the influence of the Four and the Seven appears to have been felt throughout the entire ancient world.

TRIANGULAR VALUE
The 'triangular value' of a number is obtained by summing all the numbers 'contained' in a number. For example, the triangular value of 4 is (1 + 2 + 3 + 4) = the decade 10. In the ancient Pythagorean and Hebraic schools, the number 4 was highly regarded because it contained all the numbers necessary to create the decade. And since all numbers higher than 9 were considered to be emanations of the archetypal numbers 1 through 9, then the 4 was therefore a 'primal number' from which all other numbers could be generated. Even today we can see evidence of the ancient canon in the 4 points of the Christian Cross, the 4 Central Apostles, the Squared Circle {2}, etc.

KLIMA
'Klima' was an extension of the concept of the triangular value into the realm of letter-mysticism. In particular, certain 4-letter words were highly regarded as 'generators' from which other entities could be derived. An important example is the Tetragrammaton 'YHWH' (Jehovah).

To make use of this principle, the 4 letters contained within the word are first arranged into a triangle:

Y
YH
YHW
YHWH

Next, we assign the gematrical values to the combinations of letters. By the Hebrew gematria, the Y (Yod) has the value 10, the H (Hay) has the value 5, the W (Waw) has the value 6. Therefore, the Tetragrammaton has the values:

10 = 10
10, 5 = 15
10, 5, 6 = 21
10, 5, 6, 5 = 26

Now we make use of the fundamental idea of gematria as explained above: the force of a name is to found in its numerical value, while words and phrases of the same value may be substituted without loss of meaning. In this case, any word or phrase that has the values 10, 15, 21, or 26 can be substituted for a row of the Tetragrammaton.
Other combinations are also valid. In particular, 'Adam' has the value 45 while 'Eve' has the value 15. Thus Adam can be derived by summing the four tens in the first column plus the 5 in the last column; Eve can be derived by summing the three fives in the second column.
Other important numbers are immediately evident, such as the 40 ( = the years in the wilderness, etc.) in the first column, the 12 ( = the signs of the zodiac, the sons of Jacob, etc.) in the third column. The 'Number of Man' {3} is Five and can be seen in the fourth column.

The numerologically important number 72 is the value obtained by the total klima of YHWH, that is, by summing the numbers (10 + 15 + 21 +26). It is related to the 'Divided Name of YHWH' obtained from Exodus 14 verses 19, 20, 21. Each of these verses has 72 letters in the Hebrew. Writing these three verses one above the other, verse 19 right to left, verse 20 left to right, and verse 21 right to left, produces 72-three letter names of God. Also called the 'Schemhamphoras.'

PROPHETIC TIME SCALES
The following temporal terms are found in prophetic biblical writings:

A 'prophetic day' is usually taken as a year. Most biblical scholars justify this definition by quoting Numbers 14:34 and Ezekiel 4:6, in which it is said that a day of the Lord is equal to a year. But in recognizing that a number-archetype may be involved, 'one' prophetic day may equal 1 year, or 1 decade, or 1 century, or 1 millennium {10}, etc. Usually, calendar years are intended, but in one instance (11:8-10), the 'day' is a 'prophetic year' or a 'time' (see below).

An 'evening and a morning' is taken as an EXACT 'prophetic day.' The justification for this definition is that it works well in the one place it is encountered: Daniel 8:13.

A 'prophetic week' is usually taken as seven calendar years. But again, if 'seven prophetic days' are intended, it might mean 7 years, or 7 decades, or 7 centuries, or 7 millennia, etc.

A 'prophetic' month is taken as 30 calendar years. The 30 day month can be inferred by correlating Genesis 7:11, 24, and 8:4.

A 'prophetic year' is taken as 360 calendar years. It is based on the 360 day calendar of ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt. The use of the 360 day calendar in biblical allegory can be inferred by correlating the dates in Genesis 7:11, 24, and 8:4.

A 'time' is taken as 360 years. (The word 'time' is from the Hebrew 'mowed,' conventionally a year of calendar time, but more generally, a 'fixed time' or season.) The length of the year can be inferred from the context, but is usually a lunar year. The justification for this definition of the word 'time' is (1) the use of the lunar calendar in the ancient Near East, and (2) to allow a calendar year for each 'day' of the 360-day 'prophetic year.'

The word 'times' is taken as 2 'times,' that is, 720 lunar years. The justification for this definition is the dual form of the Hebrew word in Daniel 12:7 in which 'times' is clearly 2 'times.'

A 'lunar year' is the time required for 12 lunations, equal to 354.367 days.

A solar year is the time between equinoxes or solstices, equal to 365.242 days.

There are 1.03069 lunar years in a solar year.

A NOTE CONCERNING TITLES
The epithet 'messiah' (Hebrew 'mashiyach') means 'anointed,' a title applied to kings, priests, and other potentates in the Hebrew world. Originally, the term 'messiah' simply meant 'ruler.' In later Hebrew history, the term 'Messiah' became identified with the 'Messiah' of the Age of Redemption. The word is found in Daniel 9:25, 26 where it is widely considered a prophecy of the Advent of Jesus among both Christian and Baha'i commentators.

The word 'Messias,' found in John 1:41 and 4:25, is a Greek spelling of 'Messiah.'

The epithet 'Christ' (Greek 'Christos') is the Greek equivalent of 'Messiah' and also means 'Anointed.'

The word 'Lord,' in most of the Old Testament, means 'Jehovah.'

In Genesis 15:2, 8 and 18:3, the word 'Lord' is the Hebrew 'Adown,' meaning 'Sovereign.'

Daniel uses the word 'Lord' in various forms: 'Adown,' 'Adonay,' and 'Jehovah,' where 'Adonay' is an emphatic form of 'Adown.' Daniel 2:47 uses the epithet 'Lord of kings,' where 'Lord' is the Chaldean 'Mare,' a 'domineering Master.'

All of the New Testament, except Revelation 6:10, uses the word 'Lord' = Greek 'Kyrios,' meaning 'supreme in authority, ' a 'controller.' This was the most popular epithet for Jesus in the early Christian world and likened him to a mystery deity.

Revelation 6:10 uses the word 'Lord' = Greek 'Despotes.' an 'Absolute Ruler.'

'King' in most of the Old Testament is the Hebrew 'melek' = 'king.' Daniel uses the Chaldean form of 'melek' to refer to the king of the Chaldeans.

'King' in the New Testament is from the Greek 'basileios' = 'king.' The word is found in Matthew 27:11-42; Mark 15:2, 9-32;

Luke 19:38, 23:2, 37-38; John 1:49, 12:13-15, 18:33-39, 19:3, 14-21. Since all 'kings,' among other epithets, bore the title 'anointed,' the word 'basileios' implied a higher rank than 'christos.'

In 1 Timothy 6:15, Paul uses the epithet 'King of kings and Lord of lords' in connection with the Second Coming of Christ, but apparently reserves the title for the Supreme Being.

In Revelation 17:14, we find the epithet 'Lord of lords, and King of kings.' In Revelation 19:16 we find the epithet reversed and capitalized: 'KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.' The reversing of the epithet suggests that the 'Lamb' of 17:14 is not the same Figure as 'Faithful and True' of verse 19:16. In fact, 17:14 refers to the Bab while 19:16 refers to Baha'u'llah. Collectively, they are the 'Twin Manifestation.' (In the context of astrological symbolism, Gemini opens the door to the future and is the 'Alpha' or 'Beginning.' Gemini also closes the door to the past and is the 'Omega' or 'Ending.' Thus the 'Alpha' is the 'twin' of the 'Omega.')




CHAPTER 1- THE GREATEST NAME

SYNOPSIS:
The Book opens with a brief preface explaining that the Revelation is from Jesus Christ and is delivered by his angel to John. The events in the prophecy are to commence very soon, but the time duration of the prophecy is not specified. [The date of the Revelation is circa 104 CE.]

John first relays a message of grace and peace to the 7 Divinely revealed Churches [Faiths] of the region called 'Asia,' a region roughly equivalent to the modern Middle East. Each of the 7 Churches is under the aegis of a Spirit, the prophetic spirit of a Divine Revelator, who is seated before the heavenly throne.

The 7 Spirits also represent the name 'Baha'u'llah' and are Manifestations of the single Spirit of Baha'u'llah. Additionally, the 7 Spirits relate to the 7 planets, the 'gods' that astrologers considered to be the 'Executors of the Divine Will.'

Jesus reveals some of his roles, while John warns that "he will come with clouds" [obscuring veils, trouble, divine mercy, etc.]. When he does return, all those with [spiritual] eyes will "see" him and realize he has been re-Manifested.

