Is the Second Coming a Physical Event or Spiritual Event?

Jesus promised his disciples and those who followed Him that He would come again. This is known as the Second Coming. There are several “mainstream” interpretations of the Second Coming which has formed some false expectations in the minds of many. With these false expectations, many will not see the reality of the true Second Coming. False expectations can blind people to the truth – for example, the Jews expected a literal Messianic King, who would lead them to conquer the world. This false expectation is diametrically opposed to the spiritual truth of the Word, and because of it, the Jews completely missed recognizing the identity of Jesus Christ.

As it was then, so it is now. There are several false expectations that have been formed regarding the Second Coming. To be specific:

  1. There will be a visible appearance of Jesus in the sky, seen by everyone.
  2. At some point in time, Jesus will descend upon the Mount of Olives.
  3. Related to #2, there will be a third temple established in Jerusalem.
  4. There will be a rapture of Christians into the clouds of the sky.
  5. There will be a literal physical resurrection of the body.

So lets examine expectations surrounding each of these subjects, and look at what the New Testament actually has to say on this.

IS THE SECOND COMING A PHYSICAL RETURN OR A SPIRITUAL REVELATION?
Let’s start with a verse may indicate that there will be a physical return, visible to everyone:

Behold, he comes with the clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen. (Rev. 1:7)

There is a similar passage in Matt. 24:30. This at first seems that He will make a visible appearance, and that every eye shall see Him. But Jesus counters this argument in what at first seems to be a conflicting statement:

And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God comes not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you. (Luke 17:20-21).

This is important, the word “observation” means “visible evidence” or “outward show” – something that can be seen with one’s literal eyes. This means there will not be outward visible evidence of the Second Coming.  So what does it mean that “every eye shall see him”? What it means is that those who have spiritual sight, that is spiritual understanding, will be able to see the truth of the Second Coming. That this is the spiritual meaning of “eye” can be seen from the following passage:

And if your right eye offend you, pluck it out, and cast it from you: for it is profitable for you that one of your members should perish, and not that your whole body should be cast into hell. (Matt. 5:29)

This Jesus commands after stating one should not look upon a woman lustfully, for even the thought of it is considered adultery (Matt. 5:28). It’s one’s internal thought or intent that counts. Thus he is of course not literally stating that we should pluck our eye out, but rather, that one should correct how one sees things. These false thoughts should be searched out and removed. Thus “eyes” in the spiritual sense signify one’s spiritual understanding in a good sense, or a false understanding in the bad sense.  Correcting how one sees things falsely is again portrayed as removing a “beam” out of one’s “eye” before removing a speck of dust out of another person’s “eye” (Matt. 7:3-5).

So let’s pick out another passage, which causes problems to many:

For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works. Truly I say unto you, There be some standing here, who shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom. (Matt. 16:27-28)

Some early Christians had interpreted this that the Second Coming should have taken place in the lifetime of the disciples. That the early Christians had this expectation, can be seen from the following passage, where Jesus singles out the disciple John after Peter asks what would become of him:

When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?”Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!”
So the saying spread abroad among the brothers  that this disciple was not to die; yet Jesus did not say to him that he was not to die, but, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?” (John 21:21-23)

And, in the literal sense, it was John who literally saw the Second Coming take place, in a spiritual vision as recorded in the book of Revelation.  That Jesus is talking about one’s spiritual vision is easily proven in the book of Revelation. Before John’s grand vision, John states this:

I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day (Rev. 1:10)

Which means he was in a spiritual visionary state. That “in the spirit” means one was in a spiritual visionary state can be seen from Ezekiel:

The hand of Jehovah was upon me, and he brought me out in the Spirit of Jehovah (Eze. 37:1)

After which Ezekiel sees a vision of a valley of bones coming to life. John would later mention he was caught up into heaven “in the Spirit” (Rev. 4:1), that he was carried away to a wilderness “in the Spirit” (Rev. 17:3), and he was taken to see the New Jerusalem “in the Spirit” (Rev. 21:10).

Combining Jesus’ statement of His Second Coming, with the fulfillment of it by John seeing it in a spiritual vision, we can infer that John is a type of the future, where the Second Coming will be seen in spiritual vision.

THE MOUNT OF OLIVES PROPHECY

There are a couple of passages that are used as proof that Jesus will return in physical form upon the Mount of Olives east of Jerusalem. One is the scene of the ascension of Jesus at the Mount of Olives. After Jesus commands his disciples to return to Jerusalem to await the coming of the Holy Spirit, He then ascends into heaven. There is unfortunately a mistranslation here in most English translations, I will select the NASB:

And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was going, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them. They also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:9-11)

This is stating that Jesus will return “in just the same way” or as other translations have it, “in like manner” (KJV).  The problem here is this phrase is added by the translators, the Greek simply has “as.”  So the last sentence should read as follows:

This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come as you have watched Him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:9-11)

It simply says He will come again from heaven.  It does not say “in just the same way” or “in like manner.”  This phrase was added by translators.  I double checked this with an online Greek interlinear tool, you can see the entire chapter here: Greek Interlinear of Acts 1. The same Greek word (Strongs #5158) is simply translated as “as” in Acts 7:28, 15:11, 27:25.

Another point, when Jesus appeared to others after the resurrection, in many cases He manifests Himself by opening up their spiritual vision:

And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them. And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight. (Luke 24:30-31)

With the corrected translation of Acts 1:11, it is saying Jesus will come “as you have watched” or “as you have seen.” If they were seeing Him with their spiritual vision opened, then this means He will return in a manner that is seen in spiritual vision.

Now, there is the case of a prophecy of Zechariah which speaks of the Lord standing on the Mount of Olives:

Jehovah shall go forth, and fight against the nations. . . . His feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before the face of Jerusalem . . . and the mount of Olives shall cleave asunder, that a part thereof shall remove toward the east, and [a part] toward the sea, with a great valley; and a part of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and a part of it toward the south (xiv. 3, 4).

