The Mystical Teachings of Christianity by Jim Lewis
When is the end of this world coming? Will it be soon? Will it be before the end of this century? What will it be like? These and many other questions have been asked about the Day of Judgment. There are references to this day in both the Old and New Testaments. Many people, in reading the Bible, take out of context these passages about the end of the world and the final judgment. They try to relate them to things that are happening today. But these passages, the utterances of prophets, were for the people of the prophet’s time. They were trying to help the people meet some crises that were coming or that had already happened.
Let us take the prophet Zephaniah in the Old Testament for an example and give some thought to his proclamation about the “Day of the Lord”. The time was about 621 B.C. Other prophets before Zephaniah had warned Judah, the Southern Kingdom, that she was on a downhill path to destruction because of the evil ways of the people. They had turned from worshipping Yahweh. There were some moments of repenting and of making an effort toward reform, but the general trend was still downhill.
The prophet Zephaniah came along to warn the people that the time when God would step in and put an end to the corruption was near. The northern kingdom of Israel had been destroyed a hundred years earlier. The Assyrians had so thoroughly scattered the people throughout the Assyrian Empire that they have since been known as the Lost Tribes of Israel.
The Assyrian Empire was now in trouble. Pressure was off Judah and Jerusalem; complacency and corruption were commonplace among politicians, judges, prophets and priests. Baal worship was practiced. One king, Ahaz, had even erected altars on the roof of the palace for the worship of foreign deities of the heavens, the sun, moon, and signs of the zodiac. The people as well as the king were more interested in the astral cult than they were in Yahweh.
Zephaniah was stirred to prophecy to tell what he thought God was about to do. He no doubt saw the barbarian Scythian invasion in the north as a sign of coming doom. He said, “The great day of Yahweh is near, near and hastening fast.” (Zeph. 1:14) He said it would be a day of destruction, wrath, trouble, and great distress. It would be a time of great ruin and devastation. The people thought it might be otherwise, for they believed they were God’s chosen and that He would never destroy them. Zephaniah was letting them know it was to be quite different. Would it happen to Judah? Could it happen to Judah? Zephaniah was saying, “You bet it can and it will.” And it did, 35 years later in 585 B.C., when Nebuchadnezzar, the Babylonian king, came down upon Judah, defeated her, and carried away the elite to Babylon. The Great Day of the Lord had come and it wasn’t what they thought it would be. They had no king David to lead them in victorious battle. Their king was defeated even though they thought he was divine.
The New Testament also contains passages that tell about a coming end of the world and a great day of judgment. The passage most often referred to is probably that contained in Revelation, chapter 20. Revelation is highly symbolic and when taken literally leads us up a blind alley; it has been used to predict many ends that have not happened. It wasn’t written for the twentieth century; it was written to deal with a complex situation in the first century. This doesn’t mean we cannot find helpful information for today, but we cannot determine or predict the end of the world from the prophecy in this book. It is apocalyptic writing; its very nature is hidden and symbolic.
Let us put the book back into context with the times and see what the writer, whoever he was, was endeavoring to say to the people. Christianity was new and it was in trouble. The Roman Emperors thought they were gods and were trying to enforce Emperor worship; many Christians were following along. The Romans had already shown their toughness in dealing with subversion and rebels. The Jews revolted and their Temple was destroyed in 70 A.D. The Christians were refusing to do what was demanded of them by the Emperor. The writer of Revelation was trying to encourage or threaten them into remaining loyal and faithful to the beliefs of Christianity, to worship only the one God. He told them the end of time was near and that there would be a big battle at Armageddon and God would be victorious. After almost 2,000 years many are still waiting for the big battle to take place. Many are busy reading Revelation trying to figure out the secret writings so that they can be ready. The reign of 1,000 years of peace has not taken place yet. The “Day of Judgment” is still in the future for traditional, misinformed Christians.
What is the teaching about the Day of Judgment? It is believed to be a time when the world will come to an end. All individuals will be brought before God for a final accounting to determine whether they will go to hell and suffer for eternity or go to heaven and live in peace and happiness for eternity. The dead will come out of their tombs and they will be judged also.
