Commentary

Why Did Jesus Come to Earth as a Baby?

By Curtis Childs

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Could there be reasons for the humble, vulnerable beginnings of Jesus’s life?

In this video from his Swedenborg and Life web series, host Curtis Childs and featured guests explore how the Divine design may have been at play from the very beginning of Christ's life.

(References: Apocalypse Explained 706 [12]; De Verbo 7; Luke 2:8-12; True Christianity 89, 90, 96, 766)

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Apocalypse Explained #706

Apocalypse Explained (Tansley translation)

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706. And a great sign was seen in heaven.- That this signifies Divine testification concerning the future church, and the reception of its doctrine, and as to those by whom it will be assaulted, is evident from the signification of a great sign in heaven, as denoting Divine manifestation and testification. That this refers to the church, and the reception of its doctrine, and also assault upon it, is evident from what follows, for the woman means the church, her male child, doctrine, while the dragon and his angels, and afterwards the beasts, mean those who will assault the church and its doctrine. This vision is called a great sign, because a sign means Divine manifestation concerning things to come, also testification, here concerning the future church and its doctrine, and also concerning assault upon it by those who are meant by the dragon and the beasts. This is called a sign, because it manifests and testifies. The terms sign and miracle are frequently used in the Word, sign meaning that which points out, witnesses, and persuades in regard to the subject of inquiry; but miracle means that which arouses, strikes dumb and fills with amazement. Thus a sign moves the understanding and faith, and a miracle the will and its affection; for the will with its affection is what is aroused, stricken dumb and filled with amazement, while it is understanding and its faith that are persuaded by signs and testifications.

(References: Revelation 12:1)


[2] That there is a difference between a sign and a miracle is evident from this fact, that although the Jews saw so many miracles performed by the Lord still they asked signs of Him; and also from this fact, that the prodigies wrought in Egypt and in the wilderness are sometimes called signs, sometimes miracles, and sometimes also both. And it is further evident from this, that in every part of the Word there is a marriage of truth and good, thus also of the understanding and will, for truth pertains to the understanding and good to the will, consequently signs there have reference to things pertaining to truth, thus to those of faith and the understanding, and miracles to things pertaining to good, thus to those of affection and the will. What is the specific meaning of signs and miracles, when both are mentioned in the Word, is now plain, as in the following passages.

In Moses:

"I will harden the heart of Pharaoh, that I may multiply my signs and my miracles in the land of Egypt" (Exod. vii. 3).

In the same:

"Jehovah gave signs and miracles great and evil upon Egypt, upon Pharaoh, and upon all his house" (Deut. vi. 22).

In the same:

Hath Jehovah "assayed to come and take to himself a nation out of the midst of a nation, by miracles, by signs, and by wonders" (Deut. iv. 34).

In David:

"They remembered not the day in which Jehovah set signs in Egypt, and prodigies in the field of Zoan" (Psalm lxxxviii. 42, 43).

In the same:

"They set among them the words of his signs and miracles in the land of Ham" (Psalm cv. 27).

In the same:

"He sent signs and miracles into the midst of thee, O Egypt, upon Pharaoh and all his servants" (Psalm cxxxv. 9).

In Jeremiah:

"Who hast set signs and miracles in the land of Egypt, and even to this day, both in Israel, and in men, and hast led thy people Israel out of the land of Egypt, by signs and by miracles" (xxxii. 20, 21).

From these passages it is clear that the prodigies wrought in Egypt, and afterwards among the sons of Israel, are called signs and miracles, signs because they testified and persuaded, and miracles because they aroused and filled [the people] with amazement; yet they agree, in this, that the things which arouse and fill [people] with amazement also testify and persuade, just as those things that arouse the will also persuade the understanding, or as those things that move the affection also by persuasion move the thought.

Similarly in the Evangelists:

In the consummation of the age "there shall arise false Christs and false prophets; they shall give great signs and miracles, and shall lead astray, if it be possible, even the elect" (Matt. xxiv. 24; Mark xiii. 22).

Here also great signs and miracles have a similar signification, namely, that they testify and persuade, and that they strike dumb and fill with amazement, from which strong persuasion will arise. Who those are that are meant by false Christs and false prophets, and by the elect, may be seen above (n. 624:5, 684:7).

