The Bible

 

Genesis 1

Study the Inner Meaning

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1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

2 And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

3 And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.

4 And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.

5 And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first Day.

6 And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.

7 And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so.

8 And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.

9 And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.

10 And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good.

11 And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so.

12 And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

13 And the evening and the morning were the third day.

14 And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:

15 And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so.

16 And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also.

17 And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth,

18 And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good.

19 And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.

20 And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.

21 And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

22 And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth.

23 And the evening and the morning were the fifth day.

24 And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so.

25 And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

29 And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.

30 And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so.

31 And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.

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   Study the Inner Meaning

Genesis 1: The Creation and Development of our Spiritual Life      

By Rev. William Woofenden

The first book of the Bible is "Genesis", which means "creation". It's a very, very ancient story - one of the oldest stories of humankind, and it's full of symbolic meaning that - still - gets to the core of what it is to be truly human.

The first three days of creation describe the development of the natural degree of man's life. They come first as a preparation for the opening of the spiritual degree of our minds. The creation of the grass, herbs, and trees took place on the third day, and constitutes the third step in regeneration. The creation of the fowl and fish was on the fifth day. Between these on the fourth day the sun, moon, and stars were created.

From the beginning man had light, for all light is from the Lord, but it was not direct light. He was not at first in the clear light of the sun, moon, and stars, which are set in the firmament. The firmament is the internal man. There is a preparation that has to be made before the internal man is opened. At first we think we see the truth and do good from ourselves. Hence only inanimate things are produced. All truth and good are from the Lord who alone is truth and goodness, and only when we come to acknowledge this can we have true love from him, true faith in Him, and true knowledge of spiritual things. These are not seen from the external or natural degree of life.

Again we should note a change of language. It was said, "Let the earth bring forth" the grass, herb, and fruit trees. Now and through the remaining days it is said that "God created." Man has a part to play in his regeneration. There must be in his mind forms into which the warmth of love and the light of faith and of spiritual truths can flow.

When the mind is so prepared, influx from the Lord can be received, with greater power. "And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven." It should be noted that it is the waters that are commanded to bring forth the moving creature that hath life, and that it is not the seas but the waters which are to produce the living creatures. The seas represent the gathering together of knowledges, but by the "waters" are meant the spiritual truths in the mind. So in the Lord's words to the woman of Samaria, "Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst" (John 4:14). In Ezekiel it is the "waters" issuing from the sanctuary that give life (Ezekiel 47:1). The Psalmist writes, "Who layeth the beams of his chambers in the waters" (Psalm 104:3). It is not in natural waters that the Lord lays the beams of His chambers. His chambers are the interior principles of His church; the beams give them support and strength. These are said to be laid in the waters because they rest and have their foundation in the genuine truths of the Word. So in Revelation the Word itself is described as a pure river of water of life.

The will faculty in man embraces all his affections and is the internal man. When the sun, moon, and stars—love, faith, and knowledges of spiritual truth—are set in this heaven and begin to impart their warmth and light to the external man, enabling him to think and act from these higher and purer principles, then the external man is gifted with a new life. There may be no apparent change in his outward conduct—he may already be living a moral life—but the motives that direct his acts will be wholly different. And it is the motive that gives character to the act as well as to the actor. He no longer thinks of the truths that he has learned, either natural or spiritual, as the product of his own mind nor of the good, that he does as the result of his own efforts, but thinks of them as wholly from the Lord, who alone is the source of all true light and life.

Before one recognizes clearly that all good and truth come from the Lord, he can bring forth only inanimate things, the grass, herb, and fruit tree, however good and useful these may be. But when he is enlightened by genuine love and faith, his knowledges become the basis for the development of spiritual life and God can create in him the living creatures that have life. First the fishes are created; then the fowl of the air. There is a difference between fishes and birds. The fishes, living in water, represent our affections for natural truths. The great whales, the largest of living creatures, are affections for the great general principles that control the mind. The principle may be either true or false. Of Pharaoh or Egypt it is written, "Thou art as a whale in the seas: and thou earnest forth with thy rivers, and troubledst the waters with thy feet, and fouled at their rivers" (Ezekiel 32:2) Here is pictured a ruling false principle from the natural degree of the mind — Egypt. That is, when the ruling principle is false, it will be a monster making the truths in the mind obscure like filthy or muddy waters.

Another example of the meaning of the whale in a bad sense is in the story of Jonah. When the principle is false it swallows up for a time all the truths that are in the mind. This is the whale swallowing Jonah the prophet. But Divine truth cannot be used by a false principle so as to become a part of its organic structure. Nor can the Divine truth perish. So the whale could not digest Jonah, nor could the prophet perish, but the whale vomited him up.

Spiritually there are whales trying to swallow prophets today, evil principles that try to use Divine truths to attain their ends. In the creation story, however, the whales are affections for the principles of natural truth for the sake of uses to the spiritual man. There is one source of genuine love. The creatures of the fifth day are living because they are animated by this love. Birds fly in the air above the earth. They have the power of flight and enjoy broader views. They represent affections for truth that rise above the natural. They are the thoughts that look at life from the heights of spiritual perception, ideas about the Lord, heaven, and spiritual things. Isaiah writes, "They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles" (Isaiah 40:31). Birds represent spiritual intelligence, the power to lift us up to understand spiritual truth in heavenly light, through which truth the Lord can impart to us something of the Divine intelligence. So at the baptism of the Lord "The heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him" (Matthew 3:16). So a new knowledge of heavenly life is given, a new perception of our possibilities, and in this higher intelligence a basis for further development is laid. This further development is pictured in the creation of the living creatures upon the earth. These are symbols of the affections. Here, too, it is said, "Let the earth bring forth" and also "And God made the beast of the earth." The creation of living animals on the earth and of man in the image and likeness of God marks the completion of the six days of creation—the six stages in regeneration. Man has first to learn what is to be believed and done and then to do it.

It is the office of the understanding to hear the Word and of the will to do it. In this way the truths are made our own, and the will and understanding make one mind. And when one begins to act from love as well as from faith, he becomes a spiritual man, who is called an image of God, and is given dominion over all things. Thus all things natural and spiritual come to be a delight to him and serviceable to him. To be an image and likeness of God one must act from impulses similar to those of God. This he cannot do until he comes into the final state of regeneration. Then he will not act from selfish motives, as does the natural man, nor from mere obedience to truth, but from love to the Lord and the neighbor. When these loves are developed and rule, to them is given the dominion over all subordinate affections and the fruits of all the growths of intelligence. These are what make man to be a man and cause him to be in the image and likeness of his Maker. Each step in the formation of a truly human character the Lord saw and pronounced good, but of the work of the sixth day it is said, "God saw everything that he had made, and, behold, it was very good."

From Swedenborg's Works

Main explanations:

Arcana Coelestia 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, ...

Apocalypse Explained 257

The Inner Meaning of the Prophets and Psalms 402


Other references to this chapter:

Arcana Coelestia 246, 300, 476, 478, 480, 670, 709, ...

Apocalypse Revealed 200, 414

Conjugial Love 132, 156

Divine Love and Wisdom 11, 18, 287, 358

Divine Providence 123, 328

Doctrine of the New Jerusalem Regarding the Sacred Scripture 14, 103

Heaven and Hell 137

The Last Judgement 20

True Christian Religion 20, 34, 46, 48, 364, 490


References from Swedenborg's drafts, indexes & diaries:

Apocalypse Explained 229, 294, 401, 513, 526, 527, 555, ...

