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The Book of Revelation
Chapter Three
One Bahá'í's Concept

CONCEPT BOX

The Buddhist religion is another religion that appeared centuries before Christianity. For a great part of the world's population this religion was the culmination of the religious traditions that were not a part of the Judaic, Christian, Islámic lineage.

Buddhism sprung out of Hinduism in the same way that Christianity sprung out of Judaism. While Christianity spread to what we call the "West", Buddhism spread to what we call the "Far East". Eastern and Western culture appear as the two great cultural distinctions to be harmonized now "in the Days of Fulfillment" into one universal whole.

    Blessed souls whether Moses, Jesus, Zoroaster, Krishna, Buddha, Confucius, or Muhammad were the cause of the illumination of the world of humanity. How can we deny such irrefutable proof?
    (Shoghi Effendi,
    Japan Will Turn Ablaze,
    p. 45)
The Buddhist religion (and Confucius) are dealt with in much more detail in Chapter Nine and in the concept box at its beginning.

BUDDHIST

THE GREEK WORD SARDIS MEANS "LACK OF ZEAL"

500 B.C

REVEALER BUDDHA

Bible Verses

[1] And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.

One Bahá'í's Concept

Sardis - Buddhist - Comentary

V.1 John is told to write to the angel (star) of the church of Sardis. Pillars still remain there of a great Greek temple. Sardis was the capital of the great ancient kingdom of Lydia, at one time known for its wealth. This is also a place where John had taught. The symbolic meaning of the Greek word Sardis is 'Lack of Zeal'.

This fifth religion is associated with the Buddhist Faith whose the prophet is Gotama Buddha. He who has the seven stars, and the seven churches, (the seven Spirits of God) in his hand is Bahá'u'lláh the latest Revealer, who has come to unite all the previous seven religions with the two (Bábí and Bahá'í) for this day and age.

Commends:

He tells them that He knows their works,

Condemns:

however although they feel alive in this life, but are really spiritually dead.

    The founder of Buddhism was a wonderful soul. He established the Oneness of God, but later the original principles of His doctrines gradually disappeared, and ignorant customs and ceremonials arose and increased until they finally ended in the worship of statues and images.
    ('Abdu'l-Bahá,
    Some Answered Questions,
    p. 165)

[2] Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God.

V.2 He tells them to be watchful, and to strengthen and hold onto the spiritual side of their life, as their works have not been perfect. Buddhism has not been a religion of "good works" as have those religions in the Judaic, Christian, Islámic tradition. We hear of the latter's humanitarian efforts in such things as the Magen David Adom Society, Red Cross and Red Crescent organizations. For centuries there have been Christian hospitals, orphanages, schools, universities and other charitable institutions in Buddhist countries but one seldom hears of a Buddhist hospital or such in places like Africa or South America. There seems to have been a dearth of Buddhist missionary zeal.
    The real teaching of Buddha is the same as the teaching of Jesus Christ. The teachings of all the Prophets are the same in character. Now men have changed the teaching. If you look at the present practice of the Buddhist religion, you will see that there is little of the Reality left.
    ('Abdu'l-Bahá,
    'Abdu'l-Bahá in London,
    p. 63)
    The Jews call that reality Moses, the Christians Christ, the Mussulmans Mohammed, the Buddhists Buddha and the Zoroastrians Zoroaster. Now mark well that none of these religionists have ever seen the founders; they have only heard his name. Could they overlook these names they would at once realize that all believe in a perfect reality which is an intermediary between the Almighty and the creatures.
    ('Abdu'l-Bahá,
    Divine Philosophy,
    p. 155)

[3] Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.

V.3 He tells them to remember how their Revealer came to them, and watch for Him coming the same way.

The Threat:

If they don't watch the new message will come quietly like a thief, at a time they are not expecting it. Most Buddhists expect the return of the Fifth Buddha or what they call the Maitreya.

    He (Bahá'u'lláh) was equally in no doubt about the role which He had been called upon to play in human history. As the Manifestation of God to the age of fulfillment, He is the one promised in all the scriptures of the past, the "Desire of all nations," the "King of Glory." To Judaism He is "Lord of Hosts"; to Christianity, the Return of Christ in the glory of the Father; to Islam, the "Great Announcement"; to Buddhism, the Maitreya Buddha; to Hinduism, the new incarnation of Krishna; to Zoroastrianism, the advent of "Sháh-Bahram."
    (Bahá'í International Community,
    1992 May 29, Statement on Bahá'u'lláh)
    Those who accept him (the Messiah) shall rejoice. And those who deny him shall tremble.And the warriors (teachers) shall march under the banner of Maitreya.'

