Summary of the Spiritual Sense
But besides this, the later books of the Word show this truth concerning the former books and concerning themselves in a remarkable way; and thus the Word itself affirms of itself, that it contains a Divine and spiritual sense. For in Psalm 78:1, we read : "Give ear, O my people, to my law: incline your ears to the words of my mouth. I will open my mouth in a parable, I will utter dark sayings of old;" and then follows in the rest of the psalm a brief recapitulation of the history of the children of Israel, thus proving that the whole of that history, in the Word, is parable as well, and therefore contains an inner sense. But not only so. There are some passages which plainly indicate also that the laws of Moses have a spiritual as well as a literal signification. Take, for example, the following from 1 Sam 15:22: "Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams"; and this taken in connection with what is said in Isaiah 1:11-20, and in Matt 23:23, clearly shows that the laws of Moses as well as the sacrifices are parabolic.
And lastly, that the inspired books involve an internal sense both in general and in particular, is more especially evident in the Gospels and in the Apocalypse. Hence we are told that not only is the testimony of Jesus the spirit of prophecy, but that the whole Word treats of Him in its inmost sense, and that this sense was made known to the disciples by the Lord on the occasion of His resurrection so that they might understand it (Rev 19:10; Luke 24:27, 45). It is not surprising, therefore, that the early Christians who lived in the centuries immediately following the time of the Apostles, should have believed that the Scriptures contain an internal sense, and that we have evidence in their writings of this fact. Let one or two examples be given. Ignatius says (on Psalm cxviii., sect. 26): "The law of God is spiritual, and they have not the true law who do not take it spiritually." Augustine declares that "They who take the writings of Moses according to their literal sense do not desire to be learned in the kingdom of heaven " (contra Faust, lib. xii. cap. 4). And Origen says, speaking of the Rites and Ordinances of the Mosaic Law: " Unless they be all of them taken in another sense than the literal... they are a greater stumbling block, and tend more to the subversion of the Christian religion than to its advancement and edification" (in Levit., cap. vii). Also in another part of the same commentary on Leviticus (cap. iii) he says: "The laws of the sacrifices which are given in this book of the Law, are to be fulfilled according to their spiritual meaning; for no man having right or sound reason, can admit that rams, and goats, and calves are fit offerings for an immortal and incorporeal God."
Now, from the foregoing observations, the intelligent mind will be prepared to acknowledge not only that there is an internal sense in every part of the Word, but also that the expositions of that sense given in his great work entitled Arcana Coelestia, by Emanuel Swedenborg, who declares himself to be the Herald of the Second Coming of the Lord, and the appointed instructor of mankind in the Doctrines of the New Christian Dispensation (TCR 779), are a genuine revelation from the Lord, not only demonstrating the truths of the Spiritual Sense, but also the universal Law of Correspondences between natural and spiritual things, according to which the Word has been constructed, and could only be constructed, by the Lord Himself. And further, when it is clearly seen that the genuine Internal Sense of the Word can be everywhere correctly evolved from it by the application of this universal law in every one of the inspired books from beginning to end, then also it will be seen that the Divine Mission of the Seer of the New Dispensation is genuine and true, and that those who have faithfully followed him in their teachings have established themselves on a safe and sure foundation; because through this same Law of Correspondences the Lord teaches every man spiritual truth from the Word (TCR 780).
The spiritual instruction, therefore, given now in a regular and uninterrupted series, of the books of Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, is proved entirely from the Arcana Coelestia, and is necessarily dependent not only upon the particular correspondences there explained, but also upon the general and particular spiritual laws and principles therein abundantly illustrated.
With these introductory remarks, let us now proceed to the exposition of our first verse. By the Lord, or as it is in the Hebrew, by Jehovah, is specifically denoted the Divine Being as to His Love, 2001; by calling is denoted influx, 6840; by Moses is represented Divine Truth, or the Word, 7010, 6752; speaking also denotes influx, will, and thought, 2951; by the tent of meeting are denoted the three heavens, 35403; and by saying is denoted perception, 1791, 1822.
Let it be observed here that what, in the literal sense, is said in application to particular persons and places, in the internal sense, is to be understood of all men and states. Life flows in from the Lord both immediately, and mediately through the heavens, with all men; influx is from Divine Love, and by Divine Truth; it therefore manifests itself in man as affection and thought; and thence he has perception in various degrees according to his state. How very much, then, is involved in the words we are considering! The Lord is continually appealing to every one of us in the threefold manner here indicated by the expressions calling, and speaking, and saying; and we are never without directions from Him as to how we ought to feel, to think, and to act from our highest and best perceptions. But before proceeding to the next verse, it will be well for us to pause and consider carefully whether we have a comprehensive and clear idea of Jehovah or the Lord? What is the idea possible for us?