(References: Apocalypse Explained 624, Apocalypse Explained 684; Deuteronomy 4:34, 6:22; Exodus 7:3; Jeremiah 32:20-21; Mark 13:22; Matthew 24:24; Psalms 78:42-43, Psalms 105:27, 135:9)


[3] In Moses:

"If there shall arise in the midst of thee a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, who shall give thee a sign or a miracle, and the sign or miracle come to pass which he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go unto other gods, thou shalt not obey" (Deut. xiii. 1-3).

Here a prophet, and a dreamer of dreams, also a sign and miracle are mentioned, because a sign refers to a prophet, and a miracle to a dreamer of dreams; for a prophet means one who teaches truths, and, in the abstract sense, the doctrine of truth, and a dreamer [of dreams] means one who stirs up (another) to do a thing, and, in the abstract sense, the act of stirring up, from which a thing is done; this also pertains to a miracle as the former does to a sign. For prophets were instructed by a living voice from the Lord, and dreamers by representatives arousing to action, which flowed into the affection of the dreamer, and from that into the sight of the thought; for when a man dreams, his natural understanding is laid asleep, and his spiritual sight which derives its all from the affection is opened. But in this passage, the sight which derives its all from an evil affection is meant, for it is spoken of the prophets who teach falsities and who dream vain things, for by other gods are meant the falsities and vain things that such heard and saw.

(References: Deuteronomy 13:1-3)


[4] That signs signify testifications, which point out and persuade to the belief that a thing is so, is evident from the following passages.

In Moses:

"If they will not believe thee, nor hear the voice of the first sign, yet they will believe the voice of the latter sign; and if they will not believe these two signs, nor hear thy voice, thou shalt take of the waters of the river, and they shall become blood" (Exod. iv. 8, 9).

This is said of the miracles wrought by Moses, when the Lord appeared to him in the bush, which are called signs, because they were to testify and persuade them to believe that Moses was sent to lead them out of Egypt. It is therefore three times said "that they may believe," and also "that they may hear his voice."

(References: Exodus 4:8-9)


[5] In the same:

"Jehovah said unto Moses, How long will this people not believe in me, for all the signs which I have done in the midst of them; none of the men who have seen my glory, and the signs which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, shall see the land" (Numb. xiv. 11, 22, 23).

Similarly here likewise miracles are called signs, because mention is made of believing; for, as has been said, miracles are called signs because they persuade and induce faith; and as signs did not induce faith, with those who, by reason of fear, were not willing to enter into the land of Canaan, therefore it is said concerning them that they should not see the land. Similar things are signified by signs in Exod. xiv. 17; and x. 1, 2.

(References: Exodus 4:17, Exodus 10:1-2; Numbers 14:11, 14:22-23)


[6] In the Evangelists:

The Scribes and Pharisees said, "Master, we desire to see from thee a sign; and he answering, said, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh a sign, but no sign shall be given to it but the sign of Jonah the prophet; as Jonah was in the belly of the whale (cetus) three days and three nights, so shall the Son of man be in the heart of the earth three days and three nights" (Matt. xii. 38-40; Luke xi. 16, 29, 30).

That a sign here means testification that they would be persuaded and believe that the Lord was the Messiah and the Son of God who was to come, is plain; for the miracles which the Lord wrought in great numbers, and which they saw, were no signs to them, because miracles, as said above, are signs only to the good. Jonah was in the belly of the whale (cetus) three days and three nights, and this was taken for a sign, because it signified the burial and resurrection of the Lord, thus the complete glorification of His Human, three days and three nights signifying completeness.

(References: Exodus 10:1-2, Exodus 14:17; Luke 11:16, 11:29-30; Matthew 12:38-40)


[7] In Matthew:

The Pharisees and the Sadducees, tempting, asked Jesus "to show them a sign from the heavens. He answering, said, When it is evening, ye say, it will be fair weather, for the heaven is red; and in the morning, it will be tempestuous to-day, for the heaven is red and gloomy. Ye hypocrites, ye know how to discern the face of the heaven, but ye cannot the signs of the times. An evil and adulterous nation requireth a sign, but no sign shall be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonah" (xvi. 1-4).

