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Shared Reflections

Prophecy: its purpose, unfoldment, and fulfillment

A Christian Science Lecture

From the June 2014 issue of The Christian Science Journal

The audio recordings for this series are available at christianscience.com/sharedreflections

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I want to probe a subject that’s very close to my heart and that’s central to a clear understanding of Christian Science. And that’s the whole subject of “prophecy.” It’s not something esoteric or mysterious as some people might think. To me, it’s something that’s vital, perfectly logical, and very understandable.

But first of all, just what is prophecy? Of course, I’m sure we’d agree that in theological terms it’s an inspired vision, a revelation, of some aspect of God’s plan that will come to pass. But of course, not all revelation is prophecy. Prophecy is a specific aspect of revelation, of the revealed Word of God. Simply put, it’s that which a prophet, or spiritual seer, consciously perceives as a present spiritual fact, even though it hasn’t yet come to pass—but which will come to pass in the natural order of divine unfoldment. In other words, prophecy is the recording of history before it happens. Now that certainly puts it in a category all its own! It illustrates the unity of all real being—of what we call the past, the present, and the future. But it’s all one to all-knowing divine Mind, or God.  

Prophets have come in all sizes and shapes. But the important thing is that they have been sent and empowered by God, and they carry divine authority for the message God has given them to give to others. 

The message of prophecy isn’t subject to personal interpretation. As Peter, Jesus’ disciple, declared: “No prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. 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” (II Peter 1:20, 21). They spoke as they were moved by the will of God, not the will of man. The Holy Ghost is defined as “Divine Science” in the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy (p. 588). And Divine Science is the law of God, the will of God. So, prophecy is actually law to human experience, and it must be fulfilled. 

The inevitable fulfillment of prophecy represents a sacred union of cause and effect. In fact, it’s important to see that there’s a difference between a prophecy and its fulfillment. Yes, they’re forever united by divine law. They can never be separated. But prophecy represents and reflects divine Mind, God, infinite Love as cause, while the fulfillment of prophecy represents and reflects God as effect. That’s a subtle, but vital, difference. And the fulfillment of prophecy is brought about through the action of the Holy Ghost moving on the waters of human consciousness—often over centuries—until the time appointed. A prophecy without the realization of its certain fulfillment would make the prophecy just a hazy hope without substance or assurance. It would be meaningless. 

A person claiming that some event is the result of prophecy can’t be trusted if the event hasn’t been foretold. Fulfilled prophecy carries the authority of spiritual causation. Also, without the underpinning of law, it lacks care, protection, direction, and accomplishment. 

Elijah understood that divine Love was the substance and source of supply.

So, what does it take to be a prophet—not just in old recorded history, but what does it take today—because prophecy is timeless, and prophets are today’s contemporary messengers. Certainly, the prophet has to be receptive. He, or she, has to listen. If you don’t listen, you can’t hear. Also, moral integrity is important so there’s no static to distort the message. There has to be courage because the message often runs counter to what one would expect. And obedience is vital and provides a mantle of protection for the prophet. And overarching everything is the cohesiveness of love. Love unites all the necessary qualities, and it impels the motives and acts of the prophet. 

The Bible gives us so many examples and role models to follow. Just one from the Old Testament that has meant a lot to me is Elijah. We’re told: “The word of the Lord came unto him, saying, Arise, get thee to Zarephath, which belongeth to Zidon, and dwell there: behold, I have commanded a widow woman there to sustain thee” (see I Kings 17:8–23). God was telling Elijah that a terrible famine was about to come and that he needed to be sustained, cared for, supplied, so he could continue his good work. 

Elijah was a true prophet; one might even say he was an experienced prophet. He had spent years renovating his life, gathering himself closer to God. He was daily living those qualities required of the messenger that I’ve just mentioned. So, clearly recognizing the voice of God, and without further questioning, he packed his knapsack and started his long donkey-ride to Zarephath, which was more than 200 miles away. 

You know how the account continues. When he arrived at the gate of the city, he found a widow woman gathering scrub wood. He didn’t have to go looking for a widow woman. He didn’t question if this were the right widow woman. He didn’t sort through a number of them. He knew that encountering the God-appointed woman was simply part of the divine plan that had been choreographed directly by the one Mind. And he knew from experience that God’s plan always has far-reaching ramifications, not narrow ones.

