Chapter VII: The Fruits of Faith
Genesis 21 Spiritually Interpreted
Gen. 21:1-7. And Jehovah visited Sarah as he had said, and Jehovah did unto Sarah as he had spoken. And Sarah conceived, and bare Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him. And Abraham called the name of his son that was born unto him, whom Sarah bare to him, Isaac. And Abraham circumcised his son Isaac when he was eight days old, as God had commanded him. And Abraham was a hundred years old, when his son Isaac was born unto him. And Sarah said, God hath made me to laugh; every one that heareth will laugh with me. And she said, Who would have said unto Abraham, that Sarah should give children suck? for I have borne him a son in his old age.
Why was the birth of Isaac delayed so long? How is Christ "formed" in the individual?
Isaac was born after Abraham and Sarah were both past the age of bringing forth. So we when born of the Spirit through faith are born not "of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." The natural man has no power to bring forth the "new man" in Christ Jesus. The natural man brings forth Hagar's son, who is not the chosen heir. The new man is a "new creature," begotten not of the flesh but of the divine word. This begetting represents the forming of a new state of consciousness, the consciousness referred to by Paul when he expressed the hope to the Galatians that "Christ be formed" in them.
In what way are joy and laughter helpful in soul unfoldment?
As one gains a certain inner satisfaction from doing a good deed, so in repeatedly following the promptings of Spirit one accumulates a fund of satisfaction that finally breaks forth in laughter. Isaac was not born until Abraham and Sarah had reached old age--had accumulated a "faith consciousness." Note the different kinds of laughter in this allegory. Abraham laughed questioningly, hopefully, when it was announced that Sarah would bear a son. Sarah laughed incredulously when the promise was announced to her. Both Abraham and Sarah, with their friends, laughed joyfully and thankfully when Isaac was born.
Religion is not the dolorous thing that many have pictured it, much to its loss and to ours as well. On the contrary religion should make man joyful. God is not to be served in the spirit of bondage to a taskmaster but in the spirit of happiness. In Deuteronomy we read: "Because thou servedst not Jehovah thy God with joyfulness, and with gladness of heart, by reason of the abundance of all things; therefore shalt thou serve thine enemies ... in hunger, and in thirst, and in nakedness, and in want of all things" (Deut. 28:47). If one's prayers are not answered or one fails to demonstrate the reason may perhaps be found here.
How is the conviction established of the presence of divine substance within?
Those who persistently exercise faith in God find there is generated in their mind a condition that gradually grows into a conviction of the permanent presence of divine substance within, and this gives rise to the most exquisite joy. Inward ecstasy is what gives the countenance of peace to the saint and of illumination and purity to the sister of mercy. It is experienced by
all who pass into the second degree of faith (Isaac, son of Abraham).
Gen. 21:8-21. And the child grew, and was weaned: and Abraham made a great feast on the day that Isaac was weaned. And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne unto Abraham, mocking. Wherefore she said unto Abraham, Cast out this handmaid and her son: for the son of this handmaid shall not be heir with my son, even with Isaac. And the thing was very grievous in Abraham's sight on account of his son. And God said unto Abraham, Let it not be grievous in thy sight because of the lad, and because of thy handmaid; in all that Sarah saith unto thee, hearken unto her voice; for in Isaac shall thy seed be called. And also of the son of the handmaid will I make a nation, because he is thy seed. And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and took bread and a bottle of water, and gave it unto Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, and gave her the child, and sent her away: and she departed, and wandered in the wilderness of Beer-sheba. And the water in the bottle was spent, and she cast the child under one of the shrubs. And she went, and sat her down over against him a good way off, as it were a bowshot: for she said, Let me not look upon the death of the child. And she sat over against him, and lifted up her voice, and wept. And God heard the voice of the lad; and the angel of God called to Hagar out of heaven, and said unto her, What aileth thee, Hagar? fear not; for God hath heard the voice of the lad where he is. Arise, lift up the lad, and hold him in thy hand; for I will make him a great nation. And God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water; and she went, and filled the bottle with water, and gave the lad drink. And God was with the lad, and he grew; and he dwelt in the wilderness, and became, as he grew up, an archer. And he dwelt in the wilderness
of Paran: and his mother took him a wife out of the land of Egypt.
In what way are Ishmael and Isaac opposed to each other?
When Isaac was weaned (symbolizing his readiness to take a forward step in soul responsibility) Ishmael, Hagar's son, mocked him. Such mockery is the experience of everyone in the new birth. The thoughts that are the fruit of the mind of flesh rise up within him and mock the new man. Here the overcomer has a definite work to do. The animal soul (Hagar, the bondmaid) and the natural desires (her son) must be cast out. As Abraham grieved when Hagar was banished, so we sometimes grieve at giving up the fruits of material thinking brought forth by the natural man.
How are these two phases of mind harmonized?
In the development of spiritual faculties, of which faith (Abraham) is one, there is an ascending movement of the consciousness that is felt and understood by the individual having the experience but that is difficult to explain to one who has not yet entered upon that plane of development. The faculty of faith grows stronger with each trial, and when it is obedient to the Lord as its divine guide, it finds an added pleasure in the exercise of both mind and body at every upward step. Each function of man's organism is spiritual at its foundation, and when he exercises it as intended by Divine Mind his every breath and every heartbeat is a song of joy. Even the most earthly functions may be spiritualized and become sources of unending pleasure, while when they are under the control of the animal mind of man they become demoralizers of the body. Under divine guidance the retrogression produced by mere animalism may be harmonized and purified through the descent of the fires of Spirit. This is what happened to Sodom and Gomorrah, which represent
the desires and activities pertaining to generation.
