“The word of the Lord that came to Micah of Moresheth in the days of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, which he saw concerning Samaria and Jerusalem. Hear, all you peoples! Listen, O earth, and all that is in it! Let the Lord God be a witness against you, the Lord from His holy temple.”
Passages from the Writings
Summary Exposition of the Prophets and Psalms (P&P)
- “The descent of the Lord from heaven, and His coming into the world.”
Arcana Coelestia (AC) 2921 
- “…the name ‘Lord Jehovih’ is used especially when the aid of omnipotence is sought and implored…that…such aid is sought, may be seen…in Micah 1:2…and frequently elsewhere.”
“The word of the Lord that came to Micah of Moresheth…”
- This superscription puts before us the true beginning, or origin, of this prophecy. We are told that the word of the Lord “came” to Micah. Thus, the prophecy we are about to study is from the Lord’s revelation and is not the result of Micah’s keen discernment or judgment, nor from any disciplined process of meditative reflection. The “word of the Lord” came to Micah.
- AC 426 explains that the “‘word of the Lord’ is spiritual and not verbal.”
- AC 2015 teaches that the “‘word of the Lord’ must be in the glory of heaven and none of [it in] the world’s glory.”
- The name “Micah” means “who is like the Lord?” This is a name clearly designated to inspire praise of the Lord above all other kings, prophets, idols, or gods.
- The exact location of Micah’s hometown, Moresheth, is uncertain. Speculation puts Moresheth some 25 miles southwest of Jerusalem, 1200 feet above sea level, overlooking the coastal plain. “The city was ringed by a circle of fortifications built first by King Rehoboam, the son of Solomon…and designed to protect Judah from attacks by the Philistines and major powers…thus Micah was probably not from a simple peasant background but was familiar with the civil officialdom and military authorities…” (New International Biblical Commentary: Minor Prophets I, by Elizabeth Achtemeier, page 292)
“…in the days of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah…”
- Jotham reigned from 742-735 BC, Ahaz 735-715, and Hezekiah 715- 687.
- This indicates that Micah’s preparation and delivery of this prophecy may have spanned some 55 years.
- What were the legacies of these three kings? Jotham was an able administrator. He subdued the Ammonites and built the upper gate of the Temple. Ahazpreferred playing international politics. Instead of heeding the Lord’s advice, he scorned a sign from the Lord. Ahaz sought to buy the favor of other kings. He dabbled in idolatrous cults and weakened his country morally and financially. Hezekiah brought about reform. He ended the worship of pagan gods. He stood fast against the Assyrians. With the help of the Lord, a plague came upon the Assyrians and subdued them. Hezekiah built a tunnel through rocks to bring water to the people during the siege of the Assyrians. His reign constituted a “peak” in the history of the kings of Judah.
“…which he saw concerning Samaria and Jerusalem.”
- Why does the Word specifically mention these two cities in the prophecy of Micah? They were capital cities. Samaria was the capital of the Northern kingdom and Jerusalem the capital of the Southern kingdom. Together, they were centers that influenced the whole nation. The Lord gave Micah a message to help the church focus on the quality of leadership coming out of these important centers.
- Apocalypse Explained (AE) 724 helps us understand what these cities represent: “Samaria means the spiritual church and Jerusalem the celestial church each in respect to doctrine.” (Emphasis added.) We also have this teaching in AC 2466: “‘Samaria’ denotes the church which is in the affection of truth and ‘Jerusalem’ that which is in the affection of good.” (Emphasis added.)
- The negative meaning of “Samaria” is as follows. “Samaria” denotes knowledges of falsity. (AC 6592) “Samaria” denotes the church of perverted faith. (AC 9156)
- The negative correspondence of “Jerusalem” denotes a perverted church; to be cut off from the understanding of the things of the church; and the church which is in falsities from evils. (AC 10283, 5354, and 9960)
“Hear, all you peoples! Listen, O earth, and all that is in it!”
- Apocalypse Revealed (AR) 87 explains that to “hear” signifies “…to perceive and to obey; because one attends [hears] that he may perceive and obey…”
- To “listen” means to accept. AC 5467 and 5475 explain that “not listening” means “non-acceptance.”
- AC 10417 has this explanation of the word “people”: “People signify receiving influx from the Lord for the purpose of receiving mercy.” According to AR 483, “people” signify the church in falsities and those who are in evils.
- “…all you peoples” seems to represent an inclusive judgment or evaluation of the needs of the church. No one is above or beyond the need of the Lord’s mercy and of the primary truths of the Lord’s spiritual church.
- “Listen, O earth and all that is in it” seems to be a Divine call to the church to graciously accept the ways of the Lord, storing them up in the heart and in the mind. “O taste and see that the Lord is good.” (Psalms 34:8)
“Let [permit] the Lord God be a witness against you, the Lord from His holy temple.”
- These words, when said as a prayer, have a degree of softness to them. Self-examination requires the light of the Lord so we can probe the secret and dark places of the heart. He knows where sin lives. The Lord knows the intricate and stealthy inner connections of the roots of our propriums. The directions for the spiritual disconnection of these complicated bundles of evil come from the Lord out of His holy temple. What is the church’s part in all of this? We need to let, or permit, the Lord to be our faithful witness. The church needs to prayerfully implore His guidance and mercy.
Putting It All Together
P&P instructs us that the prophetical words given to Micah by the Lord refer to “the descent of the Lord from heaven, and His coming into the world.”
Micah—whose name means “who is like the Lord?”—brings us good news from the Lord. It is not a report of good news originating in the mind of a creative writer. Nor is it the culmination of tribal oral tradition. It is a message to the church coming from the holy temple of the Lord. Nothing of human self-intelligence composes or directs the prophetical words of the Lord. The Lord’s temple announces excitedly and lovingly the Messianic mission to save and establish His new church.
Those who “hear” Micah’s message need to do all they can to perceive and obey it, to change their spiritual attitude. The call to all within the church is inclusive; these words are not addressed to selected favorites. All are to “listen” to and accept the words of the Lord. Why? The spiritual condition of the church had fallen. Evil and falsity were at the center of the decision-making processes in the two kingdoms of Samaria and Jerusalem. The leaders of Judah and Israel were vacillating perilously. Their inconsistencies brought serious spiritual defects into the church. The people were spiritually lost and confused. Sadly, they were unaware of the consequences of the dangerous paths they were following. The conjugial principle, of joining the good and truth of the Lord into a holy union, was grievously lacking.
The Lord had to come to the rescue of the people. His mercy and love would not let the church go the way of destruction. How would the Lord go about saving the church? One way is mentioned in this prophecy: Let (or permit) the Lord God witness against the evil and falsity of all people. Let (or permit) Him to direct the process of self-examination. The truths from the temple of the Lord will remove—uproot—the vast tentacles of evil tendencies within the proprium. Will the combat against “the first root of life” (the proprium) be hard? The Doctrine of Life has this answer: “This combat is not severe except in the case of those who have given free rein…and have indulged them of set purpose, and also in the case of those who have stubbornly cast off the holy things of the Word and of the church. With others it is not severe; let them even once a week, or twice in a month, resist the evils they are inclined to, and they will perceive a change.” (Doctrine of Life 97, emphasis added.)
Spiritual hearing and listening are essential. These are the ways and means of perceiving and obeying and of receiving help from the Lord. Following the Lord always leads to spiritual victories. His way invigorates the hearts and minds of His people.
Read and Review
Read the selection from P&P.
Read Micah 1:1-2.
Questions to Stimulate Reflection
- May we think for a moment about perceiving and obeying? How does one learn to perceive? Perception is not something that is unique to the mind of a genius. Perception comes to those who are simple (sincere) of heart. Perception comes to the humble. As we desire to be enlightened by the Lord, He opens our hearts and minds so that we will see things that the proud and haughty will never see. Do any incidents come to mind wherein you were able to see things that previously had seemed obscure? Did the new insight come about because of your willingness to hear and obey the Lord?
