Spiritual Meaning of REVELATION 8:3
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AR 392. Verse 3. And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer, signifies spiritual worship, which is from the good of charity by the truths of faith. By "the altar" at which the angel stood, and by "the golden censer" which he had in his hand, is signified the worship of the Lord from spiritual love, which worship is from the good of charity by the truths of faith. with the sons of Israel there were two altars, one without the tent, and the other within it; the altar without the tent was called "the altar of burnt-offering," because burnt-offerings and sacrifices were offered upon it. The altar within the tent was called "the altar of incense," as also "the golden altar." There were two altars, because the worship of the Lord is from celestial love and from spiritual love; from celestial love by those who are in His celestial kingdom, and from spiritual love by those who are in His spiritual kingdom; concerning these two kingdoms, see in (n. 387). Concerning the two altars, see the following passages in Moses: Concerning the altar of burnt-offering (Exod. 20:24-26; 27:1-8; 39:38, 39; Lev. 7:1-5; 8:11; 16:18, 19, 33, 34). Concerning the altar of incense (Exod. 30:1-10; 31:8; 37:25-29; 40:5-26; Num. 7:1). That altars, censers, and incense, were seen by John, was not because such things exist in heaven, these were only representative of the worship of the Lord there; the reason is, because such things were instituted among the sons of Israel, and are therefore often mentioned in the Word; and that church was a representative church, for all things of their worship represented and thence they now signify the Divine celestial and spiritual things of the Lord, which are of His church in the heavens and on the earth The same is therefore signified by the two altars spoken of in the Word, in the following passages:--

O send out Thy light and Thy truth, let them lead me to Thy habitation, and I will go the altar of God, unto God (Ps. 43:3, 4).

I will wash my hands in innocence; and so will I compass Thy altar, O Jehovah; and I will make the voice of thanksgiving to be heard (Ps. 26:6, 7).

The sin of Judah is written with a pen of iron upon the tablet of their heart, and upon the horns of your altars (Jer. 17:1, 2).

God is Jehovah, Who enlighteneth us; bind the festal-offering with cords unto the horns of the altar (Ps. 118:27).

In that day shall there be an altar in the midst of the land of Egypt (Isa. 19:19).

"The altar to Jehovah in the midst of the land of Egypt," signifies the worship of the Lord from love in the natural man.

The thistle and the thorn shall come up upon their altars (Hos. 10:8).

By this is signified worship from evil and from the falsities of evil. Besides in other places, as (Isaiah 27:9; 56:6, 7; 60:7; Lamentations 2:7; Ezekiel 6:4-6, 13; Hosea 8:11; 10:1, 2; Amos 3:14; Psalms 51:19; 84:3; Matthew 5:23, 24; 23:18-20). Since the worship of the Lord was represented and thence signified by "the altar," it is evident that by "altar" here in the Apocalypse nothing else is meant, and also elsewhere; as:--

I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the Word of God (Apoc. 6:9).

The angel stood and said, Measure the temple of God and the altar, and them that adore therein (Apoc. 11:1).

I heard another angel from the altar, saying, True and just are Thy judgments (Apoc. 16:7).

Since representative worship, which was performed chiefly upon two altars, was abrogated by the Lord when He came into the world, because He Himself opened the interiors of the church; therefore it is said in Isaiah:--

In that day shall a man look to his Maker, and his eyes shall have respect to the Holy One of Israel, and not to the altars, the work of his hands (Isa. 17:7, 8).

AR 393. And there was given him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne, signifies propitiation lest the angels of the Lord’s spiritual kingdom should be hurt by the spirits of the satanic kingdom, that were below. By "the incense" and by "the golden altar" is signified the worship of the Lord from spiritual love (n. 277, 392); by "prayers" are signified those things which relate to charity and thence to faith in worship (n. 278); and by "saints" are meant those who are of the Lord‘s spiritual kingdom; and by "the just," those who are of His celestial kingdom (n. 173). From this it may appear, that they who are in the Lord’s spiritual kingdom are here treated of. That here "much incense offered with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar" signifies propitiation lest they should be hurt by the spirits of the satanic kingdom who were below, because propitiations and expiations were made by incense, especially when dangers threatened; as may appear from the following passages:--

When the congregation murmured against Moses and Aaron, and were affected with a plague, Aaron took fire from the altar, and put incense into a censer, and ran between the living and the dead to expiate, and the plague was stayed (Num. 16:42-50).

The altar of incense was also placed in the tent, before the mercy-seat that was over the ark, and incense was offered on it every morning when the lamps were trimmed (Exod. 30:1-10).

And it was commanded, that as often as Aaron entered within the veil, he should offer incense, and the cloud of incense should cover the mercy-seat, lest he should die (Lev. 16:11-13).

From these things it may appear, that propitiations in the representative Israelitish church were made by offering incense; in like manner here, that they might not be hurt by the satanic spirits who were below.

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