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The day was warm and sunny as I walked along the winding path by the stream as it flowed gently and steadily along the base of Revelation Mountain. It babbled on and on, not caring if I heard or understood the obstacles that it faced or the twists and turns in its life. The tall trees continued to look upward with eternal optimism. The grass bowed below at every signal from the wind, laboring to fulfill its duty of stewarding every square inch of ground, covering and protecting all tiny unseen creatures who walked on imperceptible paths.
Occasionally, the path circled around variously sized rocks that had fallen or lodged in the way, but the walk was not difficult. Even so, after a few hours I stopped to drink from the river, for it seemed clean. I had brought no water with me, thinking (as I believed) that the extra weight would be unnecessary in the face of abundance.
I found, however, that the water, though plentiful, did not seem to quench my thirst. 17 Though I drank often, it did not seem to satisfy me. Finally, upon reaching a small meadow between the stream and the base of the mountain, I threw myself to the ground, more exhausted than I should have been.
How strange it was, I thought, that I might die of thirst next to a sparkling stream! Feeling dehydrated, my soul panted for water, and with growing alarm, I cried out, “God of Abraham, I am so thirsty! Please give me water that will quench my thirst!” 18
Immediately, everything around me seemed to freeze. The stream was taken aback and abruptly stopped its pointless one-sided conversation to listen. The breeze ceased, and a falling leaf remained suspended in the air. The ground beneath me seemed to move, and I sat up in amazement as the grass around and beneath me seemed to lengthen and appear in a deeper shade of green. Shadows hovered over me, slowly transforming into the form of trees. The sun grew brighter. Then a new sound touched my ears, as a new river sprang up at my side, flowing out of a long but narrow gap in the side of the mountain.
It appeared as if I had been transported to a parallel and invisible dimension overlaying the one in which I had been walking. I still could see the earthly dimension from my new vantage point, but it had dimmed and seemed to be farther away from this new earth in which I found myself.
I was not alone. Sensing a presence behind me, I turned and saw a man standing by a tree near the new river. He had piercing eyes that compelled me to believe in that moment that he had known me for a long time. He was holding a drawn sword 19 that was burning with blue and orange flames. My heart leaped into my throat in that instant, but as he made no threatening move, I calmed myself and spoke to him. “Sir, who are you and what is this place?”
“I am the guardian of the tree,” he said, nodding toward the tree next to him. It was a beautiful tree of medium height, full of ripe fruit that I did not recognize. The tree seemed to be alive—I mean, really alive—for it moved and appeared to enjoy an unbroken and unspoken communication with its guardian.
“As for your question about this place,” the guardian continued, “you have entered an unseen realm of timeless reality. The words of your heart opened the gate to Eden, the place of origins, where life was given and life was lost. It was your time to come, for you were drawn by a Power that would no longer allow your thirst to be quenched by the water from the cursed earth.”
“Who unlocked this gate for me?” I asked.
“But I was alive while I was walking to get here,” I protested.
“You were dead while you walked, for you walked in the realm of death where all are mortal.” He paused and then anticipated a question. “The curse of death upon the earth has already been broken legally in the court of heaven, but the time is not yet fully ripe to remove it.”
The surprising change in passing through the gate had caused me to forget that I was still very thirsty. But as I looked at the river, clear as crystal, I remembered that I had not yet quenched my thirst. Yet I hesitated, for if the man with the flaming sword were indeed the guardian of the tree, I thought perhaps he might also be the guardian of the river.
“May I drink from your river?” I asked. “I really am quite thirsty.”
“It is not my river,” he replied. “Yet I perceive that you have been given permission to drink and were drawn here because you appealed to its Creator and Owner. You have been granted access to the river of life, and it will help you to see clearly and to understand reality.”
“Is there a cost?” I asked warily.
“It is priceless,” said the guardian, “for its value is far greater than you or anyone else’s ability to pay. But One has gone before you to pay the price of access to this water. It is written in the laws of creation, ‘Let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost.’ 22 You drink at the expense of another. The water comes from the side of the mountain, because it flows from the side of the one who paid the price. It is living water, purchased by the death of a sinless One, and released to a thirsty world by the thrust of a spear.”
Satisfied that I had been drawn by unseen cords specifically to give me access to this river, I walked to the edge of the river, knelt down, cupped my hands in its cool flow, and lifted its life to my mouth. From the moment the living water touched my lips, it seemed that I had drunk from the soul of the mountain. Its soul immersed mine, and I was resurrected from death into life.
