Understanding the Messianic Prophecies, Part III

by Robert Engelbach on March 26, 2015

messianic propheciesIn this series we will continue to perform a temporary “about face” in our quest to discover wisdom. By reassessing the historical and literal validity of selected parts of the bible, we shall try to answer four questions. (1) Is the Messiah of the Gospels merely of allegorical importance, as one sect of the first century Gnostics proposed? (2) Does history and archeology regarding the Jewish people validate the existence of a flesh and blood Messiah? (3) Did this Messiah atone for the sins of others? (4) Do historical and allegorical messages in the bible oppose or complement each other? I shall explain later why the “about face” is necessary and only temporary.

The attached woodcarving by artist Gustave Dore depicts the burial of Abraham’s wife, Sarah, in a cave procured by Abraham from the ancient Canaanites. It is located in what is now the modern city of Hebron on the West Bank, and has become a holy site for Jews, Muslims, and Christians. The cave became the “Tomb of the Patriarchs” where the bones of Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca, plus Jacob and Leah are said to be maintained in secret chambers below a magnificent shrine built by King Herod in the first century BCE. Historical records indicate that this was the original resting place for these bones. Christian crusaders are said to have carried off some of them as trophies. Others were also believed to have been stolen by raiders who sold them off to Europe. Excavations of the bottom chambers in modern times have been strictly forbidden, but those performed earlier reported bone fragments mixed with artifacts that date back to ancient Israeli culture. This is the earliest archeological connection to bible history that has been relatively undisputed, unlike the claims of finding Noah’s Ark or the ruins of the Tower of Babel. There are few if any substantial links prior to the time of Abraham that establish as firm a historical and literal connection.

Abraham

In parts I and II of this series we examined the prophecies given to Adam’s wife and Noah’s son to bear the lineage of the promised Messiah. When Abraham received his divine calling, nine generations are said to have passed since the day Noah blessed his son, Shem, saying the descendants of his brothers Japheth and Ham would be gathered under his tent. Shem is said to have lived 600 years, so he was still alive when Abraham was born.

He was born “Abram” meaning “Exalted Father”. His calling was three-fold: (1) to leave his native land back in the cradle of civilization, (2) to become the progenitor of a nation of great renown, and (3) to be the ancestor to “a seed” (a descendant, the Messiah) in whom “All the nations of the world would be blessed, because you (Abram) have obeyed my voice.”2 Abram’s name therefore became Abraham, meaning “Father of Many”, and his wife, Sarai, meaning “Princess” became “Sarah”, meaning “Mother of Nations”.

During a drought in the land of Canaan, Abraham and his clan took temporary shelter by visiting the nearest center of civilization, Egypt, on the River Nile. This is perhaps where the Egyptian hand maiden, Hagar, was added to his crew.

When his second son Isaac was born by a miracle birth to his 90 year-old barren wife, the promise of Messiah was transferred to Isaac as recorded, “In Isaac shall thy seed be called”.3 For the third time in the Book of Genesis, the selection of the spiritual heir to the Messianic lineage was an appointed selection instead of a natural one, just as it had been for Seth and Shem. Ishmael, who was Abraham’s first son through his Egyptian handmaiden Hagar, would have been the natural heir to Abraham’s inheritance; but Instead Ishmael is blessed by God to become the ancestor to 12 ruling princes and a great nation. However, the seed in whom all the nations of the world would be blessed would descend from Isaac, son of Abraham and Sarah.

Isaac

Abraham resembled Noah in that he hearkened to the voice of the divine presence regardless of circumstances. It led him to Canaan and there he learned to trust his spiritual discernment more and more, but only after first doubting it and reaping the consequences. When under the influence of his skeptical wife, he was persuaded by her to have a child, Ishmael, through his handmaiden, Hagar, instead of believing what the angel of the Lord had told him about having a son through his barren wife. This resulted in some unfortunate consequences involving family strife and jealousies which culminated in breaking his heart. He had to tell Hagar to take his beloved first child and leave the clan. Biblical scripture later tells us that there was a reunion later between Abraham and Ishmael, and that Ishmael attended his father’s funeral. Quranic scripture tells us that the veneration of Abraham was preserved through Ishmael’s decedents.

