Thursday, January 17, 2019

The Prophecy of the Four Beasts and Little Horn of Daniel 7



The prophecies of Daniel describes the end time of the Christian Church, how the good and truth of Christianity would successively degenerate into a false religious system for the sake of power or in a dead religion of faith alone. This is described in Matthew 24 as the "abomination of desolation" standing in the holy place. Jesus also declared that "no stone" of the temple would be left standing, signifying that at the end the truths of the Christian church would be overthrown by falsehoods. That the Christian church would become corrupt in the end times is declared in Luke:
Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth? (Luke 18:8)
The "earth" does not signify the physical earth - spiritually the "earth" signifies the church on earth which is conjoined with God's kingdom in heaven. Thus in the spiritual sense, the kingdoms of the "earth" in prophecy do not signify literal kingdoms, but different states of the Christian church.

The complete and true restoration of the Christian Church is accomplished at the end by a final judgment and heavenly revelation which is known as the "Second Coming." The Second Coming is not a literal Second Coming from the sky, but a spiritual revelation that restores Christianity. This is described in the blog post Is the Second Coming a Physical Event or Spiritual Event?. This revelation of the Second Coming was given in waking visions to Emanuel Swedenborg in the 18th century, who revealed the spiritual meaning of the prophecies of Daniel and the Apocalypse.

THE LITERAL VS. SPIRITUAL INTERPRETATION

The prophecy of the four beasts that come out of the sea in Daniel 7 is a parallel prophecy to Nebuchadnezzar's vision of a statue in Daniel 2, which is described in the blog post The Spiritual Meaning of Daniel's Prophecy of the Statue of Nebuchadnezzar. Similar to Daniel 2, the most popular interpretation is the literal one, which assigns each beast to a political empire (e.g., see Daniel 7: Four Beasts and a Little Horn):


Below shows a table of the typical literal interpretation of this prophecy:

Beast of Daniel's Vision
Literal Interpretation
Lion with wings removed
Babylonian Empire
Bear eating three ribs
Medo-Persian Empire
Leopard,
with four wings and four heads
Grecian Empire,
Divided into four kingdoms
Beast of iron teeth
Roman Empire
10 Horns
Kingdoms of Europe
Little Horn
The Papacy or (always future) Antichrist

After the Roman Empire, there are two schools of thought: the historicist, which assigns the little horn to the Papacy that arose out of the Roman Empire, or the futurist, which always assigns end times to an unspecified future, but always future.

This is the literal interpretation, but scripture has two levels of meaning: the literal sense and the spiritual sense. These literal historical empires that were foretold correspond to the future states of the Christian Church:
"What Daniel prophesied respecting the four kingdoms (chap. ii. 37-46; vii. 17 to the end), and respecting the kingdoms of Media and Persia (chap. viii. 20 to the end), and respecting the kingdoms of the king of the south and the king of the north (chap. xi); and what John also prophesied in the Apocalypse concerning kings and kingdoms, have no other signification: by kingdoms there only the states of the church as to truths and falsities are meant. States of rulers and of the kingdoms of the earth in the sense of the letter, are states of the church and of the Lord's kingdom in the internal sense; in which sense there are none other than spiritual and celestial things: for the Lord's Word, viewed in itself, is only spiritual and celestial; but that it may be read and apprehended by man, whatever he may be, things of heaven are set forth by those of the earth." (Heavenly Arcana, n. 2547.4)
The literal historicist interpretation, which applied many of the prophecies of Daniel to the Papacy, is correct and corresponds to the spiritual meaning which describes the corruption of the church due to those who wish to gain power through means of religion:
"A church is brought to an end by various means, especially by such as cause falsity to appear as truth; and when falsity appears to be truth, then the good which in itself is good and is called spiritual, is found no more. The good which is then believed to be good, is only natural, which a moral life produces. The reason that truth and together with it good are brought to an end, is chiefly in the two natural loves that are diametrically opposed to the two spiritual, and are called love of self and love of the world. Love of self when it reigns, is opposed to love to God, and love of the world when it reigns is opposed to love toward the neighbor. Love of self is to wish well to one's self alone, and not to another but for the sake of self; the same may be said of the love of the world; and these loves, where they have been fed, spread like gangrene through the body, and successively consume all things thereof. That such love has invaded the churches, is clearly manifest from Babylon and the description of it (Gen. xi. 1-9; Isa. xiii.; xiv.; xlvii; Jer. 1.; also Dan. ii. 31-47; iii. 1-7, and following; v.; vi. 8-28; vii. 1-14; and in the Apoc. xvii. and xviii., in both from beginning to end); for Babylon has at last so exalted itself as not only to have transferred the Lord's Divine power to itself, but also to be striving with the utmost zeal to grasp all the riches of the world." (True Christian Religion, n. 754)
THE SPIRITUAL MEANING OF THE FOUR BEASTS