Canons of the New Church 45

Charity 91

Coronis (An Appendix to True Christian Religion) 23, 25, 28

De Verbo (The Word) 14

Spiritual Experiences 1973, 1974, 5605, 6110

Marriage 20, 34, 46, 48, 71

Related New Christian Commentary

  Stories and their meanings:



Hop to Similar Bible Verses

Genesis 2:3, 7, 16, 19, 5:1, 2, 6:1, 21, 8:17, 9:1, 2, 3, 6, 11:7

Exodus 20:11

Deuteronomy 4:19, 32:4

2 Kings 19:15

2 Chronicles 2:11

Nehemiah 9:6

Job 12:7, 9, 26:8, 38:8

Psalms 8:4, 7, 19:2, 24:2, 33:6, 7, 9, 74:16, 95:5, 104:6, 14, 19, 25, 115:15, 16, 121:2, 136:5, 7, 9, 148:4, 7

Proverbs 8:29

Ecclesiastes 3:11

Isaiah 40:26, 45:7, 61:11

Jeremiah 4:23, 10:12, 31:35

Jonah 1:9

Zechariah 12:1

Matthew 19:4

Mark 4:28, 10:6

Luke 3:38

Acts of the Apostles 4:24, 17:29

1 Corinthians 11:7, 15:38

2 Corinthians 4:6, 6:14

Colossians 3:10

1 Timothy 4:4

Hebrews 6:8, 11:3

James 3:9

2 Peter 5, 6

Revelation 4:11

Bible Word Meanings

beginning
In the Word, "beginning" doesn't just mean the beginning of something in time. In the inner sense, it means the initial phase of a spiritual...

God
When the Bible speaks of "Jehovah," it is representing love itself, the inmost love that is the essence of the Lord. That divine love is...

created
The creation of heaven and earth in the first chapter of Genesis means the new creation of the celestial church called 'Man'.

heaven
"Air" in the Bible represents thought, but in a very general way – more like our capacity to perceive ideas and the way we tend...

earth
Land' in the Word, denotes the church, for the things which signify the church also signify the things relating to the church, for these constitute...

form
A person who has yet to be regenerated is called 'a void and an empty earth', and also 'ground where no good or truth has...

darkness
"Darkness" is a state without light. "Light" is truth from the Lord, so "darkness" represents a state where truth is lacking. Here's a cogent passage...

Face of the deep
The face of the deep (Gen. 1:2) signifies the lust of the unregenerate man, and the falsities thence originating.

face
“The eyes are the windows of the soul.” That’s a sentiment with roots somewhere in murky antiquity, but one that has become hopelessly cliché because...

Spirit of God
'The spirit of God,' as in Genesis 1:2, signifies the divine mercy of the Lord. 'The spirit of God' is His emanation. 'The spirit of...

Face of the waters
The face of the water (Gen. 1:2) signifies the knowledges of good and truth.

said
As with many common verbs, the meaning of “to say” in the Bible is highly dependent on context. Who is speaking? Who is hearing? What...

light
In the Word, “light” in the highest sense represents Divine Truth: knowledge, ideas, understanding that come to us from the Lord. In lesser degrees...

saw
The symbolic meaning of "seeing" is "understanding," which is obvious enough that it has become part of common language (think about it; you might see...

good
It seems rather circular to say that “good” in the Bible represents good, but in a general sense it’s true! The case is this: The...

called
'To proclaim' signifies exploration from influx of the Lord.

day
The expression 'even to this day' or 'today' sometimes appears in the Word, as in Genesis 19:37-38, 22:14, 26:33, 32:32, 35:20, and 47:26. In a...

night
The sun in the Bible represents the Lord, with its heat representing His love and its light representing His wisdom. “Daytime,” then, represents a state...

evening
Since the light and warmth of the sun represent the Lord’s wisdom and love, it makes sense that evening, a time when the light and...

morning
Morning comes with the rising of the sun, and the sun – which gives life to the earth with its warmth and light – represents...

Firmament
The firmament, as in Genesis 1, signifies the internal man. The firmament of heaven is mutual love.

midst
The "midst" of something in the Bible represents the thing that is most central and most important to the spiritual state being described, the motivation...

under
Generally speaking things that are seen as lower physically in the Bible represent things that are lower or more external spiritually. In some cases this...

one
A company might have executives setting policy and strategy, engineers designing products, line workers building them, managers handling personnel and others handling various functions. They...

place
'A room' or 'place' denotes state.

land
Generally in the Bible a "country" means a political subdivision ruled by a king, or sometimes a tribe with a territory ruled by a king...

seas
Water generally represents what Swedenborg calls “natural truth,” or true concepts about day-to-day matters and physical things. Since all water ultimately flows into the seas,...

grass
Every herb in the Word signifies some species of scientifics. 'Herb bearing seed,' as mentioned in Genesis 1:29, signifies every truth which regards use. 'Green...

herb
Every herb in the Word signifies some species of scientifics. 'Herb bearing seed,' as mentioned in Genesis 1:29, signifies every truth which regards use. 'Green...

seed
'A seed' signifies love, and everyone who has love, as in Genesis 12:7. 8:15, 16. 'A seed' signifies faith grounded in charity. 'A seed' signifies...

fruit
We tend to think of "fruit" in two ways in natural language. One is as food that grows on trees and vines, sweet and delicious,...

tree
'Trees,' in general, signify the perceptions when discussing the celestial self, but when related to the spiritual church, they signify knowledges. A person in the...

Third day
'The third day' signifies the end of a state of preparation for reception, and so an end of purification, as in Exodus 19:16. 'The third...

third
'Three' denotes fullness, and 'a third,' not full.

lights
'The two luminaries' denote love and faith in the internal self.

signs
'A token,' as in Genesis 9:12, 13, 17, signifies causing it to be.

days
"Day" describes a state in which we are turned toward the Lord, and are receiving light (which is truth) and heat (which is a desire...

two
The number "two" has two different meanings in the Bible. In most cases "two" indicates a joining together or unification. This is easy to see...

Great lights
Great lights, as in luminaries, signify love and faith, and are called in Genesis 1:14-17, the sun, moon, and stars.

great
The word "great" is used in the Bible to represent a state with a strong degree of love and affection, of the desire for good;...

greater
The word "great" is used in the Bible to represent a state with a strong degree of love and affection, of the desire for good;...

give
Like other common verbs, the meaning of "give" in the Bible is affected by context: who is giving what to whom? In general, though, giving...

fourth
The number "four" in the Bible represents things being linked together or joined. This is partly because four is two times two, and two represents...

life
'Lives' is used in the plural, because of the will and understanding, and because these two lives make one.

fowl
Fowl signify spiritual truth; a bird, natural truth; and a winged thing, sensual truth. Fowl signify intellectual things. Fowl signify thoughts, and all that creeps...

fly
To fly, when spoken of the Lord, signifies to foresee and to provide. To fly, when predicated of the Lord, also signifies omnipresence. To fly...

open
To open,' as in Revelation 9, signifies communication and conjunction.

whales
'A whale,' as in Jeremiah 51:34, signifies people who possess the universal aspects of the knowledges of faith, as known, and apply them to evil...

living
'Lives' is used in the plural, because of the will and understanding, and because these two lives make one.

winged
'Wings' signify spiritual truths. 'Wings,' when related to the Lord, signify the divine spiritual. In the opposite sense, 'wings' relate to falsities and rationalizations from...

blessed
The Lord is perfect love expressed as perfect wisdom. He created us so that He could love us, could give us love and wisdom of...

