This talk was given by Ed Rabel on May 3, 1993.
Well, friends, our subject for this elective is love in the Bible. Some years ago, I was asked to give a presentation at a Unity convention on the subject of healing in the Bible, which I very gladly accepted because I was sure I'd find more than I needed about healing in this great big book. I was appalled at how very little healing is mentioned in the Old Testament. It's as scarce as can be. There's plenty of killing, plenty of robbing, plenty of raping, plenty of plagues, plenty of lying, plenty of cheating, hardly any mention of healing. You'll go for hundreds of pages and not find that word healing. When you do finally find it, eureka! At last, the word healing. It occurs in the Old Testament, but very, very rarely. So if you are going to be dealing with healing in the Bible, don't depend on the Old Testament. Turn the next page at the end of the Old Testament. Get into the New. Is this clear, folks? I'm not making this up. This is a result of hard experience.
But friends, after you turn that last page of the Old Testament, it's more than made up for you with the beauty of what it says about healing in the New Testament. Now the same thing is true about love. Again, I was appalled. You know, I've never used that word so much in my life. At how very little about real love is in this Old Testament. It's the same as in healing. It's there. It's mentioned, but it is the exception, not the norm, not the rule. Now I know many of you are looking at me very frowningly and disapprovingly. Go ahead, but I've been there, folks and I went through the disillusionment. But I did research. I did my job and so I've come up with the places in the Old Testament where it does mention love. Thank God and so you're gonna have to bear with me for this first class, which I'll be dealing with the Old Testament. So be prepared for some disappointments. Promise? You're gonna get 'em and probably tomorrow you'll have some more of that disappointing Old Testament treatment of love. But cheer up. After that, we get into the New and then the Bible really does deal with love, the real thing at last. So take a deep breath and here we go.
The first mention in our Old Testament, which could be construed as love, although the word love does not even appear in the Old Testament for many, many, many, many pages, folks. Hanky panky? Yes. Love? No. But the first intimation about love very appropriately is a sign to God, to God in the first chapter of Genesis.
Now I think most of you know that in the Old Testament, the name give to God in the first chapter of Genesis only is Elohim. After that, the name changes to Jehovah or Yahweh. They are two different God thoughts in the mind of whom? People. See, there is no name for God. Any name given to God in the Bible is a name of a human concept of God, a human thought. There's no critter called Jehovah. There's no critter called Elohim. There's no critter called Father. These are all names in man's mind about God who can't be named because God is spirit, not a thing, not an entity, not a being. God is spirit. Who said that before I did? Jesus. It's the only definition he gives of God. God is spirit. He calls God Father, but that's not a definition. That's an address. He says God is the only good. That's not a definition. That's a description. But the only definition He gives of God is spirit. Spirit. Okay.
Now here is the first statement made in the Old Testament, which could be construed as love as it pertains to Elohim God, not Jehovah God. Elohim God, where it says this in verse 31 of first chapter. "And God saw everything that he had made and behold it was very good." Couldn't that be construed as God's love for His creation? What do you think? It doesn't denote dislike, does it? "And God saw all that He had made and behold, it was very good." I think it's safe to assume that He loved what He was beholding because it was what? Very good, but be patient.
You turn a few more pages in this Bible and it ain't very good anymore. As soon as human beings get into activity, that whole picture changes. The first chapter of Genesis ends with this statement, "And God saw all that He has made and it was very good." But you turn these pages and you get to a chapter later. You read this in the same book. "And God saw that the wickedness of man on earth was very great and that His thoughts were on only evil continually." Does that sound like everything's good? Well, does it? Well, the question is, what happened? What happened in all those pages? Human being got busy. That's what happened, folks, and we'll be dealing with some of that.
So we do have this first intimation of love as it pertains only to Whom? Elohim God. Yeah.
Now we go on and in the second chapter of Genesis, we read these. I'll read these excerpts from you. Now we're talking about Jehovah God and it said, "And Jehovah formed man of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and man became a living soul." Then a little later, "And Jehovah God said, 'It is not good that the man should be alone. I will make a helpmate for him.'" A little further, "And Jehovah caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam and he slept and He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh instead thereof and the rib, which Jehovah had taken from man, making into a woman and brought her to the man and Adam said, 'This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh. She shall be called woman and because she was taken out of man, therefore, shall a man leave his father and his mother ..." What father? What mother? We're in the second chapter of Genesis, folks. What father or mother is there to leave? It gets worse. " ... And shall cleave unto his wife and they shall be one flesh." Well, they are one flesh. Aren't they? Where did she come from? All right and they were both naked, the man and his wife and were not ashamed.
