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Arcana Coelestia #9372

Arcana Coelestia (Potts translation)      

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9372. And He said unto Moses. That this signifies that which concerns the Word in general, is evident from the representation of Moses, as being the Word (of which below); and from the signification of “He said,” as involving those things which follow in this chapter, thus those which concern the Word (see n. 9370). (That Moses represents the Word, can be seen from what has been often shown before about Moses, as from the preface to Genesis 18; and n. 4859, 5922, 6723, 6752, 6771, 6827, 7010, 7014, 7089, 7382, 8601, 8760, 8787, 8805.) Here Moses represents the Word in general, because it is said of him in what follows, that he alone should come near unto Jehovah (verse 2); and also that, being called unto out of the midst of the cloud, he entered into it, and went up the mount (verses 16-18).

(References: Exodus 24:16, 24:18)

[2] In the Word there are many who represent the Lord in respect to truth Divine, or in respect to the Word; but chief among them are Moses, Elijah, Elisha, and John the Baptist. That Moses does so, can be seen in the explications just cited above; that so do Elijah and Elisha, can be seen in the preface to Genesis 18; and n. 2762, 5247; and that John the Baptist does so is evident from the fact that he was “Elias who was to come.” He who does not know that John the Baptist represented the Lord as to the Word, cannot know what all those things infold and signify which are said about him in the New Testament; and therefore in order that this secret may stand open, and that at the same time it may appear that Elias, and also Moses, who were seen when the Lord was transfigured, signified the Word, some things may here be quoted which are spoken about John the Baptist; as in Matthew:

After the messengers of John had departed, Jesus began to speak concerning John, saying, What went ye out into the wilderness to see? a reed shaken by the wind? But what went ye out to see? a man clothed in soft raiment? Behold, they that wear soft things are in kings’ houses. But what went ye out to see? a prophet? Yea, I say unto you, even more than a prophet. This is he of whom it is written, Behold I send Mine angel before Thy face, who shall prepare Thy way before Thee. Verily I say unto you, Among those who are born of women there hath not arisen a greater than John the Baptist; nevertheless he that is less in the kingdom of the heavens is greater than he. All the prophets and the law prophesied until John. And if ye are willing to believe, he is Elias who was to come. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear (Matthew 11:7-15; and also Luke 7:24-28).

No one can know how these things are to be understood, unless he knows that this John represented the Lord as to the Word, and unless he also knows from the internal sense what is signified by “the wilderness” in which he was, also what by “a reed shaken by the wind,” and likewise by “soft raiment in kings’ houses;” and further what is signified by his being “more than a prophet,” and by “none among those who are born of women being greater than he, and nevertheless he that is less in the kingdom of the heavens is greater than he,” and lastly by his being “Elias.” For without a deeper sense, all these words are uttered merely from some comparison, and not from anything of weight.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 2135)

[3] But it is very different when by John is understood the Lord as to the Word, or the Word representatively. Then by “the wilderness of Judea in which John was” is signified the state in which the Word was at the time when the Lord came into the world, namely, that it was “in the wilderness,” that is, it was in obscurity so great that the Lord was not at all acknowledged, neither was anything known about His heavenly kingdom; when yet all the prophets prophesied about Him, and about His kingdom, that it was to endure forever. (That “a wilderness” denotes such obscurity, see n. 2708, 4736, 7313.) For this reason the Word is compared to “a reed shaken by the wind” when it is explained at pleasure; for in the internal sense “a reed” denotes truth in the ultimate, such as is the Word in the letter.

[4] That the Word in the ultimate, or in the letter, is crude and obscure in the sight of men; but that in the internal sense it is soft and shining, is signified by their “not seeing a man clothed in soft raiment, for behold those who wear soft things are in kings’ houses.” That such things are signified by these words, is plain from the signification of “raiment,” or “garments,” as being truths (n. 2132, 2576, 4545, 4763, 5248, 6914, 6918, 9093); and for this reason the angels appear clothed in garments soft and shining according to the truths from good with them (n. 5248, 5319, 5954, 9212, 9216). The same is evident from the signification of “kings’ houses,” as being the abodes of the angels, and in the universal sense, the heavens; for “houses” are so called from good (n. 2233, 2234, 3128, 3652, 3720, 4622, 4982, 7836, 7891, 7996, 7997); and “kings,” from truth (n. 1672, 2015, 2069, 3009, 4575, 4581, 4966, 5044, 6148). Therefore by virtue of their reception of truth from the Lord, the angels are called “sons of the kingdom,” “sons of the king,” and also “kings.”

