Friday, March 24, 2017

Is the Second Coming a Physical Event or Spiritual Event?



Jesus promised his disciples and those who followed Him that He would come again. This is known as the Second Coming. There are several "mainstream" interpretations of the Second Coming which has formed some false expectations in the minds of many. With these false expectations, many will not see the reality of the true Second Coming. False expectations can blind people to the truth - for example, the Jews expected a literal Messianic King, who would lead them to conquer the world. This false expectation is diametrically opposed to the spiritual truth of the Word, and because of it, the Jews completely missed recognizing the identity of Jesus Christ.

As it was then, so it is now. There are several false expectations that have been formed regarding the Second Coming. To be specific:

  1. There will be a visible appearance of Jesus in the sky, seen by everyone.
  2. At some point in time, Jesus will descend upon the Mount of Olives.
  3. Related to #2, there will be a third temple established in Jerusalem.
  4. There will be a rapture of Christians into the clouds of the sky.
  5. There will be a literal physical resurrection of the body.

So lets examine expectations surrounding each of these subjects, and look at what the New Testament actually has to say on this.


IS THE SECOND COMING A PHYSICAL RETURN OR A SPIRITUAL REVELATION?




Let's start with a verse may indicate that there will be a physical return, visible to everyone:
Behold, he comes with the clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen. (Rev. 1:7)

There is a similar passage in Matt. 24:30. This at first seems that He will make a visible appearance, and that every eye shall see Him. But Jesus counters this argument in what at first seems to be a conflicting statement:
And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God comes not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you. (Luke 17:20-21).

This is important, the word "observation" means "visible evidence" or "outward show" - something that can be seen with one's literal eyes. This means there will not be outward visible evidence of the Second Coming.  So what does it mean that "every eye shall see him"? What it means is that those who have spiritual sight, that is spiritual understanding, will be able to see the truth of the Second Coming. That this is the spiritual meaning of "eye" can be seen from the following passage:
And if your right eye offend you, pluck it out, and cast it from you: for it is profitable for you that one of your members should perish, and not that your whole body should be cast into hell. (Matt. 5:29)

This Jesus commands after stating one should not look upon a woman lustfully, for even the thought of it is considered adultery (Matt. 5:28). It's one's internal thought or intent that counts. Thus he is of course not literally stating that we should pluck our eye out, but rather, that one should correct how one sees things. These false thoughts should be searched out and removed. Thus "eyes" in the spiritual sense signify one's spiritual understanding in a good sense, or a false understanding in the bad sense.  Correcting how one sees things falsely is again portrayed as removing a "beam" out of one's "eye" before removing a speck of dust out of another person's "eye" (Matt. 7:3-5).

So let's pick out another passage, which causes problems to many:
For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works. Truly I say unto you, There be some standing here, who shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom. (Matt. 16:27-28)
Some early Christians had interpreted this that the Second Coming should have taken place in the lifetime of the disciples. That the early Christians had this expectation, can be seen from the following passage, where Jesus singles out the disciple John after Peter asks what would become of him:
When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?”Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!”
So the saying spread abroad among the brothers  that this disciple was not to die; yet Jesus did not say to him that he was not to die, but, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?” (John 21:21-23)
And, in the literal sense, it was John who literally saw the Second Coming take place, in a spiritual vision as recorded in the book of Revelation.  That Jesus is talking about one's spiritual vision is easily proven in the book of Revelation. Before John's grand vision, John states this:
I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day (Rev. 1:10)

Which means he was in a spiritual visionary state. That "in the spirit" means one was in a spiritual visionary state can be seen from Ezekiel:
The hand of Jehovah was upon me, and he brought me out in the Spirit of Jehovah (Eze. 37:1)
After which Ezekiel sees a vision of a valley of bones coming to life. John would later mention he was caught up into heaven "in the Spirit" (Rev. 4:1), that he was carried away to a wilderness "in the Spirit" (Rev. 17:3), and he was taken to see the New Jerusalem "in the Spirit" (Rev. 21:10). 

Combining Jesus' statement of His Second Coming, with the fulfillment of it by John seeing it in a spiritual vision, we can infer that John is a type of the future, where the Second Coming will be seen in spiritual vision.


