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 57:14

King James Version         

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14 And shall say, Cast ye up, cast ye up, prepare the way, take up the stumblingblock out of the way of my people.

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Explanation of Isaiah 57      

By Rev. John H. Smithson

THE EXPLANATION of Isaiah Chapter 57

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

1. THE just perishes, and no man lays it to heart: and the men of holiness are taken away, and none understands; for on account of evil is the just taken away.

2. He enters into peace; they rest upon their beds, [each] walking in his uprightness.

VERSE 1. Mention is frequently made in the Word of "a just one", of "justice", and of "justifying", but what is specifically signified by these expressions is not yet known. The reason why it is not known is, because hitherto it has been unknown that by every single expression in the Word are signified such things as are of the internal church and of heaven, thus which are of the internal man; for in the internal man is the internal of the church and heayen; also that those interior things in the Word differ from its exterior things, which are of the letter, as spiritual things differ from natural, or celestial things from earthly, - the difference of which is so great that before the natural man there scarcely appears a likeness, although, there is full concordance. Inasmuch as this has been unknown, it could not be known what is signified by "just", by "justice", and by being "justified", in the spiritual and celestial sense, in the Word. It is believed by those who are considered as oracles in the church, that he is just and justified who is acquainted with the Truths of faith derived from the doctrine of the church and from the Word, and hence is in trust or confidence that he is saved by the justice of the Lord, and that the Lord had justice in consequence of fulfilling all things of the law; and that He had merit because He endured the cross, and thereby expiated and redeemed man. By this Faith alone man is believed to be justified; and it is believed further that "these" are they who in the Word are called "just." But there are no others who are called "just", in the Word, except those, who from the Lord are in the Good of charity towards the neighbour, for the Lord alone is just, because alone "Justice"; therefore man, so much as he receives of Good from the Lord, that is, so much of the Lord as he has appertaining to him, and according to its quality, so much he is just, and justified. The Lord being made "Justice'" consisted in His making His Human [principle] Divine by His own proper power of his Divine [principle], appertaining to the man who receives it, is the "justice" of the Lord appertaining to him, and is the essential Good of charity towards the neighbour; for the Lord is in the Good of love, and by it in the Truth of faith, because the Lord is Divine Love itself. The Good of charity towards the neighbour is exterior good, which is signified by "just"; and the Good of love to the Lord is interior good, which is signified by "innocence." That the Good of love towards the neighbour from the Lord is what is "just" in a proper sense, may be manifest from the passages in the Word where mention is made of "just", and of "justice", and of being "justified", as in Matthew:

"Then shall the just answer, saying, When saw we You hungry, and fed You? or thirsty, and gave You drink?" etc. (Matthew 25:37-40, 46)

In this passage they are called "just" who have performed the Goods of charity towards the neighbour, which are there recounted; and that the Goods of charity are the Lord appertaining to them, is said manifestly, "Inasmuch as you have done it to one of the least of these Myy brethren, you have done it to Me."

And in Isaiah:

"The just perishes, and no man lays it to heart", etc. (Isaiah 57:1) Arcana Coelestia 9262.

Verses 1, 2. These words signify that the faithful are separated from the evil, and thus have "peace" in themselves. (Swedenborg's Notes on Isaiah, p. 141.)

Verse 2. He enters into peace. - See Chapter 9:6; 32:17, 18, the Exposition.

They rest upon their beds, [each] walking in his uprightness. - As to the signification of a "bed", both in a good and in a bad sense, see Chapter 28:20, the Exposition.

3. But as for you, draw near hither, you sons of the sorceress, the seed of the adulterer and of her who has committed whoredom.

Verses 3 to the middle of 13 describe the unfaithful, who place hope in themselves and trust in their works. (Swedenborg's Notes on Isaiah, p. 141.)

Verse 3. For the signification of "sorcery" or witchcraft, see Chapter 47:9, 12, the Exposition.

