The Woman Clothed with the Sun

 

A Holy Supper Address by James P. Cooper

Toronto – June 10, 2012

  1. In June we begin to think about the anniversary of the establishment of the New Church.
    1. Most organizations in the world do something to remember their origins, but usually they are marking a day when some people got together to sign some papers, or collected a first donation, or began digging the foundation for a building. And we do those things too.
    2. But the New Church regarded in itself as a doctrine, a movement, didn’t start that way – it wasn’t started by people in this world at all, but rather it was founded in the spiritual world.
      1. The earthly organization did not come along until many years later.
    3. The story of the establishment of the New Church in the heavens is told in the book of Revelation, and the image of the Woman clothed in the Sun is key.
  2. The Woman
    1. (Rev 12) Now a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a garland of twelve stars. {2} Then being with child, she cried out in labour and in pain to give birth.
    2. The woman is a picture of the Lord’s church in the heavens.
      1. The church is represented by a woman, because the church is the bride and wife of the Lord. As a bride is in the affection of the wisdom of her husband and loves him because of that wisdom, so the church looks to conjunction with the Lord, for, like a bride, it wants to be one with the Wisdom that is from the Lord.
    3. Sun, moon, and stars represent Charity, Faith, and knowledge.
      1. The Lord appears in the spiritual world as the Sun of Heaven to represent the power and life-giving nature of His Divine Love and Divine Wisdom.
      2. The woman who represents the church is seen with that power and life from the Lord radiating to all people through her as if from a sun.
      3. She is described as being clothed with the sun for two reasons:
        1. Because the Lord’s life flows into man through the church in the heavens,
          1. Thus the light coming as if from the woman although the Lord is the source.
        2. also, when men in the church know the truths from the Word and live according to them they are in love to the Lord, which love is signified by the light and heat of the sun.
      4. Thus, the radiant power of the woman comes from the reciprocal conjunction of men with the Lord.
        1. Man receives good and truth from the Lord through the church, and then as if of himself chooses to make it his own, thus returning that love to the Lord. This reciprocal conjunction is the life of heaven from which all delights and blessings flow.
      5. The moon, representing the faith of the New Church, was seen under her feet, because at the time of John’s vision, and even at the time Swedenborg was visiting the spiritual world, the New church in the heavens had not yet been conjoined to the church on earth.
        1. The conjunction of the New Church in the heavens and the church on earth was the Lord’s purpose, and the revelation of the internal sense of the Word through Swedenborg was the means to that goal.
    4. However, that was not the end, but a beginning. The Lord has, through His Second Coming, given us the tools to establish the church on earth if we sincerely desire it and work for it. Our text warns us that establishing the church on earth will not be easy: she travailed and pained to bring forth (REV 12:2). The Writings tell us that this means the church on earth will not be easily received at first, especially by those who are in faith alone (AR 531).
      1. The presence of evil also makes it hard for the church to grow. Evils of life are given as the reason why people find it hard to read the Word with understanding.
      2. They love their evils, and most people are aware that the Word teaches that evils are to be removed. So they avoid the reading the Word or even attempting to understand what it teaches.
      3. Thus the importance of the prophets (or today a formal church organization) who, like a voice in the wilderness, warn people to repent of their sins, then bring their lives into order, so that the Lord may touch their lives and lead them to heaven.
  3. The child born to the woman is the doctrine of the New Church which is being established on the earth.
    1. But, not everyone wants this to happen.
      1. There are people who love their lives just the way they are and do not want to be annoyed by teachings about charity, and the need to reform.
      2. There are others who are not just complacent, but who actually want others to remain in ignorance so they can have power over them.
        1. In today’s world there are lots of businesses whose only product is information. Other businesses sell ways of processing and storing information.
        2. Knowing a secret, having information that other people want or need, gives you power over those people.
          1. You can use it for good – a teacher who wants to give it to as many people as possible.
          2. An evil person who wants to use it to make people give him money, or do things his way.
      3. This evil person is represented in the Word by the dragon.
    2. The Dragon
      1. {3} And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great, fiery red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads. {4} His tail drew a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to give birth, to devour her Child as soon as it was born.
        1. Fiery red: evil, flaming.
        2. Seven heads and ten horns: Confusion and irrationality from many different ideas trying to lead. The horns are the power to confuse, the diadems an intent to lead innocent people astray.
        3. The stars are the doctrines of the church. The dragon wants to take away their heavenly authority and make them merely natural idea, opinions that can be safely ignored.
        4. And the doctrine of the New Church is the most dangerous enemy of the dragon because it makes the whole of the Word accessible to people, and when they understand the Word, the dragons lies no longer have any power or effect.
    3. The Male Child
      1. {5} She bore a male Child who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron. And her Child was caught up to God and His throne.
        1. However, since each of us is truly free, falsity and evil have a pull on our hearts and minds equal to that of good and truth.
        2. Every one of us must make hard choices and turn away from the pull of hereditary tendencies to evils. To do this requires real power. The power to turn away from evil and falsity does not come from within ourselves, although it may at times seem this way. It comes from the Lord through the church and is represented by the “male child which shall rule the nations with a rod of iron” (REV 12:5).
        3. This child represents the doctrine of the church – not the words and ideas presented in the Word, but the ideas after they have been received in the mind and confirmed by a life according to them (See AR 148).
          1. The rod of iron – sceptre – represents the power of truth/knowledge from the Word to destroy and remove falsity, thus allowing people freedom and showing them the Lord’s path to heaven.
  4. Even though the New Church was established over 200 years ago, the battle is not yet over.
    1. It is being fought over and over as each generation is born and struggles with their own questions about their life and faith.
    2. It is being fought over and over as each individual struggles with their own inclinations to evils of every kind.
    3. But please remember that we are not fighting alone.
      1. The Lord is guiding the angels of heaven to protect us and lead us to our heavenly home.
      2. We just need to know that they are there, look for them, and follow them.
  5. The Woman Protected
    1. The church itself is under attack every day.
      1. Actively, through the militant actions of other religions, and
      2. Passively, through cultural shift and acceptance of a variety of evils of life, and
      3. Through people turning away from Word as an authority in their life. This is where the hells do their most insidious work. Rather than making a frontal attack against the whole of the Word, instead they lead us to pick and choose the parts that we like. Once we begin to doubt the authority of some teachings, it’s not hard to find ourselves doubting all but our own prudence. And the loves of self and self intelligence rule.
      4. When we believe that we alone are responsible for the Lord’s church, both in our lives and in the world, we will despair. These unhappy times in our lives are caused by temptations, and we suffer real pain because good things that we really love are being challenged. We sometimes call these “wilderness” states.
        1. {6} Then the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, that they should feed her there one thousand two hundred and sixty days.
    2. The good news is that we are not responsible for the Lord’s church. He, and all the angels, are working in secret ways to preserve the church on earth, and to preserve human freedom — for both are essential to the continuation of the heavens.
      1. {7} And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his [messengers] fought, {8} but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer.
    3. As we prepare for the Holy Supper today, we can see that the Lord is protecting His church with His great power. What He requires of us is that each of us do our part, relatively small though it may be.
      1. And what is our part? To fight the dragon in the context of our own lives; to look for the evils in our lives, to pray to the Lord for help in removing them, and to begin to live in a new way.
          1. {9} So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his [messengers] were cast out with him. Amen.