The Lord then reveals that He is the "Alpha" and the "Omega," which has the archetypal value of 9. He is the "beginning"and the "ending," suggesting among other things, that his name is hidden in the first and last words of the Revelation ("Apocalypse" and "Amen"), both of which have an archetypal value of 9. He also reveals for the first of 9-times that He is the "Pantocrator."

John is then commanded by a loud trumpet-like voice to write down in a book what he "sees" and send it to the 7 Churches of Asia: Sabaean [Peace], Jewish [Benevolence], Hindu [Law], Zoroastrian [Light], Buddhist [Truth], Christian [Brotherly Love], and Muslim [Justice]. Turning to see the speaker of the voice, he sees Baha'u'llah standing amidst 7 golden candlesticks. He holds 7 stars in his right hand, and explains that he is the "first and the last," etc.. He also reveals that he has the "keys of hell and death" [the power of judgement].

John is again commanded to "write down" what he sees. The 7 "stars" are revealed to be the "angels" [Revelators] of the 7 Churches. The 7 stars equate to the planetary 'gods.' The 7 stars also represent the name 'Husayn-'Ali, the proper name of Baha'u'llah. Furthermore, the 7 "candlesticks" are revealed to be the 7 Churches. The word picture that John writes down is thereby revealed to be a form of the Greatest Name Emblem of the Baha'i Faith.

PREFACE:
The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John: Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things he saw. Blessed is he that readeth , and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand. -Rev. 1:1-3

Modern translations read "the time is at hand," etc. as meaning that the events of the prophecy are to start unfolding in the near future. The total duration of the prophecy is not defined by these verses, and in fact will span about 19 centuries.

SALUTATION:
John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you and peace, from him which is , and which was , and which is to come ; and from the seven Spirits which are before the throne; - Rev 1:4

The term 'Asia' could refer to either the Roman Province of Asia or to the larger Region of continental Asia. The Roman province of Asia was limited to modern Asia Minor. In the early centuries CE, the Region of Asia included India and Arabia, but did not include modern Asiatic Russia or the Far East.

If one interprets it as the Province, then the 7 churches which, for some reason, Jesus addresses this mighty Book, have a literal meaning that is obvious. If one enlarges the scope of the term 'Asia' to include the whole Region, then the prophecy has a broader, more profound meaning. In the broader sense, the 7 Churches of Asia then represent those religions of Asia and of the Prophetic Cycle {1} that will have living followers at the Advent of Baha'u'llah.

The 7 Spirits before the throne also has multiple meanings. The names 'Baha'u'llah' and 'Husayn-'Ali' (the proper name of Baha'u'llah) both have seven letters in Arabic, and the Master, 'Abdu'l-Baha {2} has given the name 'Baha'u'llah' as one meaning of the 7 Spirits. It should be pointed out that the 7 Spirits also have an astrological significance that will become evident later on.

"Him which is, which was, and which is to come" is one name for the Lord God and derives from ancient Jewish mysticism. The phrase implies a cyclicity of time that is related to astrological Ages. Another possible meaning of the phrase "Him which is, which was, and which is to come" is God as His recurring Manifestations.

Baha'u'llah has explained to us that God educates mankind in phases. Each phase is approximately a thousand years in duration and is ushered in by a Revelator who holds undisputed sway during the Age.

Before 1844 CE there were 7 revealed monotheistic Faiths in the Region known as Asia. They were:

FAITH- REVELATOR
Sabaean - Unknown
Jewish - Moses
Hindu - Krishna
Zoroastrian - Zoroaster (Zarathustra)
Buddhist - Gautama Buddha
Christian - Jesus Christ
Muslim - Muhammad

If we include the Babi and Baha'i Faiths revealed after 1844 the list has 9 members. The Apocalypse is addressed to the 7 Divinely revealed Faiths of the Region of Asia and reveals the Advents of the Bab and Baha'u'llah.

Another meaning of the Jewish Menorah may be revealed here.

The 7 candlesticks of the Menorah are named Peace, Benevolence, Harmony [or Law?], Light, Truth, Brotherly Love, and Justice. It will become evident that their names are probably correlated with the names of the 7 Churches.

And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. - Rev 1:5-6

The message is also from Jesus Christ, [who, incidentally, was the "morning star" (verse 22:16) of the astrological Age of Pisces]. Jesus Christ is a faithful witness that these things will come to pass. Jesus was the first to be raised from the spiritually dead during his ministry.{3} He is the spiritual Prince of the kings and rulers of the earth. By sacrificing his blood (spiritual life-force) Jesus raised the early Christians from spiritual death.

In the symbolism of the Apocalypse, such terms as 'death' and 'life' usually refer to 'spiritual death,' etc. ('Leave the dead to bury their dead.'{4}) Death means to be devoid of spiritual awareness and to be without belief in God; sleep means the slumber of heedlessness, to be temporarily devoid of spiritual awareness; life means to have entered the paradise of the love of God.

Sin can have various aspects: disobeying God's laws as revealed by His Manifestation; enslavement to animal passions and motivations; attachment to the contingent world of attributes and duality.

HE WILL COME WITH CLOUDS:
Behold, he cometh with clouds ; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him; and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so. Amen. -Rev 1:7

Again, 'spiritual' should be associated with the word 'eyes.' Eventually, everyone with spiritual vision will know that the Christ has been re-Manifested. Whether one blames the Jews, or the Romans, or both for the Crucifixion is irrelevant, since the spiritually astute of every nation will become aware. The "wailing" of the nations reflects the sorrow experienced because of their lost opportunity to recognize and obey him.

Clouds means troubles and a veil between man and heaven. Because the Manifestation comes in a human body and with human limitations, such things cast doubts in men's minds and act as veils. Clouds can also symbolize Divine mercy, the annulment of counter-productive laws, the abrogation of former Dispensations, and the repeal of useless rituals and customs. "I have come in the shadows of the clouds of glory, and am invested by God with invincible sovereignty." -BH {5}

Jesus sometimes referred to those who have eyes and yet do not see.{6} Baha'u'llah explains that the sincere seeker will be rewarded with a new eye, a new ear, a new heart, and a new mind.{7}

The fact that there will be a delay between his appearance on earth and his eventual acceptance by the peoples of the existing spiritual generation is made clear in Luke and Isaiah. {8} The term 'generation' (Greek 'genea') as used in Luke and elsewhere has among its meanings 'an historic age.' In allegorical usage, a generation is a Day of Creation or a Lord's Day. The word may be modeled after the Hebrew word 'olam,' meaning an 'infinity' or 'world.'

THE ALPHA AND OMEGA INTRODUCES HIMSELF:
I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending , saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty. -Rev 1:8

The phrase "Alpha and Omega" has many meanings. Most succinctly, it refers to The Word of God {9}, including the appearance of the Lord God as His successive Manifestations. One can also perceive another significance to the phrase, indicating that every Manifestation is the beginning of the new Age and the ending of the former Age. In the Apocalypse, the phrase refers specifically to Baha'u'llah.{10}

The sum of the letters "Alpha" and "Omega" has a literal value of either 801 or twice-666, depending upon the Greek version of the text. In either case, the archetypal value is 9, the Number of Baha'. Baha'u'llah used the number 9 as a seal, since the name Baha' has the literal value of 9 by the Arabic gematria.

The "beginning and the ending" is another clue to the identity of the speaker. It suggests that we investigate the beginning and ending words of the Book. These words, in the Greek text, are "Apocalypse" and "Amen." The first word has the literal value of 1512 and an archetypal value of 9; the last word has the literal value of 99, which also has an archetypal value of 9.

Furthermore, the Greek word for 'Beginning' is 'Arche' which has a literal value of 709; the Greek word for 'Ending' is 'Telos' which has a literal value of 605. The sum of these two values is 1314, which also has an archetypal value of 9.

Isaiah {11} explains that both God and His Redeemer, the Lord of Hosts, are the First and the Last. Other Old Testament passages identify the Latter Day Redeemer or Ransomer as the Lord of Hosts, the Holy One of Israel, and the King of Glory ( = Baha').{12} Baha'u'llah explains that he is both the Beginning and the End, and both Stillness and Motion. {13}

His Holiness Baha'u'llah bears many titles, some of which have been given him by other Manifestations and prophets and are ascribed to Baha'u'llah by those Baha'is who have entered by another faith. Some examples:

Hindu- Tenth Avatar, Immaculate Manifestation of Krishna, Kalki, Vishnu Yasha; Buddhist- Fifth Buddha, Buddha Maitreye; Christian- Spirit of Truth, Return of Christ; Zoroastrian- Shah Bahram; Muslim- The Great Announcement, Return of Christ, Return of Imam Husayn; Babi- Essence of Being, Remnant of God, Omnipotent Master, Crimson all-encompassing Light

Other titles have been ascribed by Baha'u'llah to Himself in order to explain his mission to mankind. Among these are: Ancient of Days, Voice From the Burning Bush, Well Spring of Revelation, Day Star of Divine Revelation, Sun of Truth, Bird of the Throne.

