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The Twelve Apostles of the New Jerusalem – JAMES, THE GREATER (the brother of John, the son of Zebedee)
James is one of the three disciples with an intimate relationship to Jesus. Together with Simon Peter and John, James accompanies Jesus onto the mountain when Jesus is transfigured. Peter, James and John are called aside by Jesus when Jesus goes away from the disciples to pray in the Garden of Gethsemane. Peter, James and John do not yet have the capacity to remain conscious to bear witness as apostles and fall asleep.
In being assigned tasks by the Christ who says, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life”, we could see James as having been given the task of revealing the way. The Camino de Santiago or the Way of St James, in Spain is evidence of this task. The Way leads to the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela (the Field of Stars of St James) in Galicia in north western Spain. His apostolate had taken him to Spain. It is believed that his body was taken to Spain after his beheading in Jerusalem and is buried at the site of the cathedral.
Although more is known of the lives of Simon Peter and of John, little is known of the life of James. The symbol depicting James in the attributed Coat of Arms is a triangle of three bivalve shells indicating that James was not alone, each shell representing a community of being.
The third Foundation Stone of the New Jerusalem is inscribed with his name, which is chalcedony or a sky-blue silicate stone with flecks of white, or cloud, within it. Chalcedony is linked to Capricorn. For the Sumerian people the half-goat, half-fish god represented in the goat-fish figure of Capricorn was Enki. Enki was their most important god associated with the creation, crafts, water and intelligence. They ascribed the design of the ear to Enki. Ears hear and this makes one intelligent. Chalcedony is linked with the soul quality of courage that must be transformed into a redemptive power to save and restore. As we enter into Passiontide, may we hear the message of James as he shows us the way to Him who at Easter saves humankind and restores Godhead to Man.
Prophet, Priest and King: Understanding Ourselves as the New Community of the Christ, a series by Rev. Michaël Merle
reported by John-Peter Gernaat (This is not a transcript of the talks but a report drawing in the main themes of the talks.)
This is a report on the third part of a three-part series. The first two parts were reported in the February newsletter (the emailed version) and can be found on the community website at this shortened link http://bit.ly/ProphetPriestKing. It is strongly recommended to read the first two parts before reading this report.
We can recognise in the three gifts brought by the Magi – initiated priest-kings of the Zarathustran religion – that the Magi recognised in the royal child born in Bethlehem (Gospel of Matthew): a prophet, a priest and a king. These are three expressions of our initiated humanity that require a process, an anointing.
Prophets were called by the Divine to remind humanity that they were straying from the source that had created them and was still guiding them. Once the Christ had incarnated the “I” into the constitution of the human being, the external message from the Divine is no longer relevant. The message of the Divine must now reach us individually through our “I”-penetrated thinking. The gift to the child Jesus that recognised him as prophet is also the substance of embalming indicating that this was the end of something. The book of Revelation describes us now as a priestly, kingly people.
The development of the human being as a priestly being focuses on the development of the sixteen petalled lotus flower of the chakra of the throat of which eight petals were developed through the upwards energy path that culminated in the enlightenment of the Buddha and is now developing through the downward drawing in of the Spirit into the chakras to develop the remaining eight petals. Through these eight steps we can exercise a priestly way of being. The seven-step path of development of the chakras will again be described in a talk on 7 February and will be reported separately in the article The Old and the New Path of Chakra Development this newsletter.
Our current work is the developing of the twelve petaled lotus flower of the charka of the heart of which six petals were enlivened by the upward energy path and we are enlivening the remaining six petals to spin counter to the previously enlivened six. The steps of this path are described by Rudolf Steiner in various lectures as the Six Subsidiary Exercises. Through these exercises we are finding our new way as kings.
We live in the season of Whitsun, one might say, as recipients of the gift of the Holy Spirit and now Christ lives in us. Our Christ-centred “I”-ness has now permeated us so that part of our full Ego-hood lives in our bodily constitution as our earthly “I”. This gives us the capacity to become our own king, where our kingdom is in ourselves. We no longer rely on or need the capacity of another to lead or guide us from without, for we have Christ within as our guide and leader. Whatever decision we make, we make for ourselves and can no longer apportion blame for our decisions on another. But this means that whatever we rely on to make our decisions, be that the guidance of another, we must make our own. The only true leader of humanity is Christ and with the “Christ-in-me” I can lead myself as a king through the capacity of my thinking. It means that in our interactions with others we are required to recognise the kingship of the other. There is no longer the possibility to subjugated others to our (kingly) thinking. We must listen and learn to cooperate with others and learn to articulate our perspective, standing strongly in our “I”. (Hence the title given to the publication in the English speaking world of The Christian Community: Perspectives.)
The six exercises can be divided into two groups, as will be revealed. Each exercise can be described in a number of ways.
It is possible to view these exercises in a way that the first exercise has a lot do with past; the second exercise of will has a lot to do with present; and the third exercise of mastery over our feelings as beginning in the present and moving into the future.
Rudolf Steiner explained how the six exercises align with the components of the human constitution. The control of thinking allows us to develop the ability to come to terms with our physical reality, so that our thinking of the physical reality of things gives us a true picture, preventing illusionary thinking not grounded in the reality of life. The second exercise develops our ability to work out of conscious action not just out of habit through the development of our etheric forces. The third exercise is an ability to take hold of our astral being. We can do this because we have an inborn “I”.
The next three exercises take us into our future development. They align with what will be transformed out of our astral, our etheric and our physical as a consequence of the activity upon that body. As the “I” works actively with the astral we begin to develop the next level of our development: Spirit Self. As the “I” works more deeply into the human constitution and works on the etheric of the human being we develop Life Spirit. When the “I” works on the physical constitution of the human being we develop Spirit Human.
This clarifies how the exercises align from thinking, willing, feeling to then an exercise of thinking in feeling, thinking in willing and finally thinking in thinking. There is a mirroring in the second set of exercises of the first set of exercises.
The purpose of these exercises is to become master of our soul capacities. Once we have mastered our soul capacities we develop these into the capacities of the future: Spirit Self, Life Spirit and Spirit Human. In order for these new capacities to develop the “I” must be active on the astral, the etheric and the physical. This is only possible now that our “I” is firmly part of our human constitution.
A man by the name of John Davey aligns the qualities of the first five exercises with the five stages in death and dying recognised by Dr Elisabeth Kübler-Ross. The exercises are a preparation to obviate the need to go through the five stages of death and dying so that we can fully accept the reality of death and dying.
The five stages are:
In conclusion we can say that prophecy is gone; priesthood is in the now – negotiating the sacrifice, the offering and the engagement required of all of us; and our full kingliness is in the future. These talks are given as an encouragement to work with Knowledge of the Higher Worlds by Rudolf Steiner.
