Saturday, February 22, 2014

Spiritual Miracles of Egypt, the Arab Spring, and Repentance

If an angel should come down and reveal itself before us, would it make a difference? Would people believe?  Indeed, it has already happened: there have not only been angelic appearances in Egypt in modern times before thousands of people, it has been caught on photographs and video.  The angelic apparitions I have come across have been seen on top of Coptic Orthodox churches at Zeitoun (1968), Edfu (1982), Assiut (2000), and most recently at Warraq (2009) - see Angel Appears before thousands on top of a Coptic Church and Marian Apparitions of Egypt, the Orthodox Church and Emanuel Swedenborg. I had stumbled across these when researching how Emanuel Swedenborg's visions revealing how Jesus saved humanity explained the Orthodox view of the atonement: Jehovah saved humanity by making the sinful human he had been born into Divine. Hell was conquered because it fought directly against Jehovah through the human to tempt Jesus to sin. Hell and a host of evil spirits were defeated, heaven was reordered, and the spiritual balance between heaven and hell was restored. Not only that, but God's Holy Spirit through his Divine Human is now available to us to resist and overcome sin.

So why Egypt?  Egypt plays a large role in scripture - miracles were manifested in ancient times when God delivered Israel out of Egypt during the Exodus, and had manifested Himself as a pillar of light.  The Exodus took place during the Passover, and the Jewish Passover is a symbolic representation of how Jehovah would eventually become incarnate, be crucified, and descend into hell to release souls from spiritual bondage and take them to the promised land of heaven. Again, much later, an angel told Joseph and Mary to take their newborn baby Jesus and flee from Israel to Egypt. Thus was fulfilled the prophecy: Out of Egypt have I called my Son.  I was reminded of these events while translating Psalms 78, which recounts the events of the miracles of the Exodus.  And the purpose of the miracles? The Psalm states:
That they might set their hope in God,
And not forget the acts of God, but observe His commandments:
And might not be as their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation;
A generation that made not their heart firm, and whose spirit was not faithful with God. (Psalms 78:7-8)
The danger in rejecting or ignoring miracles can lead to immediate punishment: so the Egyptians were drowned in the Red Sea, the Israelites wandered in the wilderness for 40 years due to their rebellion even after seeing the miracles God performed, and King Herod died an excruciating death for the slaughter of the innocents in Bethlehem - some medical experts have diagnosed it as kidney failure accompanied by gangrene. Even when Jesus performed miracles, many cities turned their backs and ignored them. And what did Jesus have to say about that? He said this:
Then He began to rebuke the cities in which most of His mighty works had been done, because they did not repent:
"Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.
But I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you.
And you, Capernaum, who are exalted to heaven, will be brought down to Hades; for if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.
But I say to you that it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment than for you." (Matt. 11:20-24)
A manifestation of a miracle is a declaration of God's presence, and the way we should react to it is to examine our lives and repent. We all know the wrong things we do: our conscience tells us. In modern times, an angel has appeared multiple times in Egypt on top of a Coptic Church, focusing our attention on the cross of Jesus, how we should bow down and pray to Him. That is very significant, especially in the Muslim world: it shows that Jesus was not just a prophet. He was born as a prophet, but internally his soul was Divine, and when he rose from the dead he was in a glorified human body, free from sin - a Divine God Man.  So after the miracles that took place recently in Egypt, what happened?  We had the Arab Spring. And, we have a map for that:


One after another, a government has toppled or changed like a domino affect: but in Egypt twice. There are various theories into the causes, but everything that occurs in our material world has a spiritual cause. We are only seeing the effects.

