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.

   Study the Inner Meaning
From Swedenborg's Works

Explanations or references:

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

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

Doctrine of the Lord 15, 30, 51

Doctrine of Life 93, 104

Heaven and Hell 570

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

References from Swedenborg's drafts, indexes & diaries:

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

Marriage 113

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

Related New Christian Commentary

  Stories and their meanings:

Hop to Similar Bible Verses

Leviticus 11:22

1 Samuel 14:25

2 Kings 1:8

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

Jeremiah 7:4

Daniel 2:44

Bible Word Meanings

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

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...

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...

"Air" in the Bible represents thought, but in a very general way – more like our capacity to perceive ideas and the way we tend...

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

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...

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...

'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,...

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....

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.

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...

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",...

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

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...

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

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

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....

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...

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

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...

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

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

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

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

Resources for parents and teachers

The items listed here are provided courtesy of our friends at the General Church of the New Jerusalem. You can search/browse their whole library at the New Church Vineyard website.

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

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

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

 God Is a Divine Man
Article | Ages 15 - 17

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

 John the Baptist
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

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

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

 The Dove
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 9 - 12

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

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

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

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

 The Lord's Baptism: Matthew
A New Church Bible story explanation for teaching Sunday school. Includes lesson materials for Primary (3-8 years), Junior (9-11 years), Intermediate (12-14 years), Senior (15-17 years) and Adults.
Teaching Support | Ages over 3

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



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 #619

Apocalypse Explained (Whitehead translation)      

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619. But in thy mouth it shall be sweet as honey, signifies outwardly delightful. This is evident from the signification of "mouth," as being what is exterior; for this treats of the little book and eating it up, and "the little book" signifies the Word, and "eating it up" signifies perception and exploration; thence "the mouth," which first receives, means the external of the Word. It is evident also from the signification of "sweet as honey," as being the delight of natural good. The external of the Word was "sweet as honey," that is, thus delightful, because the external of the Word is such that it can be applied to any love whatever, or to any principle derived therefrom; and these can be confirmed by it. The external of the Word, which is the sense of its letter, is such because many things in it are written in accordance with the appearances presented to the natural man, and many appearances, when not interiorly understood, are fallacies, like the fallacies of the senses. Those, therefore, who love to live for the body and for the world, by means of these appearances draw over the external of the Word to confirm evils of life and falsities of faith.

(References: Revelation 10:9)

[2] This was done especially by the sons of Jacob, who applied all things of the Word to themselves, and from the sense of the letter they held the belief, and also maintain it to this day, that they were chosen in preference to others, and therefore were a holy nation; that their Jerusalem, the temple there, the ark, the altar, the sacrifices, with innumerable other things, were holy of themselves; they did not know, and did not wish to know, that the holiness of all those things proceeded solely from this, that they represented things Divine proceeding from the Lord that are called celestial and spiritual, and are the holy things of heaven and the church, and that to think that these are holy of themselves, and not because of the Divine things they represent, would be to falsify and adulterate the Word by applying it to themselves and to their own loves. It was similar with their belief respecting the Messiah, that he would be king of the world, and would raise them above all other nations and peoples throughout the globe; not to mention other things which they gathered from the mere sense of the letter of the Word, which to them were sweet as honey in the mouth. This is why the things in the spiritual sense of the Word are undelightful, for in that sense are the truths themselves which are not according to appearances; as that the Jewish nation itself was not holy, but worse than every other nation, consequently that it was not chosen; that the city of Jerusalem merely signifies the Lord's church and doctrine respecting Him and the holy things of heaven and the church; and that the temple, the ark, the altar, and the sacrifices represented the Lord and the holy things that proceed from Him, and that for this and no other reason were they holy. These are truths that are stored up inwardly in the sense of the letter of the Word, that is, in its internal spiritual sense; and these truths they deny, because, as was said, they have falsified and adulterated the Word in the sense of the letter; and these things therefore are undelightful to them, like foods that are bitter in the belly.