That the four beasts have a spiritual meaning can be seen in Hos. 13:7-8, which in one short passage mentions the four beasts of Daniel:
So I will be like a lion to them; I will lurk like a leopard on the path. I will attack them like a bear robbed of her cubs and tear open the rib cage over their hearts. I will devour them there like a lioness, like a wild beast that would rip them open (Hos. 13:7-8).
This is the punishment for Ephraim that had departed from worshiping one God and followed idols. In a more universal sense, the four beasts describe the successive states of the church:
  1. The lion that is transformed into a man represents the first establishment of the church, in which people are regenerated into the image of God through the power of truth, signified by the lion.
  2. The second state is represented by a bear, in which the Word is read but not understood.
  3. The third state is represented by a leopard, in which the Word is falsified.
  4. The fourth state is the destruction of all good and truth in the Church.
These successive states are similar to the four horseman of the Apocalypse, which also signify four successive states in the degeneration of the church (see The Prophecy of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.) The literal sense corresponds to these spiritual states in the following manner:
  1. During the Babylonian captivity, the Jews withdrew from their idolatrous practices and returned to following the law of Moses.
  2. During the Medo-Persian Empire, there was a resurgence of the ancient monotheistic religion of Zoroastrianism. It was likely followed as a tradition. Likewise during this time Jews started to develop their own traditions.
  3. During the Grecian Empire, the false religion of Greek idolatry was propagated with the spread of Hellenistic culture across the Middle East.
  4. The Roman Empire invaded Palestine and destroyed the Jewish temple, and for the first three centuries attempted to suppress the spread of Christianity.
When the literal sense is elevated to the spiritual sense, the prophecy becomes universal and thus applicable to one's spiritual state. This is not just a prophecy about historical empires. The meaning of the four beasts are described in the following passage:
"By these four beasts the successive states of the church are described, from its first unto its last, until it is altogether vastated as to every good and truth of the Word; after which is the coming of the Lord. By the lion is signified the Divine truth of the Word in its first state, and the establishment of the church by it; which is meant by his being lifted up from the earth, and set up upon his feet as a man, and a man's heart given to him. By the bear the second state of the church is described, which is, that the Word is read indeed, but is not understood: by the three ribs between his teeth are signified appearances and fallacies; and by much flesh the literal sense of the Word as a whole is signified. The third state of the church is described by the leopard, by which the Word falsified as to its truths is signified: by the four wings upon its back, as of birds, confirmations of falsity are signified. The fourth or last state of the church is described by the beast which was terrible and formidable, by which the destruction of all truth and good is signified; therefore it is said that it broke in pieces and devoured, and trampled the residue with its feet." (Apocalypse Revealed, n. 574)
This is what the prophecy means in general, now let's examine the spiritual meaning of the prophecy in more detail.

THE SPIRITUAL MEANING OF THE LION

A lion, in general, signifies the power of truth, thus the lion is often at gateways or entrances as protection against the falsehoods of evil. For it to be changed from a beast into a man signifies spiritual regeneration, as a beast signifies one's lower carnal desires:
"Four beasts came up out of the sea, diverse one from another, the first was like a lion, but it had eagle's wings. I beheld till the wings thereof were plucked, and it was lifted up from the earth and made to stand upon its feet like a man, and a man's heart was given to it (vii. 3, 4). The first state of the church is what is described by a lion which had eagle's wings, and the eagle's wings there are rational things from one's own, on the taking away of which, rational and voluntary things from the Divine are given, which are signified by its being taken up from the earth, and made to stand upon its feet like a man, and having a man's heart given to it." (Heavenly Arcana, n. 3901.4)
As to why eagles represent one's rational sight, Swedenborg explains further:
"...by eagles are signified man's rationals, which when predicated of the good, are true rationals; but when predicated of the evil, are false rationals, or reasonings. Birds in general signify man's thoughts, in both good and bad senses (n. 40, 745, 776, 866, 991, 3219); and every species has a special signification. Eagles because they fly high and see sharply, signify rationals." (Heavenly Arcana, n. 3901.1)
This Swedenborg then proves by quoting several passages of scripture. Without revelation, man is left to his own false reasoning, and this is removed by the power of truth. Without knowing the spiritual sense, no one can explain why eagle's wings are removed from a lion which then becomes a man, nor can anyone explain in detail what this prophecy of Daniel truly means.