First Lesson: Rev 12

Now a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a garland of twelve stars. {2} Then being with child, she cried out in labour and in pain to give birth. {3} And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great, fiery red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads. {4} His tail drew a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to give birth, to devour her Child as soon as it was born. {5} She bore a male Child who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron. And her Child was caught up to God and His throne. {6} Then the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, that they should feed her there one thousand two hundred and sixty days. {7} And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, {8} but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer.

Second Lesson: TCR 773, 774

The Lord’s coming is for the purpose of forming a new heaven of those who have believed in Him, and for the purpose of establishing a new church of those who shall hereafter believe in Him, inasmuch as these two are the ends for which He came. The very end for which the universe was created was no other than the formation from men of an angelic heaven, where all who believe in God shall live forever in eternal blessedness; for the Divine love which is in God and essentially is God, can intend nothing else, and the Divine wisdom which is also in God and is God, can effect nothing else.

TCR 774. The Lord’s presence is unceasing with every man, both the evil and the good, for without His presence no man lives; but His Coming is only to those who receive Him, who are such as believe on Him and keep His commandments. The Lord’s unceasing presence causes man to become rational, and gives him the ability to become spiritual.

This is effected by the light that goes forth from the Lord as the sun in the spiritual world, and that man receives in his understanding; that light is truth, and by means of it man has rationality. But the Lord’s coming is to him who joins heat with that light, that is, love with truth; for the heat that goes forth from that same sun is love to God and love toward the neighbour. The mere presence of the Lord, and the consequent enlightenment of the understanding, may be likened to presence of solar light in the world; unless this light is joined with heat all things on earth become desolate.

But the coming of the Lord may be likened to the coming of heat, which takes place in spring; because heat then joins itself with light, the earth is softened, and seeds sprout and bring forth fruit. Such is the parallelism between the spiritual things which are the environment of man’s spirit, and the natural things which are the environment of his body. Amen.

21 thoughts on “The Woman Clothed with the Sun

  1. The particular interpretation is broadly outlined in both John Eaton’s ‘Honeycombe’ and the ‘Dead Faith’ as well as being revealed by the Puritan, Giles Firmin, about his stay with his obviously Eatonist relative in Ipswich whilst attending grammar school there – see G. Firmin – ‘A Brief Review of Mr Davis’s Vindication: Giving no Satisfaction’ (1693) and Como.

