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13 這一切災禍臨到我們身上是照摩西律法上所的,我們卻沒有求耶和華我們的恩典,使我們回頭離開罪孽,明白你的真理。

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Exposition of Daniel's Prayer      

Napsal(a) Rev. Dr. Andrew M. T. Dibb

Keeping balance in one’s spiritual life is of supreme importance—and perhaps this is why the book of Daniel is given in two such clearly demarcated forms. The first six chapters show us the history of Daniel’s life in Babylon, from the time of his captivity as a youth to his elevation to power in the reign of Darius the Mede. The overall view of these first six chapters is to bring home the concept that our spiritual life is an ongoing progression. Certainly there are hard times, and certainly the selfishness in our characters is often hard to beat. Implicit in the history, however, is the ongoing promise that this evil can and will be beaten. We need to keep this in mind.

As we turned to the prophetic section of the book the importance of the historical section becomes clearer. In chapter seven, in the midst of the horrific vision which tells of our slide into evil, we need to remember the context of the vision—it takes place in the reign of Belshazzar. So does the vision of chapter eight, which describes the alternating states of good and evil, and particularly the state in which evils seems to so completely take over and dominate our minds.

In these visions there is a tendency to feel desperate. Will any goodness ever return to us, will the state ever swing back towards goodness? Daniel’s reaction to this vision was to faint and feel sick for days.

The darkness of night, however, is always broken by the gleams of morning light. In the depths of temptation, even to the point of despair, we are given the gift of the long view shown in the historical section. Belshazzar the king, during whose reign Daniel saw these visions, was deposed by Darius the Mede, and even though he faced terrible dangers during those years, nevertheless, he rose to a position of great power.

Belshazzar, as we have seen earlier depicts states of selfishness and evil in our external life. When we allow ourselves unfettered selfishness, when we willingly permit ourselves to discard the restraining truths of the Word, then our evil will express itself in daily life. Even the good things we do, when done from a selfish motive, are really expressions of evil. Like Belshazzar before us, when we are in this state, we wantonly profane the love of goodness and the understanding of truth given to us by the Lord.

This state, however, never lasts unless we choose to embrace it of our own free accord. As in the case of the four beasts shown in chapter seven, there will be a time of judgment. Like Belshazzar we will be weighed in the balances and found wanting.

The important question, however, is what do we do to turn the tide of evil, or tip the balances of our lives? Even in chapter eight, when Daniel sees the vision of the ram and the goat, he was within the walls of the citadel of Shushan, showing us that no matter how much we slide into evil, the Lord provides that our conscience is always able to be activated, and from that conscience we are able to see our condition, repent and turn away from it.

It follows, then, that chapters seven and eight outline a natural progression from the origin of evil in our lives—described as the beast, to the rule of evil, shown by the actions of the goat. Liberation comes from humility and repentance before the Lord, and chapter nine focuses on repentance leading the way to a fulfilment of spiritual life.

VERSES 1-2
We first met Darius the Mede at the end of chapter five, when he swept into Babylon and killed Belshazzar on the very night of the profane feast. Specific mention was made that Darius was sixty two years old at the time. Analysis of the way Darius exalted Daniel, especially his unwillingness to have him put to death, indicates that Darius represents a person who is in the process of turning aside from pure selfishness into a state where the conscience, symbolised by Daniel, is elevated to high rank. In this state the conscience begins to rule our thoughts as Daniel ruled in Babylon, second only to himself (Cf. Daniel 6:3).

The reign of Darius stands as a counterpoint to that of Belshazzar, both in the historical and prophetical series. In Belshazzar’s reign, epitomising selfishness, Daniel saw visions of beasts putting goodness to flight. Those states, as said before, alternate with other states when the conscience is able to direct our feelings and thoughts. These latter are states of spiritual lucidity and recommitment to regeneration, and by correspondence take place during the reign of Darius.

Daniel, who had lived long in Babylon, surviving both Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar, found himself an old man. He had been carried into captivity as a young boy, and later watched from afar as Jerusalem was destroyed by the Babylonian hordes. From his privileged vantage point he was aware of the vast number of Jews compelled to live in Babylon on order from the king. He was equally aware of the destruction of the temple at Jerusalem, and knew that this meant that no sacrificial worship could take place. Yet Daniel also knew prophecies indicating that this state of affairs would not last forever. He states that he "understood by the books the number of years specified … that He would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem." Years in the internal sense of the Word never refer to time, always to state, and the number of years therefore refers to the states a person must go through in their selfish, or Babylonian, states, before they are set free to live again without the influence of selfishness to mar their lives.

The desolation of Jerusalem is the damage done to the church, or more specifically the states of genuine goodness and truth within us, by the evils of selfishness. Selfishness is the single most destructive human emotion, as we have seen from the violence of its depiction in the actions of Nebuchadnezzar, the profanation of Belshazzar, and in the terror of the beast and the goat. Yet if the human conscience is nurtured and fed, if it is lifted up, as Darius honoured and promoted Daniel, then the conscience will flourish, and spiritual sanity will be restored.

The process takes a lifetime. "Two thousand three hundred evenings and mornings," Daniel was told—alternations continuing through states of temptations until it is possible for a new state to break into our minds and establish itself there.

In chapter nine the seventy years of Babylonian captivity describe the steady breakdown of the power of selfishness over us. "Seventy years" of captivity before release represents the states in us before the Lord is present. When we are in states of selfishness, our selfishness blocks out the presence of the Lord. As we regenerate, however, the selfishness is put aside, and the Lord is able to draw closer. The presence of the Lord in our lives has the effect of further breaking down our selfishness, and ushering in new states of life freed from these.

Seen from this point of view, chapter nine follows clearly from chapters seven and eight. The pendulum of life has swung, we are aware of our evils, in fact we are still immersed in them, but by the power of the conscience we begin the process of breaking free.

VERSES 9-19
Spiritual regeneration begins in humility. Daniel was aware of Israel’s captivity in Babylon, and longed for it to end. In humility he turned his face towards the Lord God, to make his requests by prayers and supplications and to emphasise his grief and mourning over this state of affairs with the time honour practices of fasting, wearing garments of sack-cloth and pouring ashes over his head.

These actions, rooted in the deepest of Old Testament times contain within them the very essence of repentance. We will forever remain slaves to selfishness unless and until we are willing to humble ourselves to the Lord. This begins when we recognise the work of the beast and the goat in our own lives, when we see Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar as twin kings of evil directing our inner and outer selves. It is easy to lay the blame for these states on others, to claim that our up-bringing was not good, for example, but in reality the responsibility is ours. The Daniel side of our minds needs to be active.

The first step of the spiritual activity which will eventually set us free is recorded in the words "Daniel set his face to the Lord God." That single physical motion is the beginning of the series of spiritual events in our lives which will eventually free us from selfishness. In the internal sense the "face" represents our internal states, which gives us the ability to see our lives from a different perspective than simply that of the senses (Arcana Coelestia 358, 5165) As we saw earlier, it was because of Daniel, or our conscience, that we are able to see anything in ourselves at all. Part of the judgment arising from truth is looking at ourselves, as we are, and rejecting the evil or grosser parts of our beings. Daniel turning his face to the Lord God takes on the meaning of a person focusing his or her internals on the presence of the Lord in them. To do this, they have to turn aside from their selfishness.

By fixing our sights on the Lord we are able to begin the process of repentance. Repentance is a process which involves a complete reorientation of our lives. We are told that “actual repentance consists in a person’s examining himself, recognising and acknowledging his sins, praying to the Lord, and beginning a new life” (True Christian Religion 528).

The visions of Chapter Seven and Eight, which show the origin and progress of evil in our lives, can easily be related to the self examination required in repentance. Chapter Nine deals more fully with the acknowledgement of sins, and prayer to the Lord for forgiveness.

Yet repentance can never begin without turning our faces towards the Lord God, for, as in the words of the Psalmist, all our sins are really sins against Him. Recognising this is the basis of true humility.

It is in this humility that Daniel proposed to speak to the Lord. Notice his words as he turned his face towards the Lord God "to make request by prayer and supplication." In the literal sense Daniel is praying for the restoration of Jerusalem and freedom from Babylon. In our lives, our request is for a return to the states of innocence and peace we last experienced in our infant years, with the difference that after regeneration this innocence is an expression of wisdom in contrast with infant ignorance.

Daniel turned to the Lord with "prayer and supplication." These words are not merely repetition of the same thing. In the Word where pairs of words are used in this way, it draws attention to the duality in the Word (Doctrine of the Sacred Scripture 80-90, True Christian Religion 248-253). The Word is an outpouring of love and wisdom from the Lord, which is reflected in each and every detail, but most clearly when pairs of words are used to describe the same thing. "Prayer and supplication" as a pair of words, meaning the same thing, express both the love and wisdom from Lord, and by using them in this fashion, Daniel draws attention to the fact that our humility and repentance come from both the will and the understanding parts of our being.

Should we turn to the Lord with the will only, we may find that we wish to repent, but do not have any idea of how to do so. The desire may well eventually founder because it is not directed by the understanding. On the other hand, repentance which does not also draw from a will or desire to change has no depth. The intellectual side of our minds alone cannot lead us into a new life. So the two must go together, as partners, to lead us with by the desire of the will according to the wisdom of the understanding. Like Daniel, we need to turn to the Lord with "prayer and supplication."

Prayer, we are told "is talking to God and at the same time some inner view of the things that are being prayed for” (Arcana Coelestia 2535). Prayer is a very necessary part of our spiritual lives. We are told that a person can remove evils "only if he acknowledges the Divine Providence and prays that the removal be done by it” (Divine Providence 184). The power to overcome evils is given in response to the prayer (Doctrine of Life 31), which is described as "a certain opening of the man's interiors toward God” (Arcana Coelestia 2535). As our interiors open to the Lord, the power He used to fight against evil spirits is given to us to use as our own power, which puts us into a state of freedom to resist evil.

Notice Daniel’s actions in prayer. The matter for which he prayed was close to his heart, the deliverance of Israel from Babylonian captivity. He knew the prophecy of seventy years, and knew also that about seventy years had passed since the captivity had taken place. His prayer, however, was not one of demanding his rights, there was no arrogance in his tone, such as we sometime find in our own when we think the Lord has not lived up to His side of the covenant.

Daniel’s prayer was full of inner and outer humility. We see the outer humility first as he prepared himself for prayer by fasting and clothing himself in sackcloth and ashes. As in every detail of the Word this sequence of actions contains within itself a series of states, in this case states preparatory to prayer itself.

Daniel began with fasting. In the internal sense "to fast" means "to mourn on account of the lack of good and truth” (Apocalypse Explained 1189:2). In our prayer to the Lord for help in times of temptation and deliverance from it, it is important to begin with the attitude of recognition that we actually have no real good or truth in us. Our goodness is under control of the love of self, just as Daniel was, in spite of his high position, technically still a captive of the king of Babylon.

We can only begin to really break free of the bondage of self when we come to this recognition—and this is why Daniel had to witness those two terrible visions, so that he, and we through him, could see our own state, and be affected by it, and be moved by a desire to break free from it. The concept of "fasting" therefore, also contains a willingness to enter into combat against the Babylonian side of ourselves (Apocalypse Explained 730).

There is another element in the idea of fasting which is also of great importance here. "Fasting" also stands for the desire to learn the forms of good and the truths of faith (Arcana Coelestia 9050:7). Without this desire our spiritual progress grinds to a halt. A person who has no interest in acquiring knowledge about the forms of goodness and truth closes his or her mind to the presence of the Lord, remaining thus in ignorance and will eventually lapse, without resistance, back into a life of unfettered selfishness.

This fasting is in many ways analogous to the young Daniel, recently carried to Babylon from Jerusalem, when he refused to eat the food from the king’s table. Although he did eat fresh vegetables, technically he fasted in regards to Nebuchadnezzar’s food. "Eating" and "drinking" represent the assimilation of goods and truths in our minds, and in the opposite sense, the assimilation of evil and falsity. By refusing to eat the king’s food, young Daniel showed himself unwilling to partake of the feelings and thoughts arising from selfishness. It was really that unwillingness which sustained him during the course of his life, and now, as he begins to pray to the Lord, he once again fasts.

The reality of this in our own lives is very important. Our conscience is formed partly from an unwillingness to embrace evil, not only once but continually. When we come to repent our sins, this unwillingness has to be at the very core of our spirits, otherwise our repentance will be of no avail.

There are many examples in the Old Testament of people in a state of mourning who fast, wear garments of sackcloth and cover their heads with ashes. In the New Testament the Lord ties together the concept of grieving or mourning with repentance when He said, “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes (Luke 10:13).

It was entirely in keeping with the customs of the Old Testament, therefore, for Daniel in his grief over the captivity of the people, to augment his fast with clothes of sackcloth and ashes on his head. In the internal sense to be clothed in sackcloth means to be in mourning because one does not one has not been receptive of Divine good and truth (Apocalypse Explained 637), and thus that good has been destroyed (Arcana Coelestia 4779). Ashes, which were placed on the head, or sometimes people rolled in them, represent the false thoughts and ideas a person has had on account of evil (Arcana Coelestia 7520).

Daniel’s actions are deeply symbolic of a person who is beginning the process of serious repentance. By fasting, wearing sackcloth and ashes he indicates the feeling of humility and sorrow, or contrition, we need in order to truly enter into repentance. While contrition is necessary to motivate us to repent, one needs to be careful that those intense feelings of sorrow about our evil states do not so dominate our thoughts that we feel that the sorrow itself is repentance. One needs to guard against falling into the trap of thinking that we are total depraved sinners without seeing any particular evil in ourselves which can be overcome by repentance (True Christian Religion 513). Repentance is an activity, not a feeling.

Daniel does not wallow in his sorrow, he directs his thoughts to the Lord with the words of prayer and confession. Repentance is a process beginning is self-examination done in a state of humility. A person who is repenting needs to then do two things after self-examination- prayer and confession. As one takes the findings of self-examination to the Lord in prayer, so one confesses ones sins to Him. Confession "will be that he sees, recognises, and acknowledges his evils, and finds himself to be a miserable sinner" (True Christian Religion 539). The person doesn’t need to list particular incidents of sin to the Lord, for the Lord is present in the process of self-examination, but he or she needs to have a clear understanding of the sins to be repented.

Once the person confesses to the Lord, it is necessary to pray to the Lord for forgiveness. Even though the Lord constantly forgives people their sins, but it is necessary to pray for forgiveness for our own sakes because it reminds us that forgiveness comes with the removal of sins, and sins are removed as we refrain from them and enter a new life. We also need to be reminded of the fact that the Lord does indeed forgive us our sins if we repent them. (True Christian Religion 539).