THE SPIRITUAL MEANING OF THE BEAR

A bear signifies those who read the Word, but do not understand it, and thus distort the Word by their own fallacies:
"they are signified by a bear, who read the Word, and do not understand it; hence they have fallacies. That these are signified by bears, was made manifest to me from bears seen in the spiritual world, and from certain ones there clothed in bearskin; all of whom were those who read the Word, and did not see any doctrinal truth there; as also those who confirmed the appearances of truth therein, whence are fallacies. There appear hurtful bears, and harmless bears, and also white ones; but they are distinguished by their heads: those who are harmless have heads like the heads of calves or sheep. Such persons or things are signified by bears in the following passages: As a bear, lying in wait for me, he hath overturned my paths; the lion in the coverts hath turned aside my ways; he hath made me desolate (Lam. iii. 8-11). I will meet him like a bear bereaved, and I will consume him there like a huge lion; the wild beast of the field shall tear them (Hos. xiii. 7, 8). The calf and the young lion shall lie down, and the cow and the bear shall feed (Isa. xi. 6, 7). The second beast coming up out of the sea was like unto a bear, and it had three ribs in its mouth between its teeth (Dan. vii. 5). The same is signified by the lion and bear which David smote, taking it by the beard (1 Sam. xvii. 34-37; likewise 2 Sam. xvii. 8). The lion and bear are mentioned in these places, because falsity destroying the truth of the Word is signified by the lion; and by the bear are signified fallacies, which also destroy, but not to such a degree; therefore it is said in Amos, The day of Jehovah, a day of darkness and not of light, is as he who flees from a lion and falls upon a bear (v. 18, 19). We read in the second book of Kings, that Elisha was mocked by children, and called bald; and that on that account forty-two children were torn in pieces by two she-bears out of the forest (ii. 23, 24). This was done because Elisha represented the Lord as to the Word (n. 298); and because baldness signified the Word without the sense of the letter, and thus not any thing (n. 4, 7); the number forty-two signified blasphemy (n. 583); and the she-bears signified the literal sense of the Word, read indeed, but not understood." (Apocalypse Revealed, n. 573)
The following passage describes the ribs in the mouth of the bear:
"This second beast, which was "like to a bear," signifies the falsification of the truth of the Word, the power of which still remains in the sense of the letter. The eagerness to falsify its goods is signified by "raising itself upon one side." The "three ribs in the mouth between the teeth" signify the knowledges of truth from the Word in abundance, which are perverted by reasonings from fallacies; and "to devour much flesh" signifies the destruction of good by falsities, and the appropriation of evil... the ribs represented the knowledges that they had drawn from the Word while in the world" (Apocalypse Explained, n. 781.13, 15)
It at first seems strange that ribs in the mouth represent knowledges derived from the Word, but this kind of symbolic imagery can be seen in Ezekiel and Revelation, where Ezekiel and John are commanded to eat a scroll (Ezek. 3:1-3, Rev. 10:10). It is more clearly stated by Jesus who said, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God (Matt. 4:4). Knowledge is food to the mind, and once implanted and acknowledged it forms how we act. But why is it specifically three ribs? This is explained in another passage, where a rib is taken from Adam and formed into a woman:
"And Jehovah God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he fell asleep; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in the place thereof. By the rib, which is a bone of the breast, man's proprium is meant, in which there is little vitality, and yet a proprium which is dear to him; by the flesh in place of the rib, is meant a proprium in which there is vitality. By a deep sleep the state is meant into which he was let in order that he might seem to himself to have a proprium — a state which is a semblance of sleep; for in that state he knows not but that he lives, thinks, speaks, and acts from himself. And when he begins to know that this is false, he arouses as from sleep and becomes wakeful." (Heavenly Arcana, n. 147)
The rib, being a bone, signifies what is derived from the self or one's own, which Swedenborg calls "proprium." Bones signify one's own self which is dead, but flesh added to the bones signify what is living from the Lord, which is described in a vision in Ezekiel 37 where flesh is added to bones and they become living people. Thus for the bear to "devour flesh" from the ribs signifies to distort the Word in its most literal sense from one's own self understanding.

THE SPIRITUAL MEANING OF THE LEOPARD

A leopard with its spots signify false heresies which destroy the truths of the church:
"And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, signifies heresy destructive of the church, because from the truths of the Word falsified. By beasts in general are signified men as to their affections (n. 567); and by a leopard the affection or lust of falsifying the truths of the Word is signified. And because it is a ferocious beast, and slaughters harmless animals, it signifies also heresy destructive of the church. That the truths of the Word falsified are signified by a leopard, is from his black and white spots; and by the black spots falsities are signified, and by the white among them truth is signified. Hence, as it is a ferocious and cruel beast, by it are signified the truths of the Word falsified, and so destroyed. The same things are signified by a leopard in the following passages: Can the Ethiopian change his skin, and the leopard his spots? Then may ye also be able to do good, who have been taught to do evil (Jer. xiii. 23). A lion out of the forest hath smitten the nobles, a wolf of the plains shall spoil them, the leopard is watching against their cities; every one who goeth out shall be torn in pieces, because their backslidings are increased (Jer. v. 6). A leopard watching against their cities means against the truths of doctrine: a city is doctrine (n. 194). Because they have forgotten Me, I will therefore be to them as a lion, and as a leopard by the way will I observe them (Hos. xiii. 5-7); a way also signifies truth (n. 176). The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard with the kid (Isa. xi. 6). Here the Lord's kingdom which is coming is treated of: the kid is the genuine truth of the church; the leopard is the same falsified." (Apocalypse Revealed, n. 572) 
The leopard has four wings, which similar to the eagle's wings of the lion signify false reasonings that are confirmed:
"The successive devastation of the church is here depicted by "the four beasts coming up out of the sea," and this third beast, which was "like a leopard," has a similar signification as the leopard here treated of in the Apocalypse, namely, reasonings that are discordant and yet appear as if coherent; "which had four wings like birds' wings upon its back" signifies appearing like the understanding of good and truth from the application thereto of the sense of the letter of the Word." (Apocalypse Explained, n. 780.9)
THE SPIRITUAL MEANING OF THE FOURTH BEAST