    Ballou and Spiegelberg in The Bible of the World, point out that according to the sacred scripture of the East, Maitreya is 'the compassionate Buddha who is to come in the distant future. Foretold by Gautama, as Christ foretold his second coming.'

    Maitreya, the Buddha of 'universal fellowship' was expected to appear to the West of India and to the East of Israel. Persia, the home of Bahá'u'lláh, lies between them. His message is one of "universal fellowship" and the union of religions, nations, and races.

    Isaiah also foretold the day when all the earth would hear the Messiah's teaching:

    Isaiah 18:3 'All ye inhabitants of the world, and dwellers on the earth, see ye, when he lifteth up an ensign on the mountains.'

    (William Sears,
    Thief in the Night
    Part 3,
    p. 143)

[4] Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy.

V.4 The Reward:

He says that there are a few who have not defiled their garments (of yellow) and are still faithful, who shall walk with Him in white, symbolizing their righteousness.

    In former days, in the time of the Buddha and Zoroaster, civilization in Asia and in the East was very much higher than in the West and ideas and thoughts of the Eastern peoples were much in advance of, and nearer to the thoughts of God than those of the West.
    ('Abdu'l-Bahá,
    'Abdu'l-Bahá in London,
    p. 69)
    The teaching of Buddha was like a young and beautiful child, and now it has become as an old and decrepit man. Like the aged man it cannot see, it cannot hear, it cannot remember anything. Why go so far back? Consider the laws of the Old Testament: the Jews do not follow Moses as their example nor keep his commands. So it is with many other religions.
    ('Abdu'l-Bahá,
    'Abdu'l-Bahá in London,
    p. 64)

[5] He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.

V.5 The Promise:

'He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment (a pure soul); and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before His angels.'

    Light is good in whatsoever lamp it is burning! A rose is beautiful in whatsoever garden it may bloom! A star has the same radiance if it shines from the East or from the West. Be free from prejudice, so will you love the Sun of Truth from whatsoever point in the horizon it may arise! You will realize that if the Divine light of truth shone in Jesus Christ it also shone in Moses and in Buddha. The earnest seeker will arrive at this truth. This is what is meant by the 'Search after Truth'.
    ('Abdu'l-Bahá,
    Paris Talks,
    p. 137)

[6] He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches

V.6 The Refrain:

He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

    My hope is that thou wilt acquire a perceptive eye, a hearing ear, and that the veils will be removed from thy sight.
    ('Abdu'l-Bahá,
    Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá,
    p. 50)

CONCEPT BOX

Bahá'í is not a new religion but "religion renewed". One does not give up Christ but holds fast to Him more deeply under the new Name of Bahá'u'lláh.

CHRISTIAN

THE GREEK WORD PHILADELPHIA MEANS
"BROTHERLY LOVE"

26 C.E.

REVEALER JESUS

Bible Verses

[7] And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth

PHILADELPHIA - CHRISTIAN - Commentary

V.7 John is to write to the angel of the church of Philadelphia, whose Star / Angel is Jesus. Philadelphia was a small town in an area that was rich in farming, today it is known as Alasehir. The Greek word Philadelphia means 'Brotherly Love' which relates to the Christian Faith. Bahá'u'lláh, like Jesus was of the lineage of David (see the appendix to Chapter One regarding the Davidic lineage of Jesus), and saying that He also is the One who is holy and true: (the Return). He has the key of David, is the One that opens the door, and also has the power to shut that door; which is a message to church groups that hold to exclusiveness.

[8] I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.

V.8 Commends:

He knows their works. The amazing number of charitable institutions and organizations that Christianity has supported throughout the world is unmatched by any other religion. Hospitals, orphanages, schools, universities, more humane prisons and welfare organizations and a list that is almost endless attest to its accomplishments. He says that He has set before them an open door that no man can shut, because their missionary efforts have encompassed the whole world.

condemns:

However, while all this has been evidence of some strength, because of their lack of unity, they have had little strength as a whole, being splintered into a great number of sects. He does commend them for keeping the word, and not denying His name.

[9] Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee.