All right. Have you noticed in what I read to you a word was absent? There's no mention of love there. Not one mention of love in that story I just read to you. If you think you heard the word love, you imagined it. Now we got some very strange questions here. Here Jehovah God has formed a human body, male human body and breathed the breath of life into it. Man became a living soul. Then Jehovah decides it's not good for this male to be by himself. "I'm gonna do something about it." So the first thing that happens to this poor guy is he's anesthetized. I mean, he's just been breathing and right away he's anesthetized and put to sleep. While he's asleep, a very gruesome surgery is performed. Oh friends, to have a rib removed is gruesome surgery. Would you want it done to you? Would you want it done to your children? It's ugly. Why Jehovah chooses that method, why didn't He just form some more dust? Say, "Be a woman"? See, to take the poor guy's rib and we don't know what He did with that rib when He took it away. But when it comes back, it's in the shape of a woman, a walking female.
Now here's a guy. He's just been made alive and put to sleep right away and he wakes up. How much experience in life has that poor guy had? How much? None whatsoever! Nothing has happened to this man except he was put to sleep. He opens his eyes and hears Jehovah leading a female and this guy looks and instead of saying, "Wow," or "Who is she?" Or what any normal person would say, look at what the atrocious words he speaks. If I was her, I'd have slapped his face. "This is now bone of bones and flesh of my ..." What a thing to say to a newly arrived female. "This is bone of my bone and flesh ... And she shall become ..." Then, "And therefore shall a man leave his father and mother," of which there are none on the planet, "and cleave to his wife." What does he know about wife? What does he know about cleaving? It's ridiculous if you take it how? Class: Literally.
Now we've seen now that we've got a male and female and this female is actually himself. That guy, if he did fall in love, fell in love with himself. Are you hearing me, friend? This rib was taken from him. It was him and made into the shape of a woman and brought back and he goes gaga over himself. Friends, if I ever heard of narcissism, this is it. However, the genders have been separated. So copulation is possible and pregnancy and childbirth, but no mention of love here. Cleaving? Yes. Lots of cleaving. But love? Not a bit of it. Not a bit of it. Never, never in the story of Adam and Eve is any mention of love brought into the text. I'll bet you didn't know that before. I'll bet your minister told you that Adam and Eve were in love with each other. Bible doesn't say so. They just "cleaved." Oh I'm telling you. All right. Now in chapter ... Let's see here.
In Genesis chapter 4, we have an opportunity to have love brought into the Bible in a form called Philadelphia, brotherly love, which is a very normal kind of love, isn't it? Isn't it? There's a big city named after it. It must be of some importance, but instead of the Bible telling a story of brotherly love, it tells a story of brotherly murder. Cain and Abel in Genesis 4. It says, "And Cain talked with Abel, his brother, and it came to pass that when they were in the field that Cain rose up against Abel, his brother, and slew him." So the Bible does not contain first an example of brotherly love, but brotherly hatred and murder. That's a good start, isn't it? Give you a little hint. I know some of you are already disapproving of me, so I won't disillusion you. If you read your Old Testament carefully without pre-programming from some fundamentalist minister, you will see that you are reading a history of crime. You are reading a history of crime and deception, betrayal, punishment, and once in a while, there's a grain of compassion and love. But it's scarce as hen's teeth.
But crime galore. Crime galore. Even the gospels, friends, even with the magnificent transcendent presence and teachings of Jesus Christ, everything else around him is crime. Well, it is. The slaughter of the innocence. Come on, folks. The betrayal. Jesus was framed. He wasn't guilty of anything. He was framed. He was executed with the most unnecessarily barbaric means of execution, crucifixion. Betrayal. The whole Bible is full of crime and yet the beautiful parts of it are the Word of God, the truth in it is worth putting up with all the crap. Okay.
