“Hear now what the Lord says: ‘Arise, plead your case before the mountains, and let the hills hear your voice. Hear, O you mountains the Lord’s complaint and you strong foundations of the earth; for the Lord has a complaint against His people, and He will contend with Israel. O My people, what have I done to you? And how have I wearied you? Testify against Me. For I brought you up from the land of Egypt, I redeemed you from the house of bondage; and I sent before you Moses, Aaron, and Miriam.’”
Passages from the Writings
- “The Lord offered every good to them.”
AC 6435 
- “Because idolatrous worship took place upon mountains and hills, by them are signified in the opposite sense the evils that belong to the love of self; as in…Micah…6:1…”
AC 9024 
- “In Micah 6:1…‘to dispute with the mountains’ denotes to contend and defend against the exalted ones, and also against the evils of the love of self; ‘the hills which are to hear His voice’ denote the humble, and those who are in charity.”
- “…‘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.” Micah 6:1-2 is cited as the source of this teaching.
- “By ‘the foundation of the world’ is not here meant the creation of the world, but the establishment of the church…” Micah 6:1-2 is cited among many other verses from the Word.
AE 405 
- “In Micah…6:1, 2…This…was said of the spiritual church, which was represented by the Israelites when separated from the Jews; and ‘mountains’ mean the goods of charity, and ‘hills’ the goods of faith; but here, the evils and falsities that are the opposites of these goods; therefore, it is said, ‘strive thou with the mountains, and let the hills hear thy voice;’ ‘the strong foundations of the earth’ mean the principles of falsity in that church, ‘the earth’ meaning the church, and ‘foundations’ the principles upon which the other things are founded. It is said, ‘with His people,’ ‘with Israel,’ because ‘people’ means those who are in truths, or those who are in falsities; and ‘Israel’ those who are in goods, or those who are in evils.”
- “The church…is founded upon doctrine, for doctrine teaches how we are to believe, and how we are to live, and doctrine is to be drawn from no other source than the Word…In the Word ‘foundations of the earth’ are sometimes named, and by them are not meant the foundations of the earth, but the foundations of the church, for ‘the earth’ signifies the church, and the foundations of the church are no other than what are from the Word, and are called doctrinals…” Micah 6:1 is cited as an example.
AE 1057 
- “….‘the founding of the world’ signifies the establishment of the church. For the ‘world’ has a similar meaning as ‘heaven and earth;’ and the expression ‘to found the earth’ is used because the ‘earth’ signifies the church on earth, and upon this heaven as to its holy things is founded. This also makes clear the signification of ‘the foundations of the earth’ in the following passages…” Micah 6:2 is cited.
- “‘Egypt signifies the natural man in conjunction with the spiritual, and thus the affection of truth and thus science and intelligence; but in the opposite sense, it signifies the natural man separated from the spiritual, and then the pride of one’s own intelligence, and thence insanity in spiritual things…and whence it is that Egypt is called ‘the land of bondage’ (Micah 6:4)…”
AE 328 
- “And in Micah…(Micah 6:4)…in the sense of the letter that they [the children of Israel]…were led by Divine power out of Egypt, where they had been made bondsmen; but in the spiritual sense no such thing is meant, but it means that those who are of the church, that is, those that are reformed by the Lord by means of truths and a life according to them, are delivered and freed from evils and from the falsities thence, for these are the things that make man a bondsman; this is the spiritual sense of these words, and in this sense are the angels when man is in the sense of the letter.”
AE 654 
- The Word “…describes how the natural man is vastated, which takes place when he casts away from himself all the truths and goods of the church, and imbibes falsities and evils, until there is no longer any truth or good of the church remaining…”
“Hear now what the Lord says…”
- Could the meaning of these words be any clearer? The Lord is advising us to make a choice: tune out, or down, the noisy and demanding finite schedules, ideas, and beliefs of human prudence and commit yourselves to the priorities of the Lord. To “hear” signifies a state of obedience. We are to prayerfully and willingly focus our attention on the words of the Lord. Influx from the Lord is directly proportional to the efflux from our hearts and minds. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. The Lord promises to fill us with the bread of heaven and to give us His living waters. Those who believe in the Lord will be given a heart out of which “will flow rivers of living water.” (John 7:38) We will have the hunger and thirst of our hearts and minds (our souls) satisfied.
