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:



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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.

From Swedenborg's Works

 

Apocalypse Explained #730

Apocalypse Explained (Whitehead translation)      

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730. Verse 6 (Revelation 12:6). And the woman fled into the wilderness, signifies the church among a few, because with those who are not in good, and consequently not in truths. This is evident from the signification of "woman," as being the church (see above, n. 707), also from the signification of "wilderness," as being where there are no truths because there is no good (of which presently); also from the signification of "fleeing" thither, as meaning to tarry among those who are not in truths because they are not in good; and as there are at the end of the church but few who are in truths from good, it signifies among a few. From this it is clear what these words involve, namely, that the New Church that is called the Holy Jerusalem, which is signified by "the woman," can as yet be instituted only with a few, by reason that the former church is become a wilderness; and the church is called a "wilderness" when there is no longer any good; and where there is no good there are no truths. When the church is such, evils and falsities reign, which hinder the reception of its doctrine, that is, the doctrine of love to the Lord and of charity towards the neighbor, with its truths; and when doctrine is not received there is no church, for the church is from doctrine.

(References: The Apocalypse Explained 707)


[2] Something shall first be said of there being no truths where there is no good. By good is meant the good of the life according to the truths of doctrine from the Word. The reason is because the Lord never flows immediately into truths with man, but mediately through his good; for good is of the will, and the will is the man himself; from the will the understanding is produced and formed; for the understanding is adjoined to the will so that what the will loves the understanding sees, and also brings forth into light; consequently if the will is not in good, but is in evil, then the influx of truth from the Lord into the understanding has no effect, for it is dissipated, because it is not loved, yea, it is perverted, and the truth is falsified. From this it is clear why the Lord does not flow immediately into man's understanding except so far as the will is in good. With every man the Lord can enlighten the understanding, and thus flow in with Divine truths, since there is given to every man the ability to understand truth, and this for the sake of his reformation; nevertheless the Lord does not flow in, because truths do not remain except so far as the will has been reformed. Moreover, it is dangerous to so enlighten the understanding in truths as to produce belief except so far as the will acts as one with it; since man can then pervert, adulterate, and profane truths, which is most hurtful. Furthermore, so far as truths are known and understood and are not at the same time lived, they are nothing but lifeless truths, and lifeless truths are like statues that have no life. From this it can be seen why it is that there are no truths where there is no good, that is, not in essence but only in form.

[3] The man of the church at its end is such, because man then loves supremely such things as belong to the body and the world; and when these are loved supremely then the things pertaining to the Lord and heaven are not loved, for no one can serve two masters at the same time but that he will love the one and hate the other, since they are opposites. For from the love of the body, which is the love of self, and from the love of the world, which is the love of riches, when these are loved above all things, evils of every kind flow forth, and from evils falsities, and these are the opposites of goods and truths, which come forth from love to the Lord and from charity towards the neighbor. These few words will make clear why it is that the woman is said "to have fled into the wilderness," that is, among a few, because of being with those who are not in good, and thus not in truths.

[4] In the Word wilderness and also solitude and waste places are mentioned in many passages, and these signify the state of the church when there is no longer any truth in it because there is no good. This state of the church is called a "wilderness" because in the spiritual world the place where those dwell who are not in truths because they are not in good is like a wilderness, where there is no verdure in the plains, nor harvest in the fields, nor fruit trees in the gardens, but a barren land, parched and dry; moreover "wilderness" signifies in the Word the state of the church with the Gentiles who are in ignorance of truth, and yet are in the good of life according to their religious principle, from which they have a desire for truths. "Wilderness," signifies also in the Word the state of those who are in temptations, because in temptations goods and truths are shut in by the evils and falsities that come forth and are presented to the mind. That "wilderness" has these significations in the Word can be seen from the passages therein where "wilderness" is mentioned.

[5] In respect to the first meaning, namely, that "wilderness" means the state of the church when there is no longer any truth in it because there is no good, it is evident from the following passages. In Isaiah:

Is this the man that maketh the earth to tremble, that maketh kingdoms quake, that hath made the world a wilderness and destroyed the cities thereof? (Isaiah 14:16, 17)

This is said of Lucifer, by whom Babylon is meant, and "to make the earth to tremble, to make kingdoms quake, and make the world a wilderness," signifies to destroy all the truths and goods of the church; "the earth" meaning the church; "kingdoms" its truths; "world" its goods; and "wilderness" where these are not. "To destroy its cities" signifies its doctrinals, "city" signifying doctrine. The adulteration of the Word, whereby doctrine and thus the church is destroyed, is here signified by "Babylon. "

(References: Isaiah 14:16-17)


[6] In the same:

Upon the land of my people shall come up the thorn of the briar, yea, upon all the houses of joy in the triumphing city; for the palace shall be deserted, the multitude of the city shall be forsaken. The height and the watchtower shall be over the caves forever, a joy of wild asses, a pasture for flocks (Isaiah 32:13, 14).

"Upon the land of my people shall come up the thorn of the briar" signifies the falsity of evil in the church; "the thorn of the briar" meaning the falsity of evil, and "land" the church. "Upon all the houses of joy in the triumphing city" signifies where the goods and truths of the doctrine from the Word have been received with affection. But what is signified by "the palace shall be deserted, the multitude of the city shall be forsaken, the height and the watchtower shall be over the caves, a joy of wild asses, and a pasture for flocks," may be seen above n. 410, where it is explained.

