Read: Thief in the Night


THIEF IN THE NIGHT
By William Sears
The Case of the Missing Millenium
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This etext is based on:
"Thief in the Night" by William Sears

Published by George Ronald 46 High Street, Kidlington, Oxford, England
All Rights Reserved
Eighteenth reprint 1992
ISBN 0 85398 096 9 (cased)
ISBN 0 85398 008 X (paper)
Availability of this etext in no way modifies the copyright status of the above publication.
This etext is freely available through anonymous internet file-sharing.
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THIEF IN THE NIGHT
The Problem. In the first half of the nineteenth century there was world-wide and fervent expectation that during the 1840's the return of Christ would take place. The story made the headlines and even reached the Congress of the United States. From China and the Middle East to Europe and America, men of conflicting ideas shared in the expectancy. Scoffers were many but the enthusiasm was tremendous, and all agreed on the time. Why? And what became of the story? Did anything happen or was it all a dream?
The Solution. Patiently, and with exemplary thoroughness, William Sears set out to solve this mystery. In Thief in the Night he presents his fully detailed "conduct of the case" in an easy style which enthuses the reader with the excitement of the chase. The solution to which all the clues lead comes as a tremendous challenge.
This is a mystery story with a difference: the mystery is a real one, and of vital importance to every human being. The author presents the evidence in The Case of the Missing Millenium in such a way that you can solve it for yourself.
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CONTENTS
PART ONE: The Unsolved Problem . . . 1
PART TWO: The Solution . . . . . . 83
PART THREE: The Proof . . . . . . 107
PART FOUR: Signs in the Heavens . . . 178
PART FIVE: The Final Evidence . . . . 200
PART SIX: The Challenge . . . . . 251
<pix>
FOREWARD
Passengers Aboard Venus Rocket
Arrive London Airport Tonight
I admit that the headline intrigued me. Quickly I glanced at the
front pages of two other newspapers.
Science Proves Soul Immortal
Continent of Atlantis Rises in Sea Off Portugal
I looked across the television news desk at the editor.
'Anything else?' He pointed.
medical discovery ends all disease
Hitler found alive in Vienna
I nodded. 'It's the end of the world, all right.' He handed me
the magazine in which these headlines were printed. 'Take it
along and read it.' I went back to my desk in the Sports
Department, opened the magazine, and began to study it carefully.
It was a shot in the arm. Only this morning I had felt like a
detective who was trying to solve a crime one hundred years after
the deed had been committed. Until this moment, the trail had been
very cold. At least this article encouraged me to go on with my
search. Apparently thousands of people were still as keenly
interested in solving the mystery as I was, even after more than
a century.
<px>
I took a folder out of my filing cabinet and with a soft black
pencil wrote on it: The Strange Case of the Missing Millenium.
The magazine article consisted of sample headlines from newspapers
all over the country. Editors had been asked to submit to the
magazine some imaginary headlines, headlines which, the editor
felt, would be capable of arousing the greatest possible
excitement. They had chosen some dandies:
Scholars Prove Shakespeare Really Marlowe
No More Winter Ever
Holy Grail Found in Wales
Conan Doyle Contacts Earth
Santa Claus No Myth
I chuckled. The morning that all these headlines were printed
would certainly be a day to run for the hills. There was one
particular effort that instantly gripped my attention. According
to these hard-boiled newspapermen, this headline, if authentic,
would be the most electrifying of all. This one, they said, would
really rock the world back on its heels. It consisted of only two
words:
CHRIST RETURNS
I had been working on just such a news story for two years. I
had accidentally come upon what I had considered to be an amusing
and puzzling mystery, and had already spent two years trying to
solve it. It all began harmlessly enough when someone handed me
a book written by a namesake of mine, Clara Endicott Sears. No
relative. At least so they told me around Searsport and Vanceborro
in Maine. If I had known what lay ahead, I might have burned the
book right then and there.
<pxi>
I was working a night-wire for the United Press at the time, so I
had a few hours in which to sit and think. In Clara's book I found
an entertaining and fascinating story about the people who had
eagerly awaited the return of Christ during the nineteenth century.
My big surprise came when I learned that magazines and newspapers
in that day had actually printed stories about this spectacular
event. Some were told in jest, some in ridicule, and some with
deadly seriousness. In the press and on the streets, you could
savour every emotion:
CHRIST--COMING OR NOT?
END OF THE WORLD TOMORROW
JESUS AT THE DOOR
TERRIFYING COMET ALARMS EARTH
THE ADVENT: TRUTH OR HOAX?
Everyone enjoys a good suspense story, especially the kind of
thrill implied in the threatening words: 'The end of the world!'
The prophets of doom had run the gamut, from the literalist who
said, 'The world will come to an end on Thursday, November 23rd at
seven p.m. beginning in the Ohio valley and spreading north through
Michigan', to the earnest student of Scripture who warned that 'in
the day the stars shall fall from heaven and the earth be removed
from her place.' There is no greater suspense story than this.
It is filled with terror and magic, and it had been told with
fantastic fervour in the 1840s. Excited reports spread through
the United States, Britain, Canada, Europe, Asia, even to Africa
and Australia. People throughout those regions were strongly
warned to prepare for the sudden appearance of Christ, the results
of whose 'coming'
<pxii>
promised to be either delightful or disastrous, depending on the
teller. The vast majority of people went on their way with
tolerant, amused smiles. They pitied the victims of such
fanaticism. Many, however, found it a time fraught with fear and
panic. In pamphlets, on the platform, in the pulpits, and in the
press, Bible scholars called upon a non-listening, uninterested
world to repent. 'Now is the hour!' they threatened. Many
believed them. Whole families sold their homes and possessions.
Others cashed in their bank accounts and gave away their worldly
goods to the unbelieving. Some prepared special ascension robes.
Tradition states that some went up into the hills on a fatal,
chosen day to await the descent of Christ upon a cloud, only to be
greeted by a downpour of rain. I examined actual legal records
in which some of the zealous deeded their property over to the
coming Christ. An entire village was prepared for His coming. It
was called Heaven (Paradise), and was established as His American
residence. A passionate madness seized people in widely separated
sections of the Christian world at that time. Why? Why did they
all expect Christ? Why at that particular time? It was a
puzzling, first-class mystery story. It was as though a
'millennial' virus had suddenly infected people in five continents.
As I read about the colourful, amusing, and sometimes shocking
things that happened in these widely scattered parts of the world,
I became curious, and that curiosity was the beginning of this
volume.
I can't honestly whether it was in the Library, the Museum, or
by the Cave of Elijah on Mount Carmel that I suddenly found myself
engrossed in a fascinating full-time
<pxiii>
study. The growth of interest had been gradual, but eventually I
was determined to find out whether the return of Christ was a myth,
a mistake, or the greatest unsolved mystery of our age. One day
in the reference room of one of the endless libraries I haunted
during this period, I experienced a sudden, unique thrill, the sort
the archeologist must feel when his pick strikes a wall and he sees
it crumble before his eyes, revealing an ancient, exciting new
world, at the very moment he was about to abandon his search. I
discovered I was not on a wild-goose chase! Among those dusty
library shelves i found a fellow-detective, and in his company the
excitement of the chase began all over again. Professor E. G.
Browne of Pembroke College, Cambridge, had broken the ground before
me. He, too, apparently had been fascinated by the same story and
had already unravelled a part of it. He wrote likening it to the
story of Christ:
'I feel it my duty, as well as pleasure . . . to bring the matter
to the notice of my countrymen. . . .' [F1]
Later I traced Browne's searching steps in the Holy Land; I read
the letter in his own handwriting in which he made plans to come
to Israel to meet this great Figure. He admitted that he would not
rest until he had settled the matter in his own mind. [F2] I
found that a contemporary of Browne's, the renowned Jowett of
Balliol College, Oxford, had echoed this feeling. He, too, had
chanced upon the story that now lay open before me. He wrote:
'It is too great and too near for this generation to comprehend.
The future alone can reveal its import.' [F3] Both Professors
Browne and Jowett associated their discovery
<pxiv>
with the return of Christ They both expressed keen interest in the
relevance and import of the story. Now, after several years of
careful research and study, I, too, had arrived at this same
conclusion. I decided to take up the story where they had left it
and to follow it to its end. The following chapters are the
record of my seven years of search; they offer my solution to this
intriguing century-old mystery. They suggest that our modern
newspapermen are one hundred years too late in wishing that they
were able to print the dramatic headline:
CHRIST RETURNS
In fact, our press has been scooped by over a century. You will
find here considerable evidence to show that when the newspapers
and publications of the 1840s printed their stories headed, Return
of Christ Expected, they were printing not fancy, but fact, even
though they were unaware of the nature of the story at the time,
and were totally unable to substantiate its truth in that hour.
If what I have uncovered is the truth, then (according to the
testimony of the hard-boiled newspaper editors of the West) it is
the most shocking and dramatic story that anyone could possibly
tell in print. But will anyone believe me? You are now starting
where I started a few years ago on The Strange Case of the Missing
Millenium.
William Sears.
1. [E. G. Browne, quoted preface to "The Chosen Highway", Lady
Bloomfield, 1940, pp. v-vi.]
2. [E. G. Browne, letter to Mirza 'Ali 'Aka Shirazi, from
Cambridge University, April 9th, 1889.]
3. [Baha'i World, The, Vol. xii, p. 625.]
PART ONE
The Unsolved Problem
I. Once to Every Man and Nation
My first step was to investigate that period in history between
the years 1830 and 1850. It was a time of strange and troublesome
events. Men stared in wonder and uneasiness at the great halo that
circled the sun. They looked up fearfully at the night sky where
a giant comet with a fiery tale rushed through the darkness. Some
said that the comet was racing toward mankind bringing the 'end of
the world'. An interesting account of this period reads:
'A converted Jew in Palestine, Joseph Wolff, predicted the
Advent (of Christ) for 1847. Harriet Livermore, an eloquent and
arresting woman of the time, who figures in Whittier's Snowbound,
preached the Second Coming everywhere, including the House of
Representatives at Washington, where crowds gathered to hear her.
Lady Hester Stanhope, a valiant madwoman, niece of William Pitt,
who turned her back on London and power and fashion, made her
home in Lebanon among the Arabs and Druses, in order to be ready
and near to the scene of the Advent. She kept, it was reported,
two white Arab steeds in her stable, one for the Messiah, one for
herself!' [F1]
Another writer stated:
'There is a little mosque, we are told, in the Holy Land,
where a priest presides, keeping ready the shoes that the Messiah
is to wear when he comes to Jerusalem.'[F2]
It was said of those days:
'So real was the hope of the Advent, people were actually
taking almost violent measures for it. It was the nineteenth
century, yet the shooting stars of the year 1833, and the
perihelia, or halo-like rings, around the sun in 1843, were
objects of the most awesome speculation and discussion. And the
tail of the great comet of 1843 measured 108 million miles in
length.... Whole families were engaged in making shrouds against
that fateful day.'[F3]
Some of the more zealous believers, it is said, donned their
'ascension robes' and prepared to await Christ's descent upon the
clouds of heaven. Their more skeptical, and practical, but
equally uninformed neighbors pointed out that clouds did not
descend, but were vapors that rose up from the earth. Other
scholars quoted St. Augustine who had written an entire volume
proving that there could not be anyone living on the other side of
the earth because it would then be impossible for such people to
see Christ when He came down in the clouds on the day of His
return. Mathematicians asked: 'Which way is down? Furthermore,
they said, taking into consideration the curvature of the earth,
there would have to be thousands and thousands of 'solo' flights
to the earth by Christ before all humanity would be able to see His
descent. They poked fun at the literalists in many other ways,
saying that obviously this coming down on the clouds was
symbolical. Still others suggested that perhaps these clouds were
not a chariot that Christ rode from heaven, but a mist that arose
from earth to obscure man's vision. However, in spite of
skepticism and doubt, designers created special 'ascension robes'
in various styles for the great coming event, especially for those
who wished to be in fashion
P3
on that day. It is said that they were displayed in some of the
shop windows in the Eastern parts of the United States. Although
this matter of ascension robes has been hotly denied in many
quarters, I frequently encountered the story. The following
letter, one among many, makes this point quite evident. The letter
was written by Ida M. Wing to Clara Endicott Sears on August 21st,
1921. It reads: 'I have heard my mother tell that when she was
a girl she remembers that her mother made a white robe, put her
house in order, put lamps in the windows and sat up all night
waiting for the end of the world to come.'[F4] When the great
comet of 1843 streaked across the heavens, people pointed at it
with alarm, saying: 'It is now the hour for Christ's return!'
In that same year, the poet James Russell Lowell wrote:
'Once to every man and nation comes the moment
to decide, Some great cause, God's new Messiah. ...'[F5]
The great poet Lamartine, in a flood of praise, asked of God: Is
this not the time for you to reveal yourself? On May 24th, 1844,
in Washington D.C., Mr. Samuel F. B. Morse, the inventor of the
telegraph, stepped to the keyboard of his new instrument. He was
about to send the first official telegram in history flashing along
the wires from Washington to Baltimore. The press had heralded
this day as a modern miracle. By this invention, it was said, the
world would be united physically in the twinkling of an eye. These
lightning-like impulses leaping along the wires would shrink the
size of the planet, they said. In fact, when Congress
appropriated $40,000 for Morse to continue his work, he was told
that now he could send his "lightnings" to the world. Thus his
invention was associated
P4
with the words in the Book of Job, although at the time it was said
partly in jest. Students of Scripture asked: 'Is this not still
another proof that 1844 is indeed the hour for the appearance of
Christ? Is it not written in the Book of Job that only God can
send 'lightnings that may go and say unto thee here we are!' [F6]
Does it not mean that Christ is here? Does not this same Job
promise:
'For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand
at the latter day upon the earth.'[F7]
Samuel Morse put his hand to the keyboard of the telegraph and
tapped out that first formal message. The words were taken from
the Book of Numbers:
'What hath God wrought!'[F8]
I was curious about that message of Morse in 1844. What had God
wrought in that day, if anything besides the telegraph? Was there
a hidden story? Was it possible to find it? At least this was a
beginning. About this time I came upon the account of a lecture
given by the British scientist, Sir Lawrence Bragg, in Carnegie
Hall, New York. Sir Lawrence drew a graph of the scientific
achievements of man until the period around 1844. He showed that
man's advancement up until that time had been very slow, so slow,
indeed, that the line of the graph up to 1844 was almost
horizontal. Subsequently, however, and immediately, the line of
the graph went almost directly upwards, and has continued to climb
ever since. This did interest me. Why? What had caused this new
spirit of energy and creation in the world following the year 1844?
Why had it begun in that particular period?
<p5>
Had some historical event taken place in 1844 which could account
for this new upsurge of knowledge and invention? Was there some
happening which the historians had overlooked, or neglected? Did
it have anything to do with the coming of the Messiah, the
generally talked about return of Christ in that very year? These
were questions to which I now eagerly wanted the answer. The Case
of the Missing Millenium was at last becoming interesting. I
decided to make a thorough check on the exact year of Morse's 1844
message.
2. The Strange Case of the Missing Millenium
I soon discovered that the year 1844 figured more prominently in
the calculations of millennial Bible scholars than any other year.
Many of these students of Scripture, working independently of each
other in separate continents, arrived at almost the identically
same time for the return of Christ. It was the period 1843-5.
Wolff in Asia, Edward Irving in England, Mason in Scotland, Davis
in South Carolina, William Miller in Pennsylvania, Leonard H.
Kelber in Germany, and many others in various parts of the world
believed that this was indeed the 'time of the end'.[F1] These
Bible scholars did not all agree on the exact date, nor did they
all explain the prophecies in a like manner. However, it was said
of them: '...In America, Europe, and Asia the clear message
of the ending of the prophetic time in 1844 was proclaimed with
power by many voices.'[F2]
Andrew Jackson Davis delivered 157 lectures in New York in 1845.
Edgar Allen Poe attended regularly, and heard
<p6>
Davis foretell the time when travel advertisements would read,
'Through to California in four days!' Davis also foretold the
future speed of air travel. He repeatedly lauded the wonder of the
new age that was coming, calling it a material heaven that was a
preparation for the spiritual kingdom. He said, 'A glorious period
is before mankind. ...Fall in love with the new dispensation.'[F3]
William Miller began lecturing in 1831 concerning the return of
Christ. He declared that he couldn't help himself, that a voice
kept urging him on, saying, 'Go tell the world.' In 1832, he wrote:
'The evidence flows from every quarter...Behold the Saviour
comes!'[F4] Forman, in his Story of Prophecy says, 'The causes
for religious stirrings were at that period in the air and
ubiquitous'.[F5] He points out that Emerson attended a convention
on Universal Reform and himself commented on the wide variety of
those present, from madmen to philosophers. In Emerson's own
words, they were 'madmen, madwomen, men with beards, Dunkers,
Uggletonians, Come-Outers, Groaners, Agrarians, Seventh-Day
Baptists, Quakers, Abolitionists, Calvinists, Unitarians and
Philosophers.'[F6] No wonder Clara Endicott Sears subtitled her
book, A Strange Bit of History. Just as 1844 approached, a
clergyman of the Church of England, Mourant Brock, made the
following statement: 'It is not merely in Great Britain that
the expectation of the near return of the Redeemer is
entertained, and the voice of warning raised, but also in
America, India, and on the continent of Europe. In America about
three hundred ministers of the Word are thus preaching this
gospel of the kingdom; whilst in this country, about seven
hundred of the Church of England are raising the same cry.'[F7]
I realized that with over a thousand clergymen in two
<p7>
countries alone preaching the return of Christ at that period, The
Case of the Missing Millenium became a story well worth
investigating further. W. A. Spicer, in Our Day in the Light of
Prophecy, wrote: 'Here and there students of the Word saw
that the 2300 year period of Daniel viii. 14, as explained in the
ninth chapter, would end soon...and looked to the year 1844 as
the time when the judgement would come.'
Speaking of this unique convergence of prophecies upon the year
1844, Spicer wrote:
'Witnesses were raised up in Europe, in Holland, Germany,
Russia, and the Scandanavian countries. Joseph Wolff, the
missionary to the Levant, preached in Greece, Palestine, Turkey,
Afghanistan, and other regions, the coming of the judgement
hour.'
The millennial zeal reached its climax in the year 1844. I
wanted to know exactly why. What had led all these people to the
same year?
I found the answer. This date in history had been chosen
primarily because of three specific promises made by Christ Himself
to His disciples. He gave three promises, saying that when these
three things came to pass, He (Christ) would return to earth. The
promises are as follows:
1. His Gospel would be preached everywhere on earth. 2. The
'times of the Gentiles' would be fulfilled, and the Jews would
return to Israel (Palestine). 3. All mankind would see the
'abomination of desolation' foretold by Daniel the Prophet.
My next step, therefore, was to take up these three promises in
order, and to follow this clue to its conclusion.
<p8>
My plan was simple. I would (1) find each promise made by Christ
in the Scriptures, (2) decide exactly what Christ had promised to
His disciples, (3) determine if these three prophesies had actually
been fulfilled, and (4) if they had been fulfilled, just when and
how. I was no longer dealing with theory: I now had something
specific to consider.
3. The First Promise
The first promise of Christ was easy to find. He made it to His
disciples in direct reply to their questions. They asked Him:
'Tell us, when shall these things be? And what shall be the
sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?'[F1]
This verse is found in the twenty-fourth chapter of Matthew.
Christ then gave His first promise to His disciples in the
following words:
'But he that shall endure until the end, the same shall be
saved. And this gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached in all
the world for a witness ... then shall the end come.'[F2]
This was clear enough. The end would come, and Christ would
return, when His Gospel was preached throughout the world. My
next step was to discover when the Gospel of Christ was considered
to have been preached throughout the world. A study of the spread
of Christianity made by scholars of the 1840's, convinced them that
the message of Christ had, by their day, already encircled the
globe. The Gospel was being taught in all the continents. By 1844
it was being taught even in the interior of Africa, not by solitary
missionaries, but on an
<p9>
organized scale. A commercial history of East Africa states:
'Christian missions began their activities amongst the African
people in 1844.'[F3] Dr. D. L. Leonard, historian of the Mission
movement, in his A Hundred Years of Missions, says of the spread
of the Word of Christ and His Gospel: '... for the first time since
the apostolic period, (there) occurred an outburst of general
missionary zeal and activity.' He is speaking of the last years
of the eighteenth century, leading to the nineteenth century, to
1844, and beyond. 'Beginning in Great Britain, it soon spread to
the Continent and across the Atlantic. It was no mere push of
fervour, but a mighty tide set in, which from that day to this has
been steadily rising and spreading.' Another account states: 'In
1804 the British and Foreign Bible Society was organised. Students
of the prophetic word felt at the time that these agencies were
coming in fulfillment of the prophecy.'[F4] This was a direct
reference to the prophesy of Christ that He would return when His
gospel was preached everywhere in the world. Before 1804, the
Bible had already been printed and circulated in fifty languages.
In 1816 the American Bible Society was formed. George Storrs in
the newspaper, Midnight Cry, on May 4th, 1843, stated that these
two societies (British and American) with their innumerable
branches were spreading the Gospel of Christ in every part of the
world. G. S. Faber in Eight Dissertations, which was completed
in the very year of greatest prophetic fervour, 1844, declares:
'The stupendous endeavours of one gigantic community to convey the
Scriptures in every language to every part of the globe may well
deserve to be considered as an eminent sign even of these eventful
times. Unless I be much mistaken, such <p10>
endeavours are preparatory to the final grand diffusion of
Christianity, which is the theme of so many inspired prophets, and
which cannot be far distant in the present day.' M. H. Goyer
writes in his book on prophetic fulfillment: 'The British and
Foreign Bible Society (for one example) has issued, since its
foundation in 1804, over 421 million copies of the Scriptures, in
practically every country known throughout the globe.' In Our Day
in the Light of Prophecy, Spicer wrote that the Gospel in his day
had been spread 'to ninety-five per cent. of the inhabitants of
the earth.' He added: 'It was in 1842 that five treaty-ports in
China were open to commerce and to missions--advance steps in the
opening of all China to the Gospel. In 1844 Turkey was prevailed
upon to recognise the right of the Moslems to become Christians,
reversing all Moslem tradition. In 1844 Alan Gardiner established
the South American Mission. In 1842 Livingstone's determination
was formed to open the African interior.' Dr. A. T. Pierson in
Modern Mission Century wrote: 'India, Siam, Burma, China, Japan,
Turkey, Africa, Mexico, South America ... were successively and
successfully entered. Within five years, from 1853 to 1858, new
facilities were given to the entrance and occupation of seven
different countries, together embracing half the world's
population.' There were many additional references which made it
clear that the Gospel of Christ, and its teachers, had entered
every continent by the year 1844, spreading the Word of Jesus the
Christ throughout the world. This was considered by the students
of Scripture to be in exact fulfillment of the words of Christ
given in Mark:
'And the gospel must first be published among all
nations.'[F5]
<p11>
In this same chapter, Christ warns that when this takes place:
'Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time
is.'[F6]
When this Gospel is published in all nations, Christ again
promises:
'... then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds
with great power and glory.'[F7]
The millennial scholars of the 1840's felt that Christ's first
promise had been fulfilled. They felt it had been clearly
demonstrated that the Gospel of Christ had been 'preached in all
the world for a witness' and, therefore, the hour for His coming
must now be at hand. I was convinced myself that the first
promise of Christ had indeed been fulfilled by the year 1844.
There could be no doubt of this. It was an interesting beginning.
4. The Second Promise
The second promise of Christ was just as easy to find. It was
in the twenty-first chapter of Luke. This promise was also made
by Christ in reply to a direct question asked by His disciples.
They asked Him:
'... When shall these things be? and what sign will there
be when these things shall come to pass?'[F1]
Christ warned them of false prophets in that day, who would bear
His name, then He gave them His second promise by which they could
be sure of His own return. He said:
'And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall
<p12>
be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be
trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be
fulfilled ... And then shall they see the Son of man coming in
a cloud with power and great glory.'[F2]
The meaning of the term 'times of the Gentiles' was familiar and
clear to Scriptural scholars. I learned that it denoted that
period of time during which Jerusalem would be held in the power
of aliens, non-Jews (or Gentiles), and during which the Jews
themselves would be excluded from their homeland. In plain words,
Christ promised that He would return to earth when the Jews came
back to their homeland following their period of banishment. Thus,
in the hour of their return, the 'times of the Gentiles' would be
fulfilled. I made a careful study of Christ's second promise.
The first part of it said: 'They shall be led away captive into all
nations.' I found that within forty years of His crucifixion, this
part of His promise began its fulfillment. Jerusalem was
destroyed by the Roman Titus, in A.D. 70, and the Jews were
scattered and exiled. The Jews tried to regain their freedom in
A.D. 132 under Bar Cochba, but they were crushed by the armies of
the Roman Emperor Hadrian. This time Jerusalem was devastated even
more completely than it had been by Titus. The site of the city
was ploughed under and a new city, named in honour of Hadrian, was
built upon the ruins. The Jews were banished. Many of them,
exactly as had been foretold by Christ, fell 'by the edge of the
sword.' They fled, scattered, and were ''led away captive into all
nations.' It was permissible for colonists to enter Jerusalem,
but it was a crime punishable by death for a Jew to enter. The
Romans were the first aliens (Gentiles) after the time of Christ
to tread down the holy city of Jerusalem. The next
<p13>
aliens to seize and hold it captive were the Muslims. They
conquered Jerusalem in A.D. 637 and upon the foundation of the
Temple of Solomon, they raised the Mosque of Omar. During their
period of occupation, Jews were largely excluded from their
homeland, the few remaining being proscribed. The restriction
came to end in the year 1844. Remarkable! The famous Irish
scholar and author, George Townshend writes, '... the strict
exclusion of the Jews from their own land enforced by the Muslims
for some twelve centuries was at last relaxed by the Edict of
Toleration and the "times of the Gentiles" were fulfilled.'[F3]
Townshend further points out that this document, the Edict of
Toleration, was issued by the governing authorities in the year
1844. Worth Smith also mentions this Edict in his Miracle of the
Ages. He points out: 'In the year of A.D. 1844 ... the (Muslims)
under the leadership of Turkey were compelled by the Western
Powers, notably England, to grant religious toleration to all
(nations) within their borders.' This included the Holy Land,
Palestine. I was able to secure and study copies of the original
letters and documents which led to the signing of the so-called
Edict of Toleration in 1844. the Turkish Government agreed to
permit religious freedom and signed the document which guaranteed
that 'The Sublime Porte (Constantinople) engages to take effectual
measures to prevent henceforward' any further religious
intolerance. For the first time in twelve hundred years the Jews
were guaranteed the right to return to Israel in freedom and
security. The date on this document was March 21st, 1844.
Bickersteth in A Practical Guide to the Prophecies, wrote: 'In a
letter from Tangiers, date June 20th, 1844, given in the public
journals, speaking of the difficulties besetting the kingdom of
Morocco, it is stated: "It seems that the Moors
<p14>
(Muslims) have always had forebodings of this year. For a long
time they have been exhorting each other to beware of 1260 (1844)
which according to our reckoning is the present year".' These
millennial scholars found strong confirmation in the New Testament
itself that 1844 was the year intended by Christ for the
fulfillment of His second promise concerning the 'times of the
Gentiles.' This confirmation came from the Book of Revelation. In
chapter eleven it states:
'And the Holy City (Jerusalem) shall they tread under foot for
forty and two months.' Thus, for the first time in the
Scriptures, the exact duration of the 'times of the Gentiles' is
given. It will be for forty-two months. In the next verse of
Revelation this period of time is given in yet another way. It is
said that it will last for '1260 days.' Bible scholars insisted
that the end of this period of forty-two months or 1260 days was
identical with the year 1844. This fascinated me, so I set down
their process of reasoning. They arrived at this conclusion by the
following deductions:
1. In the study of biblical prophecy, the period of time called
a 'day' becomes a 'year' when calculating the passing of time:
2. This theory was supported by the following prophesies. A.
Numbers xiv.34. 'Even forty days, each day for a year.' B.
Ezekiel iv.6. 'I have appointed thee each day for a year.'
There was general agreement on this formula. In the compilation
The Story of Prophecy by Henry James Forman, I found the following:
'... Biblical prophecy
<p15>
students, after a scrutiny of the entire problem of Bible
chronology, deduce the following conclusions as virtually
axiomatic--namely, that (1) In symbolic prophecy a day is the
symbol for a year...' On this same subject, F. Hudgings in his
Zionism in Prophecy writes: 'A solar year, of course, contains a
fraction over 365 days, but in computing 'symbolic time' as it is
set forth in the Scripture, students of prophecy find that the
writers simply divided the year into 12 months of 30 days each.
In other words, a time or a year in Scriptural symbology refers to
360 solar years--each day representing a year.' Further study
revealed that it was not such an arbitrary choice on the part of
these students of Scripture as might at first appear. Their
measuring rod was taken from the first book of the Bible, Genesis.
The axiom of 360 days for a year or a time was derived from the
following verses:
1. Genesis vii.11--The waters of the flood came on the 17th day
of the second month. 2. Genesis viii.4--The waters abated and
ceased on the 17th day of the seventh month. 3. Genesis
vii.24:--The waters prevailed upon the earth 150 days.
From the 17th day of the second month to the 17th day of the
seventh month was exactly five months. These five months took
exactly 150 days. Therefore, they were five months of 30 days each.
This, the scholars agreed, would make a year of 360 days, or 12
months of 30 days. Therefore, a day in calculating prophecy was
a year of 360 days. By using this accepted formula of a day for
a year, the scholars calculated that the Gentiles would tread the
Holy City
<p16>
(Jerusalem) under foot for 1260 years. Therefore, the prophecy
from Revelation could now be read:
'And the Holy City (Jerusalem) shall they tread under foot for
1260 years.'
According to the second promise of Christ, these Gentiles
(Romans-Muslims) would tread the city underfoot until the hour of
His return which would be 1260 years by the measurement of
prophecy. During all that time, the Jews would be banished from
their own land. But, in the hour of Christ's return, the privilege
of going home would be restored to them, and the 'times of the
Gentiles' would be ended. An examination of the calendar of the
Muslims, who held the Holy City captive, revealed to these
millennial scholars an astonishing thing: The year 1260 of the
calendar of the Muslims coincided with the year 1844 of the
calendar of the Christians. The year 1260 given in Revelation as
the time when the days of the 'Gentiles' would be ended and the
Jews would be permitted to return to their homeland, was the same
year as that of 1844 when the Muslim rulers were forced to sign the
Edict of Toleration permitting the return of the Jews to Israel.
I began to understand the growing enthusiasm of the Bible scholars
of the 1840's. Christ had promised that when the 'times of the
Gentiles' was fulfilled, He would come back to earth. To these
students of Scripture, the second promise of Christ was exactly
fulfilled, and the date (1844) established without question. I
was inclined to agree. This made me more eager than ever to test
the third and final promise.
5. The Third Promise
I found the third promise of Christ to be the most interesting
<p17 of all. It was given in the twenty-fourth chapter of Matthew.>
The third promise was again given in direct answer to the
questions of His disciples:
'And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto
him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? And
what shall be the sign of thy coming?[F1]
Christ foretold that 'iniquity would abound' in that day, and
that the 'love of many shall wax cold'; then He makes His third
promise in these words:
'When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation,
spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso
readeth let him understand.)[F2]
The chapters of Daniel which deal with this subject are those
from eight to twelve inclusive. These chapters (according to
millennial scholars, as well as my own research) foretell not only
the second coming of Christ, but to my keen interest, His first
appearance as well. It was this link between the first and the
second coming of Christ which give to these chapters of Daniel such
great importance in the study of the subject, and indeed this third
promise was considered to be the most important of the three. In
these chapters, Daniel prophesies that from the issuing of the
decree to rebuild Jerusalem, until the time when the Messiah shall
be cut off (crucified) there are appointed 70 weeks. Daniel gives
this prophesy in two different ways:
1. As 70 weeks. 2. As 7 weeks, 62 weeks, and one week; during
which the Messiah confirms the covenant.
However, both ways total up to 70 weeks or to 490 days. This
becomes 490 years in prophecy with a day for a year.
<p18>
In His first coming, it is prophesied that from the issuing of
the decree to His cutting off, or crucifixion, 490 years will pass.
The important thing then was for me to discover at what time the
decree had been issued. I found that there were four decrees to
rebuild Jerusalem. They were as follows:
1. Issued by Cyrus in the year 536 B.C. This decree is recorded
in the first chapter of Ezra. it went unfulfilled. 2. Issued
by Darius in the year 519 B.C. This decree is recorded in the
sixth chapter of Ezra. it also went unfulfilled. Only the Temple
was rebuilt. 3. Issued by Artaxerxes in the seventh year of his
reign in the year 457 B.C. This is recorded in the seventh chapter
of Ezra. It was fulfilled by the fourth decree. 4. Issued by
the same Artaxerxes in the year 444 B.C. This is recorded in the
second chapter of Nehemiah. This decree fulfilled toe third.
Most of the students of Scripture accepted the third decree of
Artaxerxes as the one referred to by Daniel. They reasoned that
since the fourth decree was merely an extension of the third, and
was issued by the same king it was in reality the same decree.
Therefore, they favoured the decree issued in 457 B.C. With this
knowledge, it was now possible to date the prophecy of Daniel as
follows: From the issuing of the decree of Artaxerxes in the year
457 B.C. until the time of the crucifixion of Jesus the Christ,
there would be appointed (or pass) 70 weeks, 490 days--or in
prophecy, 490 years. Many Bible scholars merely subtracted the
457 from the 490. This gave them 33 years. The Messiah (Christ)
in His first coming would therefore be 33 years of age when He was
cut off or slain.
<p19>
I found that authorities differed widely as to the date of the
birth of Christ, as well as to the date of His death. According
to the Gospels, His birth took place before the death of Herod.
Many historians calculated the death of Herod to have taken place
in the month of April in the year 4 B.C. Some said it was the year
5, some 6, some as early as the year 8 B.C. Therefore, some of
these scholars maintained that Christ was only 28 or less at the
time of His death. Others give a different year and a different
day. However, they all centre around the period foretold by
Daniel. Thus with amazing accuracy, Daniel had given the time for
the first coming of Christ. No wonder Jesus Himself was so
emphatic about Daniel's prophecy concerning His second coming or
return. He told His disciples to 'stand in the holy place' when
Daniel's prophecy about the 'abomination of desolation' was
fulfilled. In that day He promised:
'...they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of
heaven...'[F3]
I followed the pattern of the millennial scholars of the 1840's
and carefully examined Daniel's prophecy concerning the
'abomination of desolation'. His exact words were:
'How long shall be the vision concerning the daily sacrifice, and
the abomination of desolation, to give the sanctuary and the host
to be trodden under foot? And he said unto me, Unto two thousand
and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.'[F4]
Thus Daniel prophesied that two thousand three hundred days
(2300) would pass before the sanctuary would be cleansed.
Following this time, all things would be made pure again. Before
this time, the people would have fallen into a state of
'abomination' without love for God or man; then the
<p20>
Messiah would appear and restore their Faith and the purity of
their belief. This was the general conclusion. When would this
take place? Daniel said it would come to pass in 2300 days. In
prophecy, this becomes 2300 years. Using the same frame of
reference for the second coming, as was used for the first coming
(the decree of Artaxerxes), the Bible scholars made the following
calculations:
1. The decree was issued in 457. They subtracted 457 from 2300
and arrived at 1843. Thus the year 1843, they said, would mark the
beginning of the end of the 'abomination of desolation.' 2. Some
scholars pointed out that from the issuing of the decree in 457
until the birth of Christ there were 456 years, not 457; therefore,
it was necessary to subtract 456 from 2300. This left the year
1844.
Although many disputes arose as to the exact month, day, and
hour, there was a basic agreement among nearly all that Christ's
return must take place between the years 1843 and 1845, with the
year 1844 as the central point of reference. One group of
Christian scholars worked out Daniel's prophecy in the greatest
detail. They even built a special chart to show that Christ would
return in the middle of the year 1844.[F5] E. P. Cachemaille,
sometime scholar of Cambridge University, in a new edition of H.
G. Guinness's book Light for the Last Days, maintains that this
book had been recognised for over thirty years as a standard work
of chronological prophecy. He quotes Guineas as saying the
following about Daniel's prophecy: 'The decree (Edict of
Toleration) was published in the 1260th year of the (Muslim)
calendar. It is dated March 21st, 1844. This date is the first
of Nisan in the Jewish year, and is exactly twenty three centuries
(2300 years)
<p21>
from the first of Nisan, B.C. 457, the day on which Ezra states
that he left Babylon in compliance with the decree given in the
seventh year of the reign of Artaxerxes.' Thus the year 1844 was
firmly established in their minds as the year for the fulfillment
of the third promise of Christ concerning Daniel's prophecy. I
found that all three of Christ's prophecies to His disciples had
been fulfilled exactly as He promised.
1. The Gospel had been preached in all the world for a witness.
2. The times of the Gentiles had been fulfilled. 3. The
prophecy of Daniel given by Christ as the time to stand in the holy
place had come to pass.
Each of these prophecies had been fulfilled in the year 1844!
6. Other Promises
During my investigation of the three promises of Christ, I had
come upon several other astonishing prophecies which I decided to
record before moving on to the next field of investigation. I have
selected only a few of the most interesting. To me The Case of
the Missing Millenium had taken on greater stature, not to mention
excitement. Together with the Christian scholars of that day, I
too, had found that prophecy after prophecy terminated in the year
1844. These prophecies spoke of the Time of the end, the Day of
Judgement, the Last days, the Day of Resurrection, and the Hour of
the Return of Christ. Yet they spoke of them in a new and
provocative manner. Christ said:
'... there shall be wars and rumours of wars ... And then shall
they see the Son of man coming ...'
<p22>
Bible scholar Paul K. Dealy in his Dawn of Knowledge writes:
'History records the following great wars among the leading
nations: (1) About this time a war was in progress between China
and England terminating in the loss of Hong Kong to the former.
A treaty was signed between them in 1842. (2) The Crimean
War--England, France and Turkey against Russia 1854. (3) The
atrocious Sepoy mutiny 1857-8. (4) France and Italy against
Austria 1859. (5) Civil war of the United States 1861-65. (6)
Franco-Prussian war 1870-1. (7) Russian-Turkish war 1877-8. (8)
And during the last decade the wars between China and Japan, Turkey
and Greece, Spain and the United States, the invasion of China by
all the great powers, and the Boer war.' To this list could be
added the two greatest world wars that mankind had ever seen. The
Korean war, the war in Indo-China, the Arab-Jewish war, the
multiplying minor wars and revolutions within countries, the
increasing border skirmishes, the constant 'cold war' and the
never-ending newspaper headlines that threaten man daily with
'rumours of wars.' Certainly the words of Christ aptly fit this
day. In the late 1800's, the conviction became very strong among
the American Indians that the Messiah had already appeared and was
on earth. Throughout the Western Hemisphere, the great majority of
Indians had for centuries been awaiting the appearance of their
promised Redeemer. In the latter part of the nineteenth century,
General Miles of the United States Army reported in a St. Paul,
Minnesota, newspaper that during his tour of the west, 'I have
learned that this belief (in the Messiah) exists among ... 16
tribes.' The belief in the coming of this same Messiah was also
strongly held in the East. Krishna had foretold the coming of a
great World Educator. G. S. Arundale, Education Commissioner of
Indore State,
<p23>
India, in his introduction to The Coming World Teacher, writes: 'So
many thousands of people all over the world believe in the near
coming of a Great World Teacher, that the existence of this belief
is a matter of common knowledge, at least among the educated
people.' Commissioner Arundale expresses the belief that the hope
of mankind lies in this direction, and he conveys this message, he
says: '... to young and old, to Jews, to Christians, to Musselmans,
to Buddhists, to Parsees, to Jains, to Hindus.' He adds that 'to
many in each of these pathways to God the belief in the near coming
of a Great World Teacher has been as a great alchemical power
transforming their lives.' Taylor in his Reign of Christ on
Earth, states that in Yemen (Temen of the Scriptures) a rabbi told
Mr. Wolff, (an ardent believer in the return of Christ in the
1840's) that his tribe did not return to Jerusalem after the
Babylonian captivity even when Ezra by special letter invited their
princes to return. They feared Daniel's prophecy of the
destruction of Jerusalem. 'But,' the rabbi said, 'we do expect the
coming of the Messiah.' The Roman poet Virgil spoke of the
Messianic prophecies, saying that they 'point to an age to come,
and a new birth of nature, and at the same time link the glorious
Kingdom they depict with an exalted Personage who would, they say,
reduce all mankind to a single empire.' The historian Plutarch
wrote: 'There will come a time, promised by fate, when ... happy
men shall have one and the same life, language and government.'
The Greek philosopher Plato foresaw that 'in the end ... God the
author of the primitive order, will appear again and resume the
reins of Empire.' In Hazlitt's Table Talks, we read that Martin
Luther himself 'expressed the thought that Christ might come in
1558
<p24>
or 105 years after the conquest of Constantinople by the Turks (in
1453).' As a matter of fact, I found that this date--the fall of
Constantinople to the Turks in 1453--had been mentioned many times
in the Messiah prophecies. I was curious to find out the reason
for the interest in this date. The substance is this: By 1453
Christianity had been separated into three great divisions: Roman
Catholic, Protestant, and Greek Orthodox Catholic. When
Constantinople fell to the Turks (Muslims) in 1453, it was said
that the prophecy given in the Book of Revelation had been
fulfilled. This prophecy concerns the cutting off of one third
of the believers in Christ. It foretells that from the slaying (or
cutting off) of one-third of men (from the truth) there would be
prepared:
'...an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year.'[F1]
When this time had elapsed, the Messiah would come; Christ would
return. In 1453 the capital of the Eastern Orthodox Catholic
Church fell to non-Christians, and students of prophecy took this
to be a symbolic fulfillment of the one-third being cut off. W.