Daniel’s prayer is a model of confession and begging for forgiveness. He begins with a recognition of the Lord Himself. Notice the duality of the terms in his opening, "O Lord, great and awesome God." As we saw earlier, this juxtaposition of two names refers to the qualities of Divine Love and Divine Wisdom. The name used for God in any given chapter of the Word indicates the quality or aspect of God present in the internal sense at that point. Generally the name "Lord" refers to the Lord’s love operating in people’s lives, while God describes the Divine truth which is the vehicle carrying love down to the level at which people can receive it (Arcana Coelestia 2921, 2769).

This opening of a prayer can seem like simply addressing the prayer to the Lord, but it is much more than that. It indicates that in the state of repentance we need to keep two things in mind, firstly, that the Lord is a God of love. Without this idea there would be no real reason to repent at all. If the Lord was a God of anger or revenge, then no matter what we do we would never be able to be reconciled with Him, for no human being can ever hope to prepare for the Lord a state so perfect that He would be appeased. If, however, one sees God as a God of love, then there the quality of mercy is allowed, and from this there is hope. Secondly, by using the term God, we are reminded of the order by which the Lord both creates and governs His creation. This order is inscribed by the Lord on all things, including the process of repentance. Daniel’s choice of words here is no accidental greeting to the Supreme, but carefully chosen because it conveys the fullness of God to us in a state of repentance.

The presence of the Lord in repentance is in order. Daniel continues that the Lord "keeps His covenant and mercy with those who love Him, and with those who keep his commandments." Here again we see the positioning of two issues, covenant and mercy.

The Lord’s covenant, first given to Noah, and reiterated to Abram and many others after him is simple: if people obey they will prosper, if they disobey they will perish. The whole of the Old Testament bears testimony to this covenant. A covenant is an agreement between two parties, and in the Lord’s covenant the two parties are Himself and the human race. The covenant is the promise that people can be regenerated and so conjoined to the Lord (Arcana Coelestia 665, 666). Every impulse towards goodness and truth in our lives bears testament to this covenant.

However, it is also told in the pages of the Old Testament, and in our own lives, that we do not always embrace the Lord’s goodness and truth. We fall short in the part we play in the covenant. The nature of the human being is attracted to selfishness and a desire to dominate over others. This is why we end up captives in our own spiritual Babylon, dominated by Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar. Yet within the Lord’s covenant is the implicit promise of repentance. If we turn away from selfishness, the Lord can and will remit our sins, and we will be renewed. Daniel in his prayer is aware of the Lord’s mercy as a factor of the covenant, and appeals to it. We too need to be aware of this, for it inspires us with hope, and spurs us on to a rejection of evil.

Daniel continues then with a confession of the sins of Israel, "we have sinned and committed iniquity, we have done wickedly and rebelled." Notice again the duality of phrase, sin and committed iniquity. "To sin" means "to sin, to miss, to miss the way, to go wrong, to incur guilt" (Brown-Driver-Briggs definition no. 2398). While "iniquity" means "to bend, to twist, to distort” (Brown-Driver-Briggs Definition no. 5753). In these dictionary definitions one sees the fullness of Daniel’s confession. Not only was the sin from the will, which causes one to miss the way, go wrong and incur guilt, but also from the understanding as one bends, twists and distorts the truth. One can trace this process through the pages of Daniel, especially in the historical series, where in chapter two one sees the influence of the evil of selfishness on the understanding and in chapter three on the will. Both need to be cleansed, and so both need to be confessed.

Essentially "sin" is a state of disjunction from the Lord (Arcana Coelestia 4997), it is the breaking of the Lord’s covenant and arises in the loves of selfishness and greed. All people are born with an inclination towards evils, but they are not born "sinners" as is commonly believed by those who propound the doctrine of "original sin." Sin enters a person’s life when he or she becomes, through purposeful action, guilty of evil (Arcana Coelestia 7147), and so separated from the life of goodness and truth which is the basis of the Lord’s covenant.

In order for a sin to be a sin it must be done purposefully, or from intention, while knowing that it is opposed to the Lord’s teaching. We are told that “to sin is to do and think what is evil and false intentionally from the will, for such things which are done intentionally from the will are such as come forth out of the heart and defile man, consequently which destroy spiritual life with him” (Arcana Coelestia 8925).

Recognising sin in our lives, then, is recognition of the fact that we have turned aside from the Lord. We have broken covenant with Him, and can only be lead back into communion with Him through the process of repentance and reformation.

In a similar way "to commit iniquity" means to twist or distort the truth. There is a steady thread of this distortion running throughout Daniel, from Jehoiakim, king of Judah who represents a lust for evil and an aversion to truth (Apocalypse Explained 481:4), to the magicians, astrologers, sorcerers and Chaldeans that Nebuchadnezzar called on to interpret his dreams. These represent the habitual thought processes we fall into to protect and enhance our selfish states. Whenever our minds are not directed by the conscience, our thoughts are dominated by the selfish will, with the result that we commit iniquity by thinking selfishly.

This kind of acknowledgement is the beginning of the formal process of repentance. As Daniel says in his prayer, "we have done wickedly and rebelled, even by departing from Your precepts and Your judgements." In these words he captures the totality of human evil, both as to its motivation sin and the expressive thought. All sin, in one way or another, is a rebellion against God. As we have seen in earlier chapters Lucifer’s fall was occasioned by his rebellion.

Any general recognition of sin and iniquity of life, however, needs to be more than simply a general statement of evil. It does people no good to simply admit that of themselves they are sinners without specifying at least one sin. A person may know from the Word that he or she is a sinner, but unless that person actually searches out his or her evils, they remain as a source of spiritual infection (Charity 3). If we claim to be sinners without self-exploration, can cannot truly confess ourselves to be sinners (Arcana Coelestia 8390, The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 159) for our confession would have no basis in self-perception and would merely be a lip confession, which can be made even by evil men when the thought of hell-fire is present (True Christian Religion 517).

It follows then that Daniel highlights a specific example of how the Jews had sinned against God, which lead to their captivity in Babylon. He said, “Neither have we heeded Your servants the prophets, who spoke in Your name to our kings and our princes, to our fathers and all the people of the land” (Daniel 9:6).

The sin of the ancient Jews was the ignoring of and disobedience to the prophets sent by the Lord to lead the people. King after king of Judea set up idols, worshipping them in place of the Lord, until finally the kingdom was overrun, the temple desecrated and destroyed, the people carried off into captivity or scattered. Jehoiakim, king of Judah at the time of the Babylonian captivity is a case in point. His father, Josiah, read the Word and restored the temple. He tore down idolatrous places of worship and re-instituted the Passover (2 Kings 23, 24). Jehoiakim, inheriting the throne at age twenty five, knowing full well the reforms of Josiah, and yet chose to reject these by "doing evil in the sight of the Lord, according to all that his fathers had done” (2 Kings 23:37). In this way he ignored the Lord and disobeyed His teachings.

Much the same happens to us. When selfishness controls us it leads us to intentionally reject the teachings of the Word—even though we may pay lip-service to them. The result is a state of disobedience which can only be rectified through repentance. Each alternation of state, when we swing from goodness into evil is such an action. As Daniel says, we do not listen to the Lord’s prophets.

In the literal sense of the Word a prophet is one who preaches the truth, as did Elijah and Elisha, to name but two. However, in the internal sense a prophet represents the teaching itself, thus the doctrine from the Word (Arcana Coelestia 2534). As we have seen earlier, "kings" in the Word represent the ruling principles in our lives, and if these are false, then all our subsidiary thoughts, the "princes" will also be false.

The nature of sin and iniquity, then, is to allow the ruling principles in our minds, our "kings," and our thoughts derived from these, our "princes" to fall into falsity by ignoring the teachings of the Word. When a person can see this tendency within themselves, they are well on the way to truly confessing their sins to the Lord, not as an abstract state of life, but specific incidents of disobedience.

Part of this process of recognition and confession of sins is an observance of the consequences of one’s sins. Remember that Daniel is writing this prayer partly in response to the captivity of Judah—a captivity resulting from the neglect on the part of at least the king of Judah to obey the Word of the Lord. This captivity describes our states when we are held captive by the evils and falsities arising in selfishness. Daniel could clearly see that the historical captivity resulted from the disobedience of the kings of Judah. Can we see that our evils and their consequences are a result of our disobedience to the Lord? Can we come to the point at which we acknowledge our guilt to the Lord in Daniel’s words?

“Lord, to us belongs shame of face, to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, because we have sinned against you.”—Such a cry to the Lord would be cold and sterile if there was not hope of redemption. The historical story of Daniel shows us, however, that there is always hope. The recurring theme is that the Lord is always with us, even in the darkest times to bring the light of knowledge and a renewed commitment to change. In times of repentance this is perhaps more important than at any other time, for when we repent we undertake to change based on our recognition of the states of evil and falsity within us. At those times we need to remember that the Lord does not bear grudges, and that the very force of His Divine Providence is leading us towards heaven.

The measure of the Lord’s mercy is highlighted in the concept that when one sins, one sins against the Lord Himself (Psalm 51:4). Daniel recognises that by not listening to the teaching of the prophets the Jews had "not obeyed the voice of the Lord our God." This is a further development in the recognition of sin in oneself. To reject and be disobedient to the teaching or doctrine of the Word is one thing, for the Word is open to many interpretations, it can be twisted this way and that to suit people’s will. The real damage to the Word comes, however, through the motive for the twisting. As we have seen in many places in Daniel, when the Word is twisted to underpin and protect selfish loves, then one does damage to the Lord Himself, for He is the Word itself. As Daniel points out, the prophets are "His servants," as teaching is a servant of truth itself.

The result is the disjunction of sin, a breaking of the covenant and separation from all the goodness and truth which originates in the Lord, and which is described in the book of Deuteronomy as a curse. There are too many curses to list, but they all indicate various states of evil which befall those who separate themselves from the Lord.

In Daniel the woes of captivity are indicated as being curses from the Lord on the Jews for disobeying the Lord, and it is easy to be sympathetic to this view. Evil, especially selfishness causes life to unravel, if not in this world, then certainly in the next. Relationships based on selfishness will never be happy, conflict dogs those whose only concern is themselves. This unhappiness and conflict may seem to be a curse or disaster sent by the Lord to punish the evil doer, yet it is a great truth that the Lord never punishes anyone for their evils (Arcana Coelestia 696, 697, 1857).

For a person who is in the process of repentance this is both a necessary and comforting thought, for if the Lord cast us into hell because of our sins, all hope would be lost and life would lose its point. We need to know that regardless of how dreadful our evils may seem, and how willingly we allow ourselves to be drawn into them, still the Lord is, as Daniel says "righteous in all the works which He does, though we have not obeyed His voice."

It is important in order to keep a state of balance in repentance to remember the times the Lord has helped us in our captivity to selfishness. In his prayer Daniel remembers back to the liberation from Egypt. If we take the historical series of the book of Daniel as our guide, we can see the Lord’s hand in the way He patiently and continually led Nebuchadnezzar through terrible times to the eventual point where the king could praise the Lord as his God. Each detail of that journey is reflected in our progressive liberation from selfishness and all its attendant states. Finally as our inner motivations change, we can be lead to the state depicted in the reign of Darius when Daniel is given charge over the land.

Providence can never be seen in advance, only in hindsight (Divine Providence 178, 187). In the throes of temptation and repentance is seems as if the Lord has abandoned us, yet He is always there to show us the way to a new state of life.

VERSES 20-27
The wonder of prayer lies in the answers. Sometimes people are not certain whether the Lord listens to prayer, and whether prayer can ever change the Lord’s mind about something. This is not, or at least should not be the reason we pray. Prayer is for our benefit, for it focuses our minds upon the Lord and opens up the interiors of our minds making it possible for us to receive His presence. The answers to prayers are seldom given in loud or dramatic ways. More often than not the answer lies in a small quiet awareness of the Lord’s presence. As we are told in the doctrines, the answer comes as “…something like a revelation (which is manifested in the affection of him that prays) as to hope, consolation, or a certain inward joy” (Arcana Coelestia 2535).

Daniel prayed to the Lord for the salvation of Israel, captive in Babylon for seventy years. He prayed with deep humility, with an awareness of the evils of the Jews, and a willingness to confront those evils. The Lord answered his prayer.

When we are in the process of repenting, we too need to pray to the Lord in confession and in prayer for forgiveness and mercy. The fact of saying those prayers is powerful, for in confessing our sins to the Lord we acknowledge from humility of heart that the evils of our lives are not defensible. The action of prayer is, in many ways, the opposite and therefore the antidote to the rule of Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar in our minds. While they are present we justify our evils, we permit and actively make possible states opposed to the presence of the Lord. But in confession this changes, and our minds are opened.

Supplication, or prayer for mercy does much the same thing. In our Babylonian states we are self-sufficient—we don’t need the Lord or His Word. Our minds are dominated across the axes of our will and understanding just as the he-goat in chapter eight extended the power of his horns to the four winds of the earth. By opening our minds in prayer, however, we acknowledge that this selfish power is not real power. Real power belongs to the Lord who can and will forgive us, and in so doing gives us the power to override selfishness and break its hold over us.

While Daniel prayed, he became aware of the answer from the Lord. The imagery in his words show us a great deal about how the Lord answers prayers from the heart. As he prayed he became aware of "the man Gabriel" who flew swiftly and reached him at the time of the evening offering.

In Chapter Eight we learned that Gabriel was in reality an entire society of angels (Apocalypse Explained 302). Gabriel represents the Divine truth itself drawing near to human conscience (Arcana Coelestia 8192). This is the first part of the Lord’s answer to our prayers. When we pray we ask the Lord to hear us. The essence of prayer in Daniel’s words are summed up in verse nineteen: “O Lord hear! O Lord forgive! O Lord listen and act!”

The Lord listens with His Divine truth, and answers with truth, represented by Gabriel flying down to Daniel, reaching him at "about the time of the evening offering." As we have seen many times in this study, "evening" is a state of obscurity caused by the presence of selfishness blocking out charity and thus faith. When we repent and pray to the Lord we are still in that state of obscurity, and yet part of the answer of prayer is to lift the darkness and give us insight into the nature of our lives and a clearer vision of how to overcome our evils. This is why Gabriel came in the evening, but notice his words to Daniel “Daniel, I have now come forth to give you skill to understand.”

The answer to prayers is given as "hope, consolation, or a certain inward joy” (Arcana Coelestia 2535). These spiritual gifts come from the Lord’s love for all humanity, but love is always communicated by means of wisdom. In other words we cannot have a feeling of hope unless we have thoughts of hope. We will not experience consolation unless we know that things will turn out for the better. Without the thought process, faith if you will, there can be no inward joy, for joy, or any emotion cannot exist in a vacuum separated from the thought processes.