For the first of 9-times in the Apocalypse, verse 8 identifies the Alpha and Omega as the Almighty, that is, 'The Pantocrator.'

JOHN IS COMMANDED TO WRITE THE APOCALYPSE:
I John who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ. I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and heard behind me a great voice as of a trumpet. Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea. -Rev 1:9-11

The names of the 7 Churches of Asia represent 7 Divinely revealed Faiths. While the prejudiced reader of imperial Rome might have been tempted to restrict the term 'Asia' to the Roman Province of that name, in the unprejudiced view, the entire Region of Asia extending through Palestine, Arabia, Persia and India must be included.

The root meanings of the names of the 7 Churches are indicative of their salient characteristics:

APOCALYPSE - ROOT MEANING - SYMBOLISM - FAITH
Ephesus - Family Hearth - Peace - Sabaean
Smyrna - Myrrh - Benevolence - Jewish
Pergamos - Parchment - Law, Harmony {14} - Hindu
Thyatira - Cypress Tree - Light {15} - Zoroastrian
Sardis - Stone - Truth - Buddhist
Philadelphia - Brotherly Love - Brotherly Love - Christian
Laodicea - Just People - Justice {14} - Muslim

We shall not digress to justify the salient characteristics attributed to the 7 Churches. There are numerous excellent works on the subject of comparative religion. {16}

JOHN SEES THE ALPHA AND OMEGA:
And I turned to see the voice that spake to me. And being turned. I saw seven golden candlesticks; And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man , clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; And his feet like unto fine brass, as they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters.
-Rev 1:12-15

The Figure is that of Baha'u'llah. He stands among the 7 candlesticks representing the 7 Churches of Asia. His garment to the foot signifies his heavenly attributes, and in those attributes, he resembles the Son of Man: "The voice of the Son of Man is calling aloud from the sacred vale: 'Here am I, here am I, O God my God!" -BH {17} His golden girdle symbolizes a new Faith and his spiritual power. His white hair like purest wool identifies him as the Head of Days, that is, the Ancient of Days. And because of his great tribulations, the hair of Baha'u'llah had literally become snow white. "The Pen of Holiness ... hath writ upon my snow-white brow .. " -BH {18} His eyes have been described by witnesses as 'flames of fire.'

His feet of brass are contrasted to those of Nebuchadnezzar's vision in Daniel {19}. Nebuchadnezzar dreamt of an image that had feet of part iron, part clay- a weakened metal that soon broke beneath the forces of history. In John's vision, the feet are of fine brass and are sufficient to endure 'forever.' The sound of many waters describes Baha'u'llah as the Well Spring of Revelation.

In his TABLET OF ALL FOOD , Baha'u'llah reveals that the spiritual worlds are of different degrees. In one of these several worlds, the world of the All-Highest Dominion, the dwellers therein, God's Chosen Ones, are closely identified with God, manifesting His attributes, speaking His voice, and are identified with Him. "The essence of belief in Divine unity consisteth in regarding Him Who is the Manifestation of God and Him Who is the invisible, the inaccessible, the unknowable Essence as one and the same." -BH {20} In another spiritual world, the plane of Divinity, the Heavenly Court, the Manifestations are as utter nothingness compared to God.

The different spiritual worlds accounts for the seeming paradox between the vision described in verse 13 and a similar vision in Daniel. {21}. In Daniel's vision, the Ancient of Days with "head like pure wool" sits on the heavenly throne in the plane of Divinity, the Heavenly Court, while "one like the Son of man" (KJV) is brought before Him to receive 'glory,' 'an everlasting dominion,' etc. In the version of Rev 1:13, the 'one like the Son of man' also has hair like wool, etc. The paradox is resolved by the concept of different spiritual worlds: In Daniel's vision, it is God Who sits on the throne while 'Husayn- 'Ali (later to be given the title Baha'u'llah) is brought before Him. John's vision is of the All-Highest Dominion, it is in this lower spiritual world where Baha'u'llah exhibits the same attributes as the Lord God.

HIS APPEARANCE:
And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp two-edged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength. And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying to me, Fear not; I am the first and the last; I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and death. -Rev 1:16-18

The 7 stars are the 7 'Governors' or Revelators of the 7 Churches, and also represent the name, 'Husayn-'Ali (the proper name of Baha'u'llah). Since the 7 stars spell a single word, they are actually the Manifestation of a single 'star,' the star of 'Husayn-'Ali.

The 7 stars is an allusion to the 7 planets, which, according to the theories of the ancient astrologers, were the true Governors of the world of man, the Executors of the Divine Will.

The right hand is the hand of power and might. As the Spirit of Truth, he speaks with the Sword of Truth, double-edged because it separates the true from the false and the good from the wicked. "Aid ye your Lord with the sword of wisdom and utterance." -BH {22}

The sun symbolizes Divinity, the Manifestations of God, and His Faith. "From Him all the Suns [Manifestations] have been generated, and to Him they will all return. " -BH {23}

His sun-like countenance describes Baha'u'llah as the Sun of Truth. Many witnesses have testified that it was extremely difficult to gaze upon his dazzling countenance.

The Holy Spirit as evidenced through Jesus Christ and Muhammad seemed to have died before the Advents of the Bab and Baha'u'llah. But God lives forever and has the power to resurrect man from the death of unbelief and to return him from the hell of remoteness. "Paradise is on your right hand, and hath been brought nigh unto you, while Hell has been made to blaze." "Followers of the Gospel, behold the gates of heaven are flung open." "No man can obtain everlasting life, unless he embraceth the truth of this inestimable, this wondrous, and sublime Revelation." -BH {24}

A WORD PICTURE:
Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter; The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches.
-Rev 1:19-20

The 7 stars are revealed to be the 'Governors' or Revelators of the 7 Divinely revealed Faiths. Among other things, John is commanded to "write down" the things that "are now" (REB). Chapter 1 of the Apocalypse is a word picture. 'Writing down' these things reveals the Greatest Name Emblem of the Baha'i Faith. The upper level represents the Plane of Divinity, the Heavenly Court. The second level represents the All-Highest Dominion, the plane of the Manifestations, the third and lowest level represents the plane of the Churches. They are connected by the Name of Baha'u'llah who stands among the 7 Churches and holds the 7 Governors of the 7 Faiths in his right hand of might and power. In the Greatest Name Emblem, the stars or Governors are represented by only two, the Bab and Baha'u'llah, whose missions are to unify the Seven Churches through the single Spirit of Baha'u'llah.




CHAPTER 2- LETTERS TO ANCIENT FAITHS

SYNOPSIS:
In this chapter, letters are addressed to the Sabaean, Jewish, Hindu and Zoroastrian Churches. (Letters to the Buddhist, Christian and Muslim Churches will be presented in the next chapter.)

The letters are addressed to the Manifestations and the devotees of the Churches as they will exist at the end of the Piscean Age. Each of the Churches has strayed from its pristine purity and vitality. The speaker in each of these first four letters is God, speaking through Baha'u'llah.

The Sabaean Church is extolled for its good works, patience, rejection of Covenant-breakers, etc., but is chastened because it has strayed from its original teachings. Therefore, Baha'u'llah threatens to come quickly and extinguish the Sabaean Church, unless it repents and reverses its course.

Moses and the Jewish Church are extolled for the "true Jews" within its fold, for those who do good works and are spiritually rich, and who have withstood tribulation and poverty over the centuries. But he condemns the "synagogue of Satan," and warns the Jews that many of them will be imprisoned and tried for 10- lunar years by the "devil" [Hitler]. Those who persevere, remain faithful to God, and overcome the false teachings within the Church, will be rewarded with a "crown of life," nor will they be hurt by the "second death" [the rejection of Baha'u'llah, the Messiah of the Last Day].

Krishna and the Hindu Church are extolled for their good works, even in the place "where Satan [Shiva] dwells." Baha'u'llah also extols the Hindus for holding fast to the name of Brahma during the turbulent days of Lord Buddha; but he chastens them for holding the doctrine of Baal [Shiva] with his fertility rites, and to a large pantheon of gods and demons. Baha'u'llah warns them to overcome these and other false teachings, or else he will come quickly, and combat them with the Sword of Truth. To those who do overcome, he will give them the "hidden manna" of the Word of God, and a new name, 'Baha'i,' a name whose import will be known only to the devotee.

Zoroaster and his Church are extolled for their good works of charity, faith, etc., and are complimented for doing even better than they did at their beginning. Nevertheless, they are chastened for their idolatry and other decadent practices, and for their witness to Satan [Ahriman]. Those who have not "known the depths of Satan," who overcome false teachings, etc., will receive no further tests, but will be rewarded with the "morning star," the Bab, who will appear in their midst, and who is destined, with his devotees, to rule the nations with a "rod of iron."