The fourth beast signifies the state of the church that destroys all that remains of what is good and true in it for the desire of self rule:
"The fourth beast coming up out of the sea shall devour the whole earth, and shall tread it down and break it in pieces (vii. 23). This beast, too, signifies the love of ruling over the whole heaven and the whole earth, which love those have who are of Babylon (see above, n. 316c, 556a); therefore "to devour," "to tread down," and "to break in pieces the earth," signifies to destroy the church utterly. Who does not see that no beast is to come up out of the sea and devour and tread down and break in pieces the whole earth, but that it is some evil and diabolical love that will do thus to the church?" (Apocalypse Explained, n. 697.5)
The iron teeth by which the beast devours signifies the understanding drawn from the external senses which falsifies the truth, which Swedenborg shows from multiple passages. Those who argue from appearances destroy spiritual truths:
"Since sensual men do not see any truth in its light, but argue and wrangle about every thing as to whether it is so, and these altercations in the hells are heard out of them as gnashings of teeth, which in themselves are the collisions of falsity and truth, it is manifest what is signified by the gnashing of teeth (Matt. viii. 12; xiii. 42, 50; xxii. 13; xxiv. 51; xxv. 30; Luke xiii. 28): and in a measure what by gnashing with the teeth (Job xvi. 9; Ps. xxxv. 16; xxxvii. 12; cxii. 10; Mic. iii. 5; Lam. ii. 16)."  (Apocalypse Revealed, n. 435).
For the beast to trample everything with its feet, signifies that in this state the church had become completely natural opposed to the spiritual, and destroyed spiritual things from their own natural desires:
"The natural man, which is also the external man, is purified, when he shuns the evils which the spiritual or internal man sees are evils and are to be shunned. Now as by the feet is meant man's natural, and this perverts all things if it is not washed or purified, the Lord therefore says, If thy foot cause thee to offend, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life halt, than to have two feet, and be cast into hell into the unquenchable fire (Mark ix. 45). The foot is not here meant, but the natural man. The like is meant by treading down with the feet the good of the pastures, and by troubling the waters with the feet (Ezek. xxxii. 2; xxxiv. 18, 19; Dan. vii. 7, 19; and elsewhere)." (Apocalypse Revealed, n. 49)
THE SPIRITUAL MEANING OF THE TEN HORNS

Horns appear in multiple passages of scripture, and in every case a horn spiritually signifies the power of truth fighting against falsehood, or in the opposite sense the power of falsity fighting against truth.
"The things which were here seen by Daniel, as the beast, the teeth of iron, the horn in which were eyes, and the horns that spoke, and those which made war with the saints, and that which spoke against the Most High, signify the state of falsity and of heresies within the church. That horns signify falsity powerful and prevailing, may be evident only from this, that eyes are attributed to them, that is, understanding (n. 2701); and that they spoke, and even against the Most High. By the kingdoms and kings are not signified kingdoms and kings, but the teachings of falsity; as may be evident from their signification in the Word, as the teachings of truth, and in the opposite sense the teachings of falsity (see n. 1672, 2015, 2069, 2547)." (Heavenly Arcana, n. 2832.13)
The horns are called "kings," as kings represent those who have an internal understanding of the truth, or falsehood. This can be seen in Proverbs:
It is the glory of God to conceal things, but the glory of kings is to search things out (Pr. 25:2)
In ancient times kings were those who had an understanding of the law and upheld the law, thus their office is a symbol of those who are in the power from truth, or in the opposite sense, the power from falsity. In the explanation of the 10 horned dragon in the book of Revelation, it is revealed that these 10 kings are those who have power from teaching that faith alone saves:
"And ten horns, signifies much power. A horn signifies power (n. 270); and ten signifies much (n. 101). It is said that the dragon had much power, because the salvation of man by faith alone without the works of the law, which faith is meant by the dragon, captivates minds and then confirmations are convincing. For it captivates, because when a man hears that the condemnation of the law is taken away, and that by mere faith in this, the Lord's merit is imputed to him, he can indulge in the pleasures of his mind and body, without fear of hell. From this is the power which is signified by the dragon's ten horns. That he has had such power is evidently manifest from the reception of that faith in the whole Reformed Christian world." (Apocalypse Revealed, n. 539)
""The dragon" had such power because "the dragon" means such as have separated faith from the goods of charity, which are works, and have confirmed this by the sense of the letter of the Word, which they thus twist from its genuine sense, and as it were draw it down from heaven; and because at the end of the church, which the Apocalypse treats of, there is no charity, therefore the dragon then has power; for at the end of the church every one wishes to live for himself, for the world, and according to his own bent, and few wish to live for the Lord, for heaven and eternal life; and the principle of faith alone, which is faith separated from charity, favors the former life, and like the current of a river draws in and carries away all to thus believing and living. This is why "the dragon," which signifies such persons and such things, was seen to have "ten horns."" (Apocalypse Explained, n. 716)
THE SPIRITUAL MEANING OF THE LITTLE HORN

