Genesis 1:26 and Its Inner Meaning

And God said, “Let us make a human in our image, after our likeness; and these will rule over the fish of the sea and over the bird in the heavens, and over the beast, and over all the earth, and over every creeping animal that creeps on the earth.” — Genesis 1:26

To members of the earliest church, whom the Lord addressed face to face, he appeared as a human being. (Many things could be told about these people, but this is not the right time.) As a consequence, they used the term human for none but him, or for his qualities. They did not even call themselves human, excepting whatever they could tell he gave them, such as all the good embraced by love and all the truth espoused by faith. These traits they described as human, because they were the Lord’s.

As a consequence, the terms human being and son of humankind in the prophets have the Lord as their highest meaning. At a lower but still internal level, the meaning is wisdom and understanding and accordingly everyone who has been reborn. An example from Jeremiah:

I looked at the earth, and there—void and emptiness; and to the heavens, and there—no light in them! I looked, and there—not a human! And all the birds of the heavens had fled. (Jeremiah 4:23, 25)

At the inner level, the following passage in Isaiah uses a human being to mean one reborn, and on the highest level the Lord himself, as an exemplar:

This is what Jehovah, the Holy One of Israel and its fashioner, has said: “I made the earth, and the human being on it I created. My hands stretched out the heavens, and to their whole army I gave commands.” (Isaiah 45:11, 12, 13)

For this reason, the prophets saw the Lord as a human being. Ezekiel was one who did:

Above the expanse was a seeming appearance of sapphire stone, like a throne, and on the likeness of a throne was what looked like the appearance of a person on it, high above. (Ezekiel 1:26)

When Daniel saw the Lord, he called him “Son of Humankind,” or human being, which is the same thing:

I looked, and there! In the clouds of the sky, it was as if the Son of Humankind was coming. And he came to the Ancient One, and they brought him before [the Ancient One]. And he was given power to rule, and glory, and kingship; and all peoples, nations, and tongues will serve him. His ruling power is eternal, a power that will not pass away, and his kingship one that will not perish. (Daniel 7:13, 14)

In fact, the Lord often calls himself Son of Humankind, or human; echoing the prophecy in Daniel that he will come in glory, he says:

They will see the Son of Humankind coming in the clouds of the sky with strength and glory. (Matthew 24:27, 30)

“The clouds of the heavens” (or sky) is what the literal meaning of the Word is called. “Strength and glory” are terms for the Word’s inner meaning, which at each and every point focuses exclusively on the Lord and his kingdom. This focus is what gives the inner meaning strength and glory.

from Secrets of Heaven, Volume 1, Section 49

Genesis 1:24-25 and Its Inner Meaning (Continued)

More evidence that these words enfold the mysteries of regeneration can be seen in differences between the present verse and the last. The last says that the earth produced the living soul, the beast, and the wild animal of the earth. The present one employs a different order, saying that God made the wild animal of the earth and then the beast. At first we produce results as if on our own, as we do later, too, before developing a heavenly nature. Regeneration, then, starts with the outer self and moves to the inner, which is why a change in the order occurs, and outermost things come first.

All this verifies the premise: In the fifth stage we speak with conviction (an attribute of the intellect) and in the process strengthen ourselves in truth and goodness. The things we then produce have life in them and are called the fish of the sea and the birds in the heavens. And in the sixth stage we act with conviction (an attribute of the intellect) and therefore with love (an attribute of the will) in speaking truth and doing good. What we then produce is called a living soul, an animal. Because this is the point at which we begin to act as much with love as with conviction, we become spiritual people, who are called [God’s] image—the very next subject.

from Secrets of Heaven, Volume 1, Sections 47-48

Genesis 1:24-25 and Its Inner Meaning (Continued)

People who lived in the earliest times used the same kinds of symbols for the contents of the intellect and the will. In consequence, the different types of creature have a similar representation in the prophets and throughout the Old Testament Word.

Beasts are of two kinds: bad (because they are dangerous) and good (because they are tame). Bad animals—bears, wolves, and [feral] dogs, for instance—symbolize evil things in us. Good animals—young cattle, sheep, lambs—symbolize the good, gentle things in us. Because the present theme concerns people who are being reborn, the beasts in this verse are the good, tame ones, symbolizing feelings of affection.

The traits in us that belong to a lower order and rise more out of our body are called the wild animals of the earth; they are cravings and appetites.