Report of a talk given by Rev. Michaël Merle - by Robyn de Klerk
The word chakra comes from Sanskrit and means wheel. The chakras are also often referred to as lotus flowers. Both of these pictures suggest a dynamic relationship between the midpoint of a circle and its circumference - the middle of the flower striving first upwards and then opening outwards, and the inner and outer aspects of the wheel joined together by the essential in-between connectors known as the spokes. This ancient concept of the connection between the centre and the periphery is found in both Buddhism and Hinduism and the image of the wheel (a 24 spoked chakra wheel) can still be seen on the flag of India today.
The original body of Hindu scriptures known as the Vedas comes from an ancient oral tradition involving the telling of stories which were handed down from generation to generation before they were wisely written down. Knowledge of the chakras and their evolution would have been handed on in this way. Through the spoken word the proclaimed wisdom was written into the souls and lives of the people in such a way that it could bear fruit. As the direct connection to the Spirit began to lessen it became necessary to write it all down and this body of knowledge is what we know as the Vedas.
This ancient Vedic picture spoke of three energy bodies. At first only the physical body was separated out from the surrounding world with the other bodies still remaining outside. While they were very aware of and connected to these very real energy bodies, they were not yet incorporated separately. In Anthroposophy the second Vedic body contains the two bodies which are now incorporated separately (yet connected, of course) called the Etheric and Astral bodies. In the Ancient Persian epoch the etheric body (also known as the life energy) was separated and incorporated into the human experience of “in-body life”. In the Egypto-Chaldean epoch the astral body was separated out and incorporated into the human being on earth. Then in the Graeco-Roman epoch the "I" or ego body was incorporated – that part which is a connection to our on-going spirit. We still have more bodies to incorporate through the activity of the “I” on our lower bodies. Through this central body of the Ego (“I”) we are to transform the astral, etheric and physical into Spirit-self, Life-spirit (Buddhi) and Spirit-human.
The ancient Vedic path of development consisted of a living picture of seven energy centres in the body of human being. Our evolutionary path required these to be developed and set-in motion one after another and in ascending order. Through this upward path only half of the petals or spokes of each chakra are activated. Each chakra has a specific location in the body and is connected with particular spiritual developmental and physiological processes.
1 - The first chakra has four petals and is known as Muladhara or the root chakra. It is situated at the base of the spine or coccyx and associated with the colour red. It is where we begin, our root and foundation. It is dependent on the animating life force – also known as prana/chi/qi – without which our physical body would disintegrate.
2 - The second chakra has six petals and is known as Svadisthana or sweetness. It is located in our sacral area and associated with the colour orange. It is our emotional centre and associated with the kidneys and genitals.
3 - The third chakra has ten petals and is called Manipura or lustrous gem. It is located in the solar plexus and is associated with the colour yellow. It is our sense of ourselves in the centre of ourselves, and resides above the navel. This self-centredness (which can be both positive or negative) is closely related to the astral body.
4 - The fourth chakra has twelve petals and is known as Anahata or unstruck (pure). It is situated in our heart area and associated with the colour green.
5 - The fifth chakra has sixteen petals and is known as Vishudha or purification. It is situated in our throat area and associated with the colour blue. It is connected to speech and the larynx – that which sets us apart from animals: the ability to create meaning and variation out of sounds.
6 - The sixth chakra has two petals and is known as Ajna meaning "to perceive". It is situated in the forehead or third eye area and is associated with the colour purple. It is connected with our ability to see beyond the physical and is the last chakra to lie within the bodily organization.
7 - The seventh chakra has a thousand petals (infinite petals) and is known as Sahasrara, literally meaning thousandfold, or the crown chakra. It is situated in the area above our head and associated with the colour magenta. This shining crown upon our heads is something we are connected to but it does not lie within our energy body.
While developing each of these in turn, as a general rule we can only develop as far as others on the earth. It is, however, possible to be a kind of forerunner, proceeding towards a new chakra which then opens up the possibility for the further evolution of others. Energising lower chakras would become easier with successive lives as they would already have been developed in the past. Once all chakras were energised, set in motion, and spinning, a rising flow of energy would be felt known as the Kundalini serpent. We see the serpent on the staff of Moses and the staff of Mercury, and connected with healing in medical symbolism. In South American and African mythology the serpent represents the potential of development and possibility. We see the “sss-serpent” in the Garden of Eden, the whispering (from the ancient understanding of the significance of the hissing sound of a serpent) prognosticator, that little voice that says, 'There's something more', 'take a step to go beyond, to grow further’. This upward flow is an expression of movement and expansion, a rising of energy to open up and take in more. The purpose of this ascending path is to achieve a sense of universality, a realisation that through this crown chakra all is one, we are connected, and at the same time we become aware of our individuality.
The Buddha was a prince well versed in the Vedas but who also came to feel that it was time to take another step, to move on to a new phase of development. Through meditation he attained to this sense of universality, the sense of being one with everything, the opening up of the thousand-petalled lotus. While all the other chakras spin when energised, the crown chakra opens up and becomes a skull cap, a dome-like shape covering and surrounding the upper part of the head. Through the Buddha this ascending path was completed and the realisation of universality perfectly attained.
Steiner tells us that through this opening up and turning over of the petals, what this thousand petalled lotus contains is something of vital importance: An Etheric Heart – a pulsating red glow – essential for human beings to move forwards and continue evolving. However, the etheric heart does not just stay there, it begins to descend. We can think of the flames of Whitsun coming down upon the heads of the apostles – this ignited fire symbol of the Christ "I", the Holy Spirit now being taken in.
We can see how the development of crowns in Europe symbolise this upward striving. At first they were simple bands of gold with spikes going up. Then we see the possibility of linking with something above represented by the orb, cross and jewels. Then into the crown is placed stuffed red velvet, later becoming royal purple.
In the Miracle of Fatima when three young shepherd children saw visions of a luminous lady, believed to be the Virgin Mary, they spoke of a pulsing red crown above her head. Could it be that what they could perceive clairvoyantly was an etheric heart?
From this place of the crown chakra, and from the time of the Buddha, we are now on the descending path, taking this realised connection and permeating it into ourselves to a greater and greater extent. As we move towards the forehead, we have the one lotus petal still to develop. This is connected to our thinking. In our age we are beset with a lot of information triggering our sympathetic or antipathetic reactions – but how much of any of this is real? To make our way through this veritable quagmire we need to develop our ability to consider, evaluate and judge correctly. It is a single-track path strengthening our ability to find the Truth. How do we discern what is good and whole?
The Graeco-Roman epoch had already started working on the descending path in their development of the Mind Soul - a capacity to think clearly which we see in Socrates, Plato, Pythagoras, Aristotle, Euclid, etc. We are inheritors of this ability thanks to these great philosophers.
Moving down to the throat chakra we have eight petals still to develop and these are energised through the Christian spiritual eightfold path. This path first identified by the Buddha is now a spiritual path that is infused by the teaching and the being of Christ.
