The Mystical Teachings of Christianity by Jim Lewis
The hope for a great New Age springs eternal in the hearts of people everywhere. There may be variations of interpretation, but the kernel idea is the same, that there will come a day when there will be peace in the world and an abundance of every good thing, not only of food, but of material things to enjoy. There will be no hard work but an eternal enjoyment of things and relationships.
Most religious Scriptures promise that better times are ahead. Some have evolved to the extent that this promised good time will come only in another life somewhere else in the universe—not here on planet earth but in a heaven.
In our Christian tradition, which began with the Hebrews, there is the promise of a great leader who will rule all nations as leader of Israel. They, the Hebrews, were promised many things. To Abraham the promise was given that he would be the Father of a multitude of people. He was promised great wealth and he had that, but his followers have not done so well. After his experience of nearly sacrificing his son, Isaac, God spoke to him and said, “Because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son, that in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heavens, and as the sand which is upon the seashore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed . . .” (Gen. 22:15-18)
Later Abraham was taken up on a mountain where he gave Lot his choice of territory. Lot took the fertile Jordan valley. Then God spoke to Abraham and said that all that could be seen, north, south, east, and west, would be his.
Literally, these promises and many others have not as yet been fulfilled, nor are they likely to be. It is only recently that the Hebrews acquired even a small piece of land to call their own; it is not nearly so much as was promised to Abraham. It has been a struggle to keep that, for they have been plagued with wars. They can’t let up for one moment for fear of losing that small piece of land. They have no great king like David, no Messiah with superior talent and ability. I doubt the nation of Israel as it is set up today will ever have a king.
The promise to Abraham regarding territory, the promise recorded in Genesis 15:18, has never been fulfilled. It reads, “In that day Jehovah made a covenant with Abram saying, ‘Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates.’” This promise was made after Abram’s experience of rescuing Lot and his return encounter with Melchizedek. They, the people of Israel, held for a short time the land from the river of Egypt but they have given that back to Egypt now. They will probably never get it nor the land to the river Euphrates. They don’t even have all of the land of Canaan, the land flowing with milk and honey.
Yet there are many who no doubt continue to believe in these promises. Conservative Christians who take the Bible literally and believe that everything recorded in it is absolutely true will surely have a problem explaining away these promises or how they will be fulfilled, literally. Please note that I am stressing the word, “literally”.
In times of great crisis a prophet or leader comes along and makes these promises. He is sincere and makes them in the name of God. That makes the promises difficult to refute and because of the hard times the people are eager to believe any hopeful promise.
Take for example the time of the great struggle of the Jews with Antiochus Epiphanes. He was going to force the Jews to give up Judaism and adhere to Greek customs in law, politics, language, and religion. During this severe crisis in the history of Israel, many paid the supreme price—death. But some writer came along to offer encouragement and wrote the book of Daniel. The basic message in symbolic writing was this: hold on to your faith. The trouble won’t last long. God is about to step in and conclude all history. The writer even went so far as to say it would be in about three and a half years. Then there will be victory. God will reign supreme and you will be delivered. Don’t worship the Emperor. Don’t eat his rotten, pagan food that has been offered to idols.
As it turned out, the only thing fulfilled literally in that promise is that the crisis did end. The end of history did not come. The New Age was not ushered in. And a study of Hebrew history tells us that it has not been one of pence for them. The freedom they won from Antiochus Epiphanes was very short-lived, for after Antiochus the Romans dominated them for many more years. They wanted freedom from the Romans and lost their most precious outer symbol, the great Temple in Jerusalem. The Moslems came along and now their temple stands on that spot. So the most holy spot on earth doesn’t even belong to them.
The Christians haven’t done so well with their promises either. In their time of great crisis in the last half of the first century the Romans were going to make them worship the Emperor as a god. Many Christians paid the supreme price—death. Some writer came along and made some promises in the name of God; it is believed that he was the Apostle John. The promises are in the book of Revelation in a message similar to that of Daniel. His writing was the same, apocalyptic—veiled, hidden. His message was for the persecuted Christians of the early church. The message was basically this: just stand firm and hold to your faith. It won’t last long. God is about to step in and end history. Jesus is coming back as He said He would. Even though you thought he would have been back by now, it won’t be much longer. There will be a special blessing for those of you who die in these persecutions. You can read about the special blessing for the martyrs in Chapter 20. The martyrs will enjoy 1,000 years of glory before Satan is cut loose again. You martyrs will live and be with Jesus during this 1,000 years reign of peace and you will not be afraid of the second death that will come when Satan is subdued the second time.