Harbert, a Christian scholar, in his The Coming Battle, writes:
'The 390 years (of Rev. ix.15)...if taken onward (from 1453, the
height of the Turkish Empire) will bring us to 1843.' This, he
said, was a clear proof that this date foretold the appearance of
Christ on earth. In prophetic measure, millennial scholars
calculate that a year would be 360 days, a month 30 days, and a day
1 day. The hour was discounted. This gave a total of 391 days, and
not 390 as stated by Harbert. Therefore, they reasoned, that using
the axiom of 'a day for a year' the total period of time
<p25>
between the 'cutting off' and the 'return' of Christ would be 391
years. Constantinople fell in 1453. One-third part of the men
of Christ were symbolically cut off with the fall of the centre of
their faith to the Muslims; 391 years later they would be restored
to truth with Christ's return. 1453 + 391 equals 1844! Another
remarkable prophecy for the year 1844 from an entirely different
direction. Intriguing?
7. And Others Still
It was the Turks who brought about the fulfillment of the
1453-1844 prophecy, and it was the Turks also who brought about
another fulfillment of the 2300-1844 prophecy from the Book of
Daniel. Several authorities maintain that the decree of
Artexerxes was signed in 457 B.C. at the Spring Equinox, the first
day of Nisan of the Jewish calendar. The Edict of Toleration which
permitted the Jews to return and settle in freedom in Israel was
also signed at the Spring Equinox in 1844, again the first day of
Nisan of the Jewish calendar. Exactly 2300 years had intervened.
This prophecy, as well as that of the 1260 days given in
Revelation, and the 391 given in the same book, were only a few of
the unique and fascinating links between Christianity and Islam in
the realm of Messianic prophecy. The Christian and Muslim
calendars both converge on this remarkable year 1844; 1260 years
multiplied by 354 days (the number of days in the Muslim lunar
year) yields a total of 446,040 days; 446,040 divided by 365 (the
number of days in the Christian solar year) gives a total of 1222
years. The Faith of Islam began in the year 622 of the Christian
calendar. 622 + 1222 equals 1844 once again.
<p26>
The Sunni sect of the Muslims expects the return of the Spirit
of Christ in the last days, and associates in prophecy this hour
with the year 1260 of their calendar. This is also the year 1844
of the Christian calendar. The Shi'ah sect of Islam flourishes
in the land where Daniel had his vision of the coming of one, in
1844, like unto the Son of man. These Muslims have a prophecy
which foretells that the twelfth spiritual ruler of their Faith,
who disappeared in the year 260, will return in a thousand years,
or in the year 1260--once again the year 1844 of the Christian
calendar. Imam Ja'far, when questioned concerning the year in
which the promised One would appear, replied:
'Verily, in the year sixty ('60-1260) His Cause shall be
revealed, and His name shall be noised abroad.'[F1]
The learned and famous Arab scholar, Muhyi'd-Din-i-'ArabÁ
collected many prophecies concerning the year of the Advent. Such
as:
'In the year Ghars (1260) the earth shall be illumined by His
light.'[F2]
Another prophecy, attributed to one of the great spiritual
leaders of Islam, declares:
'In Ghars (1260) the Tree of Divine Guidance shall be
planted.'[F2]
All of these prophecies pointed to the same identical year: 1844.
One of the most interesting prophecies of all, came from the Old
Testament. It concerned the forthright prophecy, given by Moses,
who warned the Jews that if they were not obedient to God, the Lord
would punish them 'seven times.' The prophecy in the book of
Leviticus says:
<p27>
'I will chastise you seven times ... 'I will make your cities
waste ... And I will scatter you among the heathen ...'[F3]
They were not obedient, and the prophecy went into effect.
'Seven times' equals seven years in prophecy. Seven years of 'each
day for a year'. This makes a total of 2520 years. In one book,
William Miller writes: 'In the year 677 before Christ; see II
Chron. xxxiii.9-13; see also the Bible chronology of that event;
this being the first captivity of Judah in Babylon. Then take 677
years which were before Christ, from 2520 years, which include the
whole 'seven times' or 'seven years' prophecy, and the remainder
will be 1843 years after Christ ...' Other scholars maintained
that it was 676 years from the first captivity to the birth of
Christ, and that consequently the year of fulfillment should be
1844 and not 1843. Other scholars pointed out that this same
prophecy of the 'seven times' was given in the Book of Daniel.
Certainly, they said, these same 2520 years from the time of
Nebuchadnezzar could not be made to come out to this same 1844
period; therefore, the date must be wrong. The prophecy of Daniel
and the 'seven times' clearly states that it will take place when
a Holy Messenger of God appears on earth. The prophecy says:
'Behold, a watcher and a holy one came down from heaven; He cried
aloud, and said thus ... let seven times pass over him.'[F4] Most
of the millennial scholars who dealt with this prophecy felt that
it began in 604-602 B.C. when Nebuchadezzar conquered Jerusalem.
Some of the students of Scripture pointed to a remarkable
coincidence. According to the calendar of Iraq, the original
<p28>
land of Nebuchadezzar, there were 2520 years from 604-602 B.C. to
1844. These were lunar years. Thus the discrepancy between the
prophecies of Moses and Daniel was resolved by the astonishing fact
that:
1. There were 2520 solar years from 676 B.C. to A.D. 1844, 2.
There were 2520 lunar years from 602 B.C to A.D. 1844.
Among the miscellaneous evidence, I found the following: 'The
Zohar (c. 1290), the great textbook of medieval Kabbala' gives the
year 5600 A.M. = 1840 C.E. (Christian era) ... when the gates of
wisdom will be opened.' Judah Alkalai writing on Zionism in the
nineteenth century regarded the 1840 period as the time for the
Messiah. A. H. Silver in Messianic Speculation in Israel says,
'The year 1840 was counted on by many as the Messianic year' and
the beginning of Redemption. Simon ben Zemah Duran (1361-1444),
author of A Commentary on the Book of Job, gives the year 1850 C.E.
as the Messianic year. The Reverend E. Winthrop, Episcopal
Minister of St. Paul's Church, Cincinnati, thus describes the
coming of Christ in his Second Advent Lectures (1843): 'We gather
from the prophecies of the Old and New Testaments that ... Christ
may come at any moment. Watch therefore and pray always. It is
quite probable that the generation now living (1843), or at least
a portion of it, may see our Lord's prophecy completely fulfilled
by His second advent in glory.'
<p29>
8. Lift Up Your Heads The preceding prophecies are by no means
the entire list which led to this year of expectancy in 1844.
However, they are sufficient to indicate the reason for the growing
excitement and enthusiasm as the year of the expected Advent, 1844,
approached. Quarrels were many during those hectic days; disputes
as to the exact meaning of each passage of prophecy broke out
frequently; denials of the entire millennial concept were common.
The battle raged in press, pamphlet, and pulpit. There is no space
to write here of all the astonishing and sometimes amusing
arguments which were used. Each school of Bible scholars had its
own ideas, based upon its religious background and training.
Looking back upon their research, it is easy to understand, from
their viewpoint, their mounting excitement over their discovery.
The prophecies did indeed converge with an astonishing focus on the
year 1844. There seemed no room for doubt that the hour had at
last come upon the earth. It is therefore also possible to share
their feelings f profound disappointment and disillusionment when
Christ did not appear in the clouds of heaven with all His angels
as they expected. The trumpet did not sound. The dead did not
arise from the graves. The stars did not fall from heaven. The sun
did not suddenly go dark. The moon did not turn to blood. As a
result, the Adventists who had been so outspoken in their belief
that Christ's return was at hand, were now held up to ridicule.
Hastily they tried to change their calculations. They revised
their mathematical formulas, searching for a possible error in what
had been an unquestioned truth. Their confusion and
disenchantment delighted and amused the more orthodox who had
ignored the entire episode; 'The earth still spins on its axis,
Christ has not come to judge the
<p30>
sheep and the goats, and the end of the world is a myth. It is,
as we told you it would be--business as usual.' It was of little
use for the discomforted to point out that this very attitude was
another sign of His coming, when men would be 'eating and drinking
as in the days of Noe'. As a detective trying to solve this
puzzling century-old mystery, it occurred to me that one of the
basic techniques of criminology might well be applied here. If
an overwhelming abundance of evidence points to only one possible
conclusion, and that conclusion proves to be false, it is never
wise to cast aside all the evidence as being wrong. It is always
wiser to assume that perhaps the evidence is correct, and that
another and entirely different interpretation of the facts, or a
completely different conclusion might be drawn from this same
evidence. This was the course I decided to pursue. I have
placed a complete list of references at the back of the book so you
can, if you wish, read about these days in more detail. My purpose
is not to justify any one of the schools of thought, or to exhaust
the search. It is merely to follow the main stream of the story
concerning just what happened in 1844. There could be little
doubt as to the authenticity of the prophecies, or of their
remarkable fulfilment. Then what had happened? Christ gave three
crystal clear promises that He would return when:
1. the Gospel was preached everywhere; 2. the 'times of the
Gentiles' was fulfilled; 3. mankind beheld the 'abomination of
desolation' spoken of by Daniel.
When these things came to pass, He promised, He would return.
He also promised:
<p31>
'And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and
lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.'[F1] It was
too late for me to turn back now. If our newspaper editors
considered that the most dramatic story which could be told in
modern headlines would be Christ Returns, imagine how much more
exciting it must have been in those days when they had so much
evidence that the time was indeed upon them. I had a hunch that
something was missing. Somewhere something had been overlooked.
The prophecies for the second coming of Christ were a hundredfold
more abundant and powerful than they had been for His first coming.
In 1844 a new spirit came into literature, music, art, education,
medicine and invention. This was the very year on which all the
prophecies converged. Would we have to wait three centuries to
learn the truth about His second coming, as we had waited to learn
the truth about His first coming? Not if I had my way. I had at
least a dozen more 'leads' to follow. Perhaps one might bring in
the sunlight.
9. The Mystery of the White Stone When a Missing Persons Bureau
begins to look for someone who is lost, it has many basic facts to
help narrow down the search. The agents know the exact name as
well as the last address of the person whom they are seeking. They
are able to talk with relatives. They are given detailed and
documented descriptions. My task was not nearly as simple. I was
beginning my search more than one hundred years after the event.
I had no personal details and no description of the missing
Messiah.
<p32>
To make things more difficult, I had to wade through a maze of
conflicting prophecies. Many of these prophecies had originally
pointed to the period round 1844, but when Christ did not come down
from heaven in the clouds as expected the prophecies were
rearranged to fit events which had been known to have happened:
World War I, the great depression, World War II, and a possibly
greater conflict yet to come. There was still a strong feeling
of expectation for a Messiah in many parts of the world, but I
realised that it would be extremely difficult to identify Him since
He was expected to be white in Europe, black in Africa, yellow in
the Far East, brown in the Islands, and red among the American
Indians. My task became triply complicated when I learned that
He was expected to be Christian in the West, Hindu in India,
Buddhist in China, Jewish in Israel, a Muslim among the Arabs, and
a Zoroastrian among the Parsees. Therefore, I was greatly
heartened when an additional clue came to my attention. While it
did not give me the name of the missing Messiah whom I sought, it
told me plainly what His name would not be. As a detective on The
Case of the Missing Millenium, it was not my job to become involved
in the complicated theories which my search revealed, but to stick
to one thing, namely, what happened in 1844? Was there a Messiah
or not? For this reason I was pleased with my discovery that this
Messiah of 1844 (if such there were), would not be called Krishna,
Moses, Buddha, Zoroaster, Christ or Muhammad, nor by any other
previously known name. Christ Himself had warned us in both
Matthew and Luke, in the Chapters which gave His three promises
concerning His coming in 1844, to beware of those false prophets
who, that day, bore His own name, Christ. My clue plainly showed
that I must seek someone bearing
<p33>
a different name. Perhaps He would have the same Christ-spirit,
but He would certainly have a different name--unless I had badly
misread the evidence. I found my first reference in the words of
the prophet Isaiah:
'and thou shalt be called by a new name.'[F1]
It was also clear that if the Messiah was to bear a new name, the
same would be true of His followers. This meant that I would not
find His followers among the people known as Christians, Jews,
Muslims, etc., in that period about 1844. Apparently the same
pattern as at the time of the first coming of Christ would be
repeated. His followers at that time were called by a new name,
Christians, followers of Christ. They were not called Jews,
although it was the Holy Book of the Jews that foretold His coming,
and although it was the followers of that Book who so eagerly
awaited His appearance. Isaiah promises clearly that the
followers of the Messiah of the last days will bear a different
name. He says:
'The Lord God shall . . . call his servants by another name.'[F2]
That Isaiah is speaking of the time of the end and not of the
time of Christ's first coming, is confirmed by the New Testament
Book of Revelation where a new name is once again promised for the
followers of Christ in the day of His return:
'To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna
and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name
written, which no man knoweth save he that receiveth it.'[F3]
There can be no question that Isaiah is speaking of this same
last day of the 'one fold and one shepherd' when we examine
<p34>
his further words in that chapter. He promises that there shall
be prosperity for the Jew in Israel and Jerusalem, and that the
sons and daughters shall rejoice in their own land. We know this
return of the Jews took place only with the signing of the Edict
of Toleration in 1844. Isaiah not only promises a 'new name' in
this chapter, but he also foretells:
'And they shall call them (His followers) the holy people, the
redeemed of the Lord.'[F4]
The New Testament gives warning that 'no man knoweth (the new
name) saving he that receiveth it.' Obviously it was not going to
be any easier to accept the new name in Christ's second coming than
it had been in His first. Only that small group that had correctly
read the prophecies and believed in the Messiah in His first coming
had accepted the name Jesus of Nazareth as the Christ, and only
passing centuries brought popularity to the name Christian.
Apparently it would be the same in His second coming. In one and
the same chapter of Revelation we read:
1. 'I will write upon him (that overcometh) my new name.'[F5]
2. 'I will confess his (new) name before my Father...'[F6] 3.
'I will not blot out his (new) name out of the book of life...'[F7]
4. 'These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that
hath the key of David, he that openeth and no man shutteth...I have
set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for
thou...hast not denied my name.'[F8] 5. 'He that hath an ear,
let him hear...'[F9]
In these words is the promise that in the day of His return,
Christ will be the 'holy' and the 'true' Messiah, that He will have
the 'key', and that He will 'open the door' to anyone who has 'ears
to hear', and who will not deny His new name. I decided to look
further behind this 'open door'.
<p35>
10. The Rich Who Are Poor The clue of the new name required
careful study. Christ Himself gives notice that He will come in
an unexpected manner, at an unexpected time, and that it will be
difficult to recognize Him. He says in the very chapter which
promises the new name:
'Be watchful ... If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come
upon thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know at what hour I will
come upon thee.'[F1]
To those who would cling to His old name, denying the new name,
Christ in that same chapter admonishes:
'I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and
art dead.'[F2]
As a Christian, I didn't like the idea of a new name at all. In
fact, throughout the early part of my investigation I suffered
frequently from the pricking of my conscious. This theory of a new
name, however clearly it was written in both the Old and the New
Testaments, was contrary to everything I had been taught. Still,
I had to admit that those words 'If thou shalt not watch, I will
come upon thee as a thief' could not be lightly set aside. My
investigation of this clue of the new name demonstrated clearly
that the followers of Christ had been told in unmistakable terms
to cast aside all that they held dear in the hour of His second
coming, just as they had been forced to do in the day of His first
coming, if they hoped to recognize Him and receive His new name.
The evidence showed distinctly that His return would not be
according to the beliefs, standards, or expectations of any man.
Each individual was warned to seek out the truth for himself, to
be among those who 'overcome' the obstacles
<p36>
placed in their path. Each one must look with his own inner eye
for the Messiah. It would not be sufficient in the day of Christ's
return to go along the old path and call upon Him by His old name,
for in the same chapter in which is promised the new name, it is
also foretold of God:
'Thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not,
and hast found them liars.'[F3]
Later in that same book of Revelation, it speaks of the 'great
day of God Almighty'. Again Christ warns:
'Behold, I come as a thief.'[F4]
Then He comforts those with spiritual insight, saying:
'Blessed is he that watcheth ...'[F5]
I discovered an astonishing fact in two successive chapters of
this final book of Christian Scripture. In these two chapters,
mankind is repeatedly warned of the second coming of Christ, and
is cautioned again and again that it will take a spiritual eye and
ear to see and to hear this truth. We find these warnings coming
rapidly upon each other in the following order:
1. 'I will come onto thee quickly, and will remove thy
candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.' 2. 'He that
hath an ear, let him hear ...' 3. 'I will give thee a crown of
life.' 4. 'He that hath an ear, let him hear ...' 5. '... I
will come unto thee quickly ...' 6. 'He that hath an ear, let him
hear ...' 7. '... hold fast til I come ...' 8. 'He that hath
an ear, let him hear ...' 9. 'Be watchful ...' 10. 'If
therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come upon thee as a thief
...' 11. '... Thou shalt not know at what hour I will come upon
thee.'
<p37>
12. 'He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white
raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life.'
13. 'He that hath an ear, let him hear ...' 14. 'I also will keep
thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the
world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.' 15. 'Behold I come
quickly ...' 16. 'I will write upon him my new name.' 17. 'He
that hath an ear, let him hear ...' 18. 'I know thy works, that
thou are neither cold nor hot ...' 19. 'I will spew thee out of
my mouth ...' 20. '... thou sayest I am rich ... and have need
of nothing: and knowest not that thou are ... poor and blind ...'
21. '... be zealous therefore, and repent.' 22. 'Behold I stand
at the door ...' 23. '... and if any man hear my voice, and open
the door, I will come in.' 24. 'He that hath an ear, let him hear
...'[F6]
There seemed little doubt that only those who had 'eyes to see'
and 'ears to hear' would 'receive' the new name, recognize it, and
understand it. In the midst of this outpouring, so filled with
the promise of Christ's second coming, and so laden with warnings
that spiritual faculties would be needed to perceive the manner of
His coming, the promise of a new name is given yet another time.
This time it speaks not only of the new name, but of the new city,
the new Jerusalem of that day. In these words, all those things
with which man was then familiar would be changed, just as they had
been changed in the day of His first coming. Unless a man could
'overcome' his preconceived ideas, his prejudices, and empty his
cup of 'former things', he would not recognize the new name and the
new day. If he could set aside
<p38>
all he possessed and believed in, Christ promised him the following
blessing:
'He that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God,
and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of
my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem,
which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon
him my new name.'[F7]
The deeper I went into my search, the more I realized that I had
a tiger by the tail and couldn't let go. Instead of gradually
diminishing the interest The Case of the Missing Millenium steadily
gained momentum. But now my most difficult problem was with
myself. I had many mental obstacles to overcome. I had to work
overtime at being (in the words of Christ)''him that overcometh',
and I didn't like the taste of it at all. I found the story
fascinating, but something inside me rebelled. Long years of
training at school, Sunday-school and home rose up within me to do
battle. I hoped for the moment that all my research would prove
to be nothing more than a fascinating story, but I had a nagging
suspicion that the fun was only beginning. I repeated to myself
a number of times the words:
'He that hath an ear to hear, let him hear.' 'He that hath an
eye to see, let him see.'
Frankly, it didn't help much. Then I began to laugh at my
predicament and to remind myself that I was a detective trying to
solve a century-old mystery, and not a Christian trying to defend
my beliefs.
11. The Light That Blinds Although I was now confidant that,
according to the Bible, the Messiah would have a new name in the
day of His coming,
<p39>
it still did not satisfy me. As a detective in search of facts,
it was not sufficient to know that He would be called by a new
name. Therefore, I examined the Scriptures with care to see if I
might find it. I made a very welcome discovery; I actually did
find a new name by which the Promised One might very well be known.
The more I tested it, the firmer it held, and this name was
repeated time after time in connection with the prophecies of the
time of the end. It was given so often, that there seemed little
doubt that this would be one of the titles by which He, the
Messiah, would be known in that day. He would be recognized as the
'Glory of God' or the 'Glory of the Lord'. Isaiah prophesied that
the plain of Sharon and the holy mountain, Carmel, would both be
centres for the light and presence of the 'Glory of the Lord' in
the last days. He said:
'... the excellency of Carmel and Sharon; they shall see the
Glory of the Lord, and the excellency of our God.'[F1]
Once again in the chapter preceding the one in which he, Isaiah,
promises that God will raise up a 'righteous man from the East,'
he foretells:
'And the Glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall
see it together: for the mouth of God hath spoken it.'[F2]
In the next chapter but one Isaiah adds the warning:
'Hear, ye deaf; and look ye blind, that ye may see.'[F3]
One group among the millennial scholars of the 1844 period was
so certain that the 'Glory of God' would appear on the side of
Mount Carmel, as foretold by Isaiah, that they sold all they owned
and sailed for the Holy Land.
<p40>
This group was originally under the leadership of Leonard H.
Kelber. Their home was in Germany, where they were known as
Templars. They were disillusioned when Christ did not appear, as
expected, between 1843 and 1845, so they abandoned their former
life and settled at the foot of Mount Carmel to await the great day
of His coming. They were positive that the 'Glory of God' would
appear on the side of Mount Carmel. Their study of the Scriptures
assured them that this promise would be kept. In the stone arches
above their doorways, they chiseled the words which held their
hopes:
DER HERR IST NAHE (The Lord is near).
Further search uncovered additional evidence that the title
'Glory of the Lord' or 'Glory of God' would be the new name by
which the Messiah could be identified in the latter days. The
Book of Revelation, which, as we have already seen, gave the date
of 1844 (1260) for the end of the 'times of the Gentiles', and
which promised the new name and the new city, also confirms the
name or title of Him Who will be the central Light of that new city
of God. St. John declares:
'And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem ... and the city had
no need of the sun ... for the Glory of God did lighten it.'[F4]
Christ Himself links the hour of His return with this same
wondrous Figure 'the Glory of the Lord' or the 'Glory of God'. He
promises that in the last days He will appear in this very likeness
of God, and in His glory:
'For the Son of man shall come in the Glory of his Father.'[F5]
This vision of the 'Glory of God' promised by Christ and
<p41>
seen by St. John and Isaiah, is identical with the vision which
came to Ezekiel. He saw the 'Glory of God' on more than one
occasion, and associated it with a Promised One who would come into
His House in a latter day. His coming, Ezekiel said, was:
'... the appearance of ... the Glory of the Lord. And when I saw
it, I fell upon my face.'[F6]
It was this same 'Glory of God' that appeared to Daniel as well.
When Daniel had his vision of the last days, he spoke movingly of
the Prince, Michael, who came to help him, Michael who would stand
up for the children of God at the time of the end. When Daniel
had his vision, he was unable to bear the glory of it. In his own
words:
'... I set my face toward the ground, and I became dumb.'[F7]
The meaning of the word MICHAEL when translated into English is:
One who looks like God. Thus, it appeared, that Daniel, too, had
seen the 'Glory of God'. I uncovered another important clue which
seemed to confirm the belief that this Figure seen by Daniel was
identical with the one promised by Christ Himself for the time of
His return. Christ clearly explained the conditions of His second
coming. He foretold that in that day everyone would see
'... the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven...' [F8]
This exact same picture was given by Daniel as the vision he saw
of the 'latter days'. In fact, in almost the exact same words
Daniel said:
'... one like the Son of man came with the clouds of
heaven...'[F9]
<p42>
Furthermore, in that same chapter, for the second time, I found
that Daniel foretold the hour when this would take place. This
wondrous event, the coming of the Messiah, Daniel promised, will
come to pass after
'...a time and times and the dividing of time.'[F10]
There seemed to be no end to the references that brought me back
to the year 1844. Here once again I had found that same prophecy
of 1260 days, forty and two months, three and a half years, and
now, 'a time and times and the dividing of time'. Students of
Scripture agreed that all these phrases referred to one period of
time, namely 1260 years. This meant that I had found another
reference to when the Messiah would come. According to Daniel, He
would appear in the year 1260, and I knew already that in the
calendar of the land in which Daniel saw his vision (Persia), the
year 1260 coincided with the year 1844 of the West. Daniel and
Christ both had promised the coming of the 'Son of man.' Daniel had
been overwhelmed and fallen to the ground because of the glory of
his vision. In other places too numerous to detail, I found this
same prophecy of the coming of the 'Glory of God.' Isaiah promised
the faithful that
'...The Glory of the Lord shall be thy reward.'[F11]
And again:
'Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the Glory of the Lord
is risen upon thee ... I the Lord am thy Savior and thy Redeemer
...'[F12]
I was satisfied that I had uncovered sufficient evidence to
indicate that the title by which the Messiah would be known when
He appeared would be: 'the Glory of the Lord.' This
<p43>
would be the new name, just as Christ, 'the Anointed One', had been
the old name. In making the investigation into His name, I had
also discovered additional information pointing to His coming with
this new year in the year 1844. I felt I was making progress.
12. For None Can Read I was puzzled. If it were possible for me
to discover these clues after careful search, why hadn't more
people done the same before 1844? They had nearly two thousand
years to make the investigation. The words of a verse ran through
my memory:
'The sun, that God-like distant torch Sustains the life of all
mankind. Alas, the pity! that it shines Upon these cities of
the blind.'
Was this the answer? Was it possible that for nearly two
thousand years students of Scripture had been blinded to the truth
concerning the return of Christ? If so, the indifference of the
people could certainly not be the fault of Christ. My research
revealed that He had warned them repeatedly: 'Watch!' He had
said:
'Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth
come.'[F1] 'Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when
the time is.'[F2]
'Watch ye therefore ... Lest coming suddenly he find you
sleeping.'[F3] 'And this know, that if the good man of the house
had
<p44>
known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched ... Be
ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when
ye think not.'[F4]
These were but a few of Christ's warnings that He would catch
mankind unawares unless they looked for His coming with spiritual
eyes. He had warned, not only His disciples, but through them, all
humanity:
'And what I say unto you I say unto all. Watch.'[F5]
I was curious to learn why the keen interest in the return of
Christ had died out a few hundred years after His crucifixion, only
to be taken up with such renewed zeal in the nineteenth century.
I searched carefully until I found a possible answer. Scripture
itself explained why the interest in the second coming had died
out, and why it had been revived. The explanation was given
plainly in both the Old and the New Testaments. They both declared
that until the time of the end no one would be able to read and
grasp the meaning of these prophecies because the 'books were
sealed.' It was that simple. This same truth was explained by
Isaiah, Daniel, and by both the Apostles Peter and Paul. The books
were sealed until the latter days. After that time came, they
would be unsealed. I had already mentioned clearly that the time
of the end came to pass in 1844; therefore, I could now reduce this
to plain terms: until 1844 understanding of the holy Scriptures was
hidden; after 1844 it would be revealed. Daniel, as we have
already seen, foretold in astonishingly accurate prophecies both
the first and second comings of Christ. He foresaw that the
Messiah would be cut off (crucified) in His thirties, and that this
same spirit of the Son of man would return again in 1844. Yet no
one understood the meaning of
<p45>
these prophecies until 1844. Not even Daniel himself. Why?
Daniel certainly asked for the explanation and meaning of his
wondrous vision. He asked God to tell him the meaning, and he
received a very blunt answer:
'O Daniel, shut up the Words and seal the Book, even to the time
of the end...'[F6]
It is in this same chapter that Daniel makes another of his
references to 1844 (1260), giving this as the date when 'all these
things shall be finished'. Daniel was not satisfied when he was
told to 'seal the Book.' He pressed God for an answer to the
meaning of his remarkable vision. In his own words:
'... then said I, O my Lord, what shall be the end of these
things?'[F7]
There was no mistaking the answer he received this time:
'And he (the Lord) said, Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are
closed up and sealed till the time of the end.'[F8]
The meaning seemed self-evident: no one would be able to discover
the meaning of the prophecies in the Book until the time of the end
when the return of the Son of man (Christ) took place. Isaiah
reinforces this view:
'And the vision of all is become unto you as the words of a book
that is sealed.'[F9]
Isaiah goes a step further. He prophesies that not only the
people, but even the educated and wise would be unable to grasp the
meaning of the Book until the last days. According to Isaiah, the
Bible would be a Book,
'... which men deliver to one that is learned, saying, Read this,
I pray thee: and he saith, I cannot; for it is sealed.'[F10]
<p46>
My study of the facts suggested that these seals mentioned by
Isaiah and Daniel would not be opened by Christ in His first
coming, but only in His second. It would happen only at the time
of the end. Furthermore, I found that the New Testament upheld this
reading of the case. In the words of St. Paul:
'... judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who ...
will bring light to the hidden things of darkness.' [F11]
Apparently when Christ returned, all would be clear. Until then
it would remain hidden. The Apostle Peter left a similar warning
to the followers of Christ not to interpret the prophecies
according to their own deficient understanding before the day of
His return:
'We have also a more sure word of prophesy...that no prophesy of
the scripture is of any private interpretation.[F12]
Peter told them that there was only one way in which prophecy
came to man, and only one way in which it could be interpreted:
'For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but
holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.'[F13]
Until this Holy Spirit appeared again in the Son of man at the
time of the end, the meaning of the prophecies would remain hidden.
There seemed to be little doubt that the truth was 'closed up' and
the 'books sealed' and that none would be able to read them
correctly until that time. I found that Christ made no claim that
the time of the end or the day of the one fold and one Shepherd,
were fulfilled by Himself. On the contrary, He revealed a prayer
which was both a prayer and a prophesy of the future. He said:
<p47>
'...Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth, as it is in
heaven.'
I found ample evidence that Christ never tried to 'unseal' the
Books Himself. He left this for a future date. Rather, He spoke
in parables and hidden meanings. He even prophesied that while He
(Christ) spoke in parables, there would be a time in the future,
when the Son would return in the Glory of the Father, and would
speak plainly to them. Christ said:
'These things have I spoken unto you in proverbs: but the time
cometh, when I shall speak no more unto you in proverbs, but I
shall shew you plainly of the Father.'[F14]
This promise to explain the hidden meanings is given by Jesus in
the very same chapter in which He speaks of the coming of the
Spirit of Truth who will guide His followers unto all truth. When
this 'Comforter' comes, Christ promises:
'...he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your
remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.'[F15]
Christ, in these words, seems to offer the clear promise that the
new Messiah would, in the day of His coming, 'unseal the books' and
bring to light the 'hidden things of darkness'.
If He had appeared in 1844, that would certainly account for all
the renewed enthusiasm.
A Mysterious Springtime I turned away from the Scriptures
long enough to test my theory. I was intrigued to discover that
certainly some creative power had 'brought to light' the 'hidden
things' during that epoch of 1844. My search through secular
history revealed the astonishing fact that beginning in that decade
an entirely new spirit of invention and discovery had made itself
apparent.
<p48>
It proved without doubt the accuracy of Sir Lawrence Bragg's
graph, to which we have already referred. I also read the report
given by an official of the United States Patent Office who, in
1844, stated that in his opinion everything worthwhile had already
been invented, and the Patent Office might as well close its doors.
From that time on the Patent Office was overwhelmed with new
inventions and discoveries. The most cursory survey vindicates
Bragg's graph and shows that a whole new world seemed to be in the
making following 1844. Some of the great steps forward were
these:
1. The First Congress of Women's Rights took place. 2. The
First Congress for Universal Education. 3. Initial measures were
taken to abolish child labour. 4. The Emancipation Proclamation,
freeing the slaves in the United States, was signed. 5. Great
new advances took place in the fields of medicine, literature,
music and art.
The following are but a few of the vast downpouring of
discoveries and inventions that lighted the age: 1844, Telegraph,
Vulcanised rubber; 1845, Turret lathe; 1846, Rotary press; 1854,
Elevator; 1855, Gas burner; 1858, Atlantic Cable; 1867, Typewriter,
Dynamite; 1869, Air brakes; 1876, Telephone; 1877, Gas engine;
1878, Incandescent lamp; 1879, Arc lamp; 1880, Centrifugal creamer;
1844, Fountain pen, Cash register; 1885, Automobile, Linotype;
1888, Film, Transparent photo; 1891, Armourised plate; 1892, Diesel
motor; 1893, Motion pictures, Coke oven; 1899, Wireless telegraphy;
1903, Airplane. New and far-reaching developments took place in
the fields of: Thermodynamics, Steam power, Electro-magnetism
Electric motor power, Gaslight, Electric light, High-speed
<p49>
press, Lithography, X-ray, Antiseptic surgery, Anesthetics,
Steamboats, Railways, Canal construction. Great progress was made
in bacteriology and medicine with such men as Lister, Koch, Pasteur
in the lead. In the field of metallurgy, Sorby in Britain and
Chernoff in Russia led the way. In music, Chopin, Schubert,
Tschaikowsky and a flood of creative genius appeared. Literature
produced such names as Emerson, Tolstoi, Fitzgerald, Tennyson,
Lowell, Whitman, James, Dickens, Thoreau, Dostevski, to name but
a few. Man's life was enriched by an increasing number of
inventions and benefits, a process which has continued from 1844
to the present day, taking even higher the graph of human
accomplishment: Airlines, Jets (Planes, Ships, Submarines),
Streamlined trains, Luxury liners, Air-conditioning, Radio,
Television, Electronics, Antibiotics, Wonder drugs, Missiles,
Rockets to the moon, All the magic of nuclear physics. The
endless stream of wonders still continues. The whole concept of
life has altered. Newspapers, magazines, books, radio, television,
telephone, telegraph, schools, education, travel--have all vastly
increased man's knowledge and information. Is there any doubt
these were the events foreseen by Daniel for the time of the end?
In the very chapter in which he spoke of the (1) coming of Michael,
Who looks like God, (2) in the year of 1844, (3) when the Book will
be unsealed, Daniel prophesied:
'...many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be
increased.'[F1]
According to the sacred Writings there was a definite promise
that when all these things took place the 'book' would be
'unsealed'. This unique event was foretold in
<p50>
Isaiah, Daniel and Revelation in a remarkable series of prophecies.
In one chapter, Isaiah prophesies that (1) the Book is sealed,
and (2) that in the last days the Book will be opened:
1. Sealed 'And the vision of all is become unto you as the
words of a book that is sealed, which men deliver to one that
is learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I
cannot; for it is sealed.' [F2]
2. Unsealed 'And in that day shall the deaf hear the words
of the book, and the eyes of the blind shall see... They also
that erred in spirit shall come to understanding, and they
that murmured shall learn doctrine.'[F3]
Daniel made the same two promises: (1) that the Books would be
sealed until the time of the end, and (2) that they would be opened
and explained in the last days:
1. Sealed 'Go thy way, Daniel; for the words are closed up
and sealed till the time of the end.'[F4]
2. Unsealed 'I beheld all the (other) thrones were cast
down, and the Ancient of days did sit ... and ten thousand
times ten thousand stood before him: the judgement was set,
and the books were opened.'[F5]
This last promise is given by Daniel in the same chapter in which
he says that 'one like the Son of man came with the clouds of
heaven.' The Book of Revelation seems to end all question on this
subject. The basic theme of this entire book is the second coming
of Christ. Revelation states plainly that those books which were
<p51>
sealed until the time of the end would then be unsealed and would
be sealed no more:
'Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book; for the time
is at hand.'[F6]
Revelation, like Daniel, repeats the same vision of the coming
of the Son of man (Christ) when the books were unsealed:
'And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one
sat like unto the Son of man...'[F7]
In yet another place, Revelation describes this Messiah as one:
'...clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is
called The Word of God.'[F8]
Revelation says of this Lamb of God who will appear in the last
days:
'Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals
thereof...'[F9]
I felt that I had found at last a satisfactory answer to those
puzzling questions:
Why had interest in Christ's return died out after His
crucifixion? Why had such an enthusiastic revival of this
interest taken place in 1844?
Obviously something strange and special had taken place in the
world following the 1844 period. My job was to find out what it
was, and how it was related to The Case of the Missing Millenium.
Had the return of Christ actually taken place? If so, where was
He? How had we missed Him? Had we made the same
<p52>
mistake all over again? Had we followed the same path as those
scholars at the time of His first coming? Had we tried to read the
'books' that were 'sealed' and misunderstood their fulfilment?
Like Daniel, I too was dissatisfied. I wanted a lot more
information. What I had uncovered so far was very fascinating, but
it was not nearly enough. I wanted to actually close in on my
quarry. In fact, like Daniel, I wanted to know the answer to the
question: 'What shall be the end of these things?'
14. The Living and the Dead An interesting question occurred to
me: suppose this were the time of the first coming of Christ and
I wanted an answer to my questions? Suppose I were asking the
church-goers or religious leaders of that day, 'Who is the Messiah?
Has He come? Where is He?' The chances are that I wouldn't have
received very much encouragement, and it was logical to expect that
it would be the same now. Therefore, I carefully studied the
pattern of Christ's first coming, looking for a clue. I found,
according to Scripture, that the generality of humanity in that day
was spiritually 'dead' and did not recognize Him nor accept Him.
A small minority was spiritually 'alive' and knew Him and believed
in Him. Christ Himself referred to those who believed in Him as
'alive' and those who didn't as 'dead'. One young man offered to
follow Jesus and serve Him as soon as he had buried his father.
Christ said:
'...let the dead bury their dead.'[F1]
This could only mean: 'Let the spiritually dead man bury the
physically dead one. This reminded me of the same literal <p53>
minded people referred to as spiritually dead by the prophet
Jeremiah. He bluntly called them:
'O foolish people, and without understanding; which have eyes,
and see not; which have ears and hear not.'[F2]
My search disclosed that Christ had not appeared the first time
in the magical, glamorous manner which the people had expected of
their Messiah. On the contrary He was denied, called a false
prophet, and slain; His little handful of followers was ridiculed
by the masses for believing such obvious nonsense, as that Messiah
could come 'from Nazareth' with no attendant fanfare of Nature.
After all, the people said, this Jesus of Nazareth was born of
woman and walked abroad in the flesh of a normal human being. He
ate and drank, grew tired and slept, knew grief and anger. Surely
this was not the manner of a great Messiah! The disciples of
Christ, I found, were deeply troubled because religious leaders,
influential people, business men and scholars neither believed,
accepted, nor understood His message. They went to Christ for
help. 'Why do the people not believe?' they asked him. Surely
the signs were plain. Christ answered:
'Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the
Kingdom of Heaven, but to them it is not given...their ears are
dull of hearing, and their eyes have been closed...But blessed are
your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear.'[F3]
Thus Christ comforted them, explaining that it took special
'eyes' and 'ears' to recognize the Messiah in the day of His
appearance. The disciples were spiritually 'alive' while the
others were 'dead'. The believers in the old Faith said: 'Reason
should tell you that this Jesus cannot be the Messiah.
<p54>
If He were the Messiah, then Elias would have already come. Does
not our Holy Writ say that Elias must come first? If this man of
Nazareth is the Messiah, then where is Elias? Who has seen him?
Tell us this?' The disciples found this question too difficult
to answer. They, too, had been taught that Elias must appear
before the coming of the Messiah. If Christ was the Messiah, then
where was Elias? They went to Christ and put the question to Him
directly. Jesus told them that Elias had come. Elias had already
appeared among the people, He said, but no one had recognized him,
nor understood this truth. Elias, Christ said, had come in a
manner in which the people did not expect, and for this reason they
did not know him. Patiently Christ explained this symbolical truth
to the disciples:
'If ye will receiver it, this (John the Baptist) is Elias, which
was for to come.'[F4]
This was an astonishing explanation. John the Baptist was Elias?
Christ prefaced His explanation with the words: 'If ye will receive
it.' He meant apparently: If you can understand and accept this
symbolical interpretation of the facts. Then Christ immediately
added the words:
'He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.'[F5]
This time there could be no doubt. He was warning His disciples
that it would take spiritual ears to hear and believe in this
truth. It was to be understood inwardly, not outwardly. This
return, which Christ said had happened, had taken place in the
spirit and not in the flesh. This is confirmed by John the Baptist
himself.
