The Bible

 

Matthew 3:1-12 : John the Baptist (Gospel of Matthew)

        

Study the Inner Meaning

1 In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea,

2 And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

3 For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.

4 And the same John had his raiment of camel's hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey.

5 Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan,

6 And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins.

7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?

8 Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance:

9 And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.

10 And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.

11 I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:

12 Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.

   Study the Inner Meaning
From Swedenborg's Works

Explanations or references:

Arcana Coelestia 794, 1017, 1861, 2371, 2708, 3301, 3540, ...

Apocalypse Revealed 315, 350, 378, 400, 553, 749, 839, ...

Doctrine of the Lord 15, 30, 51

Doctrine of Life 93, 104

Heaven and Hell 570

True Christian Religion 113, 144, 468, 483, 668, 677, 684, ...


References from Swedenborg's drafts, indexes & diaries:

Apocalypse Explained 109, 183, 374, 376, 395, 475, 504, ...

Marriage 113

Scriptural Confirmations 2, 4, 6, 13, 33, 67

Related New Christian Commentary

  Stories and their meanings:



Hop to Similar Bible Verses

Leviticus 11:22

1 Samuel 14:25

2 Kings 1:8

Isaiah 40:3, 56:1, 57:14, 59:5

Jeremiah 7:4

Daniel 2:44

Bible Word Meanings

john the baptist
Jesus as a man in the Bible represents Divine Truth, the pure and perfect expression of the Lord's infinite love. That truth is contained within...

john
Jesus as a man in the Bible represents Divine Truth, the pure and perfect expression of the Lord's infinite love. That truth is contained within...

kingdom
In the most general sense, a kingdom in the Bible represents a church. In a more specific sense, a kingdom represents a church in regards...

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...

spoken
Like "say," the word "speak" refers to thoughts and feelings moving from our more internal spiritual levels to our more external ones – and ultimately...

prepare
In general, when something is "prepared" in the Bible it means that it is in the proper spiritual order, which happens when our hearts and...

way
In John 14:6, 'the way is doctrine,' 'the truth' is every thing pertaining to doctrine, and 'the life' is the essential good which is the...

make
'To make,' as in Hosea 8:11, refers to good. In the opposite sense it refers to evil. To make heaven, and earth, and the sea,...

paths
These days we tend to think of "roads" as smooth swaths of pavement, and judge them by how fast we can drive cars on them....

raiment
Soft raiment,' as in Matthew 11:9, represents the internal sense of the Word.

leathern girdle
'The leathern girdle' which John the Baptist wore signifies an external band that receives and contains interior things.

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...

pharisees
The Pharisees were a sect of the Jewish church at the time of the New Testament. The name comes from a root that means "separate",...

come
Coming (Gen. 41:14) denotes communication by influx.

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...

vipers
'Viper' signifies mortal hatreds and also extremely deceitful people.

say
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...

Abraham
Abraham (or Abram, as he is named in the beginning of his story) is one of the major characters in the story of the sacred...

cast
For something to be cast down or cast out generally refers to a rather dramatic move from a higher spiritual state to a lower one....

ghost
There are two aspects to the life of each person. We might call them "heart" and "mind," a part of us that wants and feels...

Fan
A fan, referred to in Matthew 3:12, signifies the separation of falsities from goods.

floor
The floor, as in Matthew 3:12, signifies the world of spirits which is between heaven and hell, and where the separation of evils and falsities...

Wheat
In Revelation 18:13, 'wine, oil, flour, and wheat' signify celestial principles of worship.

Garner
A garner, granary, or barn, as in as in Matthew 3:12 and 8:30, signify where there is a collection of the good.

chaff
Chaff is mentioned in Matthew 3:12 signifies falsity of every kind, derived from an in­fernal origin.

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.


Why Is God So Angry in the Bible? - Swedenborg & Life Live

The Bible gives us mixed messages about God: all-loving, yet angry. We offer a new perspective on this seeming contradiction.

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.