(References: Isaiah 32:13-14; The Apocalypse Explained 410)


[7] In the same:

At My rebuke I dry up the sea, I make the rivers into a wilderness, their fish shall rot because there is no water, and shall die for thirst (Isaiah 50:2).

"To make the rivers into a wilderness," signifies to deprive the understanding of truths, thus to deprive man of intelligence. (The rest may be seen explained above, n. 342 In Jeremiah:

I saw, and lo, Carmel was a wilderness, and all the cities were desolate before Jehovah; the whole land shall be a waste (Jeremiah 4:26, 27).

"Carmel" signifies the spiritual church, which is in truths from good; that this was a "wilderness" signifies that there were in it no truths from good; "cities which were desolate" signify doctrinals without truths; "the whole land a waste" signifies a church destitute of good and consequently of truths.

(References: Jeremiah 4:26-27; The Apocalypse Explained 342)


[8] In the same:

Many shepherds have destroyed My vineyard, they have trodden down My field, they have made the field of My desire a wilderness of solitude. Devastators are come upon all the hills in the wilderness, for the sword of Jehovah devoureth from one end of the land to the other end of it (Jeremiah 12:10, 12).

The total destruction of the truths and goods of the church by falsities from evil is signified by "they have destroyed the vineyard, trodden down the field, made the field of desire a wilderness of solitude; and devastators are come upon all the hills in the wilderness, for the sword of Jehovah devoureth;" "vineyard and field" signify the church in respect to truth and good; "field of desire" signifies the church in respect to doctrine; and "wilderness of solitude" where these are not; "devastators in the wilderness" signify evils because of the absence of truths; "the sword of Jehovah devoureth" signifies falsity destroying; "from one end of the land to the other end of the land" signifies all things of the church.

[9] In Lamentations:

We get our bread with the peril of our souls, because of the sword of the wilderness (Lamentations 5:9).

"To get bread with the peril of souls" signifies the difficulty and danger in acquiring the truths of life from the Word; "because of the sword of the wilderness" signifies because the falsity of evil prevails in the church and falsifies truths and thus destroys them.

[10] In Ezekiel:

The vine is now planted in the wilderness, in a land of drought and thirst (Ezekiel 19:13).

"Vine" signifies the church, which in the beginning of this chapter is called "a mother who became a lioness;" this is said "to be planted in the wilderness" when there is no longer any truth in it because there is no good; "a land of drought" means where there is no good, but evil instead, and a "land of thirst" means where there is no truth, but falsity instead.

[11] In Hosea:

Strive with your mother that she may put away her whoredoms from her faces, lest I strip her naked and set her as in the day of her birth, and make her as a wilderness, and set her as a land of drought, and slay her with thirst (Hosea 2:2, 3).

This is said of the church that has falsified the truths of the Word; "mother" means the church, and "whoredoms" the falsifications of truth; "to strip her naked and set her as in the day of her birth" signifies to deprive the church of all truth, as it was before it was reformed; "wilderness" and "land of drought" signify a church without good; and "to slay with thirst" signifies a deprivation of truth; "thirst" is predicated of truths, because "water," which is thirsted for, means truth, and "drought" is predicated of the want of good, because it is a result of scorching.

(References: Hosea 2:2-3)


[12] In the same:

He is fierce among the brethren; an east wind shall come, the wind of Jehovah, coming up from the wilderness, and his spring shall become dry, and his fountain shall be dried up (Hosea 13:15).

This is said of Ephraim, by whom the understanding of the Word is meant, and this is called "fierce among the brethren" when it eagerly defends falsities, and combats for them against truths; "an east wind, the wind of Jehovah," signifies the ardor of desire from a love for and pride in the destruction of truths; this is said "to come up from the wilderness" when it is from an understanding in which there are no truths from good, but only falsities from evil; such an understanding is a "wilderness" because it is empty and void; that by such ardor and pride everything of doctrine and of the Word is destroyed is signified by "his spring shall become dry and his fountain shall be dried up," "spring" meaning doctrine, and "fountain" the Word.

[13] In Joel:

O Jehovah, to thee do I cry, because the fire hath consumed the habitations of the wilderness, and the flame hath burned all the trees of the field; for the beasts of the field pant after Thee, for the streams of waters are dried up, and the fire hath consumed the habitations of the wilderness (Joel 1:19, 20).

"The fire hath consumed the habitations of the wilderness and the flame hath burned all the trees of the field" signifies that the love of self and the pride of self-intelligence have consumed all the perception of good and all the understanding of the truth of doctrine from the sense of the letter of the Word, "fire" signifying the love of self, "flame" the pride of self-intelligence, "the habitations of the wilderness" the goods of doctrine from the sense of the letter of the Word, and "the trees of the field" the knowledges of its truth. The sense of the letter of the Word is called a "wilderness" when it is merely understood naturally, thus according to appearances, and not at the same time spiritually, or according to the genuine sense. "The beasts of the field pant after Thee" signifies the lamentations of those who are natural and yet have a desire for truths; that "beasts" signify the affections of the natural man may be seen above n. 650; "for the streams of waters are dried up, and the fire hath consumed the habitations of the wilderness" signifies that consequently there are no longer any truths and goods of life.