The Lord’s answer to Daniel’s, and our, prayers is by lightening the darkness in our minds. Gabriel came to bring "skill to understand," with us that is the skill to see the evils of life clearly. It means breaking away from the persuasive power of the astrologers, magicians, soothsayers and Chaldeans who held such power over Nebuchadnezzar. In the historical series we were shown how they failed the king whose questions could only be satisfied by Daniel, our conscience.

So it is with us. In the process of repentance our conscience leads us to see our sins and urges us to confess them to the Lord. As we do so, the Lord enlightens our minds. This makes it possible for us to see several things from His perspective, firstly the enormity of our sins, secondly the possibility of rejecting them and being forgiven, and thirdly real hope that we will be freed from them. All this takes "skill to understand," and an increasingly clear sight of the Divine truth.

Gabriel then begins to explain to Daniel. He goes back to the very point at which Daniel began his prayer of repentance—the seventy years of captivity in Babylon, saying “Seventy weeks are determined for your people and for your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sins, to make reconciliation for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the Most Holy” (Daniel 9:24).

As we saw at the beginning of this chapter "seventy weeks" means the time of fullness from beginning to end of the Babylonian captivity (Apocalypse Explained 684). This period represents the steady breakdown of selfishness in our lives. When we are in states of selfishness we are held captive by the "Babylonians" within, yet with the rise of conscience to power, that hold is gradually broken, and the process is described by Daniel’s steady rise to power. The promise given to us in the process of repentance, therefore, is that we will eventually be liberated during the course of "seventy weeks."

Daniel was told that the captivity of seventy weeks would be upon his people and the city of holiness. The "people" are those states in us which belong to the church (Apocalypse Explained 684), or, in other words, all the states of goodness and truth, of charity and faith which are oppressed and held in bondage by selfishness. When we are selfish it is impossible to be in states of true charity—we cannot love other people when we love ourselves more, nor can we think in terms of truth clearly when our thoughts are clouded by habitual self justification. In these states of spiritual captivity, our conscience is present, as Daniel was present throughout the entire Babylonian captivity, to lead us to a state of repentance when bondage can be broken.

The "city of holiness" with us relates to the thought process based on truths from the Word which lead us into revolt against selfishness (Apocalypse Explained 684). While we are in spiritual bondage our thoughts are dominated by selfishness, but the Lord provides certain truths from the Word which form the basis of our conscience. These truths are the "cities of holiness" for they are from the Lord and make it possible for the Lord to be present in our minds, even in our darkest hours. It also makes it possible for the conscience to develop to the point where it can enter into active opposition against selfishness.

The seventy weeks "determined for your people and your holy city" are the states of life we pass through as we journey through our captivity. A person cannot repent from selfishness until he or she sees the quality of self, and rejects it, just as Nebuchadnezzar had to be brought down to a point of madness before he could be completely restored, and as Belshazzar had to be weighed in the balances and found wanting before he could be killed. We too have to pass through that process, and allow it to run its course, for it is only when we are moved with horror at our evils, as Daniel was moved to feel physically sick at the sight of the he-goat, that we can be led into true repentance, and then the Lord can come to us in full glory.

Gabriel’s words all built up to this point. One has to finish the transgression, make and end of sins and a reconciliation of iniquity, and then the Most Holy is anointed. In the Lord’s own life this verse meant that He would eventually unite the Divine to the Human through to process of glorification (Apocalypse Explained 624, 684). He did this by continual victories over hell from His own power (Arcana Coelestia 2025).

We overcome hell by the power of the Lord, and when we do so, we come into the states of peace and tranquillity which typify heaven, and yet that can only happen in a state of total rejection of evil and falsity (This state of rejection is called "vastation," and without it the Lord cannot be fully received (Arcana Coelestia 728)).

Having explained this to Daniel, Gabriel continues: “Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the command to restore and build Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince, there shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublesome times” (Daniel 9:25).

In history the ancient Jews were liberated from Babylon by king Cyrus. They returned home with the intention of rebuilding Jerusalem and the temple armed with the confidence that the cost of rebuilding was be born by the state. Even the vessels taken by Nebuchadnezzar would be restored to their rightful places. A tremendous inertia set in, however. Only the oldest of the captives could remember Jerusalem after seventy years, and many of the Jews were firmly established in Babylon. Historian John Bright writes that “the early years of the restoration venture proved bitterly disappointing, bringing little but frustration and discouragement (Bright 1972:361, 363, 364).

These early difficulties were mirrored in Gabriel’s words to Daniel, that from the giving of the command to the restoration of the temple to the coming of the Messiah shall be "seven weeks and sixty two weeks." The "going forth of the command" means the end of the time of preparation. Specifically in the analysis in the Apocalypse Explained we are told that these Word signify the end of the Old Testament because it was fulfilled by the coming of the Lord. The "restoration and building of Jerusalem" describes the renewal of the church by the Lord’s coming (Apocalypse Explained 684).

In the story of regeneration, these concepts can be seen to apply to the establishment of a new state within the human soul who has undergone the process of repentance and who is in process of fulfilling his or her potential of the development of new spiritual states. Thus the "going forth of the command" can be seen to be the process of repentance, which is the true beginning of regeneration, while the "building of the Jerusalem" is the final, regenerated state in which the ends of selfishness have been defeated and one returns to true worship of the Lord in every aspect of life.

As in earlier chapters Gabriel provides Daniel with a time frame for this development. This should not be thought of as natural time, however, but as the progression of state through which one passes between repentance and regeneration. Regeneration does not spring into being fully formed the moment a person decides to repent. It is a life-time process involving the gradual transition from a self-oriented life to a selfless life. To manage this one needs to undergo the rigours of temptation and the discipline of self compulsion.

The time given by Gabriel is familiar. The time between the order and the building of Jerusalem is seven weeks. Here we see the repetition of seven, and the meaning is the same—the full cycle of life, indicating once again that rebirth is an ongoing process.

More interesting, however, is the statement that "after sixty and two weeks it shall be restored and built." The term "sixty two" is only used in one other place in the Word, in Daniel chapter five, where we are told that Darius was sixty two years old when he killed Belshazzar. At that point we saw that sixty two represents a state in which faith is developing, but has not yet reached its fullness, for "sixty" describes the progress we make, while "two" indicates the incompleteness of that progress.

By pointing this out we are prepared to realise that whilst repentance is a major step forward in our spiritual lives, by itself it is not enough. If we persist, however, that repentance will develop into the states of reformation and finally regeneration, and the city Jerusalem will be built in our minds.

The angel says that in sixty two weeks the "street will be built again, and the wall." A "street" describes the truth of teaching from the Word (Apocalypse Explained 684). This is not simply an intellectual knowledge of what the Word teaches but an insight into the relevance of that truth to our lives. This truth is clearly related to the conscience which has been developing in the person throughout the course of his or her life, and which is now coming to fruition in leading the person to repentance.

The New King James version here describes the wall being build around the city, but in the original language the term is more properly translated as a trench, a moat or a ditch (Brown-Driver-Briggs Definition #2742. Swedenborg uses the term "fossa" which is translated "moat" or "drainage ditch"). In the internal sense a "moat" represents the doctrine or teaching which leads a person through life. The street and the moat are two sides of the same insightful concept of truth which the Lord gives to us as a result of repentance and prayer.

However, we should also know, as was mentioned above, that repentance initiates one into states of temptation. As soon as we begin to shun selfishness, there is a reassertion of the selfishness. The result is that we enter into the alternations of state described in Daniel’s visions in chapters seven and eight. These alternations are states of temptation as we struggle to be freed from the evil sides of our personalities, and remain connected to the good. The city, street and moat, therefore would be built in "troublesome times," meaning that our spiritual life is regained with difficulty.

There will even be times when "the Messiah will be cut off," a concept similar to the vision in chapter eight, when one feels that one’s spiritual progress, described by the ram, is scattered by the he-goat. The "Messiah shall be cut off" indicates states of relapse into selfishness (Apocalypse Explained 684), although within that selfishness there is still the hope that as long as our conscience survives, like Daniel in the citadel of Shushan, there will be enough power to turn the corner once again and repent.

This is the promise of repentance. When we turn to the Lord in prayer of confession and thanksgiving, we need to know that while things will ultimately be all right, still there is a hard road ahead. Nevertheless we are not alone. The Lord answered Daniel’s prayer with honesty, and He answers our prayers in the same way. The city will be rebuilt, but there is work to be done in the rebuilding of it. Nevertheless, at the time of repentance, we can experience the hope, consolation and inward joy in knowing that the Lord walked this path before us, and from His own power fought and defeated these same inner demons. He gives us the power to walk that path.

Swedenborg

Hlavní výklad ze Swedenborgových prací:

The Inner Meaning of the Prophets and Psalms 180


Další odkazy Swedenborga k tomuto verši:

属天的奥秘 6752

揭秘启示录 662


Odkazy ze Swedenborgových nevydaných prací:

Apocalypse Explained 937

Scriptural Confirmations 4, 38

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Exposition of Daniel's Prayer      

Napsal(a) Rev. Dr. Andrew M. T. Dibb

Keeping balance in one’s spiritual life is of supreme importance—and perhaps this is why the book of Daniel is given in two such clearly demarcated forms. The first six chapters show us the history of Daniel’s life in Babylon, from the time of his captivity as a youth to his elevation to power in the reign of Darius the Mede. The overall view of these first six chapters is to bring home the concept that our spiritual life is an ongoing progression. Certainly there are hard times, and certainly the selfishness in our characters is often hard to beat. Implicit in the history, however, is the ongoing promise that this evil can and will be beaten. We need to keep this in mind.

As we turned to the prophetic section of the book the importance of the historical section becomes clearer. In chapter seven, in the midst of the horrific vision which tells of our slide into evil, we need to remember the context of the vision—it takes place in the reign of Belshazzar. So does the vision of chapter eight, which describes the alternating states of good and evil, and particularly the state in which evils seems to so completely take over and dominate our minds.

In these visions there is a tendency to feel desperate. Will any goodness ever return to us, will the state ever swing back towards goodness? Daniel’s reaction to this vision was to faint and feel sick for days.

The darkness of night, however, is always broken by the gleams of morning light. In the depths of temptation, even to the point of despair, we are given the gift of the long view shown in the historical section. Belshazzar the king, during whose reign Daniel saw these visions, was deposed by Darius the Mede, and even though he faced terrible dangers during those years, nevertheless, he rose to a position of great power.

Belshazzar, as we have seen earlier depicts states of selfishness and evil in our external life. When we allow ourselves unfettered selfishness, when we willingly permit ourselves to discard the restraining truths of the Word, then our evil will express itself in daily life. Even the good things we do, when done from a selfish motive, are really expressions of evil. Like Belshazzar before us, when we are in this state, we wantonly profane the love of goodness and the understanding of truth given to us by the Lord.

This state, however, never lasts unless we choose to embrace it of our own free accord. As in the case of the four beasts shown in chapter seven, there will be a time of judgment. Like Belshazzar we will be weighed in the balances and found wanting.

The important question, however, is what do we do to turn the tide of evil, or tip the balances of our lives? Even in chapter eight, when Daniel sees the vision of the ram and the goat, he was within the walls of the citadel of Shushan, showing us that no matter how much we slide into evil, the Lord provides that our conscience is always able to be activated, and from that conscience we are able to see our condition, repent and turn away from it.

It follows, then, that chapters seven and eight outline a natural progression from the origin of evil in our lives—described as the beast, to the rule of evil, shown by the actions of the goat. Liberation comes from humility and repentance before the Lord, and chapter nine focuses on repentance leading the way to a fulfilment of spiritual life.

VERSES 1-2
We first met Darius the Mede at the end of chapter five, when he swept into Babylon and killed Belshazzar on the very night of the profane feast. Specific mention was made that Darius was sixty two years old at the time. Analysis of the way Darius exalted Daniel, especially his unwillingness to have him put to death, indicates that Darius represents a person who is in the process of turning aside from pure selfishness into a state where the conscience, symbolised by Daniel, is elevated to high rank. In this state the conscience begins to rule our thoughts as Daniel ruled in Babylon, second only to himself (Cf. Daniel 6:3).

The reign of Darius stands as a counterpoint to that of Belshazzar, both in the historical and prophetical series. In Belshazzar’s reign, epitomising selfishness, Daniel saw visions of beasts putting goodness to flight. Those states, as said before, alternate with other states when the conscience is able to direct our feelings and thoughts. These latter are states of spiritual lucidity and recommitment to regeneration, and by correspondence take place during the reign of Darius.

Daniel, who had lived long in Babylon, surviving both Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar, found himself an old man. He had been carried into captivity as a young boy, and later watched from afar as Jerusalem was destroyed by the Babylonian hordes. From his privileged vantage point he was aware of the vast number of Jews compelled to live in Babylon on order from the king. He was equally aware of the destruction of the temple at Jerusalem, and knew that this meant that no sacrificial worship could take place. Yet Daniel also knew prophecies indicating that this state of affairs would not last forever. He states that he "understood by the books the number of years specified … that He would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem." Years in the internal sense of the Word never refer to time, always to state, and the number of years therefore refers to the states a person must go through in their selfish, or Babylonian, states, before they are set free to live again without the influence of selfishness to mar their lives.

The desolation of Jerusalem is the damage done to the church, or more specifically the states of genuine goodness and truth within us, by the evils of selfishness. Selfishness is the single most destructive human emotion, as we have seen from the violence of its depiction in the actions of Nebuchadnezzar, the profanation of Belshazzar, and in the terror of the beast and the goat. Yet if the human conscience is nurtured and fed, if it is lifted up, as Darius honoured and promoted Daniel, then the conscience will flourish, and spiritual sanity will be restored.

The process takes a lifetime. "Two thousand three hundred evenings and mornings," Daniel was told—alternations continuing through states of temptations until it is possible for a new state to break into our minds and establish itself there.

In chapter nine the seventy years of Babylonian captivity describe the steady breakdown of the power of selfishness over us. "Seventy years" of captivity before release represents the states in us before the Lord is present. When we are in states of selfishness, our selfishness blocks out the presence of the Lord. As we regenerate, however, the selfishness is put aside, and the Lord is able to draw closer. The presence of the Lord in our lives has the effect of further breaking down our selfishness, and ushering in new states of life freed from these.

Seen from this point of view, chapter nine follows clearly from chapters seven and eight. The pendulum of life has swung, we are aware of our evils, in fact we are still immersed in them, but by the power of the conscience we begin the process of breaking free.

VERSES 9-19
Spiritual regeneration begins in humility. Daniel was aware of Israel’s captivity in Babylon, and longed for it to end. In humility he turned his face towards the Lord God, to make his requests by prayers and supplications and to emphasise his grief and mourning over this state of affairs with the time honour practices of fasting, wearing garments of sack-cloth and pouring ashes over his head.