Well, this writer was wrong. The crisis passed, but the end did not come. The New Age of 1,000 years did not come. It has been more than enough time. In fact the reign of 1,000 years would have been over by now if the second coming had taken place as predicted not only by this writer but even by Paul. The New Jerusalem did not come down out of the heavens and there has certainly not been a reign of peace for a very long time.
I could go on and on about the promises God is supposed to have made to Moses, David, Solomon and others. The marvel of it all is the persistent expectation of hope despite countless disappointments. Even the astrologers have told us the same thing in so many words. A new cycle is coming into existence. A new age of peace is in the making, the great Aquarian Age.
What are we to make of all this? What are we to believe? Should we keep false expectations alive? Is it better to live in blind hope than no hope at all? Or is there something to these promises? Maybe we have misunderstood what was promised. Maybe the prophet or the writer was mistaken in conveying the real truth to us. Maybe his literal interpretation was not the real meaning.
There are many Christians today living in a false hope. It is the same as the Hebrew hope only it is clothed in the person of Jesus Christ. This in no way denies the validity of Jesus and what He sought to do; it shows only that He has been misunderstood by well-meaning teachers in the past. Many so-called Christian prophets have preached the near and almost immediate coming of Jesus and the fulfillment of the promises. Some teach that Jesus is the fulfillment of the promises made in the Old Testament. All the way from Paul to our present day, nearly 2,000 years, we have been told that the time is just about here. But, on the literal level, the “kingdom of God” has not been ushered in. There have been people who have believed these promises and have actually prepared for them by accumulating food supplies and going to certain locations where the second coming is supposed to take place. There is one branch of the Christian church which requires its members to keep a store of food in their homes, just in case the great event begins to happen in their lifetimes.
The promises of a New Age are still possible, but not in the way we have been led to believe. Did you know there are no doubt millions and millions of individuals already living in the New Age consciousness and experience? The great age of peace is not confined to this tiny planet, for we live in a fabulous universe. This planet can be fabulous also, but it is going to take a lot of work to rehabilitate it. It will probably take many thousands of years. People don’t change easily or readily, especially in religion. However, it doesn’t have to take that long for you.
Your New Age can begin at any moment you decide for it to begin. You can begin moving into that age today or tomorrow. Or you can wait for another lifetime or several lifetimes from this one. Paul was describing this moment when he said, “Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind.” There can be no New Age for anyone without this transforming experience. It makes no difference how much he may long for it to be done for him, as was the traditional teaching. This just isn’t true, even though the majority believe this way today. Jesus taught that we must be born again, transformed in consciousness, and that this work must be done in us with God’s help. He said that the Father within us would help us if we would only turn to Him for that help, but we haven’t; we have turned instead to the outer world for our help.
It will be a challenging experience to repent, to change our consciousness, to let go of what is false and prepare the way for the coming acceptance of truth. But our outer world cannot be better until we are better in consciousness. By this I mean that growing in spiritual understanding is the prerequisite for entering the New Age. This includes our practicing the truth we learn or that is revealed to us. It includes the doing of the things we know we should do instead of continually procrastinating. It is easy to put things off when we live by a false hope of going some place in a New Age where we will automatically become good. It just doesn’t happen that way no matter how much we would like for it to be that way.
This year, this day, can be the beginning of our New Age. Only you can enter into that covenant with your Lord. Some of the Biblical promises were not fulfilled literally because the people did not keep their end of the agreement. The promises are still there and still valid. They can still be fulfilled, not literally, but more than literally. You can be healed. You can be happy. You can be prospered, more prospered than Abraham or any of the ancient Biblical characters. Your dreams of a glorious age of peace are possible. You can have peace in this world in spite of what is going on in it. You don’t have to wait until all the people on planet earth decide to do what is right and good and true. That may be a long, long time, considering the slow pace at which we are now traveling.
But all this can come to pass only if you learn the laws of life, the laws and principles that govern the manifestation of all good. I’ll not offer you the false hope of getting something for nothing; that which is offered as an easy hope in the future is worthless. The land flowing with milk and honey, the Promised Land, is not a territory, no matter how sacred that spot is supposed to be or what has taken place there in the past. The Promised Land is a consciousness of truth which includes the ability to express that truth and have the great life God promised each of us. God will multiply the good in your life if you will let Him and follow Him in absolute trust. His blessings are unlimited. “Eye hath not seen nor ear heard of the good in store for those who love Him.”
The New Age is not a theological concept to be fulfilled in the future. The New Age is for you now. Many are already living fully in it. Many have begun the journey into the New Age. If you haven’t you can begin now. All it takes is to say to the Lord within you, “I am ready now to begin. I put aside all procrastination. I am willing to do whatever is necessary to prepare myself to live with God in the New Age of peace, harmony, and great joy.”
© 1981, Dr. James C. Lewis
All rights reserved by the author.
Reprinted with permission.