Abraham’s trust was perfected after that painful event when the spirit told him to prepare to sacrifice Sarah’s only son, the miracle child, to be performed in a manner following the barbaric tradition of the surrounding Canaanites. He journeyed three days and walked up Mount Mariah with his child, Isaac beside him, with Isaac carrying a bundle of wooden logs, for the burning of the sacrifice, stretched out across his little shoulders. When Isaac asked where the sacrifice was, his father assured him that God would provide a sacrifice. Isaac did not resist when he was asked to lay down on the sacrificial stone altar to be bound by ropes to it; for this reason this event is often referred to as “The Binding of Isaac”.

Meanwhile, just across the valley, clearly visible from Mount Mariah, the next mountain in the shape of a top of a skull, Golgotha, stood preeminent, foreshadowing the location where the Gospel Messiah would be sacrificed as a substitute for man’s sin.7

Golgotha / Skull Cap

Golgotha / Skull Cap

The Greek word in the Gospels used to describe the appearance of the mount referred to by its Hebrew name as “Golgotha” is the word “kranion” which translates to the English “cranium”.6 The cranium is the “skull pan” of the head, not the whole skull; it is the bony structure that encompasses and protects the higher cognitive and intuitive functions of the brain and includes the pineal and pituitary glands a little deeper under it. The rest of the skull protects the eyes (sight), mouth (taste), ears (sound), nose (smell) and brain stem (touch), all of which are associated with the more primitive functions of the natural senses.

Identifying the site of the crucifixion accurately has an important bearing on the allegorical and hidden meanings. The skull signifies decay from bodily death; but Jesus was not subject to decay. The hidden meaning of the crucifixion is about subjecting the egotistical will to a higher consciousness, which involves the brain functions just beneath the cranium.

Instead of the mount in the shape of a skullcap, the Mount of Olives was originally proposed as a site for the crucifixion because (1) it was on the East side of the Temple where the sin offering was made according to Jewish custom, and because (2) it has a geological structure on it that resembles a skull. The skull is quite impressive as a tourist attraction; but this is likely not the correct site. It does not match the description as a site from which the tearing of the curtain to the Holy of Holies could be observed, whereas the mount in the shape of a skull cap is also on the East side and the curtain was observable from it. The skull on the Mount of Olives is currently adjacent to a bus station for Arabs.

Skull on Mount of Olives

Skull on Mount of Olives

The Roman King Constantine’s mother picked an entirely different site on the West side of the Temple on which to build the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, now also a tourist attraction. Neither of these were the correct site that matches the exoteric or esoteric understanding of the crucifixion. This is definitely a case where accurate historical and geological accounting provides a solid material framework from which the esoteric  spiritual mystery can be launched with confidence.

Getting back to the binding of Isaac, at the last minute an angel of the Lord stopped Abraham from sacrificing Isaac and directed him to sacrifice, in his stead, a ram hiding in a nearby thicket. The parallel between this event and the passion of Christ is compelling. Isaac as the miracle son, the appointed one, voluntarily given up by his father, ascends a mountain carrying the burden of wooden logs that are intended to be instruments of his sacrifice. He does not resist his fate. But Isaac is not the Messiah, so God provides a substitute offering of an animal sacrifice.  Perhaps it is no coincidence that the Temple, where animal sacrifice was conducted according to Jewish scriptural law was built on Mount Moriah.

Scholars tell us that there were stories vaguely resembling the binding of Isaac that were told in earlier Semitic folklore; but only the account in Genesis foreshadows an event that would happen centuries later and have a profound effect on the world; such prophetic power and purpose was unknown to the Jewish scribes who first recorded the Genesis account no later than about 1500 BCE. They had no idea of the future significance of what they were faithfully recording.