<p55>
He was asked: 'Art thou Elias?' He answered: 'I am not.' He was
asked: 'Art thou that prophet?' He answered: 'No.'[F6] Certainly
Christ was not a liar. He knew that John was not Elias in the
flesh. This is why it took spiritual 'eyes' to see and accept John
as Elias. Once understood symbolically, the truth was simple:
Elias had returned in the spirit in John the Baptist. If men were
unable to understand the significance of this inward truth and
accept it, Christ explained, they would continue to believe Him,
Jesus, to be false. The return of Elias had come. John was the
return of Elias--not in the flesh, but in the spirit. I found
that this very event had been prophesied for John the Baptist in
the Gospel of Luke:
'...he (John) shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his
mother's womb...And he shall go before him in the spirit and power
of Elias...'[F7]
This was one of the most important clues I had yet found in the
teachings of Christ. It was still another confirmation of why the
Messiah, when He came again, would have a new name. Christ
demonstrated in this example of John and Elias that a Messenger of
God does not return in the flesh. It is the Holy Spirit that
returns; but through another channel, in another age, and with
another outward name. The disciples had much trouble grasping
this truth. In another place we read how they came to Christ
concerning this matter:
'...his disciples asked him, saying, Why then say the scribes
that Elias must come first?'[F8]
<p56>
Christ explained it with the utmost simplicity:
'Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things...But I say
unto you, that Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but
have done unto him whatsoever they listed...Then the disciples
understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist.'[F9]
Elias had come. No one believed it because it was the 'spirit'
of Elias which had returned in the flesh of John. Since this
return was not in the manner expected by the people, they did not
understand it or accept it. They had been taught that it would be
a literal return, and the real truth, the spiritual return, was
contrary to their teachings. If this pattern had been repeated
in 1844, it would easily account for the fact that no Messiah had
appeared, at least not as the people expected. Perhaps there might
again be a small minority who had 'eyes to see' and minds to
understand a symbolical return. It would be worth checking. In
The Coming World Teacher, Pavri, a student of the last day
prophecies, recognizes this danger. He says: 'Perchance some in
the Christian Church will recognize Him by His wisdom and supreme
compassion. But if they insist on His coming in the garb their
thoughts have made for Him and forget that "God fulfils Himself in
many ways" and not according to their measure of Him, He may pass
unrecognized because of His not fulfilling the expectations which
they have become accustomed to associate with Him. Last time when
He came, "He was not Jew enough for the Jew, not Roman enough for
the Roman, not Greek enough for the Greek. He was too big for them
all." So this time He will not be Protestant enough for the
Protestant, Catholic enough for the Catholic, Broad Church enough
for the Liberal. He will be too big for them all. Coming again
with a message for all
<p57>
mankind, He will not be Hindu enough for the Hindu, Mohammedan
enough for the Moslem, Buddhist enough for the Buddhist, nor
Christian enough for the Christian. He will be too big for them
all.' Christ Himself gave still another indication that His
return would require this spiritual insight to recognise it when
He said:
'When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation,
spoken of by Daniel the Prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso
readeth, let him understand.)'[F10]
These last words show that His return would not be clear to the
outward vision, but would have an inward significance. Peter the
Apostle in his First Epistle points out the same symbolic truth,
that it is the Spirit of Christ which is in the Holy Messengers who
appear. He says of these prophets:
'...the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify
(prophesy)...'[F11]
'That the Messiah will come among us in that day, living like
other men, is shown in many places. In The Testament of the
Twelve, regarded as authoritative by the early church, we read:
'The Most High will visit the earth, coming as a man, eating and
drinking with men in quiet.'[F12] In the book of Justin Martyr,
Trypho the Jew says: 'All of us (Jews) expect the Messiah to come
as a man from among men.'[F13] Roderic Dunkerley in Beyond the
Gospels quotes Christ as follows in a chapter on some of the
sayings of Jesus:
'I stood in the midst of the world and in the flesh was I seen
of them, and I found all men drunken, and none found I athirst
among them, and my soul grieveth over the sons of men, because they
are blind in their heart.'[F14]
<p58>
I now felt that the evidence fully justified my looking for the
return of Christ in a new physical identity but with the same Holy
Spirit. Christ Himself suggests this in His warning to His
disciples, a warning which He gave them when speaking about the
return of Elias in John. He said:
'Likewise also shall the Son of man suffer of them.'[F15]
For my own benefit, I wrote on the margin of my typescript of
this chapter: 'He who hath an ear to hear, let him hear.'
15. The Mouthpiece of God Having decided to search along
these lines, I combed the Scriptures for other clues which Christ
might have given concerning the coming of One other than Himself.
I found this symbolical interpretation of His return to be strongly
fortified by His own words. I discovered that Christ repeatedly
made two clear distinctions regarding His second coming. On some
occasions He would refer to His own appearance, at other times He
would refer to the appearance of One other than Himself. A few
examples of this dual reference of Christ make the point evident:
1. That He would return Himself:
'I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.'[F1]
'I go away, and come again unto you.'[F2]
'A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little
while, and ye shall see me.'[F3]
'And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come
again...'[F4]
<p59>
2. That another other than Himself would come:
'Nevertheless I tell you the truth; it is expedient for you that
I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto
you.'[F5]
'...but if I depart, I will send him unto you. And when he is
come, he will reprove the world of sin...'[F6] 'I have yet many
things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit
when he, the spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all
truth.'[F7]
'But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from
the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the
Father, he shall testify of me.'[F8]
In the following words Christ made it clear that He, as well as
the One Who would return in His name would be human channels for
the same Holy Spirit. Of Himself Christ said:
'...the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's which
sent me.'[F9]
In yet another place, Christ repeats this:
'the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself.'[F10]
Christ makes this same statement about the One Whom He promises
will return after He, Christ, departs:
'...he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear,
that shall he speak.'[F11]
That another Messenger would come in His (Christ's) name with the
same power of the Holy Spirit is made unmistakably clear from still
other words of Christ to His disciples:
'...the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will
send in my name, he shall teach you all things,
<p60>
and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said
unto you.'[F12]
Christ issued a stern warning to the people of Jerusalem, telling
them that since they had denied Him in His day, they would have no
opportunity to believe in Him again until the day of His return.
In one single sentence He links Himself once more with the One to
come after Him:
'For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye
shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.'[F13]
There seemed sufficient evidence to show that when Christ spoke
of His own return, He was speaking of the Christ-spirit, the Holy
Spirit, within Him, which would reappear; and when He spoke of the
coming of another, He was speaking of a different human channel,
a man with a new name other than Christ, but Who would be filled
with this same Holy Spirit. In yet another way Christ expressed
the same truth, that it is not the name and the flesh that matter,
but the Spirit which the Messenger brings:
'God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in
spirit and in truth.'[F14]
I found that this same principle of the return in spirit but not
in flesh was found in other sacred scriptures. Sri Krishna, holy
Messenger of Hinduism, had in ancient days stated this same basic
truth. He said that the Holy Spirit returns in new channels in
each age, according to the command of God. It is written in the
Baghavad Gita:
'Know thou, O Prince, that whenever the world declineth in virtue
and righteousness; and vice and injustice mount the throne, then
come I, the Lord, and revisit My
<p61>
world in visible form, and mingle as a man with men, and by my
influence and teachings do I destroy the evil and injustice, and
re-establish virtue and righteousness. Many times have I thus
appeared; many times hereafter shall I come again.'
In this same Book, Krishna also foretold the coming of a Great
World Teacher at the time of the end. The same story of the
'return of the Spirit' is given by Gautama, the Buddha:
'I am not the first Buddha Who came upon earth, nor shall I be
the last. In due time another Buddha will arise in the world, a
Holy One, a supremely enlightened One ... an incomparable Leader
of men ... He will reveal to you the same eternal truths which
I have taught you.'
At least all the doors were not now closed. There was a
possibility that the return of Christ had taken place in the Spirit
and not in the flesh. In fact, the evidence was indeed quite
strong that this had taken place. Therefore, I was prepared to
search the history of the 1844 period for some holy, Christ-like
Figure bearing a different name than Christ, but One who was filled
with that same gentleness, kindness, and love shown by Jesus. But
there was one important thing which I still did not know. Where
would the Messiah appear? In what part of the world? My next
task was to try and discover this very fact. I began checking the
Scriptures for some concrete evidence which would help me narrow
down the geographical area of my search. As I sought for this
clue, I received quite a setback. I found to my astonishment that
a great many of my fellow-Christians
<p62>
didn't believe that Christ would ever return to this earth. I
discovered that the Christian world held a great variety of views
on the subject. In fact, the great majority of Christians, because
of their disappointments down through the centuries, had long since
given up any hope of a real return of Christ. I decided that
perhaps I'd better settle this point once and for all in my own
mind before going on.
16. One Shepherd but Many Folds
WORLD COUNCIL OF CHURCHES SPLITS OVER CHRIST'S COMING
AGAIN
Find it Impossible to Reach Vote
This was not an imaginary headline. It was taken from the
bold-face type on the front page of the Chicago Daily Tribune of
August 26th, 1954. This news story was written following the
opening session of the World Council of Churches in Evanston,
Illinois, a gathering which brought together 163 Christian
denominations from 48 countries. Chesly Manly, who wrote the
story, began by saying: 'Delegates to the second assembly of the
World Council of Churches disagreed sharply and fundamentally
yesterday as to whether the Christian hope for the establishment
of God's kingdom can be fulfilled in this world or only after the
second coming of Christ.' One thousand nine hundred and
fifty-four years after His birth, there was still a basic lack of
agreement among Christ's followers as to whether He had ever really
promised that He would come again. George Goyder, delegate from
the Church of England,
<p63>
according to the newspaper story 'shamed the distinguished
theologians and ecclesiastics who wrote the main theme report for
being "lukewarm about the second coming of Christ".' 'The
document speaks of "curiosity" about the date of His coming,' said
the English delegate. 'What we need is a new Declaration of
Independence on Christ. Never in history has there been such
chaos, confusion, and despair in the world.' There was even an
apparent split in thinking between some of the Christian leaders
of Europe and those of the United States. Time magazine in its
April 19th issue wrote: 'The "Main Theme" of the Assembly, which
all delegates will discuss together during the gathering's first
week, sounds non-controversial enough: Christ--The Hope of the
World. Yet it contains a question that--before it is answered--may
draw a dramatic line between theologians of the Old World and the
New. How much of the Christian Hope depends upon the Second Coming
of Christ?' The article quotes Norway's well-known Bishop Eivind
Berggrav as saying that 'the outlook of American Christianity often
looks...rather earthbound, expecting the fulfilment of God's
Kingdom here on earth--one might even say expecting its realization
in the U.S.A.' The article adds that to such European Protestants
as Bishop Berggrav, "the Christian hope rests more on the Biblical
expectation that Christ will one day return to end the earthly
enterprise.' H. H. Rowley in The Relevance of the Apocalyptic
says '...the hope of that Advent (of Christ) is integral to New
Testament thought.' O. Cullman in The Return of Christ According
to the New Testament writes: '...to reject this hope (of the
Advent) is to mutilate the New Testament message of salvation.'
<p64>
A. J. Gordon states: 'Any doctrine of the resurrection
dissociated from the Advent must be false.' Christabel Pankhurst,
the British suffragette, wrote in her book Behold He Cometh, 'My
practical political eye saw that the Divine Programme (the return
of Christ) is absolutely the only one that can solve the
international, social, political and other problems of the world.'
I learned that this debate had been going on for centuries, and
that the World Council of Churches was merely another evidence of
the disagreement. Many denominations did not participate in this
World Council at all. There was a widespread belief that when
Christ spoke of His own return, or of the One who would come after
Him, He was not speaking of an actual return, but of a symbolical
one. This theory proposed that the Comforter, the Spirit of Truth,
the One who would come in His name, all these in reality refereed
to the Holy Ghost Which had descended on the Church at the time of
Pentecost; therefore, it was said, the return had been fulfilled
at that time. It was over and done with. In my search, I found
that this particular doctrine that Christ had returned in the Holy
Ghost at the time of Pentecost was more a doctrine of expediency
than one of desire. It had developed long after the time of Jesus.
When He did not return as expected, some explanation for this
failure had to be discovered. Since Christ's words were true
words, therefore His return must be figurative. But belief in the
return of Christ did not cease shortly after the crucifixion, never
to be revived until 1844, not by any means. In fact, the Christian
world suffered so many disappointments because of 'days of
expectancy' down through the ages, that after the seventeenth
century there was little sincere belief in the return until men's
hearts were once
<p65>
again caught up by the vision, in the advent of the early
nineteenth century. Rather, strong measures were taken to stamp
out such 'vain hopes' and the Pentecostal theory gained great
favour. Those who adopted the Pentecostal theory of the return
as the only possible answer to the enigma, sincerely believed that
although Christ used such terms as the Comforter, the Spirit of
Truth, as well as the pronoun he upon several occasions, still He
(Christ) was alluding to the symbolical coming of the Holy Ghost
at that time. This, of course, aroused a flood of opposition.
It was pointed out that, according to this theory, when the Holy
Ghost appeared in the Spirit of Truth, it was 'to lead men to all
truth,' while in reality since that time the Church had become
separated and divided into hundreds and hundreds of sects--each
claiming the true path, and each going its own way. Rev. William
B. Riley in Is Christ Coming Again writes: 'To speak of the Lord's
return as a mere figure of speech that is to know no literal
fulfilment, is little less sacrilegious than the total denial of
inspiration.' He adds, 'If the plain references to the return of
the Lord do not involve a personal coming, language has lost its
meaning.' With such a raging controversy on the second coming of
Christ being waged, even after all these years, among the
Christians themselves, I decided to make my own investigation from
the Scriptures. I would settle the point in my own mind, and then
either go on with my search or abandon it. It would depend on what
I found. Until I knew the truth I would not be willing to admit
that no answer could be found to the century-old mystery of The
Case of the Missing Millenium. I realised by now, of course, that
even if Christ had returned in the 1844 period, there was no reason
to expect that the
<p66>
knowledge of that return would be general, any more than it had
been a hundred years after His first coming. If a World Council
of Jews had been held a century after the crucifixion, it is
obvious that the historical fact of the first Advent would have
been unknown to it. I was determined not to be influenced by any
of the conflicting views until I had made my own personal search
into the promises of Christ concerning His return. Either He
promised to return or He didn't. I decided to find out which.
17. The Unmistakable Signs My enthusiasm for The Case of the
Missing Millenium returned with a rush. I soon learned there is
no subject spoken of with more frequency and more power in all the
New Testament than the return of Christ. It is mentioned on
innumerable occasions. There is nothing vague or doubtful about
the event whatever. The disciples of Christ were very familiar
with His promise that He would return. They spoke of it often.
They were eager for a clear understanding of the conditions under
which He, Christ, would return. They asked Him plainly:
'What shall be the sign of thy coming?'
It was in answer to this direct question that Christ gave His
three well-known promises that He would return when:
1. His gospel was preached in all the world for a witness. 2.
The times of the Gentiles was fulfilled. 3. Ye see the
abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet.
None of these promises had been fulfilled by time of
<p67>
Pentecost, nor could they have been. In the very chapters (Matt.
xxiv, Luke xxi) in which this question is asked concerning the time
of His return, Christ gives plain answers. He refers repeatedly
to His return, saying:
1. '...then shall the end come.'[F1] 2. 'so shall also the
coming of the Son of man be.'[F2] 3. 'And then shall appear the
sign of the Son of man.'[F3] 4. '...they shall see the Son of
man coming...'[F4] 5. 'when ye shall see all these things, know
that it is near, even at the doors.'[F5] 6. 'so shall also the
coming of the Son of man be.'[F6] 7. 'so shall also the coming
of the Son of man be.'[F7] 8. 'Ye know not what hour your Lord
doth come.'[F8] 9. '...in such an hour as ye think not the Son
of man cometh.'[F9] 10. 'Blessed is that servant whom his Lord
when he cometh shall find so doing.'[F10] 11. 'The lord of that
servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an
hour that he is not aware of.'[F11] 12. 'And then shall they see
the Son of man coming in a cloud, with power and great glory.'[F12]
13. 'when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and
lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.'[F13]
14. 'when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the
kingdom of God is nigh at hand.'[F14] 15. 'And take
heed...lest...that day come upon you unawares.'[F15] 16. 'Watch
ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted
worthy...to stand before the Son of man.'[F16]
When I had finished my study of the New Testament, I was more
intrigued than ever with my search. I had discovered other clear
promises of Christ's return:
<p68>
1. 'I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.'[F17]
2. 'I go away, and come again unto you.'[F18] 3. 'And if I go
and prepare a place for you, I will come again.'[F19] 4. 'For
the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father...'[F20]
It is not surprising that millennial zeal had seized the
Christian world and held it in its grip for centuries, especially
when we realize that the above references in the New Testament do
not in any way exhaust the promises of Christ's return given in
that Book. The following are some of the additional references
to His coming:
Matthew 24:46 Luke
24:50 6:10 25:6 9:26 7:22
25:10 12:36 10:23 25:13
12:37 16:27 25:31 12:38
16:28 26:29 12:40 23:39
26:64 12:43 24:3
12:46 24:14 Mark 13:35 24:15
17:24 24:27 8:38
17:26 24:30 9:1 17:30
24:33 12:9 18:8 24:37
13:26 21:27 24:39 13:33
21:28 24:42 13:35 21:31 24:44
14:62 21:34
<p69>
Luke 3:20 Titus
21:36 2:13
John I Thesalonians
5:28 1:10 Hebrews 14:16
2:19 14:18 3:13 9:28 14:26
4:15 14:28 4:16 15:26
4:17 James 16:7 5:2 16:8
5:3 5:7 16:13 5:4
5:8 16:22 5:23 21:22
I Peter II Thesalonians
Acts 1:7
1:7 1:13 2:20 1:10
5:1 3:19 2:2 5:4 3:20
2:3 2:8 Corinthians 3:5
II Peter
1:7 1:19 4:5
I Timothy 3:3 11:26
3:4 15:23 6:14 3:9
15:24 3:10
II Timothy 3:12
Phillipians 4:1 I John
4:8 1:6 3:2
<p70>
Revelation 3:3 14:15 1:7
3:11 14:16 1:8
3:20 22:7 1:13 4:8
22:10 2:5 6:17 22:12 2:16
14:1 22:20 2:25
14:14
Even these do not exhaust the list of all the references to the
return of Christ. Rev. R. A. Torrey, Dean of the Bible Institute
of Los Angeles, California, in his book The Return of the Lord
Jesus, listed over 250 separate passages on the certainty and
consequences of the Second Coming of Christ. However these
references were more than sufficient to convince me that Christ had
indeed left a firm promise of His coming, including the words in
the final book of Christian Scripture, where in the next to the
last verse it says:
'He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come
quickly...Even so, come, Lord Jesus.'[F21]
Therefore, instead of deflecting me from my course, the
widespread disbelief which I found, even among the Christians
themselves concerning the return of Christ, only succeeded in
arousing my enthusiasm. Far from being discouraged, I realised
from my own researches that this very lack of faith among Christ's
own followers concerning His return was one of the certain signs
that that return had taken place, and that He was already among
men. In the words of a later millennial scholar: 'The scepticism
and unbelief so prevalent concerning the Second Advent of
<p71>
Christ is in itself a "sign" of the last days. St. Peter tells us:
"...there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their
own lusts, and saying, Where is the promise of His coming? for
since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were
from the beginning of the creation" (II Peter iii. 3-4). One hears
these very words everywhere today. Even among the leaders of the
Church this terribly momentous event (return of Christ) is regarded
with incredibility, as "visionary".' (M. H. Goyer.) The Epistle
of James tells us:
'Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the
Lord.'[F22]
St. Paul wrote:
'Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus
Christ...that ye be not soon shaken... Let no man deceive you by
any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling
away first...'[F23]
St. Peter left the same warning about scepticism and doubt:
'...there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall
bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that brought
them... And many shall follow their pernicious ways: by reason
of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.'[F24]
The answer was clear. The evidence was overwhelming. Christ had
indeed promised to return. These facts confirmed my growing theory
that just as the people had not recognised the return of Elias in
John, in spite of Christ's clear explanation, in like manner they
might not have recognised the return of Christ in the new Messiah.
I hurried on with my search.
<p72>
18. Lightning from the East
I now began an earnest search for clues which would tell me
something about the place in which the Messiah would appear. Two
interesting things came to light. For the first coming, Daniel had
given the time and Micah had given the place. Daniel had
prophesied exactly when the Messiah would appear the first time and
when He would be slain. Micah had said of the place:
'But thou, Bethlehem...out of thee shall he come forth unto me
that is to be ruler in Israel.'[F1]
Daniel had also prophesied with even greater exactness the time
of the second coming of the Messiah in 1844 (see p. 20).
Therefore, I turned to Micah for a possible clue as to the place
of His second appearance. I was richly rewarded. In Micah vii.
7 and 12 I found:
'I will wait for the God of my salvation...In that day also he
shall come even to thee from Assyria...'[F2]
The Assyrian Empire at one time covered the entire area in which
both Daniel and Micah lived out their lives. Therefore, I chose
to study those parts of the Empire in which these two prophets
traditionally lived and taught. To my surprise, I found that
there were many other clues to follow as well. Gradually one led
to another, until a definite picture began to emerge, and I knew
at least in which direction to turn my gaze. The book of Ezekiel
spoke of a great Figure who would come in those days. He said:
'And, behold, the glory of the God of Israel came from the way
of the east.'[F3]
This was clearly a reference to the second coming of Christ
<p73>
and not the first, for Jesus did not come from the way of the East,
He came from north and west of Jerusalem. Isaiah in like manner
spoke of the wondrous Figure who would come from the East. Isaiah
said that it was God Himself Who had
'...raised up the righteous man from the east, called him to his
foot, gave the nations before him, and made him rule over
kings.'[F4]
Even Christ Himself pointed to the direction from which He would
appear in the day of His second coming. Speaking of that day, He
said:
'For as the lightning cometh out of the East...so shall also the
coming of the Son of man be.'[F5]
The Jewish Oracles, the Sibylline books, prophesied that the
'King Messiah' of the time of the end would come 'from the
sunrise'.[F6] Daniel had written his words of millennial prophecy
while in the East. In fact, he was in Elam, a part of ancient
Persia, when he foretold with such startling accuracy the exact
time of both the first and the second
comings of Christ. It was in the capital city of Persia, Shushan,
that Daniel had the prophetic vision which revealed the year 1844
as the time for the return of the Messiah. Daniel not only gave
the time 1844, but he also directed attention to the place, saying
that 'Elam' (Persia) would be given as a place of 'vision' in the
latter days.[F7] The Prophet Jeremiah speaks of things that
'shall come to pass in the latter days' and in the verse preceding
this, he says:
'And I will set my throne in Elam (Persia)...saith the Lord.'[F8]
<p74>
I came across a prophecy well known among the Arabs. Speaking
of the time of the end, it said:
When the promised One appears, the 'upholders of His faith shall
be the people of Persia.'[F9]
All these prophecies clearly showed that the Messiah would come
from the East, and they put a strong emphasis on the territory of
Persia. It was something definite to go on. The circle was
narrowing.
19. The Vision of the Last Days
I uncovered another remarkable series of prophecies. They also
pointed to Persia as the place where the Messiah would appear.
Furthermore, they linked together in one unit the promises of
Christ, Daniel, and Revelation regarding the time (1844) of His
return.
These prophecies spoke of precisely such a troubled age as that
in which we now find ourselves, devastated by two world wars,
hovering on the brink of a third, faced with the ultimate in
destruction--atomic warfare. In just such an age it was promised
that Christ would already have come, unexpected, unknown,
unaccepted, unwanted.
We are living in a day when, with the explosion of a hydrogen
bomb, the elements do indeed melt with fervent heat. The Apostles
of Christ warned mankind that when Christ returned He would catch
them asleep. When would this happen?
'But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in
the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise and the
elements shall melt with fervent heat...' [II Peter 3:10.]
All these awesome events, I learned, were foretold by Scripture.
They must take place before the Messiah would be recognised and
accepted by the generality of mankind. Only then would He be able
to usher in the day of the 'one fold and one shepherd.'
The Prophet Joel warned of these LAST DAYS, saying:
'The sun shall be turned into darkness...before the great and the
terrible day of the Lord come.' [Joel 2:31.]
Christ echoes these same words, saying that after they have been
fulfilled, He will return:
'...shall the sun be darkened...and they shall see the Son of man
coming...' [Matthew 24:29-30.]
The Prophet Joel said of THE TIME OF THE END:
'There hath not been ever the like, neither shall be any more
after it.' [Joel 2:2.]
Christ reaffirms that this time of trouble will be the time of
His return. He repeats this very same statement of Joel, saying:
'For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the
beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be...then
shall appear the sign of the Son of man...' [Matthew 24:21, 29-30.]
Revelation gives the same two identical signs: (1) the darkening
of the sun, and (2) the coming of the Lord's great and dreadful
day. When the Lamb of God (the Messiah) appeared in the last days
and 'unsealed' the holy Books, St. John the Divine records that he
beheld the following:
'...there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as
sackcloth of hair...' [Revelation 6:12.]
This took place, Revelation said, in a day when all the people
of the earth
'...hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the
mountains...for the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall
be able to stand.' [Revelation 6:15, 17.]
Daniel also foretells the suffering that will follow the coming
of the Messiah in THE TIME OF THE END. He prophesies that this
suffering will last until His truth has been accepted. He uses the
same words as Jesus, Joel and Revelation. He warns that in the day
of the coming of the new Messiah,
'...there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since
there was a nation even to that same time...' [Daniel 12:1.]
In these prophecies, Daniel links Christ inseparably with the One
Who has the appearance of the 'Glory of God'. Speaking of this TIME
OF THE END, Daniel promises that:
'...at that time shall Michael stand up...and at that time thy
people shall be delivered.' [Daniel 12:1.]
Enoch also mentions the same Michael, saying:
'And I will give thee...the great Captain Michael, for thy
writings and for the writings of thy fathers...And I shall not
require them until the last age...' [The Book of the Secrets of
Enoch, trans. Charles, p.48.]
My next assignment was to identify this Michael who would deliver
the children of God in the last days. The answer can be found in
chapter ten of Daniel. There Daniel speaks of the overpowering
vision which came to him in the land of Persia, and he says:
'But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and
twenty days: but, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to
help me...' [Daniel 10:13.]
In the next verse, Daniel is told that this vision concerns THE
TIME OF THE END and:
'...what shall befall thy people (Israel) in the latter days.'
[Daniel 10:14.]
Then the Lord makes the following promise to Daniel:
'I will shew thee that which is noted in the scripture of
truth...' [Daniel 10:21.]
In this very same verse, Daniel is told by the Lord that only
Michael, the Chief Prince of Persia, understands the meaning of
this latter day vision. The Lord says to Daniel:
'...and there is none that holdeth with me (God) in these things,
but Michael your prince.' [Daniel 10:21.]
Michael is obviously a prince of Persia, but a spiritual prince,
and unlike the prince of the kingdom of Persia who resisted Daniel.
The Lord calls Michael 'your prince' in speaking to Daniel.
The name Michael, translated into English, means One who looks
like God. This is yet another way of saying 'the Glory of God.'
It is interesting to note that Daniel, like Ezekiel, fell to the
earth, overcome, when he beheld the glory of this Messenger. Daniel
says:
'And when he had spoken such words unto me, I set my face toward
the ground and I became dumb.' [Daniel 10:15.]
The same thing happened to Ezekiel when he beheld the 'Glory of
God' who came from the East.
The final chapter of Daniel speaks of THE LAST DAYS, and says yet
again:
'And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince who
standeth for the children of thy people..and at that time thy
people shall be delivered...' [Daniel 12:1.]
There could no longer be any doubt but that Michael was a
spiritual prince, a representative of God. Could he be the
Messiah? Would he come at the time foretold, which I had already
ascertained from the Bible? The next question, therefore, was:
When would this wonder take place? When would Michael, Prince of
Persia, Who looked like God, appear and deliver the people?
Daniel was told when this would take place:
1. 'In the latter days...' [Daniel 10:14.] 2. 'At the time
of the end shall be the vision.' [Daniel 8:17.] 3. 'The words
are closed up and sealed till the time of the end.' [Daniel 12:9.]
4. 'Shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the
end.' [Daniel 12:4.]
Then in vision, Daniel sees the last days, and the coming of the
'ancient of days', the Promised One Who will unseal the books.
Daniel says:
'...ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the
judgement was set, and the books were opened.' [Daniel 7:10.]
In this same chapter Daniel says that in this hour
'...one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven.'
[Daniel 7:13.]
A few verses later Daniel repeats:
'...the Ancient of days came, and judgement was given to the
saints of the Most High; and the time came that the saints
(believers) possessed the kingdom.' [Daniel 7:22.]
In this same chapter, Daniel says that this will come to pass
following:
'a time and times and the dividing of time.' [Daniel 7:25.]
This we know to be three and a half years, or 1260 days; or in
the measure of biblical prophesy: 1260 years.
In the final chapter of Daniel, it is said again that Michael,
Prince of Persia, the Ancient of days, will stand for the people
of the Lord, and deliver them in the hour when the books are
unsealed. This also will take place, Daniel prophesies, after:
'...a time, times, and a half.' [Daniel 12:7.]
Therefore, we again come to this same identical time of 1260
years.
In Persia, the land where Daniel wrote his prophecy, the land of
Michael, Who looks like God, the year 1260 is identical with the
year 1844 of the calendar of the West.
Thus, once again, i learned: (1) that the year 1844 would be the
time for the appearance of the Messiah; (2) that He would be 'One
Who looks like God' or 'the Glory of God'; (3) that He would appear
in the land of Persia.
I now had two converging clues, of time and place, in The Case
of the Missing Millenium.
[William Sears, Thief in the Night, Part I, Chap. 19, pp. 74-79.]
20. The Avalanche
The next logical step was to search through the history of Persia
in the first half of the nineteenth century for some CLUE as to the
identity of the Messiah. Before doing this, I made a list of all
the additional information and evidence which I had accumulated
during my search through the Scriptures and secular history.
I shall leave the intriguing details until we take up the next
section The Solution. Here I shall merely place on record the
facts. Each one of these points I shall later, clearly and
separately, substantiate from the sources.
In addition to those given in the preceding chapters, I uncovered
the following statements concerning the Messiah of THE TIME OF THE
END:
1. He shall come from Persia (additional evidence). 2. He shall
go to the valley of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in the
land of Babylon. 3. He shall withdraw from the city into the
barren places, as Christ had gone into the desert in the day
of His FIRST coming. 4. He shall openly proclaim His Mission in
Babylon (or its modern equivalent), and there he shall
'redeem' Israel and the world. 5. He shall come from the Tigris
and Euphrates valley to the Holy Land, Israel, as Abraham had
come. He shall make the journey from the land of the Chaldees
to the promised land of Canaan. 6. He shall come from a fortified
city to a fortified city on His journey to Israel. 7. He
shall come out of the 'fortress' and journey to the freedom of
the 'river.' 8. On His journey from the East to Israel, He
shall come from 'mountain to mountain.' 9. The land of
Israel shall be desolate when He comes, but it will later
'blossom as the rose.' 10. He shall dwell in the 'midst of Carmel'
and from there He shall 'feed his flock' with His Teachings.
11. His ministry on earth shall last for exactly 'forty years.'
12. He shall come to the valley of Achor where He shall be found
by those who 'have sought' Him in the last days. 13. The
place where His feet have walked in the Holy Land, Israel,
shall 'be made glorious.' 14. The place of His 'rest' or
'sanctuary' or tomb shall become beautified with trees, paths,
and flowers. 15. He shall come from the 'seed' of Abraham. 16.
He shall 'glorify' Christ in the day of His coming. 17. There
shall be signs in the physical heavens in the day of His
appearance. 18. He shall 'unseal the books' and explain their
'hidden meanings' so that all may understand (additional
evidence). 19. He shall overthrow the power and thrones of wicked
kings. 20. He shall set up a spiritual 'kingdom in all parts of
the world--the Kingdom foretold by Christ in His prayer: 'Thy
Kingdom come, Thy Will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.'
I had never dreamed there would be such an avalanche of CLUES and
PROOFS for the coming of Christ when I had started to unravel this
mystery seven long years before.
I heartily affirmed Christabel Pankhurst's summation in Behold
He Cometh: 'A few years ago there was an excuse for the critical
having doubts of Bible prophecies. But recent events are fitting
into the mould of prophecy so marvelously as to remove all grounds
for doubt.' [Behold He Cometh, Pankhurst, cit. Star of the West
Magazine, Vol. xiv, p. 303.]
Certainly no Messiah had ever come with such an astonishing array
of proofs to fulfil. It should now be quite easy to prove the
truth or the falsehood of anyone who claimed to be the Messiah.
He need only be measured against these prophecies.
The hardest part of the detective's job was now over. The
drudgery of assembling the facts, evidence and clues was ended. The
rest was a matter of careful arrangement, then I could begin an
all-out search for a Messiah Who would fulfil these promises. This
should be the most interesting and exciting part. I certainly had
more than enough to go on, including Christ's own words:
'...when ye shall see all these things, know that it (His return)
is near, even at the doors.' [Matthew 24:33.]
I knew exactly where to begin: Persia, 1844.
I took a second folder from my files. I labelled it: The
Solution.
Would there be one?
1. [The Story of Prophecy, Henry James Forman, 1936, pp. 310-311.]
2. [Star of the West Magazine, Vol. xiv, p. 304.] 3. [The Story
of Prophecy, Foreman, pp. 310-311.] 4. [Days of Delusion, Clara
E. Sears, 1924, pp. 259-260.] 5. [The Present Crisis, James
Russell Lowell.] 6. [Job 38:35.] 7. [Job 19:25.] 8. [Numbers
23:23.] 1. [Baha'i World, The, Vol. v, p. 604.] 2. [Our Day in
the Light of Prophecy, W. A. Spicer, 1925, p. 241.] 3. [The
Pentralia, Andrew Jackson Davis, Boston, 1846.] 4. [The Story of
Prophecy, Foreman, pp. 309-310.] 5. [The Story of Prophecy,
Foreman, p.310.] 6. [New York Tribune, November 20th, 1878.] 7.
[New York Tribune, November 20th, 1878.] 1. [Matthew 24:3.] 2.
[Matthew 24:13-14.] 3. [Year Book and Guide to East Africa, Ed.
by Robert Hale Ltd., London, 1953, p. 44.] 4. [Our Day in the
Light of Prophecy, Spicer, p. 308.] 5. [Mark 13:10.] 6. [Mark
13:33.] 7. [Mark 13:26.] 1. [Luke 21:7.] 2. [Luke 21:24-27.] 3.
[God Passes By, Shoghi Effendi, 1944 (Introduction by G.
Townshend), iv.] 1. [Matthew 24:3.] 2. [Matthew 24:15.] 3.
[Matthew 24:30.] 4. [Daniel 8:13-14.] 5. [Bible Reading, Ed.
Review and Herald Pub. Co. (Battle Creek, MI), p. 94.] 1.
[Revelation 9:15.] 1. [The Dawnbreakers, Nabil, 1932, p. 49.] 2.
[The Dawnbreakers, Nabil, 1932, p. 50.] 2. [The Dawnbreakers,
Nabil, 1932, p. 50.] 3. [Leviticus 26:28-33.] 4. [Daniel 4:13-16.]
1. [Luke 21:28.] 1. [Isaiah 62:2.] 2. [Isaiah 65:15.] 3.
[Revelation 2:17.] 4. [Isaiah 62:12.] 5. [Revelation 3:12.] 6.
[Revelation 3:5.] 7. [Revelation 3:5.] 8. [Revelation 3:7-8.] 9.
[Revelation 16:12,13.] 1. [Revelation 3:2, 3.] 2. [Revelation
3:1.] 3. [Revelation 2:2.] 4. [Revelation 16:15.] 5. [Revelation
16:15.] 6. [Revelation 2:5, 7,10, 11, 16, 17,25, 29; 3:2, 3, 5, 6,
10, 11, 12, 13, 15, 16, 17, 19, 20,22.] 7. [Revelation 3:12.] 1.
[Isaiah 35:2.] 2. [Isaiah 40:5.] 3. [Isaiah 42:18.] 4. [Revelation
21:2, 23.] 5. [Matthew 16:27.] 6. [Eziekiel 1:28.] 7. [Daniel
10:15.] 8. [Matthew 24:30; Luke 21:27.] 9. [Daniel 7:13.] 10.
Daniel 7:25.] 11. [Isaiah 58:8.] 12. [Isaiah 60:1, 16.] 1.
[Matthew 24:42.] 2. [Mark 13:33.] 3. [Mark 13:35-36.] 4. [Luke
12:39-40.] 5. [Mark 13:37.] 6. [Daniel 12:4.] 7. [Daniel 12:8.]
8. [Daniel 12:9.] 9. [Isaiah 29:11.] 10. [Isaiah 29:11.] 11.
[I Corinthians 4:5.] 12. [II Peter 1:19-20.] 13. [II Peter
1:21.] 14. [John 16:25.] 15. [John 14:26.] 1. [Daniel 12:4.]
2. [Isaiah 29:11.] 3. [Isaiah 29:18, 24.] 4. [Daniel 12:9.] 5.
[Daniel 7:9, 10.] 6. [Revelation 22:10.] 7. [Revelation 14:14.] 8.
[Revelation 19:13.] 9. [Revelation 5:9.] 1. [Matthew 8:22.] 2.
[Jeremiah 5:21.] 3. [Matthew 13:11, 15, 16.] 4. [Matthew 11:14.]
5. [Matthew 11:15.] 6. [John 1:21.] 7. [Luke 1:15, 17.] 8.
[Matthew 17:10.] 9. [Matthew 17:11, 12, 13.] 10. [Matthew 24:15.]
11. [I Peter 1:11.] 12. [Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs,
Asher 7:3.] 13. [The Dialogue with Trypho, Justin Martyr, Chapter
49.] 14. [Beyond the Gospels, Roderic Dunkerley, Pelican Books,
1957, p. 133.] 15. [Matthew 17:12.] 1. [John 14:18.] 2. [John
14:28.] 3. [John 16:16.] 4. [John 14:3.] 5. [John 16:7.] 6. [John
16:7-8.] 7. [John 16:12, 13.] 8. [John 15:26.] 9. [John 14:24.]
10. [John 14:10.] 11. [John 16:13.] 12. [John 14:26.] 13.
[Matthew 23:39.] 14. [John 4:24.] 1. [Matthew 24:14.] 2. [Matthew
24:27.] 3. [Matthew 24:30.] 4. [Matthew 24:30.] 5. [Matthew 24:33.]
6. [Matthew 24:37.] 7. [Matthew 24:39.] 8. [Matthew 24:42.] 9.
[Matthew 24:44.] 10. [Matthew 24:46.] 11. [Matthew 24:50.]
12. [Luke 21:27.] 13. [Luke 21:28.] 14. [Luke 21:31.] 15.
[Luke 21:34.] 16. [Luke 21:36.] 17. [John 14:18.] 18. [John
14:28.] 19. [John 14:3.] 20. [Matthew 16:27.] 21. [Revelation
22:20.] 22. [James 5:7.] 23. [II Thessalonians 2:1-3.] 24.
[II Peter 2:1-2.] 1. [Micah 5:2.] 2. [Micah 7:7, 12.] 3. [Ezekiel
43:2.] 4. [Isaiah 41:2.] 5. [Matthew 24:27.] 6. [The Messianic Idea
in Israel, J. G. Klausner, 1956, p. 376.] 7. [Daniel 8:2.] 8.
[Jeremiah 49:38.] 9. [The Dawnbreakers, Nabil, p. 49.]
Thief in the Night The
Case of the Missing Millenium by William
Sears
"But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in
which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the
elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works
that are therein shall be burnt up." II Peter iii.10
PART TWO
The Solution
The story told in the following chapter was gleaned from many
sources, and was verified over a number of years. It is presented
here in only the briefest form.
I hope it will give you the same stab-like thrill it gave me when
I found the first 'clue' to this astonishing story.
In order to determine the truth of this account, I made several
trips to the Middle East. In fact, the final two sections of this
book were completed within sight of the famous Cave of Elijah
(Elias) on Mount Carmel.
My search began in a radio studio in Wisconsin. It ended in the
Holy Land, Israel, the land of promise.
W. S.
[William Sears, Thief in the Night, Part II, p. 83.]
1. The Mystery Begins to Unravel
A young man was being led captive through the crowded streets.
His neck was encased in a huge iron collar. Long ropes were
fastened to the collar by means of which he was pulled through the
rows of people lining the streets.
When he faltered in his steps, the guards savagely jerked him on
his way, or delivered a brutal well-aimed kick. Occasionally
someone would dart out of the crowd, break through the guards, and
strike the young man with a fist or a stick.
Cheers of delight from the crowd accompanied each successful
attack. When a stone or a piece of refuse, hurled from the mob,
struck the young captive in the face, the guards and the crowd
would burst into laughter.
'Rescue yourself, O great hero!' one of the pursuers called
mockingly. 'Break asunder your bonds! produce for us a miracle!'
Then he spat in derision at the silent figure.
The young man was led at last to his place of execution. It was
twelve o'clock noon. In the barracks' square of a sun-baked city,
the firing-squad was assembled. The blazing summer sun flashed
from the barrels of the raised muskets, pointed at the young man's
breast. The soldiers awaited the command to fire and to take his
life. The crowd leaned forward expectantly, hoping to witness,
even at this last moment, a miracle.
Late comers were still pouring into the public square. Thousands
swarmed along the adjoining rooftops looking down upon the scene
of death, all eager for one last look at this strange young man
who, in six short years, had so troubled their country.
He was either good or evil, they were not sure which it was. Yet
he seemed so young to die, barely thirty. Now that the end had
come, this victim of their hatred and persecution did not seem
dangerous at all. The crowd was disappointed. They had come,
hungering for drama, and he was failing them.
The young man was a strange paradox: helpless yet confident.
There was a look of contentment, even of eagerness, on his handsome
face as he gazed into the menacing barrels of the seven hundred and
fifty cocked rifles.
The guns were raised. The command was given. 'Fire!'
In turn, each of the three columns of two hundred and fifty men
opened fire upon the young man, until the entire regiment had
discharged its volley of bullets.
There were over ten thousand eye-witnesses to the spectacle that
followed. Several historical accounts have been preserved. One
of these states:
'The smoke of the firing of the seven hundred and fifty rifles
was such as to turn the light of the noonday sun into darkness.
...As soon as the cloud of smoke had cleared away, an astounded
multitude (looked) upon a scene which their eyes could scarcely
believe. ...The cords with which (the young man had been) suspended
had been rent in pieces by the bullets, yet (his) body had
miraculously escaped the volleys.' [The Dawnbreakers, Nabil, pp.
512-513.]
M. C. Huart, a French author, and a Christian, also wrote an
account of this episode, 'The soldiers in order to quiet the
excitement of the crowd...showed the cords broken by the bullets,
implying that no miracle had really taken place.' [La religion de
Bab, Clement Huart, 1889, pp. 3-4.]
The soldiers picked up the fragments of rope. They held them up
to the milling crowd. The mob was becoming dangerous, and the
soldiers wished to pacify them.
'The musket-balls have shattered the ropes into pieces,' their
actions explained. 'This is what freed him. It is nothing more
than this. It is no miracle.'
M. C. Huart, in further describing that remarkable event,
states: 'Amazing to believe, the bullets had not struck the
condemned but, on the contrary, had broken the bonds and he was
delivered. It was a real miracle.' [La religion de Bab, Clement
Huart, 1889, pp. 3-4.]
A.-L.-M. Nicholas, the famous European scholar, also recorded
this spectacle.
