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GLORY >> Interior Meaning of the Word of the Lord in Heaven >> Divine Truth

gl1ory And the glory of Jehovah tarried upon Mount Sinai. That this signifies the interior things of the Word of the Lord in heaven, is evident from the signification of “the glory of  Jehovah,” when said of the Word, as being its internal sense, thus the interior things of the Word (see the preface to Genesis 18, and n. 5922); and from the signification of “Mount Sinai,” as being Divine truth proceeding from the Lord, and consequently heaven (of which above, n. 9420, 9427). That the interior things of the Word are called “glory” is because the Divine truth proceeding from the Lord as a sun is the light in heaven which gives sight to the angels there, and at the same time intelligence and wisdom (n. 1531, 1619-1632, 2776, 3138, 3167, 3190, 3195, 3339, 3341, 3636, 3643, 3862, 3993, 4302, 4415, 4527, 5400, 6313, 6608, 6905, 6907, 8644, 8707, 8861). From this Divine light is all the glory in heaven, which is such as to surpass all human apprehension. From this it is plain why the internal sense of the Word is meant by “glory;” for the internal sense of the Word is the Divine truth that proceeds from the Lord in heaven, thus is the light from which is all the glory there.

[2] This is meant by “glory” in many passages of the Word, as that they should “see the Son of man in a cloud with glory” (Matt. 24:30; Luke 21:27); and that the Lord, after He had suffered, was to “enter into His glory” (Luke 24:26); that “when He should come in His glory, He would sit upon the throne of His glory” (Matt. 25:31), where “to sit upon the throne of glory” denotes to judge from the Divine truth which is from Himself; also that “Moses and Elias were seen in glory” (Luke 9:30, 31); that “Moses and Elias” here denote the Word, see the preface to Genesis 18, and n. 2762, 5247, 9372. The same is also meant by the “glorification” of the Lord, in John: “Now hath the Son of man been glorified, and God hath been glorified in Him. God shall also glorify Him in Himself, and shall straightway glorify Him” (John 13:31-32); “to be glorified in God” denotes to become Divine good, from which is Divine truth. In like manner in John 12:38.

[3] By “glory” is signified the Divine truth proceeding from the Lord such as it is in heaven, also in the following passages:

The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of Jehovah. And the glory of Jehovah shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see together (Isa. 40:3, 5);
treating of the coming of the Lord; where “the glory of Jehovah which shall be revealed” denotes the Divine truth. That the Lord is this truth, because it is from Him, is manifest in John:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and God was the Word. In Him was life; and the life was the light of men. He was the true light. And the Word was made flesh, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the Only begotten of the Father (John 1:1, 4, 9, 14).

Here “the Word” denotes the Divine truth; in like manner “the light;” from which it is plain what is meant by “beholding His glory.” That the Lord did not appear in any other glory in the world, except when He was transfigured, is known. [4] In like manner in another passage in John:

These things said Isaiah, when he saw His glory, and spoke of Him. But they loved the glory of men more than the glory of God. I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth in Me may not remain in the darkness (John 12:41, 43, 46);

here also the “glory of the Lord,” and the “glory of God,” denote the Divine truth, and the “glory of men” denotes falsity. In Isaiah:

Shine, for thy light is come, and the glory of Jehovah is risen upon thee. . . . Jehovah shall arise upon thee, and His glory shall be seen upon thee. . . . The glory of Lebanon shall come unto thee . . . to adorn the place of My sanctuary. . . . Thy sun shall no more go down, neither shall thy moon wane; for Jehovah shall be unto thee for a light of eternity (Isa. 60).
It is evident that the subject here treated of is the Lord’s coming, His kingdom, heaven, and the church. The Divine truth proceeding from His Divine Human is described in this whole chapter, and is called, “light,” “honor,” and “glory.”

[5] Again:

They shall fear the name of Jehovah from the setting of the sun, and His glory from the rising of the sun. The Redeemer shall come to Zion (Isa. 59:19, 20);
here also the Lord is treated of; “the name of Jehovah” denotes all the truth of faith and good of love from which is worship (n. 2724, 3006, 6674, 9310). Again:
I have called thee in righteousness, and I will give thee for a covenant to the people, for a light of the Gentiles. I am Jehovah; this is My name; and My glory will I not give to another (Isa. 42:6, 8);

here also treating of the Lord, where “a light of the Gentiles” denotes the Divine truth which is from Him; “not to give His glory to another,” denotes that this Divine truth proceeds from no other than the Lord, who is one with Jehovah. As also in the same:

For Mine own sake, for Mine own sake, will I do it, and My glory will I not give to another (Isa. 48:11).

[6] In like manner elsewhere:

Thy light shall break forth as the dawn; thy righteousness shall walk before thee; the glory of Jehovah shall gather thee (Isa. 58:8).
He shall come to gather together all nations and tongues; that they may come, and see My glory (Isa. 66:18).
Jehovah Zebaoth shall reign in Mount Zion, and in Jerusalem, and before the elders shall be His glory (Isa. 24:23).
Jehovah said, I live; and all the earth shall be filled with the glory of Jehovah (Num. 14:20, 21).

In these passages the Lord is treated of, and the “glory” denotes the Divine truth that is from Him.

[7] Again:

I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up. Above Him stood the seraphim. And one cried unto another, Holy, holy, holy, Jehovah Zebaoth, the fullness of all the earth is His glory (Isa. 6:1-3).
The heavens recount the glory of God (Ps. 19:1).
That the nations may fear the name of Jehovah, and the kings of the earth Thy glory; in that Jehovah hath built up Zion, and hath appeared in His glory (Ps. 102:15, 16).
The glory of God shall enlighten the Holy Jerusalem, and the Lamb is the lamp thereof. And the nations that are saved shall walk in her light; and the kings of the earth shall bring their glory and honor into it (Rev. 21:23-24).

“The holy Jerusalem” denotes the New Church; “the glory of God,” the Divine truth from the Lord therein; in like manner “her light in which they shall walk;” “the kings of the earth who shall bring their glory,” denote those who are in truths from good (n. 2015, 2069, 4581, 4966, 5044, 6148). From all this it can now be seen what is signified by “the glory of Jehovah which tarried upon Mount Sinai” (see also n. 8427). [AC9429]

And ye shall tell my father all my glory in Egypt. That this signifies the communication of the spiritual heaven in the natural with spiritual good, is evident from the signification of “telling,” as being to communicate; from the signification of “glory,” as being the spiritual heaven (of which below); from the signification of “Egypt,” as being the memory-knowledges in the natural, thus the natural (as above, n. 5908); and from the representation of Israel, who is here the “father” with whom communication was to be made, as being spiritual good (of which above, n. 5906). From this it is plain that by “Ye shall tell my father all my glory in Egypt” is signified the communication of the spiritual heaven in the natural with spiritual good.

[2] In regard to “glory” denoting the spiritual heaven, the case is this. There are two kingdoms of which heaven consists, namely, the celestial kingdom and the spiritual kingdom. The celestial kingdom is the inmost or third heaven, and the spiritual kingdom is the middle or second heaven. The good in which the celestial are is called celestial good, and the good in which the spiritual are is called spiritual good. Celestial good is the good of love to the Lord, and spiritual good is the good of love toward the neighbor. In regard to the conjunction of these two kingdoms, it is the good of charity toward the neighbor which conjoins them. For the internal of those who are in the celestial kingdom is love to the Lord, and their external is charity toward the neighbor; but the internal of those who are in the spiritual kingdom is charity toward the neighbor, and their external is faith therefrom. From this it is apparent that the conjunction of these two kingdoms is effected through charity toward the neighbor, for in this the celestial kingdom terminates, and from this the spiritual kingdom begins. Thus the last of the one is the first of the other, and in this way they mutually take hold of each other.

