In its beginning, a plague is a thought that has been developed out of proportion to other thoughts, or a thought that has been withdrawn from its natural associations in the mental world.
If not corrected in the mental zone, where it originates and increases, the plague will spread from that zone to the zone of the physical. It may appear in the flesh of humanity and slay multitudes. It may run through flocks and herds with great destructiveness. It may attack the creatures of the wild, and destroy a species. It may penetrate the elements, and storms of prolonged fury may devastate large areas. It may strike the sensitive sublevels of earth and rend the solid ground, wrecking and engulfing a civilization, or it may set into far-reaching sweep those merciless waves that obliterate cities and dash to fragments the mightiest handiwork of man.
The Bible was written from the mind of God, and the mind of God in us interprets the Bible when we learn how to let God impart his thoughts to us. When God reveals to us the nature of the Bible, we find it the plainest, the most significant, the most fascinating book ever written. In the symbology of Exodus, the dominant materialistic desire is Pharaoh; the materialistic consciousness is the household of Pharaoh; the flocks and the herds are the total of thoughts concerning possessions; the wild creatures are thoughts which we do not recognize as our own; the elements are the emotional forces of the soul.
Life has dual activity when it manifests in the human body. At one extreme it has a physical nature; at the opposite extreme it has the nature of God—unmodified Spirit. In Exodus, the dual nature of the physical life is symbolized by frogs, and the result of violating duality is shown in the plague of the frogs. The frog is amphibian; it lives on the land and in the water. Land represents the material aspect of life and water represents the spiritual aspect of life.
The plague of frogs is meant to show us that we must keep our thoughts proportioned between the manifest and the unmanifest. If we wish to keep our bodies we must hold them in proper relationship with the manifest. When the consciousness affirms the spiritual origin and the physical development of the body, true relationship with both zones is maintained. If we concentrate wholly on either the spiritual or the physical, in this or in any other respect, we fail to maintain the proportions that we as physically expressing souls must maintain in order to live harmoniously. When we think exclusively on any one subject the manifestation becomes out of proportion, and some form of plague appears.
People who fear that they may suffer from climatic changes and inclemencies think out of proportion to the equability of the heavenly kingdom within, and a plague comes upon them. People who speculate on their liability to an epidemic withdraw their thoughts from contact with God's health, and a plague appears in them. People who steadily think of obtaining and retaining material forms of wealth desert the Golcondas of the Father's realm, and a plague of miserliness attacks them. Lack of proportion is inharmony.
At the word of Jehovah, Aaron stretched forth his hand with his rod over the rivers, the streams, and the pools, "and the frogs came up, and covered the land of Egypt. And the magicians did in like manner with their enchantments, and brought up frogs upon the land of Egypt."
In itself, demonstration is not a proof of spirituality in the demonstrator. It is proof that the demonstrator has learned a use of the powers of mind. The intent, the result, and the use must be taken into consideration when we look upon demonstration as a gauge of development. The demonstration is a proof of spiritual development if the intent, the result, and the use be spiritual, but not otherwise.
When the soul that is in bondage to Pharaoh is being prepared for freedom, the spiritual consciousness acts in two ways. One of these ways is a forward movement; in Exodus, this movement is personified as Moses, which means drawn out. The other way is an upward movement, personified as Aaron, which means mountaineer. The significance of these two movements is that the spiritual consciousness, personified as the children of Israel, is led forward and upward—an ascent by successive steps toward God.
Through Moses Jehovah instructed: "Stretch forth thy hand with thy rod." To stretch forth the hand with the rod is the outer form of that mental concentration which produces change in the physical. Moses and Aaron were the agents of Jehovah, who, through signs, was showing both Israelite and Egyptian that the subjection of the spiritual to the materialistic is a reversal of the natural relationship between the two. The magicians of Pharaoh's household also concentrated. The result was an increase of frogs.
