Bearing Witness To Truth

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Bearing Witness To Truth A Palm Sunday Sermon by Rev Kurt H. Asplundh

“You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth” (John 18:37). When the Lord rode into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, He was received as a king. A great multitude took branches of palm trees and went out to meet Him. They cried out: “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! The King of Israel!” (John 12:13). It was a royal welcome. Not everyone was pleased. The chief priests and Pharisees hated the Lord. They cried out from the crowd while the multitude of disciples praised Him saying, “Teacher, rebuke Your disciples.” He answered that the “stones would immediately cry out” if the people were silenced (Luke 9:38-40). The very rocks and stones of creation would bear witness to the sovereignty of the Lord. It was less than a week later that the Lord’s enemies would bring Him to the court of Pilate where this issue of kingship would be argued again. The chief priests and scribes had condemned the Lord before their own religious council with the charge of blasphemy in His claim that He was the Son of God. For this they wanted to put Him to death. Being a subject people, however, the Jews could not impose the death sentence. They needed the permission of the Roman governor, Pilate. Since the Romans had no interest in the religious laws of the Jews or their theological disputes, the Jews brought a different charge. Bringing the Lord to Pilate they said: “We found this fellow perverting the nation, and forbidding to pay taxes to Caesar, saying that He Himself is Christ, a King” (Luke 23:2). It was on this charge that Pilate questioned the Lord in the Praetorium. The question was: Did the Lord pose a threat to the authority of the Roman government? Was He seeking a following to overthrow those in power? Pilate needed to determine if the Lord was indeed the King of the Jews. In answer to Pilate’s question, “Are You the King of the Jews?” the Lord plainly said: “It is as you say” (Mark 15:2). But He added: “My kingdom is not of this world…. My kingdom is not from here” (John 18:36). This was a puzzling statement for the Roman administrator. What did Pilate know of other worlds? What kind of king could he be that had no temporal power? So he asked again, “Are you a king then?” The Lord answered: “You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth” (John 18:37). What is the meaning of the Lord’s answer to Pilate? It is clear to us now. What He said was that truth is a king and that He Himself had come to present the truth to the mind of man. So He added: “Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice” (Ibid.). Pilate was not a religious or philosophical man, but neither was he unintelligent. He understood from this testimony that the Lord’s purpose was to bear witness to a truth that would rule the minds of men. While he understood this, he was skeptical of it. The Word records his well known response. Pilate said: “What is truth?” (John 18:38) “What is truth?” The Heavenly Doctrine comments on this. From the question of Pilate “it is clear,” we are told, “that he understood that truth was called ‘king’ by the Lord… ” (Apocalypse Explained 31:3). What he doubted was whether truth was, indeed, king. His words pose the crucial question: “Is truth a king?” (Apocalypse Explained 27:4, Apocalypse Revealed 20) The rest of the account of the Lord’s trial is a sad confirmation of Pilate’s skeptical attitude about the power of truth. The truth did not rule the decisions that were soon to be made. Neither truth nor justice held sway in the tumultuous events that followed. From the moment Pilate appeared before the Lord’s accusers with the verdict: “I find no fault in Him at all,” hatreds, fears, angry emotions, and selfish ambitions took over. The rulers of the Jews did not want the truth from Pilate. They wanted their will. Time and again, they demonstrated the rejection of the rule of truth. This first happened in the matter of Barabbas. It was customary at their feast that one of the prisoners should be released. Pilate offered them “the King of the Jews” or Barabbas. As we know from exposition, this is a choice between the rule of truth or the rule of principles of murder and theft embodied by Barabbas. The crowd cried out vehemently: “Not this Man, but Barabbas!” “Not this Man!” What could be more clear? Later the Lord stood before the people wearing a crown of thorns and a purple robe after He had been whipped and mocked by the soldiers. “Behold the Man!” He said. He was inviting them to see how the truth had been violated, mocked and rejected. There was no remorse, no sense of loss. Impelled by another king, the spirit of self-love they had welcomed in their hearts, they cried out unmercifully, “Crucify Him, crucify Him.” Pilate asked: “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar!” Imagine what that really means! The inner sense of what they shouted was that they were ruled by nothing but practical expediency. The Lord’s truth was of no importance to them. After the priests had cried out, spiritually denying the Lord, Pilate gave Him up to their will. He was crucified with two thieves at the place called Golgotha. The accusation affixed to the cross by Pilate read: “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews” (John 19:19). Even in His condemnation, the Jews objected: “Do not write ‘The King of the Jews,’” they said. Inwardly they were rejecting the Divine truth that should be king. Write “He said, I am the King of the Jews.'” But Pilate would not acquiesce to this. “What I have written, I have written” ( John 19:21, 22). And so the title stood in spite of their objection, the very truth of the matter is written in Hebrew, Greek and Latin. It is not coincidental that the testaments which have borne witness to the Lord’s sovereign power also are written in these three sacred languages: the Old Testament in Hebrew, which declares the creative power of the one God of heaven and earth; the New Testament in Greek, which records His incarnation and redemption of the race; and the Heavenly Doctrine of the New Jerusalem in Latin, which reveals the living Essence of His Divine Humanity. “For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world,” the Lord declared, “that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice” (John 18:37). Let us ask ourselves on this Palm Sunday if we can be numbered among those who are “of the truth” who hear the Lord’s voice. Pilate was not among these. As he was a Gentile and knew nothing from the Word, he could not be taught that Divine truth is from the Lord or that the Lord Himself bore witness to Divine truth (see Apocalypse Explained 31:3). Pilate was not only skeptical of the power of truth but unaware that there was any source of authoritative truth. The Jews who wanted to crucify the Lord were not numbered among those who were of the truth. They had rejected the truth. We are told that “they desired a king who would exalt them over all in the whole earth. And as the Lord’s kingdom was not earthly but heavenly, they perverted everything that was said respecting Him in the Word, and mocked at what was foretold of Him. This is what was represented by their placing a crown of thorns upon His head, and smiting His head” (Apocalypse Explained 577:4). What of us? Are we “of the truth” and willing to hear the Lord’s voice? Do we welcome the King with joy and a willing heart? The greeting of the Lord with palms and Hosannas on that first Palm Sunday pictures a ready acceptance of the truth of the Word, an acknowledgment and confession of the Lord as our king. Is this our welcome or do we share the rejection of the Jews or the skepticism of Pilate, asking, “What is truth?” Is truth a king? Pilate recognized that the Lord was not a direct threat to the empire. Had He not said: “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews … ” (John 18:36)? What Pilate had not learned and did not know was the Lord’s teaching that the kingdom of God is within. “The kingdom of God does not come with observation,” He had said to the Pharisees; “nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:20, 21). Here was a new concept to the Jews. Until now they had only an idea of kingdoms of this world, of nations and rulers and subjects under them. The Lord taught of a spiritual kingdom, a kingdom within us that is organized and developed by the spirit of truth. It is this “inner” kingdom that truth can rule. And when the spirit of man is ruled by truth, his actions in the world are also ruled by truth from within. By creation every man is free. He can be compelled outwardly and be forced to live according to certain laws, but he cannot be compelled to think or believe against his will. We choose the king of our inner life. And this is our real life. The convictions, the principles, the ideals we choose to live by, are the essentials of our true character. Is there power in these? The greatest power possible, far greater than the power of any dictator or outward force. The human spirit has proven indomitable. Tyranny’s rule is always short-lived. The desire for freedom that is deeply implanted in human hearts cannot be denied or forcibly suppressed. The issue is not whether we have spiritual freedom, but what spirit will rule within us. Will it be the spirit of Divine truth or the spirit of the world? Will we choose the Lord for our king or Caesar? The Lord has revealed Himself anew for the New Church, bearing witness to the truth as never before in the Heavenly Doctrine of the church. The Palm Sunday account is prophetic of a new and conscious reception of the Lord now possible for us. The New Church is named the New Jerusalem. While we have established organizations for the promotion of the Lord’s church among men, the New Jerusalem is really in the individual heart. How does the Lord enter this New Jerusalem? His approach to us is symbolically pictured in the New Testament. There He rode upon the colt of a donkey with garments and branches strewed before Him. Thus He physically entered that city. To us this signifies something that can take place again and again in our personal life: the subordination and guidance of our rational mind by the Lord’s teachings and the acknowledgment that Divine truths from the Word are the truths that should rule in our life. Palm Sunday takes place in the hidden kingdom of our spirit every time we are ready to receive the Lord. Let us pray for His promised coming. “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you. He is just and having salvation, lowly and riding on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey” (Zech. 9:9). “You say rightly that I am a king …Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice!” (John 18:37). Amen. Lessons: John 18:28-40; 19:1-22; Apocalypse Explained 31:1, 3, 7.

Click to access BearingWitnesstoTruth.pdf

DAILY INSPIRATION

“Being able to provide arguments to support whatever you want is not intelligence; intelligence is being able to see that what is true is true.”

True Christian Religion 334

The Raven and the Dove

October 19, 2014 – Toronto

A Sermon by the Rev. James P. Cooper

  1. Introduction

    1. Remember that the story of Noah and the Ark comes from the Ancient Word, written in an “ancient style” – factitious; a made-up story that is nevertheless true.

      1. The Parable of the Wicked Vinedressers that we read as a lesson is an example of the same kind of thing in the Lord‘s own words in the New Testament. It’s not a story about real people, but the lesson it teaches is truth itself.

    2. Review story

      1. The earth filled with wickedness

      2. Noah commanded to build an ark

      3. Locked inside, there is rain for 40 days and nights, flooding the earth and destroying all the wicked things.

      4. Only Noah and those who were with him in the ark remained alive. And the waters prevailed on the earth 150 days (GEN 7:24).

      5. The waters subside. It takes another 150 days until the ark rests on the ground.

      6. Another 40 days pass until Noah opens the window and sends out a raven.

        1. The raven flies back and forth but does not return.

      7. Then Noah releases a dove.

        1. The first time it does not find a place to rest, so it returns to the ark.

        2. After 7 days he tries again. This time the dove returns with an olive leaf.

        3. After 7 more days he sends the dove again. This time it does not return and he knows that it is finally safe to leave the ark and start his new life.

  2. Main Body

    1. Contrast the raven to the dove.

      1. Black, carrion eating. The raven represents the last states of the falsity that was the cause of the flood in the first place.

      2. It flies back and forth, gradually disappears; a picture of the waning falsity which allows for the emergence of the new states of truth from the Lord’s Word.

    2. Doves = the truths and goods of faith residing with a person who is to be regenerated (AC 870)

    3. The question is why is the dove released 3 times?

      1. The subject is the three states following temptations in the regeneration of this man (AC 871)

    4. Dove 1 – No rest, comes back to the ark.

      1. ‘The dove found no rest for the sole of its foot’ means that no good and truth of faith at all had as yet been able to take root.

      2. ‘It returned to him to the ark’ means good and truth appearing to be the good and truth of faith with him.

      3. ‘For the waters were over the face of the earth’ means that falsities were still there to overflowing.

      4. ‘He put out his hand’ means his own power.

      5. ‘And he took hold of it, and brought it in to himself into the ark’ means that self was the source of the good he did and of the truth he thought. (AC 873)

      6. [The first time the dove is released represents] a state when people imagine that they themselves are the source of the good they do and of the truth they think. And because they are still in the greatest obscurity, the Lord lets them cling to that opinion. But as long as they cling to that opinion which is false, no good deed they do nor any truth they think is the good or truth of faith. For whatever a person carries out from himself cannot be good since it has come from self, an impure and most unclean origin. (AC 874)

      7. While [the person who is being regenerated] was inside the ark, which means his state prior to regeneration, he was in captivity or prison, hemmed in on every side by evils and falsities, which are ‘the flood-waters’.

      8. Consequently ‘it returned to him to the ark’ means that good and truth meant by the dove came back to him again. Any good at all which a person supposes that he does from himself comes back to him, for it has self in view. AC 876)

      9. The waters – falsities – are still surrounding the ark, so even though the person is attempting to do things that are good, still at heart there is an element of selfishness. A lot of our immature efforts to do good have a selfish motive; we want to go to heaven! Later, as we mature, we eventually begin to do good because it’s the right thing to do, because we are beginning to learn how to love the neighbour.

    5. Dove 2 – Finds an olive branch which it brings back to Noah.

      1. ‘He waited yet another seven days’ means the beginning of the second state of regeneration,

      2. ‘seven days’ meaning that which is holy, because now charity is the subject.

      3. ‘And he proceeded to send out the dove from the ark’ means a state of receiving the goods and truths of faith.

      4. ‘And the dove returned to him at evening time’ means that these started to show themselves a little,

      5. ‘evening time’ being similar in meaning to pre-morning twilight.

      6. ‘And behold, in its mouth an olive leaf plucked off means a small measure of the truth of faith,

      7. ‘leaf’ meaning truth,’ olive good that stems from charity,

      8. ‘plucked off’ the fact that the truth of faith derives from that charity, and ‘in its mouth’ the fact that it was made visible.

      9. ‘And Noah knew that the waters had abated from over the earth’ means that all this was so because the obstructive falsities were now fewer than previously. (AC 879)

        1. Those waters of falsity are being pushed back by the improving state of regeneration.

        2. The “leaves” of the tree of life are for the healing of the nations.

        3. It’s important that it is an olive leaf, for the olive (which produces oil) introduces the element of charity tied to the truth represented by the leaf.

      10. The waters continue to abate: “when a person is being regenerated truths are planted in him towards which falsities are turned by the Lord. It thus appears as though they have been dispersed, dispersed by means of the goods which he is given.” (AC 887)

    6. Dove 3 – Does not return, demonstrating to Noah that it is finally safe to open the ark.

      1. ‘He waited yet another seven days’ means the beginning of the third state,

      2. ‘seven days’ meaning that which is holy.

      3. ‘And he sent out the dove’ means a state of receiving the goods and truths of faith.

      4. ‘The dove did not come back to him any more’ means a state of freedom. (AC 888)

        1. The water – the falsities – have finally been pushed back enough that the person can begin to act from freedom and rationality. They get out of the ark and walk about on the earth, breathing the fresh air, moving about as they wish.

      5. ‘It happened in the six hundred and first year’ means a finishing point.

      6. ‘At the beginning, on the first of the month’ means a starting point.

      7. ‘The waters dried up from over the earth’ means that falsities were not at that time apparent.

      8. ‘And Noah removed the covering of the ark, and saw out’ means the light, once falsities had been removed, shed by the truths of faith, which he acknowledged and in which he had faith.

      9. ‘And behold, the face of the ground was dry’ means regeneration. (AC 893)

  3. Conclusion

    1. When we think about our own spiritual states it’s hard for us to get a sense of perspective because we only experience the ‘now’. We dimly remember the past, and we cannot know the future.

    2. The power of this story, then, is that it gives us a picture of the progress of the states of regeneration.

      1. If we are in the early stages, it can give us hope for the future, and guide us on the path.

      2. If we are in the later stages, it can give us a perspective from which to look back and be reminded of the progress that we have made.

      3. But, if nothing else, this little fragment of the Noah story holds within it the promise and certainty of the Lord’s constant care and guidance, and demonstrates that He does have a plan for us, and even when the storms rage around us, when the evil spirits try to enslave us, He can still can lead us to our heavenly home. Amen.

First Lesson: Genesis 8 – from the Children’s Talk

Second Lesson: MAT 21:33-44

“Hear another parable: There was a certain landowner who planted a vineyard and set a hedge around it, dug a winepress in it and built a tower. And he leased it to vinedressers and went into a far country. Now when vintage-time drew near, he sent his servants to the vinedressers, that they might receive its fruit. And the vinedressers took his servants, beat one, killed one, and stoned another. Again he sent other servants, more than the first, and they did likewise to them. Then last of all he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ But when the vinedressers saw the son, they said among themselves, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and seize his inheritance.’ So they took him and cast him out of the vineyard and killed him. “Therefore, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those vinedressers?” They said to Him, “He will destroy those wicked men miserably, and lease his vineyard to other vinedressers who will render to him the fruits in their seasons.” Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures: ‘ The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone. This was the LORD’s doing, And it is marvellous in our eyes’? “Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it. And whoever falls on this stone will be broken; but on whomever it falls, it will grind him to powder.”