The sign which they asked from heaven here also means testification, that they would be persuaded and believe that the Lord was the Son of God, although miracles were performed, which they did not call signs. The Lord at that time spoke of evening and morning, because "evening and morning" signifies the Lord's coming; here it means, when the church with the Jews was devastated, for then they had "fair weather," because they knew not the Lord, and lived securely in falsities from evil; this is the evening. But when they knew Him, and, because of falsities from evils in which they were, denied and assaulted Him, then this state is signified by the morning when it is tempestuous. This is why the Lord said, "Ye hypocrites, ye know how to discern the face of the heaven, but the signs of the times ye cannot," that is, the Lord's coming; because they were an evil and adulterous nation, that is, one that adulterated the Word, therefore He said that a sign should not be given them.

(References: Matthew 16:1-4)


[8] So again in Mark:

"The Pharisees began to dispute with 'Jesus,' seeking of him a sign from heaven; and he, sighing in his spirit, said, Why doth this generation seek after a sign? Verily, I say unto you, A sign shall not be given unto this generation" (viii. 11, 12).

That here a sign signifies testification, from which they might plainly know, acknowledge, and believe that the Lord was the Messiah and the Son of God whom they expected through the predictions in the prophets, is evident from the fact that Jesus sighed in spirit, and said, "Why doth this generation seek after a sign? Verily, I say unto you, A sign shall not be given unto this generation." The reason of this was, that if it had been plainly revealed or told them from heaven, and if so persuaded they had acknowledged and believed, nevertheless they would have afterwards rejected it, and to reject after acknowledgment and faith is to profane, and the lot of profaners in hell is the worst of all.

(References: Mark 8:11-12)


[9] That for this reason plain testification was not given them from heaven, is clear from these words in John:

"He hath blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts, lest they should see with their eyes and understand with their heart, and should turn themselves, and I should heal them" (xii. 40).

To turn themselves and be healed means here to profane, as is the case when truths and goods are acknowledged, especially when the Lord is acknowledged, and afterwards denied; this would have been the case if the Jews had turned themselves and been healed in consequence of a sign. To see with the eyes and understand with the heart signifies to receive in the understanding and will, or in faith and love. From this it is plain that a sign signifies unmistakeable testification. Concerning the lot of profaners, see the Doctrine of the New Jerusalem (n. 172).

(References: John 12:40; New Jerusalem and Heavenly Doctrine 172)


[10] In John:

The disciples said unto Jesus, "What sign doest thou, that we may see and believe thee? what workest thou? Our fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, as it is written, He gave them bread out of heaven to eat. Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses did not give you bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven; for the bread of God is he who cometh down from heaven and giveth life to the world" (vi. 30-33).

Here also the disciples desired a sign; that this signifies testification that they might believe, is clear from their saying, "That we may see and believe, what workest thou?" They then spoke of manna, and the Lord answered concerning bread from heaven, because bread signifies all the good and truth that nourishes the soul, and, in the highest sense, the Lord Himself, from whom are everything of doctrine and everything of spiritual nourishment, by means of which He testified that they might see and believe. Nevertheless testification, which is a sign from heaven, was given to the three disciples, Peter, James, and John, as is evident from the transfiguration of the Lord, for then they saw His glory, and also heard a voice out of heaven, saying, "This is my beloved Son, hear ye him" (Mark ix. 7; Luke ix. 35; Matt. xvii. 5).

(References: John 6:30-33; Luke 9:35; Mark 9:7; Matthew 17:5)


[11] In John:

When Jesus cast out of the temple them that sold therein, the Jews said, "What sign showest thou, that thou doest these things? Jesus answered, and said to them, destroy this temple, yet in three days I will raise it up" (ii. 16, 18, 19).

That here to show a sign signifies to testify by something wonderful, or by a voice from heaven, is plain. But because such testification would have condemned rather than saved them, as has been said just above, therefore He answered them concerning the temple - by which He meant His body - that this should be dissolved (solveretur), that is, should die, and rise again glorified on the third day. This also is what the Lord meant by the sign of Jonah in the belly of the whale (cetus) three days and three nights. That the temple in the highest sense signifies the Lord's body, may be seen in John (ii. 21).