This many have taken to be a prophecy of the Second Coming. But that is not the case, it is a prophecy of the First Coming, foretelling how a new church would be established that would withdraw from the Jews and go out towards the Gentiles. The spiritual sense of this prophecy is explained by Swedenborg in Heavenly Arcana:

“Here the Lord and His coming are the subject; by the mount of Olives is signified the good of love and of charity and thus the church, for these goods make the church. That the church would remove from the Jewish nation, and would be established among the Gentiles, is signified by the mountain being cleft asunder toward the east, toward the sea [the west], and toward the north, and the south; in like manner as by the words of the Lord in Luke: Ye shall be cast forth without. And they shall come from the east, and the west, and from the north, and the south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God (xiii. 28, 29). In a universal sense by Jehovah going forth and fighting against the nations, and by His feet standing upon the mount of Olives which is before the face of Jerusalem, is meant that the Lord from the Divine love would fight against the hells; for the nations are the evils which are from the hells (n. 1868, 6306), and the mount of Olives, on which were His feet, is the Divine love.” (Heavenly Arcana, n. 9780.13)

The massive work Heavenly Arcana goes through several passages that prove that in the spiritual sense, mountains signify love (or in the opposite sense selfish pride), and nations in a bad sense signify the evils of hell. It is also known to some that Jesus made a descent into hell between his death and resurrection and effected a last judgment. In these spiritual judgments, this is portrayed in the spiritual world as the upheaval and upturning of mountains (see Rev. 6:14-16). The upturning of mountains in the spiritual world is further described in Swedenborg’s vision in the work The Final Judgment. That “mountain” has a spiritual meaning can simply be seen from the gospels:

For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matt. 17:20)

Jesus is obviously not literally speaking of a literal mountain. Following the description of the splitting of the Mount of Olives, Zechariah then describes a river that proceeds out of Jerusalem toward the west, and toward the east through the split Mount of Olives, which again has a spiritual meaning:

In that day living waters shall go out from Jerusalem; part of them to the eastern sea, and part of them to the hinder sea (xiv. 8).
“Living waters from Jerusalem” signify truths from a spiritual origin in the church, which are the truths that are received by man when he is illustrated by the Lord while he is reading the Word. “Jerusalem” is the church in respect to doctrine, the “sea” signifies the natural man, into which those things that are in the spiritual man descend; the “eastern sea” signifies the natural man in respect to good; and the “hinder sea” the natural man in respect to truth; and as the natural man is in the generals of truth, “sea” also signifies the general of truth.” (Apocalypse Explained, n. 275.20)

This river is again described in the vision of a new temple in Jerusalem in Ezekiel, which literalists interpret as a future third temple. However it is symbolic, and it spiritually signifies the Christian Church that would be established. This is shown in detail in the blog post The Spiritual Symbolism of Ezekiel’s Vision of the Third Temple. There are several items in Ezekiel’s vision which show that it cannot be taken literally, but should be interpreted in a spiritual manner.

IS THERE SUCH A THING AS A RAPTURE?

Next, associated with many Christians’ expectation of a physical Second Coming of Jesus is the idea of a rapture, where they will suddenly be caught up in heaven to be with the Lord. This mainly comes from the letters of Paul:

For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. (1 Thes. 4:7)

The original prophecy of this was probably taken from the gospel of Matthew:

And they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other (Matt. 24:30-31)

The original does not even mention the word “rapture” but instead “gather together.” Nevertheless, from the letter of Paul he mentions that those who are alive and remain will be “caught up” and from this Greek word we have the word “rapture.”  There are two interpretations of this. It can indeed mean a sudden physical transportation, as in the case of Philip:

And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing. But Philip was found at Azotus: and passing through he preached in all the cities, till he came to Caesarea. (Acts 8:39-40)

The word “caught away” is the same as “caught up” in 1 Thes. 4:7 where we get the term rapture. So from this, many assume there will be an actual physical ascension into the sky. However there is another, perhaps more interesting interpretation. The same word is used by Paul in a completely different context:

I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows. And I know that this man was caught up into paradise—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows— and he heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter. (2 Cor. 12:2-4)

Some surmise Paul had this near death experience when he nearly died from being stoned to death. The word “caught up” or “rapture” is used twice in this verse. Here it does not refer to a physical ascension, but rather the rapture is to be caught up or enraptured in a spiritual visionary state.  And this is exactly what happens to John in his vision of the Apocalypse:

After this I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven! And the first voice, which I had heard speaking to me like a trumpet, said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” At once I was in the Spirit, and behold, a throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the throne. (Rev. 4:1-2)

With the apostles and select individuals throughout history, such visions took place on a limited individual basis. But the promise of the future is that such a visionary state will become more widespread:

And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. (Joel 2:28)

In parallel with that, the majority of cases have been of those who are false prophets. So in each case they should be tested to determine if what they are stating is valid. But the point here is this: the expectation of a “rapture” can be fulfilled by a widespread outpouring of the Spirit, allowing people to enter a visionary state. At the moment, this is not permitted for most everyone, as most people’s minds have been lowered into material and carnal desires away from the love of the Spirit.

IS THE RESURRECTION OF THE PHYSICAL BODY, OR THE SPIRITUAL BODY?

So somewhat related to all this is the doctrine of the resurrection. There are many, at this day, who expect a literal physical resurrection, where people will rise out of their graves. This view is related to a literal appearance of the Second Coming, where everyone assumes all things take place in this material physical world. But this is not the case: one is resurrected in the spiritual world, in a spiritual body. One can take the same passages and interpret them either way. For example:

Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. (1 Cor. 15:51-53)

This would indicate we will be raised in a spiritual glorified body. Will it be visible in this world? Not necessarily. And then there is this one:

Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment. (John 5:28-29)

To interpret these references to a resurrection, one must have spiritual knowledge of the afterlife. In the spiritual world, midway between heaven and hell, there is an intermediate state where souls gather, good and evil, who were not judged right after death. Many enter into a state of sleep. John sees them in one of his visions of the Apocalypse, where souls “under the altar” are told they must rest or sleep a little longer (Rev. 6:9-11). There are three heavens signified by the three divisions of the temple; the lowest heaven is represented by the outer court and this is where the altar was located. Those “under the altar” are those in this intermediate state between heaven and hell.

