Amos Table of  Contents

Main Table of Contents


Minor Prophets: Major Messages

Chapter Two of Amos

Amos 2:1-3

“Thus says the Lord:

For three transgressions of Moab, and for four,
I will not turn away its punishment,
Because he burned the bones of the king of Edom to lime.
But I will send in a fire upon Moab,
And it shall devour the palaces of Kerioth;
Moab shall die with tumult,
With shouting and trumpet sound.
And I will cut off the judge from its midst,
And slay all its princes with him,
Says the Lord.”

Passages From the Writings


·      “Concerning those who adulterate the good of the literal sense of the Word, that they corrupt the good and truth of the church, vers. 1-3....”

AE 315[10]

·      “In Amos...(ii.3) Moab in the Word, means those who adulterate the goods of the church; the judge who will be cut off and the princes who will be slain, signify the good which is adulterated, and the truths which are thereby falsified, judge meaning good, and prince truth.”

AE 532[12]

·      “...the third and fourth generation does not mean the third and fourth generation, but that which these numbers signify. Like things are signified by three and four transgressions in Amos (i. 3,6,9,11,13, ii. 1, 4, 6). From this it can be seen how great arcana lay hidden in the Word merely in numbers, which no one can know without the internal spiritual sense.”

Derived Doctrine

Moab Burned the Bones

  • “...[burnings] are predicated of evil lusts, especially of those which are derived from self-love.” (AC 1297) 
  • Burning “...signifies damnation and punishment of evils arising from earthly and corporeal loves.” (AE 1173)
  • Burning “...signifies injury or extinction of the good of love.” (AC 9055)
  • The nearest I could come to “burning bones” was this quotation about “boiling bones.” In AC 3812[8], we read that harming bones “...signifies violence offered to truths.”
  • Also, there is a reference to spreading out the bones of kings as “...signifying infernal things that control in idolatrous worshipers.” (AC 2441[9])
  • Bones correspond to external truths, the natural, corporeal truths as facts in fixed forms on which all higher truths may rest for support. If these external or natural facts fail to exist, spiritual facts will have no basis on which to rest or grow.

The King of Edom

  • “Edom and Moab, in many passages are named together, because they signify those who are principled in good; but the difference is, that Edom denotes the good of the natural principle, to which are adjoined the doctrinals of truth; whereas Moab denotes natural good, such as has place with those, with whom such doctrinals are not conjoined. The former and the latter appear alike in their external form, but not in their internal.” (AC 3322) Once again, we have to note that Edom and Moab in this lesson are not representative of good but of evil.


  • Lime represents those who are studious in exploring justification by faith. Faith, to them, is the all of religion, and religion is nothing else but faith. In the spiritual world, these people live in huts constructed of reeds and rushes “plastered over with lime...” (AR 442)
  • Those who indulge in the lusts of the flesh and those who satisfy the desires of the spirit are compared to: beasts and angels; shriveled grapes and dried grapes (wild grapes), and juicy and delicious grapes; and “...limestone and silver....” (True Christian Religion [TCR] 328)
  • AE 391[14] likens the destruction of the church to the stones of an altar falling down and being scattered because the chalk (lime) is not capable of holding the truths together. Therefore, lime signifies “...falsities which do not cohere.”

Sending Fire upon Moab

  • Please note that there is no mention of “fire on the walls of Moab” as in the previous pronouncements. This fire comes upon Moab itself. Is it because Moab represents natural good with which doctrinal things are not conjoined?


  • Is this city also known as Ar? Many scholars think so, and they believe this is the city Amos was referring to in Amos 2:2. The Writings have no reference to Kerioth, but they do mention Ar. The city of Ar, as it is mentioned in Numbers 21:15 and Deuteronomy 2:18, “...signifies those who are in general natural good.” (AC 2468[4])  “Ar (Isa.15:1) signifies the doctrine of those in truths from the natural man.” (AE 652[21])

Moab Dying with Tumult

  • Tumult “...signifies the dismay of those in the church when visited by a Last Judgment and their evils are disclosed.” (AE 659[22])
  • Panic (tumult) “...signifies the last state of the old church, involving a great change; and combat against the love of evil.” (AE 650[12])
  • Tumult “...signifies the disputations and reasoning of those beneath heaven who are natural and sensuous.” (AE 706[23])

Shouting and Trumpet Sound

  • “...shouting, as being the quality of the interiors of that being the hanging of the combat between falsity and truth, and no decision.” (AC 10456)
  • Trumpet “...signifies to announce that the intellectual of the church has been laid waste.” (AC 4592[10])

Cutting off the Judge from the Midst

  • In general, a wise judge is one who fairly and evenly seeks to adjudicate what is right and just for all people, regardless of their station or position. A judge needs to uphold civil, moral, and spiritual laws. Like end, cause, and effect, the spiritual needs to flow into the moral and the moral into the civil.  Because of Moab’s representation, we can assume that the Moabites did not base their natural justice on anything spiritual. Therefore, Moab was to be remanded and its central position of selfish, unwise, and biased judgments exposed.

Slaying all the Princes with the Judge

  • As cited previously, a prince signifies a principle or leading truth. When judgment is faulty, its leading principles will be faulty. Therefore, both have to die when faced with the real spiritual principles of the Lord.