    In 1631 Henry Firmin and his fellow Ipswich laymen went before the High Commission (a case which seems to have commenced that November). Both Firmin and one Henry Mudd were still being forced to appear before the High Commission some three years later. They recanted fully but the evidence from Giles Firmin’s visit to the family shortly afterwards suggests that not only was this recantation not genuine but that their ‘antinomianism’ had become markedly radicalised and come to include aspects not known to have been amongst Eaton’s own teachings. These included both God being the author of sin and outright mortalism. Como assumes that Mudd must have been directly responsible for the injection of such ideas into Firmin’s theology but he fails to provide substantive evidence in ‘Blown by the Spirit’.

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      Practical Teachings for Everyday Living

      This entry was posted in Uncategorized on October 7, 2014.

      Depression and Suicide

      No doubt that by the time you read this you’ve heard that actor and comedian Robin Williams took his own life on 11th of August. Apparently he had fallen into depression, something he dealt with most of his life. He was on a cocktail of medications to help, but in addition to his anti-depressants he was taking medications to combat early stage Parkinson’s disease which may have exacerbated his depression and led to the suicide. Some of his friends have speculated that he committed suicide because he used cycling as a means to keep him sober and out of alcohol addiction, and he was afraid that when Parkinson’s took away his ability to cycle he would fall back into alcoholism. Maybe it is some combination of both…we’ll never really know.
      However, his passing does make it a good time to talk about suicide and depression. When we look through the Bible we can find many instances of people being depressed, and we can find examples of people wanting and actually committing suicide, so they are not problems that are exclusive to modern times. Recently I’ve preached on the subjects individually, and you can find the sermons on our webpage in the media section. But I think this is a really important subject, which is why I want to take some space here to write about some general teachings available to us in the New Church.
      First off, let me say that there’s no reason to believe that people who commit suicide go to hell. That’s just not stated anywhere in the Bible or in any of Swedenborg’s Writings. I do think we can say suicide is “wrong” because we are upsetting the natural order of things. When a person is created, God does not intend for them to kill themselves. He intends for them to live a long life and die of old age in their sleep. It just doesn’t always work out that way. Yet despite a person upsetting the natural order of things, that one act does not condemn them to hell. Hell is for evil people. Hell is not for good people who do one evil thing.
      A good general teaching on this comes from Secrets of Heaven. It essentially states that good spirits, i.e. people who have passed into the next life but have not yet made it to either heaven or hell, are not punished at all in the next life. In fact, even when good spirits do something bad, they’re given some slack:
      But as regards good spirits, if perchance they speak or do evil, they are not punished, but pardoned, and also excused. For their end is not to speak or do evil, and they know that such things are excited in them by hell, so that they have not come to pass by their fault; and the same is also observed from their resistance, and afterward from their grief. (6559)
      This general teaching provides comfort that a singular act such as suicide, or any evil for that matter, doesn’t condemn an otherwise good person.
      While they are not destined to hell, there is reason to believe that a person who commits suicide is going to have some things to work out on the other side… and it might not be any fun. While in a depressed state we have spiritual associations that aren’t good, and we come to see and be with these associations when we transition into the next life. Swedenborg writes about this in his diary:
      A certain one in the life of the body had committed suicide by stabbing himself with a knife, having been driven to desperation through depression, to which he had been driven by diabolical spirits. He came to me complaining that he was being miserably treated by evil spirits, and said that he was among the furies who were continually provoking him… He also seemed to me to have a knife in his hand which he wanted to drive into his breast. He labored hard with that knife, wanting to throw it away from himself but without success. For whatever happens in the last hour of death remains for a long time before it disappears, as I was told. (Spiritual Diary 1336, 1337)
      This is a specific instance for one person, not a general teaching, so while this one person went through a process of being tormented by evil spirits for a time, we really shouldn’t make generalizations based off something written in Swedenborg’s diary. However, there are general teachings that say whatever inner problems we have in this life we will generally have to face in the next life… and it might not be pleasant dealing with them.
      But what if you can’t deal with them here and now? I think all of Christianity teaches that life comes from the Lord, and that of ourselves we have no life of our own, rather we are receivers of life. At first pass it sounds like a pretty abstract teaching that isn’t particularly useful to us, but when considering depression or any mental illness we start to see why we are taught this. You see, if we are in fact just receivers of life, it does allow for the receiver to be broken. Think of it like this: your radio is a receiver of FM and AM signals. There is no music in the transistors, but when they function properly music is played through them. If however, some electronic part fails, the radio will cease to be a proper receiver of the signals, and a similar situation can occur in people. Something can be biologically wrong that essentially “tunes” us in to more negative frequencies. When this is the case, we’re not able to deal with our problems and change our ways. Here’s how it is written in Divine Providence:
      The reason no one is reformed in a state of mental illness is that mental illness deprives us of rationality and therefore of the freedom to act rationally. The mind is sick and not healthy, and while a healthy mind is rational, a sick one is not. The illnesses are things like depression, imagined or illusory guilt, various kinds of hallucinations, mental anguish brought on by misfortunes, and mental anxiety and pain brought on by physical disorders. These are sometimes thought of as temptations, but they are not. Real temptations focus on spiritual issues, and during them the mind is in possession of its skills. The states I am talking about focus on earthly issues, and during them the mind goes mad. (#141)
      This can be comforting in one way, because it is nice to be able to think that, “Yes, there is something wrong with me! It’s not my fault I feel lousy.”
      There are however, other kinds of depression. There are what amounts to “spiritual” depression and a “natural” depression. The former has more to do with not living up to the kind of person you want to be and the inner fight and acknowledgement of failure can bring on depression. The “natural” depression is more about bad luck, misfortunes and worrying about other issues that don’t have to do with our spiritual life but are nonetheless unpleasant. With these kinds of depression the common problem is the spiritual company we keep. The more depressed we allow ourselves to get, the more depressing thoughts pour in. Even when miserable if we are able to keep our thinking positive we can retune ourselves to only be hearing the good, affirmative and assuring teachings that the Lord loves us, has a plan for us, and is taking us to a good end. We must suffer ourselves to hope, and if we’re good at it – which isn’t always easy – we, with the Lord’s help, can dig ourselves out of the pit of despair.
      This entry was posted in Uncategorized on October 7, 2014.

