A Spiritual Interpretation of the Old Testament
As taught by:
Unity School for Religious Studies
Unity Village, MO 64065
I. MAJOR POINTS
- Metaphysical meaning and main metaphysical message of Ezekiel.
- Metaphysical meaning and main metaphysical message of Haggai.
- Metaphysical meaning and main metaphysical message of Nehemiah.
- Metaphysical meaning and main metaphysical message of Malachi.
- Metaphysical meaning and main metaphysical message of Jonah.
- Ezekiel Chapters 24, 37; Haggai Chapter 2; Nehemiah Chapters 1-2; Malachi Chapter 3; Jonah Chapters 1-4
- Let There Be Light Chapters XIII-IXX
- Metaphysical Bible Dictionary—under headings for separate names of prophets.
- Why is the statement in Ezekiel about "not mourning for the dead" metaphysically correct?
- What is the main point made in the vision of the dry bones?
- Why is it wise to follow Malachi 's instructions about giving (tithing)?
- What is the main metaphysical idea within the story of Jonah and the "great fish"?
"God strengthens; God is strong: whom God makes strong" Meta.: "That in us which relies on Spirit and encourages us to place our full trust in Jehovah, that the Lord Jehovah (the spiritual I AM in us) may become the keeper of our sheep (our spiritual thoughts)." (Metaphysical Bible Dictionary 211, 212)
"Sigh, but not aloud; make no mourning for the dead." (Ezek. 24:17)
These words are not spoken by Ezekiel, but are heard by him as the voice of Jehovah instructing him as to how to handle his grief over the recent death of his wife. These words symbolize a healthy attitude toward the fact of bereavement. Some sorrow should be felt, and some of it may even be expressed (Sigh--but not TOO loud). Real sadness and genuine sorrow can be therapeutic to the soul. Grief DOES NOT HAVE TO BE NEGATIVE! Few persons seem to realize this. But for one who does realize it great strength can be gained. Part of Ezekiel's meaning is "whom God makes strong."
"Make no mourning for the dead" is also metaphysically correct. If one mourns, he is really mourning for himself. He is bemoaning the way he feels, the way he is reacting within himself. Such mourning is really not for the dead.. Another reason why this instruction is metaphysically correct is because, in Truth, THERE ARE NO DEAD. There are no dead persons. Souls do make transitions, but souls do not die. And even the body does not really "die." The physical arrangement of the body atoms is simply cast aside and the atoms form into new structures as the soul goes into the transition experience. Therefore, the only thing involved which deserves any mourning is the sorrow over personal sense of separation.
Chapter 37 of Ezekiel presents his vision of the valley of dry bones. There are many possible metaphysical meanings for this vision, but the one which would relate most closely to the Unity point of view would be that a consciousness of Truth can transform even hopeless-looking situations.
Dry bones represent discouraging outer appearances. They also represent bare essentials, bare possibilities. They could also stand for old memories. But as an assembly, they represent situations most persons find themselves in at various times throughout life.
Ezekiel is told to prophesy to the bones. Later he is told to prophesy to the breath (wind, KJV). This means to speak words of Truth right into the facts of barren, hopeless-looking outer appearances. We are told that as he does so the bones begin to move, then connect, then to shape themselves into new forms. As Ezekiel continues to prophesy (affirm the Truth), the bones take on flesh, rise back into life, and become a living "host". All of this wonderful imagery symbolizes the bringing forth of new good out of old possibilities and old memories.
This is part of the wonderful "magic" of correct use of affirmation. To affirm is to declare the Truth of any of God's divine ideas. The idea of life is omnipresent—omnipresent in time as well as in space. Old conditions may pass away5 but life is never absent. It only needs to be made manifest as new conditions. The story of Ezekiel and the valley of dry bones is a classic metaphysical allegory illustrating just this point.
"festive; joyous; rejoicing" Meta.: "A realization of good as taking the place of seeming evil. That spiritual insight in man which heralds joyous, full, free deliverance from oppression, and abundance of rich substance and life for mind and body; it feasts upon the Truth daily, and foresees and foretells the working out of good." (Metaphysical Bible Dictionary 248)
"... Consider how you have fared. You have sown much, and harvested little; you eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill; you clothe yourselves, but no one is warm; and he who earns wages earns wages to put them into a bag with holes." (Hag. 1:5, 6)
This passage symbolizes the very reverse of "all sufficiency in all things." Haggai denounces the consciousness which produces INSUFFICIENCY in all things. Where does this consciousness of insufficiency come from? Its basic cause is ever the same: too much indulgence in materialistic thinking and judging and believing.
The material is meant to serve the spiritual. But too often man uses his mind to try to reverse the process. He makes this attempt mostly in his attitudes and in his reactions to things. This develops a negative type of approach to the whole idea of sufficient supply. Later, Jesus exposes this erroneous attitude in the words "has not." Jesus says that one who expresses from a "has not" attitude will experience just that. What is the alternative? It is simply to change the thinking about supply to a spiritual basis. Acknowledge God and His omnipresent spiritual substance as the true source of all needful supply.
