Genesis 1:20

And God said, “Let the waters cause the creeping animal—a living soul—to creep out. And let the bird flit over the land, over the face of the expanse of the heavens.”

After the great lights are kindled and placed in the inner self, and the outer self is receiving light from them, the time arrives when we first start to live. Earlier, we can hardly be said to have been alive, thinking as we did that the good we perform and the truth we speak originate in ourselves. On our own we are dead and have nothing but evil and falsity inside, with the result that nothing we produce from ourselves has life. So true is this that by our own power we cannot do anything good—at least not anything inherently good.

From the doctrine taught by faith, anyone can see that we cannot so much as think a good thought or will a good result or consequently do a good deed except through the Lord’s power. After all, in Matthew the Lord says:

The one who sows good seed is the Son of Humankind. (Matthew 13:37)

Good cannot come from anywhere but this same unique source, as he also says:

Nobody is good except the one God. (Luke 18:19)

Still, when the Lord brings us back to life, or regenerates us, he at first allows us to harbor these mistaken ideas. At that stage we cannot view the situation in any other way. Neither can we be led in any other way to believe and then perceive that everything good and true comes from the Lord alone.

As long as our thinking ran along these lines, the truth and goodness we possessed were equated with a tender plant or grass, next with a plant bearing seed, then with a fruit tree, none of which has a living soul. Now, when love and faith have brought us to life and we believe that the Lord brings about all the good we do and the truth we speak, we are compared initially to creeping animals of the water and birds flitting over the land and later to beasts. All these are animate and are called living souls.

The creeping animals that the waters breed symbolize facts that the outer self knows. Birds in general symbolize logical reasoning; they also symbolize matters that we truly understand, which belong to the inner self.

The following verses in Isaiah demonstrate the symbolism of the creeping animals of the waters—fish—as facts:

I came and there was no man. In my censure I will dry up the sea; I will make the rivers a desert; their fish will stink from lack of water and die of thirst; I will dress the heavens in black. (Isaiah 50:2, 3)

Evidence still clearer appears in Ezekiel, where the Lord describes a new temple, the general meaning of which is a new church and an adherent of the church or person reborn (since everyone who is reborn is a temple to the Lord).

The Lord Jehovah said to me, “That water, which will go out to the boundary toward the east and go toward the sea, will be channeled down into the sea, and the water [of the sea] will be cured. And it will come about that every living soul that creeps out in any place where the water of the rivers goes will survive; and the fish will be very numerous, because that water goes there and will be cured, and everything will live, wherever the river goes. And it will happen that the fishers will stand over it from En-gedi to En-eglaim; they will be there spreading their nets. Their fish will be of all kinds, like the fish of the great sea, very numerous.” (Ezekiel 47:8, 9, 10)

“Fishers from En-gedi to En-eglaim spreading their nets” symbolize people who are to teach the earthly plane of the human mind about the truths that make up faith.

Passages in the prophets establish the fact that birds symbolize logical reasoning and concepts truly understood. In Isaiah, for example:

I am calling the winged creature from the sunrise, the man I planned on, from a faraway land. (Isaiah 46:11)

In Jeremiah:

I looked and there, not a human! And every bird of the heavens had fled. (Jeremiah 4:25)

In Ezekiel:

I will plant a cutting of the tall cedar, and it will lift its branch and make fruit and become a majestic cedar. And every bird of every wing will live under it; in the shade of its branches they will live. (Ezekiel 17:[22,] 23)

And in Hosea, where the subject is a new church, or the regenerate person:

And I will strike a pact with them on that day—with the wild animal of the field, and with the bird in the heavens and the creature that moves on the ground. (Hosea 2:18)

The wild animal obviously does not mean a wild animal or the bird a bird, because the Lord is sealing a new pact with them.

Nothing that is a person’s very own has any life in it. When presented to view, it looks hard as bone, and black. Everything that comes from the Lord, on the other hand, has life. It has a spiritual and heavenly quality and looks like something living and human.

Incredibly, perhaps (although it is absolutely true), each word, each mental image, and each scintilla of thought in an angelic spirit is alive. Passion received from the Lord, who is life itself, permeates every single thing about such a spirit.

