Commentary

 

The Gate of the Year      

By Rev. Emily Jane Lemole

The Gate of the Year
A sermon by Rev. Emily Jane Lemole

Readings:
Isaiah 26:1-4, 42:5-8
Matthew 7:7-14
Revelation 22:14
Secrets of Heaven 2851

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And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year, “Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.”

And he replied, “Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God. That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.”

So I went forth, and finding the Hand of God, trod gladly into the night. And He led me towards the hills and the breaking of day in the lone East.

by Minnie Louise Haskins
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We are standing at the Gate of the Year, a threshold to the unknown in many ways. “Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.”

We read many passages from the Word and the Writings about gates. Gates provide a connection between what is inside and what is outside. They suggest a choice – whether to open or shut it – whether to come in or stay out.

A closed gate makes us hesitate and stop. In this Sufi saying the gates provide thoughtfulness and reflection about what we say:

Before you speak, let your words pass through three gates.
At the first gate, ask yourself, “is it true?”
At the second ask, “is it necessary?”
At the third gate ask “is it kind?”

How best to begin this New Year? There are the usual resolutions – to lose weight, be healthier, be more organized, and spend more time with loved ones. But there are deeper resolutions or intentions that are crying out for a new start, a fresh beginning. Number 1 – putting God in the center of our lives – seeing the Lord Jesus Christ as the beginning, middle and end of our day. A good habit is to pray – a lifting up of our perspective – of our priorities – several times a day. Even the physical action of looking up and pausing can shift an annoyed, resentful mood into a moment of correction – a turnaround of most of what we fuss about.

Sub specie aeternitatis is a great reminder. Under the auspices of eternity – what matters? Not most of what worries and upsets us. In the long view, with God at the center, what really matters becomes evident and what doesn’t diminishes.

So how do we put our hand into the hand of God? How do we open the gates of our minds and hearts to all that is good and true, wise, kind and peaceful? How do we shut the door to selfishness, unkindness, resentfulness, ingratitude and violence?

By what we do every day.

“The way we do anything is the way we do everything,” says Fr. Richard Rohr, the Franciscan priest.

What do we pay attention to and give our time to? What do we love?

A New Year seems a good time to take inventory, a reflection on last year, not so much what we have accomplished as who we are becoming. What matters most to us? What are our priorities? Or as Swedenborg would ask, What do we love? For we are what we love!

We learn that there are two gates that are in each of us. The Gate to Heaven, surrounded by angels, leads to what is good and what is true.

And the Gate to Hell, surrounded by evil spirits, leads to what is evil and false.

These gates are in us. We get to choose, and what determines our choice? What we love!

Every year, every week, every day, every moment we have the freedom to choose who we are, what brings us pleasure, how we spend our precious time – what we love and how we love.

And let’s remember that if we don’t honestly like what we see in our inventory, we can repent! Turn around! Change our direction! Change our minds! Change our loves!

Swedenborg describes what we cannot see – our spiritual companions – the company we keep and are for the most part unaware of. Like guests, they come by invitation.

We are surrounded by spiritual guests, invited by our states of mind and heart: Through the Heavenly Gates come the angels and good spirits; from the Hellish Gates come the evil or bad spirits. My highschool Latin teacher used to refer to these as the “Basement Boys”.

It is out of fashion today to speak of evil, guilt, repentance or hell. These terms have become obsolete, uncomfortable and ones we really don’t want to be reminded of. But from everything Swedenborg teaches, these are spiritual realities.

Evil is very much alive and well in our world (if one reads the papers and watches TV) and in each one of us, recognized with some introspection! When we honestly become aware of our own intentions and emotions, we know this!

Evil, with its twin, falsity, is everything that is against God, that is selfish, dishonest, greedy, mean and cruel. But evil can also appear with a deceptive face – we can justify our resentments, our ingratitude, our unforgiving stance. Sin means missing the mark, the mark being God. All that draws us away from God makes us miss that mark!

Guilt – a very necessary emotion that makes us want to repent – not to wallow in, but to lead us to repentance – to persuade us to change course!

And evil spirits – these are the very real spiritual companions that we are told are fighting for our attention, and in the end, for our spiritual life. We are in the balance. We are between two gates.