THE MOUNT OF OLIVES PROPHECY



There are a couple of passages that are used as proof that Jesus will return in physical form upon the Mount of Olives east of Jerusalem. One is the scene of the ascension of Jesus at the Mount of Olives. After Jesus commands his disciples to return to Jerusalem to await the coming of the Holy Spirit, He then ascends into heaven. There is unfortunately a mistranslation here in most English translations, I will select the NASB:
And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was going, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them. They also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:9-11)
This is stating that Jesus will return "in just the same way" or as other translations have it, "in like manner" (KJV).  The problem here is this phrase is added by the translators, the Greek simply has "as."  So the last sentence should read as follows:

This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come as you have watched Him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:9-11)
It simply says He will come again from heaven.  It does not say "in just the same way" or "in like manner."  This phrase was added by translators.  I double checked this with an online Greek interlinear tool, you can see the entire chapter here: Greek Interlinear of Acts 1The same Greek word (Strongs #5158) is simply translated as "as" in Acts 7:28, 15:11, 27:25.

Another point, when Jesus appeared to others after the resurrection, in many cases He manifests Himself by opening up their spiritual vision:
And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them. And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight. (Luke 24:30-31)
With the corrected translation of Acts 1:11, it is saying Jesus will come "as you have watched" or "as you have seen." If they were seeing Him with their spiritual vision opened, then this means He will return in a manner that is seen in spiritual vision.

Now, there is the case of a prophecy of Zechariah which speaks of the Lord standing on the Mount of Olives:

Jehovah shall go forth, and fight against the nations. . . . His feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before the face of Jerusalem . . . and the mount of Olives shall cleave asunder, that a part thereof shall remove toward the east, and [a part] toward the sea, with a great valley; and a part of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and a part of it toward the south (xiv. 3, 4).

This many have taken to be a prophecy of the Second Coming. But that is not the case, it is a prophecy of the First Coming, foretelling how a new church would be established that would withdraw from the Jews and go out towards the Gentiles. The spiritual sense of this prophecy is explained by Swedenborg in Heavenly Arcana:
"Here the Lord and His coming are the subject; by the mount of Olives is signified the good of love and of charity and thus the church, for these goods make the church. That the church would remove from the Jewish nation, and would be established among the Gentiles, is signified by the mountain being cleft asunder toward the east, toward the sea [the west], and toward the north, and the south; in like manner as by the words of the Lord in Luke: Ye shall be cast forth without. And they shall come from the east, and the west, and from the north, and the south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God (xiii. 28, 29). In a universal sense by Jehovah going forth and fighting against the nations, and by His feet standing upon the mount of Olives which is before the face of Jerusalem, is meant that the Lord from the Divine love would fight against the hells; for the nations are the evils which are from the hells (n. 1868, 6306), and the mount of Olives, on which were His feet, is the Divine love." (Heavenly Arcana, n. 9780.13)
The massive work Heavenly Arcana goes through several passages that prove that in the spiritual sense, mountains signify love (or in the opposite sense selfish pride), and nations in a bad sense signify the evils of hell. It is also known to some that Jesus made a descent into hell between his death and resurrection and effected a last judgment. In these spiritual judgments, this is portrayed in the spiritual world as the upheaval and upturning of mountains (see Rev. 6:14-16). The upturning of mountains in the spiritual world is further described in Swedenborg's vision in the work The Final Judgment. That "mountain" has a spiritual meaning can simply be seen from the gospels:
For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matt. 17:20)
Jesus is obviously not literally speaking of a literal mountain. Following the description of the splitting of the Mount of Olives, Zechariah then describes a river that proceeds out of Jerusalem toward the west, and toward the east through the split Mount of Olives, which again has a spiritual meaning:
"In that day living waters shall go out from Jerusalem; part of them to the eastern sea, and part of them to the hinder sea (xiv. 8).
"Living waters from Jerusalem" signify truths from a spiritual origin in the church, which are the truths that are received by man when he is illustrated by the Lord while he is reading the Word. "Jerusalem" is the church in respect to doctrine, the "sea" signifies the natural man, into which those things that are in the spiritual man descend; the "eastern sea" signifies the natural man in respect to good; and the "hinder sea" the natural man in respect to truth; and as the natural man is in the generals of truth, "sea" also signifies the general of truth." (Apocalypse Explained, n. 275.20)

This river is again described in the vision of a new temple in Jerusalem in Ezekiel, which literalists interpret as a future third temple. However it is symbolic, and it spiritually signifies the Christian Church that would be established. This is shown in detail in the blog post The Spiritual Symbolism of Ezekiel's Vision of the Third Temple. There are several items in Ezekiel's vision which show that it cannot be taken literally, but should be interpreted in a spiritual manner.


IS THERE SUCH A THING AS A RAPTURE?



