The Journey Through Life Week 1 (265)

  1. In common speech, life in the natural world is seen as a “journey.”
    1. Cradle to grave, etc.
      1. The process of progressively changing states that we can see in the physical body that parallel developments in the person’s emotional life.
      2. It doesn’t take too much of a stretch to see that this extends into our spiritual life as well.
    2. In the Scriptures, there are many different parables that speak about the path of life.
      1. A series of steps set out for us by the Lord that, if followed, will lead from our present states to eternal life in heaven.
      2. The story of the children of Israel’s Journey from their slavery in Egypt to the promised land of Canaan by way of the wilderness is clearly such a parable.
        1. Early life in Egypt, learning things.
        2. Entirely appropriate when you are young – like the years you spend in school.
        3. Eventually you need to begin your own life, to strike out on your own.
        4. But leaving the comfort and safety of home does not immediately lead to the peace and happiness of the “Promised Land.”
        5. In between the slavery of childhood and the rest of the Promised Land there are 40 years of “wilderness” states that have to be dealt with and endured.
          1. The bad news is they are a lot of work.
          2. The good news is that when the children of Israel emerged from the wilderness they were competent and confident, ready to enter the land of Canaan. The spiritual states represented by fearful slaves had been left behind.
        6. Our purpose for the next 8 weeks is to divide the story of this journey into smaller sections, see what the Word has to say about each step, and then discuss how these teachings apply to our lives in small group sessions during the week.
      3. One of the tools that we will be using in taking the Scriptural story and applying it to our current spiritual states will be the Science of Correspondences. There are a number of key elements that, once we know what they represent in our own lives, will help us understand the story in the natural sense, and help us open it up to see the spiritual sense within.
        1. The children of Israel – literally the linear descendants of Abraham’s grandson Jacob whom the Lord had given the name “Israel.” Jacob had twelve sons. They, and their wives and children, made up the original 70 individuals who entered Egypt at the invitation of Joseph and Pharaoh.
          1. us, people who are natural and who want to become spiritual.
          2. Their failings are our failings, their fears our fears. But the promises of help and support given to them by Jehovah are also given to us.
        2. The sons of Jacob multiplied rapidly in the fertile and peaceful land of Goshen. So rapidly that the Egyptians, already suspicious of foreigners, especially those who herded sheep, put more and more restrictions on the Hebrews until, after 400 years, they were the slaves that built the Egyptian cities – and continued to multiply at an alarming rate. Pharaoh, faced with this growing problem, eventually declared that all the male infants among the Hebrews were to be killed at birth. This is the depth of the misery experienced by the Hebrews at the point where we pick up the story once again.
          1. Their slavery represents the state of a person in the world. So much of our life in the natural world is affected by our hereditary evils, and delights in natural things that if it were not for revelation, we might not realize that compared to spiritual life, it is comparative slavery. Our job is to wake up to these facts, see the slavery, and begin the work of lifting ourselves out of it, led by the Lord through His Word (represented by Moses).
          2. AC 10409: [Being led by the Lord instead of by self; or from being natural becoming spiritual; or moving from the natural world to the spiritual world are all symbols of being moved from spiritual slavery to spiritual freedom]   But when those words refer to people whose interest lies in external things and not in internal ones they mean being self-led, which does not constitute being raised to heaven but casting themselves down to hell, consequently passing from freedom into For the fact that being self-led is slavery, while being led by the Lord is freedom,
        3. So much can be said about Moses as he is perhaps the most significant character of the Old Testament. For our purposes in this series, we need to focus on his use as the author of the books of the Word that are collectively known as “the Law.” (See AC 6752) He both personifies Jehovah to the children of Israel, and is the means by which they hear God’s voice leading them to the “Promised Land.” His main significance is that of the Lord guiding us through the journey of our life by means of the Word.
        4. The land of Egypt is well known as a wonder of the Ancient world for its libraries and science. It therefore stands the knowledge about the natural world through our personal experience and through our education. It’s a state that we all need to go through, as evidenced by the fact that Abraham journeyed to Egypt, as did Jacob’s family, and the Lord Himself was taken to Egypt by Mary and Joseph. It may be a natural state, but it’s one that we all have to go through. But, perhaps most important, it’s a state that we have to leave, and the process of leaving is what can be scary and painful.
          1. AC 1462. ‘Egypt’ means, in reference to the Lord, knowledge comprised of cognitions, but in reference to all others, knowledge in general. … Indeed the Ancient Church existed in Egypt, as it did in many other places and while the Church was in that region all kinds of knowledge flourished there more than anything else; and this explains why ‘Egypt’ came to mean knowledge. But after those people desired to penetrate the mysteries of faith by means of all this knowledge, and so to inquire into the truth of Divine arcana from their own power, Egypt became a place of magic, and so came to mean factual knowledge which perverts, and which gives rise to falsities and derivative evils, as is clear in Isaiah 19:11. [2] …‘Egypt’ means all kinds of knowledge that serve a use, thus at this point knowledge comprised of cognitions which is able to serve as vessels for celestial and spiritual things….
        5. Pharaoh, as the king of that country is the personification of Egypt. His cruelty in enslaving the children of Israel represents the kind of thing that can happen when natural truths are allowed to lead without spiritual truths to guide them.
          1. AC 6015: ‘Egypt’ means the Church’s factual knowledge, and therefore the king of that land means such knowledge in general,
        6. The “Wilderness” is basically our adult life. This is where the real spiritual work goes on. Freed from the leadership and supervision of our parents, we begin to act truly from ourselves as we strike out find jobs, spouses, and build families. There are financial and personal crises that must be dealt with. There are dangers, drought, and warfare. And if you do it right, if you follow Moses, all the non-heavenly things will fall away, one by one, and you will reach the end of your journey strong and ready to enter the Promised Land.
          1. AC 8098: ‘And God led the people around by the way of the wilderness’ means that under Divine guidance they were led by means of temptations to a firm acceptance of the truths and forms of the good of faith. This is clear from the meaning of ‘God led’ as providence, as above in 8093, or what amounts to the same thing, as Divine guidance; and from the meaning of ‘by the way of the wilderness’ as a way that leads people to undergo temptations and so to reach a firm acceptance of the truths and forms of the good of faith since temptations are the means by which they become firmly accepted. ‘The wilderness’ means a place which is uninhabited and uncultivated, dealt with in 2708, in the spiritual sense a situation in which there is no good or truth, and also a situation in which truth has not yet been bonded to good. That being so, ‘the wilderness’ means the state of those with whom the two are to be bonded together; but since the bonding is not accomplished except by means of temptations, these also are meant.
  • As we embark together on this Journey, we don’t assume that everyone is in the same state, that you are all in spiritual bondage to the same degree, or at the same point of spiritual development.
    1. Such states are known to the Lord alone.
    2. However, it is safe to assume that whether you are new to these adult states or you have been on the path for decades, there’s still spiritual work to be done, things in our spiritual life that are holding us back. Identifying and making a plan to remove those things is the slavery or bondage that we should be reflecting on this week.