- Obedience to the Lord does not arise from blind faith. Obedience starts with a strong belief that the Word of the Lord is true. Obedience is an effort to shun evils as sins. How did The Doctrine of Life say it? “Let them once a week, or twice a month, resist…evil…and they will perceive a change.” Are we willing to believe this teaching and obey the Lord by trying to cooperate with Him to uproot our unregenerate proprium?
- Micah’s name means “who is like the Lord?” Isn’t this a wonderful way to begin a prayer? No one can match His magnificent ways. So why would anyone want to reject His providential leading? We need to believe that the Lord will lead us in His way so that when it is good for us, He can show us what evils are to be shunned and help us overcome their controlling influences.
- Samaria and Jerusalem were powerful centers of religious life for the children of Israel. The leaders in these cities strayed and erred in their spiritual duties. Do you think it is necessary for us to pray for the church and its priesthood? Our church, like any other human church, is vulnerable to trends and mistakes. As the people of the church, we need to pray and involve ourselves in self-examination without being morose about it. Have you been successful in this endeavor?
- Our proprium is called the “first root of life.” The Writings teach us that this root needs to be plucked up and that we are to seek ways to let the Lord’s Proprium replace it. Can you identify with this concept? Do you think it will work? The human proprium is spelled with a small “p.” The Lord’s Proprium has a capital “P.” Is this a way we can distinguish the two in our minds and hearts?
- It is possible for the Lord’s Proprium to replace our proprium. It just doesn’t happen immediately. The question is, how patient and diligent will we be in a world that values instantaneous gratification?
“For behold, the Lord is coming out of His place; He will come down and tread on the high places of the earth. The mountains will melt under Him, and the valleys will split like wax before the fire, like waters poured down a steep place. All this for the transgression of Jacob and for the sins of the house of Israel. What is the transgression of Jacob? Is it not Samaria? And what are the high places of Judah? Are they not Jerusalem? Therefore I will make Samaria a heap of ruins in the field, places for planting a vineyard; I will pour down her stones into the valley, and I will uncover her foundations. All her carved images shall be beaten to pieces, and all her pay as a harlot shall be burned with the fire; all her idols I will lay desolate, for she gathered it from the pay of a harlot, and they shall return to the pay of a harlot.”
Passages from the Writings
- “The state of heaven then became changed. Then all the representatives of the church, which had been totally falsified, will be destroyed.”
AC 1311 [2-3]
- “…‘the highest’ is predicated of Him, that is, He is said to be the highest…On the other hand, judgment or the penalty of evil takes place in lower and lowest things. This explains why He is said to ‘come down;’…to ‘come down’ denotes the penalty, or judgment, inflicted upon evil. In Micah…1:3, 4.”
AE 405 
- “In Micah…1:3-5…The Last Judgment is meant by ‘Jehovah going forth out of His place, He cometh down and treadeth upon the high places of the earth,’ ‘upon the high places of the earth’ signifying upon those who were in the high places, that is, upon whom judgment was executed, for in the spiritual world, just as in the natural world, there are lands, mountains, hills, and valleys. The destruction of those who are upon the mountains and in the valleys, who are such as are in evils from the love of self and the world and in the falsities therefrom, is signified by ‘the mountains are melted under Him, and the valleys are cleft, as wax before the fire, as waters poured down a descent,’ ‘mountains’ signifying the evils of the loves of self and of the world, and ‘valleys’ the falsities therefrom; of these evils of the loves of self and of the world that are signified by ‘mountains’ it is said that they are melted ‘as wax before the fire,’ since ‘fire’ signifies those loves; and of the falsities that are signified by ‘valleys’ it is said ‘as waters poured down a descent,’ since ‘waters’ signify falsities.”
AC 9156 
- “In Micah…1:5, 13…‘sin’ denotes what is contrary to the good of charity and love; and ‘transgression’ what is contrary to the truth of faith; for ‘Samaria’ denotes the church of perverted faith, and so does ‘Israel’ in this passage.”
- “…that ‘vineyard’ signifies the spiritual church is evident from the passages in the Word where ‘vineyard’ is mentioned.” Micah 1:6 is cited as an example.
AE 587 
- “In Micah…1:6, 7…‘Samaria when it became idolatrous’ represented the church devastated in respect to the truths of doctrine and the goods of life, or destroyed by the falsities of doctrine and by the evils of life; devastation in respect to all the truths of the church is signified by ‘it shall be made into a heap of the field, and its stones shall flow down into the valley, and its foundations shall be opened;’ ‘the field’ meaning the church; ‘the heap of the field’ its devastation; ‘the stones’ the truths of the church, and ‘foundations’ the natural truths upon which the church is founded; the complete devastation of these is signified by ‘the stones shall flow down into the valley, and the foundations shall be opened;’ the destruction of the church by the falsities of doctrine is signified by ‘her graven images shall be beaten to pieces, and her idols laid waste;’ ‘the hire of whoredom which shall be burned up with the fire,’ signifies the falsification of truth by applications to favor the loves of self and of the world.”
AE 695 
- “In Micah…‘Samaria’ means the spiritual church in respects to the truths of doctrine, here in respect to the falsities of doctrine; for their ‘graven images’ signify things falsified, which are from self-intelligence; ‘the rewards of her whoredom that shall be burned up with fire’ signify the falsifications of truth from a love of falsity from evil and the consequent infernal delight; and as that love is from hell it is said that ‘they shall be burned up with fire,’…‘and all their idols will I waste’ signifies the falsities that must be destroyed; ‘for she hath brought them together from the reward of whoredom’ signifies from the love of falsity that is from evil and from the consequent infernal delight; ‘therefore to the reward of whoredom shall they return’ signifies that all things of that church will be truths falsified, because they are thence…’”
AC 10406 [8-9]
- “…falsity…is invented, and evil which falsity defends; for it is said ‘the maker of his invention,’ and ‘the teacher of a lie.’ Like things are signified by a ‘graven image’ and a ‘molten image’ in the following passages…” Micah 1:7 is cited.
- “By idols are properly signified the falsities of worship from one’s own intelligence.” Micah 1:7 is cited.
AE 141 
- “In Micah…1:7…‘Graven images’ and ‘idols’ signify falsities that are from self-intelligence; ‘the rewards of whoredom’ are the knowledges of truth and good that they have applied to falsities and evils and have thus perverted.”
- The word “behold” means to keep something in sight, to look at, watch, view, survey, and discern. (Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary) The Lord is directing us to focus on the purpose of His coming. As we pause, watch, stop, and stand before Him, it is essential to keep within ourselves a heart and mind that desire to see things in their proper perspective. With humility and an affection for good, spiritual discernment will show us how small and unworthy self-love is.
“…the Lord is coming out of His place…”
- “Coming out” of the Lord’s “place” suggests a state of holiness proceeding from the Lord’s Divine Human. See AC 6845, where “place” is explained in these terms. In AC 3210, the most holy place, or the Holy of Holies in the tabernacle, signifies the veriest Divine Good and Truth in the Lord’s Divine Humanity. Thus, we need to picture the cleansing radiance of Love and Wisdom coming forth from the Lord to clear out, replace, and overcome the evil and falsity that filled the minds of the people within the church. The Lord’s coming will require a humble acquiescence to His authority, His commandments, and a complete commitment to His providential ways.
- Isaiah 40:3-5 reminds us what things will happen in preparation for the Lord coming out of His holy place: “Prepare the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted and every mountain and hill brought low; the crooked places shall be made straight and the rough places smooth; the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
“He will come down and tread on the high places of the earth.”
- AC 10019  instructs us that “tread” signifies that the Lord will overcome evil and grant the faithful the power to destroy evils and falsities. Those who misused their good offices to gain power and prestige will be exposed and stripped of their authority. The “logic” of their sensual corporeal ways will not be defensible. They will crumble as a result of the Lord “coming down” to assume the Divine Human.
- As much as evil and falsity seek to intimidate us with their boastful statements of authority and invincibility, they will easily fall from their “high places.”
- Note thoughtfully the following examples from the Word about how easily hell and its legions of believers will succumb to the advance of the Lord from His holy temple. This is a story of evil’s demise and not a story of the Lord’s anger.
