|John Chapter 16 the literal sence of the word and internal sence
THE LORD’S SECOND COMING AS THE WORD
A Sermon by Rev. Daniel W. Heinrichs
Preached in Boynton Beach, Florida January 31, 1993
“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of Truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak from Himself, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you” (John 16:12-14).
There are in the New Testament two markedly different sets of prophecies of the Lord’s second advent. In Matthew, Luke and Revelation, it is prophesied that the Son of Man will appear in the clouds of heaven. For example, we read in Matthew: “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from the one end of heaven to the other … Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things are fulfilled” (Matt. 24:29-31, 34). This and similar prophecies have been understood to mean that when the Lord makes His second coming, the visible earth will be destroyed or, at the very least, suffer terrible calamities. Then the Lord will appear visibly, to the natural eyes, in the clouds.
But there are other prophecies, notably in the fourteenth, fifteenth and sixteenth chapters of the gospel of John. These teach that the Lord’s Second Advent will be in a new revelation of Divine truth. So we have apparently contradictory prophecies.
A careful examination of the prophecies of the Second Advent, and a thoughtful analysis of how the Lord fulfilled the prophecies of the First Advent, and why the Jews rejected their Messiah, will be of great benefit to those who are still waiting for the Second Advent. Although the Lord comes as He prophesies in the Word, still He may not come as people expect Him to. He tells us: “Watch, therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming … Therefore, you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not expect Him” (Matt. 24:42,44).
Most Jews, and especially the leaders, were familiar with the prophecies of the Lord’s First Advent. Indeed, many of them had detailed knowledge of them yet few received Him, despite the fact that the Lord fulfilled all the Law and the Prophets. Was He not born in Bethlehem, of the house of David? Was He not born of a virgin? Did not John the Baptist go before Him to prepare the way? Was He not called up out of Egypt? Was He not despised and rejected of men, and hated without cause? Did He not ride as a king into Jerusalem? Was He not led as a lamb to the slaughter and opened not His mouth?
Anyone who studies the life of the Lord and compares it without prejudice to the Old Testament prophecies can see that the Lord actually became the Word made flesh. When the mind is affirmative to this concept, the more one studies the Scriptures, the more obvious this becomes. But this is not the only evidence that exists to support belief in the Lord’s First Advent. The Lord did not leave people to infer that He was the promised Messiah. He openly stated it a number of times.
In reply to the woman of Samaria, who said that she knew that when the Messiah came, He would tell all things, He said: “I who speak to you am He” (John 4:26). When He was teaching in Nazareth, He said, after reading from the prophets concerning the advent: “This day is this Scripture fulfilled in your ears” (Luke 4:21). He identified Himself to the scribes and Pharisees as the infinite and eternal God, saying: “Most assuredly I say to you, before Abraham was, I Am” (John 8:58). And He said to His disciples: “He who has seen Me has seen the Father”(John 14:9).
It is a characteristic of all Divine revelation that it does not compel belief. It offers convincing confirmation of its authenticity to all who humbly and affirmatively seek, but it does not compel belief, lest people profane that which they have acknowledged as true. Therefore, the Jews were free to accept the evidence that Christ was the promised Messiah, or to reject Him.
Because the Jews of that day were so steeped in externalism, they refused to lift up their minds to see the internal fulfillment of the Scripture. They accused the Lord of destroying the Law and the Prophets, but He said: “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill” (Matt. 5:17). And He taught them saying: “You have heard that it was said to those of old, You shall not murder,’ and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment. But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment” (Matt 5:21, 22). He did not negate the commandment against murder, but gave them a deeper concept of the commandment. He showed that it is not only evil acts that we must shun, but evil thoughts and intentions.
Any Jew who was willing could have seen that this teaching did not destroy the Law, but rather made it more full by revealing some of its deeper implications. Indeed, many of them did see this. But the majority of them, blinded by the natural loves of national ambition or personal power, or their own preconceived ideas of how the Messiah would come, rejected Him. For a brief time on Palm Sunday, when the Lord entered Jerusalem riding on a donkey, He was hailed by the throng as the promised Messiah. But when they found that His kingdom was not of this world, that He had not come to release them from the Roman yoke but from the bondage of hell, they cried out: “Crucify Him!”
