Commentary

 

Prophecies About Jesus      

By Joe David

By Meister des Ludwig-Psalters [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons. Currently at Bibliothèque Nationale de France.

For Christians, Christmas time is one of the most sacred, most joyous celebrations of the year. What about for people who are thinking about it, but who aren't sure about the whole "reason for the season"? What do we really know about what happened in Judea, 2000 years ago?

We're going to try to approach this topic from a neutral standpoint, and see where that leads us.

It's well-established that Jesus existed. He was physically, historically real. There is voluminous evidence from Christian sources, of course. Jesus Christ was also mentioned in non-Christian historical documents that have survived from that period. He's referred to twice by Josephus, the Jewish historian, in his work "Antiquities of the Jews" published in 93-94 AD. Tacitus, the Roman historian, writing in around 116 AD, also refers to "Christus" being put to death by the Romans under Pontius Pilate.

Was Jesus special? Even skeptics would need to wonder why and how this man from a small village in Galilee could launch a religion which would become the biggest, most influential one for at least the next two millennia of human history.

One of the intriguing things about Jesus is that his birth and life seem to have fulfilled prophecies from the Old Testament, which date back to the time of Moses - at least 1500 years BC, and to far older stories in an oral tradition. Those prophecies existed in texts written long before the Christian Era started.

What were some of those prophecies? There are many of them! Swedenborg lists some here, Doctrine of the Lord 6. In this article, we're just going to focus on a few of them.

In this very early prophecy, it's indicated that the Messiah would be born as the son of a woman:

"And Jehovah God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, cursed art thou above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life, and I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed: he shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel. Genesis 3:14-15. This is confirmed in the story in Matthew 1:20.

In Micah, much later in the Bible, we read that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem, in Judea:

"But thou, Beth-lehem Ephrathah, which art little to be among the thousands of Judah, out of thee shall one come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting."
Micah 5:2. This is confirmed in the story in Matthew 2:1, and Luke 2:4-6.

In Isaiah, we read that the Messiah would be born to a virgin:

"Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel." Isaiah 7:14. This is confirmed in the story in Matthew 1:22-23, and in Luke 1:26-31.

Lineage was an important factor, too. At least 5 forefathers of the promised Savior are named. First, he was prophesied to come from the line of Abraham, the progenitor of many of the peoples of the modern Middle East, including the Jews, the Arabs, the Lebanese, the Druze, and others. See Genesis 12:3, and Genesis 22:18. This prophecy is confirmed in Matthew 1:1, and Romans 9:5.

In the next generation, prophecy stated that the Savior would be descended from the line of Isaac, one of Abraham's two sons. See Genesis 17:19, and Genesis 21:12. This is confirmed in Luke 3:34.

For the third generation, the Word states that the Messiah would be a descendant of Jacob. It's prophesied in Numbers 24:17, and confirmed in Matthew 1:2.

For the fourth generation, attention focuses on the tribe of Judah, who was one of the twelve sons of Jacob (whose name was changed to Israel). See Genesis 49:10, and then Luke 3:33, and Hebrews 7:14.

Many generations later, in the second book of Samuel, and again in Isaiah, there are prophecies that the Messiah would be heir to King David's throne. Read 2 Samuel 7:12-13, and Isaiah 9:7. Then see Luke 1:32-33, and Romans 1:3.

There are many more prophecies, and we will look at more of them in a future article. But, to summarize these ones that we've just listed, what would Old Testament readers in the time of Caesar Augustus be expecting?

In Bethlehem, a virgin would bear a son. He would be descended from Abraham, through the line of Isaac, Jacob, Judah, and David. That's the way the story runs, in the Gospels.

It's clear that the Old Testament wasn't altered to suit the "facts on the ground". The prophecies are already there in pre-Christian scrolls. That leaves two possibilities:

1) Scenario A: The New Testament could have been written to twist the facts to match the old prophecies. Faithful Jews were awaiting the Messiah; they would have wanted to find matching stories. In this scenario, Jesus could have been just a regular man, but a standout leader and teacher and healer. He was so inspiring that his apostles endured hardship and death to spread what became a global religion. The stories about him were exaggerated or modified to help match the prophecies.

2) Scenario B: The Old Testament text contains deep inner meaning, and its prophecies were actually prophetic and true. The facts of Jesus' birth and life and ministry actually did match and fulfull the prophecies. In this scenario, Jesus was truly a miracle baby.

Which scenario is right? In both, there's a recognition that the teachings of Jesus contained wisdom, and that there is great value in them. In New Christian thought, the choice is for Scenario B -- that Jesus really was the Christ, the long-awaited Messiah, or Savior.

This of course requires some level of belief in miracles - prophecy, fulfillment, the virgin birth, angels bearing tidings, healings, feeding the multitudes. Can miracles really happen? Is it scientifically possible? Maybe they can... maybe as science advances, we will begin to understand those boundaries better.

At some level, don't most of us believe in miracles -- in the miracle of the very existence of the universe, and of living organisms that can reproduce, and of human life, and of love?

How to end this article? The whole subject of miracles needs more thought. And, here it is, December 22, and... instead of getting more analytical, I find that right now I just want to "be" in the holy days of Christmas.

If you're feeling skeptical, have a look at Arcana Coelestia 2568, and Arcana Coelestia 2588. They offer an interesting perspective!