fruitful
To be fruitful is predicated of goodnesses, and to be multiplied, of truths.

multiply
'Spreading themselves on the earth,' as in Genesis 8:17, signifies the internal self operating on the external.

fill
There are two ways something can be filled: It can be filled with something bad against the wishes of its owner, or it can be...

beast
"Beasts" represent the affection for doing good things, a true desire to do them from the heart. In the negative sense, "beasts" stand for the...

us
Angels do give us guidance, but they are mere helpers; the Lord alone governs us, through angels and spirits. Since angels have their assisting role,...

image
'An image' signifies falsities from self-derived intelligence.

sea
'The sea and the waves roaring' means heresy and controversies in the church and individual.

air
"Air" in the Bible represents thought, but in a very general way – more like our capacity to perceive ideas and the way we tend...

own
In many cases, the spiritual meaning of "own," both as a verb and as an adjective, is relatively literal. When people are described as the...

male
Because of their understanding of spiritual marriage, the people of the Most Ancient church perceived 'male and female' as two faculties in the spiritual self:...

male and female
Because of their understanding of spiritual marriage, the people of the Most Ancient church perceived 'male and female' as two faculties in the spiritual self:...

female
Female signifies good.

given
Like other common verbs, the meaning of "give" in the Bible is affected by context: who is giving what to whom? In general, though, giving...

sixth
Like most numbers in the Bible, "six" can have various meanings depending on context, but has a couple that are primary. When used in relation...

Videos from the Swedenborg Foundation

The videos shown here are provided courtesy of our friends at the Swedenborg Foundation. You can find out more about them here: swedenborg.com.


Our Bodies Connect to God's Design of the Universe

The human body is a microcosm of the divine design. Join us to learn about its connection to heaven and what its form can teach us about spiritual reality and how our minds work.


The Creation Story: Signs of Life - S&L Short Clips

The Biblical creation story is about the re-creation of our minds. Learn how the first signs of life on the third day symbolize heavenly ideas taking root in our lives.


Swedenborg 101: The Basic Nature of Everything - Swedenborg and Life

In this episode, host Curtis Childs and featured guests explore what eighteenth-century Christian mystic and philosopher Emanuel Swedenborg learned during his mystical explorations of the spiritual world. They delve into his life, spiritual awakening, and resulting philosophies about the relationship between this life and the afterlife.


What the 7 Days of Creation Mean - Swedenborg and Life

Was everything we see around us really created in seven days? Could that story in Genesis actually have something to say to each of us, right now? Join us as we discuss Swedenborg's accounts of his spiritual experiences and what he learned through them.


What the 7 Days of Creation Mean - Swedenborg and Life

Was everything we see around us really created in seven days? Could that story in Genesis actually have something to say to each of us, right now? Join us as we discuss Swedenborg's accounts of his spiritual experiences and what he learned through them.


What the 7 Days of Creation Mean - Swedenborg and Life

Was everything we see around us really created in seven days? Could that story in Genesis actually have something to say to each of us, right now? Join us as we discuss Swedenborg's accounts of his spiritual experiences and what he learned through them.


What the 7 Days of Creation Mean - Swedenborg and Life

Was everything we see around us really created in seven days? Could that story in Genesis actually have something to say to each of us, right now? Join us as we discuss Swedenborg's accounts of his spiritual experiences and what he learned through them.


What the 7 Days of Creation Mean - Swedenborg and Life

Was everything we see around us really created in seven days? Could that story in Genesis actually have something to say to each of us, right now? Join us as we discuss Swedenborg's accounts of his spiritual experiences and what he learned through them.


What the 7 Days of Creation Mean - Swedenborg and Life

Was everything we see around us really created in seven days? Could that story in Genesis actually have something to say to each of us, right now? Join us as we discuss Swedenborg's accounts of his spiritual experiences and what he learned through them.


Does God Want us to Dominate Nature? - Swedenborg Minute

Is there a religious call to exploit nature? Here, Swedenborg tackles a bit of text that has led some people to believe just that.

Resources for parents and teachers

The items listed here are provided courtesy of our friends at the General Church of the New Jerusalem. You can search/browse their whole library at the New Church Vineyard website.


 Animals and Plants in Heaven
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 Celebrating the Seven Days of Creation
Offers a wide array of ideas for play time, art projects, field trips, and more.
Activity | Ages up to 10

 Correspondences of Light
Illustrations of three stories in the Word that talk about light. (Quotations are the King James translation.)
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 Creation Chain
Make a paper chain with the names (or pictures) of the people in your family and other things that the Lord has made. Or make a paper chain that illustrates several things in creation that depend on one another. 
Project | Ages 4 - 14

 Creation Diorama
A great family project to build and display in your home.
Project | Ages 4 - 10

 Creation Mobile
Assemble this lovely mobile to remind you of all the Lord's precious gifts to us.
Project | Ages 4 - 14

 Creation Poem with Hand Motions
A lovely poem about creation with hand motions.
Activity | Ages up to 10

 Creation | Seas to Trees Pop-up
Color cut-and-fold pop-up project showing dry land rising out of the water and then growing a tree illustrating Genesis 1:9-13. Sample activity from Creation: reflection of God, Level C, ages 11-14.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 14

 Creation Sequencing Cards
Children can color and cut out these cards, then practice putting them in order from day 1-7.
Activity | Ages 4 - 10

 Creation Story (circle book project)
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 9 - 12

 Creation | The First Day - Level A
Complete lesson with activity choices: light and darkness game and song, separate light and darkness collage, scripted story discussion, coloring page, and a memory verse. Sample lesson from Creation: reflection of God, Level A, ages 3-6.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 3 - 6

 Creation | The First Day - Level B
Complete lesson with activity choices: light and darkness experiment with accompanying video, let there be light folding paper project, scripted story discussion, coloring page, and a memory verse. Sample lesson from Creation: reflection of God, Level B, ages 7-10.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 7 - 10

 Creation | The First Day - Level C
Complete lesson with activity choices: living in the dark--group blindfold games, video and discussion on the bible, creation and a can of peaches, scripted story discussion, and an illustrated quotation card. Sample Lesson from Creation: reflection of God, Level C.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 14

 Family Worship: The Story of Creation
Ideas for reading and discussing the story of creation in Genesis 1. Includes suggestions for extending the experience such as going for a nature walk.
Religion Lesson | Ages 3 - 15

 God Said What? The Creation Story
Spiritual tasks offer a reflection on a Biblical story and suggest a task for spiritual growth.
Activity | Ages over 18

 Memory Verse: Giving Thanks for Creation
Activity | Ages 4 - 14

 Memory Verse: Life Is Eternal
Activity | Ages 4 - 14

 Men and Women Are Different
Studies confirm that differences between men and women extend beyond the physical body, affecting engagement on all levels of life.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 17

 Overview of Creation Reflection of God Levels A, B, C for ages 3-14
Overview of Creation: reflection of God, Levels A, B, C for ages 3-14.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 3 - 14

 Prophecies of the Advent
Prophecies of Jesus' advent on earth often use the image of new light dawning in darkness to describe the spiritual impact His birth would have on the world.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 17

 Qualities of the Lord
Look at colored pictures of stories from the Word. Using a word bank, identify the quality of the Lord shown in each picture.
Project | Ages 9 - 14

 Quotes: Giving Thanks for Creation
Teaching Support | Ages over 15

 Stars
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 9 - 12

 Summary of Creation and Thankfulness
This lesson discusses a story from the Word and suggests projects and activities for young children.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 4 - 6