(References: Joel 1:19-20; The Apocalypse Explained 650)


[14] In the same:

The day of Jehovah cometh; a fire consumeth before him, and behind him a flame kindleth; the land is as the garden of Eden before him, but behind him a wilderness of wasteness, and nothing escaped him (Joel 2:1, 3).

"The day of Jehovah" means the end of the church, called the consummation of the age, and the Lord's coming at that time. That at the end of the church the love of self and the consequent pride of self-intelligence consume all its goods and truths is signified by "a fire devoureth before him, and behind him a flame kindleth," "fire" signifying the love of self, and "flame" the pride of self-intelligence, as above. "The land is as the garden of Eden before him, but behind him a wilderness of wasteness," signifies that in the beginning, when that church was established with the ancients, there was an understanding of truth from good, but at its end falsity from evil; "the garden of Eden" signifying the understanding of truth from good and the consequent wisdom, and "wilderness of wasteness" signifying no understanding of truth from good, and consequent insanity from falsities that are from evil; "nothing escaped him" signifies that there is nothing whatever of truth from good.

[15] In Isaiah:

The land mourneth, it languisheth, Lebanon blusheth, it hath withered away, Sharon is become like a desert, Bashan is shaken out, and Carmel (Isaiah 33:9).

This, too, describes the devastation of good and the desolation of truth in the church. "Lebanon" signifies the church in respect to a rational understanding of good and truth; "Sharon," "Bashan," and "Carmel," the church in respect to the knowledges of good and truth from the natural sense of the Word; the devastation and abandonment of these is signified by "mourning," "languishing," "withering away," and "becoming like a desert," the "desert" meaning where there is no truth because there is no good.

[16] In Jeremiah:

Because the land is full of adulterers, because the land mourneth on account of cursing, the pastures of the wilderness are dried up (Jeremiah 23:10).

"The land full of adulterers" signifies the church which has its goods and truths from the Word adulterated; the "curse" on account of which the land mourneth, signifies all the evil of life and falsity of doctrine; and "the pastures of the wilderness that are dried up" signify the knowledges of good and truth from the Word; "pastures" meaning such knowledges because they nourish the mind, and "wilderness" signifies the Word when it is adulterated.

[17] In David:

Jehovah maketh rivers into a wilderness, and the springs of water into dryness, a land of fruit into saltiness, for the wickedness of them that dwell therein (Psalms 107:33, 34).

"The rivers that are made into a wilderness" signify intelligence from the understanding of truth and also of the Word in its interior sense, that has been devastated by falsities from evil; "rivers" meaning such things as belong to intelligence, and "wilderness" where these things are absent, and in their place are the falsities from evil. "The springs of water that are turned into dryness" signify that the lowest things of the understanding, which are called the knowledges of truth and good, have no light of truth or spiritual affection for it; "waters" signifying truths; "dryness" deprivation of these from the absence of light and affection, and "springs" the ultimates of truth, like the truths of the sense of the letter of the Word. "The land of fruit that shall be made into saltiness" signifies the good of love and of life deeply vastated by falsities; "saltiness" meaning the devastation of truth by falsities; and as all devastation by falsities comes from the evil of the life it is added, "for the wickedness of them that dwell therein. "

(References: Psalms 107:33-34)


[18] In Jeremiah:

Lift up thine eyes unto the hills, and see where thou hast been defiled, upon the ways hast thou sat as an Arabian in the wilderness, whence thou hast profaned the land with thy whoredoms and thy wickedness (Jeremiah 3:2).

This describes the adulteration and falsification of the Word, which are signified by "being defiled and committing whoredom;" so "Lift up thine eyes unto the hills, and see where thou hast been defiled," signifies to give thought to the knowledges of truth and good in the Word, that they have been adulterated; "to lift up the eyes" signifies to give thought, "hills" signify those knowledges because the groves and trees that are upon them signify knowledges; "hills" signify also the goods of charity which are so destroyed; "upon the ways hast thou sat as an Arabian in the wilderness" signifies to lie in wait, lest any truth should come forth and be received; "ways" meaning the truths of the church; "to sit in them" meaning to lie in wait, and "an Arabian in the wilderness" meaning one who kills and plunders like a robber in the wilderness. "Thou hast profaned the land with thy whoredoms and wickedness" signifies the falsification of the truths of the Word by evils that have come to be of the life.

[19] In the same:

O generation, see ye the Word of Jehovah; have I been a wilderness to Israel? have I been a land of darkness? (Jeremiah 2:31)

That every good of life and truth of doctrine is taught in the Word, and not the evil of life and the falsity of doctrine, is meant by "see ye the Word of Jehovah; have I been a wilderness to Israel? have I been a land of darkness?"

[20] In Joel:

Egypt shall be a waste, and Edom a waste wilderness, because of the violence to the sons of Judah, whose innocent blood they have shed in their land (Joel 3:19).

"Egypt" and "Edom" signify the natural man that has perverted the truths and goods of the Word; that it is to be so destroyed as to see only such things as serve for confirmation is signified by "Egypt shall be a waste, and Edom a waste wilderness;" that this will be because of the adulteration of every good and truth in the Word is signified by "because of the violence to the sons of Judah, whose innocent blood they have shed;" "violence to the sons of Judah" signifying the adulteration of the Word in respect to good, and "shedding innocent blood" the adulteration of the Word in respect to its truths. (That "Judah" signifies the celestial church, and also the Word, see above, n. 211, 433; and that "shedding innocent blood" signifies to do violence to Divine truth, thus to adulterate the truth of the Word, n. 329.) The adulteration of the Word is effected by the knowledges [scientifica] of the natural man when these are applied to confirm falsities and evils, and the natural man becomes a "waste" and a "wilderness" when his knowledges are used to confirm falsity and evil; "Egypt" signifies such knowledges, and "Edom" the pride that falsifies by means of these.