Many examples from the Word can clarify the fact that beasts or animals symbolize the feelings we have—negative feelings if we are evil, positive feelings if we are good. Take these verses in Ezekiel:

Here, now, I am yours, [mountains of Israel,] and I will turn to face you so that you may be tilled and sown; and I will multiply human and animal upon you, and they will multiply and reproduce; and I will cause you to live as in your ancient times. (Ezekiel 36:9, 10, 11)

This speaks of regeneration. In Joel:

Do not be afraid, animals of my field; because the living-places of the desert have become grassy. (Joel 2:22)

In David:

I was dull-witted; I was like the animals, in God’s sight. (Psalms 73:22)

In Jeremiah:

Look! The days are coming when I will sow the house of Israel and the house of Judah with the seed of human and the seed of animal; and I will watch over them to build and to plant. (Jeremiah 31:27, 28)

This speaks of regeneration. Wild animals have the same symbolism. In Hosea, for example:

I will strike a pact with them on that day—with the wild animal of the field, and with the bird in the heavens and the creeping animal of the earth. (Hosea 2:18)

In Job:

Of the wild animal of the earth you are not to be afraid, as you will have a compact with the stones of the field, and the wild animal of the field will be peaceful toward you. (Job 5:22, 23)

In Ezekiel:

I will strike a pact of peace with you and bring an end on the earth to the evil wild animal, so that people may live securely in the wilderness. (Ezekiel 34:25)

In Isaiah:

The wild animal of the field will honor me because I have put water in the desert. (Isaiah 43:20)

In Ezekiel:

In its branches nested every bird of the heavens, and under its branches bred every wild animal of the field, and in its shade lived all the great nations. (Ezekiel 31:6)

This describes Assyrians, who symbolize a person with a spiritual focus and who are being compared to the Garden of Eden. In David:

Give glory to Jehovah, all you angels of his; give glory from the earth, you sea creatures, fruit tree, wild animal, and every beast, creeping animal, and bird on the wing. (Psalms 148:2, 3, 4, 7, 9, 10)

This lists exactly the same things [as the present chapter]: sea creatures, fruit tree, wild animal, beast, creeping animal, and bird. Unless they symbolized living things in us, they could never be said to give glory to Jehovah.

The prophets draw a careful distinction between the animals of the earth and the animals of the field.

It is good things that have been called animals up to this point, just as the people closest to the Lord in heaven are termed living creatures both in Ezekiel [1; 10] and in John:

All the angels stood around the throne and the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell down before the throne on their faces and worshiped the Lamb. (Revelation 7:11; 19:4)

People to whom the gospel is to be preached are also called created beings, since they are to be created anew:

Go throughout the world and preach the gospel to every created being. (Mark 16:15)

from Secrets of Heaven, Volume 1, Sections 45-46

Genesis 1:24-25 and Its Inner Meaning

And God said, “Let the earth produce each living soul according to its kind: the beast, and that which moves, and the wild animal of the earth, each according to its kind”; and so it was done. And God made each wild animal of the earth according to its kind, and each beast according to its kind, and every animal creeping on the ground according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. — Genesis 1:24-25

Like the earth, we are unable to produce any good unless we have first been sown with religious insights, which enable us to see what to believe and do.

The role of the intellect is to hear the Word, while the role of the will is to do it. To hear the Word and not act is to claim we believe it although we do not live by it. People who act like this separate the two and split their minds. The Lord says they are stupid:

Everyone who hears my words and does them I compare to a prudent man who built his house on rock. But everyone who hears my words and does not do them I compare to a stupid man who built his house on sand. (Matthew 7:24, 26)

What the intellect grasps is symbolized, as shown [Section 40], by creeping animals that the waters cause to creep out and birds flying over the land and over the face of the expanse. What the will is intent on is symbolized by the living soul that the earth is to produce, by the beast and that which creeps, and by the wild animal of the earth.

from Secrets of Heaven, Volume 1, Section 44


Section 40: Published 11/24/2018

Genesis 1:22-23 and Its Inner Meaning

And God blessed them, saying, “Reproduce and multiply and fill the water in the seas, and the birds will multiply on the land.” And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day. — Genesis 1:22-23

Everything with life from the Lord in it reproduces and multiplies beyond measure—not so much during our physical lives, but to an astounding degree in the next life.

In the Word, reproducing or being fruitful applies to the elements of love, and multiplying, to the elements of faith. Fruit born of love holds the seed by which it multiplies so prolifically.