An ancient Buddhist proverb teaches: Everyone is given the key to the Gates of Heaven; the same key opens the Gates of Hell.” The key is what we love.

Every decision we make feeds either our proprium (our unregenerate will) or feeds our "remains" – that inviolate treasure, a storehouse of all the good and true things we have experienced since before birth. Remains are our birthright, and we draw from it and add to it forever with true thoughts and good deeds.

Since the number one focus of most New Year’s resolutions is to lose weight (and I’m not against that, if needed) let’s try to use that concept for a spiritual weight loss – losing the burden of negative emotion, the bad habits of criticism, complaint, gossip, irritation, annoyance, being easily offended, anger – the list we know goes on and on. The diet for this weight loss is good thoughts, honest behavior, truthful intentions. Turning off the bad news, turning on the good news. Supporting a hopeful optimism that encourages others; kind acts that look for no return.

Think on these things, Paul writes in his letter to the Philippians.

“Whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy meditate on these things.” Philippians 4:8.

And the exercise required for this transformation of the soul’s health is spiritual practice – the exercise that brings the abstract into the real, the doing of what we say we believe. Perhaps this year we can embrace a spiritual exercise:

- Meditation
- Prayer
- Lectio Devina – slow, purposeful reading of Scripture and other Holy Books.

A dear friend of mine makes a habit of thinking about which type of spirits are influencing her, and then asking the Lord to send away the harmful influences, when there. Also, she has developed a practice of thanking the Lord for all good things when they happen.

We can open the Gates of Heaven. Angels can rush in at any time that we cause the gates to swing open by loving what is good, what is true, the Lord and one another. These choices open those gates.

We all need reminders to help us make the right choices. We forget so quickly and are distracted by the loud noise of our times. We are plugged into T.V., radio, our computers, phones and i-pads -- a secular culture that is immersed in what is natural, not spiritual. But it is not natural for us to turn away and turn toward God and the Heavenly gates. It is unnatural. It is spiritual. Here are a few reminders that I have found helpful.

SET A TIME FOR AN APPOINTMENT WITH THE LORD: Every morning and before bedtime are two commonly used times to reserve for the Lord. When feeling angry, raise your thoughts and vision upward, and ask for the angels at the gate for assistance. Try a phrase learned from one of our daughter’s friends: Bless and release! Work toward seeing God in everyone and in all things.

Let ugly states pass – bless your enemies, remembering that those who disagree or dislike us are likely our best spiritual teachers. We can see our response to them, usually a response that mirrors the behavior that irritates us. Love our enemies, we are told, as well as our neighbor.

We need to watch our thoughts.

From the Ancient Vedas:

"Watch your thoughts, they become words.
Watch your words, they become actions.
Watch your actions, they become habits.
Watch your habits, they become character.
Watch your character, it becomes your destiny."

Most important is to detect what we love, for that will determine which gate we hang around, and later, enter.

How auspicious it is that we have Holy Communion as we enter the New Year. What better way to begin, seeking first the kingdom of Heaven – putting what matters most into the forefront?

This is a beautiful prayer by Sister Joyce Rupp:

SACRED MYSTERY,
Waiting on the threshold
of this new year,
you open the gates
And beckon to me:

(You say) “Come! Come!
Be not wary of what awaits you
as you enter the unknown terrain,
be not doubtful of your ability
to grow from its joys and sorrows.

For I am with you,
I will be your Guide.
I will be your Protector
You will never be alone.”

Guardian of this new year,
I set aside my fears, worries, concerns,
I open my life to mystery, to beauty,
to hospitality to questions,
to the endless opportunity
of discovering you in my relationships,
and to all the silent wisps of wonder
that will draw me to your heart.

I welcome your unfailing Presence
And walk with hope into this New Year.

---

“Go out into the darkness, and put your hand into the hand of God.”

It really matters as we stand at the Gate of the New Year whose hand we will take – whose inspiration we will follow and whose influence may determine who we are becoming.

From Psalm 118:19-20:
“Open to me the gates of righteousness;
I will go through them,
And I will praise the Lord.
This is the gate of the Lord,
By which the righteous shall enter.”

Amen!

