The Old Testament Christmas Story (Rabel)
METAPHYSICAL BIBLE INTERPRETATION OF THE OLD TESTAMENT
This is a series of lectures given by Mr. Edward Rabel, member of the faculty of S.M.R.S.
Fall semester 1975 - 2nd. Yr. Class. Lecture given on December 19, 1975
Isa. 9:6-7 and Gen. 1-1, pp. 311-318 of transcript.
The Old Testament Christmas Story
Many of us tend to believe that the Christmas story starts with Christmas Day, but the fact that the Christmas story begins with the very first words of the Bible is the truth. In the beginning God created. In the truest sense of the word the Christmas story begins with those words - In the beginning God created - and I say this because every metaphysical idea presented in the Old Testament leads us to one step nearer the advent of the Gospels, and the main character is Jesus of Nazareth.
However, we do know that certain sections of the Old Testament have a more specific and direct bearing on the Christmas event itself, and it is those sections which I will now read as the Biblical prelude to the Christmas story, more specifically, the coming of the Savior. "Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign, behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son and shall call His name Immanuel." Then a little later in Isaiah: "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government shall be upon His shoulders, and His name shall be called wonderful, Counselor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace, of the increase of His government and of peace there shall be no end."
Now, these words from Isaiah were written many, many centuries before Jesus was born. They are now referred to as the Messianic prophecies. They are probably as well known as any section in the entire Bible, but they are not the exclusive property of our Bible. The equivalent of these same words can be found in many other world religions, some far older than the Hebrew. The reason for this is because the Messianic prophecies are not just limited to the advent of our historical Jesus, but contain a cosmic idea, true for all men in all times. The coming into each individual awareness, and that awareness growing and developing into a gloriously illumined consciousness. In Unity we call it the Christ, but other religions have given it different names, but it's all the same thing.
Now, in our culture, our religious thinking, and for the human family of our particular life-wave, the fulfillment of the Messianic prophecy is generally considered to be manifest in the birth of Jesus. But is only fair for us to remember that other and more ancient religions also have what for them was a fulfillment of the same prophecy, but in the advent of a person other than the one named Jesus. Every era in the history of man's evolution there have appeared certain individuals whom we would have to call very advanced souls. This means that they have somehow developed a type of understanding and power which were greater than that of the general level, and because of this development, they seem to possess powers of insight and perception not available to the ordinary level of person. Some of these persons may not realize or fully understand the true meaning of their own insights, we have no way of knowing whether they realized what they had insight into or not.
But some of them realized that these insights were important enough to be put into writing and many of these writings have been preserved in the various books which make up our Bible, and one of these categories we classify as prophecies. Among these prophecies is the persistent theme of the coming of the savior. Our modern Christian religionists, without exception, regard the advent of Jesus as the most important event in the history of our human life wave. Unity joins other Christian religions in accepting Him as the fulfillment of all messianic prophecies. We have biblical sanction for this acceptance in Luke 2:11: "Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all the people, for there is born to you this day in the city of David a savior which is Christ the Lord."
You will notice that present tense, which is Christ the Lord. Jesus Christ, who is He? Where did He come from? Where did He go to? Where is He now? Who was He? Who is He? How many answers to these questions have we all heard? How many theories are there? How many opinions have been given? How many times have we ourselves had shifting opinions about Him? The list could go on and on, but which are right and which are wrong? Who really knows? We read the Gospels, we celebrate Christmas, we go to Christian churches, we meditate and pray in His name. Some persons claim to have had personal encounters with Him. Now, I myself have done a tremendous amount of personal research concerning Him. Mostly from books, I admit, but also in many, many moments of private, secret prayer and reflection and after all this work, and research, all these good intentions, here is my confessional. I still know very little about Him, really. He is a glorious mystery, I love Him and I believe in Him, but I cannot explain him. I can explain many of His teachings, but as for Jesus himself I cannot lay hands on Him, nor capture Him with my intellect.