Putting It All Together

1. When the Word is adulterated and the good of the Word is corrupted, nothing of spiritual quality holds together. Like the lime not holding together the stones of the altar, our spiritual life and our judgments are scattered. When the natural man rules and twists everything to favor his proprium, his decisions will not look to being of use to the Lord and the neighbor. Self-love will do only that which gives it praise. Self-love will do good to those whom it can use later. The Moab faith will try to hang between falsity and truth in a state of no decision. This is done so that it will appear liberal, nonjudgmental, and politically correct; it will seek to seem accepting of all lifestyles when there is an opportunity to receive honor, gain, and reputation as the reward.

2.  The Lord did not find the lukewarm pleasing. He stated that He would have preferred hot or cold. The lukewarm were to be spewed from His mouth.  (Rev. 3:16)

3.  These verses remind us not to choose what seems convenient to us or to place the Word in unchaste conditions and decisions. The “bones” of our belief system must have integrity so that our framework will support the spiritual things we draw from the Word. The natural part of us will seek to compromise, burn, or boil the bones of our spiritual soul. At times, the natural mind feels that the act of compromise is most prudent. Is that true, or is it an appearance? With these verses, we need to reflect on how easy it is for us to have our bones burnt or turned into lime. If we do, the Word tells us that we will find ourselves unable to hold spiritual things together. The Lord calls us to face the hellish temptation to adulterate the Word by saying these words:

“Forever, O Lord, thy Word is settled in the heavens.” (Psalm 119:89)

Read and Review

Read Amos 2:1-3.

Read the summary from P&P.

Questions to Stimulate Reflection

1.      There are times when we know what we should do, and we don’t do it. There are times when we know what we are doing is wrong, and yet we continue to do it.  How can we break through these spiritual lapses?

2.      The Writings talk about the power of good intentions. Each time we reinforce these good intentions, an inner good is strengthened that will eventually help us defeat the things we intend to overcome.  Do you remember the old adage that says the road to hell is paved with good intentions? See AC 9334[2], Divine Providence (DP) 152[2]. Even though we sometimes slip, the fact that we dislike our mistakes, feel embarrassed about them, and intend to resist them is a positive step.  For more thought on the power of intention, please read Conjugial Love (CL) 453. Suppose there are two men who look exactly alike and enjoy the same foods and entertainment. One intends not to laugh at an inappropriate comment, and the other man intends to laugh. Which man’s actions are excused by the Lord and His angels, even if both men laugh? What do you think?

3.      The theme of Chapter 1 and the beginning of Chapter 2 focused on the care and importance we must give to the Word.  What can we do in our notes to keep a focus on this series as given to us by the Lord?  Are we able to see first things said tying into last things said?

4.      Do the abuses of the Word, as illustrated by each nation, sound more and more direful as we move toward the prophecy regarding Israel?

5.      There is an interesting point to consider when thinking about Kerioth: One of the Lord’s disciples came from that city. Which one? He was a person who cared for the meager finances the disciples had. He worried about the wasteful use of perfume used to wash the Lord’s feet. Judas claimed that they could have sold the perfume and used the money for more practical things.   Judas Iscariot was a man from Kerioth. Is this just a coincidence?

Amos 2:4-5

“Thus says the Lord:

For three transgressions of Judah, and for four,
I will not turn away its punishment,
Because they have despised the law of the Lord,
And have not kept His commandments.
Their lies lead them astray,
Lies which their fathers followed.
But I will send a fire upon Judah,
And is shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem.”

Passages From the Writings


·        “Concerning those who destroy the celestial things of the Word; that they destroy both its celestial and its spiritual things, vers. 4, 5.”

Derived Doctrine

Representation of Judah

  • “From these and many other may be seen what is signified in the Word by Judah; and that it is not the Jewish nation, because this was very far from being a celestial church, or the Lord’s celestial kingdom; being the worst of all nations in regard to love to the Lord and charity toward the neighbor, and also in regard to faith; and this from the days of their first fathers, the sons of Jacob, down to the present time. (That such persons were nevertheless capable of representing the celestial and spiritual things of the Lord’s kingdom... [is] because in representations the person is not reflected upon, but only the thing that is represented.)...But when they did not remain in the ritual ordained by Jehovah or the Lord, but turned away from them to idolatries, they then no longer represented celestial and spiritual things, but the opposite, that is, infernal and diabolical things....” (AC 3881[10])

Judah Despised the Law of the Lord

  • In various passages of the Writings, we are taught that to despise means to look with contempt. It means “...that the rational lightly esteemed the truth...adjoined to good.” (AC 1911) In another passage, it says that despising “...signifies that the good of life considered its priority of no account.” (AC 3336)
  • Putting these quotes next to the word “Lord” seems to indicate they held the Lord as of little esteem and His priorities as of no account. (AC 3882)                                      
  • How sad it is to read that Judah turned its heart away from its intended representation.

Failing to Keep the Commandments

  • In the Doctrine of Life 64 and 65, we are given a picture of the cycle of failure regarding the Commandments. Teachers and parents teach the commandments to their children, but within their own hearts, they think that they are unable to keep them and therefore find a way to excuse themselves by saying the Commandments are “humanly” impossible to keep. The children pick up this attitude, and when they become adults, they carry the same sphere. Thus, they pass on the cycle of failure. The only way to break this cycle, we are taught, is to care more about pleasing the Lord than pleasing and impressing people. If this last statement is not clear, please read Doctrine of Life 64 for yourself.