---

One source for this article was "100 Prophecies Fulfilled by Jesus: Messianic Prophecies Made Before the Birth of Christ", by Rose Publishing.

(References: Teachings about the Lord 6)

The Bible

 

Luke 3:33

English: King James Version         

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33 Which was the son of Aminadab, which was the son of Aram, which was the son of Esrom, which was the son of Phares, which was the son of Juda,

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Explanation of Luke 3      

By Rev. John Clowes M.A.

Verses 1-2. When the remains in the Lord's human principle were opened to the Divine, it then became subject to temptation combats, on which occasion an assault is made by infernal spirits on the Divine love of saving mankind communicated to the human principle.

Verses 3-4. Under which assault it is suggested, that truth alone is sufficient for man's spiritual nourishment, from whatever source it be derived.

Verses 5-9. And that the love of the world is one principal source of human happiness.

Verses 9-13. Also the love of self.

Verse 13. That these temptation-combats were continued to the latest period of the Lord's life in the world.

Verses 14-15. That when the Lord's Human principle, through temptation-combats, was brought to a fuller union with the Divine, it became the medium of communicating truth to the Church in a greater abundance.

Verses 16-20. As had been predicted.

Verses 18-19. In agreement with which prediction, the poor in spirit were to receive from the Lord the knowledge of the Eternal Truth; they who were made sensible of their natural defilements were to be purified; they who were under the dominion of false persuasions were to be liberated; they who were in ignorance were to be instructed; they who had transgressed were to receive remission; and all were to hear the glad tidings of the Lord's Advent.

Verses 20-23. That the accomplishment of this prediction is at first received with joy.

Verses 23-28. Until declaration is made, that none can receive the eternal truth but those, who are in the love of it from a for principle of good, and who also are sensible that of themselves they are defiled with all false principles.

Verses 28-29. On which occasion, violent opposition is excited in the thoughtless and impenitent, attended with a total rejection of all truth and an attempt to destroy it.

Verse 30. Insomuch that the truth was entirely hid from them.

Verses 31-36. Nevertheless its Divine power was felt by others, and confessed even by the infernals, who yet are not allowed to declare it, but compelled to retire to their own kingdom.

Verses 36-37. Since this was one great end of the revelation of truth in the person of jesus Christ to remove the powers of darkness from mankind.

Verses 38-39. And to deliver from the love of evil all those who are in the affection of truth.

Verses 40-41. Also to liberate, and render receptive of good and truth, those who are infested with falsities.

Verses 40-44. With which view the truth at times hides itself, that so a stronger affection may be excited towards it, and it may be manifested in every direction.

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Hop to Similar Bible Verses

Genesis 29:35, 38:29, 46:12

Numbers 2:3

Ruth 4:17

1 Chronicles 1

Word/Phrase Explanations

Phares
Phares,' which means 'breach,' in Genesis 38:29, signifies the apparent separation of truth from good.

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The Bible

 

Isaiah 9:7

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7 Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.

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Explanation of Isaiah 9      

By Rev. John H. Smithson

THE EXPLANATION of Isaiah Chapter 9

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

1. FOR the gloom shall not be [such] as was its oppression in the former time, when He despised the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali; but in the latter time He will honour them by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the nations.

Verse 1. That these words were spoken in Isaiah concerning the Lord is evident, for it is said that "it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet." (Matthew 4:14-16)

Wherefore "the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali" also "Galilee of the Gentiles", or nations, signify the establishment of the church with the Gentiles, who are in the good of life and receive truths, and thus are in the conjunction of Truth and Good, and in combat against evils and falsities. That the establishment of the church and reformation of such Gentiles is there understood, is also evident from the series of the expressions; as that "it was beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles", and also that "the people sitting in darkness saw a great light, and to them that sit in the region and shadow of death light is arisen."

By Zebulun and Naphtali, " in the supreme sense, is signified the union of the Divine Itself and the Divine Human of the Lord by means of temptations admitted into Himself, and victories therein obtained by His own proper power. Apocalypse Explained 447.

2. The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwelled in the land of the shadow of death, upon them has the light shined.

Verse 2. The people that walked in darkness, etc. - Hitherto it has been shown that by "darkness", in the Word, is signified the false of evil, but "darkness" also signifies the false not of evil, such as the falsities of religion with the upright Gentiles, originating in ignorance of the Truth. "Darkness" also signifies the falsities of ignorance, such as formerly existed, and such as at this day exist with the upright Gentiles; these falsities are altogether distinct from the falsities of evil, for the latter contain in themselves evil, because they are from evil; whereas the former contain In themselves good, for they have good for an end; wherefore they who are principled in these falsities can be instructed in truths; and also when they are instructed they receive truth in the heart, by reason that the good which is in their falsities loves the truth, and also conjoins itself with the truth when it is heard. The case is otherwise with the falsities of evil these holding Truth in aversion and abhorrence, and this for no other reason than because it is Truth, and thus does not agree with their evils, Apocalypse Explained 526.

By "dwelling in the land of the shadow of death" is denoted the state of those who are in ignorance of good and of truth. Arcana Coelestia 3384.

To "see a great light" denotes to receive and believe the truths which are of faith. Upon those who are principled in faith heavenly light is said to shine forth, for the light which is in heaven is Divine Truth derived from Divine Good. Arcana Coelestia 3863.

3. You have multiplied the nation, You have increased their joy: they rejoice before you, as with the joy of harvest; as they exult who divide the spoil.

