Revelation 8: The meaning of the Wondrous Silence Before the Judgment Began, and the Joy of the Multitude of Angels

February 27th, 2020

Revelation 8: “When He opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and to them were given seven trumpets. Then another angel, having a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, ascended before God from the angel’s hand. Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and threw it to the earth. And there were noises, thunderings, lightnings, and an earthquake”.

This verse must be the origin of the saying, ‘the calm before the storm’. The silence described proceeds the biggest, greatest, most wondrous and most devastating ‘storm’ that ever was. The storm was magnificent and terrible. What was about to happen were the many separate events that collectively are called the ‘apocalypse’, the ‘harvest time’, the ‘judgment’, the ‘release of the captives’, and the ‘second coming’. All of these events are described in the book of revelation and take place mostly in the spiritual world, but certainly effect the natural world. 

Present in this silence is the whole of heaven, and it’s general parts are signified. The Bible writes;  “And all the angels stood round about the throne, and the elders and the four animals”. Swedenborg tells that ‘angels stood round’ represents the deep union between the Lord with the whole heaven: “It is plain from the signification of standing round about the throne, as denoting conjunction with the Lord, for by Him Who sitteth on the throne and by the Lamb, is meant the Lord”. He further explains, “By ‘the angels’ are meant those who are in the first or lowest heaven; by ‘the elders’, those who are in the second or middle heaven; and by the ‘four animals’, those who are in the third or inmost heaven”.

The one who opened the seal is the ‘Lamb’ who is the Lord himself Jesus Christ. He is the only one who knows the truth about the innermost state of all people and nations, and thus gives perfect justice and judgment. He is the only one who could open the seal. As just described before him is not just the seven angels but the whole multitude of angels of heaven. To get an idea of the profound unity and joy of this multitude let us look at how Swedenborg describes the dynamics of  ‘a multitude of angels’. In spiritual experiences 356 he writes: 

“For much of the night…. a multitude of angels was around me, flowing in accordance with a heavenly pattern that cannot be described to the human understanding; still less can it be described how they move, and speak with one mouth, or with a unanimous voice. This was so perceptible within me, and indeed for so long a time uninterruptedly, that as they speak, nothing could be more clearly witnessed: I saw the pattern, I felt the flow, I heard the unanimity of voice. Each spirit is, and affirms that he is, part of the multitude, thus all together and each one singly…  Afterwards they told me that through the entire night, and several wakeful periods, they were doing nothing else but praising God the Messiah, and doing so with an innermost gladness of heart, so they had not wanted to be let out of that state.”

The ecstatic joy, the individual strength in identity, and the extraordinary delight in community expressed in this quote is astounding. He doesn’t mention the context of this quote, but one can only imagine it would be even greater during the incredible events of the second coming. The angels had been yearning and seeking for the Lord to bring justice to heaven and the world for a very long time and now it had come.

The ‘silence in heaven’ that followed the opening of the seals means there was awe and astonishment in the whole multitude. They were astonished at the power and majesty of Jesus, and at what He was about to do. The angels were given a perception of what was happening. In correspondences silence means an astonishment that comes from perception. Within this meaning is another, and that is the ‘quieting’ or silencing of ones own proprium. Proprium has to do with ones personal, selfish sense of self. In place of this comes in the knowing that all good comes from God and a submitting to it, and thus a receiving of it. In this there is an unspeakable joy, the true sense of self, and gladness for being ‘home’ in the magnificent presence of Jesus, and the community of angels who delight in the happiness of other more than themself.  

For centuries the angels yearned of Jesus to restore the integrity of Heaven, to release the captives held in the false of heavens below heaven, to bring justice to the evil perpetrators, and to enlighten the people of earth about the nature or heaven – and now with this silence they knew it was happening.

 

 

A Description of What An Apocalypse Really Is And How Evangelicals Misinterpret the Second Coming; And, How it Is that In Truth We Are Now In the Good News of the New Jerusalem

December 19th, 2019

“Therefore my people have gone into captivity, Because they have no knowledge; Their honorable men are famished,
And their multitude dried up with thirst. Therefore Sheol has enlarged itself. And opened its mouth beyond measure”. (Isaiah 5: 13,14)

A time of Loss of equilibrium, otherwise known as an apocalypse, has happened three times in history – at the flood in the time of Noah, before and at the Incarnation of Jesus, and at the time of the second coming. These are times of true apocalypse, because once the imbalance begins to go toward evil there is no power to stop it, other than God. In these times it’s amazing to see how God follows his own rules of divine order, meaning there has to be a process of how to overcome the problem in the natural and the spiritual world in tandem. God corrected it differently each time.
Loss of Equilibrium is when accumulation of evil becomes greater than that of good in the natural and spiritual world. In this condition to the degree there is an imbalance there is a measure of loss of freedom for man, which is a horrible thing. The imbalance is always toward evil because evil is always the initiator and aggressor of attack. In normal circumstances, (by normal I mean when there is equilibrium), neither demons or angels can compel a person toward heaven or hell; they can influence and persuade but they cannot violate free will. In the disequilibrium evil gains the ability to be able to compel people to evil which is the cause of the horror of a time of Apocalypse. Once disequilibrium starts it will only increase for it is the eternal desire of hell to destroy mankind and turn them into demons. Human beings by themselves cannot fight the arts of hell in a disequilibrium, only the power and love and presence of God can help one fight it. Those who are in this love can be protected. Our acknowledgement of Him and our love of Him receives His presence within. The relationship between God and man is reciprocal in this way.
In the centuries before Christ there was a long decline in the Jewish religion that resulted in dire separation from God. In the accumulating darkness, as people died and entered the spiritual world, evil spirits intercepted even the good through artful deceptions and led them into the cities of their false heaven. This caused an overabundance toward the evil realm. These false heavens with their deceptive leaders were bringing good people to their side in great abundance. (Apparently most of these in their heart did not become evil, but were controlled and manipulated by evil. I think God knew their heart and protected because it was the just thing to do.) Those in the real heaven were greatly distressed that good people were deceived and held in these cities. They lamented the loss and beseeched the Lord to release them. Swedenborg describes how the leaders of these cities sometimes posed as religious leaders, or even family members to persuade people to their side. These pseudo-heavens were below heaven in the world of spirits. The spirits who were held in these false heavens are known in the Bible as the captives, which I have written about more on my blog. The over-accumulation of spirits (people who have died) in these cities of pseudo-heavens caused a dark cloud, as it were, between heaven and earth. Understanding this is key because it is a significant part of the process that caused disequilibrium. The increasing cities of the false heaven actually obstructed the reception of heavenly influx to humanity on earth, thus accelerating darkness. This is what is meant by “Sheol has enlarged itself and opened its mouth beyond measure.” As the false heavens grew larger, the dark cloud of interference between heaven and earth grew greater. The less heavenly light there was for humanity on earth, the more power evil gained. Here is another verse that refers to the loss of equilibrium between heaven and hell: “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (John 6:12). This verse refers to a battle and evil forces infiltrating and occupying ‘high places,’ meaning heaven. As the forces of evil grew, they were like a marauding army ransacking the first levels of heaven, and taking residence; constantly deceiving the people in the world of spirits and the angels in the lower heaven in a thousand horrid ways. Matthew describes this when he says, “And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force” (Mat. 11:12).

