Time in Heaven

EVEN though things keep happening in sequence and progressing in heaven the way they do in the world, still angels have no notion or concept of time and space. The lack is so complete that they simply do not know what time and space are. Here we will discuss time in heaven, leaving space to be discussed in its own chapter.

The reason angels do not know what time is (even though everything for them moves along in sequence just the way it does in our world, so much so that there is no difference) is that in heaven there are no years or days, but only changes of state. Where there are years and days there are times, and where there are changes of state, there are states.

The reason we have times in our world is that the sun seems to move sequentially from one zone to another and to make the times we call the seasons of the year. It also moves around the earth and makes the times we call times of day, and it does these by fixed periods. It is different for heaven’s sun. It does not make years and days by sequential motions and rotations, but makes apparent changes of state; and it does not make these by fixed periods, as explained in the preceding chapter. This is why angels are incapable of having any concept of time, but have a concept of state instead. What “state” is may be seen above in Section 154.

from Heaven and Hell, Sections 162-164


How the States of Angels in Heaven Change (Continued)

I have been shown how the Lord as the sun looks to angels in the heavenly kingdom in their first state, in their second state, and in their third. I saw the Lord as the sun, at first reddish and gleaming, so brilliant as to be beyond description. I was told that the Lord as the sun looks like this to angels in their first state. Later I saw a great, dim halo around the sun, because of which the reddish, gleaming quality that made the sun so brilliant began to dim. I was told that the sun looks like this to them in their second state. Then I saw the halo become darker so that the sun seemed less ruddy, step by step, until finally it looked quite pale. I was told that the sun looks like this to them in their third state. After this, I saw that pale [disk] move to the left toward heaven’s moon and add its light to the light of the moon so that the moon shone exceptionally brightly. I was told that this was the fourth state of people in the heavenly kingdom and the first state of people in the spiritual kingdom. I was also told that the changes of state in each kingdom proceed alternately, not throughout, but in one community after another. I was also told that these alternations are not fixed, but happen more or less swiftly without people being aware of it.

Angels went on to say that the sun in and of itself neither changes nor moves, but that things look the way they do because of the ongoing progressions of state in themselves, since the Lord appears to each individual in keeping with that individual’s state—reddish to people when they are in an intense love, less ruddy and ultimately pale as their love wanes. The quality of their state is pictured by the dim halo that imposes the apparent changes of flame and light on the sun.

When angels are in this last state, which is when they are involved in their sense of self, they begin to feel depressed. I have talked with them when they were in this state and witnessed their depression. They kept saying, though, that they lived in hope that they would soon return to their earlier state and be in heaven again, so to speak, since heaven for them is being kept free from their sense of self.

There are also changes of state in the hells, but these will be described later, when I deal with hell.

from Heaven and Hell, Sections 159-161

How the States of Angels in Heaven Change (Continued)

As the states of the inner levels of angels’ love and wisdom change, so too do the states of the various things that surround them and are visible to their eyes; for the things that surround angels are given their appearance according to the things that are within them. We will describe what these are and what they are like in later chapters, where we discuss representations and appearances in heaven. Each individual angel undergoes and passes through changes of state like this, and so too does each community collectively. Still, one individual does so differently from another because people vary in love and wisdom. There are people in the middle, in a more perfect state than those who are around them all the way to the borders (see above, sections 23 [43] and 128). But it would take too long to recount the differences, since the quality of love and faith determines how each individual undergoes the changes. Consequently, one may be in clarity and delight when another is in dimness and discomfort, even at the same time, within the same community. It happens differently in one community than in another, too, and in communities of the heavenly kingdom differently than in communities of the spiritual kingdom.

Broadly speaking, the differences in their changes of state are like the variations of states of days in one climate and another on earth. There it is morning for some people while it is evening for others, and some have warmth while others are cold, and vice versa.

I have been told from heaven why changes of state like this occur. Angels have said that there are many reasons. First, the delight of life and of heaven that angels enjoy because of the love and wisdom given them by the Lord would gradually pall if they were constantly engaged in it, the way it happens for people who are involved in pleasures and enjoyments without variety. A second reason is that angels have a sense of self or self-image just as we do, and this involves loving themselves. All the people in heaven are kept free of their sense of self, and to the extent that the Lord does keep them free, they enjoy love and wisdom. To the extent that they are not kept free, however, they are caught up in love for themselves; and since all of them do love that sense of self and carry it with them,c these changes of state or successive alternations do occur. A third reason is that they are made more perfect in this way, since they become accustomed to being kept in love for the Lord and kept free from love for themselves. Further, by these alternations of delight and discomfort, their perception of and sensitivity to what is good become more and more delicate.