Hear now the Word of the Lord as it is written in …

First Lesson: Exodus 2:11-12, 15

Now it came to pass in those days, when Moses was grown, that he went out to his brethren and looked at their burdens. And he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his brethren. So he looked this way and that way, and when he saw no one, he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. … When Pharaoh heard of this matter, he sought to kill Moses. But Moses fled from the face of Pharaoh and dwelt in the land of Midian; and he sat down by a well.

Second Lesson: PSA 137

By the rivers of Babylon, There we sat down, yea, we wept When we remembered Zion. {2} We hung our harps Upon the willows in the midst of it. {3} For there those who carried us away captive asked of us a song, And those who plundered us requested mirth, Saying, “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!” {4} How shall we sing the Lord’s song In a foreign land? {5} If I forget you, O Jerusalem, Let my right hand forget its skill! {6} If I do not remember you, Let my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth; If I do not exalt Jerusalem Above my chief joy. {7} Remember, O LORD, against the sons of Edom The day of Jerusalem, Who said, “Raze it, raze it, To its very foundation!” {8} O daughter of Babylon, who are to be destroyed, Happy the one who repays you as you have served us! {9} Happy the one who takes and dashes Your little ones against the rock!

Third Lesson: NJHD 142.

Doing evil by free choice looks like freedom, but it is slavery, because that freedom comes of self-love and love of the world, and these loves are from hell. Such freedom is after death actually turned into slavery, for a person who indulged in such freedom then becomes in hell a lowly slave. But doing good by free choice is real freedom, because it comes of love to the Lord and love towards the neighbour, and these loves are from heaven. This freedom also lasts after death, and then becomes true freedom; for a person who enjoys such freedom becomes in heaven as it were a son of the house. This the Lord teaches in these words:
Everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin. A slave does not remain in the house for ever; the son remains for ever. If the son makes you free, you will be truly free. John 8:34-36.
Now because all good is from the Lord, and all evil is from hell, it follows that freedom is being led by the Lord and slavery is being led by hell.

Here end the lessons. Blessed are they who hear the Word of God and keep it. Amen.

 

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