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Heaven and Hell #1

Heaven and Hell (Dole translation)

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1. In the twenty-fourth chapter of Matthew, we find the Lord talking to his disciples about the close of the age, the last time of the church. 1 At the end of his prophecies concerning the sequence of states of its love and faith 2 he says:

Immediately after the suffering of those days, the sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then the sign of the Human-born One will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will lament. And they will see the Human-born One coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a trumpet and a loud voice, and they will gather his chosen ones from the four winds, from one end of the heavens all the way to the other end. (Matthew 24:29-31)

When people understand these words according to their literal meaning, they can only believe that all these things are going to happen just as this meaning describes them, at that end of time called the Last Judgment. This does not mean only that the sun and moon will be darkened and that the stars will fall from heaven, that the sign of the Lord will appear in heaven, and that he will be seen in the clouds with angels blowing trumpets. It also includes matters prophesied elsewhere, statements that the whole visible world is going to be destroyed and that afterward a new heaven and a new earth will come into being.

Many people in the church these days are of this opinion. However, people who believe such things are not aware of the hidden depths that lie within the details of the Word. There is in fact spiritual meaning in these details, for they intend not only the outward and earthly events that we find on the literal level but spiritual and heavenly events as well. This holds true not just for the meaning of phrases but even for each word. 3

The Word is in fact written in pure correspondences 4 so that there may be deeper meaning in the details. Questions about the nature of this meaning can be resolved by all the things I have set forth about it in Secrets of Heaven. A selection of these may be found also in my explanation of the white horse in the Book of Revelation. It is in this deeper sense that we are to understand what the Lord said in the passage just cited about coming in the clouds of heaven. The sun that will be darkened means the Lord in respect to love, 5 the moon means the Lord in respect to faith. 6 The stars mean insights into what is good and true, or into love and faith. 7 The sign of the Human-born One in heaven means the appearing of divine truth. The wailing tribes of earth mean all the elements of what is true and good, or of faith and love. 8 The Lord's coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory means his presence in the Word, and revelation. 9 The clouds refer to the literal meaning of the Word 10 and the glory to the Word's inner meaning. 11 The angels with a trumpet and a loud voice mean heaven, which is where divine truth comes from. 12

This enables us to see what these words of the Lord mean. They mean that at the end of the church, when there is no longer any love and therefore no longer any faith, the Lord will open the Word by disclosing its deeper meaning and will reveal the heavenly contents hidden within it. The particular hidden contents to be disclosed in the pages that follow have to do with heaven and hell and with our own life after death.

Church people these days know practically nothing about heaven and hell or their life after death, even though there are descriptions of everything available to them in the Word. In fact, many who have been born in the church deny all this. In their hearts they are asking who has ever come back to tell us about it.

To prevent this negative attitude - especially prevalent among people who have acquired a great deal of worldly wisdom - from infecting and corrupting people of simple heart and simple faith, it has been granted me to be with angels and to talk with them person to person. I have also been enabled to see what is in heaven and in hell, a process that has been going on for thirteen years. Now I am being allowed therefore to describe what I have heard and seen, in the hopes of shedding light where there is ignorance, and of dispelling skepticism.

The reason this kind of direct revelation is taking place today is that this is what the Coming of the Lord means.

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Footnotes:

1. On the close of the age as the last time of the church: 4535, 10672 [10622?].

2. For explanations of what the Lord said in Matthew 24:25 about the close of the age, his coming, and thus the gradual destruction of the church and the Last Judgment, see the material prefaced to chapters 5-24 [26-40] of Genesis. In particular, see 3353-3356, 3486-3489, 3650-3655, 3751-3759 [3751-3757], 3897-3901, 4056-4060, 4129-4231 [4229-4231], 4332-4335, 4422-4424, 4535, 4635-4638, 4661-4664, 4807-4810, 4954-4959, 5063-5071.

3. There is deeper meaning in every detail of the Word: 1143, 1984, 2135, 2333, 2395, 2495, 4442, 9049, 9086.

4. The Word is composed using pure correspondences, so that its every detail points to something spiritual: 1404, 1408-1409, 1540, 1619, 1659, 1709, 1783, 2900, 9086.

