Arcana Coelestia (Elliott) n. 4535

Previous Number Next Number Next Translation See Latin 

4535. The preliminary sections of previous chapters - Chapter 26 onwards - explained what the Lord foretold about His Coming or THE CLOSE OF THE AGE. Frequently in those sections it has been shown that His Coming or the Close of the Age means the last period of the Church, which in the Word is called the Last Judgement. Those who do not look beyond the literal sense cannot know of the Last Judgement as anything else than the destruction of the world, the particular source for such an idea being the Book of Revelation. There it is said that [John] saw 'a new heaven and a new earth, for the former heaven and the former earth had passed away; and there was no more sea', and in addition that he saw 'the Holy City, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven', Rev 21:1, 2. Prophetical utterances in Isaiah, where similar predictions occur, are also a source of the same idea,

Behold, I am creating new heavens and a new earth; therefore the former things will not be remembered or come to mind.a Be glad and rejoice for ever in the things I am creating; behold, I will create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy. Isa 65:17, 18; 66:22.

[2] Those who do not look beyond the literal sense cannot conceive of anything else than this- that the whole sky together with this planet will be annihilated, and then the dead - for the first time - will rise again and dwell in the new heaven and on the new earth. But these places in the Word should not be understood in that way, as may be recognized from other places in the Word where the heavens and the earth are referred to. Those who have any belief in an internal sense can see plainly that 'a new heaven' and 'a new earth' are used to mean a new Church which takes over when the previous one passes away, 1733, 1850, 3355 (end), and that 'heaven' is the internal aspect of that new Church and 'earth' the external aspect of it.

[3] This last period of the previous Church and the first of the new one are also called the Close of the Age, about which the Lord has spoken in Matthew 24. They are called also His Coming, for at that time the Lord departs from the previous Church and comes to the new. The description of that period as the Close of the Age may also be seen from other places in the Word, as in Isaiah,

On that day a remnant will return, the remnant of Jacob, to the God of power. For though your people Israel will be as the sand of the sea, a remnant of it will return. The close has been determined, overflowing with righteousness, for the Lord Jehovih Zebaoth is bringing the whole earth to its close and to its determined end. Isa 10:20-23.

In the same prophet,

Now do not be derisive, lest your punishments increase, for a close and a cutting off I have heard from the Lord Jehovih Zebaoth over the whole earth. Isa 28:22.

In Jeremiah,

Thus said Jehovah, The whole earth will be a waste, yet I will not bring it to a close. Jer 4:27.

In Zephaniah,

I will bring men into distress, and they will go as the blind, because they have sinned against Jehovah; and their blood will be poured out like dust, and their flesh like dung. For Jehovah will bring to a close, indeed to a hasty one, all the inhabitants of the earth. Zeph 1:17, 18.

From each detail stated here it is evident that 'a close' means the last period of the Church and 'the earth' the Church itself.

[4] The reason why 'the earth (or land)' means the Church is that the land of Canaan was the land where the Church had existed since most ancient times, and later on where among the descendants of Jacob a representative of the Church existed. When this land is said to have been 'brought to a close' it is not the nation dwelling there that is meant but the holiness of worship which existed with the nation where the Church was. For the Word is spiritual; but the actual land is not spiritual, nor is the nation dwelling in it, only that which constitutes the Church there. For evidence that the land of Canaan was the land where the Church had existed from most ancient times, see 567, 3686, 4447, 4454, 4516, 4517; and this explains why 'the land' or 'the earth' in the Word means the Church, 566, 662, 1066, 1067, 1262, 3355, 4447. From all this one may see what is meant in Isaiah by 'bringing the whole earth to a close', and in Zephaniah by 'bringing all the inhabitants of the earth to a hasty one'. It is well known that the Jewish nation which inhabited that land was not 'brought to a close' but that the holiness of worship among them was.

[5] This meaning of 'the close' is even clearer in Daniel,

Seventy weeks have been decreed concerning your people and your holy city to bring transgression to a close and to seal up sins and to atone for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up vision and prophet, and to anoint the Most Holy Place. In the middle of the week he will cause sacrifice and offering to cease. At length upon the bird of desolations will come desolation; until a close and a cutting off will it drop upon the devastation. Dan 9:24, 27.