The knowledge of how the prophecies of the Lord’s First Advent were fulfilled can be very useful to those who are sincerely looking and waiting for the Second Advent. On examining these prophecies one thing becomes apparent. Some prophecies were literally fulfilled while others were fulfilled spiritually. For example, it was prophesied that: “He will teach us His ways, and we shall walk in His paths. For out of Zion the Law shall go forth, the Word of the Lord from Jerusalem” (Micah 4:2). This prophecy was literally fulfilled. The Lord did teach people His ways, and His Word went out from Jerusalem. It is recorded that they were astonished at His doctrine because He taught as one having authority and not as the scribes.
But it was also prophesied: “Behold, He is coming … Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasant to the Lord, as in days of old, as in former years” (Malachi 3:1, 4). “At that time Jerusalem shall be called the Throne of the Lord, and all the nations shall be gathered to it, to the name of the Lord, to Jerusalem; they shall walk no more after the stubbornness of their evil heart” (Jer. 3:17). These prophecies were not literally fulfilled. When the Lord was on earth He told them that their offerings were not acceptable to Him, nor were all nations gathered to Jerusalem when He was on earth. These prophecies, which appealed to the external nature and ambitions of the Jews, were fulfilled not literally but spiritually. The worship of love and faith represented by the meat offering was pleasing to the Lord, and also all those who were in truth, represented by the nations, were gathered to the church which the Lord established, represented by Jerusalem.
In connection with the fulfillment of prophecy, it is of interest to note that three particular prophecies of the Lord’s First Advent in the Old Testament were not literally fulfilled. In Joel we read: “The sun and moon shall be dark, and the stars shall withdraw their shining” (2:10). And in Daniel: “I saw in the night visions, and behold, One like the Son of Man, coming with the clouds of heaven … to Him was given dominion, and glory, and a kingdom” (7:13, 14). And in Isaiah: “Behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former shall not be remembered or come to mind” (65:17).
These prophecies are almost identical to prophecies in the New Testament which refer to the Second Advent. We read in Matthew: “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven … and they will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” (24:29, 30). And in Revelation: “I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away and there was no more sea” (Rev. 21:1).
The question arises: If these prophecies were not literally fulfilled at the time of the First Advent, can we reasonably expect them to be literally fulfilled at the time of the Second Advent? Are not these among the prophecies which were spiritually fulfilled? It should be noted that the prophecy in Matthew ends with these words: “Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things are fulfilled” (24:34). It is a matter of history that these things did not, in fact, happen before the passing of that generation. This is a plain indication that the prophecy has a deeper meaning a spiritual fulfillment.
The spiritual meaning of this prophecy is expounded in the Writings. There we are told that these words must be understood spiritually, not naturally. The sun being darkened means that at the consummation of the age the end of the church love to the Lord will be obliterated. The moon being darkened means that faith in Him will perish. The stars falling from heaven means that knowledges from the Word concerning the Lord will fall from the higher regions of the mind and be debased. The Son of Man appearing in the clouds of heaven means His new appearance in the Word the clouds referring to its literal sense, and the glory to its spiritual sense (see HH 1).
When we examine and reflect on these prophecies in this light we see that they were spiritually fulfilled. When the Lord came into the world, had not love to Him and faith in Him perished, and had not the knowledges concerning Him from the Word been debased? Jesus said: “You have made the commandment of God of no effect by your traditions” (Matt. 15:6). The stars had fallen from heaven.
Is this not true of today? Once again, in accord with the prophecy, love to the Lord and faith in Him have been blotted out, and knowledge of Him from the Word has been debased. We must therefore look for the sign of the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven, that is, the inner meaning of the Word, its glory, to be revealed shining forth from the Word as the clouds of the literal sense are dispersed.
