And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;
And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;
By New Christian Bible Study Staff
When Jesus died on the cross, there was an earthquake. Rocks were split. The centurion and his soldiers who had carried out the crucifixion orders were afraid.
In the heart of the temple, in the "holy of holies", in the very heart of Jerusalem, the sacred veil tore, from top to bottom.
The veil, "rent in twain"...
The veils in the tabernacle and later in the temple were important. They're described in great detail in Exodus and in 1 Kings. In Arcana Coelestia 2576, it says that, "Rational truths are a kind of veil or clothing to spiritual truths.... The veil represented the nearest and inmost appearances of rational good and truth....
And now, as Jesus dies on the cross, the veil tears. What does this mean?
Here's how Swedenborg describes the symbolism of this:
"...that once all appearances had been dispelled, the Lord entered into the Divine Itself, and at the same time He opened a means of access to the Divine Itself through His Human that had been made Divine." (Arcana Coelestia 2576)
Think about four watershed spiritual events:
1) The creation of the physical universe. (Current best guess: 13.8 billion years ago). Genesis 1:1-10
2) The beginning of life. (On earth, between 3.5 and 4.5 billion years ago.) Genesis 1:11-25
3) The beginning of spiritually conscious human beings. (Reasonable guess: 100,000 years ago). Genesis 1:26-31
4) The incarnation and resurrection of the Lord God Jesus Christ (2000 years ago).
God's love and wisdom have been flowing into the universe for a long time. Where you might expect entropy, instead we see a universe that seems to favor life and intelligence. Think what a fulfilling moment it must have been when God could tell that human minds were now responding to Him, after all that outpouring.
But the free response-ability has tragedy baked in, because we can also choose not to respond, and to go the opposite way.
As we humans grew more "sophisticated", God used new channels to reach us, notably prophets and spiritual leaders, and later the written word. And in those channels, from the earliest times, there are already prophecies that the Lord would one day come into the world in human form.
Why did He need to do that? He must have foreseen that people would need to have that human level of connection, in order for enough good and truth to exist for us to make the decisions that open us to salvation.
Let's go back to Swedenborg's description:
"... once all appearances had been dispelled the Lord entered into the Divine Itself..."
Throughout the Lord's life on earth, there was the appearance that he was a man, like us. He had a human body. He could be tired and hungry. He could be tempted (though unlike us, he always won). In his spiritual life, there were times when he felt keenly the appearance of his human separate from his Divine essence. At other times, that appearance thinned, and he felt his divinity more powerfully. As he grew up, and was baptized, and began his ministry, he must have been growing more and more fully aware of what was going on inside him -- the glorification of the human part of him. With the death of his body on the cross, the bodily human-ness was no longer in the way. That appearance was dispelled. A new connection was fully forged between the Divine and the human.
And then, there's the second part of Swedenborg's statement:
"at the same time He opened a means of access to the Divine Itself through His Human that had been made Divine."
The veil was torn. The old religion, which had placed ritual above real good, and where God was invisible, separated from human knowledge by a veil -- was torn. New light could reach people, through the new teachings of the Lord. We could respond to a God who, in His Divine Human, we now could understand and approach and love more deeply.
223. And the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from My God, signifies the doctrine of the new church, which is in the heavens. This is evident from the signification of "the city of My God," as being the doctrine of Divine truth (of which presently); also from the signification of "the New Jerusalem," as being the church in respect to doctrine (see the small work on The New Jerusalem 6); also from the signification of "which cometh down out of heaven from My God," as being that it is out of heaven from Divine truth there. That "God" means in the Word Divine truth, see above (n. 220, 222). And as Divine truth, which is in heaven and which comes down from heaven, is from the Lord alone, the Lord calls it His God. That "the city of My God" signifies the doctrine of Divine truth seems at first view remote, for the mind cannot readily think of doctrine when "city" is mentioned, or think of the church when a "land" is mentioned; yet in the Word, "cities" [civitates aut urbes] mean nothing else in the spiritual sense; and for the reason that the idea of a city is merely natural, but the idea of doctrine in a city is spiritual. Angels, because they are spiritual, can have no other idea of a city than of the people therein in respect to doctrine, as they can have no other idea of a land than of the people therein in respect to their church or their religion. The reason of this is that the societies into which the heavens are divided are for the most part like cities [communities], all differing from one another in respect to the reception of Divine truth in good; when, therefore, a "city" is mentioned angels think of the doctrine of truth. (That the heavens are divided into societies according to the differences of the good of love and faith, see in the work on Heaven and Hell 41-50; and that their habitations are disposed into the form of cities, n. 184).