But here is the great good news. The second coming has been accomplished. We are now in the ‘Church of the New Jerusalem’ that is spoken of in Revelation. In accomplishing the second coming the Lord promised He would never allow a disequilibrium to happen again. What is so significant about this is that it profoundly impacts our Christian world view. Many evangelicals feel and predict that there is still an apocalypse to come, the events of the millennium and all that implies could come any time. This expectation involves a great deal of gloom and doom. It is often preached that terrible, dark times are to come, that Christ is to come back on the earth and lead a great parade on a white horse, and the chosen will be raised to heaven and so on. (In reality the ‘chosen being raised to heaven’ refers to the great joy of the captives who the Father released from the false heavens – this is known as the harvest time). But for hundreds of years and still now-a-days people are constantly conjecturing that so and so was, or is the anti-Christ, and various world events are ‘signs of the millennium’. Some say Hitler was the anti-Christ. Now liberals say Trump is, and conservatives say Obama was, but none of this is the case.
In the Church of the New Jerusalem the state of things is that there is great good news, but there is no free ride. The good news is Christ is present to us directly and immediately and He will never not be so. There is no coming apocalypse. The difficult news is that this world of earth-life is always in the balance between good and evil. As I have said many times before, in this world we suffer and have joy and learn, because we are in freedom, and we need to be reformed and repentant to remove evil inclination in us. Freedom is the double-edged sword that is both the means of salvation and the cause of hell! This life is both amazingly wonderful and one hell of a bitch. Hell cannot compel us and heaven can’t give us a free ride. In today’s world there is a lot of genuine charity in the church, and there is also a lot of falsity, ill-will, and alienation in the world. We have the Trump movement, and we have the globalist/socialist movement battling it out. That’s the nature of equilibrium, it goes up and down, and all around, but we’re are still free working things out. We are protected by Christ – should we choose to accept it. In that we can always trust!

How God Maintains Human Freedom; And Why it Cannot Be But that There Is an Equilibrium Between Good and Evil in the Universe

September 9th, 2019
There is an equilibrium between good and evil in the universe, and this is true in every detail and particular. For every good society in heaven there is a counter and opposite evil society in hell. Both heaven and hell have innumerable gradations and each particular one is the opposite polarity of its counterpart. At the same time, it is entirely true that God is never less than pure Good, love and wisdom. It is difficult to understand how these are both true, but a worthwhile study to be able to articulate to our self how it is so.
I think the answer lies in following the implication of the following (mind bending) principle to its end: God is omnipotent and omnipresent AND, at the same time, God follows his own laws of divine order.
 
To begin God did not create evil. The existence of evil is inevitable with freedom. (This is what the story of the fall is about). Man is the cause of evil. It is important to embrace the truth that God is never anything less than pure love and wisdom. It is abhorrent to even think that the divine could think, create, or be evil. If God were to do evil for an instant the universe would cease to exist – similar to the way in a sun, once it begins to produce iron in its core it is mere seconds away from exploding. God sustains the whole of the universe every moment by his might alone with the same power it took to create the universe. Understanding that God is never less than love seems to be very elusive for many people, but it is extremely important. In Him is infinite variety, infinite wisdom, and infinite love. God is self-contained, and has no need but one, and that is to be of use to mankind.
 
Man can only be man, that is, he can only have a self if he is in freedom, and freedom inherently includes the possibility of willing evil – there is no escaping this reality. So as shown in the story of the fall man abused freedom, and it gradually came to be that there is an equilibrium between good and evil and between heaven and hell. Heaven and hell can both influence man, but neither can compel man, for if they were to compel the will of man that would compromise freedom. Many people choose evil. So evil is caused by man, not God, but God allows it so that man can have life. Man’s life exists by virtue of forming a ruling love that he freely chooses. An important scripture that speaks to the inevitability of equilibrium in the universe and our choice in determining our place is this: “Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!” The first rule to receiving God is to resist evil. To the degree we reject evil we can receive God and His good. Without strife we cannot appreciate harmony, without ugliness we cannot appreciate beauty, without conflict there is no story. There must be contrast and variety for there to be life, growth, and perception. Contrast and variety provide the vitality in life. If everything were monotone, as in a white-out, or black-out, there would be no perception or individual identity.
 