“The mountains will melt under Him and the valleys will split like wax before the fire, like waters poured down a steep place.” (Emphasis added.)
- “…‘mountains’ and ‘hills’ in the Word signify heaven and the church, where there exists love to the Lord and love to the neighbor, and, in the opposite sense, hell, where there exists self-love and the love of the world.” (AE 410)
- Isaiah 13:7 pictures what will happen when the day of the Lord comes to fruition: “…all hands will be limp, every man’s heart will melt…” (Emphasis added.) The meaning of a melting mountain is quite clear. The haughty “mountains” of self-love and love of the world will “melt” away in the Lord’s presence. The illusion of the enormity of self-love will vanish because it has no connection with substance and form from the Lord.
- “…the valleys will split…” A “valley” signifies the lower things of the mind, which are grounded in all things natural and sensual. See AE 376. When Israel journeyed toward the Promised Land, their periods of temptations (wars) often took place in valleys. Each enemy they fought represented a war against some serious, troublesome, natural or sensual evil and falsity.
- A “split” represents the breaking down of a lower natural system of thought. That which had seemed unified and cohesively bound together by the natural person had to be “split” by the Lord so the true inner dissimilarities could be seen. See AC 9606.
- AC 35 offers this insight about the necessity of exposing “split” minds (a split will and understanding): “…those who say they have faith, and yet live in contradiction to faith, then the one mind is divided [split] into two, one of which desires to exalt itself into heaven, while the other tends toward hell…”
- “…split like wax before the fire…” To help us understand the correspondence of “wax,” do we need to consider the many types and multiple uses of wax? There is bee’s wax. There is a plant wax. Wax is used by bees to store honey. Wax is used as a sealant to help preserve things. Wax is used in beauty products. “Wax museums” make and display figures replicating people. Candles are made with wax. Signet rings need a drop of wax to leave an identification mark. Or, are we to focus on the malleable characteristics and low melting point of wax when it is near a flame? Maybe all of these wax characteristics have accumulative correspondential relevance to our spiritual lesson. The fallen church certainly tried to put a seal on its man-made concepts, valuing them above the Lord’s commandments. The leaders of the church tried to make themselves look ornately beautiful and honorable in the sight of others. Like wax, the truths of the Lord were molded this and that way to please and satisfy human prudence. Idolatrous images were presented and preserved in the temples. Customs and traditions were made binding and oppressive as if by a signet sealing this or that human law. The Lord’s love, like a flame, will easily melt and split all of the superficial “wax” impressions of natural and sensual people. Self-love may look flexible and durable, but it “melts” easily in the light of the Lord’s heavenly truth.
- “…like waters poured down a steep place.” AE 405  explains that the “waters” that are poured down represent falsity. Water pouring down the steep incline gives a picture of what rushing water (flooding falsity) can do to the minds of those in a devastated church. A torrent of false ideas can wash away our internal spiritual resistance. Does the pouring water down the steep incline illustrate what powerful popular opinion can do to our decision-making? With the emotional shouts of the crowd, many a spiritual principle has been eroded by compromises. Can we picture “waters” pouring down a “steep” place? Visualize the momentum, mud slides, force, chaos, ruts carving out imbedded stones so they tumble from their place causing an avalanche. This phenomenon is a result of falsity, not of the Lord’s truth. This prophecy illustrates the way self-love’s mountain of falsity will “melt” and “erode” when the Lord comes down and treads on it.
“All this is for the transgression of Jacob and for the sins of the house of Israel.”
- Note well: we must pay close attention to the wording and meaning of the “transgression” of Jacob and the “sins” of Israel. Why? Consider the explanation we have in AC 6563: “Mention is made of both ‘transgression’ and ‘sin’ because of the marriage of truth and good in every detail of the Word; for ‘transgression’ signifies evil against truth, which is less; and ‘sin,’ evil against good, which is greater; hence it is that both are mentioned…” (Emphasis added.)
- “Israel” in the highest sense “means the Lord in relation to the internal of the church…‘Israel’ means the church with those who are interiorly natural, and have truths therein from a spiritual origin.” (AE 768 ) From this we can infer that the “sins of the house of Israel” against the Lord’s internal church had caused greater harm to the people and church than had the “transgressions of Jacob,” which denote a pride that falsified external truths. This was a lesser transgression. The two together, however, had undermined the marriage of truth and good.
“What is the transgression of Jacob? Is it not Samaria?”
- We are given a clue regarding the nature of the “transgression of Jacob.” Consider the representation of “Samaria.”
- “Samaria” “denotes the church of perverted faith.” (AC 9156 ) “Samaria” “denotes knowledges of evils.” (AC 6952 ) “Samaria” “means…the falsities of doctrine…from self intelligence.” (AE 695 ) “Samaria” “means a church whose faith is perverted.” (AC 9156) And as a last example, “Samaria” “signifies a church in which truths are falsified.” (AE 355 )
“And what are the high places of Judah? Are they not Jerusalem?”
- There were well over 80 passages we could have chosen to explain what “Judah” signifies, represents, and means. The following choices seem to convey the meaning of our text. “Judah”signifies “truth from the good of love to the Lord…” (AC 3654 ) “Judah”signifies the will of good and, in the contrary sense, the will of evil. (AE 962 ) “Judah”signifies “the perversion…and adulteration of the Word that is brought forth from evils of life and falsities of doctrine.” (AE 922 ) “Judah”signifies “celestial love, which is love to the Lord…and in the contrary sense diabolical love, which is the love of self, from which is all evil, [causing] the devastation of the church.” (AE 653 ) “Judah”means “saving faith which results from love to the Lord.” (AC 3881) Lastly, this quote: “Judah” “represents the celestial element of love, and the celestial element of love resides in the will part of the mind.” (AC 6367)
- The “high places of Judah,” in the positive sense, represent the good of love from the Lord that would lift the will to exhilarating heights to see the saving power of His celestial love. The contrary sense points to the will of self-love perverting and adulterating the Word. This kind of love has no real height and leads to the devastation of the will.
- “Are they not Jerusalem?” This question, when studied in the light of doctrine, can open for us a picture of what the Lord intends the church to have freely. He wants us to experience the power of good and truth. He wants us to experience the exhilaration of good and truth. To appreciate the wholesomeness of good and truth, we need to see the contrast of an evil self-love that shuts down the power and potential of what the Lord perpetually endeavors to give us. What does the Lord want to give freely? Note what follows.
- “Jerusalem” represents “the new church in respect of the doctrine it derives from the Word.” (True Christian Religion (TCR) 217) “Jerusalem...means the church in respect to doctrine.” (AE 780 ) “Jerusalem represents those that are in the doctrine of genuine truth.” (AE 612 ) “Jerusalem signifies the truth of the church wholly vastated by evils.” (AE 401 ) (Emphasis added to preceding quotations.)
- AC 3858 calls our attention to what was intended: “Jerusalem means the Lord’s New Church.”
- Putting these passages to use, do we see more of the meaning of what the Lord wanted to freely give to Jerusalem? “Are they not Jerusalem?”
“Therefore I will make Samaria a heap of ruins in the field, places for planting a vineyard…”
- To begin the process of seeing and understanding the meaning of this verse, it appears we must first unlock the representation of the word “heap.” AC 8286 teaches that “to be heaped up” represents the Lord gathering together, into a one, the offending falsities that were part of religious life, in this case Samaria’s religious life. AE 223  includes the word “vastations” when explaining “heap.” Therefore, heaping represents a clearing out, within a straying church, of false doctrines.
- In the negative sense, “Samaria” (the Samaritans) represents the “false doctrine of those who reject the Lord…” (AE 223 ) Doesn’t it make sense that, to renew the church, the heap of false doctrine must be cleared away to provide fertile ground to plant a spiritual vineyard? So, what does “planting a vineyard” represent? Simply, it means the beginning of the spiritual church “where the Word is.” (AR 650) Where the Word is, the Lord is.
