A scandal worth emulating!

I once had a strange encounter with a man who lived a scandalous life. As a young fellow going out into the world to seek his fortune he happened to fall in love with his uncle’s younger daughter. I have to admit she had a great body and was quite beautiful to look at.

His uncle, rather than being appalled by this, turned the situation to his own benefit. He convinced his nephew to do chores for him for seven years before he would allow such a marriage. Then, at the end of the seven years this despicable uncle managed to trick his nephew into sleeping with his not-so-beautiful older daughter.

The story gets worse. The uncle then makes a deal for the young man to finally let him have his younger daughter as well. The young man, while having being tricked, makes the most of it and marries both cousins. He also has hanky-panky with both cousins, but only succeeds in impregnating the older of the two sisters, who gives birth to six male children and one girl.

Then the unimaginable happens. Both sisters fight for the young man’s attention. Since these sisters came from a well-to-do family (owning lots of livestock) they each go out of their way to offer their female maidservants as additional sexual partners for him.

What is a young man to do? Well, he had sex with all of them! More babies resulted. In fact, he finally managed to impregnate the more beautiful younger sister and she bore him a son. What a mess!

I looked at this man’s life and began to make a character judgment about him. He knew what I was thinking then made an unexpected defense for all his actions. He communicated to me that if I wanted to become more spiritual and grow closer to God I had better follow his exact same steps in life!

He was so convincing that I am now trying to follow in his footsteps and emulate his lifestyle.

His name was Jacob. I encountered him and his unique life-story in the pages of the Old Testament. However, Jacob’s story was anything but scandalous when I encountered him again and he was able to convince me of his honorable intentions within the pages of Emanuel Swedenborg’s Arcana Coelestia (Secrets of Heaven). This is where I was able to view Jacob’s life and actions on a whole new and more profound level. His story is actually my story and your story!

All the characters of this biblical narrative actually represented different qualities of a person’s heart and mind who begins the process of spiritual salvation. In other words, Jacob’s life is a story of how the human mind and spirit advances through stages of spiritual development. Each of Jacob’s encounters with women represented a new advance of the heart and mind. Each advance gave birth to new children, which signified bringing a new quality of spiritual activity into the world (the offspring of spiritual development).

This is why Jacob was so intimate with his relatives—they all related to qualities and the pedigree of his spiritually evolving heart and mind. They represented the progressive changes (genealogy) taking place within his inner being and all things serviceable to it. So Holy Scripture is relevant and timely, even to modern human life and society—if we know how to distill higher meaning from its stories. And there is much more spiritual detail to be distilled from the biblical narratives.

Emanuel Swedenborg offers us intellectual access to these higher meanings, without which many of the stories of God’s Holy Word offer only wacky scenarios and offer us no real guidance. God is not wasteful or trivial when it comes to the salvation of the human race. God’s message goes deep and challenges us to go beyond our habitual and everyday minds.


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A Sermon by Rev Frederick M ChapinA Christmas SermonDevember 4/97


Why is it that you sought Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business? (Lk 2:49)

There was a definite purpose for the Lord coming to this world nearly two-thousand years ago. In fact, the Lord’s coming was absolutely necessary for the human race to survive. Mankind was in a desperate situation when the Lord was born on the earth. People, for the most part, were not aware of the crises they were in. Externally, things appeared to proceed as usual. Sure, there was corruption, that made life difficult. But the immediate danger of mankind’s spiritual state was unnoticed. The human race was unaware that the ability to be spiritually conjoined with the Lord, which is our salvation, was on the verge of total collapse. This spiritual death would lead to the natural extinction of the human race on earth. Hence, the Lord Himself had to be born on the earth. The Lord’s main purpose for coming to earth was to protect man’s ability to be lead by the Divine, thus to make sure that the possibility of our salvation was constantly preserved.

Apparently, the Lord was aware of His mission when He was a young child. While He and His parents were in Jerusalem, observing the Passover, the Lord stayed behind, while His parents went back to Nazareth. When Mary and Joseph discovered that the Lord was not with them, they anxiously searched for Him in Jerusalem. They finally found Him conversing with the teachers in the temple. When Mary asked the Lord why He stayed in Jerusalem, He responded, “Why is it that you sought Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” The Lord knew, even at the age of twelve, that He was to gather knowledges about the Word so He could keep salvation open to mankind. Before the Lord could subdue the hells, He first had to be instructed in truths in order to perform His mission.

There were several other times the Lord stated why He came to earth. Later, when He was active in His public ministry, He quite often referred to the purpose for His coming to the earth. Once, when the Lord spoke to His followers, He stated:


Do not think that I come to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. (Mt


Another time, the Lord said to His disciples:


The Son of Man has come to save that which was lost. (Mt 18:11)

And the Lord also stated to His disciples when He sent them out to various cities in Judea:


Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against here mother-in-law. And a man’s foes will be those of his own household. (Mt. 10_34-36)

Therefore, the Lord spoke quite often about the purpose for His coming to earth.

