The True Meaning of the 7 Days of Creation: Spiritual Rebirth
The Second Day
The distinction between inner and outer thought. Inspiration. Truth and how it purifies the mind.
In the preceding lecture we considered some of the things involved in the first day of creation. It was shown that the seven days of creation, which apparently treat of the creation of the material world, as to their spirit treat of how the Lord God, the Logos, the Word of God, or the Divine Truth, creates the living spirit or the new mind in man. It was also shown that the word "creation" when used in the Word of God, as to its spirit always treats of the creation of the things of the spirit, as in the fifty-first Psalm, where we read: "Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me." Verse 10.
It was shown that all true and appropriate thought of God was a thought of Him as being Divine Love and Divine Wisdom, thus as a Divine Man, and that man was thus to be created in His image; also that God, being Divine Good and Divine Truth, descended on earth as the Logos, the Divine Truth, and became flesh, as described in the first chapter of John.
The first day treats of man being a "void" or "emptiness", a "deep" or an "abyss". As long as man pays all his attention to and directs his interests towards material ends, to the satisfaction of his material wants and pleasures, as to his spirit he is void and empty, and he is in darkness as to the things of the spirit; in fact, he is a "deep" or "abyss" of ignorance in relation to all things above the plane of material existence. The spirit of God moving upon the face of the waters is the Lord's mercy, reviving the things of religion which the man has been taught in his childhood.
Children in states of innocence are delighted when taught about God, about heaven. Things like Christmas, the hearing the story of the birth of the Lord, make a deep impression on them. When a child grows up, such things recede into the background, and man centers his attention on gaining the things of the world. Still these childhood memories and impressions remain, and can be revived. It is these remains of things from a man's childhood which are the waters over which the spirit of God moves or broods.
If the spirit of God touches these things, a man begins to come into light, into the light that God is, that He is the All in all things of life. It is the dawning of this light which creates in man the things of the first day of his spiritual creation, the beginning of the "creation of a new heart and a new spirit".
In the first chapter of Genesis we are told that on the second day God made an expanse (translated at times firmament) in the midst of the waters, which was to distinguish between the waters below the expanse and the waters which were above the expanse and that God called the expanse heaven.
If we think of the natural universe, this description has little meaning. Possibly one might think of the waters above as being the clouds and the waters below as being the seas, but to make this kind of distinction before the creation of the sun and moon, which were said to be created on the fourth day, is impossible.
It follows that what is described as taking place on what is called the second day of creation has a hidden meaning, for as it stands it appears to have little sense.
The subject of the second day of creation is the waters. That the Lord Jesus Christ used water as a symbol or representative of something of the spirit is self-evident, for we read that Jesus said: "He that believeth on me, as the Scripture bath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water." John 7:38.
The "Scriptures" here referred to are such places as the following: "With joy shall ye draw water out of the well of salvation." Is. 12:3. "They have forsaken the Lord, the fountain of living waters." Jer. 17:13. "Living waters shall go forth from Jerusalem." Zech. 14:8.
There are many other places in both the New and the Old Testaments where it is self-evident that waters stand for something of the spirit. Therefore water and washing was chosen as a representative of purification, and is used in the sacrament of baptism.
The meaning of water is most clearly evident in the fourth chapter of John, where we read: "Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith unto thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldst have asked of Him, and He would have given thee living waters. Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again; but whosoever drinketh of the waters that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the waters that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life. The woman saith unto Him, 'Sir, give me this water that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw.'" John 4:10-15
If we are not like the woman of Samaria, but are willing to acknowledge the ancient symbolism or representation of water, we can find an intelligent and important meaning in the distinction made between the waters and the waters on the second day of creation.
Waters stand for and represent truth. There are two things necessary for the sustenance of the life of the body: food and drink; and there are two things necessary for the sustenance of the life of the spirit: truth and good, or, what is the same, wisdom and love, for all living truth is of wisdom, and all living good is of love.
If a man is willing to believe, truths, like a river, will flow out of his inner man: "Rivers of living water out of his belly."
The subject of the second day of creation is therefore the distinction that is made between truths of a higher order, and truths of a lower order: waters above and below the expanse.
That such a distinction can be made is evident from the distinction between concrete thought and abstract thought. Concrete thought is all thought which is based on the physical senses of hearing, sight, touch, etc. Abstract thought is all thought which is based on man's awareness of his conscious mind, awareness of his thoughts, feelings, affections, understanding, etc. Abstract truths therefore have to do with man's mental world, the world which he knows by reflecting on the operations of the mind. Of this world he is aware, not through the physical senses, but directly. Concrete thought, on the other hand, deals with the physical world of his environment.
Another general distinction between truths closely related to the above is the distinction between scientific thought or the facts of science, and religions thought with its truths.
A more profound distinction, however, may be made, which is the essential subject of our consideration of what is involved in this day of creation. A man may have been taught knowledges about religion, about God, etc., from his youth, and yet these knowledges may be largely a matter of memory, of knowing them from having been taught, and may not be a matter of inspiration, of insight, of understanding them in a living way.