(References: Arcana Coelestia 2233-2234, 7996-7997)

[5] That the Word is more than any doctrine in the world, and more than any truth in the world, is signified by “what went ye out to see? a prophet? Yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet;” and by, “there hath not arisen among those who are born of women a greater than John the Baptist;” for in the internal sense “a prophet” denotes doctrine (n. 2534, 7269); and “those who are born,” or are the sons, “of women” denote truths (n. 489, 491, 533, 1147, 2623, 2803, 2813, 3704, 4257).

[6] That in the internal sense, or such as it is in heaven, the Word is in a degree above the Word in the external sense, or such as it is in the world, and such as John the Baptist taught, is signified by, “he that is less in the kingdom of the heavens is greater than he;” for as perceived in heaven the Word is of wisdom so great that it transcends all human apprehension. That the prophecies about the Lord and His coming, and that the representatives of the Lord and of His kingdom, ceased when the Lord came into the world, is signified by, “all the prophets and the law prophesied until John.” That the Word was represented by John, as by Elijah, is signified by his being “Elias who is to come.”

[7] The same is signified by these words in Matthew:

The disciples asked Jesus, Why say the scribes that Elias must first come? He answered and said, Elias must needs first come, and restore all things. But I say unto you, that Elias hath come already, and they knew him not, but did unto him whatsoever they wished. Even so shall the Son of man also suffer of them. And they understood that He spoke to them of John the Baptist (Matthew 17:10-13).

That “Elias hath come, and they knew him not, but did unto him whatsoever they wished” signifies that the Word has indeed taught them that the Lord is to come, but that still they did not wish to comprehend, interpreting it in favor of the rule of self, and thus extinguishing what is Divine in it. That they would do the same with the truth Divine itself, is signified by “even so shall the Son of man also suffer of them.” (That “the Son of man” denotes the Lord as to truth Divine, see n. 2803, 2813, 3704)

[8] From all this it is now evident what is meant by the prophecy about John in Malachi:

Behold I send you Elijah the prophet before the great and terrible day of Jehovah cometh (Malachi 4:5).

Moreover, the Word in the ultimate, or such as it is in the external form in which it appears before man in the world, is described by the “clothing” and “food” of John the Baptist, in Matthew:

John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, had His clothing of camel’s hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his food was locusts and wild honey (Matthew 3:1, 4).

In like manner it is described by Elijah in the second book of Kings:

He was a hairy man, and girt with a girdle of leather about his loins (2 Kings 1:8).

By “clothing,” or a “garment,” when said of the Word, is signified truth Divine there in the ultimate form; by “camel’s hair” are signified memory-truths such as appear there before a man in the world; by the “leathern girdle” is signified the external bond connecting and keeping in order all the interior things; by “food” is signified spiritual nourishment from the knowledges of truth and of good out of the Word; by “locusts” are signified ultimate or most general truths; and by “wild honey” their pleasantness.

[9] That such things are signified by “clothing” and “food” has its origin in the representatives of the other life, where all appear clothed according to truths from good, and where food also is represented according to the desires of acquiring knowledge and growing wise. From this it is that “clothing,” or a “garment,” denotes truth (as may be seen from the citations above; and that “food” or “meat” denotes spiritual nourishment, n. 3114, 4459, 4792, 5147, 5293, 5340, 5342, 5576, 5579, 5915, 8562, 9003; that “a girdle” denotes a bond which gathers up and holds together interior things, n. 9341; that “leather” denotes what is external, n. 3540; and thus “a leathern girdle” denotes an external bond; that “hairs” denote ultimate or most general truths, n. 3301, 5569-5573; that “a camel” denotes memory-knowledge in general, n. 3048, 3071, 3143, 3145, 4156; that “a locust” denotes nourishing truth in the extremes, n. 7643; and that “honey” denotes the pleasantness thereof, n. 5620, 6857, 8056). It is called “wild honey,” or “honey of the field,” because by “a field” is signified the church (n. 2971, 3317, 3766, 7502, 7571, 9139, 9295). He who does not know that such things are signified, cannot possibly know why Elijah and John were so clothed. And yet that these things signified something peculiar to these prophets, can be thought by everyone who thinks well about the Word.

[10] Because John the Baptist represented the Lord as to the Word, therefore also when he spoke of the Lord, who was the Word itself, he said of himself that he was “not Elias, nor the prophet,” and that he was “not worthy to loose the latchet of the Lord’s shoe,” as in John:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and God was the Word. And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory. The Jews from Jerusalem, priests and Levites, asked John who he was. And he confessed, and denied not, I am not the Christ. Therefore they asked him, What then? Art thou Elias? But he said, I am not. Art thou the prophet? He answered, No. They said therefore unto him, Who art thou? He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said Isaiah the prophet. They said therefore, Why then baptizest thou, if thou art not the Christ, nor Elias, nor the prophet? He answered, I baptize with water; in the midst of you standeth one whom ye know not; He it is who is to come after me, who was before me, the latchet of whose shoe I am not worthy to unloose. When he saw Jesus, he said, Behold the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sin of the world! This is He of whom I said, After me cometh a man who was before me; for he was before me (John 1:1, 14, 19-30).

