In the New Church there are very few prophecies, as the doctrines deal with the universal principles of love and truth and how to live by them. The more important teaching is not to be worried about the future, for this is the state that angels are in. Nevertheless, angels are able to have perception of future things to come:
"I have spoken with the angels concerning the memory of things past, and anxiety thence for things to come; and have been instructed that the more internal and the more perfect the angels are, the less they care for past things, and the less do they think of things to come; and that thence also is their happiness. They say that the Lord gives them every moment what to think, and this with blessedness and happiness; and that they are thus without cares and anxieties. Also, that this was meant in the internal sense by manna being received daily from heaven, and by the daily bread in the Lord's Prayer [see The True Spiritual Meaning and Interpretation of the Lord's Prayer]; also, by the instruction not to be solicitous about what they may eat and drink, and wherewith they may be clothed. But that though they do not care for things past, and are not solicitous about things to come, they still have the most perfect recollection of past things, and the most perfect intuition of things to come; because in all their present there is as well the past as the future." (Heavenly Arcana, n. 2493)This perception of future things to come can sometimes flow into our mind during a precognitive dream, which if we forget, we sometimes will have a deja vu experience. During our physical time in our material bodies, we prepare ourselves for the angelic life by living a life of love and charity:
"When men who are in love to the Lord and in charity toward the neighbor are living in the world, they have with themselves and in themselves angelic intelligence and wisdom, but stored up in the inmosts of their interior memory; which intelligence and wisdom can in no way be apparent to them, before they put off corporeal things. Then the memory of outward particulars, which has been spoken of, is put to sleep; and they are awakened into the interior memory, and successively afterward into the angelic." (Heavenly Arcana, n. 2494)So at the moment, our minds our dense, and we are sort of like a fat caterpillar munching on leaves, preparing to morph into a butterfly. But in those mundane simple acts of love, or performing use towards others, there is hidden our future angelic state. As it is important to always act according to free will and reason, it is important not to fall into a "fatalistic" attitude where the future is determined:
"As a knowledge of future events takes away the human itself, which is, to act from freedom according to reason, a knowledge of the future is therefore given to no one; but it is allowable for every one to form conclusions about the future from reasons; reason with all that belongs to it is in its life from this. It is for this reason that a man does not know his lot after death, or know any event before he is in it; for if he knew, he would no longer think from the interior self, how he should do or how he should live so as to come to it; but only from the exterior self, that he is coming; and this state closes the interiors of his mind, in which the two faculties of his life, liberty and rationality, have their chief seat. The desire to know the future is born with most people; but this desire has its origin from a love of evil; it is therefore taken away from those who believe in the Divine Providence, and there is given them a trust that the Lord is disposing their lot; and consequently they do not wish for a foreknowledge of it, lest in some way they should interfere with the Divine Providence." (Angelic Wisdom concerning Divine Providence, n. 179)Because of the importance of free will, and developing one's own rationality, prophecies often come in symbolic or obscure form, and it is not known what the prophecy means until the event has taken place. I would like to discuss one of these, and this concerns the New Church as foreseen in the visions of Emanuel Swedenborg.
THE PROPHECY OF THE NEW CHURCH
The culminating work of Emanuel Swedenborg was True Christian Religion, in which he describes the true future form of Christianity: one that worships God in one person in the human form of Jesus Christ, and one where people live by God's commandments. This is the future state of Christianity, for in the present state the old churches have divided God into three, and many emphasize belief alone over service to others, or a life according to God's will. True Christian Religion offers a simple and rational view of Christianity. When Swedenborg completed it, he was given the following vision:
"After this work was finished the Lord called together His twelve disciples who followed Him in the world; and the next day He sent them all forth into the whole spiritual world to preach the Gospel that the Lord God Jesus Christ reigns, whose kingdom shall be for ages of ages, according to the prediction by Daniel (vii. 13, 14), and in the Apocalypse (xi. 15); and that Blessed are they who come to the marriage supper of the Lamb (Apoc. xix. 9). This took place on the nineteenth day of June, in the year 1770. This is meant by these words of the Lord: He will send His angels, and they shall gather together His elect from one end of the heavens even to the other (Matt. xxiv. 31). (True Christian Religion, n. 779)The prophecy of Daniel 7 is as follows:
"I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him.This is the prophecy of the Second Coming. Most take it literally, and expect Jesus to appear riding on the clouds of heaven. But this is from a false appearance based on the literal sense of the scripture. In the hidden spiritual meaning, the "clouds of heaven" are visions revealing the spiritual sense of scripture. The "Son of man" is Divine truth, which appears in the literal sense of scripture, which is signified by clouds. For the literal sense of scripture hides the spiritual sense, just as the clouds hide the stars, moon and sun. This spiritual sense of scripture is the proof that the Bible is Divinely inspired, and was the main purpose of Swedenborg's mission. Whereas in the first coming the Divine truth appeared in human form, in the Second Coming the Divine truth has now appeared in the literal sense of scripture, for anyone who cares to look and examine the revelations received in Swedenborg's visions.