When these three statements by the Lord are examined closely, there can be seen a close relationship between them. Even though the form of their message may differ, their content fully agrees with one another. They all picture the infinite love the Lord has toward the human race, and the wisdom to know how we can be redeemed.

In the first statement, the Lord said He came to fulfill the Law. When the Lord fulfilled the prophecies of the Old Testament, He was at the same time subduing the hells. (AE 504:31) Each prophecy in the Old Testament had a definite part in the Lord’s restoring spiritual order. The prophecies of the Old Testament were not given arbitrarily. Rather, they presented the Divine order in which the Lord would put the evil spirits in their proper place. The prophecies in the Old Testament not only proved that the Lord was the Christ, they were also the means of establishing order. The Lord did this by putting spiritual things above natural things.

Just as the Lord subdued the hells by fulfilling or accomplishing the prophecies about Him and His life, the same is also true concerning us. Our evils are only subdued or put away when we fulfill the commandments in the Word. The Word gives us direction and instruction in what we are to love and do. If they are applied to life, our evil loves along with their delights are removed. When we conform to the truths in the Word, that serves the same purpose as the prophecies in the Old Testament did for the Lord. Our salvation comes by fulfilling or applying the truths of the Word to or lives just as salvation for the human race was restored when the Lord fulfilled the prophecies of the Old Testament. In both cases, evils are subdued. When evils are subdued, salvation has come.

The Lord also said that He came to save. He came for our welfare. Ever since the Fall, when mankind began to turn away from Him, the Lord foresaw the need to come to the earth. (AC 2661:2) There was no debate, no hesitation on the part of the Lord to come to this world. His Divine love toward mankind was so great that He could not do otherwise than to save mankind. Indeed, the nature of genuine love is to give of oneself for the sake of the other. To do what one can when he sees another in need. Thus, when the Lord saw the condition of mankind’s spiritual state, He immediately did what was necessary for our salvation. The Lord, who is Divine love itself can not do otherwise. Eventually, when man’s spiritual condition became so grave that his salvation could only be saved by the Lord Himself coming to earth, the Lord did so without hesitation. The Lord once described the love that comes from Him,

Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s

life for his friends. (Jn 15:13)

The Lord is the embodiment of the love that is willing to give of oneself for the sake of others.

When the Lord did come to earth, He provided for our redemption by revealing Divine truths to our apprehension. (AC 2553) When the Lord came to earth, He revealed more interior truths than what were revealed in the Old Testament. The hells were defeated by this deeper revelation of truth. Also, the heavens were re-ordered, whereby we can once again have an eternal relationship with our Creator.

We need the revelation of truth for our salvation. Truth is the only way we can recognize what is good and what we should avoid. Everyone, regardless of intellectual capacity, has the capability to understand the Lord as the Source of all love, wisdom, and life, thus the God of all creation. Everyone has the capacity to know what we are to apply that is good and helpful for everyone. And everyone has the capacity to know what is harmful and needs to be rejected from one’s thoughts and intentions. The Lord wills to come into everyone’s lives and bring salvation. He comes through the revelation of truth. If we choose to comply with the truths the Lord does reveal, the salvation He promised to all has become fulfilled in us.

The third statement the Lord gave for coming to earth is somewhat puzzling on the surface. In this instance, while the Lord sent out His disciples, He said,

Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth, I did

not come to bring peace but a sword. (Mt 10:34)

This is surprising because it seems to contradict the purpose and meaning for the Lord to come to earth. The Lord, Who is love itself, came to bring harmony and peace to everyone. But in this statement, the Lord makes a strong point that His coming would bring a division. Nevertheless, this statement can be reconciled with the teaching that the Lord came to bring love, peace, and harmony to everyone. This passage bears reference to the resulting temptation when the Lord makes His coming. Not everyone welcomed the Lord when He came to earth. King Herod, the Pharisees, and others hated the Lord and went to great lengths to try to kill Him. On the spiritual level, the evil spirits attacked the Lord, trying to subdue Him. The Lord did not seek intentionally to cause a conflict or division. But His presence caused this stir among those only in the love of self. The reaction to His coming by the evil caused the conflict. (AE 504:11) The Lord was warning His disciples that they too should expect resistance and strife.

We should also expect the same. If we choose to allow the Lord to make His coming in our individual lives, spiritual combats will result. Our evil loves will react against the closer presence of the Lord. As a result, there will be a division and conflict within us. Our tendency to regard only ourselves will fight against a closer, more knowledgeable presence of the Lord. This is why the Lord made the statement, “A man’s foes will be those of his own household” (Mt 10:36)

Therefore, the Lord’s coming was necessary for us to be able to be regenerated. The Lord had to come. But the Lord’s Advent came at the last possible moment. The Lord waited so mankind could not profane the more interior revelation of truth. (AC 3398:4) If the Lord had made His Advent to earth too soon, His coming would not save mankind, but put us in greater danger. There would have been the danger of perverting these interior truths. The Lord also does the same with each of us. He is closer with us only when it will not spiritually harm us. But He will come. And the more we make a commitment and actually do what the Lord wants us to do, the Lord will enter our lives and reward us with His peace. For He promises, “… the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his work”.