The 10 horns of the beast signify those who are in faith alone, especially those among the Protestant Churches. Afterwards comes a little horn, that uproots three of the previous 10 horns. The little horn is given eyes and a mouth speaking great things, indicating the little horn refers to those who teach faith alone, whereas the 10 horns refers to those who believe it from among the laity:
""The ten horns" signify falsities of every kind, for "ten" means all; therefore it is further said, that "the ten horns are ten kings," for "kings" signify truths, and in a contrary sense, as here, falsities. "The little horn that came up among them, before which three of the former horns were plucked up by the roots," signifies the complete perversion of the Word by the application of the sense of its letter to confirm the love of dominion. This horn is called "little," because it does not appear that the Word is perverted; and what does not appear before the sight of man's spirit, or before his understanding, is regarded either as nothing, or as little. In the spiritual world such is the appearance of things that are apprehended by a few only. "The three horns that were plucked up by the roots before it," signify the truths of the Word there that have been thus destroyed by falsifications; these truths are also signified by the "three kings" that were humbled by the horn, "three" not meaning three, but what is full, thus that truths were completely destroyed. As that "horn" signifies the perversion of the Word in respect to the sense of its letter, and as this sense appears before the eyes of men as if it were to be understood thus and not otherwise, and therefore not to be gainsaid by any one, it is said of this horn, "that in it there were eyes like the eyes of a man, and a mouth speaking great things," "eyes" signify understanding, and "eyes like the eyes of a man" an understanding as if of truth, and "mouth" signifies thought and speech from that understanding. From this it can now be seen what is meant by all and by each of the particulars here mentioned; as by "the beast coming up out of the sea, who had ten horns and teeth of iron, and devoured and brake in pieces;" by "the little horn that came up among them, before which three of the horns were plucked up by the roots, in which were eyes like the eyes of a man, and a mouth speaking great things;" also by "it made war with the saints and prevailed against them," and "it spake words against the Most High;" and "the horns were so many kings."" (Apocalypse Explained, n. 316.15)
The meaning of the little horn is more clearly specified in Swedenborg's explanation of the prophecy of Daniel 8, in which it is clearly shown from the symbolism that the "little horn" refers to those who teach that salvation is from faith alone. It is called "little" because so few see it: many Protestants tend to take this truth to be self-evident and attack anything that opposes it. That the little horn refers to those who believe in faith alone is shown by the fact that it plucked up three horns by the roots. The horns represent the power of falsehood, but the ground in which they are embedded represent love or charity; uprooting them is to separate faith from charity. The word "pluck up by the roots" can be translated as "hough" or "hamstring" and is found in curse upon Simeon and Levi in Gen. 49:7, who signify those who separate faith from charity:
"And in their good pleasure they houghed [hamstrung] an ox. That this signifies that from depraved will they altogether weakened the external good of charity, is evident from the signification of good pleasure, as the will, here a depraved will; and from the signification of houghing, as weakening; and from the signification of an ox, as the natural or external good of charity (see n. 2180, 2566, 2781). That here an ox is spoken of, and just before a man, is because by a man is signified the truth of faith and by an ox the good of charity" (Heavenly Arcana, n. 6357).
This was a curse upon the brothers Simeon and Levi, because as brothers they represented faith separate from charity:
"Simeon and Levi are brethren. That this signifies faith in the will and charity, here the opposite, because faith separate from charity, is evident from the representation of Simeon, as faith in the will (see n. 3869-3872, 4497, 4502, 4503, 5482, 5626, 5630); and from the representation of Levi, as charity (n. 3875, 3877), but here the opposite, because faith separate from charity" (Heavenly Arcana, n. 6357)
Faith alone, or faith separate from charity, destroys are spiritual knowledges which are signified by stars, thus the little horn is said to trample upon them (see Heavenly Arcana, n. 1807.6). This passage where three horns are overthrown by the little horn corresponds with a third of the stars that are swept away by the tail of the dragon and cast down to the earth in the book of Revelation:
"And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and cast them unto the earth, signifies that by falsifications of the truths of the Word, they have discarded from the church all spiritual knowledges of good and truth, and have utterly destroyed them by applications to falsities. By the tail, where those are treated of who have confirmed heresies from the Word, the truths of the Word falsified are signified (n. 438). By stars the spiritual knowledges of good and truth are signified (n. 51, 420). By a third part is signified all (n. 400, 505): and by drawing down from heaven and casting to the earth is signified to discard from the church and to destroy utterly" (Apocalypse Revealed, n. 541)
The dragon, beast and false prophet in the book of Revelation represent, in a symbolic sense, a false system of Christianity, one in which everything is placed in belief alone, and where three gods are worshiped in place of one God in Jesus Christ (see The Prophecy of the Dragon, the Beast, and the False Prophet.)

When studying prophecy, don't be deceived by all too literal interpretations of prophecies that apply them to political events. All of scripture relates to the Lord and His kingdom, and His kingdom on earth is the church. When our minds become elevated above the literal sense, the prophecy of Daniel becomes universal and applicable, and with this insight and understanding one can then discern falsehoods that put people under a blind religious faith of darkness.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

