Chapter VI: The Promise of Salvation
Genesis 17 Spiritually Interpreted
Gen. 17:1-8. And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, Jehovah appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be thou perfect. And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly. And Abram fell on his face: and God talked with him, saying, As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be the father of a multitude of nations. Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for the father of a multitude of nations have I made thee. And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee. And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee and to thy seed after thee. And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land of thy sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.
"I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be thou perfect."
Explain God as El Shaddai.
According to the Scofield Bible, the word Almighty is a translation of the Hebrew El Shaddai, one of the names applied to God in the Old Testament. El means the "Strong One," and shad means "the breast, invariably used in Scripture for a woman's breast. Shaddai therefore means primarily 'the breasted.' God is 'Shaddai' because He is the nourisher, the strength-giver, and so, in a secondary sense, the satisfier, who pours Himself into believing lives."
What new name is given to one who overcomes sense consciousness; that is, what name is on your "white stone"?
It was revealed to Abram that he should henceforth be called Abraham, which means "father of a multitude." The change in name always denotes a change in character so pronounced that the old name will no longer apply to the new person. We read that Jacob's name was changed to Israel, Simon's to Peter, and Saul's name was changed to Paul. The change of name applies to everyone who changes from sense to Spirit, as is indicated in Revelation 2:17: "I will give him [that overcometh sense] a white stone, and upon the stone a new name written, which no one knoweth but he that receiveth it." The new name, Abraham, "father of a multitude," when we apply it individually means that our faith is to be expressed by bringing the multitude of our thoughts into the realm of Spirit and under the guidance of the Christ.
Through Abraham God called His "chosen people." Some have thought that God's choice of a particular nation or race is out of harmony with the idea of fatherly love and impartiality toward all His children, and so have rejected part of God's purpose before they understood it in its wholeness. Justice to all is seen when the "elect" (select) are considered in their rightful place in the divine plan of redemption. The Jews are the seed of Abraham, and through them is the whole human race blessed by the coming of Jesus.
Does the second appearance of Jehovah to Abraham have any spiritual import for us? The third appearance?
When Abraham (faith) first catches this large vision of his good, multiplied "as the stars of the heavens," he is not concerned with details, which will work themselves out later. The particular channel through which this great expression would come was not revealed to Abraham in the first promise. The specific thing, the birth of a son to Sarah to be called
Isaac, was a much later revelation. All the facts in connection with the call of Abraham, his experiences, and the several promises made to him by Jehovah God are very important to us, for the great plan of redemption cannot be understood without them. All these promises have not been fulfilled even yet, but the word of God stands sure, and there can be no failure in their fulfillment.
Jehovah on His first contact with Abraham made him a certain promise, namely that his descendants should become a great nation in which all the people of the earth would be blessed. This was rather abstract and indefinite: Abraham was to leave his old life and environment, give up his home, and go into a new and unknown land (state of consciousness).
Jehovah made His second appearance to Abraham when he was camped under the oak of Moreh, in the land of Shechem. At that time he was on his way down to Egypt, keeping the commandment "Get thee out of thy country . . . unto the land that I will show thee." Here he received Jehovah's promise "Unto thy seed will I give this land." This shows us that Abraham is progressing in understanding, that God is becoming more definite to him, and the promise more specific.
Jehovah next appeared to Abraham after he had separated himself from Lot and returned to the land of Canaan. This time the promise was still more definite, namely that Jehovah would give him and his seed forever this very land that he saw and walked upon, to the eastward, westward, northward, and southward. Nothing indefinite or theoretical about that! Yet the promise was still indefinite as regards the descendants, who were to be as numerous as the dust of the earth.
The indefinite nature of this part of the promise was due to Abraham's lack of understanding and complete faith, for somewhere in his mind was a doubting thought caused by the fact that his wife Sarah was barren. When we doubt God's promises by speculating how He can keep them, or when we set up limitations on His power, we of course fail to comprehend, and the promises seem vague and indefinite.
What does the Promised Land symbolize?
Canaan means "lowland"; it symbolizes the body. The redeemed body is the Promised Land, and when man rediscovers this lost domain all the promises of the Scriptures will be fulfilled.