'An extraordinary thing happened,' he said, 'unique in the annals
of the history of humanity...the bullets cut the cords that held
(him) and he fell on his feet without a scratch.' [Seyyed Ali
Mohammed dit le Bab, A.L.M. Nicolas, 1905, p. 375.]
I first read this story in an account written by the famous
British Orientalist, Professor E. G. Browne of Cambridge
University. (This was the same Professor Browne whom I mentioned
earlier.) He likened this story to that of the coming of Christ,
saying:
'I am very anxious to get as accurate an account of all the
details...as possible, for in my eyes the whole (story) seems one
of the most interesting and important events that has occurred
since the rise of Christianity...I feel it my duty, as well as
pleasure, to try as far as in me lies to bring the matter to the
notice of my countrymen, that they may consider it...for suppose
anyone could tell us more about the childhood and early life and
appearance of Christ, for instance, how glad we should be to know
it. Now it is impossible to find out much...but in the case of
(this young man) it IS possible...So let us earn the thanks of
posterity, and provide against that day now.' [E. G. Browne,
cited in preface to The Chosen Highway, Blomfield, pp. v-vi.]
If this great scholar, and others like him, after considerable
study and search, felt that this event was akin to 'the appearance
of Christ' and the recording of it would win 'the thanks of
posterity', can you blame me for feeling a rising tide of
excitement.
I had to know more.
[William Sears, Thief in the Night, Part II, Chap. 1, pp.
84-86.]
2. The Remarkable Parallel
I began searching the libraries for all the available documents.
You can imagine my feelings of awe and wonder when I uncovered the
following facts.
The death of this young man occurred in July 1850. He was slain
publicly because of his words and his teaching. Everything I
learned about his life reminded me of Christ. In fact, after
carefully searching into his background, I could find but one
parallel in all recorded history to his brief, turbulent career;
only the moving story of the passion of Jesus Christ himself.
As part of my record of 'findings', I here set down the
remarkable similarity in the story of their lives:
1. They were both youthful. 2. They were both known for their
meekness and loving kindness. 3. They both performed healing
miracles. 4. The period of their ministry was very brief in each
case, and moved with dramatic swiftness to its climax. 5. Both
of them boldly challenged the time-honoured conventions, laws, and
rites of the religions into which they had been born. 6. They
courageously condemned the unbridled graft and corruption which
they saw on every side, both religious and secular. 7. The
purity of their own lives shamed the people among whom they taught.
8. Their chief enemies were among the religious leaders of the
land. These officials were the instigators of the outrages they
were made to suffer. 9. They both had indignities heaped upon
them. 10. They were both forcibly brought before the government
authorities and were subject to public interrogation. 11. They
were both scourged following this interrogation. 12. They both
went, first in triumph then in suffering, through the streets of
the city where they were to be slain. 13. They were both paraded
publicly, and heaped with humiliation, on the way to their place
of martyrdom. 14. They both spoke words of hope and promise to
the one who was to die with them; in fact, almost the exact same
words: 'Thou shalt be with me in paradise.' 15. They were both
martyred publicly before the hostile gaze of the onlookers who
crowded the scene.
16. A darkness covered the land following their slaying, in each
case beginning at noon. 17. Their bodies were both lacerated by
soldiers at the time of their slaying. 18. They both remained
in ignominious suspension before the eyes of an unfriendly
multitude. 19. Their bodies came finally into the hands of their
loving followers.
20. When their bodies, in each case, had vanished from the spot
where they had been placed, the religious leaders explained away
the fact. 21. Only a handful of their followers were with them
at the times of their deaths. 22. In each case, one of their
chief disciples denied knowing them. This same disciple, in each
case, later became a hero. 23. Each of them had an outstanding
woman follower who played a dramatic part in making the disciples
turn their faces from the past, and look toward the future. 24.
Confusion, bewilderment and despair seized their followers in each
case, following their martyrdom. 25. Through their disciples
(the Peters and Pauls of each age) their Faiths were carried to all
parts of the world. 26. They both replied with the same exact
words to the question: Are you the Promised One? 27. Each of
them addressed their disciples, charging them to carry their
messages to the ends of the earth." [God Passes By, Shoghi Effendi,
p. 56.]
The words of Christ I already knew. With great interest I read
the words of this young man:
'Verily I say, this is the Day spoken of by God in His
Book...Ponder the words of Jesus addressed to His disciples, as He
sent them forth..."Ye are even as the fire which in the darkness
of the night has been kindled upon the mountain top. Let your
light shine before the eyes of men. Such must be the purity of
your character and the degree of your renunciation, that the people
of the earth may through you recognize and be drawn closer to the
heavenly Father who is the Source of purity and grace.' [The
Dawnbreakers, Nabil, p. 92.]
'Verily I say, immensely exalted is this Day above the days of
the Apostles of old. Nay, immeasurable is the difference! You are
the witnesses of the Dawn of the promised Day of God...Scatter
throughout the length and breadth of this land, and, with steadfast
feet and sanctified hearts, prepare the way for His coming...Has
He not established the ascendancy of Jesus, poor and lowly as He
was in the eyes of men...Arise in His name, put your trust wholly
in Him, and be assured of ultimate victory.' [The Dawnbreakers,
Nabil, pp. 93-94.]
No wonder that the great Jowett of Oxford University said of this
new Faith:
'It is too great and too near for this generation to comprehend
. The future alone can reveal its import. [Baha'i World, The,
Vol. xii, p. 625.]
It was these comments of Jowett and of Browne which had
originally directed me to this particular path of search. Now I
understood their keen interest.
I felt the excitement of the chase! Was I on the trail at last?
Had I found a possible solution to the century-old mystery of The
Case of the Missing Millenium?
I decided to spend the next year assembling all the information
I could gather about this young man and his Faith. I would then
measure my findings against the required proofs in my file. If
this WERE the Messiah, I was now in a position to test it
thoroughly. I could settle the matter once and for all in my mind.
The blade of my enthusiasm, however, had been made razor-sharp
by the answer to two questions:
When did his Faith begin? In 1844! Where? In Persia!
[William Sears, Thief in the Night, Part II, Chap. 2, pp.
87-90.]
3. The Twin Fires of Heaven
It took me three years instead of one before I could close my
file of 'findings'. In the end, however, I knew that I had
unearthed a truly remarkable story. The hard-boiled newspapermen
had been right. If a man picked up his Sunday paper and read this
story on the front page, he would indeed be rocked back on his
heels. Nothing would ever be quite the same again.
Can you blame me for feeling excited? The search had been long,
but the reward promised to be great. I might at last solve my
mystery.
One of the first things I learned was this:
1. On May 24, 1844, in the West, Samuel Morse sent his famous
telegraphic message, quoting from the Scriptures: 'What hath God
wrought?' 2. On May 23rd, 1844, the preceding day, in the East,
this young man arose to make a staggering claim.
He declared that this was the day foretold in all the Scriptures
of the past. This day, he said, was the day when the Promised One
of all religions would appear. This was to be the day of the 'one
fold and one shepherd'.
This took place in Persia in 1844. Naturally my attention was
arrested immediately by the date and the place.
I learned that he was called the Bab. Just as the name Christ
means 'the anointed', the name Bab means 'the gate' or 'the door'.
This young man claimed that he was the 'gate' or the 'door' through
which would come the One promised in all the holy Books, the One
Who would establish the one fold of God.
I remembered the promise given by Christ:
'But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the
sheep...And other sheep have I which are not of this fold: them
also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall
be one fold and one shepherd.' [John 10:2-16.]
The Bab said that he was the herald and forerunner of one greater
than himself. His mission was to call men back to God and to
prepare the way for the great world Saviour foretold by Christ and
all the prophets of the past. Just as John the Baptist had been
the forerunner of Christ, the Bab claimed to be the forerunner of
this Promised Redeemer of all ages.
In the sacred writings of Persia, the land promised by Daniel as
a 'place of vision' in the latter days, there are several
prophecies of the twin heavenly Messengers who will appear.
'One day the disturbing trumpet-blast shall disturb it, which the
second blast shall follow: men's hearts on that day shall quake.'
In yet another place:
'...on the resurrection day the whole Earth shall be but his
handful...And there shall be a blast on the trumpet...Then shall
there be another blast on it, and lo!...the earth shall shine with
the light of her Lord.'
In another instance, it speaks of the two who will come together
at THE TIME OF THE END:
'Verily I say, after the Qa'im (He who shall arise) the Qayyim
will be made manifest.' [The Dawnbreakers, Nabil, p. 41.]
Pavri, in The Coming World Teacher, writes: 'When Sri Krishna was
to come, the Sage Narada and others announced His coming several
years beforehand...Such proclamation beforehand is necessary...'
I found this association with two Figures with a Divine
Revelation to be common to several of the religions of the world.
Zoroastrian: Ushidar-M h and the Shah Bahram. Shi'ah Islam: The
Qa'im and the Imam Husayn. Sunni Islam: the Mahdi and Jesus the
Christ. Christianity: John the Baptist and Christ; Elijah and
Christ Judaism: Messiah ben Joseph and Messiah ben David.
Elijah (Elias) and the Messiah.
In the land in which the Bab appeared, there was still another
prophesy of the coming of two holy Figures. The tradition related
by Bokhari says:
'At the time of the end God shall manifest himself to all mankind
with the attributes of divinity and majesty, but very few shall
advance towards him...Then again he will appear a second time
manifesting all the qualities of servitude and the people will
flock around him and believe in him and praise and laud his
uncreated virtues.'
Zechariah, speaking of THE LAST DAYS, prophesied of the twin holy
souls who would appear, saying:
'Then said he, These are the two anointed ones, that stand by the
Lord of the whole earth.' [Zechariah 4:14.]
In addition to the two 'woes', Revelation speaks of the 'two
olive trees' and the 'two candlesticks'.
Malachi, speaking of THE TIME OF THE END, prophesied:
'Behold I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of
the great and dreadful day of the Lord.' [Malachi 4:5.]
This was the very land, Persia, in which Daniel beheld:
'...one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven...'
[Daniel 7:13.]
The Bab foretold that this great Redeemer would appear exactly
NINE years after his own coming. He would, therefore, as
prophesied in the Old Testament, 'suddenly come to his temple'.
He would thus come just as Christ had so often emphasized in the
book of Revelation:
'Behold I come quickly.'
Malachi, who called it the great and dreadful day of the Lord,
foretold the appearance of two AT THE TIME OF THE END, saying:
'Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way
before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his
temple...' [Malachi 3:1.]
The Bab repeatedly said that he was the DAWN, but that the
PROMISE OF ALL AGES Who was soon to come after him would be the
SUN. He foretold that this great world Saviour would usher in an
age of unprecedented progress and peace.
Naturally, I now wanted to learn everything that I could about
the Bab and as well as about the One who was to follow. After all,
three of my most basic PROOFS had been fulfilled:
1. This faith had begun at a time when 'the Gospel of Christ had
been preached in all the world for a witness' (1844). 2. This
faith had brought its message to the world at the exact year 'when
the times of the Gentiles' had been fulfilled (1844). 3. This
faith had appeared in the year foretold by Daniel, and at the time
when, according to Christ, mankind should 'stand in the holy place'
(1844).
All three of these vital ionitial CLUES had been fulfilled by the
coming of this faith in 1844; therefore I knew I had to go on.
[William Sears, Thief in the Night, Part II, Chap. 3, pp.
90-94.]
4. The Witnesses
Margaret Fuller, friend of Emerson, said of the world-wide zeal
around 1844: 'One very marked trait of the period was that the
agitation reached all circles.' [Days of Delusion, Sears,
Introduction, p. xxiv.]
I was anxious to learn exactly what had happened to the Bab in
that hour. What were the very beginnings of this faith? The
millennial zeal was at its fever pitch when Morse sent his famous
message on May 24, 1844. On May 22nd, 1844, two hours and eleven
minutes after sunset in far off Shiraz, Persia, the Bab spoke to
a humble Persian student, much as Christ had first spoken to simple
fishermen. He said:
'This night, this very hour will, in the days to come, be
celebrated as one of the greatest and most significant of all
festivals.' [The Dawnbreakers, Nabil, pp. 61-62.]
The young student to whom the Bab first revealed his message, has
left us a vivid impression of that unforgettable occasion and these
first words of the Bab:
'Verily, the dawn of a new day has broken. The promised One is
enthroned in the hearts of men.' [The Dawnbreakers, Nabil, p. 69.]
'I sat spellbound by His words,' the student recalled. 'I forgot
all sense of time. This Truth, so suddenly thrust upon me, came
as a thunderbolt. It numbed my senses. Then excitement, joy, awe,
and wonder stirred the depths of my soul. Most of all I felt a
sense of gladness and strength. I was changed into a new person.'
[The Dawnbreakers, Nabil, pp. 62-65 (paraphrase).]
I studied a 700-page document on the early history of the Bab and
his followers. I read of their sufferings and martyrdom, a story
like that of Christ and His apostles. I read the words of the
French historian Ernest Renan, author of a life of Christ, who
called those martyrdoms of the followers of the Bab, 'A day without
parallel perhaps in the history of the world.' [cited God Passes
By, Shoghi Effendi, p. 80.] I re-read several times the
recollections of the young man to whom the Bab spoke first. He has
left to posterity the following memory of that first announcement:
'Sleep departed from me that night. I sat enthralled by the
music of that sweet voice. Predominant among all my emotions was
a sense of gladness and strength which seemed to have transfigured
me. How feeble and impotent I had felt previously. Now, I felt
possessed of such courage and power that were the world, all its
peoples and rulers, to arise against me, I would alone and
undaunted withstand their onslaught. I seemed to be the voice of
Gabriel calling unto all mankind: "Awake, for lo!...His Cause is
made manifest. The portal of His grace is open wide; enter
therein, O peoples of the world! For He Who is your promised One
is come!"' [The Dawnbreakers, Nabil, p. 65.]
The story of the life of the Bab touched me deeply. I felt
certain that such an epic drama as this cold not have passed
without some record in contemporary history. It might be
misunderstood, but it could hardly be overlooked. I was correct.
I found that I was not alone in my impression. I was able to find
many accounts of this event in European history. The French
historian, A.-L.-M. Nicolas, wrote of the Bab, saying: '(His life)
is one of the most magnificent examples of courage which it has
been the privilege of mankind to behold...' [Sayyid Ali Mohammed
dit le Bab, Nicholas, p. 203.]
Nicolas also likened this age to that of Christ, in these words:
'He sacrificed himself for humanity'...Like Jesus, He (the Bab)
paid with his life for the proclamation of a reign of concord,
equity and brotherly love. [Sayyid Ali Mohammed dit le Bab,
Nicholas, p. 376.]
Edward Granville Browne, who first put me on the trail of this
story, wrote of the Bab: 'Who can fail to be attracted by the
gentle spirit of (the Bab)? His sorrowful and persecuted life; his
purity of conduct, and youth; his courage and uncomplaining
patience under misfortune...but most of all his tragic death, all
serve to enlist our sympathies on behalf of the young Prophet of
Shiraz.' [Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, 1889, p. 933.]
The Case of the Missing Millenium had suddenly taken on great
stature. I was very much impressed by the new developments. I
realised that this was no little thing which I had uncovered. It
did not concern some obscure hidden little group. Neglected, yes;
but only by the twentieth century, certainly not by the nineteenth.
A noted French publicist testified: 'All Europe was stirred to
pity and indignation...Among the litterateurs of my generation in
the Paris of 1890, the martyrdom of the Bab was still as fresh a
topic as had been the first news of His death. We wrote poems
about Him. Sarah Benhardt entreated Catulle Mendâs for a play on
the theme of this historic tragedy.' [cited God Passes By, Shoghi
Effendi, p. 56.]
The great scholar Arminius Vambery spoke of the Bab in the French
Academy, saying that 'he has expressed doctrines worthy of the
greatest thinkers'.
A drama was published in 1903 entitled The Bab. It was played
in one of the leading theatres of St. Petersburg. The drama was
publicised in London and was translated into French and into German
(by the poet Fiedler).
Sir Francis Younghusband, in his history of the times, writes:
'The story of the Bab...was the story of spiritual heroism
unsurpassed...his life must be one of those events in the last
hundred years which is really worth study.' [The Gleam, Sir Francis
Younghusband, 1923, pp. 183-184.]
Yet who had made an effort to study this story since that day?
The famous Oxford scholar, the Reverend Dr. T. K. Cheyne,
called the Bab: '...that Jesus of the age..."a prophet and more
than a prophet." His combination of mildness and power is so rare
that we have to place him in a line with super-normal men.' [The
Reconciliation of Races and Religions, T. K. Cheyne, 1914, pp.
70, 8.]
Now, I was more eager than ever to investigate the great One
foretold by the Bab; for if the Bab had so affected the people,
what of the Redeemer yet to come? According to the Bab, His power
would far transcend his own. It would be as the candle to the sun.
The forerunner, John the Baptist, said of Christ:
'He that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not
worthy to bear.' [Matthew 3:11.]
The Bab said of the One yet to come:
'Of all the tributes I have paid to Him Who is to come after me,
the greatest is this, My written confession, that no words of Mine
can adequately describe Him, nor can any reference to Him in My
Book...do justice to His Cause.' [The Covenant of Baha'u'llah,
Manchester, 1950, p. 20.]
The Bab considered himself only a 'ring upon the hand' of Him Who
was yet to come. He said that he would be the first to bow down
before Him. He told his own followers:
'I, verily, am a believer in Him, and in His Faith, and in His
Book, and in His Testimonies...and pride Myself on My belief in
Him.' [Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, Baha'u'llah, p. 23.]
The Bab said of the Christian who would believe in the Messiah
yet to come:
'...the same will I regard as the apple of Mine eye.' [The
Covenant of Baha'u'llah, Manchester, 1950, p. 23.]
In the days preceding his death, the Bab wrote:
'I have educated all men, that they may recognize this Revelation
(of the Messiah to come)...that belongeth neither to the East nor
to the West...How, then, can anyone be veiled from Him?' [Epistle
to the Son of the Wolf, Baha'u'llah, pp. 157, 156.]
I had never felt so hopeful of finding a solution to my
century-old mystery. What I had started to do in the beginning for
fun, I was now doing in earnest.
My next assignment was self-evident. Who was the one foretold
by the Bab? What was his name? Where did he come from? Did he
fulfil the proofs which I had assembled?
Until I knew the answer to these questions I couldn't close The
Case of the Missing Millenium.
[William Sears, Thief in the Night, Part II, Chap. 4, pp.
94-98.]
5. The Hidden is Revealed
I carefully studied all the writings of the Bab which had been
translated into English. I was seeking every possible clue which
would lead me to the place and person of the great World Redeemer,
Who, he ha promised, would soon appear.
The Bab clearly stated the exact year in which this promised One
would arise:
'Ere nine (years) will have elapsed from the inception of this
Cause, the reality of the created things will not be made
manifest...Be patient, until thou beholdest a new creation.' [The
Covenant of Baha'u'llah, Manchester, 1950, p. 21.]
That was plain enough. The year nine (1269) of Persia was the
year 1853 of the West. Not before 1853 would He come. In another
place the Bab wrote:
'In the year nine ye will attain unto all good.' [Epistle to
the Son of the Wolf, Baha'u'llah, p. 141.]
And still again:
'In the year nine ye will attain unto the presence of God.'
[Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, Baha'u'llah, p. 141.]
Nine years from his own announcement would bring us from 1844 to
1853. I also found in his writings other CLUES which gave the place
of the Messiah's appearance; in fact, the very city.
When he bade farewell to the young student who was the first to
believe in him, the Bab said:
'Follow the course of your journey towards the north, and
visit...Teheran. Beseech almighty Providence that He may
graciously enable you to attain, in that capital, the seat of true
sovereignty, and to enter the mansion of the Beloved. A secret
lies hidden in that city. When made manifest, it shall turn the
earth into paradise.' [The Dawnbreakers, Nabil, p. 86.]
On another occasion, the Bab said:
Direct your steps to Teheran 'which enshrines a Mystery of such
transcendent holiness as...Shiraz (his own birthplace) (cannot)
hope to rival.' [The Dawnbreakers, Nabil, p. 96.]
Was this to be the MYSTERY I had spent so many years searching
for? Was this the key that would unlock the door to the missing
millenium for which Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus
and Zoroastrians had longed for in vain?
I found a documented account of the Bab's visit to a sacred spot
near the city of Teheran. He addressed the following words to the
saint buried there:
'Well is it with you to have found your resting-place...under the
shadow of My Beloved.' [The Dawnbreakers, Nabil, p. 521.]
There seemed little doubt as to the place and the date: Teheran,
1853. My curiosity was doubly increased when I encountered still
another prophecy in the sacred writings of Persia which spoke of
the coming of twin Messengers of God in the LAST DAYS. It promised:
'In the year Ghars (1844) the earth shall be illumined by His
light...if thou livest until the year GharasÁ (1853) thou shalt
witness how the nations, the rulers, the peoples, and the Faith of
God shall all have been renewed.' [The Dawnbreakers, Nabil, p.
50.]
My investigation of Persian history, and further study of the
writings of the Bab, soon brought to my attention information
concerning the birth of a remarkable person. He was born in
TEHERAN, the capital. He was, as Daniel had prophesied, of noble
lineage. He was descended from the ancient kings of Persia.
I was able to find the following account of his early years:
'From childhood He was extremely kind and generous. He was a great
lover of outdoor life, most of His time being spent in the garden
or the fields. He had an extraordinary power of attraction, which
was felt by all. People always crowded round Him, Ministers and
people of the court would surround Him, and the children also were
devoted to Him.' [ Baha'u'llah and the New Era, Esslemont, Ch.
III.]
I also found a record of some of his activities as a youth. It
was much like the story about Jesus as a boy: 'When He was only
thirteen or fourteen years old, He became renowned for His
learning. He would converse on any subject and solve any problem
presented to Him. In large gatherings He would discuss matters
with the (leading priests) and would explain intricate religious
questions. All of them used to listen to Him with the greatest
interest.' [ Baha'u'llah and the New Era, Esslemont, Ch. III.]
Obviously the effect he had on people was remarkable. Even the
Prime Minister of Persia recognized his greatness and was disturbed
by it. When his name was suggested for a post in the government,
the Prime Minister said: 'Leave him to himself. Such a position
is unworthy of him. He has some higher aim in view. I cannot
understand him, but I am convinced that he is destined for some
lofty career. His thoughts are not like ours. Let him alone.' [
Baha'u'llah and the New Era, Esslemont, Ch. III.]
In an historical record of His life, I found yet another
similarity to Christ: 'As Jesus washed his disciples' feet, so (He)
used sometimes to cook food and perform other lowly offices for His
followers, He was a servant of the servants, and gloried only in
servitude, content to sleep on a bare floor if need be, to live on
bread and water, or even at times on what He called "the divine
nourishment,...hunger!" His perfect humility was seen in His
profound reverence for nature, for human nature, and especially for
the saints, prophets and martyrs. To Him, all things spoke of God,
from the meanest to the greatest.' [ Baha'u'llah and the New Era,
Esslemont, Ch. III.]
His mission began in the East as foretold by Ezekiel and by
Christ. It began in Persia as promised by Daniel. It began in
Teheran as prophesied by the Bab. And it started exactly nine
years later.
The Bab wrote:
'Look ye upon the Sun of Truth...This, verily, is the thing We
promised thee... Wait thou until nine (years) will have
elapsed...I am the first servant to believe in Him and in His
signs.' [Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, Baha'u'llah, p. 142.]
Lest anyone should misunderstand, The Bab wrote the following
words:
'Glorified art Thou, O my God! Bear Thou witness that, through
this Book, I have covenanted with all created things concerning the
Mission of Him Whom Thou shalt make manifest (the Messiah)...'
[Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, Baha'u'llah, p. 160.]
And finally:
'After (1853) a Cause shall be given unto you which ye shall come
to know.' [Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, Baha'u'llah, p. 152.]
On many occasions, I found, the Bab referred to the great Messiah
Who would appear in nine years, in the year 1853. He said that
Persia would be blest with what he called 'the footsteps of His
(God's) Most Great Name and Mighty Announcement'.
This was not circumstantial evidence. It was concrete. It could
be tested.
[William Sears, Thief in the Night, Part II, Chap. 5, pp.
98-102.]
6. The Glory of God
I studied the story of the young Persian student to whom the Bab
had made his first announcement. He, too, had sought the One
promised by the Bab. He went to Teheran, and inquired among the
people.
'Is there any person who is distinguished above all others in
this city? Someone who is renowned for his character?'
He was told that there was only one such person.
'What is his occupation?'
'He cheers the disconsolate and feeds the hungry.'
'What of his rank and position?'
'He has none apart from befriending the poor and the stranger.'
'What is his name?'
'He is Husayn 'Ali, Baha'u'llah.'
'His age?'
'Eight and twenty.' [The Dawnbreakers, Nabil, pp. 104-106
(paraphrase).]
In this way, too, I learned that his name was Husayn 'Ali, just
as the name of Christ was Jesus. Jesus was known by the title of
Christ (in English, 'the Anointed'). Husayn 'Ali was known by the
title of Baha'u'llah (in English, 'the Glory of God').
Baha'u'llah was born in Persia, the land in which Daniel had seen
his vision of the Prince Michael whose name means 'One who looks
like God'.
When Daniel was told to 'seal the books' until THE TIME OF THE
END, he also was promised:
'At that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which
standeth for the children of Thy people...' [Daniel 12:1.]
Baha'u'llah was born in the province of Mazandarani in Persia.
This part of Persia had long been known a land of future promise.
It has been written of Mazandarani: 'There are many legends
regarding the province. It was said that there would grow a
celestial tree, with branches reaching to heaven. The fruit of
this tree would be for the life of the nations. Many people
travelled to this region hoping to find the wonderful tree.
Another legend was that the king of war and hatred had been
imprisoned in one of these high mountains.' [Star of the West
Magazine, Vol. xiv, p. 291.]
The author of this account goes on to explain that these were
symbolic parables of the coming of a Great Figure from that
province, who would bring peace to mankind.
Similar legends were noted in Revelation and in Daniel. Daniel
in the very chapter in which he prophesies that Michael, who looks
like God, will deliver the people in the last days, also prophesies
that it will be the great RESURRECTION DAY as well. A similar
RESURRECTION DAY is promised by Christ at the time of His return.
F. Hudgings, scholar of Jewish prophecy, writes f these present
days in his Zionism in Prophecy: 'Yes, it seems that we are
actually in the "time of the end", exactly as the Prophet (Daniel)
saw it in vision.' Husayn 'Ali, Baha'u'llah. It was a strange name
to me. It took me some time to get used to it. Gradually the
story of his life melted away my original coolness. The name was
oriental, from the Middle East. I realised of course that I had
reacted exactly as the Roman historian who had praised the Emperor
for 'stamping out the cult of the Nazarene'. He, too, as a
westerner, had objected to the strange oriental name. Yet in
reality all the Messengers of God had come from the East with names
that were strange at first.
About this time I came across a most remarkable statement. Or
so it seemed to me. It had been written, not by a follower of the
Bab or Baha'u'llah, but by a Bible scholar of Oxford University and
a well-known Christian clergyman. He wrote: 'If there is any
prophet in recent times, it is to Baha'u'llah that we must go.
(He) was a man of the highest class--that of prophets.' [Cheyne,
cited Appreciations of the Baha'i Faith, 1947, p. 18.]
I read the account of Dr. J. Estlin Carpenter in his book
Comparative Religions in which he asked the pointed question: "Has
Persia, in the midst of her miseries, given birth to a religion
that will go around the world?'
Nothing could have induced me to give up my search at this point.
I was now on the threshold of a possible solution to The Case of
the Missing Millenium. Would I be disappointed, as so many had
been down through the centuries?
At least I was in a far more favourable position. I had a long
list of definite proofs which ANY claimant to the throne of the
Messiah would have to fulfil before he could hope to be accepted.
It was difficult to restrain my growing enthusiasm. The thrill
so far had been far more exciting than that of unearthing a mine
of precious gems. Could it possibly sustain itself?
I knew that I was now at the crucial point. I took down my list
of PROOFS and slowly, one at a time, I began to check them against
the life of Baha'u'llah. I planned to measure him by each PROOF
separately.
I learned much about Baha'u'llah, and that like Christ he had
suffered great indignities and humiliation at the hands of the
leaders of his day.
He was brutally scourged in the prayer-house at Amul. Two years
after the martyrdom of the Bab he was arrested by soldiers and
marched many miles on foot to an underground prison in Teheran.
He was stripped of his garments, EN ROUTE, and was overwhelmed with
abuse and ridicule.
An historical account of that time records: 'On foot and exposed
to the fierce rays of the midsummer sun, He was compelled to cover,
barefooted and bareheaded, the whole distance from Shimiran to the
dungeon. All along the route, He was pelted and vilified by the
crowds...As He was approaching the dungeon, an old woman tried to
stone Him. She pleaded with the soldiers. "Give me a chance to
fling my stone in his face!"
Baha'u'llah saw her hastening behind Him. He said to His guards:
"Suffer not this woman to be disappointed. Deny her not what she
regards as meritorious in the sight of God."' [The Dawnbreakers,
Nabil, pp. 607-608 (paraphrase).]
In order to silence the magic power of his tongue, Baha'u'llah
was separated from his followers. He was exiled from his native
land.
Under armed escort, He was taken over the borders of Persia into
Iraq. Perhaps you, too, will feel the tingling sensation that I
experienced when I learned of his destination.
The valley of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers!
The very spot where Ezekiel had had HIS vision of 'The Glory of
the Lord".
Babylon! Baha'u'llah means 'The Glory of the Lord'!
I put away my file of papers marked Solution. On the front of
the manila folder I wrote a big ? Then I turned my full attention
to my lists of PROOFS. The outcome of The Case of the Missing
Millenium would depend n what happened from now on.
[William Sears, Thief in the Night, Part II, Chap. 6, pp.
102-106.]
Thief in the Night The
Case of the Missing Millenium by William
Sears
"But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in
which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the
elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works
that are therein shall be burnt up." II Peter iii.10
PART THREE
The Proof
1. The King from the Sunrise
The deeper I dug, the more evidence I unearthed that Baha'u'llah
had fulfilled the requirement that the Messiah should come from the
East. He came, I found, from a family of noble lineage in Persia,
which is to the EAST of Israel.
The Christian clergyman, Reverend John Cumming, in his book about
the last days, The Great Tribulation, quotes a prophecy of
Zoroaster concerning the Messiah which states that this Messenger
of God will come from the land of Nur in Persia. Nur is the
province of Mazindaran. It is the homeland of Baha'u'llah. His
father, Mirza Buzurg of Nur, was an honoured Minister to the King
of Persia (known as the Shah).
In the book Religious Debates by Nategh, are found the following
prophecies of Zoroaster concerning the One who will come from the
east:
1. 'God will give you (Persia) a good ending.' 2. If there is
but one minute remaining in the whole world, I will send someone
from this nation (Persia) Who will renew religion. 3. 'When
Persia and the other countries are overtaken by the Arabs, I will
choose one from the generation of the Kings of Persia, so that He
will call the people of the world from East to West to worship one
God.' [William Sears, Thief in the Night, Part 3, p. 107]
In my search, I also found the following record: 'A manuscript
has been found, giving his ( Baha'u'llah's) genealogy which goes
back more than 1300 years to the kings of ancient Persia.' [Star
of the West Magazine, Vol. xiv, p. 291.]
There is a prophecy of the great Messiah to come which is known
to the Buddhists. The prophecy is attributed to Buddha Gautama
Himself, and states that in the fullness of time, thee would arise:
'A Buddha named Maitreye, the Buddha of universal fellowship.'
[cited God Passes By, Shoghi Effendi, p. 95.]
This great Messiah, the Buddhists believe, will come: not from
the East, but from the West.
Mr. Edward Irving, a Christian clergyman of Britain, who was
keenly anticipating the return of Christ during the millennial zeal
of the 1800's, said: '...What is very remarkable, a friend of mine,
who...stood on the Himalayan mountains in India, by the holy pool,
where never Christian had dwelt before, found there also an
expectation of a religion from the west which in the space of forty
years was to possess the earth...' [The Great Tribulation, John
Cumming, 1859, p. 246.]
Baha'u'llah came from Persia which is to the east of Israel, but
to the west of India. His ministry from the time of its beginning
until his last days on earth was forty years.
The prophets of Syria and Palestine foretold the coming of the
promised Messiah from the east. The prophets and seers from India
and the Far East, said that he would appear in the west. Persia,
the birthplace of Baha'u'llah lies in between these two, and
fulfils the requirements of each.
In the book of Enoch, it is prophesied that the Messiah of the
last days shall come from the East of Israel, and that He shall
come from the land now known as Persia. Enoch foretells: [William
Sears, Thief in the Night, Part 3, p. 108]
'And in those days the angels will assemble, and turn their heads
towards the East, toward the people of Parthia and Medea, in order
to excite the kings, and that a spirit of disturbance came over
them, and disturbed them from off their thrones.' [Enoch 56:5.]
Parthia and Medea make up what is now the land of Persia, the
birthplace of Baha'u'llah.
The Jewish oracles, the Sibylline books, also mention the coming
of the Messiah from the EAST, saying:
'And then from the sunrise God shall send a king who shall give
every land relief from the bane of war...nor shall he do these
things by his own counsel, but in obedience to the good ordinances
of the Mighty God.' [cited The Messianic Idea in Israel, p. 376.]
Joseph Klausner, in The Messianic Idea in Israel, writes: 'The
"king from the sunrise" is, without any doubt, the King-Messiah.'
The prophet Ezekiel also foretold that the Messiah would come to
the Holy Land, Israel, from the east. He even gave the title by
which He would be known in that day: The Glory of God or the Glory
of the Lord. Ezekiel recorded his vision of the last days, saying:
'And behold, the Glory of the God of Israel came from the way of
the east...' [Ezekiel 43:2.]
In another place, Ezekiel says:
'And the Glory of the Lord came into the house by way of the gate
whose prospect is toward the east.' [Ezekiel 43:4.]
I had already learned that the name Baha'u'llah was Persian, and
when translated into English means, The Glory of God or the Glory
of the Lord. His herald was called the Bab. This is also Persian,
and translated into English means, The Gate. [William Sears, Thief
in the Night, Part 3, p. 109]
The Bab was the Gate by which Baha'u'llah, the Glory of God,
entered into the hearts of men. Baha'u'llah had come to Israel in
exile from Persia which is to the East.
I was more than satisfied by my findings. I learned that
Baha'u'llah had completed the prophesies of Isaiah, Jeremiah,
Ezekiel, Daniel, Micah, Zoroaster, Buddha, Muhammad, and many
secular prophesies as well--all of which pointed to the time and
the place from which the Shepherd of the day of the 'one fold'
would come.
I marked the first proof: Fulfilled.
[William Sears, Thief in the Night, Part iii, Sect. 1, pp.
107-110.]
2. Ancient Land of Mystery
The SECOND PROOF I sought concerned Babylon, ancient land of
mystery. From the CLUES I had uncovered, there seemed little doubt
that the Redeemer of the last days should come from the valley of
the Tigris and Euphrates, from the land once called Babylon.
When the people lamented their lack of a Redeemer to save them,
Micah rebuked them severely. He also promised them that their
redemption would come from Babylon. He denounced their
faithlessness and said:
'Now why dost thou cry out aloud? Is there no king in thee?'
[Micah 4:9.]
Then Micah prophesied of the future, saying:
'Be in pain, and labour to bring forth, O daughter of Zion, like
a woman in travail: for now shalt thou go forth out of the city,
and thou shalt dwell in the field, and thou shalt go even to
Babylon;...there the Lord shall redeem thee...' [Micah 4:10.]
Micah was speaking of the time of the end, for he begins this
very chapter saying:
'But in the last days it shall come to pass...' [Micah 4:1.]
[William Sears, Thief in the Night, Part 3, p. 110]
This would be the day when Israel would be 'gathered', and the
nations would 'beat their swords into ploughshares'.
My task as a detective was to measure Baha'u'llah against this
prophecy of Micah, to see if he had:
1. Given birth in Babylon; 2. Gone forth out of the city; 3.
Dwelt in the field; 4. Come to Babylon, and there redeemed the
people.
I had already learned that Baha'u'llah's faith had begun in 1844,
and that on January 12th, 1853, he had been exiled from Persia to
Iraq. He was taken under armed guard to the valley of the Tigris
and Euphrates. His dwelling-place was called Baghdad, the section
called Karkh.
There could be no doubt that this was the land of ancient
Babylon. Thomas Newton, Bishop of Bristol, in his Dissertations on
the Prophecies (1754) writes: Tavernier, who is a very celebrated
traveller, relates that 'at the parting of the Tigris, which is but
a little way from Bagdad, there is the foundation of the city,
which may seem to have been a large league in compass. There are
some of the walls yet standing, upon which six coaches may go
abreast: They are made of burnt brick, ten foot square, and three
thick. The chronicles of the country say here stood the ancient
Babylon.'
In Hanway's Travels, the author, Hanway, writes of the famous
city of Baghdad, saying that in its neighborhood once 'stood the
metropolis of one of the most ancient and most potent monarchies
in the world. The place is generally called Baghdad or Bagdad,
though some writers preserve the ancient name of Babylon.'
Will Durant, in The Age of Faith, writes of the site of Baghdad,
saying: 'It was an old Babylonian city, and not far from [William
Sears, Thief in the Night, Part 3, p. 111] ancient Babylon; bricks
bearing Nebuchadrezzar's name were found...under the Tigris there.'
I discovered that Baha'u'llah came to the city of Baghdad on the
banks of the Tigris. I also learned the following:
1. There, in the valley of the Tigris and Euphrates, in ancient
Babylon, Baha'u'llah, in the midst of much pain and suffering
brought forth his faith.
2. As foretold by Micah, Baha'u'llah went 'out of the city' into
the mountains of Kurdistan on April 10th, 1854, as Christ had gone
into the desert in the days of His FIRST coming.
3. He did indeed 'dwell in the field' as promised by Micah. A
record of that time states that Baha'u'llah was 'entirely alone in
His wanderings through the wastes of Kurdistan' as he prepared
himself for the fateful days ahead.
4. From these desolate wastes, Baha'u'llah did 'go even unto
Babylon'. He came to Baghdad, and there announced publicly that
He was the Redeemer foretold for the LAST DAYS.
When Ezekiel had his vision of the Glory of God Who came from the
East, he was a prisoner in the land of Babylon. He says:
'I was among the captives by the river Chebar...the heavens were
opened, and I saw visions of God.' [Ezekiel 1:1.]
In that same chapter, Ezekiel mentions that he saw the rainbow
in the sky, the sign of the Covenant of God promised to Noah.
This, too, was by the river Chebar. In the midst of Ezekiel's
vision was the figure of a man:
'This was the appearance of the likeness of the Glory of the
Lord. And when I saw it, I fell upon my face...' [Ezekiel 1:28.]
[William Sears, Thief in the Night, Part 3, p. 112]
I looked up the history of the river Chebar. It was known to
ancient geographers as the river Khabar, as well as by other names.
The Chebar had its source west of Baghdad and emptied into the
Euphrates in ancient Babylon. It was in this very region that
Baha'u'llah announced his Mission.
Ezekiel says further of his vision:
'Then the spirit took me up, and I heard behind me a voice of a
great rushing, saying, Blessed be the glory of the Lord from his
place...Then I arose, and went forth and went forth into the plain:
and, behold, the glory of the Lord stood there, as the glory which
I saw by the river Chebar: and I fell on my face.' [Ezekiel 3:12,
13.]
Baha'u'llah appeared in the land of the Chebar, the land of
ancient Babylon. His name means : the Glory of the Lord or the
Glory of God.
I uncovered another prophecy. It came from India. It also
referred to the appearance of the promised One in Babylon in the
last days. It was called the Red Robe Tradition, as follows: 'It
is related that an account is given of an Indian Muslim, a holy man
of the eighth century A.D., who, speaking of the 'Great Day of God'
to come, uttered these words: "In that day the Holy One will be
found abiding in a land called Khsrk. He will walk beside the
river, wearing the dervish turban, and wrapped in a red robe. He
will be teaching His followers on the banks of the river. Would
that I might be privileged to enter His Presence, and to shed my
life-blood in His Path."' [The Chosen Highway, Blomfield, p. 242.]
I learned that Baha'u'llah wore such a red robe. It had been
prepared for him by his wife and daughter while he was away in the
wilderness of Kurdistan. They had made it from the pieces of
tirmih (red cloth) which they had reserved from the few possessions
which had not been stolen during Baha'u'llah's imprisonment in
Persia. [William Sears, Thief in the Night, Part 3, p. 113]
Baha'u'llah taught along the banks of the river Tigris.
The name of the section of Baghdad in which he lived was called
Karkh. It was in the land of ancient Babylon.
What a fascinating story!
[William Sears, Thief in the Night, Part iii, Sect. 2, pp.
110-114.]
3. Begotten in Babylon
I was able to discover several additional clues concerning my
second PROOF and Babylon.
The prophecies of Islam, among which were references to the
return of the Spirit of Jesus the Christ, made mention of Baghdad
(ancient Babylon). The Qur'an alluded to that city as the 'Abode
of Peace' to which God Himself 'calleth' [God Passes By, Shoghi
Effendi, p. 110.]. To that city, in that same Book, further
allusion had been made in the verse:
'For them is a Dwelling of Peace with their Lord...on the Day
whereon God shall gather them all together'. [God Passes By,
Shoghi Effendi, p. 110, op cit.]
Isaiah also spoke of Babylon and the last days when the people
would be 'gathered' together. In successive chapters leading up to
his promise for Babylon, Isaiah declares:
1. 'Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth;
for I am God, and there is none else.' [Isaiah 45:22.]
2. 'Hearken unto me, O house of Jacob, and all the remnant of
the house of Israel...even I will carry, and will deliver you.'
[Isaiah 46:3-4.]