As I looked up, the atmosphere seemed to change. My eyes were opened to see myriads of beings above me and beside me. Even those afar off I could see as clearly, as if distance itself had ceased to exist. My enhanced senses suddenly could feel all things. Spoken words were unnecessary, for the words of the guardian had suddenly become part of me, and his thoughts were conducted instantaneously with no inner resistance or blockage.
More importantly, I suddenly had a greater understanding of all that he had spoken thus far. I sensed that I knew everything, or rather that all the knowledge of the universe was now available to me when I chose to draw upon it. Yet the knowledge of creation and its Creator was so vast that even eternity would be insufficient to learn and comprehend it all. I saw that universal knowledge was alive and growing faster than my ability to learn it all.
The water was life itself, and every drop was a new word of revelation from the Creator of the mountain, awakening every cell in my body. Each word searched for any trace of death, swallowing it up and replacing it with life.
As I turned once again to the guardian, he pointed to the tree and said, “This tree stands at the point of the now, where time transitions from what was and what will yet be. It is really two trees in one, for a single tree has roots on both sides of the river. 23 Each has its purpose—diverse, yet ultimately one, for they are in agreement. Yet one side is greater than the other.”
“You must understand the priorities of this place,” he continued. “It is unlawful to eat of the lesser tree before eating of the greater, 24 for the knowledge that resides in the lesser must remain subordinate to the life that is in the greater. The lesser imparts the understanding of good and evil that is written in the laws of the universe. Its knowledge is necessary to create shape and form and even beauty; yet apart from the life that is found only in the greater tree, all things accomplished by knowledge remain dead.”
“Man’s purpose was to live and move and have his being 25 in the Creator’s image and to create living things. However, men failed to achieve this calling, because they sought knowledge before life. This was contrary to the will of the Creator.”
He then pointed to something off to the side, which had escaped my notice until that moment. It was a lifeless man sleeping in the dust. His form was dim, and I knew instinctively that he was not in Eden but on the other side of the veil in the earthly dimension.
“His name,” said the guardian, “is Earthyman, 26 the firstborn of all such men, the prototype of all who walk in mortality upon the earth. As long as he lies there, all who are in him remain dead, helpless and cut off from the land of the living. He will not rise again in that form, for his sentence was irreversible.”
A shiver of horror swept through me, and seeing this, the guardian quickly added, “Do not be disturbed. The Creator was wise enough to take this into account and to ensure a way to restore all things. This old man had to be put to death by the justice of the law, but because of the Creator’s love and mercy, a new man will arise out of the ashes of the old.” 27
“Is there anything I can do about this?” I asked.
“No,” he said, shaking his head, “that is the responsibility of another who has that calling. From our perspective here in Eden, where all time is one, He has already finished the work, for that plan was prewritten and accomplished from the beginning. But from the perspective beyond the veil, where men are bound by time and space, all prewritten events must follow sequence and consequence according to the laws of time.”
In the histories of the earthly realm, it is written, as you know to some extent, that the Called One has already taken the first step necessary to bring life. His first work has been done to the full satisfaction of the laws of Creation. The first work has made possible the second work, a secret only few truly understand at this time.”
“What is this secret work?” I asked with great anticipation.
“It is the secret of a new creature that is begotten 28 by the Spirit of the Mountain. It gives the spirit of each dead creature a new identity, not as the old which has passed away and cannot be retrieved, but a new person untainted by the disobedience of their ancestor and free from his sentence of death.”
I contemplated this for a while and then spoke: “Yesterday I heard the Voice call me Anava, and He told me that this was the name of my new creation man.”
“Yes,” said the guardian. You are no longer the son of the dead man, for Anava is the son of the Voice Himself, begotten by the Spirit of the Mountain. Though you yet walk in flesh on the other side of the veil, that flesh is your mother, not your father.”
I then remembered—it must have been the effect of the living water—that I had gone before the family court of heaven to declare the Voice to be my real Father, the Father of Anava. Thereafter, I was no longer the son of the dead man, but of the Living One, whose seed had begotten the Me that I was called to be from the beginning and which I now am.
A feeling of sadness and even grief came over me, and I saw the tears from ages past flow over me. I was aware, too, that although this feeling welled up from within me, I was feeling the heart of the Creator Himself, which had been imparted to me when the first drop of living water touched my lips. I felt the Creator’s sorrow. He was not above emotion or immune to the feelings of our infirmities. 29 He had constructed the plan from the beginning, counting the precise cost of parenthood necessary to bring all sons into maturity.
