All of scripture, when looked upon in a spiritual manner, is abstracted from time and space and can be applied to our daily lives. The historical events, the psalms, and the parables describe the inner states of our soul. However in the literal sense, there are certain time periods specified in long term Biblical prophecies. In these long term Biblical prophecies, one of the principles that is followed is that in order to represent long time spans, where a spiritual condition will last over a nation for many years, a year is represented as a day. For example, when the Israelites decided to spy on the land of Canaan for 40 days, they were punished for a period of 40 years, where they were forced to wander in the wilderness before they could then enter the land of Canaan under Joshua:
According to the number of the days in which you spied out the land, forty days, for each day you shall bear your guilt one year, namely forty years, and you shall know My rejection. (Num. 14:34)
In another case, the prophet Ezekiel was to represent a period of 390 years followed by 40 years, by lying on one side for 390 days and then on the other side for 40 days:
Lie also on your left side, and lay the iniquity of the house of Israel upon it. According to the number of the days that you lie on it, you shall bear their iniquity.
For I have laid on you the years of their iniquity, according to the number of the days, three hundred and ninety days; so you shall bear the iniquity of the house of Israel.
And when you have completed them, lie again on your right side; then you shall bear the iniquity of the house of Judah forty days. I have laid on you a day for each year. (Ezek. 4:4-6)
For those who study Biblical prophecy, the "day for a year" principle is well known. But Swedenborg gives a deeper explanation for this: the reason this is done is that in heaven, there is no time, there are only changes of state. Changes of state can be represented by a day, a month, or a year...what we see as different time periods become changes of state in heaven. Indeed, the Lord sees past, present and future all as one. Everything is the eternal now. The symbolism of the time period or state is represented by the spiritual symbolism of the number of the time period.
However, there is another explanation why one day can be represented as a year, and this is through correspondence. When the ancients studied the stars and made their calendars, it was noted that a lunar month lasts about 29.5 days. When observing the planets, the seventh planet Saturn was observed to have an orbital period of 29.5 years. Thus through correspondence, a day corresponds to a year, and a lunar year of 354.37 days corresponds to a longer time period of 354.37 years. This is sometimes rounded to a "perfect" year of 360 days, which corresponds to a period of 360 years.
With that in mind, we can now open up an obscure manner in the book of Revelation, which concern a long time period:
Then I was given a reed like a measuring rod. And the angel stood, saying, "Rise and measure the temple of God, the altar, and those who worship there.
But leave out the court which is outside the temple, and do not measure it, for it has been given to the Gentiles. And they will tread the holy city underfoot for forty-two months.
And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy one thousand two hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth. (Rev. 11:1-3)
Then the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, that they should feed her there one thousand two hundred and sixty days. (Rev. 12:6)
But the woman was given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place, where she is nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent. (Rev. 12:14)
This long time period in the book of Revelation is mentioned either as 42 months, 1260 days, or as three and a half years, where a "time" is a year. All of these represent a longer time period: a period of 1,260 years. The woman who flees into the wilderness is the New Church, which is established on a doctrine of one God in one person Jesus Christ, and a life according to the commandments of the Decalogue. This new revelation from heaven will be opposed by the clergy who teach that there is a trinity of three persons and that one is justified by faith alone. The "wilderness" represents a state of obscurity, where the doctrine is kept hidden for a time, for as long as falsity reigns the truth will be kept in an obscure state. As most of Christianity is now a corrupt religion, where people blindly follow the Nicene Creed, we are now in the "wilderness" state. The established clergy will not accept a revelation that tells them that their theology is wrong: thus very few have heard of the revelations given to Emanuel Swedenborg. The trampling of the outer heavenly court by the Gentiles represents how the church on earth will be filled by those who are full of evils in their life, as they do not live according to God's commandments. Thus John was commanded not to measure it.
Many older authors on Biblical prophecy, noting that a period of 1,260 years is used in other prophecies concerning the domination of the Papacy, think that the book of Revelation is referring here to the same time period. This was the adopted view of several Protestant authors, especially in the 19th century, and this prophetic view was co-opted by the Seventh Day Adventist Church. This is incorrect. It is the time period after the fall of the Papacy, after the time when a heavenly revelation was shown to Emanuel Swedenborg. It is a period of 1,260 years: for it is going to take that long for the revelation of the New Jerusalem to counter the falsehoods as taught in Catholic and Protestant churches (which is somewhat depressing). The conflict between the old corrupt churches of Babylon and the dragon and the church of the New Jerusalem is known as the spiritual battle of Armageddon: for when one examines the interior theology of Catholicism, and by extension Protestantism, it just about says the exact opposite of the doctrines of the New Jerusalem. Why Swedenborgian organizations strive to be "inter-denominational" makes absolutely no sense to me. You cannot combine truth with what is false. You have to separate yourself from falsehood, or you will end up adulterating the truth. Everyone seems to have fallen in love with an "Im OK, your OK" kind of religion, trying to offend no one.
So, when does the time period of 1,260 years begin and end? As noted above, there are multiple periods: one period concerns the domination of the Papacy (which has ended), and another period concerns the gradual development of the church of the New Jerusalem, the church of the New Age (we are in this period now). I have more to say on this period of 1,260 years, but it involves some other prophecies concerning the Catholic Church, the prophecies of the book of Daniel, and a bit of explanation on some astronomical time cycles. It is not a well developed point in the New Church: sometimes Swedenborg describes the abstract universal sense of scripture, but failed to note its more literal meaning.
So I will leave this subject for another blog entry...stay tuned. I am also working on publishing another work on Swedenborg...it is again a large work, and that is taking up my time as well. When I get bored of it I will share further random thoughts in this blog...