 Sun and the Fruit of Creation
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 Thankfulness
A Thanksgiving "wreath" to color and display.
Project | Ages 4 - 14

 Thanking the Lord for Creation
How can your words and actions show the Lord that you appreciate His creation?
Activity | Ages over 15

 The Creation
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 The Creation: A General View
A New Church Bible story explanation for teaching Sunday school. Includes lesson materials for Primary (3-8 years), Junior (9-11 years), Intermediate (12-14 years), Senior (15-17 years) and Adults.
Teaching Support | Ages over 3

 The Creation: The Fifth and Sixth Days
A New Church Bible story explanation for teaching Sunday school. Includes lesson materials for Primary (3-8 years), Junior (9-11 years), Intermediate (12-14 years), Senior (15-17 years) and Adults.
Teaching Support | Ages over 3

 The Creation: The First Four Days
A New Church Bible story explanation for teaching Sunday school. Includes lesson materials for Primary (3-8 years), Junior (9-11 years), Intermediate (12-14 years), Senior (15-17 years) and Adults.
Teaching Support | Ages over 3

 The Days of Creation Collage Book or Mural
Ideas from an art teacher for making a creation book or mural.
Project | Ages 4 - 10

 The Fifth Day of Creation
Lesson outline provides teaching ideas with questions for discussion, projects, and activities.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 7 - 10

 The Fifth Day of Creation
A lesson for younger children with discussion ideas and a project.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 4 - 6

 The First Day of Creation
Lesson outline provides teaching ideas with questions for discussion, projects, and activities.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 7 - 10

 The First Day of Creation
A lesson for younger children with discussion ideas and a project.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 4 - 6

 The Fourth Day of Creation
Lesson outline provides teaching ideas with questions for discussion, projects, and activities.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 7 - 10

 The Fourth Day of Creation
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 The Greatest Gift
Article | Ages 15 - 17

 The Meaning of the Tree of Life
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 The Purpose of Creation
Birth brings a person into the natural world, but God's ultimate purpose is that a person be born again into heavenly life, the life of the spirit.
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 The Second Day of Creation
Lesson outline provides teaching ideas with questions for discussion, projects, and activities.
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 The Second Day of Creation
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An illustrated story of the seven days of creation.
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 The Sixth Day of Creation
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Detailed notes on the seven days of creation.
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 The Third Day of Creation
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 The Universe
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 The Word Made Flesh
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 Two Great Lights
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 Using the Lord’s Creation
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 Where Did Everything Come From?
Grandpa explains to Annika and Peter where everything came from.
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 Why Are We Here?
Lesson and activities to explore why we were created - what God intends for us.
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Commentary

 

Genesis 1: The Creation and Development of our Spiritual Life      

By Rev. William Woofenden

The first book of the Bible is "Genesis", which means "creation". It's a very, very ancient story - one of the oldest stories of humankind, and it's full of symbolic meaning that - still - gets to the core of what it is to be truly human.

The first three days of creation describe the development of the natural degree of man's life. They come first as a preparation for the opening of the spiritual degree of our minds. The creation of the grass, herbs, and trees took place on the third day, and constitutes the third step in regeneration. The creation of the fowl and fish was on the fifth day. Between these on the fourth day the sun, moon, and stars were created.

From the beginning man had light, for all light is from the Lord, but it was not direct light. He was not at first in the clear light of the sun, moon, and stars, which are set in the firmament. The firmament is the internal man. There is a preparation that has to be made before the internal man is opened. At first we think we see the truth and do good from ourselves. Hence only inanimate things are produced. All truth and good are from the Lord who alone is truth and goodness, and only when we come to acknowledge this can we have true love from him, true faith in Him, and true knowledge of spiritual things. These are not seen from the external or natural degree of life.

Again we should note a change of language. It was said, "Let the earth bring forth" the grass, herb, and fruit trees. Now and through the remaining days it is said that "God created." Man has a part to play in his regeneration. There must be in his mind forms into which the warmth of love and the light of faith and of spiritual truths can flow.

When the mind is so prepared, influx from the Lord can be received, with greater power. "And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven." It should be noted that it is the waters that are commanded to bring forth the moving creature that hath life, and that it is not the seas but the waters which are to produce the living creatures. The seas represent the gathering together of knowledges, but by the "waters" are meant the spiritual truths in the mind. So in the Lord's words to the woman of Samaria, "Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst" (John 4:14). In Ezekiel it is the "waters" issuing from the sanctuary that give life (Ezekiel 47:1). The Psalmist writes, "Who layeth the beams of his chambers in the waters" (Psalm 104:3). It is not in natural waters that the Lord lays the beams of His chambers. His chambers are the interior principles of His church; the beams give them support and strength. These are said to be laid in the waters because they rest and have their foundation in the genuine truths of the Word. So in Revelation the Word itself is described as a pure river of water of life.

The will faculty in man embraces all his affections and is the internal man. When the sun, moon, and stars—love, faith, and knowledges of spiritual truth—are set in this heaven and begin to impart their warmth and light to the external man, enabling him to think and act from these higher and purer principles, then the external man is gifted with a new life. There may be no apparent change in his outward conduct—he may already be living a moral life—but the motives that direct his acts will be wholly different. And it is the motive that gives character to the act as well as to the actor. He no longer thinks of the truths that he has learned, either natural or spiritual, as the product of his own mind nor of the good, that he does as the result of his own efforts, but thinks of them as wholly from the Lord, who alone is the source of all true light and life.

Before one recognizes clearly that all good and truth come from the Lord, he can bring forth only inanimate things, the grass, herb, and fruit tree, however good and useful these may be. But when he is enlightened by genuine love and faith, his knowledges become the basis for the development of spiritual life and God can create in him the living creatures that have life. First the fishes are created; then the fowl of the air. There is a difference between fishes and birds. The fishes, living in water, represent our affections for natural truths. The great whales, the largest of living creatures, are affections for the great general principles that control the mind. The principle may be either true or false. Of Pharaoh or Egypt it is written, "Thou art as a whale in the seas: and thou earnest forth with thy rivers, and troubledst the waters with thy feet, and fouled at their rivers" (Ezekiel 32:2) Here is pictured a ruling false principle from the natural degree of the mind — Egypt. That is, when the ruling principle is false, it will be a monster making the truths in the mind obscure like filthy or muddy waters.

Another example of the meaning of the whale in a bad sense is in the story of Jonah. When the principle is false it swallows up for a time all the truths that are in the mind. This is the whale swallowing Jonah the prophet. But Divine truth cannot be used by a false principle so as to become a part of its organic structure. Nor can the Divine truth perish. So the whale could not digest Jonah, nor could the prophet perish, but the whale vomited him up.

Spiritually there are whales trying to swallow prophets today, evil principles that try to use Divine truths to attain their ends. In the creation story, however, the whales are affections for the principles of natural truth for the sake of uses to the spiritual man. There is one source of genuine love. The creatures of the fifth day are living because they are animated by this love. Birds fly in the air above the earth. They have the power of flight and enjoy broader views. They represent affections for truth that rise above the natural. They are the thoughts that look at life from the heights of spiritual perception, ideas about the Lord, heaven, and spiritual things. Isaiah writes, "They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles" (Isaiah 40:31). Birds represent spiritual intelligence, the power to lift us up to understand spiritual truth in heavenly light, through which truth the Lord can impart to us something of the Divine intelligence. So at the baptism of the Lord "The heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him" (Matthew 3:16). So a new knowledge of heavenly life is given, a new perception of our possibilities, and in this higher intelligence a basis for further development is laid. This further development is pictured in the creation of the living creatures upon the earth. These are symbols of the affections. Here, too, it is said, "Let the earth bring forth" and also "And God made the beast of the earth." The creation of living animals on the earth and of man in the image and likeness of God marks the completion of the six days of creation—the six stages in regeneration. Man has first to learn what is to be believed and done and then to do it.