Next, associated with many Christians' expectation of a physical Second Coming of Jesus is the idea of a rapture, where they will suddenly be caught up in heaven to be with the Lord. This mainly comes from the letters of Paul:
For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. (1 Thes. 4:7)
The original prophecy of this was probably taken from the gospel of Matthew:
And they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other (Matt. 24:30-31)
The original does not even mention the word "rapture" but instead "gather together." Nevertheless, from the letter of Paul he mentions that those who are alive and remain will be "caught up" and from this Greek word we have the word "rapture."  There are two interpretations of this. It can indeed mean a sudden physical transportation, as in the case of Philip:
And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing. But Philip was found at Azotus: and passing through he preached in all the cities, till he came to Caesarea. (Acts 8:39-40)
The word "caught away" is the same as "caught up" in 1 Thes. 4:7 where we get the term rapture. So from this, many assume there will be an actual physical ascension into the sky. However there is another, perhaps more interesting interpretation. The same word is used by Paul in a completely different context:
I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows. And I know that this man was caught up into paradise—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows— and he heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter. (2 Cor. 12:2-4)
Some surmise Paul had this near death experience when he nearly died from being stoned to death. The word "caught up" or "rapture" is used twice in this verse. Here it does not refer to a physical ascension, but rather the rapture is to be caught up or enraptured in a spiritual visionary state.  And this is exactly what happens to John in his vision of the Apocalypse:
After this I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven! And the first voice, which I had heard speaking to me like a trumpet, said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” At once I was in the Spirit, and behold, a throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the throne. (Rev. 4:1-2)
With the apostles and select individuals throughout history, such visions took place on a limited individual basis. But the promise of the future is that such a visionary state will become more widespread:
And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. (Joel 2:28)
In parallel with that, the majority of cases have been of those who are false prophets. So in each case they should be tested to determine if what they are stating is valid. But the point here is this: the expectation of a "rapture" can be fulfilled by a widespread outpouring of the Spirit, allowing people to enter a visionary state. At the moment, this is not permitted for most everyone, as most people's minds have been lowered into material and carnal desires away from the love of the Spirit.


IS THE RESURRECTION OF THE PHYSICAL BODY, OR THE SPIRITUAL BODY?




So somewhat related to all this is the doctrine of the resurrection. There are many, at this day, who expect a literal physical resurrection, where people will rise out of their graves. This view is related to a literal appearance of the Second Coming, where everyone assumes all things take place in this material physical world. But this is not the case: one is resurrected in the spiritual world, in a spiritual body. One can take the same passages and interpret them either way. For example:
Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. (1 Cor. 15:51-53)
This would indicate we will be raised in a spiritual glorified body. Will it be visible in this world? Not necessarily. And then there is this one:
Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment. (John 5:28-29)
To interpret these references to a resurrection, one must have spiritual knowledge of the afterlife. In the spiritual world, midway between heaven and hell, there is an intermediate state where souls gather, good and evil, who were not judged right after death. Many enter into a state of sleep. John sees them in one of his visions of the Apocalypse, where souls "under the altar" are told they must rest or sleep a little longer (Rev. 6:9-11). There are three heavens signified by the three divisions of the temple; the lowest heaven is represented by the outer court and this is where the altar was located. Those "under the altar" are those in this intermediate state between heaven and hell.

It is in this intermediate state, where many are unaware or asleep, is where the last judgment takes place. One is judged after death, some immediately who go to heaven or hell, but many will gather in this intermediate spiritual world. Thus, it is in the spiritual world where last judgments take place. And indeed, the Second Coming is this event - a judgment of souls in the spiritual world:
For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works. (Matt. 16:27)
At this time, there is a separation between the good and evil. This is described in the parable of Matthew 25, where the righteous are signified by "sheep" and the evil by "goats" -
When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. (Matt. 25:31-32)
As this is a common misconception, one of the primary revelations given to Swedenborg is a complete explanation of the afterlife, the spiritual resurrection there, and how people are judged according to their works in a complete life review. For further information on this see Heaven and Hell as well as The Final Judgment.  This is becoming more well known among those who study the Near Death Experience from a variety of witnesses who have been brought back to life.


IF THE SECOND COMING IS "NONE OF THE ABOVE" THEN WHAT IS IT?



So its not a literal physical return, there is no literal physical resurrection, there is no rapture into the sky... all I have said so far is what it isn't, and that one must look for a higher spiritual explanation.  It is very simple: in the First Coming, the "Word was made flesh." The Word, or Greek Logos, is the Lord as to Divine truth made manifest in human form. In the Second Coming, the Word or Divine truth has been made manifest in the spiritual sense of the Word itself. This spiritual sense has been made manifest in the many volumes of revelations given in waking visions to Emanuel Swedenborg in the 18th century. It is a more internal revelation, not an external visible revelation.