The seed of the adulterer. - Adulteries are most profane, and from hell; but marriages are most holy, and from Heaven. Adulterers cannot come into heaven, and in their hells they live in filth and in excrements; when anyone commits adultery on earth heaven is closed against him, and he then holds in aversion the Goods and Truths of the Word and of the church, and hates the worship of the Lord; and this because the love of adultery is derived from the marriage of the evil and the false, which is infernal. To "commit adultery and whoredom", in a spiritual sense, signifies the perversion of the Truths and the adulteration of the Goods of the Word; hence it is that "adulteries" and "whoredoms" are so often mentioned in the Word, especially in the Prophets (see Hosea throughout), and the Jews were said to "commit adultery with stones and stocks",

(Jeremiah 3:9) and also "with idols", (Ezekiel 23:37) which can only be understood in a spiritual sense. Arcana Coelestia 9961, 2733-2755, 10175.

Verses 3, 4. Draw near hither, you sons of the sorceress, etc. - By "the sons of the sorceress" and "the seed of the adulterer", are signified falsities from the Word, when falsified and adulterated; by the "sons of the sorceress", falsities from the falsification of the Word, and by the "seed of the adulterer", falsities from the adulteration thereof. The Word is said to be falsified when the Truths thereof are perverted, and to be adulterated when the Goods thereof are in like manner perverted; likewise when the Truths are applied to the loves of self.

By "sons of transgression" and "the seed of falsehood", are signified falsities flowing from those former falsities; by "sporting themselves", is denoted the delight, derived from falsification; by "making wide the mouth", is meant the delight of the thoughts therein originating, and by "drawing out the tongue", the delight of teaching and propagating them. Apocalypse Explained 768.

4. Against whom do you sport yourselves? Against whom make you a wide mouth, and draw out the tongue? Are you not the sons of transgression, the seed of falsehood?

Verses 4, 5. Are you not the sons of transgression, the seed of falsehood? slaying the sons in the rivers, etc. - The "sons of transgression" denote the falsities which destroy the Truths of faith; they are therefore also called the "seed of falsehood", for "falsehood", or a lie, is the false. (Arcana Coelestia 8908)

And therefore it is said of them that "they inflame themselves with idols [gods] under every green tree", by which words, in the internal sense, is meant worship grounded in falsities; for "idols" [gods] denote falsities; (Arcana Coelestia 4402, 4544) and a "green tree" signifies the perceptivity of the false, derived from a perverse understanding; (Arcana Coelestia 2722) hence, therefore, it is also said, "You slay the sons in the rivers", by which words is meant the extinction of the Truths of faith by falsities; for to "slay" is to extinguish, and "those that are born", or the "sons", are the Truths of faith, and "rivers" denote falsities, Arcana Coelestia 9156.

5. Inflaming yourselves with idols under every green tree; slaying the sons in the rivers under the cliffs of the rocks?

Verse 5. No one can know what these things signify without the internal sense. In this sense, by being "inflamed with idols [gods] under every green tree", is signified to worship God from every false principle which occurs; to be "inflamed with idols [gods]" denotes ardent worship; "every green tree" is every false principle which occurs, for "tree" signifies knowledges and perceptions, - in the present case, knowledges and perceptions of what is false.

By "slaying the sons in the rivers under the cliffs of the rocks", is signified to extinguish Truths by falsities from self-derived intelligence; "sons" denote Truths, "rivers" self-derived intelligence, "cliffs of the rocks" denote falsities, and by the expression "under the cliffs of the rocks" is signified from the sensual principle, in which is the lowest natural lumen; for they who are in this lumen only, stand under the craggy [or broken places] of rocks, and do not see any Truth, and if it is spoken they have no perception thereof. In such a station have I seen them in the spiritual world; whence it is evident that to "slay the sons" is not here understood by those words, but to extinguish Truths. Apocalypse Explained 411.