It is the office of the understanding to hear the Word and of the will to do it. In this way the truths are made our own, and the will and understanding make one mind. And when one begins to act from love as well as from faith, he becomes a spiritual man, who is called an image of God, and is given dominion over all things. Thus all things natural and spiritual come to be a delight to him and serviceable to him. To be an image and likeness of God one must act from impulses similar to those of God. This he cannot do until he comes into the final state of regeneration. Then he will not act from selfish motives, as does the natural man, nor from mere obedience to truth, but from love to the Lord and the neighbor. When these loves are developed and rule, to them is given the dominion over all subordinate affections and the fruits of all the growths of intelligence. These are what make man to be a man and cause him to be in the image and likeness of his Maker. Each step in the formation of a truly human character the Lord saw and pronounced good, but of the work of the sixth day it is said, "God saw everything that he had made, and, behold, it was very good."

The Bible

 

Isaiah 40:31

Study the Inner Meaning

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31 But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

   Study the Inner Meaning

Explanation of Isaiah 40      

By Rev. John H. Smithson

THE EXPLANATION of Isaiah Chapter 40

(Note: Rev. Smithson's translation of the Isaiah text is appended below the explanation)

1. COMFORT you, comfort you, My people, says your God.

VERSES 1, 2. Treating of the advent of the Lord, and of the New Church to be established by Him. That the New Church is signified by "Jerusalem", to "the heart of which they should speak"; by "the warfare which is fulfilled", is signified the state of combat against evils; by "the infirmity being expiated or pardoned", is signified evil removed by the Lord; by "receiving double for all her sins", is denoted much suffering in combat or temptation. Apocalypse Explained 1115.

2. Speak you to the heart of Jerusalem, and proclaim unto her, that her warfare is fulfilled; that her iniquity is pardoned; that she has received from the hand of Jehovah double for all her sins.

Verse 2. As to tithe signification of "warfare" and of "wars", when mentioned in the Word, see Chapter 7:1, the Exposition.

That a man must combat against falsities and evils, in order that they may be removed by the Lord, and that on this account the church is called "militant", see Doctrine of Life, 98.

Her iniquity is pardoned [or expiated]. - By "expiation" is meant deliverance from damnation, and hence the pardoning and cleansing of sin. Arcana Coelestia 9076.

How false the doctrine of Expiation (or Atonement) is, as commonly received, may be seen illustrated and shown in Arcana Coelestia 9937.

She has received from the hand of Jehovah double for all her sins. - By "double" is signified much according to quantity and quality, as is evident from the following passages:

"Let them be confounded that persecute me; break them with a double breach [destruction]." (Jeremiah 17:18)

Also much according to the quantity and quality of their conversion from evils, as in these passages :

"Comfort you, My people; because her warfare is fulfilled, her iniquity is expiated; for she has received from the hand of Jehovah double." (Isaiah 40:1, 2)

Again,

"Return you to the stronghold, you prisoners of hope; this day do I declare that I will render unto you double." (Zechariah 9:12)

As to the law of retaliation, it is according to the literal sense that they whom they had seduced and destroyed, were to recompense them [who had seduced], as in Revelation 18:6; whereas, according to the spiritual sense, they were to recompense themselves, because every evil carries along with it its own punishment. The case herein is similar to what is said in many parts of the Word, that God will recompense and take vengeance upon the injustice and injuries done to Him, and will destroy the unjust out of anger and wrath, when nevertheless the evils themselves which they have committed against God, do this, consequently they do it to themselves; for this is the law of retaliation [jus talionis], which derives its origin from the following divine law:

"All things whatsoever you would that men should do to you, do you even so to them; this is the Law and the Prophets." (Matthew 7:12; Luke 6:31)

This law, in heaven, is the law of mutual love or charity, from which is produced what is opposite in hell, namely, that what anyone does to another, the same is done to himself: not that they who are in heaven do it, but they who are in hell do it to themselves, for the retribution of retaliation, grounded in their opposition to the above law of life in heaven, is, as it were, inherent in their evils. Apocalypse Revealed 762.

3. A voice of one proclaiming in the wilderness, Prepare you the way of Jehovah! make straight in the desert a highway for our God!

4. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill be made low; and the crooked shall become straight, and the rough places a plain:

Verses 3, 4. The subject here treated of is also concerning the advent of the Lord, and the Last Judgment which then took place. The "voice of one proclaiming in the wilderness, Prepare you the way or Jehovah! make straight in the desert a highway for our God!" signifies that they should prepare themselves to receive the Lord; the "wilderness" is where there is no Good, because there is no Truth, thus where there is as yet no church. By "every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill be made low", is signified that all the humble in heart, who are those that are in Goods and Truths, shall be received, for they who are received by the Lord are raised up to heaven; and by "every mountain and hill shall be made low", is signified that all the high-minded, who are those that are in the love of self and the world, shall be put down. Apocalypse Explained 405.

As to what is meant by "mountains and hills being made low" at the time of Judgment in the spiritual world, see above, Chapter 2:12-17, the Exposition.

5. And the glory of Jehovah shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of Jehovah has spoken it.

Verses 5-7. These things are said concerning the advent of the Lord, and the revelation of Divine Truth about to take place from Him. which is understood by "the glory Jehovah shall be revealed", and "they shall see it." That then there would be no scientific truth nor spiritual truth with man is signified by "all flesh is grass, and all the glory [or sanctity] thereof is as the flower of the field"; "grass" denoting scientific Truth, and the "flower of the field" spiritual Truth. That man is of such a nature and quality, is understood by "all flesh is grass", and by "the grass withers; verily the people is grass"; "all flesh" denoting every man, and the "people" [in a good sense] those who are in truths, but, in the opposite sense, those who are in falsities. Apocalypse Explained 507.

6. A voice says, Proclaim! And I said, What shall I proclaim? All flesh is grass, and all the glory thereof is as the flower of the field:

7. The grass withers, the flower fades, because the spirit of Jehovah blows upon it: verily the people is grass.

8. The grass withers, the flower fades; but the Word of our God shall stand for ever.

Verses 6-8. All flesh is grass, and all the glory thereof is as the flower of the field, etc.

- That "grass", "herb", and what is "green" signify scientifics, or knowledges of Truth, in which there is some spiritual life, see Chapter 15:6, the Exposition, [By the "grass withering" and the "flower fading" is consequently signified that the knowledges of Truth and of Good are destitute of any living or spiritual principle. Hence it is that this knowledge, rendered worthless by its not being applied to the uses of the spiritual life, is contrasted in verse 8 with the living Word of God.]

9. O [daughter of] Zion, that brings good tidings, get you up into the high mountain: O [daughter of] Jerusalem, that brings good tidings, lift up your voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid: say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God!

Verses 9, 10. Inasmuch as these things are spoken of the Lord and of His kingdom, and this is signified by "Zion" and "Jerusalem", therefore it is said that Zion and Jerusalem evangelize it, or "bring good tidings", -Zion from the Good of Love, and Jerusalem from Truths of Doctrine."

Evangelization, or "good tidings", from the Good of Love, is signified by "getting up upon the high mountain", and from the Truths of Doctrine, by "lifting up the voice with strength." By the "cities of Judah" is meant the doctrine of love to the Lord and of love to the neighbour in all its complex.