(References: The Apocalypse Explained 211, 329, The Apocalypse Explained 433)


[21] In Malachi:

Esau I hated, and made his mountains a waste and his heritage for the dragons of the wilderness (Malachi 1:3).

"Esau" signifies the love of the natural man; "his mountains" signify the evils from that love, and "his heritage" signifies the falsities from those evils, and "the dragons of the desert" signify mere falsifications from which these come.

(References: Luke 3:2-4)


[22] Because with the Jewish nation all things of the Word had been adulterated, and there was no longer any truth because there was no good, John the Baptist was "in the wilderness," and this represented the state of that church, respecting which it is written in the Gospels:

John the Baptist was in the wilderness till the days of his appearing unto Israel (Luke 1:80).

That he preached in the wilderness of Judea (Matthew 3:1-3; Mark 1:2-4; Luke 3:2, 4, 5);

and in Isaiah:

The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of Jehovah, make level in the solitude a highway for our God (Isaiah 40:3).

So also the Lord says of "Jerusalem," which means the church in respect to doctrine:

Your house is left deserted (Luke 13:35).

"A house deserted" signifies the church that is without truths because it is without good. But what is signified by the following in Matthew:

If they say unto you, Lo, Christ is in the wilderness, go not forth; if in the secret chambers, believe not (Matthew 24:26);

may be seen explained in Arcana Coelestia 3900); for "Christ" means the Lord in relation to Divine truth, consequently in relation to the Word and to doctrine from the Word, and "false Christs," of whom this is said, signify the falsities of doctrine from the truths of the Word falsified. From the passages that have been cited from the Word it can be seen that "wilderness" means the church in which there are no truths because there is no good, consequently in which there is falsity because there is evil; for where there is no truth and good, there is falsity and evil; the two cannot exist together, and this is meant by the Lord's words, that "no one can serve two masters."

(References: Luke 3:4-5)


[23] 2. Again, "wilderness" signifies the state of the church with the Gentiles that have been in ignorance of truth, and yet have been in the good of life according to their religious principle, from which they have desired truths, as can be seen from the passages in the Word that treat of the church that is to be established among the Gentiles. In Isaiah:

The spirit shall be poured out upon you 1 from on high; then the wilderness shall be a fruitful field, and the fruitful field shall be esteemed a forest; judgment shall dwell in the wilderness, and justice shall abide in the fruitful field (Isaiah 32:15, 16).

This is said of those who are in natural good, and are being reformed; influx out of heaven into such is signified by "the spirit shall be poured out upon you 2 from on high;" that truth from a spiritual origin will then be implanted in them is signified by "the wilderness shall be a fruitful field;" "wilderness" meaning the natural man destitute of truths, and "fruitful field" (or land of harvest) the natural man made fruitful by truths. That in consequence the natural man will have a knowledge of the cognitions of truth and good is signified by "the fruitful field shall be esteemed a forest;" "forest" is predicated of the natural man as "garden" is of the spiritual, therefore a "forest" signifies knowledge and a "garden" intelligence; that in consequence there will be in the natural man that which is right and just is signified by "judgment shall dwell in the wilderness, and justice shall abide in the fruitful field;" "judgment" and "justice" signify in the spiritual sense truth and good, but in the natural sense that which is right and just.

(References: Isaiah 32:15-16)


[24] In the same:

I will open rivers on the heights, and fountains will I place in the midst of the valleys; I will make the wilderness into a pool of waters, and the dry land into springs of waters; I will give in the wilderness the cedar of shittah, the myrtle, and the oil tree; I will set in the solitude the fir tree, the pine, and the box tree (Isaiah 41:18, 19).

This, too, is said of the reformation and enlightenment of the Gentiles; and "to open rivers upon the heights and to place fountains in the midst of the valleys" signifies to give intelligence from spiritual truths and from natural truths; "rivers upon the heights" signifying intelligence from spiritual truths, and "fountains in the midst of valleys" intelligence from natural truths; "to make the wilderness into a pool of waters, and the dry land into springs of waters" signifies to fill the spiritual and the natural man with truths where before there were no truths; the spiritual man in which there were no truths is meant by "wilderness," since hitherto there had been no truth in it; and the natural man in which there was no truth is meant by "dry land," since hitherto there had been no spiritual influx into it; that the spiritual man will have truths in abundance is meant by "a pool of waters," and that the natural man will have truths in abundance is meant by the "springs of waters." "To set in the wilderness the cedar of shittah, the myrtle, and the oil tree" signifies to give rational truths and a perception of them, and "to set in the solitude the fir tree, the pine, and the box tree," signifies in like manner natural truths, which are knowledges and cognitions with the understanding of them; the "cedar" meaning higher rational truth; the "myrtle" lower rational truth; "oil tree" perception of good and thus of truth; "fir tree" the higher natural truth; the "pine" lower natural truth; and "box tree" the understanding of good and truth in the natural man.