- The “planting” is to occur in the “field.” AC 368 gives an expanded meaning: “a field signifies doctrine; whoever receives a seed of faith, whether a man, a church, or the world, is also called a field.”
“I will pour down her stones into the valley, and I will uncover her foundations.”
- In the positive sense, when the Lord acts to “pour,” it means He is instructing His people in the things of truth. It also means He is giving intelligence to those who genuinely desire truth from good. See AE 518 .
- But in our text, we have the Lord exposing the negative conditions within the church to root them out so that Divine Love and Wisdom can establish a much-needed corrective and restorative plan of salvation.
- The “stones” being poured into the “valley” represent truths in the lower (natural) mind that had been built up to appear high and mighty. These “stones” were, in reality, lower truths that were spoiling and polluting the church’s worship with sensual and profane forms of self-worship. See AC 1292. In AE 405 , the “valley” is described as a place where those who are in good will be separated from those who are in evil.
- The Lord’s announcement through Micah that He would uncover Samaria’s “foundations” pinpoints our attention specifically to the doctrines of the church that were erroneously derived from the literal sense. See TCR 197 and AR 876. Why would the Lord need to uncover, or expose, these man-made spiritual “foundations”? Doesn’t the reason relate to the meaning of stones being poured into the valley? That which was polluting worship; that which was from human tradition and human prudence that mislead the people, had to be exposed. These errors had to be methodically eliminated. To borrow from the Lord’s parables, new wine cannot be put into old wineskins. New cloth cannot be sown with old cloth. New wine had to be put into new wineskins. Otherwise, the old skins would burst open and the new wine would be lost. New cloth had to be sown with new cloth to prevent the one tearing away from the other. The wise man built his house upon the rock, and the foolish man built his house upon the sand. Sturdy “foundations” are consistently mentioned by the Lord as goals to work toward. So let’s courageously ask the Lord to help us uncover any faulty foundation we might have built from the literal sense.
“All her carved images shall be beaten to pieces, and all her pay as a harlot shall be burned with the fire…”
- AR 107 has some important things to say about “carved images.” “They who are in works alone and in no truths are like those who act and do not understand, and deeds without understanding are inanimate. They appear before angels like images carved out of wood; and they who have placed merit in their works, appear like those carved images, naked, without any covering whatever…”
- For the direct teachings of Micah 1:7, please go back and read AE 141 , AE 587 , and AE 695  on pages 14-15.
- A “harlot” signifies the profanation of the holy things of the church “by the diabolical love of having dominion.” (AE 1083) A “harlot” “signifies everywhere in the Word falsified truth…A harlot signifies that doctrine that had previously been the doctrine of genuine truth has become the doctrine of falsified truth.” (AE 887 )
- “Pay,” in the positive sense, “signifies truth, by means of which…amendment is effected.” (AC 9087) Therefore, “pay” in the opposite sense represents the means by which falsity resists the amendment of the heart to the end that it fosters spiritual deterioration.
- “Fire,” in the negative sense, represents “the loves of self and the world, and all evils thence…” (AE 539) “Fire” “signifies the rejection of the whole of that religious persuasion…” (AE 1083) This shows us that those who love themselves and the world have a love that will burn itself out. This is not the Lord’s doing. It is just the opposite. Self-love inflicts a harm that is tragic because it turns the “harlot” loose in the heart. The “harlot’s” unfaithfulness to conjugial principles seeks to undermine and disconnect the powerful benefits the Lord would give freely to those who remain faithful to Him.
Putting It All Together
P&P summarizes the first seven verses of Micah 1 as a spiritual representation of the Lord’s Advent: “The descent of the Lord from heaven, and His coming into the world. The state of heaven then became changed. Then all of the representatives of the church, which had been totally falsified, will be destroyed.”
This is a prophetic message for those who intend to remain lovingly faithful to the Word of the Lord. This is a message for anyone who worries or wonders, “How long, O Lord, will You tarry in amending the wrongs of the world and the church?”
- The Lord promises that He will tread on the boastful concepts of the world. He will not be stopped nor influenced by the will or expectations of human opinion polls. Isaiah 55:8-9 reminds us, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways…For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.”
- All mountains of self-love will melt, split, and crumble before Him. The flood of falsity will undo itself. What, to evil, had appeared as impenetrable, invincible, and cohesive will melt in His presence.
- All transgressions and sins will be exposed and corrected by the Lord. This healing process will be performed thoroughly and with love, not anger. The foundations of evil will be uncovered so that all will see and understand the insidious nature of self-love.
- All idols, in whatever form they take, will be beaten to pieces. The unfaithfulness of the church to the doctrines of the Word will be exposed. Harlotry is the illustration used for the twisting and turning of the spiritual truth of His Word. The harlots “pay off,” “bribe,” and “curry favor” to “justify” their heinous actions.
- Will the harlot’s tempting plan of seduction work in the presence of the Lord? The Lord announces that the harlot will be burned and all her idols will be made desolate. Is the Lord responsible for this burning? No, it is the fire of self-love from within the harlot that brings about this destruction. The harlot reaped what was sown. Those who live by the sword shall die by the sword.
AC 10406 [8-9] offers us some information to reflect on when we sum up these verses. The harlot and the idols represent a “…falsity [that]…is invented, and evil which falsity defends; for it is said ‘the maker of his invention,’ and ‘the teacher of a lie.’” Our duty, as readers and believers in the Word, is to expose the inventions of falsity. With the Lord’s help, we can uproot the evil and falsity that defend idols. Maybe we should include in our daily prayer life a petition for help exposing the inventions of falsity—“the teachers of lies.” By exposing the lies and inventions of the harlot, we will have done a work that will be acceptable and honorable in the sight of the Lord.
Read and Review
Read the selection from P&P.
Read Micah 1:3-7.
Questions to Stimulate Reflection
- There is something comforting to the soul about hearing the Lord’s plan to overcome the efforts and goals of self-love, hell, and destructive disorder. In the face of appearances that seem to offer evidence to the contrary, it is most satisfying to get the fuller picture. His coming down changed things in heaven and on earth. Can we, in our limited way, appreciate the magnitude of His coming down?
- Has this study helped you with your faith and patience in waiting for the day when hills and mountains will be trod on by the Lord and melted down? Waiting for and wanting the New Church to be the crown of all churches can provoke some forms of worriment. Does this impatience cause a sense of disillusionment about the growth and survival ability of the organized New Church?
- Can you remember some hill or mountain in your life that you got help in melting down? Were there only a few or many more than you expected to recall?
- Idols take on many forms. For a moment, recall and review things that you feel are dangerously distracting and harmful idols. Do these idols have well-defended support in our daily life?
- The melting down process, the crumbling of mountains, the stones rolling into the valley are quite illustrative in the literal sense. Can you now bring those pictures into the spiritual realm so they can give extra power in your fight against them?
- What inventions of falsity try to work a subtle seduction of your principles? Hellish spirits try to prevent us from thinking about their inventions. They exhort us, “Don’t fixate on guilt and sin!” “Loosen up!” “Be flexible!” “Roll with the punches!” “Everybody makes mistakes. Look at so and so. They are role models, and if they do it, why not you?” Or, I have heard this comment carried further: “If they are role models and they make silly and grievous mistakes you don’t make, relax! You’re ahead of them.” The point here is that hell wants us to ignore any principled effort to love and establish good and truth in our lives. Hell loves waffling and procrastination to exist in spiritual matters.
- Is there some example you can think of wherein self-love eventually destroyed itself? We really need to have examples to work with so that we are not duped by the invincibility illusions hell tries to maintain before the world.
“Therefore I will wail and howl, I will go stripped and naked; I will make a wailing like the jackals and a mourning like the ostriches, for her wounds are incurable. For it has come to Judah; it has come to the gate of My people—to Jerusalem. Tell it not in Gath, weep not all; in Beth Aphrah roll yourself in the dust, pass by in naked shame, you inhabitant of Shaphir; the inhabitant of Zaanan does not go out, Beth Ezel mourns; its place to stand is taken away from you. For the inhabitant of Maroth pined for good, but disaster came down from the Lord to the gate of Jerusalem.”