 Baptism of the Lord
Use felt tip markers to draw a picture of John baptizing the Lord in the Jordan River. Then dip a paintbrush in water and go over the picture to give the effect of watercolor. 
Project | Ages 4 - 14

 Dove Poster or Mobile
The dove symbolizes purification by Divine truth. Make a poster or mobile with the color picture of a dove and truths which can help us "clean up" our lives.
Project | Ages 11 - 17

 Flight into Egypt
This lesson discusses a story from the Word and suggests projects and activities for young children.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 4 - 6

 God Is a Divine Man
Article | Ages 15 - 17

 Jesus Comes to John the Baptist
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 John the Baptist
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 Lord's Baptism
Put together this project to make a picture of the Lord that can be moved to show Him going into the waters of the Jordan to be baptized. 
Project | Ages 4 - 10

 Quotes: The Promise of Baptism
Teaching Support | Ages over 15

 The Dove
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 9 - 12

 The Lord’s Baptism
Lesson outline provides teaching ideas with questions for discussion, projects, and activities.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 7 - 10

 The Lord’s Baptism (3-5 years)
Project | Ages 4 - 6

 The Lord’s Baptism (6-8 years)
Project | Ages 7 - 10

 The Lord’s Baptism (9-11 years)
Project | Ages 11 - 14

 The Lord's Baptism: Matthew
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

 You Are My Beloved Son (sheet music)
Sheet music for a beautiful song about the Lord’s baptism.
Song | Ages over 11

Commentary

 

The Kingdom of Heaven is at Hand      

By Rev. William Woofenden

"Repent ye; for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." Matthew 3:3
Additional readings: Isaiah 1:1-20

In the childhood of the human race, before men had departed from right ways of life, heaven was near to them. They could be led directly by the Lord, for their hearts and minds were open to him. Of this Golden Age of the human race it is written, "Man walked with God." But we have all read in the history of the human race as revealed in the Scripture the account of how many departed from the way of life and, following the devices of his own heart, closed his mind to the direct reception of goodness and truth from the Lord, until finally he reached a state in which all true knowledge of God and heaven was lost.

Then the Lord came to bring salvation to mankind, and preparation for His reception was made through John the Baptist, the messenger sent in fulfillment of a prophecy given centuries before. John’s message is our text: "Repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." And when John was put to death, and the Lord began His active ministry in the world, the words of our text were also His first message. For He came to make clear the way of life, and wrong ideas held possession of the minds of men then, as they do of many minds today.

It is not by chance that this first message turns our thoughts to heaven. The purpose of our creation is that we may so live that we shall find our homes in heaven. Belief in heaven had been lost, along with the knowledge about it. And today belief in heaven is for the most part vague, and many think that eternal life does not mean personal existence in the spiritual world, but only the persistence of one’s influence in this world. Great men like Homer, Plato, Moses, Shakespeare, Gladstone, Lincoln, Pasteur, and many others perpetuate themselves in the influence they exert in the minds of living men. This, they say, is what is meant by immortality, by everlasting life. But we should realize that this type of everlasting life is open to the evil as well as to the good. A Diocletian may be remembered forever as well as the beloved Apostle. We need to know the truth that men and women, as individuals, live forever after death in the spiritual world.

But this is not the implication of the text which I have chosen for consideration this morning." The kingdom of heaven is at hand." We know that heaven is not in some remote part of the natural sky, that we cannot say, "Lo, here, or Lo, there" (Luke 17:21). But we are still apt to think of it as far away. We are also inclined to think of it as remote in time. We speak commonly of the "future" world. In the thought of some even, it lies at the indefinitely remote time, when they expect a general resurrection along with others; death is the gateway of heaven, but heaven still seems too distant to be of much practical and present interest.

But the truth is that heaven is far away neither in space nor in time. It is here, it is now, it is "at hand." We live in it now, or we may do so. It is a present reality, the most real and the most important element of the life we are now living. When we speak of heaven, and of living for heaven, we are not, as some charge, setting our hearts on something far away, and despising the real world in which we now are. If one lives for a far-off heaven — and no doubt some have lived so — he may be careless of this world’s joys and sorrows, of opportunities for usefulness, keeping his eyes fixed on some vision of the future. But we may live for heaven and still live thoroughly in the present. We ought to value heaven as the most real of present realities. The Gospel is true: "The kingdom of heaven is at hand."

We are taught in the New Church that heaven is essentially a state of human feeling, thought and life, a state in which love to the Lord and love to the neighbor are the ruling motives. We are taught that no outward paradise which could be made by human or by Divine skill would be a heaven if those affections were absent from the heart, that there is no real or lasting satisfaction except in the exercise of these affections. It follows that we can come into heaven in this world, and live in heaven while we live on earth, for we may learn here to love the Lord and one another, and to find our chief enjoyment in the exercise of these heavenly loves.