From these words it is plain that when John spoke about the Lord Himself, who was Truth Divine itself, or the Word, he said that he himself was not anything, because the shadow disappears when the light itself appears, that is, the representative disappears when the original itself makes its appearance. (That the representatives had in view holy things, and the Lord Himself, and not at all the person that represented, see n. 665, 1097, 1361, 3147, 3881, 4208, 4281, 4288, 4292, 4307, 4444, 4500, 6304, 7048, 7439, 8588, 8788, 8806.) One who does not know that representatives vanish like shadows at the presence of light, cannot know why John denied that he was Elias and the prophet.

[11] From all this it can now be seen what is signified by Moses and Elias, who were seen in glory, and who spoke with the Lord when transfigured, of His departure which He should accomplish at Jerusalem (Luke 9:29-31); namely, that they signified the Word (“Moses” the historic Word, and “Elias” the prophetic Word), which in the internal sense throughout treats of the Lord, of His coming into the world, and of His departure out of the world; and therefore it is said that “Moses and Elias were seen in glory,” for “glory” denotes the internal sense of the Word, and the “cloud” its external sense (see the preface to Genesis 18, and n. 5922, 8427).

(References: Arcana Coelestia 2135; Exodus 24:1-2)

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Inbound References:

Arcana Coelestia 9374, 9378, 9379, 9382, 9386, 9429, 9504, 9779, 9806, 9828, 9954, 10027, 10090, 10215, 10251, 10337, 10355, 10375, 10396, 10397, 10400, 10432, 10450, 10460, 10468, 10528, 10549, 10551, 10635, 10636, 10641, 10690

References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 19, 64, 66, 83, 130, 355, 375, 701, 710, 735, 746

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 John the Baptist
Compare the birth of John the Baptist with the birth of Jesus Christ. What do the births of these men mean in our lives?
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 17

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

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From Swedenborg's Works


Arcana Coelestia #491

Arcana Coelestia (Potts translation)      

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491. The same things are signified by “sons” and “daughters” in this chapter (verses 4, 7, 10, 13, 16, 19, 26, 30), but such as is the church, such are the “sons and daughters” that is, such are the goods and truths; the truths and goods here spoken of are such as were distinctly perceived, because they are predicated of the Most Ancient Church, the principal and parent of all the other and succeeding churches.

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Arcana Coelestia 1147, 1338, 1434, 1719, 1853, 1945, 1960, 2015, 2066, 2194, 2232, 2362, 2390, 2411, 2461, 2466, 2468, 2567, 2623, 2643, 2803, 2928, 3024, 3066, 3243, 3263, 3266, 3373, 3583, 3703, 3762, 3907, 3922, 3926, 3933, 3947, 3959, 3974, ...

References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 63, 166

Thanks to the Swedenborg Foundation for the permission to use this translation.



The Lord's Presence      

By Rev. William Woofenden

"Thou sendest forth thy spirit, they are created: and thou renewest the face of the ground." Psalm 104:30
Additional readings: Isaiah 45:11-25, John 1:1-14, Psalm 104

Some today think of the universe as self-created, that its life is from itself, and that man is a product of the forces of nature. This is, in brief, the materialist's explanation of nature and of human life.

If this were true, the knowledge of nature and of its laws should solve all our problems. But there are qualities in man that are not found in nature. There is no morality in nature, nor is altruism to be found there. Nature's first law is the law of self-preservation, but among men—even the lowest of them—there is the feeling that they should not always seek to please themselves, that it is truly manly to try to save another at the risk of one's own life, that it is right to protect the weak, to help the neighbor.

Nature knows of no power above itself nor of any life after death. Likewise the materialists are unable to conceive of anything supernatural; they can acknowledge no supreme Being or Creator; they do not believe that they live after death. It should be obvious that nature cannot reveal anything that lies beyond its realm.

Yet in order that any finite thing may live there must be an infinite and uncreated source of life. If there were nothing to begin with, then plainly nothing could result. The forms of life which we see about us, and which we ourselves are, must derive their existence from One who is life itself. This is the meaning of the name Jehovah—the "I Am"—He who is in and of Himself. Such is the true conception which lies at the foundation of all intelligent thinking concerning Him. "Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Greater of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary?" (Isaiah 40:28). Creation is but the effect of the outpouring of life from Him. This life is called in the Scriptures His breath or spirit. Accordingly we have such statements as that of our text: "Thou sendest forth thy spirit, they are created."