It is in this intermediate state, where many are unaware or asleep, is where the last judgment takes place. One is judged after death, some immediately who go to heaven or hell, but many will gather in this intermediate spiritual world. Thus, it is in the spiritual world where last judgments take place. And indeed, the Second Coming is this event – a judgment of souls in the spiritual world:

For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works. (Matt. 16:27)

At this time, there is a separation between the good and evil. This is described in the parable of Matthew 25, where the righteous are signified by “sheep” and the evil by “goats” –

When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. (Matt. 25:31-32)

As this is a common misconception, one of the primary revelations given to Swedenborg is a complete explanation of the afterlife, the spiritual resurrection there, and how people are judged according to their works in a complete life review. For further information on this see Heaven and Hell as well as The Final Judgment.  This is becoming more well known among those who study the Near Death Experience from a variety of witnesses who have been brought back to life.

IF THE SECOND COMING IS “NONE OF THE ABOVE” THEN WHAT IS IT?

So its not a literal physical return, there is no literal physical resurrection, there is no rapture into the sky… all I have said so far is what it isn’t, and that one must look for a higher spiritual explanation.  It is very simple: in the First Coming, the “Word was made flesh.” The Word, or Greek Logos, is the Lord as to Divine truth made manifest in human form. In the Second Coming, the Word or Divine truth has been made manifest in the spiritual sense of the Word itself. This spiritual sense has been made manifest in the many volumes of revelations given in waking visions to Emanuel Swedenborg in the 18th century. It is a more internal revelation, not an external visible revelation.

That this is so, is indicated by Jesus, who always describes the Second Coming as the coming of the “Son of Man.”  In the New Testament, “son of Mary” is used to refer to Jesus in His ordinary human form, “Son of God” is used to refer to Jesus in His glorified Divine Human form, but “Son of Man” is used to refer to the Lord as to the Divine truth. To appear “in the clouds of heaven” does not mean He will appear in the sky, but rather He will appear in spiritual vision. The “clouds” is the obscure truth that appears in the literal sense of the Word; for the Son of Man to “appear in glory” signifies the revelation of the spiritual sense of the Word. This He did in the 18th century to Emanuel Swedenborg over a period of 27 years of continuous waking visions, where incorrect doctrines of Christianity have been corrected, for there are many false teachings that have corrupted the core of Christianity where very little truth means. And that is the other point: the Second Coming will take place when there is little or no faith left on earth:

When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth? (Luke 18:8)

And there will be a general falling away from Christianity, where a false religion will come to take its place:

Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sits in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. (1 Thes. 2:3-5)

This particular prophecy is probably taken from Dan. 11:45. A “falling away” is an apostasy from the true faith, a “man of sin” indicates that the falling away is where sin is disregarded, and to show oneself as God is to have an incorrect understanding of God Himself. Thus to see and recognize the Second Coming, one has to first recognize the falsehoods that are propagated in one’s own religion. Very few question what they are taught to believe. Falsehoods from within is what causes a true church to come to its end:

“A church is brought to an end by various means, especially by such as cause falsity to appear as truth; and when falsity appears to be truth, then the good which in itself is good and is called spiritual, is found no more.” (True Christian Religion, n. 754)

Thus what to expect? A true revelation of Jesus Christ and Christianity, a revelation of the spiritual sense of the Word, revealed through spiritual vision. This will establish a New Church, which will be among the few and opposed by the many. This is signified by the 2 witnesses (Rev. 11), the sealing of the 144,000 (Rev. 7 and 14), and the woman who flees to the wilderness (Rev 12) which signifies a state of truth in obscurity known to few. This will be opposed by a false form of Christianity, signified by the dragon, beast and false prophet (Rev. 13) as well as the whore of Babylon (Rev. 17-18). That the Second Coming is a heavenly revelation of the spiritual sense of the Word, can be seen by the coming of the Lord on a white horse, where we have this statement:

And his name is called The Word of God (Rev. 19:13)

As for the hidden spiritual sense of the Apocalypse, see further in the works Apocalypse Revealed and Apocalypse Explained. The good news here, is the Second Coming has taken place, to reveal a more spiritual Christianity where further heavenly secrets are revealed. This was revealed in spiritual vision by Jesus Christ to Emanuel Swedenborg in the 18th century:

“We read in many places that the Lord will come in the clouds of heaven (as in Matt. xxiv. 30; xxvi. 64; Mark xiv. 62; Luke xxi. 27; Apoc. i. 7; xiv. 14; Dan. vii. 13; see also Matt. xvii. 5; Luke ix. 34, 35). But hitherto no one has known what was meant by the clouds of heaven; they have believed that He is to appear in them in person. But that by the clouds of heaven the Word in the sense of the letter is meant, and by the glory and power in which also He is then to come (Matt. xxiv. 30) the spiritual sense of the Word is meant, has been heretofore concealed, because hitherto no one has even by conjecture reached the conclusion that there is a spiritual sense in the Word such as this sense is in itself. Now because the Lord has opened to me the spiritual sense of the Word, and it has been granted me to be together with angels and spirits in their world as one of them, it has been disclosed that by the clouds of heaven is meant the Word in the natural sense, and by glory the Word in the spiritual sense, and by power the Lord’s power through the Word.” (True Christian Religion, n. 776)

Friday, March 24, 2017

The Second Coming Is NOW!

 

I am deeply involved in the growing movement of theologians and scientists who are seriously attempting to unify science and religion. In fact, the results of my own labors will become available later this year in an ambitious book entitled “Proving God.”

The Apostle John (1:1-3) tells us that everything in the manifest universe was created from the Holy Word. However, a mere literal interpretation and exegesis of Scripture is inadequate for providing us with the rational evidence for such a belief (beyond simple faith).

The Holy Word is a multidimensional document with layers of meaning that are abstracted from any involvement with time and space. These rarefied narratives transcend the spatio-temporal arena and describe events taking place in the psycho-scape of the human heart and mind. In other words, they refer to spiritual realities creatively concealed within our ordinary language.