“Arise, plead your case before the mountains and let the hills hear your voice.”
- To “arise” signifies “the elevation of the mind.” (AC 2695)
- To “plead” your case, or implore your case, typifies people “who are in humiliation of heart,” who are willing to implore or plead to the Lord for mercy. (AC 598 ) Pleading our case does not mean we are backing down from the hells or throwing in the towel. Instead, it means developing a plan to find restorative strategic help from the Lord. He is our spiritual counsel.
- How does one go about preparing and pleading a spiritual “case”? Who will hear our pleading case? The answer lies within our hearts. The Lord sits on His throne, and He adjudicates everything. His “courtroom” is the zenith of Divine justice, where, eventually, fairness, healing, and the restoration of order will reign.
- I’m not a lawyer, but here are some of the things I was able to glean while researching what it means to prepare and “plead a strong case” in the natural courts, and I tried to apply the same principles to our consideration of the spiritual court. First, pleading does not mean falling all over oneself crying out “mea culpa” or engaging in self-deprecation before the taunting and belittling voices of the hells. Running oneself down or making inordinate excuses is not going to work in our development of a “strong case.” To build a strong case, we should work carefully on the logical presentation of relevant doctrinal facts as drawn from the Word. We should reflect carefully and gather provable spiritual data that will substantiate our case, and we should line up creditable witnesses from the Word to testify on our behalf. Are there any tested spiritual precedents that can be cited? In presenting a strong case, it will be necessary to mount an insightful cross-examination of any witnesses who have falsely testified against the facts of the Lord. And lastly, there is to be a prayerful request to the Lord, and the mercy of His court, for His Divine relief and vindication from the lies that hell has leveled against the timely and providential leading of the Lord. Mind you, we are to do all of these things while being totally honest before the Lord so as to not misrepresent the facts and validity of the Lord’s purity and all-knowing love and wisdom. This seems to be the way we are to plead our case. Note now the spiritual state we are to be in when we plead our case.
“…before the mountains and let the hills hear your voice.”
- The “mountains” represent being in the presence of the goods of charity, heaven, and the love of the Lord. The “hills” represent being in the presence of the goods of faith, the church, and the love of the neighbor. See AE 405 . Letting the mountains and the hills “hear our voice” signifies speaking in a state of humbleness and charity. See AC 9024 .
“Hear, O you mountains, ‘the Lord’s complaint…’”
- What “complaint”do the mountains need to hear from the Lord? Two quotes from the Arcana might help us see and understand the loving nature of His complaint. First, let’s look at AC 1780: “The Lord’s complaint respecting the church was that it was in externals only…” Secondly, AC 1795 teaches that “The church is to serve as stewards or overseers…,” but a time came “when no internal dimension of the church exists, only in the external…” For this state, “…the Lord made complaint…”
“…and you strong foundations of the earth…”
- When a church (or individual) strays from following the internals of the Lord’s teachings, the people begin to construct ideas of falsity that multiply darkness and hide the light of the Lord’s Word. AE 405  teaches us that “‘strong foundations of the earth’ mean the principles of falsity…upon which other things are founded.” This passage calls us to consider what are the beginning principles of our foundations. Hearing the complaints of the Lord is a good starting point.
