Chapter VI: The Promise of Salvation
Genesis 18 Spiritually Interpreted
Gen. 18:1-5. And Jehovah appeared unto him by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day; and he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men stood over against him: and when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself to the earth, and said, My lord, if now I have found favor in thy sight, pass not way, I pray thee, from thy servant: let now a little water be fetched, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree: and I will fetch a morsel of bread, and strengthen ye your heart; after that ye shall pass on: forasmuch as ye are come to your servant. And they said, So do, as thou hast said.
Here we have a most interesting account of another of Jehovah's appearances to Abraham. This time Abraham was sitting "in the tent door," inactive because of "the heat of the day." The tent was pitched under the oaks of Mamre, and Jehovah's appearance here was the most definite of all. The oak tree denotes something strong and protective. In many places in the Bible God's protection is compared to an oak tree. We are told that God is our strength, our deliverance, our refuge from the storm. The name Mamre means "fatness," "firmness," "vigor," "strength," and Mamre symbolizes endurance, renewed life, and abundant substance. Thus we see that faith (Abraham) has in and around itself everything needful for growth and for its firm establishment in consciousness.
When did God's triune nature become known to Abraham?
"He lifted up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men stood over against him." Faith must "lift up" its eyes above all material things and look to the spiritual as the source of all. Having done that, it will perceive the truth in its triune aspect. Abraham saw Jehovah as "three men." Jehovah is always the central figure,
but we must not lose sight of the fact that, although the one Mind is the omnipresent source of all, it manifests itself as a trinity of spirit, soul, and body, or spirit, consciousness, and substance. When faith lifts up its eyes and catches this vision, then indeed hath Jehovah appeared unto it, and His promises are sure and clear.
Abraham's bringing water to wash the feet of his guest or guests symbolizes the necessity of purifying the consciousness by the use of denials. The "morsel of bread" for the strengthening of the heart represents substance in its relation to the renewing of one's inner strength and courage; also the necessity of using affirmation (eating bread) for the growth of the soul. Abraham recognized the triune aspect of Jehovah in manifestation, for he talked to the three men as though they were one man, whom he addresses as "my lord." This "my lord" is the I AM.
How is a new state of consciousness produced?
If by faith in Spirit we receive the higher ideas and entertain them as though they were realities instead of "figments of the imagination," as the faithless term them, we thereby open the way for a new state of consciousness. Many Truth seekers try to visualize God by thinking of the divine master Jesus and surround themselves with pictures of Him to aid the eye of faith.
Jehovah goes into the details of His former promise to Abraham (faith) at greater length because through his faith he has now comprehended God in a more particular and practical way. At the time of the former promise Jehovah was understood in an abstract and transcendent way, and His promise was abstract and vast in scope: that Abraham should be the father of multitudes. Now Abraham (faith) sees God in His
triune manifestation as spirit, soul, and body, like unto "three men," which is a definite and practical conception. The promise is renewed and made specific in its terms. Abraham is to be the father of a nation, because his wife Sarah is to give birth to a son. This is a definite promise that cannot be misunderstood by Abraham or long postponed by Jehovah.
Since the human race is made up of individuals all patterned after the one divine-idea man, we can see in the history of these Bible characters the story of their own spiritual development both as individuals and as a race. Our understanding of the life of Abraham will not be complete unless we consider it in both these relations to us.
Gen. 18:6-15. And Abraham hastened into the tent unto Sarah, and said, Make ready quickly three measures of fine meal, knead it, and make cakes. And Abraham ran unto the herd, and fetched a calf tender and good, and gave it unto the servant; and he hasted to dress it. And he took butter, and milk, and the calf which he had dressed, and set it before them; and he stood by them under the tree, and they did eat. And they said unto him, Where is Sarah thy wife? And he said, Behold, in the tent. And he said, I will certainly return unto thee when the season cometh round; and, lo, Sarah thy wife shall have a son. And Sarah heard in the tent door, which was behind him. Now Abraham and Sarah were old, and well stricken in age; it had ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women. And Sarah laughed within herself, saying, After I am waxed old shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also? And Jehovah said unto Abraham, Wherefore did Sarah laugh, saying, Shall I of a surety bear a child, who am old? Is anything too hard for Jehovah? At the set time I will return unto thee,
when the season cometh round, and Sarah shall have a son. Then Sarah denied, saying, I laughed not; for she was afraid. And he said, Nay; but thou didst laugh.
