We heard from Eileen Maddocks when she wrote 1844: Convergence in Prophecy for Judaism, Christianity, Islam and the Baha’i Faith (you can read all about it on Baha’i Blog here) and she is currently hard at work writing a new trilogy called The Coming of the Glory: How the Hebrew Scriptures Reveal the Plan of God. Eileen generously shared with us about the first volume that’s been published, what the whole trilogy will cover, and she shed some light on the process of writing these books. Here’s what she said:
Baha’i Blog: Could you please tell us a little bit about this book? What is it about?
From the opening chapters of the book of Genesis, the Hebrew Bible hints at the challenges that will face our species–– using the tree of the knowledge of good and evil as a symbol for the pitfall of materialism, and the tree of life the station of the Word of God. As we progress through its pages, rich detail is revealed, through its multifaceted allegories, history, hymns and stories, which detail a further succession of Divine Messengers, right down to the present day.Through the teachings of Jesus and the spread of Christianity, most people have at least passing familiarity with Adam, Noah, Abraham, and Moses. Some might be familiar with Elijah, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and other prophets who worked within their traditions to carry forward and reinforce their teachings. These teachings and prophecies were carefully preserved, and guided millions of believers for 2,500 to 3,000 years.In our modern age, is the study of these ancient writings of interest only to believers, historians and scholars, or could the teachings of such messengers have direct relevance to everyone alive today? I believe that the Hebrew Bible and the messages of its prophets are very relevant to this day.Revealed in those ancient pages is a God who declares that the end is known from the beginning (Isaiah 46:10), and that He has made it known to His servants, the prophets. The mission of those prophets was clear. It was to address the problems of their time––idolatry and disobedience to the Mosaic Dispensation––and to call the people to obedience to the Divine Covenant brought by Moses. They also foretold a time of Glory in what was to them the distant future – a time when after much tribulation their descendants would inherit the promises associated with that Covenant. Their prophetic vision reached across thousands of years, announcing an age of global peace and the unity of humankind.
Baha’i Bog: What does each volume cover?
Volume 1 of The Coming of the Glory sets the scene for ancient Israel, that “Nest of the Prophets,”1 by exploring faint trails of long-forgotten Prophets of God in the Middle East. These traces were found at the Paleolithic complex Göbekli Tepe, the Neolithic town of Çatalhöyük, and in the Mesopotamian city-states along the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. Although the teachings of the Prophet Adam have been lost to history, the symbology in the Eden story gives hints about the message He brought. Then the Prophets Abraham and Moses taught the One God, and Moses left a vast legacy of moral teachings and religious laws to guide the Israelites. The prophet Elijah heard a still small voice signifying hard-won progress from animism, idol worship, polytheism, and early depictions of the One God as an anthropomorphic storm god. This enlightened individual heard the divine voice on a new level.
Volume 2 covers the pre-exilic prophets from the 750s BCE to the conquest of Judah by the Babylonians, which was finalized by the conquest of Jerusalem in 586, after which many persons from the upper classes were sent into the Exile. Those prophets were Amos, Hosea, first Isaiah, Micah, Zephaniah, Nahum, Habakkuk, and Jeremiah. This volume will be released in the spring of 2021.
Volume 3 will be released a year later in 2022. It covers the post-exilic prophets, who were Ezekiel, second and third Isaiah, Obadiah, Haggai, Zechariah, Joel, Daniel, and Malachi.
Baha’i Blog: What inspired you to write this series?
Abdu’l-Baha said, “You must know the Old and New Testaments as the Word of God.”2 Even though I was raised Christian, I hadn’t read much in the Bible until I started studying it as a Baha’i.
Who says Bible study is boring? I found it fascinating!
I had always been interested in biblical prophecies. As a Baha’i, I learned that there are innumerable prophecies in the Hebrew Bible concerning the coming not only of Jesus but also of the Bab, Baha’u’llah (often referred to as the Glory of God), and the Baha’i Era. However, the books that covered these prophecies from a Baha’i perspective were not written in a systematic, chronological manner and within the context of unfolding Israelite history. That was frustrating for me. I realized the need for a book about the Hebrew prophets that presented their missions and their prophecies within the context of their times in ancient Israelite history.
As the saying goes, whoever has the idea gets to implement it.
Baha’i Blog: Could you give us an example of one or two of the prophecies explored in your books?
The writings of virtually all of the major and minor Hebrew prophets, as well as other verses in the Hebrew Bible, prophesied the coming of the Bab, Baha’u’llah, and the Baha’i Era. Often I found sudden jumps into the far-future, as far ahead as twenty-five centuries, nestled within verses concerning the ancient times and events faced by the writer. What glimpses of our times these verses foretold!
Consider the verse well known to Baha’is, “What hath God wrought!” This famous verse was the first telegraphic message sent by Samuel Morse, and it was sent on May 24, 1844, the day after the declaration of the Bab to Mulla Husayn. But what was the context and background to this verse? I read about Balaam and yes, his donkey, in the book of Numbers. Balaam, described as a diviner, had been asked by the Moabites and Midianites to put a curse on the Israelites. Balaam was hesitant about this and prayed to God about the matter, who responded as follows:
“Surely there is no enchantment against Jacob, neither is there any divination against Israel: according to this time it shall be said of Jacob and of Israel, What hath God wrought! Behold, the people shall rise up as a great lion, and lift up himself as a young lion: he shall not lie down until he eat of the prey, and drink the blood of the slain.”3
How clearly spoken! Enchantment and divination against the Israelites not to be allowed. The term this time is understood to mean the latter days, or the time of the end, which started in 1844 with the return of the Christ spirit embodied in the Bab. To rise up as a great lion is suggestive of the formation of the modern state of Israel because the lion had been a symbol for Judah since ancient times. “What hath God wrought!” and similar sentiments would be expressed millennia later about the establishment and thriving of the modern state of Israel.
Marvels await the reader. Did you know that Daniel gave two time-specific prophecies for 1844, one of them counting within the Islamic lunar calendar? He also gave two time-specific prophecies for the Baha’i Faith that could not be understand until those events happened, which they did.
Even the psalms foretell the coming of Baha’u’llah. For example, Psalm 60 asks: “Who will bring me into the strong city?” Baha’u’llah himself verified this verse in Psalm 60 when He wrote: “Lend an ear unto the song of David. He saith: ‘Who will bring me into the Strong City?’ The Strong City is Akka, which hath been named the Most Great Prison, and which possesseth a fortress and mighty ramparts.”4
Fascinating, but is it really important what the ancient prophets said? I believe that it is because they often spoke to us as well as to their countrymen. In addition, prophecies that have been fulfilled give credence to those that have yet to be fulfilled. When we realize their truths, we must work to mitigate the negative and work to bring the positive that were foretold.
Our concept of time is limited. As Isaiah said when speaking for the Lord: “I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come.”5
Baha’i Blog: Thank you so much, Eileen, for sharing this with us! You can purchase the first volume of The Coming of the Glory here on Amazon.