Third Lesson: AC 892.

Once someone has been regenerated he enters for the first time into a state of freedom. Previously he has been in a state of slavery. It is slavery when evil desires and falsities predominate, freedom when affections for good and truth do so. As long as he is in a state of slavery, a person never perceives what his situation is. Only when he enters a state of freedom does he start to do so. When he is in a state of slavery, that is, when evil desires and falsities predominate, the person who has become subject to them imagines that he is in a state of freedom. That however is sheer falsity, for he is at that time being carried away by the delight that accompanies desires and resulting pleasures, that is, by the delight accompanying the loves that are his own…. It is however the devilish spirits, in whose company and so to speak fast moving stream he is caught, who carry him away….

[2] No one ever enters into a state of freedom until he has been regenerated and is being led by the Lord by means of the love of good and truth. When he has entered that state he is enabled to know and perceive for the first time what freedom really is, because he can at that point know and perceive what life is, what the true delight in life is, and what happiness is…. When persons who are in a state of freedom from the Lord see the life that goes with evil desires and falsities, and even more when they experience it, they are as appalled by it as people who see hell opened before their eyes

Prayer, Betrayal, and Arrest

A sermon by the Rev. James P. Cooper

Toronto – April 6, 2014

  1. Jesus had been teaching in the smaller towns and villages outside of Jerusalem for three years. His miracles and radical ideas had attracted quite a few followers, and at the same time had attracted the attention and anger of the chief Priests and Elders of the church.

    1. Then, at the time of the Passover when the streets of Jerusalem were crowded with visitors, Jesus rode into the city on a donkey, a symbol of royalty, and then went into the temple. There He cleaned out the people who were selling animals for sacrifice and the money changers, saying that the temple was “His house” and that they had made it a “den of thieves1.”

      1. This was a powerful message. One might have expected that having entered as royalty, He would go to the palace to confront Herod. Instead, He went to the temple, showing that instead of being an earthly king, it was His intention to be the king of a spiritual kingdom.

    2. All these things, both taken individually and as a whole, enraged the leaders of the church. They believed they had just cause to arrest Him, but they feared His popularity. If they were going to act, it would have to be in secret.

      1. If Jesus had spent the night in some private home in Jerusalem, away from the crowds, He surely would have been arrested. He knew that would be the eventual result, but He needed to control the time and circumstances, so He and the disciples left Jerusalem every night and rested in Gethsemane, on the Mount of Olives.

    3. On Thursday, the Lord and His disciples celebrated the Passover in Jerusalem. It was here that the Lord instituted the Holy Supper, and it was from this meal that Judas Iscariot departed to lead the chief priests and the soldiers to arrest Jesus.

      1. After the Passover meal was completed, the Lord returned to the Mount of Olives, and it is here, on Thursday night, where the events we are interested in unfold.

  2. (Mat 26:36-56) Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to the disciples, “Sit here while I go and pray over there.” {37} And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed. {38} Then He said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me.” {39} He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.” {40} Then He came to the disciples and found them asleep, and said to Peter, “What? Could you not watch with Me one hour? {41} “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” {42} Again, a second time, He went away and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done.” {43} And He came and found them asleep again, for their eyes were heavy. {44} So He left them, went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words. {45} Then He came to His disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. {46} “Rise, let us be going. See, My betrayer is at hand.”

    1. Three” = complete. (Many passages)

    2. Sleep” = a lack of perception of spiritual things. (Many passages)

    3. Cup” = temptation. (Many passages)

    4. AC 1787. …Every temptation is attended with some kind of despair (otherwise it is not a temptation), and therefore consolation follows. He who is tempted is brought into anxieties, which induce a state of despair as to what the end is to be. The very combat of temptation is nothing else. He who is sure of victory is not in anxiety, and therefore is not in temptation.

      [2] The Lord also, as He endured the most dire and cruel temptations of all, could not but be driven into states of despair, and these He dispelled and overcame by His own power; as may be clearly seen from His temptation in Gethsemane….

      [3] From these passages we may see what was the nature of the Lord’s temptations-that they were the most terrible of all; and that He felt anguish from the very inmosts, even to the sweating of blood; and that He was then in a state of despair concerning the end and the event; and also that He had consolations.

    5. But, how is it that the Lord, who is the God of the Universe, all powerful, all knowing, could be tempted?

      1. First of all, we need to be clear that His love of the human race was never tempted. He was only tempted in regard to how it would happen, the truth of the matter. And even this could only happen if He metaphorically tied one hand behind His back, by taking on the limitations of a physical, human body.

        1. AC 2813. And bound Isaac his son. That this signifies the state of the Divine rational thus about to undergo as to truth the last degrees of temptation…. That to “bind” is to put on the state for undergoing the last degrees of temptation, is evident from the fact that he who is in a state of temptation is no otherwise than as bound or chained…. “Isaac the son” is the Lord’s Divine rational, here as to truth…. All the genuine rational consists of good and truth. The Lord’s Divine rational as to good could not suffer, or undergo temptations; for no … spirit inducing temptations can come near to Good Divine, as it is above all attempt at temptation. But Truth Divine bound was what could be tempted; for there are fallacies, and still more falsities, which break in upon and thus tempt it…. It was Truth Divine which was no longer acknowledged when the Lord came into the world, and therefore it was that from which the Lord underwent and endured temptations. Truth Divine in the Lord is what is called the “Son of man,” but Good Divine is what is called the “Son of God.” Of the “Son of man” the Lord says many times that He was to suffer, but never of the Son of God.

      2. It’s important to remember that although the Lord was going through temptations throughout His life in the world, they are only recorded in two places: His 40 days of fasting in the wilderness2, and the events surrounding the crucifixion.

        1. In the wilderness series we see three different kinds of temptations. This was to show that all the Lord’s temptations could be divided into these three types, and therefore they were a symbol for them all. Here the forty tells us that it was a temptation, and the three tells us that the series was complete.

        2. Notice also that when on Gethsemane, the Lord goes away to pray three times. The three tells us that this was not the only time He prayed, but that it was to represent all His prayers throughout His time in the world, the complete set.

        3. And the number three occurs again in the resurrection in that He rose on the third day. The number three associated with His resurrection indicates that the state of being in the world in a human body was now complete and the next state, that of the glorified Divine Human, was about to begin.

      3. Earlier that evening, at the Passover meal, Jesus said to the twelve, “one of you will betray Me” (MAT 26:21). What’s interesting is that when He said that, the twelve responded by asking him, “Is it I?” (MAT 26:22) and when Judas asked Him the same question, the Lord responded, “You have said it” (MAT 26:25).

        1. Whatever motives Judas may have had at the time, the fact is that this was part of the Lord’s plan, something that needed to happen.

          1. This becomes clear when we think about the situation. The Lord and the twelve were camped in an olive grove on a mountain top some distance from the city. If there was any light at all, it would have come from small campfires, and all the men would have been roughly the same age and dressed in roughly the same clothes. The men coming to arrest Jesus would have needed someone who knew Him well to be able to positively identify Him so that they could be sure to arrest the right person.

          2. The word “betray” also has the meaning of “to reveal” as in “the child’s giggling betrayed his hiding place,” although by taking things into his own hands and working secretly with the Chief Priests and Elders for money there was certainly an element of the traditional concept of betrayal.

    6. {47} And while He was still speaking, behold, Judas, one of the twelve, with a great multitude with swords and clubs, came from the chief priests and elders of the people. {48} Now His betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “Whomever I kiss, He is the One; seize Him.” {49} Immediately he went up to Jesus and said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed Him. {50} But Jesus said to him, “Friend, why have you come?” Then they came and laid hands on Jesus and took Him. {51} And suddenly, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword, struck the servant of the high priest, and cut off his ear. {52} But Jesus said to him, “Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. {53} “Or do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels? {54} “How then could the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must happen thus?” {55} In that hour Jesus said to the multitudes, “Have you come out, as against a robber, with swords and clubs to take Me? I sat daily with you, teaching in the temple, and you did not seize Me.{56} “But all this was done that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples forsook Him and fled.

      1. Notice the sequence of events as described by Matthew.

        1. A large crowd of armed men arrived, likely also carrying torches, led by Judas. One could easily imagine that they would have been both seen and heard a long way off, and if the Lord had wished it, He and the disciples could have slipped away in the dark.

        2. When the men seized Jesus, a fight broke out. The disciples were carrying swords. They drew them and attacked the men in the crowd, leading to the injury to the servant of the High Priest.

        3. Jesus healed the servant, admonished the crowd for coming in secret when He had been daily in the temple, and then meekly submitted to them.

        4. It appears that the disciples were indeed expecting Him to call down a legion of angels, or at least use His powers in some other way to defeat this crowd, but once they realized that He was giving Himself up without the fight for which they had been preparing for years, they fled in confusion.

  3. There are several things we need to reflect on in preparation for Easter.

    1. The importance of doubt in temptation

    2. The Lord’s two states of Temptation and Glorification.

      1. When He taught and acted with authority, He was in the state of Glorification, feeling one with the Father within.

      2. When He expressed anger, or doubt, He was in the state of Temptation, feeling distant from the Father within, and doubting that the course He was on was the correct way to ensure the salvation of the human race.

    3. The Lord’s love was never tempted, only the process.

      1. The hells could not touch the Lord’s Divine Love, but they could introduce falsities in the forms of alternative plans that would have the ability to create doubt, thus temptation to deviate from the original plan.

    4. While His temptations are more grievous than we can experience or imagine, still they are recorded so that we can by guided and comforted by them.

    5. How to do they comfort us? If the Lord can fight and overcome in these circumstances, surely He can fight and overcome for us, too.

    6. Finally, remember that the goal was redemption of the human race.

      1. Not wiping away sin, but restoring spiritual freedom by conquering the hells and putting them back into order.

      2. Every moment of every day we are free to think about anything we want, and we are free to choose our own course. That is freedom of choice in spiritual things. It makes it possible for each one of us to go to heaven. And for that we should be eternally grateful. Amen.

Hear now the Word of the Lord …

First Lesson: Isaiah 53:1-12

Who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, And as a root out of dry ground. He has no form or comeliness; And when we see Him, There is no beauty that we should desire Him. He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, And as a sheep before its shearers is silent, So He opened not His mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgement, And who will declare His generation? For He was cut off from the land of the living; For the transgressions of My people He was stricken. And they made His grave with the wicked– But with the rich at His death, Because He had done no violence, Nor was any deceit in His mouth. Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. When You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, And the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in His hand. He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied. By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, For He shall bear their iniquities. Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great, And He shall divide the spoil with the strong, Because He poured out His soul unto death, And He was numbered with the transgressors, And He bore the sin of many, And made intercession for the transgressors.

Second Lesson: AC (Elliott) n. 3381

3381. ‘Because Abraham hearkened to My voice’ means the union of the Lord’s Divine Essence with the Human Essence by means of temptations.

[2] That these considerations are meant by hearkening to the voice of Jehovah, or the Father, is also evident from the Lord’s words uttered in Gethsemane, in Matthew, My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless not as I will but as You will. Again, for the second time, My Father, if this cup cannot pass from Me unless I drink it, Your will he done. Matt. 26:39, 42; Mark 14:36; Luke 22:42.

But because Jehovah or the Father was within Him, that is, He was in the Father and Father in Him – John 14:10, 11 – ‘hearkening to Jehovah’s voice’ is used to mean that the Lord through temptations united the Divine to the Human by His own power, as is also clear from the Lord’s own words in John, As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father, and I lay down My life,3 for the sheep. For this reason the Father loves Me, that I lay down My life,4 so that I may receive it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself; I have power to lay it down and I have power to receive it again; this commandment I have received from My Father. John 10:15, 17, 18.

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

1MAT 21:13, MAR 11:17, LUK 19:46

2Matthew 4, Mark 1, Luke 4

3Literally, soul

4Literally, sou

The Seventh Day

Practices of Peace week 7

A Sermon by the Rev. James P. Cooper

Toronto – March 16, 2014

Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. {2} And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. {3} Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made. (Gen 2:1-3)

For the past 6 weeks we have been looking at the days of creation as found in the book of Genesis. Through this careful study it has become quite clear that these passages do not and are not intended to speak about the creation of the natural world. They are the states of the development of the human mind. The wonderful thing is that because the story itself is written in the form of a parable, there are all kinds of valid ways to interpret and use this information. It’s a wonderful way to describe the steps of awakening intelligence in a new-born. It can also be used to describe the states that the Lord Himself went through when He was born into the world. Or, as we have been focussing on here, the seven days can speak of the seven successive states that each one of us goes through when we tackle some evil that we find within ourselves and try to remove it with the Lord’s help.

Today we are talking about the seventh day, a day of rest and reflection. It’s like hiking to the top of a mountain. There are a number of different kinds of challenges to face along the way. You have to look at the weather and make the decision to go or not go. You have to make sure you are wearing the right clothes and have the proper supplies. There will be steep portions, streams to cross, and long, grinding ascents. But once at the top, the first thing that most people do is turn around and look back to see just how far they’ve come. And that is what the seventh day is about. You have decided to tackle a spiritual task. There have been a variety of challenges along the way, but now you are coming to the end and beginning to feel the delights that the Lord provides. It’s time to look back, remember the obstacles overcome, and rejoice in the accomplishment.

With that in mind, let’s review the steps.

