Apocalypse Explained (Tansley) n. 670

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670. And they ascended into heaven in a cloud.- That this signifies separation as to things internal, and their protection, is evident from the signification of ascending into heaven, when spoken of the two witnesses, as denoting separation from the evil, that is, from those who are in falsities of doctrine from evils of life, and also protection (concerning this see the preceding article, n. 669); and from the signification of a cloud, as denoting the ultimate of Divine Truth, or the external of the Word, which is called the sense of its letter (concerning this see above, n. 36, 594). It is this external in which also many of the evil are. For all who lead an evil life think in themselves in opposition to the truths and goods of the Word, of doctrine, and of the church, although they are in externals. The reason of this is, that they are in the love of evil from life, and love attracts to its side the interiors of the mind, thus the thoughts of its spirit; such persons therefore, when left to themselves to think alone, altogether deny those things which with their lips they confess before the world. It is this external, which also exists with the impious and the evil, that is here meant by a cloud; therefore their ascending into heaven in a cloud signifies separation as to internals, but not as to externals. Separation as to internals, and not as to externals, is meant, because the internals of the two witnesses were spiritual and celestial, but the internals of the evil were infernal and devilish; and spiritual and celestial internals are actually in heaven, therefore it is said that they ascended thither, in order that they might be separated from the evil as to internals, lest the latter should suffer injury.

[2] In order that what is particularly involved in the ascent into heaven of the two witnesses that were slain and lived again may be known, it shall be stated in a few words. At the end of the church, when there is no faith because no charity, the interior things of the Word, which are to serve the new church for doctrine and life, are disclosed. This was done by the Lord Himself, when the end of the Jewish Church was at hand, for then the Lord Himself came into the world, and opened the interior things of the Word, especially those relating to Himself, to love to Him, to love towards the neighbour, and to faith in Him; these previously lay concealed in the interiors of the Word, because they were in its representatives, and consequently in everything pertaining to the church and worship. Those truths therefore which the Lord unfolded were interior truths, and in themselves spiritual, which afterwards served the new church for doctrine and life, as stated just above. But still they were not immediately received, nor till after a considerable lapse of time, as is well known from ecclesiastical history. The reason was, that they could not be received until all things in the spiritual world had been reduced to order, for the spiritual world is conjoined to the natural world with men; unless therefore that world had been first reduced to order, the goods of love and truths of doctrine could not have been understood or perceived by men in the natural world. This was the reason why so long a period intervened before the Christian church was universally established in Europe; for all effects existing in the natural world, especially those which relate to the things of the church, derive their origin from causes in the spiritual world. These things are mentioned in order that it may be known that by the two witnesses being commanded to ascend into heaven is signified in particular that the goods of love and truths of doctrine disclosed at the last time of the church, might not be injured by the evil.

[3] The case was similar when the most ancient church, which was before the flood, came to its end, for then the representatives of celestial things, which existed among the most ancient people, were collected together by those who were called Enoch, and reserved for the use of the new church after the flood. This was called a representative church, because its laws and statutes, and in general its worship, consisted of representatives, or of such things in the natural world as corresponded to spiritual things in the spiritual world. The same thing was done with these, for they were separated from the evil by being taken into heaven, and thus protected, and this went on until the old church reached its close and the time when the new church was to be established; this is described by these words in Genesis:

"And Enoch walked with God, and he was no more, for God took him" (v. 24).

That such is meant in the spiritual sense by Enoch, his walking before God, and his being taken by God, see the explanation in the Arcana Coelestia (n. 518-523).

[4] The case is similar to-day. The church, which is called the Christian church, has to-day (hodie) come to its end, therefore the arcana of heaven and of the church are now revealed by the Lord, to serve as the doctrine of life and faith for the new church which is meant by the New Jerusalem in the Apocalypse. This doctrine also has been taken up into heaven, lest harm should be done to it by the evil before the establishment of the New Church. This then is the signification of these words concerning the two witnesses, that "they ascended into heaven"; and also of the words of the following chapter, where of the woman about to bring forth a child, before whom the dragon stood, it is said, "that the child was caught up to God, and to His throne" (Apoc. xii. 5). What is specifically meant there by the woman and by the child will be stated in the explanation of the following chapter. From these considerations it is now evident what kind of interior truth is involved in what is said of the two witnesses that ascended by command into heaven in a cloud.

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