Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Paragraph 98

We have also heard a number of the foolish of the earth assert that the genuine text of the heavenly Gospel doth not exist amongst the Christians, that it hath ascended unto heaven. How grievously they have erred! How oblivious of the fact that such a statement imputeth the gravest injustice and tyranny to a gracious and loving Providence! How could God, when once the Day-star of the beauty of Jesus had disappeared from the sight of His people, and ascended unto the fourth heaven, cause His holy Book, His most great testimony amongst His creatures, to disappear also? What would be left to that people to cling to from the setting of the day-star of Jesus until the rise of the sun of the Muḥammadan Dispensation? What law could be their stay and guide? How could such people be made the victims of the avenging wrath of God, the omnipotent Avenger? How could they be afflicted with the scourge of chastisement by the heavenly King? Above all, how could the flow of the grace of the All-Bountiful be stayed? How could the ocean of His tender mercies be stilled? We take refuge with God, from that which His creatures have fancied about Him! Exalted is He above their comprehension!

This basically ends His analysis of Matthew 24. And it's interesting, isn't it, that He has spent all this time referring to this text, deriving such insights and wisdom from it, and only now, at the very end, refutes the silly idea that the true Gospel may not exist? After all this, there really isn't any doubt, but still, He has to address it anyways.

Then there is the way in which He addresses this, with this list of rhetorical questions. As we could expect, it seems that there is a path of guidance within these very questions. They begin with the Book of God, one of the very proofs of the Messenger, His teachings. Once He mentions the Book, He points out that we should cling to it. From there, He introduces the Law, the very heart and essence of the book itself. Then He points out that without giving us the Law, the wrath, which is the punishment for the violation of said law, would be unjust, as would His chastisement. And since God is the very essence of justice, this notion itself is ridiculous. All grace and bounty flow from God, and the very thought that it could be stopped, even for a moment, is beyond absurd.

Again, it is very interesting. Baha'u'llah is seen here not only defending the validity of the Christian texts, but is also using them to show these profound truths. He is demonstrating not only a familiarity with them, but the incredible depth of wisdom contained within them. He is validating their authenticity and their accuracy, and by doing so is reminding us of the importance of our own study of them.

While it is, of course, important for us to know the teachings of the Baha'i Faith, it is also crucial for us to have a very good understanding and familiarity of the sacred texts of all faiths. 'Abdu'l-Baha, Himself, is reported to have said, "It is the religious duty of every Bahá'í to read and comprehend the meanings of the Old and New Testaments." Baha'u'llah has just spent over 70 paragraphs helping us comprehend the meaning of just this one singular passage from the New Testament. Imagine how much more there is to understand.

To us, this is a call to action. It is a very stark reminder of our duty to strive to understand better and better the holy texts of all faiths in light of the teachings of Baha'u'llah. It is also a reminder to us to stand up and defend not only their authenticity, but also their accuracy and relevance. As we encounter religious prejudice in our society, we are called upon to not only overcome it, but to show the profound beauty and depth of truth within every faith.

While we could go on for a long time on this extremely important theme., we will just point out one more thing that has caught our attention in this paragraph. No doubt we will be expanding on this theme in our study of Part 2 of this book, but for now, we will just point out a tidbit of it here.

Almost of all of Part 1 has been about how to recognize a Messenger of God. The first two questions in this paragraph also deal with this very important theme. We need to recognize the Messenger, and after They have ascended, it is through Their teachings that we can do this. Then, with the third question, He talks about the importance of the Law, and our obedience to it.

Recognition and Obedience.

This brings to mind, of course, the very first paragraph of the Kitab-i-Aqdas: The first duty prescribed by God for His servants is the recognition of Him Who is the Dayspring of His Revelation and the Fountain of His laws, Who representeth the Godhead in both the Kingdom of His Cause and the world of creation. Whoso achieveth this duty hath attained unto all good; and whoso is deprived thereof, hath gone astray, though he be the author of every righteous deed. It behoveth every one who reacheth this most sublime station, this summit of transcendent glory, to observe every ordinance of Him Who is the Desire of the world. These twin duties are inseparable. Neither is acceptable without the other. Thus hath it been decreed by Him Who is the Source of Divine inspiration.

And our obedience is something that we give to our sovereign, our king and ruler.

All of Part 2, as we shall soon see, is about that station of sovereignty held by the Manifestation of God.

But that's getting ahead of ourselves.

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