That this is so, is indicated by Jesus, who always describes the Second Coming as the coming of the "Son of Man."  In the New Testament, "son of Mary" is used to refer to Jesus in His ordinary human form, "Son of God" is used to refer to Jesus in His glorified Divine Human form, but "Son of Man" is used to refer to the Lord as to the Divine truth. To appear "in the clouds of heaven" does not mean He will appear in the sky, but rather He will appear in spiritual vision. The "clouds" is the obscure truth that appears in the literal sense of the Word; for the Son of Man to "appear in glory" signifies the revelation of the spiritual sense of the Word. This He did in the 18th century to Emanuel Swedenborg over a period of 27 years of continuous waking visions, where incorrect doctrines of Christianity have been corrected, for there are many false teachings that have corrupted the core of Christianity where very little truth means. And that is the other point: the Second Coming will take place when there is little or no faith left on earth:
When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth? (Luke 18:8)
And there will be a general falling away from Christianity, where a false religion will come to take its place:
Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sits in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. (1 Thes. 2:3-5)
This particular prophecy is probably taken from Dan. 11:45. A "falling away" is an apostasy from the true faith, a "man of sin" indicates that the falling away is where sin is disregarded, and to show oneself as God is to have an incorrect understanding of God Himself. Thus to see and recognize the Second Coming, one has to first recognize the falsehoods that are propagated in one's own religion. Very few question what they are taught to believe. Falsehoods from within is what causes a true church to come to its end:
"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." (True Christian Religion, n. 754)
Thus what to expect? A true revelation of Jesus Christ and Christianity, a revelation of the spiritual sense of the Word, revealed through spiritual vision. This will establish a New Church, which will be among the few and opposed by the many. This is signified by the 2 witnesses (Rev. 11), the sealing of the 144,000 (Rev. 7 and 14), and the woman who flees to the wilderness (Rev 12) which signifies a state of truth in obscurity known to few. This will be opposed by a false form of Christianity, signified by the dragon, beast and false prophet (Rev. 13) as well as the whore of Babylon (Rev. 17-18). That the Second Coming is a heavenly revelation of the spiritual sense of the Word, can be seen by the coming of the Lord on a white horse, where we have this statement:
And his name is called The Word of God (Rev. 19:13)
As for the hidden spiritual sense of the Apocalypse, see further in the works Apocalypse Revealed and Apocalypse Explained. The good news here, is the Second Coming has taken place, to reveal a more spiritual Christianity where further heavenly secrets are revealed. This was revealed in spiritual vision by Jesus Christ to Emanuel Swedenborg in the 18th century:
"We read in many places that the Lord will come in the clouds of heaven (as in Matt. xxiv. 30; xxvi. 64; Mark xiv. 62; Luke xxi. 27; Apoc. i. 7; xiv. 14; Dan. vii. 13; see also Matt. xvii. 5; Luke ix. 34, 35). But hitherto no one has known what was meant by the clouds of heaven; they have believed that He is to appear in them in person. But that by the clouds of heaven the Word in the sense of the letter is meant, and by the glory and power in which also He is then to come (Matt. xxiv. 30) the spiritual sense of the Word is meant, has been heretofore concealed, because hitherto no one has even by conjecture reached the conclusion that there is a spiritual sense in the Word such as this sense is in itself. Now because the Lord has opened to me the spiritual sense of the Word, and it has been granted me to be together with angels and spirits in their world as one of them, it has been disclosed that by the clouds of heaven is meant the Word in the natural sense, and by glory the Word in the spiritual sense, and by power the Lord's power through the Word." (True Christian Religion, n. 776)







Friday, March 17, 2017

The Spiritual Meaning of Matthew 10



In the revelations of the New Church, it is revealed that the Second Coming of the Lord is not a Second Coming in person, but it is a heavenly revelation of the spiritual sense of the Word. In the first coming, the Word was made flesh. In the Second Coming, the Divine truth has revealed Himself in the literal sense of the Word, which is symbolically portrayed as "the clouds of heaven."  With this revelation, there is no need to look up to the sky, but rather, one should look for the kingdom of God within.

With this knowledge there are many passages of the Bible that open up and reveal higher level spiritual teachings. These areas of scripture are "closed off" to those of the older churches, so they simply pass over them. So I thought I would share here the spiritual sense of Matthew 10, where Jesus commissions his disciples to go out to declare the kingdom of God. Because as I read it I found some spiritual insight and direction as to how these teachings of the New Church should be handled with outsiders, or those who have no knowledge of the inner spiritual sense of the Word.

I will quote directly from scripture, then explain the spiritual sense, and here just reference some passages scattered throughout the writings of Swedenborg for those of you who want to dive deeper.

THE SPIRITUAL SENSE OF MATTHEW 10

First off, this passage is given to the 12 disciples. In the spiritual sense, a disciple is anyone who is good and truth from the Lord, or one who follow's the Lord's teaching.