(References: Revelation 3:12)
 That "cities" [civitates seu urbes] in the Word signify doctrines can be seen from many passages there, of which I will cite here only the following. In Jeremiah:
Behold I have given thee this day for a fenced city against the whole land (Jeremiah 1:18).
These things are said to the prophet, because "a prophet" in the Word signifies one who teaches truth, and in an abstract sense, the doctrine of truth; and as this is what "prophet" signifies, it is said to him, "I have given thee for a fenced city," which signifies the doctrine of truth defending against falsities. (That "prophet" in the Word signifies one who teaches truth, and in the abstract sense, the doctrine of truth, see Arcana Coelestia (2534[1-6]), n. 7269.) In the same:
The crown of your splendor cometh down. The cities of the south are shut (Jeremiah 13:18-19).
Here the falsification of truth is treated of; and "the crown of their splendor cometh down" means that intelligence comes down; and "the cities of the south are shut" means that all the truths of doctrine are closed, which otherwise would be in the light. (That "crown" means intelligence and wisdom, see above, n. 126, 218; and that "south" means a state of light, see in the work on Heaven and Hell 148, 149, n. 151).
(References: Heaven and Hell 148-149)
 In Isaiah:
Thou hast done [wonderful things, Thy] counsels from afar [are] truth, fidelity; and Thou hast made of a city a heap, of a fenced city a ruin, a palace of strangers to be no city, that it may not be built for ever; therefore a strong people shall honor Thee, a city of powerful nations shall fear Thee (Isaiah 25:1-3).
The vastation of the former church, and the establishment of a new one, are here treated of; the vastation of the church in respect to doctrine is meant by "Thou hast made of a city a heap, of a fenced city a ruin, a palace of strangers to be no city;" and the establishment of a new church in respect to doctrine is meant by "a strong people shall honor Thee, a city of powerful nations shall fear Thee." In the same:
In that day shall a song be sung in the land of Judah; We have a strong city; salvation will He appoint for walls and bulwarks. Open ye the gates, that the righteous nation that keepeth faithfulness may enter in (Isaiah 26:1-2
Here "a strong city" signifies the doctrine of genuine truth, which falsities cannot destroy; "walls and bulwarks" signify truths defending; "gates" signify admission (as above, n. 208); "the righteous nation keeping faithfulness" means those who are in good and in truths therefrom.
(References: Isaiah 26:1-3)
 In the same:
How art thou fallen from heaven O Lucifer, how art thou cut down to the earth: that made the world as a wilderness, and threw down the cities thereof. Prepare slaughter for his sons, that they may not rise up and possess the land, and fill the faces of the world with cities (Isaiah 14:12, 17, 21).
Here "Lucifer" means Babylon, where every truth of the doctrine of the church was either falsified or annihilated; "he made the world as a wilderness, and threw down the cities thereof," signifies that this was done to the church and its doctrines; "prepare slaughter for his sons, that they may not rise up," signifies that its falsities must be destroyed; "and may not possess the land, and fill the faces of the world with cities," signifies in order that a church and doctrine may be there. In Revelation:
And the great city was broken 1 into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell (Revelation 16:18-19).
Here also Babylon is treated of; the doctrine of its falsities is what is meant by "a city broken 2 into three parts," and the doctrine of evils therefrom by "the cities of the nations which fell."
(References: Revelation 16:19)
 In David:
The redeemed of Jehovah wandered in the wilderness in loneliness of life; 3 they found not a city of habitation; hungry and thirsty [their soul fainted in them]. He led them into a straight way, that they might go to a city of habitation (Psalms 107:2, 4-5, 7).
"To wander in the wilderness and in loneliness of way," is to be in want of the knowledges of truth and good; "to find not a city of habitation" means not to find the doctrine of truth according to which they may live; "the hungry and thirsty" are those who have a longing to know good and truth; "to lead them into a straight way, that they might go to a city of habitation" is to lead them into genuine truth, and into the doctrine of life. In Isaiah:
I said, Lord, how long? And He said, Until the cities shall be so devastated as to be without inhabitant, and the houses so that no man be in them, and the land be reduced to a waste (Isaiah 6:11).
Here the total vastation of the church is treated of; "cities" are the truths of doctrine; "houses" the goods thereof; and "land" the church.
 In the same:
The land shall be emptied, the land shall be confounded, the land shall be profaned under its inhabitants; the empty city shall be broken, every house shall be shut, a cry over the wine in the streets, the remnant in the city is a waste, and the gate shall be beaten down even to devastation (Isaiah 24:3-5, 10-12).
