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:



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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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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 56:1

King James Version         

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1 Thus saith the LORD, Keep ye judgment, and do justice: for my salvation is near to come, and my righteousness to be revealed.

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Explanation of Isaiah 56      

By Rev. John H. Smithson

THE EXPLANATION of Isaiah Chapter 56

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

1. Thus says Jehovah, Keep you judgment, and do justice; for My salvation is near to come, and My justice to be revealed.

VERSE 1. By "judgment" is signified the Truth which is of faith, and by "justice" the Good which is of charity, wherefore it is said, "to do justice." That "justice" is the Good of charity from the Lord, is meant by "My justice is near to be revealed." In other passages also mention is made of "judgment" and "justice"; and by "judgment" is denoted Truth, and by "justice" Good, as in Jeremiah:

"Thus says Jehovah, Do you justice and judgment, and deliver him that is spoiled from the hand of the oppressor. Woe unto him that builds his house in non-justice, and his chambers in non-judgement. Did not your father eat and drink, and did judgment and justice, then he had good?" (Jeremiah 22:3, 13, 15) where "judgment" denotes those things which are of Truth, and "justice" those things which are of Good. A. G. 9263.

2. Blessed is the man that does this, and the son of man that holds it fast; that keeps the Sabbath from profaning it, and that keeps his hand from doing any evil.

Verses 2-7. He who does not know what the "Sabbath" represented, and hence what it signified, must needs be ignorant also why it was accounted the most holy of all things; but the reason why it was accounted most holy was, because, in the supreme sense, it represented the union of the Divine [principle] and of the Divine Human in the Lord; and, in the respective sense, the conjunction of the Divine Human of the Lord with the human race. Hence the "Sabbath" was most holy; and inasmuch as it represented those things, it also represented heaven as to the conjunction of Good and Truth, which conjunction is called the heavenly marriage; and whereas the conjunction of Good and Truth is effected from the Lord alone, and nothing of it from man, and whereas it is effected in a state of peace, therefore it was most severely forbidden that man on this occasion should do any work, insomuch that "the soul which did it was cut off"; on which subject it is thus written in Moses:

"You shall keep the Sabbath, because it is holy unto you; he who profanes it by dying shall die: because every one who does work in it, this soul shall be cut off from the midst of his people." (Exodus 31:14) "Therefore he was stoned who only gathered sticks on that day." (Numbers 15:32-36)

Therefore also the commandment concerning the "Sabbath" is the third commandment in the Decalogue, immediately following the two concernIng the holy worship of Jehovah; (Exodus 20:8; Deuteronomy 5:12) and on this account the "Sabbath" is called "an eternal covenant"; (Exodus 31:10) for by a "covenant" is understood conjunction, n. 665, 666. From these considerations it may now be manifest what is meant, in the internal sense, by those things which are said concerning the "Sabbath" in the following passages, as in Isaiah:

"Blessed is the man that keeps the Sabbath. Thus says Jehovah to the eunuchs who keep My Sabbaths", etc. (Isaiah 56:2-7)

From this passage it is evident that by those who" "sanctify the Sabbath" are meant those who are in conjunction with the Lord. That they shall be in heaven, is signified by "a place and a name, better than of sons and of daughters, being given them in the house of Jehovah; an everlasting name, which shall not be cut off"; and by their being "brought unto the mountain of holiness", Arcana Coelestia 8495. See also Chap, Isaiah 58:13, the Exposition.

3. And let not the son of the stranger, that cleaves unto Jehovah, speak, saying, Jehovah has utterly separated me from His people; neither let the eunuch say, Behold, I am a dry tree.

4. For thus says Jehovah to the eunuchs who keep My Sabbaths, and choose that in which I delight, and take hold of My covenant;

5. To them I will give in My house and within My walls a place and a name, better than of sons and of daughters; an everlasting name will I give them, which shall not be cut off.

Verse 3.The "sons of the stranger" are all the nations who, because they were not in the Jewish church, thought that they could not become heirs [of the Lord's kingdom], as was falsely supposed by many about the time of the first coming of God Messiah; a "eunuch" is one who has no offspring, and on account of impotence thinks he cannot have any. The "eunuch" here is put for the "barren"; (see Chapter Isaiah 54:1) hence it is quite evident that in the internal or spiritual sense a "barren woman and her children" are not treated of, but those things which are in the truly spiritual sense.

The "eunuch", therefore, stands-for those who believe that they have no fruit of faith from themselves, because they have no faith; thus for those who acknowledge their impotence, that they can by no means have faith from themselves, thus who think themselves unworthy. This also is what is meant by a "dry tree", namely, barrenness. Such "eunuchs" are here meant as continually keep the kingdom of God represented in themselves, that is, "who keep the Sabbaths, and who choose that in which the Lord delights, and keep His covenant", etc. (Swedenborg's Notes on Isaiah, p. 140.)