Now if he was being sent to someone who was to care for him, wouldn’t the likely prospect be someone with adequate means, possibly of the richer upper class, maybe a farmer, a merchant, someone with the means to support him during a time of famine? But here he was being sent to the least likely person imaginable—a poor, starving, widow woman! 

The Bible account goes on to say that she told Elijah she was at the end of her rope—no more food, no ability to care for herself or her beloved child—so she was going to bake her last small quantity of meal and then die with her child. When Elijah instructed her to feed him before she fed her child or herself, it could have sounded unspeakably cruel and selfish to the unspiritually-minded. But Elijah understood that divine Love was the substance and source of supply. He knew that substance consists of ideas stemming from divine Mind, the God that is unlimited divine Love. He knew that that overflow of Love always translated into visible forms to meet all human needs. So, he gave the woman the opportunity to express that Love divine, to be unselfish, to reach outside of herself, thereby demonstrating, in some degree, her link to the Love that supplies all good. And he knew through many years of prayer and practice that the coincidence of the human and the divine would be made evident in whatever manner was needed in their daily experience.

Divine Mind held the true Messiah, the Christ-idea of individual selfhood without beginning or end, forever within itself.

When I read that account again recently, I was struck by the woman’s trust and love! She was obviously the right woman, the right messenger chosen by God to be a channel for Love’s supply for Elijah. And Elijah was the messenger to this widow, bringing her the message of God’s continuous, inexhaustible, present daily supply. It took obedience, spiritual understanding, and even courage on Elijah’s part—because he could have been tempted to do the humanly logical and good thing and not ask her to prepare him something to eat before she fed herself and her child. And it took great trust, obedience, and love on the woman’s part for the coincidence of the human and divine to come together at this point to bless them both.

After the famine passed and they both had been sustained by the practical evidence of God’s provision, the young son of the woman contracted a disease—and one morning died. Think of it! After all the prayer and selfless devotion that had gone into their experience; after the progress, the proof, the victory—after all of that, the child slipped away with sickness. But again the messenger from God to the woman brought the blessed proof of healing. And Elijah raised the child from death. It took the same qualities on the part of Elijah and on the part of the woman that brought them through the experience of lack—those same qualities contributed to the healing of sickness and death. Elijah’s divinely inspired demand on the woman in the first instance, and the woman’s obedience and love, prepared them spiritually to witness the healing of the child later. 

What struck me here was how God’s messages and messengers coexist; how they come together in a coincidence that brings spiritual reality and present human experience into perfect harmony. “Ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he” (Isaiah 43:10). 

One might interpret this declaration this way: “There will always be a witness in the human experience that proves that I am All, and that I am the Only in reality. I will always provide a way for you in the wilderness, or in the storm, or wherever you are.” Over and over again in the Bible, the coincidence of perfect God and perfect man—and the present manifestation of perfect God and perfect man in the human experience—is demonstrated. Understanding this coincidence brings the love of divine Love into our daily lives. 

What appears to be Elijah’s understanding of God as divine Love itself, as the totality and omnipotence of infinite good, enabled him to love that widow enough to lift her human sense of love for her child to feel Love’s all-sustaining care for its creation. It was the love of divine Love that sustained them all and healed the child.

But what does that love of Love mean? The prophets had to have it, that pure love of divine Love. Their love was so far beyond the worldly concept of love that it often wouldn’t have appeared to be love on the surface. Because prophets so often had to tell it like it really was to the rulers and the people, and not just tell them what they wanted to hear. If they were on the wrong track, if they were indulging in sin, if they were worshipping false gods, he knew there was no safety for them, no satisfaction. He had to love them enough to warn them and to endure their scorn and anger. A false prophet might look and sound good, but what’s in his heart, what’s his motive, what does he really know of the Word of God? So it was vitally important for the true prophet—and for the true prophet that is within each of us—to discern between the human sense of love and divine Love. 