When a man has merely learned the things of religion in the same way as he has learned other subjects, they are together with his knowledges of other subjects in his outer mind. This is why it is first said: "Let there be an expanse or firmament in the midst of the waters and let it distinguish between the waters in the waters." In this state distinction is made between the truths of religion and other truths, but all on the same plane, with the same faculties of the mind. In the verse following, however, it is said: "God made a distinction between the waters which were under the expanse, and the waters which were above the expanse." That is, it is seen that a man has higher faculties of the mind, an inner life, and lower faculties of the mind, which have to do with his outer life, and that the living things of religion have to do with the inner or higher faculties of the mind, and that the living truths, called the waters above the expanse, are in these higher faculties.
Therefore it immediately follows, "and God called the expanse heaven".
The "heaven" here spoken of is "the kingdom of heaven", which the Lord says is "within you". All spiritual insight, all genuine inspiration, all living spiritual truths, are in this kingdom of heaven within man. These are the waters above the expanse, whereas truths which have only been learned, and are knowledges in the memory, are the waters under the expanse.
With most persons the things of religion remain with other knowledges in the lower mind. In fact, most persons are unaware of any higher faculty of the mind in which insight, inspiration, the living truths of the spirit, have their seat or reside; and as long as one's interest is directed mainly to the things of the world, to its pleasures and satisfactions, one remains unconscious of the higher faculties of the mind. It is only when the pursuit of material ends is weakened that such faculties begin to open up.
We read, therefore, in the Writings of Swedenborg: "At the present day this state (the second day) seldom exists without temptations, misfortune or sorrow, by which the things of the body and the world, that is such as are proper to man, are brought into quiescence (or quietness) and as it were die. Thus the things which belong to the external man are separated from those which belong to the internal man." Arcana Coelestia No. 8.
At the end of each day it is said that the evening and the morning were the first day, second day, etc. Whereas at the end of the first day it is said: "And God called the light day and the darkness he called night." Every man whose mind is opened to God and to the things of the spirit, finds himself at times in the morning of the things of the spirit, when he sees that God is, and that all that is good and true with him is from God. Such happy states are followed by ones of obscurity and darkness; doubts arise and one falls into the things of self and self-interest. If one has cared for higher things, this condition of mind brings sadness and one raises one's eyes to a new dawn. Thus life consists of days, each with its morning and evening.
In the morning one is raised into the things of the light of the spirit, the things of God. In the evening one sinks into one's own selfish thoughts and feelings, and the things of the spirit grow dim.
As the subject of the second day of creation is the waters and the distinction made between the waters, we will here continue the consideration of what is meant by water in the Bible or Word of God.
The first miracle our Lord Jesus Christ did was the miracle of turning water into wine. The water was placed in "pots of stone after the manner of the cleansing of the Jews". Water and washing, as is self-evident, stood for the purification or cleansing of the spirit. A man by living according to the truth is purified from evil.
The water stood for truths which had been learned, truths in the memory, truths of the letter. These truths are turned in man into living truths of the spirit represented by wine. When a man comes to perceive from the Lord the living spirit of the Word of God, when he sees the teaching of the Word of God in application to the things of his soul, far above the natural appearances of the Bible, above the things of history, time, place and person, sees things universally as treating of the kingdom of God within, then the truths which he has learned are turned from water into wine.
The meaning of the waters below the expanse or firmament and the waters above the expanse which were called heaven, in the second day of creation, is very similar to the meaning of the water and wine of the first miracle of the Lord, where the wine has a similar signification to the waters above the expanse which were called heaven. The waters above the expanse and the wine both stand for the spirit of living truth in contrast to the water below, or the waters in the pots, which stand for truths in the memory, or truths understood naturally, or as to their letter.
We find this same contrast again in the words of John the Baptist: "I baptize you with water unto repentance, but He that cometh after me shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire." Matt. 3:11. Here John the Baptist stands for the letter of the Word, the first understanding of the Bible or Word of God, calling a man to repentance, whereas the Lord stands for the spirit of the Word, giving inspiration, and a spiritual understanding of the Word, represented by the Baptism of the Holy Spirit; and fire stands for the fire of love, the spiritual love of God and the neighbor.
The Lord said to Nicodemus, "I say unto thee, except man be born of water and of the spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." John 3:5.
To be born of water signifies to come into a new life based upon the Word of God, a life of obedience to the commandments of the Lord. But as at first the commandments are understood as to their letter, an external obedience is given to them. In this state a man regards his acts as being of primary importance, but does not take heed to the motives, the spirit behind the acts. This is being born of water, also to be baptized with water; but to be born of the spirit requires far more; to be born of the spirit involves understanding the spirit of the Lord's commands. To fulfill the spirit, one must not only change one's life as to its appearances before the eyes of men, but one must search one's motives, one's intentions, thoughts and feelings, for these must also be born again of God. The purification of water is the purification of the outward life. The purification of the spirit is the purification of one's inmost life, a life which few see: the purification of the feelings and thoughts one has in secret.
The sad condition of the world, with its sorrows, its evils, its hatreds, is the result of man's not suffering God to make an expanse, a firmament, which divides the waters below from the waters above the expanse, the waters above being the kingdom of God in the inner or in the internal man, where the spirit of truth has its abode or dwelling place: truth which is not only a matter of knowledge, but which is living. Purifying truth changes the life, not only the life which is seen by man, but the life of one's inmost love and intention.
from: A SERIES OF LECTURES by Rev. Theodore Pitcairn
Bryn Athyn, Pennsylvania 1940
THE STORY OF CREATION IN GENESIS