4. The spiritual meaning of the Word has not been recognized before (Continued)

The idolatrous practices of the people in ancient times arose from their knowledge of correspondences because everything we see on our planet corresponds to something spiritual–not only trees, but also all kinds of animals and birds as well as fish, and so on. The ancients who were devoted to a knowledge of these correspondences made themselves images that corresponded to heavenly realities, and they took pleasure in them because they signified what was happening in heaven and the church. That is why they placed them not only in their temples but in their homes as well–not to be worshiped but to remind them of the heavenly reality signified by these objects. So in Egypt and elsewhere their images looked like calves, oxen, and snakes as well as children, old people, and young women. This is because calves and oxen mean the feelings and drives of the earthly self, snakes the shrewdness of the sensory self, children innocence and caring, old people wisdom, and young women the desire for what is true, and so on.

Because the ancients had placed these images and statues in and around temples, their descendants, after the knowledge of these correspondences had been lost, began to worship the images and statues themselves as sacred, and eventually regarded them as demigods.

Much the same happened in other nations–with the Philistines’ Dagon in Ashdod, for example (see 1 Samuel 5:1-12). The upper part of Dagon looked human and the lower part looked like a fish, an image devised because a human means intelligence, a fish means knowledge, and intelligence and knowledge become one.

This is also why the ancients’ worship was in gardens and groves depending on the species of trees, and on mountains and hills. Gardens and groves meant wisdom and intelligence, and each tree meant some specific aspect of them. Olive trees, for example, meant good actions done out of love; grapevines meant true insights that arise from doing good; cedars meant a rational understanding of what is good and true; mountains meant the highest heaven; and hills meant the heaven below it.

The survival of the knowledge of correspondences until the Coming of the Lord among the greater part of those in the East is demonstrated in the account of the wise men from that region who came to the Lord when he was born–because in that story a star went before them and they bore gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh (Matthew 2:1-2, 9-11). That is, the star that went before them meant a new insight from heaven; and gold meant what is good on the heavenly level, frankincense what is good on the spiritual level, and myrrh what is good on the earthly level; and these are the basis of all worship.

There was no knowledge at all of correspondences among the people of Israel and Judah, however, even though correspondences was the sole basis of all their worship, all the judgments and statues given them through Moses, and all the contents of the Word. This was because they were idolatrous at heart, so much so that they did not even want to know that any element of their worship had a heavenly or spiritual meaning. That is, they wanted all these things to be holy in and of themselves and just for them, so if they had noticed anything heavenly and spiritual, they not only would have rejected it but would have profaned it as well. For this reason heaven was closed to them, so closed that they were scarcely aware that there was such a thing as eternal life. The truth of this is obvious from the fact that they did not recognize the Lord even though the whole Sacred Scripture prophesied about him and predicted him. The sole reason they rejected him was that he taught people about a heavenly kingdom and not an earthly one. That is, they wanted a Messiah who would raise them to supremacy over all the nations in the whole world and not some Messiah who would be concerned with their eternal salvation.

Further, they assert that the Word contains in itself many secrets that they call mystical, but they do not want those secrets to be about the Lord. They do want to know them, though, when they are told that they are about gold.

from Sacre Scripture–White Horse, Section 23

4. The spiritual meaning of the Word has not been recognized before (Continued)

With the passage of time, though, the symbolic practices of the church, which were correspondences, were turned into idolatrous practices and even into magic. When this happened, the Lord’s divine providence saw to it that this knowledge was gradually erased, and among the people of Israel and Judah it became utterly lost and extinct.

The worship of those people, though, was still composed entirely of correspondences, so it represented heavenly realities even though they did not know what they meant. They were in fact completely earthly people and therefore neither wanted to know nor could know anything about spiritual things or, consequently, about correspondences.

from Sacred Scripture–White Horse, Section 22

4. The spiritual meaning of the Word has not been recognized before (Continued)

I have been taught that the people of the earliest church, the one that existed before the Flood, were so heavenly in nature that they talked with angels of heaven, and that they were able to talk with them in correspondences. This means that their wisdom developed to the point that when they saw anything on earth, they not only thought of it in earthly terms but thought of it in spiritual terms at the same time, and therefore their thoughts joined those of angels.