Go not into the way of the Gentiles,
And into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not:
But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel (Matt. 10:5-6)

In the literal sense, one may think one must go hunting around searching for the 10 Lost Tribes of Israel. Gentiles would be non-Jews, and the Samaritans is an ancient sect which only follows the first 5 books of Moses whose population is less than 800. So what to do with this passage of the Bible? Most will skip over it.  In fact, most of modern Christianity is composed entirely of Gentiles, and in the literal sense its stating we should look for Jewish people who forgot their ancestors were Jewish.  But that is not what it is saying at all. Here is the spiritual sense:

ISRAEL is the CHRISTIAN CHURCH, wherever they may be.
SAMARITANS are those in FALSE/ALTERNATIVE RELIGIONS who do not acknowledge or know Jesus Christ is Divine.
GENTILES are those outside the Church, who follow an evil way of life, who do not acknowledge sin. Gentiles are those whose priority is food, money, clothing, and their own selfish ego. (Heavenly Arcana, 4169.2, Apocalype Explained, 223.20)

What this is saying here, is the priority for the New Church is to address Christians who have been misled by false teachings. They are lost sheep, and don't know it. For most, Christianity is but an external appearance or ritual. To renew Christianity, one must expose the falsehoods, but this requires a bit of tact, because no one wants to hear their religious belief is incorrect. Most everyone has the "I am right you are wrong" kind of mentality.

The spiritual direction is to teach those who have some level of foundation or knowledge or openness to Christianity. Those who follow an evil way of life despise and hate any sort of religion. Those who follow false religions are locked in a particular sort of mindset. Gentiles are those who are not open to truth due to an evil will, Samaritans are not open to truth due to a false way of thinking.

Samaritans represent those who are in a false religion, but are not necessarily evil, in fact it refers to those who may be good, thus we have the parable of the "Good Samaritan." At this point its worth quoting this other passage about Samaritans:

And he sent messengers before his face: and they went, and entered into a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him.
And they did not receive him, because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem.
And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elijah did?
But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of.
For the Son of man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them. (Luke 9:52-56)

In the spiritual sense, to "command fire to come down from heaven" is to spiritually condemn someone to hell. Jesus here commands that no one should be condemned to hell on the basis of religion. Unfortunately many disobey this guidance. See here the previous post, What did Jesus say about Other Religions  This passage also confirms the spiritual interpretation of the Samaritans, referring to who those who have a particular religious mindset who are not open to receive the truth about Jesus Christ. So back to Matthew 10:

And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.
Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons:
Freely ye have received, freely give (Matt. 10:7-8)

In the literal sense, it states we must perform miracles. But external physical healing is representative of internal spiritual healing. The kingdom of heaven is the Lord's kingdom of heaven on earth which is the church (Apocalypse Revealed, 749.2), for it to be at hand is a renewal of the church in love and truth after the former church has been falsified and corrupted. To be sick, in the spiritual sense, signifies suffering due to sin (Heavenly Arcana 10360.9) and to heal is salvation through repentance. Thus after physical healing, Jesus often commanded the person "to sin no more," showing a connection between physical health and internal sin. Leprosy is representive of profanation of holy things (Heavenly Arcana,  716.3, 3301.8) and thus there are several Old Testament laws for the priest to cleanse leprosy. "Death" in the spiritual sense is spiritual death of a mere natural life, to raise the dead is to lead one into spiritual regeneration to live a spiritual moral life (Apocalype Explained 899.12). To cast out demons in the literal sense is to heal demoniacs, but in a spiritual sense it refers to obsessive thoughts that control our behavior. It also refers to removing falsities that infest the church from within (Apocalype Explained 586.6).

To freely receive, and freely give, it to not hide spiritual teaching but to provide and give it to those in need. Jesus commands to not hide the truth that one knows (Matt. 5:15, Mark 4:21, Luke 8:16, 11:33, etc).

Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses,
Nor scrip for your journey, neither two coats, neither shoes, nor yet staves:
For the workman is worthy of his meat. (Matt. 10:9-10)

In the spiritual sense, this follows from the previous statement. In the spiritual sense, money represents spiritual knowledge. What this commands is the following: do not mix in self-derived knowledge with knowledge as revealed from the Lord through scripture. There are a lot of traditions that are "self derived," that is, someone just made it up and other people follow because someone said so. I have seen this sort of accusation leveled at Swedenborg, but it is false, all the statements he gives are supported from scripture, and the writing is so different from his earlier ones before his vision was opened up it is certainly not self derived.