  • The lies they told themselves and the lies they learned from their fathers:
    • The belief that they were the favored people.
    • The belief that nothing would remove them from that favored position.
    • The belief that they deserved prosperity and success for external gestures with little substance behind them.
    • The stiff-necked resistance to the leading of the Lord’s Providence.
    • The necessity to have a king like other nations.
    • The belief in everyone doing what was right in his or her own eyes.
  • What really brought on the lies was the people’s failure to value the conjunction of truth to good and to make the good of life a priority. They did not make themselves accountable for what the Lord would value.

The Fire on Judah and the Palaces of Jerusalem Devoured

  • We can probably feel the tension this prophecy must have brought to the nation of Israel.  Conceivably, they nodded their heads in approval when Amos told them of the doom of their lifelong enemies. But now Amos dared to speak of the demise of Judah and the holy city Jerusalem. With angry voices, they must have hurled jeers and threats at this shepherd prophet. Their self-assurance and prosperity, their significant military might, and their victories of conquest made all that Amos said seem preposterous and insulting.
  • All of these possible reactions can illustrate how the fire of self-love came on Judah and how shabby the mental palaces of Jerusalem had become. Her understanding was not conjoining itself with love, and worship of the Lord was all lies and death.

Putting It All Together

1. The celestial things of the Word most deeply involve the Lord. How we feel in our hearts about Him is important. Are we open and honest with Him, or do we pay lip service? Do we quote what we learned from the understanding without involving the will? The Lord would prefer an active love seeking truths, mirroring the conjugial principles. Are we telling ourselves lies? Do we perpetuate the lies of the past? Do we teach the commandments (in our actions) as if they are impossible to keep, and then excuse ourselves as being only human and therefore not expected to keep them?  Can we accept the challenge to break this cycle of failure so that we can follow the laws of the Lord to the best of our ability?  Many questions are posed in these verses, and they are worth considering.

2. Just as Judah failed to live up to its representative role, could we as a New Church organization lose sight of our important representative role?  What do we represent?  How can we support that representation?

3. Again, let us reflect on the attitudes that hurt Judah:

  • They lightly esteemed the conjoining of truth to good.
  • They held the good of life, as a priority, of little importance.

Read and Review

Read Amos 2:4-5.

Read the summary from P&P.

Questions to Stimulate Reflection

1.      Reflecting on the mistakes of Judah would probably help each of us avoid duplicating their attitudes and lies. Think of an example from your own experience when someone made a decision that was influenced by one of these lies or attitudes.  How did it change their decision?  What was the effect?

2.      How effective is it to look at the mistakes of others to make improvements on our life? What makes this technique effective or ineffective? How can it be used wisely? How can it be abused? How is charity a part of this technique?

3.      Do we come down harder on the mistakes of others because we see their mistakes from our understanding? Truth is hard, but when we look at our mistakes, we tend to look at them from the will. The will tends to offer excuses from affections. “I did this because…” The understanding, on the other hand, judges from a more legalistic stand point. What’s your view of this? What do these two approaches have to offer? What happens when you separate them, or use them together?

4.      How effective is it for an organization to look at the mistakes of other organizations to improve its own life?  When is this useful, and when is it not useful? How is charity a part of this technique?

Amos 2:6-8

“Thus says the Lord:

For three transgressions of Israel, and for four,
I will not turn away its punishment,
Because they sell the righteous for silver,
And the poor for a pair of sandals.
They pant after the dust of the earth which is on the head of the poor,
And pervert the way of the humble.
A man and his father go in to the same girl,
To defile My holy name.
They lie down by every altar on clothes taken in pledge,
And drink the wine of the condemned in the house of their god.”

Passages From the Writings


·        “Concerning those who destroy the spiritual things of the church, that in consequence of this they depart into falsities of every kind, vers. 6-8...”

AC 6377[10]

·        “As most expressions in the Word have also a contrary sense, so also has ‘wine’ in which sense ‘wine’ signifies falsity from evil, as in....Amos ii. 8....”

AR 316

·         “Holy truth is also signified by...‘wine’ in other parts of the Word....Amos ii. 8.... [This] may also appear from its opposite sense, in which it signifies truth falsified and profaned....”

AE 376[30]

·        “That ‘wine’ signifies the truth of the church...Amos ii. 8....”

Derived Doctrine


  • “Israel denotes those who are in divine truths from the Lord.” (AR 96 and 350)
  • Israel “...also denotes the internal spiritual church, for that church is a church by virtue of spiritual good. Spiritual good is truth that has become good; for truth becomes good when the man lives according to it, for it then passes into the will, and from the will into act, and becomes of the life; and when it becomes of the life it is no longer called truth but good.” (AC 5595)  

Selling the Righteous for Silver

  • To sell “and to be sold signifies to alienate truths, and to be alienated from them, and to accept falses for truths, and to be captivated thereby.” (AE 840)
  • Righteousness “ predicated of what is good.” (AR 173)
  • A principled person is someone who is in the Lord.
  • Silver represents “...truth acquired from the proprium.” (AC 9039) It can also mean “scientific truth.” (AC 6112) Further, we are told that silver “...signifies truth, and in the opposite sense, the false.” (AC 1551)

Selling the Poor for a Pair of Sandals

  • The poor signifies “ who is not in truths, also those who are ignorant of good and truth, but desirous of instruction.” (Heaven and Hell [HH] 420)
  • Sandal or shoe “...signifies the lowest natural truths by which one lives (walks).” (AC 4677[9])
  • “The shoe is what clothes the sole of the foot and the heel signifies the ultimate natural...thus the corporeal itself.” (AC 1748)

Panting After the Dust of the Earth

  • Is panting or breathing fast a form of excitement, anticipation, or shortness of breath? Is panting a way of gasping for air? Let’s look at gasping for breath because I can only find one reference for that and nothing for panting. “Gasping for breath signifies sorrow because of falsities that extinguish spiritual life.” (AE 315[17]) In this context, it would appear that Israel did not worry about the extinguishing of spiritual life and had no regrets.

