Apocalypse Explained (Whitehead) n. 608

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608. Verse 6. And he sware by Him that liveth unto the ages of the ages, signifies the verity from His own Divine. This is evident from the signification of "to swear," as being a strong assertion and confirmation, and in reference to the Lord the verity (of which presently); also from the signification of "Him that liveth unto the ages of the ages," as being the Divine from eternity, which alone lives, and which is the source of life to all in the universe, both angels and men. (That this is signified by "Him that liveth unto the ages of the ages" may be seen above, n. 289, 291, 349.) That "to swear" signifies asseveration and confirmation, but here verity (since it is the Lord that is meant by the angel that swears), can be seen from this, that "to swear" means to asseverate and confirm that a thing is so, and when done by the Lord means Divine verity; for oaths are made only by those who are not interiorly in truth itself, that is, by those who are not interior but only exterior men; consequently they are never made by angels, still less by the Lord; but He is said in the Word to swear, and the Israelites were allowed to swear by God, because they were only exterior men, and because the asseveration and confirmation of the internal man, when it comes into the external, falls into the form of an oath. In the Israelitish Church all things were external, representing and signifying things internal. The Word in the sense of the letter is similar. From this it can be seen that "the angel sware by Him that liveth unto the ages of the ages" cannot mean that he thus sware, but that he said in himself that this is verity, and that when this came down into the natural sphere it was changed, according to correspondences, into the form of an oath. [2] Now as "to swear" is only an external corresponding to the confirmation that belongs to the mind of the internal man, and is therefore significative of that, so in the Word of the Old Testament it is said to be lawful to swear by God, yea, that God Himself is said to swear. That this signifies confirmation, asseveration and simply verity, or that it is true, can be seen from the following passages. In Isaiah:

Jehovah hath sworn by His right hand and by the arm of His strength (62:8). In Jeremiah:

Jehovah of Hosts hath sworn by His soul (51:14; Amos 6:8). In Amos:

The Lord Jehovih hath sworn by His holiness (4:2). In the same:

Jehovah hath sworn by the excellency of Jacob (8:7). In Jeremiah:

Behold, I have sworn by My great name (44:26). Jehovah is said "to have sworn by His right hand," "by His soul," "by His holiness," and "by His name," to signify by Divine verity; for "the right hand of Jehovah," "the arm of His strength," "His holiness," "His name," and "His soul," mean the Lord in relation to Divine truth, thus Divine truth proceeding from the Lord; the like is meant by "the excellency of Jacob," for "the mighty One of Jacob" means the Lord in relation to Divine truth. [3] That "to swear," in reference to Jehovah, signifies confirmation by Himself, that is, from His Divine, is evident in Isaiah:

By Myself have I sworn, the word has gone forth from My mouth, and shall not be recalled (45:23). In Jeremiah:

By Myself I have sworn that this house shall become a desolation (22:5). Because "to swear" in reference to Jehovah signifies Divine verity it is said in David:

Jehovah hath sworn truth unto David, He turneth* not from it (Ps. 132:11). [4] Jehovah God, or the Lord, never swears, for to swear is not becoming to God Himself, or the Divine verity; but when God, or the Divine verity, wills to have anything confirmed before men, then that confirmation in its descent into the natural sphere falls into the form or formula of an oath, such as is used in the world. This shows why it is said in the sense of the letter of the Word, which is the natural sense, that God swears, although He never swears. This, then, is the signification of "to swear" in reference to Jehovah or the Lord in the preceding passages, and also in the following. In Isaiah:

Jehovah of Hosts hath sworn, saying, Surely as I have thought, so shall it come to pass (14:24). In David:

I have made a covenant with My chosen, I have sworn unto David My servant. Lord, Thou hast sworn unto David in verity (Ps. 89:3, 35, 49). In the same:

Jehovah hath sworn and will not repent (Ps. 110:4). In Ezekiel:

I have sworn unto thee, and have entered into a covenant with thee, that thou mightest become Mine (16:8). In David:

Unto whom I have sworn in Mine anger (Ps. 95:11). In Isaiah:

I have sworn that the waters of Noah shall no more pass over the earth (54:9). In Luke:

To remember His holy covenant, the oath which He sware to Abraham our father (1:72, 73). In David:

He hath remembered His covenant which He made with Abraham, and His oath with Isaac (Ps. 105:8, 9). In Jeremiah:

That I may establish the oath which I have sworn unto your fathers (11:5; 32:22). In Moses:

The land which I have sworn to give unto your fathers (Deut. 1:35; 10:11; 11:9, 21; 26:3, 15; 31:20; 34:4). [5] From this it can be seen what is meant by "the angel lifted up his hand to heaven, and sware by Him that liveth unto the ages of the ages," as it is likewise said in Daniel:

And I heard the man clothed in linen, that he held up his right hand and his left hand unto the heavens, and sware by Him that liveth unto the ages of the ages (12:7);

as meaning to bear witness before the angels respecting the state of the church, that what follows is Divine verity. [6] Because the church that was instituted with the sons of Israel was a representative church, in which all things that were commanded were natural things representing and signifying spiritual things, the sons of Israel, with whom that church existed, were permitted to swear by Jehovah, and by His name, likewise by the holy things of the church; and this represented and thus signified internal confirmation, and also verity, as can be seen from the following passages. In Isaiah:

He that blesseth himself in the earth let him bless himself in the God of truth, and he that sweareth in the earth let him swear in the God of truth (65:16). In Jeremiah:

Swear by the living Jehovah, in truth, in judgment, and in righteousness (4:2). In Moses:

Thou shalt fear Jehovah thy God, Him shalt thou serve, and shalt swear in His name (Deut. 6:13; 10:20). In Isaiah:

In that day there shall be five cities in the land of Egypt that swear to Jehovah of Hosts (19:18). In Jeremiah:

If in learning they will learn the ways of My people, to swear by My name, Jehovah liveth! (12:16). In David:

Everyone that sweareth by God shall glory, but the mouth of them that speak a lie shall be stopped (Ps. 63:11). "To swear by God" here signifies to speak the truth, for it is added, "the mouth of them that speak a lie shall be stopped." (That they swore by God see also Gen. 21:23, 24, 31; Josh. 2:12; 9:20; Judg. 21:7; 1 Kings 1:17.) [7] As the ancients were allowed to swear by Jehovah God, it follows that it was an enormous evil to swear falsely or to swear to a lie, as is evident from these passages. In Malachi:

I will be a witness against the sorcerers, and against the adulterers, and against those that swear to a lie (3:5). In Moses:

Thou shalt not swear to a lie by My name, so that thou profane the name of thy God; also, Thou shalt not take the name of thy God in vain (Lev. 19:12; Deut. 5:11; Exod. 20:7; Zech. 5:4). In Jeremiah:

Run ye to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem, and see whether there be any who say, By the living Jehovah; surely they swear by a lie. Thy sons have destroyed** Me, and sworn by one not God (5:1, 2, 7). In Hosea:

Israel, ye shall not swear, Jehovah liveth (4:15). In Zephaniah:

I will cut off them that swear by Jehovah, and that swear by their king, and them that are turned back from following Jehovah (1:4-6). In Zechariah:

Love not the oath of a lie (8:17). In Isaiah:

Hear ye, O house of Jacob, who swear by the name of Jehovah, not in truth nor in righteousness (48:1). In David:

The clean in hands and the pure in heart doth not lift up his soul unto vanity, nor swear with deceit (Ps. 24:4). [8] From this it can be seen that the ancients, who were in the representatives and the significatives of the church, were permitted to swear by Jehovah God in order to bear witness to the truth, and by that oath it was signified that they thought what is true and willed what is good. Especially was this granted to the sons of Jacob, because they were wholly external and natural men, and not internal and spiritual; and merely external or natural men wish to have the truth confirmed and witnessed to by oaths; but internal or spiritual men do not wish this; indeed, they turn away from oaths and shudder at them, especially those in which God and the holy things of heaven and the church are appealed to, and are content with saying and with having it said that a thing is true, or that it is so. [9] As swearing does not belong to the internal or spiritual man, and as the Lord, when He came into the world, taught men to be internal or spiritual, and to that end abrogated the externals of the church, and opened its internals, therefore He forbade swearing by God and by the holy things of heaven and the church. This is evident from these words of the Lord in Matthew:

Ye have heard that it was said, Thou shalt not swear [falsely], but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oath; but I say unto you, swear not at all; neither by the heaven, for it is the throne of God; neither by the earth, for it is the footstool of His feet; neither by Jerusalem, for it is a city of the great King. Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, for thou canst not make one hair white or black (5:33-37). Here the holy things by which one must not swear are mentioned, namely, "heaven," "earth," "Jerusalem," and the "head;" and "heaven" means the angelic heaven, wherefore it is called "the throne of God" (that "the throne of God" means that heaven, see above, n. 253, 462, 477); "the earth" means the church (see above, n. 29, 304, 413, 417), which is called therefore "the footstool of God's feet" (that "the footstool of God's feet" also means the church, see above, n. 606); "Jerusalem" means the doctrine of the church, wherefore it is called "the city of the great king" (that "city" means doctrine, see above, n. 223); and the "head" means intelligence therefrom (see above, n. 553, 577), therefore it is said "thou canst not make one hair white or black," which signifies that man of himself can understand nothing. [10] Again, in the same:

Woe unto you, ye blind guides, for ye say, Whosoever shall swear by the temple it is nothing; but whosoever shall swear by the gold of the temple he is a debtor! Ye fools and blind; for whether is greater, the gold or the temple that sanctifieth the gold? And whosoever shall swear by the altar it is nothing; but whosoever shall swear by the gift that is upon it he is a debtor. Ye fools and blind; whether is greater, the gift or the altar that sanctifieth the gift? But whosoever sweareth by the altar sweareth by it and by everything thereon. And whosoever sweareth by the temple sweareth by it and by Him that dwelleth therein. And he that sweareth by heaven sweareth by the throne of God and by Him that sitteth thereon (Matt. 23:16-22). One must not swear "by the temple and by the altar," because to swear by these was to swear by the Lord, by heaven, and by the church; for the "temple" in the highest sense means the Lord in relation to Divine truth, and in a relative sense heaven and the church in respect to truth, likewise all worship from Divine truth (see above, n. 220); and the "altar" signifies the Lord in relation to Divine good, and in a relative sense heaven and the church in respect to that good, likewise all worship from Divine good (see above, n. 391); and because by the Lord all Divine things that proceed from Him are meant, for He is in them and they are His, so he who swears by Him swears by all things that are His; likewise he who swears by heaven and by the church, swears by all the holy things that belong to heaven and the church, for heaven is the complex and containant of these things; so, in like manner, is the church; therefore it is said that the temple is greater than the gold of the temple, because the temple sanctifies the gold, and that the altar is greater than the gift which is upon it, because the altar sanctifies the gift. * Latin has "turneth," the Hebrew "turn back," which is found in AC n 2842. ** Latin has "destroyed," the Hebrew "forsaken."

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