The Spiritual Meaning of the Lamb Slain From the Foundation of the World



In the book of Revelation, which speaks of the end times of the Christian church, it speaks of Jesus as the "lamb slain from the foundation of the world" on two occasions (see Rev. 13:8, 17:8). So what is the meaning of this phrase? But first, why is Jesus called the "lamb of God"? It is because in the spiritual sense, the lamb signifies innocence:
"That lambs signify innocence may be evident from many passages in the Word, of which the following may be adduced in confirmation — in Isaiah: The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them (xi. 6) — where the subject is the Lord's kingdom, and the state of peace and innocence therein. The wolf stands for those who are against innocence, and the lamb for those who are in innocence. So again, in the same prophet: The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the ox, and dust shall be the serpent's meat. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all the mountain of My holiness (lxv. 25) — where the wolf stands as above for those who are against innocence, and the lamb for those who are in innocence. As the wolf and the lamb are opposites, the Lord also said to the seventy whom He sent forth, Behold, I send you forth as lambs in the midst of wolves (Luke x. 3). In Moses: He maketh him to suck honey out of the rock, and oil out of the flinty rock; butter of the herd, and milk of the flock, with fat of lambs and of rams, the sons of Bashan (Deut. xxxii. 13, 14). Here in the internal sense the celestial things of the Ancient Church are treated of, and the fat of lambs stands for the charity of innocence." (Heavenly Arcana, n. 3994.3)
True charity and love can only exist from innocence, and the Lord is innocence itself:
"Since the Lord is innocence itself, which is in His kingdom, the all of innocence being from Him, He is therefore called the Lamb — as in John: The next day John the Baptist seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold, the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world (i. 29, 36). And in the Apocalypse: They shall war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them, for He is Lord of lords and King of kings; and they who are with Him are called, and chosen (xvii. 14, and elsewhere in the Apocalypse, as chap. v. 6; vi. 1, 16; vii. 9, 14, 17; xii. 11; xiii. 8; xiv. 1, 4; xix. 7, 9; xxi. 22, 23, 26, 27; xxii. 1, 3). That in the supreme sense the paschal lamb is the Lord, is known; for the passover signified the Lord's glorification, that is, the putting on of the Divine as to the Human; and in the representative sense it signifies man's regeneration, and the paschal lamb signifies that which is the essential of regeneration, namely, innocence; for no one can be regenerated except by charity in which there is innocence." (Heavenly Arcana, n. 3994.6)
It is only in innocence that one can be regenerated, thus John 1:29 declares Jesus as the lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world.  Sins are only removed by repentance (see The Two Essentials of True Christianity, where one must identify specific evils and remove them by means of the truth which fights against falsehood. Extreme repentance must go through a period of doubt and temptation. But modern false churches teach sins get automatically removed by man doing nothing except lip confession. Man must remove specific sins as from himself, but it is the Lord who fights for him or her in removing the sins from within in innocence. This the Lord can do directly as He made His human Divine, and works within us through our actions via the Holy Spirit which proceeds from His Divine Human.

WHAT DOES SLAIN FROM THE FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD MEAN?


In the end times two false systems of religion will arise which will have corrupted Christianity and destroy it: on the one hand the priesthood of Roman Catholicism would distort Christianity and use it as a means of exercising religious power and authority for the sake of self rule. On the other hand Protestants would arise and make faith alone primary, and destroy the essence of Christianity which is love and charity, for without work in act faith is nothing. The latter is described in the book of Revelation as the Dragon, the Beast, and the False Prophet.