To "cleave unto Jehovah", is to keep His precepts, which is the duty of spiritual love; for no one can keep the precepts of God from the heart, but he who is in the Good of charity to the neighbour. Arcana Coelestia 3875.

Verses 3, 4. Neither let the eunuch say, Behold, I am a dry tree; for thus says Jehovah to the eunuchs who keep My Sabbaths, etc. - In Matthew 19:12, the Lord, in His answer to the disciples respecting what He had said to the Pharisees concerning divorcement, speaks of "eunuchs", saying, "There are eunuchs who were so born from the mother's womb; and there are eunuchs of men; and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake. He that is able to comprehend it, let him comprehend it."

The reason why the Lord afterwards spake concerning "eunuchs" was, because the disciples said, "If the case be so of a man with a wife, it is not expedient to marry"; and because marriages with the Jewish nation, which was "hard of heart", in consequence of being in falsities derived from evil, were not marriages, but adulteries, as understood in the spiritual sense; wherefore, also, that nation was called by the Lord "an adulterous nation"; on which account the Lord spake concerning "eunuchs", by whom are meant those who are not willing to enter into marriage [such as it was understood by the Jews], that is, to be conjoined with the affection of evil, because thus the understanding of Truth and of Good would be perverted and dissipated; thus by "eunuchs" are meant [in the spiritual sense] both the married and unmarried with whom the understanding of Truth and of Good is conjoined with the affection of Truth and Good.

The reason why they are called" eunuchs" is, because they have no lasciviousness, such as appertains to those who, from "hardness of heart", in which the Jews were, married several wives, and divorced each of them upon every occasion. It is first to be noted, that the marriage of the understanding of Truth and of Good with the affection of Truth and of Good, is, in general, from a three-fold origin, and hence in a three-fold degree. In the supreme degree is the marriage of those who are called celestial; in an inferior degree, of those who are called spiritual; and in the lowest degree, of those who are natural; for there are so many degrees of the interiors of man.

Hence there are three heavens, and they who are in the supreme heaven are called celestial; they who are in the inferior heaven are called spiritual; and they who are in the lowest are called natural. The marriage of the understanding of Truth and of Good with the affection of Truth and of Good, amongst the celestial, is meant by "eunuchs who have been born eunuchs from the mother's womb", by reason that they, during regeneration, receive Truths immediately into the life by the love of them; hence it is that they know Truths from the Truths themselves; their regeneration by the Lord, through love to Him, is signified by being made "eunuchs from the womb", thus without the lasciviousness of adultery.

But the marriage of the understanding of Truth and of Good with the affection of Truth and of Good, amongst the spiritual, is meant by "eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men", for these are not regenerated in the womb, that is, by love, but by Truths first received in the memory, and next intellectually in the thought, and thus, lastly, in the life by a certain spiritual affection; these are said to be made "eunuchs of men", because they are reformed by the understanding grounded in the memory; and "man" signifies that understanding, as also above, where mention is made of "man and wife."

But the marriage of the understanding of Truth and of Good with the affection of Truth and of Good, amongst the natural, is meant by "eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs"; for the natural, by knowledges and sciences, procure to themselves natural light, and by Good of life, according to those sciences, they procure affection, and thence conscience; and because they know no other than that they themselves do this (for the natural man does not enjoy intelligence like the spiritual man, nor perception like the celestial man), hence it is that they are those "who make themselves eunuchs"; but it is so said from the appearance, and from the obscure faith appertaining to them. These, therefore, are the things that are meant by being made "eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of God"; and whereas few comprehend these things, it is said by the Lord "He who is able to comprehend, let him comprehend it." Apocalypse Explained 710.

Verse 5. To them I will give in My house and within My walls a place and a name, etc. - That the literal sense of the Word is signified by a "wall", see Arcana Coelestia 811, 1307, 1311; and what it is to be "called by a name", see Chapter 4:1; also Chapter 26:8, the Exposition.

6. And the sons of the stranger, who cleave unto Jehovah, to minister unto Him, and to love the name of Jehovah, and to become His servants: everyone that keeps the Sabbath from profaning it, and that takes hold of My covenant;

7. Them will I bring unto the mountain of My holiness, and I will make them rejoice in the house of My prayer: their burnt-offerings and their sacrifices shall be well-pleasing on Mine altar; for My house shall be called the house of prayer for all peoples.

Verse 6. Because to "minister" is predicated of the Good of love, it is therefore said, "to minister unto Jehovah, and to love His name"; and, therefore, concerning the Lord Himself, that He was about to "minister." From these considerations it may now appear that by "ministering" is meant all which is done from the Good of love itself. Apocalypse Explained 155.

