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)