This is why it is inherent to the life of humanity that it can not be otherwise but that there is good and evil; but the most essential reason there is equilibrium between heaven and hell is that freedom is the fulcrum upon which the life, self-hood, and the salvation of man depends. Freedom is both the means of salvation and the cause of hell. Human freedom stands upon the point of perfect balance between good and evil, and God alone maintains this balance point with his infinite might. If one or the other were to begin to increase in power above the other freedom would be compromised and man’s self-hood would be lost. Man’s freedom is a sacred law of divine order, for humans have no existence without it. Three times in history hell began to over-run heaven; at the time of Noah, the advent of Jesus, and in the second coming. Each time God had a plan and by his might alone corrected it.
 
It is an important to see that Human salvation completely depends on freedom. In grasping this we can look to a simple truth that we all know and experience, and that is, that to have a friend, or to be in love with someone, we know it must be mutual; both parties must agree to the bond. In the same way the relationship between man and God is reciprocal; it is not possible for humans to bond with God unless we act in freedom from the love from our own will. He is always turned to us, and, as He said, ‘we must turn to Him’. In love and awareness; love is of the will, and awareness of the mind – they are the heat and light that forge the bond between humans and God.
 
Nevertheless, the last thing this equilibrium means is that good and evil can be relativized. Good and evil are opposite and utterly abhorrent. This is why in the spiritual world heaven and hell are completely separate and cannot mix. But here on earth we are in the midst of good and evil. The truth that they are in equilibrium does not take away from the terrible consequences of evil choices in life. This is what is meant by the statement, ‘woe to that man by whom the offence cometh.’ In the battle between good and evil, it is paramount that we favor the good in our heart. Whether it bears fruit or not, we must still try for God knows our heart and our salvation depends on it.
 
Furthermore, it is helpful to see that it is a universal truth that nothing can exist unless it is in equilibrium. (This is a huge subject I have written about on my blog, so I wont say much about it here, but it is essential to this subject, so will say a little.) Equilibrium is true of the sun; it is true of an atom, and everything in between and beyond. The reason equilibrium is universal is that it is the nature of God. In God it is called the Holy marriage, which is between His divine human and soul. The natural creation that most corresponds to God is the sun. The sun is a raging equilibrium between the force of gravity and nuclear fusion in its core, that results in a sphere. The nature of God is union. The truth that God follows his own define laws is a paradox of the nature of union in him, i.e., He is the creator and sustainer of man’s freedom and He will not violate man’s freedom. We see this in the Gospel many times, for instance when He tells Peter to put away his sword at His arrest: “Don’t you know I could bring down legions of angels to destroy my enemies?” But He doesn’t because He knows Man can only be transformed in freedom, and does not transgress this. God made his human divine, and the two are one in union, and this is the fountain from which all life springs. So everything that exists in order to exist no matter how big or small is in a state of equilibrium. This is an expression of how all things repeat the form of that which created it.
 
Now having said all this, the best way to see how life is a battle between good and evil is to look in our self, in the problems of those around us, in history, in politics today, and at the books of the Bible.

Part 3: Reflections on Secrets of the Second Coming

April 22nd, 2016

It is well known that in the age of reason and the enlightenment came an explosion of scientific breakthroughs and understanding. With the opening of internal reflection there naturally comes increased rational thinking and scientific awareness. This fact of history is propheceid in the Bible concerning the second coming, but it is little known and can hardly be seen without an understanding of correspondences. In the following quote Swedenborg describes first, the need for the opening of the internal sense, and second, how correspondences from the prophecies of Isaiah show how it is that with the opening of the internal sense came increased rational and scientific understanding:

“It is asserted in the Church that the Word is holy, because Jehovah the Lord spoke it; but since its holiness is not apparent in the sense of the Letter alone, any one who begins to doubt its holiness on that account, confirms his doubts by many things he afterwards reads in the Word, for he says to himself, “Is this holy? Is this Divine?” Accordingly, lest such thoughts should enter the minds of many and ultimately prevail…and the Lord’s conjunction with man be thereby cut off, it has pleased the Lord at this time to reveal its spiritual sense, in order that it may be known where within it its Divine holiness lies concealed. Some examples may be given to illustrate this. In the Word mention is sometimes made of Egypt, Assyria, Edom, Moab, the children of Ammon, the Philistines, Tyre, Sidon, and Gog. Any one who does not know that by these names are signified things of heaven and the Church may erroneously conclude that the Word treats much of peoples and nations, and but little of heaven and the Church, thus much of worldly and little of heavenly things. When he knows, however, what is signified by these peoples or by their names, he may be led from error to the truth.
We read in Isaiah: “In that day shall there be a highway out of Egypt to Assyria, and the Assyrian shall come into Egypt, and the Egyptian into Assyria; and the Egyptians shall serve with the Assyrians. In that day shall Israel be the third with Egypt and with Assyria, even a blessing in the midst of the land: Whom JEHOVAH ZEBAOTH shall bless, saying, Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel mine inheritance.” xix. 23-25.
These words, in the spiritual sense mean that at the time of the Lord’s Coming the scientific, the rational, and the spiritual shall become one, and the scientific shall serve the rational, and both shall serve the spiritual; for, as has been said, by Egypt is meant the scientific principle, by Assyria the rational, and by Israel the spiritual. By the day, twice mentioned, is meant the First and the Second Coming of the Lord” (A. C. n. 200)..