[3] It is said that the little book was "in the mouth sweet as honey," because "honey" signifies the delight of natural good; that "honey" signifies that delight can be seen from the following passages. In Ezekiel:

It was said to the prophet, Open wide thy mouth and eat that I give thee. And I saw and behold, a hand was put forth unto me, and lo, the roll of a book was therein; and when he had spread it before me it was written in front and behind, and written thereon were dirges, moaning, and woe. Then he said unto me, Son of man, eat this roll, and go speak unto the house of Israel. Then he said unto me, Feed thy belly and fill thy bowels with this roll that I give thee; and when I ate it, it was in my mouth as honey for sweetness. And he said, Go to the house of Israel and speak my words unto them (Ezekiel 2:8-10; 3:1-4).

These things involve things altogether similar to those in Revelation. The command to the prophet Ezekiel "to eat the roll of the book" involves something similar as the command to John "to eat the little book," namely, to explore how the Divine truth which is in the Word is yet received, perceived, and appropriated by those who are of the church; for the prophet Ezekiel and John represent the doctrine of truth and the Word, therefore the exploration was made with them. It was made by eating a book, because "to eat" signifies to perceive and thus to appropriate, as has been shown above; and when this has been ascertained, namely, how the Word was still perceived, it is said to the prophet Ezekiel that "he should go to the house of Israel and speak to them the words of God;" also to the prophet John that "he must prophesy," that is, still teach the Word in the church; and this because the book was perceived to be "in his mouth sweet as honey," that is, because the Word in the sense of the letter is still delightful, but for the reason that this sense can be applied to any principles of falsity and to any loves of evil, and can thus serve them in confirming the delights of the natural life separated from the delights of the spiritual life; and when these are separated they become mere delights of the loves of the body and of the world whence are principles of falsity from fallacies.

[4] In Isaiah:

A virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call His name God-with-us. Butter and honey shall He eat, that He may know to reject the evil and to choose the good (Isaiah 7:14, 15).

That this was said of the Lord is proved in Matthew (Matthew 1:23). Anyone can see that "butter and honey" do not mean here butter and honey, but something Divine corresponding to them, for it is added, "that He may know to reject the evil and to choose the good," and that is not known by eating butter and honey; but "butter" signifies the delight of spiritual good, and "honey" the delight of natural good, consequently the two signify the Lord's Divine spiritual and Divine natural, and thus His Human, interior and exterior. That the Lord's Human is meant can be seen from its being said that "a virgin shall conceive and bear a son;" and that it is Divine from its being said, "and shall call His name God-with-us," "to call a name" signifying the quality of a thing, here what the Divine is, for He was to be called "God-with-us."

(References: Isaiah 7:14-15)

[5] "Butter and honey" also signify the delight of spiritual and natural good in these words in the same chapter:

Butter and honey shall everyone eat that remains in the land (verse 22).

"That remains" mean those that are inwardly and also outwardly good from the Lord, consequently who receive the good proceeding from the Lord in truths; the blessedness therefrom of the internal or spiritual man, and also of the external or natural man, is signified by "butter and honey."

(References: Isaiah 7:22)

[6] In Job:

He shall suck the poison of asps; the viper's tongue shall slay him. He shall not see the streams, the flowings of the brooks of honey and butter (Acts of the Apostles 20:16, 17).

This is said of hypocrites who talk well and smoothly about God, about the neighbor, and about heaven and the church, and yet think altogether otherwise; and because they cunningly contrive by these means to captivate minds, although in heart they cherish what is infernal, it is said, "He shall suck the poison of asps, the viper's tongue shall slay him." That such have no delight in natural good or spiritual good is meant by "He shall not see the streams, the flowings of the brooks of honey and butter," "streams" meaning the things of intelligence, and "the flowings of the brooks of honey and butter," the things therefrom that are of affection and love, which are the very delights of heavenly life. Every delight of life that abides to eternity is a delight of spiritual good and truth, and from that a delight of natural good and truth; but hypocritical delight is a natural delight separate from spiritual delight, and this delight is turned in the other life into what is direfully infernal. Evidently "butter and honey" do not mean here butter and honey, for where, in the world, can there be found "flowings of brooks of honey and butter"?