According to the Hebrew, the word for Jehovah is derived from, or is a variation of, that which means the Being Who was, and is, and is to be, that is, the Self-existent and Eternal Divine Being of Whom, in His Infinite perfection no idea can be formed (Exod 3:14); and this may be why some say that He is "without body, parts, or passions"; but, at any rate, it certainly is why even the Word itself declares concerning Him: "No man has seen God at any time" (John 1:18). But this is not all that the word Jehovah means. For we read (Isaiah 43:10, 11), "Before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me. I, even I, am Jehovah; and beside me there is no saviour." Here, observe, we are first taught that the Lord always was a "God formed," because that which is self-existent, or Life Itself, must be the most substantial of all beings, and substance without form or quality is impossible. But of course this one only substance is not that of which we are conscious; it is Infinite and Divine. Secondly, these words teach us that this "God formed," and yet beyond our comprehension, is the same God that would afterwards be formed and become a saviour in the lower degrees of life of which we are conscious. For all the old prophecies of the Word confirm the statement here made, that Jehovah Himself would become, in the fullness of time, the Redeemer and Saviour. One or two passages in proof will suffice.
"And it shall be said in that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for Him and He will save us: this is Jehovah; we have waited for Him, we will be glad and rejoice in His salvation" (Isa 25:9). Again: " Behold the days come, says Jehovah, that I will raise to David a righteous Branch, and He shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute judgement and justice in the land... and this is His name whereby He shall be called, Jehovah our righteousness" (Jer 23:5). And again, we read: "1 am Jehovah your God: them shall know no God but me; for there is no saviour beside Me " (Hos 13:4). And when we add to these the passages in the New Testament which confirm them, then we see that Jesus Christ our Lord was, and is, Jehovah manifested, and therefore that the true idea of God is that of an infinitely glorious Divine Man in whose single person is embodied the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, or the whole Divine Trinity, according to the words of Paul (Col 2:9), that "in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily." For it is said of Him: "You shall call His name Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sins " (Matt 1:21); that He is "Immanuel," or "God with us" (Matt 1:23); that He is "Lord of all" (Acts 10:36); that "He was manifest in the flesh" (2 Tim 3:16); that He is the very image (or form) of the Divine substance (Heb 1:3); that, from His Divine, He has all power in His Human Nature (Matt 28:18); that His Name is the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Matt 28:19; Acts 19:5); and that His Human Nature is the manifestation of His Divine (John 1:18). No wonder, therefore, that He says of Himself: "Before Abraham was I AM" (John 8:58; Exod 3:14); "He that has seen me has seen the Father" (John 14:9; Isaiah 9:6, 7); "Except you believe that I AM, you shall die in your sins" (John 8:24); and "I am Alpha and Omega, says the Lord God, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty " (Rev 1:8). And when we add that He says also, "The Father abiding in Me does His works (John 14:10); and that "He breathed on His disciples and says to them, ' Receive you the Holy Spirit'" (John 20:22), then we may see that the Father or Divine Nature is in Jesus as the soul in the body; that the Son, or Human Nature, when glorified, is the full manifestation of the Father in One Divine Person; and that the Holy Spirit proceeds from Him alone. And thence we may further see that this is the only true idea of the otherwise incomprehensible Jehovah; and that if it is not received, then there remains of Him either a perverted and grotesque idea or no idea at all. And further still, in order to complete this argument, let it be remembered that man is created in the image and likeness of God (Gen 1:26, 27), from which it follows that God Himself must be essentially and substantially Man in first principles; that indeed, otherwise, He could not have become, in the fullness of time, a Man in last or lowest principles; that His Human Nature, therefore, assumed in the world, was, essentially and substantially, derived from His Divine; that there can be no such thing as abstract power, wisdom, and love either finite or infinite, and consequently no such thing as abstract Omnipotence, Omniscience, and Omnipresence (Matt 28:18-20); that one essential of the Divine Trinity cannot be separated from the rest without the destruction of the whole; and that without the Divine Human in all the degrees of life and substance, the Universe spiritual and natural, could neither have been created, nor could it continue to exist.