I cannot prove that these meanings ascribed to Egypt, Assyria, and Israel by correspondences are true. I could show, as I did on the subject of clouds, how it is that these meanings are consistent throughout the scriptures and how they are coherent with the rest of the Bible, but I will not here. One can only truly come to see it by the self-desire to understand. Love and desire when they are strong enough elevate the understanding to see, and to put in the effort to see. This scripture shows us that with the opening of the internal comes a great sense of self agency and wonder. It describes accurately the kind of thinking that men Like Decarte, Spinoza, and Newton were suddenly (in history) inspired to propound to the world. The opening of the internal increases the reflective faculty; it increases the desire and ability to examine ourself and our world – ideally for the sake of spiritual growth. Swedenborg writes that ‘at the time of the Lord’s coming the scientific, the rational, and the spiritual shall become one’, clearly showing that with the opening of the internal comes the seeking of integration and wholeness. Separate they are good for the development of the mind, which is developmentally necessary but alone remain natural. The ability to relate one to the other, to see how one principle leads to and makes the other meaningful brings deeper and more whole understanding. In his time, the time of the second coming, Swedenborg articulated a very well developed spiritual psychology that was unheard of in the world, and like Swedenborg other philosophers, notably Decarte and Spinoza, were scientific thinkers that deeply explored the psychological and spiritual make-up of man. They famuosly debated and published leading theories on the body-mind-spirit relationship in man. Newton, the giant of pure science, also practiced alchemy a great deal, an art based partly in science, partly in spirit and magic. Certainly in history there have been other periods of spiritual wonders, but our point here is that in the centuries before the enlightenment there was a long decline, then a sudden renewal, which is the second coming. When we look at the timeline of history the increase in knowledge in the last 200 years since the second coming there have been phenomenal advances in science, and in our ability to exercise self agency in religion and spirituality.
The quote from Isaiah above concerning the correspondential meaning of Assyria, Egypt and Israel gives the reader a glimpse of how profound and universal correspondences are; thousands of such examples could be given from the Bible and we would only be beginning.
Swedenborg’s role in the second coming was essential to, and directly commissioned by, the Lord. His particular purpose was to bring to the world, by publication, the understanding of the inner sense of the Word. In this sense, he was the primary agent of the second coming on earth. He is not the second coming; he was merely the primary agent of its communication. The second coming is the light of the Lord being made available in its fullness for the understanding and liberty of humanity, and this was received and communicated by many men and woman that received and shared this light in thousands of creative ways. But these latter did not receive a direct commissioning of the Lord in the way that Swedenborg did.
When people think of the second coming they expect a magical, extraordinary, supernatural event, but as we all know from life the Lord works within the regular processes of life; He works from within the natural world, from the internal to the natural. In this sense it seems less than what religious people hoped for, but in fact we have the ability now to deeply engage the Word, where there is a great sense of wonder, and joy, as if we had found a great treasure – for we have. This had been lost in the centuries before 1757. Swedenborg famously said to the world, “It is now permitted to enter the mysteries”. This is the essence of the second coming. And as I have shown the enlightenment was a sudden unprecadented development in history. It was an explosion of spiritual and scientific awareness in the world. It is so by the will, the providence, the wisdom, and the Mercy of the Lord. Without it we would have declined into an abysmal darkness for once again there had grown separation between God and man because of the failure of religion.

Jesus could ‘come’ the second time in the Word – because He is the living Word! When He resurrected He fully entered the natural and fully became the living Word, because all the universal truths in Him that have unlimited depth are expressed in the Word. I described in the chapter on the Glorification that He became the divine truth of the Word by fulfilling all prophecy; (one becomes what they do). Prophecy is divine truth From God (Jehovah) and by fulfilling all prophecy while on earth by the might of His divine soul He established union between Himself, the Word, heaven and earth. All of this takes place by correspondences, which are living because they connect to heaven, and everything in heaven is alive in the truest sense. The Lord’s human corresponds to the literal sense of the Word, and His divine soul corresponds to the internal of the Word. Since He is the living Word, which is commonly known by Christians, why should it be considered odd by Christians that the second coming of Jesus was accomplished by the revealing of the internal sense of the Word? In the beginning of John the Bible tells us plainly that He is in the Word: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…That was the true light which gives light to every man coming into the world” (John 1:1,2..9). And in Matthew He says, “Take my yoke upon you, learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart” (Mat. 11:29). All generations are meant to learn of Him in the Word. Again in Luke on the road to Emmaus Jesus teaches His companions: “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.” Swedenborg reveals that in the highest sense of the internal sense of the Word, the celestial sense, the whole of Holy scripture is about the development and life of Jesus in all its detail. By correspondences the Old Testament stories contain a celestial sense that tells the story of the Lord’s development from childhood up to the beginning of His ministry. (The Gospels of course tell the story of his ministry). This may seem wonderous and far out to the reader, but Swedenborg reveals throughout his writing. In truth it only makes sense, for if Jesus is the living Word it follows that He is so in every detail. To see this requires a deep study of the Word and Swedenborg. I mention it here to give the reader a further sense of how it is that He is truly in the word and that He is the living word.
Even though His presence is available to us spiritually and in the Word, we are in the natural world, and this world is always in the balance between good and evil. Nothing is handed to us on a silver platter; we are meant to fight the fight of finding internal meaning in life as we grow. The Lord provides freedom and leaves us in freedom to do so, but is unceasingly urging us to be in relationship with Him.
I mentioned above that Swedenborg’s role is primary in the second coming; it is so for two reasons. For the last thirty years of his life, he was given the great gift of being raised into the light of heaven; in this capacity he travelled the realms of heaven so that he could communicate to humanity the wisdom of heaven. The degree to which he did this is unprecedented in all of history. Secondly, he was taught by revelation from the Lord the internal sense of the Word in enormous detail. Only Swedenborg taught the principle of correspondences to the world, and correspondences is the most direct expression of the internal sense. He published many volumes about, or using correspondences. He was commissioned by the Lord to publish what he learned from heaven, and he did so with tireless dedication. Here is a quote from Swedenborg explaining the nature of his role:

Since the Lord cannot manifest Himself in Person, and yet has foretold that He would come and establish a New Church, which is the New Jerusalem, it follows that this will be effected by means of a man, who is able not only to receive the doctrines of that into his understanding, but also to publish them by the press. I testify in truth that the Lord manifested Himself to me His servant, and sent me to this office; and that afterwards He opened the sight of my spirit, and so intermitted me into the spiritual world, and has granted me to see the heavens and the hells…from the first day of that calling I have not received anything whatever relating to the doctrines of that church from any angel, but from the Lord alone, while I was reading the Word. (True Christian Religion, n. 779,780)
I am there with the angels daily, even as I am in the world with men, and now for twenty-seven years (I N C 43). Things which I have learned from symbolic displays, visions, and conversations with spirits and angels, are only from the Lord. Whenever there was a symbolic display, vision and conversation, I was kept reflecting upon them inwardly and more inwardly to see what useful and good purpose [they could serve], thus what I was learning from them. Those who were presenting the displays and visions, and those who were speaking, were not paying much attention to my reflection, and in fact, they were sometimes indignant when they realized that I was reflecting. So consequently, I was taught by no spirit, neither by any angel, but by the Lord Alone, from Whom is all truth and goodness (S.D. 1647).
The spiritual sense of the Word has been disclosed by the Lord through me, which has never before been revealed since the Word was written among the sons of Israel: the Lord Himself is in this sense with His Divine, and in the natural sense with His Human. Not a single iota in this sense can be opened except by the Lord alone. This surpasses all the revelations that have hitherto been made from the creation of the world. By means of this revelation a communication has been opened between men and the angels of heaven, and conjunction of the two worlds has been effected (I N C 44).

In all history, have bolder words been spoken?

Part 2: The Second Coming Is the Revealing of the Internal Sense of the Word, wherein Christ Is

August 27th, 2015

This article is a continuation of part 1 on the second coming. Now we will begin to look at what the second coming means and how it took place in history. Here is an essential quote from Swedenborg by personal witness of the events.

It was granted me to see from beginning to end how the last judgment was accomplished: and also how the Babylon was destroyed (Rev. xviii); how those who understood by the dragon were cast into the abyss: and how the new heaven was formed; and a new church was instituted in the heavens, which is meant by the New Jerusalem. It was granted me to see all these things with my own eyes, in order that I might be able to testify to them. This last judgment was commenced in the beginning of the year 1757, and was fully accomplished at the end of that year (Last Judgment 45,46).

What then does the second coming essentially consist of? This can only be understood when one has a feel for the divine nature of the Word, and particularly for its internal and external sense, (which we have discussed previously). The second coming of Christ is essentially the revealing of the internal sense of the Word. The internal sense is what gives the Word the power to conjoin heavenly wisdom to earth, and Jesus is the living Word. Jesus is the living Word because the Word is the manifestation of divine truth descended down from heaven, of which Jesus, the divine human, is the source. This is accomplished by correspondences. When the Scripture says He will come with power and glory riding on the clouds on a white horse, it does not mean literally that He will appear in a cloud and be riding a horse. ‘Riding on clouds’ represents the literal sense of the Word, ‘coming in power and glory’ means the internal sense of the Word, and the horse represents the ability to understanding the Word. This interpretation of riding on clouds as the literal sense of the word may seem capricious to some readers; so in this case I will provide a quote that will show several examples of where ‘riding on clouds’ appears in scripture to serve as an example how imagery themes are repeated in the Bible. It is worth noting first, that, in general, the literal correspondent is always an image of the spiritual correspondent with some variations on the theme depending on the situation. In the case of clouds the literal sense arizes from the way clouds obscure the light from the sun and protect from its direct light. The literal image is a comparatively pale image of the internal; it is a lesser degree of it, but it is also a container and protector of the internal meaning. Niether can exist without the other. It is necessary that it be this way, because the internal is sacred and in its pure light needs to be protected from abuse. This is similar to the purpose of parables in that parables are a simple story with a deeper, obscured meaning, and they are meant to seed the reciever for later harvest. The sacred nature of the internal is meant to be approached with deep respect and sincerity, so the literal protects it from those who would profane and abuse it. Through this mechanism the Lord providentially guides people for their own protection until they are ready. The following quote from Swedenborg lists several places in scripture where clouds appear with the same meaning as told above; he also teaches in this quote how correspondents come from realities in heaven:

‘There is none like unto the God of Jeshurun who rideth in the heaven, and in magnificence upon the clouds’ (Deut. 33:26-27). ‘Sing unto God, praise His name; extol Him that rideth upon the clouds’ (Ps. 68:4). ‘Jehovah rideth upon a light cloud’ (Isa. 19:1). “To ride” signifies to instruct in Divine truths from the Word, for “a horse” signifies understanding of the Word (see Apocalypse Revealed, n. 298). Who does not see that God does not ride upon the clouds? Again: ‘God rode upon cherubs. He made His pavilion thick clouds of the heavens’ (Ps. 18:10, 11). ‘Jehovah bindeth up the waters in His clouds; Him spreadeth His cloud over His throne’ (Job 26:8, 9). ‘Give ye strength unto God; His strength is in the clouds’ (Ps. 68:34). ‘Jehovah will create over every dwelling of Mount Zion a cloud by day; for over all the glory shall be a covering’ (Isa. 4:5). The Word in the sense of the letter was also represented by the cloud in which Jehovah descended upon Mount Sinai, when He promulgated the law; the principles of the law that were then promulgated were the first fruits of the Word. As further proof, the following may also be added: In the spiritual world as well as in the natural world there are clouds, but from a different origin. In the spiritual world there are sometimes bright clouds over the angelic heavens, but dusky cloud over the hells. The bright clouds over the angelic heaven signify obscurity there arising from the literal sense of the Word; but when these clouds are dispersed, it signifies that they are in the clear light of the Word from the spiritual sense; while the dusky clouds over the hells signify the falsification and profanation of the Word. This signification of “clouds” in the spiritual world has its origin in the fact that the light which there goes forth from the Lord as a sun, signifies Divine truth; for which reason He is called “the Light” (John 1:9; 12:35).