Infinite Love itself is God, and God is infinite Love itself. Divine Love’s presence in human consciousness is the love that heals, the Christ-love. It’s what it really means to love. The outward effect of that Christly love can take surprisingly different forms, as it did with the prophets. It can take forms that are very different from our human sense of what it means to express love. For example, the outcome of divine Love in human experience sometimes appears as the strong rebuke of sin, a rebuke intended to destroy evil. This distinction is so vital and fundamental. 

Divine Love’s presence in human consciousness is the love that heals, the Christ-love. 

To be effective in healing (as Elijah was), the human sense of love must be continually lifted to its source. Elijah expressed such a sense of overflowing love from the Love that is Principle when he required the widow to feed him before she fed her child. And her trust in the prophet, and even, perhaps, her recognition of the source of his love, enabled her to respond. 

But love that remains on the level of humanity and doesn’t progress beyond itself rises no higher than humanism. Humanism is “pseudo love.” It masquerades as love, and is often accepted as love. That’s because it’s the outcome of the belief that love originates in the so-called human mind, so it brings love down to a human, personal level and introduces human will into love’s purpose and expression. Rather than being a help, it enmeshes and entangles human relationships. It muddies individual decisions and limits spiritual growth. It diverts and perverts the most unselfish motives and acts, and turns them into shallow echoes of what they were meant to be.

Since humanism obviously starts from a limited mortal standpoint, it maintains the restrictions of mortality. It can often be kind and thoughtful, in its way, but it doesn’t develop beyond itself. It doesn’t heal.

Humanism leads to dependence and the continual need for outside infusion, rather than to the freedom of the revealed individuality of every right idea. It prevents people from learning to lean and depend on God. It keeps them from demonstrating their coexistence with God. It actually limits those whom it would attempt to help, and restricts those whom it would attempt to free by not allowing them to develop and unfold under Love’s urging and guidance. 

A right sense of human love is wonderful, and needed, and unselfish. But again, what is this right sense, where does it come from? It comes from divine Love, not from a so-called human mind separate from God. This right sense of love leads us right up the ladder to its source, where we see that Love (capital “L”), God, is reflected in love (little “l”), Love’s expression. 

Elijah worked with love (little “l”), doing good for the woman and her child in the understanding that he was acting in obedience to the law of divine Love, and that all three of them were sustained and protected under that same law. Here was a graphic illustration of true prophecy—its purpose, unfoldment, and fulfillment. 

We know how the prophets foretold the coming Messiah—the greatest demonstrator of divine Love that the world has ever known. They foretold his coming centuries before his appearance. Isaiah prophesied: “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14). And the prophecy wasn’t just for a child, but specifically for a male child. Isaiah didn’t know the person, Jesus of Nazareth. He didn’t know Mary, Jesus’ mother, or Mary’s parents, Anne and Joachim. But 700 years before Jesus’ birth, Isaiah knew the Savior would come from the root, or lineage, of Jesse. 

We often read these accounts today so “matter of factly.” But they were marvelous prophecies foretold centuries before they came to pass. Imagine what it would be like for any of us to hear from God something that’s destined to take place hundreds of years from now! 

Isaiah and Zechariah foretold that Jesus would ride into Jerusalem on the foal of a donkey, that he would be “despised and rejected of men,” that he would be sold for 30 pieces of silver—just the amount the Pharisees paid Judas to betray him! They foretold that he would be numbered with transgressors, that his enemies would part his garments and cast lots for his vesture—just as was done at the crucifixion—and that he would receive vinegar and gall and be buried in a rich man’s tomb. Isn’t it possible that the number and detail of the Messianic prophecies were for our comfort, to reassure humanity that this was, indeed, the promised Messiah? Every detail of his human experience and mission can be traced to prophecy—from his conception to his crucifixion and even his resurrection, because the Psalmist prophesied, “Neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption” (Psalms 16:10), meaning that there would be no decay of Jesus’ body. And the book of Acts refers to this prophecy when speaking of Jesus’ resurrection. 

These had all been specific, definite prophecies centuries before our Master came in timely fulfillment of them. 

Every right idea known to divine Mind is available to heal, and guide, and comfort, and bless through the Holy Ghost, through the dynamic operation of divine law. 