(References: Isaiah 41:18-19)


[25] In David:

He maketh the wilderness into a pool of waters, and the dry land into a springing forth of waters; and there He maketh the hungry to dwell, that they may build a city of habitation (Psalms 107:35, 36).

This, likewise, is said of the enlightenment of the Gentiles. "To make the wilderness into a pool of waters" has a similar signification as just above; "and there He maketh the hungry to dwell" signifies for the sake of those who desire truths; these are meant by "the hungry and famished" in the Word; "that they may build a city of habitation" signifies that out of truths they may make for themselves a doctrine of life, "city" meaning doctrine, and "to inhabit" meaning to live.

(References: Psalms 107:35-36)


[26] In Isaiah:

Behold, I am doing a new thing, now it shall spring forth; I will even place a way in the wilderness, rivers in the solitude; the wild beast of the field shall honor Me, the dragons and the daughters of the owl, because I will give waters in the wilderness, rivers in the solitude, to give drink to My people, My chosen (Isaiah 43:19, 20).

This, too, is said of the New Church to be established by the Lord among the Gentiles. The "wilderness" signifies the state of the church with those who are ignorant of truth, and yet have a desire to know it. But what the particulars signify in the spiritual sense may be seen explained above n. 518.

(References: Isaiah 43:19-20; The Apocalypse Explained 518)


[27] In the same:

Jehovah will comfort Zion, He will comfort all her waste places, and He will make her wilderness as Eden, and her solitude like the garden of Jehovah; joy and gladness will be found therein, confession and the voice of singing (Isaiah 51:3).

This, also, is said of the New Church among the Gentiles that will acknowledge the Lord; that church is meant by "Zion," and its establishment and the reformation of the Gentiles by "comforting;" "the wilderness that shall be made as Eden and the solitude like the garden of Jehovah" signifies wisdom and intelligence from love to the Lord that those have who before had no understanding of truth and no perception of good. (But this may be seen explained above, n. 721

(References: The Apocalypse Explained 721)


[28] In David:

The habitations of the wilderness drop, and the hills gird themselves with exultation; the meadows are clothed with flocks, and the valleys are covered over with corn (Psalms 65:12, 13).

This, also, is said of the church among the Gentiles. "The habitations of the wilderness drop" signifies that their minds that before have been in ignorance of truth acknowledge and receive truths; "to drop" is predicated of the influx, acknowledgment and reception of truth; "habitations" are predicated of the interiors of man which belong to his mind, and "wilderness" is predicated of a state of the ignorance of truth. "The hills gird themselves with exultation" signifies that the goods in them receive truths with joy of heart; "the meadows are clothed with flocks, and the valleys are covered over with corn," signifies that both the spiritual mind and the natural mind receive truths suitable to themselves; "meadows" signifying such things as belong to the spiritual mind and thus to the rational mind, and "valleys" such as belong to the natural mind; "flock" spiritual truth, and "corn" natural truth.

(References: Psalms 65:12-13)


[29] In Isaiah:

Let them sing praise, the end of the earth, those that go down to the sea, and its fullness, the islands and the inhabitants thereof. Let the wilderness and the cities thereof lift up the voice, the villages that Arabia doth inhabit; let the inhabitants of the rock sing, let them cry out from the head of the mountains (Isaiah 42:10, 11).

This is said of a church with those who were remote from the truths of the church because they were natural and sensual; their state of ignorance is meant by the "wilderness," and their joy from the preaching and the knowledge of truth is signified by "singing praise and lifting up the voice." (The rest may be seen explained above, n. 406

(References: Isaiah 42:10-11; The Apocalypse Explained 406)


[30] Since the state of ignorance of truth, in which the Gentiles have been, is signified by a "wilderness," and the desire for truth by "hunger," and instruction by the Lord by "feeding," it came to pass that the Lord withdrew into the wilderness, and there taught the multitude that sought Him, and afterwards fed them. (That this took place in the wilderness can be seen in Matthew 14:13-22; 15:32-38; Mark 6:31-34; 8:1-9; Luke 9:12-17.) For all things that the Lord did and all things connected with Him were representative because they were correspondences, so also were these things. From these and the passages cited above it is evident that a "wilderness" signifies an uncultivated and uninhabited state with man, thus a state not yet made vital from what is spiritual, consequently, as applied to the church, a state not vivified by means of truths; thus it signifies such a religious principle as the Gentiles had, which was almost empty and void, because they did not have the Word where truths are, and thence did not know the Lord who teaches truths; and as they did not have truths, their good also could be no otherwise than such as the truth was with them, for good is like its truth, because one is of the other. From this it can be seen what "wilderness" signifies where the Gentiles are treated of, namely, where there is no truth and yet a desire for it that their good may be vivified.