(References: Acts of the Apostles 20:16-17; Job 20:16-17)

[7] "Milk and honey" have a similar signification as "butter and honey;" and as "milk" signifies the delight of spiritual good, and "honey" the delight of natural good, and these delights are with those who are of the Lord's church, therefore the land of Canaan, which signifies the church, was called:

A land flowing with milk and honey (Exodus 3:8, 17; Leviticus 20:24; Numbers 13:27; 14:8; Deuteronomy 6:3; 11:9; 26:9, 15; 27:3; 31:20; Joshua 5:6; Jeremiah 11:5; 32:22; Ezekiel 20:6).

That in the Word "the land of Canaan" means the church has been shown above (n. 29, 304, 431); and the church is with those only who are in spiritual good and at the same time in natural good; in such the church is formed by the Lord; for the church is in man and not outside of him, consequently is not with those with whom these goods are not. These goods with their delights are signified by "milk and honey."

(References: Jeremiah 11:9; The Apocalypse Explained 29, 304, The Apocalypse Explained 431)

[8] There was also much honey in the land of Canaan at that time, because at that time the church of the Lord was there, as can be seen from the first book of Samuel, where it is said:

That they came into the forest, where there was honey upon the face of the ground, and there was a stream of honey, and Jonathan's eyes were opened by tasting the honey (1 Samuel 14:25-27, 29).

"Jonathan's eyes were opened by tasting the honey" because "honey" corresponds to natural good and its delight, and this good gives intelligence and enlightens, from which Jonathan knew that he had done evil; as we read in Isaiah, "He shall eat butter and honey, that he may know to reject the evil and to choose the good." For at that time correspondences exhibited their effects outwardly, since all things of the Israelitish Church consisted of correspondences, which represented and signified things celestial and spiritual.

[9] Again, "oil and honey" have a similar signification as "butter and honey" in the following passages. In Moses:

He made him to ride on the high places of the earth, and fed him with the produce of the fields; he made him to suck honey out of the cliff, and oil out of the flint of the rock (Deuteronomy 32:13).

This is in the song of Moses, which treats of the church in its beginning, and afterward in its progress, and finally in its end. Those that constituted the Ancient Church are described by these words, not those however who constituted the Israelitish Church, for these were evil from the beginning even to the end, as can be seen from their fathers in Egypt, and afterwards in the wilderness; but the Ancient Church, the men of which are meant by "their fathers," was that which the Lord "made to ride on the high places of the earth, and fed with the produce of the fields." That to these the good of natural love and the good of spiritual love with their delights were given by means of truths, from which they had their intelligence and according to which they lived, is signified by "he made him to suck honey out of the cliff, and oil out of the flint of the rock," "honey" signifying the delight of natural love, "oil," the delight of spiritual love, and "the cliff" and "the flint of the rock," truth from the Lord. (That "oil" signifies the good of love and charity, may be seen above, n. 375; and that "cliffs" and "rocks" signify truth from the Lord, n. 411, 443)

(References: The Apocalypse Explained 375, 411, The Apocalypse Explained 443)

[10] In David:

I fed 1 them with the fat of wheat, and with honey out of the rock I satisfied them (Psalms 81:16).

"The fat of wheat" signifies the delight of spiritual good, and "honey out of the rock," the delight of natural good through truths from the Lord (as above). It is to be known that natural good is not good unless there is also spiritual good; for all good flows in through the spiritual man or mind into the natural man or mind, and so far as the natural man or mind receives the good of the spiritual man or mind so far man receives good; that there may be good there must be both, or the two sides, consequently natural good separated from spiritual good is in itself evil, although by man it is still perceived as good. Since there must be both, it is said in the passages cited and yet to be cited, "butter and honey," "milk and honey;" "fat and honey," as also "oil and honey;" and "butter," "milk," "fat," and "oil" signify the good of spiritual love, and "honey" the good of natural love, together with their delights.