Passages from the Writings
- “Consequent mourning and that it will extend even to those who were in celestial good.”
AE 695 
- “…‘for this I will lament and howl’ signifies the grief of the angels of heaven and of the men of the church in whom the church is, and thus with them with whom the Lord is; ‘I will go stripped and naked’ signifies mourning because of the vastation of all truth and good.” Micah 1:8 is cited.
- “…by ‘the dragon’ are meant those who are in faith alone, and reject the works of the law as not saving, has been testified to me in the spiritual world…I have seen several thousands of them…when from a distance they have appeared like a dragon…”
- NB: the Writings’ translation of Micah 1:8 is closer to the King James Version than to the New King James Version (seen above). In AR 537, we read “I will go despoiled and naked, I will make a wailing like the dragons, and mourning like the daughters of the owl.” The King James Version reads: “I will go stripped and naked: I will make a wailing like the dragons and the mourning as the owls.”
AE 714 
- “In Micah 1:8…this treats of the vastation of Samaria, which signifies the spiritual church in respect to doctrine, here the church vastated; devastation in respect to truth and good is signified by ‘going stripped and naked;’ lamentation over it is signified by ‘lamenting and howling,’ lamentation over devastated good by ‘making a lamentation like dragons,’ and lamentation over devastated truth by ‘making a mourning like the daughters of the owl.’ The lamentation and mourning are said to be like that of ‘dragons and the daughters of the owl’ in a representative sense; also ‘his going stripped and naked,’ ‘stripped’ signifying, the like as the dragon, to be destitute of goods, and ‘naked,’ the like as the daughters of the owl, to be destitute of truths.”
AE 1129 
- “In Micah…1:8…‘wailing’ has reference to good, and in the contrary sense to evil, it is said, ‘I will make a wailing like dragons,’ ‘dragons’ being those who are in the lusts of evil; and because ‘mourning’ has reference to falsity it is said, ‘I will make a mourning like the daughters of the owl,’ ‘daughters of the owl’ being those who are in falsities and their pleasantness, ‘owls’ signify falsities, because they see in darkness and not in light.”
AC 2851 
- “…the gates to the New Jerusalem and the gates to the new temple are much treated of…by which nothing else is meant than the entrances to heaven…Hence Jerusalem is called the ‘gate of the people’ (Micah 1:9)…”
- “…roll yourself in the dust…” “…that, in former times, especially in the representative churches, they bowed themselves so low that they let down the face to the earth, was because the face signified man’s interiors…and the reason they let it down to the earth was that the dust of the earth signified what is profane and condemned…For the same reason they prostrated themselves, pressing the face to the earth, and even rolling themselves in dust and ashes, and sprinkling dust and ashes upon their head (as may be seen from…Micah 1:10…).”
AC 7418 
- “…in these passages…Micah 1:10…and also in the historical parts of the Word…by dust upon the heads, and also by the casting down of the body and of the head to the earth, and there rolling in the dust, was represented humiliation, which when genuine is such that the person acknowledges and perceives himself to be damned, but to be received from damnation by the Lord…”
AE 1175 
- “Mourning on account of condemnation of evil is signified by ‘dust upon the head,’ and ‘rending the mantle’ signifies mourning on account of condemnation of falsity. The same is signified by…‘Rolling themselves in the dust’ (Micah 1:10)…”
“Therefore I will wail and howl, I will go stripped and naked…”
- “…I will wail and howl…” signifies a sense of grief or sadness over the state of the church. It reflects a sense of grief over the absence of goods and truths in the worship services of the church. See AR 1 and 27. The same is expressed in AC 4060, AE 695, AE 406, and Doctrine of Faith 53.
- The meaning of “stripped and naked” was covered in AE 714 .
“Tell it not in Gath, weep not all…”
- Gath was a city of the Philistines. As a Philistine city, it represented the false doctrines of faith separated from charity. Therefore, the Lord directed the inhabitants to cease speaking of such doctrines and to not weep over their end. Listen again to the directions of the Lord: “Tell it not…weep not all.”
“…in Beth Aphrah roll yourself in the dust…”
- The name “Beth Aphrah” means “house of dust.” The location of Beth Aphrah is unknown, so we need to turn to the signification of “house of dust.” The Lord was calling for a true sense of humiliation and repentance. He wanted them to lament over the lack of good and truth in the church and worship services. He wanted the interiors of their hearts and minds to be filled with the cleanliness of humility.
“…pass by in naked shame, you inhabitant of Shaphir…”
- The name “Shaphir” means “beautiful.” The location of Shaphir is not known, so once again, we need to consider why the Word uses this place of inhabitants and calls them to be embarrassed for their “naked shame.” Could it represent their turning what was beautiful, good and truth, into something that was empty and embarrassing? AE 240 explains “naked” as signifying those who are without the understanding because they are without the will of good. AC 9141 teaches that “inhabitant” denotes goods.
“…the inhabitant of Zaanan does not go out…”
- The name “Zaanan” means “going out.” We do not know the location of this place. AE 445 explains that “going out” signifies having a delight in all genuine truths and goods. AC 3690 tells us that “going out” signifies living more remotely from doctrine. AC 4638 teaches that “going out” signifies desiring good to be communicated by others so that one’s own empty truths (hollow faith) might be strengthened. From these teachings, it seems the “inhabitant of Zaanan” represents those who have no interest in going out and finding what is from the Lord, no interest in filling their hollow faith with Divine substance.
“…Beth Ezel mourns; its place to stand is taken away from you.”
- The name “Beth Ezel” means “house of nearness.” The location of Beth Ezel is unknown. Turning to doctrine, we find the meaning for “nearness.” AC 9378 teaches that “nearness” means togetherness and presence, a place where there are similarities. AC 8159 explains that to be “near” means to receive influx. AC 5884 describes “near” as meaning interior communication. AC 9375 teaches that “near” means to be joined to the Lord through the good of love and the truth of faith. The “house of nearness” in this verse is said to mourn. Its “place to stand” is taken away. Why? When any part of the body is not used, there is a risk of atrophy. Is this what is being communicated about the church? Because they did not strive to be near to the Lord, they were in a state of spiritual atrophy.
“…the inhabitant of Maroth pined for good, but disaster came down from the Lord to the gate of Jerusalem.”
- The name “Maroth” means “bitterness.” The Word teaches us that they pined for good. Is this a positive statement about them? If we look up the word “pine” in Webster’s Dictionary, we read that “pine” means to “languish, to lose vigor, to have grief and anxiety…hence to wear away.” AE 633  teaches that to “pine away” means to die out. AC 10037 explains that “pine away” means to be consumed with iniquity. AR 463 identifies “pine away” with the ceasing (shutting down or disconnection) of the will and understanding. Although these passages do not use the word “atrophy,” it is certainly included in the meaning of pining. So we gain an insight into why disaster comes down and the gate of Jerusalem is mentioned. To “pine away in bitterness” is to lose the ability to enter through the gate of Jerusalem. The way, the gate, to heaven is lost when the will and understanding are disconnected and not functioning.
Putting It All Together
P&P explains the meaning of these verses with this teaching: “Consequent mourning and that it will extend even to those who were in celestial good.”
When a church diminishes and gives up on its covenant with the Lord, there is a sense of sadness that reaches far and wide. One of the direct teachings, AE 695 , tell us that there was grief in the heavens among the angels over the sad spiritual state of the church. The church was despoiling things. The dragons and owls mentioned in the text represented the harm that faith-alone beliefs brought to the church. There was a heart-felt lamentation throughout the heavens over the disregard of good and truth. Angels were worried. They wondered how the damage would be repaired and by whom.
The Lord alone can save the church. Will His call for a state of genuine humiliation brought by rolling in the dust and bowing humbly before Him restore life to the church? Shouldn’t there be some more noble or dignified act of contrition? Dust and ashes are representative of the uselessness of the sensual person. Dust is worthless and therefore to be overcome and dealt with in a sincere act of remorse and contrition. This is a worthy task—especially when the Lord directs us to deal with the dust of the sensual person.
