Episode:Melchizedek Gospel—Response Among the Hebrews (Part 4)
Samuel, the first of the Hebrew prophets, did not progress very far beyond the concept of a tribal god. Even so, he portrayed a Deity who is holy and upright; he preached anew the story of God's sincerity, his covenant-keeping reliability. And the gradual development of the concept of the character of Yahweh continued under the ministry of Samuel's successors, including Elijah and Elisha, and Amos and Hosea.
Summary by Kermit
We picked up where we left off previously with Samuel—first of the Hebrew prophets. Samuel’s great contribution to the concept of God and his challenge to the consciousness of the Hebrews was his proclamation that God is changeless. This challenge is not so remote today. We are challenged in the revelation to recognize and realize the difference between our mortal self, and personality. Mankind is quick to anthropomorphize God, see God in our image. Thus the inconstant variable mortal self when projected on high in conceiving of God, sees a variable God. The revelation however, presents a concept of personality that is changeless—transcendent of the variable mortal self. So it is with the changeless God. Can we see our changeless personality as having origin in a changeless God? Jesus had unending difficulty with the Apostles in trying to get them to see the Father as changeless. And this changeless Father is not to be confused with the existential facet of Father Deity.
In our reflections of Samuel’s utterances as presented in the revelation, compared with the Old Testament references we find a most interesting phenomenon. The authors of the Old Testament saw fit to “put” Samuel’s words into other characters’ mouths. They did this, in some cases to make other Old Testament players appear more profound and prophetic. e.g., King David. In other cases, they may have intended to diffuse some of the more controversial proclamations of the prophet by attributing them to others, e.g. his mother. That the facts of the olden scriptures are today recognized by many as dubious is well known. Yet, applying the same thinking to the fifth epochal revelation leads one into problems, inasmuch as the facts therein are not dubious but represent the authentic elimination of error.
We discussed a question from the chat room as to the truth of Samuel’s proclamation that, “The Lord enriches and impoverishes; he debases and exalts.” This truth is found in the existential viewpoint of the Father. The existential Father allows an experiential universe to exist in which enrichment and impoverishment occur for our growth and development, as is illustrated in the inevitabilities [3:5.6-5.14]. Yet as we know, one of the stumbling blocks for many, in believing in a God of infinite love and goodness is the presence of such evolutionary vicissitudes in daily life.
As has been mentioned before, the prophets of in synchrony with their time. They were evolutional and not given to revolutionary action. The value of the evolutionary process is highlighted in history in Jesus gradual and progressive growth in faith. Whereas, we have studied the disasters of Lucifer’s and Adam and Eve’s impatient and revolutionary efforts at progress.
Samuel did grow in his understanding of the mercy of God, declaring that He (God) shows mercy at least to the merciful. Samuel’s successors did extend the gradual development of Yahweh’s character, but did not keep pace with Samuel. They did not grow the mercy concept and drifted back into recognition of other gods, albeit Yahweh was still above all of them. As our author discloses, the keynote of the era was divine power. Their religion was designed to foster the king upon the Hebrew throne.
97:2. Elijah and Elisha
With the tenth century B.C. came the division of the Hebrew nation into the northern and southern kingdoms. The spiritual decadence that had set in continued after this kingdom division. Efforts to advance the Hebraic religion did not bear much fruit until Elijah’s coming. He restored the northern kingdom concept of God to that which Samuel had achieved. Elijah’s task was even more daunting than Samuel’s. Elijah’s successor Elisha with the assistance of the little known Micaiah managed to keep the light of truth alive. By the end of Elijah’s and Elisha’s time the Hebrew’s were still short of the mosaic ideal, although the better classes had returned tot he worship of the supreme Yahweh as Universal Creator, about where Samuel had left it.
We commented upon the curious fact of Elijah’s fusion with his Thought Adjuster. We also noted that John the Baptist was mightily influenced by Elijah in the manifestation of his prophetic mission.
97:3. Yahweh and Baal
The origins of the Yahweh v. Baal conflict interestingly are found in socioeconomic differences between the northern settled Canaanites (Baalites), who were land owners and the nomadic southern Arabian tribes (Yahwehites), who saw land ownership as a transgression of Yahweh’s declaration, “The land shall not be sold for the land is mine.” In light of the revelation’s teaching concerning the importance of private property in the progressive evolution of civilization it’s interesting that the polytheistic Baalites had the more progressive position on land ownership. However, at the time it was more crucial that monotheism be established than private property be upheld. This land controversy evolved into bitter antagonisms in the social, economic, moral, and religious domains, becoming a definite religious issue about the times of Elijah. And it was the religious issue of monotheism (Yahweh) which prevailed over polytheism (Baal). So it was that Elijah began as an agrarian reformer and ended up by exalting Deity.
The tortuous evolutionary path of the Yahweh-Baal conflict should give the idealist pause to consider the spiritual versus cosmic implications of many of the difficult issues facing mankind today in the drive towards higher civilization. The ideal from an eternity viewpoint might best be served in an apparently contradictory way in the context of temporal evolutionary action. As with the subtle difference between the self and personality, can we distinguish the difference between the random movements and vicissitudes of mankind’s march through time and the gentle drift of the evolution of the Supreme? Such distinctions are necessary before we can know what the best course of action is in our striving to advance civilization.