Monday, April 15, 2013

The Prophecy of the Last Judgment

In previous blog posts I have been discussing the meaning of prophecies in the Bible which have associated time periods.  In particular, I focused on this prophecy of Daniel, which mentions a period of 1290 and 1335 days, which correspond to a long time period of 1290 years and 1335 years:
And from the time that the daily sacrifice is taken away, and the abomination of desolation is set up, there shall be one thousand two hundred and ninety days.  Blessed is he who waits, and comes to the one thousand three hundred and thirty-five days. (Dan. 12:11-12)
In Biblical history, there was a 1290 year period from 1883 - 593 B.C., which begins with the time of Abraham's sojourning to the land of Canaan, to the time when God shows the "abomination" of idol worship in the Jewish temple to the prophet Ezekiel.  The 1290 year period can be divided into three periods of 430 years each, thus there is a prophecy where Ezekiel is commanded to lie on his side for a period of 430 days (a day for each year).  Contained within the 1290 year period is a shorter 1260 year period lasting from 1853 to 593 B.C., which closely follows the solar eclipses of a particular Saros cycle.

Daniel speaks of a future 1290 year period, associated with another period of 1335 years.  As discussed before, it is possible that they refer to the following periods of time:

455 - 1790 A.D. (1335 years)
499 - 1789 A.D. (1290 years)

Both periods end at the same time, the year 1789-90, the exact time of the French Revolution which broke the political and spiritual power of the Catholic Church.  The "abomination of desolation" does not concern the desecration of a Jewish temple, but rather the non-acknowledgment of the Divine in the human of the Lord, and the corruption of the Christian Church which turns away from love into belief only.  It was in 451 A.D. where the Council of Chalcedon declared that Jesus has two natures - the Divine and the human - which was done so that the Papacy could claim to be the Vicar of Christ on earth.  The year 455 A.D. was when the Vandals sacked Rome, stealing the treasures of Jerusalem, symbolizing the "desecration" of Christianity - for now not only was God divided into 3 persons, but His human - the Son of God, was no longer Divine, but an ordinary human. The Vandals, moreover, followed Arianism, which does not acknowledge Jesus as Divine. The Council of Chalcedon was opposed - and is still opposed - by the Oriental Orthodox Church, the largest of which is the Coptic Church. It was in 499 A.D. that the question b became settled in the Catholic Church, after an internal schism concerning the Papacy over this question.

Knowing the time period of the 1290 year prophecy means we are now in a position to determine the time period of the 1260 years - the "time, times and half a time" in Biblical prophecy.  For the 1260 year period is a shorter version of the longer 1290 year period.  We need to understand here: the prophecies do not concern political events of nations, but rather spiritual events involving the Church.  Prophecies concerning particular nations in scripture symbolize spiritual states within the Church.  The Nicene Creed and the Council of Chalcedon greatly changed the nature of the Christian Church, slowly corrupting it until there is no truth left in the majority of theology as understood today.

With that preface, I would like to summarize the vision that Daniel had of the future, described in chapter 7 of the book of Daniel.  He sees four beasts rise of out of the sea, the last one having 10 horns.  This is then followed by a "little horn", which then makes war upon the saints and utters blasphemies against God.  Here is a summary of the vision, as traditionally interpreted in its lowest, literal sense:

The Lion = Babylonian Empire (626 - 539 B.C.)
The Bear = Medo-Persian Empire (539 - 332 B.C.)
The Leopard = Grecian Empire (332 - 31 B.C.)
A Fourth Beast with 10 horns = Roman Empire (31 B.C. - 493 A.D.)
A Little Horn = the Roman Catholic Papacy

Most other interpreters of Biblical prophecy will agree with this interpretation. Others, however, will try to put a "gap" in the prophecy and apply the 10 horns to the nations of Europe and the little horn to a future Antichrist. This is the "Futuristic" interpretation, which has a tendency to place all prophecies in the future - just as the Jews still expect a Messiah to come some time in the future.

The above interpretation, however, is its lowest most literal interpretation: for whatever happened to the Jews was representative of the spiritual church, thus the empires which ruled over the Jewish peoples were representative as well.  What the vision describes is how a spiritual revelation degenerates over time until there is no truth left in the church. Thus, there are many details which are skipped over by most interpreters:

The first was like a lion, and had eagle's wings. I watched till its wings were plucked off; and it was lifted up from the earth and made to stand on two feet like a man, and a man's heart was given to it. (Dan. 7:4)
This symbolizes the first state of the church, where the revelation of the Divine truth elevates a person from a lower natural state (an animal) to a higher spiritual state (a standing man). The eagle's wings is one's own rationality, which is replaced by a higher spiritual truth. This is a state where the Word transforms one's life, redeeming a person from sin.
And suddenly another beast, a second, like a bear. It was raised up on one side, and had three ribs in its mouth between its teeth. And they said thus to it: 'Arise, devour much flesh! (Dan. 7:5)
The second state is when the Word is read, but not understood.  Appropriation of the Word in one's mind is symbolized by "eating" it. That there are many truths is signified by "much flesh", but that it is applied literally where fallacious appearances are taken as the truth, is symbolized by the three ribs between the teeth.
After this I looked, and there was another, like a leopard, which had on its back four wings of a bird. The beast also had four heads, and dominion was given to it. (Dan. 7:6)
This is the third state of the church. The Word is indeed read, but scripture is now used to confirm false heresies.  The confirmed falsities are the wings of the bird. Reading the Word and not understanding it is one thing, but to then take it and confirm a false belief is a worse state than the one preceding it. The reason why the Grecian Empire represents this is that they took ancient truths and converted them into fables and myths which were used to support their idolatry.
After this I saw in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, exceedingly strong. It had huge iron teeth; it was devouring, breaking in pieces, and trampling the residue with its feet. It was different from all the beasts that were before it, and it had ten horns. (Dan. 7:7)
This is the fourth state of the church, in which all truth and good are destroyed. It becomes powerful among many, the many falsehoods are symbolized by the "10 horns" (ten means all, a horn symbolize power from falsehood).
I was considering the horns, and there was another horn, a little one, coming up among them, before whom three of the first horns were plucked out by the roots. And there, in this horn, were eyes like the eyes of a man, and a mouth speaking pompous words. (Dan. 7:8)