Verses 2, 3. The people and nations, etc. - These passages treat concerning the Lord, and by "peoples and nations" are understood all who are of His church; for all who are of the church of the Lord are either of His celestial kingdom or of His spiritual kingdom: besides those who are in those two kingdoms there are no other who belong to the church. There are also two things which constitute the church - the Good and the True, both from the Lord.

By "nations" are understood those who are in the Good, and by "peoples " those who are in the True; and abstractedly from persons, by "nations" are signified the goods of the church, and by "peoples", the truths thereof. The reason why by "peoples" are signified the truths of the church is, because spiritual good, or the good of charity towards our neighbour, in which they are who are understood by "peoples", in its essence, is Truth. Hence there is a discrimination between those who are of the celestial kingdom of the Lord and those who are of His spiritual kingdom. Apocalypse Explained 331.

4. For the yoke of their burden, the staff of their shoulder, the rod of their oppressor, have You broken, as in the day of Midian.

5. For every warlike band shall be dismayed by the earthquake; all the garment rolled in bloods shall be for burning, even food for the fire.

Verse 4. The yoke of their burden, the stall' of their shoulder; etc. - Treating of the Gentiles or nations who were in falsities from ignorance, because they had not the Word, and to whom the Lord consequently was not known. The evil with which they were burdened, and the falsities whereby they were infested, are signified by "the yoke of the burden, the staff of the shoulder, and the rod of the oppressor or exactor"; the destruction thereof is signified by "breaking them", for "to break" is predicated of a yoke, a staff, and a rod; and "to destroy" is predicated of evil and the false, which heavily oppress, powerfully persuade, and compel to obedience. Apocalypse Explained 727.

To "carry on the shoulder", when subjection is treated of, signifies bondage. Arcana Coelestia 9836.

5. For every warlike band shall be dismayed by the earthquake; all the garment rolled in bloods shall be for burning, even food for the fire.

Verse 5. By the earthquake, etc. - "Earthquake" signifies the perversion of the church by the falsification of truth; and "bloods", the falsification of the literal sense of the Word. Apocalypse Explained 329.

6. For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The Father of Eternity, The Prince of Peace.

Verse 6. Unto us a Child is born, etc. - The advent of the Lord is there treated of, concerning whom it is said, "Unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given", because by "Child", in the Word, is signified good, here the Divine Good; and by "Son" is signified truth; here the Divine Truth; which are thus mentioned on account of the marriage of Good and Truth, which is in every particular of the Word; and inasmuch as the Divine Good and Divine Truth are from the Lord, therefore He is called" the Prince of Peace", and it is said "there shall be no end of His government and peace." "Government" is predicated of Divine Truth, and "Peace", of Divine Good conjoined to Divine Truth, whence He is called "the Prince of Peace." That "prince" is predicated of truths, and that the principal Truth is thereby signified, may be seen above, Apocalypse Explained 29; and that "peace" is predicated of the conjunction of Good and Truth, may be seen above in this article. Apocalypse Explained 365.

Unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son a Son is given, etc. (Isaiah 9:6)

And in the, same Prophet, (Isaiah 7:14) "Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a Son; and she shall call His name IMMANUEL." That by "the Child born and the Son given" is here understood the Lord as to the Divine Human, is evident; and that the Lord as to that principle also is God, thus that His Human is Divine, is manifestly declared, for it, is said; that "His name shall be called the mighty God, God-with-us, the Father of Eternity." See above, Chapter 7:14, the Exposition.

The mighty God, the Father of Eternity, the Prince of Peace. - That all the names in this prophecy are predicated of the Lord in His Divine Humanity is evident. That the Lord is the God of heaven cannot be doubted by those who belong to the church, for He Himself taught that "all things of the Father are His"; (Matthew 11:27; John 16:15; 17:2) and that "He has all power in heaven and in earth." (Matthew 28:18)

He says "in heaven and in earth", because He that governs heaven, governs the earth also, for the one depends on the other. To "govern heaven and earth", signifies to receive from Him all the Good which is the object of love, and all the Truth which is the object of faith, thus all intelligence and wisdom, and thereby all happiness; in short, eternal life.

This the Lord also taught when He said,

"He that believes on the Son has everlasting life; and he that believes not the Son, shall not see life." (John 3:36)

Again,

"I am the resurrection and the life; he that believes in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live; and whosoever liveth and believes in Me, shall never die." (John 11:25, 26)

And again,

"I am the way, the truth, and the life." (John 14:6) Heaven and Hell 5.

The Father of Eternity. - All infants, of whom a third part of heaven consists, are initiated into the acknowledgement and faith that the Lord is their Father; and afterwards, that He is the Lord of all, and consequently the God, of heaven and earth. That infants grow up in the heavens and are perfected by means of knowledges, even to angelic intelligence and wisdom, may be seen in the work on Heaven and Hell 329-345, and Heaven and Hell 4.

The Lord is called "the Prince of Peace", because He is Peace itself. Innocence and Peace are the two inmost principles of heaven; they are called "inmost principles", because they proceed immediately from the Lord; for the Lord is Innocence itself and Peace itself. The Lord, from innocence, is called a "Lamb", and from peace says - "Peace I leave to you, My peace I give to you"; (John 14:27) and is also meant by the "peace" with which the disciples were to salute a city or a house which they entered, and of which it is said that "if it was worthy, peace would come upon it, and if not worthy, peace would return.". (Matthew 10:11-15)

Hence also the Lord is called "the Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)

A further reason why Innocence and Peace are the inmost principles of heaven, is, because innocence is the esse of all Good" and peace is the blessed principle of every delight which is of Good. See the work on Heaven and Hell, In respect to the state of Innocence of the angels of Heaven, n. 276-283; and in respect to Peace in Heaven, n. 284-290. Conjugial Love 394.