The following letters in Chapters 2 and 3 are addressed to the 7 Churches of Asia as they are characterized at the end of the Age of Pisces. In contrast to their pristine purity, each of the Churches has become corrupted. The Speaker is the Spirit of God speaking through the Manifestation. Their style suggests an equivalence between the Manifestation and His Church, and the Savior seems to be identical to the saved. "Nay, all else besides these Manifestations, live by the operation of their Will, and move and have their being through the outpourings of their grace." "That some are near (to God) and others are far (from God) is to be ascribed to the Manifestations themselves." -BH {1}

The first five letters are addressed to the Founders of the Sabaean, Jewish, Hindu, Zoroastrian and Buddhist Faiths. All of these Faiths were revealed during the Age of Aries and their Dispensations had been ended by the beginning of the Piscean Age.

But there is a special role that is played by Baha'u'llah. In THE YOUTH OF PARADISE, Baha'u'llah identifies Himself as the Word upon which depended the souls of all the Prophets of God and His Chosen Ones. Thus, only Baha'u'llah has the power to speak to and for the Revelators of the first five Faiths.

There is sometimes an apparent ambiguity as to which Manifestation is doing the speaking; the intermingling of Voices points out their essential unity. "Inasmuch as these Birds of the celestial Throne are sent down from the heaven of the Will of God, and as they all arise to proclaim His irresistible Faith, they therefore are regarded as one soul and the same person ... They all abide in the same tabernacle, soar in the same heaven, are seated upon the same throne, utter the same speech, and proclaim the same Faith ..." -BH {2}

A LETTER TO EPHESUS:
Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks: I know thy works and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast laboured and hast not fainted.
-Rev 2:1-3

The letter is addressed to the now forgotten Revelator of the Church of Peace, the Sabaean Faith. Apostles are trusted messengers. To faint means to grow weary.

Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou hast fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent. But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitanes, which I also hate. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God. -Rev 2:4-7

God, speaking through Baha'u'llah, is threatening to remove their Faith from the earth because they have strayed from their original teachings. Indeed, the Divinely revealed Sabaean Faith, not to be confused with the Mandaeans of southern Iraq, is now extinct. Originally, Abraham may have been a follower of the ancient Sabaean Faith whose Revelator has been lost to history. The remnants of this ancient Faith are the idolaters of Africa.

Nicolas was probably a convert from Antioch.{3} His followers, Nicolaitanes, were Covenant-breakers of the early Christian Church, and here signify the Covenant-breakers of any Divinely revealed Faith. Nicholas maintained that the acceptance of Jesus Christ placed the believer above the laws and morality of non-Christians, and that one's standard of behavior became largely a matter of personal inclination.

God promises the sincere Sabaeans that they will receive spiritual life, light, and sustenance through God's Manifestation, the Tree of Life, Baha'u'llah.{4}

A LETTER TO SMYRNA:
And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive; I know thy works and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are of the synagogue of Satan. Fear none of these things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days; be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt by the second death.
-Rev 2:8-11

The message is addressed to Moses, the Revelator of the Jewish Faith. The Jewish Faith was probably the first to recognize the benevolence of God. He distinguishes between those Jews who are materially poor but spiritually rich, and those who are materially rich but spiritually poor. A true Jew loves God and obeys His laws. Those who exalt themselves before Him and refuse to obey His laws are of the synagogue of Satan.

The Jews are informed that some of them will be imprisoned by the "devil" for a period of 10 days. We recall that in biblical prophecy, a 'prophetic day' usually represents a year of calendar time. The prophecy warns them of their 10-year tribulation under Hitler and the Nazi regime. The holocaust began with the 'Nurnberg laws on citizenship and race,' 15 September 1935, and ended with the destruction of the Third Reich in May 1945, a period of 10-lunar years.

The Spirit of Baha'u'llah, promises that the 'true Jews' who persevere through their tribulation and overcome the false teachings within their church will be rewarded with spiritual salvation and eternal life. They can avoid the "second death" by their acceptance of Baha'u'llah. Their 'first spiritual death' resulted from their rejection of Jesus the Messiah.

A LETTER TO PERGAMOS:
And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write: These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges; 13 I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan's seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth.
-Rev 2:12-13

These words are addressed to Krishna and the Hindu Faith. The most conspicuous characteristic of the Hindu Faith is its emphasis on the universal spiritual Law of Karma. In Greek, "Antipas" means literally 'against all,' and refers to the great reformer of the ancient Hindu world, Lord Buddha. "Where Satan dwells" generally refers to a degraded spiritual condition, but more specifically to the worship of Shiva.

The modern Hindu Faith, although theoretically monotheistic (or more correctly, 'trinitarian'), has a de facto pantheon that includes the deity Shiva the 'Destroyer.' The Hindu representations of Shiva- his fierce demeanor, trident, serpents, human skulls, fire, phallic symbol, etc.- remind us of the Western representations of Satan 'the Enemy.'

Tradition says that Lord Buddha was accidentally killed by a meal of poisoned mushrooms in the home of Cunda, a smith. However, poison was one method that had been used by a jealous cousin Devadatta and his henchman in previous attempts on Lord Buddha's life. Verse 13 indicates that Lord Buddha was actually martyred, thereby revealing the true nature of His death.

The sincere Hindus are cited for maintaining the name of God (Brahma) even during their period of spiritual decay.

14 But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication. So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, which thing I hate. -Rev 2:14-15

The infamous Jezebel, wife of Ahab, king of Israel, introduced the idolatrous doctrine of "Balaam" (plural of Baal) into Israel in the 9th century BCE. {5} While little is known for certain about the Baal cult, it appears that he represented the male fertility principle in nature and that his rites may have had sexual undertones. It is probable that Shiva is Baal under a different name. The wording of verse 14 suggests that the worship of Shiva may not be acceptable to the Heavenly Court.

In contrast to Shiva, the Hindu pantheon also includes the benevolent deity Vishnu 'the Preserver.' According to Hindu theology, Lord Krishna was the last of several Avatars (Manifestations) of Vishnu prior to Lord Buddha.

Verse 15 again censures those who use 'salvation' as an excuse for unprincipled behavior.

Besides the literal meanings, allegorical and symbolic meanings can be attached to certain phrases and words. For example, 'idol worship' is equivalent to the modern day doctrine of materialism. "To eat things sacrificed to idols" means to believe in (to 'swallow') idolatrous teachings, just as the consuming of the bread and the wine of the Eucharist symbolizes the acceptance of Jesus Christ's teachings and His blood sacrifice. "To commit fornication" means to accept false doctrine or to participate in obscene rituals.

Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone , and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it. -Rev 2:16-17

Hidden manna refers to Divine Revelation- spiritual sustenance from heaven, the Word of God and Reality, hidden until revealed by Baha'u'llah. " ... That which is preeminent above all other gifts, is incorruptible in nature, and pertaineth to God Himself, is the gift of Divine Revelation ... It is, in its essence, and will ever so remain, the Bread which cometh down from Heaven." -BH {6} This "Heavenly Bread" is promised to those who overcome the false teachings within the Hindu Faith.

In antiquity, it was a custom to present invited guests with 'tesserae'- small pieces of stone, bone, ivory or mosaic. These tesserae were also used to perpetuate a friendship or to make a union more sacred. The privilege of friendship could be extended to others carrying the tessera by a simple process: the tessera was broken into two parts and each party wrote his own name or secret inscription on his own piece. Mutual pledges were made, the pieces were exchanged, and no one knew the name inscribed on his piece except the possessor. Such secret tesserae were probably carried by early Christians during their travels to introduce them to fellow Christians.

The Bab presented His followers and Baha'u'llah with a scroll often called the 'White Stone.' The Bab had inscribed it with a pentacle composed of 360 derivatives of the word 'Baha'.' The scroll revealed the name of the new Manifestation to follow the Bab. Only those who accept the Baha'i Revelation understand the meaning of the "new name."

"New name" (Greek 'kainon onoma') has a literal value by gematria of 432 and an archetypal value of 9 ( that is, 4 + 3 + 2 = 9). 'Baha'' has the literal value of 9 by the Arabic gematria, and Baha'u'llah used the number 9 as a seal to many of his Tablets.

A LETTER TO THYATIRA:
And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; These things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine brass; 19 I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first. -Rev 2:18-19

[REB 19 "I know what you are doing, your love and faithfulness, your service and your endurance; indeed of late you have done even better than you did at first."]

