Wow. We finally got to this point. Could that be what Baha'u'llah meant with the exclamation, "Great God"? He has written 32 paragraphs on that phrase from Matthew 24, "the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the earth shall be shaken". That is fully half of the book up to this point, all on that one part of that passage. You can almost hear the sigh of relief, and feel that sense of awe.
After getting to this point, you feel like you will never look at Scripture the same way again.
Then He says, "When the stream of utterance reached this stage..." Which stage? Is He referring back to the previous couple of paragraphs where He has introduced the idea of the Dispensation of the Bab, or perhaps to this point in the book, having just concluded a look at a single passage from Jesus? If the former, then He is giving full praise to the Revelation of the Bab, describing its beautiful effects in the most poetic of terms. But if He is referring to where He has taken us in this volume, then He seems to be describing the effect upon our soul of having been lifted to such lofty heights with this new vision of the depth of meaning hidden within the passages we thought we knew so well.
And this question, arising at such a time in the Kitab-i-Iqan, reminds us of what we have just learned: there are many, many layers of meaning within the Sacred Word. He could very well be referring to both, and much more besides.
From here we, as bloggers, are faced with a dilemma. This paragraph is so rich with metaphor and analogy that we want to talk about the meaning of a stream, the sweet savours being spread on the wind, and even the rich history evoked by the reference to Sheba. But if we do, this article would go on for way too long. Instead we are going to focus on another aspect of this paragraph, namely the effects of the "stream of utterance".
To make this easier for us, we have simply copied this paragraph and begun to delete whole portions of it, leaving only those passages that refer to the this utterance. We will bullet them, and then make some simple observations on each bullet, seeing what we can learn from the order in which He put them.
- Its tidings rejoiced anew the heart - The word "tidings" means news and information, but it also comes from the word "tide", which implies this ebb and flow. It speaks of this regular re-occurrence, hinting at the rise and fall of religions that He has just described.
- imparted immeasurable gladness to the soul - Once we hear this great news, the gladness we feel is indescribable.
- made all things new - Baha'u'llah, in His Surih of the Temple, says, "Thus have We created the whole earth anew in this day, yet most of the people have failed to perceive it." It is through His Word that the whole earth has changed, and every word has also been endowed with a new meaning.
- brought unnumbered and inestimable gifts from the unknowable Friend - The gifts from His Revelation are infinite, and He is, after all, "more Friend to me than I am to myself".
- Without word It unfoldeth the inner mysteries - This is interesting, for it is the utterance that His is referring to, so how can it be "without word"? Perhaps it is because it is far more than the mere words that clothe the meaning, and it is this inner meaning to which He is referring. As 'Abdu'l-Baha says, it is "a prayer that shall rise above words and letters and transcend the murmur of syllables and sounds".
- without speech It revealeth the secrets of the divine sayings - It is also worth noting that the Master, when He was in London, was asked what a Baha'i is. His response was "It makes no difference whether you have ever heard of Bahá'u'lláh or not, the man who lives the life according to the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh is already a Bahá'í." It is truly beyond the meaning of the words.
- It teacheth lamentation and moaning to the nightingales warbling upon the bough of remoteness and bereavement - But what, we may ask, is the effect of this all upon us? Well, for those of us who are far from God, and aren't we all, it helps us realize the grief our soul feels at this distance.
- instructeth them in the art of love's ways - It helps us learn how to become closer to God by helping us realize the way in which a lover acts towards their beloved.
- showeth them the secret of heart-surrender - It helps us learn how to surrender our will to His.
- It revealeth the endearments of the impassioned lover - Once we surrender to His Will, He brings us to that Ridvan which will become the place of His declaration and helps us learn how to show our deep and emotional love through our actions.
- unveileth the charm of the fair - This utterance then reveals the features of the Blessed Beauty that serve to attract us.
- It bestoweth the mysteries of truth - Within this beautiful Ridvan garden are many flowers, one of which is the anemone, that ancient symbol of good luck, reminiscent of the word "haply", way back in paragraph 1. When we have successfully received this luck and attained "that station which God hath destined for" us, it helps us recognize those age-old mysteries of truth.
- It entrusteth the symbols of the innermost subtleties - And isn't this what He has just done with the previous 30 paragraphs, explaining the symbolic meaning of the sun, the moon and the earth?
- It hath imparted to the drop the waves of the sea - Now we begin to get a glimpse of the overwhelming majesty of this Revelation. The holy Spirit itself is envious. This mighty utterance can take a single drop and cause it to become a mighty ocean.
- endowed the mote with the splendour of the sun - It can take a single grain of dust and cause it to shine out like the sun.
- It hath quickened the dead with the breath of life, and caused them to speed out of the sepulchres of their mortal bodies - It can truly revive not only the bodily dead, but the dead in spirit.
- It hath established the ignorant upon the seats of learning - It can raise even the most ignorant of people and cause them to be wiser than the most learned of people.
- elevated the oppressor to the throne of justice - And it can so transform even the greatest of oppressors and cause them to show forth the greatest signs of justice, and remember, from the previous paragraph, what can happen when we look at the world with the eye of justice.