Eating Dust

  • “...eating dust...signifies that their sensuous part became such that it could not live from anything but that which is of the body and of the became infernal.” (AC 242)
  • To understand the dust on the “head” of the poor, we need to look for help from the doctrines. Dust represents what is “damned” or “infernal.” (AR 788) It also corresponds to the lowest things of the sensual principle of man. (AE 1145)
  • We can look up “head” and see that it means the dominion of evil in general, and self-love in particular. (AC 250) The head also can represent self-exaltation (AC 1307) or the insanity from unmitigated falsities, especially the denial of the Divine Human. (AR 568) So, how do we understand what is being taught here? It appears that this prophecy is intended to show the baseness of their attitudes toward the Lord and the neighbor. The “dust on their head” represents the lowest of motives lived out in their daily activities. Me, myself, and I are the greatest. All others are of little importance in comparison to self.

Perverting the Way of the Humble

  • When there is no love for the spiritual things of the church, as represented by Israel, it follows that the way of the humble (those wishing to rid themselves of pride and self-love) would be deceived and not helped. This would be like a doctor, with the knowledge and medication to cure or help the sick, callously withholding medication from those who need it the most.

A Man and His Father being Intimate with the Same Girl

  • “ is common in the Word to call things of the church conceptions, births, offspring, infants, little ones, sons, daughters, young men, and so on.” (AC 339)
  • A girl “...signifies fresh goods and their affections and the derivative gladness…” (AC 2348)
  • Using our information about the correspondences, we can deduce that a father and his son going in to the same girl signifies that they made their rational good unchaste. There was a willingness to spoil and make light of holy things. They were not chaste in thoughts and deeds. All delights of conjugial love, even in the ultimates, are only present when there is a love and respect of chastity. “To lie with signifies to pervert and adulterate what is true and good.” (AC 3399)

Defiling the Lord’s Holy Name

  • The possibilities of doing this are myriad. It happens when we allow the hells to convince us that they are stronger than the Lord; when we feel that living the life of religion is impossible; when we feel the Lord requires too much of us; when we feel or say we don’t care what the Word says about something we want to do. We defile the Lord’s name when we calling truth falsity and falsity truth. Perhaps these few suggestions will help you to think of other examples.

Lying Down by Every Altar on Clothes Taken in Pledge

  • According to the literal meaning of this, apparently the church (priests) was extracting money from the people. The greater the importance of the cases they heard and rendered decisions on, the greater would be their payment. Justice was not always the end. Reward and wealth tainted their decisions. Payment might come in the form of ornate and expensive garments. But the heinous thing about the tribute money was that the priests collected it in the name of the Lord. They approved and sanctioned it by rabbinical laws, so they were blatant with their demands for payment for services rendered.
  • Lying down beside every altar speaks of their disrespect of worship. It does not say kneeling, standing, or being watchfully attentive. Lying down seems to connote carelessness. They did this beside every altar. It sounds as if they served whatever god or idol was called for. This is eclectic religion at its worst.
  • On the spiritual side, the clothes of a priest speak of the office, or use, being served. It is the office that should be respected, not the individual wearing the clothes of the pledge.

Drinking the Wine of the Condemned

  • This was given to us as representing truth falsified and profaned. Instead of passing through the gate of Holy Supper or the door of conjunction, the people chose to pass through the gate of disjunction and separation from the Lord.

Putting It All Together

1. From these verses, we get a clear message. Seek first the kingdom of heaven and all else will follow. Let that truth become good. Truth becomes good when we live according to its leading. Let a truth pass into the will and from the will into act. When this happens, truth becomes part of our life.

2. We need to welcome truth and not alienate it, to see caring for the spiritually poor in us as a necessary process. We need truth to ward off ignorance, to protect the feet of natural day-to-day functions and to desire something more than the sensual, corporeal demands or “panting for the dust of the earth.”                                                                      

3. In the same degree as the world glorifies the sensual and makes the unchaste appear “normal,” we need to keep our minds focused on love truly conjugial.

4. We never know who watches us and sees us as role models. Are we humble? Are we caught up in the clothes of a pledge? Do we look tired and bored with our worship? Do we withhold a concept of truth from those who need and want direction? Do we make conquering the insanity of “unmitigated falsities, especially the denial of the Divine Human” a priority? The Divine Human is to be drawn from a genuine appreciation of the Word.

5. Are we so accommodating with our thinking that we can lie next to “every altar...”?

Some pride themselves on saying things like: “We all worship the same thing, so it doesn’t matter what church we belong to.” Can we really trust this saying?

This section contains a significant challenge for us to reflect on. Can we do it?

Read and Review

Read Amos 2:6-8.

Read the summary in P&P.

