A report from the Old Testament Study by Rev. Michaël Merle by John-Peter Gernaat
From the beginning of the story of Abram (probably better translated as Avram) Michaël has spoken about the importance of a father-son relationship. Abram means ‘exalted father’. Abraham means ‘father of many’. Avram leaves his father’s house – an unusual thing for a man to do in that time of human history – and Lot his nephew leaves and travels with Avram and his entourage as a kind of a son figure. Lot’s father, Avram’s brother, has died and Avram becomes like a father to Lot.
Lot travels with Avram to Egypt and through this we understand that Lot also underwent an initiation into the Egyptian Mysteries of the Sun Sphere. This provides Lot with the ability to make his own life-choices and he leaves to live, it may appear, in the city of his wife’s family, Sodom. There Lot is warned by the angels of YHWH that the sin of inhospitality cannot continue on this earth – this earth and our earth-existence is to create inclusivity of all people – and Lot, who understands this principle, is spared. Lot’s wife, who may be called Edith, turns back and in so doing, it could be understood, becomes the first human being to experience the aging process in her physical constitution. Lot does not have sons, he has only daughters. Lot’s daughters, after the escape from Sodom, get Lot drunk. We must understand this correctly. Before the human “I”, or at least a part of the human “I”, incarnated into the bodily constitution, made possible through the incarnation of Christ into the human being in Jesus of Nazareth, the “I” walked as a companion alongside each individual. A part of the human “I” still has not incarnated; we can call this our higher “I” which is held in the being of our guardian angel as a selfless task. The earthly “I” that is now incorporated into our being and the higher “I” are together an expression of Christ so that each one of us can know ‘Christ in me’. One way to fully open up to the earthly “I” for pre-Christian humanity was through alcohol. We encounter this for the first time with Noah who can experience his full “naked self”’ through planting a vineyard and drinking of the wine. Lot becomes drunk so that he can connect with his higher “I” in order that his grandsons, the son of each of his daughters, can be fully connected to him as an extension of the fullness of himself. His daughters are able to bear the consciousness of their father through them to their sons. This story is a story of the daughters giving birth in a higher consciousness to two nations that come out of Lot. His one daughter bears a son she names Moab and from him the nation of the Moabites arises. The other daughter bears a son named Ben-ammi through whom the Ammonite nation comes into being. Lot needs to connect with his sense of self in order that this may be carried through his daughters to the next generation. Lot fails to carry his self from one generation to the next generation, achieving only to carry it through to the second generation. Lot ‘fails’ in being a ‘son’ of Avram. The principle that is at work is that the line of succession must be through father to son as we see again in the genealogy in Matthew’s and Luke’s Gospels. This is a spiritual principle, or metaphorical principle that also must be understood in a higher sense. Because Lot has daughters this spiritual principle must be worked on differently. Lot cannot carry forward the task that YHWH has given Avram for which Avram left his father’s house.
Sarai becomes impatient with the fulfilment of YHWH’s promise, or she feels a need to stage a “dress rehearsal”. In Gen. 16 we read that Sarai gives her servant Hagar, who had accompanied her from Egypt, to Avram, her husband, to bear a child. Hagar is an extension of the wisdom, the possessions, that Sarai acquired in Egypt when the Pharaoh took Sarai to wife (took her into an initiation of the Egyptian Mysteries). It was well understood that servants took an aspect of their master’s or mistress’s nature and carried out tasks on behalf of their master or mistress. Sarai, having a child by Hagar, means that Sarai has a child through an extension of herself. This extension is all of Sarai herself. However, once the conception occurs Sarai comes into conflict with herself, with that which she has extended to Hagar; she wishes to dissociate with that part of herself which she has come to despise. The part of Sarai that has been unfruitful despises the part of her that has borne fruit and the next generation. The unfruitful part of Sarai which bears all the wisdom she has acquired cannot be passed to the next generation and will die while the fruitful part will live on in the next generation. Sarai hands over her problem to YHWH, and Avram as the one connected strongly to YWHW, instructs Sarai that Hagar is in her power. She then treats Hagar, the fruitful extension of herself, so badly that Hagar runs away, retreats completely. After the birth of Isaac, Hagar is sent away by Abraham with his son, Ishmael, and she leaves Ishmael alone to die in the desert but YHWH comforts her by saying that Ishmael will be the father of a nation in his own right through a wife that she Hagar chooses for him from Egypt. The birth of Ishmael is one that does not fully take hold of the reality of the full relationship between Sarai and Avram. Ishmael is still his son but not worthy of the father-son relationship necessary to carry forward the spiritual principle spoken of earlier. Ishmael, who is born out of Sarai’s attempt to outwit YHWH, cannot carry forward the task that YHWH has given Avram for which Avram left his father’s house.
The task that YHWH called Avram to fulfil was to be the father of a nation, a specific nation, with a specific aim. This task set by YHWH is fulfilled in the person who does not give birth to another human being but instead bears a new birth within himself, the birth of the Christ within. This task ends with Jesus who will step into the River Jordan carrying all the preparation that begins with Avram or rather with Avram becoming Abraham, with the covenant. This is the principle of the father and the son.
The birth of Isaac, through the new covenant, fulfils the task – the beginning of a new nation that will be the responsibility of YHWH – that YHWH set for Avram. The birth of the third son is successful as we can read in Gen. 21. (We read this same principle in many fairy tales where a king has three sons and the first son goes out on a mission and fails; the second son also fails, often in the opposite direction; and the third son fulfils the mission.) Abraham circumcises Isaac at eight days as he had been commanded by YHWH. This is the sign of the covenant made with Abraham and it is the sign of belonging to this very specific nation. Isaac is the child that over successive generations will contribute to the refinement that must come for the human being who will stand in the River Jordan before John the Baptist. Isaac’s relations will in time establish a relationship with Egypt, just as Ishmael has done. There must be a reconciliation with Egypt for there not to be an unhealthy division between the half-brothers. All the descendants of Isaac must make a spiritual connection with Egypt all the way through to Jesus, the culmination of this mission of Abraham, who is taken to Egypt by his parents through a dream that Joseph has.
When we allow these stories of births to present a spiritual picture, rather than a physical, carnal picture, we start to understand the extraordinary establishment of the principle of father and son that on earth is but a mere reflection of the great principle of the Father God and the Son God. When this principle has been spiritually established between Abraham and Isaac the mission of Abraham, and through him the mission YHWH, can continue. The stories of Lot and Hagar and Ishmael help to establish this principle but both fail in achieving it fully. YHWH’s spiritual task is possible only through Isaac.
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