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Sacred Scripture # 79

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79. There are many passages in the prophets about our understanding of the Word, passages about the church, where it tells us that the church exists only where the Word is properly understood, and that the quality of a church depends on the quality of the understanding of the Word among its members. There are also many passages in the prophets that describe the church among the Israelite and Jewish people, a church that was utterly destroyed and annihilated by the distortion of the Word’s meaning or message, for this is exactly what destroys a church.

[2] The name Ephraim in the prophets, especially in Hosea, symbolizes both true and false understandings of the Word, because Ephraim in the Word means the understanding of the Word in the church. It is because the understanding of the Word makes a church that Ephraim is called “a precious child, and one born of delights” (Jeremiah 31:20), “the firstborn” (Jeremiah 31:9), “the strength of Jehovah’s head” (Psalms 60:7; 108:8), “powerful” (Zechariah 10:7), and “filled with a bow” (Zechariah 9:13); and the children of Ephraim are called “armed” and “bow-shooters” (Psalms 78:9). The bow means a body of teaching from the Word fighting against what is false.

So too, Ephraim was transferred to the right of Israel and blessed, and accepted in place of Reuben (Genesis 48:5, 11, and following; [1 Chronicles 5:1]). And therefore Ephraim, together with his brother Manasseh, was exalted over all by Moses in his blessing of the children of Israel in the name of their father Joseph (Deuteronomy 33:13-17).

(Odkazy: Genesis 48:11-15; Hosea 1:1)


[3] The prophets, especially Hosea, also use “Ephraim” to describe what the church is like when its understanding of the Word has been lost, as we can see from the following:

Israel and Ephraim will stumble. Ephraim will be desolate. Ephraim is oppressed and broken in judgment. I will be like a lion to Ephraim: I will tear them and leave; I will carry them off and no one will rescue them. (Hosea 5:5, 9, 11, 14)

What shall I do to you, Ephraim? Your holiness goes away like a cloud at dawn and like the morning dew that falls. (Hosea 6:4)

(Odkazy: Hosea 1:1, Hosea 5:11-14)


[4] They will not dwell in the land of Jehovah: Ephraim will go back to Egypt and will eat what is unclean in Assyria. (Hosea 9:3)

The land of Jehovah is the church, Egypt is the preoccupation of the earthly self with mere facts, and Assyria is rationalizing based on those facts; all of which lead to distortion of the Word in regard to the way it is understood. That is why it says that Ephraim will go back to Egypt and will eat what is unclean in Assyria.

[5] Ephraim feeds on the wind and chases the east wind. Every day he increases lies and devastation. He makes a covenant with Assyria, and oil is carried down into Egypt. (Hosea 12:1)

To feed on the wind, chase the east wind, and increase lies and devastation is to distort what is true and in this way destroy the church.

[6] Much the same is also meant by Ephraim’s whoredom, since whoredom means distortion of the way the Word is understood - that is, distortion of its genuine truth. See the following passages:

I know Ephraim; he has committed whoredom in every way and Israel has been defiled. (Hosea 5:3)

I have seen something foul in the house of Israel: Ephraim has committed whoredom there, and Israel has been defiled. (Hosea 6:10)

Israel is the church itself and Ephraim is the understanding of the Word that is the source of the church and that determines its quality, so it says that Ephraim has committed whoredom and Israel has been defiled.

[7] Since the church among Jews had been completely destroyed because of its distortions, it says of Ephraim,

Am I to give you up, Ephraim? Am I to hand you over, Israel? Like Admah? Shall I make you like Zeboiim? (Hosea 11:8)

Since the book of the prophet Hosea, from the first chapter to the last, is about the distortion of the Word and the consequent destruction of the church, and since whoredom means the distortion of truth in the church, the prophet was commanded to represent that state of the church by taking a whore as his wife and fathering children by her (chapter 1); and also by forming a relationship with a woman who was committing adultery (chapter 3).

