Spiritual Meaning of REVELATION 7:9
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AR 363. Verse 9. After this I saw, and behold, a great multitude, which no one could number, signifies all the rest who are not of those enumerated, and yet are in the Lord’s New Heaven and New Church, being those who make the ultimate heaven and the external church, whose quality no one knows but the Lord alone. That by "a great multitude" are signified the rest who are not enumerated above, and yet are in the Lord‘s Heaven and Church, is plain from (verses 9, 10, 13-17), where it is said, that "they stood before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palms in their hands;" and that "they serve Him in His temple; and He that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them;" besides many other things. By "numbering," in the spiritual sense, is signified to know what or of what quality they are; that such is the signification of numbering, will be seen in the next paragraph. But who they are in particular, who are meant by those who are called "a great multitude," cannot be known without first revealing an arcanum. The arcanum is this: The whole heaven, together with the church on the earth, before the Lord, is as one Man; and because it is as one Man, there are those there who make the head, and thus the face with all its organs of the senses; and there are those who make the body with all its members. Those who are enumerated above make the face with all its organs of the senses; but these now mentioned, are those who make the body with all its members. That this is the case has been revealed to me; as also, that they who make the first class of the tribes (ver. 5), are those who correspond to the forehead down to the eyes; that they who are of the second class (ver. 6) are those who correspond to the eyes, together with the nose; the third class (ver. 7), those who correspond to the ears and cheeks; and the fourth class (ver. 8), those who correspond to the mouth and tongue. The Lord’s church is also internal and external; those who are meant by "the twelve tribes of Israel" are those who make the Lord‘s internal church, but they who are now mentioned are those who make the external church, and cohere as one with those enumerated above, as lower things with higher, thus as the body does with the head; therefore the twelve tribes of Israel signify the higher heavens and also the internal church, but these signify the lower heavens and the external church. That elsewhere these are also called "a great multitude," see below (n. 803, 811).

AR 364. "To number," in the spiritual sense, signifies to know the quality, because a "number" in the Word does not signify a number, but its quality (n. 10); in this passage therefore, by "a great multitude which no one could number," in the natural sense, is meant what the words import, that there was an immense multitude; but in the spiritual sense, is meant that no one but the Lord alone knows their quality. For the Lord’s heaven consists of innumerable societies, and these societies are distinguished according to the varieties of affections in general; in like manner all in each society, are distinguished in particular. The Lord alone knows the quality of the affection of each individual, and disposes all in order according thereto. By "numbering," the angels understand, to know this quality. The same is meant, in the Word, in these passages:--

When Belshazzar drank wine out of the vessels of the temple of Jerusalem, there was written upon the wall, Thou art numbered, thou art numbered (Dan. 5:2, 5, 25).

I shall go to the gates of hell, I am numbered (Isa. 38:10).

A voice of the tumult of the kingdoms, Jehovah of hosts numbereth the host of war (Isa. 13:4).

See, who hath created these things, that bringeth out their host by number (Isa. 40:26).

Jehovah who numbereth the host of the stars (Ps. 147:4).

The flocks shall pass again under the hands of him that numbereth (Jer. 33:13).

My steps are numbered (Job 14:16).

The houses and towers of Zion and of Jerusalem are numbered (Isa. 22:9, 10; 33:18, 19; Ps. 48:12-14).

To "number" is to know the quality. From the signification of "numbers" and of "numbering," it may appear why punishment was denounced against David for numbering the people or the tribes of Israel, and why he said to the prophet Gad:--

I have sinned greatly in what I have done (2 Sam. 24:1-25).

And why, when the people were numbered by Moses as to all their tribes, it was commanded that:--

Everyone should give an explanation of his soul to Jehovah in numbering, that there be no place among them in numbering them (Exod. 30:12).

The reason was, because "to number" signified to know their quality as to their spiritual state, thus as to the state of the church meant by "the twelve tribes of Israel," which the Lord alone knows.

AR 365. Of every nation, and tribes, and peoples, and tongues, signifies all in the Christian world, who are in religion from good and in truths from doctrine. By "every nation and tribes," are meant those who are in religion from good, who are of the lowest heaven (n. 363); by "nations," those who are in good (n. 920, 921); and by "tribe," religion (n. 349); by "peoples and tongues" are meant those who are in truths from doctrine; by "peoples," those who are in truths (n. 483); and by "tongue," doctrine (n. 282). By "out of every nation, tribes, peoples, and tongues," taken together in the spiritual sense, are therefore signified all who are in religion from good, and in truths from doctrine.

AR 366. Standing before the throne, and before the Lamb, signifies hearing the Lord, and doing what He commands. By"standing before God," is signified to hear and do what He commands, as he who stands before a king. The same is also signified by "standing before God," in other parts of the Word; thus:--

The angel said to Zacharias, I am Gabriel, that standeth before God (Luke 1:19).

There shall not be cut off a man standing before Me all the days (Jer. 35:19).

These are the two sons of oil standing before the Lord of the whole earth (Zech. 4:14).

He hath separated the tribe of Levi to stand before Jehovah (Deut. 10:8).

AR 367. Clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands, signifies communication and conjunction with the higher heavens, and confession from Divine truths. That "to be clothed with white robes," signifies to have communication and conjunction with the heavens, may be seen in (n. 328). "To hold palms in their hands" signifies confession from Divine truth, is because "palms" signify Divine truths; for every tree signifies something of the church, and "palms" signify the Divine truth in ultimates, which is the Divine truth of the sense of the letter of the Word; for this reason:--

On all the walls of the temple of Jerusalem, within and without, and also upon the doors, were carved cherubim and palms (1 Kings 6:29, 32).

The same in the new temple, mentioned in (Ezekiel 41:18-20). By "cherubim" is signified the Word (n. 239), and by "palms" Divine truths therein. That by "palms" are signified the Divine truths of the Word, and by "palms in their hands" confessions from them, may appear from its being commanded that:--

At the feast of tabernacles they should take fruits of the tree of honor, and leaves of palms, and should be glad before Jehovah (Lev. 23:39, 40).

When Jesus bent to Jerusalem to the feast, they took branches of palms, and went to meet Him, crying, Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord (John 12:12, 13).

By which was signified confession from Divine truths concerning the Lord. "The palm" signifies Divine truth also in David:--

The just shall flourish like the palm, those that be planted in the house of Jehovah shall grow, he shall spring up in the courts of our God (Ps. 92:12, 13).

In like manner in other places. Because Jericho was a city near Jordan, and by "the river Jordan" was signified that which is first in the church, and this is the Divine truth, such as it is in the sense of the letter of the Word, therefore it was called "the city of palms" (Deuteronomy 34:3; Judges 1:16; 3:13). For Jordan was the first boundary or entrance into the land of Canaan, and by the land of Canaan is signified the church.

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