Things that come from the Lord, then, contain life because they contain faith in him, and they are symbolized here by a living soul. Additionally, they have the equivalent of a physical body, symbolized by that which moves or creeps. This information remains obscure to the human mind, but since the verse talks about a living soul that moves, I need at least to mention it.

from Regeneration, Pages 142-145

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Genesis 1:18, 19

and to rule during the day and during the night, and to make a distinction between light and darkness; and God saw that it was good.

Day means goodness and night evil, so in common parlance the good things people do are associated with the day, while the bad things they do are called deeds of the night.

Light means truth and darkness falsity, as the Lord says:

People loved darkness more than light. One who does the truth comes to the light. (John 3:19–21)

Genesis 1:19. And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.

Genesis 1:14, 15, 16, 17 (Continued)

Humans have two basic faculties: will and understanding. When the will regulates the understanding, the two together make one mind and as a result one life; under those circumstances, what we will and do is also what we think and intend. When the understanding is at odds with the will, though, as when we act in a way that contradicts what we claim to believe, our single mind is torn in two. One part wants to rise up to heaven while the other leans toward hell. And since the will drives everything, we would rush into hell heart and soul if the Lord did not take pity on us.

People who have separated faith from love do not even know what faith is. When they try to picture it, some see it merely as thought. Some view it only as thoughts about the Lord. A few equate it with the teachings of faith.

But faith is more than the knowledge and acknowledgment of all that is encompassed in the teachings of faith. First and foremost it is obedience to everything that faith teaches; and the primary thing faith teaches and requires our obedience to is love for the Lord and love for our neighbor. No one who lacks this possesses faith. The Lord teaches this so clearly in Mark that no one can doubt it:

The first of all the commandments is “Listen, Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord. Therefore you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your powers.” This is the first commandment. A second, similar one, of course, is this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these. (Mark 12:28–34)

In Matthew he calls the former the first and great commandment and says that the Law and the Prophets depend on these commandments (Matthew 22:35–40). “The Law and the Prophets” are the teachings of faith, all-inclusively, and the whole Word.

The words the lights will act as signals and will be used for seasons both for the days and for the years contain more hidden information than can be spelled out in the present work, even though none of it appears in the literal meaning. The only thing to be said at this time is that spiritual and heavenly things—as a group and individually—go through cycles, for which the daily and yearly cycles are metaphors. The daily cycle begins in the morning, extends to midday, then to evening, and through night to morning. The corresponding annual cycle begins with spring, extends to summer, then to fall, and through winter to spring.

These changes create changes in temperature and light and in the earth’s fertility, which are used as metaphors for changes in spiritual and heavenly conditions. Without change and variation, life would be monotonous and consequently lifeless. There would be no recognition or differentiation of goodness and truth, let alone any awareness of them.

The celestial cycles are called “statutes” in the prophets, as in Jeremiah:

The word spoken by Jehovah, who gives the sun as light for the day, the statutes of moon and stars as light for the night: “These statutes will not depart from before me.” (Jeremiah 31:35, 36)

And in the same prophet:

This is what Jehovah has said: “If my compact with day and night should cease, if I should cease to set the statutes of heaven and earth . . .” (Jeremiah 33:25)

from Regeneration, Pages 140, 141

Genesis 1:14, 15, 16, 17 (Continued)

Self-love and materialism produce an imitation of life and an imitation of joy, but since they are diametrically opposed to genuine love—that is, loving the Lord above all and loving our neighbor as ourselves—it stands to reason that they are not forms of love but of hatred. Notice that the more we love ourselves and worldly goods, the more we hate our neighbor and therefore the Lord.

Genuine love, then, is love for the Lord, and genuine life is a life of love received from him. True joy is the joy of that life. Only one genuine love can exist, so only one genuine life can exist, and it gives rise to true joy and happiness, like that felt by angels in heaven.

Love and faith can never be separated, because they make a single unit. This is why the sources of light when first mentioned are treated as grammatically singular in the statement, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens.” Let me report some surprising facts in this connection.

Because the Lord gives heavenly angels this kind of love, love reveals all religious knowledge to them. Love also gives them such a living and shining intelligence that it can hardly be described.

For spirits who learn the doctrinal tenets of faith but lack love, on the other hand, life is so chill and the light so dim that they cannot even approach the near side of the threshold to heaven’s entrance hall without fleeing in retreat.