(References: Mark 6:31-44; Matthew 14:13-21)


[31] 3. Again, "wilderness" signifies the state of those who are in temptations, because in them truths and goods are shut in by the falsities and evils that come forth and are presented to the mind. This can be seen from the wandering of the sons of Israel in the wilderness forty years; for this represented every state of temptations into which those come who are being regenerated, and of whom the church is to consist. Every man is born natural, and lives naturally until he becomes rational; and when he has become rational he can be led by the Lord and become spiritual; and this is effected by the implanting of the knowledges of truth from the Word, and at the same time by the opening of the spiritual mind which receives the things of heaven, and by calling forth these knowledges and elevating them out of the natural man and conjoining them with the spiritual affection of truth. This opening and conjunction is possible only through temptations, because in temptations man fights interiorly against the falsities and evils that are in the natural man. In a word, man is introduced into the church and becomes a church through temptations. This was represented by the wandering and leading about of the sons of Israel in the wilderness. The state of the natural man before he is regenerated was represented by their sojourning in the land of Egypt, for "the land of Egypt" signified the natural man and its knowledges and cognitions, together with the cupidities and appetites that reside in it (as can be seen from what has been said and shown above respecting Egypt, n. 654. But the spiritual state, which is the state of the church with man, was represented by the introduction of the sons of Israel into the land of Canaan, for "the land of Canaan" signified the church with its truths and goods, together with its affections, and delights, which reside in such a man; while the reformation and regeneration of man before from being natural he becomes spiritual and thus a church, was represented by their wanderings and journeyings in the wilderness forty years.

(References: The Apocalypse Explained 654)


[32] That this is so, and that "the wilderness" signified a state of temptations, can be seen in Moses:

Thou shalt remember all the way which Jehovah thy God hath led thee these forty years in the wilderness, that He might afflict thee and try thee, and know what was in thine heart whether thou wouldst keep His commandments or no; and He afflicted thee and made thee to hunger, and made thee to eat manna, which thou knewest not neither did thy fathers know; that He might teach thee that man doth not live by bread only, but by all that goeth forth from the mouth of Jehovah doth man live; thy raiment waxed not old upon thee, and thy foot swelled not, these forty years (Deuteronomy 8:2-4).

In the same:

In the wilderness which thou sawest, Jehovah thy God bare thee as a man doth bear his son. He went before you in the way, to seek for you a place in which ye might encamp, in fire by night to show you the way, and in the cloud by day (Deuteronomy 1:31, 33).

In the same:

Jehovah, who led thee through the great and fearful wilderness of the serpent, of the fiery serpent and of the scorpion, and of thirst, where there were no waters; who brought thee forth waters out of the rock of flint, and fed thee with manna in the wilderness, that He might afflict thee and try thee, to do thee good in thy latter end (Deuteronomy 8:15, 16).

In the same:

Jehovah found Jacob in a land of wilderness, in an emptiness, a howling, a solitude; He led him about, He instructed him, He guarded him as the pupil of the eye (Deuteronomy 32:10).

The particulars here mentioned, and all the particulars related in the book of Exodus respecting the journeyings of the sons of Israel in the wilderness, from their going forth from Egypt to their entrance into the land of Canaan, depict the temptations that the faithful encounter before they become spiritual, that is before the goods of love and charity with their truths are implanted, which constitute the church with man.

(References: Deuteronomy 8:15-16)


[33] He who knows what spiritual temptations are knows that when a man is in them he is so infested by evils and falsities as scarcely to know otherwise than that he is in hell; he knows, too, that the Lord with man fights against temptations from the interior; as also that He sustains man in the meantime with spiritual food and drink, which are the goods and truths of heaven; that the natural man loathes these; that nevertheless the natural man with his lusts is thus subdued and as it were dies; and that he is thus brought into subjection to the spiritual man; and that man is thus reformed and regenerated and introduced into the church. All this is involved in what is related respecting the sons of Israel in the wilderness. But to make clear that this is meant it is allowed to explain some of the particulars in the passages quoted.

[34] 1. That man in temptations is so infested by evils and falsities as scarcely to know otherwise than that he is in hell is meant by "Jehovah led thee through the great and fearful wilderness of the serpent, of the fiery serpent, of the scorpion, and of thirst, where there were no waters;" "the great and fearful wilderness" signifies grievous temptations; "the serpent, the fiery serpent, and the scorpion," signify evils and falsities with their persuasions coming forth from the sensual and natural man; "serpents" meaning evils therefrom, "fiery serpents" falsities therefrom, and "scorpions" persuasions; "thirst where there were no waters" signifies a lack and shutting off of truth. The above is meant also by "Jehovah afflicted thee and tried thee, that He might know what was in thine heart."

[35] 2. That the Lord with man fights against evils and falsities that are from hell is signified by "Jehovah found Jacob in a wilderness, in emptiness, a howling, a solitude, He guarded him as the pupil of His eye;" also by "He bare him as a man doth bear his son;" also by "He went before them in fire by night and in the cloud by day."

3. That the Lord sustains man in the meantime with spiritual food and drink, which are the goods and truths of heaven, is signified by "He fed them with manna, He brought them forth waters out of the rock of flint, and He led them and instructed them;" "manna" meaning the good of celestial love, and "waters out of the rock of flint" the truths of that good from the Lord.

4. That in temptations the natural man loathes those things is meant by the sons of Israel so often complaining of the manna, and lusting after the food of Egypt; therefore it is here said, "Jehovah afflicted thee and caused thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna."

[36] 5. That nevertheless the natural man with his lusts is subdued and as it were dies and becomes subject to the spiritual man, was represented by the death in the wilderness of all those that went forth out of Egypt and desired to return thither, and refused to enter into the land of Canaan, and that their children were brought into that land. That this represented and signified such things can be known and seen only from the spiritual sense.