Then coming to the heart chakra where we have six petals still to develop. We find ourselves in our own time. In 2021 we are in the age (which started around the beginning of the fifteenth century) of working on our heart chakra. The upward path being one of universality and the downward path one of individuality; what is happening now? We have to know where we have come from in order to form an idea of where we are going. This downwards individual path is one of a certain aloneness, but in a good way. The experiences of "I am alone", "no one understands me", and also coming to terms with the fact that "no one can know me the way I know me" may be hard to face and endure, but at the same time it is leading us onwards to a new understanding and development. At the heart of our individuality is the Christ connection. This is the place from which we can build future community. The idea that we are "All One", can only be properly realised and honoured when we see and find one another through our individual connection to the Christ.
The descending Chakra path reconnects with the chakras of the ascending path. Now that the Crown Chakra is no longer, a new chakra appears at the naval (an eight petalled lotus flower) and this chakra is connected to the heart chakra on which we are currently working.
A joyous discovery of Michaël's:
This new path can be seen on the Western facade of Chartres Cathedral, Notre Dame (meaning Our Lady). At the top we have the Virgin and Child with an angel on either side representing the two petals of the third eye chakra. Beneath them is a bridge between two spires and on this bridge are sixteen knights representing the larynx or throat chakra. Beneath this is the large twelve-petalled rose window representing the chakra of the heart. In the twelve circles surrounding this window we find smaller rose windows with eight petals each, these representing the new naval chakra. Below, the windows, arches and door carry the numerology of the three lower chakras.
While the path for today is the descending path, the upward path is still recapitulated in our development from birth to the age of twenty one. We can align each of the first six chakra developments with two of Anthroposophy's twelve senses while allocating three years to each phase. With our first (root) chakra, up to the age of three, we develop the senses of touch and life. With our second (sacral) chakra, up to the age of six, we develop movement and balance. With our third (solar plexus) chakra, up to the age of nine, we develop our senses of taste and smell. These are strongly connected to our ability to respond to what we do and don't like; our ability to discern and make decisions. With our fourth (heart) chakra, up to the age of twelve, we develop the senses of sight and warmth and with this the ability to understand the world around us through perception, insight and warm enthusiasm. With our fifth (larynx) chakra, up to the age of fifteen, we develop the senses of speech and hearing. With our sixth chakra up to the age of eighteen we develop our thinking and our concept of the "I" in the other. Then when we come to the seventh (crown) chakra, at the age of twenty-one, we encounter our “I” and the development of ourselves as adults which require us to work on the descending path. Here we realise that we are one with everything and at the same time feel our individuality. Through this new and connected place our ego begins to descend and permeate into the depths of our being.
Thus, the ascending path is recapitulated as we grow "up". However, this is not the path of the adult human being. Our task now is to consciously permeate and evolve in order to discover and create, with reverence for both ourselves and all that is around us.
In the Gospel we read of Mary Magdalene having seven devils cast out of her. The original word is "daemon" (daimon) which did not necessarily mean evil or devil but could refer simply to a guardian spirit. We can imagine then that these seven daemons were the guardians of her chakra systems who were overstaying their welcome. If a guardian spirit protects beyond the appropriate time of its allocated task, then its presence becomes inappropriate and destructive. By staying too long they were preventing her from developing and opening up. It was time for them to leave and so they were cast out by Christ in order that her evolution could continue.
by John-Peter Gernaat
Luke 18: 18-34 is the story of the ‘rich young man’, a ruler in his community, who askes Jesus: “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”. Jesus responds that he should uphold the Commandments, which, to summarise, are to have concern for other and be honourable and truthful. When the man says he strives to maintain these, Jesus says there is one thing he lacks. This is usually translated as “sell everything you have and give to the poor … and come follow me”. This passage tells us something of the cost of discipleship. Nothing in life comes without a cost. But is it the intention that extreme poverty is the only true cost of discipleship?
Francis of Assisi thought so and gave away everything he owned, including the fabrics he was selling on behalf of his father, even the clothes off his back. He created a community of Mendicants, beggars, who wandered about and begged for their food and accommodation. He so inspired the people of his time that the Franciscan order grew rapidly and he was canonised two years after his death. There are religious groups who own nothing personally. Everything is owned in community and shared for use. Even the clothes they wear are taken from a communal wardrobe.
Why does Jesus begin by asking about the Commandments, the Law of Moses? Through living the Law, not rigidly observing the letter of law, but by making it a part of life, the person gains freedom. For most observant people the Law is a burden that regiments their life. It is also why Jesus says, “I have come to fulfil the Law”. Then Jesus says: “’Yet, there is one thing you lack. Exchange the attitude of holding on tightly to what you have for an open-handedness for those who do not have, and you will have treasure in the Heavens. And come follow me.’ And having heard these words the young man became intensely sad for he put great and total effort into holding tightly in his possession the abundance of his provisions.”
The word in Greek that means ‘sell’ originally meant to exchange in the sense of exchanging one set of goods for another (barter). When the exchange became one for money, the word was retained and changed meaning to ‘sell’. The exchange was one that implied an exchange out of one’s hand. In order to make such an exchange the hand must be open. Someone who is tight-fisted cannot make an exchange of possessions. It is therefore possible to translate the words of Jesus and “change one attitude for another” and what needs to change is an attitude of soul towards things and in the overall context also to the Christ. To be a disciple requires a change of attitude of our soul in how we relate to the things in our possession. The change referred to here is different to the change asked of us by John the Baptist. John the Baptist asks that we change one thing into something new. Jesus asks that we change one thing for another.
What is the word that is translated as ‘divide up what you have’ with the poor? The Greek word could be translated as ‘offer’ – offer what you have. The original meaning was ‘hand it over’. Again: exchange the tight-fistedness of holding on to an open-handedness of handing over. “Hand on, don’t hold on.” This concerns what the person considers important, rather than purely material possessions. Is the attitude to what is important selfish or is it selfless? The Greek word is ‘diadidōmi’. We retain ‘dia’ in English in the word diameter. It means to cross over to the other side. Diameter is therefore to cross over from one point on the circumference of a circle to a point on the other side, but, importantly, a circle cannot exist without a relationship to the centre and to cross over requires passing through the centre. ‘Dia’ meant, for the Ancient Greeks, to successfully cross through to the other side; successfully cross through the central point. The question to ask then is, “what is the central point of my existence if I am to successfully cross over to the other side in terms of an attitude I hold?” It is for this reason that the word is translated as ‘hand it over’. Handing over also brings it into motion. ‘Didōmi’ originally meant ‘to deliver by reaching out’. The real meaning of this word that is so readily translated as ‘give’ or ‘divide’ really means to ‘reach out and cross from where you are to where the other is through the central meaning of your life, which as a disciple would be through Christ’.
How can one live this attitude? Are the possessions I own purely for the enjoyment of my own life, or do I make the benefit of owning them available to other people especially through reaching out to connect with others through the central meaning of my life which is Christ? I own a car in order to travel to visit vulnerable members of our community to deliver a copy of the newsletter that contains articles such as this one and thereby connect with them on what is central to us both.