The Bible

 

Isaiah 26:1-4

English: King James Version         

Study the Inner Meaning

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1 In that day shall this song be sung in the land of Judah; We have a strong city; salvation will God appoint for walls and bulwarks.

2 Open ye the gates, that the righteous nation which keepeth the truth may enter in.

3 Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.

4 Trust ye in the LORD for ever: for in the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting strength:

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   Study the Inner Meaning

Explanation of Isaiah 26      

By Rev. John H. Smithson

THE EXPLANATION of Isaiah Chapter 26

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

1. In that day shall this song be sung in the land of Judah: We have a strong city; salvation shall He establish for walls and bulwarks.

Verse 1. In the Word. the things relating to the spiritual church are compared to a city, which has a wall, bulwarks, gates and bolts; and by the assaults of that city are described the assault of Truth by falsities on which account also a city signifies doctrinals, (see Arcana Coelestia 402, 2268) and a wall the truths of faith which, defend; and in the opposite sense, the falsities which are destroyed. That a wall signifies the truths of faith which defend, is evident from Isaiah 26:1:

"We have a strong city", etc.

Again,

"You shall call your walls Salvation, and your gates Praise. (Isaiah 60:18; see also (Jeremiah 20:5; Lamentations 2:8, 9)

That a wall, in the opposite sense, signifies the falsities which are destroyed, see a above, Chapter 25:12, the Exposition. Arcana Coelestia 6419.

In that day shall this song be sung. etc. - As to singing, when mentioned in the Word, see Chapter 12:2, the Exposition.

Verses 1, 2. We have a strong city; salvation shall He establish for walls and bulwarks. Open you the gates, that the just nation keeping fidelities may enter. - A "strong city" here signifies the doctrine of genuine Truth, which falsities cannot destroy; "walls and bulwarks" signify truths for defence; "gates" signify admission, as may be seen above, Apocalypse Explained 208; a "just nation keeping fidelities" denotes those who are in goods, and thence in truths. Apocalypse Explained 223.

2. Open you the gates, that the just nation keeping fidelities may enter.

3. [Him] whose mind is staid [on You], You will keep in perfect peace: because he trusts in You.

Verse 2. According to the sense of the letter, it is here understood that they who are "just and faithful" should be admitted into those cities; but according to the internal sense, that such should be admitted into the church. For" gates" signify admission; a "just nation", those who are in good; "keeping fidelities", those who are thence in truths. Apocalypse Explained 208.

4. Trust you in Jehovah for ever: for in Jah Jehovah is the rock of eternity:

Verse 4. Here "Jehovah" and "Rock" are mentioned, because by "Jehovah" is understood the Lord as to Divine Good, and by "Rock" the Lord as to Divine Truth. Apocalypse Explained 411.

In Jah, Jehovah, etc. - As to the specific meaning of "Jah", see above, Chapter 12:2, the Exposition.

The Rock of eternity. - For the signification of "Rock", as applied to the Lord, see above, Chapter 16:1, the Exposition.

5. For He has humbled those that dwell on high; the lofty city, He has brought her down: He has brought her down to the ground; He has levelled her with the dust.

Verse 5. For He has humbled those that dwell on high, etc.

- See Chapter 2:12-17; 14:13, the Exposition. To "bring down to the ground and to level with the dust", denotes a state of condemnation, [or an entire separation from heaven.] Arcana Coelestia 258.

"Dust" denotes what is damned; and the reason is, because [in the spiritual world] the places where evil spirits are, appear as earth, and indeed as uncultivated and dry ground, under which are certain hells. That earth is what is called "damned earth", and the "dust" there signifies what is damned.

Occasionally it has been given me to see, that the evil spirits there shook off the dust from their feet when they were desirous to damn anyone. Hence then it is, that by "dust" is signified what is damned; and by "shaking off dust", damnation. It was in consequence of this signification that the disciples were commanded by the Lord to "shake off the dust from their feet", if they were not received. Arcana Coelestia 7418.

6. The foot shall trample upon her; the feet of the afflicted, the steps of the needy.

7. The way of the just is uprightness: the path of the just is straight; You make it level.

Verse 6. Your are called "poor" who have not the Word, and thus know nothing concerning the Lord, and yet desire to be instructed. Arcana Coelestia 9209.