Verses 5, 6, 9. Worship from evils and falsities which are from hell, is here treated of "Gods" [or idols], in the internal sen so, are falsities; for those who worshipped other gods, called upon them indeed by name, but, nevertheless, it was the falsities from evils which they worshipped. That "strange gods", in the Word, are falsities, may be seen, Arcana Coelestia 4402; a "green tree" is everything relating to the perception, knowledge, and confirmation of the false, Arcana Coelestia 2272, 2972; "green" is the sensitive principle; to be "inflamed" is the ardour of worship, for "fire", from which inflaming comes, is love in both senses, Arcana Coelestia 5215, 6832. To "pour forth a drink-offering is worship from the falsities of evil. To "offer a gift to the king in oil" is to worship Satan from evils; a "gift in oil" is a meat-offering, or an oblation [minchah]; to "increase perfumes" is to multiply incense, by which adoration is signified; wherefore it is also said, "You have debased yourself to hell." Arcana Coelestia 10137.

6. In the smooth [things] of the valley is your portion; these, these are your lot: even to these have you poured out, a drink-offering, you have offered a meat-offering. Can I receive comfort in these things?

Verse 6. That what is "smooth" is predicated, in a good sense, of what is True, and, in the opposite sense, of what is false, may be proved from the following passages:

"Inflaming yourselves with idols under every green tree; in the smooth [things] of the valley is your portion"; (Isaiah 57:5, 6) where to be "inflamed" is said of evil, and "the smooth [things] of the valley" of what is false. Again:

"Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongue they speak smooth things [flatter]"; (Psalm 5:9) "their throat an open sepulchre" is predicated of evil; "the tongue speaking smooth things" is said of the false. (See also Psalm 55:21) Arcana Coelestia 3527.

See above, Chapter 30:10:

"Speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits; "where it is evident that "smooth things" signify falsities. See the Exposition.

7. Upon a high and lofty mountain have you placed your bed: even thither have you gone up to offer sacrifice.

Verse 7. And in Hosea:

"They sacrifice upon the tops of the mountains, and burn incense upon the hills." (Hosea 4:13)

In these passages, by "worship upon mountains and hills", is signified worship from evils find falsities. Hence also it was that the Gentiles in Greece fixed Helicon in a high mountain, and Parnassus in a hill below it, and believed that the gods and their goddesses dwelt there; this they derived from the ancients in Asia and especially in the land of Canaan, which was not far remote, with whom all worship consisted of representatives. Apocalypse Explained 405.

8. And behind the door and the door-post have you placed your memorial: for [departing] from Me, you have discovered yourself [to another]; you have ascended, and enlarged your bed; you have made [a covenant] with them; you love their bed; you have provided a place for it.

Verse 8. [It does not appear that Swedenborg has quoted this clause of the verse, but from the correspondence of "writing on the door-posts and on the gates", as mentioned in Deuteronomy 6:9; 11:20, we may in some degree see the signification of these words. In the spiritual sense "the door" and the "door-post" signify natural Goods and Truths, by which there is an introduction to spiritual things; (Arcana Coelestia 7847) but, in a bad sense, they signify false and evil principles, which lead to idolatries, and to all kinds of perversion of what is Good and True.

To "write on the door-posts" has a similar signification to the "binding of the commandments as a sign upon the hand, and as frontlets between the eyes", (Deuteronomy 6:8) because the angels regard everything in relation to the human form, (Arcana Coelestia 7847) which was a memorial to the people of Israel that they should always keep the divine precepts both in their understanding and in their life. Thus to "place the memorial of idols behind the door and the door-post", is to have the life so immersed in idolatries, or in the perversions of what is Good and True from the Word, that is, in evils an d falsities, as to admit nothing into the mind, which is the "house", but what is in harmony with such a state of sinful depravity.]

These words signify idolatry, and worship founded in false doctrines; for all worship grounded in false doctrine is idolatry. Hence it is that a "bed", which corresponds to doctrine, is so often mentioned in these verses. See the Exposition of Isaiah Chapter 28:20.

9. You have offered a gift to the king in oil, and have increased your perfumes; and you have sent your messengers far off, and have debased yourself to hell.

10. You art wearied in the length of your way; you have not said, I despair: you have found the life of your hand; wherefore you have not become weak.

11. And whom have you dreaded and been afraid of, that you should lie, and have not remembered Me, and laid it to your heart? Is it not that I have been silent even of old, and you dost not fear Me?

12. I will declare your justice and your works, which do not profit you.

Verse 9. You have sent your messengers far off, etc. - What is meant by being "far off", see Chap, Isaiah 5:26, 28; and what by being "near", see Chapter 34:1, the Exposition.

