Apocalypse Explained (Whitehead) n. 687

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687. Verse 16. And the twenty-four elders who sit before God upon their thrones, signifies the higher heavens in light and power from the Lord to separate the evil from the good before the day of the Last Judgment which is to come shortly. This is evident from the signification of "the twenty-four elders," as being the higher heaven (see above, n. 322, 362, 462); and also from the signification of "to sit upon thrones," that it is to be in the work of judging, for "thrones" signify the heavens, and "to sit upon thrones" signifies to judge. Since the angels of heaven do not judge, but the Lord alone, and since the Lord arranges those heavens by His influx and presence for effecting judgment therefrom upon those who have been gathered together below the heavens, therefore these words signify that the higher heavens are in light and power from the Lord, to separate the evil from the good before the day of the Last Judgment. [2] That this is the internal sense of these words is evident from what follows in this chapter, also from what has been said above on this subject. From what follows in this chapter it is evident that the higher heavens are in light and power from the Lord, for this is why "they fell upon their faces and worshipped the Lord, and gave thanks that He had taken His great power and entered upon the kingdom," and afterwards "the temple was opened in heaven, and there was seen in the temple the ark of the covenant," this signifying the light there, and the former signifying the power there, from the Lord alone. It is also clear that it means to separate the evil from the good before the day of the Last Judgment, for it is said that "the nations were angered, and Thy anger is come, and the time of the dead to be judged;" and afterwards that "there were lightnings and voices and thunders and an earthquake and great hail," which signifies the separation of the evil from the good, and is a sign of the presence of the Last Judgment. As these are the things treated of, and as "the twenty-four elders sitting before God upon the thrones" mean the higher heavens arranged for effecting therefrom the Last Judgment, it follows that all this is what is involved in these words. [3] From what has been said above upon this subject, it is evident that the higher heavens before the Last Judgment were brought into a state of light and power, that there might be effected influx from them into the lower parts, whereby the evil might be separated from the good and the evil finally cast down into hell (see above, n. 411, 413, 418, 419, 426, 493, 497, 674, 675, 676). [4] That a "throne" signifies heaven in general, and in particular the heavens where the Lord's spiritual kingdom is, and in an abstract sense Divine truth proceeding from the Lord, and that it is predicated of judgment, may also be seen above (n. 253, 297, 343, 460, 482), where it is also shown that although it is said that the twenty-four elders "sat upon thrones," likewise that "the apostles would sit upon twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel," and also that "angels would come with the Lord to judgment," yet it is the Lord alone who will judge, for "the twenty-four elders," "the twelve apostles," and the "angels," mean all the truths of the church, and in brief, the Divine truth from which is judgment. And as by these Divine truth is meant, and all Divine truth proceeds from the Lord, therefore judgment belongs to the Lord alone. Who cannot see that to judge myriads of myriads, each one according to the state of his love and faith both in his internal and in his external man, would be impossible for any angel, and would be possible only for the Lord from the Divine that is in Him and that proceeds from Him; also that to judge all in the heavens and in the earths belongs to infinite wisdom and infinite power, not the least part of which falls to finite beings such as the angels are, and such as the elders of Israel and the apostles of the Lord were? These taken together would not be able to judge even a single man or a single spirit. For he who is to judge must see every state of the man who is to be judged from infancy to the end of his life in the world, and afterward what the state of his life is to be to eternity. For in every view and in each and every particular of judgment, there must be what is eternal and infinite, and that is in the Divine alone, and from the Divine alone, because it is infinite and eternal. [5] The expressions "to walk before God," "to stand before God," and as here "to sit before God," are used in the Word; what "to stand before God" signifies may be seen above (n. 414); and what "to walk before God" signifies (n. 97). What "to sit before God" signifies, as here in reference to "the twenty-four elders," can be seen from passages in the Word where the expression "to sit" occurs. For in the spiritual world all things that pertain to man's movement or rest signify the things pertaining to his life, because they proceed from his life. Walking and journeying pertain to man's movements, and thence signify progression of life, or progression of the thought from an intention of the will; but standing and sitting pertain to man's rest, and thence signify the being [esse] of life, from which is its existence [existere]; thus they signify making to live. Therefore "to sit upon thrones," in reference to judgment, signifies to be in the function of judging, thence also to judge; from which comes the expression "to sit in judgment," which means to execute judgment. So "to sit upon a throne," when concerning a kingdom, signifies to be a king or to reign. [6] What further is signified by "to sit" in the spiritual sense, can be seen from the following passages. In David:

Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the wicked, and standeth not in the ways of sinners, and sitteth not in the seat of scoffers (Ps. 1:1). Here the expressions "to walk," "to stand," and "to sit," are used as following one another, for "to walk" pertains to the life of thought from intention, "to stand" to the life of the intention from the will, and "to sit" to the life of the will, thus it is life's being [esse]. Moreover, "counsel," of which "walking" is predicated, has respect to thought, "way," of which "standing" is predicated, has respect to the intention, and "to sit in a seat" has respect to the will, which is the being [esse] of man's life. [7] As Jehovah, that is, the Lord, is the very being [esse] of everyone's life, therefore He is said "to sit." In David:

Jehovah shall sit to eternity (Ps. 9:7). In the same:

Jehovah sitteth at the flood, and sitteth a King to eternity (Ps. 29:10). In the same:

God reigneth over the nations; God sitteth upon the throne of His holiness (Ps. 47:8). In Matthew:

When the Son of man shall come in His glory; and all His holy angels with Him, then shall He sit upon the throne of His glory (Matt. 25:31). "To sit upon the throne of His glory" signifies to be in His Divine truth, from which is judgment. So again in the same:

When the Son of man shall sit on the throne of His glory ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel (Matt. 19:28; Luke 22:30). Since "angels," as well as "the twelve apostles" and "the twelve tribes of Israel," signify all the truths of the church, and in the highest sense, Divine truth, therefore "to sit upon thrones" means not that they themselves will sit, but the Lord as to Divine truth, from which is judgment; and "to judge the twelve tribes of Israel" signifies to judge all according to the truths of their church. From this it is clear that "to sit upon a throne," in reference to the Lord, signifies one who judges, thus to judge. It is called "a throne of glory," because "glory" signifies Divine truth (see above, n. 33, 288, 345, 678). [8] In the Gospels:

David said in the book of Psalms, The Lord said to my Lord, Sit Thou at My right hand, until I make Thine enemies the footstool of Thy feet (Luke 20:42, 43; Mark 12:36; Ps. 110:1). "The Lord said to my Lord" signifies the Divine Itself, which is called the Father, to the Divine Human, which is the Son; "Sit Thou at My right hand" signifies Divine power, or omnipotence through Divine truth; "until I make Thine enemies the footstool of Thy feet" signifies until the hells are overcome and subjugated, and the evil are cast into them, "enemies" being the hells, and thus the evil, and "footstool of the feet" signifies the lowest region under the heavens, beneath which are the hells; for while the Lord was in the world He was the Divine truth, which is omnipotent, and by means of which He conquered and subdued the hells. [9] In the same:

Jesus said, Henceforth shall ye see the Son of man sitting at the right hand of power, and coming on the clouds of heaven (Matt. 26:63, 64; Mark 14:61, 62; Luke 22:69). "To sit at the right hand of power" signifies the Lord's Divine omnipotence over the heavens and over the earths, after He had subjugated the hells and glorified His Human; "to come upon the clouds of heaven" signifies by means of Divine truth in the heavens; for after the Lord united His Human to the Divine Itself, then Divine truth proceeds from Him, and He Himself with angels and with men is in Divine truth, because He is in the Word, which is Divine truth, in which and from which is Divine omnipotence. [10] And again:

The Lord, after He had spoken with them, was taken up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God (Mark 16:19). "To sit at the right hand of God" has a like signification, namely, His Divine omnipotence by means of Divine truth. From this it is evident that "to sit" means to be, and "to sit at the right hand" means to be omnipotent. As "to sit" signifies to be, so "to sit upon a throne" signifies to be a king and to reign (Exod. 11:5; Deut. 17:18; 1 Kings 1:13, 17, 20; Jer. 17:25; 22:2, 30; and elsewhere). Likewise:

To sit at the right hand and at the left (Matt. 20:21, 23; Mark 10:37, 40). [11] In Isaiah:

Come down and sit upon the dust, O virgin daughter of Babylon; sit on the earth, there is no throne, O daughter of the Chaldeans. Sit thou in silence and enter into darkness, O daughter of the Chaldeans; for they shall no longer call thee the mistress of kingdoms. Hear this, thou voluptuous one, that sittest securely, saying, I shall not sit as a widow, neither shall I know bereavement (Isa. 47:1, 5, 8). This treats of the profanation of good and truth; for "daughter of Babylon" signifies the profanation of good, and "daughter of the Chaldeans" the profanation of truth; both for the reason that Divine goods and truths, which are in the Word and from the Word, are employed as means of gaining dominion; whence those who are "Babylonians and Chaldeans" regard themselves, that is, their own dominion, as ends, and the holy things of the church from the Word as means; thus they do not look to the Lord and His dominion, nor the neighbor and love towards the neighbor as the end. "Come down and sit upon the dust and on the earth" signifies to be in evils, and thence in damnation. "Sit thou in silence and enter into darkness" signifies to be in falsities, and thence in damnation. "To sit securely" signifies to be confident that their dominion will endure, and that they will not perish; "not to sit as a widow, and not to know bereavement," signifies to have no lack of followers, dependents, and worshipers; "there is no throne for thee, O daughter of the Chaldeans, they shall no longer call thee the mistress of kingdoms," signifies that they shall no longer have dominion, because of their overthrow and damnation in the day of the Last Judgment (of which this chapter also treats). [12] In the same:

Thou hast said in thy heart, I will ascend into the heavens, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God, and I will sit on the mount of meeting, on the sides of the north (Isa. 14:13). This, too, is said of Babylon, which is here called "Lucifer," and of the lust of its profane love of ruling over all things of heaven. But what is meant in particular by "exalting the throne above the stars of God, and sitting on the mount of meeting and on the sides of the north," will be told in what follows, where Babylon will be treated of; here also "to sit" signifies to be, and has respect to dominion. [13] In Ezekiel:

All the princes of the sea shall come down from their thrones, they shall sit upon the earth (Ezek. 26:16). This is said of Tyre, which signifies the church in respect to the knowledges of truth, but here of the church vastated, in which these knowledges are then falsified; therefore "all the princes of the sea shall come down from their thrones" signifies that the knowledges of truth shall reign no more with the men of that church, for all sovereignty belongs to Divine truth; "to come down from thrones" signifies from governing, and thus to cease to rule, and "princes of the sea" mean the knowledges of truth, and those who are in them. "They shall sit upon the earth" signifies that they will be in falsifications, thus in falsities; "upon thrones" signifies to be in the truths of heaven, but "to sit upon the earth" signifies to be in falsities, since under the lands in the spiritual world are the hells, from which evils and falsities are continually exhaling. [14] "To sit" has a like signification in the following passages. In Luke:

Who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death (Luke 1:79). In Isaiah:

To open the blind eyes, to lead him that is bound out of prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house (Isa. 42:7). In Jeremiah:

I sat not in the council of mockers, and I rejoiced; I sat solitary because of Thy hand, for thou hast filled me with indignation (Jer. 15:17). In David:

I have not sat with men of vanity, nor have I gone in with the hidden (Ps. 26:4). In Luke:

That day shall come as a snare upon all that sit upon the face of the whole earth (Luke 21:35). Since "to sit" signifies to be, and also to continue in one state and pertains to the will, it is said in David:

O Jehovah, Thou hast searched me and known me; Thou knowest my sitting and my rising, Thou understandest my thought afar off (Ps. 139:1, 2). "To know his sitting" has reference to the being [esse] of one's life, which is the will, "rising" has reference to intention therefrom; and as thought follows from the intention of the will it is added, "Thou understandest my thought afar off." [15] In Micah:

Then shall he stand and feed in the name* of Jehovah; and they shall sit, for now shall he increase unto the ends of the earth (Mic. 5:4). This is said of the Lord and of the doctrine of Divine truth from Him, which is meant by "Then shall he stand and feed in the name of Jehovah;" that men of the church will be in that doctrine is signified by "they shall sit;" and that the doctrine of Divine truth will endure to eternity is signified by "he shall increase unto the ends of the earth." [16] Likewise in Isaiah:

Shake thyself from the dust; arise, sit, O Jerusalem; loose thyself from the bands of thy neck, O captive daughter of Zion (Isa. 52:2). This is said of the establishment of a New Church by the Lord; that church with its doctrine is here signified by "Jerusalem" and "the daughter of Zion;" to reject falsities and evils and to be in truths and goods is signified by "shaking herself from the dust, arising, and sitting," also by "loose the bands of the neck, O captive daughter of Zion," "bands of the neck" signifying falsities that prevent the entrance of truths. [17] That "to sit" is an expression significative of the being and permanence of state of a thing and of life, can be seen from those passages in the Word where the expressions "to sit before Jehovah," "to stand before Him," and "to sit** before Him" are used. "To sit before Jehovah" means to be with Him, thus to will and to act from Him; "to stand before Him" means to have regard for and to understand what He wills; and "to walk before Him" means to live according to His precepts, thus from Him. As such things are involved in "to sit," therefore the corresponding word in Hebrew means to remain and to dwell. [18] Because of this signification of "to sit":

An angel of the Lord was seen sitting upon the stone which he had rolled away from the entrance to the tomb (Matt. 28:2). also:

Angels were seen in the tomb, sitting one at the head, and the other at the feet (John 20:12; Mark 16:5). These things seen were representative of the Lord's glorification, and of introduction into heaven by Him; for the "stone" that was placed before the sepulcher, and that was rolled away by the angel, signifies Divine truth, thus the Word, which was closed up by the Jews, but opened by the Lord. (That "stone" signifies truth, and in the highest sense, Divine truth, may be seen above, n. 417,*** and in the work on Heaven and Hell, n. 534.) And as a "sepulcher," and preeminently the sepulcher where the Lord was, signifies in the spiritual sense resurrection and also regeneration, and "angels" signify in the Word Divine truth, therefore angels were seen sitting one at the head and the other at the feet; "the angel at the head" signifying Divine truth in things first, and "the angel at the feet" Divine truth in ultimates, both proceeding from the Lord; and when Divine truth is received regeneration is effected, and there is resurrection. (That "to be buried," "burial," and "sepulcher," signify regeneration and resurrection, may be seen above, n. 659; and that "angels" signify in the highest sense the Lord in respect to Divine truth, and in a relative sense the recipients of Divine truth, and thus in an abstract sense, Divine truths from the Lord, see above, n. 130, 200, 302.) Again, the expression "they sat before Jehovah" is used when there was great joy; they were also said "to sit" when there was great mourning, and for the reason that "to sit" has reference to the being [esse] of man, which belongs to his will and love. (That they wept and sat before Jehovah see Judg. 20:26; 21:2.) * The Hebrew has "strength," as also found in AE 482; AC 5201, 9422. ** The Latin has here "sit," probably for "walk," as this is found immediately below. *** The Latin for "above, n. 417," etc., has "Heaven and hell, 417,534."

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