[Their "trampling upon the lofty city", signifies that such as are in simple good, and desire to be instructed in truths, will rise above false doctrines which originate in self-intelligence.]

8. Yea, as to the way of Your judgments, O Jehovah, we have waited for You; to Your name, and to the remembrance of You is the desire of our soul.

Verse 8. In many passages in the Word it is said, "For the sake of the name of Jehovah", "for 'the sake of the name of the Lord", "for the sake of the name of Jesus Christ", "that the name of God should be sanctified", and such like. They who do not think beyond the sense of the letter, are of opinion that name alone is understood, whereas name is not understood, but all that by which the Lord is worshipped, all which has relation to love and faith; hence by the "name" of the Lord, in the Word, are understood all things of love and of faith by which He is worshipped, but in this case the acknowledgement of the Lord, and of the knowledges of truth which respect Him, because this is said to those who only study knowledges. The reason why by the "name" of Jehovah, or of the Lord, is not understood the name itself, but all things of love and faith, originates in the spiritual world. In that world the names used on earth are not pronounced, but the names of the persons spoken of are formed from the idea of all things which are known concerning them, which things are summed up into one expression. Such is the pronunciation of names in the spiritual world; whence it is, that names in that world, as well as all other things, are spiritual; nor are the names of the Lord and of Jesus Christ pronounced there as on earth, but instead of these names, a "name" is formed from the idea of all things which are known and believed concerning Him, which idea is from all things of love and of faith in Him. The reason is, because these things in the complex are the Lord with them; for the Lord is with everyone in the goods of love and of faith which are from Him; this being the case, the quality of every one is there immediately known, as to his love and faith in the Lord, only from pronouncing in a spiritual expression, or a spiritual name the Lord or Jesus Christ. Hence also it is, that they who are not in any love or in any faith towards Him, cannot name Him, that is, form any spiritual "name" concerning Him. From these considerations it is now manifest whence it is that by the "name" of Jehovah, of the Lord, or of Jesus Christ, in the Word, is not understood the name, but all of love and of faith by which He is worshipped. Lest, therefore, the opinion should prevail which obtains among many, that the name alone of Jesus Christ, without love and faith in Him, thus without knowledges by which love and faith exist, contributes somewhat to salvation, I am desirous to adduce a few passages from the Word, where it is said "For the sake of His name", and "in His name", from which they who think more deeply may see that name alone is not understood, as in the following:

"Jesus said, You shall be hated by all for My name's sake." (Matthew 7:22; 24:9, 10) "'Where two or three are gathered together in My name, there I am in the midst of them." (Matthew 18:20) "As many as received Him, to them He gave power, that they might be the sons of God, believing on His name", (John 1:12) "When Jesus was in Jerusalem, many believed on His name", (John 2:23). Apocalypse Explained 102.

9. With my soul have I desired You in the night; yea, with my spirit within me in the morn have I sought You: for when Your judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world learn justice.

10. Though mercy be shown to the wicked, he will not learn justice: in the land of uprightness he will act perversely, and will not regard the majesty of Jehovah.

11. O Jehovah, Your hand is lifted up, but they will not see: they shall see, and be ashamed at the envy of the people; yea, the fire of Thine, adversaries shall devour them,

Verse 9. By "night" is signified a state when there is no light of Truth, (see above, Chapter 15:1, the Exposition), and by "morning" a state in which there is the light of Truth. This state is from love, but that, when there is not yet love; wherefore by "the soul which desired Jehovah in the night" is signified a life which is not yet in the light of Truth; and by "my spirit within me have I sought Jehovah in the morn", a life which is in the light of Truth. Hence it follows "When Your judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world learn justice", by which is signified that the church from the Lord is in Truths, and by truths in Good; the "earth" signifies the church as to Truths, and the "world" the church as to Good; for "judgment", in the Word, is said of Truth, and "justice" of Good; and also "inhabitants" signify the men of the church who are in the goods of doctrine, and thence of life. That "judgment", in the Word, is said of Truth, and "justice" of Good, see Arcana Coelestia 2235, 9857; and that to "inhabit" signifies to live, and hence "inhabitants" those who are in the good of doctrine, and thence of life, see Apocalypse Explained 133, 479, 662. Apocalypse Explained 741.