[11] In Ezekiel:

Thus wast thou decked with gold and silver, and thy garments were fine linen and silk and broidered work; thou didst eat fine flour, honey, and oil, whence thou didst become exceeding beautiful, and didst prosper even to a kingdom. But my bread which I gave thee, and the fine flour and oil and honey with which I fed thee, thou didst set before idols as an odor of rest (Ezekiel 16:13, 19).

This is said about Jerusalem, which signifies the church, first the Ancient Church, and afterwards the Israelitish Church. Of the Ancient Church it is said "she was decked with gold and silver," which signifies the love of good and truth that the men of that Church had; "the garments of fine linen, silk, and broidered work," signify the knowledges of celestial, spiritual, and natural truth, "fine linen" signifying truth from a celestial origin, "silk" truth from a spiritual origin, and "broidered work" truth from a natural origin, which is called knowledge [scientificum]. "She ate fine flour, honey and oil," signifies the perception of natural and spiritual truth and good, and their appropriation, "to eat" signifying to be appropriated, "fine flour" truth, "honey" natural good, and "oil" spiritual good, which were appropriated to them by a life according to the truths above mentioned. "She became exceeding beautiful and prospered even to a kingdom" signifies to become intelligent and wise so as to constitute a church, "beauty" signifying intelligence and wisdom, and a "kingdom" the church. But of the Israelitish Church, which was merely in externals without internals, whence the men of that church were idolatrous, it is said that "they set the fine flour, honey, and oil before the images of a male, or idols, as an odor of rest," that is, they perverted the truths and goods of the church into falsities and evils, and thus profaned them.

[12] In the same:

Judah and the land of Israel were thy merchants in the wheats of Minnith and Pannag, and honey and oil and balsam they gave for thy merchandise (Ezekiel 27:17).

This is said of Tyre, which signifies the church in respect to the knowledges of truth and good; so, too, "Tyre" signifies the knowledges of truth and good themselves belonging to the church; "oil and honey" have a similar signification as above. What is meant here in the spiritual sense by "Judah and the land of Israel," by "the wheats of Minnith and Pannag," and by "balsam," also by "the merchandise of Tyre," may be seen explained above n. 433.

(References: The Apocalypse Explained 433)

[13] In Moses:

A land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths going forth from the valley and mountain; a land of wheat and barley, and of vine and fig-tree and pomegranate; and of olive oil and honey (Deuteronomy 8:7, 8).

This is said of the land of Canaan, which means the church which is in celestial, spiritual, and natural good, and in truths therefrom; but the contents of this verse are explained above (n. 3 74, 403), showing that "oil and honey" here signify the good of love in the internal or spiritual man and in the external or natural man.

(References: Deuteronomy 8:7-8; The Apocalypse Explained 374-403)

[14] In David:

The judgments of Jehovah are truth, they are righteous altogether; more desirable than gold and than much fine gold; and sweeter than honey and the dropping of honeycombs (Psalms 19:9, 10).

In the same:

I have not departed from Thy judgment; for Thou hast instructed me. How sweet are Thy words to my palate, more than honey to my mouth (Psalms 119:102, 103).

"Judgments" signify the truths and goods of worship, therefore it is said "the judgments of Jehovah are truth, they are righteous altogether;" "righteous" signifies the good of life and worship therefrom; and as good is also signified by "gold" and "fine gold," it is said that "they are more desirable than gold and than much fine gold," "gold" meaning celestial good, "fine gold" spiritual good, and "desirable" means what belongs to affection and love. Since the goods by which a man is affected are delightful it is said that they are "sweeter than honey and the dropping of honeycombs," and that "the words of Jehovah are sweet to the palate, more than honey to the mouth," "sweet" signifying what is delightful, "honey" natural good, and "the dropping of honeycombs" natural truth. And because "honey" means natural good, and the "mouth" signifies what is external, it is said "more than honey to my mouth," as in Revelation, that "the little book was sweet as honey in the mouth."

