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Baha’is believe that God is omnipotent, omniscient, and the Ordainer and Creator of this material universe—but also that we human beings cannot have any direct knowledge of that Creator.
To every discerning and illuminated heart it is evident that God, the unknowable Essence, the Divine Being, is immensely exalted beyond every human attribute, such as corporeal existence, ascent and descent, egress and regress. Far be it from His glory that human tongue should adequately recount His praise, or that human heart comprehend His fathomless mystery. He is, and hath ever been, veiled in the ancient eternity of His Essence, and will remain in His Reality everlastingly hidden from the sight of men …
The door of the knowledge of the Ancient of Days being thus closed in the face of all beings, the Source of infinite grace … hath caused those luminous Gems of Holiness to appear out of the realm of the spirit, in the noble form of the human temple, and be made manifest unto all men, that they may impart unto the world the mysteries of the unchangeable Being, and tell of the subtleties of His imperishable Essence. – Baha’u’llah, The Book of Certitude, pp. 98-99.
Who are “those luminous Gems of Holiness?” Baha’u’llah called them the prophets and messengers of God:
These sanctified Mirrors, these Day-springs of ancient glory are one and all the Exponents on earth of Him Who is the central Orb of the universe, its Essence and ultimate Purpose. – Ibid., pp. 99-100.
We humans are blessed to be periodically visited by God’s “Gems of Holiness,” these spiritual messengers who come to tell us of His glory and bring His teachings. We mainly know them as the prophets and founders of the world’s great Faiths—Christ, Moses, Abraham, Krishna, Buddha, Muhammad and now Baha’u’llah. The Baha’i teachings say that every human civilization receives the word of God through a divine messenger, but that many of their names have been forgotten in the mists of ancient history. Many indigenous societies on Earth revere and remember their holy messengers, but as time moves on, the Baha’i teachings say, the Creator inevitably renews those messages: “The religion of God is one religion, but it must ever be renewed.” – Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 52.
Those holy messengers appear among us as fellow human beings, eating, drinking, and following our traditional customs, but distinguishable at the same time as they exhibit God’s holy attributes such as His love, generosity, forgiveness, trustworthiness, and so forth. Then, when the appointed hour arrives, they reveal the Creator’s message for that new “Day of God:”
… since there can be no tie of direct intercourse to bind the one true God with His creation, and no resemblance whatever can exist between the transient and the Eternal, the contingent and the Absolute, He hath ordained that in every age and dispensation a pure and stainless Soul be made manifest in the kingdoms of earth and heaven. Unto this subtle, this mysterious and ethereal Being He hath assigned a twofold nature; the physical, pertaining to the world of matter, and the spiritual, which is born of the substance of God Himself. – Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 66.
The Baha’i teachings explain how each prophet of God brings a primary spiritual message, consistent and unchanged among all the previous messengers of God, along with a secondary message that each messenger tailors to fit the circumstances and conditions of the people and the era of that religious dispensation. The secondary message varies to fit the times and conditions, which can then become the subsequent source of dispute and contention among the religions and their followers.
Abdu’l-Baha, the eldest son of Baha’u’llah and the true exemplar of his Faith for all Baha’is, provided us with another approach to gain a greater insight into the nature of God’s teachings. He explained that we humans all need an education, and without that education our advancement both as individuals and as a society would be impossible:
As to divine education, it is the education of the Kingdom and consists in acquiring divine perfections. This is indeed true education, for by its virtue man becomes the focal centre of divine blessings and the embodiment of the verse “Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness.” (Genesis 1:26) This is the ultimate goal of the world of humanity.
Now, we need an educator who can be at the same time a material, a human, and a spiritual educator, this his authority may have effect at every degree of existence. …
It is therefore clear and evident that man stands in need of an educator. …
… the universal Educator must be at once a material, a human, and a spiritual educator, and soaring above the world of nature, must be possessed of another power, so that He may assume the station of a divine teacher. – Abdu’l-Baha, Some Answered Questions, newly revised edition, pp. 9-12.
Those divine educators are the prophets and messengers of God who have guided humanity morally and spiritually throughout the course of our existence.