Each particular word here has a hidden spiritual sense, which is hard to prove here so I will just summarize. A "coat" refers to interior truth from the Lord, "shoes" exterior truths, and "staff" the power of Divine truth (Heavenly Arcana 4169.2). To not have two of these is again not to mix this with anything that is derived from the self. One has to let go of the selfish ego, and acknowledge all good and truth within is from the Lord.

And into whatsoever city or town ye shall enter, enquire who in it is worthy; and there abide till ye go thence.
And when ye come into an house, salute it. And if the house be worthy, let your peace come upon it: but if it be not worthy, let your peace return to you.
And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet. (Matt. 10:11-14)

A city, in the spiritual sense, signifies a particular sort of doctrine, which is explained extensively throughout Heavenly Arcana (aka Arcana Coelestia). Here it is stating some sorts of doctrines will be willing to receive the truth more than others as they will have some sort of similarity. For example, in terms of how Jesus saved humanity, the doctrines of the New Church is similar to those of "Christus Victor" and that of the Orthodox Church.

To "shake the dust off the feet," in the spiritual sense, means, those who are able to recognize the truth, and yet reject it because of a falsehood they hold true, will be condemned. They may try to vilify or will be threatened by any idea that opposes their falsehood. "Dust" in the spiritual sense refers to the condemnation of hell, to shake it off means despite the discomfort or argument caused by true teaching one will not be condemned from it (Apocalype Explained 365.8). "Dust" can also refer to false external appearances derived from the senses.

Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment, than for that city. (Matt. 10:15)

Sodom and Gomorrah represent those who are condemned to hell due to an evil way of life, the original story in Genesis portrays how the Lord wished to save any remnant of humanity from the condemnation of hell. Those who are in knowledge of the truth and yet live an evil life will be condemned much more than those who just live an evil life and yet have no knowledge of truth (Heavenly Arcana 7418.2). Sodom spiritually represents the lusts of evil, and Gomorrah are the falsities derived from thence (Heavenly Arcana 2220.4). Judgment refers to one's judgment after death.

Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues; and ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles (Matt. 10:16-18)

In scripture, each and every animal is representative of a different aspect of one's spiritual state. Sheep those in the good of faith, wolves are those who are against innocence (Heavenly Arcana 3994.3). "Wolves in sheep's clothing" are those who are externally religious but internally evil. To be "wise as serpents" means one must apply external wisdom and judgment in order to present the truth so that it can be received, to be "harmless as doves" is to not do so out of any sort of hatred but rather in the good from innocence of love towards the Lord (Heavenly Arcana 197, 6398.3; Apocalype Explained 581.9, Heavenly Arcana 10132.9)

To scourge is to pervert the Word (Apocalype Explained 655.9). Synagogues here signify false doctrine, as it was also a place of instruction (Apocalype Explained 120.3).

But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you. (Matt. 10:19-20)

The "spirit of the Father" is none other than the Holy Spirit. It is false to think of this as another person - the Holy Spirit is the Divine operation in us, which flows into those who reject any good and truth that is derived from the ego. To such, inspiration will be given.

And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved. (Matt. 10:21-22)

This means there will be internal dissension, but not literally among family members. This presents internal spiritual warfare from within. To deliver someone to death is to hate them, to the point of extinguishing their spiritual life (by condemning one to hell). In the spiritual sense a "brother" is one who in a similar good of faith, and this is the origin of calling one another "brethren." In the opposite sense a "brother" is one who is in evil from a false faith. A "father" is someone who is in evil, a "child" is one who is in truth from innocence, or in the opposite sense a "father" is one who is in good who is attacked by falsehoods. Every family relation here has a particular spiritual significance (Heavenly Arcana 10490.6, Apocalype Explained 724.6).  In the spiritual sense, the "Lord's name" is all doctrine concerning love and charity (Heavenly Arcana 2009.11).

But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come (Matt. 10:23)

To flee from a city is to withdraw from doctrines of falsehood (Apocalype Explained 223.21). If you find a falsehood in a religion, withdraw from it. Don't stay in something where the truth will be suppressed. To "flee from one city into the next" is also to go through a period of searching. If one is willing to question one's belief, that opens you up to receiving the truth. And eventually, one will find the Divine truth, which is signified by the coming of the Son of Man, which is the revelation of the Divine truth hidden within scripture itself (if you are reading this blog, you have found it). In the spiritual sense the "Son of Man" is a title that refers to the Lord as to the Divine truth, whereas "Son of God" refers to the Divinity in His human form.

In presenting the truth, be prepared to be rejected by the majority. But always remember:


In the end, expect to encounter a lot of hatred in presenting the truth, for falsehoods reign supreme in most people's understanding. But do it out of love, for out of the many who reject the truth, there will be a few who will hear and receive.


