Sunday, April 21, 2019

The Symbolism of the Stone of the Tomb of Easter

It is Easter, and I thought I would share here the spiritual symbolism of the stone that the Jews used to seal the tomb of Jesus before He rose from the dead.  Swedenborg offers an interesting explanation of it which I thought was rather insightful, as we can take this meaning and apply it in our lives today:
"An angel of the Lord was seen sitting upon the stone which he had rolled away from the entrance to the tomb (Matt. xxviii. 2)... These things seen were representative of the Lord's glorification, and of introduction into heaven by Him; for the "stone" that was placed before the sepulchre, and that was rolled away by the angel, signifies Divine truth, thus the Word, which was closed up by the Jews, but opened by the Lord. (That "stone" signifies truth, and in the highest sense, Divine truth, may be seen above,[†] n. 417a, and in the work on Heaven and Hell, n. 534)." (Apocalypse Explained, n. 687.15)
Thus the spiritual significance of the sealing of the tomb with a stone is to cover up and hide the true spiritual meaning of the Word, which is done by religious leaders who have power. In the time of Jesus, the Word was closed up by the Jews with their many traditions and external rituals; so how does it happen today?

In the history of the Catholic Church, we can see that they were guilty of this: they had attempted to prevent the translation of the Bible into languages people could understand, and attempted to keep it in Latin so that only the priests could explain it. For their interest was to place power in the priesthood, and this interest still remains today: some place Divine authority in their priesthood, rather than seeing the priesthood as a means of serving and representing God's truth. This was foreseen in scripture:
"The next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate
and said, “Sir, we remember how that impostor said, while he was still alive, ‘After three days I will rise.’
Therefore order the tomb to be made secure until the third day, lest his disciples go and steal him away and tell the people, ‘He has risen from the dead,’ and the last fraud will be worse than the first.”
Pilate said to them, “You have a guard of soldiers. Go, make it as secure as you can.”
So they went and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone and setting a guard
." (Matt. 27:62-66)
The guards placed around the tomb were of course Roman soldiers, and Rome would later become the center of the Roman Catholic Church, which would place guards around the Word of God by having them be the only ones to interpret scripture, and leave the Word closed to the masses. For Jesus Himself is the Word incarnate; for Him to lie dead in the tomb sealed by a stone would be to exterminate it from view to the public.

Swedenborg explains a portion of the above passage, and indicates that every single detail of the Lord's crucifixion and resurrection has spiritual significance:
""The angel rolled away the stone from the mouth and sat upon it" signifies that the Lord removed all the falsity that had shut off access to Him, and that He opened Divine truth, "the stone" signifying the Divine truth which the Jews had falsified by their tradition; for it is said that:—
The chief priests and Pharisees sealed the stone with a guard; but that an angel from heaven removed it and sat upon it (Matt. xxvii. 66; xxviii. 2).
The things that have been said respecting these earthquakes, and the veil of the temple, and the stone before the mouth of sepulchre, are but a few, but the things signified by them are many, for each and everything that is written in the Gospels respecting the Lord's Passion involves arcana and is significative." (Apocalypse Explained, n. 400.14)
If we look at the state of Christianity today, the majority of Christians are completely unaware of what is in the Bible. And if they do actually read it, most ignore the Old Testament. It is thus, except for a minor set of verses, a closed book, or subject to misinterpretation.

However this has changed in the present day: for the complete spiritual symbolism of the Word has been revealed in the writings of Emanuel Swedenborg, who was allowed to have continuous waking visions for 27 years.  This is explained in the multi-volume work Heavenly Arcana (aka Arcana Coelestia or Heavenly Secrets) as well as in his other theological works, especially Apocalypse Revealed and Apocalypse Explained.

With the spiritual meaning of the Word disclosed, this is the modern "rolling away of the stone" of the tomb, so that we can now all see the Word in its true glory. This is the spiritual resurrection we can all experience; it is in fact the Second Coming - for it is a revelation of the spiritual sense of the Word, whereas the First Coming was a revelation of the Word in the flesh (see Is the Second Coming a Physical Event or Spiritual Event?)

But be aware - as in the day of Jesus, there will be religious leaders in power who will attempt to cover up this great truth - who will utter the word "heresy" to attempt to hold on to their own traditions. These are represented by the Jewish leaders who spread the false report that the disciples stole the body once the stone was rolled away.

And what does it take to see it? What is required is an affection for the truth, and the desire to seek it. Thus the first witnesses who saw the empty tomb were women - and in the spiritual sense, women represent affection for the truth. Their weeping and crying represents an acknowledgment of the lack of truth. Thus if one has the desire, and if one seeks, then in this very present moment we ourselves can make the journey and see the empty tomb, and the glory of the Word risen in our lives.

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