Baha’is believe that Bible prophecies have been fulfilled in the coming of Baha’u’llah. The reason that many Christians, Jews, and Muslims have failed to accept Baha’u’llah as the fulfillment of their prophesies is because the prophetic meanings were hidden. As the Bible says, “But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end…” (Daniel 12:4). Baha’is believe that God hides the meanings of such prophesies from humanity “…lest profane and mortal eyes discover His glory.” (Baha’u’llah, GWB, p. 74). It is the same for all prophetic fulfillments. For example, when Jesus arose in Israel to proclaim His Mission, only those Jews who were detached from old interpretations accepted Him. Those who were not detached were expecting a fulfillment of their imagination. They were expecting Jesus to be a king with an army that would deliver them from the Romans. When Jesus claimed to be the Messiah, they mocked Him with a crown of thorns and asked, “this is the king of the Jews?” (Mark 15:17)
In The Book of Certitude, written by Baha’u’llah, He lays out the way Baha’is interpret the fulfillment of prophesies, including Christian prophesies. In this book Baha’u’llah explains how passages like the following can be considered fulfilled, “Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and stars shall fall from heaven, and all the powers of the heavens shall be shaken, and then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven.” (Matthew 24:29). Baha’u’llah offered several explanations for this quote. In one explanation He wrote, “It is unquestionable that in every succeeding Revelation the ‘sun’ and ‘moon’ of the teachings, laws, commandments, and prohibitions which have been established in the preceding Dispensation, and which have overshadowed the people of that age, become darkened, that is, are exhausted, and cease to exert their influence.” (KI, p. 41)
The Bible also prophesies that the Son of Man will come back to Earth riding in the clouds when it says, “And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.” (Luke 21:27) For Baha’is, the prophesies of the clouds were not referring to physical clouds, but were metaphors for the clouds that blind humans from divinity. As Baha’u’llah explained, “These “clouds” signify, in one sense, the annulment of laws, the abrogation of former Dispensations, the repeal of rituals and customs current amongst men, the exalting of the illiterate faithful above the learned opposers of the Faith. In another sense, they mean the appearance of that immortal Beauty in the image of mortal man, with such human limitations as eating and drinking, poverty and riches, glory and abasement, sleeping and waking, and such other things as cast doubt in the minds of men, and cause them to turn away. All such veils are symbolically referred to as ‘clouds.’” (KI, p. 71).
These ‘clouds’ appeared in the time of Jesus as well. The Jews expected a fifty-foot tall, giant Messiah who would come down with an army and deliver them from the Romans. And so, many people denied Jesus because He appeared to be a meek and gentle man walking amongst them. They mocked Him and laughed at Him. This did not mean that Jesus was not divine. Baha’is believe that the ‘clouds’ of Jesus’ mortal appearance blinded many people from seeing the truth. Just as today, Baha’is believe that many people’s expectations are blinding them from Baha’u’llah.
Many Christians have trouble accepting the spiritual fulfillment of Christian prophesies. They have been told since childhood that a day would come when Jesus would ride down from the clouds accompanied by winged angels with harps. They have dreamed of this glorious, supernatural, cartoon-like scenario where the literal fulfillment of their prophecies plays out to the world. Unfortunately, they are falling for the same trap that the followers of Moses fell for. The followers of Moses did not accept Jesus because Jesus did not come from the lineage (Psalm 132:11) nor sit on the throne of King David (Amos 9:14-15), was not called Emmanuel (Matt 1:23, did not live forever and remain physically with the Jews (John 12:33-34), did not come from an unknown place (John 1:46), and that Elijah had not returned first as was promised (Malachi 4:5).
Baha’is believe that only a spiritual interpretation can explain these prophesies. And the Bible also upholds this view. The Bible says that John the Baptist was the return of Elijah (Matt 17:10-13). The Bible says that the unknown place was not literally Nazareth, but rather a station as a Messenger of God. (John 7:27-29). Baha’is believe the lineage of David was not literal, but a symbol that the same spiritual authority invested in King David was invested in Jesus Christ. Baha’is believe that Jesus’ message and example remained with the world after His death, and this is how He stays forever with us. Additionally, the name ‘Emmanuel’ means ‘God is with us,’ and the Bible interprets this reference as a title that can be applied to Jesus (Matt 1:25). Finally, the Apostles interpret the prophesies of the valleys being filled and mountains brought low (Isaiah 40:4-5) and the wonders in the heavens (Joel 2:31) as spiritually fulfilled (Luke 3:4-6 and Acts 2:14-21). Therefore, Christians might not discount the spiritual interpretations offered by Baha’u’llah of their own prophesies.
The reality for many Christians is that they have expected a literal fulfillment of prophesy for 2000 years. There was a period in our history, around 1844, when people from all over the world predicted the coming of the Day of Judgment. In the Middle East, many Muslim scholars had used numerology to predict that 1844 was the time for the coming of the twelfth Imam, or the Day of Judgment. These scholars set out throughout the lands, and gave up their homes, their families, and their possessions to find the Promised One. Some of these followers eventually found a young merchant, who called Himself The Báb (Gate). The Báb started an independent world religion whose sole purpose was to prepare mankind for ‘Him Whom God Shall Make Manifest (for Baha’u’llah), One who claimed to be the fulfillment of prophesy for all the world’s major religions.
Many Christians did not recognize that their Lord would come from the Middle East, even though the Bible told them it would be so, “For as the lightening cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” (Matthew 24:27). Some Christians argue that Baha’u’llah is not the same name as Jesus Christ, even though the Bible told them He would bring a new name, “and I will write upon him my new name.” (Rev 3:12). Some Christians deny Baha’u’llah because they say the New Jerusalem is supposed to come down from the clouds, even though the Bible says that it would not be like that, “The Kingdom of God cometh not with observation: neither shall they say, lo here! Or lo there! For behold, the Kingdom of God is within you.” (Luke 17:20). Some Christians say that prophesies were not ‘literally’ fulfilled. They did not think about the fact that for a star to fall from heaven, it would totally obliterate the earth; as stars are many times the size of the planet. The reality is that some things in the Bible are to be taken with a spiritual interpretation not literal, as it is written, “the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial another.” (I Corinthians 14:40).
Baha’is see the followers of Christ dealing with Baha’u’llah as the followers of Moses dealt with Jesus. They see this as a recurring theme throughout all religions and recognize that many of the arguments used by the Jews at the time of Christ, are exactly the same arguments that are used against Baha’u’llah by Christians. As mentioned, the Jews were expecting the Messiah to bring a mighty army to deliver them from the Romans. Instead, this lowly son of a carpenter claimed to be their Messiah. That is why they put a crown of thorns on His blessed head, to mock Him as the ‘King of the Jews.’ Today, many Christians expect someone to come down out of the clouds and deliver them to ultimate salvation. Baha’is believe that the precious return of their Lord has already taken place, ‘like a thief in the night’ (2 Peter 3:10) who comes and goes without the owner of the house ever knowing.