Some say that they had believed in the Lord; but in actuality they had not lived as he taught. The Lord speaks of them this way in Matthew:

Not everyone saying “Lord! Lord!” to me will enter the kingdom of the heavens, but the one doing my will. Many will say to me on that day, “Lord! Lord! Haven’t we prophesied in your name?” (Matthew 7:21, 22)

See also what follows there, up to the end of Matthew 7.

All this makes it clear that people who have love also have faith and consequently heavenly life. The same cannot be said of those who claim to have faith but do not lead a loving life.

A life of faith without love is like sunlight without warmth—the type of light that occurs in winter, when nothing grows and everything droops and dies. Faith rising out of love, on the contrary, is like light from the sun in spring, when everything grows and flourishes. Warmth from the sun is the fertile agent. The same is true in spiritual and heavenly affairs, which are typically represented in the Word by objects found in nature and human culture.

Nonbelief and belief without love are in fact compared to winter by the Lord in Mark where he made predictions concerning the close of the age:

Pray that your flight not occur in winter, as those will be days of distress. (Mark 13:18, 19)

The “flight” refers to the final days and to an individual’s final days before death as well. “Winter” is a life devoid of love. The “days of distress” are the person’s wretched condition in the other life.

from Regeneration, Pages 138-139

Genesis 1:14, 15, 16, 17 (Continued)

The following passage in Isaiah discusses the Lord’s Coming and the light brought to the nations—in other words, a new church, and specifically the individuals who are in shadow but welcome the light and are being reborn.

Rise, shine, because your light has come! Look—shadows cover the earth, and darkness, the peoples. And Jehovah will dawn above you; and the nations will walk toward your light, and monarchs, toward the brightness of your rising. Jehovah will become an eternal light to you. No longer will your sun set, and your moon will not withdraw, because Jehovah will become an eternal light to you. (Isaiah 60:1, 2, 3, 19, 20)

In David:

Jehovah makes the heavens with understanding; he spreads the earth out on the waters; he makes the great lights—the sun to rule during the day and the moon and stars to rule during the night. (Psalms 136:5, 6, 7, 8, 9)

In the same author:

Give glory to Jehovah, sun and moon! Give glory to him, all you shining stars! Give glory to him, heavens of heavens and waters above the heavens! (Psalms 148:3, 4)

In all these places the sources of light symbolize love and faith.

Because lights represented and symbolized love for and faith in the Lord, the Jewish church was commanded to keep a light burning perpetually, from evening to morning, since every activity that was required of that church represented the Lord. The command for the perpetual light was as follows:

Command the children of Israel to take oil for the light, to make [the fire of] the lamp go up continually. In the meeting tent, outside the veil that is by [the ark of] the testimony, Aaron and his sons shall arrange it before Jehovah, from evening till morning. (Exodus 27:20, 21)

This symbolizes love and faith, which the Lord kindles and causes to shine in our inner self, and through our inner into our outer self.

Love and faith are first called the great lights; then love is called the greater light and faith the smaller light. It says that love will rule during the day and that faith will rule during the night. Because this information is unknown and less accessible than ever at this time—the end of an era—the Lord in his divine mercy has allowed me to lay open the true situation.

It is especially well hidden in these final days because the close of the age has arrived and almost no love exists, consequently almost no faith. The Lord himself predicted this event in words recorded in the Gospels:

The sun will go dark, and the moon will not shed light, and the stars will fall down from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. (Matthew 24:29)

The sun here means love, which has gone dark. The moon means faith, which is not shedding light. The stars mean religious concepts (the powers and forces of the heavens), which are falling down from heaven.

from Regeneration, Pages 135-137

Genesis 1:14, 15, 16, 17

And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to make a distinction between day and night; and they will act as signals and will be used for seasons for both the days and the years. And they will be lights in the expanse of the heavens, to shed light on the earth,” and so it was done. And God made two great lights: the greater light to rule by day and the smaller light to rule by night; and the stars. And God placed them in the expanse of the heavens, to shed light on the earth.

We cannot understand the identity of these great lights very well unless we first know what the essence of faith is and how it develops in those who are being created anew.