“…the Lord has a complaint against His people, and He will contend with Israel…”
- The word “people” can have a positive and a negative signification. In the positive sense, “people” signify “those in the church who are in truths.” (AE 863 ) “…people signify those who are of the church in which is the doctrine of genuine truth from the Word.” (AE 768 ) “…by people and nations are meant those who are in truths and goods…” (AE 331 ) In the negative sense, “…‘…people’ signify the falsities of religion in which they trust, and from which they fight against the truths of the church…” (AE 734 , emphasis added.) In the context of this verse, it would appear the Lord wanted to lodge His complaint against those who turned and twisted the goods and truths of the church to fight against Him.
- Our most direct teaching regarding the meanings of “people” and “Israel” comes from AE 405 : “…people means those who are in truths, or those who are in falsities…and Israel those who are in goods, or those who are in evils…” (Emphasis added.)
- Do we need to ponder why the Lord complains about the falsities of truth while He contends with those who are in love of evil? Is one of these more serious than the other?
“O my people, what have I done to you? And how have I wearied you? Testify against Me.”
- Divine questions are for us to reflect on. The Lord knew perfectly the answers to these questions. He doesn’t need our enlightenment to help Him see anything. No, His questions are for our sake, so let’s enter into this dialogue with Him by reflecting on the three things mentioned. First, what have we done to the Lord? Second, How have we wearied the Lord? And third, we need to ask the Lord to testify against us.
“For I brought you up from the land of Egypt, I redeemed you from the house of bondage, and I sent before you Moses, Aaron, and Miriam.”
- AR 503 explains what is meant by being brought up and redeemed from the bondage of Egypt. It means becoming spiritual and not natural. It means being rescued from the pride of one’s own intelligence and being released from the insanity of such a life. How does the Lord do this? “Moses” signifies the “doctrine thence from the Divine” (AC 7052) and “instruction about the law Divine.” (AC 7185) He also signifies how things were to be done “according to the Word of the Lord.” (AC 7406, 7450) “Aaron” signifies getting priestly “instruction anew from the law Divine.” (AC 7214); receiving and sharing of priestly “influx and communication” (AC 7287); and “the influx of the internal law into the external law” (AC7379 and 7410). “Miriam” denotes the “good of faith which proceeds mediately from the Lord.” (AC 8337)
Putting It All Together
Two disciples on the road to Emmaus were deeply engrossed in a conversation, reasoning about the dramatic (horrific) events in Jerusalem. Jesus drew near them and asked them, “What kind of conversation is this that you have with one another as you walk and are sad?” (Luke 24:17) Incredulously, they turned on Him and asked, “Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem…” They explained that their Savior had been killed. Their dreams and aspirations seemed to be coming to an end.
While all of this was going on, the Scriptures tell us, the disciples’ “eyes were restrained so they did not know Him…” (Luke 24:16) Why were their eyes restrained? Could it have been they were so busy talking, worrying, and complaining about the end of their dream that they just couldn’t see that the Savior was with them? They were talking fast, taking in the words of the Stranger, letting the meaning or significance of what He was saying and teaching slip by.
Isn’t that just like us? We often talk and talk, assuming that we know the effect of things before having our eyes opened to see the end. We, too, can become morose and assume that the Lord is dead and overcome by the hells.
Our lesson tells us the first step out of this habit is to “Hear now what the Lord says…” Then P&P adds to this: “The Lord offered every good to them…” In other words, what looked bleak and empty was just the opposite. He was doing that which was good and full. What looks like an end to us may in fact be a significant beginning for the Lord.
Next, our lesson tells us that it is important to listen to what the Lord’s complaint is about the church. The Lord does not want external superficiality within His church. He wants us to have internals that are strong and healthy flowing into our externals. Read again the words from AR 902. A healthy church “is founded upon doctrine, for doctrine teaches us how we are to believe, and how we are to live…” (Emphasis added.)
Instead of complaining about what the Lord should have or could have done, we need to turn our whole conversation around to “What have I done to You? And how have I wearied You?” These questions are not meant to lay a guilt trip on us. Instead, they are offered so that our eyes will not be restrained to prevent us from seeing the Master as He walks with us along our spiritual journey.