7. Of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end; upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to establish it, and to strengthen it, in judgment and in justice, henceforth and for ever: the zeal of Jehovah of Hosts will do this.

Verse 7. Of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end, etc. - "Speaking of the Lord and His kingdom. His spiritual kingdom is signified by the "throne of David", and because this kingdom is in divine Truths from divine Good, It is said "to establish it in judgment and in justice." That "judgment" and "judgments" signify divine Truths, is, because the laws of government in the Lord's spiritual kingdom are called Judgments, but the laws of government in the Lord's celestial kingdom are called Justice; for the laws of government in the Lord's spiritual kingdom are laws from divine Truth and the laws of government in the Lord's celestial kingdom are laws from divine Good. Hence it is that in the Word mention is made of "judgment and justice" in very many places, as in Isaiah 9:7; 33:5; Jeremiah 9:24; 33:5; Hosea 2:19, 20. Apocalypse Explained 946.

Upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to establish it, and to strengthen it in judgment and in justice, etc. - "In justice and in judgment" denotes in the truths of faith and in the good things of charity. Arcana Coelestia 2235.

The zeal of Jehovah of Hosts will do this. - "The zeal of Jehovah will do this", signifies that He will do it from an ardent love of saving the human race. "Zeal" is predicated of Good; but the phrase "zealous [or jealous] God" is employed in respect to those who do not reserve the divine Truth of the divine Good of the Lord, and it consequently denotes what is false and evil. For they who are in the opposite principle perceive divine Truth as the false and divine Good as evil. For everyone sees those principles from his own quality. Hence it is that the "zeal" of the Lord, which in itself is love and pity, appears to them as anger; for when the Lord, out of love and mercy, protects His own in heaven, they who are in evil are indignant and angry against the good, and rush into the sphere where the divine Truth and divine Good are, with the attempt to destroy those who are in that sphere; and in this case the divine Truth of the divine Good operates upon them, and makes them sensible of torments such as exist in hell; hence it is that they ascribe to the Divine [Being]wrath and anger, and also all evil, whereas in the Divine there is nothing at all of anger, and nothing whatever of evil, but pure clemency and mercy. It is to be noted that Jehovah, that is, the Lord, is especially called "zealous" or "avenger", when that principle is corrupted which ought, universally to reign with the man of the church, namely, the Divine principle [which is love to the Lord above all things, and the love of the neighbour as ourselves]. This principle ought above all things to be loved, to be thought of, and to be feared; for when this divine principle is corrupted or destroyed, then instead of heavenly light, mere thick darkness usurps its place, for there is no longer any influx thereof from the Divine, because there is no reception. Arcana Coelestia 8875.

8. The Lord has sent a Word into Jacob and it has fallen in Israel.

9. And all the people shall know, Ephraim, and the inhabitant of Samaria; in pride and arrogance of heart; saying,

Verse 8. The Lord has sent a Word, etc. "Word." here signifies the doctrine of internal and external worship; "Jacob", external worship; and "Israel", internal. Arcana Coelestia 1288.

Verses 9, 10. Ephraim and Samaria shall know, in pride and arrogance of heart, saying, The bricks have fallen, but we will build with hewn stone, etc. - That "Ephraim" signifies the understanding of the Word, either in a good or bad sense, see above, Chapter 7:2, the Exposition.

"Stone", in the Word, signifies Truth; hence "brick", as being made by man, signifies what is false; for brick is stone artificially made. That "brick" has this signification, may also appear from the following passages, as in Isaiah, "I have spread My hands all the day to a rebellious people, who walk in a way that is not good, after their own thoughts; who sacrifice in gardens, and burn incense upon bricks." (Isaiah 65:2, 3)

To "burn incense upon bricks", signifies to perform worship grounded in what is fallacious and false; wherefore they are said to "walk after their own thoughts."

Again, in the same Prophet,

"All the people shall know, even Ephraim, and the inhabitants of Samaria, that say in pride and arrogance of heart, The bricks have fallen, but we will build with hewn stone" (Isaiah 9:9, 10), where "Ephraim" denotes one that is intelligent, who is fallen into perverseness, and who calls falsities or "bricks" truths, or [by falsification] makes them so"; hewn stone" signifies what is fictitious.

See also Nahum 3:14, 15; Ezekiel 4:1. Arcana Coelestia 1296. [What is meant by "making bricks" to build the tower of Babel, may be seen in the same number.]

We will build with hewn stone. - To "build altars with hewn stone" is to devise and concoct doctrines from self-intelligence, and not from the Word. For "hewn stones", as will now be shown, signify doctrines derived from man's own intelligence, formed for the purpose of maintaining some selfish and worldly principles, as of honour, gain, power, etc., and not from the Word, for the purpose of salvation and of eternal ends.

"Stones", not cut or hewn, signify truths, (see Arcana Coelestia 8940) but to "cut" or to "hew" them denotes to hatch or devise truths, or such things as are like truths, from the proprium, or from self-intelligence; for those things which are hatched or devised from the proprium, or from self-intelligence, have life from man, which life is no life, for the proprium of man is nothing but evil, n. Arcana Coelestia 210, 215; whereas the things which are not from the proprium, but from the Divine, have life in them, for all life is from the Divine.