The Lord prophesied to His disciples that He would come as the Spirit of Truth. He said: “I will pray the Father and He will give you another Comforter that He may abide with you forever, even the Spirit of Truth, whom the world cannot receive … I will not leave you comfortless; I will come to you” (John 14:16-18). Here He identified Himself as the Spirit of Truth, or Spiritual Truth.
Those who look for an external coming of the Lord like the Jews who looked for an earthly king will look in vain. The Word had already been made flesh. To repeat this miracle would be useless. The Lord while on earth glorified His Human for all time. What was, and is, needed is a deeper understanding of what was involved in the First Advent, and of the meaning of the Scriptures. The Lord, knowing this, said: “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of Truth has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak from Himself, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you” (John 16:12-14).
This prophecy is literally fulfilled by the Lord in His Second Advent, as a new revelation of spiritual-rational truth. In the Writings of the Second Advent we are taught plainly of the Father. We are told of things to come the spiritual world, where people come after their departure from this world, is described in considerable detail. They do not speak of the human agency through which they were given, Emanuel Swedenborg, but they testify to the Divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ, according to the words: “When the Comforter comes … the Spirit of Truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me” (John 15:26). They glorify the Lord. The doctrine of how the Lord glorified His human while on earth is fully explained to the rational understanding. The truth concerning the Lord is no longer given in proverbs, but we are told plainly of the Father (John 16:25). All things concerning the Lord are now brought to our remembrance in clear light.
The rational truths of the Second Advent could not have been given to the disciples, or to the primitive Christian Church. They were beyond their comprehension they could not bear them then. How could those people, who could not understand even the elementary laws of nature and of the human body, comprehend the laws of the spiritual world and of the human mind or spirit? Just as every person must progress from an understanding of simple external things to complex and more interior things, so did the human race.
The Lord had these things to reveal, but they could not, at that time, receive them, according to His Words: “If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things?” (John 3:12)
Although the Writings fulfill all the prophecies of the Second Advent, we are not left to come to this conclusion of ourselves. Just as the Lord openly declared who He was when He came to earth the first time in the flesh, so does He now the second time, when He has come as the Spirit of Truth. He declares in one of the books of the New Word: “This immediate revelation is the advent of the Lord” (Athanasian Creed). Also on two volumes were written: “This book is the advent of the Lord, written by command” (autographed by Swedenborg on the flyleaf of Summary Exposition).
Now is fulfilled the Lord’s promise: “I will not leave you comfortless; I will come to you … At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you” (John 14:18, 20). Amen.
Lessons: Matt. 24:29-42; John 16:1-15, 25; TCR 777, 779
True Christian Religion 777, 779
777. That the Lord is the Word can be clearly seen from the following in John: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and God was the Word. And the Word was made flesh” (John 1:1, 4). “The Word” means here Divine truth because Divine truth among Christians is from no other source than the Word, which is the fountain from which all churches bearing the name of Christ draw living waters in their fullness; and yet a church accepting the Word in its natural sense is, as it were, in a cloud, but one accepting it in its spiritual and celestial senses is in glory and power. That there are three senses in the Word, a natural, a spiritual, and a celestial, one within the other, has been shown in the chapter on the Sacred Scripture, and in the chapter on the Decalogue or Catechism. From all this it is clear that “the Word” in John means Divine truth. John also bears testimony to this in his first Epistle: “We know that the Son of God hath come, and hath given us an understanding that we may know Him that is true, and we are in Him that is true, even in His Son Jesus Christ” (v. 20). This is why the Lord so frequently said, “Verily I say unto you,” verily [amen] in the Hebrew language meaning truth. (That He is “the Amen” see Rev. 3:14, and “the Truth,” John 14:6.) Moreover, when the learned men of the present day are asked what they understand by “the Word” in John 1:1, they say that it means the Word in its pre-eminence; yet what is the Word in its pre-eminence but Divine truth? From all this it is evident that the Lord is now to appear in the Word. He is not to appear in Person, because since He ascended into heaven He is in His glorified Human, and in this He cannot appear to any man unless the eyes of his spirit are first opened; and this cannot be done in anyone who is in evils and consequent falsities, thus not in any of the goats whom He sets on His left hand. Therefore, when He showed Himself to His disciples, He first opened their eyes, for it is written: “And their eyes were opened, and they knew Him and He vanished out of their sight” (Luke 24:31). The same took place with the women who were at the sepulchre after the resurrection, and in consequence they also saw angels sitting in the sepulchre and talking with them, and angels cannot be seen with the material eye. Neither did the apostles before the resurrection see the Lord in His glorified Human with their bodily eyes, but in spirit, which seems, after one is awakened from it, like the state of sleep. This is evident from the Lord’s transfiguration before Peter, James, and John, for it is said that they were heavy with sleep (Luke 9:32). It is idle, therefore, to believe that the Lord will appear in the clouds of heaven in Person; but He is to appear in the Word, which is from Him and therefore is Himself.