These actions, rooted in the deepest of Old Testament times contain within them the very essence of repentance. We will forever remain slaves to selfishness unless and until we are willing to humble ourselves to the Lord. This begins when we recognise the work of the beast and the goat in our own lives, when we see Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar as twin kings of evil directing our inner and outer selves. It is easy to lay the blame for these states on others, to claim that our up-bringing was not good, for example, but in reality the responsibility is ours. The Daniel side of our minds needs to be active.

The first step of the spiritual activity which will eventually set us free is recorded in the words "Daniel set his face to the Lord God." That single physical motion is the beginning of the series of spiritual events in our lives which will eventually free us from selfishness. In the internal sense the "face" represents our internal states, which gives us the ability to see our lives from a different perspective than simply that of the senses (Arcana Coelestia 358, 5165) As we saw earlier, it was because of Daniel, or our conscience, that we are able to see anything in ourselves at all. Part of the judgment arising from truth is looking at ourselves, as we are, and rejecting the evil or grosser parts of our beings. Daniel turning his face to the Lord God takes on the meaning of a person focusing his or her internals on the presence of the Lord in them. To do this, they have to turn aside from their selfishness.

By fixing our sights on the Lord we are able to begin the process of repentance. Repentance is a process which involves a complete reorientation of our lives. We are told that “actual repentance consists in a person’s examining himself, recognising and acknowledging his sins, praying to the Lord, and beginning a new life” (True Christian Religion 528).

The visions of Chapter Seven and Eight, which show the origin and progress of evil in our lives, can easily be related to the self examination required in repentance. Chapter Nine deals more fully with the acknowledgement of sins, and prayer to the Lord for forgiveness.

Yet repentance can never begin without turning our faces towards the Lord God, for, as in the words of the Psalmist, all our sins are really sins against Him. Recognising this is the basis of true humility.

It is in this humility that Daniel proposed to speak to the Lord. Notice his words as he turned his face towards the Lord God "to make request by prayer and supplication." In the literal sense Daniel is praying for the restoration of Jerusalem and freedom from Babylon. In our lives, our request is for a return to the states of innocence and peace we last experienced in our infant years, with the difference that after regeneration this innocence is an expression of wisdom in contrast with infant ignorance.

Daniel turned to the Lord with "prayer and supplication." These words are not merely repetition of the same thing. In the Word where pairs of words are used in this way, it draws attention to the duality in the Word (Doctrine of the Sacred Scripture 80-90, True Christian Religion 248-253). The Word is an outpouring of love and wisdom from the Lord, which is reflected in each and every detail, but most clearly when pairs of words are used to describe the same thing. "Prayer and supplication" as a pair of words, meaning the same thing, express both the love and wisdom from Lord, and by using them in this fashion, Daniel draws attention to the fact that our humility and repentance come from both the will and the understanding parts of our being.

Should we turn to the Lord with the will only, we may find that we wish to repent, but do not have any idea of how to do so. The desire may well eventually founder because it is not directed by the understanding. On the other hand, repentance which does not also draw from a will or desire to change has no depth. The intellectual side of our minds alone cannot lead us into a new life. So the two must go together, as partners, to lead us with by the desire of the will according to the wisdom of the understanding. Like Daniel, we need to turn to the Lord with "prayer and supplication."

Prayer, we are told "is talking to God and at the same time some inner view of the things that are being prayed for” (Arcana Coelestia 2535). Prayer is a very necessary part of our spiritual lives. We are told that a person can remove evils "only if he acknowledges the Divine Providence and prays that the removal be done by it” (Divine Providence 184). The power to overcome evils is given in response to the prayer (Doctrine of Life 31), which is described as "a certain opening of the man's interiors toward God” (Arcana Coelestia 2535). As our interiors open to the Lord, the power He used to fight against evil spirits is given to us to use as our own power, which puts us into a state of freedom to resist evil.

Notice Daniel’s actions in prayer. The matter for which he prayed was close to his heart, the deliverance of Israel from Babylonian captivity. He knew the prophecy of seventy years, and knew also that about seventy years had passed since the captivity had taken place. His prayer, however, was not one of demanding his rights, there was no arrogance in his tone, such as we sometime find in our own when we think the Lord has not lived up to His side of the covenant.

Daniel’s prayer was full of inner and outer humility. We see the outer humility first as he prepared himself for prayer by fasting and clothing himself in sackcloth and ashes. As in every detail of the Word this sequence of actions contains within itself a series of states, in this case states preparatory to prayer itself.

Daniel began with fasting. In the internal sense "to fast" means "to mourn on account of the lack of good and truth” (Apocalypse Explained 1189:2). In our prayer to the Lord for help in times of temptation and deliverance from it, it is important to begin with the attitude of recognition that we actually have no real good or truth in us. Our goodness is under control of the love of self, just as Daniel was, in spite of his high position, technically still a captive of the king of Babylon.

We can only begin to really break free of the bondage of self when we come to this recognition—and this is why Daniel had to witness those two terrible visions, so that he, and we through him, could see our own state, and be affected by it, and be moved by a desire to break free from it. The concept of "fasting" therefore, also contains a willingness to enter into combat against the Babylonian side of ourselves (Apocalypse Explained 730).

There is another element in the idea of fasting which is also of great importance here. "Fasting" also stands for the desire to learn the forms of good and the truths of faith (Arcana Coelestia 9050:7). Without this desire our spiritual progress grinds to a halt. A person who has no interest in acquiring knowledge about the forms of goodness and truth closes his or her mind to the presence of the Lord, remaining thus in ignorance and will eventually lapse, without resistance, back into a life of unfettered selfishness.

This fasting is in many ways analogous to the young Daniel, recently carried to Babylon from Jerusalem, when he refused to eat the food from the king’s table. Although he did eat fresh vegetables, technically he fasted in regards to Nebuchadnezzar’s food. "Eating" and "drinking" represent the assimilation of goods and truths in our minds, and in the opposite sense, the assimilation of evil and falsity. By refusing to eat the king’s food, young Daniel showed himself unwilling to partake of the feelings and thoughts arising from selfishness. It was really that unwillingness which sustained him during the course of his life, and now, as he begins to pray to the Lord, he once again fasts.

The reality of this in our own lives is very important. Our conscience is formed partly from an unwillingness to embrace evil, not only once but continually. When we come to repent our sins, this unwillingness has to be at the very core of our spirits, otherwise our repentance will be of no avail.

There are many examples in the Old Testament of people in a state of mourning who fast, wear garments of sackcloth and cover their heads with ashes. In the New Testament the Lord ties together the concept of grieving or mourning with repentance when He said, “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes (Luke 10:13).

It was entirely in keeping with the customs of the Old Testament, therefore, for Daniel in his grief over the captivity of the people, to augment his fast with clothes of sackcloth and ashes on his head. In the internal sense to be clothed in sackcloth means to be in mourning because one does not one has not been receptive of Divine good and truth (Apocalypse Explained 637), and thus that good has been destroyed (Arcana Coelestia 4779). Ashes, which were placed on the head, or sometimes people rolled in them, represent the false thoughts and ideas a person has had on account of evil (Arcana Coelestia 7520).

Daniel’s actions are deeply symbolic of a person who is beginning the process of serious repentance. By fasting, wearing sackcloth and ashes he indicates the feeling of humility and sorrow, or contrition, we need in order to truly enter into repentance. While contrition is necessary to motivate us to repent, one needs to be careful that those intense feelings of sorrow about our evil states do not so dominate our thoughts that we feel that the sorrow itself is repentance. One needs to guard against falling into the trap of thinking that we are total depraved sinners without seeing any particular evil in ourselves which can be overcome by repentance (True Christian Religion 513). Repentance is an activity, not a feeling.

Daniel does not wallow in his sorrow, he directs his thoughts to the Lord with the words of prayer and confession. Repentance is a process beginning is self-examination done in a state of humility. A person who is repenting needs to then do two things after self-examination- prayer and confession. As one takes the findings of self-examination to the Lord in prayer, so one confesses ones sins to Him. Confession "will be that he sees, recognises, and acknowledges his evils, and finds himself to be a miserable sinner" (True Christian Religion 539). The person doesn’t need to list particular incidents of sin to the Lord, for the Lord is present in the process of self-examination, but he or she needs to have a clear understanding of the sins to be repented.

Once the person confesses to the Lord, it is necessary to pray to the Lord for forgiveness. Even though the Lord constantly forgives people their sins, but it is necessary to pray for forgiveness for our own sakes because it reminds us that forgiveness comes with the removal of sins, and sins are removed as we refrain from them and enter a new life. We also need to be reminded of the fact that the Lord does indeed forgive us our sins if we repent them. (True Christian Religion 539).

Daniel’s prayer is a model of confession and begging for forgiveness. He begins with a recognition of the Lord Himself. Notice the duality of the terms in his opening, "O Lord, great and awesome God." As we saw earlier, this juxtaposition of two names refers to the qualities of Divine Love and Divine Wisdom. The name used for God in any given chapter of the Word indicates the quality or aspect of God present in the internal sense at that point. Generally the name "Lord" refers to the Lord’s love operating in people’s lives, while God describes the Divine truth which is the vehicle carrying love down to the level at which people can receive it (Arcana Coelestia 2921, 2769).

This opening of a prayer can seem like simply addressing the prayer to the Lord, but it is much more than that. It indicates that in the state of repentance we need to keep two things in mind, firstly, that the Lord is a God of love. Without this idea there would be no real reason to repent at all. If the Lord was a God of anger or revenge, then no matter what we do we would never be able to be reconciled with Him, for no human being can ever hope to prepare for the Lord a state so perfect that He would be appeased. If, however, one sees God as a God of love, then there the quality of mercy is allowed, and from this there is hope. Secondly, by using the term God, we are reminded of the order by which the Lord both creates and governs His creation. This order is inscribed by the Lord on all things, including the process of repentance. Daniel’s choice of words here is no accidental greeting to the Supreme, but carefully chosen because it conveys the fullness of God to us in a state of repentance.

The presence of the Lord in repentance is in order. Daniel continues that the Lord "keeps His covenant and mercy with those who love Him, and with those who keep his commandments." Here again we see the positioning of two issues, covenant and mercy.

The Lord’s covenant, first given to Noah, and reiterated to Abram and many others after him is simple: if people obey they will prosper, if they disobey they will perish. The whole of the Old Testament bears testimony to this covenant. A covenant is an agreement between two parties, and in the Lord’s covenant the two parties are Himself and the human race. The covenant is the promise that people can be regenerated and so conjoined to the Lord (Arcana Coelestia 665, 666). Every impulse towards goodness and truth in our lives bears testament to this covenant.

However, it is also told in the pages of the Old Testament, and in our own lives, that we do not always embrace the Lord’s goodness and truth. We fall short in the part we play in the covenant. The nature of the human being is attracted to selfishness and a desire to dominate over others. This is why we end up captives in our own spiritual Babylon, dominated by Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar. Yet within the Lord’s covenant is the implicit promise of repentance. If we turn away from selfishness, the Lord can and will remit our sins, and we will be renewed. Daniel in his prayer is aware of the Lord’s mercy as a factor of the covenant, and appeals to it. We too need to be aware of this, for it inspires us with hope, and spurs us on to a rejection of evil.

Daniel continues then with a confession of the sins of Israel, "we have sinned and committed iniquity, we have done wickedly and rebelled." Notice again the duality of phrase, sin and committed iniquity. "To sin" means "to sin, to miss, to miss the way, to go wrong, to incur guilt" (Brown-Driver-Briggs definition no. 2398). While "iniquity" means "to bend, to twist, to distort” (Brown-Driver-Briggs Definition no. 5753). In these dictionary definitions one sees the fullness of Daniel’s confession. Not only was the sin from the will, which causes one to miss the way, go wrong and incur guilt, but also from the understanding as one bends, twists and distorts the truth. One can trace this process through the pages of Daniel, especially in the historical series, where in chapter two one sees the influence of the evil of selfishness on the understanding and in chapter three on the will. Both need to be cleansed, and so both need to be confessed.

Essentially "sin" is a state of disjunction from the Lord (Arcana Coelestia 4997), it is the breaking of the Lord’s covenant and arises in the loves of selfishness and greed. All people are born with an inclination towards evils, but they are not born "sinners" as is commonly believed by those who propound the doctrine of "original sin." Sin enters a person’s life when he or she becomes, through purposeful action, guilty of evil (Arcana Coelestia 7147), and so separated from the life of goodness and truth which is the basis of the Lord’s covenant.

In order for a sin to be a sin it must be done purposefully, or from intention, while knowing that it is opposed to the Lord’s teaching. We are told that “to sin is to do and think what is evil and false intentionally from the will, for such things which are done intentionally from the will are such as come forth out of the heart and defile man, consequently which destroy spiritual life with him” (Arcana Coelestia 8925).

Recognising sin in our lives, then, is recognition of the fact that we have turned aside from the Lord. We have broken covenant with Him, and can only be lead back into communion with Him through the process of repentance and reformation.

In a similar way "to commit iniquity" means to twist or distort the truth. There is a steady thread of this distortion running throughout Daniel, from Jehoiakim, king of Judah who represents a lust for evil and an aversion to truth (Apocalypse Explained 481:4), to the magicians, astrologers, sorcerers and Chaldeans that Nebuchadnezzar called on to interpret his dreams. These represent the habitual thought processes we fall into to protect and enhance our selfish states. Whenever our minds are not directed by the conscience, our thoughts are dominated by the selfish will, with the result that we commit iniquity by thinking selfishly.

This kind of acknowledgement is the beginning of the formal process of repentance. As Daniel says in his prayer, "we have done wickedly and rebelled, even by departing from Your precepts and Your judgements." In these words he captures the totality of human evil, both as to its motivation sin and the expressive thought. All sin, in one way or another, is a rebellion against God. As we have seen in earlier chapters Lucifer’s fall was occasioned by his rebellion.

Any general recognition of sin and iniquity of life, however, needs to be more than simply a general statement of evil. It does people no good to simply admit that of themselves they are sinners without specifying at least one sin. A person may know from the Word that he or she is a sinner, but unless that person actually searches out his or her evils, they remain as a source of spiritual infection (Charity 3). If we claim to be sinners without self-exploration, can cannot truly confess ourselves to be sinners (Arcana Coelestia 8390, The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 159) for our confession would have no basis in self-perception and would merely be a lip confession, which can be made even by evil men when the thought of hell-fire is present (True Christian Religion 517).

It follows then that Daniel highlights a specific example of how the Jews had sinned against God, which lead to their captivity in Babylon. He said, “Neither have we heeded Your servants the prophets, who spoke in Your name to our kings and our princes, to our fathers and all the people of the land” (Daniel 9:6).