The subject here treated of [in Exodus 20:25] is concerning the worship of the Lord from truth, for this worship is signified by "an altar of stones", Arcana Coelestia 8940. The truths from which the Lord is to be worshipped ought to be taken from the Word only, for in every single thing of the Word there is life from the Divine; when truths are taken from the proprium, they respect and have for an end dignity and eminence over all in the world, and also the possessions of the earth and opulence above all, wherefore they have in them the love of self and of the world, thus all evils in the complex, Arcana Coelestia 7488, 8318; but the truths which are from the Word, respect and have for an end eternal life, and have in them love to the Lord, and love towards the neighbour, thus all goods in the complex. When truths are hatched from the proprium, or from self-intelligence, they domineer over the truths which are from the Divine, for these latter are applied to confirm the former; when yet the contrary ought to be the case, that is, that truths from the Divine ought to have dominion, and those which are from self-intelligence ought to serve. Those which are from the proprium, or from self-intelligence, are called truths, but they are not truths, - they only appear as truths in the external form, for they are rendered like truths by applications from the literal sense of the Word and by reasonings; but in the internal form they are falsities: what and of what quality they are, see above, Arcana Coelestia 8932. There are in the world two religious corruptions which are from self-intelligence; one, in which the love of self and of the world is all; this religious corruption in the Word is called Babel, being inwardly profane by reason of the love of self and of the world, and outwardly holy by reason of the Word, which has been applied to confirm. The other religious corruption is that in which the lumen of nature is all; they who are in it acknowledge nothing for truth which they do not apprehend. Some of this religious corruption acknowledge the Word, but they apply it to confirm, thus to serve; some however do not acknowledge the Word, but place the Divine in nature, for their lumen, inasmuch as it is of nature, falls into nature, nor can it be illustrated by the light of heaven, because they reject the Word, whence all illustration comes. Both they of the latter and of the former religious corruption are in hell, because they are void of heavenly life, which they cannot receive because they have rejected the Word; such of them as have applied the Word to confirm, have made the Word of no account in their hearts, but since its authority prevails amongst the vulgar, they use it for this service, to give weight to the devices derived from self-intelligence. From these considerations it may be manifest what is signified in the spiritual sense by the statute, that "an altar should not be built of hewn stones." (Exodus 20:25)

By "hewn stone" is also signified that which is from self-intelligence in the following passages:

"That the people of Ephraim may know, and the inhabitants of Samaria, because of their arrogance and pride of heart, saying, The "bricks have fallen, but we will build with hewn stone." (Isaiah 9:9, 10)

And in Jeremiah,

"Although I cry and lift up my voice, He obstructs my prayers; He has hedged up my ways with hewn stone, He has overturned my paths." (Lamentations 3:8, 9)

And in Amos,

"Inasmuch as you tread him that is worn, and snatch from him the burden of corn, you shall build houses of hewn stone, but shall not dwell in them." (Amos 5:11)

In these passages, "hewn stone" denotes such things in the doctrines of faith as are from self-intelligence. Inasmuch as those things were signified by "hewn stone", therefore the altar at first erected in the land of Canaan by the sons of Israel, after they had passed Jordan, was built of unhewn stones, for by the "passage over Jordan" was represented introduction into the kingdom of the Lord, which is effected by the truths of faith; concerning that "altar." it is thus written in Joshua:

"Joshua built an altar to the God of Israel in Mount Ebal, as Moses the servant of Jehovah commanded the sons of Israel; an altar of entire stones, upon which he had not moved iron." (Joshua 8:31; Deuteronomy 27:1-8)

The temple of Jerusalem, in like manner, was built of entire stones not hewn, concerning which it is thus written in the first book of the Kings:

"As to the house itself, when it was to be built, it was built of stone entire, as it was brought; for hammer or axe, any instruments of iron, were not heard in the house when it was building" (1 Kings 6:7),

for by the "temple of the Lord" was represented the Lord as to Divine Truth; that the Lord was represented by the "temple", He Himself teaches; (John 2:19, 21, 22) and the reason why He was represented as to Divine Truth was, because it was there taught; wherefore also it was built of stones for by "stones" was signified Divine Truth. (Arcana Coelestia 8940); hence also the Lord Himself was called the "Stone of Israel", (Arcana Coelestia 6426).

From these considerations it is now evident what was signified by the "stone of the altar", and what also by the "stone of the temple", likewise by the "stones being entire", and not hewn" that is, that religion was to be formed of Truths from the Lord, thus from the Word, and not from self-intelligence. Arcana Coelestia 8941.

10. The bricks have fallen, but we will build with hewn stone; the sycamores are cut down, but we will change them for cedars:

11. Therefore will Jehovah raise up the adversaries of Retzin against him, and mingle his enemies together;

Verse 10. The sycamores are cut down, but we will change them for cedars. - ["Sycamores", as associated with." bricks", are the knowledges of Truth in the natural mind perverted. (Apocalypse Explained 503, 815)

To "change them for cedars" is to make those perversions appear rational by false reasoning, and thus by falsifications, for the "cedar" corresponds to the rational perception of Truth; (Apocalypse Explained 388, 514, 654), but in the opposite sense the "cedar" signifies the interior pride of self-derived intelligence, (Apocalypse Explained 470) as shown above, Chapter 2:13, the Exposition.]