779. VIII. THIS SECOND COMING OF THE LORD IS EFFECTED BY MEANS OF A MAN TO WHOM THE LORD HAS MANIFESTED HIMSELF IN PERSON, AND WHOM HE HAS FILLED WITH HIS SPIRIT, THAT HE MAY TEACH THE DOCTRINES OF THE NEW CHURCH FROM THE LORD BY MEANS OF THE WORD.
Since the Lord cannot manifest Himself in Person, as shown just above, and nevertheless has foretold that He was to come and establish a new church, which is the New Jerusalem, it follows that He will do this by means of a man, who is able not only to receive these doctrines in his understanding but also to publish them by the press. That the Lord manifested Himself before me, His servant, and sent me to this office, that He afterward opened the eyes of my spirit and thus introduced me into the spiritual world and granted me to see the heavens and the hells, and to talk with angels and spirits, and this now continuously for several years, I affirm in truth; as also that from the first day of that call I have not received anything whatever pertaining to the doctrines of that church from any angel, but from the Lord alone while I have read the Word.
THE SECOND COMING OF THE LORD
A Sermon by Rev Frederick M ChapinDecember 28, 1995
And I saw heaven opened; and behold a white horse; and He that sitteth upon him is called faithful and true; and in justice He doth judge and make war. And His eyes were as a flame of fire, and upon His head were many diadems; having a name written, which no one knew but Himself; And He was clothed with a garment dipped in blood; and His name is called, The Word of God. (Rev. 19:11-13)
The Lord has given a wonderful gift to the New Church. He has revealed that He has made His Second Coming to the human race, through the Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg. However, this gift is not just for us in the organized New Church, but it is potentially for all mankind. The Lord did not make this revelation for a select few, but rather for the benefit and help of everyone in His Creation. Unfortunately, the vast majority in the world today are not aware that the Lord has come again; even those in the Christian Church are still looking for a physical return of the Lord. However, the Lord has fulfilled the promise He made to His disciples that when He left them, He would come again as the Spirit of Truth and teach them higher truths which they could not understand before. (Jn 16:12) Still, this coming was not accomplished in a material body, but in a new revelation as to who the Lord is. He did not come as a babe as in the First Advent. Instead, He came as a “Rider on a white horse, Faithful and True, judging, with eyes of fire, diadems on His head, and clothed with a robe dipped in blood, His name being called, the Word of God.” (Rev. 19:11-13)
Before we can understand this description of the Lord’s Second Coming, we first must have some knowledge of correspondences. These words can not be taken literally, for there is a hidden meaning contained within, which when discovered will bring new insights into our doctrine of the Lord and how He operates in us. John wrote that he saw the Rider on the white horse after “the heavens were opened”. This signifies that the spiritual sense is revealed, and with that revelation comes an interior understanding of the Word. In heave, the Divinity of the Lord and the progressive states of regeneration are clearly made manifest. and as these things are plainly shown in heavenly light, they are also openly taught in the spiritual sense of the Word. When we understand what is being taught in the spiritual sense, then we are drawing doctrine from genuine truths as they stand forth in the holiness of the Word. The Writings are very clear that genuine truths are in agreement with what is in the internal sense. Therefore, when we are aware of this sense, we are taught genuine truths about the Lord and how He operates in us. this is the Second Coming of the Lord. This revelation of the spiritual sense allows us to have a deeper understanding of what the Lord teaches us in His Word. Just as John could not see the Rider on the white horse until the heavens were opened, neither can we see the Lord in genuine truth unless we see spiritual truths contained in the letter.