But this is an abstract way of speaking. Concretely, heaven is not merely a heavenly state in ourselves; it is the great world of human beings who are living in that state, those people in whose hearts are heavenly affections, whose minds are bright with spiritual light, and whose hands are busy with heavenly works. There are many such people in this world. There are countless more who have gone from the earth to the spiritual world, and are there living the same good life under freer and happier conditions. All these people are heaven.

When we have love to the Lord and the neighbor in ourselves, we are brought spiritually near to those in like affections, both of this world and of the spiritual world. It is not a figure of speech when we say that heaven is about us when we are in heavenly states. It is a literal and positive fact. Heaven is so really around us at such times that if it were granted to us, as it was to Elisha’s servant and to others in Bible days to have our spiritual eyes opened, we should see the angels who are our companions and the beautiful land in which they dwell. Among them we should see and recognize some who were dear to us on earth, who still love and help us, and there would be some whom we had not known before but who would from the first glance seem to us as old friends, because they have similar desires and thoughts. And we should recognize them as the source of our happiness.

The Lord created the world and all things in it. All things in the world were made for man to use and enjoy, from the very materials of the earth to all the myriad things of the vegetable and animal kingdoms, the beast of the field, the fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea. For man’s needs of food, clothing, shelter, for gratification of his senses, and the improvement of his mind these things were made. All these were created and given to man for blessings. But they are subject to one important condition: man must indeed labor to make these things of service to himself, but he must also use them in the service of others. Only so can he have any security or peace. The world of nature and of human beings is not for one man, or a few men, or a nation to control or exploit. Indeed we cannot rightly claim sovereignty over ourselves. We need the guidance of the Lord. And whatever under the Divine Providence we have been able to acquire, whether of material wealth, or of skill, or of learning, we did not acquire it by our unaided efforts. Our daily knowledge of the happenings in the world, our libraries, our schools are made possible by the labor of mind and body of other men and women, great or humble, living or dead. We depend on others and they on us, and life and security today, as always, depend upon the honesty and good will of the community in which we live.

Yet we should also realize that behind the labors and sufferings and the honesty and good will of men stands the Lord. Through His power alone man achieves progress. It is a law of the Divine Providence that man must act in freedom according to reason. This applies to the life of nations as well as to the life of individuals. But the Lord is present and operative always.

For infinitely wise and good reasons, the Lord does not draw the veil aside for us and allow us to see the heavenly world. Some argue that if only they could see heaven, they would believe in it. But to see that world as an outward, objective reality would destroy our freedom. We should be lured by its outward attractiveness, and it would be less possible for us to come into its true spirit.

When we are living in selfish and evil affections, we are in hell. Not only is hell within us at such times but it is also about us, not by a figure of speech, but actually. We are breathing its poisoned atmosphere and, if our eyes were opened, we should see the forms and faces of those who find their life in evil and who exult in influencing others to evil. Why, at least then, does the Lord not draw the veil aside and show us the terribleness of evil? The sight might for the moment frighten us, but we should be less able to shun evil freely because it is evil, and our power to escape permanently from it would be greatly lessened.

If we are tempted to question the Lord’s Providence in not revealing to us more openly the conditions of the good and evil in the spiritual world, we do well to remember His words, "They have Moses and the prophets, let them hear them….If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rose from the dead" (Luke 16:29-31).

The Lord said, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness" (Matthew 6:33). We should seek those good things which endure forever, and should not sacrifice them for the sake of money or health or life itself. To acquire love to the Lord and to the neighbor is the only thing worth living for. Our business dealings should have as their motive the love of use, of service to others. The most necessary thing in making a home is having in it the sunshine of heaven. The only absolute requirement for our happiness as we go to and fro in the ways of the world is that heaven shall go with us. This is to live for heaven, and yet to live must fully in the present. This is the practical meaning of living for heaven.

It may be stated still more simply. Heaven is not heaven from locality, neither is it heaven from anything which belongs to the angels as their own. It is heaven from what is received from the Lord into the lives and hearts of the angels. To be near the Lord, not in place merely, but in heart, to feel the protection and peace of His presence is heaven. Heaven is being near to the Lord and keeping near to Him. There is no other heaven for men or angels.

