Spiritual Meaning of

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In the genuine sense a zealous God denotes the Divine truth of the Divine good, for God is predicated of truth (AC 2586, 2769, 2807, 2822, 3921, 4287, 4402, 7010, 7268, 8301), and zealous of good. But relatively to those who do not receive the Divine truth of the Lord's Divine good, a zealous God denotes falsity and evil; for they who are in the opposite perceive Divine truth as falsity, and Divine good as evil; because everyone sees these things from his own quality. Hence it is that the zeal of the Lord, which in itself is love and compassion, appears to them as anger; for when the Lord from love and mercy protects His own in heaven, they who are in evil are indignant and angry against the good, and rush into the sphere where the Divine truth and Divine good are, with the endeavor to destroy those who are there; and then the Divine truth of the Divine good works in them and makes them feel torments such as are in hell. Hence it is that they attribute wrath and anger to the Divine, and also all evil, when yet in the Divine there is absolutely nothing of anger, and absolutely nothing of evil; but pure clemency and mercy.

[2] From all this it is evident why zealous signifies falsity and evil, and zeal signifies anger. See what has been shown above on these subjects, namely, that wrath and anger are attributed to the Lord, when yet they are with those who are in evil, or who are in anger against the Divine (AC 5798, 6997, 8284, 8483). That in like manner evils, punishments, and vastations are attributed to the Lord, when yet in the Lord there is nothing but love and mercy, (AC 2447, 6071, 6559, 6991, 6997, 7533, 7632, 7643, 7679, 7710, 7877, 7926, 8214, 8223, 8226-8228, 8282, 8632); also that the evil devastate themselves, and cast themselves into damnation and hell by endeavoring to destroy what is good and true, (AC 7643, 7679, 7710, 7926, 7989); as also that the Lord appears to everyone according to his quality, (AC 1861, 6832, 8197). That the zeal of the Lord denotes love and mercy, and that when the Lord protects the good against the evil, it appears as hostility and also as anger, is evident from the following passages in the Word.

[3] That the zeal of the Lord denotes love and mercy, in Isaiah:--

Look forth from the heavens, and behold from the habitation of Thy holiness and of Thy comeliness: and where is Thy zeal and Thy mighty deeds; the yearning of Thy bowels and Thy compassions toward me have restrained themselves (Isa. 63:15);

where zeal denotes mercy, which is the yearning of the bowels, and is predicated of good; for it is said Thy zeal and Thy mighty deeds, where zeal is said of good, and mighty deeds of truth; in like manner the yearning of the bowels is said of good, and cúcompassions is said of truth; so likewise the habitation of holiness denotes the heaven where they are who are of the celestial kingdom, and the habitation of comeliness, the heaven where they are who are of the spiritual kingdom. From this it is also evident that in the Word where mention is made of good, mention is also made of truth, on account of the heavenly marriage, which is that of good and truth, in every detail of the Word, as in the case of the two names of the Lord, Jesus and Christ," which signify the Divine marriage that is in the Lord (AC 683, 793, 801, 2516, 4138, 5138, 5502, 6343, 7945, 8339).

[4] In the same:--Unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder, and He called His name Wonderful, Counselor, God, Hero, Father of Eternity, Prince of Peace. To the multiplying of His government and peace there shall be no end. The zeal of Jehovah shall perform this (Isa. `ix. 6, 7). This is said of the Lord and of His coming; the zeal of Jehovah shall perform this, denotes that He will do it from the ardent love of saving the human race. Again:--

Out of Jerusalem shall go forth remains, and an escape from Mount Zion. The zeal of Jehovah shall perform this (Isa. 37:32);

the zeal of Jehovah shall perform this denotes that He will do it from love and mercy.

[5] In Ezekiel:--

Thus said the Lord Jehovih, Now will I bring back the captivity of Jacob, and will have mercy upon the whole house of Israel; and I will be zealous for the name of My holiness (Ezek. 39:25);

where being zealous denotes to have compassion. In David The zeal of Thy house hath eaten me up (Ps. 69:9); speaking of the Lord; the zeal of the house of Jehovah denotes His love toward those who receive good and truth, for these are the house of Jehovah.

[6] That when the zeal or mercy of the Lord protects the good it appears as hostility, is manifest in Isaiah:--

Jehovah shall go forth as a Hero; He shall stir up zeal like a man of war; He shall shout and cry, He shall prevail over His enemies (Isa. 42:13).

In Joel:--

Jehovah shall be zealous for His land, and shall spare His people (Joel 2:18).

[7] That the zeal of the Lord is called anger and wrath because mercy so appears to the evil, is manifest in these passages:--

Ye shall not go after other gods, of the gods of the peoples which are around you, for Jehovah thy God in the midst of thee is a zealous God; lest the anger of Jehovah thy God be kindled against thee, and He destroy the from off the faces of the earth (Deut. 6:14, 15).

They provoked Him to zeal with strange ones, with abominations they rendered Him angry. They sacrificed to demons. They have moved My zeal with that which is not God; they have provoked Me to anger with their vanities (Deut. 32:16, 17, 21).

When Mine anger shall be spent and I shall make My wrath to rest on them, it shall repent Me; and they shall know that I Jehovah have spoken in My zeal, when I shall have consummated My wrath upon them (Ezek. 5:13).

The angel of Jehovah in me said unto me, Cry thou, saying, Thus said Jehovah Zebaoth, I have been zealous for Jerusalem and for Zion with great zeal. For with great indignation I am indignant against the careless nations (Zech. 1:14, 15; 8:2).

I will pour upon them Mine indignation, all the wrath of Mine anger; for all the earth shall be devoured in the fire of My zeal (Zeph. 3:8).

Jehovah will not please to pardon him, but then the angel of Jehovah shall smoke; and His zeal against that man, and all the curse shall rest upon him (Deut. 29:20).

How long, O Jehovah! wilt Thou be angry forever? Shall Thy zeal burn like a fire? your out Thine anger upon the nations that have not known Thee (Ps. 79:5, 6).

In like manner the zeal of Jehovah is described as anger" in (Ps. 38:1; Ezek. 16:42; 23:25; 38:19). From all this it can be see what is meant by the zeal of Jehovah, or what by a zealous God;" namely, that in the genuine sense are meant love and mercy; but in a sense not genuine, such as appears to those who are in evils and falsities, anger and vastation are signified.

[8] Be it known that Jehovah, that is, the Lord, is especially called zealous, or an avenger, when that is corrupted which ought to reign universally with the man of the church, namely, the Divine, which must be loved, or thought of, or feared, above all things. When this has been corrupted or destroyed, then instead of heavenly light mere thick darkness usurps its place, for there is no longer any influx of this light from the Divine, because there is no reception. For this reason it is said, I am Jehovah thy God, a zealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the sons, upon the thirds and upon the fourths of then) that hate Me, and this in case they worshiped other gods or made unto themselves a graven image or likenesses for these things corrupt the Divine which ought to reign universally.

[9] Therefore it is declared in like manner elsewhere in Moses:--

Take heed lest ye make you a graven image of any fire, for Jehovah God is a devouring fire, a zealous God (Deut. 4:23, 24).

Thou shalt not adore another God; for Jehovah, whose name is Zealous, zealous is He (Exod. 34:14).

This was so severely forbidden in the case of the Israelitish nation because the adoration of other gods, of graven things, and of images, was destructive of every representative of the church among them; for in heaven Jehovah, that is, the Lord, is the universal regnant; His Divine fills all things there, and makes the life of all. If anything had been worshiped instead of the Divine, every representative would have perished, and thus the communication with heaven.

from AC 8875

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