What is the result of disregard of divine law?
When we have faith in God and the ways of Spirit, we are willing to give up all our material pleasures if such be the instruction of the inner guide. This giving up is symbolized by the sacrifices so often referred to in the history of the Children of Israel. The body and its vital forces are in perpetual action, which is progressive under the divine law. When the law is disregarded there is a waning of the higher forces that brings a sense of discomfort. It is frequently through pain that we are brought to see the error of our ways. Then we should hasten to find the law of being that will give real satisfaction without inharmony.
The action of Abraham is an example of this practice. After giving up animal gratification and purifying the mind of sense thoughts (banishing Hagar and Ishmael), he experienced a greater pleasure from a more interior or spiritual action of the same function. Isaac was the fulfillment of Abraham's greatest desire. But the use of the natural functions must also be raised to a higher plane. On each of the ascending stages in bodily transmutation there is a residuum of the last preceding stage remaining in consciousness. This too must be purified so that the whole man may be a fit temple for the Holy Spirit.
What is denoted by the banishment of Hagar and her son?
The seemingly inhuman treatment of Hagar and Ishmael by Abraham and Sarah is symbolical of the activity of forces at work in the soul of man. The natural soul (Hagar), lacking real understanding of the newly awakened spiritual soul (Sarah), looks on it with a jealous and antagonistic eye. The product of the thoughts of the natural man at work in the flesh (Ishmael) reflects the natural soul's attitude and
scoffs at the possibility of joy brought about through mere pleasure in spiritual life. Such an attitude brings about a separation between the spiritual state of consciousness and the natural state that depletes the supply on the natural plane.
The wilderness of Beer-sheba represents in individual consciousness the multitude of undisciplined and uncultivated thoughts. Even in this state of mind a person can hear the voice of God. God spoke to Hagar, which opened her eyes to the truth that the well of living water was close by and that she and her son would be amply sustained and prospered.
This tells us that even the outermost part of man (the body) is to be saved and to be given the chance to unfold and become efficient in all its activities.
Ishmael became an archer, which indicates that he was an expert at hitting the mark. Later he left Beer-sheba and "dwelt in the wilderness of Paran." The name Paran means "region of caverns," "region of searching," "place of much digging." Paran represents the multitude of seemingly confused and undisciplined thoughts of the subconscious mind; also a place or period of much earnest searching after Truth. That "his mother took him a wife out of the land of Egypt" means that Ishmael (fruits of the flesh) through Hagar (the natural soul) unites with the feminine force of materiality.
Gen. 21:22-34. And it came to pass at that time, that Abimelech and Phicol the captain of his host spake unto Abraham, saying, God is with thee in all that thou doest: now therefore swear unto me here by God that thou wilt not deal falsely with me, nor with my son, nor with my son's son: but according
to the kindness that I have done unto thee, thou shalt do unto me, and to the land wherein thou hast sojourned. And Abraham said, I will swear. And Abraham reproved Abimelech because of the well of water, which Abimelech's servants had violently taken away. And Abimelech said, I know not who hath done this thing: neither didst thou tell me, neither yet heard I of it, but today. And Abraham took sheep and oxen, and gave them unto Abimelech; and they two made a covenant. And Abraham set seven ewe lambs of the flock by themselves. And Abimelech said unto Abraham, What mean these seven ewe lambs which thou hast set by themselves? And he said, These seven ewe lambs shalt thou take of my hand, that it may be a witness unto me, that I have digged this well. Wherefore he called that place Beer-sheba; because there they sware both of them. So they made a covenant at Beer-sheba: and Abimelech rose up, and Phicol the captain of his host, and they returned into the land of the Philistines. And Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beer-sheba, and called there on the name of Jehovah, the Everlasting God. And Abraham sojourned in the land of the Philistines many days.
The name Phicol means "spokesman for all," "all-commanding," "every tongue." Phicol was the captain of the host of Abimelech and represents the seeming all-sufficiency of sense consciousness in man at a certain stage of his evolution. He was a Philistine, a Philistine denoting sense consciousness.
Explain the relationship between faith and will as illustrated by Abraham and Abimelech. Abimelech's servants had taken Abraham's well by force. How does this apply metaphysically to soul unfoldment? Must there eventually be agreement in consciousness between the spiritual and the so-called material?
The name Beer-sheba means "well of the oath," "well of fulfillment," "well of the seven." Abraham represents the first activity of the faith faculty in man's consciousness. Abimelech represents the will, which though unregenerate at this stage of man's unfoldment, recognizes faith and its attainments (Abraham
and his possessions). Abimelech fears that he and his kingdom will be overrun by Abraham and his everincreasing family and household. On the other hand, Abimelech's servants take by force the well that Abraham had dug. This latter means that the life forces, which have been discovered and laid hold of by faith's activity, have been utilized and corrupted by the fleshly man instead of being retained for the use of the mental and spiritual. The covenant between Abraham and Abimelech denotes the establishing of a right relation in consciousness between the spiritual and so-called material. Beer-sheba represents the establishing of this agreement ("well of the oath") between the inner and the outer, wherein faith and its adherents (higher thoughts) are given ample room in the organism and are allowed to retain possession of the well (reservoir of life) that they have been instrumental in bringing to light. On the other hand, the higher thoughts of faith realize that they must not harm or destroy the outer man (Abimelech and his kingdom).
To swear by the seven is to covenant that the thing promised will be fulfilled, the number seven representing fulfillment of the natural law.
Preceding Entry: Mysteries of Genesis 171-174: Genesis 20 Mysteries of Genesis
Following Entry: Mysteries of Genesis 182-187: Genesis 22 Mysteries of Genesis