They have gone on to say that the Lord does not produce these changes of their states, since the Lord as the sun is always flowing in with warmth and light, that is, with love and wisdom. Rather, they themselves are the cause, since they love their sense of self and this is constantly misleading them. They illustrate this by comparison with our world’s sun, which is not the cause of the changes of warmth and cold and of light and darkness, of distinct years and distinct days, because it stays motionless. The reason can be traced to our earth.

from Heaven and Hell, Sections 156-158

How the States of Angels in Heaven Change

BY “the changes of angels’ states,” we mean their changes in regard to love and faith and therefore in regard to wisdom and intelligence—to the state of their life, that is. States are attributes of life and of matters that pertain to life; and since angelic life is a life of love and faith and thereby of wisdom and intelligence, states are attributes of these, and we talk about states of love and faith and states of wisdom and intelligence. Now we need to describe how these states change for angels.

Angels are not constantly in the same state as to love, and consequently they are not in the same state as to wisdom, for all the wisdom they have is from their love and in proportion to it. Sometimes they are in a state of intense love, sometimes in a state of love that is not intense. It decreases gradually from its most to its least intense. When they are in the highest level of love, they are in the light and warmth of their lives, or in their greatest clarity and delight. Conversely, when they are in the lowest level they are in shadow and coolness, or in what is dim and unpleasant. From this latter state they return to the first, and so on. The phases follow each other with constant variety.

These states follow each other like variations of light and shade, warmth and cold, or like the morning, noon, evening, and night of individual days in our world, varying constantly throughout the year. Not only that, they correspond—morning to the state of their love in clarity, noon to the state of their wisdom in clarity, evening to the state of their wisdom in dimness, and night to a state of no love or wisdom. It should be known, though, that there is no correspondence of night with the states of life of people in heaven, but rather a correspondence of the half-light that comes before dawn. The correspondence of night is with people who are in hell.

Because of this correspondence, “day” and “year” in the Word mean states of life in general, warmth and light mean love and wisdom, morning the first and highest level of love, noon wisdom in its light, evening wisdom in its shade, and the half-light the dimness that comes just before the morning. Night, though, means the loss of love and wisdom.

from Heaven and Hell, Sections 154,155

The Literal Meaning of the Word Is the Foundation, the Container, and the Support of Its Spiritual and Heavenly Meanings (Continued)

It follows from all this that without its literal meaning the Word would be like a palace without a foundation, like a castle in the air. The only thing on the ground would be its shadow, and shadows disappear. The Word without its literal meaning would be like a temple containing an abundance of holy objects, with a central inner sanctum, but without a roof or walls to contain them. If these were lacking or were taken away, its holy contents would be plundered by thieves or torn apart by the beasts of the earth and the birds of heaven, and would therefore be scattered far and wide.

By the same token, it would be like the tabernacle’s inmost area, which housed the ark of the covenant, and its middle area, which housed the golden lampstand, the golden altar of incense, and the table with the showbread on it—all its holy contents—without the curtains and veils that surrounded them.

The Word without its literal meaning would be like a human body without the coverings called layers of skin and without the structural supports called bones. Lacking both of these, all the internal organs would spill out.

Then too, it would be like the heart and lungs in the chest without the covering called the pleura and the framework called the rib cage, or like the brain without its specific covering called the dura mater or its general covering, container, and support called the skull. That is what the Word would be like without its literal meaning, which is why it says in Isaiah that Jehovah creates a covering over all glory (Isaiah 4:5).

It would be the same for the heavens where angels live if it were not for the world where we live. We, as human beings, are their foundation, container, and support, and we have the Word with us and in us. Overall, the heavens are divided into two kingdoms, which are called the heavenly kingdom and the spiritual kingdom. These two kingdoms are founded upon the earthly kingdom where we live. A similar structure exists in the Word, which we have with us and in us.

from Sacred Scripture White Horse, Sections 33, 34

The Literal Meaning of the Word Is the Foundation, the Container, and the Support of Its Spiritual and Heavenly Meanings (Continued)

This is by way of preface to what follows, so that the discussion there can readily be understood; the point being to demonstrate that the earthly meaning of the Word, which is its literal meaning, is the foundation, container, and support of its spiritual and heavenly meanings.