"Soul", in this passage, stands for the affection of Truth and "spirit" for the affection of Good. Arcana Coelestia 2930.

Verse 11. They shall see, and be ashamed at the envy [or hatred] of the people; yea, the fire of Thine adversaries shall devour them.

The destruction of the evil, who are here understood by the "people" and by "adversaries", is described by "fire" and by "hatred" [or envy]. Apocalypse Explained 504.

12. O Jehovah. You will ordain peace for us: for all our works You have wrought in us.

Verse 12. Inasmuch as peace is from Jehovah, that is, from the Lord, and in doing good from Him, therefore it is said:

"Jehovah will ordain peace for us, for You have wrought all our works in us." Apocalypse Explained 365.

13. O Jehovah, our God! other lords besides You, have had dominion over us: by You only will we celebrate Your name.

Verse 13. To "celebrate" and to "call upon the name of Jehovah", is to worship Him from the goods of Love, and from the truths of Faith. Arcana Coelestia 2009.

["Other lords" are various kinds of evils, such as those represented by the Babylonians, which have the dominion over man when he is not in love to the Lord and his neighbour, or when he does not in his life celebrate the Lord's name,]

14. They are dead, they shall not live; the Rephaim shall not arise: therefore have You visited and. destroyed them, and made all remembrance of them to perish.

Verse 14. The Rephaim stand for the posterity of the most ancient church, which was before the flood, who were also called "Nephelim" and "Enakim." (See Arcana Coelestia 567, 581, 1673) "You have visited and, destroyed or extinguished the Rephaim", means the last time of that church, and also their being cast into hell; concerning which, see Arcana Coelestia 1265-1272. Arcana Coelestia 6588.

The Rephaim shall not arise, etc.

- As to the "Rephaim", see above, Chapter 14:9; 17:5, notes.

15. You have added to the nation, O Jehovah; You have added to the nation; You art glorified: You have far removed all the extremities of the earth.

Verse 15. The "nation" to which Jehovah has added, signifies, those who are in the good of love, whom He has addicted to Himself; the "extremities of the earth" which He has removed, signify falsities and evils which infest the church, from which He has purified them. Apocalypse Explained 304.

16. O Jehovah, in distress have they sought You; they poured out supplication when Your chastisement was upon them.

17. As a woman that is pregnant, when her delivery approaches, is in pain and cries out in her pangs; thus have we been before You, O Jehovah.

18. We have been pregnant; we have been in pain; we have, as it were, brought forth wind: we have not wrought deliverance for the land; neither have, the inhabitants of the world fallen.

19. Your dead shall live; My dead body; they shall arise. Awake and sing, you that dwell in the dust! for your dew is as the dew of herbs; and the earth shall cast forth the Rephaim.

Verses 16-19. These things are said of the last times of the church, when falsities and evils so far increase, that men cannot be reformed and regenerated; this state is understood by the "chastisement of Jehovah" upon them. That then the perception and acquisition of any degree of Truth is effected with difficulty, is signified by "a pregnant woman, who draws near to her delivery, crying out in her pangs." That in the place of truths they imbibe vanities, in which there are no truths, is signified by "We have been pregnant; we have been in pain; we have, as it 'were, brought forth wind"; "wind" denoting such vanities. That no uses of life are from them, is signified by "We have not wrought deliverance for the land." That still, when the Lord should come, they should be taught and regenerated by truths from Him, is signified by "Your dead shall live", and by the things which follow. Apocalypse Explained 721.

Verse 19. [We have given the exact rendering of this verse from the Hebrew, without any interpolation in italics, as in the Bible version. The passage does not teach as demonstrated in the note, that the dead bodies of men will rise again; but by these words is meant that at the Lord's coming, all, though dead as to the real principles of the church, in whom there are any "remains" of Goodness and Truth, will be raised up at the time of Judgment. They are called Your dead, that, is the Lord's dead, because they are amongst the dead of a consummated church, in which, nevertheless, there is always a remnant that can be saved; and they are called the Lord's dead body, (for the pronouns "Your", and "My" evidently relate to the Lord), To indicate, that a consummated church is, as it were, a "dead body"; (Matthew 24:28) and it is called "My dead body", to intimate that though the church, which is called "the Body of Christ, is dead or consummated, there are, nevertheless, some amongst them who have "remains" of Goodness, which can be restored, when instructed in Truths to spiritual life. These "remains" are meant by "they shall arise", which being in the plural involves those of the consummated church, or of the "dead body", who can thus be saved.