The Word illustrates what opportunities were being lost by the church, using the examples of various inhabitants:
- “Tell it not in Gath, weep not at all.” Gath was one of the five principal cities of the Philistines. As a city, it changed hands often. As a city, it was near Judah. When the Philistines captured the Ark of the Covenant, they sought to carry it to Gath. What is this prophecy about? AE 652 [29-30] gives us a clue. The streets of Gath represent doctrines in which falsities from evil reign. II Samuel 1:20 mentions Gath. “Tell it not in Gath; publish it not in the streets of Ashkelon, lest the daughters of the Philistines rejoice.” In other words, the Lord is directing the people to cease from publishing the doctrines of falsity that were akin to the Philistines’ faith separated from charity. The Lord will not allow this message to be pronounced on the streets. “Tell it not.”
- Beth Aphrah (house of dust) highlights that the church wasn’t willing to humble itself. Instead of bending before the Lord, they were stiff-backed and far too proud to fall on their faces in the dust.
- Shaphir (beautiful) lost its spiritual beauty and was empty, naked, and full of shame. Its people were naked because they were without understanding and without the will of good.
- Zaanan (going out) lost its delight in communicating and sharing genuine truths and goods. It was a hollow faith, void of the substance of the Lord.
- Beth Ezel (house of nearness) didn’t desire to be near to or receive influx from the Lord. They didn’t want the good of love and the truth of faith. Their place to stand was taken away from them. Where there is no substance, there is no form.
- Maroth (bitterness) pined for good. Because of the lack of sincerity, the church pined, languished, lost vigor, and wore away. Disaster came upon them. In their minds, it was the Lord’s fault, so the text reflects their belief that the Lord did this to them. They lost sight of the gateway to Jerusalem. Spiritual apathy eroded their spiritual potential, and they lost their vision of what was to be.
The Lord and the angels of heaven lamented, wailed, and howled over the spiritual demise of the church. But that is not where the message ends. The Lord came down from His temple to restore, to open the way for Divine light to shine brightly in places where darkness hosted owls and where dragons snarled and brought fear into the hearts and minds of the church. The Lord’s way and His church will win. His way is restorative and not destructive. The New Church will be the crown of all churches; its reign will be forever and forever. Amen.
Read and Review
Read the selection from P&P.
Read Micah 1:8-12.
Questions to Stimulate Reflection
- Can you picture the Lord and the angels wailing and howling over serious mistakes we make? I can picture angels grieving better than I can picture the Lord grieving. I wonder why seeing the Lord doing these things is hard to picture. Is it because I want the Lord to be totally in charge and offering me a “controlled” message of hope and rescue? Or is my difficulty due to the fact that the Lord’s grieving involves Infinite grief and that, for me, is a hard picture to comprehend? What is your thought on this point?
- Did the six “inhabitants” help you understand the issues that brought about the demise of the church? I found them enlightening. Taking a separate piece of paper to write out the message was significantly useful. Try it yourself. It helped me see and understand why they needed to roll on the ground and find their humility again. The beginning city of inhabitants, Gath, was told to do what? Stop talking false doctrine of faith separated from charity. Don’t weep over this loss. It is the very thing that is killing your faith.
- For us: in what ways do we roll in the dust? How can we bow low enough before the Lord? This is not just a physical act. We are called to do it spiritually. How do we fulfill this spiritual act?
- Do you sense the depth of all six messages? Can we “update” them to match issues in our time? What can we do so that we don’t skip over such messages in favor of “fluff” and “feel-good” topics? This prophecy calls for alertness, dedication, and hard work. By joining together in this project of Word study, maybe we can inspire each other to obey the command to Zaanan: “Go out” and communicate with others. We need to share our faith so that it will become stronger.
- Let’s close by highlighting three of the six “inhabitants.” Please do the same for the others so that we see present-day application.
- Maroth, bitterness, pined for good. Their bitterness caused them to languish and be consumed. They lost sight of the gate of Jerusalem. Do you have a sense of how necessary it is to pray that bitterness will not be your pathway?
- Shaphir, the beautiful, needed to be protected and honored correctly. Following the conjugial principal is the way to restore beauty. Hell tries every trick in its arsenal to make our finest ugly and tarnished. What, for you, keeps you focused on the “beautiful” aspects of life?
- Beth Ezel, the house of nearness, is a worthy goal. We can find the way to be near the Lord. His Word stands ready to draw us to Him. What personal habits or devotional routines help you with your “nearness” to the Lord?
“O inhabitant of Lachish, harness the chariot to the swift steeds (she was the beginning of sin to the daughter of Zion), for the transgressions of Israel were found in you. Therefore you shall give presents to Moresheth Gath; the houses of Achzib shall be a lie to the kings of Israel, I will yet bring an heir to you, O inhabitant of Mareshah; the glory of Israel shall come to Adullam.”
Passages from the Writings
- “Hence even these [those in celestial good] will begin to be perverted.”
- “In many places it is said ‘the virgin and daughter of Zion;’ by whom is not meant any virgin or daughter there, but the church as to the affection of good and truth…” Micah 1:13 is cited among many other passages.
AE 850 
- “‘The virgin’ and ‘the daughter of Zion’ are mentioned in many places, as in the following…Micah 1:13…and elsewhere. ‘The daughter of Zion’ signifies the spiritual affection for the Divine truth, which is the love of truth for the sake of truth, and the desire for it for the sake of the uses of eternal life.”
- “…genuine intellectual is from truths…but in the opposite sense it is one who is not intelligent, and consequently falsity. This falsity is represented by an Adullamite, for Adullam was on the boundary of the inheritance of Judah (Joshua 15:35), and hence signified the truth which is from good; as also in Micah…1:15…but as most things in the Word have also an opposite sense, so too has Adullam, and it then signifies the falsity which is from evil. That most things have also an opposite sense is because before the land of Canaan was made an inheritance for the sons of Jacob, it was possessed by nations by whom were signified falsities and evils; and also afterwards when the sons of Jacob went into what is contrary; for lands take on the representation of the nations and peoples who inhabit them, according to their quality.”
“O inhabitants of Lachish, harness the chariots to the swift steeds (she was the beginning of sin to the daughter of Zion) for the transgressions of Israel were found in you.”
- AC 9141 teaches that the word “inhabitant” denotes goods—loves. The name “Lachish” is believed to mean “a team of horses.”
- TCR 815 has a thought-provoking explanation of noble horses with harnesses. People who are free in spiritual matters are likened to eagles. People not free are like swans in a river. People who are free are like deer in the fields, groves, and forests. People not free are like deer kept in a park to please the prince. People who are free are like the winged horse of the ancients called Pegasus. People not free are like noble horses with beautiful harness accoutrements in kings’ stables.
- In the book Intercourse Between Soul and Body, number 9 notes that those who believe nothing but what their senses prove are like charioteers who “…yoke the horses behind the chariot and not before it. It is otherwise with those who distinguish between spiritual things and natural things, and deduce the latter from the former…” (Emphasis added.)
- So we must do some reflecting here to find an answer. Is a “steed” representative of people who are free or not free? Will the harnessing of the noble horses be done correctly or incorrectly? When a horse is harnessed, it is governed by the directions given by the rider. Does a harnessed “steed” represent that which is not free?
- “Horses” signify the love of learning from the Word. AC 2760 and AR 437 teach that a “horse” signifies an understanding of the Word as to its interiors. In the contrary sense, “horses” signify the understanding as directed by false scientifics. (AE 654 ) Which is it going to be? The understanding directed by the interiors of the Word or the understanding directed by scientifics?
- We have four leads to follow as we search for an answer. First, P&P summarizes this section by giving a cautionary message: even the celestial will begin to be threatened by the dying church. Second, the noble, swift horses are being harnessed to the chariot and will be under the control of the rider. That sounds like the inhabitants (goods) are not free. It also sounds as though the horses will be hitched backwards to the chariot. Thirdly, there is a charge that she (Lachish) was the beginning of sin to the daughter of Zion. Fourthly, Lachish is admonished and held accountable, “for the transgressions of Israel were found in you.”