It was noted in §§6 and 19 above that there are three levels of meaning in the Word and that the heavenly meaning is its first level, the spiritual meaning its intermediate level, and the earthly meaning its last level. This enables anyone who thinks rationally to conclude that the first level of the Word, the heavenly, works through its intermediate, which is the spiritual, to the last level, which is the earthly. We can also conclude that the last level is therefore a foundation. We can conclude further that the first level (the heavenly) is within the intermediate level (the spiritual), and through this in the last level (the earthly), which means that the last level (the earthly), which is the literal meaning of the Word, is a container; and since it is a container and a foundation, it is also a support.

However, there is no way to explain briefly how this happens. These are mysteries familiar to heaven’s angels that will be unfolded—as far as possible—in the treatises listed in the preface to Teachings on the Lord: Angelic Wisdom about Divine Providence; Angelic Wisdom about Omnipotence, Omnipresence, and Omniscience; Angelic Wisdom about Divine Love and Wisdom; and Angelic Wisdom about Life.

The Word is essentially a divine work for the salvation of the human race. For present purposes, it will suffice to conclude from what has been said above that the Word’s last level of meaning (which is earthly and is called “the literal meaning”) is a foundation, container, and support for its two deeper levels of meaning.

from Sacred Scripture White Horse, Sections 30-32

The Literal Meaning of the Word Is the Foundation, the Container, and the Support of Its Spiritual and Heavenly Meanings

In every work of God there is something first, something intermediate, and something last; and what is first works through what is intermediate to what is last and in this way becomes manifest and persists, so what is last is a foundation. The first is also in the intermediate, and through the intermediate is in what is last, so what is last is a container; and since what is last is a container and a foundation, it is also a support.

The learned world understands that this series of three can be called the purpose, the means, and the result, as well as being, becoming, and achieving full manifestation. Being is the purpose, becoming is the means, and achieving full manifestation is the result. This means that there is a series of three in everything that is complete—a series called first, intermediate, and last; or purpose, means, and result; or being, becoming, and achieving full manifestation.

Once this is understood we can also understand that every work of God is complete and perfect in its final stage and also that the whole, which is a series of three, is in the final stage, because the prior stages are together in it.

This is why three in the Word spiritually understood means complete, perfect, and all together; and since this is its meaning it is used in the Word whenever anything is so described, as in the following instances:

Isaiah went naked and barefoot for three years (Isaiah 20:3). Jehovah called Samuel three times, Samuel ran to Eli three times, and the third time Eli understood what was happening (1 Samuel 3:1–8). David told Jonathan that he would hide in the field for three days; later Jonathan shot three arrows beside the rock; and after that David bowed down to Jonathan three times (1 Samuel 20:5, 12–41). Elijah stretched himself out on the widow’s son three times (1 Kings 17:21). Elijah ordered people to pour water over a burnt offering three times (1 Kings 18:34). Jesus said that the kingdom of the heavens was like yeast, which a woman took and hid in three measures [of flour] until it was all leavened (Matthew 13:33). Jesus said to Peter that Peter would deny him three times (Matthew 26:34). The Lord said to Peter three times, “Do you love me?” (John 21:15, 16, 17). Jonah was in the belly of the whale three days and three nights (Jonah 1:17). Jesus said that they would destroy the Temple, and he would build it in three days (Matthew 26:61). Jesus prayed three times in Gethsemane (Matthew 26:39–44). Jesus rose on the third day (Matthew 28:1).

There are many other passages where threes are mentioned, and they are mentioned when it is a matter of something finished and completed, because that is what this number means.

from Sacred Scripture White Horse, Sections 27-29

8. Nothing about the church is integrated in people who acknowledge many gods rather than one

People who acknowledge one God in their belief and worship one God in their heart are in the communion of saints on earth and the communion of angels in the heavens. Each of these groups or communions is called a partnership, and is a partnership, because there is one God among its people, and they are in the one God. These same people also have a partnership with the entire angelic heaven. I would even go so far as to say they have a partnership with each and every one in heaven. For they are all like children and descendants of one parent, with such similar minds, mannerisms, and looks that they recognize each other as relatives. The angelic heaven is laid out in communities on the basis of all the varieties of love for what is good. All these kinds of love aim at one most universal love: love for God. All people who direct the acknowledgment of their faith and the worship of their heart to one God who is the Creator of the universe and also the Redeemer and the Regenerator are descended from that love.