When Jesus spoke of this mystical idea He said it would happen before the present generation He was speaking to had passed away. He too emphasized the nearness of the great day, but He was speaking of it from the mystical point of view and not literally.
The meaning of the Day of Judgment is twofold; the first concerns the law of cause and effect, the Mosaic tradition of the Old Testament. It is called a “day” but it might just as well be called a moment in time or the moment of compensation. It is the time when we reap what we have sown or when we get what is rightfully ours, whether it is what we expected or not. In most instances it is not what we expected since we are like the people in Zephaniah’s time; we think we are doing what is right and what is expected of us by God, but we are not. We do things that we think are religious as outer acts, but God “looks upon the heart”.
Many people are not even aware that there is a principle of compensation at work in their lives. Yet Jesus said, “You shall give account for every idle word.” Like Zephaniah, we have our modern day spiritual prophets, teachers or truth, who have come along to tell us that we must change our consciousness if we want to avoid the unpleasant consequences. We hear these words and we agree with them, but in many instances we continue in our negative ways of thought, feeling, belief, and action. False beliefs about God are destructive, yet many refuse to give them up. For example, to believe that God is a tyrant that condemns, punishes and hates is to believe something about God that is false.
So many of our religious beliefs as well as our social, cultural, political and economic beliefs are false, yet because we seem to be doing all right, we think we should stand firm and hold to them. How do you get a person to realize the untruth of a belief that he has worshipped for many years, and in which he has felt a false sense of security? When his “day” comes, a crisis when he needs the help of God, the reassurance of God’s healing power, and he does not receive it, he thinks God is against him and God is not.
In some Oriental religions, this moment of compensation is called karma. It is the payment of a debt, so to speak. When a person does something that is not right in principle, a certain compensation or consequence is necessary. This action-reaction, sowing-reaping, takes place whether the person knows about the law or not. For example, if I place my hand on a hot stove, I get burned. Getting burned is a consequence of an action that I performed. I may have thought that putting my hand on the stove would give me some benefit, but my thinking that did not make it so. Yet, this is the type of thinking that many people entertain. They think that if they just believe something that they have been told is true, it will be so. When the results they were promised do not happen, or worse, when they get negative results instead, they are disillusioned.
Through our thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and actions we set up in our soul a state or many states of consciousness that will bring about various results. A prophet such as Zephaniah is one who can perceive or feel and apprehend these states of consciousness and tell what results will transpire. This record in soul-consciousness is called the Akashic record of the soul. It is referred to as the “Book of Life” in Revelation. It is the record of the Divine Bookkeeper, the Law of Compensation. This Book of Life or the Akashic records will reveal to us who we were in past lives if we desire to know this and if we can take the information without becoming unduly self-critical of ourselves because we may discover that we have had an unsavory past. The Book of Life records that are kept by the Divine Bookkeeper, the Law of Compensation, are not kept because God is vengeful and likes and enjoys punishing us. When we really understand this Law of Compensation we will rejoice and be glad that it is accurate and that it does keep perfect and accurate records. It will bless us with the good as well as the unpleasant compensations.
A negative application of principle brings about an unpleasant and undesirable reaction in the life of an individual. This negative reaction of the Law of Cause and Effect is referred to in the Bible as the “wrath of God”. We should keep in mind that this is only a human description of a phenomenon that wasn’t too well understood in ancient times. The reaction of the Law of Compensation on a group basis may come about in violent weather or shifts in the earth’s crust. We should keep in mind that God is not responsible, we are. If we do not like the negative results we can change them. We cannot hold negative beliefs and get good results. Jesus told us this when He said, “A corrupt tree cannot bring forth good fruit.”
This cause-effect, action-reaction is going on continuously in our lives; it will never end. Rituals are man’s attempts to placate and change this Law, but it cannot be done. The only way results can be changed is to change our application of the Law and we do that through our thinking and feeling. We are to come to the place in our spiritual growth where we apply this Law of Compensation in only constructive ways. It is like a musician who has mastered the keyboard and can consciously strike the right keys. He knows what he is doing; he obeys the principles and harmony results. When we learn the rules, the principles, and apply them consciously, then we too will have a harmonious and beautiful experience.
