Thursday, December 12, 2019

What is the Spiritual Meaning of the Rapture?

A very popular prophecy in Christianity is the rapture, where Christians will be caught up into heaven to be with the Lord.  It comes from the following writing of Paul:
For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. (1 Thes. 4:17)
This is preceded by a final judgment, in which those who "sleep" are raised up:
For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.  (1 Thes. 4:7)
From the revelations received by Emanuel Swedenborg, we now know that those who "sleep" are the souls who have not been judged immediately after death, who entered a state of sleep or unawareness in a place Swedenborg called the "world of spirits" which lies between heaven and hell. Periodically there are last judgments in this region to divide the good from the evil, where the good ascend into heaven and the evil are cast down to hell. These last judgments occur at the end of a dispensation of the church: one happened during the flood of Noah, another happened at the time of Jesus Christ, and another happened in the year 1757, to which Swedenborg was a witness. After each of these judgments, a new revelation is given which begins a new dispensation for the church. For the 18th century, it brought us the revelations of the New Church, and it ushered in the Age of Enlightenment and rational thinking, instead of blind belief in tradition and authority.

But what does it mean to be "caught up" or "raptured" to be with the Lord?  I did explain before that we are not to take this literally: heaven is not the sky above, but it is the spiritual heaven, and the apostle John was also "caught up" into heaven in a spiritual vision (see Rev. 4) that was recorded in the book of Revelation (see the previous blog post, Is the Second Coming a Physical Event or Spiritual Event?, for more details). However I read a passage where we can be raptured with the Lord, not literally but in a spiritual sense.

In the book of Revelation, we read of the two witnesses who are killed and are brought back to life, and then are taken up into heaven:
And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them (Rev. 11:12)
The two witnesses are symbolic: they symbolically represent two principles of the New Church:
  1. That God is One Person in Jesus Christ, and that His Human is Divine, and,
  2. One must live a life according to the commandments.
The witnesses are rejected and killed by a false church: those who divide God into three persons, and state that one is saved by faith alone. Those who hold to this faith are in hostile opposition to the principles of the New Church. For them to ascend into heaven in a cloud means that this revelation will be protected by the Lord from the evil. For a time, our time, this revelation will be accepted by only a small number of people.

However it has another meaning, which I thought was interesting. In scripture, the word "cloud" symbolically refers to the literal sense of the Word itself, which is a cover or veil for the glory of God. Hidden within the literal sense there is a higher spiritual sense which reveals the true spiritual meaning, and this is known as the "Son of Man coming in His glory" (Matt. 24:30). But here is a passage from Swedenborg on the meaning of the two witnesses ascending into the cloud of heaven:
"And they ascended up into heaven in a cloud, signifies them being taken up into heaven, and conjunction with the Lord there through the Divine truth of the Word in its literal sense. By going up into heaven is signified being taken up by the Lord into heaven... here also conjunction with the Lord there, because they went up in a cloud; for by a cloud the sense of the letter of the Word is signified (n. 24); and through this there is conjunction with the Lord, and consociation with the angels" (Apocalypse Revealed, n. 513)
So in other words, when reading scripture, and understanding the spiritual sense hidden behind the literal sense, and applying it, means we are with the Lord in the clouds.  For Swedenborg also saw that when scripture is read with an open heart, conjunction with the Lord and the angels are effected. However when we actually understand the spiritual meaning, as revealed in the revelations of the New Church, we are actually raptured and caught up with the Lord in our internal spiritual state, and have conjunction with the Lord when we apply it to our lives, fulfilling this prophecy. I thought, how beautiful. The spiritual rapture is thus fulfilled - and we can experience it whenever we so desire.

I do encourage everyone who reads this to read scripture in light of the revelations of the New Church, for understanding what scripture means in the spiritual sense opens the spiritual understanding, and allows for us to come into closer communion with the Lord in love and truth.