Now we next go in Genesis 12. We begin the story of Abraham, Abram and Sarai, who later had their names changed into Abraham and Sarah and it's a very long story. It's not as long as the final story in Genesis, which is the story of Joseph. That's the longest story in Genesis, but the story of Abraham and his family is a long story. Now if you read this story, which begins in chapter 12, you'll find that much is written about marriage and childbearing in the story of Abraham and Sarah, but no actual mention of love between them.
Yes, friends, I read it. I ain't making this up. I researched it. There's a long story about Abram and Sarai and all kinds of hoopty-doodle about marriage and childbearing. Everybody wants a baby. Nobody makes love. They make babies, not love. That whole long story of Sarah and Abram, no mention of the word love appears. Don't you think that's rather strange? In a story about two people who are married for a long, long, long time and have their first child when they're in their nineties. Surely, you'd think somewhere along the line, something would be said about love between them. But there isn't. Not one mention of it. Oh, I knew you'd get mad. I knew. You were hoping I'd come up here and say, "Oh, love is all through the Bible and love is lovely. The Bible says so." Not in the Old Testament.
Well, all your waiting has not been in vain because at last, in the 24th chapter, the word love appears for the first time at last. This is in the story of Isaac and Rachel and Rebekah. In chapter 24, verse 67. 67 verses in that chapter before the word appears. We finally read this. "And Isaac brought her ... " That's Rebekah. " ... into his mother, Sarah's, tent and took Rebekah and she became his wife," after he took her. Get it? "And Isaac brought her into his mother, Sarah's, tent and took Rebekah and she became his wife and he loved her."
Whew. At last, at last we've got somebody who's loved somebody. I thought we'd never make it. But we got there, but you notice something. This is the first mention in the Bible of actual love between two human beings, a man and a woman. It may be of the special significance that the word love only appears in the Bible text after the marriage in consummated. It's not usually the way it's done, according to my observation. I mean, am I wrong? I'm of the opinion that they fall in love first before the consummation of the marriage. That's what I've been told.
Class question. Pardon me? Well, it's expected. It is the respectable thing to do. You fall in love before you consummate a marriage. I would say that that's sanity. At least it's mortality, but in this first example, the consummation is first and then they fall in love after it. But that perhaps could be normal procedure for the ancient Hebrews. That's quite possible that that was accepted, but it's all right. At last, we've got the word love. That's what we were aiming for.
All right. Let's go on now. We're told in the story of Jacob. In chapter 29 of Genesis, Jacob, as was the custom in those days, is asked by his parents to go back to the home town, the home territory because they had moved out, and go back and find a suitable wife among the females of his place of origin. Jacob is a very obedient son. He does this. He takes this long journey to seek a wife in the land where his parents came from and in that land, he comes in contact with a man name Laban, L-A-B-A-N. Laban had two daughters, Leah and Rachel. Leah is the elder. Rachel, the younger.
We're told this about these two girls in verse 17-29. "Leah was tender eyed, but Rachel was beautiful and well favored." I have a feeling the words "tender eyed" are an English euphemism for "poor vision." She was nearsighted. Tender eyed. Vision problems. Eye problems, but Rachel who was younger, was beautiful and well favored. Now of course it says, "And Jacob loved Rachel," the younger, pretty one without the tender eyes. But the laws of the land, the laws of that civilization were a younger daughter could not marry before an elder daughter. Anybody who wanted to woo an elder daughter, the first daughter in the family to get married, had to work seven years for the father. Then he was rewarded with the hand of the girl he worked for and so Jacob was so infatuated with Rachel, that he willingly worked that seven years to get her, to get Leah for his wife. But it said it passed like seven days. See? Then after he worked, then he wanted Rachel. The father said, "Uh-uh. You didn't read the fine print. You gotta do some more work." But he did it and got both women.
But here again we're told that it's the mention in the Bible of love of a specific man for a specific woman. What is the reason given? She's prettier. She's prettier. She's prettier than my wife. Therefore, I love her. Isn't that the reason why a lot of guys fall in love with other women today? She's prettier than my sweetheart. She's built better than my what? Come on, folks. Infidelity is usually cause by somebody finding somebody else prettier or handsomer and so we have this deceit and this departure from what would be called the social or moral law. But nevertheless, he did love Rachel. That's something when you're judging by Old Testament standard. I don't know about poor Leah. I guess she was out in the cold. She did bear him some children. How many did he get all together? 12 from both wives, you see, and so the marriages weren't a failure, especially for the land where having children was so important. These children were all male children. That's something for that culture. All right, so after he marries both girls, then the rest of the story of Jacob concerns only child bearing with, again, no more mention made of love.