"Jehovah consoles; Jehovah comforts" Meta.: "In Nehemiah 1, Nehemiah represents one who has been carried away from spiritual peace (Jerusalem) into the confusion of sense (Babylon) and is desirous of again restoring the Holy City . , . Nehemiah 1:11 shows the earnest faith and simplicity of this spiritual-minded man." (Metaphysical Bible Dictionary 476)
"Then I went up in the night by the valley and inspected the wall; and I turned back and entered by the Valley Gate, and so returned. And the officials did not know where I had gone or what I was doing; and I had not yet told the Jews, the priests, the nobles, the officials, and the rest that were to do the work." (Neh. 2:15, 16)
This statement takes on special metaphysical significance when one keeps in mind that Nehemiah was highly successful in rebuilding the of Jerusalem. This statement illustrates one of the reasons for his success, which is. he did not do any unnecessary talking about it before undertaking the work. Elizabeth Sand Turner make a very perceptive comment on this idea: "Is it not best to work out a plan with God before we ask outer help? Many a worthy endeavor fails because WE TALK ABOUT IT TOO MUCH beforehand. Much discussion dissipates the energy required to perform the deed! (Let There Be Light 224)
Mechanical talking is an energy dissipater. Promise making is an energy dissipater. Excuse making is an energy dissipater. Self-justifying is a terrific energy dissipater. Nehemiah is an example of not doing any of this; hence, his marvelous success in constructive and restorative work.
"one sent of Jehovah; messenger of Jehovah; minister" Meta.: "The voice of conscience in man calls his attention to his shortcomings and encourages him to do right. Conscience is symbolized by Malachi." (Metaphysical Bible Dictionary 420)
". . . put me to the test, says the Lord (Jehovah) of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you an overflowing blessing." (Mai. 3:10)
Malachi has presented us with one of the most beautiful symbolic descriptions of the law of tithing and giving and receiving. The importance of this law cannot be too strongly emphasized for all serious Truth students. The infallability of its action has been proved beyond question Yet people seem to find it so easy to forget and to neglect cooperation with it.
The divine law of giving and receiving speaks through Malachi. It urges us to "prove" it in our daily living. Willing and sincere giving must always result in an experience of receiving. But the strange and wonderful thing is that the receiving experience will not be an exact equivalent of the giving. Spirit does not deal in even exchanges. The receiving from Spirit will always be one of having increase. ("God gives the increase." See I Cor. 3:5-7)
This prophet is an especially interesting symbol in many ways, but especially in the light of the wide range of qualities which his name means. In the Metaphysical Bible Dictionary we find listed as definitions of the word Jonah: "a dove; dove-like; warmth; affection; lovable; fruitful; productive; fertile; effervescent; fermenting; passionate; oppressive; violent; intoxicating; destructive." What are we to make of all that? Did you ever see such a wildly fluctuating range of meaning for one word? Then we also read that metaphysically he symbolizes "a prophetic state of mind." At first this may all seem puzzling and confusing. But careful thought will more than likely yield an insight into the meaning of Jonah.
To prophesy means to speak the Truth as it is revealed to us and as we understand it. The prophets of the Old Testament all represent different attitudes, motives, states of mind, and degrees of understanding. All represent attempts to share words of Truth. Jonah stands for an extremely wide range of all this IN ONE SYMBOL! He is a very mixed symbol (as most of us are!).
Notice how his name runs the whole gamut of meaning—all the way from "dove-like" to "destructive." Therefore he represents a wide range of factors in one consciousness. His meaning includes very wide possibilities of different motives (some contradictory), attitudes, states of mind, etc. as we attempt to comprehend and express Truth. Some of these result in harmony and satisfaction; some result in turmoil and distress.
The most significant incident in the book is the swallowing of Jonah by "a great fish." Elizabeth Sand Turner interprets this as "falling into a disastrous state of affairs." (Let There Be Light 236) This certainly can be true from one view. But there is an equally valid interpretation for this from quite another view. Fish is a metaphysical symbol for idea. Fish made by God symbolize divine ideas. This particular fish was a "great fish" and was sent by God. Therefore, it does represent a divine idea.
Also, this fish did not come to harm Jonah or kill him. It came to rescue him after the sailors granted Jonah's request to cast him into the sea. So we can say that Jonah's being tossed into the stormy sea would symbolize "falling into a disastrous state of affairs." But, as Unity teaches, God is our help in every need. And much of the time the help that God provides comes in the form of any needed divine idea. This is the meaning of the "great fish" prepared by God to rescue Jonah.
Metaphysically this illustrates the fact that no matter how complicated or hopeless looking a dilemma we may ever find ourself in, God will provide the right kind of help for us if we are willing to receive. Most often the right divine idea will be revealed to us. It will be a Truth idea into which we can immerse all our attention, belief, and faith. We can let it absorb our attention. This is the meaning of being "swallowed by a great fish." This can prove to be our salvation. Here are a few examples of divine ideas in the form of Unity affirmations. These are ideas into which we can totally immerse our minds:
- God is my help in EVERY need.
- All things are working together for good.
- God is my health, I can't be sick.
- Prayer changes things.
- God means it for good.
Preceding Entry: Old Testament Metaphysics 12: Lesson 12 The Prophets Part 1
Following Entry: Old Testament Metaphysics 14: Lesson 14 The Prophets Part 3