I have also been taught that Enoch (mentioned in Genesis 5:21-24) and others who joined him collected correspondences from the mouth of these [sages] and passed their knowledge on to their descendants. As a result of this, the knowledge of correspondences was not only familiar but was devotedly practiced in many Middle Eastern countries, especially in the land of Canaan, Egypt, Assyria, Chaldea, Syria, and Arabia; and in Tyre, Sidon, and Nineveh. From coastal locations it was transmitted to Greece. There, however, the knowledge was changed into fables, as we can tell from the writings of the earliest people there.

from Sacred Scripture–White Horse, Section 21

4. The spiritual meaning of the Word has not been recognized before

It was explained in Heaven and Hell, Sections 87-105 that absolutely everything in the physical world corresponds to something spiritual, as does absolutely everything in the human body. However, the nature of this correspondence has been unknown until the present time, even though was common knowledge in ancient times. For the people who lived in those times, the knowledge of how things correspond to each other was the very essence of knowledge. This knowledge was so universal that it governed the writing of all their scrolls and books.

The book of Job, which is an ancient work, is full of correspondences. So were the Egyptian hieroglyphs and the fables of the earliest peoples. All the ancient churches had practices that symbolized heavenly things. Their rituals, as well as the regulations underlying their worship, were made up entirely of correspondences. The same held true for everything about the church among children of Jacob–their burnt offerings and sacrifices were correspondences even with respect to details. So were the Tabernacle and everything in it. So were their feasts–the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Tabernacles, the Feast of First Fruits. So too was the priesthood of Aaron and Levites as well as the sacred garments of Aaron and his sons. So also were all the laws and judgments that had to do with their worship and life.

And since divine things become manifest in this world by means of correspondences, the Word was written entirely by means of them. That is why the Lord, speaking as he did from his divine nature, spoke in correspondences, since the physical world whatever comes from the divine nature clothes itself in things that correspond to divine realities and that therefore conceal in their embrace the divine realities that we call heavenly and spiritual.

from Sacred Scripture–White Horse, Section 20


Heaven and Hell:

Sections 87-102: Published 6/4/2017-6/12/2017

Sections 103-105: Published 6/17/2017-6/18/2017

3. The spiritual meaning is what makes the Word divinely inspired and makes every word in it holy (Continued)

There is a still deeper level of meaning in the Word, one called heavenly, mentioned briefly in Section 6 above. It is almost impossible to extricate this meaning, though, because it is suited not so much to the thinking of our intellect as to the feeling of our will.

The reason this still deeper meaning (the one called heavenly) is present in the Word is that divine goodness and divine truth emanate from the Lord, divine goodness from his divine love and divine truth from his divine wisdom. Both are present in the Word, since the Word is a divine emanation. And since both are present, the Word brings to life people who read it with reverence. This subject will be discussed, though, under its own heading [Sections 80-90], where it will be explained that there is a marriage of the Lord and the church in the details of the Word and therefore a marriage of what is good and what is true.

from Sacred Scripture–White Horse, Section 19


Section 6: Published 5/10/2019

3. The spiritual meaning is what makes the Word divinely inspired and makes every word in it holy.

We hear it said in the church that the Word is holy, but this is because Jehovah God spoke it. However, because people do not see anything holy about it from the letter alone, once they begin to have doubts about its holiness for this reason, then when they read the Word, there is much they can find to justify this attitude. That is, they think, “Is this Holy? Is this divine?” To prevent this kind of thinking from spreading to more and more people and then gaining strength and so destroying the Lord’s union with the church where the Word is, it has now pleased the Lord to unveil the spiritual meaning so that we may know where in the Word that “holy material” lies hidden.

But let me illustrate this too with some examples.

Sometimes the Word talks about Egypt, sometimes about Assyria, sometimes about Edom, Moab, the Ammonites, Tyre and Sidon, and Gog. If we do not know that these names mean matters of heaven and the church, we may be misled and believe that the Word has a lot to say about nations and peoples and only a little about heaven and the church–a lot about earthly matters and not much about heavenly ones. However, if we know what is meant by these nations and peoples or by their names, we can come out of error into truth.