Verse 12. Is it not that I have been silent even of old, and you dost not fear Me?-For the signification of the "fear of God", in the internal sense, when mentioned in the Word, see Isaiah 11:3, the Exposition.

13. When you cry out, let the collection [or thine idols] deliver you; but the wind shall carry them all away; vanity shall take them off: but he who trusts in Me shall possess the land, and shall inherit the mountain of, My holiness;

Verse 13. But the wind shall carry them [the idols] all away, etc. As to "winds" and "tempests" in the spiritual world, at the period of Judgment, see Chapter 17:13, the Exposition.

He who trusts in.Me shall possess the land, and shall inherit the mountain of My holiness. - For as much as a "mountain" signifies the Good of love, and, in the supreme sense, the Divine Good, and from the Divine Good proceeds the Divine Truth, therefore the "mountain of Zion" was above Jerusalem, and by the "mountain of Zion", in the Word, is signified the church which is in the Good of love to the Lord; and by "Jerusalem", the church which is in Truths from that Good, or the church as to doctrine. Hence also Jerusalem was called the "mountain of holiness", and the "hill"; for by the "mountain of holiness" is signified spiritual Good, which in its essence is Truth from Good, in like manner as by a "hill", as may appear from the above passage. Apocalypse Explained 405.

That to "possess the land", meaning Canaan, signifies heaven, see Arcana Coelestia 2658, 9338.

14. And it shall be said, Cast up, cast up; sweep the way; remove the stumbling block from the way of My people.

Verse 14. Sweep the way; remove the stumbling block from the way of My people. - The reason why to "sweep" denotes to prepare and to be filled is, because nothing else is required of man but to "sweep the house", that is, to reject the lusts of evils and the persuasions of what is false thence originating; in this case he is filled with good things, for Good from the Lord continually flows in, but into the "house", or into man, purged from such things as impede influx, that is, which either reflect, or pervert, or suffocate the inflowing Good. Hence it was a customary formula of speaking with the ancients to "sweep or purge the house", also to "sweep and prepare the way"; and by "sweeping the house" was meant to purge themselves from evil, and thus to prepare themselves for the entrance of Goods; whereas to "sweep the way" meant to prepare themselves for the reception of Truths; for by the "house" was signified Good, see Arcana Coelestia 3128, and by "way" Truth, see n. Arcana Coelestia 627, 2333; as in Isaiah:

"The voice of one proclaiming in the wilderness, Sweep you [prepare] the way of Jehovah! make straight in the desert a highway for our God!" (Isaiah 40:3)

Again, in the same Prophet:

"Cast up, cast up; sweep [prepare] the way; remove the stumbling block from the way of My people." (Isaiah 57:14)

Again:

"Pass through, pass through the gates; cast up, cast up the way, gather out the stones." (Isaiah 62:10)

So in Malachi,

"Behold, I send My angel, and he shall sweep [prepareJ the way before Me; and the Lord, whom you seek, shall suddenly come to the temple." (Malachi 3:1)

In these passages, to "sweep the way" denotes to make themselves ready, and to prepare to receive Truth. The subject here treated of is concerning the coming of the Lord, for whom they were to prepare themselves, in order to receive the Truth of faith, and thereby the Good of charity, and thus eternal salvation.

So in David:

"You have caused a vine to come forth out of Egypt; You have driven out the nations, and planted it; You have swept before it, and have caused its root to be rooted, and it has filled the land"; (Psalm 80:8, 9),

speaking, in the supreme sense, of the Lord; the "vine out of Egypt" is Truth from scientifics; to "drive out the nations" is to purge from evils; to "sweep before it" is to make ready that Goodnesses may fill.

To "sweep the house" also, in an opposite sense, is applied to man, to signify one who deprives himself of all things Good and True, and who is thereby filled with things evil and false, as in Luke:

"The unclean spirit, if he doth not find rest says I will return to my house whence I came forth. And if he cometh and finds it swept and adorned, then he departs and takes seven other spirits worse than himself; and entering in, they dwell there." (Luke 11:24-26; see also Matthew 12:43-45) Arcana Coelestia 3142.

