Phillip Medhurst presents 037/788 James Tissot Bible c 1899 God renews his promises to Abraham Genesis 17:19 Jewish Museum New York. By (James) Jacques-Joseph Tissot, French, 1836-1902. Gouache on board.
The Spiritual Israel of Gnosis is symbolised in Revelation by the 12 stars crowning creation’s progenitrix Sophia (Revelation 12:1) – the faithful remnant of the “old” covenant – and by her child who, withdrawn from the world of carnality, is the ever-growing great crowd of adherents to the “new” covenant. The child’s sustenance is Scripture truly understood. The two witnesses – the Old Testament and New Testaments – were suppressed by a corrupt religion during the Constantinian apostasy (Revelation 11). No human institution can be an infallible depository of Truth; all religions are corrupted by carnal considerations. The Gnostic must turn to the lampstand of true light and the olive tree of its sustenance wherever it is to be found.
The new Exodus began in fact with Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Thus the “great crowd” carrying their palms (Revelation 7:9) are compared implicitly to the throng who acknowledged Jesus as the Messiah and hailed him as he embarked on the series of events which will saw him crucified by the false religion of Babylon (Revelation: 7:4-10, 14:1). The New Jerusalem is founded on both the “old” and the “new” covenants (Revelation 21:12-14): Gnostics of all ages of history are able to recognise that higher Truth and imperative which inevitably leads to martyrdom at the hand of those religious Powers-that-Be which, though unmasked by the knowledge of Truth inherent in the Gnostic, have a Protean ability to form new images of themselves to worship (Revelation 13:13).
The remnant saved by the “old” covenant is symbolised in Revelation by the 144,000 sealed; those saved by the “new” covenant in Jesus (who offers himself as a new Passover lamb and by so doing reveals his understanding of God’s plan, and is therefore alone worthy to open the seals hiding the scroll of history) is represented by the “great crowd” (Revelation 7:9). Both are symbolised by the 24 elders seen in the initial tableau beyond the door opened onto Heaven for John at the beginning of Revelation. The “old” covenants are brought about by physical movement from an old geographical place to a new one: to Ararat, Haran, Sinai, Gilgal and Jerusalem. The ”new” covenant is effected by Jesus’ physical passing into Heaven at his Ascension.