Even historically correct events in Scripture portray these deeper scenarios (so archeological discoveries are not the way one goes about proving or disproving the authority or inerrancy of Scripture).

This “layering of meaning” is the patterning principle behind the hierarchical scaffolding of the universe and solves many of the touchy issues arising from our post-modern world-view. For instance, the deeper narratives contained within Scripture offer concepts that are timeless and thus more personally relevant to contemporary life (as opposed to addressing the simple needs of ancient goat-herders).

Without this multidimensional architecture, God’s Infinite Wisdom could not be contained within a finite Book. Nor could it offer us any coherent explanation of how the laws of nature could have logically emerged from our Lord God’s Divine Nature.

The hidden “quantum” vocabulary of Scripture is what will be revealed at the Lord’s Second Coming. The reason I can tell you of these things is because the Second Coming is taking place NOW!

Do these ideas seem anti-intuitive to you? Why?

P.S. If you would rather not wait for my book to come out, you can gain some additional information from several of my previous posts. Better yet, seek out the Swedenborg Foundation. Emanuel Swedenborg’s scientific and theological writings have provided me with the inspiration for my own projects.

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The New Jerusalem And Its Metaphysical Light

 

I have been maintaining through my various posts that Sacred Scripture contains a quantum vocabulary within the literal meaning of its narratives. As further evidence, I offer you the following “strange” verse concerning the Holy City, the New Jerusalem:

And the city hath no need of the sun and of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God did lighten it, and the lamp thereof is the Lamb. (Rev. 21:23)

Scripture then goes on to say “And the nations which are saved will walk in the light of it,” (21:24) also that, “the gates of it shall not be shut by day, for there shall be no night there” (21:25).

The above passage makes no sense when considered from the merely natural or material comprehension of the human habitual mind. We have a situation here where there will be no physical light source yet the Holy City will never be in darkness. How can this be? How would one improve his or her navigational skills in a busy urban setting without the electromagnetic influence of the sun’s rays?

On reflection, we can easily ascertain for ourselves that we can avoid obstacles and problems not just by ocular vision but also from the mind’s ability (the mind’s eye) to visualize certain unfavorable outcomes. Eyesight lets us see physical objects but understanding lets us “see” concepts and evaluate them.

The human understanding does not need physical light to operate. It is this inner and deeper capacity of seeing things within the human mind that God’s Revelation is directed at. All enlightenment deals with matters of truth. God’s Truth is metaphysical light. This is why the Lord makes two appearances. First He appears in natural light and in a physical body, then, He appears in metaphysical light, by opening our understanding to the deeper levels of truth within Scripture. This new spiritual light will shine through from the Lord’s Word as we begin to recognize the deeper, quantum vocabulary of its narratives.

This quantum vocabulary provides the answer to the strange idea that the New Jerusalem will not need a sun or moon yet it will never be in darkness. Understood from its elevated meaning, the Holy City is the Lord’s new “construction” project within our inner being.

The New Jerusalem represents a new spiritual doctrine, which will take the shape of a new “cosmopolitan” framework and dwelling place in the human psyche and spirit. This doctrine will replace the current fabricated dogma about the destruction of the physical world and its eschatological replacement. The Second Coming is a paradigm shift that is to take place in the human heart and mind. This is how the Lord will make “all things anew.”

Would you agree that a powerful inner change could change how you view everything in the physical universe?

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Consciousness and Scripture

Human consciousness is multiplexed. For instance, we can see the world we live in. Physical sight represents just one kind of awareness. We also can internalize and store these observations in our memory as mental ideas, where from a higher frame of reference we can survey them and detect novel relationships. This kind of “seeing” represents imaginary sight, which leads to ingenuity and inventiveness.

We can also collect all the things we have imagined, and from an even higher frame of reference, find even newer relationships where ideas become objects of reasoning, that is, objects of truth and falsity. This kind of “seeing” is called rationality and judgment.

These distinct cognitive functions of consciousness are inadequate for verifying either the inerrancy or divine authority of Sacred Scripture. As evidence, these levels of ordinary human consciousness have given rise to an intense conflict of biblical interpretation among the faithful and also to serious-thinking skeptics who put their faith solely in moral autonomy.

There is need for a genuinely inclusive, unified approach to the systematic exposition of Christian doctrine derived from Scripture that makes sense in our post-modern and scientific culture. However, a new theological consensus will not come from the scholarship of men and women, but can only come from new Divine revelation concerning Scripture.

We need divine instruction on how to gain an even higher frame of reference for evaluating the Holy Word. This is the purpose of the Lord’s Second Coming – to help us connect to a higher and untapped level of consciousness by providing a “vertical” interpretation of the narratives in Scripture. These vertical interpretations transcend human subjectivity (and its abuses) as well as historical criticism because the events described in Scripture are raised to more elevated meanings, which have more potency and relevance to our lives.

Scripture is a multi-leveled deposit of Divine revelation, accommodating the Creator’s Infinite Wisdom to different levels of human consciousness. The good news is that it is now permitted for each of us to have access to these deeper spiritual levels of truth that previously were only available to the prophets. It is only through these deeper levels shining through, that the literal words in Scripture are turned into gems and gain translucency. But you have to want it. You will have to want the Lord to “make all things anew.”

The Lord’s Second Coming on earth is taking place NOW – one person at a time! The world can change only when people change. We are God’s instruments for change.

Do you think this change can be forced on anyone?

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The Second Coming

 

A Sermon by the Rev. James P. Cooper

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 on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory (Matthew 24:30)

Our text for today speaks of the time when Jesus Christ was expected to return to earth to execute a judgement and establish an earthly paradise – an event that most Christians believe is yet to happen, but next week we will gather here to celebrate its 237th anniversary! We need to stop for a moment and think about that. Do we realize how casually we speak about the Second Coming in the New Church? Do we have any idea how strange it must seem to those who are not familiar with our doctrines to hear us talk about the Second Coming, or even the life after death?