(References: John 2:18-19, 2:16, 2:21)


[12] In Luke:

"The angel said to the shepherds, There is born to you this day, in the city of David, a Saviour who is Christ the Lord; and this is the sign unto you, ye shall find a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger" (ii. 11, 12, 16).

Since a sign meant testification that they might believe that the Saviour of the world was born, it is therefore said that they should find Him lying in a manger, wrapped in swaddling clothes; but that this was a testification no one can know until it is known what is meant by a manger, and by swaddling clothes. A manger means doctrine of truth from the Word, because horses signify the understanding of the Word, as is evident from what has been shown above (n. 355, 364), and in the small work concerning the White Horse (n. 2-4); thus a manger where horses are fed signifies doctrine of truth from the Word. It is said also, in the seventh verse of the same chapter, that this was done because there was no place in the inn, an inn signifying a place of instruction. This is also the signification of inn in Luke x. 34, xxii. 11; Mark xiv. 14; and elsewhere. And this was the case with the Jews, who were then in mere falsities, through adulteration of the Word. This therefore is what is signified by there being no place in the inn. For if it had pleased the Lord, He might have been born in the most splendid palace, and been laid in a bed adorned with precious stones, but this would have been among such as were in no doctrine of truth, and there would have been no heavenly representation. He is also said to have been wrapped in swaddling clothes, because swaddling clothes signify primary truths, which are truths of innocence, and also truths of Divine Love; for nakedness when said in reference to a babe, signifies the deprivation of truth. From this it is evident why it was said by the angels, "This is the sign unto you, ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger."

(References: Apocalypse Explained 355, 364; Luke 2:11-12, 2:16, Luke 10:34, Luke 22:11; Mark 14:14; White Horse 2-4)


[13] In the Evangelists: the disciples said to Jesus,

"What shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the consummation of the age?" (Matt. xxiv. 3; Mark xiii. 4; Luke xxi. 7.)

The coming of the Lord and the consummation of the age signify the beginning of a new church and the end of the former church; the coming of the Lord, the beginning of a new church; and the consummation of the age, the end of the old church. Therefore in those chapters the Lord instructs His disciples concerning the successive vastation of the former church, and the establishment of a new church at its end. But He instructs and teaches them by pure correspondences, which cannot be unfolded and made known except by means of the spiritual sense; and because the Lord spoke by correspondences, therefore these were all signs, and thus testifications. They are also called signs by the Lord, in Luke:

"There shall also be terrors and great signs from heaven; there shall be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and upon the earth distress of nations in hopelessness, the sea and the waves roaring" (xxi. 11, 25).

In Matthew:

"And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man; and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven, with power and glory" (xxiv. 30).

The signification of these and the other particulars contained in the same chapter, in the spiritual sense, has been explained in the Arcana Coelestia; and the signification of the appearance of the sign of the Son of man in the clouds of heaven has been shown in Heaven and Hell (n. 1); further explanation is therefore unnecessary.

(References: Heaven and Hell 1; Luke 21:25, Luke 21:26, 21:11, 21:7; Mark 13:4; Matthew 24:30, Matthew 24:3)


[14] In Mark: Jesus said unto the disciples,

"These signs shall follow them that believe: in my name they shall cast out demons; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall be restored. And they went forth and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them by signs following" (xvi. 17, 18, 20).

