60. Verse 31 And God saw everything that He had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning, a sixth day.
This verse says 'very good', whereas previous verses merely said 'good', for now the things of faith make one with those of love. A marriage has accordingly taken place between spiritual and celestial things.
By Rev. William Woofenden
"As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you; and ye shall be comforted in Jerusalem." Isaiah 66:13
Additional Readings: Isaiah 66, Psalm 86, Psalm 87, John 14:15-31
The Lord said, "All power is given unto me in heaven and on earth" (Matthew 28:18). All things are in His hand, and the means for accomplishing all things are in His hand. All nature speaks of the wisdom and power which the Almighty God displays in His control of things material. He holds the stars in their courses; He provides for every created thing. The whole universe is created that it may meet every possible need of man.
There is also the spiritual world. "In the beginning God. created the heaven and the earth" (Genesis 1:1). The spiritual world is a much vaster realm established by the Lord for man, to meet his higher needs. In the beginning men were in close connection with the Lord and with the heavens, but in process of time they departed from the laws established by the Lord, and so they are not in the condition in which the Lord first created them.
The Lord always provides for all things in His universe. When men departed from the way of life He provided that there should be the means whereby His laws might be reestablished among them. When the first spiritual development—the Adamic Church 1 —came to its end, a change was made in the mental structure of man and a written Word was given him, that he might again order his life according to Divine laws. This is the forerunner of many provisions that the Lord has made to meet the needs of His children. He continually provides distinct means for salvation, for "comfort" in every possible state in the life of man.
Were man in mental and spiritual integrity, as in the most ancient times, enlightenment and power from the Lord could flow directly into him without restraint, blessing him in every way, both naturally and spiritually. But as it is, man is weakened by evil and is under its influence. So life from the Lord has to come to him hedged in by precautionary measures, lest it slay him. The way to the tree of life is guarded by the letter of the Word, through the marvelous care and mercy of the Lord.
In that wonderful work The Divine Providence the laws by which the Lord secretly operates are revealed to us. We must be led in freedom to learn of the Lord and to follow Him. There is no experience through which we may pass which is not provided for. Belief in God is inseparable from a belief in His providence. But a correct understanding of His nature is needed. For by His providence is meant the influence which He exerts over the affairs of men—His active government of the universe.
To feel that the Lord is merely a Creator, One who originally made the world and then ceased to have anything to do with it, is to deny Him all participation in human affairs and all interest in those whom He has created. Such a denial removes Him so far off as to make any personal relationship with Him impossible. If He does not watch over and provide for us, our prayers and praises amount to nothing and might as well cease altogether. To come into a living relationship with the Lord we need to have a true understanding of Him. We cannot worship one about whom we know nothing, and a wrong idea of God is destructive of any intelligent or helpful relationship with Him.
Our text begins "As one whom his mother comforteth." The picture is one of a child who is sick or in distress. As the child is shielded from responsibilities too heavy for him, so the Lord in His tender mercy adapts His truth to the minds of His children. To those who are not far advanced He gives the lower truths, clothing them with such appearances as they need, while to those who have gone further He gives knowledge of Himself in more definite outlines and in larger measure. So it is in all things.
The latter part of our text reads "Ye shall be comforted in Jerusalem." It is in the New Church, which is here called Jerusalem, that the Lord has gathered together all the means of comfort. It is in the doctrine of the New Church that the Lord comforteth man as a mother comforteth.
Sometimes adversities overtake us, and life seems bitter, and the question arises "What are we living for?" This is an age old question. Philosophers beginning with Socrates have tried to answer it. Stoic and Epicurean have given their answers. Nirvana is the answer of the Hindu. All these, though they have afforded some comfort, are in reality but idle dreams. It is in the doctrines of the New Jerusalem that we find the reality. "What are we living for" is a question which finds its answer in the teachings of the New Church and in them only.
When disaster or bereavement comes, none of the systems of philosophy devised by men, with their glittering phrases and mental gymnastics, give any real comfort. But in Jerusalem ye shall be comforted.
If one has lost a little child the Lord says, "Let the little ones come unto me and forbid them not" (Matthew 19:14) To those who are strong and prosperous He says, "Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it: except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain" (Psalms 127:1). To the student the Lord says, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom" (Psalm 111:10). Whatever be our state or station, the Lord will comfort us in Jerusalem.
And it is written, "In that day shall Jehovah be one, and his name one in all the earth" (Zechariah 14:9). In Jerusalem we are taught to see the Lord as the center of all things, in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks, the center for every variety of character, for the seven candlesticks are the seven churches.
From Divine love through Divine wisdom the universe was made and all that is therein. We live because God loves us and desires objects on whom His love can be bestowed and who can know the happiness of loving Him in return. From and by His love and wisdom he always cares for us, for no event or circumstance can be overlooked by Him. To the merely natural man the world may at times seem harsh and cruel and God a hard taskmaster. But the truth is that "the Lord, is good to all, and his tender mercies are over all his works." Not a sparrow can fall to the ground without His knowledge. Even the hairs of our heads are numbered. Nothing can take place without Divine permission: "the wrath of man shall praise thee; the remainder of wrath shalt thou restrain" (Psalm 76:10).
The Lord looks beyond the things of time to eternity. The one great fact of our existence which no one can deny is that sooner or later the earthly life of every man comes to an end. This is part of the Divine plan. When we know that the Lord is Love and Wisdom itself and trust Him, we are enabled to see that all untoward and unwelcome events come to us only for the purpose of furthering our eternal happiness. Then all sickness, sorrow, and disappointment, from whatever cause they may arise, are fully accounted for by the knowledge that the Lord’s providence in all that it does looks to the infinite and eternal. We may not clearly perceive the reasons for our particular trials and afflictions, but there is comfort in the certainty that we should never have been subjected to them unless our Heavenly Father saw that they could contribute something toward making us better and happier to eternity.
The Divine omnipotence—the power of infinite love and wisdom—is always about us. It can never fail us in least things or greatest. Knowledge and acknowledgment of this fact is a part of genuine belief. And wherever true knowledge of the Lord exists, it serves as the basis for a living trust, bringing us into that vital relation to the Lord which is the purpose of our creation. Of this new light which has been given us for our salvation the prophet writes: "Break forth into joy, sing together, ye waste places of Jerusalem: for the Lord hath comforted his people, he hath redeemed Jerusalem" (Isaiah 52:9).
1. The Adamic church (the church that Adam stands for, in Genesis) is also called the Most Ancient Church; Swedenborg describes it as the first real church on this earth -- not a church in the sense of a building or an organized congregation, but a church in the sense of a group of people with a commonly held set of spiritual beliefs and practices.