12. The Syrians from the east, and the Philistines from the west; and they shall devour. Israel with open mouth. For all this His anger is not turned back, but His hand is stretched out still.

13. For this people have not turned unto Him that smote them; and Jehovah of Hosts they have not sought;

Verse 12. The Syrians before, or front the east, and the Philistines behind, or from, the west, shall devour Israel, etc. - That by "Syria", or the "Syrians", is meant the knowledges of good, and in the opposite sense [as in this passage], those knowledges perverted, was shown above. (Chapter 7:4, the Exposition)

The "Philistines" signify, in a bad sense, those who are in the science of knowledges only, and not in the life, and who have rejected the doctrinals of charity, and acknowledged the doctrinals of faith [only]; and because such are principled in the loves of self and of gain, they are called "uncircumicised"; but in a good sense, the "Philistines" signify those who are in the doctrine of faith, and, as to life, in the good of Truth. Arcana Coelestia 3412, 3413, 3463.

Verses 12, 17, 21. His anger is not turned back, etc. - In many parts of the Word, we read of anger, wrath, vengeance, etc., as ascribed to God, but when "anger" is attributed to Jehovah, it does not mean anger, but the opposite to anger, thus mercy. That Jehovah has not any anger, is evident from this consideration, that He is Love itself, Good itself, and Mercy itself, and anger is an opposite, and also an Infirmity which cannot be predicated of God; wherefore when "anger" in the Word is predicated of Jehovah, or the Lord, the angels do not perceive anger, but either mercy or the removal of the evil from heaven. The reason why "anger" is attributed to Jehovah, or the Lord in the Word, is because it is a most general truth that all things come from God, thus both evils and goods; but this most general truth, which is intended for infants, for children, and the simple, ought afterwards to be illustrated, that is, by showing that evils are from man, but that they appear as if they were from God, and that it is so said to the intent that they may learn to fear God, and not perish by the evils which they do, and that afterwards they may love Him; for fear must precede love, to the intent that in love there may be holy fear; for when fear is insinuated into love, it becomes holy from the holy principle of love, and in such case it is not a fear of Lord's anger and punishment, but a fear lest they should act against essential Good, because this will torment the conscience. Moreover, the Israelites and Jews were driven to observe the statutes and precepts in the external form by punishments, and hence they believed that Jehovah was angry and punished, when yet they themselves induced such things by their idolatry; hence by "anger", wrath" are meant the punishments and damnations into which man casts himself, when into evils. That punishment and damnation, are signified by "anger", appears from John 3:36. Arcana Coelestia 6997.

14. Therefore shall Jehovah cut off from Israel the head and the tail; the branch and the rush, in one day:

15. The elder and the honourable, he is the head; and the prophet that teacheth falsehood, he is the tail.

16. For the leaders of this people cause them to err; and they that are led by them shall be swallowed up.

Verses 14, 15. By these words is understood that all intelligence and wisdom is about to perish, and all the knowledge of Truth. By the "head" is signified intelligence and Wisdom, wherefore, it is said, "the elder and the honourable is the head"; for the "elder" signifies the intelligence of truth, and the "honourable", the wisdom of good.

But by the "tail" is signified the sensual scientific principle which is the ultimate of intelligence and wisdom; and when this is not conjoined with spiritual intelligence, it becomes a false scientific principle, or the scientific principle applied to confirm falsities, which is the sensual scientific, such as appertains to the sensual man, who sees nothing from the understanding.

Hence it is that "the prophet who teacheth a falsehood" is called a "tail", for, by a "prophet" is signified the doctrine of truth, and hence the knowledge or truth; but in this case the doctrine is the knowledge of what is false, for "falsehood " or a lie signifies the false, and the "teacher of a lie", him who teacheth the false, by applying scientifics from the literal sense of the Word to the confirmation of falsities. Similar things are signified by " the branch and the rush"; for the "branch" denotes spiritual truth, and the "rush" sensual scientific, which is ultimate truth, for if the prior and the posterior, or the first and the last, do not make one with man, he is not a perfect man. Apocalypse Explained 559.

That the "tail" [in a good sense] signifies Truth in ultimates, and in the opposite sense, falsity, is evident from Isaiah 9:14, 15.

To "cut off the head and the tail", in a spiritual sense, is to destroy what is Good and True; for the church is here treated of, which when devastated the "head" signifies evil, and the "tail" what is false.

That the "head" is goodness, may be seen, Arcana Coelestia 4938; in like manner the "old man" or "elder", Arcana Coelestia 6524; that it is a "prophet" who teaches Truth, and in the opposite sense falsity, may be seen, Arcana Coelestia 2534.

In the opposite sense, therefore, the "head" is evil, and also the "elder" and the "honourable", who do evil; and the "tail", in the opposite sense, is the false; and also the "prophet"; hence it is said, "the teacher of a lie", for a "lie" is the false. Arcana Coelestia 10071.

17. Wherefore the Lord shall not rejoice over their young men; and on their orphans and their widows He shall have no compassion: for every one of them is a hypocrite and an evil-doer, and every mouth speaks folly. For all this His anger is not turned back; but His hand is stretched out still.

18. For wickedness burns like a fire: the brier and the thorn it shall consume, and it shall kindle the thicket of the wood; and they shall mount up in a volume of smoke.

