This article tells the inside story of the second coming. It is a big subject to tackle but I will try to boil it down so one can see the spiritual reasoning behind it. If you choose to contemplate this it would definitely help to read the article entilted, ‘The Concept of Equilibrium – An Esential Key to Understading the Bible, Science, History, and the Cosmos’ in this blog. That article will help you to understand the terrible imbalance which had taken place in the equilibrium between heaven and hell at three different times in history; the time of Noah, the Incarnation, and the second coming. At each time the church on earth, or the universal spiritual state of mankind, had declined to the point there was almost no goodness left in it. The declined state caused a cosmic imbalance that, if left uncorrected, would have consumed humanity in total darkness. Each time in different ways it was restored by the might of the Lord. At the time of Noah He caused the flood, at the end of the Old testament He was born on earth and resurrected, in the second coming he revealed the internal sense of the Word. What occurred that was the same at each of these times is that in the spiritual world he subjugated the forces of hell, and restored equilibrium between heaven and hell. The second coming has to do with the decline of the Christian church, namely the Catholic, all the protestant churches, and the Muslim churches on earth. Each of these had lost almost all charity in them. This decline culminated in 1757. They had become mostly external at this time, especially the catholic church.
“I saw a new heaven and a new earth: the first heaven and the first earth passed away”. This refers to the second coming. Because of the imbalance that had taken place the Lord had to accommodate a sort of pseudo-heaven in the spiritual world in which the good and the bad were together. At the time of the second coming in the spiritual world evil spirits had the upper hand and were intercepting most of those who newly died and in the spiritual world were deceptively brought into their pseudo-heaven. This had been developing for centuries parallel to the corruptions in the churches on earth. This is comparable to the long decline in the Jewish religion of the Old Testament where the people were so stubborn and time and time again rejected God’s plans and eventually became completely external and legalistic. The Jewish leaders had usurped all power over the people and used religion to dominate the people. The corruptions of the Catholic religion before the second coming went even further; they made themselves the source of authority, claiming the very place of God. They made the people subject to them, and took away a direct relationship with the Lord and the Bible. Similarly in the spiritual world the religious leaders that were evil recruited the people into their ‘heaven’ and Lorded over them. They could not be overtly evil but had to appear of good decorum and play the role morally, but were inwardly delighting in power. The ordinary people followed these leaders and learned of the things of faith and religion from them, whether they leaders were evil or not. Because they were tied in this relationship that involves the Word and the sacred things of religion they were conjoined in a way that the Lord could not separate them until the time was right. This service the evil were providing protected them from being put where they belong. The people who followed them and practiced faith in sincerity, even though it was from evil leaders, could be saved, and for this reason the Lord allowed it. This is told in many places in the Bible, but perhaps none more clearly than in the Parable of the wheat and chaffe. Swedenborg explains:
If therefore these spirits (the good) had been forcibly removed from them (the evil) before the appointed time, heaven would have suffered in it’s ultimate (it’s foundation): yet it is upon the ultimate that the higher heaven rests, as it were upon its basis. That for this reason these spirits (the bad) were tolerated till the last time, the Lord teaches in these words: Didst thou not sow good seed in the field? Whence then hath it the tares? And they said, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root also the wheat with them. Let both therefore grow together until the harvest: and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, gather ye first together the tares, and bind them into bundles to burn them; but gather the wheat unto my barn…the harvest is the consummation of the age…As therefore the tares are gathered together and burned in the fire, so shall it be in the consummation of this age.” (Matt. xiii, 27-30, 37,40.) (The Last Judgment p. 69,70)
When you see the inside story then you can understand the parable (and how unfathomably deep the Word and parables are). What many people don’t understand is that the last judgement took place in the spiritual world. Most of the the Book of Revelation is about the judgement that took place on the different peoples and nations in the spiritual world, though the events on earth were the foundational cause of it as described above. The judgment in the spiritual world and was upon those who lived from the Lords time until the second coming. It did not include those who were already in heaven or hell before the Lord was born, nor those who were not caught up in the false heavens either as perpetraters or victims, but went to the real heaven or to the real hell. By the last judgment the Lord was retrieving the captive good to their rightful place in heaven, and deconstructing the false heavens and sending the evil to where they belong. The bad were revealed in their true state and went to hell.
The second coming is not about current events and does not take place some time in the future. It is a general truth that a judgement always takes place at the final stage of decline of the earthly church as it had at the time of Noah and the incarnation. As He had done at the time of the flood, and the time of his advent, in second coming the Lord restored equilibrium. The subjugating of hell, restoring equilibrium and putting heaven back in order is the Lord’s work of redemption. Swedenborg professes to have been allowed by the Lord to witness the enactment of the Last judgment in the spiritual world on each of the different churches and peoples. He describes that the first step is that there is a ‘visitation’ as talked about in the Bible. This means the good people are seperated out of the cities to a safe place, and the bad are left in the city. Then he describes that there was great earthquakes, the earth opened and the evil fall into great chasms; there is the smoke of idolotrous items burning; often massive floods that sweep people away or into deserts, it is all far too much to relate here.
In the centuries leading up to the second coming the many fake heavens that formed in the spiritual world below heaven caused a dark cloud between heaven and earth. This dark cloud caused interference to the heavenly influx to earth, which further caused the external state of the people and the church. In the judgement the Lord destroyed and removed all of these heavens. The captives (as spoken in the Bible) rejoiced greatley at being released and restored to their rightful place in heaven. As you can imagine there was overflowing gladness of heart and thankfulness. The effect on earth was slower and less dramatic; but there is a trickle-down effect that can clearly be seen in history. First let us hear Swedenborg explain these things:
Before the Last Judgment was effected much of the communication between heaven and the world, and therefore between the Lord and the church, was intercepted. All enlightenment comes to man from the Lord through heaven, and enters by an internal way. So long as there were congregations of such spirits between heaven and the world, or between the Lord and the church, man could not be enlightened. It was as when a sunbeam is cut-off by a black interposing cloud, or as when the sun is eclipsed and its light arrested by the interjacent moon. If therefore anything had been revealed by the Lord, it either would have not been understood, or if understood, yet would not have been received…. Now since all these interposing congregations were dissipated by the Last Judgment, it is plain that the communication between heaven and the world, or between the Lord and the church, has been restored…. this great change which has been effected in the spiritual world does not induce any change in the natural world as to the outward form…. But as regards the church … it will indeed be similar as to the outward, but dissimilar as to the internal form…the man of the church will hereafter be in a more free state of thinking on matters of faith, that is on the spiritual things that relate to heaven, because spiritual liberty has been restored.
In the next blog we will look at more of these principles and examine them in history.