If the intention of Jesus was to give everything away we would no longer have that which we possess in order to make relationships meaningful. We cannot take our possessions with us across the threshold when we die, but we take with us what these possessions enabled us to do, especially in relation to other people. The attitude regarding our possessions should therefore not be to hold on, but rather to let go (not to lose or abandon them). The Apostles say that they have let go of parents and family; they have not lost them, but rather developed a freer relationship to them; they are not so attached to their family that they cannot move in their following of Christ. This is a letting go of the attachment, not a letting go of the relationship. We are not asked to abandon our possessions and family but rather to free ourselves from the attachment, an inappropriate attachment. This attachment applies equally to perspectives, attitudes and relationships as it does to things. These could bind or enslave one.
This passage in Luke forms part of a greater section that is about the “Conditions of Discipleship”. In the Madsen translation Luke 14:25 and next verses bear this title and says: “Great crowds of people were wandering with him. And he turned to them and said, ‘If someone comes to me but cannot free himself from his father and his mother, from his wife and his children, from brothers and sisters, yes, even from his own soul, he cannot be my disciple.” Our essential “I” must be free. It must work with our soul but not be so attached that it overly identifies so that our life is directed by the soul and not by the “I”. When we allow ourselves to be distracted by the comforts of life our soul is taking over and we do not experience, or allow, the freedom of the “I”. This is the struggle of life on earth: to exercise being ourselves. Our struggle is to change the attitude of hanging on to everything that we gather around us in life to an attitude of letting go, of being in an exchange.
Shortly after the statement in Luke 14: 25-26, Jesus gives examples of the difference between losing and letting go. It is important not to lose in the process of letting go. Jesus gives the parables of the ‘lost sheep’, the ‘lost coin’ and the ‘prodigal son’, the son who is lost. In the story of the prodigal son the son asks his father to let him go and the father does so, but the father does not stop waiting for the free return of his son. In the free returning the son is willing to form a new relationship to his father, a relationship of not being dependent. The father replies: “you are willing to reach across and through to me and I to you and now we are in an exchange”. The relationship is now one of flow and no longer one of being fixed. This is one of the requirements of discipleship.
Then Jesus tells the parable of the pharisee and the tax collector. This lays out the fundamental attitude laid out before the rich young man comes with his question. The pharisee prays loudly; he desires everyone to notice his position in society. The tax collector behaves like a beggar and humbles himself. What is the position of a beggar or of being poor? The original word in Greek meant “bent over”. It was understood that these people were bent over because they were begging or deeply destitute. But it also came to mean an attitude of bending over, showing humility or devotion in recognition of spiritual poverty. The attitude of begging is also one of open-handedness to receive. The cost of discipleship is what is missing between the pharisee and the tax collector; there is no relationship between the pharisee in his arrogance and the tax collected in his state of begging. Jesus ends the parable saying the tax collector returned home being justified more than the pharisee. It is the justice in our relationships to God and one another that is important. The justice comes about when my attitude to my possessions and status in life is one of open-handedness to those who lack in what I have. Then we arrive at the story of the rich young man where this change of attitude is explained more fully and with it the cost of discipleship, of following Christ. What is important is Jesus saying that the change in attitude to an open-handedness precedes following Christ.
Rudolf Steiner speaks about the new path of initiation as being initiated in our relationships with other people. This means that our path of initiation is never over, it is ongoing, every day in our relationships with everyone we encounter. It is also not a lonely task but one in community.
This story of the rich young man is structurally located in Luke’s Gospel in the sixth step of the eight-fold path (see this more fully explained in the article: The Old and New Paths of Chakra Development). This is the step of right effort which Rudolf Steiner describes as concerning human endeavour. “The aspirant puts his capacities and proficiencies to the test avoiding anything that is beyond his powers but omitting nothing within his scope. He sets before him aims connected with the ideals and great duties of a human being. He does not thoughtlessly regard himself as a wheel in the great machinery of mankind, but tries to comprehend his tasks and look beyond everyday affairs. He endeavours to fulfil his obligations more and more thoroughly.” This relates to ‘dia’: reaching across and though and being more thorough in the connections we make, then we are following Christ.
A brief report on some facts about Abraham from the Old Testament Study by Rev. Michaël Merle by John-Peter Gernaat
It is necessary to read the end of Genesis chapter 11 and all of chapters 12 and 13 to accompany this report. The story of Abram, or Avram, as he was named by his family, takes us from the second post-Atlantean Epoch where the story of the Tower of Babel occurred to the third post-Atlantean Epoch, the Egypto-Chaldean Epoch. Is the story of Abram a biographical story as we would write a historical biography today? No. This story explains deep mysteries is the form of allegories, or maybe even more precisely through imaginative imagery, a form of story symbology. A full understanding of the meaning of words and the spiritual development of the time unravels this story for us.
The name Abram tells us that this name has a connection to a father figure, as it means exalted father. This connection may be to the Father-God. His wife is Sarah, which means princess, which also lets us know that she is someone with her own knowledge and wisdom. The symbol of a princess in a fairy tale would identify the character has carrying ‘beauty” but also “brains”, as in wisdom, understanding and knowledge.
Abram leaves his father’s house, which means that he leaves the clan where he has had his home since birth and where he is expected to move up the ranks to becoming an elder before he dies. His wife left her father’s house to move into the clan or house of Abram’s father. This was the normal life of the time. For a man to leave the house of his father, to leave the clan, and to travel to another country was unheard of. It tells us that Abram had acquired wisdom of his own that had given him the ability to act on his own cognisance when he received a calling.
Abram travels two thousand kilometres. He is accompanied by a younger relative, his nephew Lot and his family, for whom Abram is like a father. Abram is not yet father to his own son.
YHWH (Yahweh), who is an Elohim, appears to Abram. This means that a relationship is established between Abram and YHWH. As time passes only the lower Hierarchy can appear to human beings. YHWH who is a being of the Sun has aligned himself with the Moon (see the story of Cain and Abel in the January articles). In the lands through which Abram travels there is a very strong connection to the Moon Goddess or Moon Cult that is evident in the Babylonian culture. Abram never leaves the Moon Cult. The Hebrew people who are strongly connected with YHWH remain connected to the Moon Cult. Because of YHWH’s connection to the Sun the stories of the Old Testament also bring to light elements of the Sun, which ultimately is the preparation for the Christ.
Abram travels to a place called Bethel where he erects an altar. But Bethel is not a place as much as a description. El is the name of the almighty god of the Canaanite world. Beth is the dwelling place, therefore the house or temple of El. Today we still find in names that contain ‘el’ a reference to God: Michael. Gabriel, etc. When Abram builds an altar, he builds it to the one with whom he has a relationship: YHWH, who is himself a servant of El. Abram cannot have a relationship to El directly, only through YHWH.
