A Spiritual Interpretation of the Old Testament
As taught by:
Unity School for Religious Studies
Unity Village, MO 64065
I. MAJOR POINTS
- Metaphysical meaning of Abraham.
- Significance of the separation of Lot from Abraham.
- Changes of name from Abram to Abraham; Sarai to Sarah.
- Metaphysical meaning of Lot's wife turning into a pillar of salt.
- Significance of the birth of Isaac to Abraham and Sarah in their old age.
- Genesis, Chapters 12-14, 16-19, 21-22
- Let There Be Light Chapter III
- Mysteries of Genesis Chapters V, VI, VII
- What does Abraham stand for in human nature?
- What do the changes of name (Abram to Abraham; Sarai to Sarah) signify metaphysically?
- What incident in the lesson illustrates the point that obedience to God's guidance does not rob us of joy and happiness?
If it is felt that not enough explanation is given for the specific metaphysical meanings of Sodom and Gomorrah, such information can be found in the Metaphysical Bible Dictionary under the beadinqs "Sodom" and "Gomorrah,"
On page 33 of Let There Be Light Elizabeth Sand Turner gives a helpful introduction of the metaphysical meaning of Abraham: "Metaphysically, Abraham represents the first step in the redemption of man from mortal to spiritual consciousness. He symbolizes faith, not the full and complete expression of that quality, but rather the beginning of faith that is willing to follow the guidance of the Lord and go forth to a new land, symbolic of a new consciousness."
Some students may prefer to think of his metaphysical meaning as the first step in evolution from Adam level of consciousness into the pathway which will eventually lead into the Jesus Christ level. In any case, he definitely symbolizes the awakening of faith.
"Now the Lord (Jehovah) said to Abram, 'Go from your country, and your kindred, and your father's house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, SO THAT YOU WILL BE A BLESSING. . . " (Gen. 12:1-2)
NOTE: The "father's house" mentioned here is not the "Father's house" spoken of by Jesus! Abram's father was Terah. Terah means: "Lingering; loitering." Metaphysically, this represents procrastinating, indifference, and mechanical existence. The Father's house spoken of by Jesus represents "consciousness of oneness with God." In this connection it is interesting that Terah, in a way, received the original call (see 11:31), but he "loitered" in Haran; Abram then picked up the call and went to Canaan.
Abram is accompanied by Sarai, his wife, and Lot, his nephew. Sarai means "bitter, contentious, argumentative." Lot means "dark, hidden, concealed." Metaphysically, Sarai stands for a troubled and unstable emotional nature. Metaphysically, Lot stands for subconscious unbelief in us even when faith has become active. He also stands for negative beliefs.
These somewhat negative factors often remain in us and will even accompany our awakened and quickened faith in God and Truth. These all travel together with us for a while. But later in the story we learn that Abram separates Lot from himself, and Sarai has a significant change of name (symbolizing a change of character).
In Gen. 13 we read of the separation of Lot from Abram. There comes a time in our growth in consciousness when we are able to distinguish for ourself the difference between that in us which Abram stands for and that in us which Lot stands for. Abram stands for awakening faith in God. Lot stands for subconscious negative beliefs. When we are able to make this distinction within ourselves, then we are able to separate the two in an orderly and harmonious manner.
In the narrative, Lot chooses to dwell in the plain of Jordan, containing the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Abram is to dwell in an unlimited territory, chosen for him by Jehovah. Lot's choice indicates that subconscious negative beliefs are attracted to whatever is sensually exciting outwardly. This is the metaphysical meaning of Sodom and Gomorrah. Abram's allotment symbolizes the unlimited possibilities of good which open up to us as we choose to follow divine guidance rather than responding only to the allure of certain outer appearances.
Abram and Sarai long for the birth of a son. In Old Testament symbolism the birth of a son always stands for another step forward in growth of consciousness. (NOTE: Even on a 1iteral-historical level, the birth of each new male character in the Old Testament becomes one more step toward the eventual advent of Jesus Christ!)
"'No longer shall your name be Abram, but your name shall be Abraham'" (Gen. 17:5) "'As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name.'" (Gen. 17:15)
The change of name from Abram to Abraham simply denotes an expansion in consciousness of what the word Abram represents: faith. Linguistic experts say that the syllable ha_ is an "aspirate" ... meaning that an expulsion of breath is required to speak the syllable. Adding ha_ to Abram then means that more breath is added to his name. Breath is symbolic of life (both literally and metaphysically!') and clearly illustrated here is the idea that the expansion of faith brings a greater consciousness of life itself. In the Case of Sarai, the whole meaning of the name changes:
Sarai: "bitter, contentious, argumentative"
Sarah: "noble woman, gracious lady"
This change of name symbolizes a great improvement in the feeling nature. Through growth, maturity, and close association with active faith, our feeling nature experiences a refining and mellowing process. Sarai becomes Sarah.