The Lord, as to Divine Truth and as to Divine Good, who was about to come and effect Judgment, is understood by "Behold your God!behold, the Lord Jehovih shall come with power; for the Lord is called "God", in the Word, from "Divine Truth, and "Jehovah" from Divine Good, and also the "Lord Jehovih"; to "come with power" is to effect judgment, thus to subjugate the cells. Apocalypse Explained 850.

As to the specific meaning of "Jehovih", as distinguished from "Jehovah", see Chapter 3:15, the Exposition and note.

Verses 9-11. That these things are said concerning the advent of the Lord is evident, and hence it is that "Zion" and "Jerusalem " are called evangelizers, or "bringers of good tidings."

- By "Zion" are understood all who are of the celestial church, who are those that are principled in love to the Lord, wherefore it is said "Get you up into the high mountain"; the "high mountain" denoting that love, as may be seen above, Apocalypse Explained 405.

By "Jerusalem" are understood all who are of the spiritual church, who are those that are principled in the doctrine of genuine Truth, wherefore it is said, "Lift up your voice with strength"; by which is signified confession from genuine Truths. By the "cities of Judah", to which it is said "Behold your God! behold, the Lord Jehovih shall come with power" are signified doctrinals from the Word; by "cities" doctrinals, and by "Judah" the Word. That "Zion" and "Jerusalem" are called evangelizers by reason that the "Gospel", [evangelium] signifies the advent of the Lord, is manifest, for it is said "Behold your God! behold, the Lord Jehovih shall come with power." That He will accomplish a Judgment, and defend those, who acknowledge Him, is signified by "His arm shall rule for Him, and "like a Shepherd shall He feed His flock", etc. Apocalypse Explained 612.

10. Behold, the Lord Jehovih shall come with power, and His arm shall rule for Him: behold, His reward is with Him, and the recompense of His work before Him.

Verse 10. And in the Apocalypse:

"Behold, I come quickly; and My reward is with Me, to give to every one as his work shall be." (Revelation 22:12)

"Behold, the Lord Jehovih shall come with power", Behold, your salvation cometh" and "Behold, He cometh quickly", signify the first and second advent of the Lord.

"His reward is with Him" signifies heaven and all things belonging thereto, inasmuch as where the Lord is, there is heaven; for heaven is not heaven from the angels there, but from the Lord with the angels.

That they shall receive heaven according to the love and affection of Good and of Truth from the Lord, is understood by "the recompense of His work before Him", and by " giving to every one according as his work shall be"; by the "work" for which heaven shall be given as a reward, nothing else is meant than what proceeds from the love or affection of Good and of Truth, inasmuch as nothing else can produce heaven in man; for every work derives all that it has from the love or affection whence it proceeds, as the effect derives all that it has from the efficient cause; wherefore, according to the quality of the love or affection, such is the work.

Hence it may appear what is understood by "the work according to which it shall be given", and by "the recompense of His work." Apocalypse Explained 695.

As to the true nature of heavenly "reward" and "recompense " see above, Chapter 3:10, the Exposition.

Verses 10, 12. Treating also concerning the Lord, and concerning Divine Truth, from which is heaven and the church, and all wisdom. The advent of the Lord, and the arrangement of all things in the heavens by Him, from His own proper power, is signified by "Behold, the Lord Jehovih shall come with power, and His arm shall rule for Him"; "His arm which shall rule" denoting His own power. The arrangement thence of all things in the heavens by Divine Truth, is signified by "Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand; and has meted out the heavens with His span; and has comprehended the dust of the earth in measure; and has weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance?"

By "measuring the waters", is signified to designate divine Truths; by "meting out the heavens with a span", is signified thence to set in order, or arrange the heavens; by "comprehending the dust of the earth in a measure", is denoted the same with respect to things inferior; by "the hollow of the hand, the span and the measure", are signified the same as by "measures" and by the "hand" namely, the quantity of a thing, and His own or proper power; by "weighing the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance", is meant to bring all things into subordination and equilibrium; the "scales" and the "balance" denoting just equilibrium, and the "mountains" and "hills" the superior heavens, - the "mountains" those which are principled in love to the Lord, and the "hills" those which are principled in charity to the neighbour. Apocalypse Explained 629.

11. Like a shepherd shall He feed His flock; in His arms shall He gather up the lambs, and shall carry them in His bosom; and He shall gently lead them that give suck.

Verse. 11. By "the flock which He shall feed like a Shepherd", are signified those who are in the good of charity and by "the lambs whom He shall gather up in His arms, are signified those who are in love to Him, which love, viewed in itself, is innocence, and therefore all who are principled in it are in the heaven of innocence, which is the third heaven and inasmuch as that love is signified by "lambs", it is therefore also said:

"He shall gently lead them that give suck." By "sucklings" and infants in the Word, are understood those who are in innocence as may be seen in the work concerning Heaven and Hell 277, 280. Apocalypse Explained 314.

12. Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand; and has meted out the Heavens by His span; and has comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure; and has weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance?

Verse 12. In this passage is described, by "measures", the just arrangement and estimation of all things in heaven and in the church, according to the quality of Good and of Truth. The "measures" by which this is described are the hollow of the hand, the span, the tierce, the scale, and balances. By "waters" are signified truths; by the "heavens", interior or spiritual Truths and Goods; by the "dust of the earth", exterior or natural truths and goods; - each appertaining to heaven and the church. By "mountains", the goods of love; by "hills", the goods of charity; and by "weighing them", the estimation and arrangement of them according to their quality. That these words have such a signification, can only be seen from the science of correspondences. Apocalypse Explained 33.

13. Who has directed the Spirit of Jehovah, and as a man of His counsel has informed Him?

14. With whom has He consulted, that he should instruct Him, and teach Him the path of judgment; that he should teach Him knowledge, and show Him the way of understanding?

15. Behold, the nations are as a drop from the bucket, and are accounted as the small dust of the balance: behold, the islands He takes up as an atom;

Verses 13, 14. The "Spirit of Jehovah" is the Divine Truth; that to "teach Him the path of judgment" is to render Him knowing, intelligent, and wise, is evident. Arcana Coelestia 9857.

Verse 15. Inasmuch as most things in the Word have also an opposite sense, so "islands", in that sense, signify the falsities opposite to the truths which are in the natural man. In that sense "islands" are mentioned in the above passage, where "nations" denote evils, and "islands" falsities. Apocalypse Explained 406.

As to the meaning of "peoples" and "nations", see Chapter 9:2, 3; 25:3, 7, 8, the Exposition.

16. And Lebanon is not sufficient to burn; nor the beasts thereof sufficient for a burnt-offering.

17. All the nations are as nothing before Him; they are accounted by Him as less than nothing, and emptiness.

Verse 16. [That is, the forests of Lebanon are not sufficient to supply fuel for burnt-offerings, adequate to the worship and praise of Jehovah. As to the meaning of "sacrifices" and of "burnt-offerings in worship, see Chapter 1:11, the Exposition.]

18. To whom therefore will you liken God ? or what likeness will you compare unto Him?

19. The workman casts a graven image; and the smith overlays it with gold, and casts chains of silver.

Verses 18-20. By these words is described how doctrine is forged and compacted by falsities, thus by such things as are from self-derived intelligence, for all these are falsities.

By the "workman" and "smith", likewise by the "Wise [or skilful] workman" whom he seeks to himself, is understood one that feigns and forms such a doctrine.

