9377. 'And you are to bow down from afar' means humility and adoration coming from the heart, and at the same time the inflow of the Lord. This is clear from the meaning of 'bowing down' as humility, dealt with in 2153, 5682, 6266, 7068. The reason why adoration as well is meant is that the essential element in all adoration and all worship is humility. Without humility there can be no worship or adoration of the Lord, because what is Divine and the Lord's cannot flow into a proud heart, that is, into a heart full of self-love, for such a heart is hard and in the Word is called 'a heart of stone'. It can flow only into a humble heart, since this is soft and in the Word is called 'a heart of flesh', and so is receptive of good flowing in from the Lord, that is, receptive of the inflow of the Lord. This explains why 'bowing down from afar' means not only humility and adoration coming from the heart but also the inflow of the Lord at the same time. The words 'the inflow of the Lord' are used because the good of love and of faith which flows in from the Lord is the Lord as He resides with a person. The reason why 'from afar' means coming from the heart is that when people feel humble they draw back from the Lord because they do not consider themselves worthy enough to draw near God Most Holy. For when they feel humble they acknowledge that left to themselves they are nothing but evil, indeed nothing but profanity. When they acknowledge this in their heart they possess true humility. From this it is evident that 'you are to bow down from afar' means humility and adoration coming from the heart, and at the same time the inflow of the Lord.
 But such humility and adoration did not exist with the Israelite people; they did no more than represent them through outward gestures, for merely external things and nothing internal interested them. Nevertheless when they humbled themselves they used to lie face down on the ground, also roll themselves in the dust, and cry out with a loud voice, behaving like this for entire days. Anyone who does not know what true humility is might think that such behaviour was humility of heart. But it was not the humility of a heart looking to God from God, but one of looking to God from self; and a heart that looks from self looks from what is evil, since whatever goes out from a person, from the self alone, is evil. For the Israelites more than all peoples in the whole world were ruled by self-love and love of the world. They thought that they were holy if they merely offered sacrifice or washed themselves with water, doing so without any recognition that such actions represented the inward holiness that belongs to charity and faith coming from the Lord. For no holiness is a person's own; rather it is the Lord's present with the person, 9229. Those who humble themselves in the belief that they are holy of themselves and who offer adoration from a love of God which begins in themselves, humble themselves and offer adoration from self-love, thus from a hard heart of stone and not from a soft heart of flesh. Also they are interested only in external things and not at the same time in internal ones; for self-love lives in the external man and cannot enter the internal because the internal man is opened solely by love to and faith in the Lord, thus by the Lord who there forms for the person the heaven in which he lives.
(References: Exodus 24:1)