  1. Awakening – light shines for the first time
    1. (Gen 1:1-5) In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. {2} The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. {3} Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. {4} And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness. {5} God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. So the evening and the morning were the first day.
    2. AC 7. The first state is the state which precedes, both the state existing from earliest childhood onwards and that existing immediately before regeneration; and it is called a void, emptiness, and thick darkness. And the first movement, which is the Lord’s mercy, is ‘the Spirit of God hovering over the face1 of the waters’.
    3. In this first stage, before the light hits, we grope in darkness. We might be thinking only about ourselves, our possessions, our need to be respected. Since we are unaware of the real, spiritual world within everything, our life is “empty, dark and void.” The change begins when we start to acknowledge a higher power, something more than the shallow life we’ve been living. This is like a light dawning.
  2. Distinguishing – Waters above from waters below.
    1. (Gen 1:6-8) Then God said, “Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.” {7} Thus God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament; and it was so. {8} And God called the firmament Heaven. So the evening and the morning were the second day.
    2. AC 8. The second state is when a distinction is made between the things that are the Lord’s and those that are man’s own. Those which are the Lord’s are called in the Word ‘remnants’, and here they are chiefly the cognitions of faith which a person has learned since he was a small child. These are stored away and do not come out into the open until he reaches this state. Nowadays this state rarely occurs without temptation, misfortune, and sorrow, which lead to the inactivity and so to speak the death of bodily and worldly concerns – the things which are man’s own. In this way what belongs to the external man is segregated from what belongs to the internal. Within the internal are the remnants, stored away by the Lord until this time and for this purpose.
    3. Once we have become aware that that there is a higher authority, we begin to try to distinguish between what’s really important and what isn’t. But because we don’t worry about these things when everything is going well, these two first phases come about in times of trouble. Hardship or heartache washes away shallow concerns. We see a separation between the things that do and don’t matter. Most importantly we begin to see that the truths that the Lord provides in the Word are on a high level while the knowledges provided by the sense and other people are far below.
  3. Cultivating – Tender plants grow
    1. (Gen 1:9-13) Then God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear”; and it was so. {10} And God called the dry land Earth, and the gathering together of the waters He called Seas. And God saw that it was good. {11} Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb that yields seed, and the fruit tree that yields fruit according to its kind, whose seed is in itself, on the earth”; and it was so. {12} And the earth brought forth grass, the herb that yields seed according to its kind, and the tree that yields fruit, whose seed is in itself according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. {13} So the evening and the morning were the third day.
    2. AC 9. The third state is one of repentance, a state in which he speaks piously and devoutly from the internal man and brings forth goods, like charitable acts which are nevertheless inanimate since he imagines that they originate in himself. They are called a tender plant, then a seed-bearing plant, and finally a fruit tree.
    3. When we have distinguished what’s important from what isn’t, the “soil” of our mind is ready to hear the truth, and a tender, more compassionate side of us can begin to take root. We have come to a point where we know that the Lord wants us to be kind and helpful to others, but it’s difficult at first. It’s hard to get started, and there’s a lot of merit mixed in. But, with practice and effort, the grass becomes the tree bringing forth good fruit. Still, it’s an effort of truth, not yet of love. We do it because we know we ought to, not yet because we love doing it. So more steps are still needed.
  4. Navigating – Sun, moon and stars placed in the sky for light
    1. (Gen 1:14-19) Then God said, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years; {15} “and let them be for lights in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth”; and it was so. {16} Then God made two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night. He made the stars also. {17} God set them in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth, {18} and to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. {19} So the evening and the morning were the fourth day.
    2. AC 10. The fourth state is when he is moved by love and enlightened by faith. Previous to this he did indeed utter pious words and bring forth good deeds, but he did so from a state of temptation and anguish, and not from faith and charity. Therefore the latter are now kindled in his internal man, and are called the two great lights.
    3. The more we practice changing our removing evils and doing the opposite goods, the easier it becomes. Our principles become clearer – they are like the sun and moon, the “lights” that lead us. The “sun” of love stirs us to care, while the “moon” is a picture of our faith, constantly varying as we experiment and make attempts, just as the light of the moon varies during the month. But the sun, the Lord’s love, is always there, constant. And, as we move forward and begin doing things not for our own sake, or because we think we ought to, but because it’s what the Lord wants us to do, everything we do begins to be filled with spiritual light and heat.
  5. Speaking – fish swim and birds fly
    1. (Gen 1:20-23) Then God said, “Let the waters abound with an abundance of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the face of the firmament of the heavens.” {21} So God created great sea creatures and every living thing that moves, with which the waters abounded, according to their kind, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. {22} And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” {23} So the evening and the morning were the fifth day.
    2. AC 11. The fifth state is when he speaks from faith and in so doing confirms himself in truth and good. What he brings forth at this point are animate and are called the fish of the sea and the birds of the air.2
    3. In this stage, the things we do or say have new energy and life because we no longer take credit for them. We become stronger advocates for what we know is true, and we feel more love for others because we are putting ourselves in the stream of Providence. We begin to have a sense or perception that God is working through us, and we can share in His love.
  6. Loving – Humans are created in the image of God
    1. (Gen 1:24-31) Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth the living creature according to its kind: cattle and creeping thing and beast of the earth, each according to its kind”; and it was so. {25} And God made the beast of the earth according to its kind, cattle according to its kind, and everything that creeps on the earth according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. {26} Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” {27} So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. {28} Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” {29} And God said, “See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food. {30} “Also, to every beast of the earth, to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, in which there is life, I have given every green herb for food”; and it was so. {31} Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day.
    2. AC 12. The sixth state is when he utters truths and performs good deeds from faith and consequently from love. What he brings forth at this point are called a living creature and a beast. And because at this point he starts to act from faith and also simultaneously from love, he becomes a spiritual man, who is called an image. The spiritual life of that man finds its delight in, and is sustained by, the things which are associated with cognitions of faith and with charitable acts, which are called his food; and his natural life finds its delight in, and is sustained by, those which belong to the body and the senses. The latter give rise to conflict until love rules and he becomes a celestial man.

      AC 13. Not all people who are being regenerated reach this state. Some, indeed the majority nowadays, reach only the first. Some reach merely the second, others the third, fourth, or fifth. Seldom do any reach the sixth, and hardly anybody at all reaches the seventh (which is the celestial man).

      AC 62. The stages and states of the regeneration of man – both of mankind and of the individual person – divide into six and are called the days of his creation. Gradually from being no man at all, he first becomes something, though only little, then something more, until the sixth day is reached, when he becomes ‘an image’.

    3. Finally, we not only say what we mean, we also act on our beliefs, from a loving frame of mind. In this stage, we fully embrace our spiritual heritage as men and women created in the image of God. Literally a “new chapter” begins here. The six days of creation take up the first chapter of Genesis. The seventh day begins the second chapter. The sixth day is a picture of someone reaching a pretty advanced spiritual state – not all of us will reach this during our lives in the world, but it is held out to us as a possibility. At the end of this state, the Spiritual Man is complete.
  7. Resting – No more work, “There is peace “
    1. (Gen 2:1-3) Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. {2} And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. {3} Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.
    2. AC 73. Verse 1 deals next with the man who from being dead has already progressed to being spiritual, and from being spiritual now progresses to being celestial.

      AC 74. The celestial man is the seventh day on which the Lord rests, verses 2, 3.

    3. There are two creations stories in Genesis, one following another. That there are two indicates that they are not meant to be taken as scientific. The first is the creation of the spiritual man in six days followed by a day of rest. Once that is complete, the next stage, if possible, is to create the celestial man. This is described in the story of the garden of Eden in Genesis 2.

The word “Sabbath” is from the Hebrew for “rest,” and it represents both the rest that comes to people when they finally conquer in temptations and the state of rest for the Lord that comes when He is finished fighting the hells for the people who have been in temptation. This is why, when the six days of creation represent our combats with evils, it is said that on the seventh day, the Lord rested. It is because it is the Lord who actually fights for us in the combats of temptation, although it seems to us that we are fighting for ourselves.

The Sabbath comes at the end of the battle, and it is a state of rest for those weary from the battle. It is also the state of peace and rest that comes to those who are victorious in their battles, have driven the enemy away, and have restored order into their lives. The Sabbath represents the state of peace and happiness that the Lord gives to people after good and truth have been conjoined in their minds by means of the combats of temptation. In regard to the Sabbath, the Word teaches that there are only two states for mankind: the first is a state of truth alone, where there is combat while the will and the understanding are not as one — the person knows one thing but wills to do another. The second state is a state of peace that follows the combat when the will and the understanding are in accord, the one part willing what the other part now knows with a certainty to be true.3

We’ve reached the top. It’s time to look around and enjoy the view of where we’ve been. We can sit down, break out lunch, and just enjoy that we have reached a difficult goal. All the while knowing that later we’ll have to go down to our home and that there will be other mountains to climb. But not for a while. Amen

First Lesson: (Luke 6:1-11)

Now it happened on the second Sabbath after the first that He went through the grainfields. And His disciples plucked the heads of grain and ate them, rubbing them in their hands. {2} And some of the Pharisees said to them, “Why are you doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath?” {3} But Jesus answering them said, “Have you not even read this, what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him: {4} “how he went into the house of God, took and ate the showbread, and also gave some to those with him, which is not lawful for any but the priests to eat?” {5} And He said to them, “The Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath.” {6} Now it happened on another Sabbath, also, that He entered the synagogue and taught. And a man was there whose right hand was withered. {7} So the scribes and Pharisees watched Him closely, whether He would heal on the Sabbath, that they might find an accusation against Him. {8} But He knew their thoughts, and said to the man who had the withered hand, “Arise and stand here.” And he arose and stood. {9} Then Jesus said to them, “I will ask you one thing: Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy?” {10} And when He had looked around at them all, He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And he did so, and his hand was restored as whole as the other. {11} But they were filled with rage, and discussed with one another what they might do to Jesus.

Second Lesson: AC 81

The subject in [Genesis] chapter [2] is the celestial man; in the previous chapter it was the spiritual man who progressed to being spiritual from having been a dead man. But since people nowadays do not know what the celestial man is, and scarcely know what the spiritual man is or what the dead man is, let the nature of each one be presented briefly, in order that it may be known how they differ.

First. The dead man acknowledges no other truth or good than that belonging to the body and the world. This he also worships. The spiritual man acknowledges spiritual and celestial truth and good. But he does so not so much from love as from faith, which is also the basis of his actions. The celestial man believes and perceives spiritual and celestial truth and good, and does not acknowledge any other faith than that which stems from love, which is also the basis of his actions.

Second. The dead man has solely the life of the body and of the world as his ends in view. He does not know what eternal life is, or what the Lord is. Or if he does know, he does not believe. The spiritual man has eternal life, and therefore the Lord, as his ends in view. The celestial man has the Lord and therefore His kingdom and eternal life as his ends in view.

Third. The dead man when involved in conflict nearly always gives in. And when there is no conflict evils and falsities reign supreme within him, making him their slave. His bonds are external ones, such as fear of the law, loss of life, wealth, profits, and reputation on account of these. The spiritual man is involved in conflict, but he always conquers. The bonds which restrain him are internal, and are called the bonds of conscience. The celestial man is not involved in conflict. If evils and falsities assail him, he treats them with contempt, and is therefore called a conqueror. No visible bonds restrict him, for he is a free man. His bonds, which are not visible, are perceptions of good and truth.

 

1lit. The faces

2lit. birds of the heavens (or the skies)

3See AC 9431

The Fifth Day

 


A Sermon by the Rev. James P. Cooper

Toronto, March 2, 2014

AC (Elliott) n. 39. Verse 20 And God said, Let the waters bring forth creeping things, living creatures; and let birds fly above the earth, upon the face1 of the expanse of the heavens.

  1. Last week we talked about how the turmoil and conflict come to an end when the person begins to acquire internal truths and to live from their internal man. Because the person begins to think and act from wisdom, and seeks to do things that are genuinely useful, the deeds are called in the Word the tender plant, the seed bearing plant, and finally a fruit tree.
    1. But even though these deeds are genuinely good deeds, the person in the third state hasn’t yet come to see that the Lord is the source of all love and faith, and while the person thinks that these good deeds originate in themselves, that they are the cause of them, they remain “inanimate” rather than truly living. But the person is heading in the right direction.
    2. There’s been “light” since the first day. Every person, from childhood through early adulthood, is gifted with the knowledge of the difference between right and wrong, and with feelings of contentment and happiness when they do the right thing. But as we navigate the shoals of adult life we are faced with temptations and challenges. If, during the course of these, we turn to the Lord through prayer and study of the Word, all the while trying to do the right thing, the fourth state will come. The light will dawn. We’ll have that “aha” moment when it starts to come together for us. We’ll feel that love from the Lord in ourselves, and we’ll see situations anew, from the light in our internal mind that comes from heaven.
      1. It doesn’t come without work, but it is the goal that the Lord has been leading us to all along.
      2. And with it comes the promise of even greater enlightenment and even greater usefulness in the states to follow.
  2. For the first four days, we’ve been talking about states and experiences that most people have. The first four states are more common, and because they tend to relate to things of the natural world, they can be illustrated in ways that most people would recognize.
    1. Most adults have figured out that we need to be kind to others, and we’ve figured out that there are things we can do that are genuinely useful that benefit other, and at the same time benefit ourselves. We have learned how to work together with our spouse.
    2. It doesn’t mean that we do these things all the time, but successful adults have figured out most of these things. It’s part of normal growth and fitting in with the other adults in the world around us.
    3. But, as the Word points out, the goods that are done at this point are as much from enlightened self-interest as they are from spiritual causes. That’s why the Arcana says that they are “inanimate” because they do not flow from the Lord.
    4. In order to make this next step in our regeneration, in order to move from the fourth to the fifth day, each person has to make a difficult jump to a new way of thinking.
      1. There needs to be a humble recognition that good comes from the Lord, not from ourselves. We need to acknowledge that the good that we do is from the Lord through us.
    5. AC 39. After the great lights have been kindled and lodged in the internal man, from which the external man receives its light, a person starts to live for the first time. Till then he can hardly be said to have lived, for he had imagined that the good he had done he had done from himself, and the truth he had uttered he had spoken from himself. And since man functioning from himself is dead – there being nothing in him that is not evil and false – therefore whatever he brings forth from himself is not living. So true is this that of himself he is incapable of doing any good deed that is in itself good….

      [2] Nevertheless when the Lord is revitalizing a person, or regenerating him, He does allow him, to begin with, to imagine that good and truth originate in himself, for at that point a person cannot grasp anything else, or be led to believe and finally perceive, that all good and truth come from the Lord alone…. But once he has been brought to life by love and faith and believes that the Lord is at work in every good deed he does and in every truth he utters, he is compared first to creeping things from the water and to birds which fly above the earth, and then to beasts, all of which are animate and are called ‘living creatures’.

      1. The problem for us is that when we read the story of creation, we can see that there is a distinct, obvious difference between the various plants that were created on the 4th day, and the birds and fishes that are created on the 5th. Both are useful and alive, but animals are distinctly more alive than plants.
      2. But when we look at our own lives, or perhaps at the lives of the people who are close to us, we can easily see the good deed that are performed, the acts of love. What we cannot see is whether they are motivated by enlightened self-interest (natural motives) or the more regenerate state of obedience to the Lord’s will (spiritual motives). If we cannot perceive the difference in ourselves, we certainly cannot know the difference in others!
      3. So, what are we to do? We know how the Lord wants us to act, we know that the Lord wants us to be motivated by getting ourselves into the stream of His Providence, of becoming instruments of His peace. We need to be conscious of that goal as we ponder the various decisions we have to make in life. Don’t examine things to the point of being unable to act at all from uncertainty about motives, but consciously choose to think about what we say in the Lord’s prayer, “Thy will be done.” What is the Lord’s will in the particular circumstance in which we find ourselves?
    6. Why is it so important to make this jump?
      1. AC (Elliott) n. 41. Anything that is man’s own has no life in it; and when depicted visually it looks like something hard as a bone and black. But anything that comes from the Lord does contain life. It has that which is spiritual and celestial within it, and when depicted visually it looks human and alive. It is perhaps incredible, but nevertheless absolutely true, that every expression, every idea, and every least thought of an angelic spirit is alive. In even the most detailed areas of his thought there is an affection that comes from the Lord, who is life itself. Consequently all that derives from the Lord has life within it, for it contains faith in Him, and is here meant by ‘a living creature’. It then has the outward appearance of a body, meant here by that which is moving, or creeping. To [people in the world] these matters remain arcana, but since the subject here is the living and moving creature, they ought at least to be mentioned here.
  3. Let’s take a moment and look at these living things that the Lord promises will be His gifts when we enter the state represented by the 5th day of creation.
  4. AC (Elliott) n. 42. Verse 21 And God created the great sea monsters, and every living creature that creeps, which the waters produced abundantly according to their kinds; and all winged birds according to their kinds; and God saw that it was good. As has been stated, ‘fish’ means facts, here facts quickened and brought to life through faith from the Lord.
    1. When you think of this it helps to avoid thinking of a single fish that you’ve pulled out of the lake, or maybe one that’s being served to you for dinner. Instead, think about one of those nature specials you see on TV (or the movies) where a diver takes a good camera into clear water with good lighting and captures a whole school of fish swimming together, darting this way and that, thousands of beautiful fish turning and moving as one.
      1. This is a better picture of how a whole lot of related facts create a much larger whole, a level of understanding that has life in it. It’s made up of individual facts, but when taken together the whole is greater than the parts. Or, as the Writings say, they are “quickened” and “come to life” through faith in the Lord.
      2. Faith in the Lord? It’s that humility of spirit spoken of above where the person in the 5th state humbly submits to the Lord’s will, and adjusts his thoughts and actions accordingly. Thus, they come to life.
    2. AC 42 (continued) ‘Sea monsters’ means those facts’ general sources, below which and from which details derive. Nothing whatever exists in the universe that does not depend on some general source for its commencement and continuance. In the Prophets sea monsters or whales are mentioned several times, and in those places they mean those general sources of facts….
      1. The traditional translation here would be “great sea creatures” but the underlying Hebrew word could mean a “crocodile” or a “whale” or a “dragon.”
      2. Based on the internal sense of the passage, it seems that however we translate it, it should be something large and single so that it compares to the school of fish described above. It represents the large, general concept that forms the basis for the facts.
        1. Love your neighbour” could be the “sea monster”, and all the various ways that we can be loving towards the neighbour are the school of fish.
    3. Even though we may not really be able to feel this change of state as something distinct and obvious, yet it is a promise that we can look forward to.
    4. Perhaps it’s one of those things that can only be seen in hindsight, that is, after we have come into this state we can look back on previous states and see how things are different, how spiritual things have become more important than natural ones, and the sense that spiritual blessings are multiplying.
    5. AC (Elliott) n. 43. Verse 22 And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas; and let birds be multiplied upon the earth. Everything that has life in it from the Lord is fruitful and multiplies without limit. This does not happen during a person’s lifetime, but in the next life it does so to an astonishing extent. In the Word ‘to be fruitful’ has reference to matters of love, while ‘to multiply’ has reference to matters of faith. The fruit of love contains the seed by which it multiplies itself to so great an extent. The Lord’s blessing also means, in the Word, fruitfulness and multiplication, for they are the outcome of that blessing.
    6. Verse 23 And there was evening, and there was morning, a fifth day.
    7. And so we see that in the fifth state the person who is regenerating moves from someone who is only acting from natural causes to one who begins to think about the Lord’s truth from the Word and makes a sincere effort to bring those truths to life in the things that he does for others. And, just as fish and birds are more “alive” than plants, so the things that the person does are more alive for they have the Lord’s own truth within them.
    8. But another step remains. While the person is now acting and living from faith in the Lord, another thing needs to be added, to be able to do these things from the good that is in the new will given to him by the Lord. This sixth state of regeneration, the 6th day of creation, will be the topic of the sermon next week.
    9. AC (Elliott) n. 48. From these considerations it is now clear that the fifth state is one in which a person speaks from faith which is part of the understanding and in so doing confirms himself in truth and good; and that what he produces at that point are the animate things called ‘the fish of the sea and the birds of the air.2

      It is also clear that the sixth state exists when he utters truths and performs good deeds from faith which is part of the understanding and so from love which is part of the will. What he produces at that point is called a living creature and a beast. And because at that point he begins to act both from faith and from love simultaneously, he becomes a spiritual man, who is called an image; and this is dealt with next. Amen.