Later in the vision the angel explains:
The ten horns are ten kings Who shall arise from this kingdom. And another shall rise after them; He shall be different from the first ones, And shall subdue three kings.He shall speak pompous words against the Most High, Shall persecute the saints of the Most High, And shall intend to change times and law. Then the saints shall be given into his hand For a time and times and half a time. (Dan. 7:24-25)
This is the part I wanted to get to: for the "little horn" reigns over the saints - those of the church - for a "time, times, and half a time".  This is a period of three and a half years, or 1260 days, which symbolizes a period of 1260 years. So what does this "little horn" symbolize? The "horn" signifies the power of a particular falsehood. It is "little" because so few see it.  In this particular case, it is making use of religion to confirm the love of self and the love of dominion over others.  Thus it signifies the Papacy.  The "three horns" that are subdued and humbled means that all the truths of the Word were subdued and warped to support this line of thinking. Thus it signifies the dominion of the Papacy, and from its theology, it also signifies a religion of belief alone, with no love or charity.

It can be confirmed in any history book that the western Roman Empire fell in 493 A.D.  And, as discussed earlier, the 1260 year period is based on a Saros cycle of solar eclipses.  Moreover, this 1260 year period is the smaller or shorter period of the 1290 year period (499 - 1789 A.D.).  Based upon that, the time period of the 1260 years during which time the Roman Catholic Church would rule over the church is as follows:

499 - 1759 A.D.

It was in 1759 A.D. in which the suppression of the Jesuits in Europe began, which was the political power of the Catholic Church. This was an outcome of the Enlightenment, which culminated in the French Revolution.  However, what takes place on earth first takes place in the spiritual world. For before these events took place, there was a last judgment in heaven, as seen in the visions of Emanuel Swedenborg.

THE LAST JUDGMENT IN THE SPIRITUAL WORLD

What confuses everyone concerning this particular vision of Daniel is what comes next: for the prophecy states that after this time period of rule by the Papacy for 1260 years, a judgment will take place:

I watched till thrones were put in place, And the Ancient of Days was seated; His garment was white as snow, And the hair of His head was like pure wool. His throne was a fiery flame, Its wheels a burning fire;A fiery stream issued And came forth from before Him. A thousand thousands ministered to Him; Ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him. The court was seated, And the books were opened.I watched then because of the sound of the pompous words which the horn was speaking; I watched till the beast was slain, and its body destroyed and given to the burning flame.As for the rest of the beasts, they had their dominion taken away, yet their lives were prolonged for a season and a time.I was watching in the night visions, And behold, One like the Son of Man, Coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, And they brought Him near before Him.Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, That all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, Which shall not pass away, And His kingdom the one Which shall not be destroyed. (Dan. 7:9-14)
What people misunderstand here is that they expect a visible coming of the Lord upon the clouds of heaven, to judge all and establish a kingdom here on earth.  But this is not the case.  What Swedenborg was shown was that final judgments periodically take place in the spiritual world upon large groups of people, who have not entered heaven or hell.  This happens in the spiritual world upon those who have already died but have not been judged yet. These final judgments tend to take place on those who are outwardly religious, but inwardly evil.  These kinds of souls are permitted for a time as they do help to lead others towards God. When these judgments take place, a new revelation is given, and a new church begins to form on earth.  And this is what Swedenborg saw which took place beginning in the year 1757, and lasted to the end of that year: there was a spiritual judgment on the religious leaders, especially those of the Roman Catholic religion.  This took place in the spiritual world, and it is no coincidence that the Catholic Church began to lose its political power and authority soon after.  The Lord coming on the clouds of heaven means the revelation of the spiritual sense of the Word, which was revealed in the visions of Swedenborg: every small detail is revealed, showing that behind the literal sense there is a hidden spiritual sense.

This final judgment which took place in the year 1757 was described in detail in Swedenborg's work, The Final Judgment (see to the left).  What is significant is the timing: for it came towards the end of Daniel's prophecy of 1260 years.  Even Swedenborg was not aware of the literal meaning of the time period of the prophecy, interpreting it generally as the time "from the beginning to the end" for that phase of the church.  But for those who interpret the Bible literally, who expect to see things visibly in front of their own eyes, and for those who deny or who do not know anything of the afterlife, the prophecies of the Lord's coming and the final judgment will always be closed to them.  Hopefully I have given enough pointers for people to reconsider their understanding of these Biblical prophecies, and will research the visions of Swedenborg more closely to understand the spiritual sense of the Word.  So how was the Lord given dominion at this time?  The kingdom or dominion is the formation of  New Church on earth. He is given dominion, when one acknowledges that He is Jehovah in human form. For the Father is not a separate being, the Father lives inside of Him, and we know the Father through the human form, the Son.

And when you realize that, the older dominion, the one in which God was worshiped as three distinct beings, begins to fall apart, and becomes destroyed.  This falsehood will then no longer rule over your spiritual life.

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