Verses 6, 7. Every one that keeps the Sabbath from profaning it, and that takes hold of My covenant; them will I bring unto the mountain. of My holiness, and I will make them rejoice in the house of My prayer, etc. - By the "Sabbath" is signified the conjunction of the Lord with heaven and the church, thus with those who are therein; wherefore by "keeping the Sabbath" is understood to be in conjunction with the Lord; and by "observing His covenant" is meant conjunction by a life according to the precepts of the Lord, for a "covenant" denotes conjunction, and conjunction is effected by a life according to the precepts, whence the precepts of the Decalogue were called a covenant." "Them will I bring unto the mountain of My holiness, signifies that they shall be gifted with the Good of love; the "mountain of holiness" denoting the heaven where the Good of love to the Lord prevails, and consequently also the Good of love accordIng to its quality in that heaven. "I will make them rejoice in the house of My prayer", signifies that they shall be gifted with spiritual Truths; the "house of prayer", or the temple, denoting the heaven where spiritual Truths are, and thus also such spiritual Truths as there prevail. "Their burnt-offerings and their sacrifices shall be well-pleasing on Mine altar", signifies acceptable worship from the Good of love by spiritual Truths; "burnt-offerings" denoting worship from the Good of love, and "sacrifices" worship from Truths derived from that Good; Truths from Good are what are called spiritual Truths; "upon the altar" signifies in heaven and in the church. Apocalypse Explained 391.

8. Thus says the Lord Jehovih, who gathers together the outcasts. of Israel: Yet will I gather others unto him, beside those that are gathered.

9. All you beasts of My fields, come to devour; all you, beasts in the forest!

Verses 8, 9. By "the outcasts of Israel, whom the Lord gathers together", are signified all in the church who are in Truths from Good, and separated from those therein who are in falsities from evil. The same are also understood by "the wild beasts of the fields of the Lord Jehovih"; for by "field" is signified the church as to the implantation of the Truth of doctrine. But the Gentiles who are without the church are understood by "the wild beasts in the forest"; the "forest" denoting the natural and sensual man and the "wild beast" his science and obscure intelligence thence derived. That such things are signified by "the wild beast of the field" and by "the wild beast in the forest", is evident, for it is said, "All you beasts of My fields, come to devour; all you beasts in the forest!" - to "eat" '[or to devour] denoting instruction and appropriation. Inasmuch as most things in the Word have also an opposite sense, so likewise have "beasts" and "Wild beasts", in which sense the former signify evil affections, which are cupidities of adulterating and destroying the Goods of the church; and the latter the cupidities of falsifying and thus of destroying the Truths of the church. Apocalypse Explained 650.

As by ", wild beast" [fera] is signified, in a bad sense, the false, and as the false is from a two-fold origin, namely, from what is evil, and from probity, therefore by "wild beast" in the Word are also signified the well-disposed nations which, although they are in the false, are yet in probity of life. In this sense the term is used in David:

"Every wild beast of the forest is Mine, and the beasts upon a thousand hills. I know every bird of the mountains; and the wild beast of My fields is with Me." (Psalm 50:10, 11) Arcana Coelestia 9335.

"Animals", when mentioned in the Word, signify man as to his affections; harmless and useful "beasts" signify man as to his good affections, and noxious and useless "beasts" signify him as to his evil affections; wherefore the men of the church, in general, are called "sheep", a congregation of them is called a "flock" and he who teaches is called a "shepherd." AR 567.

10. His watchmen are blind, all of them; they have no knowledge: they are all dumb dogs, they cannot bark; going about, lying down, loving to slumber.

Verse 10. "Dogs" signify those who, in the church, are vile [or unregenerate], likewise those who are out of the church, also those who babble much about the things of the church, and understand little; and, in the opposite sense, those who are altogether, out of the Faith of the church, and speak disrespectfully of those things which are of Faith. That "dogs" signify those who are out of the church, is manifest from Matthew:

"Jesus said to the woman, who was a Greek, a Syro-Phoenician, It is not good to take the bread of the sons, and cast it to the dogs. But she said, Certainly, Lord; yet the little dogs also eat of the crumbs which fall from their master's tables. Then Jesus answering, said unto her, O woman, great is your faith; be it unto you even as you will. And her daughter was healed from that very hour"; (Matthew 15:26-28; and Mark 7:27, 28) where by "sons" are meant those who are within the church, and by "dogs" those who are without.

The same is signified by "the dogs who licked the sores of Lazarus"; (Luke 16:21) for by the "rich man", in the internal sense, is there meant one who is within the church, and hence abounds with spiritual riches, which are the knowledges of Truth and of Good.