So what is the meaning of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world? The lamb is a symbolic representation of the Divine Human, and to be slain is the rejection of the Lord's Divinity and the rejection that His human is Divine. The "foundation of the world" is not the beginning of time nor is it creation, but it is the foundation of the Christian Church - for in the spiritual sense "earth" and "world" references the church on this earth. And from the time the Jews crucified Jesus, the true identity of Jesus Christ has been unknown, misunderstood and rejected:
"Slain from the foundation of the world, signifies the Lord's Divine Human not acknowledged from the first establishment of the church. That by the Lamb slain is signified that the Lord's Divine Human has not been acknowledged, may be seen above (n. 59, 269), where these words are explained: I am the First and the Last, and am He who liveth, and was dead; and behold, I am alive for ever and ever (chap. i. 17, 18): also these: And I saw, and behold, in the midst of the throne a Lamb standing as if slain: and they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book; for Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God (chap. v. 6, 9). From the foundation of the world signifies the first establishment of the church, as well the Jewish as the Christian. It is known that the Jews did not acknowledge the Lord's Divine Human. That the Roman Catholics do not, is also known: and that neither do the Reformed, see above (n. 294). The creation of the world is not meant here by the foundation of the world, but the establishment of the church: for by the world, in the widest sense, the whole world is meant, and as well the good as the evil in it, and sometimes the evil only; but in a sense not the widest, the same is meant by the world as by the globe and by the earth, that is, the church. That the church is signified by the globe, may be seen n. 551; and by the earth n. 285. That by founding the globe and the earth is signified to establish the church, and that by the founding and the foundation of them is signified establishment may be evident from Isa. xxiv. 18; xl. 21; xlviii. 12, 13; li. 16, 17; lviii. 12; Jer. xxxi. 37; Mic. vi. 1, 2; Zech. xii. 1; Ps. xviii. 7, 15; xxiv. 1, 2; lxxxii. 5; lxxxix. 11. That the world also signifies the church (Matt. xiii. 37-39; Joel i. 9, 10). And that the Lord is called the Saviour of the world, from faith in Him (John iii. 16-19; iv. 42; vi. 33, 51; viii. 12; ix. 4, 5; xii. 46, 47). That the world also means the people of the church (John xii. 19; xviii. 20). It may be seen from this what is signified by the foundation of the world; also, Matt. xxv. 34; Luke xi. 50; John xvii. 24; Apoc. xvii. 8." (Apocalypse Revealed, n. 589).
The reason why the former Christian churches do not know the true identity of Jesus Christ is known from the fact that God is divided into three persons, and Jesus is divided into a Divine and human nature. But the New Church acknowledges Jesus Christ as the Divine Human, the manifestation of the God of heaven and earth. This is the primary truth of the New Church:
"This New Church is the crown of all the churches which have hitherto existed on earth, because it will worship one visible God in whom is the invisible, like the soul in the body. Thus and not otherwise can there be conjunction of God with man, because man is natural and hence thinks naturally, and the conjunction must be in his thought and thus in his love's affection, which is the case when he thinks of God as man. Conjunction with an invisible God is like that of the eye's vision with the expanse of the universe, of which it sees no end; it is also like vision in mid ocean, which falls upon air and sea and is lost. But conjunction with a visible God, on the other hand, is like seeing a man in the air on the sea, spreading forth his hands and inviting to his arms. For all conjunction of God with man must also be reciprocally of man with God, and there cannot be this reciprocation on the other part except with a visible God. That God was not visible before the assumption of the Human, the Lord Himself also teaches in John: Ye have neither heard the Father's voice at any time, nor seen His shape (v. 37); and in Moses it is said that no one can see God and live (Exod. xxxiii. 20). But that He is seen through His Human is taught in John: No one hath seen God at any time, the only begotten Son who is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him (i. 18). And in the same: Jesus said, I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one cometh to the Father but by Me. He who knoweth Me knoweth the Father, and he who seeth Me seeth the Father (xiv. 6, 7, 9). That there is conjunction with the invisible God through Himself visible, that is, through the Lord, He Himself teaches in these passages: Jesus said, Abide in Me and I in you; he who abideth in Me and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit (xv. 4, 5). At that day ye shall know that I am in My Father, and ye in Me, and I in you (xiv. 20). And the glory which Thou gavest Me, I have given them, that they may be one, even as we are one; I in them, and Thou in Me; that the love wherewith Thou hast loved Me may be in them, and I in them (xvii. 22, 23, 26; see also vi. 56). Moreover, it is taught that He and the Father are one, and that in order to have eternal life one must believe in Him." (True Christian Religion, n. 787)
To teach that God is One in one person Jesus Christ, and that His Human is Divine, is in conflict with the false teaching of other churches that divides God into three into a form of tritheism in the mind, even though they say God is one with the mouth. And so they do not even know to whom they should direct their prayers, and Roman Catholics even direct prayers to Mary and the saints. This revelation that God is one person in Jesus Christ is a declaration of this new revelation from heaven, which is described in the Apocalypse: Behold, He cometh with the clouds; and every eye shall see Him, and they who pierced Him: and all the tribes of the earth shall wail because of Him (Rev. 1:7). This is explained as follows:
"And every eye shall see Him," signifies that all will acknowledge Him, who, from affection, are in the understanding of Divine truth: "And they who pierced Him," signifies that they also will see, who are in falsities in the church; "And all the tribes of the earth shall wail," signifies that this will be when there are no longer any goods and truths in the church. (Apocalypse Revealed, ch. 1). 
Some may be disturbed when they discover that what they thought was true is actually a false teaching. However it was foretold that when Jesus would come, there would be no truths left in the former churches: when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth? (Luke 18:8).

Saturday, December 29, 2018

The Two Essentials of True Christianity



There are two essentials of True Christianity, which shows just how far many Christian churches have fallen from the true gospel of Jesus Christ. Swedenborg mentions this at the beginning of his work on the book of Revelation:
"There are two essentials by which conjunction with the Lord is effected, and hence salvation, — the acknowledgment of one God, and repentance of life. But at this day, instead of the acknowledgment of one God, there is acknowledgment of three; and instead of repentance of life, there is repentance of the mouth only that one is a sinner; and by these two there is no conjunction: therefore, unless a new church rises up, which acknowledges these two essentials, and lives them, no one can be saved." (Apocalypse Revealed, n. 6)
So if this is true, it means that most churches have departed from the true faith and are preaching a false gospel. And this is why a new revelation had to come concerning the New Church. So is true Christianity founded on one God in one person, and that salvation is from repentance? Let us examine scripture and see if it is true.

TRUE FAITH IS A FAITH IN JESUS CHRIST ALONE

The first point, that God is one, is declared in the gospels:
And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?”
Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:28-31)
The Lord our God is One. Not three. One. And Who is that Lord? It is Lord Jesus Christ. We know this from the book of Revelation:
I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty. (Rev. 1:8)
John hears a voice who says this:
I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What you see, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia (Rev. 1:11)
John turns around and sees Jesus Christ. Jesus again repeats this at the end of the book of Revelation:
I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last (Rev. 22:13)
This means Jesus Christ is the Almighty God in human form. Moreover the title "first and last" is reserved for Jehovah alone:
I, Jehovah, the first, and with the last; I am he (Isa. 41:4)
And again:
Thus says Jehovah, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, Jehovah of hosts: “I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god (Isa. 44:6)
Thus inasmuch as a church teaches a "tripersonal God" has departed from the truth faith. For the Father resides in the person of Jesus Christ and is not separate from Him as they teach in their man-made theology:
Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.”
Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?
Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me?
(John 14:8-10)
The modern definition of the Trinity does not fit this description in scripture. For the Father resided in Jesus Christ as the soul resides in the body. There is no definition of the Trinity as three persons in scripture. It is foreign to the true gospel of Jesus Christ. And those who make the Father into another person do not know who Jesus Christ really is. They put Jesus off to the side and ignore Him. Those who pray to saints and Mary put Jesus off to the side and ignore Him. It is not true Christianity, it is a falsified version that is taught to people who do not read their Bible.