[3] It shall now be told what “glory” is. “Glory” in the supreme sense is the Lord as to Divine truth, thus it is the Divine truth which proceeds from the Lord. But “glory” in the representative sense is the good of love toward the neighbor, or charity, which is the external good of the celestial kingdom and the internal good of the spiritual kingdom of the Lord, for this good in a genuine sense is the Divine truth in heaven. And because Israel is here treated of, who is spiritual good, or charity, which makes the spiritual kingdom in the heavens and the spiritual church on earth, therefore here by the “glory” of Joseph, which they were to tell Israel, is meant the spiritual heaven. The spiritual heaven is called “glory” because whatever is there appears in light, in brightness, and in radiance.

[4] That “glory” is predicated of the Divine truth which is from the Divine Human of the Lord, and that it is attributed to the Lord as a king (for in the internal sense the “royalty” is Divine truth, n. 1728, 2015, 2069, 3009, 3670, 4581, 4966, 5044, 5068), is evident in John:

But the Word was made flesh, and dwelt in us, and we saw His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:14);

the “Word” is Divine truth, and as this proceeds from the Lord, it is the Lord Himself; and hence “glory” is predicated of Divine truth.

[5] In Luke, when Jesus was transfigured on the mountain:

Behold there talked with Him two men, who were Moses and Elias; who were seen in glory (Luke 9:30, 31);

there the Lord showed Peter, James, and John His Divine Human, such as it was and appeared in Divine light; and the form in which He was then seen presented to view the Word such as it is in the internal sense, thus such as is the Divine truth in heaven, for the Word is Divine truth for the use of the church. For this reason it was also presented to view at the same time that Moses and Elias talked with Him, for by Moses is represented the Law, by which are meant the books of Moses with the historical books, and by Elias, are represented the Prophets, or the prophetic Word; that by “Moses” is meant the Law may be seen in the preface to Genesis 18 (also n. 4859e), and that by “Elias” is meant the prophetic Word, in the same preface (also n. 2762, 5247e).

[6] In Matthew:

They shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and glory (Matt. 24:30);

that the literal sense of the Word is a “cloud,” and the internal sense “glory,” consequently Divine truth such as is in heaven, may also be seen in the preface to Genesis 18; and that “glory” is the intelligence and wisdom which belong to Divine truth (n. 4809). The Word as to the external sense is in a cloud, for the reason that human minds are in darkness; and therefore unless the Word were in a cloud, it would be understood by scarcely anyone, and moreover the holy things which belong to the internal sense would be profaned by evil people in the world. Therefore the Lord says in Isaiah:

Jehovah will create over every dwelling-place of Mount Zion, and over her assemblies, a cloud by day, and the shining of a flame of fire by night; for over all the glory there shall be a covering. And there shall be a tabernacle for a shade in the daytime (Isa. 4:5, 6).

[7] Hence also it was that over the tabernacle there appeared a cloud by day and a fire by night, because the tabernacle represented the Divine Human of the Lord, consequently the Divine truth which proceeds from Him, thus the Word which is the Divine truth of the church (see n. 3210, 3439). The like is signified by these words in Moses:

The cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of Jehovah filled the habitation (Exod. 40:34).

Again:

The glory of Jehovah appeared in the tent of meeting before all the sons of Israel (Num. 14:10).

And elsewhere:

The cloud covered the tent, and the glory of Jehovah appeared (Num. 16:42).

[8] In like manner the “cloud” and the “glory” upon Mount Sinai, of which thus in Moses:

When Moses went up into the mountain, the cloud covered the mountain, and the glory of Jehovah abode upon Mount Sinai six days (Exod. 24:15, 16).

These things also were represented, because the Law, which is Divine truth, was promulgated from that mountain. That the cloud and the glory of Jehovah were seen when Moses went up into the mountain was because he therein represented the Law, that is, the historic Word. Therefore it is sometimes said “Moses and the Prophets” or “the Law and the Prophets,” and by the “Law” are meant the books of Moses with the rest of the historic books, but not the prophets, because this Word was represented by Elias and Elisha; for there is the historic Word and the prophetic, as is known. Wherefore when the Word is called “the Law and the Prophets,” by the “Law” is meant the historic Word, and by the “Prophets” the prophetic Word.

[9] The Divine truth was also represented by the brightness as of a rainbow in the cloud around the cherubs and above them, in Ezekiel, where we read:

I saw an appearance of fire, as it were a brightness round about; as the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain; this was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of Jehovah (Ezek. 1:27, 28);

and it is also called:

The glory of Jehovah and the glory of the God of Israel (Ezek. 8:4; 10:18, 19; 11:22, 23);

it is called the “glory of Jehovah” relatively to the inmost heaven, and the “glory of the God of Israel” relatively to the middle or spiritual heaven. That Divine truth in the heavens appears in glory is because truth itself in the spiritual heaven appears before the eyes as a bright cloud (which has also been granted me sometimes to see), and the good within this truth appears there as fiery. Thus the cloud variegated by fire presents the wonderful aspects which are “glory” in the external sense. But “glory” in the internal sense is intelligence and wisdom; these also are what are represented by it.

[10] That Divine truth, from which are all wisdom and intelligence, as well as the appearance of a variegated cloud before the external sight, is “glory,” is evident also from these passages:

Jehovah said, Living am I, and the whole earth shall be filled with the glory of Jehovah (Num. 14:21);

this was said by Jehovah when the Israelitish people were disowned, and it was said that only their little ones should come into the land of Canaan. Under these circumstances, by “the whole earth being filled with the glory of Jehovah” was signified that in the representatives of the church with them, and in the Word, which for the most part treated of them, there should be the glory of Jehovah, with which the whole heaven should be filled, and thence the holy things of the church.

[11] In Isaiah:

The seraphim cried, Holy, holy, holy, is Jehovah Zebaoth; the fullness of all the earth is His glory (Isa. 6:3).

Again:

The glory of Jehovah shall he revealed, and all flesh shall see together (Isa. 40:5).

Again:

Wherefore give glory to Jehovah in the Urim, in the islands of the sea to the name of Jehovah the God of Israel (Isa. 24:15); “the Urim” denotes the light which is from the Divine truth proceeding from the Lord; the “islands of the sea,” those who are more remote from truth (n. 1158).

[12] Again:

The glory of Lebanon has been given to it, the honor of Carmel and Sharon; they shall see the glory of Jehovah, the honor of our God (Isa. 35:2);

“Lebanon” denotes the spiritual church; “Carmel and Sharon” the celestial church; of the latter is predicated the “glory of Jehovah” when there is meant celestial truth, which is charity; of the former is predicated the “honor of the God of Israel” when there is meant spiritual good, which also is charity.

[13] Again:

Arise, be lighted up, for thy light is come, and the glory of Jehovah hath arisen upon thee. For behold darkness covereth the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but Jehovah shall arise upon thee, and His glory shall be seen upon thee (Isa.60:1, 2);

speaking of the Lord, who is called a “light,” (as in John 1:4, 9); and it is said that upon Him shall arise the “glory of Jehovah,” that is, that the Divine truth is His. In like manner in the same prophet:

For Mine own sake, for Mine own sake, will I do it; for how should it be profaned? My glory I give not to another (Isa. 48:11);

here also speaking of the Lord; “glory” in the highest sense denotes the Divine Human, thus also the Divine truth, because this is therefrom; “not to give His glory to another” is to give it to the Divine Human only, which is one with Himself.