Although these were miracles, yet they are called signs, because they testified of the Divine power of the Lord who performed them; therefore it is said, the Lord working with them by these signs. If these had been performed by the evil they would have been called miracles, for with them such things cause only amazement, and make an impression on the mind, and yet produce no conviction; but it is otherwise, with the good, for with them, these same things are testifications which induce belief, they are therefore also called signs, and it is said "these signs shall follow them that believe." But how these signs could produce conviction, shall also be briefly stated. Those miraculous signs - that they should cast out demons, speak with new tongues, take up serpents, that if they drank any deadly thing it should not hurt them, and that the sick should be restored by the laying on of hands - were spiritual in their essence and origin, from which these flowed forth and came forth as effects; for they were correspondences, which derive their all from the spiritual world by influx from the Lord. For example, that they should cast out demons in the name of the Lord, derived its effect from this circumstance, that the name of the Lord spiritually understood means everything of doctrine out of the Word from the Lord, and that demons are falsities of every kind; and these are thus cast out, that is, removed by means of doctrine out of the Word from the Lord. That they should speak with new tongues, derived its effect from this, that new tongues signify doctrinals for the new church; they should take up serpents because serpents signify the hells as to wickedness (malitia), and thus they would be safe from its infestation. They should not be hurt if they drank a deadly thing, denotes that the wickedness (malitia) of the hells should not infect them. That the sick should be restored by the laying on of hands means through communication and conjunction with heaven, thus with the Lord, to be restored to health from spiritual diseases, which are called iniquities and sins; the laying on of the disciples' hands, corresponding to communication and conjunction with the Lord, thus to the removal of iniquities by His Divine power.

(References: Mark 16:20, 16:17-18)


[15] In Isaiah:

Jehovah said unto Ahaz, "Ask thee a sign of Jehovah; direct [it] into the deep, or lift [it] up above; the Lord giveth you a sign; behold, a virgin shall conceive and bring forth a son, and shall call his name God with us" (vii. 11, 14).

These things were said to Ahaz, king of Judah, because the king of Syria and the king of Israel made war against him, even unto Jerusalem, on whose side also was the tribe of Ephraim; but still they did not prevail, for the reason that the king of Syria here represented the External or Natural of the church, the king of Israel its Internal or Spiritual, and Ephraim the Intellectual; here, however, those three, namely, the Natural, the Spiritual, and the Intellectual perverted, and these wished to attack the doctrine of truth, signified by the king of Judah and by Jerusalem, therefore they did not succeed. But in order that Ahaz might be assured that their attempt would be vain, he was told to ask a sign, that is, a testification that he might be assured, and the choice was given him, whether it should be from heaven or from hell; this was signified by "direct [it] into the deep, or lift [it] up above"; for the king was evil. But because Jerusalem, which signifies the doctrine of truth from the Word, was not to be destroyed by such before the Lord's coming, therefore a miraculous sign was given to him testifying concerning that subject, namely, that "a virgin shall conceive and bring forth a son, whose name shall be God with us." That this church would subsequently be destroyed, is shown further on in that chapter.

(References: Isaiah 7:10-11, 7:11, 7:14)


[16] In the same:

"This shall be a sign to thee from with Jehovah, behold, I will bring back the shadow of the steps* which is gone down on the steps of Ahaz before the sun, ten steps backward, that the sun may return ten steps on the steps which it has gone down" (xxxviii. 7, 8).

This sign was given to king Hezekiah as a testification that the Lord would defend him and Jerusalem from the king of Assyria - as said in verse 6 of that chapter, - that king signifying the perverted Rational destroying all things of the church; therefore this sign similarly represented a new church, to be established by the Lord, but here, that the time would be extended beyond that which was told to Ahaz just above. Bringing back the shadow that had gone down on the steps of Ahaz before the sun, signifies holding back the time when it should take place, the steps of Ahaz signifying time, here until the Lord's coming, and the shadow signifying the progression of time from the rising to the setting. Its being brought back ten steps signifies the extension of the time as yet for several years, ten signifying several, and the sun which should go back signifying the Lord's coming. But this shall be further illustrated. The Lord's coming took place when the Jewish church was at an end, that is, when there was no good and truth left in it. This is meant by the words, when iniquity was consummated, and also by the fulness of times, in which the Lord was to come. The entire period of the duration of the Jewish church was represented by the steps of Ahaz, its beginning by the first step there, which is when the sun is in its rising, and its end by the last step in its setting. It is therefore plain that by the bringing back of the shadow from the setting towards the rising, means the extension of that time. This would take place on the steps of Ahaz, because Ahaz was a wicked king, and profaned the holy things of the church, therefore, if his successors had acted in a similar manner, the end of that church would have come quickly, but as Hezekiah was an upright king the time was extended; for on that account the iniquity of that nation was not so soon to arrive at its consummation, that is, its end.