I once overheard a New Church woman express her sympathy for the death of a close friend’s mother after a long and painful illness when they happened to meet in the Drug Store. She said to her friend, “I was so glad to hear that your mother died!” I remember looking around the store and seeing the shocked looks on people’s faces as everyone turned to see who had said that. We in the church are so familiar with the spiritual world that the death of someone who is old and in pain is to us a blessing, a peaceful passing from one life to another, something to look forward to when the end of life approaches.

Not only do we know what the spiritual world is like, but we also know some amazing things about its history, particularly the history of the Second Coming. This may also cause shock and surprise to those not in the church because the very idea that the states of heaven change, and might therefore have a history to know is quite an idea in itself!

As we prepare to celebrate the completion of the Last Judgement, the Second Coming of the Lord, and the establishment of the New Church, we need to have a clear idea of what those things mean.

The Heavenly Doctrines of the New Church tell us that the Last Judgement and Second Coming of the Lord, foretold in the Prophets (such as Daniel), in the Gospels (particularly the 24th Chapter of Matthew), and in the book of Revelation, actually took place in the World of Spirits some 237 years ago.

The World of Spirits is a place of introduction for people who have died, for although we have all been created to live in the spiritual world, no one is ready to go straight into heaven or hell immediately upon the death of the natural body. This is because everyone has elements of both good and evil, and these need to be sorted out before we can enter our final home. The World of Spirits lies between heaven and hell just so that it can be a place where both the good and evil from the world can be gathered, instructed, and finally prepared to enter their home society in heaven or hell.

Each of us, while we live in the world, has within us a mixture of good and evil, truth and falsity. While we live in the world, the mixture is acceptable, but once we die, we must either remove all the evil and falsity before entering heaven, or remove all good and truth before entering hell, for there cannot be a confusion or mixture of good and evil in either heaven or hell, and no one in heaven or hell is allowed to have a “divided” mind, that is, a mind that contains both good and evil loves.

At least, this is what happens when things are in the order of creation. But when a church is coming to its end, as happens from time to time in history, and before the Lord has established a new church to take its place and serve its uses to the human race, the World of Spirits comes into a state of confusion and disorder because those spirits who are entering it from the world are themselves in a state of confusion and disorder. And whenever and wherever there are confusion and disorder, the evil spirits are sure to be there, adding to the turmoil and unhappiness. We are told that the evil spirits pretended that they were angels, and the new spirits from earth were so ignorant about spiritual things that they were unable to see through their deception, and so were captured in “false heavens” set up in the World of Spirits. This was the spiritual circumstance within the Jewish Church that made it necessary for the Lord to assume the Human form and come to earth.

These people were made captives by their own ignorance of spiritual truth. The only way that they could be freed was by being taught the truth. The problem was that the truth of their own churches had been so changed by the ideas of men that it could no longer help. The genuine truth of the Word was no longer known in the churches. And so the Lord began His great judgement by coming to earth Himself and teaching truths about heaven in words and stories that were suited to those times and those people. These new truths were heard in the spiritual world as well, and served to free the captives in the World of Spirits. They heard the Lord’s teachings, and saw their captors for what they were, and fled from them. Once they could see the difference between good and truth, evil and falsity, they could then prepare themselves for heaven or hell, and were free to do so, and find their eternal homes.

The state of humanity was such at the time of the Lord’s first coming, that He was not able to reveal everything that He wanted us to know. What He could teach was enough to lead men to heaven and to provide for their spiritual freedom, but He wanted to give far more than people were ready to receive then. As He Himself 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” (John 16:12, 13). Jesus had taught enough to get things moving, but there was more to be done, more to be taught, but He had to wait until the human race had digested what had already been taught before He could add anything more. So He returned to the spiritual world while humanity worked with the teachings that are now in the New Testament.

Sometimes, when a person is critically ill, there is more than one disease attacking him. The main disease responds to medication and only then reveals second disease lurking behind it. But once it has been revealed, the second disease can also be treated. The same kind of thing happened in the spiritual world. Once the problems caused by the literalistic and power-hungry Pharisees and Sadducees had been solved by the teachings of the Lord, other evils in humanity began to reveal themselves as the leaders of the Christian Church began to use that church as a means to get personal power and possessions. By the year 325 AD the leaders of the Christian Church were deciding the doctrine of that church by political councils.

The Nicene council was convened by the Roman Emperor Constantine whose ability to rule depended on support from the Christian faction within his government. He wanted this issue of Christ’s divinity solved quickly because the Christians couldn’t be helping him if they were bickering among themselves. So he compelled them to come to a compromise doctrine so they could get back to the work of ruling an empire. When that happened, when the leadership of the Christian Church turned away from scripture and toward their own power and prestige, it marked the spiritual end of that church.

Any student of history can trace the fall of the Christian church from that time. Soon the leaders of the church became so corrupt that a whole period of the history of the church is called “the pornocracy,” the rule of filth, by Christian historians. Hard on the heels of that came the Inquisitions, and the Crusades, and quite a few other unchurchlike things. It was forbidden for anyone but a priest to take the wine of the Holy Supper, or read the Bible, and no church services were conducted in a language understood by ordinary people.

Still speaking from the point of view of history, as Europe emerged from the “Dark Ages” (a spiritual darkness caused by the doctrines of the Church) and began to experience a rebirth of freedom of thought, many great men began to question the hold that the church had placed on the bodies, minds, and spirits of men, and through their questioning and thought, the Reformation was born. But as often happens when a movement arises to counteract an abuse, the pendulum swings too far in the other direction. While the Catholic church had put emphasis on obedience to the rituals of the church, or “works,” the Reformers decided to move entirely away from works to faith without works, and began to teach that faith alone would save. The problem with the Catholic Church was with the doctrines that were made by men in councils, but the Reformers missed that point, and instead of turning back to scripture, based their doctrine on the views of other, different men in different councils. The two great movements of the Christian Church swept back and forth across the face of Europe, and thousands died because they said their prayers in the wrong language – or their kings did.