“Therefore you shall give presents to Moresheth Gath…”
- In Everyman’s Bible Commentary: Joel, Obadiah and Micah by Thomas J. Finley, we read, “The root of ‘Moresheth’ means ‘become engaged,’ and the term for ‘parting gifts’ can also mean a ‘dowry.’” (Page 127) Finley also offers another translation, “You will give a dowry for the Fiancée of Gath.” (Ibid)
- We need to consider the words “virgin” (bride and fiancée) and “gifts” (dowry) in order to discern the spiritual issues behind these words. Let’s begin with the signification of the word “virgin” (fiancée). In AC 6742, we read that “a virgin signifies the good of the celestial church…” (Emphasis added.) AR 620 instructs us that a “virgin signifies the church as a bride, who desires to be conjoined with the Lord, and to become a wife; and the church which desires to be conjoined with the Lord, loves truths because they are truths…” AE 863 explains that a “virgin signifies the affection of genuine truth, and her defilement signifies falsification of Divine truth…” (Emphasis added.)
- Doesn’t this last quote tie in with P&P’s summary of Chapter One of Micah? The church in respect to the doctrine of good and truth was being totally falsified, and that falsification extended even to those who were in the celestial good. The virgin, the bride, the fiancée, the church wasn’t being protected and kept chaste.
- As a church (a bride), she did not desire to be conjoined with the Lord. The decline of the church and its unworthy worship took away the elements of anticipation and readiness to be a dignified, chaste bride for the Lord.
- A “gift,” a “present,” or a “dowry” signifies “an instillation.” (AC 5671) In AE 1171, we read “…anyone may see that…by ‘gifts’ and a ‘present’ are signified worships; but what these worships were, and of what quality, cannot be known unless it is understood what is meant…” AC 4456 tells us that a dowry signifies a token of consent. “The dowry” given to the virgin represents “a token of mutual consent” as a “confirmation of initiation.” To accept the dowry was a sign of “reciprocity.” AC 3960  explains the meaning of a dowry as “…the truth of good and the good of truth” working together to make a heavenly marriage.
- Exodus 22:16 offers this interesting teaching: “If a man entices a virgin who is not betrothed, and he lies with her, he shall surely pay the bride-price for her to be his wife. If her father utterly refuses to give her to him, he shall pay money according to the bride-price of virgins.” (Emphasis added.)
- AC 9186 defines a “dowry” as “fifty pieces of silver given to the father of the girl.” “Fifty” signifies what is full and in agreement with good. See AC 9186. “Silver” signifies redemption by means of truth. See AC 2934. Thus, if the virgin, or church, was “enticed” and defiled, the offender was expected to make full restitution (redemption) for the offense. Is this what the Lord was teaching through His servant Micah? As the Father, is He telling those who defiled the church that they have violated the holy things of the church (bride) and must make full restitution for such an offense? Is this prophecy issuing a call for humility because they had desecrated the holy things of worship? Or is this prophecy telling them that He, as the Father, would not accept their unworthy “dowry” for the enticement and defilement of the holy things of the church?
- Are you somewhat awed at the depth and degree of meaning we have been able to extract from this passage? Is it any wonder that we are taught that the Word will be studied to eternity and its inner truths will never be exhausted?
“The houses of Achzib shall be a lie to the kings of Israel.”
- Let’s turn to three commentaries to get some help with the name “Achzib.” Charles L. Feinberg, in The Minor Prophets, page 156, calls attention to the belief that the name “Achzib” means “lie.” He bases that meaning on a passage from Jeremiah 15:18 in which what came to be called “achzabim” are described as brooks that are dry in the summer, “thus deceiving the thirsty traveler.”
- Elizabeth Achtemeier, in New International Biblical Commentary: Minor Prophets, states that “Achzib” sounds like “akzab,” which means “deceitful” or “disappointing.” (Page 305)
- Thomas J. Finley, in Everyman’s Bible Commentary: Joel, Obadiah and Micah, says that “the name sounds similar to the Hebrew term for ‘deceptive’ (akzab)…” He therefore loosely translates this verse as “The town of Deceit will prove deceptive.” (Page 127)
- “Houses” signify the affection for good and the understanding of truth. (AE 675) “Houses” signify the things of the human mind, here the things of the natural mind separate from the spiritual mind. See AE 1146 . “Houses” signify goods. See AC 2463.
- “Kings” signify truths that are from good, and many kings signify various truths that are from good. See AE 625. “Kings signify the truths of the Word and thus the truths of the church.” (AE 1063)
- “…the kings of Israel and of Judah, even the worst, represented the royalty of the Lord…” (AC 665)
- To draw near the spiritual meaning of this portion of the prophecy, we must start with the meaning of “Akzib.” The house of deceptive lies was pouring forth its deadly and voluminous deceit with the intent of destroying the “royalty of the Lord.” And what does “royalty” signify? “Royalty signifies the holy which is true.” (AC 1728) “Royalty signifies truth from good.” (Heaven and Hell (HH) 226)
“I will yet bring an heir to you, O inhabitant of Mareshah.”
- “I” is the Lord. He promises to bring an heir to Mareshah. Why?
- “Heir,” in the negative representation, signifies the unclean truths and falsities that belong to the natural mind. See AC 3301. “Heir,” in the positive sense, represents the good (the love) of truth. See AE 435 .
- Is it safe, then, to see this as a reminder from the Lord to the faithful remnant in the church that His Advent was nearing fruition? Minds and hearts being held in captivity were being cheered with a sense of good news. A Divine Conqueror, a Liberator, was coming who would restore spiritual freedom to those in natural and spiritual bondage.
- “Mareshah” is “partly similar to the Hebrew term for ‘conqueror’ (yoresh).” (Thomas J. Finley, page 127)
Putting It All Together
P&P explains to what spiritual conditions the prophecy of Micah called the church’s attention. The lies, deceit, and falsity of Israel’s leaders (Lachish) were fast blocking out the light of heaven. The connection between heaven and earth was impaired. When the Word of the Lord is held in low esteem, spiritual indifference blocks out the Lord’s influx into the hearts and minds of His people. AC 886  gives a terrific example to consider. The celestial church is the love and charity of the spiritual church. It is “celestial things from which spiritual things radiate like rays of light…from a flame.” Using this image of the light and flame, we can say that the light of spiritual freedom was, at best, flickering and in danger of going out. Good and truth (love and wisdom) were being harnessed and directed by those who only believed in what could be proved by the natural senses. Scientifics were leading people, the bride, the virgin, and the spiritual church. The church was being forced and violated by an arrogant self-intelligence.
The Lord was calling for a spiritual restitution. He wanted spiritual dowries, gifts, and fifty pieces of silver to come out of the hearts and minds of the people. The dowry represented an initiation, a new covenant to be entered into with Him. Why?
The Lord, as promised, was coming. He was going to rescue the hearts and minds of those who turned to Him in humility and sincerity. The Lord was going to be the Conqueror—the Liberator—the Light Giver. He would reestablish the communicational flow of spiritual charity and wisdom between Heaven and earth. The light will shine for all to see, and its flame will not flicker.
Read and Review
Read the selection from P&P.
Read Micah 1:13-15.
Questions to Stimulate Reflection
- It has been said that repetition is an important part of the process of education. Is the oft-given prophecy about the coming of the Lord’s New Church needed so that we will never forget it while fighting against evils and falsities? Or is it given often because our actions and choices indicate that our hearts worry about whether, or when, it will happen?
- When studying the rise and fall of Israel, have you noticed that the Israelites often were victims of the very things that the Lord helped them defeat earlier? Why did they succumb to idols and false gods? Why did they forget so quickly the spiritual benefactions of the Lord? Are we any different or just like them?