Now in Genesis 33, we have the story of Jacob and Esau. Esau is Jacob's twin, but was born a few moment before Jacob, which makes Esau the elder brother, entitled to the ... Class: Birthright. Right and the parental blessing, but Jacob tricks his father and tricks his brother and connives with his mother and gets these from his brother Esau. So there is enmity between the two brothers, which sounds like we're gonna have another story of what kind of brotherhood? We're gonna have another Cain and Abel. But no. This story turns out differently.
Thank God because forgiveness comes into the picture and repentance. So we read in the 33rd chapter of Genesis where up 'til now, there was danger of another fratricide being committed, which would have been very bad. But instead, because of some ripe thinking, we read this. "And Esau ran to meet his brother and embraced him and fell on his neck and kissed him and they wept together." I like that ending better, don't you? Reconciliation and friendship. Now here in this chapter of Genesis is the first Biblical mention of love between two persons of the same sex. In this case, two brothers. Now this was obviously not erotic love, but what kind of love? Class: Brotherly. Right. A Philadelphia kind of love, but it is in striking contrast to the relationship of the most famous previous Biblical brother, Cain and Abel.
Now in chapter 37 of Genesis, we come into the story of Joseph, which is the longest story in Genesis and ends the book of Genesis. The first mention of love in this story is in the third verse of chapter 37. "Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his other children because was the son of his old age and he made him a coat of many colors." Now notice something significant here, that first statement. "Now Israel loved Joseph more than any other of his children." The word love is mentioned in this sentence, but it's a very limited kind of love, a very possibly trouble causing kind of love called "favoritism." Would you call that a very high level of love? Favoritism? It's narrow, very, very limited and it has potential pitfalls in it. "Israel loved Joseph more than any of his other children." I wish it had said, "Israel loved Joseph along with." No mention of "more than," but it's there.
Now this is the first Biblical mention of a specific parent love of a specific child. Now although it is reasonable to perhaps assume that previous Bible parents probably did love their children, especially Abraham for Isaac, although you'll notice Abraham was perfectly willing to kill him for religious reasons. Remember the story of Isaac and Abraham's ...
Did any of you ever hear of a book called the Satanic Verses by Rushdie. You know, the Muslims want to kill him for writing that book. The book caused a lot of furor when it first came out and I have read it twice and still don't understand it. But there are many statements in the book, which are brilliant, which are startling. One of those is related to what we're talking about here. In the book, Rushdie has two of the main characters discussing the Quran and the Bible, the Hebrew Bible. They bring up questions and answers and made comment and one of the things that Rushdie writes is, the man who is advocating the Quran and his opponent is advocating the Bible we know.
The Quran man says, "Well," he says," I find the Bible, your Bible, very interesting, not satisfying, but interesting. There are many questions that I find extremely interesting," and the Bible man said, "Well, give me an example." The Quran man says, "Well, for example, in the story of Abraham and Isaac, now if you leave out the God part, why was Abraham so eager to kill his child?" Leave out the God part and the question is why was Abraham so eager to kill that kid? It's a big question isn't it? But if you bring the God part in, you can blame it all on who? God. See? But this Quran man didn't want God brought in to be given the blame. He wanted to know what was going on in Abraham. So the question is not answered in the book.
All right now. The Bible does that actually speak of parental love until this statement concerning Israel and Joseph. Now understand that all these characters wanted children, wanted children and they get children. But never does it talk about them loving, only wanting. It doesn't talk about them loving children, just wanting to have children.
It is here for the first time that we have parental love, but it's favoritism. See? So it does lead to all kinds of trouble because being the favorite caused Joseph to be spoiled. You read of his behavior in the early part of his life and it's bungling after bungling after bungling until finally they can't stand him anymore. They beat him up, strip him of his coat of many colors, are going to kill him, but one of his brothers talks them out of killing him. So instead, they sell him to band of roving bandits or whatever. Then he's taken and sold as a slave in Egypt, then he starts smelling the coffee because things get so bad for him down there that they can't get any worse. So he begins to change, changes his attitude, changes his words, his behavior and then he starts an upward spiral until he becomes second only to Pharaoh in power in Egypt.