Pharaoh understood that while his magicians could increase the plague, only the spiritual could annul that which the materialistic had produced. The magicians of the court had matched their skill with Aaron's on a previous occasion, when the rods became serpents. Then, the serpent which Aaron's rod had become swallowed the serpents which the magician's rod had become. In the plague of the frogs, Pharaoh asked Moses and Aaron to entreat Jehovah to take away the frogs; he did not ask his magicians to do that; he did not ask his magicians to help undo the results which they had accomplished. He knew that they had not power to dissolve their formations.
In comparing the works of the spiritual with the works of the materialistic, here are the facts:
The spiritual is always superior to the materialistic. It can consume the manifestations of the materialistic, as in the case of the rod-serpents. It can annul its own manifestations and the manifestations of the materialistic, as in the healing of the plague of frogs.
The plagues that are mentioned in the Book of Exodus indicate that all our relations to life may be affected by unbalanced thinking. The plagues affected land, water, light, weather, and animals. The account has no practical value for us until we learn that the plague begins in the mind, and, unless corrected there, will appear in that outer realm of life with which it is naturally associated.
By our thinking of the material world in excess of our thinking of the spiritual world, or by focusing intensely on personal desires, obsessions are developed. Monomania is a form of obsession. Chronic illness, periodical illness, irascibility, and ruthless ambition are forms of monomania. These forms can be corrected by our giving the spiritual ascendancy in our thoughts. The mind of God obliterates any error which the mind of man can form or any error that may be sheltered in the shadowy recesses of memory.
The mind of God radiates, and by radiation dissipates the groups which unbalanced thinking has drawn together. Wherever the Bible says that Jehovah stayed a plague, for us the meaning is that the soul has let God's mind think, and in this way has established true proportions.
By nature the higher has dominion over the lower. Then why, being sons of God, are we sometimes dominated by the human? It is because we have put ourselves into subjection to the human. In consciousness, the I always stands on the line that divides the heavenly from the earthly. When the I faces the heavenly we think toward God. When the I faces the earthly we think toward the human. What we face we see, and what we see predominates in consciousness. To escape from the dominion of the earthly we shall have steadily to face the heavenly, that its true proportions may correct the disproportions from which we would be free.
Habits have power over us. A cold in the head, closely following overeating or exposure to inclement weather, may be attributed to whichever one of these experiences has preceded the cold. The I, facing the earthly, comprehends only a physical cause of the illness. The supposed relationship between the cold and the overeating, or the cold and the exposure, makes an impression in consciousness, and a habit is formed of cold in the head whenever either of the assumed causes has been present. Cold is caused neither by overeating nor weather. It is caused by thinking out of proportion, the first result of which is a mental congestion. Then the congestion spreads to the physical, where it is called a cold. Thinking out of proportion may cause us to overeat, and it may influence the elements, but neither of these effects can make physical inharmony for us, unless we expect it to. Our thought habits in association with food and weather may make much inharmony for us.
When we think in true proportions, refraining from disturbed or violent mental states, we have health, for these practices induce the mind of God to function in us. His mind heals every plague and is our impregnable defense from plagues. The eternal healing comes out of the mind of God through us, when the I ceases to be the agent of the earthly and becomes the agent of the heavenly.
The power of God is given to the sons of God. Jehovah is the wholly impersonal consciousness opened toward God. In the Jehovah consciousness, if our quest have for its object the salvation of both soul and body, the I gives free passage for the fluent Spirit to descend into the manifest. If contact with the higher be not utilized to these ends, the experience becomes merely transport and has no practical benefits for us.
Jehovah is the doorway between man and God. Jehovah is the highest point of consciousness to which we can carry the thought of individuality; on the hither side of Jehovah is the personal self; on the thither side of Jehovah is the impersonal God.
Through the doorway of Jehovah, God comes down through our minds. He becomes so attenuated in our habitual thoughts that we all but lose sight of him. The first stage of his descent is made in the exercise of prayer or of worship. The second stage of his descent is embraced in our use of God's powers to accomplish our ends: Jehovah-nissi—Jehovah is my banner. At the place where God is all but lost to sight, we remind ourselves that he is in our flesh, in nature, in stone and wood and cloud and sky. We know that he is within the material, but we do not habitually see him there, so we say, to remind ourselves: Jehovah-shammah—Jehovah is there.