Having a clear understanding of the Lord is signified by the “white horse”. The white horse represents the interior understanding of what the Word teaches which comes through the knowledge of the spiritual sense. A horse signifies the understanding of truth in the Word. The horse is known as one of the smartest animals in creation. The color white signifies what is interior. Usually, when we think of something that is white, we think of it as being pure, and innocent. This is why we picture little lambs and angels being in white. So too, when we see the Lord with an interior understanding, we see Him as a God of infinite love and wisdom, a God Who is purity and innocence Itself, and a god Who never punishes anyone, but instead desires everyone’s salvation and raises each one to the highest state that he or she, in freedom, is willing to enter. Therefore, when we see the Rider on the white horse, we then see the Lord as a God of infinite love and wisdom; only by a knowledge of the internal sense can we have a genuine knowledge and doctrine of Who the Lord really is and the truths of His operation. The Lord appears plainly or openly in the spiritual sense of the Word. (AR 820)
Now, the picture we have of the Lord in the internal sense may at times appear to be far different than what we see in the letter of the Old and New Testaments. In the letter of the Old Testament, we sometimes see the Lord as a God of anger and jealousy, constantly ready to punish man when he fails. (Ex. 20:5, Duet. 4:24) In the letter of the New Testament, we see sometimes the Lord as a God of judgment, ready to give man what he deserves. (Mt 7:23) Even in the Book of Revelation, we see the Lord sitting on a great white throne condemning those before Him to hell. (Rev. 20:11-15) But know, by means of the Writings, we can look beyond these appearances in the letter and see the true nature of God. We no longer have to worship a god of wrath and judgment, now we can worship a loving God, Who infinitely desires to give to us the delights of heaven. And we also see that the Lord is one god in Whom is a trinity. Thus, we can know that the Lord is on Person, Who is omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscience. This is the exciting picture of the Lord that is presented to us in the spiritual sense of the Word.
It is when we may see the Person and the nature of the Lord revealed in the spiritual sense of the Word that He is called “Faithful and True”. We can see the “faithfulness” of the Lord, or this Divine Goodness, in that He always provides that there is a church on the earth whereby His operation can inflow to all mankind. Therefore, His faithfulness is of His Divine love toward the human race. It is because the Lord infinitely loves man and longs for his salvation that the Lord insures that there is a church where the Word is present, whereby the Lord is known. the Lord faithfully kept His promise when He told His disciples, “I go to prepare a place for you. and if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” (Jn 14:2&3) The Lord is faithful in keeping man in freedom and making sure he will always have the truths of the Word available to him, whereby he can enter into salvation.
This is why He is also called “True”. For the Lord in His Second Advent comes to man as Divine truth. (AR 821) In the Heavenly Doctrines especially, we can see the Lord coming as Divine truth in His Word. It is through the Word that we can become aware of His faithfulness in His infinite love for man and how He has always made sure that the way of salvation will be opened to him. We can have a deeper understanding of how His Divine good operates through His divine truth, when we see the Lord in the internal sense of the Word. We then can recognize how His faithfulness operates through truth.
John further described the Rider on the white horse with “eyes as a flaming fire”. This signifies the beautiful conjunction of the Lord’s love and wisdom in the salvation of man. The Lord’s divine love wills to save all, and predestines all to heaven. However, it can only operate by Divine wisdom. divine love cannot act beyond the laws of Divine wisdom because they act in unison. The Writings state that if there was “more of Divine Wisdom than of Divine Love, or more of Divine Love than of Divine Wisdom, man could not be saved.” (DLW 37) There is a perfect union between the two whereby the Lord strives to save everyone and make them genuinely happy. But He cannot exceed the laws of His Divine Wisdom which protects man’s internal freedom and his “as of self”.
