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The Christian Religion
One Bahá'í's Concept from
The Book of Revelation

Chapter Three

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.

Chapter Six

[12] And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood;

V.12 The sixth seal, of the Sixth Angel of Christianity, is now open. Earthquakes are also mentioned in Rev.8:5, Rev.11:13, Rev.11:19, and Rev.16:18. Earthquakes were also particularly pointed out as a sign of the "time of the end" by Jesus in Matthew, Mark 13:8, and Luke 21:11.
    Matthew 24:7 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.
People have often seen external events as fulfillment of these prophetic signs. For example, a dark day happened on May 19, 1780 at 10 a.m., (and in other years as well) which created quite a stir, as people at that time were aware of this prophecy. A great earthquake happened in Lisbon, Portugal in 1775, killing over 60,000 people, and was widely related to this Bible prophecy.

A longer historical view may well give new external meanings to the prophecies but we must always remember that it is the internal meanings that are of the greater significance. Earthquakes in the prophecies spiritually symbolize major disrupting changes in the social and religious orders and the Sun and Moon symbolize Powers and Institutions both Heavenly and earthly.

[13] And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind.

V.13 In 1833 there was a greater shower of falling stars than was ever recorded in the past or since. These heavenly events have both external and spiritual meanings. They were noted also at the time of Jesus with the star of Bethlehem.

    'Have the stars fallen?' Say: 'Yea, when He Who is the Self-Subsisting dwelt in the Land of Mystery (Adrianople). Take heed, ye who are endued with discernment!' All the signs appeared when We drew forth the Hand of Power from the bosom of majesty and might.
    (Bahá'u'lláh,
    Epistle to the Son of the Wolf,
    p. 132)
However, as always it is the internal spiritual meanings that are of the greater significance.
    O King! The stars of the heaven of knowledge have fallen, they who seek to establish the truth of My Cause through the things they possess, and who make mention of God in My Name. And yet, when I came unto them in My glory, they turned aside. They, indeed, are of the fallen. This is, truly, that which the Spirit of God (Jesus Christ) hath announced, when He came with truth unto you, He with Whom the Jewish doctors disputed, till at last they perpetrated what hath made the Holy Spirit to lament, and the tears of them that have near access to God to flow.
    (Bahá'u'lláh,
    Epistle to the Son of the Wolf,
    p. 48)
    The path hath become smooth, the way straightened, the carpet of the Kingdom is spread, the Tabernacle hath been elevated upon the Hill of Might, the powers of heaven have been shaken, the corners of the earth have quaked, the sun has been darkened, the moon ceased to give light, the stars have fallen, the nations of the earth have lamented, and the Son of Man hath come upon the clouds of heaven with power and great glory, and He hath sent His angels with the sound of the great trumpet, and no one knows the meaning of these emblems save the wise and informed.
    ('Abdu'l-Bahá,
    Tablets of 'Abdu'l-Bahá v1,
    p. 145)
    And now, concerning His words: "And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven." By these words it is meant that when the sun of  the heavenly teachings hath been eclipsed, the stars of the divinely-established laws have fallen, and the moon of true knowledge -- the educator of mankind -- hath been obscured; when the standards of guidance and felicity have been reversed, and the morn of truth and righteousness hath sunk in night, then shall the sign of the Son of man appear in heaven. By "heaven" is meant the visible heaven, inasmuch as when the hour draweth nigh on which the Day-star of the heaven of justice shall be made manifest, and the Ark of divine guidance shall sail upon the sea of glory, a star will appear in the heaven, heralding unto its people the advent of that most great light. In like manner, in the invisible heaven a star shall be made manifest who, unto the peoples of the earth, shall act as a harbinger of the break of that true and exalted Morn. These twofold signs, in the visible and the invisible heaven, have announced the Revelation of each of the Prophets of God, as is commonly believed.
    (Bahá'u'lláh,
    The Kitáb-i-Íqán,
    p. 61)
[14] And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.

V.14 The heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together, is telling us that the old world order will be replaced by a new order.
    Hereby we bear witness, that the path is lifted up in truth, the balance is laid in Justice,.the heavens rolled together as a scroll."
    (Bahá'í Scriptures,
    p. 203)
Every mountain and island will be moved out of their places, which indicates that institutions, which are like mountains will be changed, and the islands which divide us, such as traditions and denominational differences, which are causing confrontation, will also be moved out of their places.