Divine Mind held the true Messiah, the Christ-idea of individual selfhood without beginning or end, forever within itself. And at the right time, at the right place, under the right set of circumstances, the Messiah appeared as the baby Jesus who was to grow and unfold into the character whose life and teaching are destined to heal and save the inhabitants of the entire world. 

Not much is known about those very early days. What we do have is the newborn babe completely dependent upon his mother; we have the infant Jesus unaware of his true identity or mission; then we have the growing child who was surely beginning to come into his own under divine Mind’s direction; then the youngster; and the maturing boy. The curtain lifts a bit when he was 12 years old and was dialoguing with the elders in the temple. That in itself must have been very unusual—that they would even give him the time of day! The elders and scholars didn’t normally look to youngsters for inspiration or to reason together, but Luke records that they were all “astonished at his understanding and answers” (Luke 2:47). 

It’s very possible that Mary confided something of his real origin to him at some point. She and Joseph both knew she had been the one chosen by God to fulfill Isaiah’s prophecy, and so they must have understood that Jesus was the prophesied Messiah. When did they start to notice unusual happenings? When did he start doing marvelous things? When did he start healing people and animals? 

We know that God revealed the fact of his origin to him at the time of his baptism when we’re told through Luke’s Gospel that the Holy Ghost appeared in a “bodily shape like a dove upon him,” and God’s message of divine sonship came as a voice from heaven, saying, “Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased” (Luke 3:22). 

Before Jesus was ready to go public with his mission, however, there was still one more step of preparation he had to take. It was one thing to make the moral distinction between right and wrong, good and evil, as Moses and the prophets had done. But it was a gigantic step to move beyond that to proving that right and good alone were real, and that wrong and evil were totally unreal. His overall mission was to move to the higher platform of demonstrating the allness and onlyness of God, eternal good, and, therefore, the nothingness, the nonentity, of evil. And this vital aspect of his mission—putting down the claim of evil, denying it reality and power—was symbolized during his time in the wilderness when he faced and overcame evil’s, or as the Bible puts it, the devil’s, temptations. Then he burst on the scene healing all types of sickness everywhere. He was ready to publicly acknowledge his spiritual mission. He even said openly in the temple that he was fulfilling Isaiah’s prophecies. 

As he matured, it’s obvious that Jesus understood his eternal and true selfhood, the Christ. He shocked the authorities when he countered their arguments by saying—speaking of the eternal Christ—“Before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58). Abraham, traditionally regarded as the father of the Jewish people, lived some 2,000 years before Jesus. Just imagine the impact of those words! 

At Jacob’s well a woman who came to draw water questioned Jesus and told him that according to their teaching she was expecting the Messiah to come at some period. He responded with these surprisingly frank words: “I that speak unto thee am he” (John 4:26).

Peter caught an inspired glimpse of Jesus’ higher nature as the Christ. When Jesus asked his disciples, “Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?” Peter blurted out, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” (see Matthew 16:13–20). Peter must have felt the invisible Christ in the man, Jesus. Jesus was the human man; Christ was the divine ideal that Jesus embodied and fully demonstrated. In a sense, you could say that Peter glimpsed the unity of Jesus and Christ. We can never separate Jesus and Christ—or Jesus from the Christ—because it was Jesus who fully demonstrated the divine ideal, the spiritual idea of divine Life, Truth, and Love. There’s a coincidence, a coming together of the human and divine. Every right spiritual idea has a human expression. Jesus’ beloved prayer, our Lord’s Prayer, says, in part, “Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). Every right idea known to divine Mind is available to heal, and guide, and comfort, and bless through the Holy Ghost, through the dynamic operation of divine law. 

The prophesied Comforter is the Science of the Christ, or Christian Science, intended to give the Science, or law, underlying all Jesus’ words and works.

But it took the prophesied Comforter, which Jesus said would come later, to explain the relationship between the visible, corporeal Jesus and the invisible, incorporeal Christ—to give the Science of the relationship and explain the coincidence of divinity with humanity that Jesus fully exemplified. After all, he was the supreme demonstrator of the unity of heaven and earth, destroying the belief that humanity is separated from God. Jesus himself illustrated humanity’s potential to completely spiritualize human consciousness—step by step. 

