Spiritual Meaning of
|Back to Words index||Back to Religious words index|
That altars signify a representative of the Lord, and burnt-offerings the worship of Him thereby, is plainly evident in the Prophets, as also in Moses when it is said of Levi, to whom the priesthood belonged:--
They shall teach Jacob Thy judgments, and Israel Thy law; they shall put incense in Thy nostrils, and whole burnt-offering upon Thine altar (Deut. 33:10),
meaning all worship; for "to teach Jacob judgments, and Israel the law" denotes internal worship; and "to put incense in Thy nostrils, and whole burnt-offering on Thine altar" denotes corresponding external worship. In Isaiah:--
In that day shall a man look unto his Maker, and his eyes shall have respect to the Holy One of Israel; and he shall not look to the altars, the work of his hand (Isaiah 17:7, 8),
where "looking to the altars," plainly signifies representative worship in general, which was to be abolished. Again:--
In that day shall there be an altar to Jehovah in the midst of the land of Egypt, and a pillar at the border thereof to Jehovah (Isaiah 19:19),
where also "an altar" stands for external worship.
 In Jeremiah:--
The Lord hath cast off His altar, He hath abhorred His sanctuary (Lam. 2:7);
"altar" denoting representative worship which had become idolatrous. In Hosea:--
Because Ephraim hath multiplied altars to sin, altars have been unto him to sin (Hosea 8:11);
"altars" denote here all representative worship separate from internal, thus what is idolatrous. Again:--
The high places also of Aven, the sin of Israel, shall be destroyed; the thorn and the thistle shall come up on their altars (Hosea 10:8),
where "altars" denote idolatrous worship. In Amos:--
In the day that I shall visit the transgressions of Israel upon him, I will also visit the altars of Bethel, and the horns of the altar shall be cut off (Amos 3:14),
where again "altars" denote representative worship become idolatrous.
 In David:--
Let them bring me unto the mountain of Thy holiness, and to Thy tabernacles. And I will go unto the altar of God, unto God the gladness of my joy (Ps. 43:3, 4),
where "altar" manifestly denotes the Lord. Thus the building of an altar in the Ancient and in the Jewish Church was for a representative of the Lord. As the worship of the Lord was performed principally by burnt-offerings and sacrifices, and thus these things signified principally representative worship, it is evident that the altar itself signifies this representative worship itself.
from AC 921
As the altar represented the Lord in respect to Divine good, it was the very holy of holies, and sanctified everything that touched it; as can be seen from what follows in this book, where it is said, Seven days thou shalt make atonement for the altar, and sanctify it; that the altar may be a holy of holies, and everything that shall touch it shall be made holy (Exod. 29:37); and therefore the fire upon the altar was perpetually burning, and was never put out (Lev. 6:13); and from that fire was taken the fire for the incense, and from no other source (Lev. 10:1-6); for by the fire of the altar was signified the Divine good of the Lord's Divine love (AC 5215, 6314, 6832, 6834, 6849).
 That the altar was a representative of the Lord, is evident from the following passages in David:--
Let Thy light and Thy truth bring me unto the mountain of Thy holiness, and unto Thy habitations, that I may go In unto the altar of God, unto God (Ps. 43:3, 4).
I wash mine hands in innocency; and I compass Thine altar, O Jehovah (Ps. 26:6).
 But that the altar was a representative of the worship of the Lord, is evident from these passages:--
All the flocks of Arabia shall be gathered together to thee; the rams of Nebaioth shall minister to thee; they shall come up with acceptance on Mine altar (Isa. 60:7).
The Lord hath forsaken His altar, He hath abhorred His sanctuary (Lam. 2:7);
where to forsake the altar denotes to abolish the representative of the worship of the Lord from the good of love; to abhor the sanctuary denotes to abolish the representative of the worship of the Lord from the truths of faith.
 In Ezekiel:--
Your altars shall be destroyed; I will scatter your bones round about your altars; and your altars shall be laid waste, and made desolate; and your idols stall be broken, and shall cease (Ezek. 6:4, 5);
to destroy, lay waste, and desolate the altars denotes that so it shall be with representative worship. In Isaiah:--
The iniquity of Jacob shall not be expiated, when he shall put all the stones of the altar as chalkstones that are scattered (Isa. 27:9);
where the stones of the altar that are scattered denote all the truths of worship.
In that day shall a man look unto his Maker, and his eyes unto the Holy One of Israel. And he shall not look unto the altars, the work of his hands, and to that which his fingers have made (Isa. 17:7, 8);
where the altars which are the work of his hands and that which his fingers have made denote worship from one's own intelligence.
 In Hosea:--
Ephraim hath multiplied altars for sinning (Hosea 8:11);
where multiplying altars for sinning denotes to invent worthless things of worship. In the same:--
The thistle and the thorn shall come up on their altars (Hosea 10:8);
denoting that evils and falsities shall enter in and make the worship.
 In Isaiah:--
In that day there shall be an altar to Jehovah in the midst of Egypt (Isaiah 19:19);
where an altar to Jehovah denotes the worship of the Lord.
 As the altar described in this chapter was portable, it was made of shittim wood, and was overlaid with brass; but the altar which was to remain in its place was made either of earth or of unhewn stones. The altar made of earth was the principal representative of the worship of the Lord from the good of love; and the altar made of unhewn stones was a representative of worship from the goods and truths of faith (AC 8935, 8940); while the portable altar here described was a representative of the worship of the Lord from the good of love. For this reason it was of shittim wood and was overlaid with brass.
from AC 9714
Back to Words index, Back to Religious words index
|Author: E. Swedenborg (1688-1772).||Design: I.J. Thompson, Feb 2002.||www.BibleMeanings.info|