    'Yea, more; the mountains have been scattered in dust; by Him the Lord of attributes!'
    (Bahá'u'lláh,
    Epistle to the Son of the Wolf,
    p. 132)
    "As you see the mountains and think of them as solid, but they shall pass away as the passing of the clouds."
    (Qur'án (Koran) 78:20)
The world is in a state of transition, and whatever events take place in the external world - it is the internal spiritual significances that are important.

[15] And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid them selves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains;

V.15 Great fear will come to the leaders and those in high places, as well as every ordinary person. Many fear the loss of wealth and belongings, and most likely of life itself.

One can have expectations such as they will. Some may see that people will have to hide for the fear of radiation or nuclear weapons. We always understand prophecies better - after they are past. Whatever the meaning it is said that the people of the earth, including those of influence will experience tremendous fear, and will hide in terror.

    The Plain is disclosed, and mankind is sore vexed and fearful. Earthquakes have broken loose, and the tribes have lamented, for fear of God, the Lord of Strength, the All-Compelling.
    (Bahá'u'lláh,
    Epistle to the Son of the Wolf,
    p.131)
    X. In the Book of Isaiah it is written: "Enter into the rock, and hide thee in the dust, for fear of the Lord, and for the glory of His majesty." No man that meditateth upon this verse can fail to recognize the greatness of this Cause, or doubt the exalted character of this Day -- the Day of God Himself. This same verse is followed by these words: "And the Lord alone shall be exalted in that Day." This is the Day which the Pen of the Most High hath glorified in all the holy Scriptures. There is no verse in them that doth not declare the glory of His holy Name, and no Book that doth not testify unto the loftiness of this most exalted theme. Were We to make mention of all that hath been revealed in these heavenly Books and holy Scriptures concerning this Revelation, this Tablet would assume impossible dimensions. It is incumbent in this Day, upon every man to place his whole trust in the manifold bounties of God, and arise to disseminate, with the utmost wisdom, the verities of His Cause. Then, and only then, will the whole earth be enveloped with the morning light of His Revelation.
    (Bahá'u'lláh,
    Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh)
[16] And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb:

V.16 They want the rocks to fall, to surround them from danger. The chastisement of God will be recognized as just that. Finally people will understand that God is All Powerful and many will wish to escape from the power of His wrath.
    Milestones of historic significance have been successively reached and rapidly left behind. A still stonier stretch of road now lies before them. Rumblings of catastrophes yet more dreadful agitate with increasing frequency a sorely stressed and chaotic world, presenting a challenge to grapple with the unfinished tasks, a challenge graver and still more pressing than any hitherto experienced.
    (Shoghi Effendi,
    Citadel of Faith,
    p. 60)
    .the overwhelming accretion of strength to the arch enemy of the system championed by the American Union in consequence of the re-alignment of the powers in the Asiatic continent and particularly in the Far East -- these have, moreover, contributed their share, in recent years, to the deterioration of a situation which, if not remedied, is bound to involve the American nation in a catastrophe of undreamed-of dimensions and of untold consequences to the social structure, the standard and conception of the American people and government.
    (Shoghi Effendi,
    Citadel of Faith,
    p. 126)
    The present world unrest, symptom of a world-wide malady, . must needs culminate in that world catastrophe out of which the consciousness of world citizenship will be born, a consciousness that can alone provide an adequate basis for the organization of world unity, on which a lasting world peace must necessarily depend, the peace itself inaugurating in turn that world civilization which will mark the coming of age of the entire human race.
    (Shoghi Effendi,
    Messages to America,
    p. 22)
[17] For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?

V.17 The 'Great Day of Wrath' will come. The world can not go on in its present state.

    "In the beginning of every Revelation adversities have prevailed, which later on have been turned into great prosperity." "Say: O people of God! Beware lest the powers of the earth alarm you, or the might of the nations weaken you, or the tumult of the people of discord deter you, or the exponents of earthly glory sadden you. Be ye as a mountain in the Cause of your Lord, the Almighty, the All-Glorious, the Unconstrained." "Say: Beware, O people of Bahá, lest the strong ones of the earth rob you of your strength, or they who rule the world fill you with fear. Put your trust in God, and commit your affairs to His keeping. He, verily, will, through the power of truth, render you victorious, and He, verily, is powerful to do what He willeth, and in His grasp are the reins of omnipotent might." "I swear by My life! Nothing save that which profiteth them can befall My loved ones. To this testifieth the Pen of God, the Most Powerful, the All-Glorious, the Best Beloved." "Let not the happenings of the world sadden you. I swear by God! The sea of joy yearneth to attain your presence, for every good thing hath been created for you, and will, according to the needs of the times, be revealed unto you." "O my servants! Sorrow not if, in these days and on this earthly plane, things contrary to your wishes have been ordained and manifested by God, for days of blissful joy, of heavenly delight, are assuredly in store for you. Worlds, holy and spiritually glorious, will be unveiled to your eyes.
    (Bahá'u'lláh,
    The Advent of Divine Justice,
    p. 81, 82)