Charles Fillmore was a great seer. I believe he had a mystical insight into Jesus Christ which goes far deeper than most persons. Certainly I feel that Mr. Fillmore knew the real nature of Jesus Christ far greater than such experts as Paul. In the year 1936, in a personal letter to one of our Unity ministers, who happened to be my Unity minister, Georgiana Tree West, in New York City, Charles Fillmore wrote the following in answer to a question concerning Jesus, and I quote,
"The relation which Jesus Christ bears to the human family on this planet is somewhat complex and involved in even metaphysical explanation, but, when we admit that He was one step ahead of us in His race evolution, we have a key that clears up many seeming contradictions. The soul that incarnated in Jesus had attained the glory of the Son of God consciousness. Eons of ages previously, another universe evolution, in which He attains creative power."
And then Mr. Fillmore quotes Jesus: "Glorify thou Me with the glory which I had with thee before this world was." When the present universe was created, Christ was given the bringing forth of the planetary people to which we belong.
Now, Mr. Fillmore continues,
"According to the Genesis allegory, all went well with us until the soul, Eve, became involved in the pleasures of sensation, serpent, and sought sources of guidance other than Jehovah, or Christ Mind. Here began a gradual degeneration of the whole human family until they were nearly extinct. Something had to be done to save them from the murky darkness of their own sense thoughts. Christ then began a series of physical incarnations beginning prehistorically and ending with his incarnation as Jesus. To lift the race out of sense He was compelled by the necessity of soul sympathy to become an intimate associate of the people He sought to help."
Now, I will digress for just a bit. Mr. Fillmore, I believe, has hit the nail on the head - using soul sympathy as the reason Jesus underwent - rather than that He was sent, that He was assigned, that some hierarchy assigned Him to this. That never rang clear or true in my mind, it was not that He was commissioned or assigned, but by the law of soul sympathy He was drawn into this activity and was totally willing all the way, rather than He was assigned by higher cherubims, or what have you. (Editor's Note: This raises several questions which are not clearly audible.) I understand that "sent", but still it is, "the Father and I are one", and "no man cometh unto Me except the Father that sent Me draw him," and other things that Jesus said would indicate to me that - well, I'm going to simplify this for it is rather a long speech - the fact that Mr. Fillmore said so right now is good enough. Mr. Fillmore got that insight that it was, I'll use his words again, "by the necessity of soul sympathy", to me that's love, folks. Soul sympathy is a euphemism for plain, old Divine Love, and it was Divine Love that made Jesus willingly enter into this savior-mission to our family.
Now, further along in Charles Fillmore's writings we find some more of his startling insights into Jesus in the book, Mysteries of John. On page 148, we have this quote, spoken by Jesus himself, in chapter 17. These are Jesus' own words,
"And the glory which Thou has given Me I have given unto them that they be one, even as we are one. I in them, and Thou in Me, that they may be perfected into one. That the world may know that Thou didst send Me and lovest them even as Thou lovest Me. Father, I desire that they also, whom Thou hast given Me, be with Me where I am, that they may behold Thy glory, which Thou has given Me, for Thou lovest Me before the foundation of the world. O, Righteous Father, the world knew Me not, but I knew them and these knew that Thou didst send Me, and I made known unto them Thy name and will make it known that the love wherewith Thou lovest Me may be in them and I in them."
Now, here is Mr. Fillmore's wonderful commentary on that passage, found on page 149.
"Jesus must have been the product of a former cycle of time, and He had previously made the perfect union in the invisible with the Father. In proportion as people understand it, and have faith to believe in Jesus as their actual savior from sin, and in proportion as they are set free from appetite, passion, jealousy, prejudice and all selfishness, they experience wholeness of mind and body as a result. The ultimate result of this knowledge and of daily practice in overcoming, even as Jesus himself overcame, will be a new race that will demonstrate eternal life. The lifting up of the whole human family, spirit, soul and body into the Christ-consciousness of oneness (at-one-ment) with the Father. This is indeed true glorification and at-one-ment that Jesus reestablished between God and man, and we can regain our original estate as sons of God here on earth."