The story has a very beautiful ending. Y'all remember what it is? Those brother, who wanted to kill him, sold him into slavery, stole his coat and all this, he's got them in the palm of his hand. He is second only to Pharaoh in Egypt. There's a famine in all the neighboring countries, but Joseph through interpreting Pharaoh's dream, has urged Pharaoh to have a conservation program, which he does. So they have enough grain in the famine years to feed not only their own people, but the neighborhood countries come to Egypt and get the food and not have starvation.
Here are these brothers who had done this to and they didn't recognize him, but he recognized them. See, the last time they saw him, he was naked and all beat up. Now he's in beautiful Egyptian glamor. You know how those Egyptians are, so they don't recognize him, but he recognizes them and if he wanted to, he could have what? Crushed them. No. He knew that his good fortune came from right thinking and so he says, "As for you, you meant evil against me. But God meant it for good," and there's another beautiful reconciliation and that's love, isn't it? Isn't it? That's benign love, compassionate love.
All right, but before this good stuff happens to Joseph, he is hired as a servant by a bigshot Egyptian named Potiphar. Potiphar is married and we're told this in chapter 39. "And Joseph was a goodly person and well favored." Here we have another well favored character. Was is the other one? Rachel. Well favored. That means built nice, so Joseph was a goodly person and well favored. Potiphar's wide cast her eyes upon Joseph. She said, "Lie with me."
Here is the first Biblical presentation of aggressive lust with intent to commit adultery. It's plain as the nose on your face that's what's going on here. Aggressive lust with intent to commit adultery. Now this will reappear many times from not on throughout the Bible.
So the question rises in many people's minds and how much love enters into this sort of thing? It's a problem still being debated today in religious and psychological schools of thought. Where do love and lust merge? Do they ever truly merge? How can they be distinguished? How could they be separated? Now these are questions that are not answered. Did you hear me? Don't look for the answer to any of these questions. There will only be your current answer for the moment, but that may be only for the moment. Since these are not definitive questions, they don't have definitive answers. So don't waste your time.
However, there's a very interesting book, which I thought I brought with me. Oh, thank you. Called The Road Less Traveled. This is by a man named Scott Peck, who is an MD. This book came out in 1978 and was a runaway bestseller for a very short time. For some mysterious reason, it just kinda fizzled out, but those of us who read it when it first came out were very much influenced by it, very zealous and excited about it. As I came to this part that we're talking about now of these unanswerable questions about love and lust. Are they the same? Do they merge? Can they be separated? Reminded me of something that Mr. Peck wrote in this book, which I want to read to you now. This paragraph is on page 84 and 85 in this edition of the book. Some of you aren't going to like this, but I thank you. His section called, "Falling in love." Dr. Peck says,
"Of all the misconceptions about love, the most powerful and pervasive is the belief that 'falling in love' is love or at least one of the manifestations of love. It is a potent misconception because falling in love is subjectively experienced in a very powerful fashion as an experience of love. When a person falls in love, what he or she certainly feels is 'I love him' or 'I love her.'"
Is he right? Come on. "You were very wise to leave him. You were very wise to get rid of him. He was a unnecessary burden and cause of suffering in your life. Congratulations." "Oh, but Mr. Rabel, you don't understand. I still love him." I look at that poor creature and I say, "What the heck is there to love? The guys stinks. He's a dangerous nincompoop and you're running around screaming, 'I still love him' instead of 'how fortunate I am.'" You know, people are crazy when it comes to passions. Have you noticed that? Starting with whom? Come on. Of course. "'I love him.' 'I love her.' But two problems are immediately apparent. The first is that the experience of falling in love is specifically a sex-linked erotic experience. We do not fall in love with our children, even though we may love them very deeply. We do not fall in love with our friends of the same sex, unless we are homosexually oriented, even though we may care for them greatly. We fall in love only when we are consciously or unconsciously sexually motivated." It gets worse.
"The second problem is the experience of falling in love is invariably temporary. No matter whom we fall in love with, we sooner or later fall out of love if the relationship continues long enough. Now this is not to say that we invariably cease loving the person with whom we fell in love, but it is to say that the feeling of ecstatic lovingness that characterizes the experience of falling in love always passes. The honeymoon always ends. The bloom of romance always fades."
