Heaven’s Union with Us through the Word (Continued)

I should like to use a few passages to show how heaven is united with us through the Word. The New Jerusalem is described in the Book of Revelation as follows:

I saw a new heaven and a new earth, and the former heaven and former earth had passed away. And I saw the holy city Jerusalem coming down from God out of heaven. The city was foursquare, its length equal to its breadth. And the angel measured the city with the reed at twelve thousand stadia; the length, breadth, and height were equal; and he measured its wall, 144 cubits, the measure of a human being, which was that of the angel. The construction of the wall was jasper, but the city itself was pure gold and like pure glass; and the foundation of the wall was decorated with every precious stone. The twelve gates were twelve pearls, and the street of the city was pure gold like transparent glass. (Revelation 21:1, 2, 16, 17, 18)

People who read this understand it simply according to its literal meaning, namely that this visible sky and earth are going to perish and that a new heaven is going to be established, that on a new earth the holy city Jerusalem is going to descend, and that all its measurements will be as described. But the angels who are with us understand it very differently, understanding spiritually what we take in a natural sense.

For them, the new heaven and the new earth mean a new church; the city Jerusalem descending from God out of heaven means its heavenly doctrine revealed by the Lord; its length, breadth, and height, which are equal at twelve thousand stadia, mean all the good and true elements of that doctrine grasped as a single whole; the wall means the truths that protect it; the measure of the wall being 144 cubits, which was the measure of a human being, that is, of the angel, means all those protective truths grasped as a single whole, and their quality; the twelve gates made of pearls mean introductory truths (pearls mean that kind of truth); the foundations of the wall that were of precious stones mean the acknowledgments on which that doctrine is based; and the gold like pure glass of which the city and its streets were made means the good of love that makes doctrine and its truths transparent.

This is how angels understand all these things, so it is not the way we do. This is how our natural concepts are transformed into spiritual concepts among angels without their knowing anything about the literal meaning of the Word—about the new heaven and the new earth, for example, or the new city Jerusalem, its wall, the foundations of the wall, and its measurements. Still, the angels’ thoughts form a unity with ours because they correspond. They form a single whole almost like the words of a speaker and the understanding of those words by a listener who is focused not on the words themselves but on understanding them. This may enable us to see how heaven is united to us through the Word.

For another example from the Word,

In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria, and Assyria will come into Egypt and Egypt into Assyria, and the Egyptians will serve the Assyrians. In that day Israel will be a third for Egypt and Assyria, a blessing in the middle of the land, whom Jehovah of hosts will bless, saying, “Blessed is my people Egypt, and the work of my hands Assyria, and my inheritance Israel.” (Isaiah 19:23, 24, 25)

We can see how people on earth think and how angels think when they read this if we look at the literal meaning of the Word and at its inner meaning. We think, on the basis of its literal meaning, that Egypt and Assyria are going to be converted to God and received, and that they will become united to the Israelite nation. The angels, though, think on the basis of its inner meaning about people of the spiritual church, who are being described here in that inner meaning. Their spiritual level is Israel, their natural level is Egypt, and their rational level, which is the intermediate level, is Assyria.c Still, these two meanings are one because they correspond. Consequently, when angels are thinking spiritually like this and we are thinking naturally the way we do, we are united almost like a soul and a body. The inner meaning of the Word is its soul, and the literal meaning is its body.

The Word is like this throughout; so we can see that it is a means of heaven’s union with us and that the literal meaning serves as its basis and foundation.

from Heaven and Hell, Section 307

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