Gen. 17:9-14. And God said unto Abraham, And as for thee, thou shalt keep my covenant, thou, and thy seed after thee throughout their generations. This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee: every male among you shall be circumcised. And ye shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of a covenant betwixt me and you. And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every male throughout your generations, he that is born in the house, or bought with money of any foreigner that is not of thy seed. He that is born in thy house, and he that is bought with thy money, must needs be circumcised: and my covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant. And the uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken my covenant.
Metaphysically explain circumcision. Toward what is it the first step?
Circumcision is symbolical of the cutting off of mortal tendencies, and is indicative of purification and cleanliness. One is circumcised in the true inner significance of the word only by being thoroughly purified
in soul. Then, the glory of the inner soul's cleansing and purifying action works out into the outer consciousness and the body and sets one free from all sensual, corruptible thoughts and activities. "Circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit not in the letter." Thus man becomes a new creature in Christ Jesus.
Circumcision is the first step toward the eventual elimination of generation. This was fulfilled in the life of Jesus who taught and demonstrated regeneration. He spiritualized both soul and body, and thus made the great demonstration over death. "Verily I say unto you, that ye who have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit on the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel."
Gen. 17:15-21. And God said unto Abraham, As for Sarai thy wife, thou shalt not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall her name be. And I will bless her, and moreover I will give thee a son of her: yea, I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of peoples shall be of her. Then Abraham fell upon his face, and laughed, and said in his heart, Shall a child be born unto him that is a hundred years old? and shall Sarah, that is ninety years old, bear? And Abraham said unto God, Oh that Ishmael might live before thee! And God said, Nay, but Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant for his seed after him. And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee: behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation. But my covenant will I establish with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear unto thee at this set time in the next year.
What does Sarah represent?
The name Sarai means "bitter," "contentious," "dominative." The name Sarah means "princess," "noble woman," "noble lady." Sarai's name was changed to Sarah. In spiritual symbology woman represents the soul or intuitive part of man. Sarah is the higher phase of the soul. In Sarai the soul in contending for its rightful place in consciousness; the individual is just recognizing the fact that his affection and emotions are in essence divine and must not be united with material conditions but with Spirit. In Sarah this is more fully realized and expressed.
Does God hear the outer man of flesh as well as the inner man of Spirit? Explain.
The name Ishmael means "whom God hears," "whom God understands." Metaphysically Ishmael represents the fruit of the thoughts of the natural man at work in the flesh. However, God hears and understands the outer man of flesh as well as the inner man of Spirit, for he too must be redeemed from error and corruption. The name Ishmael can also be said to denote that state of consciousness which recognizes God but which, because of the seeming opposition of the outer world, does not express itself according to the highest standards. In other words, Ishmael represents personality, which has its real source in the I AM but which goes wrong in its activity.
In its struggle to attain light, understanding, in contacting the outer or manifest world, it becomes involved in error.
The Lord Jehovah established His everlasting covenant with the promised heir of Abraham and Sarah, whose name was to be called Isaac.
Gen. 17:22-27. And he left off talking with him, and God went up from Abraham. And Abraham took Ishmael his son, and all that were born
in his house, and all that were bought with his money, every male among the men of Abraham's house, and circumcised the flesh of their foreskins in the selfsame day, as God had said unto him. And Abraham was ninety years old and nine, when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin. And Ishmael his son was thirteen years old, when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin. In the selfsame day was Abraham circumcised, and Ishmael his son. And all the men of his house, those born in the house, and those bought with money of a foreigner, were circumcised with him.
When Abraham received the light in regard to circumcision he not only conformed to the law himself but he ordered all the male members of his family to follow his example. Metaphysically interpreted, this means that the central ego (Abraham) catches the light or lays hold of the dominant idea and transmits it to all states of consciousness in its domain.
In what way is our religion based on practical principles?
Critics have accused religion of being too general, abstract, and idealistic. Some have said that the teachings of Jesus are not "practical" in this age. These critics are invariably looking at religion from a general and abstract point of view. They consider such promises as the one made to Abraham that he should be the father of a great nation, with descendants as many as the stars of heaven, allegorically rather than the terse and very definite promise "Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son."
From a careful study of Genesis, especially the story of Abraham, we should be able to see that our religion is either a purely speculative philosophy or a practical principle applicable to daily living, depending on our point of view and our understanding of it.
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Following Entry: Mysteries of Genesis 157-163: Genesis 18 Mysteries of Genesis