[14] And in the Revelation:

The holy city Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven; having the glory of God; and her luminary was like unto a stone most precious (Rev. 21:10, 11);

“the holy city Jerusalem” is the Lord’s spiritual kingdom in the heavens, and His spiritual church on earth, of both of which “glory” is predicated; the “luminary” is truth from the Divine.

[15] As in the Word Divine truth is represented by royalty, the Lord as to Divine truth being represented by kings (see the passages cited just above), therefore to it as to a king is attributed “glory,” as in David:

Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lifted up, ye doors of the world; that the King of glory may come in. Who is this King of glory? Jehovah strong and a hero; Jehovah a hero of war. Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and lift up O doors of the world; that the King of glory may come in. Who is this King of glory? Jehovah Zebaoth, He is the King of glory (Ps. 24:7-10).

In Isaiah:

Jehovah Zebaoth will reign in the mountain of Zion, and in Jerusalem; and before His elders glory (Isa. 24:23);

“glory” denotes Divine truth. Jehovah is called “Jehovah Zebaoth,” or “Jehovah of Armies,” where Divine truth is treated of, for by “armies” are signified truths (see n. 3448).

[16] And as by a kingdom was represented Divine truth, therefore the throne upon which kings sat when they judged was called a “throne of glory” (Isa. 22:23; Jer. 14:21; 17:12).

And in Matthew:

The Son of man shall sit on the throne of His glory (Matt. 19:28).

Again:

When the Son of man shall come in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then shall He sit upon the throne of His glory. And the King shall say to them . . . (Matt. 25:31, 34, 40).
A further reason why a throne is called a “throne of glory” was that judgments were effected from truth. Again:

The Son of man shall come in the glory of His Father with His angels; and then shall He render to everyone according to his deeds (Matt. 16:27).

[17] From all this it is also plain what is meant by “glory” in the Lord’s Prayer:

Thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, forever (Matt. 6:13).

The Lord’s spiritual kingdom in the heavens, and His spiritual church on earth, are also called “comeliness”* (Isa. 60:7; 63:15; 64:11; Dan. 8:9; 11:16, 41, 45). Moreover “glory” is mentioned by Joseph because in the highest sense Joseph himself represents the Lord as to the Divine spiritual, that is, the Divine truth; and in the internal sense His spiritual kingdom, and also the good of faith (see n. 3969, 4669, 4723, 4727).

* “Comeliness (decus).” The Hebrew words for “comeliness” in the passages here referred to are in these passages rendered “glory,” “glorious,” “beautiful,” “glorious land,” and “pleasant land,” in the authorized versions of the English Bible. [AC5922]

And he said, Make me see I pray Thy glory. That this signifies the noticing of internal Divine truth in the external is evident from the representation of Moses here as being the external of the church, of worship, and of the Word, not so separate from the internal as with the nation itself (see n. 10563, 10571); from the signification of “making see” as being to take notice (n. 2150, 3764, 4567, 4723, 5400); and from the signification of “the glory of Jehovah” as being the internal of the Word (of which in the preface to Genesis 18, and n. 5922, 9429). From this it is evident that by “Moses said, Make me see I pray Thy glory” is signified the noticing of the internal in the external of the Word, of the church, and of worship.

[2] That these things are signified by the above words can also be seen from the preceding verses of this chapter, for the subject treated of there in the internal sense is the Israelitish nation, and that the church could not be instituted with it, for the reason that they could not receive anything internal. To receive the internal of the church is to receive Divine truth from heaven, and thereby heavenly love. As this is treated of in the internal sense, and yet Moses insisted that Jehovah should bring them into the land of Canaan, whereby is signified the setting up of the church, therefore now Moses says, “Make me see Thy glory,” by which is therefore signified the noticing of internal Divine truth in the external.

[3] That by “the glory of Jehovah” is meant such a Divine as could not be noticed by Moses, is very evident from the verses which follow in this chapter, where it is said that he “could not see the faces of Jehovah” – so is His glory there called out that after He had passed by he should see His back parts, and this from a cleft of the rock; by which is signified that he would take notice only of the external things of the church, of worship, and of the Word, but not of the internal things. That such is the signification of “the glory of Jehovah” is evident from the fact that it is sometimes said that they “saw the glory of Jehovah” when it was a cloud that was so called, as upon Mount Sinai, and over the Tent, and in it (see Exod. 16:10; 24:16, 17; 40:34, 35; Num. 16:42; and elsewhere). By the “cloud” in these passages, which was called “the glory of Jehovah,” is signified the external of the church, of worship, and of the Word; or the sense of the letter of the Word (see the preface to Genesis 18, and n. 4060, 4391, 5922, 6343, 6752, 8106, 8781, 9430, 10551).

[4] The reason why “the glory of Jehovah” signifies the internal of the Word, of the church, and of worship, is that the Divine truth proceeding from the Lord, such as it is in heaven, is “the glory of Jehovah;” for the Divine truth proceeding from the Lord appears there as light; and the appearance of the Lord in this light is what is meant in the genuine sense by “the glory of Jehovah.” By the appearance of the Lord are meant all things there which are from the Lord, which are innumerable, and are called by the general term “celestial and spiritual.” That the internal of the Word, of the church, and of worship, is signified by “the glory of Jehovah,” is because it is in this light: but the external is in the light of the world, and therefore this is signified in the Word by a “cloud.” From this it is now evident that the internal sense of the Word is the “glory.”

[5] From all this it can now be seen what is signified by “the glory of Jehovah,” and by His “light,” in the following passages; as in Isaiah:

Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of Jehovah is risen upon thee. Behold darkness covereth the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but Jehovah shall arise upon thee, and His glory shall be seen upon thee. The nations shall walk to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising. Thy sun shall no more go down, and thy moon shall not be withdrawn, for Jehovah shall be unto thee an everlasting light (Isa. 60:1-3, 20).

0015The coming of the Lord is here treated of; the “light” denotes the Divine truth proceeding from the Lord; and “His glory,” and “the brightness of His rising,” denote all that which appears in this light concerning the Lord, and concerning faith and love to Him; “the darkness and thick darkness which cover the earth and the peoples,” denote the obscurities of faith and of love; for these words are said of the setting up of the church among the nations. Hence it follows that by “the light and the glory which were to arise and were to be seen, and to which they should walk,” are signified Divine truths concerning the Lord and concerning faith and love to Him from Him.

[6] Again:

I, Jehovah, have called thee in righteousness, and have given thee for a covenant to the people, for a light of the nations; I am Jehovah; this is My name; and My glory will I not give to another (Isa. 42:6, 8).

Here also the Lord is treated of, who is called “the light of the nations” because from Him is all Divine truth; and He is called “the glory of Jehovah” because in Him is everything of faith and of love. Again:

Thy light shall break forth as the dawn; My righteousness shall walk before thee; the glory of Jehovah shall gather thee (Isa. 58:8);
where the meaning is similar.

[7] Again:

Rejoice ye with Jerusalem, be ye delighted with the brightness of her glory (Isa. 66:10, 11).

“Jerusalem” in this passage, as in others, denotes the church; and “the brightness of her glory” denotes the love of truth from the Lord. In Zechariah:
I will be to them a wall of fire round about, and I will be the glory in the midst of her (Zech. 2:5);

speaking here also of Jerusalem, which denotes the church; “the glory in the midst of her” denotes the Lord Himself as to all things of truth and good, which are of faith and love. It is evident that by “glory” in the above passages are meant those things which belong to Divine light.