Jesus, at the end of his mission, said: “The Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you” (John 14:26). 

So while Jesus, as the Messiah, was the fulfillment of prophecy, he was also prophesying what was to come after him. “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; but if I depart, I will send him unto you” (John 16:7).

The prophesied Comforter is the Science of the Christ, or Christian Science, intended to give the Science, or law, underlying all Jesus’ words and works. Mary Baker Eddy gives vital instruction on this subject. She’s the Discoverer of Christian Science. She discovered this timeless spiritual law, founded the religion, and (as I’ve said) wrote its textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. It’s this Science of the Christ that shows how Jesus’ teachings and demonstrations reach across the centuries to bless all mankind. And to the degree that we believe on Jesus, or rather, to the degree that we understand him—understand his origin, his life, his purpose and works, his authority, resurrection, and ascension—to the degree that we understand his true being, that he’s forever embosomed in divine Love, his Father-Mother Love—that he’s held, beloved, cherished, nourished in Love as Love’s self-revelation—to the degree we see that, we release our concept of Jesus in the flesh, and we see the individual, and individualized, Christ—here and everywhere, now and forever. 

So now we come to our time and prophetic fulfillment. Today’s history could be recorded with these words from Science and Health: “Truth’s immortal idea is sweeping down the centuries, gathering beneath its wings the sick and the sinning.… The promises will be fulfilled.… In the words of St. John: ‘He shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever.’ This Comforter I understand to be Divine Science” (p. 55).

The chapter titled “The Apocalypse” in Science and Health deals with the Bible’s book of Revelation, and it has an important message that’s central to Christian Science. The very first prophecy in the chapter speaks of an angel, or message from God, prefiguring, or foretelling, divine Science, the Holy Ghost, the divine Comforter. And the angel is holding a little book in his hand.

Mrs. Eddy directly ties the textbook to this prophecy. She quotes the angel, as recorded in Revelation: “ ‘Go and take the little book….Take it, and eat it up; and it shall make thy belly bitter, but it shall be in thy mouth sweet as honey.’ ” Then comes the tie-in from the textbook: “Mortals, obey the heavenly evangel. Take divine Science. Read this book from beginning to end. Study it, ponder it. It will be indeed sweet at its first taste, when it heals you; but murmur not over Truth, if you find its digestion bitter” (p. 559).

Of course, this textbook isn’t the actual book in the hand of the angel referred to by John. There was no printing press at that time. There were only laboriously handwritten manuscripts. The Apostle John wasn’t literally speaking of Science and Health, but here was a prophecy, a spiritual vision, the awareness of a timeless spiritual idea—the idea of divine Science that has always existed in divine Mind—waiting to be revealed to human consciousness at the right moment—and to appear as a book. 

Here is such a clear expression of the human and divine coincidence—the coming together of prophecy and fulfillment. The Old Testament had revealed the truth of God as one God. The New Testament, through Christ Jesus, had revealed the truth of man as the Son of God. And now the Holy Ghost, divine Science—God’s supreme governing law—would be revealed.

This is as much a prophecy as when the early prophets foretold the coming Messiah—his parentage, his birthplace, his life, and his outcome. They didn’t know his biology—what he would look like, how tall he would be. But they knew the idea would appear, that there would be a coincidence of divinity with humanity, and that it would have identity, individuality, tangibility, visibility. The ins and outs of it were left to unfolding infinity.

And now at the right time, the Comforter appeared. The divine Science explained in the textbook had to surface in order to be understood and practiced. Mrs. Eddy wrote to two of her students: “To-day it is a marvel to me that God chose me for this mission, and that my life-work was the theme of ancient prophecy and I the scribe of His infinite way of Salvation!” (Christian Healer, Amplified Edition, p. 207). She saw the Comforter as the continuity of the theme of ancient prophecy, and her mission to record and explain it as the fulfillment of that prophecy. 

She can never be separated from the book. And I see that if one tries to contemporize the book, or fragment it, that actually changes the book, changes the revelation, and in that way separates it from its author and from its divine source. 

