The Greater Covenant of Baha’u’llah

The Greater Covenant of Baha’u’llah — the promise that God will never leave us alone and will send yet another messenger — is yet another chapter in “the changeless Faith of God, eternal in the past, eternal in the future”.

The Bab writes:

“The Lord of the universe hath never raised up a prophet nor hath He sent down a Book unless He hath established His covenant with all men, calling for their acceptance of the next Revelation and of the next Book; inasmuch as the outpourings of His bounty are ceaseless and without limit.”
(The Bab, Selections from the Writings of the Bab, p. 86)

and:

“The purpose underlying this Revelation, as well as those that preceded it, has, in like manner, been to announce the advent of the Faith of Him Whom God will make manifest. And this Faith — the Faith of Him Whom God will make manifest — in its turn, together with all the Revelations gone before it, have as their object the Manifestation destined to succeed it.”
(The Bab, Selections from the Writings of the Bab, p. 105)

Baha’u’llah Himself quotes His Forerunner, the Bab, referring to The Bayan:

“Glorified art Thou, O My God! Bear Thou witness that, through this Book, I have covenanted with all created things concerning the Mission of Him Whom Thou shalt make manifest, ere the covenant concerning Mine own Mission had been established. Sufficient witness art Thou and they that have believed in Thy signs. Thou, verily, sufficest Me. In Thee have I placed My trust, and Thou, verily, takest count of all things.”
(Baha’u’llah, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 160)

Just as the Bab was specific in indicating that Baha’u’llah’s mission won’t be revealed until the passing of nine years, Baha’u’llah specifies that there will not be another Manifestation of God before the passing of a thousand years:

“Whoso layeth claim to a Revelation direct from God, ere the expiration of a full thousand years, such a man is assuredly a lying impostor.”
(Baha’u’llah, The Kitab-i-Aqdas, p. 32)

Abdu’l Baha confirms:

“O servant of God! We have noted what thou didst write to Jinab-i-Ibn-Abhar, and thy question regarding the verse: ‘Whoso layeth claim to a Revelation direct from God, ere the expiration of a full thousand years, such a man is assuredly a lying impostor.’

The meaning of this is that any individual who, before the expiry of a full thousand years — years known and clearly established by common usage and requiring no interpretation — should lay claim to a Revelation direct from God, even though he should reveal certain signs, that man is assuredly false and an impostor.”
(Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 67)

Shoghi Effendi elaborates:

“That ‘Abdu’l-Bahá is not a Manifestation of God, that, though the successor of His Father, He does not occupy a cognate station, that no one else except the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh can ever lay claim to such a station before the expiration of a full thousand years — are verities which lie embedded in the specific utterances of both the Founder of our Faith and the Interpreter of His teachings.”Whoso layeth claim to a Revelation direct from God,” is the express warning uttered in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, “ere the expiration of a full thousand years, such a man is assuredly a lying imposter. We pray God that He may graciously assist him to retract and repudiate such claim. Should he repent, God will no doubt forgive him. If, however, he persists in his error, God will assuredly send down one who will deal mercilessly with him. Terrible indeed is God in punishing!” “Whosoever,” He adds as a further emphasis, “interpreteth this verse otherwise than its obvious meaning is deprived of the Spirit of God and of His mercy which encompasseth all created things.” “Should a man appear,” is yet another conclusive statement, “ere the lapse of a full thousand years — each year consisting of twelve months according to the Qur’án, and of nineteen months of nineteen days each, according to the Bayan — and if such a man reveal to your eyes all the signs of God, unhesitatingly reject him!”

‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s own statements, in confirmation of this warning, are no less emphatic and binding: “This is,” He declares, “my firm, my unshakable conviction, the essence of my unconcealed and explicit belief — a conviction and belief which the denizens of the Abha Kingdom fully share: The Blessed Beauty is the Sun of Truth, and His light the light of truth. The Báb is likewise the Sun of Truth, and His light the light of truth… My station is the station of servitude — a servitude which is complete, pure and real, firmly established, enduring, obvious, explicitly revealed and subject to no interpretation whatever… I am the Interpreter of the Word of God; such is my interpretation.”
(Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Baha’u’llah, p. 132)

Completing the confirmation of the promised arrival of a new Manifestation, the Universal House of Justice indicates in its Constitution that its authority is absolute until the coming of the new Manifestion of God:

“The provenance, the authority, the duties, the sphere of action of the Universal House of Justice all derive from the revealed Word of Bahá’u’lláh which, together with the interpretations and expositions of the Centre of the Covenant and of the Guardian of the Cause – who, after ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, is the sole authority in the interpretation of Bahá’í Scripture – constitute the binding terms of reference of the Universal House of Justice and are its bedrock foundation. The authority of these Texts is absolute and immutable until such time as Almighty God shall reveal His new Manifestation to Whom will belong all authority and power.”
(The Universal House of Justice, The Constitution of The Universal House of Justice, p. 4)

Until that time (of the next Manifestation), we have the bounty and wonderful responsibility of following the teachings of Baha’u’llah as interpreted by Abdu’l Baha, expounded by Shoghi Effendi, and applied to the challenges of today (for at least ten more centuries) by the Universal House of Justice.

This thought reminds me of a conversation with a friend on the bounty of having the Universal House of Justice send us annual Ridvan messages. But you can read about it yourself

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