The actual essence and life of faith is the Lord alone. No one who lacks faith in the Lord can have life, as he himself said in John:

Those who believe in the Son have eternal life, but those who do not believe in the Son will not see life; instead, God’s anger will rest on them. (John 3:36)

The progress of faith in those who are being created anew is as follows. Initially such people are without any life, as no life exists in evil or falsity, only in goodness and truth. Afterward they receive life from the Lord through faith. The first form of faith to bring life is a memorized thing—a matter of fact. The next is faith that dwells in the understanding—faith truly understood. The last is faith in the heart, which is faith born of love, or saving faith.

In verses 3–13 the things that had no living soul represent factual faith and faith truly understood. Faith brought alive by love, however, is represented by the animate creatures in verses 20–25. Consequently this is the point at which love and the faith that rises out of it are first dealt with, and they are called lights. Love is the greater light that rules by day; faith springing from love is the smaller light that rules by night. And because they must unite as one, the verb used with “lights” is singular, “let it be” rather than “let them be.”

Love and faith work the same way in our inner being as warmth and light work in our outer flesh and are therefore represented by warmth and light. This is why the lights are said to be placed in the expanse of the heavens, or our inner being, the greater light in our will and the smaller in our understanding. But they only seem to be present there, just as the light of the sun only appears to be in physical objects. It is the Lord’s mercy alone that stirs our will with love and our understanding with truth or faith.

The fact that the great lights symbolize love and faith and that they are named sun, moon, and stars can be seen in many places in the prophets. In Ezekiel, for instance:

When I blot you out I will cover the heavens and black out their stars; the sun I will cover with a cloud, and the moon will not make its light shine. All the lamps of light in the heavens I will black out above you, and I will bring shadow over your land. (Ezekiel 32:7, 8)

This passage is directed at Pharaoh and the Egyptians. In the Word, these people stand for sensory evidence and factual information, and the idea here is that they used both things to blot out love and faith. In Isaiah:

The day of Jehovah [comes] to make the earth a desolation, since neither the stars of the heavens nor their Orions will shine their light. The sun has been shadowed over in its emergence, and the moon will not radiate its light. (Isaiah 13:9, 10)

In Joel:

The day of Jehovah has come, a day of shadow and darkness. Before him the earth trembles, the heavens shake, the sun and moon turn black, and the stars hold back their rays. (Joel 2:1, 2, 10)

from Regeneration, Pages 133-135

Genesis 1:11-13

And God said, “Let the earth cause the sprouting on the earth of the tender plant, of the plant bearing its seed, of the fruit tree making the fruit that holds its seed, each in the way of its kind”; and so it was done. And the earth produced the tender plant, the plant bearing its seed in the way of its kind, and the tree making the fruit that held its seed in the way of its kind. And God saw that it was good.

When the earth (a person) is so well prepared as to be able to accept heavenly seed from the Lord and to produce good and truth in some degree, that is the time when the Lord first causes the sprouting of something tender, called the tender plant or grass. Next he stimulates something more useful that reseeds itself—the plant bearing its seed. Finally he germinates something good, which reproduces fruitfully—the tree making the fruit that holds its seed, each of these in the way of its kind.

During regeneration we naturally suppose at first that the good we do and the truth we speak come from ourselves, when the reality is that all good and truth come from the Lord. If we imagine they come from ourselves, then, we are not yet in possession of the life force belonging to true faith (although we can receive it later). We cannot believe yet that they come from the Lord, because we are being prepared to receive the living power of faith. This stage is represented in the story by things that have no living soul; animate creatures represent the stage of living faith to come.

The Lord is the sower of seeds, the seed is his Word, and the earth is the human being, as he saw fit to say in Matthew 13:19–23, 37, 38, 39; Mark 4:14–20; and Luke 8:11–15. A similar description:

So God’s kingdom is like one who tosses seed into the earth and sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; how it happens, the person does not know. For the earth bears fruit readily—first a shoot, then an ear, then the full grain in the ear. (Mark 4:26, 27, 28)

“God’s kingdom” in its broadest sense means the whole of heaven. Less broadly it means the Lord’s true church. In its narrow sense it refers to everyone with true faith, which is to say, all who become reborn by living out their faith. Each of these people is also called a heaven (since they have heaven in them) and God’s kingdom (since they have God’s kingdom in them). The Lord himself teaches this in Luke:

Jesus was asked by the Pharisees, “When is God’s kingdom coming?” He answered them and said, “God’s kingdom does not come in an observable way, nor will they say, ‘Look here!’ or ‘Look there!’ because—look!—God’s kingdom is within you.” (Luke 17:20, 21)

This is the third step in our regeneration and the stage at which we repent. The process continues to advance from shadow to light, from evening to morning, and so it says:

Genesis 1:13. And there was evening and there was morning, the third day.

from Regeneration, pages 132, 133

Genesis 1:10

And God called the dry land earth, and the gathering of waters he called seas; and God saw that it was good.