This letter is addressed to Zoroaster and His Church of "Thyatira." Zoroastrianism, once with a vast number of devotees throughout the entire Middle East, is now the smallest of the world's living religions. Today, its most conspicuous characteristic is its cult of the Eternal Flame: fires laced with 'thyine' fuels, and kept burning in places of worship.{7}

The title 'Son of God' has undergone an evolution in meaning since ancient times. In the pre-Christian Gentile world it meant 'Redeemer.' Pharaohs and other potentates of the ancient world bore the title, and it was even a part of the Roman Imperial cult, beginning with Augustus (63 BCE - 14 CE), who received the title 'Divi Filius' (Latin = 'Son of God') by decree of the Senate. Nevertheless, devout Jews considered it an act of blasphemy for mere humans to adopt it; moreover, conjoining the titles Messiah and Son of God implied that the Messiah was not inferior in dignity to Caesar.

To Jesus, 'Son of God' and 'god' were epithets for "one unto whom the Word of God came." Jesus makes this clear when he answers certain Jews who accused him of blasphemy:

Jesus answered 'Is it not written in your law, "I said: You are gods"? It is those to whom God's word came who are called gods- and Scripture cannot be set aside. Then why do you charge me with blasphemy for saying, "I am God's son," I whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world? -REB: John 10:34-35

The "law" that Jesus quotes is

[God says:] 'This is my sentence: Though you are gods, all sons of the Most High, yet you shall die as mortals die, and fall as any prince does.' -REB: Psalm 82:6-8

In other words, a 'Son of God' is One to whom the word of God came and who is consecrated by the Father.{8} This is precisely what is meant by a 'Divine Revelator' or a 'Manifestation of God.'

In spite of their small numbers, the sincere Zoroastrians are renowned for their beneficence, prosperity, education, and charitable works designed to alleviate misery without distinction of race or religion. In verse 19, Baha'u'llah extols them for their good attributes at the end of the Piscean Age.

Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed to idols. And I gave her space to repent her fornication; and she repented not. Behold I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds. And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works. -Rev 2:20-23

Originally, the Zoroastrian Faith was free of idols. Their Supreme Deity was Ormazd (Ahura Mazda), the God of Goodness, Wisdom and Spiritual Light. However, under the reign of the Persian king Artaxerxes II (405-359 BCE), the god Mithra and idols of Anahita, a fertility goddess, were introduced. The historical causes of this momentous deviation away from idol-free monotheism are unknown. However, verse 20 suggests that there may have been a 'prophetess' involved, a woman analogous to Jezebel, who introduced idolatry and other unwholesome elements into their religious practices; the subject deserves further study by historians. Today, the Zoroastrian Faith has a large pantheon of gods and demons.

Baha'u'llah threatens to cast the Zoroastrian 'Jezebel' into the bed of misery and shame, along with the idolatrous followers who participate in her false doctrine. Her spiritually dead descendants will disappear from the earth.

24 But unto you I say, and unto the rest of Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine, and have not known the depths of Satan, as they speak; I will put none other burden. But that which ye have already hold fast till I come. And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him I will give power over the nations: And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father. And I will give him the morning star. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches. -Rev 2:24-29

[REB 24 "And now I speak to the rest of you in Thyatira, all who do not accept this teaching and have had no experience of what they call the deep secrets of Satan. On you I impose no further burden.]

Beginning in the Sassanid period of Persia (226-631 CE), an insidious doctrine crept into the Zoroastrian Faith- 'dualism,' by which Ahriman 'the Destroyer' (Satan) was elevated to a rank equal in power to that of Ormazd 'the Preserver' (God). Modern Zoroastrians tend to minimize this aspect of their religion, but ever since the Middle Ages the co-equal power of Satan has been used by them to rationalize the evil tendencies in Man. One suspects that the 'depths of Satan' have been experienced by more than a few 'devotees' of every religion.

The Bab, the Forerunner of Baha'u'llah, was manifested in that part of Persia where the Zoroastrian Faith is centered. The 'Morning Star' is the Herald of a new Day of God, and represents the Bab. His Advent resulted in great upheavals in Persia and neighboring countries. The verses prophesy the final dissolution of all the nations of the world and their spiritual domination by the faithful who accept the Bab and Baha'u'llah.

The 'rod of iron' is a symbol of spiritual dominion, it is not a sword of conquest. " ... though the revelations of My grace and bounty have permeated every atom of the universe, yet the rod with which I can chastise the wicked is grievous ..." -BH {9}

".... certain souls guided [people] with a rod of the plant, that is, a reed wherewith he shepherded the sheep, like unto the rod of Moses; others trained [the people] with a rod of iron and drove them, as in the time of Muhammad ..." -AB {10}




CHAPTER 3- LETTERS TO RECENT FAITHS

SYNOPSIS:
These three letters are addressed to the Buddhist, Christian and Muslim Faiths.

The first Church, being the last of the waning Age of Aries, is delivered by God through His Manifestation, Baha'u'llah. The last two Churches, being those of the waxing Age of Pisces, are delivered by God speaking through His Manifestations Jesus the Messiah and Muhammad the Seal.

Lord Buddha and his Church are admonished for being a 'dead' religion, even though they profess to be 'alive.' Their works are not perfect before God, and if they do not watch, the Buddha Maitreye will enter and depart the world stage unseen, like a thief. But there are a few Buddhists who have remained true to their original teachings, and, if they are able to overcome the false teachings within their Faith, they will be allowed to walk with Baha'u'llah in Nirvana.

Jesus lauds his true devotees for keeping his Word and for not denying his Name, even though they have little strength left at the end of the Piscean Age. Also, he will cause those insincere Jews, the "synagogue of Satan," to worship at their feet. Because the sincere Christians have been loyal, they will not be tested by the ordeal of receiving the Divine Reaper, Baha'u'llah, within their midst. The Return of Christ will occur quickly after the Piscean Age, and those Christians who are able to overcome the false teachings within the Church will be rewarded by a new name, 'Baha'i.'

Muhammad severely admonishes his devotees for being "lukewarm" in their propagation of the Muslim Faith during the Piscean Age; but he promises those true Muslims who are able to overcome the false teachings within the Church, that they will be allowed to sit with him on his heavenly throne, just as he sits with 'Allah.

A LETTER TO SARDIS:
And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead. Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die; for I have not found thy works perfect before God. Remember therefore how thou has received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.
-Rev 3:1-3

This letter is addressed to the Church of Stone (Sardis), a symbol of Truth. The most conspicuous characteristics of modern Buddhism are its astonishing megalithic statues of the Buddha, and the worship of His effigies and sacred relics. In various forms, the Buddhist Faith has spread throughout the entire world.

Lord Buddha was the Revelator of the 'Fourfold Noble Truth,' and His mission was to reform the polytheistic and often destructive tendencies within the Hindu Faith that had been accreted over the centuries. His work was not completed, and Buddhism had, itself, become assimilated into Indian Hinduism by the 6th century CE.

The verses reveal that the original work of the Church is no longer vigorous, and that the Faith, though outwardly alive, is inwardly dead. Furthermore, even though they profess to watch for the Advent of the Great Buddha Maitreye, He may enter and depart the world 'unseen,' like a thief, and at an Hour that they least expect.

Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy. He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches. -Rev 3:4-6

Raiment, garment, clothing, etc. mean the character or attributes of the soul. "Say; From My laws the sweet smelling savor of My garment can be smelled, and by their aid the standards of victory will be planted upon the highest peaks." "Clothe thyself with the essence of righteousness, and let thine heart be afraid of none except God." -BH {1} Verse 4 alludes to those hypocrites among the Buddhists who defile their red and saffron robes by violating their true purposes.

The Book of Life is the list of those deserving Nirvana and eternal life. "O thou who art the fruit of My Tree and the leaf thereof! ... Wert thou to scan the pages of the Book of Life thou wouldst, most certainly, discover that which would dissipate thy sorrows and dissolve thine anguish." -BH {2}

The first five letters were addressed to the Revelators and their Churches Who appeared in the past astrological Age of Aries. A review of those letters will show that they are all 'read' by Baha'u'llah, who was described by a word picture in Chapter 1.

The last two letters, addressed to the Churches of Brotherly Love and Justice, are to be read by their own Revelators of the new Age of Pisces, that is, by Jesus and Muhammad. The Apocalypse reveals the events of the new Age during which they will have autonomy and supreme spiritual authority. Only the Ancient of Days, the Manifestation 'with the seven stars in His right hand,' has power over past Revelators whose authority had been terminated at the end of the Age of Aries, and may read their letters.

A LETTER TO PHILADELPHIA:
7 And to the church of Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth; 8 I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.
-Rev 3:7-8

[REB: 7 'To the angel of the church at Philadelphia write: ..... 8 .... I know your strength is small, yet you have observed my command and have not disowned my name. ....]

The letter is addressed to the Revelator of the Church of Brotherly Love, that is, "Philadelphia." It is read by Jesus. A new descriptor is introduced: the "Key of David." Since the letter is being read by Jesus Christ, He extols the true Christians for keeping "my" word and not denying "my" name.