The "dead" in the first clause of the verse, are those who, although in falsities, can have them dispersed, and receive Truths", which is to "live"; and those of the "dead body who shall arise, are such as have been in the evils of false principles or doctrines, but not in evil intentions, and who are, therefore, reclaimable by vastations. (See above, Chapter 24:22, the Exposition.) A fulfilment of this divine prophecy may be seen at the Lord's resurrection, when He arose with his whole natural Body complete, but which was then "no longer material but Divine-Substantial." (Doctrine of the Lord 35, ) "having rejected by burial the residue of the Human from the mother", (Doctrine of the Lord 16, at the end), and consequently everything that was material, infirm, and finite. In this Glorious Body "He ascended far above all heavens, that He might fill all things."

The Lord clearly points out the difference between His own resurrection in a Divine-Natural Body, and the resurrection of all other men in a spiritual body only, when He says, "Behold My hands and My feet, , that it is. I Myself; handle Me, and see; for a spirit [who is a man, risen from, the dead] has not flesh and bones [that is, a natural body] as you see Me have." (Luke 24:39)

Those, then, who think that because the Lord arose as to His natural Body, therefore, all others will also arise as to their natural bodies, are much mistaken, and do not think according to the Truth. All others arise like Lazarus and the Rich Man in the Parable, immediately after death, in their spiritual bodies; and not, as is commonly supposed, at some future period, in their natural bodies. Now, as a consequence of the Lord's resurrection, "many bodies of the saints who slept arose, and came out of the graves, and went into the holy CIty. (Matthew 27:52, 53).

This was an event which took place not in the natural world, but in the world of spirits; and the "graves" out of which they came were the places of vastation in the lower earth of that world; for the places where such spirits are detained until they are finally delivered from vastations appear, from correspondences, like pits, graves, and prisons. (See the Exposition of Isaiah Chapter 24:22.)

Their coming forth out of these places by the power of the Lord's resurrection, would appear in that world like coming forth out of graves, - as from a state of spiritual death to a life of righteousness in heaven. These were "the spirits to whom the Lord went after His crucifixion to preach", (1 Peter 3:19), and who, by the power of His Resurrection, through the full glorification of His Humanity, were raised up by Him from these places of vastation, and received up into heaven. See Apocalypse Explained 659, 89; Arcana Coelestia 2915, 8018, 9229; also Apocalypse Revealed 845.]

Your dead shall live, etc.

- Here the resurrection of the dead is treated of, namely; of those who arise in the life of the body, and at the same time concerning those who arise after the life of the body; for it is a law that he who, in the life of the body, arises [to spiritual life], will also arise after the life of the body [to spiritual or heavenly life]. The resurrection, like the kingdom of God Messiah; begins in man whilst he lives in the body, for he is [then] prepared for life, and he enters into it whilst he lives in the world; the death of the body is only a continuation of the heavenly life. (Swedenborg's Notes on Isaiah, p. 70.)

The earth shall cast forth the Rephaim [or giants]. - What is meant by being "cast out of the sepulchre", see above, Chapter 14:10; 20, the Exposition.

20. Come, O My people; enter into your chambers, and shut your doors after you: hide yourself for a little while, for a moment, until the indignation be overpast.

Verse 20. It was a customary form of speech amongst the ancients to talk of "entering into a bedchamber", and also of "shutting the door" on the occasion, when they meant to do anything which should not appear. This form of speech was derived from significatives in the ancient church, for by "house", in the spiritual sense, they understood a man, (Arcana Coelestia 3128); by the "closets" and the "bedchambers" they understood the interiors of man; hence to "come or enter into the bedchamber" was significative; therefore mention is made of it in the Word throughout, as in Isaiah:

"Come, O My people! enter into your chambers, and shut your doors after you", etc.

