Many verses in Chapter 9 were offered to show that God will treat us the way we treat Him:
For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you. _Christ (Luke 6:38)
God will verily do unto them that which they themselves are doing…245 _Bahá’u’lláh
The full meaning of the principle of mutual treatment will become known to us fully in the next kingdom. Until then, we can only imagine its implications. The parable of the Kingdom (Matt. 25:1-13) portrays the most graphic picture of this principle. According to this parable, ten maidens—five of them wise, five of them foolish—were waiting for Christ, the Bridegroom, to come. They wished to become the maids of honor at His wedding banquet. How did they differ? The wise maidens came well prepared with enough oil of faith and wisdom to last them through the night. The foolish maidens came unprepared. As time advanced through the night, they lost their light, the spirit of their faith and wisdom. While in the darkness of the night they had gone to get more oil, the Bridegroom arrived and took the five prepared maidens into His heavenly banquet.
What happened to the foolish ones? They returned too late for the wedding banquet and found all its doors closed. What did they do? They knocked, pleaded, and implored. What did the Bridegroom do? Did He accept their pleas? Did He open the doors? No! They had not done their homework. They had not kept their faith. They had not kindled the “lamp of their spirit” with the “oil of wisdom.”246 They had not kept their courage. They had not kept their minds open. When the Bridegroom called and pleaded with them to enter His banquet during their earthly lives, they ignored His call. Why should He now respond to their call and their pleading? Keeping the doors of His banquet closed is pure justice.
They performed their acts of devotion for the sake of God, hoping that He might enable them to join the righteous in Paradise. However, when the gates of Paradise were flung open to their faces, they declined to enter.247 _The Báb
Christ’s beautiful and touching parable reveals many celestial mysteries. It should be memorized and pondered by anyone who wishes to enter the banquet of heaven. It should be pondered until its secrets are revealed, until the truth seekers can see with their soul’s eyes that the choice between God and His creatures is always mutual, until they recognize that responding to God’s Messengers and Redeemers is by far the most critical choice in this world, that this choice should never be relegated to chance, never be left to the dictates of tradition or demands of conformity, and never be submitted to one’s partner, parent, priest, or pastor.
This rule is so strict that even if someone manages to enter the banquet only by formality and name rather than by the spirit, he will not be able to stay:
But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. “Friend,” he asked, “how did you get in here without wedding clothes?” The man was speechless. Then the king told the attendants, “Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” For many are invited, but few are chosen. _Christ (Matt. 22:11-14)
God does not wish to drag anyone into His presence. Jesus used a very strong metaphor to discourage His followers from presenting His pearls of wisdom to ungrateful, unappreciative, and undeserving people:
Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces. _Christ (Matt. 7:6)
Bahá’u’lláh confirms that same eternal message, that same prime principle:
O Son Of Dust!
The wise are they that speak not unless they obtain a hearing, even as the cup- bearer, who proffereth not his cup till he findeth a seeker, and the lover who crieth not out from the depths of his heart until he gazeth upon the beauty of his beloved.248 _Bahá’u’lláh
The purpose of offering these instructions is to prevent zealous believers from exerting the slightest pressure on ungrateful and apathetic people. It is deviation from this fundamental law that has partly destroyed the dignity of religion.
Perhaps the most exclusive hallmark of being human is freedom of conscience—it is the freedom of choosing the path of our spiritual journey. Choosing our destiny is our mark of distinction. Without it, we are no better than pigs and porcupines, monkeys and mosquitoes. Why then try to remove this divine mark of distinction? Why should anyone interfere with the design of creation?
Sacred Scriptures teach us that in the next Kingdom people will plead with God for a chance to return to this world for another opportunity, to prepare themselves for His heavenly banquet. Are their pleas accepted? Never. This is our time and territory; that is God’s time and territory. Here the choice is ours; there the choice is His. He pleads with us here; we plead with Him there. By embracing His latest Redeemer and Teacher during our mortal life, He will allow us into His banquet, and He will embrace us during our immortal life. We invite Him here into our hearts; He invites us there into His heaven.
Whatever one gaineth in the life to come is but the fruit of this faith.249 _The Báb
Will we have the same chance there as we have here? Will the door to the banquet always remain open?
…many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. _Christ (Luke 13:24)
What is our prime purpose in this life? To plant the seeds of heavenly life, which will bear fruits for all eternity, to save our souls from the everlasting pains of remoteness from God.
Seize, O friends, the chance which this Day offereth you, and deprive not yourselves…of His grace.250 _Bahá’u’lláh
Give ear and come to me; hear me, that your soul may live…Seek the Lord while he may be found… _Isaiah 55:3,6
Seize thy chance, for it will come to thee no more.251 _Bahá’u’lláh
To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven…a time to plant, and a time to pluck what is planted… _Ecclesiastes 3:1-2
Behold, now is the day of salvation! _II Corinthians 6:2
The purpose of coming into this world is to prepare and purify our soul for God.
…free thyself from the veils of idle fancies and enter into My court, that thou mayest be fit for everlasting life and worthy to meet Me.252 _Bahá’u’lláh
This purpose is so sublime, so consequential and critical, we should plead with God every moment of our lives to make us worthy of that supreme honor. To be heard, the pleading must come from the very depths of our souls. Only then will He respond to our call. Only then will He unmask His face and allow us into His presence.