The description of the journey of Abram to Egypt, the land of the Sun Cult, is entirely allegorical. This story refers to Abram meeting the great initiate of the Sun Culture in the form of the Pharaoh (a priest-king). Michaël digressed to tell something of the story of the Pharaoh Akhenaten. Akhenaten broke completely with the traditions of his time to announce that there was only one God. He was a monotheist, and this must align him with Abram who was the first human being to follow the One God and became the father in faith of three monotheistic faiths – Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Akhenaten was born Amenhotep but took the name Akhenaten which means servant of and son of Aten, the God of the Sun, the one almighty God. Akhenaten was married to Nefertiti and considered to be the father of Tutankhamun. Tutankhamun would have been named Tutanaten but abandons the ideas of his father and again becomes a follower of Amun (one of the old gods) thereby becoming Tutankhamun.
The journey of Abram and Sarah to Egypt is the entry into a mystery school where they will acquire a new wisdom. One of the great wisdoms of the Pharaoh was the blood relationship. It was common for the Pharaohs to marry their sisters. By Abram calling Sarah his sister, Abram is demonstrating a great insight into the relationship he has with Sarah. It shows that Abram is wedded to someone who is his equal. Pharaoh takes Sarah as his wife because Sarah is, according to her name, a princess and she is beautiful, meaning full of her own wisdom and insight. Taking Sarah as wife means that Pharaoh takes Sarah as a partner in the initiation mystery. Because Sarah is able to enter into the mystery school of Pharaoh, Abram is able to gain enormous wealth of wisdom and the riches of insight, symbolised as possessions described in the story. It is important to understand the symbology, and not to fallaciously understand that prosperity is a symbol of connectedness to the Divine.
The mysteries of the Pharaoh, amazing as they are, do not fully satisfy the seeking of Abram. This is symbolised by the plagues that are sent. This is again seen in the story of Moses. Both Abram and Moses experience a ‘rich’ life in Egypt and then plagues that free them to continue on their journey. This story and the whole of the Old Testament is about a development. Abram carries with him the wisdom he has gain from this experience. When Pharaoh realises the depth of the relationship between Abram and Sarah, that she is not only his sister (his equal) but that he has wedded her, thereby drawing her into an initiate relationship, Pharaoh must send Abram and Sarah away. Abram and Sarah go into the depth of the Egyptian mysteries. Then they journey back to the place where Abram has established his tent and raised an altar to YWHW. Abram brings back all that he has gained as a new richness of spirituality and offers this as a worthy sacrifice at the altar of YHWH.
In this process Lot has also acquired wisdom (a lot of flocks, and tents) that allows him to take an independent decision and he goes his own way with his family. Now Abram is in a position to become a father to his sons who are yet to be born.
Here is a story of a man whose inner journey is represented by his outer journey. His time is Egypt represents the acquisition of the wisdom of the Egyptian Mysteries through a process of initiation. He establishes a new relationship with Sarah, she becomes his sister in spiritual development as well as being his wife. Abram now becomes not only a great father figure, but in Sarah we also find a great mother figure. Sarah is elevated to the same status as Abram in relation to the nation that will be founded.
(From the Old Testament Study) by Robyn de Klerk
King of Righteousness
King of Peace
Descending from the Mount of Olives
Descending from The East
Abram moves to meet Him
Coming from the West
The power of the Sun
The power of the Moon
Held and honoured
Through the Human
The centre of the Mystery
And how the West is won
Uniting Lunar and Solar
Polarities to integrate and enhance
A fusion of antitheses
A futuristic chance
"Thou art a Priest Forever
After the Order of Melchizedek"
Christ would walk this way
The Mystery of the Bread & Wine
One the forerunner
One the Light of Day
In Gratitude and Reverence
Abram offered Him a tithe
Creating a connection
Linking us to Life
And so we walk our paths
Discovering East and West
Learning to stand Upright
Feeling what is best
And we search for Truth
Learning on the Way
In the deepest depths of Night
Darkness becomes Day
The Bread the Body
The Wine the Blood
The third is Peace
Which finds its home in Us
The King of Salem
Prepares the road to Love
A Mystery of Magnificence
Twin gifts from above
The nature and significance of Sacrifice: the Ram, the Lamb, and Bread and Wine from the Old Testament Study by Rev. Michaël Merle
reported by John-Peter Gernaat
Gen. 14 “Then Melchizedek, king of Salem, brought bread and wine: and he was the priest of God Most High. And he blessed Abram saying, blessed by Abram by God Most High, maker of heaven and earth. And blessed be God Most High who has delivered your enemies into your hands. And Abram gave him a tenth part of everything.”
Melchizedek is a priest of God Most High and Avram is connected to YHWH of the Elohim. Avram is strongly connected to a particular spiritual impulse and he meets a king, who is a priest of God Most High. The name Melchizedek means the King of Righteousness – Melchi Zedek. He is also the King of Salem which means that he is the King of Peace – Salem is derived from the root S-L-M from which the Hebrew word shalom is also derived. Yireh (abiding place) is connected with YHWH and Shalem (peace) is connected with Melchizedek giving rise to the name Jerusalem. In many of the names we see a meeting of Avram who is connected with YHWH and the Moon Sphere and Melchizedek as a priest of God Most High (Ēl Elyōn) who is connected with the Sun Sphere. Melchizedek is a priest in the tradition that goes back to Noah and to Seth. (We have an esoteric picture of Melchizedek as the Noah individuality embodied in the life energy of Seth, the son. So, Noah, the father, and Seth, the son, are combined esoterically in the being of Melchizedek.) Melchizedek therefore brings with him a picture of a relationship between father and son that is key to the experience of Avram. At this stage Lot, who is Avram’s nephew, who accompanied Avram, substitutes as a son.
We now jump ahead to the time when Avram has become Abraham (see the article titled “Abraham and Sarah”) and has two sons, Ishmael, conceived before the changing of his name and Isaac who is born as a result of the covenant YHWH makes with Avram which changes his name to Abraham. YHWH instructs Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac, the son of the covenant, the son of miracle – because Sarah was beyond child-bearing age. In this story we are linked to human sacrifice and to blood sacrifice.