Chapter Nine

[13] And the sixth angel sounded, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God,

V.13 The sixth angel sounded:

We come now to the Sixth Angel which is the Christian Religion and the source of the Book of Revelation. It is therefore understandable that the verses concerning this angel complete not only the rest of this chapter but also all of the next. John heard a voice from four leaders (horns) of the Golden altar of God. These are related to the four countries associated with the four Angels in the next verse.

[14] Saying to the sixth angel which had the trumpet, Loose the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates.

V.14 God is telling the sixth angel (the Angel of the Christian Religion) who has the trumpet prepared to sound; to loose the angels that are holding back destruction (Rev.7:1). The four are bound in the area of the great river Euphrates where the Sabean, Judaic, Zoroastrian, and Islámic religions had there beginnings. Today, we do see battle lines being drawn in that area by the descendants of those religions. The Jews in Israel, the Shiite Persian Muslims in Iran (the descendants of Zoroaster), and Sunni Arab Muslims. This is also the locale (Iran) of those who still use the name Sabean for their religion. Christianity, which also began in the Holy Land, is now considered a Western Religion just as Buddhism which started in India, flourished in Japan and the Far East.

In the 'latter days' we see the armies of the 'Christian' nations descending on the Middle East to release unto the world the winds of war. Therefore all four religions of the Euphrates, plus the Religion of the Sixth Angel have come to the plain of Armageddon (in Israel).The other two religions, the Hindu and Buddhist, that centered in the Far East have also been drawn into the world conflict.

The Euphrates River has a central island in the City of Baghdad (Iraq) where Bahá'u'lláh made his declaration.

    "Amidst them all," He writes, referring to the afflictive trials and dangers besetting Him in the city of Baghdad, "We stand life in hand wholly resigned to His Will, that perchance through God's loving kindness and grace, this revealed and manifest Letter (Bahá'u'lláh) may lay down His life as a sacrifice in the path of the Primal Point, the most exalted Word (the Bab). By  Him, at Whose bidding the Spirit hath spoken, but for this yearning of Our soul, We would not, for one moment, have tarried any longer in this city."
    (Shoghi Effendi,
    The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh,
    p. 125)
[15] And the four angels were loosed, which were prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year, for to slay the third part of men.

V.15 The four angels are allowed to go. The time given in this verse is an hour, a day, a month and a year.

This can be seen as just a poetic reference to a specific time which no one knows:

    Matthew 24:36 But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.

    Mark 13:32 But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.

On the other-hand, using the formula given by Ezekiel, in Chapter 4 V.6, "I have appointed thee each day for a year". This adds to 391 years plus an hour. (1+30+360=391). If the latter is the case, and this is in regards to a still future event, then we still don't know the beginning date and can't until after the event in keeping with the principle so often stated in this book that the Book of Revelation is a Book of Proof rather than a Book of Prophecy because we are not supposed to know future events or their timing except in general principles.

Chapter Fourteen

[18] And another angel came out from the altar, which had power over fire; and cried with a loud cry to him that had the sharp sickle, saying, Thrust in thy sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth; for her grapes are fully ripe.

V.18 Another angel appeared, being the Christian Religion in the order of Angels, with the power of fire, telling this angel to reap, as the time has come to gather the clusters of the vine of the earth, that the grapes were fully ripe.

As noted in the Appendix at the end of Chapter 8, Fire is associated with Christianity (the Religion of the Whites) in Indian Prophecy. Certainly, it has been the followers of the Christian Religion, the US, Russia (historically a Christian country), Britain and France, that first brought this nuclear power of fire that can ignite a world wide conflagration with the Islámic (Iranian, etc.) and Buddhist (Korean, etc.) possessors of sharp sickles.

    Against the background of these afflictive disturbances -- the turmoil and tribulations of a travailing age -- we may well ponder the portentous prophecies uttered well-nigh fourscore years ago, by the Author of our Faith, as well as the dire predictions made by Him Who is the unerring Interpreter of His teachings, all foreshadowing a universal commotion, of a scope and intensity unparalleled in the annals of mankind.
    (Shoghi Effendi,
    Messages to the Bahá'í World - 1950-1957,
    p. 103)
[19] And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast it into the great winepress of the wrath of God.