The sin of the ancient Jews was the ignoring of and disobedience to the prophets sent by the Lord to lead the people. King after king of Judea set up idols, worshipping them in place of the Lord, until finally the kingdom was overrun, the temple desecrated and destroyed, the people carried off into captivity or scattered. Jehoiakim, king of Judah at the time of the Babylonian captivity is a case in point. His father, Josiah, read the Word and restored the temple. He tore down idolatrous places of worship and re-instituted the Passover (2 Kings 23, 24). Jehoiakim, inheriting the throne at age twenty five, knowing full well the reforms of Josiah, and yet chose to reject these by "doing evil in the sight of the Lord, according to all that his fathers had done” (2 Kings 23:37). In this way he ignored the Lord and disobeyed His teachings.

Much the same happens to us. When selfishness controls us it leads us to intentionally reject the teachings of the Word—even though we may pay lip-service to them. The result is a state of disobedience which can only be rectified through repentance. Each alternation of state, when we swing from goodness into evil is such an action. As Daniel says, we do not listen to the Lord’s prophets.

In the literal sense of the Word a prophet is one who preaches the truth, as did Elijah and Elisha, to name but two. However, in the internal sense a prophet represents the teaching itself, thus the doctrine from the Word (Arcana Coelestia 2534). As we have seen earlier, "kings" in the Word represent the ruling principles in our lives, and if these are false, then all our subsidiary thoughts, the "princes" will also be false.

The nature of sin and iniquity, then, is to allow the ruling principles in our minds, our "kings," and our thoughts derived from these, our "princes" to fall into falsity by ignoring the teachings of the Word. When a person can see this tendency within themselves, they are well on the way to truly confessing their sins to the Lord, not as an abstract state of life, but specific incidents of disobedience.

Part of this process of recognition and confession of sins is an observance of the consequences of one’s sins. Remember that Daniel is writing this prayer partly in response to the captivity of Judah—a captivity resulting from the neglect on the part of at least the king of Judah to obey the Word of the Lord. This captivity describes our states when we are held captive by the evils and falsities arising in selfishness. Daniel could clearly see that the historical captivity resulted from the disobedience of the kings of Judah. Can we see that our evils and their consequences are a result of our disobedience to the Lord? Can we come to the point at which we acknowledge our guilt to the Lord in Daniel’s words?

“Lord, to us belongs shame of face, to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, because we have sinned against you.”—Such a cry to the Lord would be cold and sterile if there was not hope of redemption. The historical story of Daniel shows us, however, that there is always hope. The recurring theme is that the Lord is always with us, even in the darkest times to bring the light of knowledge and a renewed commitment to change. In times of repentance this is perhaps more important than at any other time, for when we repent we undertake to change based on our recognition of the states of evil and falsity within us. At those times we need to remember that the Lord does not bear grudges, and that the very force of His Divine Providence is leading us towards heaven.

The measure of the Lord’s mercy is highlighted in the concept that when one sins, one sins against the Lord Himself (Psalm 51:4). Daniel recognises that by not listening to the teaching of the prophets the Jews had "not obeyed the voice of the Lord our God." This is a further development in the recognition of sin in oneself. To reject and be disobedient to the teaching or doctrine of the Word is one thing, for the Word is open to many interpretations, it can be twisted this way and that to suit people’s will. The real damage to the Word comes, however, through the motive for the twisting. As we have seen in many places in Daniel, when the Word is twisted to underpin and protect selfish loves, then one does damage to the Lord Himself, for He is the Word itself. As Daniel points out, the prophets are "His servants," as teaching is a servant of truth itself.

The result is the disjunction of sin, a breaking of the covenant and separation from all the goodness and truth which originates in the Lord, and which is described in the book of Deuteronomy as a curse. There are too many curses to list, but they all indicate various states of evil which befall those who separate themselves from the Lord.

In Daniel the woes of captivity are indicated as being curses from the Lord on the Jews for disobeying the Lord, and it is easy to be sympathetic to this view. Evil, especially selfishness causes life to unravel, if not in this world, then certainly in the next. Relationships based on selfishness will never be happy, conflict dogs those whose only concern is themselves. This unhappiness and conflict may seem to be a curse or disaster sent by the Lord to punish the evil doer, yet it is a great truth that the Lord never punishes anyone for their evils (Arcana Coelestia 696, 697, 1857).

For a person who is in the process of repentance this is both a necessary and comforting thought, for if the Lord cast us into hell because of our sins, all hope would be lost and life would lose its point. We need to know that regardless of how dreadful our evils may seem, and how willingly we allow ourselves to be drawn into them, still the Lord is, as Daniel says "righteous in all the works which He does, though we have not obeyed His voice."

It is important in order to keep a state of balance in repentance to remember the times the Lord has helped us in our captivity to selfishness. In his prayer Daniel remembers back to the liberation from Egypt. If we take the historical series of the book of Daniel as our guide, we can see the Lord’s hand in the way He patiently and continually led Nebuchadnezzar through terrible times to the eventual point where the king could praise the Lord as his God. Each detail of that journey is reflected in our progressive liberation from selfishness and all its attendant states. Finally as our inner motivations change, we can be lead to the state depicted in the reign of Darius when Daniel is given charge over the land.

Providence can never be seen in advance, only in hindsight (Divine Providence 178, 187). In the throes of temptation and repentance is seems as if the Lord has abandoned us, yet He is always there to show us the way to a new state of life.

VERSES 20-27
The wonder of prayer lies in the answers. Sometimes people are not certain whether the Lord listens to prayer, and whether prayer can ever change the Lord’s mind about something. This is not, or at least should not be the reason we pray. Prayer is for our benefit, for it focuses our minds upon the Lord and opens up the interiors of our minds making it possible for us to receive His presence. The answers to prayers are seldom given in loud or dramatic ways. More often than not the answer lies in a small quiet awareness of the Lord’s presence. As we are told in the doctrines, the answer comes as “…something like a revelation (which is manifested in the affection of him that prays) as to hope, consolation, or a certain inward joy” (Arcana Coelestia 2535).

Daniel prayed to the Lord for the salvation of Israel, captive in Babylon for seventy years. He prayed with deep humility, with an awareness of the evils of the Jews, and a willingness to confront those evils. The Lord answered his prayer.

When we are in the process of repenting, we too need to pray to the Lord in confession and in prayer for forgiveness and mercy. The fact of saying those prayers is powerful, for in confessing our sins to the Lord we acknowledge from humility of heart that the evils of our lives are not defensible. The action of prayer is, in many ways, the opposite and therefore the antidote to the rule of Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar in our minds. While they are present we justify our evils, we permit and actively make possible states opposed to the presence of the Lord. But in confession this changes, and our minds are opened.

Supplication, or prayer for mercy does much the same thing. In our Babylonian states we are self-sufficient—we don’t need the Lord or His Word. Our minds are dominated across the axes of our will and understanding just as the he-goat in chapter eight extended the power of his horns to the four winds of the earth. By opening our minds in prayer, however, we acknowledge that this selfish power is not real power. Real power belongs to the Lord who can and will forgive us, and in so doing gives us the power to override selfishness and break its hold over us.

While Daniel prayed, he became aware of the answer from the Lord. The imagery in his words show us a great deal about how the Lord answers prayers from the heart. As he prayed he became aware of "the man Gabriel" who flew swiftly and reached him at the time of the evening offering.

In Chapter Eight we learned that Gabriel was in reality an entire society of angels (Apocalypse Explained 302). Gabriel represents the Divine truth itself drawing near to human conscience (Arcana Coelestia 8192). This is the first part of the Lord’s answer to our prayers. When we pray we ask the Lord to hear us. The essence of prayer in Daniel’s words are summed up in verse nineteen: “O Lord hear! O Lord forgive! O Lord listen and act!”

The Lord listens with His Divine truth, and answers with truth, represented by Gabriel flying down to Daniel, reaching him at "about the time of the evening offering." As we have seen many times in this study, "evening" is a state of obscurity caused by the presence of selfishness blocking out charity and thus faith. When we repent and pray to the Lord we are still in that state of obscurity, and yet part of the answer of prayer is to lift the darkness and give us insight into the nature of our lives and a clearer vision of how to overcome our evils. This is why Gabriel came in the evening, but notice his words to Daniel “Daniel, I have now come forth to give you skill to understand.”

The answer to prayers is given as "hope, consolation, or a certain inward joy” (Arcana Coelestia 2535). These spiritual gifts come from the Lord’s love for all humanity, but love is always communicated by means of wisdom. In other words we cannot have a feeling of hope unless we have thoughts of hope. We will not experience consolation unless we know that things will turn out for the better. Without the thought process, faith if you will, there can be no inward joy, for joy, or any emotion cannot exist in a vacuum separated from the thought processes.

The Lord’s answer to Daniel’s, and our, prayers is by lightening the darkness in our minds. Gabriel came to bring "skill to understand," with us that is the skill to see the evils of life clearly. It means breaking away from the persuasive power of the astrologers, magicians, soothsayers and Chaldeans who held such power over Nebuchadnezzar. In the historical series we were shown how they failed the king whose questions could only be satisfied by Daniel, our conscience.

So it is with us. In the process of repentance our conscience leads us to see our sins and urges us to confess them to the Lord. As we do so, the Lord enlightens our minds. This makes it possible for us to see several things from His perspective, firstly the enormity of our sins, secondly the possibility of rejecting them and being forgiven, and thirdly real hope that we will be freed from them. All this takes "skill to understand," and an increasingly clear sight of the Divine truth.

Gabriel then begins to explain to Daniel. He goes back to the very point at which Daniel began his prayer of repentance—the seventy years of captivity in Babylon, saying “Seventy weeks are determined for your people and for your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sins, to make reconciliation for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the Most Holy” (Daniel 9:24).

As we saw at the beginning of this chapter "seventy weeks" means the time of fullness from beginning to end of the Babylonian captivity (Apocalypse Explained 684). This period represents the steady breakdown of selfishness in our lives. When we are in states of selfishness we are held captive by the "Babylonians" within, yet with the rise of conscience to power, that hold is gradually broken, and the process is described by Daniel’s steady rise to power. The promise given to us in the process of repentance, therefore, is that we will eventually be liberated during the course of "seventy weeks."

Daniel was told that the captivity of seventy weeks would be upon his people and the city of holiness. The "people" are those states in us which belong to the church (Apocalypse Explained 684), or, in other words, all the states of goodness and truth, of charity and faith which are oppressed and held in bondage by selfishness. When we are selfish it is impossible to be in states of true charity—we cannot love other people when we love ourselves more, nor can we think in terms of truth clearly when our thoughts are clouded by habitual self justification. In these states of spiritual captivity, our conscience is present, as Daniel was present throughout the entire Babylonian captivity, to lead us to a state of repentance when bondage can be broken.

The "city of holiness" with us relates to the thought process based on truths from the Word which lead us into revolt against selfishness (Apocalypse Explained 684). While we are in spiritual bondage our thoughts are dominated by selfishness, but the Lord provides certain truths from the Word which form the basis of our conscience. These truths are the "cities of holiness" for they are from the Lord and make it possible for the Lord to be present in our minds, even in our darkest hours. It also makes it possible for the conscience to develop to the point where it can enter into active opposition against selfishness.

The seventy weeks "determined for your people and your holy city" are the states of life we pass through as we journey through our captivity. A person cannot repent from selfishness until he or she sees the quality of self, and rejects it, just as Nebuchadnezzar had to be brought down to a point of madness before he could be completely restored, and as Belshazzar had to be weighed in the balances and found wanting before he could be killed. We too have to pass through that process, and allow it to run its course, for it is only when we are moved with horror at our evils, as Daniel was moved to feel physically sick at the sight of the he-goat, that we can be led into true repentance, and then the Lord can come to us in full glory.

Gabriel’s words all built up to this point. One has to finish the transgression, make and end of sins and a reconciliation of iniquity, and then the Most Holy is anointed. In the Lord’s own life this verse meant that He would eventually unite the Divine to the Human through to process of glorification (Apocalypse Explained 624, 684). He did this by continual victories over hell from His own power (Arcana Coelestia 2025).

We overcome hell by the power of the Lord, and when we do so, we come into the states of peace and tranquillity which typify heaven, and yet that can only happen in a state of total rejection of evil and falsity (This state of rejection is called "vastation," and without it the Lord cannot be fully received (Arcana Coelestia 728)).

Having explained this to Daniel, Gabriel continues: “Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the command to restore and build Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince, there shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublesome times” (Daniel 9:25).

In history the ancient Jews were liberated from Babylon by king Cyrus. They returned home with the intention of rebuilding Jerusalem and the temple armed with the confidence that the cost of rebuilding was be born by the state. Even the vessels taken by Nebuchadnezzar would be restored to their rightful places. A tremendous inertia set in, however. Only the oldest of the captives could remember Jerusalem after seventy years, and many of the Jews were firmly established in Babylon. Historian John Bright writes that “the early years of the restoration venture proved bitterly disappointing, bringing little but frustration and discouragement (Bright 1972:361, 363, 364).

These early difficulties were mirrored in Gabriel’s words to Daniel, that from the giving of the command to the restoration of the temple to the coming of the Messiah shall be "seven weeks and sixty two weeks." The "going forth of the command" means the end of the time of preparation. Specifically in the analysis in the Apocalypse Explained we are told that these Word signify the end of the Old Testament because it was fulfilled by the coming of the Lord. The "restoration and building of Jerusalem" describes the renewal of the church by the Lord’s coming (Apocalypse Explained 684).

In the story of regeneration, these concepts can be seen to apply to the establishment of a new state within the human soul who has undergone the process of repentance and who is in process of fulfilling his or her potential of the development of new spiritual states. Thus the "going forth of the command" can be seen to be the process of repentance, which is the true beginning of regeneration, while the "building of the Jerusalem" is the final, regenerated state in which the ends of selfishness have been defeated and one returns to true worship of the Lord in every aspect of life.

As in earlier chapters Gabriel provides Daniel with a time frame for this development. This should not be thought of as natural time, however, but as the progression of state through which one passes between repentance and regeneration. Regeneration does not spring into being fully formed the moment a person decides to repent. It is a life-time process involving the gradual transition from a self-oriented life to a selfless life. To manage this one needs to undergo the rigours of temptation and the discipline of self compulsion.

The time given by Gabriel is familiar. The time between the order and the building of Jerusalem is seven weeks. Here we see the repetition of seven, and the meaning is the same—the full cycle of life, indicating once again that rebirth is an ongoing process.

More interesting, however, is the statement that "after sixty and two weeks it shall be restored and built." The term "sixty two" is only used in one other place in the Word, in Daniel chapter five, where we are told that Darius was sixty two years old when he killed Belshazzar. At that point we saw that sixty two represents a state in which faith is developing, but has not yet reached its fullness, for "sixty" describes the progress we make, while "two" indicates the incompleteness of that progress.