The Lord’s blessing in the Word also symbolizes fruitfulness and multiplication, because these are its result.

from Secret of Heaven, Volume 1, Sections 22-23

Genesis 1:21and Its Inner Meaning

And God created the big sea creatures, and every living, creeping soul that the waters caused to creep out, in all their kinds, and every bird on the wing, of every kind; and God saw that it was good. — Genesis 1:21

Fish symbolize facts, as already stated [Section 40]. In this instance they symbolize facts animated by faith that is received from the Lord, which therefore possess vitality. Big sea creatures symbolize general categories of facts, from which come subcategories. (Not one thing exists anywhere in the world that does not belong to some general category. The category allows the particular item to come into being and continue in existence.)

The prophets mention sea monsters or whales a number of times, and when they do, these symbolize general categories of facts. Pharaoh, king of Egypt, representing human wisdom or understanding (that is, factual information in general), is called a large sea creature, as in Ezekiel:

Here, now, I am against you, Pharaoh, king of Egypt, you great sea creature, lying in the middle of your rivers, who has said, “The river is mine, and I have made myself.” (Ezekiel 29:3)


Raise a lamentation over Pharaoh, king of Egypt; and you are to tell him, “But you are like a monster in the seas; and you have emerged among your rivers and churned the waters with your feet.” (Ezekiel 32:2)

This image symbolizes those who want to use facts (meaning they want to use their own powers) to initiate themselves into religious mysteries. In Isaiah:

On that day Jehovah, with his steely and great and mighty sword, will exact punishment on Leviathan the stretched-out serpent and on Leviathan the coiled serpent; and he will kill the monsters that are in the sea. (Isaiah 27:1)

Killing the monsters that are in the sea means leaving such people without awareness even of general facts. In Jeremiah:

Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, has devoured me, has churned me up; he has rendered me an empty container, like a sea monster he has swallowed me down, filled his belly with the savors of me, hurled me out. (Jeremiah 51:34)

In other words, “Nebuchadnezzar” has swallowed up all religious knowledge (the “savors”) as the sea monster did to Jonah. In Jonah’s case the monster stood for people who possess the broad outlines of this knowledge in the form of facts and who wolf them down.

from Secrets of Heaven, Volume 1, Section 42

Genesis 1:20 and Its Inner Meaning (Continued)

The creeping animals that the waters breed symbolize facts that the outer self knows. Birds in general symbolize logical reasoning; they also symbolize matters that we truly understand, which belong to the inner self.

The following verses in Isaiah demonstrate the symbolism of the creeping animals of the waters—fish—as facts:

I came and there was no man. In my censure I will dry up the sea; I will make the rivers a desert; their fish will stink from lack of water and die of thirst; I will dress the heavens in black. (Isaiah 50:2, 3)

Evidence still clearer appears in Ezekiel, where the Lord describes a new temple, the general meaning of which is a new church and an adherent of the church or person reborn (since everyone who is reborn is a temple to the Lord).

The Lord Jehovah said to me, “That water, which will go out to the boundary toward the east and go toward the sea, will be channeled down into the sea, and the water [of the sea] will be cured. And it will come about that every living soul that creeps out in any place where the water of the rivers goes will survive; and the fish will be very numerous, because that water goes there and will be cured, and everything will live, wherever the river goes. And it will happen that the fishers will stand over it from En-gedi to En-eglaim; they will be there spreading their nets. Their fish will be of all kinds, like the fish of the great sea, very numerous.” (Ezekiel 47:8, 9, 10)

“Fishers from En-gedi to En-eglaim spreading their nets” symbolize people who are to teach the earthly plane of the human mind about the truths that make up faith.

Passages in the prophets establish the fact that birds symbolize logical reasoning and concepts truly understood. In Isaiah, for example:

I am calling the winged creature from the sunrise, the man I planned on, from a faraway land. (Isaiah 46:11)

In Jeremiah:

I looked and there, not a human! And every bird of the heavens had fled. (Jeremiah 4:25)

In Ezekiel:

I will plant a cutting of the tall cedar, and it will lift its branch and make fruit and become a majestic cedar. And every bird of every wing will live under it; in the shade of its branches they will live. (Ezekiel 17:[22,] 23)

And in Hosea, where the subject is a new church, or the regenerate person:

And I will strike a pact with them on that day—with the wild animal of the field, and with the bird in the heavens and the creature that moves on the ground. (Hosea 2:18)

The wild animal obviously does not mean a wild animal or the bird a bird, because the Lord is sealing a new pact with them.