By the same token, when we see in the Word the frequent mention or gardens, groves, forests, and their trees, such as olive, grapevines, cedar, poplar and oak; when we see mention of lambs, sheep, goats, calves, and cattle, as well as mountains, hills, valleys, and their springs, rivers, waters, and so on; if we know nothing about the spiritual meaning of the Word, we can only believe that these and nothing else are the things that they mean. We would not know that garden, grove, and forest mean wisdom, intelligence, and knowledge; that the olive, grapevine, cedar, poplar, and oak mean heavenly, spiritual, rational, earthly and sensory types of goodness and truth in the church; that lambs, sheep, goats, calves, and cattle mean innocence, caring, and earthly feelings; that mountains, hills, and valleys mean the higher, lower, and lowest forms of the church; and that Egypt means knowledge, Assyria reasoning, Edom what is earthly, Moab the corruption of what is good, Ammonites the corruption of what is true, Tyre and Sidon the knowledge of what is true and good, and Gog outward worship with no inner content. Once we know this, though, we can think that the Word is about nothing but heavenly matters and that these earthly things are only the vessels that contain them.

But let me illustrate this with another example from the Word. We read in David:

The voice of Jehovah is upon the waters; the God of glory thunders; Jehovah is upon great waters. The voice of Jehovah breaks the cedars. Jehovah shatters the cedars of Lebanon. He makes them leap like a calf, and Lebanon and Sirion like a young unicorn. The voice of Jehovah comes down like a flame of fire. The voice of Jehovah makes the wilderness quake; it makes the wilderness of Kadesh quake. The voice of Jehovah makes the deer give birth and strips the woodlands bare, but in his temple, everyone says, “Glory!” (Psalms 29:3-9)

Anyone who is strictly earthly-minded and does not realize that the details, including every single word here, are holy and divine may say, “What is all this–Jehovah sitting on waters, breaking cedars with his voice, making them leap like a calf and Lebanon like a young unicorn, making deer give birth, and so on?” Such people do not realize that spiritually understood, these statements serve as a description of the power of divine truth or the Word.

When understood in this way, the “voice of Jehovah” (which here speaks in thunder) means divine truth or the Word in its power. The great waters on which Jehovah sits mean its truths; both the cedars that it breaks and [the cedar of] Lebanon that it shatters mean distortions produced by human reasoning; the calf and the young unicorn mean distortions produced by the earthly and sense-centered self; the flame of fire means the urge to distort; the wilderness and the wilderness of Kadesh mean the church where there is nothing true and nothing good; the deer that the voice of Jehovah cause to give birth mean people who are engaged in doing good on an earthly level; and the woodlands that he strips bare mean the facts and concepts the Word makes accessible to them. That is why it goes on to say that everyone in his temple says, “Glory!” This means that there are divine truths in the details of the Word, since the temple means the Lord and therefore the Word, as well as heaven and the church, and glory means divine truth.

We can see from all this that there is not a single word in this passage that is not describing the divine power of the Word against all kinds of false beliefs and perceptions in earthly people, and the divine power to reform people.

from Sacred Scripture–White Horse, Section 18

2. There is a spiritual meaning throughout the Word and in all its details (Continued)

We can tell from the Lord’s parables, which have a spiritual meaning in their very words, that when he was in the world he spoke in correspondences–that is, he was speaking in spiritual terms when he was naming earthly things. The parables of the ten young women may serve as an example. He said,

The kingdom of the heavens is like ten young women who took their lamps and went out to meet a bridegroom. Five of them were prudent and five were foolish. The foolish women took their lamps but no oil. The prudent women took oil in their lamps. When the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and fell asleep. In the middle of the night there was shout: “Behold, the the bridegroom is coming! Go out to meet him.” At that, all the women woke up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish women said to the prudent ones, “Give us some of your oil, because our lamps are going out.” The prudent women replied, “There might not be enough for us and for you. Go instead to the sellers and buy some for yourselves.” But while they were away buying some, the bridegroom arrived, and the women who were prepared went in with him to the wedding, and the door was closed. Later the other women came along and said, “Lord, Lord, open up for us.” But he answered and said, “I tell you truly, I do not know you.” (Matthew 25:1-12)

Only people who know that there is such a thing as a spiritual meaning and what it is like will see that there is a spiritual meaning, and therefore something holy and divine, in the details of this parable. Spiritually understood, the kingdom of God means heaven and the church; the bridegroom means the lord, the wedding means the marriage of the Lord with heaven and the church brought about by good actions that come from love and faith; the young women mean the people of the church, ten meaning all of them and five meaning some of them; the lamps mean truths we believe; the oil means a love for doing good; sleeping and waking mean our life in this world, which is earthly, and our life after death, which is spiritual; buying means gaining for ourselves; going to sellers and buying oil means trying to gain from other after death a love for doing good. Since this could then no longer be done, even though they came to the door of the wedding room with their lamps and the oil they bought they were told by the bridegroom, “I do not know you.” This is because after our life in this world we are still the same kinds of people we were when we were living in this world.