This contrast strongly with the sacrifice that Melchizedek (Melchi Zedek, the King of Righteousness and the King of Peace – Salem) brings at the very beginning of historical time in the recorded history of humanity, bread and wine. Melchizedek brings substances of the earth that have gone through two very important processes. One of these processes the human being activates – wheat ground to flour and flour made into bread; grapes crushed in order to become wine. The second process is the process of fermentation that occurs through the activity of a yeast. Yeast is a unicellular fungus that produces carbon dioxide and alcohol as a byproduct. In the making of bread the cardon dioxide leavens the bread, causes the bread to rise, while the alcohol evaporates in the baking. In the case of wine the alcohol remains while the carbon dioxide escapes into the atmosphere. In the sacrifice brought by Melchizedek we have an interesting combination of human activity upon the natural product of wheat and grapes, the fruits of the earth, and the fermentation where the substance is acted upon and there is a transformative process within the substantive nature of this offering. This also links back to the original sacrifices of Cain and Abel where Cain brings the sacrifice of the first fruits of the earth and Abel brings the first born of the flock, blood sacrifice. It is likely that these offerings were brought without any human manipulation, unprocessed, by Cain or Abel. The sacrifices that then develop after Noah and the flood require that something is done with the fruits of the earth and the first born of the flock. There are two things that can be done with an animal, slaughter it and make a blood offering or burn it and make a burnt offering. The process akin to slaughtering an animal on the fruits of the earth would be to grind the wheat and crush the grape. The fruits of the earth could also be offered as a burnt offering. We are dealing with two different sacrifices: the animal sacrifice and the fruits of the earth sacrifice. This aligns with two different streams: the Moon Stream and the Sun Stream – those human beings who align themselves to the Moon Forces and those human beings who align themselves with the Sun Forces and what each represents. One stream is not better than the other but one stream belongs to a certain time while the other to another time. As humanity, our earthly evolution begins with a strong connection to the Sun Forces and then, through the Fall, we follow YHWH and the Moon Forces in which time a person like Noah arises who is aligned with the forces of the Sun. The great sign of Noah can only happen under the influence of the sun – the rainbow. After Noah humanity reverts back to Moon sacrifices and a connection to the Moon. Melchizedek is a priest who is out of time, being in the time when humanity is still under the influences of the Moon Forces. He is so out of time that he is considered to have no mother or father. He appears with a picture of the future sacrifice of bread and wine, the bloodless sacrifice.
Abraham sets out with Isaac to perform a blood sacrifice. Isaac is aware that there is wood that is required for a burnt offering, a knife and the fire. The animal would first be slaughtered, spilling the blood, and then be burnt so that the smoke may rise as a sign to the spiritual world that a sacrifice has been made. A sacrifice means that we have given up something out of our possessions. Abraham’s possessions are an extension of his wisdom much of which he gained through his initiation into the Egyptian Mysteries. Abraham is however called upon to sacrifice something more precious to him, the miracle who is his son Isaac. In making this sacrifice Abraham will learn many things through his willingness to be obedient to the command of YHWH. In the reading of Gen. 22 we hear that Abraham journeys three days with Isaac and two servants and a donkey. When Abraham sees the place to which YHWH has guided him, he instructs the two young men to remain with the donkey and says that he and Isaac will return after making the sacrifice. Isaac is burdened with the wood while Abraham carries the knife and the fire so that Isaac will not be harmed. Isaac asks his father where the lamb for the sacrifice is. Abraham prophetically says that God will provide the lamb. We read in this the prophecy that God will provide Jesus Christ as the true sacrifice – “There”, says John the Baptist, “goes the Lamb of God”. When Abraham has built the altar and laid the wood and his son, Isaac upon the wood he reaches for the knife and the angel of YHWH calls to him. Abraham’s reply is, “Here I am” – here I am in myself! When Abraham then looks around he finds a ram, not a lamb, caught by its horns and he offers that in place of his son. YHWH does not provide the first born of the flock, the lamb, but the adult ram to offer. In this we can read that the sacrifice of the first born, of the Lamb, is for the future and will be the last human sacrifice and that this sacrifice will be carried in the sacrifice of bread and wine. The sacrifice of the Lamb will be a sacrifice of the Sun.
Melchizedek knows that the true sacrifice of the Sun is the sacrifice of bread and wine, but this sacrifice of bread and wine is more than that, it is a sacrifice of Sun and Moon and we see this in the image of cup, a grail moon and the host, a round sun. All the forces of YHWH as servant of Ēl Elyōn work together with Ēl Elyōn in the combined sacrifice of bread and wine. This outstanding sign of our future development, the sacrifice of bread and wine, appears this early in the history of our development because it is through Abraham that we have a direct link to Jesus of Nazareth who is to be the man who bears the Christ. This is how the sacrifice of bread and wine, that Melchizedek brings and already knows about, is completed to become the everlasting sacrifice. The last sacrifice we will ever need is the sacrifice of bread and wine.
In this image of Melchizedek from the cathedral in Geneva we see the sacrifice of bread and wine which Melchizedek brings, but there is a third element; Melchizedek is the King of Peace and therefore the sacrifice of bread and wine is the sacrifice that reconciles all sacrifices into peaceful harmony. Therefore a true understanding of the sacrifice of bread and wine is that it is always offered in peace and with peace; a particular peace: the peace of Christ. In the image the ‘M’ above Melchizedek is the glyph for Leo in the zodiac – lion, heart, rhythmic, warm, sun. Above the chalice Melchizedek’s name ends in a ‘C’ which is a crescent C like a crescent moon. This is a sacrifice between Sun and Moon and between them is Melchizedek himself as the King of Peace. His face is as important as the host and chalice – chalice, face and host, a three-fold sacrifice. His name is King of Righteousness; the true symbol of righteousness is the offering of bread and wine. This sacrifice harnesses the spiritual forces of the Sun and of the Moon.
To aid us we look at the Platonic year. The earth has three movements: it rotates on its axis; it revolves around the sun; and the axis of the earth has a wobble – general precession of the axis – so that the earth’s axis passes through each of the signs of the zodiac and remains within each sign of the zodiac for around 2 150 years. This means that this wobble of the earth’s axis returns to the same point after 25 772 years. One day in the Platonic year equates to 72 years or one human lifetime. (Some ancient wisdom suggests that after the age of 72 all the development of a lifetime is completed, and one lives in grace.) Where is the earth’s axis pointed? We are living in the constellation of Pisces and moving ever closer to constellation of Aquarius. We have been in the age of Pisces since the time of Christ. Before the age of Pisces we lived in the age of Aries and before that in the age of Taurus. Our imagination is influenced by the constellation through which we are living. We see in the Egyptian picture the influence of Taurus, the bull. We hear it also in the legends of Gilgamesh in which a whole section is devoted to the capture and slaughtering the Bull of Heaven. We see it in the headdress of Isis, the goddess married to Osiris and the mother of Horus. The image of Isis and Horus is the earliest picture of mother and child that we have, an archetypal picture. The headdress is the horns of the bull that holds a sun disk.
As we move from the constellation of Taurus into the constellation of Aries, this is the time of Abraham. Abraham has learned of the Sun wisdom through his Egyptian initiation and meets it again in an earlier form through Melchizedek who represents the Sun wisdom of Noah, he is now moving into the Moon wisdom. The horn pattern of Aries is a horn pattern that goes back and then curls. Aries looks back at a time when the moon separated from the earth and asks how we stay connected to that reality, to what all of those forces meant for the earth. The cycles of the moon are strongly connected to the fluid cycles of life, the tides and to the menstrual cycle. The ancient picture of Abel and the lamb is replaced by the picture of the ram and blood sacrifice of the ram. The movement from Taurus to Aries is not instantaneous and we will meet this again when Moses climbs the mountain of the Lord, Mount Sinai, to receive the Commandments, the Israelites create the Golden Sun-Calf. Moses is angry that they have abandoned YHWH who operates from the forces of the Moon. The obsession with past forces of the Sun is out of time.