V.9 The Threat:

The reference to the synagogue of Satan both here and in (Rev.2:9) is a reference to the character of the people.

    For, what blasphemy is greater than to turn unto the manifestations of Satan, to follow the doctors of oblivion and the people of rebellion?
    (Bahá'u'lláh,
    Gems of Divine Mysteries: Verse 61)
    For were men to abide by and observe the divine teachings, every trace of evil would be banished from the face of the earth. However, the widespread differences that exist among mankind and the prevalence of sedition, contention, conflict and the like are the primary factors which provoke the appearance of the satanic spirit. Yet the Holy Spirit hath ever shunned such matters. A world in which naught can be perceived save strife, quarrels and corruption is bound to become the seat of the throne, the very metropolis, of Satan.
    (Bahá'u'lláh,
    Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh,
    p. 176)
    In answer to those who may ask you what the stand is of your religion on the subject of demons, you can say without hesitation that the concept of Satan or the Devil as an actual being opposed to God is rejected by the Bahá'í teachings but that the term is understood by Bahá'ís to mean the promptings of self and desire and the dark side of human nature.
    (The Universal House of Justice,
    to an individual believer, 13 February 1974,
    published 1998 Dec 16,
    in Traditional practices in Africa)

[10] Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.

V.10 Those who are faithful, and keep the Word with patience, will be spared in the hour of temptation that will encircle the world. These temptations of materiality and immorality have destroyed the fabric of society throughout the world. Unfortunately, many/most in the "Christian" nations have also been thoroughly infected. Those relatively few Christians who have continued to live modest and moral lives in humility and tolerance, have held fast to Christian principles of life and have been preserved from these temptations.

[11] Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.

V.11 The new message will come very quickly. He says to hold fast to 'what you have'. This implies that with deep devotion to God, with intensive meditation and prayer and holding to the spiritual virtues taught by Jesus regarding tolerance and avoiding dogmatism so that they will be able to recognize the New Manifestation of God. One's crown is of course their spiritual qualities and virtues - not some kind of hat.
    Again, consider how much the principles of the religion of Christ have been forgotten, and how many heresies have appeared. For example, Christ forbade revenge and transgression; furthermore, He commanded benevolence and mercy in return for injury and evil. Now reflect: among the Christian nations themselves how many sanguinary wars have taken place, and how much oppression, cruelty, rapacity and blood thirstiness have occurred! Many of these wars were carried on by command of the Popes. It is then clear and evident that in the passage of time religions become entirely changed and altered. Therefore, they are renewed.
    ('Abdu'l-Bahá,
    Some Answered Questions,
    p. 166)
[12] The Promise:

Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.

V.12 Those that overcome will be a pillar as part of the foundation in the temple of the new world order. The New Name is Bahá'u'lláh. The New Jerusalem, which comes from Heaven, is the New Law and the New Order that God has brought to the world.
    The descent of the New Jerusalem denoteth a heavenly Law, that Law which is the guarantor of human happiness and the effulgence of the world of God.
    ('Abdu'l-Bahá,
    Some Answered Questions,
    p. 59)
    The Law of God is also described as the Holy City, the New Jerusalem. It is evident that the New Jerusalem that descends from heaven is not a city of stone, mortar, bricks, earth and wood. It is the Law of God that descends from heaven and is called new, for it is clear that the Jerusalem which is of stone and earth does not descend from heaven, and that it is not renewed; but that which is renewed is the Law of God.
    ('Abdu'l-Bahá,
    Some Answered Questions,
    p. 67)
[13] He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches

V.13 The Refrain:

He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches, which of course means what is being said unto all the religions. In other words - one must be willing to listen to the New Message.

CONCEPT BOX

The followers of each religion feel that their religion was the last, whereas it was simply the latest until God revealed more of Himself. Can one really think there is an end to be known of reality or science - leave alone God- their Creator?

ISLÁM

THE GREEK WORD LAODICEANS MEANS "LUKE WARM"

622 C.E.

REVEALER MUHAMMAD

Bible Verses

[14] And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;

LAODICEAN - ISLÁM - COMMENTARY

V.14 John is told to write to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans. Laodicea was a prosperous city. Fine wool and eye salve were two of its main products in demand. It also had a medical school and banking facilities. The city received its water from hot springs but because it came from some distance away by the time it arrived it had become lukewarm. The meaning of the word Laodicea is 'lukewarm'. Lukewarm describes the Islámic Faith, the leaders are prosperous, and while the followers are often dogmatically fanatic they often lack in spirituality and are therefore "lukewarm".