  1. Hi Doug, Over the years I've gone back and forth on the issue of whether there's going to be a literal Rapture or not. I've finally come to the conclusion that the Rapture is a literal event that will occur in this physical realm. I believe the Holy Spirit guided me to this conclusion. Swedenborg teaches that the Lord's coming is nothing more than a revealing, in the Word, that the Lord Jesus Christ is the One True God of heaven and earth. Also that the whole book of Revelation was fulfilled in the world of spirits back in 1757. I believe that Jesus Christ is indeed the only God of heaven and earth. I no longer believe, however, that my knowing this represents the Lord's coming. Neither do I believe that the book of Revelation has already been completely fulfilled. I'm not going to quote Paul's Rapture verses. You already know them. Besides throughout Swedenborg's entire body of work, he never quoted Paul's rapture text once. So it's obvious to me he didn't believe them. So I'm going to quote directly from the Lord.

    "For as the lightning that flashes out of one part under heaven shines to the other part under heaven, so also the Son of Man will be in His day. But first He must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation. And as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man: They ate, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. Likewise as it was also in the days of Lot: They ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built; but on the day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. Even so will it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed." [Luke 17:24 -30]

    1. For the Rapture, I believe it has two meanings:
      1. The ascension of the souls caught in the World of Spirits before the judgment occurs in the spiritual world (see Is the Second Coming a Physical Event or Spiritual Event?), and,
      2. A spiritual revelation or communion with the Lord when our mind is opened in vision or when understanding the spiritual sense of the Word, the subject of this blog entry.

      I do agree that the book of Revelation has not been completely fulfilled in the year 1757, and there is internal evidence in Swedenborg's own writings that is the case, plus he admitted he did not know the future. But I do not see how the rapture can be a literal physical event, that would disagree with everything we know about the resurrection and the kingdom in the spiritual world.

  2. In the above text the Lord said "He must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation." This literally happened. The Lord was whipped, nailed to a cross, where He hung for 6 hours, before He took His last breath and died. Why then does Swedenborg give a spiritual meaning to what the Lord said before this text and what He said afterwards? It's my understanding that the whole text is meant to be interpreted literally "For as the lightning that flashes out of one part under heaven shines to the other part under heaven, so also the Son of Man will be in His day" This prophecy may have happened in the world of spirits in 1757. What we must remember, however, is that the Lord spoke these Words in this physical realm because, just like His suffering, it's in this realm they're going to be fulfilled. The Days of Noah and the days of Lot took place in this physical realm. We must therefore conclude that the destruction that's going to occur on the Day the Son of Man is revealed, will also occur in this physical realm. Because we've not been appointed to be destroyed with the wicked the Lord will come, on the same Day, to take us home to be with Him. For the Lord said:

    "I tell you, in that night there will be two men in one bed: the one will be taken and the other will be left. Two women will be grinding together: the one will be taken and the other left. Two men will be in the field: the one will be taken and the other left.” [Luke 17:34-35] This is the Rapture! It will occur in this physical realm because the worldwide destruction will occur in this physical realm, when the Son of Man is revealed. There's simply no way of getting round it.

    1. So on that point, where Jesus literally suffered and was crucified, that is true. But each of the events of the crucifixion of Jesus was also prophetically symbolic, and Jesus does get continually rejected in the centuries since then by falsifications of the Word. For example, where we was given vinegar signified that He would become accepted among the Gentiles who were imbued with falsehoods. Also I believe He was crucified with two thieves on his side to indicate the falsification of the Word by dividing God into three persons, which becomes a "thief" as it steals away the truth of the Divinity that is solely in one person from Christians.

      So prophecy does often have a literal immediate fulfillment and a long term more symbolic fulfillment. A good example is the prophecy of the virgin birth in Isaiah 7, which had been immediately fulfilled by the birth of a son at that time.

      As for Luke 17:34-35, there is a spiritual interpretation of that as well, as "bed" signifies doctrine:

      "I say unto you, in that night there shall be two in one bed; the one shall be taken and the other left (Luke 17:34). This is concerning the Last Judgment; "two in one bed" means two in one doctrine, but not in similar life." (Apocalypse Revealed 137.2)


      "Then shall two be in the field, the one shall be taken and the other left (Matt. 24:40; Luke 17:36), where by a "field" is meant the doctrine of faith, both true and false. As a "field" signifies doctrine, whoever receives a seed of faith, whether a man, the church, or the world, is also called a "field."" (Heavenly Arcana, n. 368)

      This means that within the church, several will hold onto faith alone without a corresponding life, or hold onto their false beliefs and ignore the new revelation.