These laws which the Lord cannot exceed are the Divine truths which were represented by the diadems around the Rider’s head in John’s vision. Once again, these Divine truths are revealed in the spiritual sense of the Word. It is in the spiritual sense that we discover what the laws are which the Lord cannot exceed. These laws are that man act in freedom according to reason, that he be created with receptacles whereby he can respond to the influx of the Lord’s life, and a reciprocal conjunction is produced when this influx is accepted. These truths are contained and yet hidden within the sense of the letter of the Word. But when the light of heaven shines in and through these diadems, they become translucent in which spiritual truths can be seen. (AR 823) The more we discover these spiritual truths in the letter of the Word, the more we can have an understanding of the Lord’s operation toward our salvation. And the more we can understand this, the more powerful will be the reciprocal conjunction between the Lord and ourselves.
Along with the white horse, the eyes of fire, and the diadems, John also saw a name written on the Rider which no one knew except the Lord. This signifies that no one knows the quality of the spiritual sense of the Word except for the Lord and to those to whom He reveals these truths. We can have a knowledge of these truths and even understand their significance; however, unless we apply them to our lives, we will not know their quality. Only when these truths are accepted in our will can we really understand the nature of the Lord. Only when we try to put our life in order in accordance with the Word can we see the order, beauty, and the harmony of the Lord’s operation within us and in His creation outside of us. This can only be revealed to us through enlightenment by the Lord; we can not obtain the understanding of spiritual truths from our own power. (AR 824) This is what the Lord meant when He said in Matthew: “I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes.” (Mt 11:25) It is only when we are in a state of innocence (by being willing to be led by the Lord) that the Lord is able to reveal the quality of the spiritual truths contained in His Word.
Along with the magnificent things John saw, he also recognized that the Rider’s garment was dipped in blood. The garment represented the sense of the letter clothing the spiritual sense of the Word. By it being dipped in blood signifies the violence that was done to the letter by the Christian Church. It was with the doctrine of three separate Persons in the Trinity and salvation by faith-alone that violated and critically wounded the true meaning from the sense of the letter. Also, when they falsified and twisted the letter of the Word to advocate their doctrine, they shut off the awareness and perception in the church of what was contained in the spiritual sense. Now this was permitted of the Lord as a protection so that the interior truths could not be profaned. It was really an act of mercy, for the Lord to have spiritual truths hidden. Otherwise, grave spiritual harm would have come to many individuals. Nevertheless, it is only when these evils and falsities are exposed and rooted out, when we see how they have bloodied the garment of the Lord, that the New Church can be implanted, both within us individually and collectively as a church. (TCR 784) Only when the letter of the Word is read in humility and innocence, with a knowledge of correspondences, can it be illuminated by the spiritual and celestial truths of the internal sense.
Today, the Lord has made it possible for us to see the “Rider on the white horse.” for we have the opportunity of clearly seeing the Divinity of the Lord that was not possible before His Second Coming. In the revelation of the Heavenly Doctrines, we can have an understanding of the Lord’s Divine Love. We can see Him as a god of Mercy, Who only desires to give heavenly happiness to everyone. But we can also see the Divine wisdom which protects man’s freedom so a true conjunction between the Lord and man can always be obtained. and as we see the “Rider on the white horse”, or the Lord’s Divinity, we will also see His eyes of flaming fire and the diadems upon His head. We will become aware of the union between the Divine Love and the Divine Wisdom, and the beautiful harmony that exists from this union. And we can perceive the laws in which the Lord operates so we are constantly kept in a state of freedom, which was represented by the diadems.