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The three main things in the spiritual sense of this verse are that influx and consequently revelation is mediate as well as immediate; that the worship of the Lord must be in freedom; and that worship consists essentially in the acknowledgement of the Lord, and the devotion to Him of the affections of the heart. The Lord did not speak to the Israelites immediately, but through Moses and from the tent of meeting. No one can receive the influx of the Divine life, or love, or good, except by means of Divine Truth, because love has no quality except by truth; and truth is without life except it be from good; also the truth as received by the internal man, in its descent, must be accommodated to the state of the external man. And, again, of what value is worship if it be forced? The Israelites were not compelled to offer their burnt offerings and sacrifices to the Lord. And lastly, who does not see that love itself is free, and is the essential of all worship both natural and spiritual? To worship the Lord truly is to love Him with all the heart and with all the soul inwardly and outwardly.
But an important question here naturally arises. In the remarks on the previous verse it is shown that the Lord is a Divine Person, because there can be no such thing as abstract power, wisdom, and love, and some may therefore imagine that to love the Lord is to adore Him as to His person supremely, without regard to His essence. But this would be a great error. It is true that we cannot think rightly of God unless we think of Him as a Divine Person; but it is also equally true that we cannot worship or love Him simply as a person. On the contrary, we must worship or love Him first as to His essence, and thence as to His person. And thus It will be seen that to love the Lord chiefly means to love, the good and the truth which constitute Him, and to acknowledge that whatever we have of good and truth, or of affection and intelligence is continually in us from Him. And this is how it is to be understood that we are to devote our natural and spiritual affections to His service. We must, in short, love Him because He has first loved us, and is willing to impart eternal life and happiness to us, when we reciprocate His love by rightly using the affections and powers we receive from Him.
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The points to be particularly noted in this verse are, that there is no genuine worship of the Lord except by means of the truths of the Word and purification from evil. How common is the remark at this day that if a man's heart is only right, it is not of so much consequence what his doctrine is! But here we learn that some-thing more is required in the worship of the Lord than affection; there must also be genuine truth or doctrine. For how can an affection be devoted to Him while it is contaminated by falsity of doctrine, by impurity of motive, or by any action carrying with it any thought of self-righteousness or merit? No, indeed! The natural good from which we worship must be good received from the Lord through our previous reception of truth, and its application to life in the work of repentance. Our offering must be "a male perfect, or without blemish." And then again, this true worship involves something more. It is not enough that we should abstain from the outward act of sin by the influence of the Truth; we must also acknowledge the Lord as the door (John 10:7-9); and we must be fully persuaded that it is by His influence through the heavens, that is, by the operation of the Holy Spirit flowing into us, even immediately, or in accommodation to our state, that we can have my power to worship. For wherever there is mediate influx, there also is that which is immediate, 7004, and by it the Lord keeps all things both generally and as to the most minute particulars in due connection and order. He, indeed, is willing constantly to receive worship from every one; but it cannot be grateful and acceptable to Him, unless there is internal purification as well as external.
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The meaning of the Hebrew word here translated atonement, or to make atonement, is to be a covering for sin; and it is said to have three significations, namely, "to expiate for sin, to appease anger, and to avert calamity." Now it may help us to understand this rightly, if we ask ourselves what it really is that affords a covering or expiation for sin, that appeases anger, or that averts a calamity? The answer, in the literal sense, is, of course, the burnt offering, and in the spiritual sense the natural good affection denoted thereby. And can we not see, in truth, that there can be no other covering or atonement for sin than good of different degrees and of various qualities received from the Lord? Yea, can we not see when we have loved and practised any particular evil, and have afterwards repented of it by shunning it as a sin against God, that nothing could be a covering for it or remove it but the acknowledgement and reception of the opposite good? This consideration, therefore, shows us the true spiritual meaning of burnt offerings and sacrifices. They denote the consecration of our good affections to the service of the Lord in all the duties of a holy life; and we have now to see how this devotion is a covering for sin, an appeasing of anger, and the averting of calamities. It has been too commonly believed that the covering or atonement for sin was the sacrifice or death of Christ, considered as a punishment inflicted upon Him for the sins of all mankind. But this error is rapidly disappearing before the light of the New Age. It is impossible that sin can be covered or removed by punishment merely, whether it be that of the sinner himself or any substitute for him. It is well known that punishment does not remove evil, although it may repress it. Only the real work of repentance can do that. And certainly the punishment of another for any man's sins, even though that other should be the Lord in His Human Nature, cannot effect this. Hence the prophet Isaiah says: " We did esteem him stricken, smitten of God and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His blows we are healed" (Isaiah 53:4, 5). That the Lord suffered for man in redeeming him is true; but it is not true that His sufferings and death were, in any sense, a punishment inflicted upon Him by evil men and spirits or by the Father. Again we say, No, indeed! On the contrary it was because He "so loved the world" (John 3:16), that He submitted, as to His Human Nature, to the sufferings He endured, which were not only natural and physical, but involved mighty conflicts against all the powers of darkness. And this He did in order that He might deliver man from the absolute dominion of evil, by preserving in him perfect freedom of choice between evil and good; and thus, in the very grandest sense, was and is the Divine Love, a covering or atonement for man by the removal of evil from him! For, by the work of Redemption, evil is for ever prevented from taking away this liberty of man, and is, in this sense, for ever covered, or removed, hidden and rendered quiescent. But also, what is true in the grandest sense is true as to each individual, with the exception, that while the Lord absolutely preserved man's liberty, and expelled all the maternal life, with its tendencies to evil, from His Human glorified, man's evils remain with him to eternity, but are so covered or quiescent by his prevailing state as to good in the regenerated, that they cease to appear or to trouble him, 868. Thus, then, we see what is meant in this verse and elsewhere in the Word by the covering or atonement both in its universal and particular sense (2 Cor 5:18, 19).