Was the earlier folklore a quantum echo that manifested in the past? Such events have been shown by modern physicists to be possible; and parapsychologists have scientifically demonstrated that individuals, as well as masses of people, can sense things before they happen. Perhaps this echo provides evidence of the realm of timelessness in which many of us believe that we ultimately exist. Or perhaps some of these scholarly papers were biased by secret agendas or pre-conceived world views.

In contrast, perhaps the Tomb of the Patriarchs, which is said to contain the bones of Abraham and Isaac, attests to the historicity of this part of the Genesis.

Jacob's Well - 1869

Jacob’s Well – 1869

Jacob

Isaac had twin sons Jacob and Esau. Esau came out of the womb first and was pronounced the eldest, therefor eligible by natural birth rite to be Jacob’s heir. However, Jacob was told by God while the twins were still in the womb that “The elder shall serve the younger4. Esau was a hunter. Jacob stole Esau’s birth rite by tricking him into trading it for a meal after he came home hungry one day from an unsuccessful hunt. Jacob’s name means “supplanter” and he was quite a wheeler dealer, trying to steal a birth rite. This trait would get him in trouble someday when he would meet his wheeler dealer match – Uncle Laban – who tricks him into running his farm for 14 years to get the girl of his dreams. However, it was not his wheeling and dealing that qualified him to be heir of the promise, but divine appointment, which strikes for the fourth time in Genesis, revealing to him “And in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed”.5

We know that Jacob met his match once again after his 14-year bout with Laban, but this time contending with an angel of the Lord in a wrestling match of self-purification. He emerged as the winner with a changed disposition. His name then changed to Israel, meaning “he who prevails with God”. Jacob also had 12 sons who become the twelve tribes of Israel. One of his sons, Judah, would become the heir of the Abrahamic promise by appointment, instead of the oldest son Reuben who was the natural heir, making it 5 times in Genesis that the natural choice has been superseded by a spiritual one. We will continue with Judah as the next in succession to the Messianic lineage in Part IV of this series.

Meanwhile, we also note that Isaac’s 11th son, Joseph, would live a life that foreshadows the life of Messiah as Suffering Servant and Triumphant King, being rejected by his own family, and then redeeming them in an act of loving grace.

Jacob's Pillar

Jacob’s Pillar

Conclusion

The line of succession continued by a selection based on divine appointment instead of the natural birth rite of the first born. From Seth, to Shem, to Abraham, to Isaac, to Jacob, and finally to Judah; the promise in Messiah would spring forth one day from the Jewish people to bless all the nations of the earth. We see the beginnings of historical links to these events starting with Abraham and the Tomb of the Patriarchs. There are various geological links such as the identification of Mount Moriah and its juxtaposition to Golgotha. Also there are archeological links such as Jacobs Well and Jacob’s Pillar which we have not mentioned. Many of these links cannot as yet be considered 100% foolproof; there is always the remote possibility that some of these stories were contrived to be related to pre-existing geographical formations in order to give the impression that the stories were literal. However, as we shall discover in later parts of this series, there are prophecies written long before events that occurred in later historical periods that will foretell these carefully documented events with 100% certainty.

We have many posts about the allegorical and hidden meanings in various passages in the bible. I often wonder if they can all be tied together into a progressive revelation, rather than bits and pieces. That would be an interesting challenge. The succession of Messianic Prophecies are the historical framework from which the allegorical and hidden meanings of the bible would then progressively arise. They would tell the story of man’s decent in consciousness into the material world and gradual ascent in consciousness, culminating in Jesus preparing his followers who are born in the material world to be born anew in the spiritual world.

We know that the spiritual world is not just wishful thinking, because there is a historical legacy preserved in ink and archeology testifying to its existence. If we do not do this “about face” to look back at the historical legacy, then we will risk missing this important testimony. Without this testimony, how would we then know if our journeys along the esoteric paths are not a deception?

Even though it is necessary now to examine the historical legacy, we do not want to get permanently bogged down in scrutinizing it until it chokes us to death. It is an important pointer; but sooner or later we must push on toward what is being pointed to. Before we push on, though, there are a few more parts of this series to examine.