[8] In like manner as in John:

The holy Jerusalem had the glory of God; and her luminary was like unto a stone most precious. The glory of God did lighten it, and the lamp thereof is the Lamb. And the nations which are saved shall walk in the light of it, and the kings of the earth shall bring their glory and honor into it. And the gates thereof shall not be shut by day, for there shall be no night there (Rev. 21:10, 11, 23-25).

“The holy Jerusalem” here denotes the church which will succeed that of this day. The things that belong to the church, and which are of faith in and love to the Lord from the Lord, are described by the “luminary,” by the “light,” and by the “glory.” As by “glory” are meant the things of the light, it is said that “the glory of God shall lighten it.” Everyone who reflects and who looks at the things themselves, and does not stick in the mere words, can see that by all these things are signified such as belong to the church; but the internal sense teaches what is signified by each particular; for in the Word nothing is said in vain, not even a syllable.

[9] In Luke:

Mine eyes have seen Thy salvation, which Thou hast prepared before the face of all peoples, a light for the unveiling of the nations, and the glory of Thy people Israel (Luke 2:30-32).

These words occur in the prophecy of Simeon concerning the Lord who was then born; “a light for the unveiling of the nations” denotes the Divine truth proceeding from the Lord; and “the glory of Thy people Israel” denotes all that which was revealed by the Lord concerning Himself, and concerning faith in and love to Him with those who receive. All this is called “glory” because it appears in heaven and in the light there, which light is Divine truth. By “the sons of Israel” are meant those who are in faith and love to the Lord.

[10] That “the light,” denotes the Lord as to Divine truth, and that so also does “the glory” which is of the light, is evident from the words of the Lord Himself in John:
They loved the glory of men more than the glory of God. I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth in Me may not abide in darkness (John 12:43, 46).
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and God was the Word. That was the true Light, which enlighteneth every man that cometh into the world. And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only-begotten of the Father (John 1:1, 9, 14).

“The Word” denotes the Divine truth, and so also does “the Light;” and “the glory” denotes all that which appears concerning the Lord in this light.

[11] These passages have been quoted from the Word because in them “the glory” and “the light” are mentioned together, and they have been quoted to the end that it may be known that “the light” denotes the Divine truth from the Lord, thus the Lord Himself as to Divine truth; and that “the glory” denotes everything which is of the light, consequently everything from Divine truth which makes intelligence and wisdom with the angels, and with men who receive the Lord in faith and love. The like is signified by “glory” elsewhere, as in these passages:

I will that where I am, they also may be with Me; that they may see My glory (John 17:24).
Ought not Christ to suffer this, and to enter into His glory? (Luke 24:26).
Then shall appear the sign of the Son of man; and then shall all the tribes of the earth wail, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and glory (Matt. 24:30).

[12] By the “clouds” here is meant Divine truth such as it is in the light of the world, thus such as it is with men; and by “glory” is meant Divine truth such as it is in the light of heaven, thus such as it is with the angels. And as Divine truth is meant by “cloud” and by “glory,” therefore the Word is meant in respect to the external sense and to the internal sense; in respect to the external sense by “cloud,” and in respect to the internal sense by “glory.” Moreover, that which appears in the light of the world is a cloud relatively to that which appears in the light of heaven. (That a “cloud” has this signification may be seen in the preface to Genesis 18, and n. 4060, 4391, 5922, 6343, 6752, 8106, 8443, 8781, 9430, 10551.)

[13] From this it is that a cloud also is called “glory” in the Word; as in these passages:

The glory of Jehovah appeared in the cloud (Exod. 16:10).
The glory of Jehovah dwelt upon Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days. But the appearance of the glory of Jehovah was like a devouring fire on the head of the mountain before the eyes of the sons of Israel (Exod. 24:16, 17).
The cloud covered the Tent of meeting, and the glory of Jehovah filled the Habitation. And Moses was not able to enter, because the cloud dwelt thereon and the glory of Jehovah filled the Habitation (Exod. 40:34, 35).
When the assembly was gathered together against Moses and against Aaron, and looked toward the Tent of meeting, behold the cloud covered it, and the glory of Jehovah appeared (Num. 16:42).
The cloud filled the house of Jehovah, so that the priests could not stand to minister by reason of the cloud; because the glory of Jehovah filled the house of Jehovah (1 Kings 8:10, 11).
The temple was filled with smoke and the glory of God (Rev. 15:8).

[14] As the Divine appeared like a cloud, therefore by a “cloud” is signified the Divine presence, and where the Divine presence is, there is the Divine truth, for without this truth the Divine does not appear, because it is in it, and is it. Hence it is that in these passages a cloud is called “glory,” nor could it appear otherwise to the Israelitish nation, because they were in external things without what is internal (n. 6832, 8814, 8819, 10551). Nevertheless “cloud” and “glory” are distinguished from each other as are the light of the world and the light of heaven, or as are the sense of the letter of the Word and its internal sense, and as are human wisdom and angelic wisdom. From all this it can now be seen that by Moses saying, “Make me see I pray thy glory” is signified that the internal Divine might be shown him; and as Moses represented the external of the church, of worship, and of the Word, there is signified the noticing of internal Divine truth in this external. [AC10574]

And in the morning, then ye shall see the glory of Jehovah. That this signifies that in the beginning of a new state there will be the advent of the Lord, is evident from the signification of “morning,” as being the beginning of a new state (of which just above, n. 8426); and from the signification of “the glory of Jehovah,” as being His presence and advent. That “glory” denotes the presence and the advent of the Lord, is because in the supreme sense “glory” denotes the Divine truth which proceeds from the Lord, and the Divine truth appears before the eyes of the angels as light and brightness from the Sun which is the Lord. (That “glory” denotes the Divine truth proceeding from the Lord, see n. 5922, 8267; and that it denotes the intelligence and wisdom which are from Divine truth, n. 4809; and that from this it denotes the internal sense of the Word, because this sense is Divine truth in glory, n. 5922.)

[2] It is said that “in the morning they should see the glory of Jehovah,” because the rising of the sun and the light from it (which light in heaven enlightens the angelic sight both external and internal), and consequently the presence and the advent of the Lord, who is the Sun in heaven, corresponds to the time of morning on the earth, and is here signified by “morning.” Therefore that light from the Sun, which light is the Divine truth proceeding from the Lord, thus is the Lord, is “glory.” From all this it is evident that by “glory” is signified the presence and the advent of the Lord. That these are “glory,” is also evident from many passages in the Word; as in Moses:

The cloud covered the mount, and the glory of Jehovah abode upon Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days; the appearance of the glory of Jehovah was like devouring fire on the top of the mount before the eyes of the sons of Israel (Exod. 24:15-17);

it is evident that the presence of Jehovah, that is, of the Lord, appearing like a cloud and like fire upon the mount, is here called “the glory of Jehovah.” Again:

The cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of Jehovah filled the tabernacle. And Moses could not enter into the tent of meeting, because the cloud abode thereon, and the glory of Jehovah filled the tabernacle (Exod. 40:34-35);

here also the presence of the Lord appearing as a cloud is called “glory.”

[3] And in the following:

Moses and Aaron entered into the tent of meeting, and came out, and blessed the people; then appeared the glory of Jehovah toward the whole people (Lev. 9:23).
The glory of Jehovah appeared in the tent of meeting before all the sons of Israel (Num. 14:10; also 16:19, 42).
The cloud filled the house of Jehovah, so that the priests could not stand to minister by reason of the cloud; because the glory of Jehovah filled the house of Jehovah (1 Kings 8:10, 11).

The temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God, and from His power; so that no one could enter into the temple (Rev. 15:8).
He showed me the great city, the holy Jerusalem, coming down from heaven from God, having the glory of God: the city hath no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it; for the glory of God doth lighten it, and the Lamb is the lamp thereof (Rev. 21:10, 11, 23);

here “the glory of God” manifestly denotes light from the Lord, which is the Divine truth proceeding from Him, thus the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is present in the truth which is from Him.

[4] That “the glory of Jehovah” denotes His presence, is further evident in Moses:

Moses said unto Jehovah, Show me I pray Thy glory; to whom he said, I will make all My good pass before thee; and when My glory shall pass by, it shall be that I will put thee in a cleft of the rock, and will cover thee with My hand until I have passed by; but when I shall take away My hand thou shall see My back parts, and My faces shall not be seen (Exod. 33:18 to the end).

Here also “the glory of Jehovah” manifestly denotes His presence. In Matthew:

The disciples said unto Jesus, Tell us what shall be the sign of Thy coming? Jesus said, Then shall appear the sign of the Son of man, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and glory (24:3, 30);

the last time of the former church and the first time of the new church is here treated of; “the Son of man” denotes truth Divine proceeding from the Lord; “the clouds of heaven” denote the Word in the sense of the letter; “power and glory” denote the internal sense, thus the Divine truth which shall then appear; “the coming of the Lord” denotes the acknowledgment of truth Divine by those who are of the new church, and the denial of it by those who are of the old church (see n. 4060).

[5] That the Lord as to Divine truth is “glory,” is evident in Isaiah:

The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of Jehovah; the glory of Jehovah shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together (40:3, 5);
speaking of the Lord, who is “the glory.” In John:

The Word became flesh, and dwelt in us, and we saw His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth (1:14).
These things said Isaiah, when he saw His glory, and spake of Him (12:41);
here “glory” denotes the Lord. In like manner in Moses:
I am living, and the whole earth shall be filled with the glory of Jehovah (Num. 14:21);
here “the glory of Jehovah” denotes the advent of the Lord, and enlightenment by the Divine truth which is from Him.

[6] “Glory” denotes the Divine of the Lord in these passages:

I am Jehovah, this is My name, and My glory will I not give to another (Isa. 42:8).
When the Son of man cometh in the glory of His Father with the holy angels (Mark 8:38).
It behooved the Christ to suffer, and to enter into His glory (24:26).

As by “the glory of Jehovah” is signified the Lord as to Divine truth, so also by “glory” are signified the Divine wisdom and intelligence, which are of the Divine truth from the Lord. Wisdom and intelligence from the Divine are meant by “glory” in Ezekiel 1:28; 8:4; 9:3; 10:4, 18, 19; 11:22, 23, which was represented there by a rainbow such as is seen in a cloud.[AC8427]

And give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment is come, signifies acknowledgment and confession that every truth of the Word, from which the church is a church, is from the Lord, according to which every man will be judged. That “to give glory to Him” signifies to acknowledge and confess that all truth is from the Lord, may be seen above (n. 249). And as every truth, from which the church is a church, is from the Word, therefore the truth of the Word is meant. “For the hour of His judgment is come,” signifies, because every man will be judged according to the truth of the Word. This is signified, because by “giving glory to Him” is signified to acknowledge and confess that every truth of the Word is from the Lord, and it is now said, “For the hour of the judgment is come,” and “for” involves this as the cause.

That the truth of the Word will judge everyone, may be seen above (n. 233, 273); and that the church is from the Word, and its quality is according to its understanding of the Word, may be seen in the Doctrine of the New Jerusalem concerning the Sacred Scripture (n. 76- 79). From these things it is evident that such is the spiritual sense of these words. The reason why it is such is because the angels of heaven by “glory” perceive nothing else than the Divine truth, and because all Divine truth is from the Lord, by “giving glory to Him,” they perceive to acknowledge and confess that all truth is from Him. For all glory in the heavens is from no other source, and so far as a society of heaven is in the Divine truth, so far all things there are resplendent, and so far the angels are in the splendor of glory.

[2] That by “glory” is meant the Divine truth, may appear from the following passages:

The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of Jehovah; the glory of Jehovah shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see (Isa. 40:3, 5).
Shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of Jehovah is risen upon thee. Jehovah shall arise upon thee, and His glory shall be seen upon thee (Isa. 60:1 to the end).
I will give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles, and My glory I will not give to another (Isa. 42:6, 8).
For Mine own sake, even for Mine own sake I will do it, and I will not give My glory to another (Isa. 48:11).
They shall fear His glory from the rising of the sun, and the Redeemer shall come to Zion (Isa. 59:19-20).
Thy light shall break forth as the dawn, the glory of Jehovah shall gather thee (Isa. 58:8).
I will come to gather all nations and tongues, that they may see My glory (Isa. 66:18).
And Jehovah said, As I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of Jehovah (Num. 14:21).
The fullness of all the earth is His glory (Isa. 6:3).
In the beginning was the Word, and God was the Word. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men; that was the true light; and the Word was made flesh, and we saw His glory, the glory as of the Only-begotten of the Father (John 1:1, 4, 9, 14).
These things said Isaiah, when he saw His glory (John 12:41).
And they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with glory (Matt. 24:3, 30).
The heavens declare the glory of God (Ps. 19:1).
And the nations shall fear the name of Jehovah, and the kings of the earth Thy glory. For He hath built up Zion, and hath appeared in His glory (Ps. 102:15-16).
The glory of God shall enlighten the holy Jerusalem, and her lamp is the Lamb, and the nations which are saved shall walk in the light of it (Rev. 21:23-24).
The Son of man shall come in His glory. He shall sit upon the throne of His glory (Matt. 25:31; Mark 8:38).
That the glory of Jehovah filled and covered the tabernacle (Exod. 40:34, 35; Lev. 9:23, 24; Num. 14:10-12; 16:19, 42).
That it filled the house of Jehovah, 1 Kings 8:10-11: and other places, as Isa. 24:23; Ezek. 1:28; 8:4; 9:3; 10:4, 18-19; 11:22-23; Luke 2:32; 9:26; John 2:11; 7:18; 17:24). [AR629]

Verse 11. Having the glory of God; and her light was like unto a stone most precious, as it were a jasper stone, shining like crystal, signifies that in that church the Word will be understood, because translucent from its spiritual sense. By “the glory of God” is signified the Word in its Divine light, as will be seen presently; by “its light” is signified the Divine truth therein, for this is meant by light in the Word (n. 796, 799); like a stone most precious, like a jasper stone, “shining like crystal,” signifies the same shining and translucent from its spiritual sense, of which also in what follows. By these words is described the understanding of the Word with those who are in the doctrine of the New Jerusalem, and in a life according to it. With these the Word shines as it were when it is read; it shines from the Lord by means of the spiritual sense, because the Lord is the Word, and the spiritual sense is in the light of heaven which proceeds from the Lord as a sun, and the light which proceeds from the Lord as a sun, is in its essence the Divine truth of His Divine wisdom. That in every particular of the Word there is a spiritual sense, in which the angels are, and from which their wisdom is derived, and that the Word is translucent from the light of that sense to those who are in genuine truths from the Lord, is shown in The Doctrine of the New Jerusalem concerning the Sacred Scripture.

[2] That by “the glory of God” is meant the Word in its Divine light, may appear from the following passages:

The Word was made flesh, and we saw His glory, the glory as of the Only-begotten of the Father (John 1:14).