Through these stories we will eventually come to an understanding of what the sacrifice of bread and wine comes to signify. For now the sacrifice of bread and wine represents the full reality of what a human being can offer. With the bread we have the Body of Christ and with the wine we have the Blood of Christ. Now we have forces that came into the offering of Melchizedek and taken them even further so that we can understand the connection of that bread, now Body of Christ, the wine, now Blood of Christ associated with what we describe as the new confession and the new faith, what flows in the Blood, what is born on the Cross.
At every stage in human evolution we are engaged in a sacrifice that makes sense for our time. YHWH is letting Abraham know that the new sacrifice of his time is the sacrifice of the ram. The sacrifice of the lamb is for the future. The sacrifice of bread and wine is for the future. Both have been prefigured. Bear this in mind as Abraham and those to follow make the sacrifice of the burnt offering of the ram, strongly associated with the male ram, with moving back to the forces of separation of birth, of Moon. YHWH is an Elohim, one of the Beings of Form, the Exusiai, part of the Hierarchy of the Spiritual World, and YHWH is the Elohim who after the enormous creative processes that we read of in the first chapter of Genesis does not, like the other Elohim, return to an association with the Forces of the Realm of the Sun, but rather sacrifices something of his own continuing development and aligns himself with the Force of the Moon so that we are connected strongly to him in what comes to be born in us as human beings at that time. This is what must happen for Abraham, he must wake up to a new capacity in his thinking because of the close connection he has with YWHW and the Moon Forces that YHWH can allow to stream in what will grow and develop for Abraham and in his blood line. The images have lived in the religious life for centuries in many forms as Michaël described in the Catholic Monstrance. We need to appreciate the extraordinary transformed form of bread and wine whose very substance is going to be changed. The fruits of the earth have been transformed and the transformed fruits of the earth will be transubstantiated. Now a process has happened whereby matter worked on through microbiology and human energy becomes the symbol through which substantive change can take place and that allows substantive change to take place in the human being and matter can again become spirit.
reported by John-Peter Gernaat
This is a story that is very poorly understood.
I, John-Peter, grew up in a very Calvinistic environment and focus was placed on only two aspects of this story: one of the acts performed on the angels was held up as a mortal sin; and that disobedience towards God would result in one being transformed into a mineral pillar, i.e. into stone – the punishment for a mortal sin.
In contrast the rabbinical writings over many centuries on this story provide a very different understanding of what this story means.
To place the picture again: Lot was the nephew of Abram (possibly better translated as Avram) and left his father’s home to join Avram when Avram set out on his journey westward, as a son-figure to Avram. Lot also experienced the Egyptian initiation (as described in the article above) and then Avram and Lot part ways and Lot goes to live in Sodom.
The Rabbis were less concerned with the sexual nature of the sin that is represented as occurring in Sodom, understanding that it was representative of the true nature of the sin that they understood as the sin of inhospitality. The people of Sodom were not welcoming to strangers and did not let them become part of the city. Instead, they excluded them by shaming and embarrassing them. This was the story of early xenophobia and xenophobic attacks. There is a Rabbinical story in which Lot’s wife is given a name, Edith, and is ascribed as originally being from the city of Sodom. Hence Lot goes to live in the city of his wife’s family when he parts ways with Avram, as still happens in many family situations today. When the angels of YHWH, his messengers, come to tell Lot of the fate of the city of Sodom it is expected of Edith to be hospitable because Lot understands hospitality. (Paul, in his letters, writes that often when welcoming a stranger you have welcomed an angel without knowing it.) The standard for human life was to be hospitable, to incorporate others into the human community of which you were a part. This had been neglected and forgotten in Sodom and instead segregation and bigotry had become the norm. The sign of hospitality was to share salt with the stranger at one’s table. This was often done through salt water into which the bread could be dipped. The value of salt is reiterated in the New Testament in many of the things Jesus says. Edith did not have salt in her house because, as a citizen of Sodom, she did not understand the custom of sharing salt. She goes in search of salt from house to house and cannot find any. So, Edith does not share salt with her guests. As a result of this Edith is the first human to experience the process of salt within her physical nature. This story may not be the full story, but it shows that the Rabbis understood that the story was a metaphor and they wrestled with understanding its metaphorical meaning rather than ascribing a literal meaning as certain Protestant Christian ministers have.
When Lot and his family leave Sodom there is one line in scripture (Gen.19: 26): “Lot’s wife looked back and she became a pillar of salt”. Our consequential minds read this as meaning that Lot’s wife is punished for disobeying the order given by the angles to not look back. It is not written that YHWH turned her into a pillar of salt but that she became a pillar of salt. She does not disappear from the Rabbinical story after this event thereby clearly identifying that she was not turned to stone.
What is the metaphor for Lot’s wife, Edith, becoming a pillar of salt? One idea that has existed in the Rabbinical writings for over a century, and it is an idea that Emil Bock – one of the founding priests of The Christian Community – mentions, that prior to this event people did not age visibly after reaching adulthood. People died in their youthful appearance. Is it therefore any surprise that this lives as a buried folk-memory in us all, exploited by the beauty industry? When Edith looks back at what was, she begins the process of aging. This is how the Rabbis understood the metaphor. Edith becomes a pillar of salt: dried out without moisture or life blood or water – the substance of blood. This is how the aging process would have appeared to those around her who had no experience of physical aging.
Chemically, salt is the neutral residue of a chemical process that mixes an acid and an alkali – two opposites. If we can therefore look at an acidic - alkaline process happening, then we may gain a sense of what the “becoming a pillar of salt” is about. It is significant that turning to a pillar of salt occurs when she looks back. It is interesting that in the time of Aries (this time was in the beginning of the Platonic month of Aries within the Earth’s general precession: an elliptical conical motion of the Earth’s axis – see also the article on the significance of sacrifice srticle) they are instructed to not turn back. In the ancient world Aries was depicted as the ram with its head turned back – it is an essential element of Aries. In the evolutionary path of plants and animals, when arriving at Aries in the evolutionary sequence, both plants and animals recapitulates the past. The plant associated with the zodiacal plant sequence of evolution for Aries is lichen that combines two different forms of plant life that existed previously but does not take an evolutionary step forward. In our body the skin-bone process is connected with the forces of silica and limestone, and in terms of the zodiac with Aries and with Libra. They are opposite chemical processes. The zodiacal signs of Aries and Libra are opposite each other in the circle of the stars.