3. 'As for our Redeemer, the Lord of hosts is his name, the Holy
One of Israel.' [Isaiah 47:4.]
Then Isaiah calls upon them all to hear the words of the one he
(God) hath chosen among them in Babylon:
4. 'All ye, assemble yourselves, and hear; which among them hath
declared these things? The Lord hath loved him: [William Sears,
Thief in the Night, Part 3, p. 114] he will do his pleasure on
Babylon, and his arm shall be on the Chaldeans.' [Isaiah 48:14.]
5. 'I, even I, have spoken; yea, I have called him: I have
brought him, and he shall make his way prosperous.' [Isaiah 48:15.]
6. 'Come ye near unto me...the Lord God, and his Spirit, hath
sent me.' [Isaiah 48:16.]
7. 'Thus saith the Lord, thy Redeemer...which leadeth thee by
the way that thou shouldst go.' [Isaiah 48:17.]
Isaiah concludes with the words:
8. 'Go ye forth of Babylon, flee ye from the Chaldeans, with a
voice of singing declare ye, tell this, utter it even to the end
of the earth; say ye, The Lord hath redeemed his servant Jacob.'
[Isaiah 48:20.]
Thus Isaiah, like Micah, prophesied that Israel would be redeemed
in Babylon.
Baha'u'llah came to Baghdad (Babylon) and there proclaimed his
mission to the world. Unwanted, and unwelcome, he did 'go forth
of Babylon' and did 'flee from the Chaldeans' until he reached the
Holy Land which became the world centre of his faith. This, too,
had been foretold by Isaiah in these same chapters.
'I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed
it, I will also do it...and my salvation shall not tarry: and I
will place my salvation in Zion for Israel my glory.' [Isaiah
46:11, 13.]
However, it was in the Book of Zechariah that I found the most
striking evidence of all that the great Redeemer of the last days
would come from Babylon.
When Zechariah saw the vision of the one who would say: 'I am
returned to Jerusalem', he also beheld two olive trees. He asked
God to tell him the meaning of the appearance of these two olive
trees which appeared in his vision. [William Sears, Thief in the
Night, Part 3, p. 115]
'Knowest thou not what these be?' the Lord asked. 'No, my
Lord,' Zechariah answered. Then God explained the meaning.
Zechariah records it thus: 'Then he answered me and spoke unto
me saying, This is the word of the Lord unto Zerubbabel...'
[Zechariah 4.]
In addition to being the name of a rule, this title 'Zerubbabel'
has a special symbolic significance when we examine its true
meaning as given in these verses of Zechariah.
The word Zerubbabel, according to the Oxford University Press
red-letter edition of the King James version of the Bible, means
'Begotten in Babylon'. Other references say that it means
'Scattered in Babylon'. Cruden, in his Unabridged Concordance,
declares it to mean 'Banished in Babylon' or 'Stranger in Babylon'.
('Born' in other editions.)
All these descriptions fit Baha'u'llah. He was 'banished' to
Babylon from Persia. He was a 'stranger' in that land. There in
Babylon, his faith was 'begotten'. He was in the end 'scattered'
with his followers, until he, himself, reached the ancient land of
Canaan promised by God to Abraham as an inheritance in the last
days.
The faith of Abraham and the faith of Baha'u'llah were both
'begotten' in Babylon. The Holy Spirit descended upon each of them
in Babylon, and they poured forth the light from their houses of
truth in that ancient land. This, too, was foreseen and foretold
by Zechariah in his vision:
'Moreover the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, The hands
of Zerubbabel (Begotten in Babylon) have laid the foundation of
this house; his hands shall also finish it; and thou shalt know
that the Lord of hosts hath sent me unto you.' [Zechariah 4:8-9.]
The Word of God, Abraham, laid the foundation of the house
[William Sears, Thief in the Night, Part 3, p. 116] of Israel in
Babylon. The Word of God, Baha'u'llah finished it, and brought it
to fulfilment. Both were 'begotten in Babylon'. Thus it was to
them, Zerubbabel, that Zechariah directed the message of God:
'This is the word of the Lord unto Zerubbabel (Begotten in
Babylon) saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit,
saith the Lord of hosts.' [Zechariah 4:6.]
Lest there be any mistake, Zechariah asked God once more
concerning the meaning of the two olive trees. The Lord answered
him saying:
'These are the two anointed ones, that stand by the Lord of the
whole earth.' [Zechariah 4:14.]
These two olive trees were Abraham who began the concept of the
oneness of God in Babylon, and Baha'u'llah who brought the concept
of the oneness of God and religion to its fulfilment in Babylon.
In yet another way, these two olive trees were the Bab and
Baha'u'llah, who in the LAST DAYS 'stand by the Lord of the whole
earth'.
I also discovered that the meaning of the word Baghdad, the city
in which Baha'u'llah declared his Mission, is: 'The City of God'.
Once again Baha'u'llah had fulfilled the promises of the sacred
Scripture. He had kept the prophecies of Micah, Isaiah, Zechariah,
and those of Islam and India, which foretold that the Messiah would
come to the land of Babylon, withdraw into the wilderness, then,
from that land of ancient mystery, proclaim his mission to the
whole world.
I marked the second proof: Fulfilled.
[William Sears, Thief in the Night, Part iii, Sect. 3, pp.
114-117.]
4. The Amazing Micah
In one small Book of the Old Testament, I found a series of
successive clues. They traced the history of the Messiah from
[William Sears, Thief in the Night, Part 3, p. 117] beginning to
end. All by themselves they could have been sufficient to prove
the mission of the Messiah of the last days. This is why I was
tempted to call the prophet who gave them, 'The Amazing Micah'.
In almost the first words of his first chapter, Micah says:
'For, behold, the Lord cometh forth out of his place, and will
come down, and tread upon the high places of the earth.' [Micah
1:3.]
I found that Baha'u'llah fulfilled this verse, both symbolically
and actually, concerning these 'high' places.
Symbolically: He walked in the land made holy by the feet of
Abraham. He was exiled to Israel, a land considered holy by the
Jews, Christians and Muslims. He walked where the feet of Christ
and the prophets of old had walked.
Actually: He spent many months in prayer and meditation in the
MOUNTAINS of Kurdistan in Iraq, prior to his public declaration of
his mission. In the last years of his life, he walked on the side
of MOUNT CARMEL, called the 'mountain of God', the 'nest of the
prophets', the 'snow white place'.
There, on that sacred mountain, above the Cave of Elijah,
Baha'u'llah wrote the words:
'Call out to Zion, O Carmel, and announce the joyful tidings: He
that was hidden from mortal eyes is come!' [Gleanings from the
Writings of Baha'u'llah, Section XI.]
In his next chapter, Micah prophesies as follows:
'I will surely assemble, O Jacob, all of thee; I will surely
gather the remnant of Israel; I will put them together...as the
flock in the midst of their fold...' [Micah 2:12.] [William Sears,
Thief in the Night, Part 3, p. 118]
I had already learned that this prophecy began its fulfilment in
1844, the exact year of the beginning of Baha'u'llah's faith. In
1844 the Edict of Toleration was signed, permitting the descendents
of Jacob to return to Israel with freedom and security after twelve
centuries of separation.
Following the appearance of Baha'u'llah himself in the land of
Israel, the Jews began to return in greater numbers to the Holy
Land, until, in the year 1948, the state of Israel itself was
formed.
Baha'u'llah himself prophesied that this great event would take
place in the not too distant future. Carl Alpert, a prolific
writer on Zionism, spoke of this prophecy of Baha'u'llah. In his
article in The Reconstructionist, I found the following: 'While
still in his Turkish jail in Acre, more than 75 years ago,
Baha'u'llah wrote: "The outcasts of Israel shall gather and create
a state that will become the envy and admiration of both their
friends and their enemies, and outwardly and spiritually they will
attain to such glory that their 2,000 years of abasement will be
forgotten."' [The Reconstructionist, Vol. XXI, April 20, 1955.]
To return to Micah, there can be no doubt that he is speaking of
the SECOND coming of Christ, and not the first. For he continues
his prophecy, saying that it will take place in the last days:
'But in the last days it shall come to pass, that the mountain
of the house of the Lord shall be established in the top of the
mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and people
shall flow unto it.' [Micah 4:1.]
I visited the shrine where the herald of Baha'u'llah's faith is
entombed on the side of Mount Carmel in Israel. I also visited the
world administrative centre of his faith which is established on
the side of this same mountain. I was an eye-witness to the crowds
that 'flow unto it' every day. While investigating the history of
this area, in order to complete this book, I witnessed a throng of
nearly two thousand people flow in and out of these sacred places
in less than three hours. [William Sears, Thief in the Night, Part
3, p. 119] I learned that it goes on day after day. People come
from all parts of the world; in fact, from 'the ends of earth.'
In this same chapter, Micah promises that in these last days from
this 'house of the Lord' both the 'law shall go forth' as well as
the 'word of the Lord'. When the truth of the Messiah is known,
men shall 'beat their swords into ploughshares.
While in Israel, I learned that the 'law' of Baha'u'llah now
'goes forth' to over 250 countries of the earth where his followers
reside; and that in over 8,000 centres of the world these followers
consider Baha'u'llah's teachings to be the 'word of the Lord'.
[1975--350 countries and 72,000 centres.]
I walked on the site of the future Universal House of Justice of
Baha'u'llah's faith, from which the 'law' will go 'forth' to the
National and Local Houses of Justice in all parts of the planet.
(The Universal House was elected in 1963.)
In these chapters, Micah foretells both the first and second
coming of Christ, prophesying that He will come FIRST from
Bethlehem and second from Assyria. That following the first coming,
great suffering and tribulation will fall upon the children of
Israel:
'Therefore shall Zion for your sake be plowed as a field, and
Jerusalem shall become heaps...' [Micah 3:12.]
In 70 A.D. Jerusalem was destroyed by the Roman Titus. In 132
A.D. the Roman Emperor Hadrian crushed the soldiers of Bar Kochba
and ploughed under the site of the city.
Then, says Micah, of the Messiah from Bethlehem:
'Therefore will he give them up, until the time that she which
travaileth hath brought forth; then the remnant of his brethren
shall return unto the children of Israel.' [Micah 5:3.]
Micah has just pointed out that 'she which travaileth' is the
daughter of Zion. Where did she bring forth? Micah foretold this,
too, saying: [William Sears, Thief in the Night, Part 3, p. 120]
'...thou shalt go even to Babylon: there shalt thou be
delivered...' [Micah 4:10.]
In that day, Micah says of the Messiah:
'...shall he be great unto the ends of the earth.' [Micah 5:4.]
And Micah foretells that when the Messiah comes the second time,
this time from Assyria, it shall bring about the day of the one
fold and one shepherd when:
'...nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither
shall they learn war any more.' [Micah 4:3.]
Millennial Bible scholars were well aware of this special promise
for Assyria and Elam and Persia, but they could not understand it.
Reverend H. Bonar, speaking as one of fourteen Christian clergymen
at a special conference on the Second Coming of Christ called Our
God Shall Come, declared: 'There is another nation reserved for
blessing and restoration. Elam. I take these as the overlooked
specimens of a certain class of God's doings in the latter days,
when the whole earth is given to Christ for His inheritance.' Bonar
accepts these prophecies concerning Assyria, Elam and Persia,
although, as he says, 'I cannot venture on giving any reason why
Elam, or Assyria, should be so especially blessed in the latter
days...' ['Our God Shall Come', Addresses on the Second Coming of
the Lord, Horatius Bonar, 1878.]
Both Christ and Micah gave the same identical signs for this day
of His RETURN. Christ said He would come from the EAST (Assyria)
in a day when:
'The good man is perished out of the earth: and there is none
upright among men; ...they hunt every man his brother with a net.
Then they may do evil with both hands earnestly, [William Sears,
Thief in the Night, Part 3, p. 121] the prince asketh, and the
judge asketh for a reward; and the great man, he uttereth his
mischievous desire...the best of them is a brier: the most
upright is sharper than a thorn hedge...' [Micah 7:2-4.]
Christ said that this was the day to 'Watch!' for the Lord would
come as a 'thief' and 'break up' the house of the faithless. Micah
said that this hour was:
'the day of thy watchmen and thy visitation cometh...' [Micah
7:4.]
Micah then let loose an astonishing downpour of prophecy. He
foretold the exact steps by which the Lord would come to Israel,
and the things that would befall Him. No detective had a clearer
set of clues. Micah promised that:
1. He would come from Assyria. 2. He would come from the
fortified cities. 3. He would come from a fortress to a river.
4. He would come from sea to sea. 5. He would come from mountain
to mountain. 6. The land to which he came would be desolate.
7. He would feed his flock in the midst of Mount Carmel. 8. He
would work his wonders for a period equal to the days which the
Jews spent coming out of Egypt.
Frankly, I felt that a fulfilment of these prophecies would be
sufficient by itself to establish the authenticity of the Messiah,
for in addition to these eight prophesies, Baha'u'llah had also
fulfilled Micah's prophesies that the Messiah must:
1. Come as a Messenger of God and tread upon the high places of
the earth. 2. Appear in the day when the children of Israel
would be gathered into their own land. 3. Establish his house in
the mountain. 4. Draw the people to it in a flow of love.
[William Sears, Thief in the Night, Part 3, p. 122] 5. Send forth
His love from that mountain. 6. Go to Babylon. 7. Withdraw from
the city. 8. Dwell in the wilderness and the field. 9. Give
birth in Babylon that would redeem the children of Israel.
No wonder I called him the 'Amazing Micah'. I now felt that if
Baha'u'llah also fulfilled these eight additional prophecies, I
might indeed be coming to the end of my search. I had to admit
that I had already assembled a powerful array of evidence pointing
to a solution of The Case of the Missing Millenium.
[William Sears, Thief in the Night, Part iii, Sect. 4, pp.
117-123.]
5. The Eight Astonishing Steps
When the faithless people and the enemies of Micah ridiculed him,
and taunted him saying:
'Where is the Lord thy God?' [Micah 7:10.]
Micah answered them with an undeviating confidence:
'I will look unto the Lord: I will wait for the God of my
salvation: my God will hear me.' [Micah 7:7.]
It was then that Micah gave the remarkable sequence of prophecies
which would proclaim the appearance of the Messiah so tat every
'eye' that could 'see' might know that He dwelt amongst them.
1. '...he shall come...from the fortified cities.' [Micah 7:12.]
Baha'u'llah, I discovered, was exiled from Baghdad (Babylon) in
the valley of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers to the fortified city
of Constantinople. [William Sears, Thief in the Night, Part 3, p.
123]
In a last desperate effort to destroy him and his teachings, the
religious and civil authorities of Persia and Turkey combined to
send him to the fortified city of 'Akka (Acre).
2. '...he shall come from the fortress even to the river.'
[Micah 7:12.]
Baha'u'llah was imprisoned for two years in a cell of the
fortress of 'Akka. So impregnable were its defenses that Napoleon
could not capture it; he left his cannon balls buried in the stone
walls as a memory of his attempt. When Baha'u'llah was released
from the fortress and the prison-city of 'Akka, he journeyed to an
island in the river called Na'mayn.
3. '...he shall come...from mountain to mountain.' [Micah 7:12.]
Baha'u'llah, I learned, withdrew to the mountain called Sar-Gal£
in the Kurdistani mountains where he prepared for his life of
suffering. From that mountain, he returned to Baghdad and thence
to the exile that carried him to the side of the MOUNTAIN CALLED
CARMEL which had been blessed by the footsteps of Christ during His
FIRST coming.
4. '...he shall come...from sea to sea.' [Micah 7:12.]
I traced the exile of Baha'u'llah from Iraq to Israel. En route
to the fortified city of Constantinople, he made the last part of
this journey by way of the Mediterranean Sea.
5. '...the land shall be desolate...' [Micah 7:13.]
Baha'u'llah was exiled to the prison-city of 'Akka in a land so
desolate that it was believed that he would perish and be heard of
no more. So foul, insanitary, and filled with disease was the land
that a proverb written about that land said: 'If a bird flies over
'Akka, it dies!' [The Chosen Highway, Bloomfield, p.64.] It was a
land filled with [William Sears, Thief in the Night, Part 3, p.
124] typhoid, malaria, diphtheria, and dysentery. It was called
'the metropolis of the owl,' [cited God Passes By, Shoghi Effendi,
p. 186.], a land that was, in the words of an historian of the
time, 'desolate and barren'.
'In that day,' Micah promised, the Messiah would:
6. 'Feed thy people with thy rod, the flock of thine heritage,
which dwell solitarily in the wood, in the midst of Carmel.' [Micah
7:14.]
My records showed that when Baha'u'llah was released from
captivity in the final years of his life, he pitched his tent in
a small wood in the midst of Carmel. Seated in that tiny clump of
cypress trees on the side of that stony, barren mountain,
Baha'u'llah pointed out the spot where the shrine of the Bab, his
herald, should be erected. From there he poured out his teachings
to his followers. He fed the people and his flock with his words
of love and kindness:
'The world is but one country, and mankind its citizens...Let not
a man glory in this that he loves his country; let him rather glory
in this, that he loves his kind.' [The Promised Day is Come, Shoghi
Effendi, 1941, p. 118.]
There in the midst of Carmel, Baha'u'llah linked his own mission
with that of Jesus. He addressed the following words He addressed
the following words to that holy mountain where the feet of Christ
had walked:
'Render thanks unto Thy Lord, O Carmel. The fire of thy
separation from Me was fast consuming thee, when the ocean of My
presence surged before thy face, cheering thine eyes and those of
all creation...He, verily, loveth the spot which hath been made the
seat of His throne, which His footsteps have trodden, which hath
been honoured by His presence, from which He raised His call, and
upon which He shed His tears.' [Gleanings from the Writings of
Baha'u'llah, Section xi.]
The final prophecy of Micah was, perhaps, the most remarkable of
all. He foretold the exact length of time during which [William
Sears, Thief in the Night, Part 3, p. 125] God would shower His
truth upon the Messiah 'in those days'. He promised that it would
be:
7. 'According to the days of thy (Israel) coming out of the land
of Egypt will I shew unto him marvellous things.' [Micah 7:15.]
The time of the coming out of Egypt was forty years. For forty
years, under the holy guidance of Moses, the Jews wandered in the
desert until finally they reached the promised land. For an equal
period of time, forty years, Almighty God would fill the mouth of
His Messenger with 'wonders' in the last days.
Joseph Klausner, in his The Messianic Idea in Israel, quotes R.
Eliezer (ben Hycanus) as saying: 'The Days of the Messiah will last
forty years...'
It is also written in Psalms:
'Forty years long was I grieved with this generation...' [Psalms
95:10.]
The millennial Bible scholar, Edward Irving, a Christian
clergyman, called attention to the Indian prophecy of the religion
'which in the space of forty (years) was to possess the earth.'
[The Great Tribulation, Cumming, p. 246.]
Hooper Harris, in his book of Lessons, writes: 'This mention of
forty is indissolubly connected with a time which was to be a time
of exile, siege, banishment, imprisonment and persecution of some
Great One, on whom tribulation and burdens were to be laid, during
which time the teachings of God, nevertheless, were to flood the
earth.'
Baha'u'llah, like unto Moses, wandered in exile with his family
and followers for forty years. He was sent as a prisoner, still
in exile, to the prison fortress of 'Akka. This once lay in the
ancient land of Canaan which God had promised would be inherited
in the last days by one from the seed of Abraham. These forty
years of wandering, banishment, and imprisonment[William Sears,
Thief in the Night, Part 3, p. 126] mark the exact period of time
of Baha'u'llah's ministry on earth.
He was thrown into the dungeon called 'The Black Pit' in Teheran
in August 1852. In that prison, but a few weeks later,
Baha'u'llah, in his own words, experienced the following:
'...lo, the breezes of the All-Glorious (God) were wafted over
Me, and taught Me the knowledge of all that hath been. This thing
is not from Me, but from One Who is Almighty and All-Knowing. And
He (God) bade Me lift up My voice between earth and heaven...This
is but a leaf which the winds of the Will of thy Lord...have
stirred. Can it be still when the tempestuous winds are blowing?'
[Baha'i World Faith, 1943, p. 55.]
Baha'u'llah was released from that prison, and his years of
enforced exile and imprisonment began. They ended only with his
death in the Holy Land in May 1892.
Thus from the beginning of his mission to the last days of his
life, there were forty years, exactly 'according to the days of thy
coming out of the land of Egypt'.
It was with a feeling of awe that I marked all seventeen of the
prophecies of 'the amazing Micah' , Fulfilled!
Was there ever such a remarkable story to be told? What a pity,
I thought, that the world had not yet read such 'headlines' as
these.
[William Sears, Thief in the Night, Part iii, Sect. 5, pp.
123-127.]
6. No Need of the Sun
Many Bible scholars in the millennial days were seeking the
Messiah by the title 'the Glory of God'. I had already discovered
that Baha'u'llah's name meant 'the Glory of God'. However, I found
additional clues regarding this name. [William Sears, Thief in the
Night, Part 3, p. 127]
Isaiah foretold that for those of the House of Israel who were
faithful to the end:
'...the glory of the Lord shall be thy rearward...And they that
shall be of thee shall build the old waste places...' [Isaiah 58:8,
12.]
Wherever the feet of Baha'u'llah have walked in Israel, the old
waste places have been built up and beautified. His name means
'the Glory of God'.
Isaiah prophesied:
'And the Redeemer shall come to Zion...' [Isaiah 59:20.]
In the next verse he declared:
'...this is my covenant with them, saith the Lord...' [Isaiah
59:21.]
In the very next verse, Isaiah proclaims:
'Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord
is risen upon thee.' [Isaiah 60:1.] Baha'u'llah came to Zion
(Israel) from the East. He wrote a special book called the Book
of the Covenant, in which he outlined the future of his faith
through all time. His faith has its world-centre on the side of
the 'mountain of God'. His name means 'the Glory of God'.
In yet another place, Isaiah says:
'...behold your God will come...he will come and save you...the
excellency of Carmel and Sharon; they shall see the Glory of the
Lord...' [Isaiah 35:4, 2.]
Baha'u'llah pitched his tent on Mount Carmel which faces the
silver city of 'Akka and is backed by the plain of Sharon. His
name means 'the Glory of God'.
In yet another chapter, Isaiah speaks of the day of the One
Shepherd and His fold. He says: [William Sears, Thief in the
Night, Part 3, p. 128]
'Behold, the Lord God will come with a strong hand...He shall
feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his
arm...' [Isaiah 40:10-11.]
He also foretells of that time:
'And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall
see it together; for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.' [Isaiah
40:5.]
Baha'u'llah came to Israel, where he declared that all men were
the sheep of one sacred fold, that his mission was to gather the
scattered 'lambs' of God into one family, one mankind. His name
means 'the Glory of God'.
Ezekiel said:
'And, behold, the glory of the God of Israel came from the way
of the east...and the earth shined with his glory.' [Ezekiel 43:2.]
And again:
'And the glory of the Lord came into the house by way of the gate
whose prospect is towards the east.' [Ezekiel 43:4.]
Christ also spoke of the great Shepherd of the one fold, saying:
'But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the
sheep.' [John 10:2.]
Christ also said:
'...the Son of man shall come in the Glory of his Father.'
[Matthew 16:27.]
This was yet another way of saying: 'the Glory of God'.
Baha'u'llah came from the East. He came by way of the door, the
Bab. His name means 'the Glory of God' or 'the Glory of the Lord'.
[William Sears, Thief in the Night, Part 3, p. 129]
The Book of Revelation, like Isaiah, mentions both the first and
second coming of Christ; and in the second appearance foresees 'the
Glory of God'. St. John recounts his vision, saying:
'And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and
the first earth were passed away... And I John saw the holy city,
new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven... And the city
had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for
the glory of God did lighten it...' [Revelation 21:1-2, 23.]
Christ Himself foretold this day of the new Jerusalem, when He
would come in the Glory of the Father. A Samaritan woman objected
strongly to the fact that Christ was changing the place of worship
which had been sacred to her people from ancient times.
'Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in
Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.' [John 4:20.]
Christ answered her saying:
'Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in
this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father.' [John
4:21.]
I found through my research that the new Jerusalem is the Law of
God which comes down from heaven with the Messenger or Messiah.
Wherever He dwells is the new Mount Zion. Jerusalem means
'possession of peace'. Zion means 'monument raised up'.
Revelation states that God
'...showed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out
of heaven from God. Having the Glory of God: and her light was
like unto a stone most precious...' [Revelation 21:10-11.] [William
Sears, Thief in the Night, Part 3, p. 130]
The book of Enoch also speaks of this new name in the last days:
'They blessed, glorified, and exalted because the name of the Son
of man was revealed to them.' [Enoch 69:26.]
Enoch also said:
'He (God) spoke to holy Michael to discover to them the sacred
name, that they might understand that secret name.' [Enoch 69:14.]
This new name was established, Enoch says, through 'the
instrumentality of the holy Michael.' [Enoch 69:15.]
This is the same Michael whom Daniel said was like unto God, a
Prince of Persia, who would stand up for the children of God in the
last days. He gave the date for this event, 1844.
Baha'u'llah, I found, in his Tablet of Carmel, declared that the
new Jerusalem had appeared upon the new Mount Zion. He said:
'Haste thee, O Carmel, for lo the light of the Countenance of
God...hath been lifted upon thee...Rejoice, for God hath in this
day, established upon thee His throne.' [Gleanings from the
Writings of Baha'u'llah, Section xi.]
In that same Tablet, I found the following words written by
Baha'u'llah:
'Call out to Zion, O Carmel...the City of God...hath descended
from heaven.' [Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, Section
xi.]
He adds:
'Beware lest thou hesitate or halt.'
The Book of Habbakkuk declared:
'The earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the
Lord as the waters cover the sea.' [Habbakkuk 2:14.] [William
Sears, Thief in the Night, Part 3, p. 131]
To my surprise, I found that although the world at large was
still quite unaware of the coming of Baha'u'llah, there were
believers in his faith in over 8,000 centres of the world,
scattered in more than 250 counties, and in most of the islands.
I carefully studied a map of the world which was dotted with places
to which his faith had spread. [1975--330 countries and 72,000
centres.]
Habbakkuk foretold that this vision he had of the Glory of the
Lord would take place at the time of the end. He said:
'Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run
that readeth it.
For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it
shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it.' [Habbakkuk
2:2-3.]
Habbakkuk also warned that men would see this wondrous truth and
would not believe the testimony of their own eyes and ears. At the
time of the end when the 'Glory of God' was 'in His Holy Temple',
Habbakkuk prophesied that men would
'...regard and wonder marvelously: for I will work a work in your
days, which ye will not believe, though it be told you.' [Habbakkuk
1:5.]
Had I found the 'work' which God had 'worked?' Of one thing I
felt confident. Beside the proof, He shall be known as 'the Glory
of God', I could write: Fulfilled. [William Sears, Thief in the
Night, Part iii, Sect. 6, pp. 127-132.]
7. The Families of the Earth Shall Be Blessed
The next proof by which Baha'u'llah was to be tested concerned
the 'seed of Abraham'. The millennial scholars were agreed that
when the Messiah came, He would be of this sacred 'seed'. I
checked the antecedents of Baha'u'llah to see if he fulfilled this
important requirement. [William Sears, Thief in the Night, Part 3,
p. 132]
I had already discovered one remarkable way in which Abraham and
Baha'u'llah were linked together, as set out in Section 3. I now
found another statement which linked them together and demonstrated
that Baha'u'llah was descended from the Father of the Faithful.
This said: 'He derived His descent, on the one hand, from Abraham
through his wife Katurah, and on the other from Zoroaster, as well
as from Yazdigird, the last king of the Sassian dynasty. He
(Baha'u'llah) was moreover a descendent of Jesse, and belonged,
through His father, Mirza 'Abbas, better known as Mirza Buzurg--a
nobleman closely associated with the ministerial circles of the
Court...to one of the most ancient and renowned families of
Mazindaran.' [God Passes By, Shoghi Effendi, p. 94.]
Thus Baha'u'llah was of the 'seed' of Abraham, being descended
through Abraham's third wife, Katurah. This in itself I found to
be a most interesting clue, for among the writings of the British
Israelites, as well as among those of some millennial scholars,
reference is made to the fact that the latter-day Messiah would be
descended from Katurah, the third wife of Abraham.
In the latter days of His life, Abraham took Katurah to wife.
In the latter days in the life of His House, Israel, it is promised
that the sons of Katurah, with all the young lions of her family
shall stand for the Lord God in the land of Israel.
This belief was based upon the prophesies in Ezekiel which speak
of the battle of Armageddon. When the great princes of evil come
down from the north from the land of Gog and Magog against 'my
people of Israel', the Lord promises that:
'Sheba, and Dedan, and the merchants of Tarshish, with all the
young lions thereof, shall say unto thee (Gog), Art thou come to
take a spoil? hast thou gathered thy company to take a prey?'
[Ezekiel 38:13.] [William Sears, Thief in the Night, Part 3, p.
133]
Then, promises the Lord, He will destroy Gog, with the help of
these faithful ones:
'I will rain upon him (Gog), and upon his bands, and upon the
many people that are with him, an overflowing rain, and great
hailstones, fire, and brimstone.' [Ezekiel 38:22.] This is the same
description given for the last days by Revelation, and the Second
Epistle of Peter, when the 'Lord will come as a thief in the
night'. These young lions of Sheba and Dedan who will be in Israel
at the side of the Lord, are the promised descendents from the line
of Katurah, Abraham's third wife. This descent is given in the book
of Genesis:
'Then again Abraham took a wife, and her name was Keturah. And
she bare him...Jokshan...and Jokshan begat Sheba and Dedan.'
[Genesis 25:1-3.]
Ezekiel says that all this will take place in 'the latter years'.
[Ezekiel 38:8.] In the chapter preceding the account of the
descendents of Sheba and Dedan, Ezekiel foretells that the two
Houses of Israel will be united in that day. This, Ezekiel
declares, will be part of the ancient Covenant which God made with
Abraham. This prophecy foreshadows the reunion in the last days,
not only the physical union of Judah and Israel, but also the
symbolical reunion of the two spiritual Houses of Judaism and
Christianity.
The Lord tells Ezekiel:
'I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen,
whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring
them into their own land: And I will make them one nation in the
land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to
them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they
be divided into two kingdoms any more at all...' [Ezekiel 37:21,
22.] [William Sears, Thief in the Night, Part 3, p. 134]
In the very year in which Baha'u'llah's faith began (1844), the
Edict was signed which permitted this gathering of the children of
Israel. Since the day of Baha'u'llah's arrival as a prisoner in
Israel, the Holy Land has become an independent State, and one
nation. Baha'u'llah's teachings declare that one of the
fundamental principles of his faith is the union of the Jews and
Christians.
Ezekiel concludes this prophecy with God's promise that the
Shrine of the Messiah shall be eternally placed in Israel:
'I will make a covenant of peace with them...and will set my
sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore.' [Ezekiel 37:26.]
The 'sanctuary' of Baha'u'llah is a place of great beauty in the
midst of Israel.
Isaiah speaks of this same great 'gathering'. He prophesies:
'Lift up thine eyes round about, and see: all they gather
themselves together, they come to thee: thy sons shall come from
afar, and thy daughters shall be nursed at thy side.' [Isaiah
60:4.]
Three verses before, Isaiah foretells that when this 'gathering'
takes place, the Lord will say to the holy mountain:
'Arise, shine: for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord
is risen upon you.' [Isaiah 60:1.]
In yet another place, Isaiah speaks of this great 'gathering'.
He says:
'And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion...'
[Isaiah 35:10.]
Eight verses before in this same chapter, he prophesies that when
this 'gathering takes place
'...Carmel and Sharon; they shall see the glory of the Lord.'
[Isaiah 35:2.] [William Sears, Thief in the Night, Part 3, p. 135]
In yet another place, Isaiah prophesies the great 'gathering'.
He says:
'He (the Messiah) shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall
gather the lambs...' .[Isaiah 40:11.]
Six verses before in that same chapter, Isaiah foretells that
when this 'gathering' takes place
'...the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall
see it together...' [Isaiah 40:5.]
Almost invariably, the time of the 'gathering' of the children
of Israel was associated with the appearance of 'the Glory of the
Lord'.
The gathering or return began in 1844. It reached its climax in
1948 with the formation of the State of Israel. Baha'u'llah, after
reaching Israel as a prisoner, himself prophesied that this would
come to pass. His name, we know, means 'The Glory of the Lord.'
Ezekiel prophesied:
'My tabernacle also shall be with them...my sanctuary shall be
in the midst of them for evermore'. [Ezekiel 37:27-28.]
No one knows where His Holiness Moses lies buried. There is much
doubt and dispute about the resting-place and tomb of His Holiness
Christ. Yet, the exact spot of the Shrine, 'tabernacle' or
'sanctuary' of Baha'u'llah is known. It has been placed in the
'midst' of Israel 'for evermore'. Each year thousands upon
thousands of people visit this sacred spot. The Christian writer,
Arthur Moore, says it is a 'place of international pilgrimage. On
Sundays and holidays the citizens of Haifa of all faiths come for
rest and recreation...' [Appreciations of the Baha'i Faith, p.
60.]
I was about to close my evidence on the relationship of Abraham
and Baha'u'llah when I came upon another series [William Sears,
Thief in the Night, Part 3, p. 136] of highly interesting and
provoking prophecies which added considerable spice to The Case of
the Missing Millenium. [William Sears, Thief in the Night, Part
iii, Sect. 7, pp. 132-137.]
8. The Lord of the New Era
Isaiah made three specific predictions in one single chapter
concerning the 'seed' of Abraham. He foretold:
1. God shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather
together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.
[Isaiah 11:12.] 2. God would set up an ensign, for the nations
of the world to see. [Isaiah 11:12.] 3. It would take place in
the day when a Branch grew out of the roots of Jesse. [Isaiah
11:1.]
Zechariah also foretold the coming of this branch from the line
of Abraham. [Zechariah 3:8.]
In those same chapters concerning the last days, he prophesied:
'Therefore thus saith the Lord; I am returned to Jerusalem with
mercies...' [Zechariah 1:16.]
And in another place:
'Thus saith the Lord; I am returned unto Zion...' [Zechariah
8:3.]
The mountain of the Messiah in that day, Zechariah says shall be
called 'the holy mountain'.
This was the day promised from the beginning to Abraham when God
told him that his 'seed' would inherit this land. He said to
Abraham:
'...he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be
thine heir...I am the Lord that brought thee out of Ur [William
Sears, Thief in the Night, Part 3, p. 137] of the Chaldees, to give
thee this land (Canaan) to inherit it.
'Unto thy seed have I given this land.' [Genesis 15:4-7, 18.]
Abraham asked God:
'How shall I know that I shall inherit it?'
God answered him, this time with a symbol:
'Take me an heifer of three years old, and a she-goat of three
years old, and a ram of three years old, and a turtledove, and a
young pigeon.' [Genesis 15:9.]
What a strange answer to Abraham's question as to how and when
he, Abraham, would inherit Canaan. F. Hudgings, in his Zionism
in Prophecy, offers the following interesting explanation of this
prophecy of the animals and the birds. He suggests that we look
at the inward truth behind this outward symbol. The birds are
taken to be one year old as the term "young" pigeon is used. Thus
we have three, three, three, one, one--or a total of eleven. The
meaning is that Abraham will inherit Canaan and the seed inherit
the earth when this prophecy came to pass after eleven years:
eleven symbolical years of "each day for a year".'
Eleven multiplied by 360 equals 3960 years. After 3960 years the
prophecy would be fulfilled.
The exact time when this prophecy was revealed to Abraham is not
known. However, we do know that it must have been immediately
before the birth of Isaac.
Authorities differ on the year of Isaac's birth. However, one
of the later dates given is 2007 B.C.; 2007 years from 3960 years,
brings us to the year A.D. 1953. [William Sears, Thief in the
Night, Part 3, p. 138]
My task was to discover whether or not this year 1953 had any
particular significance in the faith of Baha'u'llah. The results
of my search were rewarding.
The year 1953 was the hundredth anniversary of the beginning of
Baha'u'llah's Mission. It was the very year in which a great wave
of pioneer teachers went out into all parts of the world so that
the children of God might be gathered together in these last days,
and their eyes and hearts be turned towards Israel, the
world-centre of the Faith of Baha'u'llah.
In 1953 the Faith of Baha'u'llah launched a great spiritual world
crusade, which was destined to culminate in the raising up of a
universal House of Justice so that as prophesied by Isaiah, the
spiritual 'Law of God' would go forth from Zion.
Baha'u'llah began his exile one hundred years before, in 1853.
He went to the valley of the Tigris and Euphrates, and from there,
like Abraham before him, was banished to the ancient land of
Canaan.
Even more significant are the prophetic words in the Baha'i
teachings concerning this date of 1953, words which say that this
date
'Marks the inception of the Kingdom of God on earth.' [God Passes
By, Shoghi Effendi, p. 351.]
This same unique date of 1953 is also one of the important dates
given in the prophecies of the Great Pyramid. Worth Smith, in his
Miracle of the Ages, says of this date 1953: 'That will be a period
during which the whole earth is to be "cleansed of its pollutions,"
and which will prepare the people of earth for the actual beginning
of Christ's "Millennial Rule"...'
In one year, from 1953 to 1954, the Faith of Baha'u'llah, I
learned, was spread to 100 new countries. This, too, I found to
be foretold in prophecy. [William Sears, Thief in the Night, Part
3, p. 139]
Professor Roerich, in his Altai-Himalaya, a five-year record of
his expedition, points out that all through the East, in India,
Mongolia, even in Siberia, there are prophetic records of this
great new age of teaching which would come with the Messiah. He
says: 'It is told in the prophecies how the new era shall manifest
itself.'
I have recorded some of those prophecies here. This was the
first:
1. 'First will begin an unprecedented war of all nations.'
This had certainly come to pass with the Second World War. The
next prophecy said:
2. 'Then shall the Teachers appear and in all corners of the
world shall be heard the true teaching.'
From the records of the Faith of Baha'u'llah, I learned that
following the Second World War, the Baha'is (his followers) carried
out a second Seven-year Plan of teaching which spread his Faith
through the western hemisphere and Europe. Then in 1953 there
began a Ten-year Crusade which carried the message of Baha'u'llah
to all corners of the globe.
The next prophecy from the East foretold:
3. 'To this word of truth shall the people be drawn but those
who are filled with darkness and ignorance shall set
obstacles...even those who by accident help the teachings of (this
spiritual king of the world) will receive in return a hundred
fold.'
It is also promised in the writings of Baha'u'llah's faith, that
whatever effort is made for the sake of God, the doer will receive
in return a hundred fold.
Still another of these Eastern prophecies declares: [William
Sears, Thief in the Night, Part 3, p. 140]
4. 'Only a few years shall elapse before everyone shall hear the
mighty steps of the Lord of the New Era.'
At the time of the martyrdom of the Bab, only two countries were
included among the followers of his Faith. At the time of the
passing of Baha'u'llah, only fifteen countries. Following the
outpouring of teachers in 1953, Baha'u'llah's Faith had reached
over 3,000 centres in 235 countries.
Professor Dr. V. Lesny called Baha'u'llah the 'Saviour of the
twentieth century.' [Appreciations of the Baha'i Faith, p. 57.]
Baha'u'llah has also been designated as the Lord of the New Era.
The most widely distributed book concerning his teachings, a book
translated into all the widely spoken languages, is called
Baha'u'llah and the New Era.
The prophecies of the East continued as follows:
5. 'And one can already perceive unusual people. Already they
(the teachers) open the gates of knowledge, and ripened fruits are
falling from the trees.'
I found numerous references to these 'unusual' Baha'is, including
the reference already given by Justice of the United States Supreme
Court William O. Douglas who paid tribute to their high sense of
integrity. Marcus Bach, member of the faculty of the State
University of Iowa School of Religion, wrote in his article for the
Christian Century, Baha'is; A Second Look: '"If these Baha'is ever
get going, they may take the country by storm." So said a
discerning Protestant minister as we talked one evening about
America's most 'ecumenical' faith...Let all who are interested in
the gospel of the abundant life take heed! It may be that the
Baha'is are coming...They ask no salaries, want no honour, and are
literally more interested in giving than receiving...a second look
shows that by way of its devotion and the opening door, it (the
Faith of Baha'u'llah) may loose itself from captivity. It [William
Sears, Thief in the Night, Part 3, p. 141] may also be that the
minister was quite right when he said, "If these Baha'is ever get
going, they may take the country by storm."' [Christian Century,
April 10th, 1957, Marcus Bach; Baha'i: A Second Look.]
And the final prophecy from the East:
6. 'Those who accept him (the Messiah) shall rejoice. And those
who deny him shall tremble...And the warriors (teachers) shall
march under the banner of Maitreya.'
Ballou and Spiegelberg in The Bible of the World, point out that
according to the sacred scripture of the East, Maitreya is 'the
compassionate Buddha who is to come in the distant future.
Foretold by Gautama, as Christ foretold his second coming.'
Maitreya, the Buddha of 'universal fellowship' was expected to
appear to the West of India and to the East of Israel. Persia, the
home of Baha'u'llah, lies between them. His message is one of
"universal fellowship" and the union of religions, nations, and
races.
Isaiah also foretold the day when all the earth would hear the
Messiah's teaching:
'All ye inhabitants of the world, and dwellers on the earth, see
ye, when he lifteth up an ensign on the mountains...' [Isaiah
18:3.]
Isaiah also prophesies:
'...blessed are all they that wait for him...he will be very
gracious unto thee...thine eyes shall see thy teachers.' [Isaiah
30:18-20.]
