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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


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True Christian Religion 247


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

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True Christian Religion # 247

True Christian Religion (Chadwick translation)      

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247. There are many passages in the prophets describing how the church among the Israelite or Jewish race was utterly destroyed and annihilated by their falsifying the meaning or understanding of the Word; for it is this and nothing else which destroys a church. The understanding of the Word, both true and false, is described in the prophets, especially Hosea, by Ephraim; for this name stands in the Word for the understanding of the Word in the church. Since the understanding of the Word makes the church, Ephraim is called the precious son and the child of delight (Jeremiah 31:20); the first-born (Jeremiah 31:9); the strength of Jehovah's head (Psalms 60:7; 108:8); the powerful one (Zechariah 10:7); the one armed with the bow (Zechariah 9:13). The sons of Ephraim are called armed men and shooters of the bow (Psalms 78:9); for a bow means doctrine from the Word militating against falsities. For the same reason too Ephraim was transferred to Israel's right hand and blessed, and also received in place of Reuben 1 (Genesis 48:5, 11ff). Also Ephraim with his brother Manasseh was raised above all others by Moses when he blessed the sons of Israel in the name of Joseph their father (Deuteronomy 33:13-17).

[2] What the church, however, is like when its understanding of the Word is destroyed is also described by Ephraim in the prophets, especially in Hosea, as in the following passages:

Israel and Ephraim will fall; Ephraim will become a wilderness. Ephraim is overwhelmed and shaken in judgment, Hosea 5:5, 9, 11-14.

What shall I do to you, Ephraim? For your holiness has departed, like the clouds of dawn and like the dew that falls in the morning, Hosea 6:4.

They will not dwell in the land of Jehovah; Ephraim will return to Egypt, and will eat unclean food in Assyria, Hosea 9:3.

The land of Jehovah is the church; Egypt is the factual knowledge of the natural man; Assyria is reasoning from this. It is these two together which lead to falsification of the Word in respect of its inward understanding. This is why it is said that Ephraim will return to Egypt and eat unclean food in Assyria.

[3] Ephraim pastures the wind and pursues the east wind; every day he increases the lie and devastation; he makes an agreement with Assyria and oil is carried down into Egypt, Hosea 12:1.

Pasturing the wind, pursuing the east wind and increasing the lie and devastation is falsifying truths and so destroying the church. Ephraim's whoring has a similar meaning, as whoring means the falsification of the understanding of the Word, that is, of its genuine truth, in the following passages:

I know Ephraim, that he has utterly given himself to whoring, and Israel is defiled, Hosea 5:3.

In the house of Israel I have seen a foul thing; there Ephraim went whoring and Israel is defiled, Hosea 6:10.

Israel is the church itself, and Ephraim is the understanding of the Word, the source which determines what sort of church it is. This is why it says that Ephraim went whoring and Israel is defiled.

[4] The church among the Israelite and Jewish people was utterly destroyed by falsifying the Word, so therefore it is said of Ephraim:

I shall give you up, Ephraim, I shall hand you over, Israel, like Admah and I shall make you like Zeboyim, Hosea 11:8.

So because the book of the prophet Hosea from the first chapter to the last is about the falsification of the genuine understanding of the Word and the resultant destruction of the church, and because whoring there means the falsification of truth, that is why the prophet was ordered to represent that state of the church by taking to wife a whore and having sons by her (chapter 1), and again by taking an adulterous woman (chapter 3).

These passages have been quoted to provide knowledge and proof from the Word that what the church is like depends on how the Word is understood in it. It is excellent and valuable, if its understanding is based upon genuine truths from the Word, but ruined and actually foul, if based upon falsified truths.

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Footnotes:

1. Thought by some editors to be an error for Manasseh, but the reference may be to verse 5: 'Ephraim and Manasseh shall be mine as Reuben and Simeon are.'

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(Odkazy: Genesis 48:14; Hosea 1, 1:1, 3:1)

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Sacred Scripture 79

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