We can see from this that the Lord spoke in pure correspondences; and this is because he was speaking from the divine nature that was within him and that was his own.

That the bridegroom means the Lord; the kingdom of heavens means the church; the wedding means the marriage of the Lord with the church through good actions that come from love and faith; the young women mean the members of the church; ten means all and five means some; sleeping means an earthly state; buying means gaining for ourselves; the door means admission to heaven; and our not being known by the Lord means our not participating in his love–all this we can conclude on the basis of many passages from the prophetic Word, where these words have similar meanings.

It is because young women mean members of the church that it so often speaks of the virgin and daughter of Zion, of Jerusalem, and of Israel in the prophetic Word. It is because oil means good actions that are done out of love that all holy utensils of the Israelite church were anointed with oil.

It is much the same in other parables and in all the words that the Lord spoke and that are written in the Gospels. That is why the Lord said that his words were spirit and were life (John 6:63).

It is much the same with all the Lord’s miracles, which were divine acts, because they pointed to the various states in which the church was to be established by the Lord. For example, the blind receiving sight meant that people who had been in ignorance of what is true would be given understanding; the deaf being given hearing meant that people who had not listened to the Lord and the Word would heed and obey; the dead being revived meant that people who would otherwise perish spiritually would be brought to life, and so on. This is the meaning of the Lord’s answer to the disciples of John when they asked whether he was the one who was to come:

Tell John the things that you hear and see: the blind are seeing, and the lame are walking; lepers are being cleansed, and the deaf are hearing; the dead are rising again, and the poor are hearing the gospel. (Matthew 11:3-5)

All the miracles that are recounted in the Word have something in them that involves matters of the Lord, heaven, and the church. That is what makes them divine miracles and distinguishes them from wonders that are not divine.

These few examples are offered by way of illustrating what the spiritual meaning is and showing that it is present throughout the Word and in all its details.

from Sacred Scripture–White Horse, Section 17

There Is a Spiritual Meaning in the Word Which Has Been Unknown until Now (Continued)

Lacking a spiritual understanding, no one would know why the prophet Jeremiah was commanded to buy a belt and put it around his waist, not to put it in water, and to hide it in a crevice in the rocks near the Euphrates (Jeremiah 13:1-7). No one would know why the prophet Isaiah was commanded to take the sackcloth off his waist and the sandals off his feet and go naked and barefoot for three years (Isaiah 20:2-3). No one would know why the prophet Ezekiel was commanded to take a razor to to his head and his beard and then to divide the hair, burning a third of it in the middle of the city, striking a third with a sword, and scattering a third to the wind; also, to bind a few hairs in his hems, and eventually to throw a few into the midst of a fire (Ezekiel 5:1-4). The same prophet was commanded to lie on his left side for three hundred ninety days and on his right side for forth days and to make himself a cake out of wheat, barley, millet, and spelt and bake it over cow dung and eat it; and at another time to make a siege wall and a mound against [an image of] Jerusalem and besiege it (Ezekiel 4:1-15). No one would know why the prophet Hosea was twice commanded to take a whore as his wife (Hosea 1:2-9; 3:2-3), and other things of the same sort.

Beyond that, without spiritual understanding who would know the meaning of all the objects in the Tabernacle–the ark, for example, the mercy seat, the angel guardians, the lampstand, the altar of incense, the showbread on the table, its veils and curtains? Without spiritual understanding, who would know the meaning of Aaron’s sacred garments–his tunic, robe, ephod, the Urim and Thummin, his turban, and so on? Without spiritual understanding, who would know the meaning of all the commandments about burnt offerings, sacrifices, grain offerings, and drink offerings, about Sabbaths and festivals? The truth is that every bit of what was commanded meant something about the Lord, heaven, and the church.