Nothing that is a person’s very own has any life in it. When presented to view, it looks hard as bone, and black. Everything that comes from the Lord, on the other hand, has life. It has a spiritual and heavenly quality and looks like something living and human.

Incredibly, perhaps (although it is absolutely true), each word, each mental image, and each scintilla of thought in an angelic spirit is alive. Passion received from the Lord, who is life itself, permeates every single thing about such a spirit.

Things that come from the Lord, then, contain life because they contain faith in him, and they are symbolized here by a living soul. Additionally, they have the equivalent of a physical body, symbolized by that which moves or creeps. This information remains obscure to the human mind, but since the verse talks about a living soul that moves, I need at least to mention it.

from Secrets of Heaven, Volume 1, Sections 40-41

Genesis 1:20 and Its Inner Meaning

And God said, “Let the waters cause the creeping animal—a living soul—to creep out. And let the bird flit over the land, over the face of the expanse of the heavens.” — Genesis 1:20

After the great lights are kindled and placed in the inner self, and the outer self is receiving light from them, the time arrives when we first start to live. Earlier, we can hardly be said to have been alive, thinking as we did that the good we perform and the truth we speak originate in ourselves. On our own we are dead and have nothing but evil and falsity inside, with the result that nothing we produce from ourselves has life. So true is this that by our own power we cannot do anything good—at least not anything inherently good.

From the doctrine taught by faith, anyone can see that we cannot so much as think a good thought or will a good result or consequently do a good deed except through the Lord’s power. After all, in Matthew the Lord says:

The one who sows good seed is the Son of Humankind. (Matthew 13:37)

Good cannot come from anywhere but this same unique source, as he also says:

Nobody is good except the one God. (Luke 18:19)

Still, when the Lord brings us back to life, or regenerates us, he at first allows us to harbor these mistaken ideas. At that stage we cannot view the situation in any other way. Neither can we be led in any other way to believe and then perceive that everything good and true comes from the Lord alone.

As long as our thinking ran along these lines, the truth and goodness we possessed were equated with a tender plant or grass, next with a plant bearing seed, then with a fruit tree, none of which has a living soul. Now, when love and faith have brought us to life and we believe that the Lord brings about all the good we do and the truth we speak, we are compared initially to creeping animals of the water and birds flitting over the land and later to beasts. All these are animate and are called living souls.

from Secrets of Heaven, Volume 1, Section 39

Genesis 1:18-19 and Its Inner Meaning

. . . and to rule during the day and during the night, and to make a distinction between light and darkness; and God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day. — Genesis 1:18-19

Day means goodness and night evil, so in common parlance the good things people do are associated with the day, while the bad things they do are called deeds of the night.

Light means truth and darkness falsity, as the Lord says:

People loved darkness more than light. One who does the truth comes to the light. (John 3:19–21)

from Secrets of Heaven, Volume 1, Section 38

Humans Have Two Basic Faculties: Will and Intellect.

Humans have two basic faculties: will and intellect. When the will regulates the intellect, the two together make one mind and as a result one life; under those circumstances, what we will and do is also what we think and intend. When the intellect is at odds with the will, though, as when we act in a way that contradicts what we claim to believe, our single mind is torn in two. One part wants to rise up to heaven while the other leans toward hell. And since the will drives everything, we would rush into hell heart and soul if the Lord did not take pity on us.

People who have separated faith from love do not even know what faith is. When they try to picture it, some see it merely as thought. Some view it only as thoughts about the Lord. A few equate it with the teachings of faith.

But faith is more than the knowledge and acknowledgment of all that is encompassed in the teachings of faith. First and foremost it is obedience to everything that faith teaches; and the primary thing faith teaches and requires our obedience to is love for the Lord and love for our neighbor. No one who lacks this possesses faith. The Lord teaches this so clearly in Mark that no one can doubt it:

The first of all the commandments is “Listen, Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord. Therefore you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your powers.” This is the first commandment. A second, similar one, of course, is this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these. (Mark 12:28–34)

In Matthew he calls the former the first and great commandment and says that the Law and the Prophets depend on these commandments (Matthew 22:35–40). “The Law and the Prophets” are the teachings of faith, all-inclusively, and the whole Word.

from Secrets of Heaven, Volume 1, Sections 35-36