To find waters symbolizing religious and secular knowledge, and seas symbolizing a body of such knowledge, is quite common in the Word. In Isaiah:

The earth will be full with the awareness of Jehovah, like the waters covering the sea. (Isaiah 11:9)

In the same prophet, where both kinds of knowledge are portrayed as lacking:

The water will disappear from the sea, the river will drain away and dry up, and the streams will recede. (Isaiah 19:5, 6)

In Haggai, where a new church is the subject:

I am shaking the heavens and the earth, and the sea and the dry land; and I will shake all the nations, and those who are the desire of every nation will come, and I will fill this House with glory. (Haggai 2:6, 7)

And in Zechariah, on the regenerating individual:

That will be a single day; it is known to Jehovah; it is not day or night. And it will happen that at the time of evening there will be light. And it will happen on that day that living water will go out from Jerusalem, part of it to the eastern sea and part of it to the western sea. (Zechariah 14:7, 8)

In a passage in David depicting a devastated person who is being reborn and will come to revere the Lord:

Jehovah does not despise his prisoners; the heavens and the earth, the seas and every creeping thing in them will praise him. (Psalms 69:33, 34)

In the following passage in Zechariah, the earth symbolizes that which receives something put into it:

Jehovah is stretching out the heavens and founding the earth and forming the human spirit in the middle of it. (Zechariah 12:1)

from Regeneration, Pages 131, 132

Genesis 1:9

And God said, “Let the waters under heaven be gathered into one place, and let dry land appear”; and so it was done.

When we learn that we have an inner self and an outer, and that truth and goodness come from the inner self—or rather from the Lord by way of the inner self into the outer, even though this is contrary to appearances—this information, this knowledge of truth and goodness, is stored away in our memory. The knowledge takes its place among the secular facts we have learned, because anything instilled in our outward memory, whether earthly, spiritual, or heavenly, lodges there as a fact, and from there the Lord draws on it.

This knowledge is the waters gathered into one place and named seas. The outer being itself, on the other hand, is called dry land. Immediately afterward it is called earth, as the next verse shows.

from Regeneration, Pages 130,131

Genesis 1:7, 8

And God made the expanse, and he made a distinction between the waters that were under the expanse and the waters that were over the expanse, and so it was done; and God called the expanse heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.

The second thing we begin to notice while being reborn, then, is that the inner self exists. We become aware that the attributes of the inner self are good feelings and true ideas, which are the Lord’s alone.

While we are being reborn, our outer self is such that it still believes we are acting on our own when we do what is good and speaking on our own when we speak what is true. The Lord uses those things—allowing them to seem like our own, since such is our mindset—to lead us to doing what is good and speaking what is true. Consequently we first learn to distinguish what is under the expanse; only then do we learn to distinguish what is over the expanse.

Another secret from heaven is that the Lord leads us by means of things that really are our own—both the illusions of our senses and our cravings—but diverts us toward things that are true and good. So every single moment of regeneration carries us forward from evening to morning, just as it takes us from the outer self to the inner, or from earth to heaven. This is why the expanse (the inner self) is now called heaven.

Spreading out the earth and stretching out the heavens is a customary formula used by the prophets when they speak of our regeneration. In Isaiah, for example:

This is what Jehovah has said, your Redeemer and the one who formed you from the womb: “I am Jehovah, making all things, stretching the heavens out on my own and spreading the earth out by myself.” (Isaiah 44:24)

Again, where the Lord’s Coming is spoken of openly:

A crushed reed he does not break, and smoldering flax he does not quench; he propels judgment toward truth. [In other words, he does not break our illusions or extinguish our cravings but bends them toward truth and goodness. It continues:] God Jehovah creates the heavens and stretches them out. He spreads out the earth and the things it produces. He gives a soul to the people on it and spirit to everyone walking on it. (Isaiah 42:3, 4, 5)

Several other places could be cited as well.

from Regeneration, Pages 129-130