Lastly, this section presents a powerful reminder that we are to build and plead a “strong case” in the court of the Lord. Hell will, without a doubt, be there to discourage and attempt to defeat us in our spiritual efforts. But the Lord reminds us that if we come in humility and in love to Him and the neighbor, we will be survivors. His mercy will bring the Word to us and will cause us to remark, like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, “Did not our hearts burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?” (Luke 24:32)
Read and Review
Read the selection from P&P.
Read Micah 6:1-4.
Questions to Stimulate Reflection
- How well do we listen to the “still, small voice” of the Lord?
- Do we consider how much we need to “plead” our case before the mountains and the hills?
- What about the Lord’s complaint against our church? Do we give consideration to the strength of our internals? Doctrine needs brushing up so that it is real and vital in teaching how we are to believe and how we are to live.
- The Lord never is frustrated or weary with us. But can we picture how we might cause these feelings in Him with our stubborn nature?
- Do we talk and talk about things—so concerned and wrapped up with our effects that we miss the ends of the Lord?
“O My people, remember now what Balak king of Moab counseled, and what Balaam the son of Beor answered him, from Acacia Grove to Gilgal, that you may know the righteousness of the Lord.”
Passages from the Writings
“O My people, remember now…”
- These words, “O My people,” when thought of as being directed affectionately to Israel only will lead us down a wrong path. Such thinking fosters the idea that Israel was and is the chosen people or favored nation. But when we look from the spiritual sense, we get a more inclusive idea of what the Lord is saying. “…‘…people’ signify the intelligent and in an abstract sense the understanding of truth and good…” (AE 412 ) “People” signify “the truths and goods of the church.” (AE 417 ) “…people signify those who are of the church in which is the doctrine of genuine truth from the Word.” (AE 768 ) “People” represent “those in whom simple good is present.” (AC 4968)
- To “remember now” signifies “…what is [to be] perpetual in thought…remembering…must not in any wise be forgotten…”
- The Lord, then, is directing all who read and love His Word to hold or remember perpetually His good and truth; to remember the genuine truths of the Word; and to remember to keep simple (plain) love present in the heart and mind.
“…what Balak king of Moab counseled, and what Balaam the son of Beor answered him, from Acacia Grove to Gilgal, that you may know the righteousness of the Lord.”
- AC 1888  reminds us that when a passage contains “nothing but names, from which no sense would appear unless all the names signified actual things; and if the mind were to abide in the names, this would never be acknowledged to be the Word of the Lord. But who will believe that in the internal sense they all contain arcana of heaven…?”
- “Balak” represents those who desire and long for the people of Israel to fail. Look again at the above meaning of the people of Israel. “Balak” represents those who want “to destroy the people of Israel by craft…leading them away from worship of the Lord to the worship of Baal-peor…” (AE 140 ) “Balak” represents those who want “to cast stumbling blocks…” (AR 114) “Balak” the king pictures for us an evil ruling love.
- “Moab” “denotes those who are easily led astray…and adulterate goods…” (AC 3242 , emphasis added.)
- Balaam is an interesting study. He had certain divination skills, honed from the remnant of knowledges from the Ancient Church. Balaam had conversations with the Lord. The Lord warned him not to aid or assist Balak in his wish to be a stumbling block to Israel. Balaam heard the Lord say “Thou shalt not curse the people…” And yet, the lure of wealth clouded his judgment and tarnished his ancient skills. The Word, noting for us that Balaam came from the land of Beor, gives us a possible insight into why he allowed himself to participate in the adulteration of good and truth. The name “Beor” in Hebrew means a “burning.” The offer of wealth and position must have burned in his heart and mind because he turned away from the directions and warnings of the Lord and proceeded with his plan to adulterate all that was good and true.