5. The sun in the Word means the Lord in respect to love, and therefore love for the Lord: 1529, 1837, 2441, 2495, 4060, 4696, 4996 [4966?], 7083, 10809.

6. The moon in the Word means the Lord in respect to faith, and therefore faith in the Lord: 1529-1530, 2495, 4060, 4996 [4696?], 7083.

7. Stars in the Word mean insights into what is good and true: 2495, 2849, 4697.

8. Tribes mean all true and good elements in a single complex, or all elements of faith and love: 3858, 3926, 4060, 6335.

9. The Lord's coming is his presence in the Word, and revelation: 3900, 4060.

10. Clouds in the Word mean the Word in the letter or its literal meaning: 4060, 4391, 5922, 6343, 6752, 8106, 8781, 9430, 10551, 10574.

11. Glory in the Word means divine truth as it is in heaven and in the inner meaning of the Word: 4809, 5292 5922, 8267, 8427, 9429, 10574.

12. The trumpet or horn means divine truth in heaven and revealed from heaven: 8815, 8823, 8915."Voice" has the same meaning: 6971, 9926.

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From Swedenborg's Works

Inbound References:

Doctrine of the Lord 26


References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 36, 39, 594, 612, 706

Other New Christian Commentary

Sign 1

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.


 The Second Coming
While many anticipate the return of Jesus Christ to earth, the New Church teaches the Lord has already made His second coming in the teachings for the New Church.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 17


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

From Swedenborg's Works

Apocalypse Explained #36

Apocalypse Explained (Tansley translation)

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36. (v. 7) Behold, he cometh with clouds. That this signifies, that the Lord is about to reveal Himself in the Word by means of the internal sense, is evident from the signification of coming, when (spoken) of the Lord, as being to reveal Himself; and from the signification of clouds, as being Divine truths in ultimates, thus the Word in the letter; for the Word as to the literal sense, is Divine truth in ultimates; and because everything there contains an internal or spiritual sense, to come with clouds, denotes that the Lord will reveal Himself by means of that sense. That clouds signify Divine truths in ultimate, is from appearances in the spiritual world. There, clouds appear in varied light; in the inmost or third heaven in flaming light, in the middle or second heaven white light, and in the ultimate or first heaven in a somewhat duller light. Every one there knows that clouds signify Divine truth from the Lord passing through the angels; for when the Divine truth going forth from the Lord, which is itself the light of heaven, passes through the angels, it appears as a cloud, rarer or denser according to their intelligence. I have frequently seen such clouds, and I also perceived what they signified. This is why clouds, such as those seen by men in the world, signify Divine truth in ultimates; and because the Word in the letter is Divine truth in ultimates, such is the signification of clouds.

(References: Revelation 1:7)


[2] He who does not know that clouds have this signification, may suppose that the Lord will come for the Last Judgment in clouds, and appear in glory, according to His words in the Evangelists, where He says:

"Then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven, with power and much glory" (Matt. xxiv. 30; Mark xiii. 26; Luke xxi. 27).

The consummation of the age, which is the subject there treated of, is the last time of the church; and the coming of the Lord at that time is the revelation of Himself, and of the Divine Truth which is from Him, in the Word, by means of the internal sense. The Lord reveals Himself only in the Word, and by means of the internal sense. Power and glory also signify the Word in the internal sense. (That this is fulfilled at this day, namely, that the age is consummated, and the Last Judgment accomplished; and also that the Lord has come in the clouds of heaven, that is, has revealed the internal sense of the Word, may be seen in the small work, The Last Judgment, from the beginning to the end; and also in the work, Heaven and Hell, n. 1; as well as in The Doctrine of the New Jerusalem, n. 249-266. That the consummation of the age signifies the last time of the church, may be seen, Arcana Coelestia, n. 4535, 10,622. That the coming of the Lord is the revelation of Divine truth by means of the internal sense, see n. 3900, 4060; that clouds signify the sense of the letter of the Word, see n. 4060, 4391, 5922, 6343, 6752, 8106, 8781, 9430, 10,551, 10,574; that glory signifies Divine truth in heaven, thus the internal sense, because this is Divine truth in heaven, see n. 5922, 9429, 10,574. The reason why the Lord is said to come in power is, because all power belongs to Divine truth which is from the Lord, see the work, Heaven and Hell, n. 228-233, 539.) The same is meant by the words of the Lord to the chief priest:

"Jesus said" to the chief priest, "Hereafter ye shall see the Son of man sitting at the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven" (Matt. xxvi. 64; Mark xiv. 62).