[6] From this one may now see that the close of the age - about which the disciples were asking when they said to the Lord 'What will be the sign of Your coming and of the close of the age?' Matt 24:3 - does not mean anything else than the final period of the Church. The same is also meant by the Lord's words, which are the very last in the same gospel,

Jesus said to the disciples, Teaching them to observeb all things whatever I have commanded you; and behold, I am with you at all timesc even to the close of the age. Matt 28:20.

The reason why the Lord said that He would be with the disciples even to the close of the age is that the Lord's twelve disciples are similar in meaning to the twelve tribes of Israel. That is to say, they mean all things of love and faith, and therefore all things of the Church, see 3354, 3488, 3858, as do the twelve tribes, 3858, 3926, 3939, 4060. The fact that the Church reaches its close when no charity exists there any longer, nor consequently any faith, has been shown several times already; and that within the Church at the present day, called the Christian Church, scarcely any trace of charity or consequently of faith survives there; and that the close of the age is accordingly now at hand, will in the Lord's Divine mercy be shown further on. a lit. come up upon the heart b Reading servare (to observe) for the imperative servate (observe)
c lit. I am with you all the days


  1. And God said to Jacob, Rise up, go up to Bethel and settle there, and make there an altar to the God who appeared to you when you fled from before Esau your brother.

  2. And Jacob said to his household, and to all who were with him, Remove the gods of the foreigner which are in the midst of you, and be purified, and change your garments.

  3. And let us rise up and go up to Bethel, and I will make there an altar to the God who answered me on the day of my distress, and was with me in the way that I went.a

  4. And they gave to Jacob all the gods of the foreigner which were in their hand, and the jewels which were in their ears; and Jacob hid them under the oak which was by Shechem.

  5. And they travelled on; and the terror of God was on the cities which were round about them, and they did not pursue after the sons of Jacob.
  6. And Jacob came to Luz which is in the land of Canaan - that is, Bethel - he and all the people who were with him.

  7. And he built an altar there, and called the place El Bethel, for there the gods were revealed to him, when he was fleeing from before his brother.

  8. And Deborah, Rebekah's nurse, died, and was buried below Bethel under an oak; and its name was called Allon Bacuth.

  9. And God was seen by Jacob again, when he was coming from Paddan Aram; and He blessed him.

  10. And God said to him, Your name is Jacob; your name will no longer be called Jacob, but indeed Israel will be your name; and He called his name Israel.

  11. And God said to him, I am God Shaddai, be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations will be from you, and kings will go out from your loins.

  12. And the land which I gave to Abraham and Isaac I will give to you, and to your seed after you I will give the land.

  13. And God went up from over him in the place where He talked to him.

  14. And Jacob set up a pillar in the place where He talked to him, a stone pillar, and poured out a drink-offering onto it, and poured oil onto it.

  15. And Jacob called the name of the place where God spoke to him, Bethel.

  16. And they travelled on from Bethel, and there was still a stretch of land to go to Ephrath; and Rachel gave birth, and suffered severely' in giving birth.

  17. And it happened in her suffering severely,b in giving birth, that the midwife said to her, Do not be afraid, for this also is a son for you.

  18. And it happened as her soul was departing, when she was about to die, that she called his name Ben-oni; and his father called him Benjamin.

  19. And Rachel died, and was buried on the way to Ephrath, that is, Bethlehem.

  20. And Jacob set up a pillar over her grave; this is the pillar of Rachel's grave even to this day.

  21. And Israel travelled on and pitched his tent beyond the tower of Eder.

  22. And it happened while Israel was residing in that land, that Reuben went and lay with Bilhah his father's concubine; and Israel heard of it. And the sons of Jacob were twelve.

  23. The sons of Leah: Reuben, Jacob's firstborn, and Simeon, and Levi, and Judah, and Issachar, and Zebulun.

  24. The sons of Rachel: Joseph and Benjamin.

  25. And the sons of Bilhah, Rachel's servant-girl: Dan and Naphtali.

  26. And the sons of Zilpah, Leah's servant-girl: Gad and Asher. These are the sons of Jacob who were born to him in Paddan Aram.

  27. And Jacob came to Isaac his father, to Mamre, Kiriath Arba, which is Hebron, where Abraham and Isaac sojourned.

  28. And the days of Issac were a hundred and eighty years.

    29 And Isaac breathed his last, and died, and was gathered to his peoples, old and full of days. And Esau and Jacob his sons buried him.


a lit. walked
b lit. hard things

This page is part of the Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg

© 2000-2001 The Academy of the New Church