The Angel of this church (religion) is Muhammad. Although most members of Islám expect Christ to return they believe that Muhammad is the last Prophet to ever come. Bahá'u'lláh tells us 'yes', Muhammad is the last in the Adamic or Prophetic cycle that started with Adam, however, a new cycle of Fulfillment has begun. 'Amen' is expressed here as an ending to the old cycle. The new cycle began with One called 'the Báb' meaning the 'Gate' the Forerunner for Bahá'u'lláh. The Báb is called 'the Lamb' like Christ.

[15] I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.

V.15 Commends and condemns:

He knows their works, but doesn't really commend them as they are lacking in the spirit of love and tolerance although they are often very emotional and dogmatic.

[16] So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.

V.16 Threat:

Because they are spiritually lukewarm in the true spirit of love and tolerance which Muhammad taught, He says He will spew them out of His mouth, which is to say that He will reject them.

    In brief, dissentions among various sects have opened the way to weakness. Each sect hath picked out a way for itself and is clinging to a certain cord. Despite manifest blindness and ignorance they pride themselves on their insight and knowledge. Among them are mystics who bear allegiance to the Faith of Islám, some of whom indulge in that which leadeth to idleness and seclusion. I swear by God! It lowereth man's station and maketh him swell with pride. Man must bring forth fruit. One who yieldeth no fruit is, in the words of the Spirit (Jesus) like unto a fruitless tree, and a fruitless tree is fit but for the fire.
    ('Abdu'l-Bahá,
    Some Answered Questions,
    p. 166)

[17] Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:

V.17 They do not realize that they are spiritually poor. The leaders, especially, are often materially rich but spiritually poor. The trade route passed through their land, which gave the rulers fabulous luxury at the time, and now once again the wealth is in the sale of oil. He says they are spiritually wretched, miserable, poor and naked in the lack of love and tolerance for other religions. Other religious cultures such as Hindus, Buddhists, Jews and Bahá'ís have terribly experienced the effect of Islámist intolerance. The true spirit of religious tolerance was very much taught by Muhammad but now the Muslims are very often known for the opposite.

[18] I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.

V.18 Those that are tried with tests (as gold is in the fire) will find the truth. The Islámic Faith has persecuted the Faith of The Báb and Bahá'u'lláh since its inception in 1844. Those who find the Truth will find the religion of Bahá'u'lláh. He tells them to wear white raiment, which does not mean physical garments but symbolizes 'purity'. Many are veiled in clothing, but all are told that their nakedness (lack of spiritual life) is showing, that they should anoint their eyes, to see the truth.

[19] As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.

V.19 He is telling them that He loves them but wants them to repent. Many Muslims are known to be zealous, and many took that step out of the old order. They became followers of the Báb since His declaration in 1844, and have suffered. Over 20,000 became martyrs. The Báb also was a martyr after only six years of teaching.

[20] Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

V.20 The Bábí Faith started in Iran by the Báb, who is known as the 'Gate'. Bahá'u'lláh also is from Iran, which is an Islámic country. He is telling them to open the door of their heart, that He would 'come in to him , and would sup with him, and he with me.' This is not a physical activity, but refers to spiritual attainment.

[21] To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.

V.21 The reward is very great to those who accept Bahá'u'lláh.

The Promise:

'To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne.' 'Sitting in thrones' is not a reference to sitting in chairs but is rather a reference to being established in and secure in the Lord's love and wisdom which is the seat of His Glory and Power.

[22] He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches. V.22 The Refrain:

He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches. He tells them to listen and learn.

    "O people of the Koran," Bahá'u'lláh, addressing the combined forces of Sunni and Shi'ih Islám, significantly affirms, "Verily the Prophet Of God, Muhammad, sheddeth tears at the sight of your cruelty. Ye have assuredly followed your evil and corrupt desires, and turned away your face from the light of guidance. Erelong will ye witness the result of your deeds: for the Lord. My God, lieth in wait and is watchful of your behaviour . O concourse of Muslim divines! By your deeds the exalted station of the people hath been abased, the standard of Islam hath been reversed, and mighty throne hath fallen."
    (Shoghi Effendi,
    (World Order of Bahá'u'lláh,
    p.179)

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