V.19 This angel also thrust in the sickle. The vine of the earth was gathered and thrown into the winepress of the wrath of God.
    He is the Creator of the heavens and the earth and whatever lieth between them and He truly is a witness over all things. He is the Lord of Reckoning for all that dwell in the heavens and on earth and whatever lieth between them, and truly God is swift to reckon. He setteth the measure assigned to all who are in the heavens and the earth and whatever is between them.
    (The Báb,
    Selections From The Writings of the Báb,
    p.171)

[20] And the winepress was trodden without the city, and blood came out of the winepress, even unto the horse bridles, by the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs.

V.20
    ISAIAH
    63:3 I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the people there was none with me: for I will tread them in mine anger, and trample them in my fury; and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my raiment.
    63:4 For the day of vengeance is in mine heart, and the year of my redeemed is come.

Chapter Sixteen

[12] And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared.

V.12 The sixth angel is identified with Christianity and the Christian nations, such as the United States and Britain, and it is indicative that they may bring their destruction to the area of the Euphrates river which is in Iraq (centering around Baghdad) and what was Assyria (Rev:9:18). In a spiritual sense, this sixth vial is the lack of education poured into that area by extreme Islámic fundamentalism.
    "In the 12th verse, the sixth angel poured his vial upon the river Euphrates, which signifies the Turkish and Persian kingdoms. The drying up of the water means all learning and science was abolished and that ignorance prevailed. This made the way easy for the kings of the East to become powerful and arbitrary."
This lack of education in the archetype is symbolic of the lack of education in the whole world and especially of the lack of spiritual education that permits the masses of the world to be blind to the shortcomings of its leaders. Instead the ignorant masses are completely preoccupied with frivolous pursuits of entertainments, sports, fads and such.

[13] And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet.

V.13
    "In the 13th verse, the dragon is Hadji Mírzá Aghassi, ('Aqási) who was Grand Vizier of Persia, and the beast signifies the king of Persia. The false prophet was Karim ['Kalim' in Clark's book] Káhn, one of the greatest of the Ulama of that country; he used to say 'My words are revealed from above.'"
    .a certain man, [Hájí Mírzá Karim Khán] reputed for his learning and attainments, and accounting himself as one of the pre-eminent leaders of his people, hath in his book [Guidance Unto The Ignorant] denounced and vilified all the exponents of true learning. This is made abundantly clear by his explicit statements as well as by his allusions throughout his book. . From this title We perceived the odour of conceit and vainglory, inasmuch as he hath imagined himself a learned man and regarded the rest of the people ignorant. His worth was in fact made known by the very title he had chosen for his book. It became evident that its author was following the path of self and desire, and was lost in the wilderness of ignorance and folly. Methinks, he had forgotten the well-known tradition which sayeth: "Knowledge is all that is knowable; and might and power, all creation." .We noticed that he had enumerated some twenty or more sciences, the knowledge of which he considered to be essential for the comprehension of the mystery of the "Mi'raj". We gathered from his statements that unless a man be deeply versed in them all, he can never attain to a proper understanding of this transcendent and exalted theme. Among the specified sciences were the science of metaphysical abstractions, of alchemy, and natural magic. Such vain and discarded learnings, this man hath regarded as the pre-requisites of the understanding of the sacred and abiding mysteries of divine Knowledge.
    (Bahá'u'lláh,
    The Kitáb-i-Íqán,
    p. 186)

[14] For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.

V.14
    "These three people tried their utmost to turn all the people against the Cause of God so that they might oppose it, and so make war against God. The spirits like frogs signify their words which were spread throughout Persia."
The three people are also archetypes of great powers (rulers, kings, governments) but whose spirits are devils that show miracles (what appear to be wondrous accomplishments), to the kings of the whole world, gathering them to the final battle in the day of God Almighty.
    "This Sun will be resplendent, this Light will shine, My grace will surround the world, and all My enemies will be brought low." And as He said, so it was; for all the kings of the earth have not been able to withstand Him. Nay, all their standards have been overthrown, while the banner of that Oppressed One has been raised to the zenith."
    ('Abdu'l-Bahá,
    Some Answered Questions,
    p. 17)

[15] Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.

