The Bible

Matthew 3:1-12 : John the Baptist (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.

Study the Inner Meaning

Commentary on this chapter:

Stories:

Explanation(s) or references from Swedenborg's works:

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 ...

Show references from Swedenborg's unpublished works


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.

From Swedenborg's Works

Apocalypse Explained #374

Apocalypse Explained (Tansley translation)

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374. (v. 6) A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny. That thereby is signified, that the genuine good of the church is of no account with them, and also the genuine truth, is clear from the signification of measure (choenix), which was the measure for wheat and barley among the Greeks, as denoting the quality of estimation, for by measure in the Word, as was said in the article above, is signified the quality of a thing as to good and as to truth. From the signification of wheat, as denoting the good of the church in general, concerning which we shall speak presently; from the signification of barley, as denoting the truth of that good, which will be also treated of presently; and from the signification of a penny, which is the price of estimation, as denoting as if it were of no account. This piece of money, because it was the smallest of all, consequently, signifies the least price, but here as if it were of no price. The reason is, because by the red horse, spoken of above, is signified the understanding of the Word destroyed as to good, and by the black horse, the understanding of the Word destroyed as to truth (see above, n. 364, and 372); and when the understanding of the Word as to good and truth is destroyed, then the genuine good and genuine truth of the church are estimated as it were at nothing. The reason why it is estimated here at a penny, is, because some piece of money must be assumed, in order that some price may be expressed in the sense of the letter. Because it is said that a balance was in the hand of him that sat on the horse, and that he measured the wheat and the barley, therefore that piece of money, which was the least of all, is taken for the price of estimation; and because there was no longer any understanding of the Word as to good and as to truth, therefore, by a penny, in the spiritual sense, is here signified [that the estimation is] as it were of no account.

(References: Revelation 6:6; The Apocalypse Explained 364, 372)


[2] The reason why it is said a measure of wheat and three measures of barley, is, because the number one is said of good, and three of truths. And by one, when it is said of good, is signified what is perfect, thus also what is genuine; and by three, when said of truths, is signified what is full, thus also what is genuine; hence it is that a measure of wheat, and three measures of barley, signify the genuine good and the genuine truth of the church. The reason why wheat signifies good, and barley the truth thereof, is, because all things of the field signify the things of the church; and the things of the field, as crops of various kinds, serve for food; and things that are for the food and nourishment of the body, signify, in the spiritual sense, such things as nourish the soul or mind, all of which have relation to the good of love, and the truth of faith; hence wheat and barley especially have such a signification, because bread is made from them. (That foods of every kind signify spiritual food, thus the things pertaining to knowledge, intelligence, and wisdom, consequently the good and truth from which these are, may be seen, n. 3114, 4459, 5147, 5293, 5340, 5342, 5410, 5426, 5576, 5582, 5588, 5655, 5915, 8408, 8562, 9003; of bread in general, in the small work concerning the New Jerusalem, n. 218; that field signifies the church. n, 2971, 3766, 9139.) That wheat and barley signify such things, is from correspondence, as may be seen from the things that appear in the spiritual world, where all appearances are correspondences. Plains, fields, crops of various kinds, and also loaves appear there; whence it is known that they correspond, and, consequently, that they have a signification according to correspondences.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 2971, 3114, 3766, 4459, 5147, 5293, 5340, 5342, 5410, 5426, 5576, 5582, 5588, 5655, 5915, 8408, 8562, 9003, 9139; The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 218)


[3] That wheat and barley signify the good and truth of the church, wheat the good thereof, and barley the truth, is evident from the passages in the Word where they are mentioned, as from the following. In Jeremiah:

Jehovah "who hath dispersed Israel, shall gather him together, and shall guard him as a shepherd doth his flock; for Jehovah hath redeemed Jacob, and hath liberated him out of the hand of him that was stronger than he; hence shall they come and sing in the height of Zion, and they shall flow together to the good of Jehovah, to the wheat, to the new wine, and to the oil, and to the sons of the flock and of the herd; and their soul shall become as a watered garden" (xxxi. 10-12).