Jesus commands his disciples to baptize others in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit (Matt. 28:19). But what is the name? The apostles understood that the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is Jesus Christ. In all cases they baptized in the name of Jesus only (see Acts 2:38, 8:16, 19:5, Rom. 6:3). Some will argue over the words, but what is more important is to understand that God is one person in Jesus Christ.

True Christianity is a faith in Jesus Christ alone and no other: for the Father is the invisible God, and Jesus is the visible form of Him:
He is the image of the invisible God (Col. 15:)
And again Jesus is  described as follows:
Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person (Heb. 1:3)
He is not another person, but the visible form of the invisible God. That Father and Son are merely the invisible and visible God, or the unknown and known God, is declared in the gospels:
No man has seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has declared him (John 1:18).
Jesus thus calls God "Father" simply because He was born of a virgin, for this was the manner in which God could descend and become incarnate in human form (see Why Jesus was born of a Virgin, and the Origin of the Soul).

In scripture, and in the epistles of the apostles, true faith is explicitly focused on Jesus Christ alone:
Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus (Rev. 14:12)
hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory (James 2:1)
Hold fast the form of sound words, which you have heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus (2 Tim. 1:13)
the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus (2 Tim. 3:15)
I hear of your love and faith toward the Lord Jesus (Phil. 1:5)
we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus (Col. 1:4) 
I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus (Eph. 1:15) 
those who serve well as deacons gain a good standing for themselves and also great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus (1 Tim. 3:13)
we know that a person is not justified  by works of the law (Paul was speaking of the Jewish rituals) but through faith in Jesus Christ (Gal. 2:16) 
ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus (Gal. 3:26)
the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ (Rom 3:22)
Thus true Christianity is a faith in Jesus Christ alone, and no other. Any other faith is a spurious faith, and is not truly Christian. The Father is the invisible God, and Jesus is the visible form, in one person:
"The invisible God is called the Father and the visible the Lord, but that the two are one. This He Himself has taught us, saying that no one has ever seen the Father's shape, but that the Father and He are one, and that whoever has seen Him has seen the Father, and that the Father is in Him and He is in the Father, consequently that these two who are Divine exist in one person. These are the Lord's own words, see John 5:37; 10:30; 14:7, 9-11." (Heavenly Arcana, n. 9971)
SALVATION COMES ONLY BY REPENTANCE FROM SIN

There are many who teach of salvation from mere lip confession, from belief alone. That on a mere belief sins are automatically removed. But they are greatly deceived, and they continue to deceive many. Salvation comes through repentance, which is turning away from sins and living by God's commandments.

So what does scripture say in how sins are removed? Read this:
John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins (Mark 1:4, also Luke 3:3).
The word "forgiveness" can also be translated as "remission" and means the removal of sins. This was taught by John the Baptist. And Jesus confirmed it when He said this after He rose from the dead:
“Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem." (Luke 24:46-47)
And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:38)
Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out (Acts 3:19)
God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins (Acts 5:31)
Likewise, forgiveness of others is conditional on their repentance:
Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him. (Luke 17:3-4)
Repentance is a change of life:
Bear fruit in keeping with repentance (Matt. 3:8, also Luke 3:8)
I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance (Luke 5:32)
There is much joy in heaven to those who repent:
I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance (Luke 15:7)
But there is condemnation to those who do not repent, for which see Matt. 11:20-24, 12:41, Luke 13:3,5, 16:30, Rev. 2:5,16,21-22, 3:3,19, 9:20-21, 16:9,11.

Swedenborg explains that Jesus saved humanity by conquering the power of hell, and He works through us to redeem us in a life of repentance:
"The Lord came into the world chiefly for these two things, to remove hell from angel and from man, and to glorify His Human. For before the Lord's Advent, hell had grown up so far as to attack the angels of heaven, and also by interposing between heaven and the world, to cut off the Lord's communication with men on earth, so that no Divine truth and good could pass through, from the Lord to men. Consequently total condemnation threatened the whole human race; and further, the angels of heaven could not have long continued to exist in their integrity. And therefore, in order that hell might be removed, and this impending condemnation thereby taken away, the Lord came into the world, removed hell, subjugated it, and thus opened heaven; so that He could afterward be present with the men of the earth, and save those who should live according to His precepts, consequently regenerate and save them, for those who are regenerated are saved. This is what is meant when it is said, that, because all have been redeemed, all can be regenerated; and, because regeneration and salvation make one, that all can be saved. Therefore, what the church teaches, that without the Lord's Coming no one could have been saved, is to be understood in this way, that without the Lord's Coming no one could have been regenerated. As to the other end for the sake of which the Lord came into the world, namely, to glorify His Human, this was because He thereby became the Redeemer, Regenerator, and Saviour for ever. For it is not to be believed that, by the Redemption once wrought in the world, all men have been redeemed by that, but that the Lord is perpetually redeeming those who believe in Him and keep His words." (True Christian Religion, n. 579)
Thus those who teach one's sins are immediately transferred away upon a mere lip confession are wrong - it is a life long process of repentance in Jesus Christ, that continues with Him to eternity. Acknowledgment of one's sins, and turning away from them, is the first step on the true spiritual path to eternal life.