Since the Lord made His Second Coming, He has made known His Divinity whereby salvation is restored to mankind. If we seek to apply the Lord’s Word in our lives by performing uses, He will reward us with a deeper perception of the Lord and how He operates. This perception will allow us to delight more in a life of charity whereby we can love the Lord even more. And we can be uplifted in the Lord’s words at the end of Revelation, “I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to everyone according to His work.” (Rev. 22:12)
A BRIDE FOR ISAAC
A Sermon by Rev Frederick M ChapinOctober 23, 1994
So Abraham said to the oldest servant of his house, who ruled over all that he had, ‘Please, put your hand under my thigh, and I will make you swear by the Lord, the God of heaven and the God of the earth, that you will not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell; but you shall go to my country and to my kindred, and take a wife for my son Isaac. (Gen 24:2-4)
Abraham was an old man, when it was time for Isaac to have a wife. He sent his most trusted servant to his native country with the task of finding a wife for his son. This was a serious responsibility. The servant had to find the right woman that not only would make Isaac happy, but would also be able to start the fulfillment of the Lord’s promise that Abraham’s descendant will occupy the land of Canaan. Before the servant left on his important mission, Abraham made him take an oath that he would not choose a Canaanite. Instead, he was to select one from Abraham’s own ancestry. Abraham also gave strict orders that Isaac was not to accompany him. He was concerned that if Isaac went with him, he might fall in love with a woman that would not be willing to travel back to Canaan. Therefore, Isaac would be inclined to marry the woman there and not return to the land promised to his father. Abraham assured his servant that the Lord would guide his ways and lead him the right woman.
When the servant arrived at Abraham’s homeland, he strategically placed himself at the city’s well during the evening. The servant knew that it was most likely that Isaac’s bride would come from one of the women who drew water at the well. When the women came, the servant earnestly prayed that the Lord would somehow make known which woman was best suited to became Isaac’s bride. He prayed that whoever would offer to give his camels water, that would be a sign that this woman was the Lord’s choice. Before the servant was finished speaking, he noticed Rebekah’s beauty. He went to her for a drink of water. When he was finished, Rebekah than offered to give his camels water. After the camels finished drinking, the servant found out that she was the daughter of Abraham’s brother. The servant was ecstatic. He knew that his important mission was accomplished. Afterwards, when Isaac saw Rebekah, he rejoiced and married her.
Like Abraham’s servant, we also are called to find a bride for Isaac. We are to find genuine truths that can properly display good that is from the Lord. “Isaac” represents genuine good in our lives. “Rebekah” represents the truth that make this good visible. When this account is examined interiorly, it can teach us how we should search for the bona fide truths that can express heavenly goods or loves. This story can also teach us how we can distinguish authentic truths from apparent truths.
When Abraham’s servant was about to depart on his important journey, he received strict orders not to take Isaac with him. It certainly would have been much more convenient to take Isaac along and have him choose a wife for himself. But Abraham knew that the Lord’s promise could only be fulfilled if the servant himself made the long journey alone. When we make our important searches for truth, we should not do so casually. We too are given strict orders to select the proper truths that can fully express a love to the Lord and toward the neighbor. We are not to just accept anything that sounds good. Instead, we are to examine, study, reflect, and pray as we strive to recognize genuine truths in the Word. It would be simpler for us to just accept anything that sounds good or is pleasant to our senses. But instead, we are commanded to reflect and thoroughly examine what we regard as true before we take the step of applying it to our lives. When we are willing to exercise the necessary caution we are in the affection of truth. If we are in this affection, we will long not just for anything that appears good on the surface, but for that special truth that will enable us to perfectly manifest the Lord’s love that is within us. This willingness to make the painstaking search for the genuine truth is represented by the servant’s willingness to make the long journey alone.
Abraham’s servant was not only commanded to make the journey alone, he was also told not to choose a Canaanite woman. When we choose a principle that we will live by, we must be certain that it will not excuse or justify an evil desire. We must not conform the Word to confirm an evil love or habit; rather, we must conform ourselves to what the Word teaches. If we choose to twist the meaning of the Word around so we will be able to continue to indulge in our evil delights, then we have chosen a Canaanite. However, if we strive to understand what the Word is genuinely teaching, then the holiness of the Word will remain intact. Just as it was vitally important for the servant to choose a woman from Abraham’s own family, so we must choose the genuine truths in the Word before the Lord can operate fully within us.