By pointing this out we are prepared to realise that whilst repentance is a major step forward in our spiritual lives, by itself it is not enough. If we persist, however, that repentance will develop into the states of reformation and finally regeneration, and the city Jerusalem will be built in our minds.

The angel says that in sixty two weeks the "street will be built again, and the wall." A "street" describes the truth of teaching from the Word (Apocalypse Explained 684). This is not simply an intellectual knowledge of what the Word teaches but an insight into the relevance of that truth to our lives. This truth is clearly related to the conscience which has been developing in the person throughout the course of his or her life, and which is now coming to fruition in leading the person to repentance.

The New King James version here describes the wall being build around the city, but in the original language the term is more properly translated as a trench, a moat or a ditch (Brown-Driver-Briggs Definition #2742. Swedenborg uses the term "fossa" which is translated "moat" or "drainage ditch"). In the internal sense a "moat" represents the doctrine or teaching which leads a person through life. The street and the moat are two sides of the same insightful concept of truth which the Lord gives to us as a result of repentance and prayer.

However, we should also know, as was mentioned above, that repentance initiates one into states of temptation. As soon as we begin to shun selfishness, there is a reassertion of the selfishness. The result is that we enter into the alternations of state described in Daniel’s visions in chapters seven and eight. These alternations are states of temptation as we struggle to be freed from the evil sides of our personalities, and remain connected to the good. The city, street and moat, therefore would be built in "troublesome times," meaning that our spiritual life is regained with difficulty.

There will even be times when "the Messiah will be cut off," a concept similar to the vision in chapter eight, when one feels that one’s spiritual progress, described by the ram, is scattered by the he-goat. The "Messiah shall be cut off" indicates states of relapse into selfishness (Apocalypse Explained 684), although within that selfishness there is still the hope that as long as our conscience survives, like Daniel in the citadel of Shushan, there will be enough power to turn the corner once again and repent.

This is the promise of repentance. When we turn to the Lord in prayer of confession and thanksgiving, we need to know that while things will ultimately be all right, still there is a hard road ahead. Nevertheless we are not alone. The Lord answered Daniel’s prayer with honesty, and He answers our prayers in the same way. The city will be rebuilt, but there is work to be done in the rebuilding of it. Nevertheless, at the time of repentance, we can experience the hope, consolation and inward joy in knowing that the Lord walked this path before us, and from His own power fought and defeated these same inner demons. He gives us the power to walk that path.

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Apocalypse Explained # 730

Apocalypse Explained (Whitehead translation)      

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730. Verse 6 (Revelation 12:6). And the woman fled into the wilderness, signifies the church among a few, because with those who are not in good, and consequently not in truths. This is evident from the signification of "woman," as being the church (see above, n. 707), also from the signification of "wilderness," as being where there are no truths because there is no good (of which presently); also from the signification of "fleeing" thither, as meaning to tarry among those who are not in truths because they are not in good; and as there are at the end of the church but few who are in truths from good, it signifies among a few. From this it is clear what these words involve, namely, that the New Church that is called the Holy Jerusalem, which is signified by "the woman," can as yet be instituted only with a few, by reason that the former church is become a wilderness; and the church is called a "wilderness" when there is no longer any good; and where there is no good there are no truths. When the church is such, evils and falsities reign, which hinder the reception of its doctrine, that is, the doctrine of love to the Lord and of charity towards the neighbor, with its truths; and when doctrine is not received there is no church, for the church is from doctrine.

(Odkazy: The Apocalypse Explained 707)


[2] Something shall first be said of there being no truths where there is no good. By good is meant the good of the life according to the truths of doctrine from the Word. The reason is because the Lord never flows immediately into truths with man, but mediately through his good; for good is of the will, and the will is the man himself; from the will the understanding is produced and formed; for the understanding is adjoined to the will so that what the will loves the understanding sees, and also brings forth into light; consequently if the will is not in good, but is in evil, then the influx of truth from the Lord into the understanding has no effect, for it is dissipated, because it is not loved, yea, it is perverted, and the truth is falsified. From this it is clear why the Lord does not flow immediately into man's understanding except so far as the will is in good. With every man the Lord can enlighten the understanding, and thus flow in with Divine truths, since there is given to every man the ability to understand truth, and this for the sake of his reformation; nevertheless the Lord does not flow in, because truths do not remain except so far as the will has been reformed. Moreover, it is dangerous to so enlighten the understanding in truths as to produce belief except so far as the will acts as one with it; since man can then pervert, adulterate, and profane truths, which is most hurtful. Furthermore, so far as truths are known and understood and are not at the same time lived, they are nothing but lifeless truths, and lifeless truths are like statues that have no life. From this it can be seen why it is that there are no truths where there is no good, that is, not in essence but only in form.

[3] The man of the church at its end is such, because man then loves supremely such things as belong to the body and the world; and when these are loved supremely then the things pertaining to the Lord and heaven are not loved, for no one can serve two masters at the same time but that he will love the one and hate the other, since they are opposites. For from the love of the body, which is the love of self, and from the love of the world, which is the love of riches, when these are loved above all things, evils of every kind flow forth, and from evils falsities, and these are the opposites of goods and truths, which come forth from love to the Lord and from charity towards the neighbor. These few words will make clear why it is that the woman is said "to have fled into the wilderness," that is, among a few, because of being with those who are not in good, and thus not in truths.

[4] In the Word wilderness and also solitude and waste places are mentioned in many passages, and these signify the state of the church when there is no longer any truth in it because there is no good. This state of the church is called a "wilderness" because in the spiritual world the place where those dwell who are not in truths because they are not in good is like a wilderness, where there is no verdure in the plains, nor harvest in the fields, nor fruit trees in the gardens, but a barren land, parched and dry; moreover "wilderness" signifies in the Word the state of the church with the Gentiles who are in ignorance of truth, and yet are in the good of life according to their religious principle, from which they have a desire for truths. "Wilderness," signifies also in the Word the state of those who are in temptations, because in temptations goods and truths are shut in by the evils and falsities that come forth and are presented to the mind. That "wilderness" has these significations in the Word can be seen from the passages therein where "wilderness" is mentioned.

[5] In respect to the first meaning, namely, that "wilderness" means the state of the church when there is no longer any truth in it because there is no good, it is evident from the following passages. In Isaiah:

Is this the man that maketh the earth to tremble, that maketh kingdoms quake, that hath made the world a wilderness and destroyed the cities thereof? (Isaiah 14:16, 17)

This is said of Lucifer, by whom Babylon is meant, and "to make the earth to tremble, to make kingdoms quake, and make the world a wilderness," signifies to destroy all the truths and goods of the church; "the earth" meaning the church; "kingdoms" its truths; "world" its goods; and "wilderness" where these are not. "To destroy its cities" signifies its doctrinals, "city" signifying doctrine. The adulteration of the Word, whereby doctrine and thus the church is destroyed, is here signified by "Babylon. "

(Odkazy: Isaiah 14:16-17)


[6] In the same:

Upon the land of my people shall come up the thorn of the briar, yea, upon all the houses of joy in the triumphing city; for the palace shall be deserted, the multitude of the city shall be forsaken. The height and the watchtower shall be over the caves forever, a joy of wild asses, a pasture for flocks (Isaiah 32:13, 14).

"Upon the land of my people shall come up the thorn of the briar" signifies the falsity of evil in the church; "the thorn of the briar" meaning the falsity of evil, and "land" the church. "Upon all the houses of joy in the triumphing city" signifies where the goods and truths of the doctrine from the Word have been received with affection. But what is signified by "the palace shall be deserted, the multitude of the city shall be forsaken, the height and the watchtower shall be over the caves, a joy of wild asses, and a pasture for flocks," may be seen above n. 410, where it is explained.

(Odkazy: Isaiah 32:13-14; The Apocalypse Explained 410)


[7] In the same:

At My rebuke I dry up the sea, I make the rivers into a wilderness, their fish shall rot because there is no water, and shall die for thirst (Isaiah 50:2).

"To make the rivers into a wilderness," signifies to deprive the understanding of truths, thus to deprive man of intelligence. (The rest may be seen explained above, n. 342 In Jeremiah:

I saw, and lo, Carmel was a wilderness, and all the cities were desolate before Jehovah; the whole land shall be a waste (Jeremiah 4:26, 27).

"Carmel" signifies the spiritual church, which is in truths from good; that this was a "wilderness" signifies that there were in it no truths from good; "cities which were desolate" signify doctrinals without truths; "the whole land a waste" signifies a church destitute of good and consequently of truths.

(Odkazy: Jeremiah 4:26-27; The Apocalypse Explained 342)


[8] In the same:

Many shepherds have destroyed My vineyard, they have trodden down My field, they have made the field of My desire a wilderness of solitude. Devastators are come upon all the hills in the wilderness, for the sword of Jehovah devoureth from one end of the land to the other end of it (Jeremiah 12:10, 12).

The total destruction of the truths and goods of the church by falsities from evil is signified by "they have destroyed the vineyard, trodden down the field, made the field of desire a wilderness of solitude; and devastators are come upon all the hills in the wilderness, for the sword of Jehovah devoureth;" "vineyard and field" signify the church in respect to truth and good; "field of desire" signifies the church in respect to doctrine; and "wilderness of solitude" where these are not; "devastators in the wilderness" signify evils because of the absence of truths; "the sword of Jehovah devoureth" signifies falsity destroying; "from one end of the land to the other end of the land" signifies all things of the church.

[9] In Lamentations:

We get our bread with the peril of our souls, because of the sword of the wilderness (Lamentations 5:9).

"To get bread with the peril of souls" signifies the difficulty and danger in acquiring the truths of life from the Word; "because of the sword of the wilderness" signifies because the falsity of evil prevails in the church and falsifies truths and thus destroys them.

[10] In Ezekiel:

The vine is now planted in the wilderness, in a land of drought and thirst (Ezekiel 19:13).

"Vine" signifies the church, which in the beginning of this chapter is called "a mother who became a lioness;" this is said "to be planted in the wilderness" when there is no longer any truth in it because there is no good; "a land of drought" means where there is no good, but evil instead, and a "land of thirst" means where there is no truth, but falsity instead.

[11] In Hosea:

Strive with your mother that she may put away her whoredoms from her faces, lest I strip her naked and set her as in the day of her birth, and make her as a wilderness, and set her as a land of drought, and slay her with thirst (Hosea 2:2, 3).

This is said of the church that has falsified the truths of the Word; "mother" means the church, and "whoredoms" the falsifications of truth; "to strip her naked and set her as in the day of her birth" signifies to deprive the church of all truth, as it was before it was reformed; "wilderness" and "land of drought" signify a church without good; and "to slay with thirst" signifies a deprivation of truth; "thirst" is predicated of truths, because "water," which is thirsted for, means truth, and "drought" is predicated of the want of good, because it is a result of scorching.

(Odkazy: Hosea 2:2-3)


[12] In the same:

He is fierce among the brethren; an east wind shall come, the wind of Jehovah, coming up from the wilderness, and his spring shall become dry, and his fountain shall be dried up (Hosea 13:15).

This is said of Ephraim, by whom the understanding of the Word is meant, and this is called "fierce among the brethren" when it eagerly defends falsities, and combats for them against truths; "an east wind, the wind of Jehovah," signifies the ardor of desire from a love for and pride in the destruction of truths; this is said "to come up from the wilderness" when it is from an understanding in which there are no truths from good, but only falsities from evil; such an understanding is a "wilderness" because it is empty and void; that by such ardor and pride everything of doctrine and of the Word is destroyed is signified by "his spring shall become dry and his fountain shall be dried up," "spring" meaning doctrine, and "fountain" the Word.

[13] In Joel:

O Jehovah, to thee do I cry, because the fire hath consumed the habitations of the wilderness, and the flame hath burned all the trees of the field; for the beasts of the field pant after Thee, for the streams of waters are dried up, and the fire hath consumed the habitations of the wilderness (Joel 1:19, 20).

"The fire hath consumed the habitations of the wilderness and the flame hath burned all the trees of the field" signifies that the love of self and the pride of self-intelligence have consumed all the perception of good and all the understanding of the truth of doctrine from the sense of the letter of the Word, "fire" signifying the love of self, "flame" the pride of self-intelligence, "the habitations of the wilderness" the goods of doctrine from the sense of the letter of the Word, and "the trees of the field" the knowledges of its truth. The sense of the letter of the Word is called a "wilderness" when it is merely understood naturally, thus according to appearances, and not at the same time spiritually, or according to the genuine sense. "The beasts of the field pant after Thee" signifies the lamentations of those who are natural and yet have a desire for truths; that "beasts" signify the affections of the natural man may be seen above n. 650; "for the streams of waters are dried up, and the fire hath consumed the habitations of the wilderness" signifies that consequently there are no longer any truths and goods of life.

(Odkazy: Joel 1:19-20; The Apocalypse Explained 650)


[14] In the same:

The day of Jehovah cometh; a fire consumeth before him, and behind him a flame kindleth; the land is as the garden of Eden before him, but behind him a wilderness of wasteness, and nothing escaped him (Joel 2:1, 3).

"The day of Jehovah" means the end of the church, called the consummation of the age, and the Lord's coming at that time. That at the end of the church the love of self and the consequent pride of self-intelligence consume all its goods and truths is signified by "a fire devoureth before him, and behind him a flame kindleth," "fire" signifying the love of self, and "flame" the pride of self-intelligence, as above. "The land is as the garden of Eden before him, but behind him a wilderness of wasteness," signifies that in the beginning, when that church was established with the ancients, there was an understanding of truth from good, but at its end falsity from evil; "the garden of Eden" signifying the understanding of truth from good and the consequent wisdom, and "wilderness of wasteness" signifying no understanding of truth from good, and consequent insanity from falsities that are from evil; "nothing escaped him" signifies that there is nothing whatever of truth from good.

[15] In Isaiah:

The land mourneth, it languisheth, Lebanon blusheth, it hath withered away, Sharon is become like a desert, Bashan is shaken out, and Carmel (Isaiah 33:9).

This, too, describes the devastation of good and the desolation of truth in the church. "Lebanon" signifies the church in respect to a rational understanding of good and truth; "Sharon," "Bashan," and "Carmel," the church in respect to the knowledges of good and truth from the natural sense of the Word; the devastation and abandonment of these is signified by "mourning," "languishing," "withering away," and "becoming like a desert," the "desert" meaning where there is no truth because there is no good.

[16] In Jeremiah:

Because the land is full of adulterers, because the land mourneth on account of cursing, the pastures of the wilderness are dried up (Jeremiah 23:10).

"The land full of adulterers" signifies the church which has its goods and truths from the Word adulterated; the "curse" on account of which the land mourneth, signifies all the evil of life and falsity of doctrine; and "the pastures of the wilderness that are dried up" signify the knowledges of good and truth from the Word; "pastures" meaning such knowledges because they nourish the mind, and "wilderness" signifies the Word when it is adulterated.