And as they died, they were entering the World of Spirits without sufficient truth to be able to make the basic decisions between good and evil, truth and falsity. The hells were again able to rise up and set up their false heavens in the World of Spirits. Again, innocent people from the world were prevented, through their own ignorance of spiritual truth, from entering heaven. The falsities that had lain hidden beneath those that had been dealt with by the judgement on the Jewish Church were now exposed in their fullness. It was time for the Lord to finish the work that He had begun when He came to earth as Jesus Christ, it was time for Him to show all people that the Word did not teach either works alone, or faith alone, but the truth that the life of faith and charity together is the path to heaven.

The nature of prophecy is such that it is very difficult to tell what it really means when you first hear it. It is only after the prophecy has been fulfilled that you can recognize it. We know that the 12 disciples did not understand that Jesus Christ had come to establish a heavenly kingdom until after He had refused to fight when betrayed by Judas and allowed Himself to be crucified and then rose again, although the Old Testament was full of prophecies of exactly that sequence of events. In the same way the prophecies of the Second Coming are not so clear until you have seen the event in the past. Then you can look at what happened and see if it fits the prophecies.

The Lord first opened the spiritual eyes of Emanuel Swedenborg in the year 1743. He spent the next 27 years being guided through the spiritual world, and, like John, being commanded to write the things he saw in a book. His observations filled volumes, detailed notes of things seen and heard at the command of the Lord Himself, and perhaps the most important thing he saw and reported during those years was that the Lord was making His Second Coming, not in person, but in the spiritual sense of the Word. Swedenborg was shown that everything in the Word contained a spiritual sense that could be worked out using what was called “the science of correspondences.” By this new science, the Bible became a work that spoke of the Lord and His kingdom in every verse, instead of being a book that appeared to be merely a history of the Jewish people. But most important, it told us that when Jesus said that He would return in “the clouds of heaven,” it meant that He would be reappearing through a new understanding of the stories of the Old and New Testaments. The stories are represented by clouds because, like mist, they stand in the way of the genuine meaning within, but they are clouds of heaven because the truths contained in the Bible are heavenly truths from God.

So the Lord came again, not in person, but through a new Revelation that opened the spiritual sense of the Word so that for the first time it could speak to all the spiritual states of people if only they used the proper key. This new truth was revealed in the World of Spirits as well, and as before, when the confused unhappy spirits heard the genuine truth from the Lord, they immediately recognized it, loved it, and made it their own. This new truth made it possible for them to see their captors for what they were and reject them, thus allowing them to freely choose their own heavenly society.

As we prepare ourselves for the Holy Supper, let us resolve to turn to the Word for ourselves, and with the knowledge that it contains heavenly truths that will help us live happy lives in this world and the next, make a covenant with the Lord today to make those truths our own by bringing them into our daily life, by striving to throw out those evils that oppose them, and by living a life of charity to all. If we do these things, then the Lord will indeed have made His Coming, for He will have come into our lives bringing peace, happiness, and eternal life. AMEN.

Lessons: Daniel 7:9-14, Matthew 24:15-31, TCR 787

Hear now the Word of the Lord as it is written in …

First Lesson: DAN 7:9-14

(Dan 7:9-14) “I watched till thrones were put in place, And the Ancient of Days was seated; His garment was white as snow, And the hair of His head was like pure wool. His throne was a fiery flame, Its wheels a burning fire; {10} A fiery stream issued And came forth from before Him. A thousand thousands ministered to Him; Ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him. The court was seated, And the books were opened. {11} “I watched then because of the sound of the pompous words which the horn was speaking; I watched till the beast was slain, and its body destroyed and given to the burning flame. {12} “As for the rest of the beasts, they had their dominion taken away, yet their lives were prolonged for a season and a time. {13} “I was watching in the night visions, And behold, One like the Son of Man, Coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, And they brought Him near before Him. {14} Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, That all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, Which shall not pass away, And His kingdom the one Which shall not be destroyed.

Second Lesson: MAT 24:15-31

(Mat 24:15-31) “Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place” (whoever reads, let him understand), {16} “then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. {17} “Let him who is on the housetop not go down to take anything out of his house. {18} “And let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes. {19} “But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! {20} “And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath. {21} “For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. {22} “And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened. {23} “Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There!’ do not believe it. {24} “For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. {25} “See, I have told you beforehand. {26} “Therefore if they say to you, ‘Look, He is in the desert!’ do not go out; or ‘Look, He is in the inner rooms!’ do not believe it. {27} “For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. {28} “For wherever the carcass is, there the eagles will be gathered together. {29} “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. {30} “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 on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. {31} “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 one end of heaven to the other.

Third Lesson: TCR 787

This New Church is the crown of all the churches that have hitherto existed on the earth, because it is to Worship one visible God in whom is the invisible like the soul in the body. Thus, and not otherwise, is a conjunction of God with man possible because man is natural, and therefore thinks naturally, and conjunction must exist in his thought, and thus in his love’s affection, and this is the case when he thinks of God as a Man.

Conjunction With an invisible God is like a conjunction of the eye’s vision with the expanse of the universe, the limits of which are invisible; it is also like vision in mid-ocean, which reaches out into the air and upon the sea, and is lost.

Conjunction with a visible God, on the other hand, is like beholding a man in the air or on the sea spreading forth his hands and inviting to his arms. For all conjunction of God with man must be also a reciprocal conjunction of man with God; and no such reciprocation is possible except with a visible God. That before the assumption of the Human, God was not visible, the Lord Himself also teaches in John:-

Ye have neither heard the voice of the Father at any time, nor seen His form (v. 37).

And in Moses:-

That no one can see God and live (Ex. xxxiii. 20).

But that He is visible through His Humanity is stated in John:-

No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He hath manifested Him (i. 18).

And in the same:-

Jesus said I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life; no one cometh unto the Father but by Me. He that knoweth Me, knoweth the Father, and he that seeth Me seeth the Father (xiv. 6, 7, 9).

That there is a conjunction with the invisible God through the visible, that is, through the Lord, He teaches in the following passages:-

Jesus said, Abide in Me, and I in you; he that abideth in Me and I in him, the same beareth much fruit (John xv. 4, 5).In that day ye shall know that I am in the Father, and ye in Me and I in you (John xiv. 20).The glory which thou hast given Me I have given them, that they may be one, even as we are one; I in them and Thou in Me: that the love wherewith Thou hast loved Me may be in them, and I in them (John xvii. 21-23, 26; also vi. 56).