In his book The Nature of Substance, Rudolf Hauschka speaks of the organic nature of all matter that has four predominant elements: carbon, oxygen, hydrogen and nitrogen. He describes these as being in the atmosphere. (We know that a tree removes carbon from the atmosphere through photosynthesis to build up its entire massive substance, not carbon from the earth.) Alongside the organic nature of the atmosphere is the geosphere with its mineral nature represented in the elements of phosphorus, silica, aluminium and calcium. Calcium – Libra, and silica – Aries: bone and skin. Reading from The Nature of Substance by Rudolf Hauschka: “Aries the Ram is a wonderfully profound image of the cosmic process that gives rise to silica as its last mineralised stage. So now the activity that proceeds from the Aries region of the heaven is pictured at every level in the ram. For one thing the ram’s twisted, hollow horn formation is a pure example of the characteristic sheath-building, spear-forming activity of silica. These spherical tendencies can be seen also over the whole ram’s body surface in the wool that covers even its head. This soft, bright, silky fleece was from time immemorial a symbol of the high cosmic powers of wisdom that prevails in the realm of archetypes. All genuine early representations of the ram show him looking backwards, emphasising the way in which the silica process rays in from universal space. The earthly substances silica and lime are polar opposites. Their macrocosmic archetypes are similarly polar for the Ram and the Scales confront each other from opposite sides of the zodiacal circle.” In this chapter of the book Hauschka looks carefully at silica in the skin and lime in the bone. “Lime and silica were shown to be polarities. We can see this tendency in rocks where clay is present. Feldspar is a good example, it plays a harmonising role between quartz and mica.” He also refers to their acidic and alkali properties.
Edith is becoming mineralised; she is becoming associated with the earth. She loses the plasticity of being a person of clay, she is becoming sclerotic, she is looking back at what was. The cities of Sodom and Gomorrah are being taken over in a sulphur process – fire and brimstone – and one could imagine the earth opening up and taking the cities into itself in a statement that inhospitality cannot continue. The earth is the place of hospitality, the place where we meet each other. Edith turns back and now bears an aging process in herself which is part of life on earth. We continue to carry a youthful sense of possibility within ourselves but when we look at our physical body we see our own pillar of salt. Our mineral nature is becoming dry and old.
We need to see far more into these stories of the Old Testament than a literal meaning. The sin of Sodom is the sin of inhospitality. We must become a humanity that is incorporating.
reported by John-Peter Gernaat
Does God change from the God who destroys nations in the Old Testament to a benevolent God in the New Testament? How we read the events of the Old Testament may change our view of God and help us understand the evolution of human consciousness, and the workings of the Divine. In the Old Testament we encounter YHWH (Yahweh) of the Elohim as a representative of God who has been given a specific spiritual task. He is dedicated to this spiritual task. As our study of the Old Testament continues, we will discover more of his task and also when the appropriate time was that this task was fulfilled. When a spiritual task is carried on beyond the time of its fulfilment it no longer serves the good purpose for which it was given. We may gain further insight as we continue.
We must read the story of Abraham with a sense for the literary style in which the story was written. We would be incorrect to read it as we would a modern biography.
This study of the name change for Abram and Sarai begins by looking again at Adam and Eve. Gen 3: 20 states that “the man called his wife by the name of Eve because she was the mother of all the living”. This means that Eve does not receive a name until after she and Adam have eaten of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil and after the judgement of God. Before the Fall the woman is still an extension of Adam, the human being, in that they are one in their being, not separate beings. She is an aspect of the full humanity of Mankind. The man has two names: Human or ‘Adam’, and Man of Earth or ‘Adama’. In these two names we recognise that the idea of the human being becomes a reality on the earth, in the name Adama. The human being is a merism, has two aspects, man and woman, male and female. They complement and complete one another as a whole. This is why when the woman part of the human community on earth eats of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil and shares it with the man, he makes no objection, because in her eating of it he has eaten of it, they are one. The way the story tells us that the man eats after the woman is merely to complete the picture that the whole human organism has taken the fruit into itself. Adam cannot in all honesty say to God after the event that it was only a part of him, the woman, who ate of the fruit. Adam tries this (much like we might speak of a part of us that has sinned) but God recognises that the entire human ate of the fruit. The entire human must own that part of its being that goes ahead, has the ability to pay attention to the voice of the whispering prognosticator (the serpent), which is what the woman comes to represent.
The deed of eating of the fruit of the Tree of knowledge of Good and Evil, which the woman recognised was the destiny of humanity, was done too soon. YHWH of the Elohim, who we encounter in Gen. 2 as a Being of Form who formed the earth, takes the very specific task in caring for the Hebrew people. He becomes so strongly identified with his task that the Hebrew people eventually see him as Ēl Elyōn, God Most High, whose priest is Melchizedek, even though YHWH is a servant of Ēl Elyōn.
This brings us the concept that when we are initiated into a new task, as the woman was, we take on a new name. She becomes Eve.
Gen. 17: “When Avram is ninety-nine years old YHWH appeared to him and said, ‘I am God Almighty. (YHWH is not God Almighty but for Avram he is the representative of God Almighty and therefore he can say to Avram: ‘You cannot serve another God, there is only one God and I represent him in everything for you.’) Walk in my presence and be without blame. I will make a covenant between myself and you and I will multiply your race.’ Avram fell face down and YHWH said, ‘This is my covenant with you, you will be the father of a multitude of nations’”. The name Abraham means ‘father of many’. YHWH is a spiritual father to the people of Israel, to the Hebrews, and he gives Avram the tasks to become the earthly father of many. The three main monotheistic faiths are the Abrahamic faiths for whom Abraham is the father. Abraham becomes like a new Adam. In taking on a new leadership role for all of humanity the person becomes a new Adam for humanity. Abraham is no longer just a follower of YHWH, he is given a mission to fulfil: he is going to father a son. This event occurs after the birth of Ishmael and therefore Ishmael is not significant in this covenant that YHWH makes with Avram. The birth of Isaac is significant for the faith mission given to Abraham.
This is why the Jewish people are the chosen people. The beginning of this people as a tribe set apart begins with Abraham and the covenant YHWH makes with Abraham. This covenant is different to the covenant made with Noah. The covenant with Noah was made for all of humanity and the Noahide Laws (also called Noachian Laws) were considered by the Jews to have been given for all of humanity. The Laws of the Covenant given to Moses are specifically for the Hebrew people. The faith established by YHWH is a legalistic faith – it is more important to obey the Law than to have belief in God.
Gen 17:15 “And God said to Abraham, ‘As for Sarai, your wife, no longer are you to call her Sarai, but Sarah. I will bless her and I will give you a son by her. I will bless her and from her will come nations, kings and peoples shall come from her.’ And Abraham fell face down”. Sarah becomes the mother of the nation, and in receiving her new mission, becomes like a new Eve. Together Abraham and Sarah become the Adam and the Eve to a new faith family through their son Isaac. They become the conduit through which we can come to the man Jesus of Nazareth who will bear the Christ.
The action of Abraham falling face down is significant in that humanity could not yet look directly face to face with the Divine. This still applied to the Magi who fell face down before the mother and child. Paul in his letter to the Corinthians tells us that with Christ in us we are called not only to see God face to face but to see Christ in the other, face to face.
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