First Lesson: Luke 18:15-19

Then they also brought infants to Him that He might touch them; but when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. But Jesus called them to Him and said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.” Now a certain ruler asked Him, saying, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” So Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. Amen.

Second Lesson: AC 10-11

AC (Elliott) n. 10 The fourth state is when he is moved by love and enlightened by faith. Previous to this he did indeed utter pious words and bring forth good deeds, but he did so from a state of temptation and anguish, and not from faith and charity. Therefore the latter are now kindled in his internal man, and are called the two great lights.

AC (Elliott) n. 11 The fifth state is when he speaks from faith and in so doing confirms himself in truth and good. What he brings forth at this point are animate and are called the fish of the sea and the birds of the air.3 Amen.

 

1lit. the faces

2lit. birds of the heavens (or the skies)

  1. 3lit. birds of the heavens (or the skies)

“The 4th Day”

A Sermon by the Rev. James P. Cooper

Toronto – February 23, 2014

AC (Elliott) n. 30 Verses 14-17 And God said, Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens, to make a distinction between the day and the night; and they will be for signs, and for set times, and for days and years. And they will be for lights in the expanse of the heavens, to give light upon the earth; and it was so. And God made the two great lights, the greater light to have dominion over the day, and the lesser light to have dominion over the night; and the stars. And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.

  1. As has been pointed out before in this series, the story of Creation as told in the book of Genesis is not intended to be a scientific explanation of how the universe came into existence.

    1. That’s something that the Lord left to us to discover for ourselves.

    2. The Word, while based in stories about people and events in the world, is really about our spiritual lives. The 7 days are 7 states of creation of the human mind – or they could also be seen as 7 states of the recreation or regeneration of the human mind.

    3. Actually, this should be pretty obvious, even to the casual reader of Scripture, with or without the Writings to help.

      1. For example, there’s not one story of creation, but two. The 7 days that we’re studying now, and the story of the garden of Eden that follows immediately after it. So if there are two completely different versions of creation, one following the other, they are probably not meant to be taken literally.

      2. Then there’s the problem presented by the events of the 4th day. If you’ll recall, light was created on the first day, but the sun moon and stars are not created until the 4th day.

    4. So then, what do the sun, moon, and stars mean in the context of our spiritual life and our preparation for the life of heaven?

  2. Arcana Coelestia 30 says, “No one can have an adequate understanding of what ‘the great lights’ are unless he knows what the underlying essence of faith is and how it develops in people who are being created anew. The very essence and life of faith is the Lord alone. In fact it is impossible for anyone who does not believe in the Lord to have life, as He Himself has said in John, He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not believe in the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God will rest upon him. John 3:36.”

    1. We can’t understand the meaning of the “great lights” unless we first understand the underlying essence of faith and how it develops in people who are being regenerated, or being created anew.

    2. So, what we’re really talking about here is our own mental and spiritual states as they develop and change during the course of our lives in the world.

    3. And it’s important that we see and understand the fundamental truth that faith is not something that arises within us, that has its origin with us. Faith is a gift from the Lord, and we need to recognize that in order to have true faith there first needs to be a recognition that there is a power outside of us that gives us life, and that creative power is the Lord.

      1. We can’t have a true, living faith in ourselves, so it has to be in someone or something outside of ourselves, and that someone is the Lord. As we read in AC 30, “The very essence and life of faith is the Lord alone.”

    4. AC (Elliott) n. 31 That ‘the great lights’ mean love and faith, and are also mentioned as the sun, the moon, and the stars, is clear….

    5. An interesting thing about the New Church is that although we have a huge amount of doctrine to draw on, sometimes so much that people think that’s all we have, most of that doctrine actually talks about the love that underlies it all.

    6. The 4th day is a case in point.

      1. It’s all about the creation of objects that are related to light – which is most cases in the Word corresponds to some form of truth.

      2. However, in this case, we find that the “great light”, or the sun, actually corresponds to love because of its warmth and inherent life-giving characteristics.

      3. It’s also interesting to think about from the point of view of natural science. The sun, representing love, is a source of both heat and light. The moon, representing faith, does not produce any light of it’s own. When the moon is full, we are seeing the light of the sun reflected from it’s surface. When the moon is new and we can see it’s shape only faintly, what we are seeing is light from the sun reflecting off the earth, hitting the moon, and reflecting back to us.

      4. The sun is the active, living force, while the moon is only passive, reflecting back what comes from another.

    7. So we see that although the two great lights are so closely related that they are given a singular noun in scripture to show that they are as one, still they are distinctly different.

      1. So with love and faith. Love is living and warm. Our faith is then a reflection of our love.

      2. However, this is not something that happens right away, it comes on the 4th day, that is, the 4 step of our progress through the states of regeneration.

    8. As we read in the lessons in AC 6 – 10

      1. The first state is called a void or emptiness because it represents that time in our lives from infancy until such time as we begin making rational choices and taking control of our spiritual lives.

      2. The second state is when, for the first time, a person begins to run into issues, temptations, sorrows, and misfortunes.

        1. This is the time of life that we sometimes call the “Ishmael rational.” There’s a lot of truth, but not much wisdom, so there are conflicts with other people, poor decisions and their consequences, and a great deal of important lessons being learned.

        2. At this point, since there is not yet any real wisdom to draw on, the Lord provides “remnants” or affections based on happy experiences in childhood to provide guidance and support.

      3. In the third state, the turmoil and conflict of the second state comes to an end when the person begins to acquire internal truths and to live from their internal man. Because the person begin to think and act from wisdom, and seeks to do things that are genuinely useful, the deeds are called in the Word the tender plant, the seed bearing plant, and finally a fruit tree.

        1. But even though these deeds are genuinely good deeds, the person in the third state hasn’t yet come to see that the Lord is the source of all love and faith, and while the person thinks that these good deeds originate in themselves, that they are the cause of them, they remain “inanimate” rather than truly living. But the person is heading in the right direction.

      4. There’s been light since the first day. Every person, from childhood through early adulthood, is gifted with the knowledge of the difference between right and wrong, and with feelings of contentment and happiness when they do the right thing. They come without effort, and are part of the package, so to speak. But as we navigate the shoals of adult life we are faced with temptations and challenges. If, during the course of these, we turn to the Lord through prayer and study of the Word, all the while trying to do the right thing, the fourth state will come. The light will dawn. We’ll have that “aha” moment when it starts to come together for us. We’ll feel that love from the Lord in ourselves, and we’ll see situations anew, from the light in our internal mind that comes from heaven.

        1. It doesn’t come without work, but it is the goal that the Lord has been leading us to all along.

        2. And with it comes the promise of even greater enlightenment and even greater usefulness in the states to follow. Amen.

First Lesson: Matthew 17:1-13

Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, led them up on a high mountain by themselves; and He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him. Then Peter answered and said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, let us make here three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!” And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their faces and were greatly afraid. But Jesus came and touched them and said, “Arise, and do not be afraid.” When they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only. Now as they came down from the mountain, Jesus commanded them, saying, “Tell the vision to no one until the Son of Man is risen from the dead.” And His disciples asked Him, saying, “Why then do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?” Jesus answered and said to them, “Indeed, Elijah is coming first and will restore all things. But I say to you that Elijah has come already, and they did not know him but did to him whatever they wished. Likewise the Son of Man is also about to suffer at their hands.”
Then the disciples understood that He spoke to them of John the Baptist.

Second Lesson: AC 6 – 10

AC (Elliott) n. 6 CONTENTS

The six days or periods of time, which are so many consecutive states in man’s regeneration, are in general as follows:

AC (Elliott) n. 7 The first state is the state which precedes, both the state existing from earliest childhood onwards and that existing immediately before regeneration; and it is called a void, emptiness, and thick darkness. And the first movement, which is the Lord’s mercy, is ‘the Spirit of God hovering over the face* of the waters’.

* lit. The faces

AC (Elliott) n. 8 The second state is when a distinction is made between the things that are the Lord’s and those that are man’s own. Those which are the Lord’s are called in the Word ‘remnants’, and here they are chiefly the cognitions of faith which a person has learned since he was a small child. These are stored away and do not come out into the open until he reaches this state. Nowadays this state rarely occurs without temptation, misfortune, and sorrow, which lead to the inactivity and so to speak the death of bodily and worldly concerns – the things which are man’s own. In this way what belongs to the external man is segregated from what belongs to the internal. Within the internal are the remnants, stored away by the Lord until this time and for this purpose.

AC (Elliott) n. 9 The third state is one of repentance, a state in which he speaks piously and devoutly from the internal man and brings forth goods, like charitable acts which are nevertheless inanimate since he imagines that they originate in himself. They are called a tender plant, then a seed-bearing plant, and finally a fruit tree.

AC (Elliott) n. 10 The fourth state is when he is moved by love and enlightened by faith. Previous to this he did indeed utter pious words and bring forth good deeds, but he did so from a state of temptation and anguish, and not from faith and charity. Therefore the latter are now kindled in his internal man, and are called the two great lights.

The Parable of the Sower

 

A Sermon by the Rev. James P. Cooper

Toronto – January 5, 2014

Behold! A Sower went forth to sow. (MAT 13:1)

  1. The Word is like a man clothed
    1. Prophets, Old Testament are like heavy clothing
    2. New Testament parables are like the face and hands
    3. Rules developed from the Science of Correspondences are the same, but interpretation varies.
      1. From minister to minister
      2. From time to time – as you progress through life you have different questions, you view the world through a different set of lenses, you have acquired wisdom and experience.
      3. Your understanding will be influenced by the affections which are with you at the time, or the circumstances that inspired you to ask the question and look to a particular text.
      4. In Genesis, it tells how the Lord put an angel to guard the entrance to the Garden of Eden. He was armed with a two-edged sword.
        1. The two-edged sword stands for the freedom to interpret according to spiritual laws.
        2. Provided that the approach is from the affirmative principle. That is, the student humbly approaches the Word to discover what it has to say, willing to be lead by the Lord’s truth.
        3. The internal sense is not served by those who seek to confirm what they already believe by seeking out passages that can be constructed into an argument.
  2. The parable of the sower is very well known. Partly because it is simple and clear, and partly because the Lord Himself interprets it for the disciples – so we really know what He meant by the parable, and that helps us to confidently seek meaning from the other parables.
    1. Behold, a sower went out to sow.
      1. The Sower = the Lord
      2. The Seed = the Word
        1. seed = Word of the Lord, thus truth. (AC 3310)
        2. The Word = the Lord’s Doctrine. (AC 1288)
        3. the Word = truth Divine (evident without explanation) (AC 9987)
        4. Field into which the seed was to be cast = The life of an individual.
        5. Field = Good of life in which faith is implanted, that is, spiritual truths which are of the church. (AC 3310)
    2. And as he sowed, some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds came and devoured them.
      1. The “wayside” refers to the path beside the ploughed and prepared field. It would be earth, packed hard from the passage of many feet, so the seeds would like exposed and be eaten by birds and other animals.
      2. Hard way = falsity (AC 3310)
      3. Hard way = those who have confirmed falsities in themselves. (AC 5096)
      4. seed in the way = with those who do not care for truth. (Life 90)
      5. Devoured by the fowls of the air
        1. fowls = falsities; fantasies and false persuasions (AC 778).
      6. By the way side is represented those that hear the Word, but succumb to the devil (or Satan), and turn away.
      7. Why ‘devil’ is used in Luke, ‘Satan’ in Mark: because seed that fell upon the way = truth from the Word that is received in the memory only and not in the life, and as this is taken away by both evil and falsity, therefore both ‘devil’ and ‘Satan’ are mentioned. (AE 740)
    3. Some fell on stony places, where they did not have much earth; and they immediately sprang up because they had no depth of earth. But when the sun was up they were scorched, and because they had no root they withered away.
      1. These are they who receive the Word with joy, but fall away in time of temptation because they have no root.
      2. Hard rock = persuasion, when a person is persuaded to do something because through a presentation of facts that may leave some important fact out, or exaggerate certain aspects. It makes it hard to get to the truth of the matter and do the right thing. (AC 5096)
      3. Stony place = truth that has no root in good. (AC 3310), or those who care for truth, but not interiorly. (Life 90)
      4. To have no root in themselves = to have no charity, for charity is faith rooted, and they who have not the support of this root will yield in temptation. (AC 1846)
    4. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked them.
      1. These are they who hear the Word, but are choked by the cares and riches of the world, which turn them aside, and they bring no fruit to perfection.
        1. Cares – people who are so worried and anxious about the things going on in their life that they believe they don’t have time for one more thing, for worship, for prayer, for reading the Word. It’s an aspect of the love of self.
        2. It also shows up in our concern for the riches of the world, for acquiring and playing with our various things. Again, when we regard our own things – be they cares or possessions – as more important than spiritual things, it’s the love of self. And that blocks out the Lord and the Word, chokes them to death.
      2. Thorns = evils. (AC 3310)
        1. falsities which confirm the things of the world and pleasures (AC 9144)
    5. But others fell on good ground and yielded a crop: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty
      1. These are they who hear the Word, and having heard the Word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.
      2. Good ground = those who love truths that are in the Word from the Lord, and do them from Him…. in these the “seed” takes root in the spiritual mind. (Life 90)
      3. Good ground = men conjoined to the Lord by receiving truths that make him spiritual. (AE 239)
      4. Springs up, Bears fruit 100, 60, 30 fold
        1. 30 = full of remains, somewhat of combat.
        2. 30 = 5 X 6; five = somewhat, six = combat
        3. 30 = 3 X 10; three = full, ten = remains
        4. 6 = 2 X 3; therefore what is full and all, because 2 = marriage of good and truth, and 3 = what is full and all. (AR 610)
        5. 60 = full of remains, because a multiple of 10.
        6. Hundred fold = what is full. (AC 2636)
        7. 100 = full of remains, because a multiple of 10. (AC 5335)
        8. fruits = goods done out of charity (AC 934)
        9. In summary: to bring forth fruit in patience = to do truths and goods even when living amidst falsities and evils, that is, among those who are in falsities and evils. (AE 813)
  3. The whole parable is used as an example of the doctrine of genuine truth from the Lord in the Word that truth must be lived. (AE 250; 785)
    1. Faith is formed by man’s living according to truths. (TCR 347)
    2. Charity is merely a fleeting mental abstraction unless, whenever possible, it is expressed in works. (TCR 375, 376, 483)
    3. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

First Lesson: MAT 13:10-23

And the disciples came and said to Him, “Why do You speak to them in parables?” He answered and said to them, “Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says: ‘ Hearing you will hear and shall not understand, And seeing you will see and not perceive; For the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, And their eyes they have closed, Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, So that I should heal them.’ But blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear; for assuredly, I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it. Therefore hear the parable of the sower: When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, then the wicked one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is he who received seed by the wayside. But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles. Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful. But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.”