When I first read that, I objected to it. How unromantic. Oh, any woman smart enough to fall in love with me is gonna always be in love with me. She's got such good taste, so I resisted this paragraph until I began to, guess what, think, instead of react. Think. Observe. Remember the hundreds of consultations you conducted when you were minister at the Unity church. Remember the letters you wrote in Silent Unity, the telephone calls that you answered. Remember your observation of human relationships in general. You find this is not shocking. He's telling the truth.
We can love somebody forever, but we don't stay fallen in love forever because that is a passion and all passions are temporary. They've got to be, folks because passions generate adrenaline. Are you hearing me? All violent emotions, their usefulness is they generate a quick adrenaline rush. There are times when we need a quick adrenaline rush. If we're seeking a mate, we need adrenaline for courtship. Come on. If we're going to rescue a child from a speeding automobile, we need adrenaline to pick up that car or push the child out of the way. If somebody pulls a gun on you, you need adrenaline to resist that attack. I mean, there are many time when we need adrenaline and negative emotions are one of the instruments to do that for us and passions are.
But what happens to a person who keeps getting adrenaline rushes after the need for adrenaline is no longer there? Well, what happens? Even those of you who aren't physiologists or chemists, you can surmise what happens to a human nervous system and bloodstream where adrenaline is still being pumped into it when it doesn't need adrenaline anymore. You go haywire. That's why they call it, "I'm crazy about her. I'm head over heels in love," which means the passion is taking over the role of true love, of spiritual love, of divine love. We're into this merry go round of emotionalism and passion and adrenaline.
Adrenaline has wrecked more marriages than deceptions because too much adrenaline makes a person difficult or impossible to live with after awhile, after the bloom wears off. If that person is getting too much adrenaline, he becomes or she becomes intolerable to live with. So take Mr. Peck seriously.
Friends, it's very important that those of us who are interested in the physics, interested in truth, interested in consciousness purifying, that we see the distinction between love as a divine idea and love as a passion or an emotion and not get the two confused. There is a right time, place and circumstance for one, but not all time, not all place, not all circumstance. But love as a divine idea, it's always the right time, always the right place, always the right circumstance.
So what is divine love? Well, we haven't gotten into that yet, but we will. Basically, love as a divine idea, which is true love, which is love as a power, not as a reaction, but a power, is your power to know and feel oneness with others and to desire only good to come to all. This is what love as a power, as a divine idea is. It is your ability to know and feel oneness with others and to desire only what to come to whom? Only good to come to ... You see, in that case, you can love a person and dislike them at the same time. I have people in my life that I dislike. But I can know and feel I am one with someone I dislike and I can desire only what to come to someone I dislike? Good. And that's love and dislike is not interfering with love.
On the other hand, there are people around here who might get a big kick out of huggy-wuggy, feely-weely, kissy-wissy. But I don't love them. I mean, they excite me, but I don't love them. Come on, folks. But if you do a lot of huggy wuggy, feely-weely, kissy-wissy, you're called, you're a very loving person. Well, you may not be unless you are knowing and feeling not huggy-wuggy, but feeling what? Oneness. And desiring only good to come to all and so there we go.
How's our time? All right, we'll give a quick touch on the next one, then we'll stop. So at the end of the story of Joseph, in the very final sentences, "And Joseph said unto his brothers, 'But as for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it unto good.' And he comforted them and spoke kindly to them." I'm glad that story ended like that. This is the first Biblical mention of one of the highest and most sublime forms of love. Forgiving love. Forgiving love. Now in the story of Joseph, we have forgiving love bestowed after the offenders have been made sorry for what they did. So that's human forgiving love in the form of human magnanimity. "You meant evil against me. You didn't get away with it. You're sorry. I forgive you." That's magnanimity. What example do we have in the Bible of forgiveness being given before anybody's sorry? While the offense is still being committed? Not afterward, but while it's happening?
Jesus on the cross with nails in His body and suffering and from that cross, while the offense is still being committed, He is not magnanimous, folks. He is divine when He says what? "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." Okay. Our time is up. God bless you. I'll see you tomorrow.