In the big picture at the time of the second coming the psuedo heavens that had built up in the spiritual world were ‘clouds’ that obscured light from humanity on earth. The Catholic, protestant and Muslim religions had become bereft of real charity, and greatly falsified in doctrine, and the psuedo heavens were composed of these. The spiritual state of humanity had again reached a crisis point because of the decline and corruptions in the Christian church. This time, in the second coming, His coming was accomplished by the opening up of the internal sense of the Word, which as shown is meant by Him ‘riding in the clouds in power and glory’. This opening up was a result of the Lord putting all of heaven and hell into Divine order. He could not do it before because even if he had humanity would not be able to receive it. The reason being that the life of the human mind, soul and body are sustained continually by reception from the spiritual world, specifically, from angels and spirits from the spiritual world that are present with us. We are not cognitive of this, but without heaven in order evil spirits would snatch away internal truths. Earth and heaven are in a symbiotic relationship; it is dangerous for humanity to receive divine truths unless the spiritual world is in order. After He performed the judgement in the spiritual world on the false heavens imposed by corupted Christians, and thus put all heaven and hell in order, the internal sense of the Word was gradually introduced to humanity. With the removal of the dark cloud between heaven and earth people could receive and retain understanding of the internal sense.

Now lets look at the second coming in history. According to what I have presented here we first need to show that religion on earth was in a declined state before 1757. I will not do an in depth study of history showing the corruptions of the Catholic and protestant churches for that would be another book of its own. I will simply demonstrate the principles by which these churches became corrupt, and from this one can look and see it in history. I will also show how it is referenced in scripture.

Babylon in the book of revelation refers to the old Catholic church. Many scholars have proposed this and Swedenborg asserts it is the truth (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whore_of_Babylon). He also presents that the Dragon refers to the coruptions of the protestant church which I will present after. Below is Swedenborg’s summery of the state of the catholic church leading up to the second coming (which he here calls the papists). Swedenborg was writing this around 1758 and it refers to the old catholic church from somewhere about the 1400 to 1800. It does not refer to the present day Catholic church, but there are of course remants of these characteristics.

In third article I will describe how the Old Catholic church is Babylon in the Bible.

Analysis of the Falsity of the Doctrine of Salvation of Faith Alone, Its effect in History and Today

August 24th, 2015

 

It is important now to take a look at the corruptions of the protestant or reformed churches. In The Bible just as Babylon referred to the declined state of the Catholic Church, the Dragon refers in general to the violations of the Protestant church at their end state. The primary corruption Swedenborg points out over and over in his writing is the doctrine of salvation by faith alone. This doctrine goes hand in hand with the doctrine that the sins of humanity were washed away or atoned in a unilateral way by ‘the blood of Christ shed on the cross’ meaning that He removed the sins of humanity by His sacrifice. As I have shown above the internal meaning of this phrase and many like it refers to the redemption the Lord provided by subjugating the hells and restoring equilibrium; it does not mean that Jesus removed the sins from the body and soul of persons or humanity. As I have also shown before it is not possible for God or man to remove sins from another; the removing of sins or hereditary evil is entirely a reciprocal process by which man is regenerated under the providence of the Lord. On its face value this doctrine allows that a person can live as they wish, and at the end confess belief in the Lord and be saved. This was a corruption of religion that caused the decline and externalization of the church from the reformation to 1758. It still goes on today but much light has been added to it since then. From the beginning this doctrine was untenable and many justifications have been formulated to reconcile it to the rest of scripture. Today, by these reconciliations the teeth has been taken out of it, but nevertheless, as a doctrine it is fiercely held on to by evangelical churches. The way this doctrine is reconciled are several and varied and too confusing to site here (although Swedenborg does exactly that in ‘Apocalypse Explained’ 786). Here is scripture from Revelation about the dragon which I will examine:

 And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority. And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast. And they worshiped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshiped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him? And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months. And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven (Revelation).

Swedenborg describes the correspondence of how salvation by faith alone and the dragon are linked:

And they worshiped the dragon which gave authority unto the beast, signifies the acknowledgment of salvation and justification by faith alone, established and corroborated by these devised modes of conjunction, and thus received in doctrine. This is evident from the signification of “to worship,” as being to acknowledge and revere as Divine, and thus to receive in doctrine that is for the church; for such as acknowledge the Divine and from such acknowledgment revere it, these worship it, and also receive it in doctrine which is for the church. Also from the signification of “the dragon,” as being those who are in faith separated from charity in doctrine and in life. It is said that the dogma of salvation and justification by faith alone is established and corroborated by devised modes of conjoining it with good works; but it must be understood that this doctrine can in no way be established and corroborated by such means, for this dogma is meant by “the dragon,” and the confirmation of it by reasonings from the natural man is represented by this “beast;” and “the dragon and its beast” signify what is discordant with the Word and cannot be conjoined with it (AE, 789).

The beast coming up out of the sea,” signifies the reasonings of the dragon from the natural man confirming the separation of faith from life, and “the beast coming up out of the earth” signifies the confirmations of the dragon from the sense of the letter of the Word, and the falsification of it. That the dragon is also meant by the two beasts, is evident from its being said that “the dragon gave to the beast coming up out of the sea his power and his throne and great authority “(Apocolypse Explained, 774).