The establishment of a new church is here treated of. By Israel and Jacob is signified that church; by Israel the spiritual internal church, and by Jacob the external, for every church is internal and external. The establishment of it is described by, "Jehovah shall gather him together, and shall guard him as a shepherd doth his flock; for he hath redeemed Jacob, and liberated him out of the hand of him that was stronger than he." By redeeming is signified to reform (as may be seen above, n. 328); by the hand of him that was stronger than he, is signified from the evil and falsity which before had possession; their internal joy, or joy of heart, arising from celestial good and the truths thence, is signified by, "hence shall they come and sing in the height of Zion, and they shall flow together to the good of Jehovah, to the wheat, to the new wine, and to the oil, and to the sons of the flock and of the herd." To sing in the height of Zion signifies internal celestial joy, or such as exists in the Lord's celestial kingdom, to sing denoting that joy (see above, n. 326); height denoting what is internal, and Zion the celestial kingdom. Wheat signifies the good of the natural man; new wine, the truth thereof; oil, the good of the spiritual man; the sons of the flock signify spiritual truths, and the sons of the herd natural truths; because these are signified, they are called the goodness of Jehovah. That hence they have intelligence and wisdom, is signified by, "their soul shall become as a watered garden"; for by a garden in the Word is signified intelligence, and being watered its increase continually; that wheat, new wine, oil, the sons of the flock and herd, are not meant here, is evident, for it is said that Jehovah hath redeemed Jacob, and that their soul shall become as a watered garden.

(References: Jeremiah 31:10-12; The Apocalypse Explained 326, 328)


[4] In Joel:

"The field is wasted, the land hath mourned; for the corn is wasted; the new wine is dried up, the oil languisheth. The husbandmen were ashamed; the vine-dressers howled over the wheat and over the barley; because the harvest of the field is perished" (i. 10-12).

These things are not said concerning a field and its barrenness, but concerning the church and its vastation; therefore by field, land, corn, new wine, and oil, are not meant these things, but by the field and by land, the church; by the field, the church as to the reception and increase of truth and good, and by the earth, the church as to the nation therein; by corn, good of every kind in the external man; by new wine, the truth also therein; by oil, the good of the internal man; by the husbandmen who were ashamed, and the vine-dressers who howled over the wheat and over the barley, are signified those who are of the church, and by the wheat and barley are signified the good and the truth thereof; and by the harvest of the field which, consequently, perished, is signified all worship from them.

(References: Joel 1:10-11, 1:10-12)


[5] In Jeremiah:

"The spoilers are come upon all the hills in the wilderness; for the sword of Jehovah shall devour from the end of the earth even to the end of the earth; there is no peace to any flesh. They have sown wheat, and reaped thorns" (xii. 12, 13).

These things also are said concerning the church and its vastation. By the hills in the wilderness upon which the spoilers are said to come, is signified that all the good of charity has perished through evils and falsities; hills in the Word signify where the good of charity resides, and, in an abstract sense, that good itself. The wilderness signifies where it exists no more, because there is no truth; and spoilers signify evils and falsities whereby good and truth perish. By the sword of Jehovah devouring from the end of the earth even to the end of the earth, is signified falsity destroying all things of the church; by the sword devouring, falsity destroying, and from the end of the earth even to the end of the earth, are signified all things of the church. By, "there is no peace to any flesh," is signified that there is no longer internal rest on account of the dominion of evil and falsity; by, "they have sown wheat, and reaped thorns," is signified that instead of the goods of truth there are evils of falsity, wheat denoting the goods of truth, and thorns denoting the evils of falsity.

(References: Jeremiah 12:12-13)


[6] In the same:

Ishmael, who was of the seed of the kingdom, slew Gedaliah, whom the king of Babylon had made governor over the land, and all the Jews who were with him, and the Chaldeans, also the men from Shechem, from Shiloh, and from Samaria; "but ten men were found among them who said unto Ishmael, Slay us not; for we have things hid in the field, wheat and barley, and oil and honey. So he forbare, and slew them not" (xli. 1-8).