Second Lesson: AC 6053

From all this it is evident that nothing is known about the soul, and this is the reason why all that has been asserted on the subject is conjectural. And as in this way men could have no idea about the soul, very many have not been able to avoid the belief that the soul is a mere vital thing that is dissipated when the body dies. And this is the reason why the learned have less belief in the life after death than the simple; and because they do not believe in it, neither can they believe in the things which belong to that life, which are the heavenly and spiritual things of faith and love. This also appears from the Lord’s words in Matthew:

Thou hast hid these things from the wise and intelligent, and hast revealed them unto babes (Matt 11:25).

And again:

Seeing they see not, and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand (Matt. 13:13).

For the simple have no such thoughts about the soul; but believe that they will have after death; in which simple faith, unknown to them, there is hidden the belief that they will live there as men, will see angels, will speak with them, and will enjoy happiness.

Third Lesson: Life 90

It is truth that is meant by the seed in the field … The sower here is the Lord, and the seed is His Word, thus truth; the seed by the wayside is with those who do [not] care about truth; and the seed upon stony places is with those who care for truth, but not for its own sake, and thus not interiorly. The seed among thorns is with those who are in the lusts of evil; but the seed in the good ground is with those who from the Lord love the truths which are in the Word, and who from Him practices them, and thus bring forth fruit. That this is the meaning of these things is evident from the Lord’s explanation of them, Matthew xiii 19-23; Mark iv 14-20; and Luke viii 11-15.

From these considerations it is clear that the truth of the Word cannot take root with those who do not care about truth; nor with those who love truth outwardly but not inwardly; nor with those who are in the lusts of evil; but with those in whom the lusts of evil have been dispersed by the Lord. With these the seed, that is, truth, becomes rooted in their spiritual mind….

 

The Flight into Egypt

 

A Sermon by the Rev. James P. Cooper

Toronto – December 29, 2013

When Israel was a child then I loved him, and called My son out of Egypt (HOS. 11:1)

  1. During the Christmas season we’ve been looking at the main elements of the story, assembling elements from Matthew and Luke into a chronological order.
    1. An angel visits Zacharias to announce the birth of John the Baptist
    2. An angel visits Mary to invite her to become the mother of the Messiah.
    3. An angel visits Joseph to reassure him that Mary has not taken up with another man, but that the child she is carrying is “of the Holy Spirit.” A better man than most, he accepts this explanation and protects Mary and the child.
    4. Mary and Joseph travel to Bethlehem, where the child is born in a stable.
    5. An angel announces the birth to the shepherds, who rush to find the baby wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.
    6. At 8 days of age He was taken to Jerusalem and presented in the temple – as was described in the children’s talk.
    7. Mary and Joseph find a house. Perhaps they intended to stay in Bethlehem permanently, or perhaps they intended to stay only until the baby was old enough to travel. In either case, this is where the wise men, guided by an angel that appeared to them as a star, found the family and gave Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
    8. An angel appears to the wise men and warns them to avoid Herod, so they go home “another way.”
    9. An angel warns Mary and Joseph of Herod’s anger, so they take the baby and flee into Egypt – setting the stage for the fulfilment of the prophesy in Hosea which is our text.
      1. (Mat 2:13-23) Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, “Arise, take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I bring you word; for Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him.” {14} When he arose, he took the young Child and His mother by night and departed for Egypt, {15} and was there until the death of Herod, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying, “Out of Egypt I called My Son.”
    10. Herod, in an effort to remove what he perceives as a rival, orders all the male children in Bethlehem under 2 years of age murdered, fulfilling yet another prophecy.
      1. {16} Then Herod, when he saw that he was deceived by the wise men, was exceedingly angry;
    11. Herod shows his murderous intent
      1. and he sent forth and put to death all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its districts, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the wise men. {17} Then was fulfilled what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying: {18} “A voice was heard in Ramah, Lamentation, weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, Refusing to be comforted, Because they are no more.”
      2. The destruction of innocence. When the love of self becomes so strong that it cannot tolerate even the idea of following the Lord’s leading.
    12. Finally, an angel tells Mary and Joseph that it is safe for them to return to Israel, and the prophecy that the Lord would be “called out of Egypt” is fulfilled as they travel back to Nazareth.
      1. {19} But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, {20} saying, “Arise, take the young Child and His mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the young Child’s life are dead.” {21} Then he arose, took the young Child and His mother, and came into the land of Israel.
    13. The final time Joseph is warned by “God”! This results in him turning aside from wherever he was planning on going to Nazareth. Maybe they had talked about using this trip as a chance to move away from Nazareth? After all, Mary’s reputation was in question, and it was known to be a rough part of the country. Maybe they were heading back to Bethlehem? All this is speculation, based on the following where it says they were “turned aside” and ended up in Nazareth – which just happens to fulfil the prophecies.
      1. {22} But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea instead of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. And being warned by God in a dream, he turned aside into the region of Galilee. {23} And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, “He shall be called a Nazarene.”
    14. Nothing more is recorded of their activities until they travel to Jerusalem when Jesus is twelve years old.
  2. Now that we’ve looked at the big picture, let’s focus on the flight to Egypt.
    1. Ancient Egypt has captured our imagination as a special place throughout recorded history.
      1. The Pyramid of Giza, the oldest and largest of the three great pyramids, is a huge technical achievement and as such represents both academic knowledge and technical knowledge, as well as the wealth to support these kind of endeavours.
      2. The Pyramids were already 500 years old when Abraham visited Egypt.
      3. The Pyramids were 1000 years old when Joseph ruled Egypt.
      4. When the Lord was in Egypt, they were 2500 years old.
      5. Then there are things like the Hieroglyphics and the Library in Alexandria.
      6. Put these things all together and you should get a sense of a place where there has been a high level of culture and learning for a long time, a place that is a living symbol of the sum total of human knowledge.
    2. Because people have associated Egypt with knowledge for so long, in the Word it represents the sum total of natural knowledge.
      1. In Genesis, Abraham represents the Lord. The internal sense of Abraham’s journeys tells us about the succession of states as the mind of the infant Jesus developed. And that’s why Abraham travelled to Egypt – to represent that part of the Lord’s life where He was learning natural truths about the world around Him.
      2. The travels of Isaac, Jacob, and the sons of Jacob to Egypt also represent aspects of this central truth: The Lord Himself, and each one of us, needs to go to “Egypt” as a part of our development. We need to acquire natural truths from studying the world around us, and use them to build a foundation upon which the rational and spiritual degrees of the mind can eventually be built.
    3. But we have to be careful. “Egypt” can be a very attractive place. We can become so fond of the truths of the natural world, and the power that mastery of them can bring, that we get stuck there.
      1. This can affect us in a variety of ways.
        1. An academic who gets so involved with the minutia of his subject that he views everything in terms of his narrow view (and yes, this can affect theologians).
        2. Commercial media. Newspapers, magazines, television, the Internet – all these things are presenting information with the intent of getting your attention, giving you what you want, and drawing you in so you will see the ads that pay the bills. If it were food, it would be sugary snacks instead of a balanced diet.
        3. A person who is fearful about the whole idea of death and the afterlife, and who instead clings to the natural world as if not thinking about it will make it all just go away.
    4. Just as the sons of Israel were eventually made slaves in Egypt, we can get so caught up in the truths of the natural world that we don’t ever raise our thoughts to things higher, to the meaning and purpose behind all these things.
      1. The children of Israel were stuck in Egypt for 400 years, and would have stayed there forever had not the Lord sent Moses (representing the Word) to lead them out.
      2. That they were slaves for 400 years is important, because it tells us that to get out of this state will be difficult. It will be a test or trial or temptation (signified by 40) multiplied by 10.
  3. Moses led the great Exodus from Egypt at the Lord’s command. Moses didn’t want to do it. He tried to argue his way out of it. Even when he was successful in getting them out of Egypt, the next 40 years were full of battles, hardships, and complaining. But, he did it because the Lord asked him to do it, and in the long run it led to the greater good for the whole nation.
    1. Mary and Joseph probably could have settled there in safety and peace. Joseph could prosper as a carpenter anywhere. But God Himself spoke to Joseph and told him to take Mary and the child and go back to Israel, to get out of Egypt.
    2. The lesson should be clear that the Lord wants us to hear the same message.
      1. Everyone of us needs to spend some time in Egypt. We need to spend time in school studying the things that the natural world can teach us.
      2. But as much fun as it is, we are not to overstay our time in Egypt. The Lord calls to us from the Word with higher truths that can rest securely on the natural truths and take us to new heights of understanding and usefulness.
      3. And, like the children of Israel following Moses, we are allowed to “borrow” from the Egyptians. There are many things that are useful to know, that support our spiritual goals, and we can bring those along without harm.
    3. Let us then step back and look at the course of our lives from this perspective.
      1. Look for the useful things learned from the natural world and borrow them so that they can serve as a support for higher things.
      2. Along the way, there will be temptations and battles. The evil spirits and your own hereditary inclinations will try to get you to turn back, to return to the “flesh pots” of Egypt. A life without risk, but of slavery. We need to fight those enemies of our spiritual life until they are dead, and we are free to travel to out true spiritual home.

MAT 2{19} But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, {20} saying, “Arise, take the young Child and His mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the young Child’s life are dead.” {21} Then he arose, took the young Child and His mother, and came into the land of Israel. Amen.

First Lesson: Mat 2:13-23

Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, “Arise, take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I bring you word; for Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him.” {14} When he arose, he took the young Child and His mother by night and departed for Egypt, {15} and was there until the death of Herod, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying, “Out of Egypt I called My Son.” {16} Then Herod, when he saw that he was deceived by the wise men, was exceedingly angry; and he sent forth and put to death all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its districts, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the wise men. {17} Then was fulfilled what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying: {18} “A voice was heard in Ramah, Lamentation, weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, Refusing to be comforted, Because they are no more.” {19} But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, {20} saying, “Arise, take the young Child and His mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the young Child’s life are dead.” {21} Then he arose, took the young Child and His mother, and came into the land of Israel. {22} But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea instead of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. And being warned by God in a dream, he turned aside into the region of Galilee. {23} And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, “He shall be called a Nazarene.” Amen

Second Lesson: AC 1462:6

That the Lord when an infant was brought into Egypt, signified the same that is here signified by Abram; and it took place for the additional reason that He might fulfil all the things that had been represented concerning Him. In the inmost sense the migration of Jacob and his sons into Egypt represented the first instruction of the Lord in knowledges from the Word, as is also manifest from the following passages. It is said of the Lord in Matthew:

An angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and His mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I tell thee. And he arose and took the young child and His mother by night, and departed into Egypt, and was there until the death of Herod; that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called My son (Matt. 2:13-15, 19-21);

concerning which it is said in Hosea:

When Israel was a child then I loved him, and called My son out of Egypt (HOS. 11:1). Amen.

 

“Primogeniture”

Path of Integrity week 7

A Sermon by the Rev. James P. Cooper

Toronto – Nov. 4, 2012

  1. We are now coming to the end of our series on Joseph.
    1. We have followed Joseph’s life story from the time he was the youth who was regarded with jealousy by his 10 older brothers because he was so obviously favoured by their father through his time as a slave in the house of Potiphar and his time as a prisoner, until he rose to be second in power in Egypt only to Pharaoh himself.
    2. We have followed the story of his family through the grief of separation, to the initial tentative contacts, to a full revelation and reconciliation.
    3. As one would expect, at the end of the story, when people have completed their journey of life, and done so with integrity, it is reasonable to expect that there will be spiritual blessings.
    4. Up until this point in the historical narrative, the main focus has been on the relationship between Joseph and his 10 older brothers. Benjamin says nothing in all this, even though the story revolves around whether he is with his father, the 10 brothers, or Joseph. Now that the issue of who gets Benjamin has been resolved – since the family is together, everyone has him for the moment – we can look at the concluding message.
    5. When the 10 brothers return at the end of their second trip to Egypt with the news that not only is Benjamin safe, but Joseph has been found alive, Jacob is overcome with shock and joy. Further, he learns that he and the whole family has been invited to move to Egypt where there is safety and food.
    6. Once in Egypt, Jacob discovers that not only is Joseph not dead, but he has produced grandsons that he can bless!
      1. Jacob is old and blind, so Joseph brings his two sons to Jacob and arranges them so that the Manasseh, the elder son will be touched by Jacob’s right hand.
      2. Jacob crosses his hands, conferring the blessing of the firstborn on the younger son, Ephraim.
      3. Joseph, probably thinking that his elderly father is confused, tries to correct what he considers to be a mistake, and is reprimanded by Jacob. Manasseh will indeed have an important place and be a blessing, but the greater role has been reserved for Ephraim.
  2. So what’s going on here?
    1. This story is the Lord’s way of giving an answer to a question that people have been debating in the church for thousands of years – which comes first, faith or charity?
    2. It may not seem to be an important question, yet it comes up over and over again in the stories of the Word.
      1. AC 367 That charity is the “brother” of faith is evident to everyone from the nature or essence of faith. This brotherhood was represented by Esau and Jacob, and was the ground of their dispute about the birthright and the consequent dominion. It was also represented by Pharez and Zarah, the sons of Tamar by Judah (Gen. 38:28, 29, 30); and by Ephraim and Manasseh (Gen. 48:13, 14); and in both of these, as well as in other similar cases, there is a dispute about the primogeniture and the consequent dominion.
        1. Cain and Abel
        2. Esau and Jacob
            1. Jacob himself received the blessing of the firstborn although he was the 2nd.
        3. Tamar’s twins Pharez and Zarah
            1. Culturally, the issue of who was so important that the firstborn that the midwife was prepared with red thread to mark the first born child when twins were expected!
        4. Final plague in Egypt, the death of the firstborn
          1. Here, because it was a spiritual church where faith was in the first place, and it was a fallen church so it was actually falsity that was in the first place, it was judged – or brought to an end – by having those falsities removed.
        5. Manasseh and Ephraim
    3. There is a progression in our own lives, and in a parallel way in the development of the Lord’s church over the generations. When we (and the church) are young, we see things in terms of truth – because we as yet have very little in the way of true charity.
      1. It’s only later, as we gain experience and begin to bring our lives into order and put the truth into life and become forms of charity that we begin to see the importance of charity.
      2. So the appearance is that faith is the firstborn, and that charity only comes later.
        1. So, the child that represents faith is born first. In the Joseph story, that is Manasseh.
        2. But when it comes time for the blessing, it is the child that represent charity that gets the blessing of the firstborn.
    4. Or another way to put it is that charity is first in end, not in time.
      1. When we think about it from the natural mind which is in time and space, we see what come first in time.
      2. When we think about it from the mind that is uplifted into spiritual things by doing what is good, we think apart from time and space and rather see it in terms of ends – and so Charity is seen to be first in importance.
  3. AC 4925:7 points out that the Lord alone is the firstborn, because He is the source of all good, and all truth is derived from that good.
    1. It all starts with the Lord.
      1. He wants us to live in charity like the angels, so when we are born He gives everyone the ability to be affected by truth.
        1. Or, what we call “an affection for truth” which is a kind of love, or good.
      2. Because of that affection for truth, we can then acquire facts about the world and heaven. We look at them, and fit them into the puzzle of our lives in different ways using our rational minds to weigh the consequences, and eventually come up with a faith that works for us.
      3. As that faith is growing, if we are doing it right, we are learning by doing, see which of those truths of faith give us delight when we live them – and in the process we become forms of charity (angels).
      4. These new delights then give us new insights in how to do things even better, and we acquire new truths of faith.
      5. Which lead to new forms of charity and the delights that accompany them.
      6. Which lead to new forms of faith.
      7. And so on to eternity. Amen.