[17] In David:

Jehovah maketh rivers into a wilderness, and the springs of water into dryness, a land of fruit into saltiness, for the wickedness of them that dwell therein (Psalms 107:33, 34).

"The rivers that are made into a wilderness" signify intelligence from the understanding of truth and also of the Word in its interior sense, that has been devastated by falsities from evil; "rivers" meaning such things as belong to intelligence, and "wilderness" where these things are absent, and in their place are the falsities from evil. "The springs of water that are turned into dryness" signify that the lowest things of the understanding, which are called the knowledges of truth and good, have no light of truth or spiritual affection for it; "waters" signifying truths; "dryness" deprivation of these from the absence of light and affection, and "springs" the ultimates of truth, like the truths of the sense of the letter of the Word. "The land of fruit that shall be made into saltiness" signifies the good of love and of life deeply vastated by falsities; "saltiness" meaning the devastation of truth by falsities; and as all devastation by falsities comes from the evil of the life it is added, "for the wickedness of them that dwell therein. "

(Odkazy: Psalms 107:33-34)


[18] In Jeremiah:

Lift up thine eyes unto the hills, and see where thou hast been defiled, upon the ways hast thou sat as an Arabian in the wilderness, whence thou hast profaned the land with thy whoredoms and thy wickedness (Jeremiah 3:2).

This describes the adulteration and falsification of the Word, which are signified by "being defiled and committing whoredom;" so "Lift up thine eyes unto the hills, and see where thou hast been defiled," signifies to give thought to the knowledges of truth and good in the Word, that they have been adulterated; "to lift up the eyes" signifies to give thought, "hills" signify those knowledges because the groves and trees that are upon them signify knowledges; "hills" signify also the goods of charity which are so destroyed; "upon the ways hast thou sat as an Arabian in the wilderness" signifies to lie in wait, lest any truth should come forth and be received; "ways" meaning the truths of the church; "to sit in them" meaning to lie in wait, and "an Arabian in the wilderness" meaning one who kills and plunders like a robber in the wilderness. "Thou hast profaned the land with thy whoredoms and wickedness" signifies the falsification of the truths of the Word by evils that have come to be of the life.

[19] In the same:

O generation, see ye the Word of Jehovah; have I been a wilderness to Israel? have I been a land of darkness? (Jeremiah 2:31)

That every good of life and truth of doctrine is taught in the Word, and not the evil of life and the falsity of doctrine, is meant by "see ye the Word of Jehovah; have I been a wilderness to Israel? have I been a land of darkness?"

[20] In Joel:

Egypt shall be a waste, and Edom a waste wilderness, because of the violence to the sons of Judah, whose innocent blood they have shed in their land (Joel 3:19).

"Egypt" and "Edom" signify the natural man that has perverted the truths and goods of the Word; that it is to be so destroyed as to see only such things as serve for confirmation is signified by "Egypt shall be a waste, and Edom a waste wilderness;" that this will be because of the adulteration of every good and truth in the Word is signified by "because of the violence to the sons of Judah, whose innocent blood they have shed;" "violence to the sons of Judah" signifying the adulteration of the Word in respect to good, and "shedding innocent blood" the adulteration of the Word in respect to its truths. (That "Judah" signifies the celestial church, and also the Word, see above, n. 211, 433; and that "shedding innocent blood" signifies to do violence to Divine truth, thus to adulterate the truth of the Word, n. 329.) The adulteration of the Word is effected by the knowledges [scientifica] of the natural man when these are applied to confirm falsities and evils, and the natural man becomes a "waste" and a "wilderness" when his knowledges are used to confirm falsity and evil; "Egypt" signifies such knowledges, and "Edom" the pride that falsifies by means of these.

(Odkazy: The Apocalypse Explained 211, 329, The Apocalypse Explained 433)


[21] In Malachi:

Esau I hated, and made his mountains a waste and his heritage for the dragons of the wilderness (Malachi 1:3).

"Esau" signifies the love of the natural man; "his mountains" signify the evils from that love, and "his heritage" signifies the falsities from those evils, and "the dragons of the desert" signify mere falsifications from which these come.

(Odkazy: Luke 3:2-4)


[22] Because with the Jewish nation all things of the Word had been adulterated, and there was no longer any truth because there was no good, John the Baptist was "in the wilderness," and this represented the state of that church, respecting which it is written in the Gospels:

John the Baptist was in the wilderness till the days of his appearing unto Israel (Luke 1:80).

That he preached in the wilderness of Judea (Matthew 3:1-3; Mark 1:2-4; Luke 3:2, 4, 5);

and in Isaiah:

The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of Jehovah, make level in the solitude a highway for our God (Isaiah 40:3).

So also the Lord says of "Jerusalem," which means the church in respect to doctrine:

Your house is left deserted (Luke 13:35).

"A house deserted" signifies the church that is without truths because it is without good. But what is signified by the following in Matthew:

If they say unto you, Lo, Christ is in the wilderness, go not forth; if in the secret chambers, believe not (Matthew 24:26);

may be seen explained in Arcana Coelestia 3900); for "Christ" means the Lord in relation to Divine truth, consequently in relation to the Word and to doctrine from the Word, and "false Christs," of whom this is said, signify the falsities of doctrine from the truths of the Word falsified. From the passages that have been cited from the Word it can be seen that "wilderness" means the church in which there are no truths because there is no good, consequently in which there is falsity because there is evil; for where there is no truth and good, there is falsity and evil; the two cannot exist together, and this is meant by the Lord's words, that "no one can serve two masters."

(Odkazy: Luke 3:4-5)


[23] 2. Again, "wilderness" signifies the state of the church with the Gentiles that have been in ignorance of truth, and yet have been in the good of life according to their religious principle, from which they have desired truths, as can be seen from the passages in the Word that treat of the church that is to be established among the Gentiles. In Isaiah:

The spirit shall be poured out upon you 1 from on high; then the wilderness shall be a fruitful field, and the fruitful field shall be esteemed a forest; judgment shall dwell in the wilderness, and justice shall abide in the fruitful field (Isaiah 32:15, 16).

This is said of those who are in natural good, and are being reformed; influx out of heaven into such is signified by "the spirit shall be poured out upon you 2 from on high;" that truth from a spiritual origin will then be implanted in them is signified by "the wilderness shall be a fruitful field;" "wilderness" meaning the natural man destitute of truths, and "fruitful field" (or land of harvest) the natural man made fruitful by truths. That in consequence the natural man will have a knowledge of the cognitions of truth and good is signified by "the fruitful field shall be esteemed a forest;" "forest" is predicated of the natural man as "garden" is of the spiritual, therefore a "forest" signifies knowledge and a "garden" intelligence; that in consequence there will be in the natural man that which is right and just is signified by "judgment shall dwell in the wilderness, and justice shall abide in the fruitful field;" "judgment" and "justice" signify in the spiritual sense truth and good, but in the natural sense that which is right and just.

(Odkazy: Isaiah 32:15-16)


[24] In the same:

I will open rivers on the heights, and fountains will I place in the midst of the valleys; I will make the wilderness into a pool of waters, and the dry land into springs of waters; I will give in the wilderness the cedar of shittah, the myrtle, and the oil tree; I will set in the solitude the fir tree, the pine, and the box tree (Isaiah 41:18, 19).

This, too, is said of the reformation and enlightenment of the Gentiles; and "to open rivers upon the heights and to place fountains in the midst of the valleys" signifies to give intelligence from spiritual truths and from natural truths; "rivers upon the heights" signifying intelligence from spiritual truths, and "fountains in the midst of valleys" intelligence from natural truths; "to make the wilderness into a pool of waters, and the dry land into springs of waters" signifies to fill the spiritual and the natural man with truths where before there were no truths; the spiritual man in which there were no truths is meant by "wilderness," since hitherto there had been no truth in it; and the natural man in which there was no truth is meant by "dry land," since hitherto there had been no spiritual influx into it; that the spiritual man will have truths in abundance is meant by "a pool of waters," and that the natural man will have truths in abundance is meant by the "springs of waters." "To set in the wilderness the cedar of shittah, the myrtle, and the oil tree" signifies to give rational truths and a perception of them, and "to set in the solitude the fir tree, the pine, and the box tree," signifies in like manner natural truths, which are knowledges and cognitions with the understanding of them; the "cedar" meaning higher rational truth; the "myrtle" lower rational truth; "oil tree" perception of good and thus of truth; "fir tree" the higher natural truth; the "pine" lower natural truth; and "box tree" the understanding of good and truth in the natural man.

(Odkazy: Isaiah 41:18-19)


[25] In David:

He maketh the wilderness into a pool of waters, and the dry land into a springing forth of waters; and there He maketh the hungry to dwell, that they may build a city of habitation (Psalms 107:35, 36).

This, likewise, is said of the enlightenment of the Gentiles. "To make the wilderness into a pool of waters" has a similar signification as just above; "and there He maketh the hungry to dwell" signifies for the sake of those who desire truths; these are meant by "the hungry and famished" in the Word; "that they may build a city of habitation" signifies that out of truths they may make for themselves a doctrine of life, "city" meaning doctrine, and "to inhabit" meaning to live.

(Odkazy: Psalms 107:35-36)


[26] In Isaiah:

Behold, I am doing a new thing, now it shall spring forth; I will even place a way in the wilderness, rivers in the solitude; the wild beast of the field shall honor Me, the dragons and the daughters of the owl, because I will give waters in the wilderness, rivers in the solitude, to give drink to My people, My chosen (Isaiah 43:19, 20).

This, too, is said of the New Church to be established by the Lord among the Gentiles. The "wilderness" signifies the state of the church with those who are ignorant of truth, and yet have a desire to know it. But what the particulars signify in the spiritual sense may be seen explained above n. 518.

(Odkazy: Isaiah 43:19-20; The Apocalypse Explained 518)


[27] In the same:

Jehovah will comfort Zion, He will comfort all her waste places, and He will make her wilderness as Eden, and her solitude like the garden of Jehovah; joy and gladness will be found therein, confession and the voice of singing (Isaiah 51:3).

This, also, is said of the New Church among the Gentiles that will acknowledge the Lord; that church is meant by "Zion," and its establishment and the reformation of the Gentiles by "comforting;" "the wilderness that shall be made as Eden and the solitude like the garden of Jehovah" signifies wisdom and intelligence from love to the Lord that those have who before had no understanding of truth and no perception of good. (But this may be seen explained above, n. 721

(Odkazy: The Apocalypse Explained 721)


[28] In David:

The habitations of the wilderness drop, and the hills gird themselves with exultation; the meadows are clothed with flocks, and the valleys are covered over with corn (Psalms 65:12, 13).

This, also, is said of the church among the Gentiles. "The habitations of the wilderness drop" signifies that their minds that before have been in ignorance of truth acknowledge and receive truths; "to drop" is predicated of the influx, acknowledgment and reception of truth; "habitations" are predicated of the interiors of man which belong to his mind, and "wilderness" is predicated of a state of the ignorance of truth. "The hills gird themselves with exultation" signifies that the goods in them receive truths with joy of heart; "the meadows are clothed with flocks, and the valleys are covered over with corn," signifies that both the spiritual mind and the natural mind receive truths suitable to themselves; "meadows" signifying such things as belong to the spiritual mind and thus to the rational mind, and "valleys" such as belong to the natural mind; "flock" spiritual truth, and "corn" natural truth.

(Odkazy: Psalms 65:12-13)


[29] In Isaiah:

Let them sing praise, the end of the earth, those that go down to the sea, and its fullness, the islands and the inhabitants thereof. Let the wilderness and the cities thereof lift up the voice, the villages that Arabia doth inhabit; let the inhabitants of the rock sing, let them cry out from the head of the mountains (Isaiah 42:10, 11).

This is said of a church with those who were remote from the truths of the church because they were natural and sensual; their state of ignorance is meant by the "wilderness," and their joy from the preaching and the knowledge of truth is signified by "singing praise and lifting up the voice." (The rest may be seen explained above, n. 406

(Odkazy: Isaiah 42:10-11; The Apocalypse Explained 406)


[30] Since the state of ignorance of truth, in which the Gentiles have been, is signified by a "wilderness," and the desire for truth by "hunger," and instruction by the Lord by "feeding," it came to pass that the Lord withdrew into the wilderness, and there taught the multitude that sought Him, and afterwards fed them. (That this took place in the wilderness can be seen in Matthew 14:13-22; 15:32-38; Mark 6:31-34; 8:1-9; Luke 9:12-17.) For all things that the Lord did and all things connected with Him were representative because they were correspondences, so also were these things. From these and the passages cited above it is evident that a "wilderness" signifies an uncultivated and uninhabited state with man, thus a state not yet made vital from what is spiritual, consequently, as applied to the church, a state not vivified by means of truths; thus it signifies such a religious principle as the Gentiles had, which was almost empty and void, because they did not have the Word where truths are, and thence did not know the Lord who teaches truths; and as they did not have truths, their good also could be no otherwise than such as the truth was with them, for good is like its truth, because one is of the other. From this it can be seen what "wilderness" signifies where the Gentiles are treated of, namely, where there is no truth and yet a desire for it that their good may be vivified.

(Odkazy: Mark 6:31-44; Matthew 14:13-21)


[31] 3. Again, "wilderness" signifies the state of those who are in temptations, because in them truths and goods are shut in by the falsities and evils that come forth and are presented to the mind. This can be seen from the wandering of the sons of Israel in the wilderness forty years; for this represented every state of temptations into which those come who are being regenerated, and of whom the church is to consist. Every man is born natural, and lives naturally until he becomes rational; and when he has become rational he can be led by the Lord and become spiritual; and this is effected by the implanting of the knowledges of truth from the Word, and at the same time by the opening of the spiritual mind which receives the things of heaven, and by calling forth these knowledges and elevating them out of the natural man and conjoining them with the spiritual affection of truth. This opening and conjunction is possible only through temptations, because in temptations man fights interiorly against the falsities and evils that are in the natural man. In a word, man is introduced into the church and becomes a church through temptations. This was represented by the wandering and leading about of the sons of Israel in the wilderness. The state of the natural man before he is regenerated was represented by their sojourning in the land of Egypt, for "the land of Egypt" signified the natural man and its knowledges and cognitions, together with the cupidities and appetites that reside in it (as can be seen from what has been said and shown above respecting Egypt, n. 654. But the spiritual state, which is the state of the church with man, was represented by the introduction of the sons of Israel into the land of Canaan, for "the land of Canaan" signified the church with its truths and goods, together with its affections, and delights, which reside in such a man; while the reformation and regeneration of man before from being natural he becomes spiritual and thus a church, was represented by their wanderings and journeyings in the wilderness forty years.