For He knows our form, 
He remembers that we are dust.
A man, his days are as grass, 
As a flower of the field, so he blossoms.
For the wind passes over it and it becomes nothing, 
And the place thereof shall recognize it no more.
But the mercy of Jehovah is from everlasting to everlasting, 
Upon those who fear Him,
And His righteousness to sons' sons,
To those who keep His covenant, 
And to those who remember His precepts to do them. (Ps. 103:14-18)

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Why Muslims and Jews falsely reject Christianity, and the Divine Human



I was told by a Jewish person that he enjoyed the writings of Emanuel Swedenborg, but he could not accept Jesus as Divine and had a problem with that.  This is also a problem for many Muslims who regard Jesus as just a prophet; moreover it is a problem for Christians in Muslim countries as it is viewed to worship something created as blasphemous against the Creator. So what is the answer?  It is quite a logical argument, something for which few Christians give a proper answer. So here is the summary of the problem I gave to the Jewish person:

SUMMARY PROBLEM AND ANSWER

Most Jews and Muslims have 2 problems with declaring Jesus as Divine:
  1. Worshiping something created as Creator, and,
  2. Multiple personal beings in the Godhood.
If you look deeply into what was revealed to Swedenborg, he was told this:
  1. The human personality is composed of multiple levels, to simplify, the internal soul and the external body. Jesus' external human form was indeed something created. But his internal form is Jehovah Himself. What happened is that Jesus successfully put off this external human form from the mother, until it was transformed into a Divine Human. This is why, in the Gospels, Jesus kept his identity secret until He rose from the dead.
  2. In New Church theology, Jehovah was born into a lower human state and had to progress back to a state of union with the Divine, as all humans must progress towards God by resisting sin and doing His will. What happened is that by becoming incarnate, Jehovah could do battle against all of hell by resisting sin and temptation through the human form that was inherited from Mary. This could not be done unless as a human He was born into a finite limited state of being. Jesus's prayers indicate the Divine can lower itself into a lower state of being, but it is a false appearance to regard Him as someone as distinct from the Divine.
So given that, the definition of a trinity of three persons is a definite falsehood. Many Muslims who see this teaching thus become attracted to the New Church, as the New Church also accepts that some sort of revelation was given to Muhammed.
As for Judaism, many of the rituals will not be understood until one understands the hidden spiritual sense, but much of it will remain hidden until one understands the doctrine of the Divine Human.
Before the incarnation, Jehovah could not reveal Himself except through an angelic being. What Swedenborg described was that angels would be invested with an influx from the Divine and speak as if they were Jehovah Himself. But as mankind become more sinful, this connection with the angelic realm became cut off. The only way to restore it was for Jehovah to become incarnate in human form.
Another point: the Divine, as an abstract concept, cannot be held in the thought without an external form. In New Church theology, the Divine itself is unreachable by human understanding, but is reachable in its external form, which is the Divine Human. The invisible Divine and the visible Divine is known as the Father and the Son. It is a mistake to assign separate distinct personal identities to different titles of the Divine.

SOME FURTHER THOUGHTS

Here is where the Christian revelations of the New Church can give answers to those who have real rational and intelligent doubts about Jesus Christ, whereas older Christian churches cannot give a rational answer. And since they have no answer, they avoid the topic altogether. This is because in most older Christian churches, people are just taught to believe on the basis of authority. The other issue is there are hidden falsehoods in the theology of the older Christian churches. So Muslims and Jews actually have point.  These falsehoods in doctrine prevent Christians in general from providing a rational argument for their faith, to wit:



  1. There is no such thing as a trinity of three persons. In the New Church, this a complete non issue. There is one Divine being, One Personal Being who is Being itself. The True Trinity is that of the Divine itself, the Divine Human, and the Divine operation or Divine proceeding of God's spirit.
  2. The theology of vicarious atonement was adopted in the Catholic Church in the 11th century, and from there the Protestants inherited it. This is not the true method of salvation. Jesus saved humanity by fighting against the power of hell in His Human, and when he overcame hell He made His human Divine. From this, His spirit can now flow into us to resist sin and temptation, and live a spiritual life. A spiritual moral life, not a religious sort of apathy of belief only. Protestant churches in this regard fail in this regard as they have made religion of belief only, which is in fact not taught by the Bible.
  3. The Catholic Church further corrupts Christianity by encouraging prayer towards Mary, and an undue focus on the holiness of saints. In true Christianity, the focus is on Jesus, on the one God who alone is Holy. The more one worships the self or one's ego, the more one withdraws from God.