That by “glory” is meant the glory of the Word or the Divine truth in Him, is evident, because it is said “the Word was made flesh”; the same is meant by “glory” in what follows, where it is said:

The glory of God did lighten it, and its lamp is the Lamb (John 1:23).

The same is meant by:

The glory in which they will see the Son of man when He shall come in the clouds of heaven (Matt. 24:30; Mark 13:26).

See above (n. 22, 642, 820); nor is anything else meant by:

The throne of glory upon which the Lord will sit when He shall come to the Last Judgment (Mat. 25:31);

because He will judge everyone according to the truths of the Word; wherefore it is also said that “He will come in His glory.” When the Lord was transfigured, it is also said that:

Moses and Elias appeared in glory (Luke 9:30-31).

By “Moses and Elias” is there signified the Word; the Lord also then caused Himself to be seen by the disciples as the Word in its glory. That “glory” signifies the Divine truth, may be seen from many passages of the Word above (n. 629).

[3] The reason why the Word is compared to “a stone most precious, like a jasper stone, shining like crystal,” is because “a precious stone” signifies the Divine truth of the Word (n. 231, 540, 726, 823), and “a jasper stone” signifies the Divine truth of the Word in the sense of the letter, translucent from the Divine truth in the spiritual sense; this is the signification of “a jasper stone” (in Exod. 28:20; Ezek. 28:13), and afterwards in this chapter, where it is said that “the structure of the wall” of the Holy Jerusalem was “jasper” (verse 18); and since the Word in the sense of the letter is translucent from its spiritual sense, it is said, “a jasper shining like crystal,” all enlightenment, which they have who are in Divine truths from the Lord, is thence. [AR897]

Author: EMANUEL SWEDENBORG  (1688-1772)

Copyright © 2007-2013 A. J. Coriat All rights reserved.

 

Glory to God in the Highest

Sermon: Glory to God in the Highest

I preached this sermon on December 11, 2011, at the Church of the New Jerusalem in Dawson Creek, BC.  The readings are Jeremiah 23:1-8, Luke 2:1-20, and Arcana Coelestia 468.

“And I will bring together the remnant of My flock out of all lands whither I have driven them, and will return them to their homes; and they shall be fruitful and multiply.” (Jeremiah 23:3)

The remnant will return, and be made fruitful.  The word “remnant” means those who remain.  It’s a promise at the heart of the Old Testament.  Every time the people is captured by an enemy and carried away from their homeland, the Lord promises that he will preserve those few who remain faithful.  He will take that remnant and return them to their land, and will rebuild His people from that small remnant.  Even before the time of Israel, we see the same thing play out in the story of Noah.  The entire world had become evil, and so the Lord sent a flood to destroy the world – but he preserved a few, those who had not completely shut off their interiors against Him.  A remnant was saved, and from them, the earth was repopulated.

The Writings for the New Church explain that in a deeper sense, these stories about remnants being protected and restored represents the way that even in the darkest times of a church, the Lord preserves a few who have not completely destroyed their faith and love in Him.  When the Lord raises up a New Church, it is raised up with that remnant of the old church, along with a people from outside of the church, who had not been able to twist the Lord’s Word because they had never heard it before.

It had been prophesied that when the Messiah came, He would save a remnant of His people, and establish them as the hope for the world.  At the time of the Lord’s birth, the people was in spiritual captivity.  Fewer and fewer people were able to tell right from wrong.  The religious leaders had placed their own traditions above the basic commandments of love and mercy and justice.  The world was becoming darker and darker, because the Lord’s Word was less and less able to reach people.  Meanwhile, the forces of hell were multiplying in the spiritual world, infesting even the lowest levels of heaven, where simple spirits were not able to distinguish between those who were truly good and those who were only pretending in order to get what they wanted.  Unless the Lord had come, to fight the forces of hell and to show Himself as a Divine Human, the human race would have been completely destroyed.

The world was dark.  But there was a remnant, a few who remained, who had not destroyed the goodness and truth in themselves.  These were mostly not the learned class, the priests and the rabbis, since these had perverted the teachings of the Lord.  Most of this remnant were simple people who were not experts in the Word, but who had some amount of natural goodness and natural understanding of truth.  But even though they had not destroyed everything good in themselves, they were still surrounded by that same darkness.  They did not have much knowledge, and not much goodness – only enough, enough that they were open to the Lord.

And so when Jesus was born, there were shepherds in the same country.  Shepherds in the Word usually represent people who teach and lead, and we still use this description – the word “pastor” actually just means “shepherd.”  But the teachers and leaders of Israel, the scribes and Pharisees and rabbis and priests, were mostly corrupt.  In our lesson from Jeremiah, the Lord made a promise that when He came, He would bring up good shepherds.  And these literal shepherds who the angels appeared to really did become the first preachers of the gospel, the good news that the Lord had come.

But at first, they were simple shepherds.  And in addition to representing teachers, shepherds represent an affection for truth within a person, since it is an affection for truth that inspires us to be taught and led.   The shepherds represent the kind of person or the attitude of being humble enough to acknowledge that they need truth.  They seem to have been part of that remnant.

But they were living in darkness – they were out watching their flock by night.  And this is not necessarily as peaceful a scene as it can sound: they’re literally described as “guarding a guard” over their sheep.  They were taking shifts to stay awake throughout the night to watch for whatever unknown predators might come to attack their sheep.  We can imagine that it was already a tense situation, to be sitting in darkness, not knowing what could come out of the darkness – a bear, or a wolf, or a lion.

But they were guarding their sheep.  They are a picture of true innocence – a trust and willingness to follow the Lord.  And we need to fight in defense of that innocence.  This is what these shepherds are pictured as doing – the light has gone, darkness has come on them – but they are still going to guard and protect whatever innocence they have left in themselves and the world.

We can imagine whatever shepherds were awake sitting up, peering out into the darkness, trying to stay awake, trying to catch a glimpse of any wild animals that might come and attack their sheep.  And while they’re straining to catch even the glimpse of a movement in the darkness – suddenly an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them.  And they feared a great fear.

Imagine that – being along in the darkness, and suddenly surrounded by an incredibly bright light, the glory of the Lord.  That glory is heavenly light; it is Divine truth.  And the first time a person really sees the truth, it can be overwhelming.  Swedenborg describes a time when person in the spiritual world heard something from the internal sense of the word – and his eyes filled with tears, and he was not even able to keep reading because he was so profoundly moved.  This is a picture of the kind of awe a person can experience as they realize for the first time in their lives: I am seeing the Lord here.  That is the glory of the Lord – the Lord’s Divine Truth.  And it can be almost frightening, because it is so intense, so brilliant, and so much bigger than our own idea of the truth.

But the angel said to the shepherds, “Do not be afraid.”  And he said, “Behold, I bring unto you good tidings of a great joy that will be to all the people.”  Great joy that would be to all the people.  This was the “good news,” or the gospel: that there would be great joy to all the people.  Literally, all the people here could be taken to mean all the people of Israel; but a people in the internal sense represents those who are willing to receive the truth of the Lord, and so this is a promise of great joy to all those who receive the Lord’s truth.  This is the Lord’s ultimate purpose in everything: we can talk about goodness and truth, we can talk about sin and evil, but the purpose of dealing with all those things is so that the Lord can join us to himself, and bless us to eternity in heaven – to give us great joy.