- Balaam answering Balak from the “Acacia Grove to Gilgal” offers us an interesting series of meanings. Acaciawas a place where the groves of Shittim wood were plentiful to harvest. Shittim wood was used in the construction of the Ark of the Covenant. Shittim wood represents “the good of merit from the Lord’s Divine Human.” (AC 9633) Shittim wood signifies “the good of righteousness and consequent power…” (AC 9713) Shittim wood represents “the good of righteousness or of merit which belongs to the Lord alone.” See AE 391  and AC 9462. What did the ark contain? It held the stones, or tablets, of the Ten Commandments, a golden jar with some of the manna in it, and Aaron’s budding rod.
- “Gilgal” signifies “the doctrine of natural truth which is serviceable for introduction into the church…” (AE 700 ) “Gilgal” means “rolling off” the “reproach of Egypt from all of you…” (AC 2039 )
- Can we see, from the above information, the range of Balaam’s intent to harm Israel? He was part of the conspiracy to destroy everything from celestial and spiritual things to introductory things. Balaam wanted to “roll off” the protection of the Lord and thus destroy the Israelites. How low and self-centered were his motives?
- The Lord wanted Israel to reflect on and remember these plans of Balak and Balaam so that they “may know the righteousness of the Lord.” (Micah 6:5, emphasis added.)
Putting It All Together
Once again, we have a wonderful story of the exposing of hell’s intent to destroy both things most holy and the introductory things that lead one to the church. But the Lord will not be thwarted. He knows the “burning” desire of self-love and its lust for riches and power. He will expose hell, and He will defend His church from such chicanery. As P&P says, “He protected them.” What a wonderful message to have and to remember perpetually. It must not be forgotten. Why? Because the Lord tells us so!
Read and Review
Read the selection from P&P.
Read Micah 6:5.
Questions to Stimulate Reflection
- How did you do with the list of names in this verse and their meaning and spiritual representations? Did you use paper to trace the applications and meaning for your life? It is amazing how doing something like this opens and enhances our spiritual horizons.
- Balaam “burned” to do what Balak wanted, in spite of all of the Lord’s warnings. Why do you think Balaam chose to ignore the Lord and listen to Balak? Are there any examples that come to mind when something similar happened in the life of someone you know?
- The name “Moab” signifies those “who are easily led.” Are we easily led by some Moab states?
- The Lord will save us from the wiles of hell. Is this a “remembrance” that will be kept perpetually in your mind?
“With what shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the High God? Shall I come before Him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?”
Passages from the Writings
- “The Lord is not approached by externals of worship, but by internals, which are of truth and good.”
AC 922 
- “It is by internal things, namely, charity and the faith therefrom, that He who is represented is to be seen and acknowledged and believed, as is clearly evident in the Prophets…What is meant by ‘hearkening to the voice’ may be seen in Micah…6:6-8…this is what is signified by ‘burnt-offerings and sacrifices of clean beasts and birds.’”
AC 2180 [4-6]
- “As regards sacrifices in general, they were indeed enjoined through Moses on the people of Israel, but the Most Ancient Church, that existed before the flood, knew nothing whatever about sacrifices; nor did it even come into their minds to worship the Lord by slaughtering animals. The Ancient Church, that existed after the flood, was likewise unacquainted with sacrifices…sacrifices were first instituted in the…church…called the Hebrew Church, and from this spread to the nations, and from the same source they came to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and thus to the descendants of Jacob…the worship of sacrifices had become idolatrous with them, as it had with the Gentiles, and from this worship they could not be withdrawn…For what has once been implanted from infancy as holy, especially if by fathers, and thus inrooted, the Lord never breaks, but bends…This is the reason why it was directed that sacrifices should be instituted in the way described in the books of Moses. That sacrifices were by no means acceptable to Jehovah, thus were merely permitted and tolerated…is very evident in the Prophets…” Micah 6:6-8 is cited.
AC 10143 
- “That external worship without…internal is not worship, is also signified by what is said of burnt-offerings and sacrifices in these passages…” Micah 6:6-8 is cited.