Christian Scientists understand that this is not just “a book” among other books. She tells us very simply and openly: “It was not myself, but the divine power of Truth and Love, infinitely above me, which dictated ‘Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures.’ I have been learning the higher meaning of this book since writing it” (The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 114).

There’s a tremendous stir among the nations of the world right now, and Jesus actually prophesied this state of things toward the end of his ministry.

When you “eat” the book, or first taste its wonderful substance, it will be sweet as honey as it heals you. You will be thrilled by the healing touch of the Christ. But don’t be surprised or complain if and when you find its assimilation difficult. She writes, “It will be indeed sweet at its first taste, when it heals you; but murmur not over Truth, if you find its digestion bitter” (Science and Health, p. 559). 

As a student, I continuously study this book. But I’ve found, as others have, that penetrating deeply into its spiritual concepts requires much patience, persistence, discipline, obedience, and love. And there also needs to be much self-denial and purification of thought and act. I’ve also found that it’s the demand for self-immolation and spiritual growth required by the book that often makes the belly bitter. Spiritual purgation and regeneration aren’t easy, but they work deeply in thought, and bring physical and mental health to the body.

This cleansing process reminds me of an early Christian hymn that goes:

As gold by fire is tested,
Its purity shown forth,
So cleansing fires of Truth may prove
To man his native worth. 
(Bernhard Ingemann, Christian Science Hymnal, No. 15

The divine Science revealed and explained in this book is the fire of Truth that burns up the chaff of error; and it’s the cooling balm of divine Love that comforts, protects, and heals as it purifies human character.

Science and Health is the precious book that fulfills Jesus’ prophecy of the coming Comforter, as well as Jesus’ revelation to St. John outlining the way the Comforter would be presented to the world. But the book itself also contains a number of thought-provoking prophecies. 

For example, it prophesied back in the 1800s, “The astronomer will no longer look up to the stars,—he will look out from them upon the universe; …” (p. 125). And of course, since then, we’ve been to the moon and back, and there have been satellites, landings on Mars, and probes to outer space. 

In another instance, the book speaks of conflicting forces in the world, and then prophesies: “On one side there will be discord and dismay; on the other side there will be Science and peace.” But it also foresees that “… those who discern Christian Science will hold crime in check. They will aid in the ejection of error. They will maintain law and order, and cheerfully await the certainty of ultimate perfection” (pp. 96, 97).

As we’re all aware, there’s a tremendous stir among the nations of the world right now, and Jesus actually prophesied this state of things toward the end of his ministry, saying in part, “Nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom” (Matthew 24:7). The world sees the stir as the result of political upheaval, religious turmoil, ethnic rivalry, and social and economic readjustment. But what I’m seeing is the leavening truth of divine Love, and the purifying flame of infinite Spirit—the chemicalization brought on by the Holy Ghost, working below the surface. 

So again, as Jesus both fulfilled prophecy and also prophesied what was to come after him, Science and Health also both fulfills prophecy and peers into the future, revealing some things that are coming—recording history before it happens, as we were saying at the beginning.

The book looks back and says, “Led by a solitary star amid the darkness, the Magi of old foretold the Messiahship of Truth.” Then looking forward it says,“Is the wise man of to-day believed, when he beholds the light which heralds Christ’s eternal dawn and describes its effulgence?” (p. 95). Further along she writes: “The prophet of to-day beholds in the mental horizon the signs of these times, the reappearance of the Christianity which heals the sick and destroys error, and no other sign shall be given” (p. 98). There have been literally thousands of authenticated healings recorded that have been brought about through the application of this divine Science.

Jesus said that healing would be the sign identifying his true followers. Mark records him as saying, “And these signs shall follow them that believe; … they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover” (Mark 16:17, 18).

These signs of healing of every kind of difficulty that plagues humanity—physical, mental, moral, financial, social, and more—these signs prove the authenticity of the Science and the authority of the textbook.

And that brings up a very important point of balance here that welds the book and its author together with their source. 

I’ve found that on the one hand, when Mrs. Eddy’s unique place, her God-given message and mission, are played down, when they’re humanized, disconnected from prophecy and fulfillment, considered as just one historical incident among other historical incidents—when one embraces that concept, one loses the recognition, the authority, and the actuality, of the prophetic fulfillment of the Discoverer and the discovery of Christian Science. 

