Paragraphs 3 to 6 are all tied together in that they ask us to look at the past and reflect on what we already know to be true. Even though we are studying them one at a time here, we should keep in mind how intertwined they are.
In this particular paragraph, Baha'u'llah asks us to consider how, in the past, many people have eagerly "awaited the advent of the Manifestations of God". While there are many other points that we could consider, this is the one that is most relevant to His argument here. The main point of the entire Book is to respond to the questions of the uncle of the Bab regarding how his Nephew could be the Promised One.
He begins by stating that one's station in life is irrelevant in recognizing the Messenger of God. Many people, "both high and low", were awaiting the fulfillment of these divine promises. They were all expecting, and even praying, for that moment.
Yet, He reminds us, when that "promised Beauty" did appear, "they all denied Him, and turned away from His face..."
Just in case we are not certain about this, Baha'u'llah refers us to the sacred Books of the past.
This is His starting point. It is presumed that we are already convinced of the truth of these sacred Books, for if we were not, why would we be waiting for the promise within them to be fulfilled? By referring us back to those Texts that we already consider sacred, He is giving us a common starting point from which He can begin to show us the truth.
Looking at the structure of this paragraph, it is also noteworthy that Baha'u'llah lists four different hopes and five different actions, three of which can be seen as causes and two as effects. On the side of hope is:
- “they expected His coming”,
- “they prayed that the breeze of divine mercy might blow”,
- that “the promised Beauty step forth from behind the veil of concealment”
- and that He would “be made manifest to all the world.”
- “the portals of grace did open,
- and the clouds of divine bounty did rain upon mankind,
- and the light of the Unseen did shine above the horizon of celestial might”.
- “they all denied Him,
- and turned away from His face”.
First is the expectation, and then the prayers for its fulfillment. In response to those ardent prayers, He steps forth and is seen by those sincere souls. Then those people, those sincere ones, spread His teachings, and He is revealed to everyone. When this occurs, it is evident to all that the portals are open and that the clouds are raining. The clouds clear away and the light can shine upon the seeds that have been watered in the hearts of men. Now, with the addition of sunlight, they can grow. But then there is the pulling of the weeds, the tests and the trials.
This is a natural progression, and Baha'u'llah will expand upon this idea later in the Book.
It is also worth noting, at this point, that the next dozen paragraphs, or so, are something of a review of religious history and tradition. For many of us, this can seem a bit dry, but we need to remember that what He is doing is solidifying our foundation.