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  2. Yes it is True havau22 that God’s Church consisting of both Men and Woman meaning Mankind or Man for short, is of the heart not a Denomination and it was from the beginning as we see confirmed in Scripture with the early Catholic Church or Universal Church, not meaning the Roman Catholic Church which came later.

    Woman are Spiritually the same as Men, we are all One in Christ Jesus, there is no difference as confirmed in the Scripture below but as you said havau22 our roles are different, Men are in Authority under God and in Marriage and the Church Woman are to submit to their Leadership but Men still need Woman, they are their Helpmates but not just to have babies and cook dinner, they are needed to support Men Physically, Mentally, Emotionally and Spiritually, as God said it is not good for Man to be alone, not meaning just in Marriage, the Apostle Paul also viewed Woman highly and valued their help and advice.

    Deborah known as the Mother of Israel (Judges 4&5) was chosen by God to be the Judge of Israel but she did not seek Leadership, she was under God’s Authority and warned Barack it was not her role but went with him and encouraged him to take Leadership and he won.

    Galatians 3:28-29 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither Male nor Female for ye are all One in Christ Jesus, and if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed and heirs according to the Promise.

    1 Corinthians 6:17 But he that is joined unto the Lord is One Spirit.(KJV)

    Jesus said to Ask, Seek, and Knock and we are to Ask for God’s Wisdom and empowering by The Spirit it is the most important thing in understanding God’s Truth as confirmed in in the Scriptures below not one of us were Born with them we ask and believe we have received not doubting God’s Word as some do and so keep asking instead of Thanking Him.

    Proverbs 4:7 Wisdom is the principal thing therefore get Wisdom and with all thy getting get understanding.

    James 1:5-6 If any of you lack Wisdom, let him/her ask of God, that giveth to all Men/woman liberally and upbraideth not and it shall be given him/her. But let him/her ask in faith nothing wavering. For he/she that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man/woman think that he/she shall receive any thing of the Lord. A double minded man/woman is unstable in all his/her ways.

    Luke 11:13 If ye then being evil know how to give good gifts unto your children how much more shall your Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him?

    1 Corinthians 2:9-16 But as it is written Eye hath not seen nor ear heard neither have entered into the heart of man the things which God hath prepared for them that Love Him. But God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things yea the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man but the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world but the Spirit which is of God that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth comparing spiritual things with Spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God for they are foolishness unto him neither can he know them because they are Spiritually discerned. But he that is Spiritual judgeth all things yet he himself is judged of no man. For who hath known the Mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him? but we have the Mind of Christ.

    1John 2:26-28 These things have I written unto you concerning them that seduce you. But the anointing which ye have received of Him abideth in you and ye need not that any man teach you but as the same anointing Teacheth you of all things and is Truth and is no lie and even as it hath Taught you ye shall abide in Him.

    Matthew 10:26-28 Fear them not therefore for there is nothing covered that shall not be revealed and hid that shall not be known. What I tell you in darkness that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear that preach ye upon the housetops (KJV) ….perhaps our Computers today.

    Christian Love and Blessings -Anne.

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