Verses 17-19. Every one of them is a hypocrite and an evil doer; for wickedness burns like a fire, etc. - Cupidities from which falsities spring are no otherwise than firebrands kindled at a furnace, as is evident from representatives in the other life, concerning which see from experience, Arcana Coelestia 814, 1528. Such are the cupidities of hatreds of various kinds, of revenge, of cruelty, and of adultery; and this is still more the case with such as have practised deceit, and have mixed these cupidities with hypocrisy. That by a "furnace", by " smoke", and by "fire", such things are meant, when mentioned in the Word, is evident from Isaiah - "Everyone of them is a hypocrite and an evil doer", etc.; (Isaiah 9:17-19) where "fire" is hatred, and the "volume or rising up of smoke" signifies the falsities thence derived. Hatred is described by "a man not sparing his brother." Those who are in such a state, when inspected by angels, appear no otherwise than as here described. Arcana Coelestia 1861.

[For the signification of "orphans and widows" in this passage, see Chapter 10:1, 2, the Exposition, but here in an opposite sense, namely, such as are destitute of the knowledges of what is Good and True; and who, nevertheless, do not desire them, but remain merely natural and unregenerate.]

19. Through the wrath of Jehovah of Hosts is the land darkened, and the people shall be as food for the fire: a man shall not spare his brother.

20. But he shall cut down on the right hand, and yet be hungry; and he shall devour on the left, and not be satisfied: every man shall devour the flesh of his own arm:

21. Manasseh, Ephraim; and Ephraim, Manasseh: and these together shall be against Judah. For all this His anger is not turned back, but His hand is stretched out still.

Verses 19-21. Without the spiritual sense no one can understand these words, nor even the subject treated of, which is concerning the extinction of Good by the false, and of Truth by evil. The perversion of the church by the false, is understood by "the land being darkened through the wrath of Jehovah of Hosts"; and the perversion thereof by evil, is understood by the "people becoming food for the fire." "The land darkened", signifies the church where there is not Truth but the false, and "food for the fire" signifies the consuming thereof by the love of evil; "fire" denoting the love of evil. The false destroying the Good, is understood by " a man shall not spare his brother; "man" and "brother" signifying Truth and Good; but, in the present case "man" the false, and " brother" the good, because it is said that "one shall not spare the other. The consequent deprivation of all Good and of all Truth, howsoever it may be inquired after, is understood by the words, "if he shall cut down on the right hand, he shall yet be hungry; and if he shall eat on the left hand, he shall not be satisfied"; the "right hand" signifying good from which truth is derived, and the "left hand", truth from good; to "cut down" and to "eat" those things, signifies to inquire and to hunger after;' and "not to be satisfied", denotes to be deprived.

The extinction of all Truth by evil, and of all Good by the false, is understood by "they shall eat every man the flesh of his own arm"; the "flesh of the arm" denoting the power of good by truth; "man" denoting the false, and to "eat or devour" denoting to extinguish.

That all the will of Good and understanding of Truth thence perishes, is understood by "Manasseh eating Ephraim, and Ephraim, Manasseh"; that "Manasseh" is the will of good, and "Ephraim" the understanding of truth, may be seen in Arcana Coelestia 3969, 5354, 6222.

That this is the case with those who are in evils and falsities, is understood by "they together against Judah"; for when the will is in good, and the understanding in truth, then they are with Judah, inasmuch as they are both with him; but when the will is in evil, and the understanding in the false, then "they are together against Judah." Apocalypse Explained 386. See also 600, 617.

"To eat the flesh of his own arm", "Manasseh, Ephraim", etc., signifies that the will-principle of the man of the church will be against his intellectual-principle, and vice versa, his intellect against his will. Arcana Coelestia 5354.

---
Isaiah Chapter 9

1. FOR the gloom shall not be [such] as was its oppression in the former time, when He despised the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali; but in the latter time He will honour them by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the nations.

2. The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwelled in the land of the shadow of death, upon them has the light shined.

3. You have multiplied the nation, You have increased their joy: they rejoice before you, as with the joy of harvest; as they exult who divide the spoil.

4. For the yoke of their burden, the staff of their shoulder, the rod of their oppressor, have You broken, as in the day of Midian.

5. For every warlike band shall be dismayed by the earthquake; all the garment rolled in bloods shall be for burning, even food for the fire.

6. For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The Father of Eternity, The Prince of Peace.

7. Of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end; upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to establish it, and to strengthen it, in judgment and in justice, henceforth and for ever: the zeal of Jehovah of Hosts will do this.

8. The Lord has sent a Word into Jacob and it has fallen in Israel.

9. And all the people shall know, Ephraim, and the inhabitant of Samaria; in pride and arrogance of heart; saying,

10. The bricks have fallen, but we will build with hewn stone; the sycamores are cut down, but we will change them for cedars:

11. Therefore will Jehovah raise up the adversaries of Retzin against him, and mingle his enemies together;

12. The Syrians from the east, and the Philistines from the west; and they shall devour. Israel with open mouth. For all this His anger is not turned back, but His hand is stretched out still.

13. For this people have not turned unto Him that smote them; and Jehovah of Hosts they have not sought;

14. Therefore shall Jehovah cut off from Israel the head and the tail; the branch and the rush, in one day:

15. The elder and the honourable, he is the head; and the prophet that teacheth falsehood, he is the tail.

16. For the leaders of this people cause them to err; and they that are led by them shall be swallowed up.

17. Wherefore the Lord shall not rejoice over their young men; and on their orphans and their widows He shall have no compassion: for every one of them is a hypocrite and an evil-doer, and every mouth speaks folly. For all this His anger is not turned back; but His hand is stretched out still.