6. That after temptations man becomes spiritual, and is brought into the church, and through the church into heaven, was represented by their being brought into the land of Canaan, for "the land of Canaan" signified the church, and also heaven; and this is signified by "Jehovah afflicted thee and tried thee, to do thee good in thy latter end."

Their spiritual life is described by Jehovah's teaching them that "man doth not live by bread only, but by everything going forth from the mouth of Jehovah." That "their raiment waxed not old and their foot swelled not" signifies that the natural man was not injured by these afflictions, for "raiment" signifies the truths of the natural man, and the "foot" the natural man itself. Moreover "forty," whether years or days, signifies the entire duration of temptations (see above, n. 633.

(References: The Apocalypse Explained 633)


[37] Like things are involved in these words in David:

They wandered in the wilderness in loneliness of life, 1 they found no city of habitation, hungry and thirsty; when their soul was disheartened in the way, they cried to Jehovah. He led them in a way of straightness, 2 that they might go to a city of habitation (Psalms 107:4-7).

This was said in general of those who have been redeemed, and in particular of the sons of Israel in the wilderness, and these words describe the temptations of those who are being regenerated by the Lord. "The city of habitation which they found not" signifies the doctrine of life which constitutes the church in man; and as the church is formed in man by a life according to doctrine, when temptations have been passed through, it is said that "Jehovah led them in a way of straightness that they might go to a city of habitation;" the lack of truth even to despair, and yet desire for it, is signified by "they were hungry and thirsty, so that their soul was disheartened in the way."

[38] In Jeremiah:

I remembered thy youth, the love of thine espousals, when thou wentest after Me in the wilderness. They said not, Where is Jehovah, who made us to come up out of the land of Egypt, who led us in the wilderness, in the land of solitude and of the pit, in a land of drought and of dense shade, in a land through which no man [vir] passed, and where no man [homo] dwelt? And I led you into a land of grain, to eat the fruit thereof and the good thereof (Jeremiah 2:2, 6, 7).

The "youth" and "love of espousals" that Jehovah remembered signify the state of man's reformation and regeneration, when from being natural he becomes spiritual; because man is thereby conjoined to the Lord, and as it were espoused to Him, this is what is meant by the "love of espousals;" and because this is effected through temptations it is said, "When thou wentest after Me in the wilderness;" the state of temptations is described by "He led me in the wilderness, in a land of solitude and of the pit, in a land of drought and dense shade;" "wilderness" signifying that state; "land of solitude and of the pit" signifying that state in respect to the evils and falsities that come forth, and the "land of drought and dense shade" signifying the perception of good and the understanding of truth obscured. The state of man after temptations is described by "I led you into a land of grain, to eat the fruit thereof and the good thereof," which signifies to be brought into the church in which are the truths of doctrine, by means of which the good of love and of charity are appropriated; "land" signifying the church; "the land of grain" the church in respect to the truths of doctrine; "to eat" to appropriate; "fruit" the good of love, and "good" the good of charity and of life.

(References: Jeremiah 2:6-7)


[39] In Ezekiel:

I will lead you out from the peoples, and will gather you from the lands, and I will lead you into a wilderness of peoples, and I will plead with you there face to face, even as I pleaded with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt; then will I cause you to pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant (Ezekiel 20:34-37).

Here again "wilderness" stands for a state of temptations, which state is called "a wilderness of peoples" and "the wilderness of the land of Egypt," because the state of the natural man before regeneration is meant, which is a wilderness and a solitude because there are then no goods and truths in it, but only evils and falsities; but when falsities and evils have been exterminated therefrom, and truths and goods have been implanted in their place, from being a wilderness it becomes "Lebanon" and a "garden. " "To plead with them in the wilderness face to face" signifies to show them to the life of what quality they are and in a way that they acknowledge it; for in temptations man's evils and falsities come forth and appear; "face to face" means to the life and so as to be acknowledged. That after man has endured hard things, conjunction with the Lord, which is reformation, takes place, is signified by "then will I cause you to pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bonds of the covenant;" "to cause to pass under the rod" meaning to endure hard things, and "the bond of the covenant" meaning conjunction with the Lord.

[40] In Hosea:

I will visit upon her the days of the Baalim, in which she went after her lovers. Therefore behold, I will bring you 3 into the wilderness, and afterwards I will speak upon her heart, and I will give her her vineyards thence, and the valley of Achor for an entrance of hope, and she shall make answer there according to the days of her youth, and according to the days of her coming up out of the land of Egypt; and in that day thou shalt call Me, my Husband, and shalt no more call Me, my Baal (Hosea 2:13-16).

The "Baalim" and "lovers," after whom she went, signify the things that belong to the natural man and are loved, namely, cupidities and falsities therefrom; that these must be removed by means of temptations is signified by "I will bring you 3 into the wilderness;" that afterwards there will be consolation is signified by "afterwards I will speak upon her heart;" that they will then have spiritual and natural truths is signified by "I will give her vineyards thence and the valley of Achor." That afterwards they will have influx of good out of heaven and consequent joy, as those had who were of the ancient churches and who from natural had become spiritual, is signified by "she shall make answer or sing there according to the days of her youth, and according to the days of her coming up out of the land of Egypt," "days of youth" signifying the times of the ancient church, and "according to the days of her coming up out of Egypt," signifying when from natural they became spiritual. Conjunction with the Lord at that time through the affections of truth, when the cupidities from the natural man have been rejected, is signified by "in that day thou shalt call Me, my Husband, and thou shalt no more call Me, my Baal."