In closing, Abraham set out to the Promised Land from ancient Mesopotamia, often referred to as the “Cradle of Civilization”. From him and his decedents a civilization governed by a spiritual code was born that has survived to this very day. It has had a profound spiritual and ethical influence on most of the nations on this planet. Who does not know about the Ten Commandments, about taking a day off from the grind, or about the passion of the Messiah? The historical aspect does not only point towards individual transcendence, but to the transcendence of all of civilization, starting from its cradle, to its destined evolution prophetically foretold in the new world to come.

References

  1. “What the Rabbis Know about the Messiah, A study of Genealogy and Prophecy” by Rachmiel Frydland. http://www.amazon.com/What-Rabbis-Know-About-Messiah/dp/0917842030
  2. Genesis 12:1-3 and Genesis 22:18
  3. Genesis 21:12
  4. Genesis 25:23
  5. Genesis 28:14
  6. Golgotha Rediscovered http://www.golgotha.eu/
  7. Another theory suggests that this next mountain, what later became known as Golgotha, was the actual mountain that Abraham and Isaac ascended. The bible says that they journeyed to an area called Moriah and then ascended a mountain
Joshua Tilghman March 26, 2015 at 5:05 pm

Robert,

Another thought-provoking post. Your line that states the following has me intrigued:

“However, as we shall discover in later parts of this series, there are prophecies written long before events that occurred in later historical periods that will foretell these carefully documented events with 100% certainty.”

There is a lot of questions of course which naturally arise, but I know I need to wait for the more of the series before delving into them. One thing is for sure, you are balanced in your assessments between historical and purely allegorical possibilities, which I know you have given a lot of thought to, and which help lead us into your final thoughts and assessments with an open mind. I also enjoyed the questions you pose to us. Thus far every piece of evidence I have studied has left the historical aspect of the Old and New Testaments wanting, but that doesn’t mean I am entirely correct. One point you made could very well be true – you stated:

“Was the earlier folklore a quantum echo that manifested in the past? Such events have been shown by modern physicists to be possible; and parapsychologists have scientifically demonstrated that individuals, as well as masses of people, can sense things before they happen. Perhaps this echo provides evidence of the realm of timelessness in which many of us believe that we ultimately exist. Or perhaps some of these scholarly papers were biased by secret agendas or pre-conceived world views.”

Fascinating. Looking forward to more!

Phoenix March 26, 2015 at 9:51 pm

In your article titled “Understanding the Messianic Prophecies, Part III” you stated, “We have many posts about the allegorical and hidden meanings in various passages in the bible. I often wonder if they can all be tied together into a progressive revelation, rather than bits and pieces. That would be an interesting challenge. The succession of Messianic Prophecies are the historical framework from which the allegorical and hidden meanings of the bible would then progressively arise. They would tell the story of man’s decent in consciousness into the material world and gradual ascent in consciousness, culminating in Jesus preparing his followers who are born in the material world to be born anew in the spiritual world.”
A few years ago I wrote a book that does exactly that. A friend read your article and sent it to me. My book interprets all of the images and symbols of the prophecy Revelations. It explains exactly what you suggest it should mean in your article. My book also postulates that all of the parables of the New Testament and the book of Genesis correlate to the images and symbols of the prophecy.
If this is something you would like to learn more about you can read my blog at http://www.EnergyWorksOfWNY.com/blog or contact me at John@EnergyWorksOfWNY.com

John Naughton (AKA – Phoenix)

Robert March 27, 2015 at 7:56 pm

Phoenix (John),

Thank you. Wow. I am so glad someone like yourself with such experience and sensitivity to the spiritual has already forged a path in the direction that my article suggested. I can’t wait to read and digest it all. I noticed I could purchase the digital kindle edition on Amazon or make a voluntary donation on your website at http://www.EnergyWorksOfWNY.com/blog to obtain a pdf.

So far I love your interpretation of the seven churches, each a kingdom of darkness and light, all seven of which exist within us, and into which we descend into darkness and then ascend into light through a restorative (healing) process.

