Spiritual Meaning of REVELATION 9:20
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AR 456. Verse 20. And the rest of the men who were not killed by these plagues, signifies those in the church of the Reformed, who are not so spiritually dead from visionary reasonings and from self-love, the pride of their own intelligence, and from the lusts thence, as the former, and yet have made faith alone the head of their religion. By "the rest of the men" are meant they who are not as the former, but yet make faith alone the head of their religion; by " those who were not killed," are signified those who are not so spiritually dead; by "these plagues" in which they are, self-love, the pride of their own intelligence, and the lusts of evil and falsity from them are meant; these three being signified by "fire," "smoke," and "brimstone," concerning which in (n. 452, 453). That such is the signification of "plagues," will be seen below.

But something must first be said respecting this class of persons, whom also it has been granted me to see and to converse with. They dwell in the northern quarter towards the west, where some of them have cottages with roofs, and some without roofs. Their beds are of bulrushes, their garments of goat‘s hair. In the light flowing in from heaven their faces appear livid and also stupid. The reason is, because they know nothing more about religion than that there is a God, that there are three Persons, that Christ suffered for them on the cross, and that it is faith alone by which they are saved; and likewise by worship in temples, and by prayers at stated times. As to the rest of the things relating to religion and its doctrine, they pay no attention; for the worldly and corporeal things, with which their minds are filled and overcharged, close up their ears against them. There are many of the presbyters among them, whom I asked, "What do you think, when you read in the Word of works, of love and charity, of fruits, of the precepts of life, of repentance, in brief of things to be done?" They replied, that they did indeed read them, and thus saw them; but still they did not see them, because they held their minds in faith alone, and therefore thought that all these were faith, and did not think that they were effects of faith. That such ignorance and stupidity prevails with those who have embraced faith alone, and made it the all of their religion, is scarcely credible; nevertheless it has been granted me to know it by much experience. That by plagues are meant spiritual plagues, by means of which man dies as to his spirit or soul, is evident from these passages:--

Thy breach is desperate, thy plague grievous; I will restore health unto thee, I will heal thee of thy plagues (Jer. 30:12, 14, 17).

Everyone that passeth by Babylon shall hiss at all her plagues (Jer. 50:13).

In one day shall the plagues come upon Babylon, death and lamentation (Apoc. 18:8).

I saw the seven angels that had the seven last plagues, by which the anger of God is to be consummated (Apoc. 15:1, 6).

Woe to the sinful nation, to the people heavy with iniquity; from the sole of the foot even to the head there is no soundness in it, a wound and a scar and a recent stroke, not pressed, not bound up, not softened with oil (Isa. 1:4, 6).

In the day that Jehovah bound up the breach of His people, and healed the wound of their plague (Isa. 30:26; Deut. 28:59; Jer. 49:17; Zech. 14:12, 15; Luke 7:21; Apoc. 11:6; 16:21).

AR 457. Yet repented not of the work of their hands, signifies that neither did they shun their own things, which are evils of every kind, as sins. By "the works of a man’s hands," are signified man‘s own things, which are evils and falsities thence, because by "hand" are signified those things in the aggregate which proceed from man; for the powers of the mind, and thence of its body, are determined to the hands and there terminate; wherefore by "hands," in the Word, is signified power: consequently, by "the works of a man’s hands," his own things are signified, which are evils and falsities of every kind; his own things in the will are evils, and his own things in the understanding are falsities thence. It is said of those who are here treated of, that they repented not; the reason is, because they who make faith alone the all of religion, say in themselves, "What need is there of repentance, when by faith alone sins are remitted, and we are saved? Of what avail are our own works in this matter? I know that I was born in sins, and that I am a sinner; if I confess this, and pray that my faults may not be imputed to me, is not the work of repentance then performed, and what need is there for anything more?" Thus he has no thought at all about sins, even so that at length he does not know that there are sins: wherefore he is continually borne along within them and into them, by the delight and pleasantness which flow from them, in like manner as a ship is carried by the wind and tide toward the rocks, whilst the pilot and mariners are asleep. By "the works of men‘s hands," in the Word, in its natural sense, are meant graven images, molten images, and idols; but, in the spiritual sense, by them are signified evils and falsities of every kind, which are man’s own things; as in these passages:--

Provoke me not to anger by the works of your hands; if ye provoke me to anger by the works of your hands, to your own evil, I will recompense them according to their works, and according to the deeds of their hands (Jer. 25:6, 7, 14).