Here also the devastation of the church is treated of; "the land which is said to be emptied, confounded, and profaned," is the church; "city" is the truth of doctrine, "house" is its good; "wine, over which there is a cry in the streets," is the truth of doctrine falsified, over which there is contest and indignation.
 In Zephaniah:
I will cut off the nations; I will desolate their streets, and their cities shall be laid waste (Zephaniah 3:6).
Here "nations" are those who are in evils; "to desolate streets" means to desolate truths, and "to lay waste cities" means to lay waste doctrines. In Jeremiah:
The lion is gone up from the thicket, to reduce thy land to a waste; thy cities shall be destroyed; I saw Carmel a wilderness, and all its cities desolate; for this shall the land mourn; the whole city fleeing at the voice of a horseman and of the bowmen; the whole city is forsaken, not a man dwelling therein (Jeremiah 4:7, 26-29).
The "lion from the thicket" is falsity from evil; "the land" is the church, "cities" are the truths of doctrine; "Carmel" is the spiritual church; "the voice of the horseman and the bowmen," because of which "the city will flee," is reasoning and combat from falsities.
 In the same:
The devastator shall come upon every city, and no city shall escape; and the valley shall perish, and the plain shall be destroyed (Jeremiah 48:8).
These words describe the total vastation of the church, until nothing of the truth of doctrine shall remain. In the same:
Behold, waters rising up out of the north, which shall become an overflowing brook, and shall overflow the land, the city, and them that dwell therein (Jeremiah 47:2).
Vastation also is signified by "an overflowing brook." In the same:
If ye hallow the day of the Sabbath, there shall enter in through the gates of this city kings and princes, riding in chariot and on horses, and this city shall be inhabited to eternity (Jeremiah 17:24-25).
"Hallowing the Sabbath" in the spiritual sense signifies holy acknowledgment of the Lord's Divine Human and of His conjunction with heaven and the church; "kings and princes entering in through the gates of the city" signify the truths of the church; "their riding in a chariot and on horses" signifies that they shall be in the truths of doctrine and in intelligence; "the city," which here is Jerusalem, is the church in respect to doctrine. Such is the spiritual sense of these words; such therefore is the sense in heaven.
 In Zechariah:
Thus said Jehovah; I will return to Zion, and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem; whence Jerusalem shall be called a city of truth. And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in the streets (Zechariah 8:3-5).
Here "Zion" does not mean Zion, nor "Jerusalem" Jerusalem; but "Zion" means the celestial church, and "Jerusalem" that church in respect to the doctrine of truth; therefore it is called "a city of truth;" "the streets of the city" signify the truths of doctrine; "boys and girls playing in the streets" signify the affections of truth and good. (That "Zion" signifies the celestial church, see Arcana Coelestia 2362, 9055; that "Jerusalem" signifies the church in respect to doctrine, n. 402, 3654, 9166; and in the small work on The New Jerusalem, 6; that "streets" signify the truths of doctrine, n. 2336; that "boys girls" signify the affections of truth good, in which there is innocence 3067, 3110, 3179, 5236, 6742; that "to play" means what pertains to interior festivity, which is the affection of truth and good, n. 10416).
(References: Zechariah 8:5)
 Because "Zion" signifies the celestial church, and "Jerusalem" the church in respect to the doctrine of truth, Zion is called "the city of Jehovah," and Jerusalem is called "the holy city," "the city of God" and "the city of the great king." As in Isaiah:
They shall call thee, The city of Jehovah, the Zion of the Holy One of Israel (Isaiah 60:14).
The prophet saw upon a high mountain the frame of a city on the south, and an angel measured the wall, the gate, the chambers, the porch of the gate; and the name of the city was Jehovah-is-there (Ezekiel 40:1; 48:35).
Behold, Jehovah hath caused it to be heard, even to the end of the earth, Say ye to the daughter of Zion, Behold, thy salvation cometh. And thou shalt be called a city that is sought (Isaiah 62:11-12).
As we have heard so have we seen in the city of Jehovah of hosts, in the city of our God; God will establish it forever (Psalms 48:8).
(What the celestial church is, and what the spiritual church, see in th (Heaven and Hell 20-28) e work on Heaven and Hell 20-28.) These two cities are called "holy cities," in Isaiah:
Thy holy cities are become a wilderness, Zion is become a wilderness, Jerusalem a waste (Isaiah 64:10).
Jerusalem in particular is called "the holy city," in Revelation:
The nations shall tread down the holy city (Revelation 11:2).