The dragon refers to the spiritual warfare of the evil ones that infiltrate religion and seek to take the soul out of it by confirming falsities in the hearts and minds of the leaders and the people. The fact that the doctrine of salvation by faith entrenched itself in the protestant church was a triumph of evil. This doctrine began with Luther’s effort to separate from the Catholic church. There was much good in his leadership to break from the Catholic Church and its corruptions, but in this effort to distinguish and separate the reformed church from the Catholic church he strategically hit upon the doctrine of faith alone. But by separating faith and charity the essence of the spirituality of religion is removed and it becomes external. It is significant to understand why it is that the separation of faith and charity is so damaging to the individual and to religion, but this is not to say by any means that those who believe this doctrine are going to hell or anything of the sort. As I mentioned even those who profess this do not really live by it, but usually apply the rest of religion to life. (I will put out another article soon that about the spiritual and devotional value of the union of love and wisdom (faith and charity) to life and religion). The point here is to see how this doctrine itself is false, its historical effect, and that God has providentially worked  around it to a large extent. My desire is certainly not to pile on against religion and cause others to leave it, but I feel that if we can accurately as possible define its points of failure we can reconcile our feelings about it and deepen our faith. For now the following quote explains the essential nature of the marriage of faith and charity; it also harkens back to the spirituality that we receive from the sun referred to earlier in this blog:

In their radiation heat and light (from the natural sun) become separated, as is shown by the things on which they act, some of which receive more heat and some more light. This is particularly true of people, for in this case the light of life, which is intelligence, is separated from the heat of life, which is love. This is because a person needs to be reformed and regenerated, which is impossible unless the light of life, which is intelligence, shows what ought to be willed and loved. It should, however, be known that God is constantly working to link love with wisdom in a person, though he, unless he looks to God and believes in Him, is constantly working to separate them. In so far as these two are separated in a person, so far does he become an image of Lucifer and the Dragon, and is cast down from heaven to earth, and then into hell beneath the earth.
When spiritual heat, which is love, is separated from spiritual light, which is wisdom, charity is separated from faith. Then the enticements of the love of evil, which are in themselves longings, burst forth, untamed and unrestrained by intelligence, but rather fostered, pampered and nourished by it. In short, the separation of love and wisdom, or charity and faith, the two things God constantly strives to link, is, to use a comparison, like depriving a face of redness, so producing a pallor as of death; or taking the whiteness away from redness, which makes the face like a blazing torch. It is also like destroying the bond of marriage between a couple, so that the wife becomes a prostitute and the husband an adulterer.

It is fascinating and important to see how this doctrine operates in and from history. With this knowledge on can see the effects in modern churches. It is important to see because this is the source of many problems unchurched people have with religion, particularly of the evangelical style. The following quote is an exceptionally astute analysis of how this doctrine lingers and limits the genuine expression of faith for many people.

 

That faith alone, or faith separated from goods in act, which are good works, is not possible, is evident from this, that the essence of faith is charity, and charity is the affection of doing the things that belong to faith; consequently faith without charity is like thought without affection; and as thought without affection is no thought, so faith without charity is no faith. Therefore to speak of faith without charity is to speak of life without a soul, of form without that which forms, of a product without that which produces, and of an effect without a cause; and for this reason faith alone is a nonentity; and from a nonentity to produce good works, as a good tree produces fruits, is a contradiction, whereby what is believed to be something is not anything. Because faith without charity is not possible; and yet the thought and persuasion that a thing is so appears as if it were faith, and is called faith; but it is not saving faith, it is historical faith, because it is from the mouth of another. For one who believes anything from another whom he thinks worthy of belief, and who receives this, stores it in his memory, and from the memory thinks and speaks about it without seeing whether it be false or true, has no other hold upon it than as something historical. But if he confirms this in himself by appearances from the Word and by reasonings, from historical faith it becomes to him persuasive faith, which faith is like the sight of an owl, which sees objects in darkness and nothing in the light.

 

Very few people understand this, but many have expressed their deep dissatisfaction with the church because of this phenomenon of having hollow doctrine forced upon them. In the above quote Swedenborg gives voice to the source of this problem. People want genuine faith, and of course many find it, but this historical faith too often gets in the way either by entrenching itself in the church or turning people off to the church. Historical faith comes from tradition, from ‘the mouths of others’. Internal faith is the sweet stuff. Those in power of evangelical churches are taught that to be a true church they must teach this doctrine, so it is passed on from crony to crony, and the voice and feelings of others are at least partially frustrated, and it is most often difficult to say exactly why. Now days even churches that profess the doctrine of salvation by faith alone do not really live by it. Any good church teaches that we must do good things in life and apply the teachings of Jesus to our daily lives. So since the second coming much recovery has come about from the corruption of this doctrine, but it still persists as doctrine to a great extent in evangelical churches. In progressive churches Evil has also worked its machinations by an intense reaction to this doctrine. They moved to the polar opposite; that is, in progressive churches there is a great distaste for and rejection of almost all doctrine. Thus these churches give a very low authority to the Bible and the Lord. But Good doctrine is necessary for the understanding of the Word. It gives guidance to the reception and understanding of the Word and form to our beliefs. In my view this later development is the greater tragedy for it tends toward being lukewarm to the Word and God, and this the Lord hates. Evangelical churches serve the great purpose of holding up the divine authority of the Word and Christ. Both nevertheless are under the providential guidance of the Lord and serve to connect humanity in varying degrees to receive knowledge of the Lord and heaven.

Understanding the ‘Captives’ in the Bible Key to Understanding Redemption

July 19th, 2015

To get a strong sense of the big picture in the Bible it is essential to understand what is meant by ‘the captives,’ and similarly by the descent of Jesus into hell. I have discussed this theme in part before in this blog but it is worth understanding it further. The captives are a direct result of the loss of equilibrium. Most people are familiar with the story of the Lord descending into hell and releasing the captives after his ascension to heaven, but obtaining a real sense of what this means is elusive without an understanding of the loss of equilibrium.

The captives are those who were unjustly intercepted by evil spirits when they died and were held in a pseudo-heavens. When people first enter the spiritual world, they usually seek out loved ones, and they are always attended by angels. However, during the imbalance, evil spirits had undue power in the world of spirits and heaven. The evil spirits used their arts to deceive the new spirits, and, by persuasion and deception, they seduced these people to enter their own city, whether they were good or bad. The city, or the society, the renegade spirits created was not heaven or hell, but rather it was a pseudo-heaven created by the evil spirits where the good and the bad lived together as they did on earth. These pseudo heavens were below the real heaven in the world of spirits, which is between heaven and hell. They were run by evil spirits that posed as good leaders. These cities were defying the laws of the Lord’s divine order, and are a tragic situation that is greatly lamented by the angels. As we have shown before this is part of the decline of religion. Lets look at this in scripture.