It is also taught that He and the Father are one, and that in order to have eternal life man must believe in Him. That salvation depends on conjunction with God has been frequently

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

THE SECOND COMING

THE SECOND COMING

A Sermon by Rev. Kurt Horigan AsplundhPreached in Bryn Athyn June 12, 1994

 

“Behold, He comes with clouds, and every eye shall see Him …” (Rev. 1:7).

It is the faith of the New Church that the Lord has made His second coming. In this sermon we will examine what constitutes the second coming and how we can be deeply affected by it.

Throughout the eras of history to the present day, God has made Himself known. In His first coming He “bowed the heavens and came down,” taking on a body from Mary, the mother. He did this so that we could know and love Him, so we could invite Him to be a living force in our lives. And for some this was so. When He spoke to those who loved Him and believed that He spoke the words of eternal life, their hearts burned within them. They were willing to follow Him to the death. Any doubts about His Divine power and mercy were dispersed from their minds. Even Thomas, the doubting disciple, confessed Him at last, saying, “My Lord and my God!” And the Lord said, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29).

Here is a test of faith. Through the centuries of the Christian era many who have not seen the Lord in the flesh have been led to believe in Him through His teachings and the power of His Holy Spirit. This belief sustained them through the hard times of their lives and blessed them in the good times. Such is the faith in the Lord that all people of good will seek.

In earlier ages God had revealed Himself through the prophets, speaking with a living voice; and in Most Ancient times, He had appeared as a loving Heavenly Father before the opened spiritual sight of an innocent race of ancient people. In those times, people had a spiritual awareness unknown today and a direct knowledge of the presence and power of their Heavenly Father.

What of today when such spiritual insight has been lost? The Lord has not forsaken us. He has come to us again. The Lord often spoke of His second coming. Once the disciples had asked, “When will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming?” He said ” … they will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” (Matt. 24:30).

Many Christians have waited for this sign, but in vain. The Lord was speaking in parables. He would not return to earth in person, descending in clouds from the sky. The doctrine of the New Church teaches otherwise, saying ” … that the Lord has come whenever the church has been vastated, not indeed in person, as when He assumed the human by birth and made it Divine, but by means of appearings, either manifest, as when He appeared to Abraham in Mamre, to Moses in the bush, to the people of Israel on Mount Sinai … or not so manifest, as by inspirations through which the Word was given, and afterwards through the Word…” (AC 4060:5, emphasis added).

The Lord’s second coming is by an opening of the spiritual sense of the Word. It is an interior coming to the human mind. The principle given to the New Church is that the Lord now manifests Himself through the Word and not elsewhere (see AE 36, 594:3). For the Word, which is Divine truth, “is the Lord Himself in heaven and in the church” (AE 594:3, emphasis added).

He reveals Himself to us ” … not … with a loud voice, but inwardly … This revelation is made by the enlightening of the internal sight, which is of the understanding,” we are told. But this happens only “when a person who is in the affection of truth from good is reading the Word … ” (AC 8780). There are two conditions: We must read the Word and have an affection for the truth. These are important conditions. True enlightenment comes from the reading of the Word but not always. The light of heaven shines into the minds of those only who seek truths from the Word from a love of good.

To understand how this is a coming of the Lord, we must know that the mind “sees” in the light of heaven just as the eye sees in the light of this world. “When the understanding is enlightened by that Divine light, it then perceives that to be true which is true, it acknowledges it inwardly in itself, and as it were sees it. Such,” we are told, “is the revelation of those who are in the affection of truth from good when they are reading the Word” (AC 8780:2). They see their God, know Him and love Him.

The “clouds” mentioned in the prophecies of the Lord’s second coming are not the clouds we see in this world. The literal sense of the Word, its surface meaning, is what is symbolized by the “clouds.” Many passages of Scripture confirm this. Some of the most significant events of Scriptural history occur in clouds: the setting of the rainbow in the cloud seen by Noah; the giving of the Ten Commandments in the midst of clouds on Mount Sinai; covering by the “bright cloud” at the transfiguration (Matt 17:5). “The Lord in this transfiguration caused Himself to be seen as the Word,” we are told (AR 24). Therefore, disciples saw Moses and Elijah talking with the Lord, representing the Law and the Prophets of Old Testament Scripture.

These moments of intense revelation are softened and partially obscured by the clouds. So, too, the Lord’s teachings are hidden in parables and dark sayings (Mark 4:12). Throughout Scripture, clouds correspond to truths adapted or accommodated to the human mind. Such teachings serve, like clouds, to catch the light of truth, but also to shield a tender understanding from direct exposure to truth’s innermost power. Just as a cloud can be a welcome relief from the glare of the noonday sun, so an idea adapted and communicated to our mind is more acceptable to us than the full force of the truth that lies at its source.

We can see this especially with children. They are not ready for abstractions. They learn from stories and living examples. So with us at any age. We grow gradually in our ability to grasp the meaning that lies hidden in the laws of life.

It may seem curious that the Lord would teach in such a way that many could not understand His meaning. Would He not speak so that all could hear and understand plainly? Because we are all in different degrees of readiness to know the truth, sometimes not receptive, at other times open to instruction, the Lord gave the Word in a form that could either hide or reveal His glory.

Swedenborg observed this appearance in the spiritual world and comments on it. “In the spiritual world there appear clouds as well as in the natural world; but the clouds in the spiritual world appear … with those who are in the sense of the letter of the Word, darker or brighter according to their understanding and reception of the Word; the reason is,” he says, “that the light of heaven there is the Divine truth, and darkness there is falsities; consequently `bright clouds’ are the Divine truth veiled in appearances of truth, such as the Word is in the letter with those who are in truths; and `dark clouds’ are the Divine truths covered with fallacies and confirmed appearances, such as the Word is in the letter with those who are in falsities. I have often seen those clouds,” he says (AR 24).