That it may appear as good in the external form is signified by "overlaying it with gold"; that falsities may cohere and appear as truths, is signified by "casting chains of silver"; that so it may be acknowledged, and that the false may not be seen, is signified by "Choosing wood that will not rot", and by "preparing a graven image that will not be moved. Apocalypse Explained 587. See also Arcana Coelestia 8869, 10406.

As to "graven and molten images", see above, Chapter 2:7, 8, 20, the Exposition.

20. He that cannot afford an oblation chooses wood that will not rot; he seeks for himself a wise workman to prepare a graven image, which shall not be moved.

Verse 20. By "wood" here signified evil which is adored as good, for the "graven image" denotes the evil of worship; "wood that will not rot signifies some good from the Word which is adulterated, and thence becomes evil. This is said to "choose", because that which is derived from the Word persuades, and thereby does not perish in the mind; for thus it is with every evil and false confirmed from the Word. His "seeking a wise [or skilful] workman", signifies to seek one who, from self-deemed intelligence, has the gift of confirming and falsifying. Apocalypse Explained 1145.

21. Have you not known? have you not heard? has it not been declared unto you from the beginning? have you not understood from the foundations of the earth?

Verse 21. He who does not know what is signified by a "foundation", and what by the "earth", conceives no otherwise than that the bottoms of the earth are here meant "the foundations of the earth", although he may perceive, if he attends, that something else is meant; for what would it be "to know to hear, and to understand the foundations of the earth"? Hence it may be evident that by the "foundations of the earth" are signified such things as are of the church.

That "earth", in the Word, denotes the church, is very manifest from the passages in the Word where "earth" is named; see those which are cited, Arcana Coelestia 9325; and that its "foundations" are the truths of faith, for these truths of the church are foundations, as may also be still further manifest from the following passages:

They do not acknowledge, neither do they understand; they walk in darkness: all the foundations of the earth totter." (Psalm 82:5)

That the "foundations of the earth" do not totter, but the truths of the church, to those who do not acknowledge and do not understand them, and who walk in darkness, is evident. Arcana Coelestia 10043.

That the "earth" signifies the church, see Chapter 14, the Exposition.

Verses 21-23. Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth. It is He that sits upon the circle of the earth, that reduces princes to nothing; that makes the judges of the earth as emptiness.

By the "princes" who shall be reduced to nothing, and by the "judges of the earth" whom He makes as emptiness, are signified those things which are from self-derived intelligence, and from self-derived judgment. Apocalypse Explained 304.

22. It is He that sits upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as locusts; that extends the heavens as a curtain, and spreads them out as a tent to dwell in:

Verse 22. To "sit upon the circle of the earth", means upon the heavens, for the heavens encompass the earth as a circle a centre; whence the Lord is called the "Most High", and "He that dwells in the highest.

"The inhabitants of the earth are as locusts", signifies men in extremes or outermost principles for the "locust" signifies what is alive in ultimates, specifically truth in ultimates, and, in the opposite sense, the false.

"Who extends the heavens as somewhat thin [or a curtain]", signifies Omnipotence to amplify the heavens at will; and " spreads them out as a tent to dwell in", signifies nearly the same, but the latter expression denotes the amplification of the heavens as to Goods, and the former as to Truths. Apocalypse Explained 799

Concerning "locusts", see above, Chapter 33:4, the Exposition.

23. That reduces princes to nothing; that makes the judges of the earth as emptiness.

Verse 23. "Princes", in a good sense, are primary truths; but in a bad sense, as in this verse they are primary falsities; and "judges" are the evils in connection with those falsities. See Chapter 1:23; 3:6, 7, the Exposition,

24. Yea, they shall not be planted; yea, they shall not be sown: yea, their trunk shall not strike its root in the earth: and He shall also blow upon them, and they shall wither; and the whirlwind shall bear them away like the stubble.

25. To whom then will you liken Me, that I should be equal? says the Holy One.

Verse 24. He shall also blow upon them, and they shall wither; and the whirlwind shall bear them away, etc. - As to "winds" and "tempests" at the period of Judgment, see Chapter 17:13, the Exposition.

26. Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who has created these. He leads forth their army by number; He calls them all by name: through the greatness of His strength, and the mightiness of His power, not a man fails.

27. Wherefore say you then, O Jacob, and why speak you thus, O Israel: My way is bidden from Jehovah, and my judgment has passed away from my God?

28. Hast you not known, bast you not heard, that the everlasting God is Jehovah, the Creator of the ends of the earth? He faints not, neither is He weary; His understanding is unsearchable.

Verse 26. By "calling them all by name" is denoted that He knows the qualities of all, and gives to them according to their state of love and faith. Apocalypse Explained 148.

He leads forth their army by number; He calls them all by name, etc.

- By "the host [or army] of the heavens", in the literal sense, are understood the sun, the moon, and the stars, for these, in the Word, are called "the host of Jehovah"; but, in the spiritual sense, by the "host" are signified all the Goods and Truths of heaven and the church in the complex: for by the "sun" is signified the Good of Love, by the "moon" the Good of Faith, and by the "stars" the knowledges of Good and Truth. Hence it is evident what is signified by "Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who has created these."

By "creating", when predicated of Goods and Truths, is signified to form them in man, and so to regenerate him; by "leading forth their armies by number", is signified to arrange Goods and Truths, according to their quality, in those with whom they are; to "call them all by name", signifies to know the quality of all, and to dispose accordingly; for by "name", in the Word, is signified the quality of a thing or state, as in John :

"His sheep hear His voice; and He calls His own sheep by name, and leads them out." (John 10:3)

Where also it is said to "lead out" and to "call by name", as above in Isaiah, and by these expressions the same things are signified as above. Apocalypse Explained 453. See also Arcana Coelestia 10217.

Verses 26, 28. Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who has created these; - Jehovah, the Creator of the ends of the earth, etc.

- These words treat of the reformation of man, which is signified by "to create"; by "the army which He leads forth "are understood all Goods and Truths; and "calling them by name" signifies reception according to the quality of each. By "creating the ends of the earth", is signified the restoration [or establishment] of the church, thus the reformation of those who are there. Apocalypse Explained 294.

What is further signified by a " name", and by being "called by a name", see above, Chapter 4:1; 26:8, the Exposition.

29. He giveth power to the faint; and to him that has no might He increases strength.

Verse 29. "Power" is predicated of Good, and "strength" of Truth. All power in the spiritual world is from Good by Truth, for without Good, Truth bas no power whatever. Truth is as a body, and Good is as the soul of that body; that the soul may do anything, it must be by its body. Hence it is evident that Truth without Good bas no power whatever, just as the body has no power without the soul, for the body is then a carcase; so also is Truth without Good. Arcana Coelestia 6344.

30. The youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall:

Verse 30. For the meaning of "young men", both in a good and in a bad sense, see Chapter 13:17, 18; 23:4; 31:8, the Exposition.

31. But they that wait upon Jehovah shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles: they shall run, and not be weary; they shall walk, and not faint.

Verse 31. To "renew strength" is to increase as to the willing of Good; to "mount up with wings like eagles" is to increase as to the understanding of Truth, thus as to the rational. The subject here is explained, as elsewhere, by, two expressions, of which the one involves the Good which is of the will, and the other the Truth which is of the understanding: in like manner "to run and not be weary", and "to walk and not faint." Arcana Coelestia 3001.

To "mount up with wings like eagles" is to be elevated to the knowledges of what is True and Good, and hence into intelligence; thus into the light of heaven, which is the Divine Truth, or the Divine-Spiritual principle, from which is all intelligence. Apocalypse Revealed 244; Apocalypse Explained 281, 283.