First Lesson: GEN 48:15-22

15 And he blessed Joseph, and said: “ God, before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, The God who has fed me all my life long to this day,

16 The Angel who has redeemed me from all evil, Bless the lads; Let my name be named upon them, And the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; And let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.”

17 Now when Joseph saw that his father laid his right hand on the head of Ephraim, it displeased him; so he took hold of his father’s hand to remove it from Ephraim’s head to Manasseh’s head.

18 And Joseph said to his father, “Not so, my father, for this one is the firstborn; put your right hand on his head.”

19 But his father refused and said, “I know, my son, I know. He also shall become a people, and he also shall be great; but truly his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his descendants shall become a multitude of nations.”

20 So he blessed them that day, saying, “By you Israel will bless, saying, ‘May God make you as Ephraim and as Manasseh!’ “ And thus he set Ephraim before Manasseh.

21 Then Israel said to Joseph, “Behold, I am dying, but God will be with you and bring you back to the land of your fathers.

22 Moreover I have given to you one portion above your brothers, which I took from the hand of the Amorite with my sword and my bow.”

Second Lesson: TCR 336

From the wisdom of the ancients came forth this tenet, that the universe and each and all things therein relate to good and truth; and thus that all things pertaining to the church relate to love or charity and faith, since everything that flows forth from love or charity is called good, and everything that flows forth from faith is called true. Since then charity and faith are distinguishably two, and yet make one in man, that he may be a man of the church, that is, that the church may be in him, it was a matter of controversy and dispute among the ancients, which one of the two should be first, and which therefore is by right to be called the firstborn. Some of them said that truth is first and consequently faith; and some good, and consequently charity. For they saw that immediately after birth man learns to talk and think, and is thereby perfected in understanding, which is done by means of knowledges, and by this means he learns and understands what is true; and afterwards by means of this he learns and understands what is good; consequently, that he first learns what faith is, and afterward what charity is. Those who so comprehended this subject, supposed that the truth of faith was the firstborn, and that good of charity was born afterwards; for which reason they gave to faith the eminence and prerogative of primogeniture. But those who so reasoned overwhelmed their own understandings with such a multitude of arguments in favor of faith, as not to see that faith is not faith unless it is conjoined with charity, and that charity is not charity unless conjoined with faith, and thus that they make one, and if not so conjoined, neither of them is anything in the church. That they do completely make one, will be shown in what follows.

[2] But in these prefatory remarks I will show briefly how or in what respect they make one; for this is important as throwing some light on what follows. Faith, by which is also meant truth, is first in time; while charity, by which is also meant good, is first in end; and that which is first in end, is actually first, because it is primary, therefore also it is the firstborn, while that which is first in time, is not actually first, but only apparently so. But to make this understood, it shall be illustrated by comparisons with the building of a temple, and of a house, the laying out of a garden, and the preparation of a field. In the building of a temple, the first thing in time is to lay the foundation, erect the walls and put on the roof; then to put in the altar and rear the pulpit; while the first thing in end is the worship of God therein, for the sake of which the preceding work is done. In the building of a house, the first thing in time is to build its outside parts, and also to furnish it with various articles of necessity; while the first thing in end is a suitable dwelling for the man and the others who are to constitute his household. In the laying out of a garden, the first thing in time is to level the ground, prepare the soil, and plant trees in it and sow in it the seeds of such things as will be of use; while the first thing in end is the use of its products. In the preparation of a field, the first thing in time is to smooth, plough and harrow it, and then to sow it; while the first thing in end is the crop; thus again, use. From these comparisons anyone may conclude what is essentially first. Does not everyone who wishes to build a temple or a house, or to lay out a garden, or cultivate a field, first intend some use? And does he not continually keep this in his mind and meditate upon it while he is procuring the means to it? We therefore conclude that the truth of faith is first in time, but that the good of charity is first in end; and that this latter, because it is primary, is actually the firstborn in the mind.

 

Having Compassion

 

Path of Integrity” Week 6

A Sermon by the Rev. James P. Cooper

Toronto – October 28, 2012

I am Joseph your brother, whom you sold into Egypt. {5} “But now, do not therefore be grieved or angry with yourselves because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life.” (GEN 45:4-5)

  1. Judah’s Plea
    1. Judah can represent love to the Lord. He can also represent the opposite loves of self and the world.
    2. Judah has inherited the role of first-born son in Jacob’s family.
      1. Leah produced the first 4 sons: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and then Judah.
      2. But, Reuben, Simeon, and Levi all committed serious offences against their father and had been disinherited, leaving Judah as the official firstborn, and the son who was in line to inherit all of Jacob’s wealth.
        1. It was oldest take all, no even division among the children.
      3. However, Jacob made no secret that he preferred his wife Rachel and showed Rachel’s oldest son, Joseph, preferential treatment.
        1. Judah had reason to believe that he might be pushed aside and the full rights of the firstborn be given to Joseph.
        2. He had good reason to hate Joseph because Joseph was the one son that stood between him and great wealth and power. It didn’t help that Joseph dreamed that Judah would someday bow down to him, and that he was sent by Jacob to spy on the rest of them as they went about their business. All the sons of Leah (and the handmaidens) wanted Joseph dead – but it was Judah who came up with the plan that not only got rid of him but generated some cash – sell him into slavery.
        3. The picture of Judah in the letter of the Word at the start of the Joseph story is of a very hard, murderous, selfish man.
    3. Now compare that man to the Judah that is revealed when confronted by Joseph during the second trip to Egypt.
      1. At a time when Jacob is dithering about going back to Egypt and putting his family at risk by waiting too long to buy food, Judah forces him to act for the good of all.
      2. When the question of Benjamin’s safety comes up, Judah gives his word that he will take care of his brother (even though Benjamin, as Rachel’s oldest son, is likely to get the inheritance of the first born)
      3. He says to his father Jacob, “I myself will be surety for him; from my hand you shall require him” (Gen 43:9). Judah is now a man who steps up and takes responsibility when courageous action is required.
      4. But while in Egypt, Joseph’s trap is sprung. Joseph’s cup is found in Benjamin’s sack. Joseph announces that his punishment is to remain in Egypt, a slave. The character of the man Judah has become emerges: Judah gently suggests that it is Joseph’s fault that Benjamin is on the trip at all and that losing Benjamin will kill Jacob. Then he says,
        1. For your servant became surety for the lad to my father, saying, ‘If I do not bring him back to you, then I shall bear the blame before my father forever.’ {33} “Now therefore, please let your servant remain instead of the lad as a slave to my lord, and let the lad go up with his brothers. {34} “For how shall I go up to my father if the lad is not with me, lest perhaps I see the evil that would come upon my father?” (Gen 44:32-34)
        2. Judah is now offering to give his own life to save Benjamin from slavery, and thus his father’s life.
  2. At this point Joseph is moved with compassion and reveals himself.
    1. {4} And Joseph said to his brothers, “Please come near to me.” So they came near. Then he said: “I am Joseph your brother, whom you sold into Egypt. {5} “But now, do not therefore be grieved or angry with yourselves because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life.
      1. He forgives them.
    2. We want the Lord to forgive us, and He tells us how we can earn His forgiveness.
      1. In the Lord’s Prayer, “and forgive us our debts, as we also forgive our debtors.”
      2. In the responsive which commonly follows, “O Lord, forgive us our trespasses. As we forgive those who trespass against us.”
      3. We earn the Lord’s forgiveness by being willing to be forgiving of those who have cause us harm.
      4. Be willing to ask for forgiveness from others – which implies a willingness to recognize that we have ourselves done things that hurt others.
    3. However, a person cannot be forgiven while they remain in the active state of whatever it is that is causing harm.
      1. JOH 5: The paralysed man by the pool of Bethesda. He had been waiting beside the pool in the hopes of being the first to get into the water for 38 years. Jesus saw him there and asked him if he wanted to be made well. He said that he did, so Jesus said, “Take up your bed and walk.” And he did!
      2. What got the attention of the chief priests was not that Jesus had healed a man that had been ill for 38 years, they were upset that He did it on the Sabbath.
        1. (John 5:10-14) The Jews therefore said to him who was cured, “It is the Sabbath; it is not lawful for you to carry your bed.” {11} He answered them, “He who made me well said to me, ‘Take up your bed and walk.’” {12} Then they asked him, “Who is the Man who said to you, ‘Take up your bed and walk’?” {13} But the one who was healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, a multitude being in that place.
      3. What’s interesting in this context is what happened next. Jesus was always tying the healing of natural diseases to the healing of spiritual ills.
        1. {14} Afterward Jesus found him in the temple, and said to him, “See, you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you.”
      4. He was being warned that having been forgiven, he had better not go back to the old ways or the spiritual sickness would return with even greater power.
      5. Recall the lesson about the woman caught in adultery. The people wanted to stone her, but Jesus wanted to forgive her. But His final words to her are key: “Go and sin no more” (JOH 8:11)
  3. If you want forgiveness, you have to STOP what it is that you are doing wrong, and be willing to forgive others.
    1. We want others to assume the best of us, should we not also then make the effort to assume good motives in others? At least until proven wrong.
    2. And this leads us full circle to the topic for this week, having compassion.
    3. Joseph was in the position to punish his brothers for the wicked things that they did to him.
      1. But, he was able to see from Judah’s plea (and other elements of the story) that these were not the same men who had wished him harm those many years ago.
      2. He was able to see the big picture, see how what had seemed to be a terrible tragedy had actually played out in such a way that it saved thousands of people’s lives, including his own family.
      3. And, he was able to see that the disorders of the past were no longer active with them, and so all the elements were in place for him to be forgiving:
        1. His brothers were in a state of order, and
        2. He was stepping back from the situation and trying to see things as if through the Lord’s eyes instead of hanging on to his own anger. When we try to see things as if through the Lord’s eyes, rather than our own, we are able to feel compassion and forgiveness.
    4. And we feel blessed, we feel a sense of happiness and order that comes when we put ourselves in the stream of providence and let the Lord lead our lives.
      1. Next week, in our 7th and final sermon in this series, we’ll talk about these blessings that come to us from surprising sources. Amen.

 

 

First Lesson:

(John 8:3-11) Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst, {4} they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. {5} “Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?” {6} This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear. {7} So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” {8} And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. {9} Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. {10} When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?” {11} She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”

Second Lesson: AC (Elliott) n. 5867

The previous chapter dealt with the internal man, which is ‘Joseph’ – with the initial steps taken by the internal man to become joined to the external natural man, which is ‘Jacob’s ten sons’, through the intermediary, which is ‘Benjamin’. The present chapter too deals with the internal man – with the actual joining of it to the external natural man. But since the two are not joined together except through spiritual good from the natural, which is ‘Israel’, the internal man prepares to link this good to itself first.

 

Abram Separates from Lot

 

A Sermon by the Rev. James P. Cooper

Dawson Creek – October 21, 2012

  1. The Lord established His covenant with Abram.
    1. They were in Ur, present day Kuwait, when the Lord called him to travel into the land of Canaan and beyond.
      1. If Abram obeys the Lord, and worships Him alone,
      2. Then the Lord would protect him, give him land, and many descendants.
    2. They set out with Terah, Abram’s father, Sarai, Abram’s wife, and his brother Haran’s son, Lot.
      1. Their first stop is Haran, a city in the north, in modern Syria. There Terah dies.
      2. So Abram & Sarai resume the journey with their nephew Lot, turning south and heading through Canaan into Egypt.
      3. In Egypt, Abram tells Pharaoh that Sarai is his sister – which is true – but it leads to trouble. Pharaoh takes her into his household and the result is that all of the women become barren. The truth is eventually revealed and Pharaoh sends Abram away with great wealth.
        1. Pharaoh has been informed in a dream that Abram is a great prophet, and he doesn’t want Abram angry with him – so he gives gifts.
    3. So, as the Lord promised, as Abram travels he becomes very rich in sheep and cattle and other possessions.
      1. So rich, in fact, that it is no longer practical for Abram and Lot to travel together.
        1. So many animals that the herdsmen were having trouble finding enough grazing, and were coming to blows over the various meadows.
        2. They had to separate. Abram gave Lot the choice.
  2. The Stories of the Word were all written in Canaan because that land, more than any other, has features that correspond to heavenly things.
    1. The Sea of Galilee
      1. Fresh clear water in the mountains, full of fish = the Word.
    2. The Jordan river, the boundary of the land = introductory truths.
      1. Truths because it is water, introductory because it is the boundary that separates the non-church from the church.
      2. This is why John and Jesus baptized in the Jordan river (See TCR 510).
    3. At the other end, the Dead Sea.
      1. 1300 ft. Below sea level. So full of minerals that nothing can live in it at all. Surrounded by desert with some of the highest temperatures in the world = represents the sensual degree of the mind, or what human beings would be without the Lord’s inflowing and uplifting love.
    4. Mountains, because they cause you to turn your face upwards toward heaven = love to the Lord
      1. But to live up there means more work
      2. Not so many luxuries
      3. But highly rewarding to those willing to work.
    5. Cities of the Plain (Sodom and Gommorah) = the Love of Self.
      1. Well watered land would support more sheep without having to walk so much.
      2. Live in a house instead of a tent.
      3. Markets nearby where all kinds of things can be purchased.
      4. And you also get to live nice and close to lots of wicked people.
    6. Lot chose the valley, and bad things began to happen to him.
      1. Kidnapped, then rescued by Abram
      2. Loses all his money and becomes a beggar in the gates of the city.
      3. Angels come to warn him, and the people of the city attack the angels.
        1. Which leads to even worse crimes
      4. Finally, Lot and his family have to flee as the city is destroyed by the Lord, and his disobedient wife is turned into a pillar of salt.
    7. Meanwhile, Abram is doing very well
      1. Enough servants that he has a personal army!
  3. We all have thousands of ideas every day.
    1. We need to chose what will become part of our mind.
    2. How do we make the right choice?
      1. Ask yourself, “mountains or valley?”
      2. or, “What would the Lord think?”
      3. or, “What would my family think?”
    3. Abram represents the Lord in this story, and we are represented by Lot.
      1. The Lord gives each of us a choice
        1. Mountains, or valley.
      2. Lot selected the valley, the “easy” way, and lost everything.
      3. Abram selected the mountains, the “difficult” way, and became the father of a nation.
    4. Reflect on the reading from the Spiritual Diary that was read as a lesson:
      1. Spirits, both good and evil, travelling together on a road.
      2. In the middle of the road was a great stone, in shadow. The good could see it, but the evil could not see it.
        1. The stone, the rock, the cornerstone of faith = the acknowledgement of the Lord in His Divine Human.
          1. This is the same as the “pearl” which forms each of the gates of the Holy City.
        2. On one side of the rock there was a path that led to heaven, on the other a path that led to hell.
        3. Evil spirits did not see the rock, stumbled, fell, and lay as if dazed. When they got up they argued that they had done as many good deeds as anyone else and so deserved to go to heaven just as much as anyone else. But when their interior thoughts were opened and revealed, it was seen that the were vile and hated the God, and could not travel the path that led to heaven.
        4. But they were also told that it was within their power to not think evils about God, and to refrain from doing things that were against the Word.
        5. They did not wish to do so, and so continued on their way into hell.
      3. This is instructive for us, still in the world, who have time to make changes to our ruling love.
        1. Refrain from thinking evil things about God – about His motives, or His failure to give you the blessings you want.
        2. Refrain from doing things that are against the Word, and thus against the life of charity.
        3. When you bring your life into order on the level of your mind, not just your deeds, then the Lord can flow in with good affections and the good thoughts that accompany them.
        4. This lead to the acknowledgement of the Lord in His Divine Human, a ruling love of good, and puts us on the path that leads to heaven.
        5. It’s not the easiest path, but the destination is worth the effort.
    5. (Mat 7:13-14) “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. {14} “Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it. Amen.