(References: Isaiah 38:7-8, 38:6)


[17] In the same:

Say ye unto the king Hezekiah, "This shall be a sign to thee, in this year ye shall eat that which springeth up of itself, and in the second year that which further groweth; but in the third year sow ye, reap, and plant vineyards, and eat the fruit thereof" (Isaiah xxxvii. 30).

This was said to king Hezekiah, when Sennacherib, king of Assyria, made war against him, and spoke proudly of himself, and insolently of God and of Israel; and in consequence one hundred and eighty-five thousand were smitten in his camp, and he himself was slain by his sons. This was done, because Assyria signifies the Rational, and the king of Assyria the same, while Judea signifies the Celestial of the church, and its king the Spiritual; but here the king of Assyria signifies the perverted Rational, which destroys by false reasonings all the celestial and spiritual things of the church, which are its goods and truths. And because by Judea and its king are signified the Celestial and Spiritual of the church which will be from the Lord when He comes into the world, therefore these things are said, which describe the regeneration of those who will be of that church. Consequently the sign, that they should eat in the first year that which springeth up of itself, signifies the celestial good which the Lord will implant in them; that which further groweth in the second year, signifies the truth of that good which shall come from it. To sow, to reap, to plant vineyards, and to eat the fruit of them, signify all the goods and truths which flow forth therefrom; to sow and reap, signifies the implantation of good and its reception; to plant vineyards, the implantation of truth and its reception. To eat the fruit of them, signifies the enjoyment which the regenerate man has of goods and of the things therefrom that give satisfaction. These things are called a sign, because they are testifications concerning the celestial church with those who are meant in the spiritual sense by Judah, whose regeneration is effected from the Lord by means of the implantation of celestial good, afterwards by means of the implantation of spiritual good, which in its essence is the truth of celestial good, and, lastly, by multiplication and fructification in the natural man.

(References: Isaiah 37:30)


[18] In the same:

"Thus said Jehovah, the Holy One of Israel, and his Former; they asked of me signs concerning my sons, and concerning the work of my hands they command me; I have raised him up in justice, and I will make straight all his ways. He shall build my city and let go my captivity, not for price, or for reward" (Isaiah xlv. 11, 13).

This also treats of the Lord's coming, and of the establishment of a church by Him. The Lord is meant by Jehovah, the Holy One of Israel, and His Former. He is called the Holy One of Israel from Divine Truth, and His Former from the establishment of a church by its means, and Israel denotes the church; therefore His sons, concerning whom they asked signs, mean those who are in truths from the Lord, while the work of His hands means their formation and the establishment of the church among them. I have raised Him up in justice, and all His ways will I make straight, signifies that Divine Good and Divine Truth are His; for justice, in the Word, is used in reference to good, and ways signify truths, leading, in this case, Divine truths, because they are spoken of the Lord. He shall build my city, and let go my captivity, signifies that He will restore the doctrine of truth, and liberate those who are in falsities from ignorance, a city signifying the doctrine of truth, and captivity the falsities of ignorance in which the nations were, and through which they were in spiritual captivity. Not for price, or for reward, signifies freely given from Divine Love.

(References: Isaiah 45:11, 45:13)


[19] In the same:

"Let them relate to you the things which shall happen, declare ye those former things, that we may set our heart, and may know the latter end of them; or cause us to hear things to come, declare to us a sign for the future, that we may know that ye are gods" (Isaiah xli. 22, 23).

That to tell things past and to come belongs to the Lord alone, and not to any man or spirit, is expressed by "declare a sign for the future, that we may know that ye are gods"; this concludes that which precedes, therefore to declare a sign is to testify by persuading to believe.

In Ezekiel:

"Take to thee a pan of iron, and set it for a wall of iron between thee and the city, and thou shalt set thy faces against it, that it may be for a siege, and thou shalt lay siege to it; this shall be a sign to the house of Israel" (iv. 3).

