Spiritual Meaning of

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The signification of a rock, is faith, here faith from the Lord, or the Lord in respect to faith; for Jehovah, that is, the Lord, says, Behold I stand upon the rock. That a rock denotes the Lord as to faith, and relatively to man, the faith which is from the Lord, is evident from many passages in the Word, as in Moses:--

Give ye greatness to our God, the Rock whose work is perfect. He made him ride on the high places of the earth, and he did eat the produce of the fields, He made him suck honey out of the rock, and oil out of the stone of the rock: but when Jeshurun became fat, he kicked, he forsook God who made him, and lightly esteemed the Rock of his salvation The Rock that begat thee thou hast given to forgetfulness, and hast forgotten God thy Former: their rock hath sold them, and Jehovah hath shut them up, for their rock is not as our Rock. When it is said, Where are their gods, the rock in which they trusted (Deut. 32:3, 4, 13, 15, 18, 30, 31, 37);

from these words it is plain that it is Jehovah, that is, the Lord, who is called the flock; that this is Jehovah or the Lord as to faith, is clear from the details here in the internal sense.

[2] In Daniel:--

Thou wast seeing till that a stone was cut out, which was not by hands, and it smote the image upon its feet that were of iron and clay, and brake them in pieces. Then were the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken in pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshing-floors; so that the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them: but the stone that smote the image became a great Rock, and filled the whole earth. The God of the heavens shall make a kingdom arise which shall not be destroyed to the ages; and His kingdom shall not be permitted to another people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms; but itself shall stand to the ages. Forasmuch as thou hast seen that a stone was cut out from the rock, that was not by hands, and that it brake in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold (Daniel 2:34, 35, 44, 45);

this is said of the Lord and His kingdom, and by a stone is meant faith, and by a rock the Lord as to faith. That these things are signified by stone and by rock, is plain to everyone who reflects. Stone too signifies in the Word the truth which is of faith (AC 643, 1298, 3720, 3769, 3771, 3773, 3789, 3798, 6426); and therefore the Lord as to Divine truth is called the Stone of Israel (AC 6426). That a rock denotes the Lord as to the truth of faith, is because by a rock is also meant a bulwark against falsities; the bulwark itself is the truth of faith, for combat is waged from this truth both against falsities and against evils.

[3] From all this it can also be seen that by rock is meant the Lord as to faith, and also the faith which is from the Lord, in the words which the Lord spake to Peter, in Matthew:--

I say unto thee, Thou art Peter (Petrus), and upon this rock (Petra) I will build My church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of the heavens; and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in the heavens; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in the heavens (Matt. 16:18, 19);

that a rock here denotes the Lord as to faith, and the faith which is from the Lord, and that Peter represents this faith, see the preface to Genesis xxii, also, (AC 3750, 4738, 6000, 6073, 6344. It is also plain to everyone who thinks from sound reason that the power of opening heaven and of shutting hell for the good, and of opening hell and shutting heaven for the evil, belongs to the Lord alone; and that this belongs to faith is because faith is from the Lord, thus also is the Lord's, that is, the Lord Himself is in it. Moreover all sovereign power in the other life comes through the truth of faith from good (AC 4931, 6344, 6423, 8200, 8304). And he who thinks from reason can conclude that the Lord's church has not been built upon any man, thus not upon Peter, but upon the Lord Himself, thus upon faith in Him.

[4] From all this it can be seen into what and how great errors they fall, who press so closely the sense of the letter of the Word; and with what eagerness the leaders of the church catch at the idea that such power was given to Peter, and consequently to those who call themselves his successors, because it favors their love; and with what difficulty they suffer themselves to be persuaded that anything else is meant, for everyone desires to procure for himself the height of power. From the above it is also plain how necessary it is to know what is signified in the internal sense by a rock, what by keys, what by the gates of hell, and many other things.

[5] That Jehovah is called the Rock, and that then is meant the Lord as to faith, is also evident from many other passages in the Word, as from the following, which may be cited without further explication:--

Send ye the lamb of the Ruler of the land from the Rock toward the wilderness unto the mount of Zion (Isa. 16:1).

Thou hast forgotten the God of thy salvation, and hast not remembered the Rock of thy refuge (Isa. 17:10).

Asshur shall fall with the sword not of a man, also his rock shall pass away through dread thereof (Isa. 31:8, 9).

Let the inhabitants of the rock sing, let them cry from the top of the mountains (Isa. 42:11).

Attend to Me, ye that follow after righteousness, that seek Jehovah, look back unto the Rock from which ye were hewn (Isa. 51:1).

Forsake the cities, and dwell in the rock, ye inhabitants of Moab (Jer. 48:28).

I am against thee, O destroying mountain, destroying the universal earth; and I will stretch out My hand against thee, and roll thee down from the rocks, and will make thee a mountain of burning; neither shall they take from thee a stone for a corner, nor a stone for foundations (Jer. 51:25, 26);

speaking of Babel. And in David:--

He made me come up out of a pit of devastation, out of the mire of clay, and He set my feet upon a rock (Ps. 40:2).

From the extremity of the earth do I cry unto Thee when my heart faileth, Thou leadest me to the Rock that is high from Me (Ps. 61:2).

He fed them with the fat of wheat; and with honey out of the rock I sated them (Ps. 81:16).

[6] As a rock signified the Lord as to faith, and faith from the Lord, therefore also wonderful things were done upon a rock, of which it is thus written in the book of Judges:--

The angel of Jehovah said unto Gideon that he should take the flesh and the unleavened things, and put them upon the rock, and pour out the broth, and there went up fire out of the rock, and devoured the flesh and the unleavened things (Judges 6:20, 21).

Manoah the father of Samson took a kid of the goats, and offered it upon the rock: then the angel did wondrously, and went up in the flame (Judges 13:19, 20).

What these things signified can be seen if from the internal sense there is unfolded what Gideon represented, and what Manoah the father of Samson; also what was signified by the flesh and the unleavened things, and by the broth, as also by the kid of the goats, and by the fire; for all and each of these things were representative and significative.

[7] From the signification of a rock, as being faith, it can also be known what is meant by Moses being put in an opening of the rock when he was to see Jehovah (Exod. 33:20-23); for by an opening of a rock is signified obscurity of faith. That the rock in Horeb from which came the waters signified the Lord, is known in the churches; but that it signifies the Lord as to faith, and also that it signifies faith from the Lord, has now been shown. The like to what is signified by the rock in Horeb is also signified by these words in Isaiah:--

Say ye, Jehovah hath redeemed His servant Jacob, then shall he not thirst, He shall lead them in the wastes, He shall make the waters flow out of the rock for them, while He shall cleave the rock that the waters may flow out (Isa. 48:20, 21).

That water was not given to the people from any other rock than that in Horeb, is because by Horeb is signified the Divine Law; that the Divine Law is signified by Horeb, is because the Law was there promulgated; and faith which is from the Lord is from the Divine Law, that is, from the Word; for through this the Lord teaches what faith is, and also gives faith.

from AC 8581

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