I saw the holy city, coming down from God out of heaven (Revelation 21:2).
The devil took Jesus into the holy city (Matthew 4:5).
And in the same:
Coming forth out of the tombs, they entered into the holy city (Matthew 27:53).
 Jerusalem was called "the holy city" because it signified the church in respect to the doctrine of truth; and Divine truth proceeding from the Lord is what is called "holy" (see Arcana Coelestia 6788, 8302, 9229, 9820, 10361). That city, apart from such representation and consequent signification, was not at all holy, but rather profane, is evident from the Lord's having been rejected and crucified there; and for this reason it is also called "Sodom and Egypt" (Revelation 11:8). But because it signified the church in respect to the doctrine of truth, it was called not only "the holy city," but also "the city of God," and "the city of the great king." Thus in David:
There is a river, the streams whereof have made glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High. God is in the midst of her (Psalms 46:4-5).
In the same:
Great is Jehovah in the city of our God, beautiful in situation the city of the great king (Psalms 48:1-2.
Swear not by the earth, for it is the footstool of God's feet; neither by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great king (Matthew 5:35).
Jerusalem was called "the city of God" because "God" in the Word of the Old Testament means Divine truth proceeding from the Lord (as may be seen above, n. 220, 222); and it was called "the city of the great king," because "king" also signifies, in reference to the Lord, Divine truth proceeding from Him (see above, n. 31. From this then it is that Jerusalem is called "the city of truth" (Zechariah 8:3).
 In Isaiah:
Thus saith Jehovah, thy Redeemer and Former from the womb, I make void the signs of liars; turning wise men backward, and making their knowledge foolish; saying to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be inhabited; and to the cities of Judah, Ye shall be built, and I will raise up the desolate places thereof (Isaiah 44:24-26).
This treats of the rejection of the church whose doctrine is from self-intelligence, and of the establishment of a new church, whose doctrine is from the Lord. Doctrine from self-intelligence is meant by "I make void the signs of liars, turning wise men backward, and making their knowledge foolish," and doctrine that is from the Lord by "saying to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be inhabited; and to the cities of Judah, Ye shall be built."
 In Jeremiah:
Seest thou not what they do in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem? I will cause to cease from the cities of Judah, and from the streets of Jerusalem, the voice of joy and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, for the land shall become a waste (Jeremiah 7:17, 34).
Here also "the cities of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem" signify the truths of doctrine; "the voice of joy and the voice of gladness" is delight from the affection of good and truth; "the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride" are those affections themselves; and that these are to cease is meant by "the land shall become a waste;" the "land" is the church.
 In Isaiah:
I will commingle Egypt with Egypt that they may fight a man against his brother, and a man against his companion; city against city, kingdom against kingdom. In that day there shall be five cities in the land of Egypt that speak with the lip of Canaan and that swear to Jehovah of Hosts. In that day there shall be an altar to Jehovah in the midst of Egypt (Isaiah 19:2, 18-19).
"Egypt" means the natural man and its knowledge [ejus scientificum]; "that they may fight a man against his brother, and a man against his companion," means against good and truth; "city against city, and kingdom against kingdom," signifies doctrine against doctrine, and church against church; "in that day" signifies the Lord's coming, and the state then of those who are natural and in true knowledges [scientificis]; "five cities in the land of Egypt that speak with the lip of Canaan" signify the truths of doctrine in abundance, which are genuine truths of the church, "five" meaning many or in abundance; "cities" truths of doctrine; "the lip of Canaan" genuine truths of the church. "An altar to Jehovah" here signifies worship from the good of love.
 In the same:
The highways have been laid waste, he that passeth through the way hath ceased; he hath rejected the cities, he regardeth not man. The land mourneth, it languisheth; Lebanon hath faded away (Isaiah 33:8-9).
"The highways that have been laid waste, and the way that is not passed through," are truths leading to heaven, which are truths of the church; "to reject the cities" is to reject the truths of doctrine; "to regard not man" is to regard not truth and good. "The land that mourneth and languisheth" is the church in respect to good; "Lebanon that hath faded away" is the church in respect to truth.
 In the same:
Sing, O barren, that did not bear, for more are the sons of the desolate than the sons of the married one. Enlarge the place of thy tent; thy seed shall inherit the nations, and make the desolate cities to be inhabited (Isaiah 54:1-3).