(References: Ezekiel 4:3; Isaiah 41:22-23)


[20] These and the rest of the things in this chapter are representative of the state of the church with the Jewish nation, signifying that they had no truth that was not falsified and adulterated, which in itself is falsity. Such truth is signified by the pan of iron which he was to set for a wall between himself and the city; and because this is hard, like iron, excluding and not admitting any genuine truth, it is said, "that it may be for a siege, and thou shalt lay siege to it." That this sign should be a witness concerning the church as being such is signified by"this shall be a sign to the house of Israel," a sign denoting testification, and the house of Israel the church.

(References: Ezekiel 4:3)


[21] In David:

"The enemy hath destroyed all things in the sanctuary; the enemies roared in the midst of thy feast; they have set their signs for signs. We see not our signs; there is no more a prophet" (Psalm lxxiv. 3, 4, 9).

The enemy hath destroyed all things in the sanctuary, signifies that evil has destroyed the holy things of the church; the enemies have roared in the midst of thy feast, signifies that falsities have destroyed all things of worship; they have set their signs for signs, signifies that they have testified and persuaded by every means. We see not our signs, signifies that no testifications of truth were accepted in the church; there is no more a prophet,signifies no doctrine of truth.

(References: Psalms 74:3-4, 74:9)


[22] In the same:

Jehovah, "make me a sign for good, that they that hate me may see and be ashamed, that thou, Jehovah, hast helped me, and consoled me" (Psalm lxxxvi. 17).

To make a sign for good, signifies testification that Jehovah will help and console him, as is said afterwards, for this is the good for which Jehovah makes a sign; because a sign is testification of this, therefore it is said, "that they that hate me may see and be ashamed."

(References: Psalms 86:17)


[23] In the same:

God, "who setteth fast the mountains by his strength, is girded with power; who maketh the tumult of the seas to cease, the tumult of the waves thereof and the noise of the peoples, that the inhabitants of the uttermost parts may fear because of thy signs" (Psalm lxv. 6-8).

Thus is described the Lord's Divine Power through testifications that induce belief. But testifications that are signs, are not His setting fast the mountains, making the tumult of the seas and of the waves thereof to cease, and the noise of the peoples, for these are not such signs as convince those who ascribe all things to nature, but the signs that testify to the Lord's Divine Power are those meant in the spiritual sense, in which sense heaven and the church are treated of. For in that sense the mountains which God setteth fast by His strength mean the higher heavens, because the angels of those heavens dwell upon mountains; and in the abstract sense, love to the Lord and charity towards the neighbour are meant; these are what the Lord girds with power, setteth fast by His strength, that is He causes them to subsist for ever. That mountains have such a signification, may be seen above (n. 405). The tumult of the seas and the tumult of the waves, mean the disputations and reasonings of those who are beneath the heavens, and who are natural and sensual. That seas signify the things of the natural man, thus those who are natural, and that therefore their tumults and waves signify their disputations and reasonings, may also be seen above (n. 342). The noise of the peoples means contradictions from falsities, for peoples signify those who are in truths, and, in the opposite sense, those who are in falsities, as may be seen above (n. 175, 331, 625). That the inhabitants of the uttermost parts may fear because of Thy signs, signifies holy worship from faith concerning the Divine Power with those who are in the ultimates of heaven and of the church. That to fear denotes to worship the Lord from charity and faith, may be seen above (n. 696); and that the inhabitants of the uttermost parts denote those who are in the ultimates of heaven and of the church, and are in the faith of charity there, is evident from this, that the uttermost parts are the ultimates of heaven and of the church. From these things it is evident that signs here signify testifications concerning the Lord's Divine Power.

(References: Apocalypse Explained 175, 331, 342, Apocalypse Explained 405, Apocalypse Explained 625, Apocalypse Explained 696; Psalms 65:6-8)


[24] In Jeremiah:

"This shall be a sign unto you, that I will visit upon you in this place, that ye may know that my words shall stand upon you for evil; behold, I give the king of Egypt into the hand of his enemies, and into the hand of them that seek his soul" (xliv. 29, 30).