- “By ‘number,’ in the natural sense, is meant that which has relation to measure or weight, but by ‘number,’ in the spiritual sense, that which has relation to quality; and here their quality is described by their being ‘myriads of myriads, and thousands of thousands.’ For ‘a myriad’ is predicated of truths, and ‘a thousand’ of goods. The reason why ‘a myriad’ is predicated of truths, and ‘a thousand’ of goods, is because a myriad is the greater number, and a thousand a less, and truths are manifold, but goods are simple…Since these two numbers have such a signification they are mentioned also in other places, as in…Micah 6:7…”
AE 336 
- “In Micah…6:7…‘rams’ signify spiritual goods, and ‘rivers of oil’ truths proceeding from good, ‘myriads’ are predicated of the latter, and ‘thousands’ of the former…‘rams’ signify spiritual goods…and as ‘oil’ signifies the good of love, ‘rivers’ of it signify what proceeds from it, namely, truths.”
AC 519 [1-2]
- “To ‘walk’…signifies to live…which has relation to truth, consequently to faith, or the doctrine of faith…In Micah…6:8…where to ‘walk with God’ signifies to live according to the things here indicated…to ‘walk with God’ is to teach and live according to the doctrine of faith…”
“With what shall I come before the Lord and bow myself before the High God?”
- Please note that we will begin reviewing a series of questions. The questions have been inspired by the Lord to show that He never wanted sacrifices. He never wanted gory or grotesque forms of external worship. From the beginning, He has always wanted spiritual internal values and offerings from His children. So our text asks question after question, and then an answer is given that points to what is really wanted: humility, affection, and dedication of the soul, heart, and mind.
- To bow oneself down to Jehovah “signifies gladness and joy…” Bending “and bowing down are gestures of humiliation, that is, they are humiliation in act…” (AC 3118) “…bending the knees signifies acknowledgement, thanksgiving, and adoration from spiritual good and delight in the natural.” (AE 455 )
- Does it seem to you that we have answered the question “with what shall I come before the Lord?” We are to bow with joy and gladness, with humility, acknowledging the Lord with thankfulness and adoration. These qualities provide the essence of internal worship that will vivify our external worship.
“Shall I come before Him with burnt offerings…”
- “Burnt offerings signify the glorification of the Lord’s Human…” (AC 10042 ) In essence, this number also tells us, beasts signify goods and evils and also truths and falsities. The sacrifice of animals represents asking for atonement for the evils and falsities so that good and truths might remain and grow to help cleanse internal and external worship so that the worshippers might more ardently adore the Divine Human.
“…with calves a year old?”
- Why is a one-year-old calf mentioned? Let’s begin with the meaning of a “year.” AC 2906  states “That a ‘year’ signifies the entire time of a state of the church from beginning to end, or what is the same, an entire period…in Isaiah 61: 1, 2…it is said of the Lord’s advent…the ‘year of Jehovah’s good pleasure’ [which] denotes the time of a new church.”
- Why are “calves” mentioned first and not rams? AC 8937 and AE 453  teach that “rams…signify interior goods and truths, which are spiritual goods and truths…calves…signify exterior goods and truths, which are natural truths and goods.” Are we to draw from this that the natural must first be examined and corrected (cleansed) before the internal is cleansed? The second law of Divine Providence certainly supports this idea. “It is a law of the Divine Providence that man should, as from himself, remove evils as sins in the external man; and thus, but not otherwise, the Lord can remove evils in the internal man, and then at the same time in the external.” (DP 100.2, emphasis added.)
“Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, ten thousand rivers of oil?”
- “…in the Word a ‘thousand’ signifies much and countless, and when predicated of the Lord what is infinite…[in our common speech] where a ‘thousand times’ denotes numberless, as in which also a ‘thousand’ is used for many; as when it is said that a thing has been said a thousand times, or done in a thousand ways.” (AC 2575 [2-3]) The implied question here seems to be “Will I forever have to sacrifice rams—spiritual goods and truths—to please the Lord?”