(Odkazy: The Apocalypse Explained 654)


[32] That this is so, and that "the wilderness" signified a state of temptations, can be seen in Moses:

Thou shalt remember all the way which Jehovah thy God hath led thee these forty years in the wilderness, that He might afflict thee and try thee, and know what was in thine heart whether thou wouldst keep His commandments or no; and He afflicted thee and made thee to hunger, and made thee to eat manna, which thou knewest not neither did thy fathers know; that He might teach thee that man doth not live by bread only, but by all that goeth forth from the mouth of Jehovah doth man live; thy raiment waxed not old upon thee, and thy foot swelled not, these forty years (Deuteronomy 8:2-4).

In the same:

In the wilderness which thou sawest, Jehovah thy God bare thee as a man doth bear his son. He went before you in the way, to seek for you a place in which ye might encamp, in fire by night to show you the way, and in the cloud by day (Deuteronomy 1:31, 33).

In the same:

Jehovah, who led thee through the great and fearful wilderness of the serpent, of the fiery serpent and of the scorpion, and of thirst, where there were no waters; who brought thee forth waters out of the rock of flint, and fed thee with manna in the wilderness, that He might afflict thee and try thee, to do thee good in thy latter end (Deuteronomy 8:15, 16).

In the same:

Jehovah found Jacob in a land of wilderness, in an emptiness, a howling, a solitude; He led him about, He instructed him, He guarded him as the pupil of the eye (Deuteronomy 32:10).

The particulars here mentioned, and all the particulars related in the book of Exodus respecting the journeyings of the sons of Israel in the wilderness, from their going forth from Egypt to their entrance into the land of Canaan, depict the temptations that the faithful encounter before they become spiritual, that is before the goods of love and charity with their truths are implanted, which constitute the church with man.

(Odkazy: Deuteronomy 8:15-16)


[33] He who knows what spiritual temptations are knows that when a man is in them he is so infested by evils and falsities as scarcely to know otherwise than that he is in hell; he knows, too, that the Lord with man fights against temptations from the interior; as also that He sustains man in the meantime with spiritual food and drink, which are the goods and truths of heaven; that the natural man loathes these; that nevertheless the natural man with his lusts is thus subdued and as it were dies; and that he is thus brought into subjection to the spiritual man; and that man is thus reformed and regenerated and introduced into the church. All this is involved in what is related respecting the sons of Israel in the wilderness. But to make clear that this is meant it is allowed to explain some of the particulars in the passages quoted.

[34] 1. That man in temptations is so infested by evils and falsities as scarcely to know otherwise than that he is in hell is meant by "Jehovah led thee through the great and fearful wilderness of the serpent, of the fiery serpent, of the scorpion, and of thirst, where there were no waters;" "the great and fearful wilderness" signifies grievous temptations; "the serpent, the fiery serpent, and the scorpion," signify evils and falsities with their persuasions coming forth from the sensual and natural man; "serpents" meaning evils therefrom, "fiery serpents" falsities therefrom, and "scorpions" persuasions; "thirst where there were no waters" signifies a lack and shutting off of truth. The above is meant also by "Jehovah afflicted thee and tried thee, that He might know what was in thine heart."

[35] 2. That the Lord with man fights against evils and falsities that are from hell is signified by "Jehovah found Jacob in a wilderness, in emptiness, a howling, a solitude, He guarded him as the pupil of His eye;" also by "He bare him as a man doth bear his son;" also by "He went before them in fire by night and in the cloud by day."

3. That the Lord sustains man in the meantime with spiritual food and drink, which are the goods and truths of heaven, is signified by "He fed them with manna, He brought them forth waters out of the rock of flint, and He led them and instructed them;" "manna" meaning the good of celestial love, and "waters out of the rock of flint" the truths of that good from the Lord.

4. That in temptations the natural man loathes those things is meant by the sons of Israel so often complaining of the manna, and lusting after the food of Egypt; therefore it is here said, "Jehovah afflicted thee and caused thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna."

[36] 5. That nevertheless the natural man with his lusts is subdued and as it were dies and becomes subject to the spiritual man, was represented by the death in the wilderness of all those that went forth out of Egypt and desired to return thither, and refused to enter into the land of Canaan, and that their children were brought into that land. That this represented and signified such things can be known and seen only from the spiritual sense.

6. That after temptations man becomes spiritual, and is brought into the church, and through the church into heaven, was represented by their being brought into the land of Canaan, for "the land of Canaan" signified the church, and also heaven; and this is signified by "Jehovah afflicted thee and tried thee, to do thee good in thy latter end."

Their spiritual life is described by Jehovah's teaching them that "man doth not live by bread only, but by everything going forth from the mouth of Jehovah." That "their raiment waxed not old and their foot swelled not" signifies that the natural man was not injured by these afflictions, for "raiment" signifies the truths of the natural man, and the "foot" the natural man itself. Moreover "forty," whether years or days, signifies the entire duration of temptations (see above, n. 633.

(Odkazy: The Apocalypse Explained 633)


[37] Like things are involved in these words in David:

They wandered in the wilderness in loneliness of life, 1 they found no city of habitation, hungry and thirsty; when their soul was disheartened in the way, they cried to Jehovah. He led them in a way of straightness, 2 that they might go to a city of habitation (Psalms 107:4-7).

This was said in general of those who have been redeemed, and in particular of the sons of Israel in the wilderness, and these words describe the temptations of those who are being regenerated by the Lord. "The city of habitation which they found not" signifies the doctrine of life which constitutes the church in man; and as the church is formed in man by a life according to doctrine, when temptations have been passed through, it is said that "Jehovah led them in a way of straightness that they might go to a city of habitation;" the lack of truth even to despair, and yet desire for it, is signified by "they were hungry and thirsty, so that their soul was disheartened in the way."

[38] In Jeremiah:

I remembered thy youth, the love of thine espousals, when thou wentest after Me in the wilderness. They said not, Where is Jehovah, who made us to come up out of the land of Egypt, who led us in the wilderness, in the land of solitude and of the pit, in a land of drought and of dense shade, in a land through which no man [vir] passed, and where no man [homo] dwelt? And I led you into a land of grain, to eat the fruit thereof and the good thereof (Jeremiah 2:2, 6, 7).

The "youth" and "love of espousals" that Jehovah remembered signify the state of man's reformation and regeneration, when from being natural he becomes spiritual; because man is thereby conjoined to the Lord, and as it were espoused to Him, this is what is meant by the "love of espousals;" and because this is effected through temptations it is said, "When thou wentest after Me in the wilderness;" the state of temptations is described by "He led me in the wilderness, in a land of solitude and of the pit, in a land of drought and dense shade;" "wilderness" signifying that state; "land of solitude and of the pit" signifying that state in respect to the evils and falsities that come forth, and the "land of drought and dense shade" signifying the perception of good and the understanding of truth obscured. The state of man after temptations is described by "I led you into a land of grain, to eat the fruit thereof and the good thereof," which signifies to be brought into the church in which are the truths of doctrine, by means of which the good of love and of charity are appropriated; "land" signifying the church; "the land of grain" the church in respect to the truths of doctrine; "to eat" to appropriate; "fruit" the good of love, and "good" the good of charity and of life.

(Odkazy: Jeremiah 2:6-7)


[39] In Ezekiel:

I will lead you out from the peoples, and will gather you from the lands, and I will lead you into a wilderness of peoples, and I will plead with you there face to face, even as I pleaded with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt; then will I cause you to pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant (Ezekiel 20:34-37).

Here again "wilderness" stands for a state of temptations, which state is called "a wilderness of peoples" and "the wilderness of the land of Egypt," because the state of the natural man before regeneration is meant, which is a wilderness and a solitude because there are then no goods and truths in it, but only evils and falsities; but when falsities and evils have been exterminated therefrom, and truths and goods have been implanted in their place, from being a wilderness it becomes "Lebanon" and a "garden. " "To plead with them in the wilderness face to face" signifies to show them to the life of what quality they are and in a way that they acknowledge it; for in temptations man's evils and falsities come forth and appear; "face to face" means to the life and so as to be acknowledged. That after man has endured hard things, conjunction with the Lord, which is reformation, takes place, is signified by "then will I cause you to pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bonds of the covenant;" "to cause to pass under the rod" meaning to endure hard things, and "the bond of the covenant" meaning conjunction with the Lord.

[40] In Hosea:

I will visit upon her the days of the Baalim, in which she went after her lovers. Therefore behold, I will bring you 3 into the wilderness, and afterwards I will speak upon her heart, and I will give her her vineyards thence, and the valley of Achor for an entrance of hope, and she shall make answer there according to the days of her youth, and according to the days of her coming up out of the land of Egypt; and in that day thou shalt call Me, my Husband, and shalt no more call Me, my Baal (Hosea 2:13-16).

The "Baalim" and "lovers," after whom she went, signify the things that belong to the natural man and are loved, namely, cupidities and falsities therefrom; that these must be removed by means of temptations is signified by "I will bring you 3 into the wilderness;" that afterwards there will be consolation is signified by "afterwards I will speak upon her heart;" that they will then have spiritual and natural truths is signified by "I will give her vineyards thence and the valley of Achor." That afterwards they will have influx of good out of heaven and consequent joy, as those had who were of the ancient churches and who from natural had become spiritual, is signified by "she shall make answer or sing there according to the days of her youth, and according to the days of her coming up out of the land of Egypt," "days of youth" signifying the times of the ancient church, and "according to the days of her coming up out of Egypt," signifying when from natural they became spiritual. Conjunction with the Lord at that time through the affections of truth, when the cupidities from the natural man have been rejected, is signified by "in that day thou shalt call Me, my Husband, and thou shalt no more call Me, my Baal."

[41] As a "wilderness" signifies a state of temptations, and "forty," whether years or days, their whole duration from beginning to end, therefore the temptations of the Lord, which were the most direful of all, and which He sustained from childhood to the passion of the cross, are signified by the temptations of the forty days in the desert, which are thus described in the Gospels:

Jesus was led by the spirit into the wilderness, to be tempted of the devil; and when He had fasted forty days and forty nights He afterwards hungered; and the tempter drew near unto Him (Matthew 4:1-3; Luke 4:1-3).

The spirit urging Jesus caused Him to go out into the wilderness; and He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted, and He was with the beasts (Mark 1:12, 13).

This does not mean that the Lord was tempted by the devil only forty days, and at the end of these, but that He was tempted throughout His whole life even to the last, when He endured direful anguish of heart in Gethsemane and afterwards the dreadful passion of the cross; for by means of the temptations admitted into the human that He had from the mother, the Lord subjugated all the hells, and at the same time glorified His Human. (But of these temptations of the Lord see what is written in the Arcana Coelestia, and collected therefrom in the New Jerusalem and Its Heavenly Doctrine, n. 201.) All these temptations of the Lord are signified by the temptations in the wilderness forty days and forty nights, since the "wilderness" signifies a state of temptations, and "forty days and forty nights" the whole duration of these. No more was written respecting these in the Gospels because no more was revealed respecting them; nevertheless in the prophets, and especially in the psalms of David, they are described at length. "The beasts" with which the Lord is said to have been, signify the infernal societies; and "fasting" signifies here such affliction as there is in the combats of temptation.

(Odkazy: Mark 1:12-13)


[42] 4. Again, "wilderness" also signifies hell, because that is called a wilderness where there is no harvest or habitation, likewise where there are wild beasts, serpents, and dragons, which signify where there is no truth of doctrine or good of life, consequently where there are lusts from evil loves, and falsities therefrom of every kind; and as these are in hell and the former in a wilderness, so from correspondences the "wilderness" also signifies hell. Moreover, the natural man with everyone, so long as it is separated from the spiritual, as it is before regeneration, is a hell, because all the hereditary evil into which man is born resides in his natural man, and is not cast out from it, that is, removed, except by the influx of Divine truth through heaven from the Lord; and this influx into the natural man can come only through the spiritual, for the natural man is in the world and the spiritual in heaven; therefore the spiritual man must be opened before the hell that is in the natural man can be removed by the Lord out of heaven.

[43] How this is removed was represented by the he-goat called Azazel that was cast out into the desert; for the "he-goat" from correspondence signifies the natural man in respect to his affections and knowledges, and in the contrary sense in respect to his cupidities and falsities. Of this he-goat we read thus in Moses:

That Aaron should take two he-goats and cast lots upon them, one for the he-goat to be sacrificed, the other for Azazel; and after he had expiated the Tent of meeting and the altar with the blood of the sacrificed bullock and of the sacrificed he-goat, he should lay his hands upon the head of the he-goat Azazel, and should confess upon it the iniquities and sins of the sons of Israel; which he shall put upon the head of the he-goat, and afterwards should send him by the hand of a man appointed into the wilderness. So the he-goat shall bear upon him all the iniquities of the sons of Israel into the land cut off and into the wilderness; and the skin, the flesh, and the dung of the bullock and of the sacrificed he-goat should be burned in the wilderness; thus should they be expiated and cleansed from all their sins (Leviticus 16:5-34).

These things were commanded to represent expiation, that is, purification from evils and falsities. Two he-goats were taken to represent this, because a "he-goat" from correspondence signifies the natural man; the he-goat that was to be sacrificed represented the natural man in reference to the part purified, and the he-goat that was to be sent into the wilderness the natural man not purified. And as the natural man swarms with cupidities and uncleanness of every kind, as has been said above, therefore that he-goat was sent out of the camp into a land cut off and into the wilderness that he might bear away the iniquities and sins of all in that church; "the land cut off and the wilderness" signifying hell. Aaron laying his hands upon its head and confessing the sins represented communication and transference, for this is done when man is purified or expiated from sins, for the sins are then sent down to hell, and the affections of good and truth are implanted in their place; these were represented in part by the fat sacrificed from the bullock and from the other he-goat, also by their blood, and especially by the burnt offering from the ram (respecting which see verses 5-24 in the same chapter) Leviticus 16:5-24, for the "ram" from correspondence signifies the natural man in respect to the good of charity. But it is to be known that the Israelitish people were not in the least purified from their sins by this, but the purification of the natural man when he was being regenerated was thus merely represented. All things of man's regeneration were represented by such external things, especially by sacrifices; and this was done for the sake of the conjunction of heaven with that church through the externals of worship, the internals that the externals represented being seen in the heavens. Who cannot see that the sins of the whole congregation could not be transferred to a he-goat and borne by him to hell? From this it is evident what is signified by "wilderness" in its various senses.

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Footnotes:

1. The Hebrew has "in loneliness of way," as found also in Arcana Coelestia 2708.

3. The Hebrew has "a straight way," as found also in 223.

3. The Hebrew has "her," as found in Arcana Coelestia 2708.

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(Odkazy: Isaiah 32:13-16; Psalms 107:33-36)

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Thanks to the Swedenborg Foundation for their permission to use this translation.


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