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.
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