But He who sends forth His life-giving spirit is hidden from our natural sight. Yes, even spirit itself is outwardly invisible. And so those who do not lift up their thoughts above nature are tempted to deny His existence. There are higher things than those that can be seen. The spirit of God and all else that is spiritual lie within and above the plane of the senses. Life flows from within outwards. What we see is its external effects; we do not see life itself. Our own spiritual natures are concealed from outward view. We cannot see the souls of those about us. The soul is within the body but is distinct from it. When it is withdrawn, the body dies. In like manner all life is internal and spiritual. He from whom it proceeds is the inmost fountain of all being. "Thou sendest forth thy spirit, they are created."

Again it has often been imagined by people who do believe in a personal God that He created the world and then let it go on by itself according to a system of laws provided for its government. This belief is in part due to the fact that God keeps Himself out of sight and in part to the fact that men think that His way of doing things would be like theirs. A man builds a house, and he may go away and never see it again. But we must remember that man does not create; he only makes use of materials at hand, reforming them to serve his immediate purpose. The Lord, because He creates, is never absent from any part of His creation. By His presence He keeps the universe alive, just as He originally called it into being. Were He to separate Himself from the things which He has made, they would all perish. This is what our text declares in saying, "Thou sendest forth thy spirit, they are created." We are not told that the Lord did send out His spirit at some time many years ago, but that He is sending it out now. The language is not that things were created once upon a time, but that they are created. "Existence is perpetual creation." The present tense transforms the statement into a universal law.

It is so too with the second phrase of the text, "Thou renewest the face of the ground." Allusion is obviously made, in the sense of the letter, to the changes continually going on in nature—the succession of one generation by another and the endless alternation of the seasons. Mother earth is just as fresh and young and productive today as she was in most ancient times. She is in the constant reception of new life. Not a moment passes without the face of the ground being renewed.

There is a lesson for us in this. It should teach us of the nearness of our Heavenly Father and of His constant provision for us. He is present in the heat and light of the sun, in the fields, forests, and mountains, in the rivers, lakes, and seas, in the winds and skies. All tell of His majesty and power, and especially of His constant presence. If we can see this, nature becomes more beautiful and wonderful to us. We see in nature His spirit renewing the face of the ground.

How strange it is that study of nature should lead men to disbelief in God. If the universe did not have order, if its parts were disconnected, without relation or use to one another and to the service and enjoyment of men, we might perhaps believe that it was not designed or created by an intelligent Being. But as the case stands, love and wisdom could not have written themselves more plainly in living characters before our eyes. And what are love and wisdom but the essence of a perfect personality? They cannot possibly exist as mere abstractions: they must be embodied in a person. Love is the inmost vital principle, and wisdom is the means whereby love accomplishes its purposes.

The Lord alone has life in Himself. He needs must be the Source of all creation. "All things were made by him, and without him was not anything made that was made" (John 1:3). And of the creation of the earth it is written, "He created it not in vain; he formed it to be inhabited” (Isaiah 45:18). The purpose of the creation of the world was that there might be people upon it, that we might here be formed into God's own image and likeness and find happiness in heaven to eternity. For this reason, however long our life here may be, we are never completely satisfied with it. There has always been among all people a conviction that there is an afterlife. This conviction is not an idle dream but a perception that the goal of life cannot be reached here—that there is more which the Lord has prepared for us.

And just as the Lord is ever present in His creation, sustaining and controlling it from moment to moment, so He is ever present with us, giving us life, and guiding us if only we will be guided—for it is contrary to the Divine love to compel men—to our heavenly home. The Divine Providence is concerned with our spiritual and eternal life, and with bodily and temporal things only as they affect this. "What is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" (Matthew 16:26).

This view of the relationship between God and His creation gives us a concept of God that is both rational and also satisfactory to our affectional nature. The Bible starts with the words "In the beginning God. created the heaven and the earth" (Genesis 1:1) to teach us that there is a Divine Being with a purpose supremely beneficent, and that there is an Intelligence altogether equal to the attainment of that purpose, and the rest of the Scriptures tell us of the Lord's operation in history to the accomplishment of His purposes. Knowledge of Him and of His purposes enables us to realize that there are better times ahead for us and happier times for the human race upon the earth, to which all lovers of mankind may look forward.

Moreover the Lord Himself came into the world as the Redeemer and Savior of men. In our own struggles we are not alone. The God of Battles is fighting for us. We are not cogs in a universal mechanism. The Lord is present everywhere in the universe. He comes to us outwardly in all the beneficent influences of nature, in the warmth and light of the sun and in all its other bounties. He is present in our souls, seeking to gladden us with the warmth of His love and to enlighten our minds with His wisdom, redeeming us from our iniquities and creating us anew into His own image and likeness.