(Odkazy: Hosea 1:2-9, 3:2-3)


[8] These instances have been presented so that readers may know and be assured from the Word that the quality of a church depends on the quality of the understanding of the Word in it - outstanding and priceless if its understanding comes from genuine truths from the Word, but in ruins, actually filthy, if it comes from distortions.

For further evidence that Ephraim means the understanding of the Word, and in its opposite sense a distorted understanding leading to the destruction of the church, you may check some other passages that deal with Ephraim: Hosea 4:17-18; 7:1, 11; 8:9, 11; 9:11-13, 16; 10:11; 11:3; 12:1, 8, 14; 13:1, 8, 14; Isaiah 17:3; 28:1; Jeremiah 4:15; 31:6, 18; 50:19; Ezekiel 37:16; 48:5; Obadiah verse 19; Zechariah 9:10.

(Odkazy: Hosea 11:12, 13:12)

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Inbound References:

Apocalypse Revealed 44, 297, 360, 571, 629, 740

Divine Providence 172, 256

Sacred Scripture 114


   Parallel Passages:

True Christian Religion 247


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

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Divine Providence # 256

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256. 3. Strict materialists justify their rejection of divine providence when they see that Christianity is restricted to that smaller part of the inhabited world that we call Europe, and even there is divided. The reason Christianity is found only in that smaller part of the habitable world called Europe is that it is not suited to the character of people of the Middle East the way Islam is, Islam being a kind of compound religion, as already noted [255]. Any religion that is not suitable is not accepted. For example, a religion that prohibits marrying more than one wife will not be accepted but rejected by people who have been polygamists for centuries; and the same principle applies to other practices mandated by Christianity.

[2] It does not matter whether a larger or a smaller part of the world accepts a religion as long as there are people who have the Word, since there is still light from them to people who are outside the church and do not have the Word. This has been explained in Teachings for the New Jerusalem on Sacred Scripture 104-113. Strange as it may seem, wherever the Word is read reverently and the Lord is worshiped because of the Word, the Lord is present along with heaven. This is because the Lord is the Word, and the Word is that divine truth that makes heaven what it is. This is why the Lord says, "Wherever two or three are gathered in my name, I am there in their midst" (Matthew 18:20). This can be done with the Word by Europeans, then, in many places in the habitable world, because Europeans are in business all around the world and are either reading the Word or teaching from it everywhere. It may seem as though I am making this up, but it is true.

[3] The reason Christianity is divided is that it is based on the Word, and the Word is composed entirely of correspondential imagery. For the most part, these images are semblances of truth that contain hidden genuine truth. Since the church must necessarily derive its teaching from the literal meaning of the Word, and that meaning is of this nature, it is inevitable that there should be quarrels and arguments and dissent in the church especially about the interpretation of the Word, though not about the Word itself or the divine nature of the Lord himself. It is universally believed that the Word is holy and that the Lord is divine, and these two beliefs are essential features of the church. This means that people who deny the Lord's divine nature, the ones called Socinians, are excommunicated by the church, while people who deny the holiness of the Word are not even considered Christians.

I may add at this point something striking about the Word, something that points to the conclusion that inwardly the Word is divine truth itself, and that at its very heart it is the Lord.

[4] When spirits open the Word and rub it against their face or clothing, then simply from this touch their faces or clothing glow as brightly as the moon or a star. Everyone they meet can see this. This is a witness to the fact that nothing in the world is more holy than the Word.

On the Word being composed entirely of correspondential imagery, see Teachings for the New Jerusalem on Sacred Scripture 5-26; on the need to draw and corroborate the teaching of the church from the literal meaning of the Word, see Teachings for the New Jerusalem on Sacred Scripture 50-61 of that work; on the fact that it is possible to get heresies from the literal meaning of the Word but harmful to validate them, see Teachings for the New Jerusalem on Sacred Scripture 91-97; and on the church being derived from the Word, with its quality determined by its understanding of the Word, see Teachings for the New Jerusalem on Sacred Scripture 76-79.

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Apocalypse Revealed 602

True Christian Religion 479


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


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