The Son of man is the Lord as to Divine truth. To sit at the right hand of power, denotes His omnipotence; to come in the clouds of heaven, denotes revelation of Divine truth concerning Himself in the Word; for He has revealed Himself, and has also fulfilled all things that are contained in the internal sense, which treats especially of the glorification of His Human.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 3900, 4060, 4391, 4535, Arcana Coelestia 5922, 6343, 6752, 8106, Arcana Coelestia 8781, 9429, 9430, 10551, 10574, 10622; Heaven and Hell 1, 228-233, 539; Luke 21:27; Mark 13:26, 14:62; Matthew 17:1-5, Matthew 24:30, 26:63-64, Matthew 26:64; The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 249-266)


[3] The same is signified by clouds in the following passages. In Daniel:

"I saw in the visions of the night, and behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven" (vii. 13).

In the Apocalypse: "I saw, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of man, having on his head a crown" (xiv. 14, 16).

In Isaiah: "Behold, Jehovah sitting upon a light cloud" (xix. 1).

In David: "Sing unto God, sing praises to his name, extol him that rideth upon the clouds" (Psalm lxviii. 4).

And again: "Jehovah maketh the clouds his chariot; he walketh upon the wings of the wind" (Psalm civ. 3).

Who cannot see that these things are not to be understood according to the sense of the letter, namely, that Jehovah sits on a cloud, that He rides upon the clouds, and that He makes the clouds His chariot? He who thinks spiritually may know that Jehovah is in His Divine truth, for this proceeds from Him, consequently that this is meant there by clouds; therefore it is said, that Jehovah makes the clouds His chariot; for by chariot is signified the doctrine of truth (as may be seen, Arcana Coelestia, n. 2762, 5321, 8215).

(References: Arcana Coelestia 2762, Arcana Coelestia 5321, Arcana Coelestia 8215; Daniel 7:13; Isaiah 19:1; Psalms 68:4, Psalms 104:3; Revelation 14:14, 14:16)


[4] Similarly in the following places:

In Isaiah: "Drop down ye heavens from above, and ye higher clouds [pour out] justice" (xlv. 8).

In Nahum: "The way of Jehovah is with cloud and storm, and clouds are the dust of his feet" (i. 3).

In David: "Ascribe ye strength unto God; his excellency is over Israel, and his strength is in the higher clouds" (Psalm lxviii. 34).

In Moses: "There is none like unto the God of Jeshurun, riding in the heaven in thy help, and in his magnificence upon the clouds" (Deut. xxxiii. 26).

And in David: "A faithful witness in the clouds" (Psalm lxxxix. 37).

From these things it is evident what is signified where, it is said that the cloud filled the inner court (Ezek. x. 3, 4); and that the cloud rested upon the tent, of which frequent mention is made in Moses. Likewise, that when Jesus was transfigured, He was seen in glory, and a cloud covered His three disciples, and it was said to them out of the cloud,

"This is my beloved Son" (Matt. xvii 1-10; Mark. ix 1-11; Luke ix. 28-36).

(See also what is said concerning the Lord being seen in the midst of angels in a cloud, in the small work, The Earths in the Universe, n. 171.)

(References: Deuteronomy 33:26; Ezekiel 10:3-4; Isaiah 45:8; Luke 9:28-36; Mark 9:1-11, 9:1-10; Matthew 17:1-5, 17:1-10, Matthew 26:63-64; Nahum 1:3; Psalms 68:34, 89:37; Worlds in Space 171)

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References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 35, 63, 64, 69, 80, 220, 455, 670, 870, 905, 937, 955

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.


 The Second Coming
While many anticipate the return of Jesus Christ to earth, the New Church teaches the Lord has already made His second coming in the teachings for the New Church.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 17


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


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