  3. I remember Swedenborg explaining a text, I can't remember which one. He implied that the text didn't apply to Israel because they no longer existed as a nation. Israel was indeed scattered to the four corners of the earth in 70 AD. And in Swedenborg's generation, in 1757, Israel still didn't exist as a nation yet. However, just has prophecy predicted Israel became an independent nation once again, on May 14th 1948. And in June 1967 they took control of the City of Jerusalem. Jerusalem just so happens to be the city where, according to Revelation, the two witnesses, are going to lay dead for 3 and 1/2 days, before ascending into heaven at the Lord's command. This event will happen literally in this physical realm 1,260 Days after the Rapture.

    Also, according to Swedenborg, the Mother of harlots, represents the Vatican, which is the headquarters of the Roman Catholics Church. According to Revelation, God is going to destroy the Vatican. It may have happened in the world of spirits in 1757, but it hasn't happened here yet. Which means 1.2 billion people are still being deceived by sorcery coming from the Vatican!

    1. Yes there are a few passages where Swedenborg said it was unrealistic to expect the Jews to return to the land of Israel, and he did admit that he was not shown the future. But in Revelation 11 "Jerusalem" is symbolic of the doctrine of the Christian church, not the actual physical city, as with many other prophetic passages of scripture. Even in Revelation 11 it says it is symbolic, as it is spiritually called Sodom and Egypt, where Sodom signifies those who are in the love of self. It is describing the degenerate state of the church in general.

      If we look at the 18th century, we can see that after 1757 the power of the Roman Catholic Church was utterly destroyed politically, especially with the French Revolution and the period of Enlightenment. This does not preclude the possibility that Rome will be literally destroyed in the future, which I think it will, as events in the natural world are preceded by events that take place in the spiritual world.

  4. It's been 262 Years since the Last Judgement in the World of spirits and yet this World is getting worse and worse. What impact is our knowing that Jesus Christ is the only God having on the World? Because in all honesty I'm not seeing it. The Church is completely corrupt and perverted. Most Christians still believe in three gods and the faith only gospel is still widely accepted. The rest of the World for the most part hate God and are doing everything they can to destroy His image in themselves. Children as young as 5 are being taught that homosexuality is normal and are being encouraged to change their gender if they feel different to their biological sex. For the sake of the children I refuse to accept that the Last Judgement of 1757 is all there is to the Lord's coming! I would really appreciate knowing your thoughts on all these issues I've raised. God bless you. Your brother in Christ. OLA.

    1. Here again even Swedenborg said that the New Church would be among the few, and unknown to most: for a long period of time the New Church will be unknown and this is represented by the woman who flees to the wilderness for a period of 1,260 days (Rev. 12). I have not written on this but my personal belief is that it is possible that the New Church will be only among the few for a period of about 1,260 years following the spiritual last judgment of 1757, so that means things may only start to dramatically change after 3000 A.D. But of this we do not know for certain.

      Another possibility that I have been thinking about is that the last judgment of 1757, and the revelation of the spiritual sense of the Word, applies particularly to only Revelation 10-11, due to the following reasons:

      1. Swedenborg said the "little book" in Rev. 10 was the same as the "Doctrine of the Lord", and I did publish an earlier blog on this subject.
      2. While writing Apocalypse Revealed, it was shown that Swedenborg was fulfilling the role of the 2 witnesses, and
      3. The ark of the covenant that appears in Rev. 11 may in fact be representing the revelation of the spiritual sense of the Word, and
      4. At the very end of Apocalypse Revealed, Swedenborg says that one passage in particular may only be fulfilled by the actual physical return of Jesus.

      So its something that probably deserves a separate blog post, I have been thinking on this topic a while but right now its a bit of speculation on my part.

  5. Thank you for your speedy response. Much appreciated. Have a Merry Christmas!


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