When the servant came to Abraham’s homeland, he purposefully went to the well where the available women would probably come. When we make the determination to live according to the truths which the Lord directly teaches, we must go to the Word itself and conduct our search there. Genuine truths come form no other source. The Word is where the Lord is directly present, where He reveals and teaches Divine truths to us.
While the servant was at the well, he earnestly prayed to the Lord that the best suited woman would be revealed to him. The servant’s prayer illustrates the quality of our desire in making our search for truth in the Lord’s Word. When we search for Divine principles that we are to live by, we must also pray, in our individual way, for the light that enables us to recognize these truths. Divine truths are revealed by the Lord through the Word. He only reveals Divine truths, truths to live by, to those who look to the Word with the desire to be conjoined with Him. If the servant conducted his search at the well with the attitude that he did not need the Lord’s help, he would have overlooked Rebekah. If we go to the Word with the attitude that we can know Divine truths without help form the Lord, then we will not recognize them.
When Rebekah was revealed to the servant, he noticed that she was very beautiful. When the Lord reveals Divine truth to us, it will be very beautiful. It will be beautiful because we will perceive the heavenly joys we will have when they are applied to life. It will be beautiful because we will receive the assurance that the Lord is operating, with His full Divinity, within that truth. And it will be beautiful because we will find fulfillment and satisfaction in the service we will be able to provide for others. Divine truth is the means whereby we can free ourselves from evil. Divine truth breaks the grip and the bonds which the hells hold over us. This freedom from the hells is the core of the beauty of Divine truth. The Lord taught that spiritual freedom comes through truth when He told those who believed Him:
If you abide in My Word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. (Jn 8:31 & 32)
Freedom from bondage to the hells is what makes Divine truth attractive. This beauty is revealed only to those who allow the Lord to enter their lives through truths, just as the beauty of Rebekah was revealed to the servant when he prayed for Divine guidance.
But notice, Abraham’s servant did not immediately respond when he saw Rebekah’s beauty. He waited until she had watered all his camels, before he asked here who here family was. Rebekah still had to perform the test. When we form ideas from the Lord’s Word that sounds good on the surface, we still are not to apply them immediately. Further examination is still required. We must be absolutely sure that the doctrine we draw from the Word is based upon genuine truths. Each teaching we receive from the Word must past the test before we determine that it will be applied to our lives. The test is simply if the teaching will lead to a stronger relationship and conjunction with the Lord, and if it will provide true uses toward our neighbor. We must insure that the teachings we find beautiful in the Word are beautiful because they benefit the Lord’s Church on Earth, not merely because they benefit ourselves.
After the servant found out who Rebekah’s family was, he brought her to Isaac. When Isaac saw Rebekah, he loved her and they became husband and wife. This conjunction between Isaac and Rebekah represents the application of genuine truth to our lives from a love to the Lord and a love toward our neighbor. When we make the necessary effort to find out how we are to truly love the Lord, and how we are to truly acto toward others, the Lord will show us. And when we are sure how we are to love, think, and act, we must strive to make Divine truth a reality in our lives. If we do what the Word truly tells us to do, then we will receive heavenly blessings from the Lord, which are represented by the marriage delights between Isaac and Rebekah.
Therefore, daily reading and study of the Word need not be a drudgery. Rather, it can be the most stimulating and inspiring part of our lives. When we approach the Word with the right purpose, the Lord will directly communicate to us as He did with Abraham’s servant at the well. The Lord will speak to us, when we are willing to search the Word carefully and reflectively for the principles and guidelines in our lives. But the examination of doctrinal teachings must be perpetual. The deeper we penetrate the Lord’s Word for guidance, the more pure and perfect our doctrine from the Word will become. The leading into more genuine and perfect truths in the Lord’ Word is the promise of the Holy Spirit. And this promise the Lord made to His disciples is just as alive today:
… when He the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore, I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you. (Jn 16:13-15)