Now friends, don't bog [down], we have been speaking of Jesus Christ mostly from a cosmic and planetary level of meaning, as He is related to mankind. Mankind, and this planetary evolution, but for the remainder of this talk, I want to speak of Him entirely now on what we call the metaphysical level. For it is on this level that His saving ministry is most important to each of us as individuals. I remind you of what the word metaphysical means when we speak of it in Unity. We mean that which is true concerning the inner life of every human being regardless of time, place or circumstances. Everything has metaphysical meaning, and this certainly must include Jesus Christ.
Metaphysically, Jesus stands for spiritual awareness in mankind. The entire Christmas story has a metaphysical meaning. Jesus is born in a stable and laid in a manger, and metaphysical symbols of stable and manger refer to basic human nature, or human consciousness. So, the metaphysical meaning of Jesus being born in a stable and laid in a manger is that spiritual awareness is born right within our own individual human nature. Not born outside of ourselves, not born on the spiritual level, it comes from the spiritual level, but it is born into the area of strictly human awareness and faculties. It is here, not on a higher point, but here in our basic human nature where it must first be merged and perfected. What we are saying then is that spiritual awareness is the saving factor in each human being. Spiritual awareness has already been born in most, if not all, of us. Spiritual awareness began in the very fundamental parts of our own human consciousness, and its purpose is to grow, expand until it becomes the very power and authority upon which we base all our efforts in attaining and expressing greater good. And, further, eventually, spiritual awareness will become something even greater than itself. It will become what we now refer to as Christ-consciousness.
Now let's return to the idea of Jesus as the savior. I read to you Mr. Fillmore's words regarding Him in His cosmic or planetary meaning. That is, as savior of mankind, and of our planetary evolution, but I do realize that this level of the teaching is probably beyond the grasp of many persons' current level of understanding, and even more important, its beyond their current needs and interests. That's the main reason why I'm not bearing down too much on that. It simply is not within most people's current range of needs and interests.
Let's concentrate on the metaphysical level of salvation for us because this is an inner, personal thing, very important for each human being where he is right now. Metaphysically speaking, what is salvation? What is it we are saved from? What is it we are saved for? And in what way does the metaphysical Jesus Christ save us? Well, what is it we are saved from? In the Old Testament language that which we all need and want to be saved from was called, "the wrath of God", or God's vengeance, God's anger. In the language of the New Testament, which has become the language of fundamentalist theology, that which we need to be saved from is called, "hell," or "damnation".
But now we realize that the words, wrath of God and the theological hell, are outmoded concepts, no longer needed symbols for what we now have a new name for, which says it more directly. That for which we need and want to be saved from is useless, unnecessary suffering. This is the old wrath of God, the old hell. This is what every human being dreads more than anything else. This is hell on earth. It is to free us, or save us from this that Jesus Christ, in His metaphysical level of meaning has come. Remember that He symbolizes spiritual awareness in man, spiritual awareness is born in a person's human nature, in his soul, and spiritual awareness grows and becomes stronger, and as it does, it begins to do wonderful works in a person's thinking and feeling consciousness-conditioning work - through thinking and feeling in our inner life.
Now, one of the most important things it does is to quicken that person's interest in what we call truth. That is one of the greatest jobs of the savior, spiritual awareness - to quicken a person's interest in truth - the Truth of God. Now, once quickened, a person's interest in truth connects him directly with the very spirit of truth. When this happens, Jesus tells us the next step: "And when He, the spirit of truth is come (once the connection is made through your quickened and willing interest), He will guide you into all the truth. Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free." Yes, free, now, free from what? Free from what used to be called hell, and that is useless and unnecessary suffering. This is what the truth of Jesus Christ is all about - saving us from this, making it no longer necessary for us to repeatedly undergo this. This is so on the cosmic, planetary, as well as the inner metaphysical and also on the literal physical levels. Salvation is freedom for the whole man and for the whole family of humanity and also, (and I'm not going to explain any further on this) also for the planet upon which we are existing. They're included in this salvation. It all stems from spiritual awareness, which was symbolized for us as an actual living embodiment of a fellow human being, our loving elder brother, Jesus Christ.