- Our study used many forms of imagery: a bride who was violated; a house that poured out lies; the need to offer a dowry to make restitution; a renewal through a new covenant; and a strong Conqueror to bring a steady light to overcome the darkness of falsity. In what ways can we use these examples to renew our spiritual being? Are we reading and studying the Word to get the facts straight? We must go to the Lord’s Word often so that we don’t let others think for us. The Lord warned His people not to make His Word of no effect with man-made rules. Do we have a way of nipping such tendencies in the bud?
- The prophecy of Micah warns us that the celestial is under attack. What is our celestial? AC 4750 gives us some points to ponder. The celestial is where the Lord resides in us. The celestial is where good, love, innocence, and remains inspire us to live the higher life. The celestial embodies our love to the Lord and its derivative love to the neighbor. Is our celestial still under attack?
- When we sit back and reflect on each lesson, there has to be something positive involved in what we are doing because the Lord is directing our thinking. Hell wants us to desist from such a study. To this end, hellish spirits will try to overload us with negative applications. Did you sense their efforts while reading all of the verses? If so, please go back and pick up the thread of hope, victory, and success that the spiritual sense offers.
“Make yourself bald and cut off your hair, because of your precious children; enlarge your baldness like an eagle, for they shall go from you into captivity.”
Passages from the Writings
- “Consequently they also will suffer deprivation of all truth.”
AC 3901 [6-7]
- “Almost all the books of…[the Ancient Church]…were written by means of significatives; but in process of time the significatives have become so completely forgotten that it is not even known that ‘birds’ in general denote thoughts, although they are so frequently mentioned in the Word…That in the opposite sense an ‘eagle’ signifies rational things that are not true, and thus false, is evident from the following passages. In Micah…1:16…”
AC 9960 
- “As mourning represented spiritual mourning, which is mourning on account of the loss of the truth and good of the church, therefore when mourning they made bald their heads; as we read in the following passages…Micah 1:16…‘sons of delights’ denote Divine truths; their ‘going away’ denotes the loss of these (that ‘sons’ denote truths, see AC 9807).”
- “…in Micah 1:16…the sons of delights are the genuine truths of the church from the Word.”
AE 724 
- “In Micah…1:16…Mourning because the truths of the church are destroyed is described by ‘making bald,’ ‘enlarging baldness,’ and ‘polling themselves,’ for the ‘hair’ signifies truths in ultimates, and those who are without truths in ultimates are also without internal truths; for this reason those in the spiritual world who have no truths from good appear bald. That truths are destroyed is signified by ‘the sons of thy delights have departed from thee;’ they are called ‘sons of delight’ from love of the truths and the consequent delights.”
De Verbo 10
- “…men who have loved the Word even in its ultimates, after death when they become spirits appear with becoming hair and angels likewise…But on the other hand all they who have despised the sense of the letter of the Word, after death when they become spirits appear bald. This is a sign also that they are without truths…Since baldness signifies truth…they of the Jewish church, when they left Jehovah and rejected the Word, are called bald…” Micah 1:16 is one of the passages cited to illustrate this teaching.
As we prepare to examine the spiritual sense in Micah 1:16, please note the following point: the New King James Version uses the words “because of your precious children…” The Writings use the words “…sons of delights…” Will our choice of translation be crucial in our pursuit of the spiritual sense? To prayerfully answer that question, let’s pause for a moment to consider the similarities or differences between the words “children” and “sons.”
- HH 281: “Children mean those who are innocent.”
- AE 430: “Children signify all who are of the church that are in truths from good.”
- AC 489: “Children signify the regenerate who have the understanding of good and truth.”
- AC 9960 : “…‘sons of delights’ denote Divine truths…”
- AR 47: “…the sons of delights are the genuine truths of the church from the Word.”
- AE 724 : “…they are called ‘sons of delights’ from love of the truths and the consequent delights.”
“Make yourself bald and cut off your hair…”
- AR 47: “By the head of man is signified the all of his life; and the all of man’s life has relation to love and wisdom…”
- AR 47: “…by ‘hair’ is meant love and wisdom in their ultimates…in the ultimates of the Word…in the sense of its letter.”
- AR 47: “…‘bald’ signifies the Word without its ultimate…Therefore…to induce baldness was the greatest disgrace, and a mark of extreme mourning…For which reason, when the Israelitish nation…perverted all the sense of the letter of the Word, this lamentation was made over them…”
- To “cut off your hair” would seem to signify the act of purposefully ignoring or rejecting the Lord and His Word. It seems to imply choosing evil and falsity over good and truth.
“…enlarging your baldness like an eagle…”
- AE 759 teaches that, in the positive sense, an “eagle” “signifies spiritual intelligence and circumspection which the Lord gives to those who are of [the] church…”
- AC 3901  teaches us that an “eagle” in the opposite sense signifies “rational things that are not true, and thus false…” (Emphasis added.)
“…they shall go from you into captivity.”
- AR 567 teaches that to go “into captivity signifies that he who by means of…heretical doctrine misleads others from believing well and living well, will himself be drawn into hell by his own evils and falsities.”
Putting It All Together
When we consider what was mentioned in Micah 1:13-15, that the bride or virgin (church) was not being protected, that the church was being lied to and defiled, and its teachings falsified, is it a surprise that we are told in verse 16 that the church was going bald? The literal sense of the Word was minimized, and the significance of its inner meaning was, in time, being forgotten. The hair, the literal sense, was purposely being cut off. Little by little, their baldness was enlarged. As spiritual ignorance grew, the “sons of delight,” the “precious children” of Israel, were led into spiritual captivity. The eagle, the positive gift of spiritual intelligence and circumspection, was turned into its negative meaning of rational things that were not true. Thus, the people were being misguided by the priests of false intelligence and false circumspection. P&P summarizes the end of a defiled, bald church with these words: “Consequently they…will suffer deprivation of all truth.”
The word “mourning” cannot be left unmentioned in our summary. AE 1164 teaches that genuine “weeping and mourning” signify the grief of soul and heart. AE 863 indicates that mourning needs to be present when Divine truths are no longer sought. As readers of this prophecy, wouldn’t we do well to feel some of the grief of this story? Wouldn’t it do the organized New Church some good to mourn over the possibility that we too could follow in their footsteps if we don’t protect the virgin and bride of the Lord’s church? Our course is to not defile, deceive, or mislead. In our worship, we need to call for the eagle of spiritual intelligence and circumspection. By studying the literal sense of the Word and following the correspondential meaning inward, we will avoid “cutting off” the “hair” of the Word. De Verbo 10 inspires us to love the Word. Those who do so appear after death “with becoming (beautiful) hair.” The flowing, becoming hair is a spiritual sign that means, “Here is an angel who has a reverence and love for the Lord and His Word.”
Read and Review
Read the selection from P&P.
Read Micah 1:16.
Questions to Stimulate Reflection
- What kind of spiritual conditions or “trimmings” lead a church to become bald? What hairs did they begin cutting off first? I’m wondering, what doctrines were seen as needing cutting? Is any dangerous trimming happening today? How bald are things in religion world-wide?
- Obviously, they didn’t see themselves as the Lord saw them because they just kept cutting and cutting. Reflection, having a good eagle, and circumspection are essential for spiritual growth. If I read this verse correctly, the major priority for the church should be close adherence to reading the Word, a love for the literal sense, and alertness to the meaning of the spiritual correspondences. What do you get from this verse? Which do you get the most from—home study or doctrinal classes? I find I like both, but if pushed, I must admit a preference for studying on my own with study guides such as the one before you and working with the many resource tools we have.
- On the quote from De Verbo about “becoming hair”: Do angels have any feelings of personal merit in the amount of hair they have?
- Mourning is called for in our lesson. Can you relate to positive mourning? Feeling sorry for a loss of a truth, feeling sad over a mistake of selfishness, feeling mournful that we have been negligent regarding the study of and reflection on the Word all seem to be healthy forms of mourning and not morbid states. Mourning does sound like a useful experience to keep the soul and heart protected from spiritual baldness. What ideas can you add to this call for mourning?
- Enlarging baldness like “an eagle” represents enlarging rational things that are not true. Do we need to work on examples to make this correspondence come alive? Such an eagle, if not checked, will lead the church into captivity.