That to "enter into the chambers", in this passage, does hot denote entering into chambers, is very manifest, but to keep themselves in secret and in themselves.

And in Ezekiel:

"He said unto me, Have you seen, O son of man what the elders of the House of Israel are doing in the darkness, a man [vir] in the chambers of his imagery? for they say, Jehovah doth not see us." (Ezekiel 8:12)

To "do in darkness, a man in the chambers of his imagery"; denotes inwardly in themselves in the thoughts; the interiors of their thought and affection were represented to the prophet by chambers, and were called "the chambers of imagery."

And in Moses:

"Abroad the sword shall bereave, and from the chambers terror, both the youth and the virgin, the suckling with the man of old age." (Deuteronomy 32:25)

The "sword" denotes vastation of truth, and the punishment of the false, Arcana Coelestia 2799; "terror from the chambers" denotes the interiors of man; that "chambers"; in this passage, do not mean merely chambers, is also evident.

So in David:

"Who waters the mountains from His chambers", (Psalm 104:13)

To "water the mountains", in the spiritual sense, is to bless those who are principled in love to the Lord and in love towards the neighbour: that "mountain" denotes the celestial principle of love, see Arcana Coelestia 795, 1430, 4210; hence "from His chambers" denotes from the interiors of heaven.

So in Luke:

"Whatsoever things you have said in darkness, shall be heard in light; and what you have spoken into the ear in chambers, shall be preached on the tops of houses"; (Luke 12:3)

where "chambers" also denote the interiors of man, that is, what he had thought, what he had intended, and what he had attempted.

And in Matthew:

"When you prayest, enter into your chamber, and shut your door; and pray in secret." (Matthew 6:6)

To "enter into the chamber, and pray", denotes not apparently; for this was said from what is representative. Arcana Coelestia 5694. See also 7353.

Shut your doors after you, etc.

To "shut the door after you, until the indignation be overpast", signifies to have no communication with evils, which are denoted by "indignation" or anger, as may be seen, Arcana Coelestia 3614, 5034, and in many other places. Arcana Coelestia 8989. See also Chapter 9:12, 17, 21, the Exposition.

21. For, behold, Jehovah cometh forth from His place to visit, for his iniquity, the inhabitant of the earth: and the earth shall disclose her bloods, and shall no longer cover her slain.

Verse 21. Speaking of the day of visitation or of judgment, when the iniquities of all shall be discovered, which is understood by "Then the earth. shall disclose her bloods, and shall no longer cover her slain." The "earth" signifies the church, in this case, the evil therein; "bloods" denote evils which have destroyed the goods thereof; and the "slain" denote falsities which have destroyed the truths thereof. Whether it be said that the "slain" signify falsities, or those who are in falsities, it amounts to the same, inasmuch as they are in falsities, and falsities in them; and the falsities in them are what destroy. Apocalypse Explained 315.

The earth shall disclose her bloods, and shall no longer cover her slain.

- By the "bloods" which the earth shall disclose, are signified all the falsities and evils which have destroyed the truths and goods of the church; the "earth denoting the church where those things are; by the "slain" are signified those who perish by them. That the "slain" signify those who have perished by falsities and evils, may be seen above, Apocalypse Explained 315. Apocalypse Explained 329.

Temptation is here treated of, which appears like "indignation"; for the Lord, in temptation, visits the iniquity of a man, that it may be taken away, for all [evils] are then manifested, and they come forth [to the perception of man], which is here expressed by "disclosing or revealing bloods", and by " not concealing the slain." (Swedenborg's Notes on Isaiah, p. 71.)

---
Isaiah Chapter 26

1. In that day shall this song be sung in the land of Judah: We have a strong city; salvation shall He establish for walls and bulwarks.

2. Open you the gates, that the just nation keeping fidelities may enter.

3. [Him] whose mind is staid [on You], You will keep in perfect peace: because he trusts in You.

4. Trust you in Jehovah for ever: for in Jah Jehovah is the rock of eternity:

5. For He has humbled those that dwell on high; the lofty city, He has brought her down: He has brought her down to the ground; He has levelled her with the dust.