- We need to be careful when working with the meanings of numbers in the Word. To focus strictly on the “numerical count” and not on the representation will cause us to miss the spiritual signification. For instance, consider this passage: “…a ‘hundred’ denotes all, much, and what is full…because ‘a hundred’ has the same signification as ‘ten,’ ‘a thousand,’ and ‘ten thousand’…” (AC 9745)
- “…rivers of oil”—“ten thousand rivers of oil” signify “…truths proceeding from good…” (AE 336 ) Does the Lord want us to offer sacrifices for the purpose of “producing” truths from good? At the end of a day, can we gather specific truths and goods and produce a tangible object to put on display? Will we crawl up a set number of stairs on bloodied knees to meet a requirement of penance? Can we, at any age, say, “I have worked all my life for the Lord and now I can retire because I have paid my dues”? That sounds like working for merit or recognition. The Lord doesn’t want us to sacrificially show off. Instead, He prefers love or good to flow out of our heart spontaneously. AC 4031 points out the value and necessity of the growing warmth and ardor of spontaneous affection: “...everything spontaneous or free is of affection or love.” The gifts or sacrifices from this kind of internal worship are priceless and numberless. They are the substance, or fruits, of the heart that are wanted by the Lord.
“Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?”
- The words “shall I give” denote to make a promise. See AC 8055.
- In the positive sense, “my firstborn” in “the genuine sense…denotes the faith which is of charity,” but “in the opposite sense the ‘firstborn’ denotes faith without charity.” (AC 7871) Faith, the Writings teach, “is the eye of love.” (AC 3863 ) In other words, charity/love needs to be our firstborn desire to see the Lord. Hell wants to slay the firstborn so as to extinguish our “faith without charity and the consequent devastation of truth.” (AC 7022) Does the Lord want us to give, or promise, our firstborn? If our firstborn is a faith without charity, yes. If our firstborn is a faith with charity, no.
- The “fruit of my body” denotes what comes from the natural life. Fruit “signifies the good of life.” (CL 135) Is this question asking the Lord if we have to wear a horse-hair shirt? Do we have to find a cave and shun all modern amenities? Should we take a vow of silence and live in cloisters? Is that what we must do to atone for the sins of our soul? HH 528 answers these questions beautifully with this heading: “It is not so difficult to live the life that leads to heaven as is believed.” Shunning life and escaping from living in the world produce a sorrowful state that “is not receptive of heavenly joy…”
“He [the Lord] has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?”
- Prior to this verse, there were four questions directed to the Lord. The Lord’s response is beautiful and concise. He says “I have shown you, O man what is good…” Really? Where? Moses said in Deuteronomy 6:5 that the people needed to love the Lord God with “all your heart, with all your soul, and all your strength.” Samuel told King Saul that obedience “is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.” (I Samuel 15:22) There are many other references from the Word that could be cited. The point is that the Lord did tell His people “what is good.” They (like us) often chose not to hear, obey, and follow instructions. Modesty pays attention to the Lord, but the proud tend to listen only to themselves. They succumb to the lure of their own voice. To shake them out of their daze, He ends by asking three Divine questions. This is an important point to note because as many times as I have heard this passage read, it is often read as a statement and not as questions. The Lord asks questions so that we might do the restorative work of reflection. Question one: are we willing to observe and serve “justly”? The Lord is the only One who is completely fair, equitable, and just. He has no favorites, no behind-closed-doors wheeling and dealing for personal gain. Are we committed to following Him and His system of justice? Question two: are we willing to observe and serve “mercy”? The Writings define mercy as “a perception of the influx of love” (AC 3117), the Lord’s Love. “Mercy signifies to do good to the needy from love.” (AE 295 ) Mercy “signifies…to make a covenant of conjunction…” with the Lord. (AE 365 ) Question three: are we willing “to walk humbly with your God”? Humility and faithfulness mean caring enough about the Lord that we will have a “healthy fear” of doing anything that would hurt Him or dishonor His Word. Psalm 1 reminds us of the blessedness that comes to the person who walks with Him. Like Peter, who was sinking rapidly in the tempestuous waters, may we reach out and let the Lord take our hand and rescue us.
