Arcana Coelestia (Elliott) n. 7439

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7439. 'Send My people away and let them serve Me' means that they should leave those who belong to the spiritual Church, in order that these may worship their God in freedom. This is clear from the meaning of 'sending away' as leaving; from the representation of the children of Israel, to whom 'My people' refers here, as those who belong to the spiritual Church, dealt with in 6426, 6637, 6862, 6868, 7075, 7062, 7198, 7201, 7215, 7223; and from the meaning of 'serving Jehovah' as worshipping. That they should worship in freedom is evident from what follows in verses 21-23, and also from the consideration that all worship which is truly worship must take place in freedom.

[2] The children of Israel are called Jehovah's people not because they were any better than other nations but because they represented Jehovah's people, that is, those who belonged to the Lord's spiritual kingdom. The fact that they were no better than other nations is evident from their life in the wilderness, where they did not believe at all in Jehovah. Instead they believed in their hearts in the gods of the Egyptians, as is clear from the golden calf which they made for themselves and which they called their gods who had led them out of the land of Egypt, Exod 32:8. The same fact is also evident from their life subsequently in the land of Canaan, dealt with in the historical sections of the Word; and the things said about them in the prophetical parts and finally by the Lord make it evident too.

[3] This also explains why few of them are in heaven; for the destiny they have met in the next life has been determined by the way they lived. Refuse to believe therefore that they have been chosen for heaven ahead of others. Those who believe that these people have been chosen for heaven ahead of others do not believe that each one's life remains with him. Nor do they believe that a person has to be made ready for heaven throughout his entire life in the world, and that although this is accomplished by the Lord's mercy, people are not admitted into heaven by mercy alone regardless of the life they have led in the world. The kind of notion they have of heaven and the Lord's mercy is the result of teachings about faith alone and salvation by it without good works; for such people are unconcerned about life. Hence they also believe that evils can be purged away like dirt with water, and so believe that a person can be brought in an instant into leading a life of goodness and consequently be admitted into heaven. Such people do not know that if the evil were deprived of their life of evil they would have no life whatever, and also that if those who lead an evil life were admitted into heaven it would feel like hell to them, and the further they went into heaven the worse would that feeling become.

[4] All this now makes it clear that the Israelites and Jews had not by any means been chosen; they were simply accepted in order that they might represent the things of heaven. And this they had to do in the land of Canaan because the Lord's Church had existed there since most ancient times and all places there had consequently become representative of heavenly and Divine realities. Then also the Word could be written, in which the names would serve to mean such things as belong to the Lord and His kingdom.

This page is part of the Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg

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