F. Hudgings worked out the prophecy concerning Abraham and
Canaan to the date 1914. He attributed its fulfilment to the
increased interest in Zionism at that time. However, I found that
whatever date was taken for the fulfilment of the 3960 years
foretold to Abraham by God for 'Canaan', it would [William Sears,
Thief in the Night, Part 3, p. 142] still fall within the years of
the rise of Baha'u'llah's Faith. In fact, the very year given by
Hudgings, 1914, was significant for the Faith of Baha'u'llah'. In
that year, Baha'u'llah's son stood on the side of Mount Carmel and
prophesied that the tiny city of Haifa would soon become an
important port, and that it would grow in greatness until a wide
highway would link the towns of Haifa and 'Akka, the twin holy
cities of the Faith of Baha'u'llah. This prophecy has already come
true.
He foretold that electric lights would illumine the sacred
mountain Carmel, and the lights of the Holy places of Baha'u'llah's
Faith would be seen far out to sea. This, too, has come to pass.
The Lord has indeed, as prophesied, 'built up Zion'. The Psalms
of David had promised:
'When the Lord shall build up Zion, he (the Messiah) shall appear
in his glory.' [Psalms 102:16.]
Isaiah foretold:
'And the sons of strangers shall build up thy walls...' [Isaiah
60:10.]
This would be in the day when the branch, the root of Jesse, the
'seed' of Abraham had appeared on earth. In that same chapter,
Isaiah declares of that sacred mountain:
'The Glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.' [Isaiah 60:1.]
Baha'u'llah had come to Israel. He was known as 'the Glory of
the Lord.' He was a descendent of Katurah, the third wife of
Abraham. His sanctuary was placed eternally in the Holy Land. His
teachers had covered the earth as the waters cover the sea in the
short space of a few years.
To all these prophecies I could write without equivocation:
Fulfilled. [William Sears, Thief in the Night, Part 3, p. 143]
9. The Door of Hope
My next assignment was to search out the wonderful things which
were supposed to take place in Haifa and 'Akka in the day when the
Messiah appeared. I found there were promises not only for Mount
Carmel itself, but for the plain of Sharon on one side, and the
valley of 'Akka on the other.
In the Book of Hosea it was promised that:
'I will give her vineyards from thence, and the valley of Achor
for a door of hope: and she shall sing there as in the days of her
youth...' [Hosea 2:15.]
When will this come to pass? It seemed clear to me that it would
be in the last days when Israel would be forgiven for having turned
away from the Messiah in His first coming, and would have embraced
His truth in the time of His second coming. Hosea says:
'I will have mercy upon her that had not obtained mercy: and I
will say to them which were not my people, Thou art my people; and
they shall say, Thou art my God.' [Hosea 2:23.]
Hosea foretells that this will take place at the time of the end.
First the valley of Achor will become a place of hope and refuge.
Then Israel will return from disbelief, and seek their Beloved
(David) from the stem of Jesse (seed of Abraham).
'Afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek the Lord
their God, and David their king; and shall fear the Lord and his
goodness in the latter days.' [Hosea 3:5.]
I had already learned that the 'latter days' and 'the time of the
end' were synonymous. I had also learned that they began in 1844,
the year of the birth of Baha'u'llah's Faith, and the year of the
beginning of the return of the Jews to the Holy Land. [William
Sears, Thief in the Night, Part 3, p. 144] Isaiah made an identical
prophecy to that of Hosea, saying:
'And I will bring forth a seed out of Jacob...an inheritor of my
mountains; and mine elect shall inherit it, and my servants shall
dwell there. And Sharon shall be a fold of flocks, and the valley
of Achor a place for the herds to lie down in, for my people that
have sought me.' [Isaiah 65:9-10.]
Five verses later, Isaiah tells us that this will take place in
the day when God shall
'...call his servants by another name.' [Isaiah 65:15.]
In yet another place Isaiah prophesies
'...thou shalt be called by a new name, which the mouth of the
Lord shall name.' [Isaiah 62:2.]
And the city of the Messiah and the redeemed of the Lord would
be called
'Sought out, a city not forsaken.' [Isaiah 62:12.]
Ezekiel spoke of this city, the city of the great Shepherd of the
'one fold' and the 'flock of God'. He said that the name of this
city, the new Jerusalem is:
'...the Lord is there!' [Ezekiel 48:35.]
I found in my research, that no one knows for certain where the
valley of Achor is. The Westminster Historical Atlas to the Bible
suggests that it might lie between Hyrcania and Gilgal in the
wilderness of Judah west of the Dead Sea. George Adams Smith's
Historical Atlas of the Holy Land for the University of Aberdeen
makes the guess that it lies along what is now the river W. el
Qelt near to Jericho and Gilgal on its way to the Jordan above the
Dead Sea. However, both mark the spot with a '?'.
Ever since the day that Achan and his family had been [William
Sears, Thief in the Night, Part 3, p. 145] stoned and buried in the
land of Achor, it had been a place unwanted and forsaken. Their sin
of disobedience to the law of God had brought this punishment upon
them.
Since Achor means trouble, and the valley of Achor the valley of
trouble, there seemed little doubt that this was another symbol
showing that when the Jews turned to the Messiah in the last days,
their suffering and troubles would be ended. Such a day is
foreshadowed by Joshua concerning the valley of Achor, when he
said:
'The Lord turned from the fierceness of his anger.' [Joshua
7:24-26.]
In the last days, Baha'u'llah was sent, a prisoner and an exile,
to the fortress of 'Akka, the old city of Acco, the ancient
Ptolemais, the St. Jean d'Acre of the Crusaders. It has been
described as 'the most detestable in climate' and 'the foulest in
water'. Herr, in what was once the land of Canaan, Baha'u'llah
suffered cruel imprisonment and persecution at the hands of Turkish
authorities. It was indeed a valley of trouble. I saw the words
which Baha'u'llah himself wrote about this valley:
'Know thou, that upon Our arrival at this Spot, We chose to
designate it as the "Most Great Prison". Though previously
subjected in another land (Persia) to chains and fetters, We yet
refused to call it by that name...Ponder thereon, O ye endued with
understanding!' [God Passes By, Shoghi Effendi, p. 185.]
On another occasion Baha'u'llah wrote of the prison of 'Akka:
'None knoweth what befell Us, except God, the Almighty, the
All-Knowing!' [God Passes By, Shoghi Effendi, p. 187.]
In this valley of trouble (Achor), Baha'u'llah declared in his
writings that his 'sufferings have now reached their culmination.'
(That 'Akka was intended by Hosea is attested by Shoghi Effendi in
God Passes By, p. 184.) [William Sears, Thief in the Night, Part
3, p. 146]
An account of Baha'u'llah's arrival at 'Akka and his later visits
to Mount Carmel states: 'It is difficult to understand how
Baha'u'llah could have been obliged to leave Persia, and to pitch
His tent in this Holy Land, but for the persecution of His enemies,
His banishment and exile.' [God Passes By, Shoghi Effendi, p.
183.]
Baha'u'llah first touched upon the soil of Israel at Haifa,
directly below the cave of Elijah. There was great rejoicing among
his followers when they learned that Bah (Glory) had arrived in
the Holy Land, for none had known what his destination would be
when he was banished from Turkey.
His exile had ended at last. The Glory of God had come to the
land of Israel. His exile, like that of the Jews from Egypt, ended
with the arrival in the Holy Land.
There is a very curious prophecy mentioned by Samuel ben Judah
Valerio. He was a Biblical commentator who wrote a commentary on
the Book of Daniel which was printed in Venice in the second half
of the sixteenth century. Valerio calculated that the end of the
present exile (of the Jews) would be in the year 5628 of the Jewish
calendar, which is the year 1868 of the Christian era.
Strangely enough, 1868 is the exact date on which Baha'u'llah
arrived in Israel, the Holy Land. Thus 1868 marked the end of his
long wanderings from Persia. He had come at last to the 'nest of
the prophets'. He had also symbolically brought to an end the
spiritual; exile of the children of Israel.
This arrival had been foretold, it was said, by David in his
Psalms:
'Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye
everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. Who is
this King of glory? The Lord of Hosts, he is the King of glory.'
[Psalms 24:9-10.]
Baha'u'llah had touched upon what was once the soil of [William
Sears, Thief in the Night, Part 3, p. 147] Galilee, made holy by
the feet of Christ and the prophets of old. He had come by way of
the sea beyond Jordan.
Isaiah had prophesied both the first and the second coming of the
Messiah on yet another occasion when he promised that the
everlasting Father would come by way of the sea
'Nevertheless the dimness shall not be such as was in her
vexation, when at the first he lightly afflicted the land of
Zebulun and the land of Napthali, and afterward (the second time)
did more grievously afflict her by way of the sea, beyond Jordan,
in Galilee of the nations.' [Isaiah 9:1.]
That Isaiah was speaking of the second coming by way of the sea,
and not of the first in the land of Napthali and Zebulun where
Christ spent so much of His time, is clear from the prophecies
which Isaiah gives a few verses later:
'For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the
government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called
Wonderful, Counsellor, the mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the
Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace
there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his
kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgement and with
justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of
hosts will perform this.' [Isaiah 9:6-7.]
This prophecy has been attributed to Christ by Christian
scholars, although it was frankly admitted by them that some of the
prophecies had not been fulfilled, and could only come to pass in
the time of the end with His second coming. Some of the prophecies
appeared to fit His Holiness Christ, but most of them did not. For
example:
1. The government was not upon His shoulders. Christ Himself
said: [William Sears, Thief in the Night, Part 3, p. 148]
'Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and
unto God the things that are God's.' [Matthew 22:21.]
'My kingdom is not of this world.' [John 18:36.]
2. The name of Christ was not the mighty God. Christ obviously
considered Himself different from God: 'Why callest thou me good?
There is none good but one, that is, God.' [Mark 10:18.]
3. Christ was not the everlasting Father. He often said the
Father was one different than Himself. Although Christ said that
He and the Father were 'one' in Their purpose, still, he said:
'My Father, which gave them (the sheep) me, is greater than all...'
[John 10:29.] 'The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he
seeth the Father do...' [John 5:19.]
4. Christ did not claim to be the Prince of Peace. Although He
has been called this. He Himself said: 'Think not that I am come
to send peace on earth; I came not to send peace, but a sword.'
[Matthew 10:34.] He also said: 'Suppose ye that I am come to
give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay: but rather division.' [Luke
12:51.]
5. Christ did not anticipate that the would be an increase of His
government and peace after his death. He said: 'For from
henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against
two, and two against three.' [Luke 12:52.] [William Sears, Thief
in the Night, Part 3, p. 149]
In these very prophecies, in the very chapter quoted above,
Christ speaks of the last days when He will come like a 'thief' in
the night.
I learned the following:
1. The government was upon the shoulder of Baha'u'llah. His
Writings established local, national, and international
institutions to preserve his faith, and to protect the human rights
of mankind.
2. His name could be called the Counsellor, for his laws
established the principle of 'consultation' for each of these
governing institutions.
3. As Christ was called the Son, in like manner, I found that
Baha'u'llah was called the Father. His mission was that of a
father: to gather together the human family into one household, the
planet. To unite the nations, races and religions was the purpose
of his coming, Baha'u'llah declared. He was the Father of all
religions, races and peoples, with complete equality.
4. Unlike Christ, Baha'u'llah's mission was to bring peace. His
whole purpose was to establish universal peace. He was a Prince
of Peace, as I found in the words which he spoke to professor E.
G. Browne in the Holy Land. I read Browne's own account of that
memorable visit: 'A mild dignified voice bade me be seated..."Thou
hast come to see a prisoner and an exile...We desire but the good
of the world and the happiness of the nations...That all nations
should become one in faith and all men as
brothers...Yet so it shall be; these fruitless strifes, these
ruinous wars shall pass away, and the 'Most Great Peace' shall
come." Such, so far as I can recall them,' says Professor Browne,
'were the word which, besides many others, I heard from Bah . Let
those who read them consider well with themselves whether such
doctrines merit death and bonds, and whether the world is more
likely to gain or lose by their diffusion.' [A Traveller's
Narrative, E. G. Browne, 1891, p. xl.] [William Sears, Thief in
the Night, Part 3, p. 150]
5. There was indeed an increase in the kingdom of Baha'u'llah.
It has spread from the day of its birth a little over one humored
years ago to all parts of the world. It continues to grow each
year. The astonishing progress is almost entirely due, in this
day, to the leadership of the great-grandson of Baha'u'llah, Shoghi
Effendi Rabbani, who for thirty-six years was the World Head of
Baha'u'llah's Faith.
Be honest. Aren't you saying to yourself, as I did, at this
time: 'What a truly remarkable story?' My enthusiasm as the
detective of The Case of the Missing Millenium was never greater.
All these things took place in Israel, the Holy Land, the
promised 'valley of Achor'. They unfolded within sight of the
'plain of Sharon' on the side of 'Mount Carmel'.
Baha'u'llah, I learned, wrote over one hundred volumes,
addressing many letters to the leaders of the world's governments
and religions. Was this not the promise in the Psalms:
'Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God hath shined. Our
God shall come, and shall not keep silence.' [Psalms 50:2-3.]
The world administrative centre of Baha'u'llah's Faith is on the
north side of Mount Carmel, one of the most beautiful situations
and views in all of Israel. Thus the new Zion fulfilled the
prophecy of the Psalms for the last days:
'Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised in the city of our
God, in the mountain of his holiness. 'Beautiful for situation,
the joy of the whole earth, is Mount Zion, on the sides of the
north, the city of the great King.' [Psalms 48:1-2.]
I decided to learn more about Mount Carmel, and Haifa, the city
of Baha'u'llah, and about 'Akka, the place of his imprisonment.
[William Sears, Thief in the Night, Part iii, Sect. 9, pp.
[144-151.]
10. Where the Poor are the Kings of Paradise
Almost immediately I found the following statement about this
famous mountain: 'Carmel is renowned in Jewish history, and occurs
frequently in the imagery of the prophets.' 1. [The Jewish
Encyclopedia, Funk and Wagnalls, 1902, Vol. iii, p. 579.]
It is mentioned in: Joshua, I Kings, II Kings, Songs of Solomon,
Isaiah, Jeremiah, Amos, Micah and Nahum, etc.
I also learned the following:
1. Mount Carmel is famous as the place where Elijah brought
Israel to its allegiance to YHWH (God), and where he slew the
priests of Baal. [The Jewish Encyclopedia, Funk and Wagnalls,
1902, Vol. iii, p. 579.] 2. It was on Mount Carmel that Elisha
restored to life the son of the Shumammite woman. [The Jewish
Encyclopedia, Funk and Wagnalls, 1902, Vol. iii, p. 579.] 3.
The Jewish Encyclopedia says, 'It is reasonable to suppose that
from very early times Carmel was considered a sacred spot.' [The
Jewish Encyclopedia, Funk and Wagnalls, 1902, Vol. iii, p. 579.]
4. An altar to YHWH (God) existed on Mount Carmel before the
introduction of the worship of Baal into the kingdom. [The Jewish
Encyclopedia, Funk and Wagnalls, 1902, Vol. iii, p. 579.] 5.
Elisha visited Mount Carmel from Jericho, and made it his abiding
place. [The Jewish Encyclopedia, Funk and Wagnalls, 1902, Vol.
iii, p. 579.] 6. Pythagorus was attracted to Mount Carmel
because of its sacred reputation. [The Jewish Encyclopedia, Funk
and Wagnalls, 1902, Vol. iii, p. 579.] 7. According to the
Roman historian Tacitus, Vespasian went to Mount Carmel to consult
the oracle of God which was believed to dwell on the side of the
mountain. [History, Tacitus, Book ii, lxxvii.] 8. Elijah chose
Mount Carmel as the place for the assembly of the people. [The
Jewish Encyclopedia, Vol iii, p. 579.] 9. Fire descended from
heaven onto Mount Carmel in a contest of truth, and 'proved the God
of Israel to be the true God'. [The Jewish Encyclopedia, Vol iii,
p. 579.] 10. The Cave of Elijah can still be seen on the side
of Mount Carmel. This is the cave of the prophet Elijah who was to
appear in the last days as the Forerunner and Herald of the
expected Messiah.
There is still another very interesting prophecy concerning Mount
Carmel and the time of the end. I found it in the Book of Elijah,
one of the Midrashic apocalypses of the Jews.
Silver, in his Messianic Speculation in Israel, comments on this
Book of Elijah, saying: 'The angel Michael, after showing Elijah
the regions of heaven, reveals to him on Mount Carmel, the time of
the end.' [A History of Messianic Speculation in Israel, A. H.
Silver, 1927, p. 42.]
The following promises were also given for Mount Carmel:
1. The Messiah would dwell in the midst of Carmel. 2. The
Messiah would feed his flock from Carmel with the rod of his
teachings. 3. The Messiah, the Glory of the Lord, would be seen
by Carmel.
In addition to the many prophecies concerning Mount Carmel and
the city of 'Akka which have already been mentioned, I found some
very interesting accounts in other Scriptures. I learned that the
city of 'Akka (Accho, Acre, St. Jean d'Acre, Ptolemais), had been
greatly lauded as a place of hope and promise.
For example, the Arabian Prophet also referred to 'Akka many
times, calling it:
1. A city...to which God has shown His special mercy.' [God
Passes By, Shoghi Effendi, p. 184.] 2. A city 'by the shore of
the sea...whose whiteness is pleasing to God.' [God Passes By,
Shoghi Effendi, p. 184.]
In the prophecies of Islam, it is written of 'Akka:
1. 'Blessed the man that hath visited 'Akka, and blessed be he
that hath visited the visitor of 'Akka.' [God Passes By, Shoghi
Effendi, p. 184.] 2. 'He that raiseth therein the call to
prayer, his voice will be lifted up unto Paradise.' [God Passes By,
Shoghi Effendi, p. 184.] 3. 'The poor of 'Akka are the kings
of paradise and the princes thereof.' [God Passes By, Shoghi
Effendi, p. 184.] 4. 'A month at 'Akka is better than a
thousand years elsewhere.' [God Passes By, Shoghi Effendi, p.
184.]
And finally, one of the most remarkable prophecies of all, when
one follows the history of the martyrdom of the Bab and of the
exile of Baha'u'llah to the prison city of 'Akka. In the sacred
Writings of the land of Baha'u'llah's birth, it states:
'All of them (the companions of the Herald of the Messiah) shall
be slain except One, Who shall reach the plain of 'Akka, the
Banquet-Hall of God.' [God Passes By, Shoghi Effendi, p. 184.]
Professor E. G. Browne of Cambridge University visited
Baha'u'llah on the plain of 'Akka in 1890. He wrote of his
experiences in that valley: '...here did I spend five most
memorable days, during which I enjoyed unparalleled and unhoped-for
opportunities of holding intercourse with those who are the very
fountain-heads of that mighty and wondrous spirit, which works with
invisible but ever-increasing force, for the transformation and
quickening of a people who slumber in a sleep like unto death. It
was in truth a strange and moving experience, but one whereof I
despair of conveying any save the feeblest impression...The spirit
which pervades the (followers of Baha'u'llah) is such that it can
hardly fail to affect most powerfully all subjected to its
influence...it cannot be ignored or disregarded. Let those who
have not seen, disbelieve me if they will; but, should that spirit
once reveal itself to them, they will experience an emotion they
are not likely to forget.' [A Traveller's Narrative, Introduction,
Browne.]
When Professor Browne came face to face with Baha'u'llah, he said
that he felt 'a throb of wonder and awe'. He added: "The face of
Him on whom I gazed I can never forget, though I cannot describe
it. Those piercing eyes seemed to read one's very soul; power and
authority sat upon that ample brow...No need to ask in whose
presence I stood, as I bowed myself before one who is the object
of a devotion and love which kings might envy and emperors sigh for
in vain!' [A Traveller's Narrative, Introduction, Browne.]
The mansion in which Professor Browne visited Baha'u'llah, was
in the process of construction when Baha'u'llah was still a
prisoner in 'Akka.
Just as Jesus the Christ had ridden, lowly, upon a donkey in the
land of Israel, so did Baha'u'llah ride in the same manner. One
day while passing this mansion which was being constructed by a
wealthy Muslim, Udi Khammar, Baha'u'llah turned to his son
'Abdu'l-Baha, and said with a twinkle in his eye: 'I wonder for
whom they are building that mansion?'
No sooner was the mansion completed, than an epidemic of cholera
broke out. The mansion was abandoned, and 'Abdu'l-Baha was able
to secure its use for Baha'u'llah at a very nominal rental.
When Baha'u'llah was released from the prison, he moved into the
mansion. Above the stairway leading to the rooms which Baha'u'llah
was to occupy, Udi Khammar had been inspired to carve the following
message in stone. It still remains to this day:
'Greetings and Peace be upon this Mansion! Its beauty will
increase down through the ages. Within its walls wondrous and
strange things will take place; things which all the pens of the
earth shall be powerless to describe.'
In this mansion Baha'u'llah lived the last years of his earthly
life. Within these walls he passed away on May 29th, 1892. To this
sacred spot pilgrims now journey from all parts of the world.
There in the valley of 'Akka, in sight of holy 'Carmel', the
entire prophecy of the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah was brought
to its fulfilment.
Isaiah had foretold:
1. 'He id despised and rejected of men: a man of sorrows, and
acquainted with grief...' [Isaiah 53:3.]
Baha'u'llah was rejected by his own countrymen, and was sent into
exile. His life was filled with grief and sorrow.
2. 'We hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and
we esteemed him not.' [Isaiah 53:3.]
The Emperor Franz Joseph passed within but a short distance of
the prison in which Baha'u'llah was captive. Louis Napoleon cast
behind his back the letter which Baha'u'llah sent to him, saying:
'If this man is of God, then I am two Gods!' The people of the
world have followed in their footsteps.
3. 'Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows...'
[Isaiah 53:4.]
I read the following words of Baha'u'llah concerning his
persecution and imprisonment: 'Though weariness lay Me low, and
hunger consume Me, and the bare rock be My bed, and My fellows the
beasts of the field, I will not complain, but will endure
patiently...and will render thanks unto God under all
conditions...We pray that, out of His bounty--exalted be He--He
may release, through this imprisonment, the necks of men from
chains and fetters...' [The Promised Day is Come, Shoghi Effendi,
pp. 42-3.]
The prophecy of Isaiah continues:
4. 'But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised
for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and
with his stripes we are healed.' [Isaiah 53:5.]
Baha'u'llah was twice stoned, once scourged, thrice poisoned,
scarred with hundred-pound chains which cut through his flesh and
rested upon the bones of his shoulders. He lived a prisoner and
an exile for nearly half a century.
5. 'He was taken from prison and from judgement...' [Isaiah
53:8.]
Baha'u'llah was taken from the black-pit prison in Teheran for
judgement before the authorities. His death was expected hourly,
but he was banished to Iraq and finally to Israel. In the
prison-city of 'Akka, on another occasion, '...the Governor, at the
head of his troops, with drawn swords, surrounded (Baha'u'llah's)
house. The entire populace, as well as the military authorities,
were in a state of great agitation. The shouts and clamour of the
people could be heard on all sides. Baha'u'llah was peremptorily
summoned to the Governorate, interrogated, kept in custody the
first night...The Governor, soon after, sent word that he was at
liberty to return to his home, and apologized for what had
occurred. [God Passes By, Shoghi Effendi, pp. 190-191.]
6. 'And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in
his death...' [Isaiah 53:9.]
Baha'u'llah was buried in the precincts of the Mansion of Bahji,
owned by a wealthy Muslim. He was surrounded by enemies, members
of his own family who betrayed his trust after his death and dwelt
in homes adjacent to his burial-place.
7. '...he shall see his seed...' [Isaiah 53:10.]
Baha'u'llah did see his 'seed'. He wrote a special document called
the Book of the Covenant, in which he appointed his eldest son to
be the Centre of his faith after his own passing. This very event
was also foretold in the prophecies of the Psalms which proclaim:
'Also I will make him my first-born higher than the kings of the
earth...and my covenant shall stand fast with him.' [Psalms 89:27,
28.]
The 'first-born' son of Baha'u'llah, was named 'Abdu'l-Baha,
which means 'the servant of Baha'u'llah). Baha'u'llah appointed
him as his own successor in his Will and Testament. He called
'Abdu'l-Baha the Centre of his Covenant.
Professor E. G. Browne said of 'Abdu'l-Baha: 'Seldom have I
seen one whose appearance impressed me more...One more eloquent of
speech, more ready of argument, more apt of illustration, more
intimately acquainted with the sacred books of the Jews, the
Christians and Mohammadans, could, I should think, scarcely be
found...These qualities, combined with a bearing at once majestic
and genial, made me cease to wonder at the influence and esteem
which he enjoyed even beyond the circle of his father's followers.
About the greatness of this man and his power, no one who had seen
him could entertain a doubt.' [A Traveller's Narrative, Browne, p.
xxxvi.]
The well-known Bible scholar of Oxford University, the Reverend
Dr. T. K. Cheyne, arranged a meeting for 'Abdu'l-Baha at
Manchester College, Oxford. Dr. Cheyne himself invited the public
in an advertisement in the Oxford newspaper. In the Preface of his
book The Reconciliation of Races and Religions, Cheyne mentions the
fact that the Hungarian sage Vambery was a believer in Baha'u'llah.
Of his own belief, Cheyne says, 'I should express my own adhesion
to the Baha'i leader in more glowing terms.'
Cheyne is mentioned on the title page of his book as a member of
'the Baha'i Community'.
This is the same Christian clergyman and Bible scholar who wrote:
'If there has been any prophet in recent times, it is to
Baha'u'llah that we must go. Character is the final judge.
Baha'u'llah was a man of the highest class--that of prophets.'
[Appreciations of the Baha'i Faith, p. 18.]
8. Isaiah's prophecy continues:
'He (God) shall prolong his days...' [Isaiah 53:10.]
Baha'u'llah's days were prolonged. He was born in 1817 and
passed away in the Holy Land in 1892. In the last years of his
life, Baha'u'llah was released from his prison cell. He came out
of the prison-city of 'Akka and walked on the sides of Mount
Carmel. His followers came from afar to be with him, and to
surround him with their love, fulfilling the words of the prayer
of David spoken within a cave:
'Bring my soul out of prison, that I may praise thy name: the
righteous shall compass me about; for thou shalt deal bountifully
with me.' [Psalms 142:7.]
These events in the valley of 'Akka with its strong fortress
prison had been foreshadowed in Ecclesiastes (4:14):
'For out of prison he cometh to reign...'
Baha'u'llah, I had found, had written that 'whatsoever hath been
announced in the Books hath been revealed and made clear.' He
declared that the Ancient Beauty 'ruleth upon the throne of David'
and that the 'Most Great Law is come.' [God Passes By, Shoghi
Effendi, p. 230.]
Alongside my record of the prophecies which the Messiah would
have to fulfil concerning the 'plain of Sharon', the 'valley of
Achor', and the sacred mountain 'Carmel', I wrote: Fulfilled.
[William Sears, Thief in the Night, Part iii, Sect. 10, pp.
152-159.]
11. The Blossoming Desert
I had still another proof to check. It had been prophesied that
when the Messiah came, the 'desert would blossom as the rose'.
Isaiah had foretold clearly:
'The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them;
and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose.' [Isaiah
35:1.]
It is in the next verse of this prophecy that Isaiah says that
when this happens, Carmel and Sharon shall see the Glory of the
Lord.
Carmel and Sharon had seen the appearance of Baha'u'llah, the
Glory of the Lord, but had the desert blossomed as the rose?
My study revealed that the followers of Baha'u'llah came from as
far away as his native land even while he was yet in prison. They
knew that Baha'u'llah loved children, green fields, trees and
flowers. They were heavy-hearted because of the nine years he had
to spend in the prison-city surrounded by the sandy plain and the
unfragrant atmosphere of that 'foul city'.
Baha'u'llah's followers brought flowers and plants from Persia,
and his son, 'Abdu'l-Baha planted a lovely garden nearby. An
eye-witness to the events of those days has written: 'These
wonderful pilgrims! How they came on that long toilsome journey
on foot, braving numberless dangers, malignant human enemies and
bad weather, and through all the fatigue, carrying, as the greatest
treasure, some plant for their adored one's garden. Often the only
water, which the devoted pilgrims so urgently needed for
themselves, was given to the plant.' [The Chosen Highway,
Blomfield, p. 96.]
I made a personal visit to that garden on the island of Na'mayn
outside the city of 'Akka. The land is arid, thirsting for water;
yet, in the midst of this desert grows a magnificent garden.
Laurence Oliphant refers to it in his book on Israel. He says:
'This island (garden), which is about two hundred yards long by
scarcely a hundred wide, is all laid out in flower-beds and planted
with ornamental shrubs and with fruit-trees. Coming upon it
suddenly it is like a scene in fairy land.' [Haifa, or Life in
Modern Palestine, Lawrence Oliphant, 1887, pp. 103-104.]
In another place, Oliphant says of this garden: 'The stream is
fringed with weeping willows, and the spot, with its wealth of
water, its thick shade, and air fragrant with jasmine and orange
blossoms, forms an ideal retreat from the heats of summer. The
sights and sounds are all suggestive of languor...The senses are
lulled by the sounds of murmuring water, the odours of fragrant
plants, the flickering shadows of foliage, or the gorgeous tints
of flowers...' [Haifa, or Life in Modern Palestine, Lawrence
Oliphant, 1887, p. 104.]
From the sandy plain of 'Akka, I drove to the rocky side of Mount
Carmel. There on the side of this sacred mountain, were lovely
gardens, walks and paths of magnificent beauty virtually carved out
of the rock.
Even while I was flying from Rome en route to the Holy Land, the
beauty of this spot was called to my attention. I was given a
folder from the British European Airways. On the cover was a
picture of the entrance to the gardens of the Baha'i Faith on Mount
Carmel. The folder described it as: 'The most beautiful spot in
the Middle East.'
Between the two great Baha'i gardens that go halfway up the
mountainside, runs a broad highway. Through the gates leading from
this highway stream pilgrims and visitors from all parts of the
world. They come with hearts full of joy and gladness, and the
sound of their beautiful chanting can be heard on that
mountainside. This, too, was foreseen by Isaiah:
'And an highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called
the way of holiness...the redeemed shall walk there. And the
ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with songs and
everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and
gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.' [Isaiah 35: 8,
10.]
Surrounding these beautiful Shrines and gardens are orange,
lemon, and pomegranate trees. Beautiful coloured paths of red and
white stone wind through multi-coloured flowers, graceful lawns,
and dark green hedges. Wherever the feet of Baha'u'llah walked can
be found these lovely gardens.
The Shrine of Baha'u'llah, the sanctuary where he is buried, is
a place of great beauty and peace. It lies in the centre of giant
circle with many walks leading to it. This land was once an arid
desert, but now it blossoms out in splendour. It is perfumed by
rose, hyacinth, jasmine and geranium. Smooth white stones from the
Sea of Galilee make a pathway directly to the door of his Shrine.
Three hills carpeted in crimson shelter his sanctuary from wind and
storm. These sacred Shrines are surrounded by cedars of Lebanon,
fir trees, pine trees, cypress, box, and olive trees.
Isaiah had foretold:
'...his rest shall be glorious.' [Isaiah 11:10.]
In still another chapter, Isaiah prophesies:
''...the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.'
and a few verses later he foresees the following:
'The glory of Lebanon shall come unto thee, the fir tree, the
pine tree, and the box together, to beautify the place of my
sanctuary; and I will make the place of my feet glorious.' [Isaiah
60:1, 13.]
Baha'u'llah's name means 'the Glory of the Lord'. The place of his
'rest' had been made glorious, as well as the place where his feet
had walked.
Isaiah also prophesies:
'I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry lands
springs of water. I will plant in the wilderness the cedar, the
shittah tree and the myrtle, and the oil tree; I will set in the
desert the fir tree, and the pine, and the box tree together:
That they may see, and know, and consider, and understand together,
that the hand of the Lord hath done this, and the Holy One of
Israel hath created it.' [Isaiah 41:18-20.]
I also uncovered the prophecies which foretold that when 'the
Glory of God' that 'Holy One' of Israel returned to Zion, thee
would be changes of climate, and that the arid would become green.
In that day when His 'rest' and 'sanctuary' would be 'beautified',
the water would flow where the desert once held sway.
A survey of the early development of modern Israel disclosed the
following report: 'Even the climatic conditions of Palestine
(Israel) are now showing marked improvement. In 1927 the Pools of
Solomon, dry for centuries, began to overflow. At that time the
High Commissioner of Palestine was asked to declare a day of public
thanksgiving to come for this seeming miracle. The pools were
measured and found to contain approximately sixty million gallons.
In Bible times there were two copious rainy seasons in Palestine,
the "early and the later rain". But for the past many centuries
the "early rains" have been scant; while the "later rains" and the
dews had disappeared completely. But now these have returned to
gladden the land, with the result that some parts of Palestine now
yield two or three crops a year.' [Zionism in Prophecy, F.
Hudgings, 1936, pp. 55-56.]
Thus the prophecy of Joel was fulfilled:
'...he will cause to come down for you the rain, the former rain,
and the latter rain in the first month.' [Joel 2:23.]
Also the prophecy of Zechariah:
'Thus saith the Lord, I am returned unto Zion...I will not be
unto the residue of this people as in the former days...the heavens
shall give their dew; and I will cause the remnant of this people
to possess all these things.' [Zechariah 8:3, 11-12.]
There in the sandy desert of the plain of 'Akka, as long ago as
1878, a fountain splashed and gurgled in the midst of Baha'u'llah's
garden.
Fresh water flowed in abundance to the arid land that now
nourishes the beautiful green lawns, trees and flowers in both
'Akka and on the side of Mount Carmel in Haifa, even as Isaiah had
prophesied:
'...in the wilderness shall waters break out and streams in the
desert. And the parched ground shall become a pool, and the
thirsty land springs of water.' [Isaiah 35:6-7.]
In this same chapter, once again, Isaiah prophesies that these
wonders shall take place in Israel when Carmel and Sharon shall see
'the Glory of the Lord'.
Nearly twenty years before the turn of this century a Christian
traveller described these waters of Baha'u'llah's garden in the
midst of the desert wilderness, 'In the centre is a splashing
fountain from which the water is conveyed to all parts of the
garden. The flower-beds are all bordered with neat edges of
stone-work, and are sunk below the irrigating channels. Over a
marble bed the waters from the fountain come rippling down in a
broad stream to a bower of bliss, where two immense and venerable
mulberry-trees cast an impenetrable shade over a platform with
seats along the entire length of one side, protected by a
balustrade projecting over the waters of the Belus, which here runs
in a clear stream, fourteen or fifteen feet wide and...three deep,
over a pebbly bottom, where fish of considerable size, and
evidently preserved, are darting fearlessly about, or coming up to
the steps to be fed.' [Haifa, Oliphant, p. 104.]
Baha'u'llah had successively demonstrated every requirement for
this specific proof. Since the day of his coming to Israel, the
land had grown in beauty. The places where he dwelled and where
he walked had become gardens of superb loveliness. The desert had
indeed 'blossomed as the rose'. In fact, I saw with my own eyes,
one huge plot where once only barren rock had pushed its head above
the soil. Now there bloomed roses of every variety and hue,
perfuming the air with a delicate fragrance.
The proof had demanded: In the day of the Messiah, the desert
shall blossom as the rose. I marked it: Fulfilled.
[William Sears, Thief in the Night, Part iii, Sect. 11, pp.
159-165.]
12. Fire in the Sky!
I had one last point of proof. Christ Himself had foretold that
when the Messiah came, the Spirit of Truth, He would glorify His,
Christ's, name. Had Baha'u'llah done this?
In order to come to this final evidence, I had set aside two
important proofs:
1. 'He shall unseal the Books.' 2. 'He shall topple the unjust
kings from their thrones.'
The fulfilment of these two proofs made such a thrilling and
dramatic story, that I was not only able to write Fulfilled beside
them, but I have felt impelled to write a separate book about each,
so that you too, might enjoy the same delight which I felt when
discovering these astonishing stories.
The first of these two books I have called The Wine of
Astonishment. On the eve of the declaration of his Mission,
Baha'u'llah wrote his Book of Certitude. This book, he himself
said, offered to mankind the 'Choice Sealed Wine' whose seal is of
'musk'. It broke the 'seals' of the 'Book' referred to by Daniel,
and disclosed the meaning of the 'words' destined to remain 'closed
up' till the 'time of the end'. [God Passes By, Shoghi Effendi,
P 139].
Baha'u'llah wrote over a hundred volumes. This Book of Certitude
was completed in the space of two days and two nights, a continuous
outpouring. His words have been described as 'a rushing torrent'.
A historian who was living at the time of Baha'u'llah in Baghdad,
has testified that the words which 'streamed from his lips...in a
single day and night' were the equivalent of a large volume.
Moreover, 'As to those verses which He either dictated or wrote
Himself, their number was no less remarkable than either the wealth
of material they contained, or the diversity of subjects to which
they referred.' [God Passes By, Shoghi Effendi, p. 138 (quotation
from Shoghi Effendi).]
I found the following eye-witness account of a business man of
Shiraz, Persia, who knew both the Bab and Baha'u'llah. He says:
'I bear witness that the verses revealed by Baha'u'llah were
superior, in the rapidity which with they were penned, in the ease
with which they flowed, in their lucidity, their profundity and
sweetness to those which I, myself, saw pour from the pen of the
Bab when in His presence. Had Baha'u'llah no other claim to
greatness, this were sufficient, in the eyes of the world and its
people, that He produced such verses as have streamed this day from
His pen.' [God Passes By, Shoghi Effendi, p. 138 (quotation from
Shoghi Effendi).]
In his writings, Baha'u'llah 'unseals' the truth and the 'hidden
meanings of those subjects which have long troubled and confused
mankind, such as:
The Day of Judgement Resurrection Baptism The Eucharist
The Trinity Reincarnation The Creation of the World Proofs
of the Existence of God Life After Death The Immortality of the
School The Story of Adam and Eve Good and Evil The Son of God
The Father Heaven and Hell The Stars Falling from Heaven The
Darkening of the Sun and the Moon The Day of God The City of
God The Seal of the Prophets The Return
These and many other subjects are revealed in their true meaning
by Baha'u'llah, whose fresh and clear explanations harmonize with
science and education and broaden the outlook of humanity. These
have been explained in detail in the Book The Wine of Astonishment.
Enoch, in speaking of the Messiah of the time of the end,
promised:
'This is the Son of man...who will reveal all the treasure of
that which is concealed.' [Enoch 46:3.]
The second of these two books I have called Fire in the Sky. It
tells the story of Baha'u'llah's letters to the kings and rulers
of the world. (Published as The Prisoner and the Kings.)
Baha'u'llah addressed them saying:
'O Kings of the earth! We see you increasing every year your
expenditures and laying the burden thereof on your subjects. This,
verily, is wholly and grossly unjust...lay not excessive burdens
on your peoples. Do not rob them to rear palaces for yourselves;
nay rather, choose for them that which ye choose for
yourselves...Your people are your treasures. Beware lest your rule
violate the commandments of God, and ye deliver your wards to the
hands of the robber. By them ye rule, by their means ye subsist,
by their aid ye conquer. Yet, how disdainfully ye look upon them!
How strange, how very strange!' [The Promised Day is Come, Shoghi
Effendi, p. 26.]
In another place Baha'u'llah wrote to the kings and rulers:
'O kings of the earth...Compose your differences, and reduce your
armaments, that the burden of your expenditures may be lightened,
and that your minds and hearts may be tranquillised. Heal the
dissensions that divide you...and ye be the emblems of justice
amongst them (mankind).' [The Promised Day is Come, Shoghi Effendi,
pp. 21-22.]
And again:
'If ye stay not the hand of the oppressor, if ye fail to
safeguard the rights of the downtrodden, what right have ye then
to vaunt yourselves among men?' [The Promised Day is Come, Shoghi
Effendi, p. 22.]
Baha'u'llah informed the monarchs of the world by whose authority
he spoke, saying:
'I am the One Whom the tongue of Isaiah hath extolled, the One
with Whose name both the Torah (of Moses) and the Evangel (of
Christ) were adorned...' [The Promised Day is Come, Shoghi Effendi,
p. 34.]
Baha'u'llah addressed letters to:
Emperor Franz Joseph of Austria Napoleon III of France Kaiser
William I of Germany Czar Nicolaevitch Alexander II of Russia The
Sultan 'Abdu'l-Aziz of Turkey Nasiri'd-Din Shah of Persia Queen
Victoria of Britain The Presidents and Rulers of the Republics of
the West The Religious Leaders of the Christians, Jews, Muslims and
Zoroastrians The followers of Christ, Moses, and Mohammed The
peoples of the world
Napoleon III cast Baha'u'llah's letter aside scornfully, saying,
'If this man is of God, I am two Gods!'
Shortly after, Napoleon fell from power as prophesied by
Baha'u'llah, and ended his days in exile, after suffering a
humiliating imprisonment.
Only one of these sovereigns responded, even in the slightest
measure. It was Queen Victoria in Great Britain. This dynasty is
the only one which still remains today of those once-mighty
monarchies.
Baha'u'llah foretold that Queen Victoria would have a long and
successful reign, although at the time her health was precarious
and she was not in favour because of her German consort. Of far
more arresting interest is the fact that still another Sovereign,
a grand-daughter of Queen Victoria, became a follower of
Baha'u'llah. I found these words of Queen Marie of Rumania
concerning Baha'u'llah and his Faith, quoted in the Toronto Daily
Star, May 14th, 1926: 'It (Baha'u'llah's Faith) is Christ's message
taken up anew...No man could fail to be better because of this
Book. I commend it to you all.'
She was quoted in the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin, September
27th, 1926 as follows: 'Those who read their Bible with "peeled
eyes" will find in almost every line some revelation.'
She also wrote in a personal letter: 'These Books (the writings
of Baha'u'llah's Faith), have strengthened me beyond belief...The
Baha'i teaching brings peace and understanding.' [Appreciations of
the Baha'i Faith, pp. 12-13.]