Questions to Stimulate Reflection

The summary we worked on carries enough questions to get us started. I will not add any others at this time, but please use the space below to work on your own questions as you read these verses. We need the questions to help hold these verses before our minds. 

Amos 2:9-11

“Yet it was I who destroyed the Amorite before them,
Whose height was like the height of the cedars,
And he was as strong as the oaks;
Yet I destroyed his fruit above
And his root beneath.
Also it was I who brought you up from the land of Egypt,
And led you forty years through the wilderness,
To possess the land of the Amorite.
I raised up some of your young men as Nazarites.
Is it not so, O you children of Israel?
Says the Lord.”

Passages From the Writings


·        “That the Lord had thoroughly removed the falsities of evil, when the church was instituted among them, and they were instructed, vers. 9-11....”

AC 6306[4]

·        And in Amos...(ii. 9, 10) “ the ‘Amorite’ denotes evil, for the evil of the love of self is described by the ‘height of the cedars and the sturdiness of the oak.’ That the ‘Amorite’ is evil in general, is because the whole land of Canaan was called ‘the land of the Amorite;’ for it is said, ‘I lead you in the wilderness, to possess the land of the Amorite.”

AC 1857

·        This passage includes the same statement regarding the Amorite and that “the whole land of Canaan denotes evil in general.”

AC 9489[3]

·        Height “...signifies the evil of the love of self, thus self-exaltation of mind; as in...Amos ii. 9.”

AC 348

·        “ of faith devoid of charity are works of no faith, being in themselves dead, for they are solely of the external man....That (in this state) both fruit and the root perish, is thus declared in...Amos ii. 9.”

AE 633[7]

·        “The vastation of the church and also full temptation are signified by the tarrying of the sons of Israel forty years in the wilderness, which is spoken of in…Amos ii.10."  

Derived Doctrine

Reminding Israel

  • Why does the Lord have to remind Israel so often what He did for them? Are their memories so poor that they can’t keep their facts straight? Could it have been that their oral tradition left out the part about the Lord’s deliverance and highlighted human effort? Or had they gotten so used to His miracles they took them for granted? 
  • There is an interesting quote in the Arcana that says: “...Divine remembrance (or reminiscence) is salvation; and by non-remembrance, or forgetting is signified damnation.” (AC 8620) The Lord’s effort to remind Israel what He did for them was not divine impatience or irritation but the action of His love to keep them in a state of remembrance or a state of salvation. The story of salvation gives hope and consolation to those who find themselves in a state of despair and temptation. If the Lord had wanted to damn them, He would have allowed them to forget.

Preparing Israel

  • The passages under study tell us of the preparation the Lord provided for the children of Israel. The Lord thoroughly removed the falsities of evil and gave them instruction. What does this mean? Can we get a small glimpse of what the Lord did for them?
  • The following passages may help us see some ways:

o       AC 677: “Before man can be regenerated, he must be instructed in all those things which can serve as means; in truths...and in things confirmatory...Before a man has been instructed in such things, he cannot be regenerated.”

o       AC 3155: “...instruction precedes, with good, concerning truth; and with truth, concerning good.”

o       AC 4538[3]: “When the Lord makes a man new, He first instructs him in the truths of faith…”

o       AC 6879, 6881, and 6883 give us three specific kinds of instructions Israel received through Moses:

1.      The first instruction: Moses is told that God (I AM WHO I AM) Himself is to be worshiped.

2.      The second instruction: Divine truth, which is from the Lord, must be received.

3.      The third instruction: The sons of Israel represented those of the spiritual church, for whom that instruction was intended.

  • The great Passover, the parting of the Red Sea, the tumbling of the walls of Jericho up to the present lesson of the Amorite’s fruit and roots being destroyed were all forms of instruction that told the children of Israel that pride, conceit, and self-love would not survive in the Lord’s presence.

Cedars and Oaks

  • Cedar trees “...signify rational or intellectual truth.” (AC 119)
  • Oak trees “...signify exterior conceit of those who boast from knowledges.” AE 410.
  • The Lord, by citing this, to Israel was saying: Remember Israel, resist the way of the Amorite. Remember Israel, the Amorites thought they were strong oaks, and yet their fruit and roots died. The Amorites were not the mental giants they thought they were.

“It was I who brought you up from the Land of Egypt…”

  • Egypt in the opposite sense “signifies memory-knowledge which from itself enters into heavenly mysteries, thus perverting, denying, and profaning divine truths.” (AC 4735[15])
  • The Writings describe this as a period in their lives when the Israelites went through full temptations and a period of vastations in the wilderness. Look at the meaning of “forty” in this context: “By their journeying and wanderings in the wilderness forty years, all the state of the combating church is described-how of itself it yields, but conquers from the Lord.” (AC 2708[6]) 
  • Temptation “ a combat between good and evil, therefore each strives for the domination, that is, whether the spiritual man shall rule over the natural...or the contrary....” (New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine [NJHD] 199)
  • Vastation has many descriptions in the Writings. Words such as “devastate,” “desolate,” “despair,” “laid to waste,” or “emptying out” may appear in these quotations. Essentially, the word “vastation” indicates that a process of preparation must occur within the will and understanding so that spiritual ignorance and falsity are removed, or emptied out,  to make way for an internal worship of the Lord that will be as free of profanation as possible.