But secondly, how can this atonement be an appeasing of anger? Can we possibly conceive that there is anger in the Lord, or that such anger requires to be appeased by the sufferings of men? By no means. For the infinitely perfect Lord cannot be angry, according to His own words when He says: "I, Jehovah, change not; therefore you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed" (Mal 3:6); and when we read, "Vengeance is mine and recompense" (Deut 32:35), we are to understand the mercy of the Lord which provides for the salvation of man, even by the permission of suffering and punishment, and by the appearances of truth in the Word through which anger, wrath, and vengeance are attributed to Him, 6997. Hence, then, anger signifies the aversion of man from the Lord, and the aversion of the external or natural man from the internal, which produce the appearances of anger; and therefore the way in which anger is appeased in the atonement is by bringing man into harmony with the Divine Love, and the external man into harmony with the internal, through the rejection of evil from a principle of love and the consequent communication and reception of good.
And thirdly, how are calamities averted by the atonement mentioned in the verse before us, and so frequently in other places? This may be easily understood by the simple consideration that it is in the very nature of evil to produce mischief, and of good to do the contrary; so that it is no wonder that calamities should overtake the wicked, and that they should be averted through the reception of good. And if we apply this principle to the kind of good denoted by the burnt offering of the herd, it is evident that when men devote the natural affections and powers which the Lord has given them to merely selfish and worldly purposes, they must expect the calamities that inevitably follow; and also that when they devote them to the Lord according to the internal sense of these verses, they will turn aside those calamities and have conjunction with the Lord, through the conjunction of the external with the internal man as here described. And let it be observed here, that the remarks now made will serve to illustrate much that follows in this and the other chapters of the book of Leviticus.
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It is interesting to notice in this verse the double signification involved in the slaying of the animals offered in the sacrifices. On the one hand there is the rejection of the old or merely natural life, and on the other the putting on of the new or higher life. For it is evident that, in the course of regeneration, we must put off the "old man with his doings," and put on the "new man " (Col 3:9); and the sacrificed animal has its correspondence in both aspects. Essentially it denotes the new and higher life; because only this can be devoted to the Lord; but relatively it signifies the old and lower life by the rejection of which preparation is made for the reception of the perfect life; as for the soul that sins, it shall die, daily or continually, by the rejection of what is good; but the soul that repents shall also die daily by the rejection of what is evil (Ezek 18:20; 1 Cor 15:21). And this cannot be, apart from man's own co-operation by the steady practice of self-denial. Also, again we see how essential the truths of the Word derived from good, represented by the sons of Aaron, are in this work of regeneration; how these truths have their power from good; and how they acknowledge charity, and the necessary conjunction of truth with good, in the attainment of the heavenly life.