And where does that great joy come from?  The angels said to the shepherds, “For unto you is born this day a Saviour, who is Christ, the Lord.”  When the angels said that this was “Christ, the Lord,” they were telling the shepherds two things: first, that the Christ, or the Messiah, had come.  This was the fulfillment of prophecies throughout the Old Testament: that an “anointed” one would come, who would save the people Israel, and bless the world.  The word “Christ” means anointed, as in the act of pouring oil over the head of a king.  And as a king, the Lord would rule with His Divine Truth.  This is the side of the Lord that ensures that justice is done, that there is fairness and rightness in the world.  But He was not just Christ – He was Christ the Lord.  “The Lord” was the word that Jews in those days used for “Jehovah” mentioned in the Old Testament, the name of God.  And as “the Lord,” this newborn baby was an embodiment of Divine Love – the Lord’s mercy, His compassion.  In this baby, as is written in Psalm 85, “mercy and truth have met together; justice and peace have kissed.”

And the angel told the shepherds that this would be a sign: they would find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.  Those swaddling clothes represent those first, most basic truths – the truths of innocence, of trusting the Lord and following Him.  These would be the first truths those shepherds were able to grasp.  He would be lying in a manger, a feeding trough for horses.  A horse represents a person’s understanding – and so the Lord’s lying in a manger represents instruction from the Lord’s words.  Visiting the Lord in the manger represented the way that He would instruct those who wanted to be instructed with truths from His own Word.

But most importantly was that this was a newborn infant, a human being.  The people of the most ancient church were able to have a direct perception of the Lord, but since that time, people had had a cloudy image of who He was.  By coming as a human being – and throughout the process of His life, making that Human Divine – the Lord could enlighten even people who were not able to think about the most natural level.  He could save even them.

So these shepherds, who represent people who want to be good but don’t know how, were given hope of a Saviour.  But still, the remnant was only with a few – and maybe these shepherds still felt alone.  But suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly army, glorifying and praising God, and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men.”  Just as in the story of Elisha and his servant, when they saw that the Lord’s army vastly outnumbered the enemy army, the shepherds saw that they were not alone at all – that all the army of heaven was rejoicing at this birth.  And this was not an army that sought out war; instead, they declared, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace, good will toward men.”

So the shepherds had heard this good news – but they wanted to see it for themselves.  So the journeyed to where the Lord was, and saw the baby lying in a manger, just as the angel had said.  That manger, as a feeding trough, represents the Lord’s Word, through which the Lord feeds our mind just as the food in a manger feeds a horse.  And they made it known abroad – they went throughout the land to spread the good news – and they returned, “glorifying and praising God.”

So we see that these natural shepherds – who because they are simple, unlearned people, are humble enough to accept the Lord – we see them acting as spiritual shepherds, declaring the Lord’s glory, declaring the good news of the great joy that would be to all the people.  In the same way, the Lord later called simple fishermen to be His disciples, saying that they would become “fishers of men” – that is, that they would teach truth.  The shepherds didn’t have a deep, complex understanding of the Lord’s glorification, or the different levels of the Lord’s Divinity and His Humanity – but they knew enough: that He would redeem the world, that He would make it possible for people to be saved, and that He was the Lord.  They had that innocent desire to follow Him as the good shepherd.

And here we come to our place in the story.  At His birth, the Lord came to establish a new church that would worship Him as the one human God.  But along the way, that church lost its focus.  Kings and emperors began to use it as a justification for their own power.  They split God into three, and they lost the focus on love to the Lord and to the neighbour as the two primary things of worship.  And so, the Lord came again, but this time not in person.  He came in a revelation of Himself within the internal sense of the Word.  And in that, He helps us to see not only His body, but the deeper levels of His mind.  And He again has showed us what He showed those shepherds: that He is both human and Divine, and that because of this, He can be present with us.  And He comes to us as the glory in the clouds, the internal sense within the literal sense of the Word.  He comes when we seek for Him in His Word – when we see everything in His Word as an expression of His love and His wisdom, and as instruction for how to bring those into life.

He defeated the power of hell, and can now keep it in check to eternity.  But to receive that, we have to have the attitude of those shepherds.  If we think we know everything, the Lord cannot come in.  If we think that we can save ourselves, the Lord cannot come in.  The world was dark at the Lord’s second coming, and we still see a lot of darkness in the world.  Like the shepherds, we can fight in this darkness to protect the sheep, to protect what is good and innocent in this world.  And if we continue to come to the Lord with humility, we can see the Divine Human – we can see the Lord in the pages of His Word just as the shepherds saw the infant Jesus in the manger.  And we can behold the glory of the Lord.  It doesn’t happen often, but from time to time we can catch a glimpse of that intense truth – truth that all has to do with love.  That glory is the internal sense of the Word, seen within the cloud of the literal sense.

And we do not need to be great scholars to see that glory.  Sometimes we can get lost in the intricacies of trying to understand exactly how the Lord glorified His humanity, trying to explain logically why it’s important that He is Human and Divine.  It is useful to try to understand these things – but it is much more important to simply come and see.  It can never be fully explained even to the comprehension of the highest angels what a difference it makes to worship Jesus as God.  But if you innocently trust His Word and just do it, to try as much as you can to worship Him as God, you can experience a difference that is difficult to describe – as long as you are at the same time trying to glorify Him in your life by living in charity toward the neighbour.  Simple shepherds saw more clearly than the greatest scholars why the Lord’s presence as an infant would bring great joy to the world.  And like the shepherds, when we see the Lord, we can glorify Him.  This is not just about singing His praises, but also about living by what He teaches – being a living expression of His love.  The Lord said, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”  When we live in obedience to the Lord’s Word, we glorify our Heavenly Father, and we contribute to true peace and true love in this world.  As the angels said, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” Amen.

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THE WORD MADE FLESH

THE WORD MADE FLESH
A Sermon by Rev Brian W. Keith
Preached in Glenview, Illinois
November 1, 1996

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the Only Begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).

Night a time of quiet when the bustle of the day dies down; a time of weariness when we make ready for a restful sleep; also a time of darkness and cold; our vision is limited and we seek the warmth of fires and homes.

Nighttime plays a prominent role in the birth of the Lord. It was at night in a dream that the angel appeared to Joseph giving him reasons to marry Mary. Later at night he warned him of the danger of Herod, and eventually informed him that it was time to return to the land of Israel. It was in the night that the Lord was born and the shepherds found their way to the manger. And it was in the night that the wise men saw the star in the east, and then had the star lead them from Jerusalem to Bethlehem where it stood over the house where the young Child lay.

The nighttime scenes surrounding the birth and early years of the Lord’s life depict the shroud that had descended upon the world. Their God, Jehovah, had not been seen nor heard from in hundreds of years. They were lost and rudderless without Him. Other than maintaining the ancient rituals, they had little sense of who He was and how they were to live. Hearts were growing colder from the confusion and distortion of everything good.

Even with the few descendants of the ancient churches, some of whose knowledge resided with the wise men, there were but scant glimmers of light. Perhaps those wise men alone among the ancients saw the star. Certainly its light was not overpowering. So even with the ancients there was but little understanding of who the Lord is. What minimal truth remained was heavily shaded because all they had ever seen of the Lord was a representative not the Divine in its glory (see SS 99).

But our images and memories of the birth of the Lord are not focused upon the darkened states. Rather we remember the multitude of heavenly hosts shining upon the shepherds, the star guiding the wise men, and the light of day in which Simeon lifted up the infant Lord, blessed God, and Anna proclaimed His glory to all. For the Lord’s coming is a coming with light and with life. “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the Only Begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”

One of the wonders of Christmas is the fact that the Lord is born with light in the midst of confused and dark states of life. When we see little but gloom and hopelessness, He comes to us. He holds us in His hands, nourishing an inner sense of hope that we might endure and overcome. Then His full presence with us is in the light of the morning, enabling us to recognize who He is and how we might walk in His ways. This is why the morning with its light and warmth corresponds to the Lord’s coming (see AC 22, 4240e; SS 99).