[41] As a "wilderness" signifies a state of temptations, and "forty," whether years or days, their whole duration from beginning to end, therefore the temptations of the Lord, which were the most direful of all, and which He sustained from childhood to the passion of the cross, are signified by the temptations of the forty days in the desert, which are thus described in the Gospels:

Jesus was led by the spirit into the wilderness, to be tempted of the devil; and when He had fasted forty days and forty nights He afterwards hungered; and the tempter drew near unto Him (Matthew 4:1-3; Luke 4:1-3).

The spirit urging Jesus caused Him to go out into the wilderness; and He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted, and He was with the beasts (Mark 1:12, 13).

This does not mean that the Lord was tempted by the devil only forty days, and at the end of these, but that He was tempted throughout His whole life even to the last, when He endured direful anguish of heart in Gethsemane and afterwards the dreadful passion of the cross; for by means of the temptations admitted into the human that He had from the mother, the Lord subjugated all the hells, and at the same time glorified His Human. (But of these temptations of the Lord see what is written in the Arcana Coelestia, and collected therefrom in the New Jerusalem and Its Heavenly Doctrine, n. 201.) All these temptations of the Lord are signified by the temptations in the wilderness forty days and forty nights, since the "wilderness" signifies a state of temptations, and "forty days and forty nights" the whole duration of these. No more was written respecting these in the Gospels because no more was revealed respecting them; nevertheless in the prophets, and especially in the psalms of David, they are described at length. "The beasts" with which the Lord is said to have been, signify the infernal societies; and "fasting" signifies here such affliction as there is in the combats of temptation.

(References: Mark 1:12-13)


[42] 4. Again, "wilderness" also signifies hell, because that is called a wilderness where there is no harvest or habitation, likewise where there are wild beasts, serpents, and dragons, which signify where there is no truth of doctrine or good of life, consequently where there are lusts from evil loves, and falsities therefrom of every kind; and as these are in hell and the former in a wilderness, so from correspondences the "wilderness" also signifies hell. Moreover, the natural man with everyone, so long as it is separated from the spiritual, as it is before regeneration, is a hell, because all the hereditary evil into which man is born resides in his natural man, and is not cast out from it, that is, removed, except by the influx of Divine truth through heaven from the Lord; and this influx into the natural man can come only through the spiritual, for the natural man is in the world and the spiritual in heaven; therefore the spiritual man must be opened before the hell that is in the natural man can be removed by the Lord out of heaven.

[43] How this is removed was represented by the he-goat called Azazel that was cast out into the desert; for the "he-goat" from correspondence signifies the natural man in respect to his affections and knowledges, and in the contrary sense in respect to his cupidities and falsities. Of this he-goat we read thus in Moses:

That Aaron should take two he-goats and cast lots upon them, one for the he-goat to be sacrificed, the other for Azazel; and after he had expiated the Tent of meeting and the altar with the blood of the sacrificed bullock and of the sacrificed he-goat, he should lay his hands upon the head of the he-goat Azazel, and should confess upon it the iniquities and sins of the sons of Israel; which he shall put upon the head of the he-goat, and afterwards should send him by the hand of a man appointed into the wilderness. So the he-goat shall bear upon him all the iniquities of the sons of Israel into the land cut off and into the wilderness; and the skin, the flesh, and the dung of the bullock and of the sacrificed he-goat should be burned in the wilderness; thus should they be expiated and cleansed from all their sins (Leviticus 16:5-34).

These things were commanded to represent expiation, that is, purification from evils and falsities. Two he-goats were taken to represent this, because a "he-goat" from correspondence signifies the natural man; the he-goat that was to be sacrificed represented the natural man in reference to the part purified, and the he-goat that was to be sent into the wilderness the natural man not purified. And as the natural man swarms with cupidities and uncleanness of every kind, as has been said above, therefore that he-goat was sent out of the camp into a land cut off and into the wilderness that he might bear away the iniquities and sins of all in that church; "the land cut off and the wilderness" signifying hell. Aaron laying his hands upon its head and confessing the sins represented communication and transference, for this is done when man is purified or expiated from sins, for the sins are then sent down to hell, and the affections of good and truth are implanted in their place; these were represented in part by the fat sacrificed from the bullock and from the other he-goat, also by their blood, and especially by the burnt offering from the ram (respecting which see verses 5-24 in the same chapter) Leviticus 16:5-24, for the "ram" from correspondence signifies the natural man in respect to the good of charity. But it is to be known that the Israelitish people were not in the least purified from their sins by this, but the purification of the natural man when he was being regenerated was thus merely represented. All things of man's regeneration were represented by such external things, especially by sacrifices; and this was done for the sake of the conjunction of heaven with that church through the externals of worship, the internals that the externals represented being seen in the heavens. Who cannot see that the sins of the whole congregation could not be transferred to a he-goat and borne by him to hell? From this it is evident what is signified by "wilderness" in its various senses.

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Footnotes:

1. The Hebrew has "in loneliness of way," as found also in Arcana Coelestia 2708.

3. The Hebrew has "a straight way," as found also in 223.

3. The Hebrew has "her," as found in Arcana Coelestia 2708.

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(References: Isaiah 32:13-16; Psalms 107:33-36)

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