By these historical statements, in the internal sense, is described the condemnation of those who profane holy things; for by Gedaliah, whom the king of Babylon made governor over the land, and by the Jews who were with him, also by the Chaldeans, and the men from Shechem, from Shiloh, and from Samaria, are meant those who profane, and, in an abstract sense, profanations of every kind. For the king of Babylon signifies the profanation of good and truth, their condemnation is signified by their being slain, for by, to be slain, is signified to be slain spiritually (see n. 315); but by the ten men, who said to Ishmael, "Slay us not; for we have things hid in the field, wheat and barley, and oil and honey," are meant those who have not profaned the holy things of the church, because inwardly they possess good and truth; for those who profane have inwardly nothing of good and truth, but only outwardly when they speak and preach, whereas, those who do not profane have good and truth inwardly, and this is meant by their saying, that they had things hid in the field, wheat, barley, oil, and honey; wheat and barley signify the goods and truths of the external man, oil signifies the good of the internal man, and honey, the delight thereof; by ten men are signified all those who are of such a description, the number ten signifying all men and all things; by his forbearing and not slaying them, is signified that they were not profane, thus not condemned; by Ishmael are represented those who are in the genuine truths of the church; this is also signified by the seed of the kingdom from which he was. Such are the things involved in these historical statements, the historical parts of the Word possessing an internal sense as well as the prophetical parts.

(References: Jeremiah 41:1-8; The Apocalypse Explained 315)


[7] In Moses:

"Jehovah thy God bringeth thee unto a good land, a land of rivers of water, of fountains and depths that issue out of valley and mountain; a land of wheat and barley, and of vine, and fig-tree, and pomegranate; a land of olive oil and honey" (Deut. viii. 7, 8).

In the sense of the letter the land of Canaan is thus described, but in the spiritual sense the Lord's church, this being signified by the land of Canaan according to this sense; and all the kinds of good and truth pertaining to the church are recounted. The reason why the land is called a land of rivers of water, is, because rivers of water signify the doctrinals of truth. By fountains and depths issuing out of valley and mountain, are signified interior and exterior truths from the Word; by fountains the interior truths thence, and by depths the exterior truths. The latter are said to issue out of the valley, because a valley signifies what is lower and exterior, where such [truths] are; and the former are said to issue out of the mountain, because a mountain signifies what is higher and interior, where such [truths] are. By a land of wheat and barley, and of vine and fig-tree, and pomegranate, is signified the church as to good and truth of every kind; wheat and barley signifying good and truth from a celestial origin; the vine and fig-tree, good and truth from a spiritual origin; and the pomegranate, the knowledges of good and truth. And by a land of olive oil and honey, is signified the church as to the good of love and its delight. He who does not know the spiritual sense of the Word believes simply that the land of Canaan alone is described by these words, in which case the Word would be only natural and not spiritual, and yet the Word in its internal is everywhere spiritual, and it is spiritual when by the above words are understood the spiritual things that are signified, namely, goods and truths of every kind. But what is specifically signified by rivers, fountains, depths, a valley, a mountain, the vine, the fig-tree, the pomegranate, the olive, oil, and honey, is shown in the Arcana Coelestia, all the passages of which it would take too long to adduce; yet several of them have been pointed out, and will be pointed out, in this work upon the Explanation of the Apocalypse; these may be consulted in their proper places.

(References: Deuteronomy 8:7-8)


[8] In Job:

"If I have eaten the strength of the earth without silver, or have caused the soul [of the owners] thereof to expire, let the thorn come forth instead of wheat, and the wild vine instead of barley" (xxxi. 38-40).

To eat the strength of the earth without silver, signifies to appropriate to oneself the good of the church without the truth, the earth denoting the church, and silver denoting truth; and to cause the soul [of the owners] thereof to expire, signifies thus to make void spiritual life. "Let the thorn come forth instead of wheat, and the wild vine instead of barley," signifies that evil is regarded as good, and falsity as truth; wheat denoting good, the thorn evil, barley truth, and the wild vine falsity; for good can only be procured by truths.

(References: Job 31:39-40)


[9] In Isaiah:

"I have heard a consummation and decision from the Lord Jehovih of hosts upon the whole earth. Will the ploughman plough all day to sow, will he open and harrow his ground? When he hath made plain the faces thereof, doth he not cast abroad the fennel, and cast in the measured wheat and the appointed barley and the appointed spelt? Thus he is instructed to judgment, his God doth teach him" (xxviii. 22, 24-26).