15. For thus says the High and Lofty One, inhabiting eternity, and whose name is Holy: I dwell in the high and holy place, and with him also that is contrite and of a humble spirit; to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite.

Verse 15. That by what is "high" is signified what is Divine, is, because by "high and lofty" is understood heaven where the Divine [Being] is; hence in the Word it is said of Jehovah, or the Lord, that He "dwells on high", and He Himself is called the "Highest", as in Isaiah:

"Jehovah is exalted; yea, He dwells on high. (Isaiah 33:5)

Again:

"Thus says the High and Lofty [One], inhabiting eternity, and whose name is holy: I dwell in the high and holy place. [Isaiah 57:15)

And In David:

"Jehovah sent from high and snatched me out." (Psalm 18:16)

Hence Jehovah is called the "Highest." (Deuteronomy 32:8; Daniel 4:17, 32, 34)

Inasmuch as "high" signified heaven, and the Divine [Being] therein, therefore divine worship, by those who were of the representative church, was instituted on mountains and high places. On that account also [it was performed] in the heights, which they likewise built for themselves, and of which mention is made in the historical and prophetical parts of the Word throughout, as in Ezekiel:

"You have built to yourself an eminence, and have made to yourself what is high in every street; upon every head of a way you have built thine eminence:" (Ezekiel 16:21, 25, 31)

The reason why the Divine [Being] was signified by "high" is, because by the "starry heaven" was understood the angelic heaven, and it was also believed that it was there; but the wiser amongst them knew that heaven was not on high, but where the Good of love is and this within in man, wherever he was. That "high things" denote the interiors, or the Goods which are there, see Arcana Coelestia 450, 1735. Arcana Coelestia 8153.

16. For I will not contend for ever, neither will I be always angry: for the spirit would fail before Me, and the souls which I have made.

Verse 16. That to "contend" [litigate], in the Word, signifies contention or litigation concernIng Truths, and, in general, for Truths against falsities, and also defence and liberation from falsities, is evident from the following passages, as in Jeremiah:

"A noise shall come even to the ends of the earth; for Jehovah has a controversy [or disputation] with the nations: He will enter into judgment with all flesh; He will deliver the impious to the sword. Behold, evil shall go forth from nation to nation, and a great tempest shall be raised up from the sides of the earth." (Jeremiah 25:31, 32)

The perverse state of the church is thus prophetically, described; the "noise" is the contention for falsities against Truths, and for evils against Goods; the "earth" is the church; the "controversy of Jehovah against the nations" is the contention of the Lord for Truths against falsities, and for Goods; against evils, thus also their defence; "nations" are falsities and evils; the "sword" is the false combating and conquering; "great tempest" is the false ruling; the "sides of the earth" are where falsities burst forth from evil.

Again, in the same Prophet:

"Jehovah shall contend for their cause, that He may give rest to the earth"; (Jeremiah 50:34) where to "contend for their cause" denotes to defend Truths against falsities, and to liberate the "earth" denotes the church, which has rest when it is in Good and thence in Truths.

Again:

"You, O Lord, have pleaded the causes of my soul; You have liberated my life"; (Lamentations 3:58) where to "plead the causes of the soul" denotes to defend and liberate from falsities. Arcana Coelestia 9024.

17. For the iniquity of his covetousness was I angry, and I smote him: hiding Myself, and I was angry; but he went on perversely in the way of his heart.

Verse 17. For the iniquity of his covetousness [or lucre] was I angry. What is meant by "lucre", see Chapter 56:11, the Exposition.

By "anger", when said of the Lord, see Chapter 9:12, 17, 21, the Exposition.

18. I have seen his ways, and I will heal him; and I will lead him, and will restore consolations to him, and to his mourners.