"The kingdom of heaven is at hand." When John first spoke this message, the kingdom of heaven was in a special sense at hand, because the Lord had come to live with men and to make Himself accessible to them. A power to heal and bless went forth from the Lord during His life on earth. Men obsessed felt his saving power and sat at His feet clothed and in their right mind.

At the Transfiguration Peter said, "Lord, it is good for us to be here" (Matthew 17:4, Mark 9:5, Luke 9:33). In following the Lord, in hearing His Word and in doing His work, they were tasting of heaven. But we need to note that the mere physical nearness of the Lord did not make heaven. Some cried out with fear at His approach. It was not heaven to them. It was not heaven to those who followed Him to accuse and to betray Him. His presence was a blessing only to those who in some measure drew near to Him in spirit.

Even in the Lord’s coming on earth the kingdom of heaven was not forced on me. It was made accessible to them; it was brought within their reach.

It is brought within our reach. Just as there is no royal road to knowledge, there is no royal road to heaven. We must cease to do evil before we can learn to do well. Repentance, the willingness to recognize and acknowledge our faults and weaknesses and to struggle to overcome them opens the door. Heavenly life comes into the soul when selfish desires are replaced by kindly thoughts and the desire to serve. The Lord tell us to seek these heavenly virtues now, not for the sake of honor for ourselves, but that we may be really kind and helpful to others, that our lives may have something of the Lord’s love in them. Then we shall find that life here makes one with heavenly life, and that our Heavenly Father is the Source of happiness in both alike.

The Bible

 

Daniel 2:44

King James Version         

Study the Inner Meaning

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44 And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.

   Study the Inner Meaning

Daniel Interprets Nebuchadnezzar's Dream      

By Rev. Dr. Andrew M. T. Dibb

In the second chapter of the Book of Daniel, Nebuchadnezzar, the King of Babylon has a dream that troubles him. Daniel, inspired by God, is the only person who is able to interpret it. It's a powerful story in the literal sense, and its spiritual sense goes deep; it describes a step that we each need to take if we want to make spiritual progress.

The literal text sets the story in the "second year", which refers to a state of conflict that comes before regeneration. Generally, "two" means a union, and specifically the marriage of good and truth. But in this story, the marriage is between evil and falsity. Nebuchadnezzar is still on the throne of Babylon: the falsities from selfish love seek to establish dominion over every sphere of life.

So, in the second year, "Nebuchadnezzar had dreams; and his spirit was so troubled that his sleep left him." Dreams are one of the ways the Lord revealed the Word to the ancients. It is not surprising to find Nebuchadnezzar greatly disturbed by a dream, to the point that "his sleep left him." Sleep, when dreams occur, depicts a state of obscurity. In Nebuchadnezzar's case, the obscurity arose because he represents false thoughts resulting from a selfish lust for power. Selfishness obscures the truth because it makes it impossible to focus outside of the self.

Nebuchadnezzar represents falsity from selfishness and the desire to dominate and control others. When this is in charge, people become manipulative, insisting that everything serve their own ends. They are willing to twist any truth, even destroy it, to justify their actions. The danger in this state is its attraction; it can invade the mind and establish an empire.

This is our state before regeneration. However, Divine Providence mandates that in order to remove this, we must become conscious of our Nebuchadnezzar states. This may be difficult because reflection requires perspective, which starts out obscured — asleep. Nebuchadnezzar, unable to remember or interpret his dream, commanded his magicians, astrologers, sorcerers and Chaldeans to ease his mind.

When the wise men were unable, the king began killing them. In the internal sense, "to kill," means to turn truths into falsities. Daniel and his companions were to be included in the slaughter, but they were different from the other wise men, who represented falsity based on abuse or misuse of truth grounded in selfishness. Daniel and his friends served the Lord.

Daniel's name had been changed to 'Belteshazzar,' symbolizing the perversion of truth by love of self. Yet in this verse, they sought 'Daniel' and his companions to kill them. This shows a human quality hidden from daily life. If Nebuchadnezzar represents blind selfishness, to save us, the Lord must keep truth hidden from the flow of selfish thought. When his hidden name is used, Daniel represents this hidden thought, protected and ready for use against selfishness.