The Wilderness

  • When we hear the word “wilderness,” what image comes to mind? Some people picture a desert with miles and miles of sandy dunes. A wilderness is more than that. It is an untamed wild habitat, with no smooth roads or paths. Cracks and crevices abound. Scraggy trees, thistles, and briar bushes grow wherever they can find enough soil to outdo some other rival weed.
  • For a lamb, danger would abound in a wilderness. There would be predators lurking in wait for the frail or unsuspecting prey. Truly, a wilderness is a place where the survival of the fittest is a way of life. A spiritual wilderness lacks order and discipline.
  • So the question, “do you remember the full temptations and period of vastations you went through in the wilderness?” is there to signify “the obscurity of faith, for a wilderness is uninhabited and uncultivated.” (AC 6904)

I Raised up Young Men as Nazarites

  • The Nazarites put themselves under a vow to abstain from wine, from cutting their hair, and from having contact with anything unclean or dead.
  • Probably, the Nazarite we think most about is Samson.
  • “...the Nazarites in the Israelitish church represented the Lord as to the Word in ultimates, which is the sense of its letter. For Nazarite in the Hebrew language is hair, or lock of hair; hence Samson, who was a Nazarite from the womb, had power in his hairs.... By reason that hairs signified that holiness of the Word it is said of the Nazarite that: ‘they should not shave the hair of his head....’ Num. vi. 1-21...” (AR 47)
  • “As the Nazarite represented the celestial man, who is regenerated through the good of love, and not through the truth of faith like the spiritual man, and who consequently is not regenerated as to the intellectual part, but as to the will part...therefore the Nazarite was forbidden to eat anything which came forth from the vine, thus was not to drink wine....” (AC 5113[16])
  • “...there is spiritual death when there is a lack of truth.... As death signified damnation, the people of the representative church were forbidden to touch the dead, and if they touched they were unclean, and were to be cleansed....” (Num. vi. 6-12 was referenced regarding why a Nazarite was not to touch the dead.) (AC 6119 [4])

Putting It All Together

1. The Lord reminded Israel of what He had done in preparation for their calling. This point reminds one of a parable in Matthew 21:33-43. In that parable, we are told of all the owner did prior to turning the vineyard over to husbandmen and going into a far country. He planted the vineyard, hedged it, dug a winepress, and built a tower. When he sought his share of the crop, they maltreated his servants, and when he sent his son, they killed him. The Lord is the owner, and mankind is the husbandmen in this parable.

2. The Lord prepared His people. He fought for and delivered them. He instructed them in the truths of faith and gave them Divine Truths. He gave them shelter in the wilderness state. He gave them the ultimate sense of the literal sense — the holiness of the Word so they might find their way out of spiritual deadness.

3. He always lifted up a strong leader, a prophet, or a Nazarite so they could see the power of the Lord in the ultimates.

4. When their pride finished its foolish surge and their downfall occurred, the Lord wanted the Israelites to see where and how they walked away from the preparatory work done for them. They killed the servants, and they killed the son. They wanted the vineyard for themselves. They lied to themselves that they had done all the work and that it was unfair that the Lord should expect any returns while He was off in another country.

5. Would the prophets’ words about the drying up of the Amorite fruit and the death of the oak tree root awaken their sense of spiritual reality? It would only work for the person willing to look within the spiritual sense of the prophecy.

Read and Review

Read Amos 2:9-11.

Read the summary in P&P.

Questions to Stimulate Reflection

1.      Would it be worth our time to reflect on all that the Lord has done for us? Why? Although we can’t speak of all things, are there some specific or significant events that stand out as most important?

2.      We probably have witnessed someone in a position of importance losing their job and the respect of their followers. Something comes out regarding a clandestine disorder that embarrasses them publicly, and they seek the shelter of seclusion in shame. What are we reminded of by such events?

3.      Have we ever had hell tempt us to think that we are “the captain of our ship and the master of our fate?” The hells say things like: “I was the one who faced the heat of the sun to pull out the weeds. Where was the Lord? I was the one who carried the water to nourish the seedlings and vines. I was the one who picked the grapes and crushed them in the wine press. I was the one who went up in the tower to watch for the approach of the enemy or the wild animals that would have eaten the vines. Where was the Lord all this time?” Such thinking assumes that self-intelligence did it alone. Why might we listen to the hells? What makes us vulnerable to this temptation? What helps us to ignore them?

4.      The power of the literal sense comes to our attention again in this section. Yet there are times when our lack of understanding of the Word may give us the false impression that it is “bald” or empty of meaning and relevance for our life and times. Can we think about certain passages we had assumed meant nothing, and then think of a time when we experienced an opening of our spiritual eyes? What we thought was obscure eventually helped us through some trying time.

5.      I am still considering the series of things the Nazarites were told to forgo. How do they apply in our lives, literally and representatively?

·        Avoidance of the products of the vineyard?

  • Not shaving or cutting hair?
  • Avoidance of touching dead things?

What spiritual significance are we able to apply to ourselves regarding these prohibitions?

6.      Vastations. This word has the sound of something one would like to avoid, but we know there has to be an emptying out of falsity, ignorance, self-love, etc. Our prayer life may have to be that we not run away. Trusting in the Lord’s Providence tells us what?  No temptation will come until we are able to resist and no evil will befall us unless some good may come from it. Hell tests us on this. It throws a host of situations before us, and asks: “How come this person had to go through this horrible thing? She was innocent and blameless. How could God permit such horrible things to occur if He is so merciful?” We have doctrinal answers, but for some these answers may seem insufficient. How do you deal with these questions and answers?