6. The foot shall trample upon her; the feet of the afflicted, the steps of the needy.

7. The way of the just is uprightness: the path of the just is straight; You make it level.

8. Yea, as to the way of Your judgments, O Jehovah, we have waited for You; to Your name, and to the remembrance of You is the desire of our soul.

9. With my soul have I desired You in the night; yea, with my spirit within me in the morn have I sought You: for when Your judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world learn justice.

10. Though mercy be shown to the wicked, he will not learn justice: in the land of uprightness he will act perversely, and will not regard the majesty of Jehovah.

11. O Jehovah, Your hand is lifted up, but they will not see: they shall see, and be ashamed at the envy of the people; yea, the fire of Thine, adversaries shall devour them,

12. O Jehovah. You will ordain peace for us: for all our works You have wrought in us.

13. O Jehovah, our God! other lords besides You, have had dominion over us: by You only will we celebrate Your name.

14. They are dead, they shall not live; the Rephaim shall not arise: therefore have You visited and. destroyed them, and made all remembrance of them to perish.

15. You have added to the nation, O Jehovah; You have added to the nation; You art glorified: You have far removed all the extremities of the earth.

16. O Jehovah, in distress have they sought You; they poured out supplication when Your chastisement was upon them.

17. As a woman that is pregnant, when her delivery approaches, is in pain and cries out in her pangs; thus have we been before You, O Jehovah.

18. We have been pregnant; we have been in pain; we have, as it were, brought forth wind: we have not wrought deliverance for the land; neither have, the inhabitants of the world fallen.

19. Your dead shall live; My dead body; they shall arise. Awake and sing, you that dwell in the dust! for your dew is as the dew of herbs; and the earth shall cast forth the Rephaim.

20. Come, O My people; enter into your chambers, and shut your doors after you: hide yourself for a little while, for a moment, until the indignation be overpast.

21. For, behold, Jehovah cometh forth from His place to visit, for his iniquity, the inhabitant of the earth: and the earth shall disclose her bloods, and shall no longer cover her slain.

From Swedenborg's Works

Main explanations:

The Inner Meaning of the Prophets and Psalms 26


Other references to this chapter:

Arcana Coelestia 258, 402, 1259, 2851, 4137, 6419

Apocalypse Revealed 176, 194, 899, 905

The Lord 4


References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 175, 208, 223, 331, 411, 468

Scriptural Confirmations 4, 41

Other New Christian Commentary

  Stories and their meanings:


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Word/Phrase Explanations

day
The expression 'even to this day' or 'today' sometimes appears in the Word, as in Genesis 19:37-38, 22:14, 26:33, 32:32, 35:20, and 47:26. In a...

song
'A song' signifies acknowledgment and confession from joy of heart.

land
'Lands' of different nations are used in the Word to signify the different kinds of love prevalent in the inhabitants.

Judah
City of Judah,' as in Isaiah 40:9, signifies the doctrine of love towards the Lord and love towards our neighbor in its whole extent.

strong
Strength' relates truth and falsity. Strength,' as in Luke 10:27, signifies the will and understanding extended to extremes. Strength,' as in Revelation 1:6, signifies divine...

city
Cities of the mountain and cities of the plain (Jer. 33:13) signify doctrines of charity and faith.

salvation
'Salvation, to the Lord our God,' as in Revelation 19:1, signifies an acknowledgment and confession that salvation is from the Lord.

walls
'A wall' signifies truth in outer extremes. 'A wall,' as in Revelation 21, signifies the divine truth proceeding from the Lord, and so, the truth...

Open
To open,' as in Revelation 9, signifies communication and conjunction.

gates
In Lamentations 2:8-9, 'wall,' 'rampart,' 'gates,' and 'bars' signify doctrines.

righteous
He is said to be 'just' in a spiritual sense, who lives according to divine laws. They on the right hand being called 'just,' as...

nation
'Nations' signify people who are in the good of love and charity from the Lord. Two nations in the womb,' as in Genesis 25:23, signify...

keepeth
"Keeping" in the Bible generally has to do with controlling the actual actions of life, though in some cases it can mean holding something away...

enter
All changes of place in the Bible represent changes in spiritual state. “Entering” – usually used as entering someone’s house or “going in unto” someone...

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...

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...

Jehovah
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...

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

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