And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed." (Dan. 7:13-14)
As for the kingdom, in the spiritual world a new heaven was created for the new Christians who follow God in one person and obey His commandments. That kingdom is gradually manifesting itself here on earth as the New Church. It is among the small and few at the moment, but in the future it is destined to grow, and it will not fall and go away as the previous churches will. In the old churches, faith or belief is primary. In the New Church, love is the first principle. Notice the following the phrase of the above prophecy:
And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdomCompare this with the Doxology of the Lord's Prayer, which some churches have falsely removed [see The True Spiritual Meaning and Interpretation of the Lord's Prayer]:
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever.The Doxology of the Lord's Prayer was not added later. It is actually based on the prophecy of Daniel, and looks forward to it. The New Church revelations are the fulfillment of the Lord's Prayer. For the Lord's Prayer should not be prayed to a being separate from Jesus, but rather to Jesus Christ Himself. For when it is mentioned "Hallowed be Thy name" - the name here is that of Jesus, who is Lord of all. The prophecy of Daniel is another proof that the Lord's Prayer should be directed to Jesus alone.
Perhaps many will doubt that the revelations given to Swedenborg are the fulfillment of Daniel's prophecy. But there is actually a strong proof for this, for we have a time period given in the prophecy of Daniel:
And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time. (Dan. 7:25)The phrase "time, times and half a time" is a bit odd, but scholars of Biblical prophecy, especially in the 19th century, were able to determine that this phrase refers to a 1260 year period. I have discussed this at length in previous blog posts, and have come to the conclusion this ended in the latter half of the 18th century, between 1759 and 1789. The Seventh Day Adventists have analyzed this prophecy in detail, and have come to the conclusion that it refers to the dominion of the Papacy of the Catholic Church, which they regard as having ended in the 18th century during the time of Napoleon. But that is as far as they get. Swedenborg was given a vision of the Last Judgment that took place in the 18th century, at around the same time as predicted in the Bible. In the New Church, this time period of spiritual captivity of the Christian Church includes both the Catholic and Protestant churches, for in reality the Protestant churches inherited most of their theology from the Catholic Church.
That Swedenborg was allowed to have full continual visions of heaven and hell, for a period of 27 years in the latter half of the 18th century, to explain the spiritual sense of scripture, was no accident. It was foreseen in Biblical prophecy, but no one imagined it would be fulfilled this way. Prophecies are always given in symbolic and obscure form, until the event is realized.
THE NEW CHURCH DAY OF JUNE 19, 1770
The date of June 19, 1770, is the only special date that Swedenborg mentions in all of his writings. Thus there is a tradition within the New Church to call this "New Church day" (see New Church Day (June 19, 1770) for it represents the time when the angelic realm started to prepare for the formation of the New Church, which would be gradual.
So, its this obscure little tradition that hardly anyone knows about. The first New Church was accidentally established on June 19. I would have thought if any special day was chosen, it would have fallen on a Jewish festival. But no, it falls on a day that is completely unrelated to any of the Jewish festivals. This is perhaps because the Jewish festivals were already fulfilled during the life of Jesus - the feast of Tabernacles was fulfilled by his birth, the feast of the Passover by his death, and the feast of firstfruits by Pentecost. So why June 19, is it indeed significant?
June 19 is indeed very significant. As New Church day is known as a day of spiritual liberation, among African Americans it is known as Juneteenth celebrations, to celebrate their liberation from physical slavery. From History of Juneteenth:
Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States. Dating back to 1865, it was on June 19th that the Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free. Note that this was two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation - which had become official January 1, 1863. The Emancipation Proclamation had little impact on the Texans due to the minimal number of Union troops to enforce the new Executive Order. However, with the surrender of General Lee in April of 1865, and the arrival of General Granger’s regiment, the forces were finally strong enough to influence and overcome the resistance.If that is not enough, on June 19, 1862, the U.S. Congress prohibits slavery in United States territories, nullifying Dred Scott v. Sandford. Exactly three years before slaves were declared free on June 19, 1865, "Juneteenth" day.
Wow, is that just a happy coincidence? I think not. For in one of Swedenborg's visions, he saw that the doctrines of the New Church were being relayed by angels to those in Africa. Evidence that this is taking place surfaced in the year 2012, with some heavenly visions being given to a young woman from Congo - see A Divine Revelation from Africa, concerning Heaven and Hell, It was because of Swedenborg's vision that many early Swedenborgians pushed for the abolition of slavery, and participated in the Abolitionist movement to free them. As Europe and the U.S. is still under the influence of the older churches, those in Africa have the potential to be more receptive to New Church teachings. Thus it is no coincidence that the largest New Church contingent in the world is in South Africa.
The New Church should take note, and African-Americans in the U.S. should take note of this as well. For even though physical slavery has ended, racial prejudice has not. Divine Providence has a habit of extending salvation to those who have been enslaved and been put down by others, thus we have the story of the Israelites being saved from the bondage of the Egyptians in the book of Exodus.
June 19 happens to be around the time of Midsummer celebrations that has a strong tradition in Europe as well as in the U.S. From Midsummer:
Midsummer, also known as St John's Day, or Litha, is the period of time centred upon the summer solstice, and more specifically the Northern European celebrations that accompany the actual solstice or take place on a day between June 19 and June 25 and the preceding evening.Midsummer celebrations are ancient, as they celebrate the summer solstice. It is also known as St. John's Day, which is traditionally the birth of John the Baptist. John the Baptist, in the New Testament, was a symbolic representation of Elijah, who was to come before Jesus declared Himself openly. Perhaps that is also the symbolism for New Church day, except in place of John the Baptist we have the revelations given to Emanuel Swedenborg, to prepare people to receive the truth of the Second Coming.
I am not exactly familiar with this ancient Midsummer ritual, so to educate myself I found this enlightening and weird video entitled, "Swedish Midsummer for Dummies." June 19, is definitely an interesting yet odd choice for New Church day.