"Eagles", when mentioned in the Word, signify man's rational principles, which, when predicated of the good, are true rational principles, but when predicated of the wicked, are false rational principles, or principles of mere ratiocination.

"Birds", in general, signify man's knowledges, even in both a good and a bad sense, see n. 40, 745, 776; and each species corresponds to some particular species of knowledge.

"Eagles", as flying aloft and being sharp-sighted, signify rational principles. That this is the case, may appear from several passages in the Word, of which we shall adduce the following by way of confirmation; first, where "eagles" signify true rational principles, as in Moses:

"He found him in a desert land, and, in the waste howling wilderness; He led him about, He instructed him, He kept him as the apple of His eye. As an eagle stirs up her nest, flutters over her young, spreads abroad her wings, takes them, bears them on her wings: so Jehovah alone did lead him." (Deuteronomy 32:10-12)

Instruction in the Truths and Goods of faith is what is here described and compared to an "eagle." In the description and comparison is contained the whole process of instruction until man is made rational and spiritual; all comparisons in the Word are made by significatives, and hence in the present case by an "eagle" denoting the rational principle.

So Again,

"And Moses went up unto God, and the Lord called unto him out of the mountain, saying, Thus shalt you say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel: You have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles' wings, and brought you unto Myself"; (Exodus 19:3, 4) where the signification is the same.

That "eagles", in an opposite sense, signify rational principles not true, consequently false, is evident from the following passages:

" Jehovah shall bring a nation against you from afar, from the end of the earth, as swift as the eagle flies; a nation whose tongue you shalt not understand; a nation of fierce countenance, which shall not regard the person of the old, nor show favour to the young." (Deuteronomy 28:49, 50)

"They who pursued us were swifter than eagles; they pursued us on the mountains, they have laid snares for us in the wilderness". (Lamentations 4:19)

And in Micah:

"Make you bald, and shave yourself upon the sons of your delights; dilate your baldness as an eagle, because they have removed from you." (Micah 1:16)

And in Obadiah:

"If you exalt yourself as an eagle, and if you set your nest amongst the stars, I will pull you down from there." (Obadiah 1:4)

In these passages by "eagle" is signified the false principle induced by reasonings grounded in the fallacies of the senses and in external appearances. Arcana Coelestia 3901.

---
Isaiah Chapter 40

Prophecies of Comfort

1. COMFORT you, comfort you, My people, says your God.

2. Speak you to the heart of Jerusalem, and proclaim unto her, that her warfare is fulfilled; that her iniquity is pardoned; that she has received from the hand of Jehovah double for all her sins.

3. A voice of one proclaiming in the wilderness, Prepare you the way of Jehovah! make straight in the desert a highway for our God!

4. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill be made low; and the crooked shall become straight, and the rough places a plain:

5. And the glory of Jehovah shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of Jehovah has spoken it.

6. A voice says, Proclaim! And I said, What shall I proclaim? All flesh is grass, and all the glory thereof is as the flower of the field:

7. The grass withers, the flower fades, because the spirit of Jehovah blows upon it: verily the people is grass.

8. The grass withers, the flower fades; but the Word of our God shall stand for ever.

9. O [daughter of] Zion, that brings good tidings, get you up into the high mountain: O [daughter of] Jerusalem, that brings good tidings, lift up your voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid: say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God!

10. Behold, the Lord Jehovih shall come with power, and His arm shall rule for Him: behold, His reward is with Him, and the recompense of His work before Him.

11. Like a shepherd shall He feed His flock; in His arms shall He gather up the lambs, and shall carry them in His bosom; and He shall gently lead them that give suck.

12. Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand; and has meted out the Heavens by His span; and has comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure; and has weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance?

13. Who has directed the Spirit of Jehovah, and as a man of His counsel has informed Him?

14. With whom has He consulted, that he should instruct Him, and teach Him the path of judgment; that he should teach Him knowledge, and show Him the way of understanding?

15. Behold, the nations are as a drop from the bucket, and are accounted as the small dust of the balance: behold, the islands He takes up as an atom;

16. And Lebanon is not sufficient to burn; nor the beasts thereof sufficient for a burnt-offering.

17. All the nations are as nothing before Him; they are accounted by Him as less than nothing, and emptiness.

18. To whom therefore will you liken God ? or what likeness will you compare unto Him?

19. The workman casts a graven image; and the smith overlays it with gold, and casts chains of silver.

20. He that cannot afford an oblation chooses wood that will not rot; he seeks for himself a wise workman to prepare a graven image, which shall not be moved.

21. Have you not known? have you not heard? has it not been declared unto you from the beginning? have you not understood from the foundations of the earth?

22. It is He that sits upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as locusts; that extends the heavens as a curtain, and spreads them out as a tent to dwell in:

23. That reduces princes to nothing; that makes the judges of the earth as emptiness.

24. Yea, they shall not be planted; yea, they shall not be sown: yea, their trunk shall not strike its root in the earth: and He shall also blow upon them, and they shall wither; and the whirlwind shall bear them away like the stubble.

25. To whom then will you liken Me, that I should be equal? says the Holy One.

26. Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who has created these. He leads forth their army by number; He calls them all by name: through the greatness of His strength, and the mightiness of His power, not a man fails.

27. Wherefore sayest you then, O Jacob, and why speakest you thus, O Israel: My way is bidden from Jehovah, and my judgment has passed away from my God?

28. Hast you not known, bast you not heard, that the everlasting God is Jehovah, the Creator of the ends of the earth? He faints not, neither is He weary; His understanding is unsearchable.

29. He giveth power to the faint; and to him that has no might He increases strength.

30. The youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall:

31. But they that wait upon Jehovah shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles: they shall run, and not be weary; they shall walk, and not faint.

From Swedenborg's Works

Main explanations:

The Inner Meaning of the Prophets and Psalms 40


Other references to this verse:

Arcana Coelestia 3901, 8764

Apocalypse Revealed 244


References from Swedenborg's drafts, indexes & diaries:

Apocalypse Explained 281, 283

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Resources for parents and teachers

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 He Will Feed His Flock Like a Shepherd
Shows the Good Shepherd alongside excerpts from Isaiah 40.
Coloring Page | All Ages

 Like a Shepherd
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 Memory Verse: The Lord Is My Shepherd
Activity | Ages 4 - 14

 Memory Verse: Visions in Heaven
Activity | Ages 4 - 14

 Miniature Word Project
Make a project picturing a miniature book of the Word with two birthday candles set beside it.
Project | Ages 4 - 6

 Prophecies of the Messiah
One of the most important events in the history of human beings is the birth of the Lord on earth as an infant. By the time the Lord was actually born, the truths of the Word had been lost or perverted. But there had been prophets who told people that the Lord was going to come on earth and gave them hope. Sample from the Jacob’s Ladder Program, Level 6, for ages 11-12.
Religion Lesson | Ages 11 - 12

 The Grass Withers, the Flower Fades
Illustrated poster of "The grass withers, the flower fades, but the Word of our God stands forever." Isaiah 40:8
Picture | Ages over 15

 The Joy of the Angels at the Lord’s Birth
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 The Lord, the Good Shepherd
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 The Shepherd Gathers Sheep
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 The Word Made Flesh
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 Wings of Truth
Lesson and activities exploring how truth can uplift, protect, and free us.
Religion Lesson | Ages over 15

 Works of Charity
Worship Talk | Ages over 18


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