I’ve also found that, on the other hand, when her place, her message, her mission are canonized, personalized, substituted for individual spiritual revelation—when one embraces that concept, one also loses the recognition, the authority, and the actuality of the prophetic fulfillment of the Discoverer and the discovery. 

Mrs. Eddy was fully aware of the importance of that proper balance and recognition. It was needed to ensure the prosperity and safety of her Church, because the lack of proper recognition, as well as a false concept of recognition, could lead to the Church’s eventual decline, and even to its disappearance. She counseled people many times with this type of instruction: “He that by reason of human love or hatred or any other cause clings to my material personality, greatly errs, stops his own progress, and loses the path to health, happiness, and heaven” (Miscellaneous Writings 1883–1896, p. 308).

Here’s a very important explanation of this point of balance that I’ve found to be central to my understanding of Christian Science. In the twelfth chapter of Revelation, John records this vision: “And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars” (Revelation 12:1). 

On pages 560 to 562 of the textbook, Mrs. Eddy turns the searchlight of spiritual inspiration on this remarkable vision. She sets out the explanation of it very clearly, indicating that the vision of the woman is symbolic. That symbol has spoken to me over many years—as I’m sure it has spoken to countless others. And I’m seeing more and more in it all the time. 

In these pages, she interprets the symbol of the woman in three ways. 

I see the first way as an illustration of God’s perfect man, a marvelous revelation of the fullness of God that includes all of His creation, His self-knowing of all His ideas—all God’s sons and daughters in their completeness. This first symbol, she says, also “… illustrates the coincidence of God and man as the divine Principle and divine idea.” This indicates that the real man of God’s creating is as pure as his Maker, as good as divine Love, and has the same inseparable relation to God indicated in Jesus’ teaching: “I and my Father are one” (John 10:30). 

And then I’ve always been inspired by Mrs. Eddy’s further explanation of the symbol as typifying the spiritual idea of God’s motherhood. It gives me a sense of Love’s creation unfolding, developing, being nourished under all conditions, never starved, never neglected, never abused. It reminds me of Moses’ perception of this mothering care for God’s dear people, where his words are recorded in the Bible: “As an eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over her young, spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, beareth them on her wings: So the Lord alone did lead him, and there was no strange god with him” (Deuteronomy 32:11, 12).

And I find such comfort and promise in the third revelation of the symbol as a woman in labor, giving birth to a child who was to be caught up to God and rule all nations. 

And who is this child? The child typifies divine Science, the pure “development of eternal Life, Truth, and Love” (Science and Health, p. 588). Its purpose is to comfort, correct, heal, and fully govern all on earth as in heaven. 

And who is the father of this child of the woman in Revelation? Of course, there was no seminal process in this vision. It was the great “I AM THAT I AM;” the great and only “Me”; the infinite Being that is, always was, and always will be. It was the ALL and Only that fills all space. It was the same fathering I AM, God, divine Life, who fathered the heaven and the earth. It was the same fathering I AM, divine Truth, that was evident in the birth of Jesus and showed the true nature of all God’s own sons and daughters. And it was the same fathering I AM that John must have seen in this vision of the woman in the Apocalypse—this exemplification of divine Love bringing forth the promised Comforter that would have spiritual authority, through divine law, over all the nations forever. 

Jesus said: “These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you. But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you” (John 14:25, 26).

The textbook says: “The impersonation of the spiritual idea had a brief history in the earthly life of our Master; but ‘of his kingdom there shall be no end,’ for Christ, God’s idea, will eventually rule all nations and peoples—imperatively, absolutely, finally—with divine Science” (p. 565). 

Divine Science, the Holy Ghost, the Comforter, has been brought to human consciousness by the Discoverer, Founder, and Leader of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy. 

To see the Discoverer and the discovery as inseparable, having divine authority, and fulfilling the prophetic vision, will protect the Discoverer, and it will preserve her discovery, the revelation of divine Science. 

That’s how I see the timeless thread of “Prophecy: Its Purpose, Unfoldment, and Fulfillment.”

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