"The barren that did not bear" signifies the nations that have not as yet truths from the Word; "the sons of the desolate" are the truths that these will receive; "the sons of the married one" are the truths that are with those who are in the church; "to enlarge the place of the tent" means that their worship is from good; "seed" is truth therefrom; "the nations which the seed will inherit" are goods; and "the cities which shall be inhabited" are the doctrines therefrom.
 In Jeremiah:
I will bring upon them every good; they shall buy fields with silver, and this by writing in a book, in the cities of Judah, and in the cities of the mountain, and in the cities of the plain, and in the cities of the south (Jeremiah 32:42, 44; 33:13).
These things are said of those in the church who are in good and in truths therefrom; "to buy fields with silver" is to acquire for themselves the good of the church by means of truths; "to write in a book" is to implant in the life; "the cities of Judah" and "the cities of the mountain" are the truths of doctrine which those have who are of the Lord's celestial kingdom; "the cities of the plain, and the cities of the south," are the truths of doctrine which those have who are in the Lord's spiritual kingdom.
 In Matthew:
Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a mountain cannot be hid. Neither do they light a lamp and put it under a bushel (Matthew 5:14-15).
These things were said to the disciples, by whom all truths and goods in the complex are signified; therefore it is said, "Ye are the light of the world;" for "light" signifies Divine truth and intelligence therefrom. Because that is what the words signify, "Ye are the light of the world," therefore it is said, "A city that is set on a mountain cannot be hid. Neither can a lamp be lighted and be put under a bushel;" for "a city set on a mountain" signifies the truth of doctrine from the good of love; and "a lamp" signifies in general truth from good and intelligence therefrom.
 In the same:
Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city and house divided against itself standeth not (Matthew 12:25).
"Kingdom," in the spiritual sense, signifies the church; "city" and "house" the truth and good of its doctrine, which do not stand but fall, if they do not unanimously agree.
 In the same:
Jesus sends forth the twelve disciples, saying to them, Go not off into the way of the nations, and enter not into a city of the Samaritans; go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel (Matthew 10:5-6
"The way of the nations" into which they were not to go off, signifies falsity from evil; "a city of the Samaritans" into which they were not to enter, signifies the false doctrine of those who reject the Lord; "the lost sheep of the house of Israel" signify those who are in the good of charity and in faith therefrom, "Israel" meaning all such wherever they may be. "A city of the Samaritans" signifies the false doctrine of those who reject the Lord, because the Samaritans did not receive Him (as may be seen in Luke 9:52-56).
 In the same:
Jesus said, When they persecute you in one city they should flee 4 into another (Matthew 10:23).
Here also by "city" is meant the doctrine of falsity from evil; that where this doctrine is the doctrine of truth will not be admitted, is meant by "when they persecute you in one city flee ye into another."
(References: Luke 10:23)
 In Luke:
Then the master of the house being angry, said to his servants, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor and maimed and blind and halt (Luke 14:21).
"Their going out into the streets and lanes of the city" signifies that they should enquire where those are who receive the truths of the doctrine; for "streets" and "lanes" are the truths of doctrine (as above); and "city" means doctrine. The "poor," "the maimed," "the halt," and "the blind," signify those who are not in truths and goods, and yet long for them. (Who are signified specifically by "the poor," who by "the maimed," "the halt," and "the blind," may be seen in The Doctrine of the New Jerusalem 107, from Arcana Coelestia.)
 In the same:
A certain nobleman going into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, gave to his servants ten pounds for trading; when he returned, he commanded the servants to be called. The first came, saying, Thy pound hath gained ten pounds. He said to him, good servant, because thou hast been faithful over the least, thou shalt have authority over ten cities. Then the second came, saying, Lord, thy pound hath made five pounds. He said to him, Be thou also over five cities (Luke 20:12-19 seq.).
These words signify, in the spiritual sense, much more than can be expressed in a few words; let it be noted merely that by "cities" here are not meant cities but the doctrinals of truth and good; and by "having authority over them" intelligence and wisdom are meant; by "ten" much, and by "five" some. (That "ten" in the Word signifies much, see Arcana Coelestia 1988, 3107, 4638, 9757; and that "five" signifies some, n. 4638, 9604.) From this it can now be seen that "the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from My God," signifies the doctrine of the new church, which is in the heavens. (This doctrine is also given in a separate small work, entitled The New Jerusalem and Its Heavenly Doctrine.)
1. The Latin has "broken"; the Greek "made."
2. The Latin has "broken"; the Greek "made," as found in Arcana Coelestia 5120.
3. The Hebrew has "way" for "life," as found in Arcana Coelestia 2708, 3708.
4. For "they should flee" the Greek has "flee ye."