The Apocalypse is a Book of Codes

It is a crossword-puzzle with anagram-clues. It is a board of Snakes and Ladders running up and sliding down from verse to verse. It is a web of discovery with gossamer radials to its center for interpreters to scale. It is a Gordian knot with strands for them to cut with swords of spiritual truth. It is a forest with scented trails for them to track as devoted spiritual hounds. It is a jigsaw-puzzle with edge-piece verses flashing imperial and religious history, and panoramic chapters dawning sky-blue truth, portraying forest-green ideals, and blazing fiery-red warfare. It is a grade-4 maze with paths, forks, rotaries, and bridges crisscrossing as verses and chapters connecting anywhere and everywhere.

But best, the Apocalypse is a beautiful palace with doors opening to Baha’i keys, with foundation symbols revealed by Baha’u’llah, pillar and wall verses interpreted by ‘Abdu’l-Baha, and mosaic floor meanings explained by Shoghi Effendi. At the palace’s Chapter 1 entrance, Baha’u’llah welcomes you. He takes you through its lamp-lit foyer of Chapters 2–3 as he addresses seven Faiths. He presents its four Primary-Figures led by him in its Throne-Room of Chapter 4. He introduces the Bab as the librarian in its library of Chapter 5. He paints events of Christian and Muslim history in its east-wing of Chapters 6–9. He announces the plan of God in its reception room of Chapter 10. He shows you its great central hall of Chapter 11 with the Temple as the One Religion of God, Islam, the martyred Bab, and himself. He sets you running the gauntlet amid brutal regimes and spiritual afflictions in its west-wing of Chapters 12–16.

Now you are in the palace operations-room of Chapter 17, in the early 2000s. Here Baha’u’llah teaches you how to interpret prophetic symbols, with important examples. Then he leads you out into the palace garden of Chapters 18–22. In its Chapter 18 winter garden you see a Greatest Depression crash and crush the shady shaky shed of Malignant Materialism. In its Chapter 19 spring garden you see spiritual economics bring true recovery and worthy prosperity to the globe. In its Chapter 20–22 summer garden you scent the Millennium blossoming and begin relishing the divine civilization of New Jerusalem fruiting through the One Religion of God.

Prophetic words and symbols are vehicles that bear meanings. Their striking value as vehicles is neatly spelt out by the story of a storm lashing a small Texas city and inundating it with a flash-flood. The mayor issues an Order for its citizens to leave. But one fervent believer called Bob refuses, saying:

God shall save me!

The fast-flowing water floods the town, and a Police Jeep drives up to take Bob to safety. But he again flatly refuses, saying:

God shall save me!

In full-spate the water rises higher, and Bob climbs up to his upper floor. Now a Coastguard Launch zooms in to rescue him. But Bob still refuses to board, saying:

God shall save me!

The rushing water surges yet higher, and Bob goes up onto the roof. This time an Air Force Helicopter whirls down to save him. But once more Bob flatly refuses to board, saying:

God shall save me!

Finally, the flood washes Bob away and he drowns. At heaven’s pearly gates an angry Bob confronts God:

God, why didn’t You save me?

God, upset too, replies:

But Bob, I tried! I really tried! First I had the Mayor issue My Order telling you to leave town! Next, I had the Police drive up My Jeep to take you away! Then I had the Coastguard zoom in My Launch to rescue you! Finally, I had the Air Force whirl down My Helicopter to save you! But you snubbed them all. Each and every time you downright refused to be saved!