Verses 18, 19. That to "heal", when predicated of the Lord, signifies that He alone preserves from evils, is evident from the signification of healing, which is to cure and also to preserve from evils; for when "diseases" signify evils, to "heal" signifies healing and preservation from them, as is evident from many passages, as in Jeremiah:

"Heal me, O Jehovah, that I may be healed; save me, that I may be saved." (Jeremiah 17:14)

And in David:

"You have turned all his bed in his sickness; I said, Jehovah, be merciful unto me: heal my soul; for I have sinned against You." (Psalm 41:3, 4)

And in Isaiah:

"By His wounds we are healed." (Isaiah 53:5) Arcana Coelestia 8365.

19. I create the fruit of the lips: Peace, peace to him that is afar off, and to him that is near, says Jehovah; and I will heal him.

Verse 19. The "fruit of the lips" signifies doctrine. Arcana Coelestia 1286. As to the further signification of the "lips", see Chapter 6:5-7, the Exposition.

20. But the wicked are like the troubled sea when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt.

Verse 20. By the "troubled sea", which is here predicated of the wicked, are signified reasonings from falsities; and by the "waters which cast up mire and dirt", are signified the falsities themselves, from which are evils of life and falsities of doctrine. Apocalypse Explained 275. See also Arcana Coelestia 6669.

21. There is no peace, says my God, to the wicked.

Verse 21. That they have "peace" who are in Good and thence in Truths, and not those who are in evils and thence in falsities, is evident from the above passage. Apocalypse Explained 365. What the nature of true "peace" is, see Chapter 9:6; 48:18, 22, the Exposition.

---
Isaiah Chapter 57.

1. THE just perishes, and no man lays it to heart: and the men of holiness are taken away, and none understands; for on account of evil is the just taken away.

2. He enters into peace; they rest upon their beds, [each] walking in his uprightness.

3. But as for you, draw near hither, you sons of the sorceress, the seed of the adulterer and of her who has committed whoredom.

4. Against whom do you sport yourselves? Against whom make you a wide mouth, and draw out the tongue? Are you not the sons of transgression, the seed of falsehood?

5. Inflaming yourselves with idols under every green tree; slaying the sons in the rivers under the cliffs of the rocks?

6. In the smooth [things] of the valley is your portion; these, these are your lot: even to these have you poured out, a drink-offering, you have offered a meat-offering. Can I receive comfort in these things?

7. Upon a high and lofty mountain have you placed your bed: even thither have you gone up to offer sacrifice.

8. And behind the door and the door-post have you placed your memorial: for [departing] from Me, you have discovered yourself [to another]; you have ascended, and enlarged your bed; you have made [a covenant] with them; you love their bed; you have provided a place for it.

9. You have offered a gift to the king in oil, and have increased your perfumes; and you have sent your messengers far off, and have debased yourself to hell.

10. You art wearied in the length of your way; you have not said, I despair: you have found the life of your hand; wherefore you have not become weak.

11. And whom have you dreaded and been afraid of, that you should lie, and have not remembered Me, and laid it to your heart? Is it not that I have been silent even of old, and you dost not fear Me?

12. I will declare your justice and your works, which do not profit you.

13. When you cry out, let the collection [or thine idols] deliver you; but the wind shall carry them all away; vanity shall take them off: but he who trusts in Me shall possess the land, and shall inherit the mountain of, My holiness;

14. And it shall be said, Cast up, cast up; sweep the way; remove the stumbling-block from the way of My people.

15. For thus says the High and Lofty One, inhabiting eternity, and whose name is Holy: I dwell in the high and holy place, and with him also that is contrite and of a humble spirit; to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite.

16. For I will not contend for ever, neither will I be always angry: for the spirit would fail before Me, and the souls which I have made.

17. For the iniquity of his covetousness was I angry, and I smote him: hiding Myself, and I was angry; but he went on perversely in the way of his heart.

18. I have seen his ways, and I will heal him; and I will lead him, and will restore consolations to him, and to his mourners.

19. I create the fruit of the lips: Peace, peace to him that is afar off, and to him that is near, says Jehovah; and I will heal him.

20. But the wicked are like the troubled sea when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt.

21. There is no peace, says my God, to the wicked.

From Swedenborg's Works

Main explanations:

The Inner Meaning of the Prophets and Psalms 57


Other references to this verse:

Arcana Coelestia 3142

Related New Christian Commentary

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