You can see clearly in these few examples that there is a spiritual meaning throughout the Word and in its details.

from Sacred Scripture and White Horse, Section 16

There Is a Spiritual Meaning in the Word Which Has Been Unknown until Now (Continued)

To show that the prophetic books of the Word (Scriptures) of the Old Testament are in many places unintelligible apart from their spiritual meaning, I should like to cite just a few. This from Isaiah, for example:

Then Jehovah will rouse up a whip against Assyria, like the blow against Midian on the rock Oreb; his staff will be stretched out over the sea, and the will lift it against the way of Egypt. And it will happen on that day his burden will depart from your shoulder and his yoke from your neck. He will come against Aiath; he will cross over into Migron. He will command his weapons against Michmash; they will cross Mabara. Gibeah will be a place of lodging for us; Ramah will tremble with fear; Gibeah of Saul will flee. Wail with your voice, daughter of Gallim! Listen to Laishah, unfortunate Anathoth! Madmenah will wander; the inhabitants of Gebim will gather together. In Nob is it still a day for standing firm? The mountain of the daughter of Zion, the hill of Jerusalem, will move its hand. Jehovah will cut down the tangled places in the forest with iron, and Lebanon will fall by means of the Mighty One. (Isaiah 10:24-34)

All we find here are names from which we can draw no sense without the aid of the spiritual meaning, in which all the the names in the Word point to matters of heaven and the church. We gather from this meaning that this passage refers to the ruin of the whole church by information that corrupted every true teaching and supported every false teaching.

In another passage from the same prophet,

On that day the rivalry of Ephraim will wane and the enemies of Judah will be cut off. Ephraim will not compete with Judah, and Judah will not trouble Ephraim, but they will swoop down upon the shoulder of the philistines toward the sea. Together they will plunder the children of the east. Edom and Moab will be [subject to] the stretching out of their hand. Jehovah will curse the tongue of the sea of Egypt and will shake his hand over the river with the vehemence of his spirit; and he will strike it into seven streams, to make a pathway [that can be trodden] which sandals. Then there will be a highway for the rest of his people the remnant from Assyria. (Isaiah 11:11, 13-16)

Here too, only those who know what these particular names mean will see anything divine, when in fact this is about the Lord’s Coming and what will happen then, as is perfectly obvious from the first ten verses of the chapter. So without the aid of the spiritual meaning, who would see what these statements in this sequence mean, namely, that if people are caught up in false beliefs because of ignorance but have not let themselves be led astray by evil tendencies, they will find their way to the Lord, and that the church will then understand the Word, so that their false beliefs will no longer harm them?

It is much the same in other in other passage where there are no names, as in Ezekiel:

Thus says the Lord Jehovah: “Son of Humanity, say to every winged bird and to every beast of the field, ‘Gather and come. Gather yourselves from all around for my sacrifice, which I am sacrificing for you, a great sacrifice on the mountains of Israel, so that you may eat flesh and drink blood. You will eat the flesh of the mighty and drink the blood of the rulers of the earth. You will eat fat until you are full and drink blood until you are drunk, from my sacrifice, which I am sacrificing for you. At my table you will eat your fill of horses and chariots and the mighty and every man of war. This is how I will establish my glory among the nations.'” (Ezekiel 39:17-21)

If readers do not know from the spiritual sense the meaning of a sacrifice, of flesh and blood, of horses, chariots, the mighty, and men of war, all they can conclude is that they are going to eat and drink things like this. The spiritual meaning, though, tells us that eating flesh and drinking blood from a sacrifice that the Lord Jehovah offers on the mountains of Israel means taking divine goodness and divine truth into ourselves from the Word. This passage is about summoning everyone to the Lord’s kingdom, specifically the Lord’s establishment of a church among the nations. Can anyone fail to see that flesh does not mean flesh and that blood does not mean blood in this text? The same holds true for drinking blood until we are drunk and eating our fill of horses, chariots, the mighty, and every man of war.

There are passages like this in a thousand other places in the prophets.

from Sacred Scripture and White Horse, Section 15


Contrinued from 5/16/2019

If We Turn Our Backs on Evils for Any Other Reason Than That They Are Sins, We Are Not Turning Our Backs on Them but Are Simply Making Sure They Are Not Visible in the Eyes of the World (Continued)

That is why the Lord says in Matthew,

Blind Pharisees, cleanse the inside of the cup and the plate first, so that the outside of them may be clean as well. (Mathew 23:26)

and in Isaiah,

Wash yourselves! Purify yourselves! Take away the evil of your deeds from before my eyes! Stop doing evil! And then, even if your sins have been like scarlet, they will become white like snow; even if they have been as red as purple-dyed cloth, they will be like wool. (Isaiah 1:16, 18)

from Life/Faith, Section 113