The Key of David is the power to close the old Age and to open the new Age. In astrological symbolism, each Age is indicated by a 'door' in the zodiac. When a new constellation appears at the 'door of Spring,' a new Age commences and is reflected in the world of man by 'corresponding' events through the formula 'as above, so below.' Jesus explains that He has opened a new Age of history, and no man has the power to turn back the movement of time. More will be said about the "door" in later verses.

Jesus also reveals that He is aware of the weakness of the Christian Church at the end of the Age of Pisces. In spite of the great number who call themselves 'Christians,' the number of devotees who actually practice the true teachings of Jesus are relatively few. Doctrinal and theological disputes, beginning with the rift between Peter and Paul, have weakened their position and have produced a proliferation of sects numbering in the thousands, each sect claiming to represent the 'true' teachings of Christ. Brotherly love, the foundation stone of the Christian Church, is rarely evidenced between the members of opposing sects, and their power to influence the course of human history is almost negligible.

Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee. 10 Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. -Rev 3:9-10

[REB: 10 Because you have kept my command to stand firm, I will also keep you from the ordeal that is to fall upon the whole world to test its inhabitants.]

During His ministry on earth, Jesus was a radical reformer attempting to cleanse Judaism and the Temple of 'satanic practices.' The 'temple gang' eventually succeeded in having their own Messiah nailed to the cross. It was only after the total destruction of the Temple in 70 CE, that the 'true Judaism' promoted by Jesus became the accepted norm by the Jews in exile. Although much of the early Christian zeal has become sublimated into less revolutionary channels, there are still some sincere Christians, and Jews, who remain engaged in 'cleansing the Temple.'

The Christians are promised that they will be spared from the ordeal that will come to test all the inhabitants of the world. And yet all the inhabitants of the world (including Christians) are to be 'tested' by this ordeal.

What is to be the nature of this test? The test is to be the same as it has always been, and the same as it was in the early days of the Christian Church, that is, the test of overcoming the false teachings within the Church and of recognizing the new Manifestation of God when He appears. But in contrast to the early Christian Church, the new test is to be worldwide, not limited by geographical and communicational constraints.

Indeed, the Christian world was spared from participating in the ordeal that is to test all humanity. Contrary to the expectations of most Christians, the new Manifestation did not appear in a Christian country, but in a Muslim country! Even the Christian regiment that was commanded to execute the Bab was protected from doing so through Divine intervention, a miraculous event that was observed by thousands and has been attested to by many reliable witnesses.

Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man may take thy crown. 12 Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem , which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches. -Rev 3:11-13

[REB: 12 Those who are victorious I shall make pillars in the temple of my God; they will remain there for ever.]

A crown is a symbol of reward and authority. It will be given to those Christians who overcome the false teachings within the Church, and they will become 'pillars' (spiritual supports) for the rest of those in the Church.

"New" is repeated for emphasis. The new Jerusalem will not be called Christianity, and the new Manifestation will not be named Jesus Christ.

Indeed, the new name of God will be Baha'; the new Jerusalem will be called the City of Baha', and the new Manifestation will be named Baha'u'llah. "O Concourse of the Son (Christians)! Are ye hidden from myself because of my name?" "Once in about a thousand years shall this city be renewed and readorned ... That City is none other than the Word of God revealed in every age and dispensation." -BH {3}

The word 'Jerusalem' means 'Sacred Peace.' In the Greek gematria, 'Jerusalem' has a literal value of 864 and an archetypal value of Nine. {4} 'New name' has a literal value of 432, which also has an archetypal value of Nine.

A LETTER TO LAODICEA:
And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.
-Rev 3:14-16

This letter is written for the Revelator and His Church of 'Just People' (Laodicea), and is read by Muhammad, the Comforter. "The Amen" is an appropriate title for Muhammad, since He is the 'Seal' of the Prophets. Also he affirmed and echoed the Reality of Jesus Christ, even claiming to BE Jesus in spirit. In the Qur'an, God addresses Muhammad, the Messenger of God, saying "We made you a Witness, a Herald of good news [gospel], and a Warner." As a Manifestation, He is the beginning of a new Day of God, a Source of creation in the world of man.

Muhammad admonishes His devotees for being "lukewarm" in their promotion of the Cause of God. In spite of their less-than-zealous promotion of Islam, early Muslims were noteworthy for their positive acts of tolerance and justice.

Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. 19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. -Rev 3:17-19

[REB: 19 All whom I love I reprove and discipline. Be wholehearted therefore in your repentance.]

During the years of rapid expansion of Islam under the infamous Houses of Umayyah and 'Abbas, the primary objective of the caliphate was the collection of taxes on non-Muslims and the acquisition of wealth by the corrupt Caliphs and their cohorts. As a consequence, the true purpose of Islam was 'beclouded' and has remained obscured to this day.

Gold is purified by fire; man is purified by spiritual suffering and repentance.

Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches. -Rev 3:20-22

Muhammad stands and knocks at the "door" (the new Age) that was unlocked by Jesus with the "Key of David." He speaks in the same spirit as Jesus, and promises to share spiritual sustenance with anyone who recognizes that spirit. He also alludes to His mystical flight from the Rock Moriah to the 'Seventh Heaven' where He sat with 'Allah on His throne.{5}




CHAPTER 4- THE INVISIBLE ZODIAC

SYNOPSIS:
John is permitted to see the far side of the celestial sphere, the new heaven as it will appear the during the Age of Leo-Aquarius. Baha'u'llah, representing God the Father, is seen in glory upon a central throne on the crystalline surface.

Instead of the usual 12 thrones surrounding the central throne, there are twice the usual number. [This is because of the Twin Manifestation, the Bab and Baha'u'llah, that will appear at the dawn of the Leo-Aquarian Age.] Also, John sees that the 7 planetary 'gods' are actually the 7 Spirits that were introduced in Chapter 1. [The 7 stars are the Governors of the Revelators of 7 Churches, in whatever Age they are manifested, and in particular, the 7 Churches of Chapter 1.]

The new pillars of the Leo-Aquarian Age [corresponding to the sun's house at the two solstices and two equinoxes] are Leo, Taurus, Aquarius, and Flying Eagle. [The last pillar has replaced Scorpio for reasons that will be explained later.]

The four new pillars will exert their influences during the Age of Leo-Aquarius in various ways, one example being the 4 Central Figures of the Baha'i Faith.

The letters were written for the Revelators Who appeared in Asia during the Ages of Aries and Pisces.{1} Their Advents probably appeared in the same temporal sequence as listed in the Apocalypse. Now John will have a preview of the Age of Leo- Aquarius.

JOHN SEES THE KING OF THE LEO-AQUARIAN AGE:
1 After this I looked, and behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking to me; which said, come up hither , and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter. And immediately I was in the spirit: and behold, a throne was set in heaven , and one sat on the throne. And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald.
-Rev 4:1-3

[REB: 1 ... and the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, ...]

John is invited to see the far side of the celestial sphere, the 'Upper World' or 'Celestial Pavilion', and to have a preview of great secrets that will be disclosed after the Age of Pisces. In accordance with first century cosmology, the outermost 'heaven' is represented as a vast crystalline sphere. The Celestial Pavilion appears to John to be a 'sea of glass' as he stands on its outer surface.

The voice like a trumpet is that of the heralding angel, verse 1:10. John is invited to enter the "door" into the Age "hereafter," that is, the Age following Pisces. In astrological terms, the name of this future Age is Leo-Aquarius.

In this far distant Age, John sees Baha'u'llah in His role as the King of Glory. His appearance on the throne signifies His mission as the World Redeemer, the Unifier of Mankind: the jasper appears in many colors, but especially the color of the human heart; the sardine appears to be red or brown, depending upon how it is viewed, and signifies the hidden unity behind the material and spiritual realms.

The emerald shimmers with a color that blends with every other color; the rainbow bright as an emerald is God's eternal Covenant, renewed in every Age, and it shimmers with the 'colors' of the seven Faiths.

THE TWENTY-FOUR ELDERS
And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold. -Rev 4:1-3

The imagery of much of the Apocalypse reflects the ancient cosmological theory that the Supreme Being exerts His influence over the world of Man through the zodiac and astrological influences. The theory derives from ancient Chaldaea (neo-Babylonia) and Jewish theologians may have been influenced by the theory during the Babylonian Captivity. Astrology was considered 'science' until remarkably recent centuries. 'Abdu'l-Baha' {2} warns us that the theories of the astrologers are not to be accepted literally but do have profound symbolic value.

John sees the twenty-four Elders seated around the throne of Baha'u'llah in correspondence with the signs of the zodiac. Before the Baha'i Dispensation, there were only 12 Elders (holy Figures) seated about the heavenly throne. For example, Jacob had 12 sons, there were 12 chiefs of tribes under Moses, Jesus had 12 Apostles, there were 12 Imams of Islam, and Buddha the Healer had 12 divine guardians {3}. But in the Dispensation to be unveiled in the Age of Leo-Aquarius, there are to be twice-twelve of these holy Figures!