By these words, in the spiritual sense, there is described the church with the Jewish and Israelitish nation as being altogether destroyed, and that it was to no purpose to learn and know the Word, but that the good and truth thereof may be applied to the use of life; hence and not otherwise intelligence [can be received] from the Lord. That the church with that nation was altogether destroyed, is meant by, "I have heard a consummation and decision from the Lord Jehovih of hosts upon the whole earth," consummation and decision denoting complete destruction, and the whole earth denoting the whole church, that is, everything thereof; its being to no purpose to learn and know the Word, is signified by, "Will the ploughman plough all day to sow? will he open and harrow his ground?" to plough for sowing denoting to learn, and to harrow the ground denoting to deposit in the memory. That the good and truth of the Word should be applied to the use of life, is signified by, "When he hath made plain the faces thereof, doth he not cast abroad the fennel, and cast in the measured wheat and the appointed barley and the appointed spelt?" When he hath made plain the faces of the ground, and scattered the fennel, signifies when he has prepared by the Word; the measured wheat and the appointed barley and the appointed spelt, signify to apply good and truth to the use of life; wheat denoting good, barley truth, and spelt knowledges; that hence, and in no other way, is there intelligence from the Lord, is signified by, "Thus he is instructed to judgment, his God doth teach him"; judgment signifying intelligence, and his God doth teach him, signifying that it is from the Lord.

(References: Isaiah 28:24-26, 28:22)


[10] In Moses:

"Jehovah made him ride upon the high places of the earth, and he fed him with the produce of the fields; he made him to suck honey out of the rock, and oil out of the flint of the rock; butter of the herd and milk of the flock, with fat of lambs, and rams of the sons of Bashan, and of goats, with the fat of kidneys of wheat; and thou drinkest the pure blood of grapes" (Deut. xxxii. 12-14).

These things are said of the Ancient Church established by the Lord after the deluge, which was in intelligence and wisdom, because in the good of charity and in the faith thence. Their wisdom and intelligence from the Lord, is signified by, "Jehovah made them to ride upon the high places of the earth, and fed them with the produce of the fields"; the celestial and spiritual goods which they receive by truths, are described by, "He made him to suck honey out of the rock, and oil out of the flint of the rock; butter of the herd and milk of the flock, with the fat of lambs, and of rams of the sons of Bashan, and of goats, with the fat of kidneys of wheat; and thou drinkest the pure blood of grapes"; wheat signifies here all good in general, and the blood of grapes, also pure wine, all the truth thence.

(References: Deuteronomy 32:13-14)


[11] In David:

"O that my people had hearkened unto me, and, Israel had walked in my ways! I should have fed them with the fat of wheat; and with honey out of the rock should I have satisfied them" (Ps. lxxxi. 13, 14, 16).

By the fat of wheat, and by honey out of the rock, with which they would be fed and satisfied, are signified good of every kind from celestial good and the delight thereof from the Lord; for by fat is signified celestial good; by wheat, good of every, kind; by honey, the delight of good; and by a rock, the Lord. That they will possess these things if they live according to the Lord's precepts, is meant by its being said, "O that my people had hearkened unto me, and Israel had walked in my ways!" ways in the Word signifying truths and also precepts, and to walk signifying to live.

(References: Psalms 81:13, 81:16)


[12] In the same:

"Praise Jehovah, O Jerusalem; praise thy God, O Zion. For he strengtheneth the bars of thy gates; he blesseth thy sons in the midst of thee. He maketh thy borders peace, and filleth thee with the fat of wheat" (Ps. cxlvii. 12-14).

By Jerusalem and Zion is meant the church; by Jerusalem, the church as to the truths of doctrine, and by Zion the church as to the goods of love; who maketh thy border peace, signifies all things of heaven and the church, for border signifies all those things; "He filleth thee with the fat of wheat," signifies with every good of love and with wisdom, fat signifying the good of love, and wheat all things therefrom, which being from good are also goods; because these things are signified, therefore it is said, "the fat of wheat."

(References: Psalms 147:12-14)


[13] In Hosea:

"Jehovah said" unto the prophet, "Go again, love a woman beloved of her companion, and an adulteress, according to the love of Jehovah toward the sons of Israel, who look to other gods, and love flagons of grapes. And I bought her to me for fifteen pieces of silver, and for a homer of barley, and a half homer of barley" (iii. 1, 2).