This theme of the captives is described in many places in the Word, but perhaps nowhere better than in the parable of the wheat and the chaff. This parable describes how an enemy sowed the chaff with the wheat, which is where chaff doesn’t belong. The two become inextricably tied together, and the Lord tells them to not separate the two until the time of the harvest. After telling the parable about the plants, He then tells the internal meaning of the story to the disciples. The parable is an overview of the judgement, and a description of the process of it. The events described partly take place on earth, but mostlyin the spiritual world. The events described in Revelation are a detailed description of how the Lord separated out the good and the evil in each particular place, otherwise known as the judgment. Without an understanding of the correspondential meaning of the cities, places, and events in Revelation, and without an understanding of how these apply to the spiritual world, it is hard to get a grasp of how to understand that book. It is often asked, “Why did the Lord allow the good and evil to remain together until the harvest?” We will address this question because it helps to give us a tangible understanding of the process.

The activity in the psuedo heavens in the spriritual world mirror what was happening in the church on earth, and we can get an idea of the dynamics there by by observing them in the Jewish religion. The religious leaders of the ancient Jews had become mostly power obsessed. They claimed authoruty to themsselvs and kept the people under their power with all the strict religious rules. The people themselves though, still learned of God and religion from them, and if they practiced thier faith sincerely, even if it had falsities, they received some degree of connection to the Word and heaven. The religious leaders had to act according to the laws and keep up appearences even if inwardly they were evil. In this way the two were inistrictably tied together. The leaders served the purpose of religion, even though they were evily motivated, so the Lord could not seperate them from the people until the time was right to obolish the representative church. The same kind of thing was taking place in the psuedo heavens in the spirituul world. The leaders were sheltered from the Lord’s immediate judgement because they were serving a religious purpose to the common people, that is, they provided knowledge of the Word to the people and oversaw all the functions of the temple that provided correspondences to heaven. But when the Lord came into the world everything was prepared for all this to change, and each person would receive justice occording to their internal state. The captives specifically then are those who were unjustly kept in the psuedo heavens of the spiritual world. In the Old testament the attack and insurection of evil forces on the world of spirits and the first levels of heaven (and the resulting psuedo heavens) is told by correspondences in the story of the Tower of Babel, and in Isaiah:

And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there.And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them thoroughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for morter.And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth (Gen. 11:2-4).

Thou mayest take up this parable concerning the king of Babylonia. Jehovah hath broken the staff of the wicked, the scepter of those having dominion; thou, Lucifer, hast fallen from heaven; thou art cut down even to the earth; thou hast said in thy mind, I will ascend into the heavens; I will exalt my throne over the stars of God, and I sit on the mountain of the assembly, in the sides of the north, I will become like the Most High. Nevertheless thou shalt be cast down into hell, to the sides of the pit; I will cut off the name and residue of Babylon and will cause her to become an hereditary possession of the bittern (Isaiah 14:4, 5, 12, 13, 14, 15, 22, 23).

These scriptures tell how evil minded leaders used and abused the power of the Word to set up false heavens and control the people, but were finally taken down in the judgement. Swedenborg writes of the Tower of Babel:

By Babylon are meant all who wish to have dominion by religion. To have dominion by religion, is to have dominion over men’s souls, thus over their very spiritual life, and to use the Divine things, which are in their religion, as the means. All those who have dominion for an end, and religion for the means are in general Babylon. They are called Babylon because such dominion began in ancient times; but it was destroyed in its beginning. Its commencement is described by the city and the tower, the head of which was to be in heaven (AC 54).

The man…who does not acknowledge a God, is under the dominion of infernal spirits. Knowing this, (leaders) who build Babylonish towers make themselves a name by means of doctrinal and holy things, for otherwise they could not be worshiped, which is signified in what next follows by their otherwise being scattered over the faces of the whole earth, that is, they would not be acknowledged. And from this it follows that the higher such men can lift up the head to heaven, the more they make themselves a name. Their dominion is greatest over those who have some conscience; for these they lead whithersoever they will; but as to those who have not conscience, they rule all such by means of various external bonds (AC 1308).

The tower of Bable is a corresondential description of how the evil forces would build the false heavens in the world of spirits and infultrate the natural and spiritual heaven. If the process just described had continued without correction, the captives and eventually all of humanity would have lost all freedom at the hand of evil spirits.

All of what has proceeded in this book is meant to lead to one particular point: the perception of the magnificence of what the Lord has done for us as the redeemer. We have seen how the people were subject to the cosmic power of sin and death. If this had gone on unchecked, oblivion would have been the result. Without freedom, we are nothing. The freedom to do good is the only real power humans have; for its opposite, to commit to doing evil, is spiritual death. In spiritual death the evil spirits still have power to pursue their interets, but their internals are closed, which means their soul is dead to life. On earth, freedom can be taken away by political systems, economic circumstance, family roles, and many other things, but we have an internal freedom in our soul that cannot be taken away. The former is external, and the later internal. Inside, despite our circumstances, we have a fighting spirit that upholds our identity, passion, and loves. No-one expressed this better than Victor Frankl, the great psycholigist who lived through the Natzi concentration camps; and related his story and beliefs in ‘Mans Search for Meaning’. I see human freedom as a series of concentric circles. It is possible for our freedom to become smaller and smaller within these cirlces, but, no matter how small the outside gets, inside it cannot be taken away. We can choose how we deal with and how we feel about our cricumstances, and by the love in our heart.

In the light of what we have revealed in this article, I believe it is spiritually very healthy to recognize that the Lord alone maintains the equilibrium, and thus that freedom is entirely a gift from God; for with this awareness comes a sense of humility and gratitude toward Him.