Many things in the Word cannot be fully understood unless one realizes there is an internal meaning to the Bible. It has an external and internal sense. Every Word in the Bible has an internal meaning and each of the prophets have a meaning that especially represents an aspect of the Lord. They have this meaning because to be a prophet means that they are directly speaking for, or fulfilling the WILL OF GOD. What God wills is divine truth and eternal by nature. It is helpful to see this as a precursor to understand Elijah.

Elijah is associated with John the Baptist because they both represent the Word as to the Lord and the power of the Word to save the people. This is the internal meaning. “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse”. (Malachi 4: 5,6).

To curse the earth does not mean that God chooses to curse the people but that the people had so separated themselves from God that they were at the end, they were about to be destroyed forever by evil because of their own choices. Before Jesus was born the church on earth had become so external, corrupt and bereft of charity that evil was overrunning good on earth and even the lower levels of heaven. (This loss of equilibrium between good and evil is the defining cause of an apocalypse, and once it starts only the Lord can stop it.) The prophets are addressing this when they say phrases like, ‘the destruction to come’, the ‘day of wrath, and ‘vengeance to come’, ‘the axe is at the root of the tree’. The prophets spoke the will of God, which was to show the people the dire reality they had come to. This is also why the prophets were made to do many odd and seemingly strange things, like ‘eat cow dung’; ‘to sleep on one side for 391 days and then sleep on the other side’; ‘to marry a prostitute twice’. These strange of perverse actions represented the state of the people toward the Lord, that they had rejected and separated themself from him and become a ‘wicked generation’.

When it comes to the passing of Elijah the scripture reads:

“As they were walking along and talking together, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind. 12 Elisha saw this and cried out, “My father! My father! The chariots and horsemen of Israel!” And Elisha saw him no more. Then he took hold of his garment and tore it in two” – 2 Kings 2: 11,12.

People who think of the Bible literally think this means that Elijah took his body up into heaven. But this is not what it means. Only the One divine, Jesus, took His physical body into heaven and He did so by an extraordinary process, not magic. The only way to take the physical body into the spiritual world is to make it divine. Jesus did this by undergoing the single most rigorous process in the universe, known as the Glorification process. “Father, glorify your name!” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again” – John 12:28. To Glorify means to make divine; to ‘glorify it, and glorify it again’ means that it is a gradual process that leads to the resurrection. Jesus made His actual physical body to merge with his divine soul; He did it by removing all hereditary evil from his body during the course of His life until the last temptation on the cross. The resurrection is the result of His glorification by which He rose above heaven, and redeemed and saved all mankind and heaven. Humans, including Elijah, go through a process called regeneration which prepares us for heaven; it prepares our soul, but the body of all humans goes to dust. .

Now let us look at the meaning of Elijah going to heaven in a chariot. With Elijah I believe it is an indication, because of his great wisdom and service to the Lord, that he went straight to heaven. Most people do not go straight into heaven (or hell) but we go to the world of spirits, which is between heaven and hell, where we are prepared for heaven or hell. The Bible refers to this as the ‘chasm’ between heaven and hell, and which keeps heaven and hell separate and contained. The reason most people go to the world of spirits is that the evil parts that are still in a person, (that is primarily good), cannot go into heaven; these must be gradually removed in a cleansing process that takes place before they can enter. And, with those that are primarily evil, truths and goods have to be removed from them. So, Elijah was exceptional in this way.

Elijah told Elisha if He sees Him go up into heaven, then He will be his replacement as the prophet to the people. Elisha saw the vision of Him and the chariots of Israel because his eyes were opened by the Lord to this vision of the spiritual event. Elijah knew Elisha could only become the prophet by the will of the Lord, and so it was.

In each of the words of the verse in question there are specific meanings or correspondences that reveal the inner meaning. A “horse” (which pulls the chariot) signifies the faculty of understanding. So a horse is a kind of vehicle that gives Man agency; the ability to understand the Word and theLord. It gives us the power to bond with Him. The chariot represents the true doctrines or principles of the Word and the church. So the scripture shows the Elijah was profoundly imbued with these. (Swedenborg tells that in the spiritual world horses are frequently seen with great variety, and those also that sit on them; and whenever they are seen they signify the faculty of understanding. For in the spiritual world everything one sees is a representation of truth and meaning in life.) This is why Elisha exclaimed, “My Father, my Father, the chariot of Israel and the horsemen thereof”. Images and representations expressed in the Bible often come from what is seen and known in heaven.

The most profound representation here that shows Elijahs enlightenment has to do with that of fire. The Lord is called ‘a consuming fire’, a fire that is infilled and increased by His love. The Word is the Divine Truth itself united to Divine Good because this is a reflection of the Holy marriage in the Lord from whom springs love and wisdom as from a fountain, just as a flame burns from the wick and wax of a candle. Elijah was on fire with love and awareness of the Lord. He had fulfilled the deeds given Him, and surrendered to the gifts the Lord gave him, and performed them as a good and faithful servant, and so was infilled with an abundance of love and wisdom. Elijah was seen to ascend into heaven on a chariot of fire and with horses of fire. Elijah represents the Lord as to the Word, the chariot the doctrine of the Word, and the horses the understanding of the Word; and in the seminal moment shown in the scripture he was enlightened by the grace of God to enter heaven.

 Fire signifies love because the Lord appears in the angelic heaven as a Sun, from which heat and light proceed; and in the heavens heat from the Lord as the Sun is Divine love, and the light from the Lord is Divine Truth. It is from the correspondence between fire and love, that, in common discourse, when speaking of affections of love we use the expressions such as to grow warm, to be inflamed, to burn, to become hot, to be on fire.

The whirlwind (or tempest) in general represents temptations and irruptions of falsities from evil. This was shown when the wind and the waves rose up against Jesus and the disciples on the boat and Jesus rebuked the storm; saying to the sea, “Peace, be still”. In doing this He removed the evil ones who induce temptations. Temptations are used to remove evils. Storms and temptations both cause great anxiety and fear and the resulting humbling and yearning for the Lord. In the case of Elijah I think this represents a powerful and short vastation. Vastation means ‘to be cleansed’; it takes place after death and is the process of removing evils and falsities that remain with a good person but need to be removed before they enter heaven.

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