THE IMPORTANCE OF REPENTENCE

The essential message of Christianity begins with repentance: when one repents, and resists the evils and sins, that person prepares themselves to enter the spiritual church.  Swedenborg spoke about this at length:
The communion called the church consists of all those in whom the church is; and the church with man enters him while regenerating, and every one is regenerated by abstaining from the evils of sin, and shunning them as one avoids infernal hordes, who sees them with torches in hand making ready to spring upon him and cast him upon a burning pile. There are many things which prepare one for the church, as he advances in the first stages, and which introduce him into it; but acts of repentance are what make the church to be in the man. Acts of repentance are all such as cause one not to will and hence not to do evils which are sins against God; for before this is done, the man stands outside of regeneration; and then, if a thought respecting eternal salvation creeps in, he turns toward it, but presently turns from it; for it enters into the man no further than the ideas of his thought, and it goes forth thence into the words of his speech, and also, it may be, into some gestures appropriate to the speech. But when such thought enters the will, it is then in the man; for the will is the man himself, because his love has its dwelling there, while thought is outside of the man, unless it proceeds from his will; if this is done, then will and thought act as one, and together make the man. From this it follows that, for repentance to be repentance and to be effective in man, it is necessary for it to be of the will and hence of the thought, and not of the thought alone, consequently for it to be actual and not of the lips merely. That repentance is the first of the church is very manifest from the Word. John the Baptist, who was sent before to prepare men for the church which the Lord was about to establish, when he baptized, at the same time preached repentance; therefore his baptism was called the baptism of repentance, because by baptism is signified spiritual washing, which is a cleansing from sins. John did this in the Jordan, because the Jordan signified introduction to the church, for it was the first boundary of the land of Canaan where the church was. The Lord Himself also preached repentance for the remission of sins; whereby He taught that repentance is the first of the church, that so far as man repents sins are removed with him, and that so far as they are removed they are remitted. And furthermore, the Lord commanded the twelve apostles, and also the seventy whom He sent forth, to preach repentance. From which it is plain that, repentance is the first of the church. (True Christian Religion, n. 501).
In other words, mere lip confessions one is a sinner is not enough. We have to acknowledge the specific sins we commit and turn away from them. When we do that, it moves out of the thought and into the will. Whether an act is sinful or not depends not only on our knowledge, but our intent and purpose in each act:
...they who by repentance have removed some evils that are sins come into the purpose of believing in the Lord and loving the neighbor; these latter are kept by the Lord in the purpose to abstain from other evils; therefore, if they commit sin from ignorance or some overpowering lust, this is not imputed to them, because they did not intend it, nor do they confirm it in themselves. This may be confirmed by what follows: In the spiritual world I have met with many who in the natural world lived like others, dressing finely, feasting delicately, having money like others from trading, witnessing plays, joking about lovers as if from licentiousness, and doing other such things; and yet the angels charged some with these things as evils of sin, and others they did not charge with them as evils, declaring the latter innocent, but the former guilty. To the question, "Why is this, when they all did alike?" they replied that they view all from their purpose, intention, and end, and distinguish accordingly; and that therefore they excuse or condemn those whom the end excuses or condemns, since good is the end with all in heaven, and evil is the end with all in hell. (True Christian Religion, n. 523).
And for those who acknowledge their sins, and repent, the external sign of that is baptism, the rite of the Christian Church. Baptism in itself does nothing: it is merely an external ritual that symbolizes the washing away of sins through repentance. Repentance is also not just a one time affair, it is a life long process: periodically we should review our lives and assess it, take a different view, and see where our faults lie. We can divide the steps of repentance as follows:
1. Knowledge of sin and examination of sin in one's self. This begins repentance.
2. Examination of one's self, acknowledging one's fault, and imploring the Lord's help.
3. Beginning a new life by turning away from the former acts, and correcting one's behavior.
And examining the acts is not just examining the outcome: self examination is to examine one's intent or purpose in such an act. Was it done selfishly? Was it done for self credit?  Did I ignore the needs of others? If the selfish ego is at the center of the act, one knows the nature of the act. There are three loves that act in opposition to God and his commandments:
1. Love of self
2. Love of the world, or materialism
3. Love of pleasure
Which for many, is everything. But these are false loves, and they are the loves that the world and the media encourages, including so many so-called "self-help" programs. When these loves are removed, we prepare ourselves to receive an inner true spiritual love: the love of what is good, the love of what is useful, the love of God we see inside others. But he have to first submit ourselves in humility to God's will, and obey the commandments. That is the essence of Christianity. It is very simple to understand, yet for many, so very hard to do.

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