Spiritual Meaning of REVELATION 5:8
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AR 274. Verse 8.And when He had taken the book, signifies when the Lord decided to execute the judgment, and thereby to reduce all things in the heavens and in the earths to order. By "taking the book" and opening it, is signified to explore the states of life of all, and to judge everyone according to his state, as above. Therefore here by "His taking the book," is signified His decision to execute the Last Judgment; and as the Last Judgment is executed for the purpose of reducing all things to order in the heavens, and through the heavens, in the earths, this also is signified.

AR 275. The four animals and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, signifies humiliation, and from humiliation, adoration of the Lord from the higher heavens. Now follows the glorification of the Lord on the above account, for, as was observed in (n. 263), unless the Lord should now execute the Last Judgment, and thereby reduce all things in the heavens and in the earths to order, all would perish. The glorification of the Lord, which now follows, takes place first in the higher heavens, afterwards in the lower heavens, and lastly in the lowest heavens; the glorification by the higher heavens (verses 8-10); by the lower heavens (verses 11, 12); and by the lowest heavens (verse 13); and lastly confirmation and adoration by the higher heavens (verse 14). Therefore the higher heavens are signified by the "four animals" and "the twenty-four elders;" for by "the cherubim," which are the four animals "in the midst of the throne," is signified the Lord as to the Word; but by "the cherubim," or four animals "round about the throne," is signified heaven as to the Word; for it is said:--

That in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were seen four animals, full of eyes before and behind (Apoc, 4:6).

For the heavens are heavens from the reception of the Divine truth through the Word from the Lord. By "the twenty-four elders" are also signified the angels in the higher heavens, because those elders were nearest around the throne (Apoc. 4:4). That "to fall down before the Lamb" is humiliation, and from humiliation, adoration, is evident.

AR 276. Having everyone of them harps, signifies confession of the Lord‘s Divine Human from spiritual truths. It is known that confessions of Jehovah were made in the temple at Jerusalem by singing, and at the same time by instruments of music which corresponded; the instruments were principally trumpets and timbrels, and psalteries and harps; the trumpets and timbrels corresponded to celestial goods and truths, and the psalteries and harps to spiritual goods and truths; the correspondences were with their sounds. What celestial good and truth is, and what spiritual good and truth, may be seen in the work concerning Heaven and Hell (HH n. 13-19, 20-28). That "harps" signify confessions of the Lord from spiritual truths, may appear from these passages:--

Confess to Jehovah with the harp, sing unto Him with the psaltery of ten strings (Ps. 33:2).

I will confess to Thee on the harp, O God, my God (Ps. 43:4).

I will confess to Thee on the instrument of the psaltery, I will sing unto Thee with the harp, O Thou Holy One of Israel (Ps. 71:22).

Arouse me psaltery and harp, I will confess Thee among the nations, O Lord (Ps. 57:8, 9; Ps. 108:2-4).

Answer to Jehovah by confession, play on the harp to our God (Ps. 147:7).

It is good to confess to Jehovah upon the psaltery, and upon higgaion on the harp (Ps. 92:2-4).

Make a joyful noise unto Jehovah all the earth, sing unto Jehovah with the harp, with the harp and the voice of singing (Ps. 98:4-6; 43:4; 137:2; Job 30:31; Isa. 24:7-9; 30:31, 32; Apoc. 14:2; 18:22).

Because "the harp" corresponded to confession of the Lord, and evil spirits could not endure it, therefore David by the harp caused the evil spirit to depart from Saul (1 Samuel 16:14-16, 23). That they were not harps, but that confessions of the Lord were heard by John as harps, may be seen below (n. 661).

AR 277. And golden vials full of incense, signifies confession of the Lord’s Divine Human from spiritual good. The reason why "incense" signifies worship from spiritual goods, but in this instance confession from such goods, is because the principal worship in the Jewish and Israelitish church consisted in sacrifices and incense; wherefore there were two altars, one for sacrifices and the other for incense; the latter altar was within the tabernacle, and was called the golden altar, but the former was without the tabernacle, and was called the altar of burnt offering; the reason was, because there are two kinds of goods, from which all worship exists, celestial good and spiritual good: celestial good is the good of love to the Lord, and spiritual good is the good of love towards the neighbor. Worship by sacrifices was worship from celestial good, and worship by incense was worship from spiritual good. Whether you call it worship or confession, it is the same thing, for all worship is confession. What is signified by "incense," is also signified by "the vials" in which the incense is contained, because the thing containing and the thing contained, like the instrumental and principal, act as one cause. Worship from spiritual good is signified by "incense" in the following passages:--

For from the rising of the sun even unto the going down of the same, My name shall be great among the Gentiles, and in every place incense shall be offered unto My name (Mal. 1:11).

They shall teach Jacob Thy judgments, they shall put incense in Thy nostril and a burnt offering upon Thine altar (Deut. 33:10).

I will offer unto Thee burnt offerings of fatlings, with incense (Ps. 66:13, 15).

And they shall come from the circuit of Judah, offering a burnt offering, and a sacrifice, a meal-offering and incense (Jer. 17:26).

They shall come from Sheba; they shall bring gold and incense, and they shall declare the praises of Jehovah (Isa. 60:6).

By "frankincense" the same is signified as by "incense," because frankincense was the principal aromatic from which incense was made. Likewise in Matthew:--

The wise men from the east opened their treasures, and offered to the Lord recently born, gold, frankincense, and myrrh (Matthew 2:11).

The reason why they offered these three was, because "gold" signified celestial good, "frankincense" spiritual good, and "myrrh" natural good, and from those three goods all worship is made.

AR 278. Which are the prayers of saints, signifies thoughts which are of faith, from affections which are of charity, with those who worship the Lord from spiritual goods and truths. By "prayers" are meant the things which are of faith, and at the same time things which are of charity, with those who pour forth prayers, because prayers without them are not prayers, but empty sounds. That "saints" mean those who are in spiritual goods and truths, may be seen in (n. 173). The reason why incense is called "the prayers of saints" is because fragrant odors correspond to the affections of good and truth; hence it is, that "a grateful odor" and "an odor of rest to Jehovah," so often occur in the Word (Exodus 29:18, 25, 41; Leviticus 1:9, 13, 17; 2:2, 9, 12; 3:5; 4:31; 6:15, 21; 8:28; 23:13, 18; 26:31; Numbers 15:3, 7; 28:6, 8, 13; 29:2, 6, 8, 13, 36; Ezekiel 20:41; Hosea 14:7). "Prayers" which are called "incense" have a similar signification in the following passages in the Apocalypse:--

An angel stood at the altar having a golden vial, and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar; And the smoke of the incense with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel‘s hand (Apoc. 8:3-5).

And in David:--

Give ear unto my voice; my prayers have been accepted before Thee as incense (Psalms 141:1, 2).

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