 

 

First Lesson: (Mat 7:7-14)

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. {8} “For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. {9} “Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? {10} “Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? {11} “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him! {12} “Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. {13} “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. {14} “Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.

Second Lesson: SD 5798

THE WAY WHICH LEADS TO HEAVEN IS THE SAME WAY, AS FAR AS THE CORNERSTONE, [AS THAT WHICH LEADS TO HELL].

I conversed with angels respecting the fact that it is believed that it is difficult to tread the way to heaven, because so many things must be done and all lusts forsaken, besides many things more. Wherefore, as occurs in the spiritual world, the matter was shown by means of a road, which signifies truth which leads. A road appeared at the right, where both the good and the evil trode. It was the same road; but, when they reached to a certain distance, there was a great stone, in shadow, which the good saw but not the evil. From that stone, which is called the cornerstone, a road led to one side and another to the opposite. The evil went on the opposite side, which was behind and sloped downwards; but the good went the other way, which inclined upwards. The latter led to heaven, the former to hell. That stone signified the Lord and His Divine Human. The evil did not acknowledge it: the good did acknowledge. It appeared that the evil fell upon it, because the stone was in shadow. Hence was shown that the moral life which both evil and good lead is the same, but from a different source; the evil do it from an infernal source, the good from a spiritual source. The evil who travelled it, were those who led a moral life like the moral life of the good About the cornerstone, see Matthew 21:42; Mark 12:10, 11; Luke 20:17, 18. They who fell upon the stone said, that, when they fell, they lay as if dazed. When they got up, they said that they did goods as much as the others – they were permitted to enumerate some of these – and that, therefore, they were equally entitled to enter heaven. But they were merely goods of civil life in external form; for the interiors, which were of the thought and of the love, were opened, and they were vile, and also defamatory about God, especially about the Lord. They angrily declared, also, that they were not able to do good of themselves; how, then, could they travel the way leading to heaven? But they were told that it was within their power, not to think evils about God and about the Lord, and thus to shun such things as are against the Word and against doctrine, and against the doctrine of their faith; and when they shun evils of thought, then, from the Lord, good affection and consequent thought inflows, and thus they are brought into good by the Lord; and so far as they are in this, so far they come into the affection of truth.

 

Asking for Help

 

(Path of Integrity program, week 4)

A Sermon by the Rev. James P. Cooper

Toronto – October 14, 2012

  1. The story from the Word for this week comes from Genesis 42.
    1. As was explained in the children’s talk, Joseph has risen to power in Egypt and implemented his plan to store up the excess grain produced in the good years to use in the time of famine.
    2. One could presume that there were seven good years in Canaan as well, but Joseph’s brothers, not aware of the coming lean times, did not store up enough food.
      1. As shepherds, they really couldn’t. Sheep can’t be put in storehouses against future need.
    3. As their own supplies dwindle, they hear that there is food for sale in Egypt.
      1. We’re not certain where in Canaan Jacob’s camp was, nor are we certain where in Egypt the food was being sold, but a reasonable guess would be a journey of about 400 KM each way. On foot. Across the Sinai wilderness in a time of famine.
        1. So, one can have some sympathy for Jacob being reluctant to send Benjamin on the trip if he is not really needed.
        2. On the other hand, what is the message to the other ten? Again, the youngest of them is being put at the head. They cannot but think that he will be getting the inheritance of the firstborn.
        3. Jacob has made it clear that he considers Rachel to be his one true wife, the sons of his other wives suspect they may be in for a rough time.
    4. While it is not said in the text, one has to assume that Joseph is expecting his family to come to Egypt, and it would not be hard to have border guards looking for a group of 10 shepherds from Canaan claiming to be brothers and report them to Joseph.
      1. As said in the children’s talk, Joseph terrifies them by calling them spies, and sends them back to Canaan to bring Benjamin down to him in Egypt.
  2. The story is interesting and dynamic, but the point is to figure out what all this means for us and for our own spiritual progress.
    1. The big, overshadowing point in all this is that the powerful, nomadic, fiercely independent brothers (here a symbol for each one of us) have been brought to a point where they are no longer to keep themselves alive by their own efforts and they are forced to ask Joseph (the Lord) for help.
    2. How many of you have heard – and perhaps repeated to others yourselves – the phrase, “the Lord never gives you more than you can bear.”
      1. What’s the first thing that’s wrong with this saying? That the Lord gives you troubles. Everything we know about the Divine Providence tells us that He is continually striving, in the most minute detail, to lessen the effect of evil in our lives. The trouble comes from hell, by means of other people. Not God. Ever.
      2. What is the source of the saying? Guess what. There are no passages in the Bible that teach that we are not given more than we can bear. Not surprising, because it’s not true.
      3. There are no teachings in the Heavenly Doctrine that say this (although I have seen it in some New Church collateral literature). Again, not surprising.
      4. What we do find, however, is many many teachings that tell us that in order to regenerate, we must first examine ourselves to find evils, and then we are to pray to the Lord for forgiveness and help in removing them.
      5. And in the doctrine of the Divine Providence we can see that one of the reasons the Lord allows us to experience trouble is so that we won’t be lulled into thinking we don’t need his help.
        1. The 40 spies at the beginning of the Exodus
          1. Caleb and Joshua want to go into Canaan immediately. They are the only ones who get that it is Jehovah that is doing all the fighting for them.
        2. Jericho and Ai at the end.
          1. The big, fortified city falls easily because Jehovah knocks the walls down.
          2. The little city does not fall because they are trying to do it on their own.
        3. In fact, the whole story of the Exodus from Egypt and settling in the land of Canaan is a series of examples of success when they ask the Lord for help and follow His path, and failure when they try to do it on their own without His help.
        4. Why does the Lord speak about David as the greatest king of Israel?
          1. His personal life was a mess, but when it came to his office as King, he did what the Lord asked.
  3. The Heavenly Doctrines tell us that we are able to change, that we do not have to just accept who we are, or accept a fate chosen for us by others. We have free will, and we can choose our own destiny. There are a few simple steps to follow as laid out for us in the True Christian Religion. We need to examine our actions and motives in the light of the Word; we need to recognize and admit to those things that we are doing and thinking that are contrary to the Lord’s will; and then begin a new life by not doing or thinking them any more (See TCR 528).
    1. For this to happen, there must first be the acknowledgement that there is such a thing as sin, and that it may exist in our thoughts and feelings.
    2. TCR 525. V. REPENTANCE BEGINS WITH THE KNOWLEDGE OF SIN AND THE EXAMINATION OF SOME PARTICULAR SIN IN ONESELF.

      No one in the Christian world can be without the knowledge of sin, for there every one is taught from infancy what evil is, and from childhood what is the evil of sin. All young persons learn this from parents and teachers, and also from the Decalogue, the first Book placed in the hands of all throughout Christendom; and in the subsequent stages of life, from public preaching and private instruction at home, and in all fullness from the Word. They learn it also from the laws of civil justice, which embody the teaching of the Decalogue and other parts of the Word. For the evil of sin is evil against the neighbour; and evil against the neighbour is also evil against God, and this is sin.

      The knowledge of sin, however, is of no avail unless a man examines his own actions, and sees whether he has committed any particular deed, either secretly or openly. Before this is done it is all mere knowledge, and what proceeds from the preacher is only sound, passing in at one ear and out at the other; and it finally becomes nothing more than the expression of pious thought, for the most part unreal and fanciful. But it is altogether different when a man examines himself according to his rational conception of sin, and, coming upon some evil, says to himself, “This is a sin,” and abstains from it through fear of eternal punishment. Then for the first time the instruction heard in the church, from sermon and prayer, claims his attention and enters his heart; and the man from being a pagan, becomes a Christian.

    3. We like to think that being a good person, a member of the church, is about being “charitable” – and it is. But reflect on this for the moment. The first of the church is charity, but the first of charity is to shun evils as sins. Unfortunately for us, we love our sins. And that’s what throws our spiritual life into the crisis represented by the Brothers in Canaan, starving.
    4. Coming to Egypt represents the need to approach the Word to gain knowledge to solve the problem, whatever it may be.
    5. Buying grain from Joseph represent our need to ask the Lord for help.
      1. Remember who these men were. Their hardness is a picture of our own stubbornness and need to do things our own way.
      2. The famine, the temptation that brings us to the realization that we cannot act entirely on our own, is a permission that the Lord allows because it breaks our stubborn state and bring us to the realization that we actually need the Lord’s help, that we cannot do it by ourselves….
      3. And that the Lord, ever merciful, is standing there with open arms, ready to forgive and give us what we need.
    6. The process is not simple, nor is it easy.
      1. The brothers still have to hike 400 KM back to Canaan, deal with their father, and come back again a second time to again confront “the man” who will eventually reveal himself to them as Joseph.
        1. Like in the garden of Gethsemane, the disciples could only see the Jesus as the Lord when they were in the right state. So here, the brothers cannot recognize Joseph until the earlier states of evil are broken.
        2. But that’s something to consider next week as we continue this series. Amen.

 

First Lesson:

(Continuing from the Children’s talk)

GEN 42 {21} Then they said to one another, “We are truly guilty concerning our brother, for we saw the anguish of his soul when he pleaded with us, and we would not hear; therefore this distress has come upon us.” {22} And Reuben answered them, saying, “Did I not speak to you, saying, ‘Do not sin against the boy’; and you would not listen? Therefore behold, his blood is now required of us.” {23} But they did not know that Joseph understood them, for he spoke to them through an interpreter. {24} And he turned himself away from them and wept. Then he returned to them again, and talked with them. And he took Simeon from them and bound him before their eyes. {25} Then Joseph gave a command to fill their sacks with grain, to restore every man’s money to his sack, and to give them provisions for the journey. Thus he did for them. {26} So they loaded their donkeys with the grain and departed from there. {27} But as one of them opened his sack to give his donkey feed at the encampment, he saw his money; and there it was, in the mouth of his sack. {28} So he said to his brothers, “My money has been restored, and there it is, in my sack!” Then their hearts failed them and they were afraid, saying to one another, “What is this that God has done to us?” {29} Then they went to Jacob their father in the land of Canaan and told him all that had happened to them, saying: {30} “The man who is lord of the land spoke roughly to us, and took us for spies of the country. {31} “But we said to him, ‘We are honest men; we are not spies. {32} ‘We are twelve brothers, sons of our father; one is no more, and the youngest is with our father this day in the land of Canaan.’ {33} “Then the man, the lord of the country, said to us, ‘By this I will know that you are honest men: Leave one of your brothers here with me, take food for the famine of your households, and be gone. {34} ‘And bring your youngest brother to me; so I shall know that you are not spies, but that you are honest men. I will grant your brother to you, and you may trade in the land.’” {35} Then it happened as they emptied their sacks, that surprisingly each man’s bundle of money was in his sack; and when they and their father saw the bundles of money, they were afraid. {36} And Jacob their father said to them, “You have bereaved me: Joseph is no more, Simeon is no more, and you want to take Benjamin. All these things are against me.”

Second Lesson: TCR 226

1. The Word is not understandable without a body of teaching, because the Word’s literal meaning consists entirely of correspondences whose function is to allow spiritual and heavenly things to coexist in it and every word to be a container and a support for these spiritual and heavenly contents. Therefore in the literal meaning divine truths are rarely naked; instead they are clothed and are called apparent truths. There are many things in the literal meaning that are adapted to the grasp of simple people who do not lift their thoughts above the kind of things they see before their eyes. Some things seem like contradictions, although when the Word is viewed in its own spiritual light there is no contradiction. Furthermore, in some passages in the Prophets there are collections of names of people and places from which no meaning can be extracted. Since this is the nature of the Word’s literal meaning, it is clear that it cannot be understood without a body of teaching.

[2] Examples may illustrate. We read that Jehovah relents (Exodus 32:12, 14; Jonah 3:9; 4:2); and we also read that Jehovah does not relent (Numbers 23:19; 1 Samuel 15:29). These passages cannot be reconciled without a body of teaching. We read that Jehovah inflicts parents’ sins on their children to the third and fourth generation (Numbers 14:18). Yet we also read that parents are not to die because of their children nor children because of their parents, but all die in their own sin (Deuteronomy 24:16). A body of teaching brings these passages out of disharmony into harmony.

[3] Jesus says, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; if you keep knocking it will be opened” (Matthew 7:7, 8; 21:21, 22). Without a body of teaching, people might believe that we are all going to receive whatever we ask of anyone. On the basis of a body of teaching, however, we know that it is whatever we ask of the Lord that we will be given. The Lord in fact teaches this: “If you live in me and my Word’s live in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you” (John 15:7).

 

Fight Evil Like David

 

A Sermon by the Rev. James P. Cooper

Toronto, September 9, 2012

We covered some of the basic story of David and Goliath in the children’s talk. Now, let’s go back over the story in more detail, but this time looking for those things in the story that will be helpful to our spiritual life.

A few key representatives will help us get started. The Philistines as a nation represent “faith alone” in its various forms. Although it may include that doctrinal position that was formalized at the time of the Reformation, it refers to a more general situation that occurs when a person knows what is true – from his parents, teachers, or the community he grew up in, but he chooses to ignore those cultural or religious norms and instead do whatever pleases him.

Goliath represents the kinds of evils we can let ourselves get into when we ignore the truth. It starts out with just failing to do what is good and useful, but soon leads into actual evils of life. When evils are done from intent a few times they can be almost impossible to remove – like the giant warrior Goliath.

David represents the Lord’s power to heal and protect us by means of Divine Truth.

The story begins with armies of the children of Israel and the Philistine camped on either side of a valley.

(1 Sam 17) {4} And a champion went out from the camp of the Philistines, named Goliath, from Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span. {5} He had a bronze helmet on his head, and he was armed with a coat of mail, and the weight of the coat was five thousand shekels of bronze. {6} And he had bronze armour on his legs and a bronze javelin between his shoulders. {7} Now the staff of his spear was like a weaver’s beam, and his iron spearhead weighed six hundred shekels; and a shield-bearer went before him.

This description sets the scene. Goliath is a picture of some evil that we have discovered within ourselves, that needs to be removed. The problem is that we love this evil – a lot – and it’s going to take a lot of work and be painful to remove it. So we armour it with all kinds of excuses. Yes, we make the problem a giant in our own minds, we cover it with armour, and give it weapons in order to have a good excuse to avoid fighting it and removing it.

{8} Then he stood and cried out to the armies of Israel, and said to them, “Why have you come out to line up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and you the servants of Saul? Choose a man for yourselves, and let him come down to me. {9} “If he is able to fight with me and kill me, then we will be your servants. But if I prevail against him and kill him, then you shall be our servants and serve us.” {10} And the Philistine said, “I defy the armies of Israel this day; give me a man, that we may fight together.”

Here’s an interesting question: Who gave Goliath the right to set the conditions of the battle?

Just because Goliath demanded a one-on-one winner-take-all battle doesn’t mean that Saul and the army of Israel had to agree to it.

Sure, we can talk about all kinds of historic and cultural norms that influenced Saul’s behaviour on the historic battlefield, but what about the Goliath that represents some kind of temptation in your life. Why fight spiritual temptation in the place and at the time that it demands.

RUN AWAY FROM IT! GANG UP ON IT! LURE IT INTO A TRAP! Who says you have to play fair with evil spirits? If you have discovered that you become angry and destructive while watching a hockey game on TV, turn the TV off and go for a walk instead. Don’t keep watching in the hopes that this time you’ll be able to keep it under control. Whatever it is, remove yourself from the situation that triggers it.

If Saul had been a little bit more clever, he would have hidden 100 archers in the rocks and the second time Goliath came out to challenge them, filled him with arrows. End of problem. Evils are always easier to take care of when you deal with them before they become habits. But then we wouldn’t have this historic lesson that reflects what actually happens in our own spiritual lives when we let evils loves and false ideas take control in our lives.