V.15
    "In the 15th verse, the words 'behold I come as a thief, etc.' are spoken by the Proclaimer of all this, the "Great Voice" as He is called at the beginning of the chapter. He says He will come suddenly like a thief, as Christ said He would come, so that no one will know it, for the thief is in the house without the inhabitants being aware of it. Therefore blessed is the one who is awake when a Manifestation comes; you will know Him. It is also said 'he keepeth his garments'. These garments signify the good qualities which the man possessed, such as love, sincerity, etc He ('that watcheth') must keep that good character, which is like adorning him."
Bahá'u'lláh, The Glory of God is the 'The Great Voice' the one that fulfills the prophecies of all the religions of the past.

[16] And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon.

V.16
    "In the 16th verse, Armageddon signifies Roumelia and Macedonia, for often the kings have gathered together on subjects concerning these places."
Both Bahá'u'lláh and 'Abdu'l-Bahá foretold of a period of great social upheaval, conflict and calamity, as a result of the irreligion and prejudices, the ignorance and superstition, prevalent throughout the world. In an address in California in 1912, 'Abdu'l-Bahá gave a warning; that Armageddon began with the first World war in 1914.
    "We are on the eve of the Battle of Armageddon referred to in the 16th Chapter of Revelation. The time is two years hence, when only a spark will set aflame the whole of Europe. The world is at the threshold of a most tragic struggle.the slightest friction will bring them into a terrific crash, and there will be a conflagration, the like of which is not recorded in the past history of mankind."
    ('Abdu'l-Bahá,
    Bahá'u'lláh and the New Era,
    p.2)
Wars and rumors of wars have gone on ever since.
See:
    Jer.4: 22,27,29
    Matt 24: 7,8,21,22
    Luke 21: 19,20,25,28
    Matt.13: 49,50

Chapter Twenty

[4] And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.

V.4 In the sequence of the seven religions in order, this is the specific reference to Jesus and Christianity. It speaks of the opposition that His Return will arouse from the beast (antichrists) and how there were many martyrs who had sought to follow and spread His Teachings. Those who oppose Him in His Return are seen as having 'the mark of the beast' and often sit in judgment upon the thrones of authority. As explained previously this mark of the beast is symbolic of their character of opposition. Eventually, the Millennium of Peace or what some call the Kingdom of God on Earth will be established.

John saw thrones, and those that sat upon them. Thrones are the administrative centers such as the hierarchy of each religion and those who sit upon them have the authority to interpret meanings of Scripture for their flock to follow. Although this is necessary, mistakes are possible when the ministers and priests of any religion administer the religious laws and practices - which they consider best for their flock.

In the Christian religion, many followers went against the teachings of the Pope and were admonished for it, as history shows. Some lives were lost and many suffered in other ways. The 'Word of God' mentioned in this verse stands for all the Holy Writings of all religions, as there is only one God. Every religious system is meant to bring guidance, spirituality and wisdom with laws during its dispensation.

    Not one single Manifestation of Holiness hath appeared but He was afflicted by the denials, the repudiation, and the vehement opposition of the people around Him. Thus it hath been revealed:
      [Qur'án 36:30] "O the misery of men! No Messenger cometh unto them but they laugh Him to scorn."
    Again He saith:
      [Qur'án 40:5] "Each nation hath plotted darkly against their Messenger to lay violent hold on Him, and disputed with vain words to invalidate the truth."
      (Bahá'u'lláh,
      The Kitáb-i-Íqán,
      p. 4)

[5] But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.

V.5 The rest of the 'spiritually dead' are those that will make the choice not to worship God, or to recognize His Manifestation, during this next period of a thousand years.

The rest of the dead does not refer to people who have lived in the past, or even just those living in the present. It refers to the people who will be born and die during the next thousand years that fail to recognize the Manifestation of God for this Day and Age.

    Look they to return, once they are gone? Nay, by Him Who is the Lord of Lords! save on the Day of Judgement, the Day whereon the people shall arise from their graves and be asked of their legacy.
    (Bahá'u'lláh,
    The Summons of the Lord of Hosts,
    p. 135
    Suriy-i-Haykal / Surih of the Temple /
    Násiri'd-Dín Sháh / Lawh-i-Sultán:271)
Many people think that the resurrection refers to the physical body. However it refers to the spirit. Each physical body must die and each body disintegrates or decomposes. The spirit referred to here is the human spirit which remains in the 'spirit of deadness' if it doesn't progress and is unaware of the spiritual growth that is necessary.