The sons of Israel provoked me to anger by the works of their hands (Jer. 32:30; 44:8).

I will speak judgments with them touching all their wickedness, that they have bowed themselves down to the works of their hands (Jer. 1:16).

In that day the eyes shall look to the Holy One of Israel, and not to the altars the work of their hands, and which their fingers have made (Isa. 17:7, 8; 31:7; 37:19; Jer. 10:9).

That " the work of a man‘s hands" is his proprium, and the evil and falsity thence, may be manifestly evident from this, that for that reason it was prohibited to build the altar and the temple of hewn stones, and to lift up a tool of iron upon those stones; for by this "the work of man’s hands" was signified. If thou makest an altar of stones unto Me, thou shalt not build them hewn; because if thou movest a chisel upon it, thou will profane it (Exod. 20:25).

Joshua built an altar of stones, upon which he did not move any iron (Josh. 8:30, 31).

The Temple of Jerusalem was built of whole stone, and neither hammer nor axe nor any instruments of iron were heard when it was building (1 Kings 6:7).

All things also which are done by the Lord, are called "the works of His hands;" which are His own and in themselves goods and truths; as in these places:--

The works of the hands of Jehovah are truth and judgment (Ps. 111:7).

O Jehovah, Thy mercy is forever; forsake not the works of Thy hands (Ps. 138:8).

Thus said Jehovah, the Holy One of Israel, and His Former, ask signs of Me concerning My sons, concerning the work of My hands command ye Me (Isa. 45:11).

Thy people shall all be just, the branch of My planting, the work of My hands (Isa. 60:21).

O Jehovah, Thou art our Father; we are the clay, and Thou our potter; and we all are the work of Thy hands (Isa. 64:8).

AR 458. That they should not adore demons, signifies that thus they are in the evils of their lusts, and make one with their lake in hell. By "demons" are signified the lusts of evil springing from the love of the world; the reason is, because in hell they are called demons who are in those lusts; and men also, who are in the same, become demons after death. There is also a conjunction between them and such men; for every man is conjoined with spirits as to his affections, even so that they make a one; from which it is evident, that to "adore" demons, is to sacrifice to those lusts from the love of them. Therefore he who invokes faith alone, as the head of his religion, or as his idol, remains in evil, by reason of his not searching out any evil in himself which he calls a sin, and consequently is not desirous of removing it by repentance; and as every evil is composed of lusts, being nothing but a bundle of lusts, it follows, that he who does not search out any evil in himself, and shun it as a sin against God, which can only be done by repentance, becomes a demon after death. Nothing but such lusts are signified by "demons" in the following passages:--

They sacrifice to demons, not to God (Deut. 32:17).

The sons of Israel shall no longer sacrifice to demons, after which they have committed whoredom (Lev. 17:7; Ps. 106:37).

The Ziim shall meet with the Ijim, and the demon of the woods shall meet with his companion (Isa. 34:14).

The Ziim shall lie there, and their houses shall be full of Ochim, and the daughters of the owl shall dwell there, and the demons of the woods shall dance there (Isa. 13:21).

By "Ziim," "Ijim," "Ochim," "the daughters of the owl," are signified various lusts; "wood demons" are such lusts as appertain to priapuses and satyrs:--

Babylon is become the habitation of demons, and the hold of every unclean spirit (Apoc. 18:2).

The demons, which the Lord cast out, were such lusts, when they lived in the world (Matthew 8:16, 28; 9:32, 33; 10:8; 12:22; 15:22; Mark 1:32, 34; Luke 4:33-37, 41; 8:2, 26-40; 9:1, 37-42, 49; 13:32).

