METAPHYSICAL BIBLE INTERPRETATION OF THE OLD TESTAMENT
This is a series of lectures given by Mr. Edward Rabel, member of the faculty of S.M.R.S.
Fall semester 1975 - 2nd. Yr. Class. Lecture given on October 27, 1975
Exod. 3, pp. 195-198 of transcript.
Moses and the Burning Bush: I AM
Moses had to grow up In Egypt before the Promised Land work was given to him, so it seems reasonable to accept the fact that we, too, grow up in our ordinary, realistic, and sense-bound activities In life before we can expect the golden opportunities to display our spiritual promise and authority.
In Chapter 3 is this famous voice of the Lord, heard by Moses from out of a burning bush, which is not consumed by the fire. This bush, on its lowest level, is a symbol of man's mental and nervous system; and this particular bush in which the voice of the Lord is heard and is not being consumed by the fire, then would be more specific. It would represent man's mental and nervous system, not just the material part of it, but the whole thing, material as well as the substance part. When Spirit is expressing through it and communicating with man's mind, the fire is mental and emotional energy. Fire burning in the Bible, very often means the expenditure of mental and emotional energy. Ordinarily, man's mental and nervous system indulging in what we call just ordinary, run-of-the-mill thinking, expends this mental energy, and the expenditure of it has a consuming effect on the mental and nervous system. Now, don't jump ahead too far.
Let's stay with this. You know, yourself, that when you indulge yourself in long periods of concentrated, intellectual thinking on something, you are expending mental energy through your mental and nervous system, and you soon begin to feel the consuming effect that expenditure has on you. You get tired, you see. You get to feel depleted. You've got to go to sleep, or divert your attention so that what has been consumed can be replaced, and it's always replaced with a little more than what was consumed. Ain't you glad? That's great. Even on this level, even on a pure, mechanical, cause and effect level, this is so; else, let's take a weight lifter. On the sheerly, merely physical plane, he expends energy, which depletes his supply of muscles. Then, he rests, and does nature merely replace what he consumed in those exercises? Look what happens to his body; it builds. There is an increase in the replacement.
Now, the same thing is true on a mental and feeling level. You expend this energy for a good purpose, practice makes perfect, you are depleted, some amount is consumed, you rest or you do other things, and the replacement comes with addition. That's the law of prosperity, also, isn't it? That's the only way Spirit can act. Spirit cannot act In the process of even exchange. Denial and affirmation, consciously expressed, is all a part of this. Remember that Spirit does not deal In even exchanges. Spirit always deals with greater returns.
This particular scene symbolizes a preview of regeneration. Ordinarily we know that the expenditure of mental and emotional and psychic energy does consume the system through which it works, but this is not a bad thing; it is good, because it also replenishes and increases. This is what happens to ordinary mental struggling and emotional outbursts. They use up and deplete psychic or mental or emotional energy and can exhaust a person, but this incident illustrates a different sort of process, a sort of preview of what will be normal later, which is called regeneration, but which only happens in little spurts now. It happens here in this thing. This bush and the words and Moses' reaction to it all is symbolic of those rare moments in our life, when Divine Mind is thinking through us. Divine Mind is using our mental and nervous system as an instrument to bring its message directly to our current level of evolution, whatever it may be, where it gets through to us. It's not me thinking about Divine Mind now, but it's Divine Mind thinking itself into my field of awareness.
As I say, this is a rare happening, but it does happen to all persons who are ready for it, who are willing for it, and blessed are those who recognize it while it is happening. When we let Divine Mind think through us and impart its idea to us, it is through our relaxed attitude and open and receptive state of mind that constitutes the very highest form of positive thinking. In fact it almost transcends it. It is letting Divine Mind, God, do a certain kind of revealing in us, which is not really it thinking. Only we can think, but it reveals Itself to us in a manner where we're doing almost completely subjective thinking, receptive thinking; and we're learning much more that way than we ever get by mental struggling type of thinking. The thing is, in this particular state, there is not a depletion or a consuming of our nervous systems' energy. We do not go through a depletion experience, and so the bush is not consumed. Moses is instructed to assume leadership of the Israelites and take them out of Egypt into Canaan. When Moses protests and asks what name he could give as authority for what he was to do, the reply is of course the very famous, "I AM that I AM" discourse. "Thou shalt say unto the children of Israel 'I AM sent me unto you.'"