Many people will still refuse to follow the teachings of the Manifestation of God, not only for this Day, but also for all the Prophets of the past and possibly for those of the future.

    And the Resurrection hath dawned, and the Hour hath struck, and the Path hath been drawn straight, and the Balance hath been set up, and all upon the earth have been gathered together -- but still the people see no sign of the way.
    [Qur'án (Koran) 34:39]
    Be thou assured in thyself that verily, he who turns away from this Beauty hath also turned away from the Messengers of the past and showeth pride towards God from all eternity to all eternity.
    (Tablet of Ahmad,
    Bahá'í Prayers,
    p. 211)
[6] Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.

V.6 There are no 'priests' as such in the Bahá'í Faith but the ones who have taken part in the teaching work hold the station of those called 'priests of God and of Christ'.

Since independent investigation of the writings is one of the principles of the Faith, priesthood has been abolished along with rituals such as baptism, communion and confession of sins. Each Manifestation has the right to make these changes.

    The essence of the meaning is that those servants who are born of and quickened by the spirit and breath of the appearances of holiness in every Manifestation, to them can be attributed life, resurrection, and entrance into the Paradise of divine love; while to others is ascribed death, heedlessness, and entrance into the fire of unbelief and divine wrath.
    (Bahá'u'lláh,
    Bahá'í Scriptures,
    p. 31)
    Concerning the resurrection of Christ, he wishes to call your attention to the fact that in this as well as in practically all the so-called miraculous events recorded in the Gospel we should, as Bahá'ís, seek to find a spiritual meaning and to entirely discard the physical interpretation attached to them by many of the Christian sects. The resurrection of Christ was, indeed, not physical but essentially spiritual, and is symbolic of the truth that the reality of man is to be found not in his physical constitution, but in his soul.
    (From a letter written to an individual believer
    on behalf of the Guardian, August 14, 1934,
    Lights of Guidance,
    p. 492)
[7] And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison,

V.7 While the Cycle of Fulfillment begun by the Báb and Bahá'u'lláh will last for over 500,000 years the Dispensation of Bahá'u'lláh will end sometime after a thousand years and another Manifestation will appear to bring new laws and new teachings to fit the changing times and conditions of mankind.

All things in the world eventually decay and have to be renewed or replaced and this applies also to institutions and religion. It will also apply to the Bahá'í Faith. When religion loses its spiritual vitality that is when the old Satan (materialism, immorality, religious intolerance, war) reappears.

Each Prophet of God foretells of the One to come after Him and each has given signs of His coming, however we usually do not recognize these signs unless we search, keep an open mind and ask for guidance.

    'Whoso layeth claim to a Revelation direct from God, ere the expiration of a full thousand years, such a man is assuredly a lying impostor.'

    The meaning of this is that any individual who, before the expiry of a full thousand years -- years known and clearly established by common usage and requiring no interpretation -- should lay claim to a Revelation direct from God, even though he should reveal certain signs, that man is assuredly false and an impostor.

    (Bahá'u'lláh,
    quoted and explained by 'Abdu'l-Bahá,
    Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá,
    p. 67)
[8] And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea.

V.8 In a thousand years the satanic attitudes will again deceive the nations. At that time the number of people in the world will be a multitude 'as the sand of the sea'.

John compares the time of the future Manifestation to the time of Gog, the king of Magog, which is told about in Ezekiel Chpt 38 and 39 (which also describes the time of the lesser Great Destruction that is to occur after a thousand years and at the end of the Bahá'í Dispensation).

    The Universal House of Justice, which the Guardian said would be regarded by posterity as "the last refuge of a tottering civilization," is now, in the absence of the Guardian, the sole infallibly guided institution in the world to which all must turn, and on it rests the responsibility for ensuring the unity and progress of the Cause of God in accordance with the revealed Word.
    (The Universal House of Justice,
    Wellspring of Guidance,
    Messages 1963-1968,
    p. 90)
[9] And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.

V.9 Those of satanic spirit will go out into the breadth of the earth, to circle the camp of the saints and their beloved city, however God will intervene.

There are many physical things that we might speculate about that time as regards the fire from heaven, since already today we have such things as satellites, and there are even intimations in the Writings that there may be space travel by that time, but the important thing is to look for the spiritual meanings.

    Religious fanaticism and hatred are a world-devouring fire, whose violence none can quench. The Hand of Divine power can, alone, deliver mankind from this desolating affliction.
    (Bahá'u'lláh,
    Epistle to the Son of the Wolf,
    p. 14)

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