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Here it is to be particularly observed, that no directions were given concerning the offering of the sacrifices which do not involve some necessary part in the work of man's regeneration. For no one can imagine that such directions were given by revelation from heaven, simply because there was any value in them as outward acts of worship only. As we have already seen, the Lord does not desire such worship (Ps 40:6-8); much less, then, could He desire the minutiae of it. But nevertheless, each particular part of the ceremonial was intended to signify and represent some indispensable part of true spiritual worship, and thus of the true heavenly life. And of these certainly the removal of falsities, and the orderly arrangement of good and true affections are not the least. But this is the work of the Lord alone. It is only He who can in reality do either the one or the other while man co-operates. How often in the course of our religious experience have we not longed for such deliverance, and for such a state of perfection as this! And yet, although we have, it may be, sincerely endeavoured to realize them, it seems to be all in vain; so that not one of us can say, "1 am free from error, and perfect externally and internally." Here, however, we are assured that it must be; and therefore we may rest satisfied that it will be. Our apparently imperfect efforts will finally be crowned with success; and if we cannot see how it is that each day's work in life contributes to this end, we may yet take consolation, and know from the Word the reason why. It is that all through our probationary state the "tares" and the "wheat" in us must both grow together (Matt 13:30). We cannot ourselves tell truly, in this matter, where we are; our state may be much better than we feel or think, or it may be much worse; but certain it is that we must do each day's work with care and diligence, and that if we endure to the end we shall be saved. And then when the right time comes the "tares" will disappear; the "wheat" will be gathered into the barn; there will be an orderly arrangement of all our states; our associations with those who most resemble us will be just and true; and we shall indeed, according to our degree, be perfect, even as our Father Who is in heaven is perfect.
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It is evident from the literal sense of this verse that these particulars must contain the internal sense according to the proofs, because no other worship can be a "sweet savour," or "an odour of rest " to the Lord but real worship which is expressed in a perfect life of obedience to Him springing from love and directed by an enlightened faith. And it is to be remembered here that what, in the internal sense, has reference to the regeneration of man, in the supreme sense relates to the glorification of the Lord, as all that is said in the references clearly shows. But see more especially 10053; and observe, that as the glorification of the Lord consisted in the union of the Human with the Divine, so the regeneration of man involves the conjunction of the External with the Internal, and thus, as it has been said, the devotion of the whole man to the Lord, namely, the natural man signified by a bullock as well as the spiritual man signified by a ram.
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Taking now a brief review of this chapter, we may observe that its general subject is the worship of the Lord; that this worship must be from natural and spiritual affection combined, that it is first from natural affection; secondly, from spiritual affection; and thirdly, from the same affections on a lower plane.
The internal sense first states that natural and spiritual worship are combined, because the Lord's operation, in regeneration, is from the inmost through the spiritual, into the natural degree; and then it describes natural and spiritual worship, successively, because according to man's experience, he begins his life in the natural degree, and afterwards becomes spiritual. But since the natural man is internal and external, and also the spiritual, therefore the worship of the external man or his first conscious natural and spiritual life is also described.
Next we learn the requirements for the true worship of the Lord, which, generally considered, are the same in different degrees. And the first essentials named are exceedingly important. There must be truth and there must be purity; truths, in fact, which reveal man's impurity, naturally, and then the work of repentance by which purity comes. But these, by themselves, are not sufficient. There must be conjunction with the Lord by the sincere acknowledgement of Him, and of His operation through the heavens. After this it follows in order that, from the Lord, there is the powerful influence of the internal man upon the external, producing the reconciliation or agreement of the two, which is said to be acceptable to the Lord, because the worship of the external separate from the internal cannot be so; and therefore there must be preparation for this by the rejection of the corrupted "old " life, so that good and truth conjoined may be fitly and fully manifested. But there is a peculiarity here which requires notice. The preparation for spiritual worship is distinguished from that for natural worship in this description, by its being said to be by truths adapted for that purpose. Now it may occur to the thoughtful student that surely this is the case also with preparation for natural worship, although this statement is not found in verse 5. we have to consider, therefore, why it occurs in verse 11. The reason appears to be that the more interior our worship is, so much the more is it seen to be from an enlightened mind, as well as from a loving heart. The spiritual man sees truths more clearly than the natural man. But still preparation for worship never can be otherwise than obscure, when compared with worship itself; and therefore this obscurity is also named. The animal representing worship was killed on the side of the altar northward; and "northward," as the reference (9648) shows, denotes obscurity as to truths. But for further illustration of this interesting point see also 9736, 10185.
We learn, in the next place, however, that there are three other requirements for true worship. Not only must evil and falsity be removed from the heart and understanding, but from the life also; and then follows a distinct and orderly arrangement of all man's powers by the Lord, with the complete purification of all sensuous feelings and thoughts, so that the natural man in its entirety may be devoted without hindrance to the service of the Lord.
And lastly, what happens to the affections must happen to the intellectual powers, as described at the end of the chapter. In fact, the same general process again appears, under other and exactly appropriate symbolism, the chief truths made manifest being the subordination of the understanding to the will, and of the external man to the internal; the impossibility of conjunction with the Lord, through the understanding alone, or through faith alone; and the inevitable result, namely, that the understanding must not only be subordinate, but must also be in complete harmony with the will, in the holy life of worship which consists in doing justly, loving mercy, and walking humbly with our God (Mic 6:8).
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