Selections From the Writings of `Abdu'l-Bahá
142: O thou dear handmaid of God! Praise thou God, ...
O thou dear handmaid of God! Praise thou God, because thou art favoured at His Holy Threshold, and
cherished in the Kingdom of His might. Thou art the head
of an assembly which is the very imprint of the Company
on high, the mirror-image of the all-glorious realm. Strive
thou with heart and soul, in prayerful humility and self-effacement,
to uphold the Law of God and spread His sweet
savours abroad. Endeavour thou to become the true president
of the assemblies of spiritual souls, and a companion to
the angels in the realm of the All-Merciful.
Thou didst ask as to the tenth to the seventeenth verses of
the twenty-first chapter of Saint John the Divine's Revelation.
Know thou that according to mathematical principles,
the firmament of this earth's brilliant day-star hath been
divided among twelve constellations, which they call the
twelve zodiacal signs. In the same way, the Sun of Truth
shineth out from and sheddeth its bounties through twelve
stations of holiness, and by these heavenly signs are meant
those stainless and unsullied personages who are the very
well-springs of sanctity, and the dawning-points proclaiming
the oneness of God.
Consider how in the days of the Interlocutor (Moses),
there were twelve holy beings who were leaders of the
twelve tribes; and likewise in the dispensation of the Spirit
(Christ), note that there were twelve Apostles gathered
within the sheltering shade of that supernal Light, and from
those splendid dawning-points the Sun of Truth shone
forth even as the sun in the sky. Again, in the days of
Muhammad, observe that there were twelve dawning-points
of holiness, the manifestors of God's confirming help.
Such is the way of it.
Accordingly did Saint John the Divine tell of twelve
gates in his vision, and twelve foundations. By `that great
city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from
God' is meant the holy Law of God, and this is set forth in
many Tablets and still to be read in the Scriptures of the
Prophets of the past: for instance, that Jerusalem was seen
going out into the wilderness.
The meaning of the passage is that this heavenly Jerusalem
hath twelve gates, through which the blessed enter into the
City of God. These gates are souls who are as guiding stars,
as portals of knowledge and grace; and within these gates
there stand twelve angels. By `angel' is meant the power of
the confirmations of God--that the candle of God's confirming
power shineth out from the lamp-niche of those
souls--meaning that every one of those beings will be
granted the most vehement confirming support.
These twelve gates surround the entire world, that is they
are a shelter for all creatures. And further, these twelve
gates are the foundation of the City of God, the heavenly
Jerusalem, and on each one of these foundations is written
the name of one of the Apostles of Christ. That is to say,
each one maketh manifest the perfections, the joyous
message, and the excellency of that holy Being.
In brief, the Scripture saith: `And he that talked with me
had a rod made out of gold, that is, a measure, wherewith
he measured the city and the gates thereof and the towers
thereof.' The meaning is that certain personages guided the
people with a staff grown out of the earth, and shepherded
them with a rod, like unto the rod of Moses. Others trained
and shepherded the people with a rod of iron, as in the
dispensation of Muhammad. And in this present cycle,
because it is the mightiest of Dispensations, that rod grown
out of the vegetable kingdom and that rod of iron will be
transformed into a rod of purest gold, taken from out the
endless treasure houses in the Kingdom of the Lord. By this
rod will the people be trained.
Note well the difference: at one time the Teachings of
God were as a staff, and by this means the Holy Scriptures
were spread abroad, the Law of God was promulgated and
His Faith established. Then followed a time when the staff
of the true Shepherd was as iron. And today, in this new
and splendid age, the rod is even as pure gold. How wide is
the difference here! Know, then, how much ground hath
been gained by the Law of God and His Teachings in this
dispensation, how they have reached such heights that they
far transcend the dispensations gone before: truly this rod is
purest gold, while those of other days were of iron and
This is a brief answer that hath been written for thee,
because there was no time for more. It is certain that thou
wilt forgive me. The handmaids of God must rise to such a
station that they will, by themselves and unaided, comprehend
these inner meanings, and be able to expound at
full length every single word; a station where, out of the
truth of their inmost hearts, a spring of wisdom will well
up, and jet forth even as a fountain that leapeth from its
own original source.