The hells are really good at identifying the times when we are at our weakest. We need to turn the tables and take the fight to them when we are ready, when we are strong, when we feel the Lord’s presence with us.

That part of our mind that is represented by Saul and the children of Israel cannot fight Goliath. We need to awaken David, that strong, confident, youthful spirit within us.

{11} When Saul and all Israel heard these words of the Philistine, they were dismayed and greatly afraid. {12} Now David was the son of that Ephrathite of Bethlehem Judah, whose name was Jesse, and who had eight sons. … {16} And the Philistine drew near and presented himself forty days, morning and evening.

Another key representative is the number 40. It rained 40 days and nights on Noah; the Lord went into the wilderness to fast for 40 days; I’m sure we can all think of others. It always means that the subject of the story is a person’s personal battle against the evils and falsities that they find in their lives.

[David is asked by his father to take food and supplies to his older brothers, who are in Saul’s army. Being a curious lad he did not go straight to his brothers but went through the camp checking things out. He was at the front just as Goliath came out and shouted his challenge to the soldiers and his insults to their God.]

{26} Then David spoke to the men who stood by him, saying, “…Who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” ….

As said before, in general, the Philistines represent people who have truth, but do not do what they know to be good. It’s also called “faith alone.”

Goliath, who is here called “uncircumcised,” represents what happens when people who have the truth ignore it to the point that they begin to do things that they know to be evil and filthy. These filthy loves that develop out of faith alone make for a powerful, difficult to remove, spiritual state. It’s not something you just fall into by accident. This has been developed and thought about for some time.

{31} Now when the words which David spoke were heard, they reported them to Saul; and he sent for him. {32} Then David said to Saul, “Let no man’s heart fail because of him; your servant will go and fight with this Philistine.”

It’s pretty clear that the children of Israel have not had a king long enough that they have developed any kind of customs about speaking to the king respectfully! David, the shepherd boy from the hills, speaks to King Saul as an equal. This is because both David and Saul represent aspects of our own minds. They are equal because they are different parts of one mind. When we are in doubt, when we are trying to figure out the best course of action, we sometimes say that we are of “two minds.” Here, David is a picture of the confident, aggressive, problem solving part of our mind, while Saul is the part that is cautious, thinking about all the things that could go wrong.

{33} And Saul said to David, “You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him; for you are a youth, and he a man of war from his youth.” {34} But David said to Saul, “Your servant used to keep his father’s sheep, and when a lion or a bear came and took a lamb out of the flock, {35} I went out after it and struck it, and delivered the lamb from its mouth; and when it arose against me, I caught it by its beard, and struck and killed it. {36} “Your servant has killed both lion and bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, seeing he has defied the armies of the living God.” {37} Moreover David said, “The LORD, who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” And Saul said to David, “Go, and the LORD be with you!”

the power was given to David to smite the bear and the lion, to represent and signify the Lord’s power to defend by His Divine truth His own in the church from the falsities of evil that are from hell (AE 782:2 emphasis added).

{38} So Saul clothed David with his armour, and he put a bronze helmet on his head; he also clothed him with a coat of mail. {39} David fastened his sword to his armour and tried to walk, for he had not tested them. And David said to Saul, “I cannot walk with these, for I have not tested them.” So David took them off.

Saul, the cautious side, wants to make things as safe as possible, but the David side sees that what is needed is to keep things simple and direct. Go with his true strength, the power of the Lord’s own Divine Truth.

{40} Then he took his staff in his hand; and he chose for himself five smooth stones from the brook, and put them in a shepherd’s bag, in a pouch which he had, and his sling was in his hand. And he drew near to the Philistine.

Appearance vs. Reality. We think we can arm ourselves, protect ourselves against these assaults on our spiritual life, but our best efforts to do this only weigh us down.

On the other hand, 5 smooth stones from a brook will serve the Lord’s purposes quite nicely – truth from the Lord through the Word that has been worn down and made smooth through constantly being brought to mind in one’s life.

{41} So the Philistine came, and began drawing near to David…. {42} And when the Philistine looked about and saw David, he disdained him; for he was only a youth, ruddy and good-looking. {43} So the Philistine said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods.

Here’s another insight into the character of evil. When it gets to this point, it is not enough to be selfish, or worldly, or hurt other people in some way – it begins to involve a hatred for God Himself. Thus we read that Goliath, curses God. There is an element here that if the Philistine wins the single combat, it will be seen as a defeat of Jehovah Himself. Yes, the love of self can get to the point where it shows itself as hatred of the Lord and the desire to pull Him down and rule in His place!

David is a better warrior than Saul. He is both courageous and smart. David has set a trap as was mentioned earlier. A boy with a sling approaches Goliath instead of an armed warrior. He is tricked into letting his guard down, and is destroyed by simple, fundamental truths from the Word.

{44} And the Philistine said to David, “Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and the beasts of the field!” {45} Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. {46} “This day the LORD will deliver you into my hand,”

When praying for the Lord’s help in temptation, these are powerful words to remember and use. “I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, and this day He will deliver you into my hand.”

and I will strike you and take your head from you. And this day I will give the carcasses of the camp of the Philistines to the birds of the air and the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel. {47} “Then all this assembly shall know that the LORD does not save with sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord’s, and He will give you into our hands.”

This theme is repeated throughout the OT. The 10 plagues, the drowning of the Egyptian army, Jericho, Ai, etc., etc. We like to think that we are doing the fighting – but it is ALWAYS the Lord who fights, at our invitation.

Remember how the spies were afraid to go into Canaan because the people of the land were strong, but Joshua and Caleb pointed out that it didn’t matter because it was the Lord who would be doing the fighting, and nothing can stand before Him.

{48} So it was, when the Philistine arose and came and drew near to meet David, that David hastened and ran toward the army to meet the Philistine.

Once the decision is made and the time for action is at hand, there is no longer any need for hesitation. David runs to meet Goliath.

{49} Then David put his hand in his bag and took out a stone; and he slung it and struck the Philistine in his forehead, so that the stone sank into his forehead, and he fell on his face to the earth. {50} So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone, and struck the Philistine and killed him. But there was no sword in the hand of David. {51} Therefore David ran and stood over the Philistine, took his sword and drew it out of its sheath and killed him, and cut off his head with it.

The smooth stone kills Goliath. The battle truly is won by the Lord. But, there still needs to be some kind of external sign, something as-if-from-self that gives us an outward sign that the battle is won. In Egypt it was the waters closing over the Egyptian army; in Jericho it was the walls falling down at the sound of the trumpets. Here David is permitted the dramatic, though unnecessary, action of cutting Goliath’s head off with his own sword.

The watching soldiers would not have been able to see the small wound caused by the stone. The beheading made everything quite clear to all.

And when the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled.

The Philistines fleeing the field of battle at the sight of their champion falling reveals something about our enemy, the evils spirits who are causing the temptation. The are not invincible. When we use the tools and procedures outlined for us in the stories of the Word, the evil spirits find themselves faced with the power of Divine Truth itself. This is the power that created the universe, that spoke the word, and it was so. And they flee from it in terror.

  • We need to start with the recognition that there is such a thing as evil, and that we need to remove it from our lives through our own efforts.

  • We need to examine our own motives and actions in the light of the Word to discover the evils that are holding us back.

  • Having discovered and evil, we pray to the Lord for forgiveness, and then stop doing it. This is the hard part: making the decision to give something up that has been a part of your life and then sticking to it. This is the battle, this is the test. And this is where we need to remember and hold firm to what we have learned from the story of David fighting Goliath – that if we are making this effort in the name of the Lord, because it is what He asks of us – He will fight for us and drive away even the most ferocious attack from the hells. All we need to do is to ask for His help with sincerity of heart.

  • In the process of reforming our lives, little by little we are reborn into an angel of heaven. Amen.

First Lesson: MAT 22:34-46

(Mat 22:34-46) But when the Pharisees heard that He had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. {35} Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, {36} “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” {37} Jesus said to him, “ ‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ {38} “This is the first and great commandment. {39} “And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ {40} “On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” {41} While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, {42} saying, “What do you think about the Christ? Whose Son is He?” They said to Him, “The Son of David.” {43} He said to them, “How then does David in the Spirit call Him ‘Lord,’ saying: {44} ‘The LORD said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool”’? {45} “If David then calls Him ‘Lord,’ how is He his Son?” {46} And no one was able to answer Him a word, nor from that day on did anyone dare question Him anymore.

Second Lesson: AE 782:2

Power was given to David to smite the lion and the bear that took away the sheep from the flock, because “David” represented the Lord in reference to Divine truth in which those who are of His church are instructed; and a “lion” signifies the power of spiritual Divine truth, and in the contrary sense, as here, the power of infernal falsity against Divine truth; while a “bear” signifies the power of natural Divine truth, and in the contrary sense the power of falsity against that truth. But “a sheep from the flock” signifies those who are of the Lord’s church. And as this was represented, the power was given to David to smite the bear and the lion, to represent and signify the Lord’s power to defend by His Divine truth His own in the church from the falsities of evil that are from hell. David’s taking hold of the beard of the bear involves an arcanum that may be disclosed, indeed, but can scarcely be comprehended. The “beard” signifies the Divine truth in ultimates, in which its essential power rests. This truth also the evil who are in falsities carry indeed in the mouth but they misuse it to destroy; but when it is taken away they no longer have any power. This is why he killed the bear and smote the lion. But this will be further explained elsewhere. But “Goliath,” who was a Philistine and was therefore called “uncircumcised,” signifies such as are in truths without good; and truths without good are truths falsified, which in themselves are falsities. “The uncircumcised” signifies those who are in filthy corporeal loves; for the foreskin corresponds to those loves. From this it is clear what the victory of David over Goliath represented.

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.

The Division of the Land

 

A Sermon by the Rev. James P. Cooper

Toronto, May 6, 2012

Then Joshua cast lots for them in Shiloh before the LORD, and there Joshua divided the land to the children of Israel according to their divisions.

  1. The Lord had guided Joshua and the children of Israel through three different campaigns to conquer the land of Canaan, and now the job was finished. The whole of the land was ready for the children of Israel to settle. It was time for them to stop fighting and being building their homes. It was to be a time of peace.
    1. So they gathered together at a place called “Shiloh”, which is Hebrew for “peace” and set the Tabernacle up there.
    2. Then they began to decide where everyone would go to find their new homes.
      1. Remember that the list of 12 sons of Jacob (Israel) is different from the list of the tribes.
        1. Levi does not get a specific inheritance because the intention was for the priesthood to be spread throughout the land.
        2. The tribe of Joseph was divided into 2, named for his two sons Ephraim and Manasseh.
        3. So you drop Levi and Joseph and replace them with Ephraim and Manasseh.
      2. Remember that three of the tribes had already asked for land on the other side of the Jordan river.
        1. Reuben, Gad, and half of the tribe of Manasseh.
          1. The eastern side of the Jordan – modern day Jordan, was more suited to grazing than agriculture so those who raised animals got permission to settle there provided that they sent men to support the other tribes in the conquest of the land.
      3. So that much was already decided.
      4. What they needed to figure out was how to divide the land on “this side” – the part between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.
      5. If they tried to do it themselves they might have started fighting amongst themselves, so they agreed to let the Lord decide by having him assign the tribes to different areas by drawing lots.
    3. (Josh 18:1-10) Now the whole congregation of the children of Israel assembled together at Shiloh, and set up the tabernacle of meeting there. And the land was subdued before them. {2} But there remained among the children of Israel seven tribes which had not yet received their inheritance. … {10} Then Joshua cast lots for them in Shiloh before the LORD, and there Joshua divided the land to the children of Israel according to their divisions.
  2. Okay, so what does this all mean to us?
    1. We all find that there are things that we have to fight during the course of our lives, things that we have to struggle to achieve.
    2. It could be a struggle to stop doing something that is wrong – or simply something that gets in the way of having a satisfactory relations with a loved one or family member.
    3. It could be a battle to learn how to do something that is new and very difficult.
    4. It could be something that we ought to be able to do, but we are missing some piece of the puzzle and it is turning out to be a lot more difficult than we expected.
    5. All these battles that we fight in our mind and heart are illustrated by the battles that the children of Israel had when they were driving the Canaanites out of the land.
    6. That means that solutions to these common human problems are also to be found in the stories.
  3. But what was the very first thing said in our reading today (it was the lesson for the children’s talk, and mentioned again above)? That the Tabernacle would be set up in Shiloh.
    1. The Lord is making the promise that if He is at the centre of our lives, represented by the Tabernacle, then we can expect that after our battles, we will come to a time of peace – “Shiloh”, because we will have completed our journey out of the wilderness (the world of nature) and arrived in heaven (Canaan).
    2. That’s the Covenant – the theme that runs through the whole of the Old Testament.
      1. Do the work, fight against the things that you see right in front of you to be evil and destructive and harmful to your spiritual life.
      2. Gradually, over time, you will begin to see progress. The land will be subdued. You begin to gain control of many of the aspects of your life.
        1. Sure, there will still be things that go wrong because we are still living in natural bodies in the natural world among other people who sometimes act foolishly or with evil intent.
  4. What is the second thing said in our reading?
    1. That everyone would be led to their proper place in the land by the Lord.
    2. We know that it is a law of the spiritual world that all live in peace and harmony in the company of other people who love the same kinds of things that we do.
    3. But heaven is a very big place! People have been going there after their life on earth was through for millions of years! How will we know where our true home is?
      1. It’s not a place we get to by declarations of faith that are not accompanied with good deeds.
      2. (Mat 7:21-27) “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. {22} “Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ {23} “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ {24} “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: {25} “and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. {26} “But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: {27} “and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.”
        1. Who shall enter the kingdom of heaven? He who does the Lord’s will.
        2. Who shall be cast out? Those who practice lawlessness.
        3. Who is the wise man? The one who hears these sayings and does them.
        4. Who is the foolish man? The one who hears them and does not do them.
    4. Casting lots – putting faith in the Lord’s Divine Providence:
      1. (Mat 6:28-30) “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; {29} “and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. {30} “Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?
    5. Just as the children of Israel trusted the Lord to lead them to their homes by casting lots, we can trust that the Lord will lead us to our true eternal home.
      1. Not by surveying the land, but by surveying our hearts, and knowing what we truly love, and then finding our spiritual home amongst those who love the same things that we do. Amen.

First Lesson: John 14:19-24

(John 14:19-24) “A little while longer and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me. Because I live, you will live also. {20} “At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. {21} “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.” {22} Judas (not Iscariot) said to Him, “Lord, how is it that You will manifest Yourself to us, and not to the world?” {23} Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. {24} “He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me.

Second Lesson: AC 3858:4-6

[4] As in John, so also in the Prophets, in the Old Testament Word, is the new Jerusalem referred to, where in a similar way the Lord’s new Church is meant. … The contents of those chapters, plainer than anywhere else, show what ‘earth’, ‘Jerusalem’, ‘Temple’, and everything in them meant, and also what ‘the twelve tribes’ means. For the subject of those chapters is the division of the land and the inheritance of it according to tribes, as well as the city and its walls, foundation, and gates, and everything that was to go with the Temple there.

[5] Quite plainly, when the tribes are spoken of here [in John] it is not the tribes who are meant, for by that time ten tribes had long since been scattered throughout the whole world, and had not subsequently returned. Nor can they possibly return, for they have become gentiles. And yet reference is made to each individual tribe, and to how it was to inherit the land and what its boundary was to be.

[6] …‘The twelve tribes’ means all things that belong to the Lord’s kingdom, and so all that are matters of faith and love, for these constitute the Lord’s kingdom…

Third Lesson: AC 9338:5

[6] …Also – and this is [a secret] – the Lord dwells with an angel, and similarly with man, only in that which is His own with the angel or man; for the Divine must dwell in what is of God, not in what is of the self with anyone. This is meant by the Lord’s words regarding His union with those governed by the good of love, in John,

On that day you will know that I am in the Father, and you in Me, and I in you. He who loves Me keeps My word, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. John 14:20, 23