The Bible

 

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

        

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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.

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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

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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.

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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

 

Isaiah 40:3

King James Version         

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3 The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.

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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 220, 2708, 3142, 4715, 4727, 8427, 9429, ...

Apocalypse Revealed 336, 546, 629, 962

A Brief Exposition of New Church Doctrine 120

Conjugial Love 81

Doctrine of the Lord 6, 30, 38

True Christian Religion 81, 82, 188, 294, 625, 637, 780


References from Swedenborg's drafts, indexes & diaries:

Apocalypse Explained 405, 730

On the Athanasian Creed 21

Coronis (An Appendix to True Christian Religion) 60

De Domino 36

Marriage 81, 82

Scriptural Confirmations 2, 17, 18

Related New Christian Commentary

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Hop to Similar Bible Verses

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Matthew 3

Mark 1:3

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Bible Word Meanings

voice
In Genesis 27:22, 'voice' relates to truth, and 'hand,' to good.

wilderness
'The wilderness of Sin,' as in Exodus 16, signifies the good from truth in a state of temptation.

way
'To set a way,' as in Genesis 30:36, signifies being separated.

the Lord
The Bible refers to the Lord in many different ways, which from the text seem indistinguishable and interchangeable. Understood in the internal sense, though, there...

lord
The Lord, in the simplest terms, is love itself expressed as wisdom itself. In philosophic terms, love is the Lord's substance and wisdom is His...

desert
'Wilderness' signifies something with little life in it, as described in the internal sense in Luke 1:80 'Wilderness' signifies somewhere there is no good because...

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...

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

 Memory Verse: Visions in Heaven
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 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
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 The Shepherd Gathers Sheep
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Worship Talk | Ages over 18

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

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Worship Talk | Ages over 18


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