HOW JESUS GRADUALLY MADE HIS HUMAN DIVINE

So, there are several falsehoods that have grown within the Christian church that originated from the thoughts of man and not from Divine revelation, which have corrupted the Christian church. When these falsehoods are removed, a lot of the disagreements that Muslims and Jews have with Christianity in general sort of go away. The true reality of the situation is that as it is now, no traditional religion is completely true, nor is it completely false. But it is hard for those who grew up in a religion to see their own bias and the hidden falsehood of their religion.

I have not, however, been able to find a falsehood in the Divine teachings as received in the writings of Emanuel Swedenborg. Religious authorities have issues with Swedenborg because they are unable to let go of the falsehoods that they have received from their own tradition. And the problem here is ministers of a particular denomination do not exactly have freedom of thought or freedom of speech to publicly disagree.

So, for example, Catholics are taught that Mary was born perfect, and therefore Jesus was born perfect. Neither of these statements are actually true. Mary was a woman born in sin like us all, and Jehovah had to become incarnate from a human woman so that He could directly fight against the evil tendencies of that human form.  This is a concept most Christians are unfamiliar with, and thus they cannot give a rational explanation for Christianity. It is here that the Orthodox have a closer view of the truth, although they may not explicitly teach it well. 

As this is hidden from most Christians, I will here quote what was revealed to Swedenborg on the matter.

STATEMENTS ON THE HUMANITY OF JESUS AND HIS MOTHER MARY

"[the Lord] was born as another man and instructed as another man, but the interiors with Him were celestial, which adapted the vessels for the reception of knowledges, and so that the knowledges would afterwards become vessels to receive the Divine. The interiors with Him were Divine, from Jehovah His Father; the exteriors were human, from Mary His mother." (Heavenly Arcana, n. 1460)

In the following passage, the "first rational" is one's rational mind which is in love of the self, the "second rational" is one that one receives from the Lord which desires love and truth:

"...it is to be known that though a man be regenerated, still each and every thing of the first rational remains with him, and is only separated from the second rational, and this in a most wonderful manner by the Lord. But the Lord wholly exterminated His first rational, so that nothing of it remained; for what is merely human cannot be together with the Divine. Hence He was no longer the son of Mary, but Jehovah as to each Essence." (Heavenly Arcana, n. 2657.7)

"That He was born of the virgin Mary is known, yet as another man; but when He was born again, or became Divine, it was from Jehovah who was in Him, and Who was Himself as to the very Being of life. The unition of the Divine and the Human Essence was effected mutually and reciprocally, so that He united the Divine Essence to the Human and the Human to the Divine" (Heavenly Arcana, n. 2798.2)

This is from a passage where it is explained that the Lord had to expel hereditary evil he inherited from Mary:

"...this was hereditary evil from the mother, against which the Lord combated... and from His expelling it, so that at length He was not the son of Mary" (Heavenly Arcana, n. 4563.1)

"The Lord was indeed born as another man, and had an infirm human from the mother; but this human the Lord entirely cast out, so that He was no longer the son of Mary, and made the Human in Himself Divine, which is meant by His being glorified; and He also showed to Peter, James, and John, when He was transfigured, that He was a Divine Man." (Heavenly Arcana, n. 4692.5)

The following passage explains the difference between the regeneration of ordinary men and the glorification of the Lord's human:

"From this it may be evident that man is made altogether new when he is regenerated, for then all things and everything with him are so ordered as to receive heavenly loves. Nevertheless with man the prior forms are not destroyed, but only removed; but with the Lord the prior forms, which were from the maternal, were altogether destroyed and extirpated, and Divine forms received in their place. For the Divine love does not agree with any but a Divine form; all other forms it absolutely casts out; hence it is that the Lord when glorified was no longer the son of Mary." (Heavenly Arcana, n. 6872.4)

"It is to be known that with man who is being regenerated, purification from evils and their falsities goes on continually, for so far as man is purified from evils and falsities, so far are implanted the truths which are of faith, and these are conjoined to the good which is of charity, and so far man then acts from the good of charity. Purification from evils and falsities with man is not liberation from them, but is their removal (see n. 868, 887, 894, 929, 1581, 2269, 2406, 4564, 8206, 8393, 8988, 9014, 9333, 9446-9451, 9938). With the Lord however there was not removal, but casting out of those which He derived from the mother, thus full liberation from them, even so that He was no longer the son of Mary" (Heavenly Arcana, n. 10057.6)

WHY A NEW REVELATION FOR CHRISTIANITY

This is why a new revelation for Christianity and Jesus Christ had to be made, for as it is now, there are so much falsehoods in the older traditional churches that many cannot make a rational argument to explain the truth of Christianity. So question what you have been taught, and as one removed the falsehoods from within, so many that are without will be willing to come closer to Jesus Christ, to live a spiritual life according to His commandments, where He dwells within each one of us through His spirit.