Spiritual Meaning of GENESIS 18:21
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AC 2241. Verse 21. I will go down, I pray, and I will see whether they have made a consummation according to the cry thereof which is come unto Me, and if not I will know. "I will go down, I pray, and I will see," signifies visitation " whether they have made a consummation according to the cry thereof which is come unto Me, and if not I will know," signifies whether the evil has arrived at its height.

AC 2242. I will go down, I pray, and I will see. That this signifies visitation, is evident from the signification of "going down to see,‘ as being Judgment (n. 1311), consequently that it is visitation. The last time of the church in general, and that of every one in particular, is called in the Word "visitation," which precedes Judgment; thus a "visitation" is simply an exploration as to quality, that is, as to the quality of the church in general, or of a man in particular; and this exploration is expressed in the sense of the letter by Jehovah "going down and seeing."

[2] This shows what is the nature of the sense of the letter, for Jehovah does not go down, since going down cannot be predicated of the Lord, because He is always in the highest; nor does Jehovah see whether a thing be so, for seeing whether it be so cannot be predicated of the Lord, because He knows all things from eternity both in general and in particular. Nevertheless it is so expressed because it appears to man as if it were so, for man is in things that are below, and when anything appears there, he does not think or even know how the case is with things that are above, thus neither how they flow in, for his thought goes no further than to what is nearest to him, and hence he cannot perceive otherwise than that there is some such thing as going down and seeing, and this the more because he imagines that no one knows what he is thinking; besides that he has no other idea than that there is a coming down from on high, and, when said of God, from the highest; whereas it is not from the highest, but from the inmost.

[3] This shows what is the nature of the sense of the letter, namely, that it is according to appearances and if it were not according to appearances, no one would understand and acknowledge the Word; thus no one would receive it. But the angels are not in appearances in the way that man is, and therefore while the Word as to the sense of the letter is for man, as to the internal sense it is for the angels, as also for those men to whom of the Lord’s Divine mercy it is given, while living in the world, to be like the angels.

[4] "Visitation" is mentioned in various places in the Word, and by it is signified either vastation, whether of the church or of each man or deliverance, and thus exploration as to quality. It denotes vastation in Isaiah:--

What will ye do in the day of visitation? it shall come from far. To whom will ye flee for help? and where will ye leave your glory? (Isaiah 10:3).

And again:--

The stars of the heavens and the constellations thereof shall not shine with their light, the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine, and I will visit evil upon the world, and upon the wicked their iniquity (Isaiah 13:10, 11).

That by the stars and constellations which shall not shine, and the sun which shall be darkened, and the moon which shall not make her light to shine, is signified that there will be no love and no charity, may be seen above (n. 2120); and as this is vastation, it is the "day of visitation."

[5] In Jeremiah:--

They shall fall among them that fall, and in the time of their visitation they shall stumble (Jeremiah 8:12),

meaning the time when they have been vastated, or when there is no charity and faith In Ezekiel:--

The visitations of the city have come near, and every man with his instrument of destruction in his hand (Ezekiel 9:1).

Here also vastation is treated of; hence every man has an instrument of destruction. In Hosea:--

The days of visitation are come, the days of retribution are come (Hosea 9:7).

In Micah:--

The day of thy watchmen, thy visitation, is come; now shall be their perplexity (Micah 7:4),

also denoting vastated charity. In Moses:--

In the day of My visiting, and I will visit upon them their sin (Exod. 32:34),

where the people in the wilderness are treated of, after they had made for themselves the golden calf. That deliverance is signified by "visitation" is plain from many passages (Exod. 3:16; 4:31; Jer. 27:22; 29:10; Luke 1:68, 78; 19:41, 42).

AC 2243. Whether they have made a consummation according to the cry of it which is come unto Me, and if not I will know. That this signifies whether evil has arrived at its height, is evident from the signification of a "cry," as being falsity (n. 2240). As there said (near the end) there are two kinds of falsity, namely, the falsity which is from evil, and the falsity which produces evil. The falsity which is from evil is all that which a man thinks when he is in evil, namely, all that favors his evil; as for example, when he is in adultery, that which he then thinks about adultery: that it is allowable, that it is becoming, that it is the delight of life, that the procreation of offspring is thereby promoted, and so on; all these thoughts being falsities from evil.

[2] But the falsity which produces evil takes place when from his religious belief a man conceives some principle, and consequently believes that it is good or holy, when yet in itself it is evil. For example, he who believes from his religion that there is some man who can save, and therefore worships and adores him, does evil from that falsity; and the same is true in regard to any other religious belief which in itself is false. As therefore falsity is from evil, and falsity produces evil, the expression "cry" is here used, signifying, as a kind of general expression, that which it involves, namely, evil; as is also evident from its being said, "whether they have made a consummation according to the cry of it which is come unto Me;" where "its cry" is put in the singular number, and "they have made a consummation," in the plural.

[3] What a "consummation" is, was shown (n. 1857); and what a consummation is further, may be comprehended from the churches. The Most Ancient Church which was called "Man," was the most celestial of all. This in process of time so far degenerated from the good of love, that at length nothing celestial remained, and then was its consummation, which is described by the state of those just before the flood.

[4] The Ancient Church (which was after the flood and was called "Noah," and was less celestial) also in course of time so departed from the good of charity, that nothing of charity remained, for it was turned partly into magic, partly into idolatry, and partly into a kind of dogmatic system separate from charity; and then was its consummation.

[5] Another church succeeded, called the Hebrew Church, which was still less celestial and spiritual, placing somewhat of holy worship in external rites. This in course of time was distorted in various ways, and that external worship was turned into idolatry; and then was its consummation.

[6] A fourth church was then restored among the posterity of Jacob, which had nothing celestial and spiritual, but only a representative of it; and therefore that church was a church representative of celestial and spiritual things, inasmuch as they did not know what their rites represented and signified; but it was instituted in order that there might still be some connection between man and heaven, such as there is between the representatives of good and truth, and good and truth themselves. This church at length so fell away into falsities and evils that every rite became idolatrous; and then was its consummation. Therefore, after the churches had thus successively declined-- when in the last one the connection between the human race and heaven was altogether broken, insomuch that the human race would have perished because there was no church by which there could be a connection and a bond (n. 468, 637, 931, 2054),

[7] the Lord then came into the world, and by the unition of the Divine Essence with the Human Essence in Himself, conjoined heaven with earth, and at the same time He set up again a new church, called the Christian Church, which at first was in the good of faith, and its members lived in charity with one another as brethren. But in process of time this church has departed in divers ways, and at the present day has become such that its members do not even know that the fundamental of faith is love to the Lord and charity toward the neighbor; and although they say from doctrine that the Lord is the Saviour of the human race, that they are to rise again after death, and that there is a heaven and a hell, yet few believe it As this church has become such, its consummation is not far off.

[8] All this shows what "consummation" is, namely, that it is when evil has come to its height. The case is similar in particular, that is, with every man; but how the case is with consummation as regards each person in particular, will of the Lord‘s Divine mercy be told in what follows. Consummation is treated of in the Word in various places, and the state which precedes is described by "vastation" and "desolation," which is followed by "visitation."

GENESIS 18:21    previous  -  next  -  text  -  summary  -  Genesis  -  Full Page

Author:  E. Swedenborg (1688-1772). Design:  I.J. Thompson, Feb 2002. www.BibleMeanings.info