As one commenter, Brad, pointed out in part II, he believes that it is potentially frustrating to simultaneously embrace the exoteric (historical/literal) and the esoteric (allegorical, symbolic, metaphorical) interpretations. If I had to chose between the two, I would chose the esoteric. However, I have also found to my delight that grounding the esoteric on the foundation of the exoteric adds more depth and certainty to the esoteric.

Of course, when it comes to biblical passages in Ezekiel in the OT and Revelations in the NT that become highly phantasmagorical, I think these were intended to be more allegorical than historical. Yet, we should consider that these seven cities actually did exist at the time when the Book of Revelation was written, and the characteristics of people in those cities in historical records matches the characteristics to a large extent in the Book of Revelation. So there is a historical/literal component undergirding the allegorical meaning… at least in the opening chapters of this book. The later chapters that on the surface foretell a planetary cataclysm that resolves through divine intercession and providence, would seem to many to be less likely to be meant as predictions of the future. To other people it seems more likely to be predictive. especially to those who are more inclined to accept an element of divine intercession and providence, and who are also able to resolve the paradoxical issue of why a higher power would allow such horrible suffering,

I don’t side with either group at this point. I don’t want to agree with the interpretation of damning two thirds of the planet’s population to eternal torment or eternal annihilation. But I do tend to think that the event referred to in the OT as Jacob’s trouble, involving the nation of Israel, is likely to literally occur in some fashion, and is already starting.

What I believe different than many other people is this: none of these literal events are meant to exclude the allegorical meaning, which are more important, and object lessons that will serve mankind long after the literal events, if they do occur, have taken place.

I believe the literal serves as an object lesson written into our lives and history to highlight and validate the allegorical, so we would know that the particular allegorical meanings that it undergirds are the ones that lead us from darkness to light, unlike 2001 other allegories that lead in just as many divergent directions.

So it helps to have a mental map of the allegorical meanings, but it would do no good if we didn’t come to understand and experience them from deep within ourselves. That is why our personal revelation of the allegorical is so important. The goal of the New Covenant is expressed in the OT as thus “I (the divine plan of action) will put my Torah(the divine way of light) into your hearts.”

Thank you for introducing us to your book and website. I think our meeting you is not a coincidence.

Blessings,
Robert

Megan Sullivan March 26, 2015 at 10:27 pm

So maybe I am just thinking too simple here, or maybe I am just too tired to comprehend every single word, but what if these stories were actually just real accounts with no secret meanings or messages? Regardless of my “religious” background, I sometimes think TOO much thought can be put into things. I understand that there are so many messages and concepts that add up and make sense but something inside keeps telling me that every one of these stories actually occurred. The Parables of Jesus were used to teach lessons. We keep blogs, journals, diaries, etc… Not for hidden messages but so that we can express what is going on in the world around us. I look at the Bible as the original memoir. I’m sure if we all shared private stories there would be creepy, similar connections as well.

Needless to say this post is great and really left me thinking……

Robert March 28, 2015 at 12:31 am

Megan,

I appreciate your interest in my post, in which I have been attempting to provide support for the esoteric aspects of enlightenment using a historical/partly-literal undergirding. I think I can help answer your questioning of the allegorical by “about-facing” my “about face” and attempting to show how the allegorical is critically important, in fact, it is the diamond in the historical setting, the ultimate lesson we are supposed to learn from it all.

Suppose we go through a literal end times and are either raptured or survive the great tribulation. What are we supposed to do after that? We will have spent our earthy life as used car salesmen, plumbers, doctors, firemen, CEOs, housewives, political rivals, philosophers, teachers, theologians, and farmers. Now what?