Amos 2:12-16

“But you gave the Nazarites wine to drink,
And commanded the prophets saying,
Do not prophesy!
Behold, I am weighed down.
As a cart full of sheaves is weighed down.
Therefore flight shall perish from the swift,
The strong shall not strengthen his power,
Nor shall the mighty deliver himself,
He shall not stand who handles the bow,
The swift of foot shall not escape,
Nor shall he who rides a horse deliver himself.
The most courageous men of might
Shall flee naked in the day,
Says the Lord.”

Passages From the Writings


·        “That nevertheless that church has perverted all things; and that hence it has become like one who is in the possession of the truth and yet is without truth; and thus at the time of judgment it perishes, vers. 12-16.”

AC 10303[4]

·        “...truths with man have been disposed into series according to the angelic societies with the regenerate.... The series into which truths have been disposed with the good, and the series into which falsities have been disposed with the evil, are signified in the Word by sheaves and bundles (as in...Amos ii. 13...).”

AE 357[22]

·        “In Amos: He that holdeth the bow shall not stand, nor shall the swift of foot deliver himself, nor shall he that rideth upon the horse cause his soul to escape, but he that is stout in his heart among the mighty shall flee naked in that day (ii. 15,16). This describes self-intelligence, and thus confidence from an ability to reason from falsities against truths; ‘he that holdeth the bow shall not stand, nor shall the swift of foot cause himself to escape’, signifies that one who knows how to reason readily and skillfully from the doctrine and from the memory that belongs to the natural man, cannot provide for his salvation, nor stand in the day of judgment; the like is signified by ‘he that rideth upon the horse shall not cause his soul to escape; he that is stout in his heart shall flee [naked] in that day’ signifies that he who trusts in himself because of an ability to reason from falsities shall then be deprived of all truth; the ‘stout in heart’ meaning him who trusts in himself on that account, and ‘naked’ signifying deprived of all truth.” 

AE 783[3]

·        “...those who are in falsities are called in the Word powerful, vigorous, mighty, strong, heroes, rulers, terrible, dreadful, and wasters, as can be seen from various passages, as from the following.... Amos ii. 14, 16....”

AE 355[26]

·        A passage in AE 355[26], which explains Amos 2:15-16, has almost identical wording as AE 357[22].

Doctrine of the Lord 4

·        “...passages from the Word which contain the expressions ‘that day,’ ‘in that day,’ and ‘in that time;’ in meant the Lord’s advent. In...Amos ii. 16...” 

Derived Doctrine

Giving the Nazarites Wine to Drink

  • If you recall, the reason the Nazarites were prohibited from eating or drinking anything from the vine was because of a Divine representation. The Nazarites were to be regenerated “...through the good of love...and not regenerated as to the intellectual part…” (AC 5113[16]) The Nazarites represented the will and not the understanding. The Israelites got them to drink wine, which tells us they got them to emphasize or involve themselves in the intellect and not the affectional. This was a reversal of their uses. The rational is more argumentative, debating, legalistic, analytical, and forensic, and it is different from the involuntary, affectional, and spontaneous uses. With a regenerating involuntary, there is a worship and love of the Lord that flows from the heart (will) spontaneously.   

They Commanded the Prophets not to Prophesy

  • When a person allows his or her integrity to be compromised, that person’s credibility will be called into question. When the Nazarites drank the wine, they severed their representation with the Lord and lost standing among the people. Their words of prophecy sounded empty and not worth hearing. The prophets were speaking, but they were not touching the hearts of the people. We might say they started talking about things they didn’t know much about. Their true calling was in the realm of the will, and they lost themselves in the realm of the understanding.

The Lord Weighed Down by Them

  • When the joy of serving the Lord is lost, everything seems meaningless, slow, tedious, and bothersome. The work of regeneration seems hard and unfair. Our sense of the Lord becomes buried in a sense of obligation that suffocates the mind and “weighs us down.” Although this verse says the Lord is weighed down, it is just the opposite. The obliged, duty-bound worshiper is the one with the weighing-down problem.


  • The “new cart” the Philistines used to send the ark of covenant back to Israel signified “...doctrine untouched and unpolluted by the falsities of their evil...” Whereas, a cart “...signifies the doctrine of natural truth...” (AE 700[23])                                                           
  • Therefore, a weighted-down cart full of sheaves represents the series of falsities that were disposed in the doctrine of natural truths of the evil. We need to recall the two choices: One is to have the series of truths disposed so as to keep us in contact with angelic societies, and the other is to have a series of natural truths in contact with the evil. Israel had chosen the second series. 

Flight Shall Perish from the Swift

  • There is an interesting number in the Arcana where flight is explained this way: “No faith, and faith without love, are also compared by the Lord to winter where He foretells the consummation of the age, in Mark: - Pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, for those be days of affliction (xiii. 18, 19). Flight means the last time, and also that of every man when he dies....” (AC 34)
  • The swift are those who prided themselves with their mental agility. They were fascinated with their intellectual ability to adapt to changing popular opinions. The ones who seem to have all the swift answers will not escape Divine accountability.  The speed of their rationalizations will not change the direction of their “departing flight.”

The Strong, the Mighty, the Powerful, etc.