Exactly the opposite is true of people who adore, and seek help from, many gods instead of one. The opposite is also true of those who say one God but think three. This is the practice of people in the church today who divide God into three persons and hail each person as a God in his own right, and who attribute different qualities or properties to each one that the others do not have. This leads to actual divisions not only in the unity of God but also in [Christian] theology itself, and even in the human mind in which that theology has to live. What other result could there be except confusion and discontinuity in the teachings of the church? In the appendix at the end of this work I will show that this is the state of the church today.

The truth is that dividing God or the divine essence into three persons, each of whom is individually a god in his own right, causes denial of God. It is like someone entering a church for worship and seeing a triptych above the altar with one god portrayed as the ancient of days, another god as a high priest, and a third god as Aeolus flying in the air, with an inscription reading, These Three Are One God. Or perhaps it is like the same person seeing a painting above the altar that portrays God’s unity and trinity as a deformed person with three heads protruding from one body or three bodies sharing a single head. If people enter heaven with this as their picture of God, they will definitely be thrown out headfirst, even if they plead that the head or heads stand for God’s essence and the body or bodies stand for God’s distinctly different properties.

from True Christianity, Volume 1, Section 15

7. Those who do not acknowledge God are cut off from the church and damned (Continued)

Such people come into their spirit, so to speak, when they are at home alone and let their thoughts be guided by their pleasure in the evil and the falsity they have conceived and given birth to in themselves. In that state, their thought about God is that he does not exist—God is only a word intoned in the pulpit to constrain the lower classes to obey the laws of justice that are society’s rules. The Word, the source of ministers’ pronouncements about God, they see as a haphazard and fanciful text to which authorities have attributed holiness. The Ten Commandments or the Catechism they see as a little book that is to be tossed aside once it has been worn out by the hands of the young. After all, that book prescribes that we honor our parents, that we not murder, whore, steal, or testify falsely, and who does not know all that from civil law? The church they think of as nothing more than a herd of uneducated, gullible, and timid people, who [think they] see what they do not see. Humans, including themselves, they think of as being much like animals; they think the same fate awaits humans and animals after death.

This is what their inner selves think, no matter how differently their outer selves may talk. For, as I said, all people have an inner and an outer self. Their inner self is their real self, called their spirit. It is the part that lives after death. Their outer self, in which they practice hypocrisy through [apparent] morality, will be buried in the grave. Then because they denied the existence of God they will be condemned.

All of us on earth are associated in spirit with those in the spiritual world who are like ourselves; we are in a sense united to them. Quite often, in fact, I have been allowed to see the spirits of people who were still alive on earth. In some cases the spirits of these people were in angelic communities; in some cases, in hellish communities. I have even been allowed to spend days talking with the spirits of people. It has amazed me that the people themselves still alive in their bodies were completely unaware that this was happening. From these experiences it became clear to me that those who deny the existence of God are already among the damned. After death they are gathered to their people.

from True Christianity, Volume 1, Section 14

7. Those who do not acknowledge God are cut off from the church and damned

People who do not acknowledge God are cut off from the church because the whole point of the church is God, and because the things related to God that are called theological teachings give the church its structure. Therefore to deny the existence of God is to deny everything having to do with the church. The denial itself is what cuts them off; that is, they cut themselves off. God does not cut them off.

They are damned as well because those who are cut off from the church are also cut off from heaven. The church on earth and the angelic heaven act as a unit, just like the inner and outer self, and like the spiritual part and the physical part in each of us. God created us in such a way that our inner self is in the spiritual world and our outer self is in the physical world. Therefore to make us permanent and everlasting beings, God made us citizens of both worlds so that the spiritual part of us, which belongs in heaven, could be planted in the physical part belonging to this world the way a seed is planted in the ground.

People who cut themselves off from the church and from heaven by denying the existence of God close their inner selves on the side of the will and shut themselves off from its positive love. (The will in us is a vessel for love and becomes its dwelling place.) Their inner selves on the side of the intellect, however, they are unable to close, because if they could and did they would no longer be human; but [evil] love in their will does befuddle their higher intellect with false ideas. As a result, their intellect becomes virtually closed to truths related to faith and good qualities related to goodwill and becomes more and more closed to the Lord and the spiritual teachings of the church. As a result, those denying the existence of God lose their partnership with angels in heaven. Once that is gone, they establish a partnership with satans in hell and think what the satans are thinking. All satans deny the existence of God and have absurd thoughts about God and about the church’s spiritual teachings; and so do people on earth who are in partnership with them.

from True Christianity, Volume 1, Section