Now here we learn that I AM is the name of God, but which God? Which God are we dealing with here? The Jehovah-God-Thought, not that I AM is God's name. Good Lord, no. How could the people swallow a thing like that? I AM is not God's name; I AM is the name in human nature of the Jehovah-God-Thought-Presence, and that's all. That's all. It is not really correct, although we allow this. In Unity it's a bit of leniency with terminology; we do permit it to be taught. The I AM of the OT is the same as the Christ of the NT, but technically, strictly speaking, not so! The I AM of the OT is a symbol of something which is part of the way toward Christ Awareness, Christ Consciousness, but it is not equivalent to.
If Jehovah was not given a name that could be placed inside of a person, it would be too abstract, it would not really contribute to your unfoldment toward Jesus Christ awareness, so the writer very cleverly, maybe not cleverly but very obedient to spiritual guidance, includes this incident of knowing that the Jehovah-God-Thought, which is a necessary step toward Christ Consciousness, has to be personified within my nature. So he's given that unique, incomparable name, in fact the only possibly correct name, I AM.
I AM is not the Christ but I AM, Jehovah-God-Thought, in my human awareness leads me further toward that. Therefore, it's a very good thing, Jehovah-God-Thought, but not a good thing to settle for stop with, because then you don't get where you're going, just as Moses does not go into the Promised Land. Somebody else does. I AM is the name of the Jehovah-God-Thought in human awareness. Guess what my notes said? These notes are twelve years old. I AM is the name of God. It takes twelve years to get new understanding. God, Himself, Almighty God, is much more than I AM. The Jehovah-God-Thought certainly fits I AM, so don't quarrel with it. You let your intellect do something which is unnecessary; If you can't reconcile yourself to the fact that God, Himself, it, God - God is always much more than you and I can ever think about Him or name Him, if we ever can apply a name to God, it is to a subservient level within the totality of God.
I AM is a name, it is a reference, it is a concept, it is a realization in human nature; therefore, it is naming the God-thought of human nature, the highest that we know of in our culture is Jehovah, but He is very limited and not the whole thing, by any sense. For some reason, this I AM bit has sort of taken over in a lot of peoples' minds about God. I AM, and that's as far as they want to go; that's it, and they use I AM to refer to every aspect of God. This is not correct technically, but as I say, in Unity we permit the terminology I AM, in the OT, Christ in the NT. They can be regarded as the same. Well, they can be, but that doesn't mean they are the same. They aren't the same.
The Jews, even in their gross materiality and sensuality, even in religious things, yet their highest level of awareness kept telling them that God, God-God, God-Almighty, cannot be named; and so they very wisely abandoned the attempt to do it. They dealt with the level of God that they could name, which meant something to them, which is Jehovah for them. Then given this interior name for human nature, I AM, I AM is a God-thought, not God Almighty, God-Totality, that can have no name.
The name I AM represents a being being conscious of being; I AM is being, being conscious of being. There's only one way to describe that, I AM. Anything else is a distortion. I AM; I AM isn't a thing; I AM isn't an object; I AM isn't a person. It is being itself, conscious of itself. This realization, I AM that I AM is the only really legitimate authority for doing anything to further one's spiritual development. This is the authority for I AM, just like "Why did you climb Mount Everest?" Remember that? "Because it is there." Because it is there. What is your authority for studying and following truth? I AM that I AM is the authority.
Transcribed by Margaret Garvin on February 11, 2015.