In chapter one, Daniel rejects Nebuchadnezzar by refusing to eat his food. Once again, he stands against the king who reveals his evil in his willingness to kill when displeased. Nebuchadnezzar is the epitome of self-worship, Daniel is the true worshiper of the Lord.

Daniel and his friends sought "mercies from the God of heaven concerning this secret." Despite their position as 'wise men,' they humbled themselves to the Lord. This is a picture of the submission necessary for conscience to direct the unruly external self.

Daniel was given insight into the fallen human, the decline caused by selfishness. People faced with these insights often run and hide. Yet without self-knowledge, people cannot make any spiritual progress. By blessing the Lord, Daniel recognizes that only His divine power can help people put evils into order. Without this, spiritual life is over.

This gratitude embodies a New Church principle: all goodness and truth are from the Lord alone. Any insight people have into the nature of evils must come from the Him. Evil is blind to itself, but truth shows it for what it is. By thanking the Lord for insight, people can face their evils.

Before he can be killed, Daniel requests an audience with the king. Outward behaviors can be aligned with good or evil, and so Arioch, captain of the guard, acts on Daniel's request in spite of Nebuchadnezzar's orders. His words to the king show how useful things can ally themselves to the truth. So Arioch advocates for Daniel.

In his entreaty, Arioch emphasizes Daniel's heritage: "a man of the captives of Judah." This may have cast the king's mind back to his campaign in Judah, or even to the young man prepared for his service, filled with wisdom and glowing with physical health. In the internal sense, 'Judah' represents the church with a person, initially through truths. So Arioch identifies Daniel as truth from the Word. Nebuchadnezzar knew Daniel by his Babylonian name of Belteshazzar: when people in falsity are presented with truth, they view it as mere information for their own use. This is why an adulterer sees no difference between adultery and marriage, or a liar no distinction between truth and falsity.

Daniel is the conscience, which can be thought of as guilt or sorrow for actions. But at it's core, conscience is guidance by the truths of the Word. For truths to guide us, we must recognize their Divine authority and origin: none of the wise men, astrologers, magicians, or soothsayers could tell and interpret the king's dream.

In the sense of the letter, Daniel could begin because he established that the dream was from God, and thus interpreted by God. Daniel was simply a mouthpiece. For us, the self-awareness needed to move us from selfishness to charity comes from the Lord. Only He can direct our lives, but leaves us in freedom to accept that direction or not.

Daniel described Nebuchadnezzar's dream: the great image, with a head of gold, chest and arms of silver, belly and thighs of bronze, legs of iron, and feet partly of iron and partly of clay. Even in the literal sense of the story one sees the steady decline from precious to base to valueless.

Many scholars describe this dream in political terms. They claim it describes successive nations or rulers in the earth, from the Babylonians, to the Greeks, the Romans, and so on. However, the Word deals with spiritual, not worldly things. In one sense, this dream speaks of the different spiritual eras that have existed in this world. This is called the "internal historical" sense. On this level, Nebuchadnezzar's dream describes the rise and fall of the ancient churches to the present. This exposition focuses on a deeper level: the regenerative series, or how the Word tells of each individual's spiritual life.

Nebuchadnezzar's dream symbolizes allowing selfishness to dictate our thoughts and beliefs. Babylon is a state of great selfishness, the opposite of loving the Lord. This is the origin of all evils, going hand in hand with falsity, which twists and perverts the truth, making it a slave to our desires. The dream describes how this state gains mastery of the human mind. It begins before selfishness gains a toehold in our thoughts, and ends in the destruction of our very humanity.

The vision begins with the head because it is the highest part of a human being. But the key to this head is that it is gold, symbolizing love to the Lord. The chest and arms are physically lower than the head, and silver is less valuable than gold. The chest and arms represent the rational parts of the mind. Silver represents truths derived from the goodness within. This change from loving the Lord to thinking from truth marks a change in focus: good embraces all, opening us up to each other in a life of mutual love and charity. Truth, on the other hand, is more open to abuse: ideas of truth have been the cause of many wars and conflicts. Truth is used to hurt as often as to nurture goodness. It is a double edged sword.