Baha'u'llah declared that he saw 'abasement hastening after'
those unjust rulers who neglected the rights and welfare of the
poor and humble among their subjects. They would, he said, be made
an 'object lesson' for the world.
Three were assassinated and two went into exile,, the royal
thrones of all but one were overthrown!
These events, I found, were all foretold for the day of the
coming of the Messiah, and were part of the proof expected by the
millennial scholars. It had been written in Scripture of the
Messiah:
1. Psalms: 'He shall cut off the spirit of princes: he is
terrible to the kings of the earth.' [Psalms 76:12.] 2. Job: 'He
shall break in pieces mighty men without number...' [Job 34:24.]
3. Isaiah: 'The Lord hath broken the staff of the wicked, and the
sceptre of the rulers.' [Isaiah 14:5.] 'And it shall come to pass
in that day that the Lord shall punish the host of the high ones
that are on high, and the kings of the earth upon the earth.'
[Isaiah 24:21.]
In the very chapter of Daniel, in which he speaks of the time of
the end, saying:
'...behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of
heaven...' [Daniel 7:13.]
Daniel also says:
'I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of
days did sit (upon His throne)...' [Daniel 7:9.]
I found over twenty specific prophecies in sacred Scripture which
referred to the overthrow of the kings of the earth in the day of
the coming of the Messiah.
Enoch refers to the same 'Son of man' mentioned by Daniel for the
last days, saying:
'This is the Son of man whom thou hast seen shall...break the
teeth of the sinners, and he shall put down the kings from their
thrones and kingdoms...' [Enoch 46:4-5.]
Enoch even tells from what part of the world this 'Son of man'
will come in the last days:
'And in those days the angels will assemble, and turn their heads
toward the east, towards the people of Parthia and Medea (modern
Persia), in order to excite the kings, and that a spirit of
disturbance came over them, and disturbed them from off their
thrones.' [Enoch 56:5.]
The welfare and happiness of the under-privileged, the
down-trodden, the common man was a favourite theme of Baha'u'llah.
He had great love for those who suffered from hunger and
persecution. He warned the rulers of earth:
'Know ye that the poor are the trust of God in your midst. Watch
that ye betray not His trust, and ye deal not unjustly with them
and that ye walk not in the ways of the treacherous.' [The Promised
Day is Come, Shoghi Effendi, p. 22.]
Baha'u'llah's own words set the seal to those winds of adversity
which have swept across the face of the earth since 1844,
dethroning monarchs, extinguishing dynasties, and uprooting age old
kingdoms:
'God hath not blinked, nor will He ever blink His eyes at the
tyranny of the oppressor. More particularly in this Revelation
hath He visited each and every tyrant with His vengeance.' [God
Passes By, Shoghi Effendi, p.224.]
This astonishing story concerning the downfall of kings and the
fulfilment of prophecy is told with all of its dramatic detail in
the book Fire in the Sky.
Beneath the two proofs: (1) the Messiah shall unseal the Books,
and (2) He shall topple the unjust kings from their thrones, I
wrote: Fulfilled. [William Sears, Thief in the Night, Part iii,
Sect. 12, pp. 165-171.]
13. He Shall Glorify Christ
This brought me to the final proof of all: He, the Messiah, shall
glorify Christ.
Jesus Himself had promised that when the Messiah came:
1. 'He shall glorify me.' 2. 'He will reprove the world of
sin...because they believe not on me.' 3. 'He shall take of mine,
and show it unto you.' 4. 'He shall...bring all things to your
remembrance , whatsoever I have said unto you.'
Had Baha'u'llah done this?
My final clue in The Case of the Missing Millenium was answered
with the most resounding proof of all. I found the following words
which Baha'u'llah had written about Jesus, the Christ. He had
indeed glorified Jesus:
'...Whatsoever hath proceeded out of His (Christ's) blameless,
His truth-speaking, trustworthy mouth, can never be altered.'
[Baha'i World Faith, p. 60.]
Baha'u'llah penned the following tribute upon the crucifixion of
Christ:
'Know thou that when the Son of man yielded up His breath to God,
the whole creation wept with a great weeping. By sacrificing
Himself, however, a fresh capacity was infused into all created
things. Its evidences, as witnessed in all the peoples of the
earth, are now manifest before thee.' [The Baha'i Revelation, 1955,
p. 58.]
In his letters to the kings of the earth, Baha'u'llah 'reproved'
the world for not believing in Christ. He pointed the similarity
of his own reception to that of Christ in the day of His first
coming:
'And...when I came unto them in My glory, they turned aside.
They indeed are of the fallen. This is, truly, that which the
Spirit of God (Christ) hath announced, when He came with (the)
truth...(and) they perpetrated what hath made the Holy Spirit to
lament, and the tears of them that have near access to God flow.'
[The Baha'i Revelation, 1955, p. 14.]
Baha'u'llah throughout his writings called to 'remembrance' the
words of Christ. He did, as Christ foretold, 'take of mine, and
show it unto you'. Baha'u'llah called upon the people of the world
to:
'Consort with the people of religions with joy and fragrance; to
show forth that which is declared by the Speaker of the Mount
(Jesus Christ); and to render justice in (all) affairs.' [The
Baha'i Revelation, 1955, p. 148.]
As prophesied by Jesus, Baha'u'llah frequently brought to mind
the words of Christ: 'whatsoever I have said unto you'. In the
teachings of Baha'u'llah's Faith, I read:
'Unity is the very spirit of the body of the world...His Holiness
Jesus Christ--may My life be a sacrifice to Him--promulgated this
unity among mankind. Every soul who believed in Jesus Christ
became revivified and resuscitated through this spirit, attained
to the zenith of eternal glory, realised the life everlasting,
experienced the second birth and rose to the acme of good fortune.'
[The Baha'i Revelation, 1955, pp. 235-236.]
I was convinced that no honest and sincere Christian would ever
consider Baha'u'llah or the Baha'i Faith an enemy of Christ or
Christianity, once they had read such words as these in Baha'i
teaching:
'Jesus was a Manifestation (Messenger) of God. Everything of Him
pertained to God. To know Him (Christ) was to know God...To obey
Him was to obey God. He was the source of all divine virtues. He
was a vision of all divine qualities...through this mirror (of
Jesus) the energy of God was transmitted to the world. The whole
disc of the Sun of Reality (God) was reflected in Him (Christ).'
[Star of the West Magazine, Vol. xii, p. 188.]
Baha'u'llah linked his own life with that of Christ throughout
his mission. After having suffered stoning, scourging and
imprisonment, Baha'u'llah lifted up his voice to cry out:
'If ye be intent on crucifying once again Jesus, the Spirit of
God, put Me to death, for He hath once more, in My person been made
manifest unto you. Deal with Me as ye wish, for I have vowed to
lay down My life in the path of God.' [The Baha'i Revelation, 1955,
p. 59.]
Baha'u'llah, expressing the oneness of the Holy Spirit which
appears in all the Messengers of God, associates Himself with
Christ, and offers Himself as a target for the indignities which
the world hurled against Jesus:
'Lay hands on Me and persecute Me, for I am His Well-Beloved, the
revelation of His own Self, though My name be not His name. I have
come in the shadows of the clouds of glory.' [The Baha'i
Revelation, 1955, p. 59 (the passage refers to several prophets.)]
As Christ had foretold, Baha'u'llah 'reproved' the world 'because
the Prince of the world (Christ) is judged' by the people. Wishing
to share this same suffering at their hands, Baha'u'llah wrote:
'If ye have resolved to shed the blood of Him Whose
coming...Jesus Christ Himself hath announced, behold Me standing,
ready and defenceless before you. Deal with Me after your own
desires.' [The Baha'i Revelation, 1955, p. 59 (the passage refers
to several prophets.)]
Baha'u'llah 'glorified' the name of Christ for all time in his
writings. The greatness of Jesus Christ was a much-loved theme of
Baha'u'llah, who said:
'We testify that He (Jesus Christ) came into the world, He shed
the splendor of His glory upon all created things. Through Him the
leper recovered from the leprosy of perversity and ignorance.
Through Him, the unchaste and wayward were healed. Through His
power, born of Almighty God, the eyes of the blind were opened, and
the soul of the sinner sanctified.' [The Baha'i Revelation, 1955,
p. 58.]
Of the glory of Christ, Baha'u'llah proclaimed:
'He (Christ) it is Who purified the world. Blessed is the man
who, with a face beaming with light, hath turned towards Him.' [The
Baha'i Revelation, 1955, p. 59.]
In one volume alone in the teachings of Baha'u'llah's Faith, I
found nearly one hundred references to the beauty, the majesty, the
greatness, and the glory of His Holiness Jesus the Christ. [The
Promulgation of Universal Peace, 'Abdu'l-Baha, 1922, Vol. i.]
Thus Baha'u'llah had fulfilled the final, and one of the most
important proofs. Christ had prophesied that when the Spirit of
Truth came: 'He shall glorify me.'
To this proof I wrote the words: Fulfilled. [William Sears, Thief
in the Night, Part iii, Sect. 13, pp. 172-175.]
14. The End of the Avalanche
At this stage in my search, there seemed no doubt whatsoever in
my mind that Baha'u'llah had brought a definite solution to the
century-old mystery of The Case of the Missing Millenium.
With the exactness of the stars, and with an over-flowing
abundance of proof, he had fulfilled each of the requirements
concerning the Messiah of the last days.
He had fulfilled all of the following proofs from the Scriptures:
1. His faith had appeared in the year 1844. 2. He had appeared
in the East. 3. He had come from Persia. 4. He was known as
'the Glory of God'. 5. He went to the valley of the Tigris and
Euphrates rivers. 6. He made his public announcement to the world
in that land of ancient Babylon. 7. He was exiled from Babylon
to Syria, as Abraham had been before him. 8. He came to the
ancient land of 'Canaan' which God had promised to the seed of
Abraham.
9. He came to Israel, the Holy Land, by way of the sea. 10. He
came from fortified city to fortified city. 11. He came from the
fortress to the river. 12. He came from mountain to mountain. 13.
He came from sea to sea. 14. Carmel and Sharon had seen him, 'the
Glory of God'. 15. He came from the East by way of the Gate (the
Bab). 16. He had come to the valley of 'Akka, to the prison-city.
17. He had dwelt in the midst of Carmel. 18. His Law had gone down
from the mountain. 19. The children of Israel had been gathered
in the Holy Land in his day. 20. A 'house of prayer' for all
nations was being raised up on the mountain of God. 21. The desert
had blossomed as the rose. 22. His ministry on earth had lasted
for exactly forty years. 23. The place of his sanctuary and rest
had been beautified. 24. The place where his feet had walked had
been made glorious. 25. He had come from the seed of Abraham. 26.
He had established a spiritual kingdom even to the ends of the
earth. 27. He had unsealed the Books. 28. He had toppled the
kings from their thrones. 29. He had glorified Christ.
The fulfilment of these prophecies did not by any means exhaust
the story. However, these were the major proofs by which I had
planned to test the truth of Baha'u'llah's Faith and his person.
Beside each one I could confidently place the word: Fulfilled.
If my curiosity and interest had not been further aroused by
additional information that came into my hands concerning his
Faith, information which added greatly to the stature and to the
proof of its truth, I would have closed the file on The Case of the
Missing Millenium and marked it: Solved.
But there was still more to come, incredible though it seemed.
Would the 'wonders' never cease?
I bitterly regretted the long years of obscurity which had kept
this story from reaching the masses of humanity who hungered and
longed for such a hope, for the hand of God to lift their sorrow
and disillusionment.
[William Sears, Thief in the Night, Part iii, Sect. 14, pp.
175-177.]
Thief in the Night The
Case of the Missing Millenium by William
Sears
"But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in
which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the
elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works
that are therein shall be burnt up." II Peter iii.10
PART FOUR
Signs in the Heavens
1. The Signs in the Heavens
In my study of the books and records of the 1844 period, as well
as several relating to the preceding century I discovered another
remarkable thread which excited the people of that time, and led
to their zealous expectancy of the Messiah.
These prophecies did not speak of the date of the Messiah's
appearance, but of the dramatic events which would gradually lead
up to that wondrous day.
The story was both intriguing and entertaining. I felt that I
had to record it. I began to understand much more clearly the zeal
that aroused the populace as 1844 approached.
In the Book of Revelation, it promised that one from the seed of
Abraham would unseal the Books in the last days. This Lamb of God
was pictured in the visions as having seven eyes. These seven eyes
were said to be the seven spirits (religions) of God which He had
sent forth into the world up to that time. It was to be the Books
of these seven great religions that the Messiah would unseal.
Strangely enough, I had learned that up to the time of the coming
of the Baha'i Faith, there had been exactly seven great revealed
religions. This story is told elsewhere in this volume.
When this Lamb of God, according to the sixth chapter of
Revelation, opened the Books and unsealed their meaning, One of the
seals which He broke open concerned the signs which would be
written in the heavens. These signs would appear prior to the days
or years of His coming. These signs, given in Revelation were the
signs which the millennial scholars searched through history to
find during their 1844 enthusiasm. The Book of Revelation
prophesied:
1. '...and, lo, there was a great earthquake.' [Revelation
6:12.]
This was the first sign which was to appear.
2. '...and the sun became black as sack-cloth of hair, and the
moon became as blood; [Revelation 6:12.]
This was to be the second sign.
3. 'And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig
tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty
wind.' [Revelation 6:13.]
This was the third sign which was to appear. This was the final
promise, and would be seen just before the coming of the Messiah
in the last days.
Baha'u'llah wrote of these signs in the heavens in his Book of
Certitude, saying that the meanings hidden in such words as those
of Revelation were symbolical, although in some cases they had an
outward physical fulfilment as well. Baha'u'llah's explanation of
their true inner meaning is given in the Wine of Astonishment in
the chapter When the Stars Fall from Heaven.
I discovered many interesting events unearthed by the millennial
scholars and leading up to the year 1844. Some of them were quite
astonishing. Others were certainly dramatic. These happenings
caused a great stir among the people of those days.
The signs of Revelation which would appear in succession, leading
up to the day of the return of Christ were, in order:
1. The great earthquake 2. The darkening of the sun and the
moon. 3. The falling of the stars from the heavens.
The Books of Isaiah, Joel, Daniel, Zechariah, and the New
Testament of Christ Himself, had all foretold that these things
would take place. Following these events, the 'great and dreadful'
day of the Lord would appear, and then the Messiah would come,
bringing the end of the world.
Some Bible scholars felt that all of these events mentioned in
Revelation would take place in one great upheaval, and that the
world as we know it would pass away forever. Most of them,
however, felt that these three events would take place
successively, each one in turn heralding a closer approach of the
footsteps of the Messiah, until, shortly after the last of the
three, the star-fall, He would appear.
My own study indicated clearly that the 'end of the world'
mentioned in Scripture was obviously symbolical. It was referred
to in some writings as the 'end of the whirl' or the 'end of the
cycle' or the 'end of the age'.
I found that there were two Greek words used for world. One was
kosmos, the other was aion. Kosmos meant the material world and
aion meant an age or era. The phrase 'end of the world' occurs
seven times in the New Testament. Aion is used each time, never
kosmos. When the disciples of Christ asked Him about the end of
the world, it is aion. When Christ says, 'so shall it be at the
end of the world', once again it is aion. Clearly Christ's return
marks the end of an age or the end of an era.
Bizarre as it seemed to me at first, I did find a record of three
just such events as are mentioned Revelation, happening in exactly
the order foretold. Incredible? Perhaps, but nevertheless true.
Do you wonder that I was thrilled with The Case of the Missing
Millenium.
I came across the account of one millennial scholar who made a
study of the historical events leading up to the 1840 period. When
he had completed his search, he made the following statement:
'As we look, we find the events recorded (in Revelation),
following on in the order predicted.' [Our Day in the Light of
Prophecy, Spicer, p. 77.]
These events which he listed were as follows:
1. The Lisbon earthquake, 1755. 2. The Dark Day, 1780. 3. The
Falling Stars, 1833.
Was I on to something?
I decided to take up the three events one at a time and see for
myself. [William Sears, Thief in the Night, Part iv, Sect. 1, pp.
178-181.]
2. The Shaking Earth
My first clue was plain enough.
'...and, lo, there was a great earthquake.'
I found the earthquake in many historical records. It was called:
THE LISBON EARTHQUAKE OF 1755
Concerning the first of these three signs, this great earthquake,
I read in the account of Professor W. H. Hobbs, geologist, the
following words, taken from his book Earthquakes: 'Among the earth
movements which in historic times have affected the kingdom of
Portugal, that of November 1, 1955, takes first rank, as it does
also, in some respects, among all recorded earthquakes...In six
minutes 60,000 people perished.'
As I continued my investigation, I found that millennial scholars
took into account the gathering momentum of the shaking of the
earth. The Reverend John Cumming in The Seventh Vial writes of
this period, saying: '...in the 65 years that elapsed between A.D.
1800 and A.D. 1865, there occurred (within the limits of the old
Roman Empire alone) no less than 35 great and disastrous
earthquakes, arresting the attention of the historian...In the
Scandinavian Peninsulas and in Iceland, from A.D. 1700 to 1850,
(there have been) 224; in Spain and Portugal 178; In France,
Belgium and Holland 600...On the Italian Peninsula and the Eastern
Mediterranean, upwards of 800 earthquakes have occurred within the
period of fifty years between 1800 and 1850.'
It was the unique proximity and the succession of the three
events (earthquake, dark day, falling stars), beginning with the
destructive earthquake in Portugal which arrested the attention of
these scholars, but (according to James Parton in his Life of
Voltaire) it was the blinding speed of the destruction in Portugal
which set that earthquake apart from all others. He says: 'The
Lisbon earthquake of November 1, 1755, appears to have put both
theologians and philosophers on the defensive...At twenty minutes
to ten that morning, Lisbon was firm and magnificent...In six
minutes the city was in ruins.'
Robert Sears, in his Wonders of the World, writes: 'The great
earthquake of 1755 extended over a tract of at least four million
square miles.'
Voltaire was profoundly moved by the destruction caused by the
Portuguese earthquake. It is said that he describes it as follows:
'It was the last judgement for that region; nothing was wanting to
it except the trumpet.' [Our Day in the Light of Prophecy, Spicer,
p. 77.]
The opening of Voltaire's new play was delayed by the disaster.
His biographer, Tallentyre, said: 'The earthquake had made all men
thoughtful. They mistrusted their love of the drama, and filled the
churches instead.' [The Life of Voltaire, S. G. Tallentyre, 1903,
Vol. II, p. 30.]
In that very same year, 1755, another earthquake struck in the
land of Persia, killing 40,000 persons. Christ said:
'...there shall be...earthquakes in divers places...these are the
beginning...And then...they shall see the Son of man coming...'
[Matthew 24:7-8, 30.]
Many students of the Bible felt that the great earthquake of
Revelation had come at last. It had arrived on the crest of a
period of unprecedented increase in the number of earthquakes.
Many were confident that the first of the three signs in the
sixth chapter of Revelation had taken place. They would now
carefully watch the heavens for the second sign which was to
follow: The darkening of the sun. [William Sears, Thief in the
Night, Part iv, Sect. 2, pp. 181-183.]
3. The Blast of the Trumpet
I was now on the trail of my second clue. The prophecy said:
'...and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon
became as blood.'
I discovered such an event in various documents. It was called:
THE DARK DAY OF 1780
This event attracted so much attention that it made newspaper
headlines in all parts of the United States, and in other countries
as well.
The following account was given by Dr. Samuel Stearns in the
Boston Independent Chronicle of June 22nd, 1780: 'That the darkness
was not caused by an eclipse is manifest by the various positions
of the planets of our system at that time; for the moon was more
than one hundred and fifty degrees from the sun all that day.'
The event was so unique that it was placed in the 1883 edition
of Webster's Unabridged Dictionary, as follows:
'The Dark Day, May 19th, 1780--so called on account of a
remarkable darkness on that day extending all over New
England....The true cause of this remarkable phenomenon is not
known.'
In his Collections for the Massachusetts Historical Society 1792,
Samuel Tenny writes: 'This gross darkness held till about one
o'clock, although the moon had filled but the day before.'
Uriah Smith, writing of Tenny's statement says: 'This statement
respecting the phase of the moon proves the impossibility of an
eclipse of the sun at that time. Whenever on this memorable night
the moon did appear, as at times it did, it had...the appearance
of blood.' [Daniel and the Revelation, Uriah Smith, 1904, p. 445.]
Many of the scholars made much of the uniqueness of this event,
pointing out that it was not a natural eclipse of the sun--but a
sudden darkening of the sky, with the moon having the appearance
of blood. The more conservative scholars explained that it did not
matter whether the happening was a natural one or a mysterious one.
The important thing was that the sun was darkened and the moon
turned into blood. What caused it was of no importance they said.
Many explanations were advanced for this phenomenon, but the
millennial scholars were at least agreed that it was the fulfilment
of the prophecy which was important, and not the manner it which
it came to pass. Some protested that the 'dark day' was not seen
by the whole world. Others replied that the 'Star of Bethlehem'
was seen only in the Middle East, and that half the world is dark
each day--how could all see it at once? The excitement and debates
were vigorous. Excitement over Christ's return grew in ratio to
the intensity of the disputes.
The Massachusetts Spy reported the following: 'Nor was the
darkness of the night less uncommon and terrifying than that of the
day; notwithstanding there was almost a full moon, no object was
discernible, but by help of some artificial light....Some
considered it as the immediate harbinger of the last day, when "the
sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light."'
Barber, in his Connecticut Historical Collections reports an
amusing drama which took place in the Connecticut Legislature at
Hartford. The body was in session when the sky suddenly darkened.
The general view soon prevailed that the Day of Judgement had come.
However, Colonel Davenport spoke against a motion for
adjournment. He said: 'The Day of Judgement is either approaching
or it is not. If it is not, there is no cause for adjournment; if
it is, I choose to be found doing my duty. I wish therefore that
candles be brought.'
The poet Whittier wrote of the awesome day, saying:
'...there fell... Over the fresh earth and heaven of
noon, A horror of great darkness... ...all ears
grew sharp To hear the doom-blast of the trumpet shatter The black
sky... [J. G. Whittier, Abraham Davenport.]
Christ said:
'...shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give he
light...And then...they shall see the Son of man coming...'
[Matthew 24:29-30.]
Millennial scholars of that da7y were deeply moved by the event.
Many of them were satisfied that the Dark Day which followed the
Great Earthquake had fulfilled in succession two of the prophecies
recorded in Revelation, events which would precede the appearance
of the Messiah on earth.
Both had taken place in the Western world. Anxious eyes looked
heavenward, awaiting with expectancy the fulfilment of the third
prophecy when the stars would fall from heaven. [William Sears,
Thief in the Night, Part iv, Sect. 3, pp. 183-186.]
4. When Stars Fell Like Snowflakes
I admit that as the detective in charge of The Case of the
Missing Millenium, I found the story fascinating. The third clue
even more so. The third prophesy of Revelation said:
'And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree
casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken by a mighty wind.'
I had found just such an event. It was called:
THE STAR-FALL OF 1833
So exceptional was this event, that Clarke in his History of
Astronomy in the Nineteenth Century writes: '...a tempest of
falling stars broke over the earth.'
According to the millennial scholars of the 1840s, the third sign
in the sixth chapter of Revelation came to pass on November 12th,
1833, the night of the unique star-fall.
Clarke wrote of that night, saying: 'Once and for all, then, as
the result of the star-fall of 1833, the study of luminous meteors
became an integral part of astronomy.' He goes on to say: 'North
America bore the brunt of its pelting. From the Gulf of Mexico to
Halifax, until daylight with some difficulties put an end to the
display, the sky was scored in every direction with shining tracks
and illuminated with majestic fireballs.'
Denison Olmsted, Professor of Mathematics at Yale University,
wrote the following in the American Journal of Science: 'The
morning of November 13th, 1833, was rendered memorable by an
exhibition of the phenomenon called shooting stars, which was
probably more extensive and magnificent than any similar one
hitherto recorded....Probably no celestial phenomenon has ever
occurred in this country, since its first settlement, which was
received with so much admiration and delight by one class of
spectators, or with so much astonishment and fear by another class.
For some time after the occurrence, the "meteoric phenomenon" was
the principle topic of conversation.'
Simon Newcomb in Astronomy for Everybody called the display of
falling stars 'the most remarkable one ever observed'.
The French astronomer, Flammarion, in popular Astronomy, wrote:
'The Boston observer, Olmsted, compared them, at the moment of
maximum, to half the number of flakes which are perceived in the
air during an ordinary shower of snow.'
Professor Olmsted estimated 34,640 falling stars per hour. His
estimate was made after the shower had diminished sufficiently for
him to make some sort of a count.
Dr. Humphreys, President of St. John's College, Annapolis,
Maryland, in his report in the American Journal of Science, said:
'In the words of most, they fell like flakes of snow.'
The American Journal of Science carried the following report:
'Though there was no moon, when we first observed them, their
brilliancy was so great that we could, at times, read common-sized
print without much difficulty, and the light which they afforded
was much whiter than that of the moon, in the clearest and coldest
night, when the ground is covered with snow.' (Vol. XXV, 1834, p.
372).
The New York Journal of Commerce wrote: 'No philosopher or
scholar has told or recorded an event like that of yesterday
morning. A prophet eighteen hundred years ago foretold it exactly,
if we will be at the trouble of understanding stars falling to mean
falling stars.' (Nov. 14, 1833).
Thomas Milner of Britain, writing in the Gallery of Nature in
1852, points out that not only America but all the world was
aroused by the profound impression the display made. 'In many
districts,' he said, 'the mass of the population was terror-struck,
and the more enlightened were awed at contemplating so vivid a
picture of the apocalyptic image--that of the stars of heaven
falling to earth, even as a fig tree casting her untimely figs,
when she is shaken of a mighty wind.'
Astronomers, after careful study, learned that this particular
meteoric display occurs every thirty-three years. However, the
display of 1833 was unique in its drama. The fall of 1866 did not
rival it in any way, and that of 1899 was of even less interest.
In any event, as the millennial scholars said, it was not the
cause behind the sign, but the time of its arrival, and its
sequence with the earthquake and the dark day which were important.
Many Biblical scholars pointed to the exact fulfilment, and in the
proper order of the prophesies concerning the heavens and the signs
of the coming of Christ as given in the sixth chapter of Revelation
First: The appearance of the great earthquake in 1755. Second:
The sun darkened and the moon turned into blood on the Dark Day of
1780. Third: The stars falling from the heavens in 1833.
In this same chapter it is foreseen that the Messiah shall come
and topple the kings from their thrones, for the great day of the
Lord will have come. Christ said:
'...and the stars shall fall from heaven....And then...shall they
see the Son of man coming...' [Matthew 24:29-30.]
The millennial scholars pointed to the great convergence of
prophecies on the year 1844. Now that the three signs in the
heavens, promised as a prelude in Revelation, had been fulfilled,
it further strengthened their belief that the hour of the return
of Christ was at hand.
The Rev. L. D. Fleming, in his Synopsis of the Evidences of
the Second Coming of Christ about A.D. 1843, written in 1842,
declares: 'Many distinguished students of prophecy have come to
very similar conclusions....How can that wonderful phenomenon of
falling stars, or meteors, which astonished the world a few years
since, be regarded but as a sign of the last times?' Fleming then
reminds the people of the strange 'nocturnal light' which a few
years before had 'hung over the earth'. He concludes, saying: 'May
God help us to watch!'
It is interesting to note that the great star-fall came on the
night of November 12th, which is the birthday of Baha'u'llah.
Could there possibly be any additional signs? [William Sears,
Thief in the Night, Part iv, Sect. 4, pp. 186-189.]
5. The Face of Heaven
There were! Many more!
In addition to these general wonders in the sky preceding the
coming of the Faith of Baha'u'llah in 1844, I found other more
specific happenings recorded during that period.
Margaret Fuler (Ossoli), friend of Emerson, made the following
statement: 'One very marked trait of the period was that the
agitation reached all circles.' [Days of Delusion, Sears,
Introduction, p. xxiv.]
Another account of those days says: 'Now it was about this time
that strange signs appeared in the heavens with such frequency as
to cause great uneasiness.' [Days of Delusion, Sears, Introduction,
p. 37.]
An article in the Connecticut Observer on November 25th, 1833,
declared: 'We pronounce the raining of fire which we saw on
Wednesday morning, last, an awful type, a sure forerunner--a
merciful sign of the great and dreadful day which the inhabitants
of the earth will witness when the Sixth Seal (of Revelation) shall
be opened. The time is just at hand described, not only in the New
Testament, but in the Old.'
3. [Days of Delusion, facing p. 52.] 4. [Days of Delusion,
facing p. 56.] 5. [Days of Delusion, facing p. 56.]
[Note: The preceding three references are listed as sources for
three drawings on pp.190-191 and which are referred to in the next
paragraph.]:
After the star-fall of 1833, the interest in the prophecies
concerning the time of the end grew by leaps and bounds, reaching
a zenith in the 1843-4 period. The concern and zeal were greatly
accelerated by the sight of the above parhelic circles or haloes
which were seen around the sun in 1843-4, and were reported in the
press.
The signs and prophecies became so overpowering to the Reverend
Charles Fitch, pastor of the Marlborough Street Chapel in Boston,
Massachusetts, that he 'took upon himself the duty of warning the
public of the coming end. By so doing he lost all connection with
his church.'
Fitch himself said: 'I became in part an ecclesiastical outcast.
But I gained deliverance.' [Days of Delusion, p. 68.]
I was still not at the end of the signs in the heavens which
heralded that hour. I had read Baha'u'llah's own words which said
that whenever a Messiah appeared on earth, a star appeared in the
heavens. In his Book of Certitude, Baha'u'llah said that there
were in reality two stars which attended the appearance of a
Messenger of God on earth. There was, he said, the human herald
who was the symbolic star, and there was the actual physical star
in the heavens.
Scripture confirms this truth, telling of the star which warned
Nimrod of Abraham's coming, the star which the soothsayers pointed
out to Pharaoh concerning Moses, the star of Bethlehem which made
Herod fear the Christ. These same stories of stars have been told
of Zoroaster and the other great Messengers of God.
Each of these Prophets had a human herald who prepared the way
for Him, as John the Baptist did for Christ. Therefore, if this
were the time of the end, when two Messengers of God would come
almost simultaneously, then there should be two heralds on earth,
and two signs in the heavens. It was a fantastic thought, I felt,
but if the formula of Scripture were to be followed, it should be
so. Besides, by now I was prepared for anything.
In the history of Persia I found exactly this event. There were
twin heralds who foretold the coming of both the Bab and
Baha'u'llah. These two holy souls were called Shaykh Ahmad and
Siyyid Kazim. This accounted for the two human (symbolic) stars
on earth, but what about the two stars in the heavens?
Oddly enough, I found that the interest in the study of 'double'-
or 'twin'-stars began at this very period. Two men, William
Hershel and William Struve, were primarily responsible for 'the
foundation of systematic measurement and study of double-stars'.
Struve completed his work at Dorpat in 1835. [Encyclopedia
Britannica, 1962, Vol. xi, p. 520; Vol. xxi, pp. 319-321, 480.]
At almost that exact hour, Shaykh Ahmad and Siyyid Kazim were
proclaiming to the world the coming of the Twin Messengers of God
for the last days. Siyyid Kazim, like Shaykh Ahmad before him,
prophesied to the people of Persia concerning the Two Who were
about to appear. He told them:
'Verily, I say that after the promised Dawn, the promised Sun
will be made manifest. For when the light of the Former has set,
the Sun of the Latter will rise and illuminate the whole world.'
[The Dawnbreakers, Nabil, pp. 41-42 (paraphrase).]
I learned another unusual thing about double-stars which happened
at this same time. One of the brightest stars in the heavens is
Sirius. The astronomer Bessel advanced a theory that Sirius was
not a single star, but a double-star. He made his pronouncement
in the year 1844. Sirius has been called a double-star 'of
exceptional historical interest'.
To the millennial scholar this was also true. Bessel made his
announcement in 1844, the year of the announcement of the Bab, and
the year of the beginning of Baha'u'llah's Faith.
Alvan Clark studied Sirius carefully, and then announced that
Bessel's theory was correct. Sirius was a double-star. It had a
companion. Clark made his statement in 1862, but a few months
before Baha'u'llah made his declaration to the world that he was
the one foretold by the Bab. [Encyclopedia Britannica, Vol. xx,
p. 724.]
This was fascinating, but it was only the beginning. As in
almost every prophesy associated with the life and history of
Baha'u'llah, I found that the prophecy was not only fulfilled, but
the 'cup runneth over'.
I understood and sympathised with the words of the student of
prophecy who said of these fulfilments: 'It is difficult for a
seeker to find spring or a stream, or even a river, but who can
fail to behold the ocean?' [William Sears, Thief in the Night, Part
iv, Sect. 5, pp. 189-193.]
6. The Night Visitor
The most important date to confirm by signs in the heavens was
the date of the birth of the Faith of Baha'u'llah. It was also the
easiest. The sign was a great comet.
The famous astronomer, Sir James Jeans, writes in his well-known
book Through Space and Time: '...oddly enough many of the most
conspicuous appearances of comets seem to have coincided with, or
perhaps just anticipated, important events in history.'
The following headlines tell their own story:
SUDDEN APPEARANCE OF A GREAT AND FIERY
COMET IN THE SKIES AT NOONDAY
This comet appeared in 1843, the year before the birth of the
Faith of Baha'u'llah, 'anticipating' this event. It was a giant
comet with a tail 105 million miles long. It appeared at the time
when a great parhelic circle around the sun was causing much wonder
and speculation. (See above).
This appearance is reported in Our First Century as follows: 'The
Comet of 1843 is regarded as perhaps the most marvelous of the
present age, having been observed in the daytime even before it was
visible at night--passing very near the sun, exhibiting an enormous
length of tail; and arousing interest in the public mind as
universal and deep as it is was unprecedented.'
The New York Tribune, and the American Journal of Science devoted
special sections to this great comet of 1843, the Journal of
Science identifying i in those very words: 'The Great Comet of
1843.'
I found an even more dramatic story told in the heavens during
this same period. It was the story of still another comet. It was
seen in the skies in 1845. It appeared to be quite an ordinary
comet in a year in which some 300 comets had appeared. It had been
studied many times in the past. In 1846, the comet was still
visible.
However, at this period in its history, it became one of the rare
comets of history. It was now entering what were to be the last
dramatic moments of its life. It was called Biela's comet, after
the original discoverer. The Encyclopedia Americana (1944 ed.)
gives the following account of this event: 'It was found again late
in November 1845, and in the following month an observation was
made of one of the most remarkable phenomena in astronomical
records, the division of the comet. It put forth no tail while this
alteration was going on. Professor Challis, using the
Northumberland telescope at Cambridge, on January 15th, 1846, was
inclined to distrust his eyes or his glass when he beheld two
comets where but one had been before. He would call it, he said,
a binary (twin) comet if such a thing had ever been heard of
before. His observations were soon verified, however.'
Sir James Jeans has written of this same comet, saying: 'The most
interesting story is that of Biela's comet which broke in two while
under observation in 1846.' [Through Space and Time, Sir James
Jeans, 1934, p. 154.]
Professor Challis was wrong. It was not the only binary comet
in history, just as Sirius was not the only double-star, nor the
Star of Bethlehem the only bright star, or novae, or conjunction
of planets in astronomical history. It was not the uniqueness of
the event that made it important in prophecy, but its remarkable
timing.
Biela's comet disappeared in 1846. It returned in August, 1852.
This was the very month and year in which Baha'u'llah was cast into
an underground prison in Teheran. It was the beginning of the
forty years of his Mission which ended in Israel in 1892 with his
death; the forty years foretold by Micah during which God would
show to the Messiah 'wonderful things'.
The year 1852 was also the beginning of the year 1269 of the
Persian calendar. It was the ninth year following the Bab's
prophecy concerning the coming of Baha'u'llah. The Bab had
written,
'In the year nine ye will attain unto all good...in the year nine
ye shall attain unto the presence of God.' [Epistle to the Son of
the Wolf, p. 141.]
When the single comet which had now become a twin comet
reappeared in August 1852, one half had receded far into the
background. The other half now dominated the sky. So the Bab, the
Herald of Baha'u'llah, had now passed into history through
martyrdom, and the one whose coming he had foretold, Baha'u'llah,
had now assumed his Mission.
An account of the reappearance of the comet states: 'Late in
August 1852, the larger came into view and three weeks later the
smaller one, now much fainter than its former companion.'
[Encyclopedia Americana,1944 ed., Vol. iii, p. 690.]
Sir James Jeans confirms this, saying that in 1852, the two
pieces were one and a half million miles apart.
Baha'u'llah has written of that hour when the twin-comets rode
the skies. He laid chained in an underground prison. Of that
moment, he has said:
'lo, the breezes of the All-Glorious (God) were wafted over Me,
and taught Me the knowledge of all that hath been. This thing is
not from Me, but from One Who is Almighty and All-Knowing. And He
bade Me lift up My voice between earth and heaven....' [God Passes
By, p. 102.]
In that very hour, just as the dove had descended upon Jesus in
the river Jordan, and the Burning Bush had appeared to Moses, so
did the Most Great Spirit appear to Baha'u'llah. He wrote of that
experience, saying:
'By my life! Not of Mine own volition have I revealed Myself,
but God, of His own choosing, hath manifested Me...Whenever I chose
to hold My peace and be still, lo, the Voice of the Holy Spirit,
standing on My right hand, aroused Me...and the Spirit of Glory
stirred within My bosom, bidding Me arise and break My silence.'
[God Passes By, p. 102.]
The comet which announced this twin-event of the appearance of
the Bab and Baha'u'llah, disappeared, never to return again. Sir
James Jeans says: '...neither of them (the twin-comets) has been
seen in cometary form, but the place where they ought to be is
occupied by a swarm of million of meteors, known as the Andromedid
meteors. Occasionally these meet the earth in its orbit, and make
a grand meteoric display....' [Through Space and Time, Jeans, p.
154.]
Thus the two comets were no longer separate comets, but were
mingled in one show of light, just as the Faith of Baha'u'llah and
that of the Bab were no longer separate, but one in the light they
shed upon the world.
There is yet another unique way in which this same oneness of the
Faith of Baha'u'llah and the Bab is expressed. Even in the
calendar of their native land, they are inseparably intertwined.
In the calendar of Persia where booth Baha'u'llah and the Bab
were born, there birthdays fall upon successive days in the exact
order in which their Missions were declared.
In the calendar of the West, the Bab was born on October 20th,
and Baha'u'llah on November 12th. But in the calendar of Persia,
the Bab was born on the first day of the month of Muharram, and
Baha'u'llah on the second day.
In Persia, these two birthdays are celebrated as one great
twin-festival.
I was more than gratified by the list of events which I had found
written in the skies concerning the coming of Baha'u'llah and his
Faith. It made an interesting array:
1. The star-fall of 1833 and the periodic appearance of this
shower of meteors always in November, the month of the birth of
Baha'u'llah. 2. The beginning of the study of 'double-stars'.
3. The parhelic circles surrounding the sun in 1843. 4. The great
comet of 1843. 5. The parhelic circles of 1844. 6. The comet
of 1845, which split in two in 1846, and the mingling of the
twin-comets into one single shower of light. 7. The belief that
the brightest star Sirius had had a twin companion; a belief
announced in 1844. It was proved to be true in 1862, on the eve
of Baha'u'llah's declaration.
Although these dramatic events, earthquakes, dark days, falling
stars, comets and signs in the heavens concerned the appearance of
Baha'u'llah, the Glory of God--indeed they seemed a further
fulfilment of the words of the Psalm,
'The heavens declare the glory of God', [Psalms 19:1.]
I must make it clear that they are not in any way teachings of
the Baha'i Faith. They were physical signs which added fuel to the
Messianic zeal of the 1800's, which was itself a Christian
enthusiasm for the return of Christ. The Baha'i Faith, I learned,
gave far more weight to the symbolic fulfilment of 'falling stars'
and all the other signs.
I now heartily agreed with the newspaper men who said that this
story of the return of Christ, if it could be printed as a true
story, would be the most dramatic tale it would be possible to tell
mankind. I felt that it was now possible to tell this story.
Beneath the proof: The coming of the Messiah shall be told in the
heavens as well as on the earth, I wrote: Fulfilled.
In fact, it was at this point that I closed my file on the
Prophecies. That part of The Case of the Missing Millenium was
complete.
There was only one more obstacle to overcome. This hurdle faced
every person who sincerely followed Christ's command to:
'Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.'
[Matthew 24:42.]
If I were successful in overcoming this next obstacle, I felt
that I would have without doubt solved for all time this
century-old mystery of the return of Christ.
The obstacle could be stated in four words: 'Beware of false
prophets!' [William Sears, Thief in the Night, Part iv, Sect. 6,
pp. 194-199.]
Thief in the Night The
Case of the Missing Millenium by William
Sears
"But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in
which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the
elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works
that are therein shall be burnt up." II Peter iii.10
PART FIVE
The Final Evidence
1. Beware of False Prophets
Christ warned his followers to beware of false prophets and not
to be misled by them before the day of His return. He said:
'Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my
name, saying, I am Christ, and shall deceive many.' [Matthew
24:4-5.]
Again He said:
'Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ or there;
believe it not.' [Matthew 24:23.]
Jesus warned His followers that there would not be one, but many
false Christs and false prophets who
'...shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were
possible, they shall deceive the very elect.' [Matthew 24:24.]
It was to protect His followers from error that Christ gave them
His three great promises concerning the proof of His return: (1)
The Gospel would be preached everywhere; (2) the times of the
Gentiles would be fulfilled; and (3) the abomination of desolation
spoken of by Daniel would come to pass. He warned them to 'watch!'
with spiritual eyes and ears for these proofs, so that they would
not be misled. Christ knew that only the pure in heart would
recognise Him in the day of His return. He knew that every Prophet
had been called false by His own generation. It had been true of
Himself as well.