One Christian hymn suggests that we will sit around the throne of God and sing God’s praises, continuously, for a thousand years. If I were an anthropomorphic deity on the throne, I would tell my children “Enough devotion already. You had me at hello. Grow up and get a life.” I don’t mean to be sacrilegious here. I do mean to draw attention to the fact that most of us including myself don’t really know what we are going to be doing in the afterlife or the new world to come. We try to fill in this mystery with images of honorable things we are familiar with, but this is just our way of trying to understand what we cannot understand yet, to hope in the things to come through our literal images which are both beautiful and awkward. It is like a 5-year old girl playing house, imagining that she will one day grow up, fall in love, and have a family. She will not really understand what it means to love, and be loved by, her husband until that actually happens. But for now she is content to understand what she can. Playing house is a really good activity for a very young girl. But she will grow up and get a life. The activity of playing house will not have been in vain. It was useful to establish interest in being domestic. It is not on the level of her actual future. But it suffices for now. Should we frown on house playing because it does not include all the dimensions of her future? Even if she becomes a corporate CEO, the house playing will have prepared her for the next levels.

Let’s look at the “Binding of Isaac” again. It was an important story told over and over in ancient Jewish culture. It was useful to teach that the one and only God, the God of Abraham, desired people to deal differently with their children than the barbaric customs of more primitive cultures which sacrificed some of their children to obtain favor from their local deities in the coming harvest. This God, the God of Abraham provided a substitute. This would be enough of a moral for one story. But the story had more meaning, not even known to those who first recorded it. It was prophetic, and tied into the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross so that his followers could become born in the spirit. It could have been just a story or it could have been literal.

I lean toward thinking it was literal because Abraham and Isaac were real people. We don’t have census records from those ancient days to verify that. But we do have the Tomb of the Patriarchs on the site where their bones were buried, as historical verification. So assume the Binding of Isaac really happened, as I seem to think, then is that all there is to it, that it was literal? No, it also pointed to Jesus, the foretold Emmanuel (God with us) in the OT, and Jesus in turn pointed to the mystery of our unity with the divine nature, God dwelling within us, not just with us.

Let us now assume that Jesus was literal too. Why not? We have 200 Messianic prophecies written a least a millennia before he lived, triangulating when he would show up, what he would do, how he would be treated, what effect he would have on individuals and the world at large. So he did actually atone for the sins of the world. Now what? We are back to marchin’ through the pearly gates and then what? OK, we get to see our old friends there and we are all reunited, and I am going to have three dogs and two cats waiting there for me despite the official word from the old Vatican (which was recently overturned). And my wife will be there and her ex…oh dear how are we going to deal with this? I think the answer to this is that wherever we are going, we are going to have to be changed inside to appreciate it. It is going to take a little more than throwing Satan into the pit of fire for me to get along with my wife’s ex. This is where the mystery comes into play. I’m going to need some hidden meanings to deal with this. I’m going to have to grow up a lot more than what I can learn from history and literal meanings.

I have found that mediation helps to propel me to become my better ideal. Silent meditation is a hidden technique. It was so hidden many of us have had to experience it by trying on the customs of other religions to find it. But when we found it, we also began to recognize it in the bible scriptures. Sort of like the missing ingredient that makes everything work together for good. I don’t know why we had to travel so far to find something that was hidden in plain sight in our own backyard. Some groups of early Christians were aware of all this, but were censored by Constantine. I believe the customs and teachings of the Church that we inherited from Constantine have conditioned us to become blind to the so-called hidden interpretations. We come across passages in scripture that are difficult to understand, something seems out of place or off, and instead of being given the answer that would bring true harmony, we are given an explanation that fits into the agenda of the political power church. One day if we have been blessed to become somewhat deconditioned, we wake up and understand “Wait a minute! It doesn’t mean that. It means this. Ahah!” And suddenly the feeling of having square pegs hammered into round holes goes way.

Well, I’ve rambled quite a bit. Hopefully some of this will help.

Blessings,
Robert

Phoenix March 27, 2015 at 6:28 am

The title of my book is Revelations – Your Role In God’s Plan To Replace Darkness With Light – It gives a very insightful explanation of the spirit and soul’s human experience. It will explain forgiveness as a 2 part process called forgive and live with love – both forgiveness and living with love are processes of creation. It is all about the Law of creation and all of its processes. this prophecy links together all of the important elements of all traditional religious and spiritual beliefs in one set of processes. It is a must read for the avid seeker of spiritual truths.
Phoenix

Megan Sullivan March 27, 2015 at 11:41 am

Thanks, I will check it out! 🙂

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