The feast that Abraham set before Jehovah symbolizes the new vital forces in the bodily organism (tent)--which shares in the spiritual unfoldment--producing a new state of consciousness (Isaac) in spite of what seems advanced age or deterioration of bodily vigor. Isaac represents the pleasure and joyousness of life. The incredulity of Abraham and Sarah symbolizes the doubts of the natural man.
Gen. 18:16-33. And the men rose up from thence, and looked toward Sodom: and Abraham went with them to bring them on the way. And Jehovah said, Shall I hide from Abraham that which I do; seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? For I have known him, to the end that he may command his children and his household after him, that they may keep the way of Jehovah, to do righteousness and justice; to the end that Jehovah may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him. And Jehovah said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous; I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know. And the men turned from thence, and went toward Sodom: but Abraham stood yet before Jehovah. And Abraham drew near, and said, Wilt thou consume the righteous with the wicked? Peradventure there are fifty righteous within the city: wilt thou consume and not spare the place for the fifty righteous that are therein? That be far from thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the
wicked, that so the righteous should be as the wicked; that be far from thee: shall not the Judge of all the earth do right? And Jehovah said, If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sake. And Abraham answered and said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, who am but dust and ashes: peradventure there shall lack five of the fifty righteous: wilt thou destroy all the city for lack of five? And he said, I will not destroy it, if I find there forty and five. And he spake unto him yet again, and said, Peradventure there shall be forty found there. And he said, I will not do it for the forty's sake. And he said, Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak: peradventure there shall thirty be found there. And he said, I will not do it, if I find thirty there. And he said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord: peradventure there shall be twenty found there. And he said, I will not destroy it for the twenty's sake. And he said, Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak yet but this once: peradventure ten shall be found there. And he said, I will not destroy it for the ten's sake. And Jehovah went his way, as soon as he had left off communing with Abraham: and Abraham returned unto his place.
The time has now arrived in the development of spiritual consciousness when faith (Abraham) must be fully awakened to the truth that all belief in the expression of sensuality must be entirely put away. Sodom is to be destroyed. But the man of faith is not yet entirely out of his sense consciousness. Sodom ("hidden wiles") represents an obscure or concealed thought habit. Gomorrah ("material force") represents a state of mind adverse to the law of Spirit. These wicked cities of the plain are located within man, and before he can come into a realization of the promised "son"
that he desires so much he must consent to a thorough purification from the sins that go on in them. The purification is by fire and must be absolutely complete.
Why does the Abraham of our consciousness plead for Sodom and Gomorrah?
The remainder of the chapter concerns Jehovah's revelation to Abraham of His intention utterly to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah because of their great wickedness; also Jehovah's agreement to save Sodom if only ten righteous men could be found in it. The tendency to plead to be allowed to keep old habits of thought on the ground that there is some good in them is a characteristic of man's early stages of development. We try very hard to save some of our secret habits and sense thoughts. At first we reason that there must be quite a few good things in the old thoughts, ideas, and ways. Then we are a little less sure about there being "fifty" and we come down to "ten." But there are not even ten righteous, and the old consciousness must be destroyed. Error must be wholly wiped out of the consciousness, and the sooner we consent to accept the fullness of the regenerative law the sooner we shall enter the kingdom.
Sodom represents the very lowest form of sense desire in the procreative center. Today we derive from the word Sodom the name of an unmentionable vice. Yet the spiritual-minded Abraham persisted in the belief that there must be some good in Sodom. Jehovah showed him otherwise. The tendency to plead that there must be good in sense habits persists very strongly. We cannot conceive why these functions, which seem so necessary to the reproduction of the race, should not be under the divine law. We have not yet awakened to the fact that they are but an external and counterfeit expression, a degenerate imitation, of divine reproduction.
Do not hold the thought that your so-called natural functions are divine. They are great mysteries to the human consciousness, to be understood when we have acquired spiritual wisdom. The race has gone through some strange experiences, and wonderful revelations come to those who get beneath the surface of things. There are those walking the earth today who could startle the world with revelations of Truth about the things right under our eyes that we do not see. Resolutely turn your back on all the forms of sense thought and seek no excuse for them. Then you will gradually begin to see the light within the light.
What do the incidents, men, and places in Abraham's life represent?
All these incidents, men, and places represent states of consciousness in the individual. The men represent the human desires that are still attached to the senses (Sodom and Gomorrah); the incidents denote their method of operation, and the places indicate their sphere of activity.
Preceding Entry: Mysteries of Genesis 151-156: Genesis 17 Mysteries of Genesis
Following Entry: Mysteries of Genesis 164: Chapter VII: The Fruits of Faith