God, coming down through our minds to that attenuation in which we do not habitually see him, can be reached in his essence by an ascent which is the reversal of the descent. Jesus Christ suggests this possibility when he says that he who ascends into heaven is the same as he who descended from heaven. Descent to the vanishing point is made by habitual thinking of material incarnations. Ascent is made by habitual thinking of God immanent.
When we speak of descent and ascent in this connection, the meaning is not that of relative positions. When we speak of God's flowing out into manifestation, the sense is not that of changing localities. There is no above for God and no below for man. God is both above and below, both within and without, and man has both origin and continuance in God. The change is that by which the unmanifest becomes manifest, and the terms are merely a convenience of speech. They impress as by a picture that which has no movement or direction—that which is a transformation in consciousness. The mind apprehends both Spirit and matter, and consciousness may play between these two with a celerity which by comparison makes the speed of light a halt and creeping gait.
How do we ascend to God? By reaching toward him, spiritually, in a way comparable to the physical exercise of reaching toward a mark on a wall. Day by day, tiptoeing, so to speak; day by day letting out our muscles and reaching somewhat closer to our goal. We exercise spiritually by thinking spiritually and by praying; by cultivating a consciousness that feels God as life; by thinking of our bodies as the dimensions in which God is functioning for us. To give our minds a definite line of action, we enter a consciousness which may be expressed in the words:
God in me reveals himself.
When we dwell in the consciousness suggested by these words, they develop a significance that will lift us high in the ascent toward God. To obtain great results we may have to try times too many to be enumerated. But what of that? We are in eternity, always have been in eternity, always shall be in eternity, and we should be using eternity for eternal ends. Let us remember that if we measure our progress by time we face the earthly; let us remember to face the heavenly; then we can understand that God lives us. In doing these things we ascend to God.
Each annulling of a plague in us is Jehovah's doing for us according to the word of Moses, the spiritual leader of consciousness. The annulling cannot be accomplished by the magicians of Egypt, who symbolize mental formulas for the manipulation of substance. Mental formulas can be made to produce results, but those who employ them soon ask for protection against the results that they bring.
When Moses and Aaron came to Jehovah and asked him to free the land from the frogs, the result was that the frogs died. In the conditions which constituted the plague, the frogs were brought out of the water and confined to the land; they were permitted only one of their two natural elements. Therefore they died. Why did not Jehovah have Moses and Aaron send the frogs back to the water?
The Bible is chiefly symbolism. Its greatest value to us is that it is the history of the soul, a history which in each of us is repeated until we learn and profit by the fact that the evolving Spirit of God is compelling us to let it have its way in us. The events mentioned in the Bible should instruct us to look for the causes of events. The event symbolized as the plague of the frogs conveys this teaching: A thought, a desire, cut off from its rightful associations, will perish. The frogs, limited to only one of their two natural elements, perished. The event recorded, not what might have been, is to be dealt with. The significant thing is not what God can do, but what we do with God as we pass him through the doorway of Jehovah, down into our field of habitual thinking. The death of the frogs instructs us that excess must be corrected and balance restored. The frogs died, and the decay of their bodies corrupted the atmosphere. The soul must have its object lesson, and we too easily forget. If we were permitted an argument on the event which did not occur, we could say that, had the frogs been returned to the water, the soul, figuratively speaking, would have patted itself on the back and said: "I certainly demonstrated wonderfully that time."
It is impossible to make Spirit function wholly in the senses or the senses to function wholly in Spirit. Spirit is the God part of us; the senses are our contacts with the world. We are not to attenuate manifestation by denying the body; we are not to sensualize life by living wholly for the body. We are to recognize the body as a blossom on the tree of life; we are to recognize the tree as that which produces the blossom. We are to hold our hearts so pure toward God that the possibilities of the senses will have no temptations for us. We are to make the earthly contacts a testimony of the Shekinah.
Jehovah bless us and keep us.
Jehovah make his face to shine upon us and be gracious unto us.
Jehovah lift up his countenance upon us and give us peace. Amen. (Num. 6:25)