"And the Lord (Jehovah) appeared to him (Abraham) by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat at the door of his tent in the heat of the day. He lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, three men stood in front of him. When he saw THEM, he ran from the tent door to meet them, and bowed himself to the earth, and said, 'MY LORD, if I have found favor in your sight, do not pass by your servant.'" (Gen. 18:1-3)
In the opening paragraphs of chapter 18 we have what is unmistakably the earliest version in the Bible of what will later become the doctrine of the Trinity -- ONE GOD in three aspects. God Almighty as such is beyond the comprehension of the human mind. God can be perceived by the human mind only in a limited way. In the doctrine of the Trinity, God is perceived in three aspects:
Yet the human mind can always realize that God is ONE. This is illustrated in the opening of chapter 18 by the fact that Abraham perceives Jehovah as a Trinity, but addresses the Trinity as ONE ("MY Lord").
Gen. 19 is an account of the destruction of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, the escape of Lot and his family, and the turning of Lot's wife into a pillar of salt.
The meaning of this chapter is very similar to the meaning of the allegory of Noah and the flood. Only in this case some of the details differ slightly. The names change. The destruction is limited to just two cities. And fire is the destructive agent instead of water. But basically the meaning is the same.
Sodom and Gomorrah represent erroneous, negative, harmful states of consciousness. Nothing in this category can be permanent. Lot and his family compare in meaning to Noah and his family. They are not perfect, but the potential to become so is within them. Good potential is never destroyed.
The fire and brimstone our of heaven have the same meaning as the flood waters sent by Jehovah. Later in the Bible, Jesus talks about the "eternal fire of God." Then later, the book of Revelation talks about "the lake of fire." All these symbols pertain to the eternal cleansing action of Spiritual Law. This is never to harm anyone, but only to cleanse and purify.
"But Lot's wife behind him, looked back, and she became a pillar of salt." (Gen. 19:26)
This is pure symbolism if there ever was such! Sometimes our emotional nature (Lot's wife) cannot resist indulging in nostalgia (looking back) regarding the past, even though that past was mostly negative (Sodom and Gomorrah). This can become a bad habit (they were told by Jehovah not to look back). This can result in programming unhappy memories into the subconscious. Some of these unhappy memories may even become crystalized. This is the metaphysical meaning of becoming "a pillar of salt."
"And Sarah conceived, and bore Abraham a son in his old age at the time of which God had spoken to him. Abraham called the name of his son who was born to him, whom Sarah bore him, Isaac." (Gen. 21:2-3) In Let There Be Light (p. 42) we read: "The son born to Abraham and Sarah was named Isaac. The name means 'laughter', or 'joy'. This joyous quality (Isaac) is the child or offspring of faith (Abraham) and intuition (Sarah)."
We could also say that Isaac symbolizes the type of joyful quality that we develop only with growing maturity. Abraham and Sarah were called "old" when he was born to them. But what did old really mean in their case? The meaning of that word should change for all persons. Maturity is not "oldness," and maturity can give birth to a very special kind of inner joy (Isaac).
Gen. 22 contains the strange and disturbing incident of the near-sacrifice of Isaac by his father Abraham. Unless this story is viewed on a metaphysical level of meaning it remains merely strange and disturbing.
Abraham represents our active and growing faith. Isaac represents our newly developed sense of inner joy. There are times in life when it appears to us that we must make certain decisions regarding our commitment to God and Truth. Sometimes it will seem that in order to remain faithful to our spiritual commitment we have to become willing to sacrifice our own inner sense of joy. Can we face this?
In this story Abraham represents one who CAN face this. His commitment to God is given first priority. The same is true for us today. Our commitment to Spirit should always come first, even if it seems to us at the expense of our state of joy. But we find, as Abraham did, that loyalty to God will never really take our inner joy away from us. As a matter of fact, our joy will increase!
Preceding Entry: Old Testament Metaphysics 2: Lesson 2 Additional Allegories of Genesis
Following Entry: Old Testament Metaphysics 4: Lesson 4 Jacob