  • Please read again AE 783[3] where we are taught that these terms, when used in the Word, represent those who are in falsities.

He Who Handles the Bow

  • When we use the term “archer,” there are at least four quotations worth noting to add to our consideration of this verse:

·        “The man of the spiritual church was formerly called a ‘shooter of the bow,’ because he defended himself by truths, and disputed about truths; differently from the man of the celestial church, who is secure by means of good, and does not dispute about truths...” (AC 2709)

·        “...the shooter of the bow...[describes the church desolated in respect to truths]...false doctrinals.” (AE 411[19])

·        “...a bow signifies doctrine combating, or doctrine by which one fights against evils and falsities...[but when a church is being vastated, a bow]...signifies that there would be no longer any truth in the doctrine nor any understanding of truth, and thus no combat or resistance against falsity....”  (AE 357)

·        “That a ‘bow’ here denotes the doctrine of truth, is evident from its signification. Wherever wars are treated of in the Word, and wherever they are mentioned, no other wars are signified than spiritual ones....” (AC 2686)

Swift of Foot

  • “The ‘foot’ signifies what is lower, and thus more obscure, in the Lord’s kingdom.” We, as humans, are quite prone to make evaluations of what is most important in life. How often are we right? “To the man whose mind and heart are set (the doctrine of charity and faith) appear as unimportant, and perchance as of no advantage to him; yet to the angels...these same things are precious...” (AC 2540) This number also says that what is important to men is often unimportant to the angels. So the swift of foot shall not escape because their wisdom is not able to keep up with the Lord’s.

The Rider of a Horse Shall Not Deliver Himself

  • “By horse is signified the understanding of the Word...horses in the opposite sense…signify the understanding of the Word and of truth falsified by reasoning, and likewise destroyed; as also one’s own intelligence...”  (AR 298) This series of numbers in AR deals with the “riders of horses.” The spiritual meaning of the four horsemen described in Revelation is to show the effect our heart and mind can have on the Word, as illustrated in the colors of the horses: white, red, pale or black.

Fleeing Naked in That Day

  • To get a glimpse of this meaning, let’s turn to Genesis and the story of Adam and Eve recognizing their nakedness. “By knowing that they where naked is signified their knowing and acknowledging themselves to be no longer in innocence as before, but in evil...for where there is no innocence, nakedness is a scandal and disgrace.... For this reason nakedness is used in the Word as a type of disgrace and evil, and is predicated of a perverted church...” (AC 213)
  • In this passage of Amos, it appears that they didn’t know they were naked. The Lord had to tell them how void of innocence and truth they were. Their nakedness was a disgrace.

Putting It All Together

1. The Israelitish church perverted all of its divine gifts. They possessed the truth, and it was sufficient unto the day, but they didn’t use it. In the day of judgment, what they thought were their greatest attributes turned out to be useless acquisitions.

2. Their self-intelligence and ability to reason from falsities against truth hurt the Israelites. The doctrines they had to fight against evil (the archers) couldn’t stand (or couldn’t shoot straight).

3. Because they were devoid of truth, the Israelites had nothing to clothe their minds. Vulnerable, exposed, they couldn’t hold their heads up. They were a scandal and disgrace to those spiritual things they were to represent, and they perverted the church.

4. Cutting off the message of the prophets, telling them to not prophesy, and switching the uses of the will and understanding brought a spiritual insanity that obfuscated truth and reality.

Read and Review

Read again Amos 2:12-16.

Read again the summary in P&P.

Questions to Stimulate Reflection

1.      Have you noticed how the Word gives us examples of the will and understanding trying to usurp one another?  Let’s look at just two examples for now: Cain’s slaying of Abel and Jacob supplanting Esau. In the Jacob and Esau story, the Writings mention how often, from the beginning of mankind, people have argued which is the most important: good or truth? See AC 3289. Why do we persist with this debate? The Writings make it abundantly clear that both are needed for a balanced spiritual life. So what is the problem? Why do we need to argue this point over and over again?

2.      How often do we question the ways of the Lord and imagine that we know a better way of making the choices of life? People still get angry with the Lord. We continue to live with the illusion that it is our prudence that gets us by. We have to be quick on our feet to sort things out. In the Word, the answers we seek to some troubling issues are not always clear. We imagine it all would be simpler if the Word were more direct in its applications. Why do you think people feel this way?  What causes this anger or frustration?  How do we resolve it?

3.      Taking our flight in winter. This has been a helpful teaching for me. It reminds me to come out of a coldness or indifference to spiritual things so that the spring and summer states are in my heart. What about you? Is there a useful state in the snow and cold of a spiritual winter? What brings us back to spring and summer?

4.      The idea of mental nakedness reminds us of the need to choose things that are important to angels and overcome the temptation to choose our unimportant things. In hindsight, one has to admit that unimportant things appear to be wrapped in interesting packages, and spiritual things appear to be in plain wrappings. Hell tries to remove our states of innocence by offering us seemingly attractive options. When their deception works and we finally see what shallowness we chose, they mock us for our poor choices and vulnerability. We need to pray for a discernment that will help us learn from our mistakes so we can move with spiritual haste to the state of innocence of wisdom. If ever we lapse into a state of spiritual “nakedness,” there is a ray of hope offered to us in this lesson: With the Lord’s help, we need not suffer too long in the disgrace and embarrassment of spiritual nakedness.

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