With this grief, I felt a certain reassurance and was comforted in the knowledge that none of us on earth had been left alone in our pain, but that the great Creator of the universe was willing to feel it all as well. He had decreed from the beginning that all suffering was limited by time and that it could not be compared to the glory that was to come in the end. 30
For a long while, I basked in the revelation of divine suffering and ultimate glory. Then the guardian broke the loud silence, saying, “You were led here for the revelation necessary to complete your calling. You are Anava, and as this water of life springs forth from your spirit through your soul to water the world, you will show others the meaning of grace. The prophets have revealed in times past that humility is the root of all grace. 31 Grace alone grants access to this tree of life, 32 but grace has been misunderstood and misapplied during the long dark ages of men on earth.”
He continued, “For a long time the flaming sword has guarded this tree, not to keep people from eating its life-giving fruit, but to discern who is worthy and when. I was given this sword and assigned the task of guarding the tree until men and women came through the proper gates, the gates of praise and thanksgiving. The law of the sword discerns soul and spirit, as well as the thoughts and intents of the heart. 33 All who remain in the estate of Earthyman are forbidden to eat of it, for they were all sold into bondage. 34 No debtor is allowed to eat of this fruit.”
“But does that not include everyone?” I asked. “Who then can eat?” My own desire for that fruit had been growing within me, and I was uncertain if the sword would allow me to access the tree.
“Most of those who walk the earth identify with Earthyman, who is the great debtor,” the guardian explained. “This makes them as unworthy as he. Such people identify with their souls, all of which are derived from the original soul of Earthyman himself. But the flaming sword can distinguish and separate soul from spirit. One who identifies with his spirit is no longer a child of Earthyman, but is begotten by the Spirit of the Mountain. Soul begets soul; spirit begets spirit.”
With a sudden flash of insight, I exclaimed, “I see it now! My soul separated from my spirit when I crossed the great divide and found myself in this place!” Pointing to the dead body dimly visible nearby, I asked him, “Did I leave my soul in that old man when I came into this place?”
“Yes,” he replied, “that is how you crossed through the Gate of Death and Life. Without this separation, the gate would have stopped you—or rather, you never would have found your way here. Flesh and blood cannot pass through the gate. You had to leave it behind you. You are spirit, and for this reason, your consciousness is here and not in the old dead man. If this were not so, you would yet perceive yourself lying upon the grass in that realm.”
“This flaming sword seems quite threatening,” I ventured, “but my heart perceives no threat.”
“That is because your heart is in tune with the sword. The sword has no quarrel with those whose hearts burn with the same flame as that which is in the sword. And because the sword contains the Spirit of the Mountain, it resonates with all who are begotten by that Spirit. To them it is a source of power and life, but to the souls who are part of the soul of Earthyman, this sword is terrifying.”
He continued, “The only reason this sword is an enemy of the soul is because the soul of Earthyman is bound to death. This sword is alive, for it was forged deep in the heart of the mountain by the word of the Living One. Death fears life. He who fears is yet bound to death. The orange flame is the fiery law from the throne of the Ancient of Days; the blue flame is the sapphire pavement on which the throne sits. 35 The ancient prophets told people to wear a thread of blue to remind them of the law. The blue flame is also the color of sky, for it represents the law of heaven and the Spirit of life.
Then lifting his sword high into the air, the Guardian proclaimed loudly, “The Voice has revealed His righteous nature, which men call the law. It is the standard of universal morality and the reflection of divine character, and it settles for nothing less than this in all that it meets. Mortal souls find it impossible to meet its demands, and so it kills every soul. 36 Yet the same law is also a promise that gives life to every spirit.”
“But how can the same sword mete out both life and death?” I asked.
“It tolerates no deviation from the law,” he replied. “Mortal souls cannot help but fail, but those begotten by the living Spirit are children of light who live by that righteous standard. In their very nature is written the spirit of this law of life.”
I pondered this for a moment in order to understand it fully. Finally, I spoke up with humble boldness, “From the time that I first entered this place, I have desired to eat from this tree of life. Since I have been separated from my soul and am identified with my spirit, may I eat of this fruit?”
He looked into my eyes to search my heart. “Yes,” he said, “for you are a word from the Voice. A flaming sword is within you, bearing witness to my sword.”
I stepped forward and reached out my hand, picking one of many fruits. As I held it in my hand, the living flames from the sword in the hand of the guardian shot high into the blue sky, as if it were joyously celebrating a great holiday. I had no fear, but I was filled with faith from the word that was in me. I then put the fruit to my mouth and began to assimilate its sweetness.
