65. X ON THE FORMER HEAVEN AND ITS ABOLITION
We read in the book of Revelation:
I saw a mighty throne, and one sitting upon it, from whose sight earth and heaven fled, and their place was not found. Rev. 20:11.
I saw a new heaven and a new earth; the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Rev. 21:1.
I showed in the first chapter of this book and elsewhere in it that the new heaven and the new earth and the passing away of the former heaven and the former earth do not refer to the visible sky and the earth on which we live, but to the heaven of angels and the church. For the Word is in essence spiritual and therefore deals with spiritual matters, that is, those which have to do with heaven and the church. Natural things are used in the literal sense to stand for them, because what is natural serves what is spiritual for a base; and without such a base the Word would not be a work of God, because it would be incomplete. It is the natural, standing last in God's order, which completes and gives the interiors, which are spiritual and celestial, a base on which to rest, like a house on its foundations.  Because people have thought about the contents of the Word from a natural instead of a spiritual point of view, they have taken heaven and earth in these and other passages to mean the sky in the natural world and the earth similarly. That is why everyone expects them to pass away and be destroyed, and new ones to be created. To prevent this expectation continuing for ever and being frustrated in each century, the spiritual sense of the Word has been opened up, so that the meaning of many expressions in the Word may be known, which cannot fall within our understanding as long as we think in a natural manner about them; and this includes the heaven and earth which will pass away.