This treats of those of the church who have become natural, meant by those who sojourned in Egypt, and returned therefrom. That such would be destroyed by evils and falsities is meant by, He will give the king of Egypt into the hand of his enemies, and into the hand of them that seek his soul, enemies there denoting those who are in evils, and them that seek the soul, those who are in falsities, thus, in an abstract sense, evils and falsities. That Egypt means the natural man may be seen above (n. 654). This is called a sign, because it is a testification that this will come to pass. Therefore it is said, that ye may know that My words shall stand upon you for evil.

(References: Apocalypse Explained 654; Jeremiah 44:29-30)


[25] That a sign means testification concerning the certainty of a thing, is evident also from the following passages.

In Isaiah:

"Hezekiah said, What is the sign that I shall go up into the house of Jehovah?" (xxxviii. 22).

In the book of Judges:

Gideon said unto the angel of Jehovah, "Show me a sign that thou art he who speaketh to me;" and the sign was this, when he touched with the staff the flesh and unleavened cakes, which Gideon offered, a fire went up out of the rock, and consumed them (vi. 17, 21).

In the First Book of Samuel:

"This shall be a sign unto thee, which shall come upon thy two sons; in one day they shall both die" (ii. 34).

In the same book:

"If the Philistines say, Come up unto us, then will we go up, because Jehovah hath given them into our hand; this shall be the sign unto us" (xiv. 10).

Almost similar things are signified by the "Signs of the covenant" (Gen. ix. 13; xvii. 11; Ezek. xx. 12, 20; and elsewhere), namely, testifications concerning conjunction. Testifications are also signified by the signs performed by the evil which appeared like miracles, in the following passages.

(References: 1 Samuel 2:34, 14:10; Ezekiel 20:20, 20:12; Genesis 9:13, 17:11; Isaiah 38:22; Judges 6:17, 6:21)


[26] In Isaiah:

Jehovah "rendereth vain the signs of the liars, he rendereth the diviners insane, turning the wise men backward, and maketh their knowledge foolish" (xliv. 25).

In Jeremiah:

"Jehovah hath said, Learn not the way of the nations, and be not dismayed at the signs of the heavens; for the nations are dismayed at them; the statutes of the nations are vanity" (x. 2, 3).

In the Apocalypse:

The beast coming up out of the earth "made great signs, so that he even maketh fire to come down from heaven unto the earth before men, and seduceth them that worship upon the earth, on account of the signs which were given him to do" (xiii. 13,14).

Again:

"They are the spirits of demons, making signs to go forth unto the kings of the earth, to gather them together to the war of that great day" (xvi. 14).

And again:

"The beast was taken, and with him the false prophet, who made signs before them, by which he seduced them that had received the mark of the beast" (xix. 20).

But what is meant by signs upon the hand and in the forehead, may be seen above (n. 427). Moreover, the signs which were set upon the mountains to gather the people together to war, to battle, and so on, signified indications to perform the things commanded.

As in Isaiah:

"It shall be in that day the nations shall seek the root of Jesse, which standeth for a sign of the peoples, and his rest shall be glory. When he shall lift up a sign to the nations, and shall gather together the outcasts of Israel and the dispersed of Judah from the four winds of the earth" (xi. 10-12).

In Jeremiah:

"Set thee up signs, make thee pillars, set thy heart to the highway, the way thou goest" (xxxi. 21).

In the same:

"Announce among the nations, and cause it to be heard, and lift up a sign, Babel is taken" (l. 2).

In the same:

"Against the walls of Babel lift up a sign, keep custody, appoint guards; lift up a sign in the land, sound the trumpet among the nations" (li. 12, 17);

and elsewhere, especially in the historical parts of the Word. From all that has been quoted from the Word, it is evident that a great sign seen in heaven signifies Divine manifestation and testification, as also in the third verse of this chapter, and afterwards in chap. xv. 1.

* Heb. ; Latin, gradus.

(References: Apocalypse Explained 427; Isaiah 7:10-11, Isaiah 11:10-12, Isaiah 38:6-8, Isaiah 44:25; Jeremiah 10:2-3, 31:21, Jeremiah 50:2, 51:12, 51:27; Luke 21:25; Revelation 12:13-14, Revelation 12:3, 13:13-14, 15:1, 16:14, 19:20)

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