Why is this? It is because the Baha'i Dispensation is actually 'doubled' by the Twin Manifestation: the Bab and Baha'u'llah. Thus in the Baha'i Dispensation there are to be TWO holy Figures for every sign of the zodiac, instead of the usual one! {4} The twice-twelve Elders are to be the 'channels' through which the heavenly Manna is to be dispersed throughout the world of Man.

THE SEVEN SPIRITS OF GOD:
And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God .
-Rev 4:5

Lightning is the anger and wrath of God. Thunder is the sound of the violation of the Covenant. Voices are the utterings of the doubters and hypocrites who fall into trials and temptations. {5}

As explained in Chapter 1, the 7 lamps of fire and the 7 Spirits have two meanings. In one sense they represent the two 7-lettered names (in Arabic) of Baha'u'llah, Husayn-'Ali; in a second sense they represent the 7 Revelators of the 7 Faiths of Asia.

The 7 lamps of fire before the throne, to the outward eye, represent the 7 planets, which popular myth considered to be 7 lamps carried by angels across the dome of heaven. However, John learns that the 7 planets are not the true Governors of the world of man, but that the world is actually controlled by the seven Spirits of God. The seven Spirits correspond to the Divine Revelators Who manifest the Spirit of Baha'.

THE FOUR PILLARS OF THE LEO- AQUARIAN AGE:
And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto a crystal: and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind. And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle. -Rev 4:6-7

To the outward eye, the far side of the crystalline celestial sphere appears as a sea of glass. But to the inward eye, the sea of glass like unto a crystal is clear and pure- symbolic of the Ocean of Truth. "O people! I swear by the one true God! This is the Ocean out of which all seas have proceeded, and unto which every one of them will ultimately be united." -BH {6} Baha'u'llah reflects perfectly the attributes of God from the mirror-like surface, and no one can distinguish between the Light of God and His Manifestation reflected on the throne.

The four beasts with "eyes" (stars) before and behind are creatures of the zodiac. They correspond to the four corners or pillars that will support the Age of Leo-Aquarius, the advent of cosmic time that will announce the Dispensation of Baha'u'llah. In astrological terminology, the four corners of an Age are the signs corresponding to the equinoxes and solstices. They are listed in their correct precession order:

BEAST - SIGN - PRECESSION ORDER - PILLAR (DAWNING TIME)
Lion - Leo - 9 - Fall equinox
Ox (RSV) - Taurus - 12 - Summer solstice
Man - Aquarius - 3 - Spring equinox
Flying Eagle - Scorpio - 6 - Winter solstice

Leo, whose number is 9, is listed first to signify the kingship of Baha'u'llah during the Age. Leo was also the point of origin of the Great Star Fall of 11 November during the autumn of 1833 that seemed to announce the sixteenth birthday of Baha'u'llah.

The more ancient name of the constellation Flying Eagle is substituted for the name Scorpio for reasons that may prove interesting. The subject will be revisited later. Flying Eagle should not be confused with Eagle, another constellation that is not a member of the zodiac.

Besides supporting the corners of the Age of Leo-Aquarius, the four beasts have other meanings. In the world of Lahut (the Plane of Divinity, the Heavenly Court){7}, it is God Who sits on the throne and the four pillars are the Four Central Figures of the Baha'i Dispensation:

Leo = the Lion of Judah (Baha'u'llah)
Ox = the 'Servant of Baha' ('Abdu'l-Baha)
Man = the Man Child (the Bab)
Flying Eagle = the Guardian (Shoghi Effendi)

In the world of Jabarut (the All Highest Dominion){7}, it is Baha'u'llah who sits on the throne, and the four pillars are earthly rulers, paragons of virtue, who will accept Baha'u'llah and thereby secure the Cause.

And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come. -Rev 4:8

The six wings allude to the ancient Hebrew Messengers of God who had thrice-two wings. Full of eyes within signify great spiritual insight.

The Lord God Almighty (the 'Pantocrator') is thrice-holy. He is Manifested in every Age, past, present and future.

PRAISE TO THE KING:
And when those beasts give glory and honour and thanks to him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever, The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.-Rev 4:9-11

In many of His Tablets Baha'u'llah proclaims, "I am God." This identity with God is in the realm of His attributes and not of His essence. Baha'u'llah recites the words of God to His Manifestation, "There is no distinction whatsoever between Thee and Them; except that they are Thy servants and are created of Thee." And, "But for Thee, I would not have created the heavens." "... He Who is the Monarch of all names is come, He at Whose bidding every single name hath, from the beginning that hath no beginning, been created ..." -BH {8}

If one 'writes down' the word picture of this Chapter, a beautiful mandala is created. It is a form of the 'quadratura circuli' (squared circle) that has been used throughout the world for many Ages to symbolize the unification of heaven and earth and the realization of inner wholeness. Thus John sees that man's feeble conception of the phenomenal cosmos is a mere symbol of the 'hidden mandala,' the Divine Order that is hidden, yet implicit, in the arrangement and laws governing the universe.




CHAPTER 5- THE BOOK OF SEVEN SEALS

SYNOPSIS:
John sees a scroll with 7 seals in the right hand of Baha'u'llah, some of the words have obvious meanings while others are hidden. The scroll is actually the Apocalypse, which contains the future history of the Piscean Age.

A mighty angel calls for someone worthy of opening the scroll. Baha'u'llah, the Lion of Judah, will sit on the Throne of David during the Leo-Aquarian Age; he has prevailed and wins the right. But he offers the book to the Bab, who will bear the title "the Lamb who was slain" during the Leo-Aquarian Age. The Bab is found worthy of receiving the scroll from Baha'u'llah and revealing its contents.

THE BOOK OF SEVEN SEALS:
And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals . And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof? And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon. And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon. -Rev 5:1-4

The 'book' or 'scroll' is none other than the Apocalypse itself, revealed by Jesus to John circa 104 CE, and reveals the Age of Pisces. The future spiritual history of the Piscean Age will be revealed in 7 unsealed phases.

THE LION OF JUDAH:
5 And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book , and to loose the seven seals thereof.-Rev 5:5

[NIV: 5 "Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals."] {1}

The title of 'Lion' represents the emblem of authority associated with Judah/Leo. In Genesis we read

"Judah, a lions whelp. ... The sceptre will not pass from Judah, nor the staff from between his feet, until he receives what is his due and the obedience of the nations is his. ... he washes his cloak in wine, his robe in the blood of grapes. Darker than wine are his eyes, .... ." -Gen 49:9-12 (REB)

The title 'Lion' has been attached to several potentates in Jewish history. In Ezekiel we read:

'Raise a dirge over the rulers of Israel and say: What a lioness was your mother among the lions! She made her lair among the young lions and reared her cubs...' -Ezekiel 19:1-2 (REB)

Thus the Lion of Judah is a title of any descendant of Judah who holds the reigns of power in Judea.

One of the 'Lions' was Joseph {2}; later, another 'Lion' was brought "in a cage" before the king of Babylon:

'he was put into prison that his roar might never again be heard on the mountains of Israel.' -Ezekiel 19:4

This 'Lion' was Mattaniah-Zedekiah {3} who was brought to Babylon "bound in bronze fetters." Zedekiah's sons were "slain before his eyes," then he was blinded.

Indeed, after Jehoiakim, there was no direct male descendent of David to sit on the 'Throne of David.' Furthermore, the kingdom of David cannot be restored on the male descendence of David! God placed a proviso on His oath that He would set up a prince among David's lineal male descendents on the Throne of David:

"The Lord swore this oath to David, an oath which he will not break: 'A prince of your own line I will set up on your throne. If your sons keep my covenant and heed the teaching that I give them, their sons in turn for all time will occupy your throne.' " -Ps 132:11-12 (REB)

Sad to say, one of David's descendents broke a Commandment and violated the Covenant. In the 7th century BCE, the king Manasseh imported an idol of the pagan deity Asherah into the Holy of Holies.{5} The prophet Jeremiah was delegated the authority of giving the descendents of David a second chance. That failing, the male line, at least, was cut off forever. {6}

Furthermore, in addition to the kings of Israel, the Covenant was also broken by the people of Israel:

"You have violated my covenant and have not fulfilled the terms to which you yourselves had agreed before me; so I shall treat you like the calf which was cut in two for all to pass between the pieces, the officers of Judah and Jerusalem, the eunuchs and priests, and all the people of the land." -Jeremiah 34:18-19 (REB)

Many claim that Jesus sits on the Throne of David through his descendence from David on his mother's side. Be that as it may, the Davidic king, if one had existed with the Advent of Jesus, would only "prepare a lamp for my anointed one." {7} Indeed, Jesus posed the paradox of the 'Anointed One' being of higher rank than David and that the Messiah is not a descendent of David.