"Dogs" denote also those who, within the church, are in the lowest place, who babble much about the things of the church, and understand little; and, in the opposite sense, who speak disrespectfully of the things of Faith, as in Isaiah:

"His watchmen are blind, all of them; they have no knowledge: they are all of them dumb dogs, they cannot bark; going about, lying down, loving to slumber." (Isaiah 56:10)

And in David:

"They make a noise like a dog; they go about in the city. Behold, they belch with their mouth; swords are in their lips", etc. (Psalm 59:6, 7, 14)

And in Matthew:

"Give not that which is holy to the dogs, neither cast your pearls before swine; lest peradventure they trample them with their feet, and turn again and rend you." (Matthew 7:6)

Hence the vilest of all things which was to be cast away, was a "dead dog." (1 Samuel 17:43; 2 Samuel 9:8; 16:9) Arcana Coelestia 7784.

Verses 10, 11. The "blind watchmen" are those who from ratiocination are in falsity. (Arcana Coelestia 2383)

Here the "blind" denote those who do not understand Truths, although they have the Word. That such are signified by the "blind", is evident, for it is said, "They know not, and cannot understand", Apocalypse Explained 239.

11. They are dogs obstinate in soul, they know not to be satisfied; and they are shepherds that cannot understand: they all look to their own way, each to his own lucre; from the lowest of them [to the highest].

12. [Saying] Come, I will fetch wine, and we will be drunk with strong drink; and to-morrow shall be as this day, and much more abundant.

Verse 11. They all look to their own way, each to his own lucre. - "Lucre" signifies everything false from evil which perverts the judgment of the mind" and withdraws it from Truth and Good, as may be evident to everyone who reflects; in which sense "lucre" [or gain] is mentioned many times in the Word, as in Isaiah 33:15; 56:11; 57:17; (Jeremiah 6:13; 8:10. Arcana Coelestia 8711.

Verses 11, 12. They are dogs obstinate in soul, they know not to be satisfied, etc. - These things are said of those who care about nothing but worldly and earthly things, whereby the internal spiritual man is shut up. As they have no perception of Good and no understanding of Truth, they are called "dogs obstinate in soul, which know not to be satisfied, or satiety", that is, who cannot receive Good; to "know" having respect to ability, and "satiety" [or to be satisfied], which is predicated of "food", whereby spiritual nourishment is signified, having respect to Good.

By "they are shepherds that cannot understand", is meant that they have no understanding of Truth; those being called "shepherds" who believe themselves able to instruct others, for to "feed" signifies to instruct; and inasmuch as such love things false and falsified, it is therefore added "Come, I will fetch wine, and we will be drunk with strong drink." Apocalypse Explained 376 Apocalypse Explained 376[1-40].

As to "drunkenness", see above, Chapter 28:1, the Exposition.

---
Isaiah Chapter 56.

1. Thus says Jehovah, Keep you judgment, and do justice; for My salvation is near to come, and My justice to be revealed.

2. Blessed is the man that does this, and the son of man that holds it fast; that keeps the Sabbath from profaning it, and that keeps his hand from doing any evil.

3. And let not the son of the stranger, that cleaves unto Jehovah, speak, saying, Jehovah has utterly separated me from His people; neither let the eunuch say, Behold, I am a dry tree.

4. For thus says Jehovah to the eunuchs who keep My Sabbaths, and choose that in which I delight, and take hold of My covenant;

5. To them I will give in My house and within My walls a place and a name, better than of sons and of daughters; an everlasting name will I give them, which shall not be cut off.

6. And the sons of the stranger, who cleave unto Jehovah, to minister unto Him, and to love the name of Jehovah, and to become His servants: everyone that keeps the Sabbath from profaning it, and that takes hold of My covenant;

7. Them will I bring unto the mountain of My holiness, and I will make them rejoice in the house of My prayer: their burnt-offerings and their sacrifices shall be well-pleasing on Mine altar; for My house shall be called the house of prayer for all peoples.

8. Thus says the Lord Jehovih, who gathers together the outcasts. of Israel: Yet will I gather others unto him, beside those that are gathered.

9. All you beasts of My fields, come to devour; all you, beasts in the forest!

10. His watchmen are blind, all of them; they have no knowledge: they are all dumb dogs, they cannot bark; going about, lying down, loving to slumber.

11. They are dogs obstinate in soul, they know not to be satisfied; and they are shepherds that cannot understand: they all look to their own way, each to his own lucre; from the lowest of them [to the highest].

12. [Saying] Come, I will fetch wine, and we will be drunk with strong drink; and to-morrow shall be as this day, and much more abundant.

From Swedenborg's Works

Main explanations:

The Inner Meaning of the Prophets and Psalms 56


Other references to this verse:

Arcana Coelestia 612, 2235, 9263

Apocalypse Revealed 668

The Doctrine of the New Jerusalem Regarding the Sacred Scripture 85


References from Swedenborg's drafts, indexes & diaries:

Scriptural Confirmations 4, 44

Related New Christian Commentary

  Stories and their meanings:


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Isaiah 46:13

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Romans 1:17

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