From this living appearance in the spiritual world Swedenborg learned that when clouds are mentioned in the Word they mean revelation in its outermost form within which is the spirit of truth called “the glory.” The “literal sense of the Word is a covering, lest its spiritual sense should be injured” (AR 24).

The Word is our most precious possession. It is God with us. Yet, even as many in Israel failed to see the Divinity of Jesus, thinking of Him only as “the carpenter’s son,” many fail to see God in Scripture, regarding the Biblical books as merely the product of human minds, a record of historical events or personal spiritual experiences. Such see only the “clouds” of the literal sense, dense clouds which mask the light of truth, yet there is a hidden “glory” to be seen by those whose minds are open to receive it.

Let us turn then to the Lord’s promise of His second coming. He said He would come “in the clouds” with power and great glory. The fact is that the Lord has made His promised second coming. He has done this by a revelation of the spiritual sense of the Word. He has revealed His presence in the Word, has shown us He is there to be seen and approached.

In the little work entitled An Invitation to the New Church Swedenborg writes that “the spiritual sense of the Word has been disclosed by the Lord through me, which has never before been revealed since the Word was written with the sons of Israel; and this sense is the very sanctuary of the Word; the Lord Himself is in this sense with His Divine, and in the natural sense with His Human.” And he adds: “Not a single iota in this sense can be opened except by the Lord alone.” He then concludes: This revelation “surpasses all revelations that have hitherto been made since the creation of the world” (Inv. 44). This indeed is “the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” (Matt. 24:30).

Some believe that a person might be more enlightened in spiritual things by immediate contact with spirits and angels than by reading the Word. This is not the case. The reverse is true. The enlightenment by means of the Word is effected by an interior way, while enlightenment by immediate contact comes from without. The interior way is “through the will into the understanding,” we are told. “Man is enlightened through the Word by the Lord so far as his will is in good” (Verbo 29). When the Lord comes to a person through this interior way, He comes to the whole person, first to the will, and through it, to the understanding. Any other approach to the mind, through experience or instruction, is superficial and temporary. By contrast, the Lord’s coming is deeply personal and lasting. A beautiful teaching in the Heavenly Doctrine tells us: “The Lord is present with every man, urging and pressing to be received; and His first coming, which is called the dawn, is when man receives Him, which he does when he acknowledges Him as his God, Creator, Redeemer, and Savior. From this time man’s understanding begins to be enlightened in spiritual things, and to advance into a more and more interior wisdom … ” (TCR 766).

The people of the New Church are highly favored to receive this surpassing revelation, this miraculous opening up of the spiritual sense of the Word. Yet there is also a responsibility. We must seek for it from a love of truths, must make the light of spiritual truth our light, obey its teaching in ourselves, and teach it to others.

What does this mean to each one of us? It means that we can approach the Lord Himself in His Word. The power and glory of His Divine nature has been made visible. The Lord can speak to our hearts as we approach Him there.

But perhaps we feel like those spirits Swedenborg observed in the spiritual world who protested that they had read the Word but still did not understand it, and were not moved by it. The angels with them said, “You did not approach the Lord, and you have also confirmed yourselves in falsities” (AR 224). Not every mind is open to see the spiritual sense of the Word. We may see the clouds but not the glory. If our approach is not sincere, the Lord will hide Himself from our sight.

The fact is, “The spiritual sense of the Word is not given anyone except by the Lord alone, and it is guarded by Him as heaven is guarded, for heaven is in it” (SS 56).

The spiritual sense has been opened, but it is guarded from profanation and falsity. It will be imparted only to him who is in genuine truths from the Lord. No one can open that sense from himself, for apart from the Lord, heaven is closed, and the person sees nothing. We are also taught that “the spiritual sense will not be recognized for a long time … ” The reason is that so many in the world today are confirmed in falsities of doctrine, especially about the Lord. While these falsities remain, the truths of the Lord are not received.

The Lord has made His second coming. Who will receive Him? Those who acknowledge the Divine in the Lord’s Human and are in the spiritual affection of truth from Him, that is, those who “worship the Lord alone, and will hold His Word to be holy, [who] will love Divine truths, and will reject a faith that is separate from charity” (AE 759:2; DP 264:5). All these will receive spiritual light. They will see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.

Herein is the prophecy of Daniel fulfilled: “I was watching in the night visions, and behold, one like the Son of Man, coming with the clouds of heaven … Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom the one which shall not be destroyed” ( Daniel 7:13,14). “The Lord God Jesus Christ reigns, whose kingdom shall be for ages of ages!” (TCR 791) Amen.

 


Lessons: Exodus 33:7-23; Mark 9:2-10; 5 Mem. 16 heading, 18,19; AC 2135a

Arcana Coelestia Preface to Chapter 18 (2135a)

2135a. When [the last time of the church] is at hand, the Lord says that He “will come in the clouds of the heavens, with power and glory” (Matt. 24:30; Mark 13:26; Luke 21:27). Hitherto no one has known what is meant by the “clouds of the heavens.” But it has been disclosed to me that nothing else is meant than the literal sense of the Word; and by “power and glory” the internal sense of the Word, for in the internal sense of the Word there is glory, since whatever is there is concerning the Lord and His kingdom …

[2] Similar is the signification of the “cloud” which encompassed Peter, James, and John, when the Lord appeared to them in glory, of which it is said in Luke: “A voice came out of the cloud, saying, `This is My beloved Son; hear ye Him’; but when the voice had passed, Jesus was found alone” (9:35, 36), where by “Moses and Elias” who spake with the Lord was represented the Word of the Old Testament, which is also called “Moses and the Prophets” (by “Moses” his books together with the other historical books, and by “Elias” the prophet, all the books of the Prophets); but by “Peter, James, and John,” as in all other places where they are named in the books of the Evangelists, were represented faith, charity, and the good of charity. That they only were present signifies that no others can see the glory of the Lord which is in His Word than those who are in faith, in its charity, and in the good of charity. Others are indeed able to see, but still do not see, because they do not believe. This is the internal sense in regard to the foregoing two passages; and in various places in the Prophets also, a “cloud” signifies the Word in its letter, and “glory” the Word in its life.