For the Lord came as the light of the world. This is His glory. We can see it shining upon us in the truth His advent brought. For until the Lord took on a physical form as a tender infant, all the earlier concepts of Him were vague at best (see SS 99). All of the true ideas that had existed with the ancients about marriage, life continuing past the veil of this world, and how His providence guides us were only misty images of what they might be. For all truth had been filtered through the heavens. Dependent upon the finite grasp of the angels, the glory of the Lord had shone dimmer and dimmer into this world, until at last the vision of Him was nearly lost. By His birth the Lord acquired a natural degree of life. As He put it on and gradually made it Divine, the warmth of His love and the light of His wisdom became immediately present with all.

This is the light of the new day the Lord’s coming heralded for mankind a light shining in the darkness, leading to the brilliance of day. We can sense this when we reflect upon our awakening states not those mornings which come after too little sleep, or when we are rudely awakened by alarms and the bustle of hurriedly preparing to rush off to work. But we feel it in the quiet mornings when we awake refreshed and revived when we listen to the singing of the birds and know the dazzling sunlight portends the warming of the earth. The light has a special quality then. With clarity we see beauty in even the simplest things around us. And we can sense the closeness of heaven, the closeness of the Lord’s advent as our spirits are lifted up to the new day (see AC 7844:2).

As the Word made flesh, the glory of the Lord can bring us a peacefulness unlike any other. Not a peace like the quiet of evening when we are preparing to rest. Rather it is a peace of contentment and confidence. As the Heavenly Doctrines note, this peace is “the very Divine truth in heaven from the Lord which universally affects all who are there and makes heaven to be heaven; for peace has in it confidence in the Lord, that He directs all things and provides all things, and that He leads to a good end. When a person is in this state, he is in peace, for he then fears nothing, and no worry about things to come disturbs him” (AC 8455). The glory of the Lord’s Word shines upon us when we have such assurance that He is in charge, carefully guiding every one of our steps.

This is the state of the angels. Their unpleasant memories of this earth have been set aside. They have no desire to leap into the future. Rather they fully enjoy the present, sensing all the goodness that the Lord is giving them now. For they trust in Him, knowing that He is leading and caring for them no matter what happens.

We may taste some of this angelic peace as we celebrate the Lord’s advent or awaken in the morning. But we enter into it more and more as we set aside the things of this world: worry about the future, too great a focus on natural toys and conveniences, our selfish drives and desires. To the extent that we can enjoy earthly delights without making them all-important, that we can serve others without always thinking about what we will get out of it, so far peace can enter our lives. It is then that we become convinced that the Lord’s light is the true light and most of the problems and troubles we experience can fall away. It is then that we can glimpse the Lord and experience His peace, His advent into our lives.

In one sense there is nothing startlingly new or different about this idea. Indeed, it is so simple, so fundamental, that it hardly needs to be said. So we are affected by the Word made flesh as the Divine flows into some of the simple truths we already know. This is one of the reasons the Lord was born on earth that the Divine goodness might be joined with our common sense and simple ideas of Him that we have (see AC 2554).

The Lord’s birth itself did not reveal any radical new information that had not been available before. In fact there would be no real instruction until thirty years later when the Lord began His public ministry. But His birth signaled a beginning of salvation for all because His presence, His love for us all, was proclaimed by His coming down among us, filling us with His good.

For us now, the Christmas story reveals His glory, the brilliance of His Divine Human in which we may know Him and love Him. The Divine as it is in Itself is far beyond our comprehension and affection, even as it was for the ancients. So the Lord was born that we might see His nature and have it shed light on our lives, giving us the confidence and trust that He is always with us, always leading us in paths of peace.

The Lord then becomes flesh and dwells among us when even our limited, simple ideas of truth can be filled with His presence, showing us something of His love. For the Lord’s coming into our life is not simply to make us feel good. Yes, the Lord would have us experience states of happiness and joy regularly, and eventually in heaven constantly. While He may be born in our states of darkness, His full advent is to us in light the truth of His Word which can fill our minds. Every time we recognize a concept as Divine, as coming from Him and leading our minds back to His love and mercy, His advent has occurred. Then the Word is made flesh, living, for us. We are touched by it, we are enlightened by it, and we are strengthened by it (see AC 8792).

This is our sight of the Lord, His birth among us. It brings us light, and it will bring us warmth. We can embrace this light, this new vision of the Divine, and use it to recognize and follow His teachings (see TCR 774). Then the truth of peace will be ours.

So let this Christmas day affect us with the joys of morning. As its light brings a new brightness to our day, as its warmth stirs a renewed heat in our lives, let us feel the Lord’s closeness to us. His birth on earth was the taking on of a natural form of life that we might know Him, see Him, and love Him. As we put off an excessive focus on the things of this world and upon our concerns, He can come closer to us, bringing us the peace of dawn a peace that has within it complete confidence in His truth, in His guidance, a complete confidence that a heaven shall be made from this human race.

This was the reason for His coming to touch our hearts and enlighten our minds, that He might become the Word made flesh for us eternally. Let us behold His glory, full of grace and truth. Amen.

Lessons: Luke 2:1-7; John 1:1-18; AC 8455

Arcana Coelestia 8455

“There was a deposit of dew round about the camp.” That this signifies the truth of peace adjoining itself is evident from the signification of “dew” as being the truth of peace (n. 3579). “Dew” signifies the truth of peace because in the morning it comes down from heaven and appears upon the herbage like fine rain, and has also stored up in it something of sweetness or delight more than rain has, whereby the grass and the crops of the field are gladdened; and “morning” denotes a state of peace (n. 2780). What peace is see nos. 2780, 3696, 4681, 5662, namely, that it is like dawn on the earth, which gladdens minds with universal delight; and the truth of peace is like the light of the dawn. This truth, which is called “the truth of peace,” is the very Divine truth in heaven from the Lord, which universally affects all who are there and makes heaven to be heaven; for peace has in it confidence in the Lord, that He directs all things and provides all things, and that He leads to a good end. When a man is in this faith, he is in peace, for he then fears nothing, and no solicitude about things to come disquiets him. A man comes into this state in proportion as he comes into love to the Lord.

All evil, especially self-confidence, takes away a state of peace. It is believed that an evil person is at peace when he is in gladness and tranquillity because all things succeed with him. But this is not peace; it is the delight and tranquillity of cupidities, which counterfeit a state of peace. But in the other life this delight, being opposite to the delight of peace, is turned into what is undelightful, for this lies hidden within it. In the other life the exteriors are successively unfolded even to the inmosts, and peace is the inmost in all delight, even in what is undelightful with the man who is in good. So far therefore as he puts off what is external, so far a state of peace is revealed, and so far he is affected with satisfaction, blessedness, and happiness, the origin of which is from the Lord Himself.

Concerning the state of peace which prevails in heaven it can be said that it is such as cannot be described by any words, neither, so long as he is in the world, can it come into the thought and perception of man by means of any idea derived from the world. It is then above all sense. Tranquillity of mind, content, and gladness from success are relatively nothing; for these affect only his externals; whereas peace affects the inmost things of all the first substances, and the beginnings of substances in the man, and therefrom distributes and pours itself forth into the substantiates and derivatives, and affects them with pleasantness, and affects the origins of ideas, consequently the man’s ends of life, with satisfaction and happiness; and thus makes the mind of the man a heaven.