We should with tearful eyes, fervently and repeatedly, implore Him to grant us the favor of that grace.253 _Bahá’u’lláh
Blessed are they who keep his statutes and seek him with all their heart. _Psalms 119:2
You will find him, if indeed you search with all your heart and soul. _Deuteronomy 4:29
If you search with all your heart, I will let you find Me… _Jeremiah 2:14
Sacred Scriptures declare that the seed of spiritual life germinates from the Word of God. As the sun and the rain generate life, so does the heavenly Word. To bloom, we must bask our souls in the light of “the Sun of Utterance,” and wash our hearts in the living waters of the divine Word.
The Sun of Utterance beameth forth in this day, above the horizon of bounty…Purge and sanctify your…hearts, and your ears, and your eyes with the living waters of the utterance of the All-Merciful, and set, then, your faces towards Him. By the righteousness of God! Ye shall hear all things proclaim: “Verily, He the True One is come. Blessed are they that judge with fairness, and blessed they that turn towards Him!”254 _Bahá’u’lláh
To acquire the glorious gift of everlasting life, we must keep in touch with God through His Word.
It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life. _Christ (John 6:63)
Give attention to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Do not let them depart from your eyes; keep them in the midst of your heart. For they are life to those who find them… _Proverbs (4:20-22)
God’s Word is endowed with infinite powers. It is so potent, so creative, it can instantly transform the human heart—the hardest substance in the universe. His Word has the potential to turn, in an instant, deep despair into everlasting hope, doubt into enduring faith, and cynicism and sadness into abundant joy. His Word has been the generating power behind all the great civilizations since the dawn of time.
Magnified be Thy name, O my God! I testify that if Thy servants were to turn towards Thee with the eyes Thou didst create in them and with the ears wherewith Thou didst endow them, they would all be carried away by a single word sent down from the right hand of the throne of Thy majesty. That word alone would suffice to brighten their faces, and to assure their hearts, and to cause their souls to soar up to
the atmosphere of Thy great glory, and to ascend into the heaven of Thy sovereignty.255 _Bahá’u’lláh
The Word of God is the king of words and its pervasive influence is incalculable. It hath ever dominated and will continue to dominate the realm of being. The Great Being saith: The Word is the master key for the whole world, inasmuch as through its potency the doors of the hearts of men, which in reality are the doors of heaven, are unlocked.256 _Bahá’u’lláh
The Word of God is so powerful, it created the universe:
…the irresistible Word of God which is the Cause of the entire creation…257 _Bahá’u’lláh
God’s Word is His ultimate testimony to humankind, the most convincing proof of His presence, the most supreme sign of His authority, the most blazing evidence of His glory.
That which is preeminent above all other gifts, is incorruptible in nature, and pertaineth to God Himself, is the gift of Divine Revelation. Every bounty conferred by the Creator upon man, be it material or spiritual, is subservient unto this. It is, in its essence, and will ever so remain, the Bread which cometh down from Heaven. It is God’s supreme testimony, the clearest evidence of His truth, the sign of His consummate bounty, the token of His all-encompassing mercy, the proof of His most loving providence, the symbol of His most perfect grace. He hath, indeed, partaken of this highest gift of God who hath recognized His Manifestation in this Day.258 _Bahá’u’lláh
Our Creator does not want to be an uninvited guest. The honor of inviting Him is ours; the pleasure of accepting is His. But He does make every effort to unlock the closed heart through His mighty Word. He exerts His power by His Pen.
All praise be to the one true God—exalted be His glory—inasmuch as He hath, through the Pen of the Most High, unlocked the doors of men’s hearts.259 _Bahá’u’lláh
How does God lift our souls out of apathy and lead us to His heavenly banquet? How does He motivate us? How does He unlock our hearts with His Pen? He uses every imaginable motivation. The following 15 are among the most common:
• He announces with love
•He invites with love
•He encourages with love
•He reasons with love
•He admonishes with love
•He urges and pleads with love •He questions with love
•He informs and reminds with love •He prays with love
•He expresses pity with love
•He rebukes with anger and love
•He swears by God
•He commands with authority
•He threatens with punishment
•He promises generous rewards and blessings
As you can see, God uses every means of motivation and encouragement short of lifting us and carrying us into His Kingdom. And yet few respond to any of His urgent calls. What does this say about human nature? That from the power of God’s inspiring and motivating Word even the mountains may “fall down in fragments:”
And yet how much harder than these mountains their hearts must be to have remained unmoved!260 _The Báb
The quotations presented in the next chapter demonstrate how God uses His Word to open our hearts, to transform our souls. They indicate how He helps us conquer apathy, doubt, and fear; how He elevates us to purpose, peace, and passion for life; how He creates an earnest desire for truth; how He inspires certainty, self-sacrifice, and courage.
The selections offered show the depth of God’s love for human beings. They indicate how earnestly He wishes to guide us into His heavenly Kingdom. They present the many methods of persuasion He uses to move us from the dark of unbelief and ignorance to the light of faith and knowledge, from the comfort zone of apathy and worldly affections to His glorious presence.