The second and even more mystical meaning of the Day of Judgment pertains to an individual experience; it has nothing to do with any outer event or events. Its time cannot be predicted, for it depends upon the individual, his determination to pursue truth, and his willingness to let it transform him and his life. It happens before the New Birth experience. It is vividly described by Jesus in the Gospel of Mark, the 13th chapter.
It is a day or a period when a big battle takes place within the individual, in his consciousness. Armageddon’s location is unknown, but it is believed to be Mt. Zion in Jerusalem. It was believed that the Messiah would make his appearance here and he will, metaphysically speaking. A mount is a place in consciousness, an elevated state where one is prepared to release old beliefs and accept new ideas of truth, to release what is false in consciousness and to accept what is true. The battle of Armageddon is the conflict between truth and error in consciousness.
Many people have not reached the point in their soul development where they are even ready for this great battle of Armageddon. If a person rejects truth outright he doesn’t get to this point. Old beliefs don’t die easily, especially the ones that are considered true in religion. The only way to get to this Mt. Zion or Armageddon is to persistently pursue the truth through thick and thin, even if it hurts you psychologically and physically to do so. Keep on studying and praying in spite of confusion and lack of understanding; by all means continue whether you seem to be getting “outer” results. So many give up too easily. So many give up when the pressure is put on them by well-meaning friends who want to “save” them from what they believe to be heresies.
This is a battle that is going to be fought. The prophets forecast it; Jesus said it would happen. Jesus even gives a vivid description (symbolically) of some of the psychological things that would happen in a person when this battle begins. He describes the confusion, frustration and the struggle to understand. One may think he is losing his mind; and his friends may assure him he is, if he keeps up this foolishness. There may even be physical reactions due to this stirring up on consciousness which Emilie Cady calls chemicalization in her book, Lessons in Truth.
Although this is a challenging time, it is a time for really rejoicing. It may seem that others are enjoying their peace by remaining in the consciousness where they are. Some cling desperately to the old traditions at this time thinking they will avoid the conflict, but they won’t avoid it; they can’t—they can only delay it or prolong it. The battle of Armageddon doesn’t have to be a 50 years’ war, but many drag it out even longer than that. As in many battles there are intermittent lulls that delude us into thinking the battle is over. However, it isn’t over until the New Birth experience takes place, until the Messiah appears on Mt. Zion, the place in consciousness where we realize our oneness with God; we realize that He is within us.
The turmoil doesn’t have to last long if the resolve to let go, to sacrifice our old false beliefs, is strong. If we have that resolve, the victory will be immediate and we can get on with the true development of spiritual consciousness. When the battle is raging is no time to discuss your beliefs with conservatives who do not understand. It is not a time to try to get others to follow you in your new efforts to discover the truth. They don’t understand and they will help defeat you and bring you back into captivity where they are, the fold of traditionalism.
Don’t be reluctant to undertake the battle. Remember, the battle is not yours, it is God’s, and He will help you win it. It will seem that you are waging the battle in darkness and this is probably right, but the light of His presence will see you through. Truth is always stronger than error, but truth must have our consent in order to help us.
The Day of Judgment is not something to fear or to dread. The old world will pass away with all its habits, associations, and many other things that we thought were making us happy but were not. Even the search for truth will be a new experience for us. After the old has passed away, we are told that there will be a reign of 1,000 years of peace before Satan is stirred up again for the final battle.
The 1,000 years of peace is the time we are developing truth in consciousness in a peaceful way. There will be challenges but they will not be like they were before we were committed to truth, to following the inner light. The 1,000 years is not a literal period of time; it only means a sufficient amount of time to develop a complete consciousness of oneness with God that will enable us to make the Great Demonstration that Jesus called “everlasting life” and that Paul referred to when he said, “The last enemy that shall be overcome is death.”
© 1981, Dr. James C. Lewis
All rights reserved by the author.
Reprinted with permission.