Just as the mayor’s Order and the Police, Coastguard, and Air Force Vehicles tried to save Bob, so the prophetic chariots of words and symbols try to save souls. The prophetic words have evocative power, not plausibility, made crystal clear by John with absurd statements like a Son of Man held seven stars, a large star fell upon one third of the rivers, a star was given the key, a reed like a rod saying, the land opened up its mouth and swallowed up the river, and a certain angel standing in the sun.[1]‑R Such statements can make only symbolic sense. Otherwise, how could

‘His eyes were as a flame of fire’, and ‘Brass-like were His feet’, and ‘Out of His mouth goeth a two-edged sword’…be literally interpreted? Were anyone to appear with all these signs, he would assuredly not be human.[2]‑B

John drives the same point home by supplying “loss-leaders” as his own internal interpretations of a number of symbols listed as follows:

Stars as Angels

Menorah-Lamps as churches

Seven stars, lanterns of fire, or horns and eyes as God’s seven Spirits

Incenses as prayers

Secret intent of God as His own servants the Prophets

Ancient serpent as lying evil and hatred

The Presence of God as those in heaven

Beast as a human-being

Babylon Confusion as mother of the whores and the vile things in the world

Heads as mountains

Horns as rulers

Waters as peoples, populations, nations, and language-groups

Woman as gross city

Fine-linen as righteous deeds

Bride as New Jerusalem

These internal interpretations appear in 11% (43 of 404) of Revelation verses, and four of them are also stressed as secret meanings.[3] Accordingly:

divine Words are not to be taken according to their outer sense. They are symbolical and contain realities of spiritual meaning. For instance, in the book of Solomon's songs you will read about the bride and bridegroom. It is evident that the physical bride and bridegroom are not intended. Obviously, these are symbols conveying a hidden and inner significance.[4]‑AC The teachings of all religions are expressed largely by parables and metaphors and not in the plain language of the people, for divine things are too deep to be expressed by common words. The heavenly teachings are expressed in parable in order to be understood and preserved for ages to come. [my emphasis]. When the spiritually minded dive deeply into the ocean of their meaning they bring to the surface the pearls of their inner significance. There is no greater pleasure than to study God's Word with a spiritual mind.[5]‑A

Sky images are especially important for portraying aspects of spiritual reality.[6] The heavens and the earth…the sun and the moon, all have been created to the end that His [God’s] servants may have unswerving faith in His presence.[7]‑B The prime sky image of sky or heaven naturally portrays God, His One Religion, or a specific Faith in it:

‘Heaven’ denoteth loftiness and exaltation as the seat of the revelation of those Manifestations…descended from the heaven of the will of God. Though they be dwelling on this earth, yet their true habitations are the retreats of glory in the realms above. Whilst walking amongst mortals, they soar in the heaven of the divine presence.[8]‑B

Sky images like sun, moon, stars, lightning, thunder, hail, and clouds—along with earthquakes—lace Revelation. Each portrays some aspect of spiritual reality already identified in the right column Parallel Interpretation.

Sky images give spiritual reality a material face. But the material reality that you see, hear, feel, smell, andThe iceberg of Reality taste, reflects, echoes, and emanates a vast and infinite spiritual reality farther past our ken than the Big Dipper constellation is beyond the cloud of electrons dotting round the nucleus of a sodium atom in the feelers of a fly. In other words, the material world is worth as much as the black in the eye of a dead ant.[9]‑B Out of sight below the waterline, spiritual reality is the main chunk of the titanic iceberg of the whole of reality, whose tiny tip of material reality serves as just the marker for the huge hidden spiritual chunk. Yet in the diagram, the small green face of humanity persists in seeing itself at the center of the show, blind to how far it really is from the gold central spiritual Godhead circle of reality.

 



Discussion:

[1] Rev. 1.16–17, 8.10, 9.1, 11.1, 12.16 & 19.17

[2] Baha’u’llah, Gems 72.50–52

[3] Rev. 1.20, 10.7, 17.5 & 7

[4] ‘Abdu’l-Baha, PUP 459, also 199

[5] ‘Abdu’l-Baha in London 79–80

[6] Malina, Genre of the Apocalypse; Riggs Apocalypse Unsealed; Bilderback Revelation of Christ’s Glory

[7] Baha’u’llah, Gems 60.44

[8] Baha’u’llah, KI 67–68

[9] Baha’u’llah, PB 22