Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Paragraph 80

These are the "clouds" that cause the heavens of the knowledge and understanding of all that dwell on earth to be cloven asunder. Even as He hath revealed: "On that day shall the heaven be cloven by the clouds." (Qur'an 25:25) Even as the clouds prevent the eyes of men from beholding the sun, so do these things hinder the souls of men from recognizing the light of the divine Luminary. To this beareth witness that which hath proceeded out of the mouth of the unbelievers as revealed in the sacred Book: "And they have said: 'What manner of apostle is this? He eateth food, and walketh the streets. Unless an angel be sent down and take part in His warnings, we will not believe.'" (Qur'an 25:7) Other Prophets, similarly, have been subject to poverty and afflictions, to hunger, and to the ills and chances of this world. As these holy Persons were subject to such needs and wants, the people were, consequently, lost in the wilds of misgivings and doubts, and were afflicted with bewilderment and perplexity. How, they wondered, could such a person be sent down from God, assert His ascendancy over all the peoples and kindreds of the earth, and claim Himself to be the goal of all creation, -- even as He hath said: "But for Thee, I would not have created all that are in heaven and on earth," -- and yet be subject to such trivial things? You must undoubtedly have been informed of the tribulations, the poverty, the ills, and the degradation that have befallen every Prophet of God and His companions. You must have heard how the heads of their followers were sent as presents unto different cities, how grievously they were hindered from that whereunto they were commanded. Each and every one of them fell a prey to the hands of the enemies of His Cause, and had to suffer whatsoever they decreed.

Here is the seventh of those twelve paragraphs that look at the phrase "And then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory." We've past the halfway point. Hooray!

To start, it begins with the phrase, "These are the 'clouds'..." What is that referring to? The last couple of sentences in the previous paragraph, namely the veil of "human limitations". You will recall that He mentioned some of these "limitations", such as eating, drinking, poverty, riches, glory, abasement, sleeping, waking, "and such other things as cast doubt in the minds of men". In this paragraph, He seems to go through that list one at a time, for the most part.

But He graciously allows us to presume to Whom He is referring. He is writing to a learned Muslim, who will naturally see this all referring to Muhammad. A Christian reading this will naturally see this referring to Jesus. And yet Baha'u'llah states that this refers to "other Prophets" as well.

Way back in the beginning of this book, paragraph 7 through 23, He went through a brief description of a number of Prophets that the original reader already recognized. You will recall that He didn't talk about what made each of Them unique, but rather showed what They All had in common. For example, when speaking about Noah, He never mentioned the flood. He only talked about His sufferings and the denials He encountered. Once again, Baha'u'llah is showing us what They All had in common.

We have often heard people referring to this book when speaking about progressive revelation. And when they speak about the various Manifestations, they usually tell Their stories, highlighting the unique wonders in every dispensation. But we have noticed that Shoghi Effendi told us that if we "wish to become competent and useful teachers" of the Cause, we need to acquaint ourselves, as thoroughly as we can, "with each and every detail contained in this Holy Book". Shoghi Effendi also said, "The one who ponders over that book and grasps its full significance will obtain a clear insight into the old scriptures and appreciate the true Mission of the Bab and Baha'u'llah."

What could he be referring to? Perhaps the absolute singularity by which Baha'u'llah refers to each and every Messenger. The overall purpose of His Mission is unity, and this seems to fit right in with it.

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