(References: Psalms 19:9-10, 119:102-103)

[15] In Luke:

Jesus said to the disciples, who believed that they saw a spirit, See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; feel of Me and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones as ye see Me having. Then He said to them, Have ye here anything to eat? And they gave Him a piece of a broiled fish and of a honeycomb. And He took it and did eat it before them (Luke 24:39, 41-43).

From the series of these words regarded in the spiritual sense it is very evident that "honeycomb" and "honey" signify natural good, for the Lord disclosed to His disciples that He had glorified or made Divine His whole Human, even to its natural and sensual; this is signified by "hands and feet" and by "flesh and bones," which they saw and felt, "hands and feet" signifying the ultimate of man which is called the natural, "flesh" its good, and "bones" its truth; for all things that are in the human body correspond to spiritual things, the "flesh" corresponding to the good of the natural man, and the "bones" to its truths. (On this correspondence, see in the work on Heaven and Hell 87-102.) And this the Lord confirmed by eating before the disciples of the broiled fish and honeycomb; "the broiled fish" signifying the truth of good of the natural and sensual man, and "the honeycomb," the good of the truth of the same. The Lord, therefore, by letting them feel of Him, showed and confirmed that His whole Human, even to its ultimates, was glorified, that is, made Divine; and this He showed, too, by the eating, in that "He ate before them a piece of broiled fish and of a honeycomb."

[16] As "honey" signifies the good of the natural man, so also:

John the Baptist had his raiment of camel's hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his food was locusts and wild honey (Matthew 3:4; Mark 1:6).

For John the Baptist represented something similar as Elijah; wherefore it is also said that "Elijah should come," by whom John is meant. Elijah represented the Lord in relation to the Word, or the Word from the Lord; John had a similar representation; and as the Word teaches that the Messiah or the Lord was about to come, John was sent before to preach respecting the Lord's coming, according to the predictions in the Word. And as John represented the Word, therefore he represented the ultimates of the Word, which are natural, by his raiment and also by his food, namely, by his raiment of camel's hair and the leathern girdle about his loins; "camel's hair" signifying the ultimates of the natural man, such as are the exterior things of the Word, and "the leathern girdle about the loins," the external bond and connection of these with the interior things of the Word, which are spiritual. "Locust and wild honey" have a like signification, "locust" signifying the truth of the natural man, and "wild honey" its good. It is the same whether you say the truth and good of the natural man or natural truth and good, such as the Word is in its ultimate sense, which is called the sense of the letter or the natural sense, for this was what John represented by his raiment and food.

[17] That:

No leaven and no honey were to be offered in the offerings made by fire to Jehovah (Leviticus 2:11);

because "leaven" signifies the falsity of the natural man, and "honey" the delight of good of the natural man, and in the contrary sense the delight of its evil; this is also like leaven when it is mixed with such things as signify things interiorly holy, for natural delight draws its own from the delights of the love of self and of the world; and as the Israelitish nation was in such delights more than other nations, therefore they were forbidden to use honey in their sacrifices. (On the signification of "honey," as meaning the delight of the good of the natural man, see Arcana Coelestia 5650, 6857, 8056, 10137, 10530)

[18] That:

When Samson had rent the young lion he found in its carcass a swarm of bees and honey, when he was about to take a wife from the Philistine nation (Judges 14:8);

signified the dissipation of faith separated from charity, which the Philistine nation represented; for this reason the Philistines were called "uncircumcised," and this term signified that they were without spiritual love and charity and only in natural love, which is the love of self and of the world. Because such a faith destroys the good of charity it was represented by a young lion that attacked Samson with intent to tear him in pieces, but as Samson was a Nazirite, and by his Naziriteship represented the Lord in respect to His ultimate natural, he rent the lion, and afterwards found in its carcass "a swarm of bees and honey," and this signifies that when such faith has been dissipated, the good of charity succeeds in its place. The other things related of Samson in the book of Judges have a like signification; for there is nothing written in the Word that does not represent and signify such things as belong to heaven and the church, and these can be known only by a knowledge of correspondences, and thus from the spiritual sense of the Word.


1. Latin has "I fed," but "I would feed" is found in AC 5943; AR 314.


(References: Revelation 10:9)

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