Christ was considered, by the great mass of the people of His
day, to be a 'false prophet'. It is written:
'And there was much murmuring among the people concerning him:
for some said, he is a good man; others said, Nay; but he deceiveth
the people.' [John 7:12.]
When the simple, humble people went to their religious leaders
and asked about the truth of Christ's Mission, they were told that
He was a false prophet. They were warned against Him. Even though
Christ showed signs and wonders that attracted people, the leaders
still denied Him. This is shown clearly in the words:
'The officers answered, Never man spake like this man. Then
answered them the Pharisees, Are ye also deceived?' [John
7:46-47.]
The great separation between the few who considered Him true and
the vast majority who considered Him false is clear from the words
of John:
'So there was a division among the people because of him.' [John
7:43.]
The public was told that only the lowest class believed in
Christ, and that the important and influential people who had
knowledge, education, and wisdom knew Christ to be false. It was
pointed out to those foolish ones who wanted to believe:
'Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed on him?'
[John 7:48.]
It was repeatedly said that only those ignorant ones who didn't
know the book of Moses believed in Christ. These people were
misled, and as false as Christ, the leaders warned, saying:
'...this people who knoweth not the law are cursed.' [John 7:49.]
The great public of Palestine did not believe in Jesus of
Nazareth because He had not fulfilled their understanding of the
prophesies concerning the coming of the Messiah.
To the followers of Christ who tried to win over their
allegiance, the people replied scornfully that He, Christ, was a
false prophet. They proved it from the prophecies in their
Scriptures.
'The Messiah will sit upon the throne of David,' they pointed
out. 'Where is the throne of the Nazarene?'
'Mount Zion will dance in the day of the Messiah. Who has yet
seen this wonder?' 'The Messiah will rule with a sword. This
Jesus does not even have a staff, let alone a sword.' 'He will
be a son of David, yet you say he is born of a virgin. He cannot
fulfil this prophecy.' 'Daniel has promised that He will be a
prince. this Jesus is but a carpenter, and not a prince of noble
birth.' 'It is written that a holy one will not hang upon a tree,
yet this Nazarene was nailed to a tree and hung.' 'In Deuteronomy
it states plainly:
"...he that is hanged is accursed of God."' [Deuteronomy 21:23.]
The Jews pointed out all these things to the Christians, asking,
'How can we believe in one who is accursed according to the book?'
One of the most difficult questions for the Christians to explain
to the Jews was the prophecy that the Messiah would bring together
the dispersed sheep of Israel. The Jews said: 'It is written of
the Messiah that He will gather us out of the nations where we are
scattered, but we are not scattered, we are here. How can he be
a true prophet? How can he gather us if we are not separated?'
Latter, after the year 70 A.D., when Jerusalem was destroyed and
the Jews scattered, this question was even harder to answer. For
the Jews would then reply: 'The Messiah is to gather us together
when He comes. Christ has come and we are driven out of our
homeland. This is the opposite of what the Messiah is to do.
Therefore, we think Him to be false. How can you expect us to
believe?'
Philip met his friend Nathaniel and said to him, 'We have found
him of whom Moses spoke in the Law. He is Jesus of Nazareth.'
Nathaniel , quoting Scripture, replied, 'Can there any good come
out of Nazareth?'
Nicodemus said to the Pharisees concerning Jesus: 'Doth our law
judge any man before it hear him, and know what he doeth?'
The Pharisees answered him from Scripture, saying, 'Art thou also
of Galilee? Search, and look: for out of Galilee ariseth no
prophet.'
The people of Palestine said honestly to themselves: 'How then
can this Jesus of Nazareth be the Messiah?'
The people of that day were skeptical of Messiahs, especially
those from Galilee. Within the time of many of them, Judas the
Gaulonite had claimed to be the Messiah, and had arisen to free the
Jews from the yoke of Rome. Many thousands perished in Galilee in
the ensuing war, until Josephus, a contemporary historian,
concluded 'that God had given up the Galileans to the Romans. ..'
This Jesus of Galilee might well be another such false Christ, they
reasoned. It would be wiser to ignore him.
The followers of Jesus explained to the people that these
prophecies concerning Christ had been fulfilled 'inwardly' not
'outwardly'; that these prophecies were to be understood
symbolically and not literally. The people, however, refused to
accept such an explanation.
Some of Christ's own followers eventually thought Him false too,
because they could not understand the symbolic meaning of His
parables.
It was the inward truth not the outward form which they must
understand, He told them:
'...the flesh profiteth nothing; the words that I speak unto you,
they are spirit, and they are life.' [John 6:63.]
They heard from His lips words which they felt were contrary to
all the things they had been taught for generations; and we are
told:
'From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no
more with him.' [John 6:66.]
His Holiness Christ was considered to be a false prophet for
hundreds of years by many. To the present day the followers of
Moses do not accept Christ as the Messiah, nor does the majority
of mankind.
The Roman historian Tacitus wrote that the Christians were
condemned by Nero 'for their enmity to mankind'. They were
'criminal, and deserving of exemplary punishment...' Again he wrote
that the Christian religion was a 'pernicious superstition'.
Suetonius, another Roman philosopher and historian, labelled the
Holy Faith of Christ 'a new and magical superstition'. Its
followers, he said, 'were continually making disturbances...'
Celsus, in the second century, compiled a large book filled with
terrible libels and dreadful stories of the sacred person of Jesus.
Celsus wrote that His Holiness Christ was born out of wedlock, that
he was little, ill-favoured, and ignoble, that because of poverty
he went to Egypt and worked as a hired labourer, learning magic
while there, that he went about begging and gathered round him ten
or eleven infamous men.
Porphyry, one of the Neo-Platonic philosophers, wrote similar
books which were burned and destroyed by order of two Christian
emperors.
The Emperor Julian, whom the Christians called the Apostate,
attacked Christianity and Christ in his writings.
Fronto, the tutor of one of the emperors, published an oration
against Christianity.
According to Mirza Abu'l-Fadl, just a list of the writings of
those who denied Christ and His Faith through the centuries would
make a volume in itself.
The Messiah, it appears, can only be recognised by those who have
'eyes to see'. These spiritual souls must find the truth in His
Teachings and His life through personal investigation. No man of
perception will accept the words of an enemy of the Messiah as his
own appraisal.
Yet how could a sincere seeker be sure? Surely God must have
given some guide upon which His children could depend. [William
Sears, Thief in the Night, Part v, Sect. 1, pp. 200-205.]
2. Enemy of the People
Christ knew that this same disbelief would be repeated in the day
of His return. He warned His followers not to be misled by
outward, physical wonders which might be worked in His name, but
to look for the Figure Who would have that humble, loving,
in-swelling Spirit.
Whenever a Messenger of God such as Jesus, Moses, Zoroaster,
Buddha, Muhammad, the Bab, or Baha'u'llah appears, He is considered
to be a 'false prophet' by those who are not spiritually awake.
This is not a new problem. It did not begin with Christ or with
Baha'u'llah. It is as old as the human race.
In that same chapter of Matthew in which Christ so clearly
foretold the time of His return, He also gives His strongest
warnings about the false prophets in the last days. He says:
'Wherefore if they shall say unto you, he is in the desert; go
not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not.'
[Matthew 24:26.]
It is said that in the fifty years following the crucifixion,
many people arose and claimed to be the Messiah, and throughout the
centuries many have made this false claim.
In spite of these false prophets and fake Messiahs, Durant, in
his The Age of Faith, says that the Jewish thinker Maimonides
'accepted the Messianic hope as an indispensable support to the
Jewish spirit in the Dispersion, and made it one of the thirteen
principal tenets of the Jewish Faith.'
Although both Christianity and Judaism eagerly awaited the coming
of the Messiah, the great mass of believers lost interest and
became indifferent, even though in both Faiths the coming Kingdom
was spoken of in prayer each day.
And so I asked myself if there were not some positive way in
which I could test Baha'u'llah to make certain that He was a true
prophet, and not a false prophet.
Fortunately, there was a way. It was given us by Christ Himself.
He gave all Christians an infallible method by which they could
test each prophet that came.
'Beware of false prophets,' Christ warned, 'which come to you in
sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.' [Matthew
7:15.]
Christ promised that if we looked for the 'inward' truth and not
the 'outward' appearance, we would know the true from the false,
for:
'He that entereth in by the door (Gate) is the shepherd of the
sheep...he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they
know his voice.' [John 10:2, 4.]
Christ was clearly speaking of the day of His return in this
warning, for He said:
'And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold
(Christianity): them also I must bring, and they shall hear my
voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd. Therefore
doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might
take it up again.' [John 10:16-17.]
In the very prophecy in which Christ warns His followers to
'beware of false prophets', He gives them the method by which they
can judge the true from the false. He has provided humanity with
an unerring standard by which every person can determine for
himself whether a prophet is true or false.
I found this standard in the seventh chapter of Matthew. In this
one chapter Christ gives the warning concerning false prophets, and
gives the measuring rod by which to judge them.
I felt there was no excuse for me, or any other follower of
Christ not to know the truth, for it is taken from His famous
Sermon on the Mount.
'Beware of false prophets,' He warns, 'which come to you in
sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall
know them by their fruits. do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs
of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit;
but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot
bring forth evil fruit; neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good
fruit... Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.'
Therefore, I intended to use this sound basis for judgement. I
would do as Christ Himself advised. I would judge Baha'u'llah by
His fruits. I would measure Baha'u'llah according to the standard
which Christ had given, knowing that it would prove once and for
all whether Baha'u'llah had the right to be called the Messiah.
If the fruit is good, the tree is good; and the prophet is true.
That would be my test.
I decided to make this one of my most fundamental proofs, for I
felt that the solution to The Case of the Missing Millenium
depended upon this one proof perhaps more than on any other.
[William Sears, Thief in the Night, Part v, Sect. 2, pp.
205-208.]
3. The Tree of Life
Christ foretold that the One Who came in His name at the time of
the end would be the 'Spirit of Truth:'
'...he will guide you into all truth...' [John 16:13.]
In another place, He said:
'...he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your
remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.' [John 14:26.]
And yet again:
'...he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.' [John
16:14.]
I was determined to seek for the inward truth behind the outward
symbol in Christ's words, for I found written in yet another place:
'...the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him (the
believer) in the last day.' [John 12:48.]
Baha'u'llah, I found, had written over a hundred volumes. Here
it is possible for me to mention but a few of His teachings, and
in only the briefest manner. It is like trying to catch the ocean
in a cup.
The scholar Charles Baudouin, in his book Contemporary Studies,
writes of Baha'u'llah's Teachings, saying that this 'ethical code
is dominated by the law of love taught by Jesus and by all the
prophets. In the thousand and one details of practical life, this
law is subject to manifold interpretations. That of Baha'u'llah
is unquestionably one of the most comprehensive of these, one of
the most exalted, one of the most satisfactory to the modern
mind...' [Appreciations of the Baha'i Faith, pp 25-26.]
The former President of Czechoslovakia, Eduard Benes wrote of
Baha'u'llah's Teachings, 'The Baha'i Cause is one of the great
moral and social forces in all the world today.' [Appreciations of
the Baha'i Faith, 62.] Mr. Benes wrote on another occasion, 'The
Baha'i Teaching is one of the spiritual forces now absolutely
necessary to put the spirit first in this battle against material
forces...The Baha'i Teaching is one of the great instruments for
the final victory of the spirit and of humanity.' [Appreciations
of the Baha'i Faith, P. 62.]
The scientist, Dr. Glenn A. Shook, inventor of the
colour-organ, and former head of the Physics Department at Wheaton
College, Norton, Massachusetts, wrote of Baha'u'llah's Teachings:
'Here is a mighty river of knowledge. It appeals to the scientist
as well as to the layman. Baha'u'llah's Teachings meet the
challenge of our age head-on, and offer sound, reasonable
solutions. They have been an invaluable discovery to me as a
scientist, and a treasure and comfort to me as an individual human
being.' [Glenn A. Shook, letter, July 1946.]
Queen Marie of Rumania wrote in the Daily Star of Toronto,
Canada, on May 4th, 1926: 'If ever the name of Baha'u'llah (or His
son) comes to your attention, do not put their writings from you.
Search out their Books, and let their glorious, peace-bringing,
love-creating words and lessons sink into your hearts as they have
into mine.' [Appreciations of the Baha'i Faith, P10.]
Eight years later, she wrote: 'These books have strengthened me
beyond belief and I am now ready to die any day full of hope....The
Baha'i Teaching brings peace and understanding ....It accepts all
great prophets gone before, it destroys no other creeds and leaves
all doors open....To those in search of assurance, the words of the
Father are as a fountain in the desert after long wandering.'
[Appreciations of the Baha'i Faith, p 13.]
The following words of Baha'u'llah, I felt, reflected the spirit
of His entire Teaching:
'O ye children of men! The fundamental purpose animating the
Faith of God and His Religion is to safeguard the interests and
promote the unity of the human race, and to foster the spirit of
love and fellowship amongst men.' [Gleanings from the Writings of
Baha'u'llah, Section cx.]
At this point I began systematically to examine the fruits from
the tree of Baha'u'llah, so that I might determine whether He was
a true or a false prophet.
I searched out Baha'u'llah's words upon those subjects which I
felt were nearest to my heart and to the heart of every human
being. These subjects I thought were most vital to every man's
welfare:
1. His home and family. 2. His country. 3. His religion.
4. His individual self.
The first fruit I planned to test was that relating to man's home
and family. [William Sears, Thief in the Night, Part v, Sect.
3, pp. 208-210.]
4. The First Fruit: Home and Family
Baha'u'llah claims that the home and family are sacred. These
precious possessions are of the utmost importance for a useful and
worthwhile life. He calls upon all mankind to honour the sanctity
of marriage.
He forbids His followers to live lives of monastic seclusion.
According to Baha'u'llah it is not sufficient in this day to be
good in isolation. We must be good in a group. A wholesome family
life, he tells us, is the basis of society.
Baha'u'llah says:
'Enter ye into wedlock, that one may rise in your stead, for We
have gainsaid impurity and enjoined fidelity upon you.' [
Baha'u'llah and the New Era, cited, Esselmont, Ch. xi.]
Dr. J. E. Esslemont in his analysis of the teachings of
Baha'u'llah writes: 'Whatever justification there may have been for
the monastic life in ancient times and bygone circumstances,
Baha'u'llah declares that such justification no longer exists; and,
indeed, it seems obvious that the withdrawal of a large number of
the most pious and God-fearing of the population from association
with their fellows, and from the duties and responsibilities of
parenthood, must result in the spiritual impoverishment of the
race.' [ Baha'u'llah and the New Era, cited, Esslemont, Ch. xi.]
The Teachings of Baha'u'llah say:
'The Baha'i betrothal is the perfect agreement and entire consent
of both parties. They must show forth the utmost attention and
become informed of one another's character. The firm covenant
between them must become an eternal binding and their intentions
must be everlasting affinity, friendship, unity and life...
The marriage of Baha'is means that the man and woman must become
spiritually and physically united, so that they may have eternal
unity throughout all the divine worlds, and improve the spiritual
life of each other. This is Baha'i matrimony.' [ Baha'u'llah and
the New Era, cited, Esslemont, Ch. xi.]
Baha'u'llah advises all men and women to marry so that children
may be raised up who can honour the name of God and who can render
service to mankind.
Baha'u'llah's followers have been given the following counsel
about their homes and families: 'Make your home a haven of rest and
peace. Be hospitable, and let the doors of your home be open to
the faces of friends and strangers. Welcome every guest with
radiant grace and let each feel that it is his home. Nourish
continually the tree of your union with love and affection so that
it may remain ever green throughout all seasons, and when God gives
you sweet and lovely children consecrate yourselves to their
instruction and guidance so that they may become the servants of
the world of humanity.' [Baha'i Prayers, London, 1951, pp 47-49
(paraphrase).]
The son of Baha'u'llah, 'Abdu'l-Baha, spoke in Paris on November
6th, 1911. He said: 'This is in truth a Baha'i house.' He told the
people who were gathered in that house that every time such a house
is established in a community it must become known for the 'intense
spirituality and for the love it spreads among the people.'
He said:
'Oh, friends of God! If ye will trust in the Word of God and be
strong; if ye will follow the precepts of Baha'u'llah to tend the
sick, raise the fallen, care for the poor and needy, give shelter
to the destitute, protect the oppressed, comfort the sorrowful and
love the world of humanity with all your hearts, then I say unto
you that ere long this meeting-place will see a wonderful
harvest...but ye must have a firm foundation and your aims and
ambitions must be clearly understood by each member.
They shall be as follows:
1. To show compassion and goodwill to all mankind 2. To render
service to humanity. 3. To endeavour to guide and enlighten those
in darkness. 4. To be kind to everyone, and show forth affection
to every living soul. 5. To be humble in your attitude towards
God, to be constant in prayer to Him, so as to grow daily nearer
to God. 6. To be so faithful and sincere in all your actions
that every member may be known for embodying the qualities of
honesty, love, faith, kindness, generosity and courage. To be
detached from all that is not of God.' [Paris Talks, 'Abdu'l-Baha,
Lecture given at a studio, November 6th.]
The home and family that fulfilled these conditions, he said,
would be true to the teachings of Baha'u'llah.
This is one of the fruits taken from the tree of Baha'u'llah by
which you may judge Him. [William Sears, Thief in the Night, Part
v, Sect. 4, pp. 210-213.]
5. The Second Fruit: Country
The Teachings of Baha'u'llah, I found, say specifically:
'According to the direct sacred command of God, we are forbidden
to utter slander, are commanded to show forth peace and amity, are
exhorted to rectitude of conduct, straightforwardness and harmony
with all the kindreds and peoples of the world.' [The Baha'i
Revelation, p. 308.]
It is, these Teachings state further, the duty of every one of
His followers to demonstrate their unqualified loyalty and
obedience to their respective governments. [The World order of
Baha'u'llah, 1938, p. 64.]
The followers of Baha'u'llah are instructed to consider
disloyalty unto a just government as disloyalty to God Himself.
It is the sacred obligation of each individual Baha'i,
Baha'u'llah's Teachings state,
'...to promote in the most effective manner, the best interests
of their government and people.' [The World order of Baha'u'llah,
1938, p. 65.]
According to the written word of the Baha'i Teachings it is the
sincere desire of every true and loyal follower,
'to serve, in an unselfish, unostentatious and patriotic fashion,
the highest interests of the country to which he belongs.' [The
World order of Baha'u'llah, 1938, p. 65.]
These Baha'is are willing to give their energies, even their
lives, to the just government that does not require them to be
disloyal to their love for God, and to the spiritual teachings
given by Christ and Baha'u'llah.
Although the essence of Baha'u'llah's Teaching is the
establishment of the unity of all nations, His words neither
condemn nor disparage or censure an intelligent patriotism; nor do
they in any way try to alter the natural, warm love one feels for
one's native land.
The Teachings of Baha'u'llah's Faith say specifically that His
Message concerning world government and world unity does not,
'...seek to undermine the allegiance and loyalty of any
individual to his country, nor does it conflict with the legitimate
aspirations, rights, and duties of any individual state or nation.
All it does imply and proclaim is the insufficiency of patriotism,
in view of the fundamental changes effected in the economic life
of society and the interdependence of the nations, and as the
consequence of the contraction of the world, through the revolution
in the means of transportation and communication, conditions that
did not and could not exist either in days of Jesus Christ...It
calls for a wider loyalty, which should not, and indeed does not,
conflict with lesser loyalties. It instills a love which, in view
of its scope, must include and not exclude the love of one's own
country. It lays, through this loyalty which it inspires, and this
love which it infuses, the only foundation on which the concept of
world citizenship can thrive, and the structure of world
unification can rest. It does insist, however, on the
subordination of national considerations and particularistic
interests to the imperative and paramount claims of humanity as a
whole, inasmuch as in the world of interdependent nations and
peoples the advantage of the part is best to reached by the
advantage of the whole.' [The Promised Day is Come, Shoghi Effendi,
p. 127.]
Baha'u'llah's Teachings not only demand that His followers be
loyal to their government but they are also specifically and firmly
forbidden to take part in any subversive political or social
movement.
Viscount Samuel, High Commissioner for Palestine under the
British Mandate, wrote of the Faith of Baha'u'llah in August, 1959,
that the Baha'is were generally regarded as a valuable element in
the population, intelligent, orderly, well-educated, and above all,
trustworthy. In Government service and in commercial employment
they were much esteemed as being free from
corruptibility...well-behaved, courteous to others...' The Baha'i
Faith, Samuel said, 'commands the respect and goodwill of its
neighbors.' [Baha'i Journal, British Isles, November, 1959.]
That the Baha'i makes a useful, and desirable citizen in every
land, becomes apparent from these words of counsel which
Baha'u'llah gives His followers:
1. 'It is incumbent upon every man, in this Day, to hold fast
unto whatsoever will promote the interests, and exalt the station
of all nations and just governments.' [Gleanings from the Writings
of Baha'u'llah, Section XLIII.] 2. 'Let integrity and
uprightness distinguish all thine acts.' [Gleanings from the
Writings of Baha'u'llah, Section CXXX.] 3. 'That one indeed is
a man who, today, dedicateth himself to the service of the entire
human race.' [Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, Section
CXVII.] 4. 'Beautify your tongues, O people, with truthfulness,
and adorn your souls with the ornament of honesty. Beware, O
people, that ye deal not treacherously with anyone. Be ye the
trustees of God amongst His creatures...' [The Baha'i Revelation,
p. 89.]
This is another fruit by which you may test the tree of
Baha'u'llah. [William Sears, Thief in the Night, Part v, Sect.
5, pp. 213-215.]
6. The Third Fruit: Religion
Baha'u'llah has written:
'O ye people of the world! The Religion of God is for the sake
of love and union; make it not the cause of enmity and
conflict...By this one Word shall the divers sects of the world
attain unto the light of real union.' [Baha'u'llah and the New Era,
Esslemont, Ch. VIII.]
Baha'u'llah teaches that just as there is only one God, there is
also only one religion. All the great Prophets have taught this
same one religion. There is, Baha'u'llah tells us, no exclusive
salvation for the Hindu, the Jew, the Zoroastrian, the Buddhist,
the Christian, the Muslim, or the Baha'i.
The Baha'i Faith is not a sect, but an independent religion. The
famous historian Arnold Toynbee was asked about Baha'u'llah's
Faith. He replied: 'My opinion is that (1) Baha'ism is undoubtedly
a religion, (2) Baha'ism is an independent religion, on a par with
Islam, Christianity, and the other recognized world religions.
Baha'ism is not a sect of some other religion; it is a separate
religion, and it has the same status of other recognized religions.
This opinion is based both on study and on personal acquaintance
with Baha'is.' [Baha'i journal, November, 1959.]
All these pure and holy Faiths are part of the one eternal
religion of God which goes on for ever. No single religion is the
one exclusive Faith, or the final outpouring of truth from Almighty
God.
Each religion is true, is beautiful, is valid. It is the one
Message from God for that age in which it appears. It is the only
truth for that particular age, yet it is not final. It is but one
part of a single, great, progressive, never-ending Religion of God
which has no beginning and will have no end.
Though the Word (Holy Spirit) of God is one, the Speakers
(Messengers) of this Word are many. It is the one light in many
lamps.
The golden rule can be found in all the great religions of the
world:
Hinduism: The true rule is to do by the things of others as you
do by your own.
Judaism: Whatever you do not wish your neighbor to do to you do
not to him.
Zoroastrianism: As you do you will be done by.
Buddhism: One should seek for others the happiness one desires
for one's self.
Christianity: Therefore, all things whatsoever you would that men
should do to you, do even so to them.
Islam: Let none of you treat a brother in a way he himself would
dislike to be treated.
Baha'i Faith: If thou regardest Mercy, look not to that which
benefits thyself; but to that which will benefit thy fellowmen.
If thou regardest Justice, choose thou for others that which thou
choosest for thyself.
The Teachings of Baha'u'llah liken religion to the growth of a
plant. Dr. Esslemont who spent many years studying the Teachings
of Baha'u'llah states it in this way: 'The religion of God is the
One Religion, and all the Prophets have taught it, but it is a
living and growing thing, not lifeless and unchanging. In the
teaching of Moses we see the bud; in that of Christ the flower; in
that of Baha'u'llah the fruit. The flower does not destroy the
bud, nor does the fruit destroy the flower. It destroys not, but
fulfils. The bud-scales must fall in order that the flower may
bloom, and the petals must fall that the fruit may grow and ripen.
Were the bud-scales or the petals wrong or useless, then, that they
had to be discarded? No, both in their time were right and
necessary; without them there could have been no fruit. So it is
with the various prophetic teachings; the externals change from age
to age, but each revelation is the fulfilment of its predecessors;
they are not separate or incongruous, but different stages in the
life history of One Religion, which has in turn been revealed as
seed, as bud, as flower, and now enters on the stage of fruition.'
[Baha'u'llah and the New Era, Esslemont, Ch. VIII.]
Thus, one step is not greater than another. No step is
exclusive. No stage is final. Not even the stage of the 'fruit'.
The 'fruit' is the fulfilment of the 'seed'. It is the end of a
cycle, but from that 'fruit' will come the 'seed' of another great
cycle. The religion of God is continuous and never-ending and like
the rain, never ceases to shed its water of life upon mankind.
The oneness and progressive unfoldment of spiritual truth can be
shown from the Bible. Moses, knowing that His followers could not
understand all of His teachings, said:
'The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a prophet from the
midst of thee of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall
hearken.' [Deuteronomy 18:15.]
This foretold the coming of Christ. When He came, Christ reminded
the people of His day about these words of Moses. Christ said:
'For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me, for he
wrote of me.' [John 5:46.]
Then Christ rebuked them for being blind. He said:
'But if ye believed not his writings, how shall ye believe my
words?' [John 5:47.]
At a later time, Christ spoke almost the same words to His
followers that Moses had spoken to those who had followed Him.
Christ knew that His followers could not understand all that He had
taught them. He was disappointed many times by their failure to
perceive His meaning. He promised them that another would come and
explain these hidden truths to mankind. He said:
'I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them
now. Howbeit, when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide
you into all truth...' [John 16:12, 13.]
This foretold the coming of the Messiah. When Baha'u'llah came,
He reminded the people of His day about these words of Christ. He
said:
'Heard ye not the saying of Jesus, the Spirit of God...He saith:
"When He, the Spirit of Truth is come, He will guide you unto all
truth."' [The Promised Day is Come, Shoghi Effendi, pp. 26-27.]
Then Baha'u'llah rebuked them for being blind. He said:
'Wherefore, then, did ye fail...to draw nigh unto Him?...and
yet...ye refused to turn your faces towards Him.' [The Promised Day
is Come, Shoghi Effendi, pp. 26-27.]
Baha'u'llah addressed special letters to the heads of
Christianity. These letters can be studied. He urged them to lead
their flocks into the sacred fold. Among His words are these:
'Come,. O ye people...Tarry not, even for an hour!' [Baha'u'llah
and the New Era, Esslemont, Ch. VIII.]
Baha'u'llah proclaims:
'Truly, I say, whatever lowers the lofty station of religion will
increase heedlessness in the wicked.' [Baha'i World Faith, p.
180.]
Baha'u'llah also counsels the people of all religions to follow
the precepts given by Christ in His famous Sermon:
'Show forth that which is declared by the Speaker of the Mount
(Jesus the Christ), and...render justice in affairs.' [Baha'i World
Faith, p. 168.]
Baha'u'llah upholds the oneness of religion and the Prophets
throughout His Writings. In one instance He says:
'Know thou assuredly that the essence of all the Prophets of God
is one and the same. Their unity is absolute. God, the Creator,
saith: "There is no distinction whatsoever among the Bearers of My
Message. They all have but one purpose; their secret is the same
secret. to prefer one in honour to another, to exalt certain ones
above the rest, is in no way to be permitted. Every true Prophet
hath regarded His Message as fundamentally the same as the
Revelation of every other Prophet gone before Him. If any man,
therefore, should fail to comprehend this truth, and should
consequently indulge in vain and unseemly language, no one whose
sight is keen and whose understanding is enlightened would ever
allow such idle talk to cause him to waver in his belief."'
[Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, pp. 78-79.]
Baha'u'llah addresses the people of the religions of the world,
saying:
'Blessed are they who hold fast to the rope of compassion and
kindness and are detached from animosity and hatred.' [Baha'i World
Faith, p. 168.]
The great tragedy of religion, Baha'u'llah tells us, is that
mankind remembers the Messenger and forgets the Message. Saint
Beuve told the people of France that they would be members of sects
long after they had ceased to be Christians, They were more
interested in the lamp than in the light.
The Prophets are all mirrors on which the sun of God's truth
shines. The mirror is not the truth. The light that shines in it
is the truth. Christ emphasizes this truth, saying it was God in
whom the people must believe, not in Him, Jesus. He said:
'He that believeth on me, believeth not on me, but on him that
sent me.' [John 12:44.] [William Sears, Thief in the Night, Part
v, Sect. 6, p. 220.]
Baha'u'llah speaks of the Founders of all the world's religions
with great love, tenderness and beauty. He counsels His followers
to look upon the people of all beliefs with radiance and
friendliness. He reminds them:
'Ye are all the leaves of one tree and the drops of one ocean.'
In The Coming World Teacher, Pavri writes: '...among the Baha'is
is that remarkable movement emphasizing the brotherhood of
religions, a brotherhood which the Teacher, alike of gods and men,
alone can make possible.'
Baha'u'llah calls upon His followers to dedicate their lives to the
well-being and happiness of the people of all religions and
nations. To those who would follow Him, He says:
'Address yourselves to the promotion of the well-being and
tranquility of the children of men. Bend your minds and wills to
the education of the peoples and kindreds of the earth, that haply
the dissensions that divide it may, through the power of the Most
Great Name (of God), be blotted out from its face, and all mankind
become the upraisers of one Order, and the inhabitants of one City.
Illumine and hallow your hearts; let them not be profaned by the
thorns of hate or the thistles of malice. Ye dwell in one world,
and have been created through the operation of one Will. Blessed
is he who mingleth with all men in a spirit of utmost kindliness
and love.' [Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, Section
CLVI.]
This is another fruit by which you may test the tree of
Baha'u'llah and judge His life.
The Fourth Fruit: Individual Life
Baha'u'llah that the purpose of His own coming, and of the coming
of Jesus the Christ, as well as that of all the other Prophets, is,
[William Sears, Thief in the Night, Part v, Sect. 6, p. 221.]
'To effect a transformation in the whole character of mankind,
a transformation that shall manifest itself both outwardly and
inwardly, that shall affect both its inner life and its external
conditions.' [Baha'u'llah and the New Era, Esslemont, Ch. VIII]
The underlying reason for which a Messenger of God appears,
Baha'u'llah tells us, is,
'To educate the souls (and to) refine the character of every
living man.' [The Advent of Divine Justice, Shoghi Effendi, 1939,
p. 22]
Baha'u'llah has repeatedly emphasised the absolute necessity of
a pure and holy individual life. His Teachings stress:
'The most vital duty, in this day, is to purify your characters,
to correct your manners, and improve your conduct.' [The Advent of
Divine Justice, Shoghi Effendi, 1939, p. 21]
The followers of His Faith,
'Must show forth such character and conduct among His creatures,
that the fragrance of their holiness may be shed upon the whole
world, and may quicken the (spiritually) dead.' [The Advent of
Divine Justice, Shoghi Effendi, 1939, pp. 21-22]
Baha'u'llah wrote an entire book upon the subject of the
individual life of the believers in God. It is called The Hidden
Words.
George Townshend, former Archdeacon of Clonfert and Canon of St.
Patrick's Cathedral in Dublin, wrote of this book: 'The Hidden
Words is not a digest, nor an ordered statement. It is a new
creation. It is a distillation of Sacred Fragrances. It is a
focus in which all of the Great Lights of the past are joined into
one Light, and all God's Yesterdays become Today. [William Sears,
Thief in the Night, Part v, Sect. 6, p. 222.]
'It is given us as a single spiritual force, instinct with the
presence of all the Spiritual Monarchs of the past...No book
radiant with such intensity of light has ever been given or could
have been given to mankind before. It contains the whole sum of
all Revelations rounding to their completeness, renewed in power,
and brought to the perfection of unity by the crowning words of
Baha'u'llah.' [The Hidden Words, Baha'u'llah, Introduction by
George Townshend] [William Sears, Thief in the Night, Part v,
Sect. 6, pp. 222-223.]
Baha'u'llah Himself says of The Hidden Words:
'This is that which hath descended from the realm of glory,
uttered by the tongue of power and might, and revealed unto the
Prophets of old. We have taken the inner essence thereof and
clothed it in the garment of brevity, as a token of grace unto the
righteous, that they may stand faithful unto the Covenant of God,
may fulfill in their lives His trust, and in the realm of spirit
obtain the gem of Divine virtue.'
The book begins:
'O SON OF SPIRIT! The best beloved of all things in My sight is
Justice; turn not away therefrom if thou desirest Me, and neglect
it not that I may confide in Thee. By its aid thou shalt see
with thine own eyes and not through the eyes of others, and shalt
know of thine own knowledge and not through the knowledge of thy
neighbor. Ponder this in thy heart; how it behooveth thee to be.
Verily justice is My gift to thee and the sign of My
loving-kindness. Set it then before thine eyes.' [William Sears,
Thief in the Night, Part v, Sect. 6, p. 223.]
This spirit of justice and uprightness has been mentioned by
Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas in his book West of the
Indus. He speaks of his visit to Iran, the land of the birth of
Baha'u'llah and His Faith. Of the followers of Baha'u'llah in that
land, Douglas says: 'The Baha'is have many businessmen among their
numbers. They enjoy a fine reputation as merchants. The reason
is that they maintain a high ethical standard in all their
dealings. Merchants in the bazaars are quick to take advantage;
They will cheat or palm off false or inferior goods. Never the
Baha'is. They are scrupulous in their dealings; and as a result,
they grow in prestige.' [William Sears, Thief in the Night, Part
v, Sect. 6, pp. 223-224.]
The following verses from the Hidden Words will convey the spirit
of the Words of Baha'u'llah:
'O YE RICH ONES ON EARTH! The poor in your midst are My trust;
guard ye My trust, and be not intent only on your own ease.'
'O SON OF BEING! How couldst thou forget thine own faults and
busy thyself with the faults of others? Whoso doeth this is
accursed of Me.'
'O SON OF MAN! Breathe not the sins of others so long as thou
art thyself a sinner. Shouldst thou transgress this command,
accursed wouldst thou be, and to this I bear witness.'
'O MY SERVANT! Free thyself from the fetters of this world, and
loose thy soul from the prison of self. Seize thy chance, for it
will come to you no more.'
Throughout His Writings Baha'u'llah expresses such thoughts as
these:
'The essence of faith is fewness of words and abundance of
deeds...Beware lest ye walk in the ways of them whose words differ
from their deeds...Men must show forth fruits. A fruitless man, in
the words of His Holiness the Spirit (Jesus the Christ), is like
a fruitless tree, and is fit for the fire...Let your acts be a
guide to all mankind. It is through your deeds that ye can
distinguish yourselves from others. Through them the brightness of
your light can be shed upon the whole earth.'
The Teachings of Baha'u'llah offer such counsels on individual
behavior as follows: [William Sears, Thief in the Night, Part v,
Sect. 6, p. 224.]
'Do not be content with showing friendship in words alone, let
your heart burn with loving-kindness for all who may cross your
path.' [Paris Talks, 'Abdu'l-Baha, First Talk]
'Show the utmost kindness and compassion to the sick and
suffering. This has greater effect than the remedy itself. You
must always have this love...and affection when you visit the
ailing and afflicted.' [Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 199]
After examining the writings of the Baha'i Faith, the great
Tolstoy, author of War and Peace, said that the Teachings of
Baha'u'llah, 'Now present us with the best and purest form of
religious teaching.' [Appreciations of the Baha'i Faith, p. 36]
Anyone who becomes a follower of Baha'u'llah accepts as binding
upon his own individual and inner life, the following words:
'O ye beloved of the Lord! In this sacred Dispensation, conflict
and contention are in no wise permitted. Every aggressor deprives
himself of God's grace. It is incumbent upon everyone to show the
utmost love, rectitude of conduct, straightforwardness and sincere
kindliness unto all the peoples and kindreds of the world, be they
friends or strangers. 'So intense must be the spirit of love and
loving-kindness, that the stranger may find himself a friend, the
enemy a true brother, no difference whatsoever existing between
them. For universality is of God and all limitations earthly....In
like manner, the affections and loving-kindness of the servants of
the One True God must be bountifully and universally extended to
all mankind. Regarding this, restrictions and limitations are in
no wise permitted. [William Sears, Thief in the Night, Part v,
Sect. 6, p. 225.]
'Wherefore, O My loving friends! Consort with all the peoples,
kindreds, and religions of the world with the utmost truthfulness,
uprightness, faithfulness, kindliness, good-will and friendliness;
that all the world...may be filled with the holy ecstasy of the
grace of Bah , that ignorance, enmity, hate and rancour may vanish
from the world and the darkness of estrangement amidst the peoples
and kindreds of the world may give way to the Light of Unity.
Should other peoples and nations be unfaithful to you show your
fidelity unto them, should they be unjust toward you show justice
towards them, should they keep aloof from you attract them to
yourself,...should they poison your lives sweeten their souls,
should they inflict a wound upon you be a salve to their sores.
Such are the attributes of the sincere! Such are the attributes
of the truthful!' [ Baha'i Administration, Shoghi Effendi, 1928,
pp. 9-10 (from 'Abdu'l-Baha).] [William Sears, Thief in the
Night, Part v, Sect. 6, pp. 225-226.]
The Reverend J. Tyssul Davis in his book A League of Religions
has spoken of the pattern of individual life set by Baha'u'llah.
He writes: 'The Baha'i religion has made its way...because it meets
the needs of its day. It fits the larger outlook of our time
better than the rigid exclusive older faiths. A characteristic is
its unexpected liberality and toleration. It accepts all the great
religions as true and their scriptures as inspired. ...Their
ethical ideal is very high and of the type we Westerners have
learnt to designate "Christlike". "What does he do to his enemies
that he makes them his friends?" was asked concerning the late
leader. What astonishes the student is not anything in the ethics
or philosophy of this movement, but the extraordinary response its
ideal has awakened in such numbers of people, the powerful
influence this standard actually exerts on conduct. ..."By their
fruits ye shall know them!" We cannot but address to this youthful
religion an All Hail! of welcome. We cannot fail to see in its
activity another proof of the living witness in our own day of the
working of the sleepless spirit of God in the hearts of men. ...'
[Appreciations of the Baha'i Faith, pp. 33-34]
Baha'u'llah has given the following standard of personal conduct
for each of His followers to observe: [William Sears, Thief in
the Night, Part v, Sect. 6, p. 226.]
'Be generous in prosperity, and thankful in adversity. Be worthy
of the trust of thy neighbour, and look upon him with a bright and
friendly face. Be a treasure to the poor,...an answerer of the cry
of the needy...Be unjust to no man...be as...a joy to the
sorrowful, a sea for the thirsty, a haven for the distressed, an
upholder and defender of the victim of oppression. ...Be a home
for the stranger, a balm to the suffering, a tower of strength for
the fugitive. Be eyes to the blind, and a guiding light unto the
feet of the erring,...a breath of life to the body of mankind.
...' [Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, Section CXXX]
[William Sears, Thief in the Night, Part v, Sect. 6, pp. 226-227.]
This is another fruit taken from the tree of Baha'u'llah. Christ
said: "By their fruits ye shall know them." This is one of the
fruits by which I was able to judge whether or not Baha'u'llah was
a true or a false prophet.
8. A Searching Eye
The Irish scholar George Townshend, a sometime Archdeacon of
Clonfert, writes that when modern thinkers speak of world
government, social security, an international language, world
courts and human rights, they are merely 'ringing the changes' on
themes which were set down in everlasting language by Baha'u'llah
nearly one hundred years ago.
The following sections give but a small selection of other fruits
gathered from this living tree which Baha'u'llah has planted in the
world.
'Each individual shall make his own independent search after
truth.' [William Sears, Thief in the Night, Part v, Sect. 6, p.
227.]
Baha'u'llah not only approves of, but strongly encourages, the
use of scientific methods in approaching a solution to our
problems. To quote Dr. J. E. Esslemont: 'Baha'u'llah asked no
one to accept His statements and His tokens blindly. On the
contrary, He put in the very forefront of His Teachings emphatic
warnings against blind acceptance of authority, and urged all to
open their eyes and ears, and to use their own judgement,
independently and fearlessly, in order to ascertain the truth. He
enjoined the fullest investigation and never concealed Himself,
offering, as the supreme proofs of His Prophethood, His words and
works and their effects in transforming the lives and characters
of men.' [Baha'u'llah and the New Era, Esslemont, Ch. I]
[William Sears, Thief in the Night, Part v, Sect. 6, pp. 227-228.]
Baha'u'llah Himself said:
'Look into everything with a searching eye.'
Each individual human being should investigate spiritual truth
for himself. His relationship to Almighty God is the
responsibility of no one but himself. He can, and should, learn
from the knowledge and experience of others, but he should not
accept their findings as the final truth for himself without a
careful personal investigation.
That this search for spiritual truth would require constant
effort we are told in the Bible. Deuteronomy says:
'If from thence thou shalt seek the Lord thy God, thou shalt find
him, if thou seek him with all they heart and with all thy soul.'
[Deuteronomy 4:29]
[William Sears, Thief in the Night, Part v, Sect. 6, p. 228.]
3. [Jeremiah 29:13]
4. [Matthew 7:7-8]
5. [Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, Section CLI]
6. [Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 267]
7. [Baha'u'llah and the New Era, Esslemont, Ch. V] .
(nbm)

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