With each mouthful, a surge of light and life pulsed through me, and my eyes were enlightened. In a moment I gained access to the wisdom of the ages that alone could utilize the knowledge of good and evil in the way that the Creator intended from the beginning. Wisdom showed me its ability to steward the knowledge of good and evil, but nonetheless, I turned to the guardian once again to allow him to explain it to me.
“So it is not true, as men have claimed,” I began, “that the Creator desired to keep men in ignorance and in darkness when He forbade men to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. 37 Such claims have maligned the Creator by implying that He feared free and informed men and women. Many have turned to the powers of darkness, believing that the Creator was wrong in denying them the wisdom from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.”
“That is correct,” said the guardian sadly. “This was the hidden motive of the serpent who tempted the original stewards of the earth. He questioned the goodness of the Creator and presented a stingy and spiteful Power who wanted to keep men from reaching their full potential, lest they overthrow Him. This perverted view of the Creator was the unspoken lie from the beginning. Once their minds were beguiled and perverted, they ate of the tree of knowledge before eating of the tree of life. Thus, they preferred knowledge of good and evil, and they mistook this for wisdom, because the shadow of death blinded their eyes to the truth that wisdom is the first fruit of the tree of life.”
“So the quest for knowledge,” I replied knowingly, “became their dominant motive, for they thought that knowledge could bring them life, rather than life bringing them knowledge. Believing themselves to be wise, they became foolish, 38 and their idea of wisdom was vastly different from that of the Creator.”
“That is true,” said the guardian. “Even so, out of love, the Creator would not permit them to be locked permanently into such a state of darkness, nor would He allow His children to remain in a state of disagreement with Him. That is why they could not be allowed access to the tree of life. If they had been able to eat of this tree after first eating of the other, they would have been locked permanently into a state of disobedient immortality. In such a state, knowledge would have ruled over wisdom and life.”
He paused again momentarily, and then continued, “If Earthyman had eaten first from the tree of life, he would have gained all of the knowledge in the fruit of the other tree, but he would have obtained it through wisdom in a lawful manner with no separation and disunity…. But there is a deeper cause that most have not understood.”
“What is that?” I asked.
“If Earthyman had done everything correctly, he still would have lacked experience. To know good is meaningless without experiencing evil. How can one speak of light without knowing what darkness is? Wisdom may be known through its own virtue, but full wisdom is understood only when compared with foolishness. The Creator’s wisdom is beyond our capacity to know. But this I know, that Earthyman’s fall and death was no accident, nor did it take the Creator by surprise. It was all taken into account from the beginning and built into the original blueprint. Because it was in the plan from the beginning that the Creator’s will should be violated, the solution was contemplated and established at the same time, so that the Creator would succeed in His goal and achieve total victory in the end.”
“It is clear, then,” I responded, looking into the guardian’s eyes, “that the key to this greater understanding of the Mind of the Creator is to know the difference between His will and His plan. 39 Men have violated His will from the beginning—and continue to do so to this day—but nothing has gone beyond the bounds of the divine plan. He is neither surprised nor confounded by men’s failures. Neither is He powerless to bring all men into the purpose for which they were created.”
I arose and looked into the guardian’s eyes, seeing clearly the presence of fire deep within him. I had already seen the Spirit of the Mountain in his eyes, but now I saw that the guardian of the tree was also Joseph, that is, the real Joseph. He and Joseph were in the process of becoming one, as heaven and earth moved steadily closer.
With unspoken understanding between us, I could only stand and gaze at the guardian with gratefulness and thanksgiving, knowing that Joseph had found this gate and had directed me to it as well. I saw in the grooved face of the guardian the same lines of experience that I had seen in Joseph’s wise face earlier that morning. I then knew that I was seeing the real Joseph, whose spirit had led me to this place.
I knew that it was time to leave, for I could not remain in Eden. A new day was upon us, and a new task lay ahead. Eden was a garden from the past. Much water of history had passed. Men had increased throughout the earth, and a city 40 was being built to accommodate them. Even the sword itself was being replaced by an entire wall. 41 Creation was continuing, and experience was preparing the people for a time of glory when apparent defeat was to turn into real victory.
So I stepped back through the gate and found myself lying on the grass next to the babbling river. I sat up, wondering if I had just wakened from a dream. Yet I was no longer thirsty. I knew that the purpose of my hike had been fulfilled and that it was time to return to the lodge. I stood up and walked slowly back in the way which I had come, pondering all that had befallen me that day.