18. For wickedness burns like a fire: the brier and the thorn it shall consume, and it shall kindle the thicket of the wood; and they shall mount up in a volume of smoke.

19. Through the wrath of Jehovah of Hosts is the land darkened, and the people shall be as food for the fire: a man shall not spare his brother.

20. But he shall cut down on the right hand, and yet be hungry; and he shall devour on the left, and not be satisfied: every man shall devour the flesh of his own arm:

21. Manasseh, Ephraim; and Ephraim, Manasseh: and these together shall be against Judah. For all this His anger is not turned back, but His hand is stretched out still.

From Swedenborg's Works

Main explanations:

The Inner Meaning of the Prophets and Psalms 9


Other references to this verse:

Arcana Coelestia 1416, 1736, 1754, 2235, 2921, 3780, 5044, ...

Apocalypse Revealed 306, 668

Conjugial Love 394

Divine Love and Wisdom 38

The Lord 6, 38

Sacred Scripture 85

Heaven and Hell 216, 287

True Christian Religion 51, 95, 303


References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 253, 365, 946

Coronis (An Appendix to True Christian Religion) 60

Marriage 51, 95

Scriptural Confirmations 2

Other New Christian Commentary

  Stories and their meanings:


  PDF Resources


Word/Phrase Explanations

Government
Government upon his shoulder,' as in Isaiah 9:5, 6, signifies all divine truth in the heavens from the Lord himself, because the heavens are distinguished...

peace
In ordinary life, we tend to think of "peace" as essentially "a lack of conflict." As a nation, if we're not at war, it's a...

Throne of David
'The throne of David,' as in Isaiah 9:6, signifies the Lord's spiritual kingdom.

throne
'The Lord's throne' signifies, in general, the whole heaven, and specifically, the spiritual heaven, and by extension, divine truth proceeding, and so, everything of heaven...

david
David is one of the most significant figures in the Bible. He was a musician, one of history’s greatest poets, the boy warrior who killed...

Judgment
Judgement' pertains to the Lord's divine human and holy proceeding. Judgment' has two sides, a principle of good, and a principle of truth. The faithful...

justice
'Justice' signifies both good and truth.

ever
'Perpetual' in the literal sense, means to the end of one’s life, after death, and eternity.

the Lord
The Bible refers to the Lord in many different ways, which from the text seem indistinguishable and interchangeable. Understood in the internal sense, though, there...

lord
The Lord, in the simplest terms, is love itself expressed as wisdom itself. In philosophic terms, love is the Lord's substance and wisdom is His...

Hosts
When the divine power of good or omnipotence is being discussed in the Word, then says 'Jehovah Zebaoth,' or 'Jehovah of hosts,' and also 'Lord,'...

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.


 Christmas Prophecies
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 Christ the King
As you celebrate Easter this year, you can remember the Lord’s suffering, but more importantly, we can rejoice in the success of the Lord’s mission while He lived on earth. He brought the heavens into order and conquered the hells. He provided for people’s freedom to choose a life of heaven, and He showed how He is indeed our Heavenly King. Sample from the Jacob’s Ladder Program, Level 5, for ages 10-11.
Religion Lesson | Ages 10 - 11

 Do Not Be Afraid
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 His Name Is Wonderful
Article | Ages 15 - 17

 His Name Shall Be Called
Make a picture of the Lord, think about the names mentioned in Isaiah 9, and write the names around the picture.
Project | Ages 4 - 14

 His Name Will Be Called: The Development of the Lord in Our Lives
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 I Am the Light of the World
This sermon explores light and darkness, focusing on how the prophecy in Isaiah (9:2) can help us understand the nature of God, what He longs to do, and the kind of life to which He leads us.
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 Light in the Darkness
Children will enjoy using special materials to picture the bright, beautiful light that the Lord brought into the world when He was born on earth.
Project | Ages up to 10

 Memory Verse: Glory of the Lord
Activity | Ages 4 - 14

 Memory Verse: Prophecies of the Advent
Activity | Ages 4 - 14

 Memory Verse: Unto Us a Child Is Born
Activity | Ages 4 - 14

 Names of the Lord
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 9 - 12

 Prophecies of the Messiah
One of the most important events in the history of human beings is the birth of the Lord on earth as an infant. By the time the Lord was actually born, the truths of the Word had been lost or perverted. But there had been prophets who told people that the Lord was going to come on earth and gave them hope. Sample from the Jacob’s Ladder Program, Level 6, for ages 11-12.
Religion Lesson | Ages 11 - 12

 Quotes: Prophecies of the Advent
Teaching Support | Ages over 15

 Quotes: Unto Us a Child Is Born
Teaching Support | Ages over 15

 The Lord Is the Hero of War
Color picture of the Commander of the Lord's army appearing to Joshua.
Picture | All Ages

 The Prince of Peace
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 Unto Us a Child Is Born
The prophecy "Unto Us a Child Is Born" printed in a color border.
Picture | Ages over 15

 Why the Lord Has Different Names
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 Why the Lord Was Born on Earth
Lesson outline provides teaching ideas with questions for discussion, projects, and activities.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 7 - 10

 Wonderful
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14


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