Now, what is this truth Jesus gave us which saves us from useless, unnecessary suffering? In my opinion, we have it in its purest, simplest, most accurate and most beautiful form in the entire body of what we call Unity fundamentals, pure and simple, is my sincere conviction. That this truth of God which will save mankind from useless, unnecessary suffering is our good, old Unity fundamentals. I've spent years of my life investigating, researching, delving to see if I could find a better system, and I have found some beauties, especially in the older religions, more mystical and occult, more cosmic-oriented systems, gorgeous systems, but, dear ones, as far as salvation for you and me and our brothers and sisters, I've never found one that can touch the classic, essential Unity teachings as they are. To me, it is good, old Unity teachings, pure and simple, which most effectively present that truth from God which Jesus brought back to our remembrance on our planet, and in our particular humanity's life wave.
Now, perhaps the most vivid preview of what complete salvation is like can be found in the experience of that marvelous thing called healing. We all know the joy of being healed, but this is mostly on the physical level. Try to imagine that that same, joyous experience is being felt on every level of yourself and in every aspect of yourself, physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. Healing is a preview of something that's going to be that allness, healing through-and-through us, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. I include spiritual only to make it sound good - you don't need healing spiritually, that's including the whole man.
Now, that is what truth is now doing for us. We are in truth only because spiritual awareness was first born in our human nature. If it hadn't we couldn't be where we are now. So, perhaps because of some of the things I have been saying, we can all add a new and greater dimension to our celebration of Christmas. Of course, we will enjoy the holiday itself, with it's gifts, music, it's imagery, it's involvement with children, etc. All this festivity is good for us, very good for us, and we can appreciate even the more fundamentalist's literal religious aspect, also. Why not, even the religions we have outgrown and rejected, in a sense, have helped to come to where we now are. Some religion, somewhere, helped to bring forth the birth of spiritual awareness in you and in me, just as, historically speaking, the Hebrew religion provided the setting for that cosmic soul that incarnated as Jesus.
So, Christmas, strictly as a traditional religious observance is very good, very, very good. But we can also celebrate Christmas metaphysically. That is, in our very innermost thoughts, because here is where our spiritual awareness really was born. Here within is buried this growing and working, and even in those times when we think we've lost it, what is it really doing? Working, working within, always about our Father's business, teaching us, loving us, healing us, blessing us, lifting us higher and higher until someday our spiritual awareness will be glorified as Jesus was glorified. Then our spiritual awareness will become even more than just spiritual awareness, just as Jesus is now much more than just Jesus. He is now Jesus Christ, and our spiritual awareness will become Christ-consciousness.
Now, I can think of no more fitting conclusion to our lesson than to repeat one of the most personal messages of love to each one of us. He says this after He is already a magnificent adult and is coming near the end of the job here for us, His saving mission, and in John 14 He says, "Because I've lived, ye shall live also and in that day ye shall know that I am in My Father and He in Me and I with you." "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son."
Father, we believe in the only begotten Son, which is Christ, the Christ, your perfect idea of us as a child, but even more than this, we give thanks for that fellow human being who embodied this, taught this, demonstrated this, planted it into our very race consciousness, into our very planetary system, as well as our own personal individual souls. Keep us worthy of our heritage and guide us and help us every step of the way as we follow Him into conscious awareness, at-one-ness with You and with each other. We thank You, Father, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
Transcribed by Rev. Nita Straus on December 16, 2014.