.... 'How can the scribes maintain that the Messiah is a son of David? It was David himself who said, when inspired by the Holy Spirit, "The Lord said to my Lord, 'Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your feet.'" David himself calls him "Lord"; how can he be David's son?'-Mark 12:35-37 (REB) {8}

There is no record of Jesus, BY HIS OWN WORDS, claiming to sit on the WORLDLY Throne of David. In fact, Jesus disavowed this claim:

...... [Pilate asks] 'So you are the king of the Jews?'.... Jesus replied, 'My kingdom does not belong to this world. If it did, my followers would be fighting to save me from the clutches of the Jews. My kingdom belongs elsewhere.' -REB: John 18:33-36

But if Jesus was a descendent of David, and if a descendent of David cannot sit on the WORLDLY Throne of David, how could Jesus be the Messiah?

The answer is that Jesus the Messiah, like every other Manifestation of God, sits on a SPIRITUAL throne and not on a WORLDLY throne. Just as David claimed kingship, and Melchizedek claimed priesthood, not through ancestral lineage, but through a direct bestowal from God {10}, Jesus claimed his authority from a higher source:

"I do nothing on my own authority, but in all I say, I have been taught by my Father." -John 8:28 (REB)

As a 'priest of the order of Melchizedek,' the authority of Jesus did not terminate with his crucifixion nor with his genetic line of descent.

In contrast to Jesus, Baha'u'llah revealed, unequivocally {9}, that he, Baha'u'llah, "ruleth upon the throne of David." Some may consider Baha'u'llah's claim to the Throne of David to be valid on genetic grounds, since he is of the same line as David but is not descended from David. Baha'u'llah is genetically descended both from Abraham and from Jesse, the father of David, and there are no legitimate claimants to the throne through David's male descendents.{4} But God's (broken) contract with David concerned only David's lineal male descendents. Nor is there any evidence that Baha'u'llah claimed the Throne of David through genetic descendance; Baha'u'llah spoke of his authority as descending from the 'Ancient Root' {20} Similarly, we find Jesus claiming

"I am the root and the offspring of David, .." Rev 22:19

The Ancient Root is apparently the Root of the Tree of Life, the 'Sacred Lote-Tree.' {21} The Family of Prophets are the Fruits of that Tree, and they are all related to one another in some mysterious way known only to God and to themselves.

Jesus, the Messiah, will sit on the Throne of Heaven during the Piscean Age {11}, but Jesus does not triumph over the nations as prophesied in Genesis. {12} After the Piscean Age {13}, the sovereignty of Jesus will be terminated, and it is Baha'u'llah who sits on the Throne of Heaven as the King of Glory, and it is he who also bears the title the Lion of Judah, the Root of David.

The words in Genesis:

'he washes his cloak in wine, his robe in the blood of grapes. Darker than wine are his eyes, .... .' -REB: Genesis 49:11-12

refer to Baha'u'llah's red cloak and his stunning eyes. The "blood of grapes" also refers to his role as the Lord of the Vineyard, the Divine Reaper:

'Who is this coming from Edom, from Bosrah with his garments stained red, striding along with mighty power?' It is I proclaiming victory, I, who am strong to save. 'Why are your garments all red, like the garments of one treading grapes in the winepress?' -REB: Isaiah 63:1-2

When Baha'u'llah was exiled to Iraq, his entire property was confiscated, including his clothing. His loved ones pieced remnants of cloth together to make him a cloak. It was dyed red.{14}

In the Ages prior to Leo-Aquarius, the Lion was not one of the Pillars of the Age. But in the future Age that John is permitted to glimpse, he is told that the Lion of the tribe of Judah has 'triumphed,' and can now open the scroll. That is, since Leo is now dominant at the Fall equinox, the previous Age of Pisces now lies before him like an open book.

The four corners of the Piscean Age are Pisces/Zebulon, Sagittarius/Joseph, Virgo/Dinah, and Gemini/Simeon-Levi. The influence of these signs during the Piscean Age will become evident as the seals are broken. In the Leo-Aquarian Age, the four corners are to be Leo/Judah, Taurus/Issachar, Aquarius/Reuben, and Flying Eagle/Manasses. {15} The dominance of the signs in our future history will become evident during the next two millennia.

THE LAMB WITH SEVEN HORNS AND SEVEN EYES:
6 And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes , which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth. -Rev 5:6

[REB: 6 Then I saw a Lamb with the marks of sacrifice on him, standing with the four living creatures between the throne and the elders. He had seven horns and seven eyes, the eyes which are the seven spirits of God sent to every part of the world.]

Aries the Ram or 'Lamb' is the first sign of the zodiac. In the twenty centuries immediately preceding the Age of Pisces, Aries was the sun's dawning house at Springtime. {16} However, the inexorable precession of the equinoxes caused the dawning point of Spring to enter Pisces at about the time of the Manifestation of Jesus the Messiah. Thus the 'Lamb was sacrificed' to make way for the new AGE. But astrologers say that Spring always occurs under the SIGN of Aries, regardless of the CONSTELLATION where the sun resides during that season. Thus, since the constellation at Spring is never Aries, it can be said that the Lamb is always 'sacrificed' each time a new Age occurs. The 'Lamb' is therefore a perfect symbol for Supreme Sacrifice, and some astrologers even suggest that the religious ritual of lamb-sacrifice began in the Near East at about the same time as the Age of Aries.

Be that as it may, we observe that a Sacrificial Hero seems to be necessary for the birth of any Divinely revealed Faith. Most of these Sacrificial Heroes are known from the historical record, and, in some Dispensations, such as those of Jesus Christ and the Bab, the Manifestation himself may actually climb the 'lofty summit of great martyrdom.'

But the Lamb that John sees in his vision of the Leo-Aquarian Age has special attributes: 7 'horns' and 7 'eyes.' A 'horn' is a 'handle,' that is, a name. The 'eyes' are stars, and the 7-stars represent the Seven Spirits of God that are sent to EVERY PART OF THE WORLD. Thus it is clear that the Lamb of the Leo-Aquarian Age consummates the Sacrificial Heroes of all 7-Churches, regardless of the names by which they may be called.

There is one Figure in the Leo-Aquarian Age who meets these requirements- the Bab. As Jesus opened the 'door' to the Age of Pisces, the Bab ( = 'Gate') opened the 'door' to the Age of Leo- Aquarius. His Supreme Sacrifice opened the door that permitted the Manifestation of Baha'u'llah, Who holds the seven stars in His right hand of power. Baha'u'llah, the Lion of the Leo- Aquarian Age, passes the scroll to the Bab, the Lamb of the Leo- Aquarian Age. Thus we see that the power to open the scroll actually comes from Baha'u'llah.

It was the Bab Who broke the seals of prophetic works by being the first Manifestation to reveal the occult meanings of certain crucial symbols used in those texts. But the Bab broke the seals in another way, by fulfilling certain prophecies of the texts, and in particular, parts of the Apocalypse. The unsealing that was begun by the Bab was continued by Baha'u'llah, as will become evident as the scroll is unrolled.{17}

PRAISE TO THE LAMB:
And he came and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat upon the throne. And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and the four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odors, which are the prayers of the saints.
-Rev 5:7-8

THE NEW SONG:
9 And they sung a new song , saying. Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; 10 And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth. And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto the Lamb for ever and ever. And the four beasts said, Amen. And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshipped him that liveth for ever and ever. -Rev 5:9-14

[REB 9-10 "and they were singing a new song: 'You are worthy to receive the scroll and break its seals, for you were slain and by thy blood you bought for God people of every tribe and language, nation and race. You have made them a royal house of priests for our God, and they shall reign on earth."]

The new song is the message of the Bab and Baha'u'llah. ".... the divines and doctors ... have ... refused to incline their ears unto the divine Melody." -BH {18} Unlike the messages of previous Ages, the Leo-Aquarian message is to be directed to the people of EVERY tribe and language, nation and race, not primarily directed, for example, to the tribes of Israel, nor to the speakers of Hebrew, Greek, Arabic of Sanskrit, nor to Persians, Indians, Americans, Semites or Caucasians.

Although the Bab has earned the right to break the seals, the grant to do so comes from the One on the throne. "... whatsoever My Previous Manifestation and Harbinger of My Beauty (the Bab) hath revealed hath been My Revelation and the proclamation of My Cause." -BH {19}





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Robert Riggs is a member of the Baha'i Faith living in the United States. Much of the material on this homepage consists of extracts from existing Baha'i publications, but also included are a number of insights and comments about prophecies which are entirely the author's own understanding and, as such, do not necessarily represent the official position of the Baha'i Faith or its teachings.