The quality of the Jewish and Israelitish church as to doctrine and worship was represented by this, namely, that by vain traditions they had falsified all things of the Word, although they worshipped it as holy. A woman beloved of her companion, and an adulteress, whom the prophet was to love, signifies a church of such a quality, a woman the church, and being loved by her companion and an adulteress, the falsification of truth and the adulteration of good; "according to the love of Jehovah toward the sons of Israel, who look to other gods," signifies falsities of doctrine and evils of worship, these things being signified by looking to other gods; loving flagons of grapes, signifies the Word in the sense of the letter alone, for wine signifies truths of doctrine from the Word, grapes the goods of it from which are truths, and a flagon signifies that which contains, thus the ultimate sense of the Word, which is the sense of the letter, which they apply to their own falsities and evils; that he bought her to him for fifteen pieces of silver, signifies at a very small price, fifteen denoting very little; the homer of barley and the half homer of barley signify so little of good and truth, as to be scarcely any.

(References: Hosea 3:1-2)


[14] In Matthew:

John [said] concerning Jesus, "He shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit, and with fire; whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and gather the wheat into the garner; but the chaff he will burn with fire unquenchable" (iii. 11, 12).

By baptizing with the Holy Spirit and with fire, is signified to reform the church, and to regenerate the man of the church by means of Divine truth and Divine good; to baptize signifies to reform and regenerate; the Holy Spirit, the Divine truth proceeding from the Lord; and fire, the Divine good of His Divine love; by the wheat which He will gather into the garner, and by the chaff which He will burn with fire unquenchable, are signified good of every kind, which is of heavenly origin, that it shall be preserved to eternity, consequently, those who are in that [good]; and falsity of every kind, which is of infernal origin, that it shall be destroyed, consequently, those who are in it; and because wheat, a garner, and chaff are mentioned, a fan and a floor are also mentioned, and by the fan is signified separation, and by the floor, where the separation takes place.

(References: Matthew 3:11-12)


[15] In the same:

Jesus said, "The kingdom of the heavens is like unto a man who sowed good seed in his field; but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares, and went his way. But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. So the servants of the householder coming said unto him, Master, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares? Then he said unto them, An enemy hath done this. And the servants said, Wilt thou therefore that we go and gather them up? But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up at the same time the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest; and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them; but gather the wheat into my barn" (xiii. 24-30).

What these words involve is very evident from the spiritual sense, the particulars there being correspondences; for the Lord when He was in the world, spoke by pure correspondences, because from the Divine. The Last Judgment is here treated of, when the good shall be separated from the evil, and the good will come into heaven, and the evil into hell. The good seed in the field, which the man sowed, signifies the truths of the church, which are from good; the field signifies the church, where those are; and sowing signifies influx and reception, thus also instruction; the man who sowed the seed, denotes the Lord through the Word, in which are all the truths of the church; his enemy coming and sowing the tares while men slept, and then going his way, signifies that with natural men the falsities of evil flow in from hell, and are received; for to sleep signifies to live the natural life without the spiritual (as may be seen above, n. 187); the enemy signifies hell, and the tares signify the evils of falsity. What the remaining portions even to the end signify, is evident from what is adduced in the small work concerning the Last Judgment (n. 70); for they involve mysteries which are there laid open; here we need say only, that wheat signifies the good of truth, and thence those who are in good by means of truth; and that by tares are signified the evil of falsity, and thence those who are in evil by means of falsities. That these things are said concerning the Last Judgment, is clear from what follows in the same chapter, where it is said:

"He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man; the field is the world; the seed are the sons of the kingdom; the tares are the sons of the wicked one; the enemy is the devil; the harvest is the consummation of the age" (verses 38, 39);

the consummation of the age denotes the last time of the church, when Judgment takes place. From these passages adduced from the Word, it is evident that wheat signifies the good of the church in general, and barley the truth thereof.

(References: Joel 1:10-12; Matthew 13:24-30, 13:38-39, 13:37-39; The Apocalypse Explained 187; The Last Judgment 70)

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