AR 459. And idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and wood, signifies that thus they are in worship from mere falsities. By "idols" in the Word, are signified the falsities of worship, and therefore to adore them signifies worship from falsities; and by "adoring idols of gold, silver, brass, stone, and wood," is signified worship from falsities of all kinds, and, taken collectively, worship from mere falsities. Moreover, the material of which idols were made, their forms, and their garments, among the ancients, represented the falsities of religion, from which was their worship: "idols of gold" signified falsities concerning Divine things; "idols of silver," falsities concerning spiritual things; "idols of brass," falsities concerning charity; "idols of stone," falsities concerning faith; and "idols of wood," falsities concerning good works. All these falsities exist in those who do not do the work of repentance, that is, shun evils as sins against God. These things are signified in the spiritual sense by idols which were graven images and molten images, in the following passages:--

Every man has become foolish by knowledge, every founder is affected with shame by his graven image, because his molten image is a lie, neither is there breath in them; they are vanity, a work of errors; in the time of their visitation they shall perish (Jer. 10:14, 15; 51:17, 18).

The graven images are the work of the hands of the workman; they speak not; they are infatuated and grow foolish together; the wood is a teaching of vanities; they all are the work of the wise (Jer. 10:3-5, 8-10).

What profiteth the graven image, that the maker and teacher of lies has graven it; that the maker of a lie has trusted in it? there is no breath in the midst of it (Hab. 2:18, 19).

In that day a man shall cast away his idols of silver and his idols of gold, which they made for themselves to bow themselves down to, to the moles and to the bats (Isa. 2:18, 20).

They have made for themselves a molten image of their silver, idols according to their own intelligence, the whole the work of the artificers (Hos. 13:2).

I will sprinkle clean waters upon you, that ye may be cleansed from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols (Ezek. 36:25).

"Clean waters" are truths; "the idols" are the falsities of worship:--

Ye shall judge unclean the covering of thy graven images of silver, and the clothing of thy molten image of gold; thou shalt scatter it as a menstruous cloth, thou shalt call it dung (Isa. 30:22).

Nor is anything but the falsities of religion and thence of worship signified by:--

The gods of gold, of silver, of brass, of iron, of wood, and of stone, which Belshazzar, king of Babylon, praised (worshiped), when he drank wine with his magnates, wives, and concubines out of the vessels of gold and silver of the temple of Jerusalem; for which the king was driven out from man and became like a beast (Dan. 5:1-5; Isaiah 10:10, 11; 21:9; 31:7; 40:19, 20; 41:29; 42:17; 48:5; Jeremiah 8:19; 50:38, 39; Ezekiel 6:4, 5; 14:3-6; Micah 1:7; 5:13; Psalms 115:4, 5; 135:15, 16; Leviticus 26:30).

By idols are properly signified the falsities of worship from one‘s own intelligence. How a man fashions them, and afterwards accommodates them, so as to appear as truths, is fully described in (Isaiah 44:9-20).

AR 460. Which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk, signifies in which there is nothing of spiritual and truly rational life. The reason why this is said, is, because idolaters believe that their idols see and hear, for they make them gods; but still this is not what is meant by these words; but, that in the falsities of worship there is nothing of spiritual nor truly rational life, for by "seeing" and "hearing" is signified to understand and perceive (n. 7, 25, 87); and by "walking" is signified to live (n. 167); therefore by these three things is signified spiritual and truly rational life; this is signified, because by "idols" are signified the falsities of worship, in which there is nothing of spiritual and rational life. That idols do not see, hear and walk, is a thing too obvious to be here mentioned, were there not some inward signification involved within it. The like is also said of idols in other parts of the Word, as in these passages:--

They know not nor understand, and their eyes do not see, nor do their hearts know, they have no knowledge nor intelligence (Isa. 44:9, 18, 19).

They speak not, neither do they walk (Jer. 10:3-10).

They have a mouth but they speak not, eyes have they but they see not (Ps. 115:5; 135:15, 16).

By these like things are signified, because by "idols" are signified the falsities of worship, and in falsities of worship there is nothing of life which is really life.

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