At the next level, the decline becomes more obvious: from the head to the chest to the belly and thighs – half way down the body. From gold to silver to bronze, precious metal turns to base. The belly and thighs normally depict the good of loving the Lord and the neighbor, called charity. Here, however, it is twisted into the opposite sense: disregard for others, and one's own interpretation of truth. To the person in this state, these things appear good. So the belly and thighs were made of bronze, an alloy that can be polished until it gleams like gold, but it is not, nor ever can be transmuted.

So we are brought to the lower parts of the body: the legs of iron. In place of truth, falsity takes charge. This is depicted by the iron, which merely looks like silver. The legs are followed by the outer extreme of spiritual life: the feet. The feet are the lowest part of our body. Feet correspond to the outmost of our lives, which should be the expression of the Lord's goodness and truth through us. Instead, the feet of the statue are a weak spot: a mixture of iron and clay. In this image, we see the entire devolution of selfishness – carried into our very action – a life devoid of real goodness or truth, only a false image.

At the climax of the dream, a stone strikes the image and breaks it to pieces. This shows us our true character and the power of truth to bring us back from the brink of disaster. The stone was cut without hands: it is not of human origin. Here the Divine truth contrasts with the king’s practice of consulting his wise men and magicians, who represent selfish human thought. Divine truth leads to all goodness when used the way the Lord intends. Detached from human rationalizing, the truth liberates.

This freedom is the new vision of truth: the stone grows into a mountain. "A mountain" symbolizes love – a new love from truth, that replaces the selfishness and the desire for control. The mountain filling the earth symbolizes the way this new truth and love become the center and focus of our lives. We are created anew by the Lord's truth.

Having described the dream in great detail, Daniel then explains its meaning. He begins with what seems like an affirmation of Nebuchadnezzar; the Lord gave us our love of self! He ordained that we should feel life as our own and have no sense of His life flowing into us. This allows us to act according to our reason, and respond to the Lord in freedom. Selfishness is the abuse of this gift from the Lord, and the kingdom changes its meaning from truth to falsity.

Nebuchadnezzar clearly confuses Daniel with the Lord, and ascribes the power to interpret dreams to him. But the reality of selfishness becomes clear when contrasted with the ideals of conscience. If selfishness cannot reflect upon itself, it needs to be confronted with truth – and truth shows the true nature of evil and convicts it.

Nebuchadnezzar promoted Daniel and his three friends to positions of power. He recognized their God as the God of gods, the Lord of kings. But he continues to recognize the previous gods who served Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar may have elevated the Lord above Marduk, the Babylonian god, but he was neither willing nor prepared to jettison his customary deity.

Spiritual life must begin somewhere, and this interaction between Nebuchadnezzar and Daniel symbolizes the beginning. There is still a great distance to travel before we are truly born again. The old selfish side will reassert itself, new arguments and battles will rage. Yet the promise of Nebuchadnezzar's dream is still with us.

From Swedenborg's Works

Main explanations:

The Inner Meaning of the Prophets and Psalms 173


Other references to this verse:

Arcana Coelestia 1326, 2547, 6426, 8581

Apocalypse Revealed 664, 717

Conjugial Love 81

Doctrine of the Lord 42

True Christian Religion 625, 754, 788


References from Swedenborg's drafts, indexes & diaries:

Apocalypse Explained 411, 1029

Coronis (An Appendix to True Christian Religion) 2

Scriptural Confirmations 4, 37

Related New Christian Commentary

  Stories and their meanings:



Hop to Similar Bible Verses

2 Samuel 7:13, 16

Psalms 2:6

Daniel 6:27, 7:13, 14

Haggai 2:22

Matthew 3:2

Luke 1:33, 20:18

Hebrews 12:27

Revelation 11:15

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.


 Daniel, Interpreter of Dreams
Project | Ages 11 - 17

 Nebuchadnezzar's Dream
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

 Nebuchadnezzar's Dream
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 Nebuchadnezzar's Dream
Color the picture of the statue seen in the dream.
Project | Ages 7 - 14

 Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream (3-5 years)
Project | Ages 4 - 6

 Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream (6-8 years)
Project | Ages 7 - 10

 Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream (9-11 years)
Project | Ages 11 - 14

 Overview of Daniel: A Man of Conscience for ages 3-14
Overview of a series of scripted lessons for the first six chapters of the book of Daniel. Suitable for Sunday schools, families and classrooms. Levels A, B and C provide materials for ages 3-14.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 3 - 14


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