It is well known that there is a difference between the Old Testament times and the New Testament times, but Swedenborg offers an incredibly concise understanding of the matter that helps one to internalize the goodness of the Lord in a wonderful way. It is truly a message of hope for it is part of the Good News.
The ‘renewal of all things,’ or the change between Old and New Testament times is the effect of the Glorification of Jesus and the redemption He provided. I have already described much about the redemption, so we will mostly focus on the glorification. When scripture writes that Jesus ‘drew all things unto himself,’ and that He is ‘the Alpha and Omega,’ it is describing the state of the new church, called the “church of the New Jerusalem” in Revelation. In the many places, where the Bible makes a comparison between the light of the moon and that of the sun, it is describing the difference between the Old and New Testament. For example, “In that day the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be sevenfold, as the light of seven days” (Isaiah 30:26). This refers to the renewal of light Jesus provided by purifiying his human body to such a degree that, in the resurrection, He entered the innermost of all things, which I will now elucidate. I will preface the quote below with the reminder that there are three levels of heaven: the celestial, the spiritual, and the natural. Below these is the world of nature. The ‘outmost of nature’ means the material things in the natural world.
“It has been told me from heaven, that in the Lord from eternity, who is Jehovah, before His assumption of a Human in the world, the two prior degrees (Celestial and Spiritual) existed actually, and the third degree potentially, as they do also with angels; but that after the assumption of a Human in the world, He put on over these the third degree, called the natural, thereby becoming Man, like a man in the world; but with the difference, that in the Lord this degree, like the prior degrees, is infinite and uncreated, while in angel and in man they are all finite and created. For the Divine which, apart from space, had filled all spaces (n. 69-72), penetrated even to the outmosts of nature; yet before the assumption of the Human, the Divine influx into the natural degree was mediated through the angelic heavens, but after the assumption it was immediate from Himself. This is the reason why all churches in the world before His Advent were representative of spiritual and celestial things, but after His Advent became spiritual-natural and celestial-natural, and representative worship was abolished. This also was the reason why the sun of the angelic heaven, which, as was said above, is the first proceeding of His Divine Love and Divine Wisdom, after the assumption of the Human shone out with greater effulgence and splendor than before the assumption” (DWL, 233).
This is a magnificent insight into the nature of the Lord and His relationship with humanity. It may be a lot for the reader to absorb the full significance of what is expressed here. Indeed, I believe it is truly understood when ones heart is filed with love and desire for the Lord – for it is then that the mind’s ability to perceive is elevated. Let us meditate for a moment on what this means.
When the Lord told the disciples that it is expedient that I accomplish my mission and die on the cross for then I will send you the Holy spirit, He is describing this situation: by dying and resurrecting He would enter the inmost of all things. When Isaiah says, “The light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun;” and John writes in Revelation, “The contenance of the son of man was as the sun shineth in his strength;” they mean that, after the resurrection, people are now able to receive light from the Lord in its fullness. After the resurrection, the Lord’s presence extends directly into all things, even into the material world. This is because he made his human body, itself, divine. He so purified his body by supreme acts of love and sacrifice from the divine within him that his human body rose into the spiritual world and merged with his divine essence. Only that which is divine can merge with the divine, for there can only be one divine by definition. His body on earth became His new divine human, and, by this act, He entered the innermost of all things. In the gospel, this is what is meant by ‘all things were drawn to him.’ (reference) Before the resurrection, there was an intermediate step by way of the representative church;. However, after the resurrection, all people in all places at all times are in direct relationship with the Lord – if they so choose. This is expressed in the words of David, “In his days shall the righteous flourish, and the abundance of peace until there is no longer any moon.” Every person has the opportunity to feel and perceive with greater enlightenment if they listen and make the effort. Because the Lord entered the whole (meaning the celestial, spiritual, and natural), light became exponentially brighter and more available. The communication between body and soul in everyone was saved and greatly increased. With light from the Lord comes greater creative activity, gifts of the spirit, and fulfillment.
I believe this situation is described by Paul in more detail in Ephesians, but, unless one meditates on the internal sense of it, the meaning is easy to pass by.
But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. Wherefore he saith, when he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.
(Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)
And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ:
That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive (Eph 7-14).
These passages refer to the releasing of the captives we talked about before, but they are also talking about the effects of Jesus’ glorified body entering the natural level, particularly where it says, “He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above the heavens, that he might fill all things.” Swedenborg writes that, with the extension of his presence into the lowest (natural and physical realm), there came a corresponding extension higher – higher than anything that had ever been before (which also means into the innermost). Thus, there was the exponential increase of light available to humanity after the resurrection: “the moon became as the sun” and “I am the alpha and Omega” both refer to his extension increasing to the lowest natural and and to the Highest. His extension into the material world and above is expressed in scripture in this way: “He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above the heavens.” To enter the natural means His presence entered the innermost of all things, and this extends out of the one mighty spiritual/natural reality that is the central event of all time, that is that Jesus made his human body divine. He took his human body, purified and perfected, into the spiritual world. For humanity, this meant that the representative church was abolished, and everyone now received heavenly light directly from the Lord. Everyone who chooses to can have a direct relationship with the Lord. This is the wondrous good news. The result of this is an expansion of creative uses and internal knowledge of God in heaven and earth. No longer did people have to receive light from the authority of the church or by indirect influx, but it was gained immediately from the Lord. On earth, change is always gradual, but one can nevertheless plainly see the expansion of the Lord’s presence on the earth in several events. It begins in the epiphany, when the disciples and thousands of people suddenly received the Holy Spirit; it continues with the early Christians, who were on fire with love – who live in a new community of brotherly love and are willing to suffer death gladly for their new faith; and it can be seen further in the rapid growth of Christianity on earth to many nations. The Ressurection marks the arrival of the Holy Spirit. One can see this in scripture. The Holy Spirit is not mentioned as existing until after the Resurrection, and during the Pentacost, the Lord breathes on the disciples and the Holy spirit is present.