Putting It All Together
P&P gives us this summation: “The Lord is not approached by externals of worship, but by internals, which are truth and good.” Isn’t that what these verses are about? The Lord never wanted the children of Israel to offer sacrifices. He was not interested in the killing and shedding of animal blood. Isaiah 65:1-5 is worth a read in this summation. The Lord tells the children of Israel what He thinks about their rebellious ways. He explains that their sacrifices and burning incense (the smoke of their incense) are offensive “in My nostrils…” Instead, the Lord seeks humility, justice, mercy, and people who are willing to walk humbly with Him. External deeds are not preferred. Internal deeds are received and enriched and rewarded by the Lord.
Read and Review
Read the selection from P&P.
Read Micah 6: 6-8.
Questions to Stimulate Reflection
- This section of our study has a series of questions. Four are addressed to the Lord, and three are addressed to us. Would it be useful to write them out and then take time to get the issues clarified? Certainly, the last three questions should get a major portion of our attention because they are directed to us.
- Look back at the section called Passages from the Writings: there is a passage from AC 2180 [4-6] that gives us a history of how sacrifices came into the lives of the children of Israel. At one point, there was a hint that other nations picked up this practice from Israel. Why didn’t the Lord put an end to it right away? Why did the Lord accommodate this practice to worship services?
- Looking at many passages in the Word (with hindsight and instruction), we can see that the Lord consistently told Israel that He didn’t want their sacrifices and that they were repugnant to Him. Again, why didn’t the message get heard and implemented in the temples? The worship of Baal frequently entered into Israel’s religious preference, and human sacrifices (children) were part of that religion. Didn’t something speak to their hearts about the horror and injustice of killing the innocent?
- After reading and considering the notes, didn’t the lesson from P&P make more sense as a powerful summary? External worship is not acceptable. Internal worship with its loyalty to good and truth is what the Lord wants.
“The Lord’s voice cries to the city – wisdom shall see Your name: hear the rod! Who has appointed it? Are there yet the treasures of wickedness in the house of the wicked, and the short measure that is an abomination? Shall I count pure those with the wicked scales, and with the bag of deceitful weights?”
Passages from the Writings
- “The life of truth and good should be loved, and not the life of falsity and evil.”
AE 373 
- “As a just estimation and exploration of good and truth are signified in the Word by ‘measures,’ it was commanded that the measures should be just, with no fraud about them…So justice, where it means the estimation and exploration of men in accordance with the quality of good and truth in them, is everywhere in the Word expressed by scales and balances of various kinds, and by ‘ephahs,’ ‘omers,’ ‘homers,’ ‘seas,’ ‘hins’…and injustice is expressed by ‘scales and balances of fraud and deceit’ as in…Micah 6:11.”
“The Lord’s voice cries to the city – wisdom shall see Your name…”
- “To know and hear the Lord’s voice signifies to do His commandments.” (AE 864 ) “Everyone who hears the Lord’s voice and freely follows is brought by the Lord into conjugial love and into all its joys and happiness.” (CL 444 ) To hear “the Lord’s voice [is to be in] the truths of the Word, of doctrine, and of faith…thus [His] precepts.” (AE 249 )
- To “cry signifies grief…” (AE 393) “I will hear his cry signifies that they will be aided.” (AC 9195) “…to cry signifies interior affection.” (AE 459)
- Wisdom seeing the Lord’s name signifies comprehending in one complex “all things by which He is worshiped, thus all things of love and faith.” (AE 295 )
“Hear the rod! Who has appointed it?”
- “…‘to hear’ signifies both to understand truth and to will or obey it…” (AR 356)
- A “rod” signifies “the power of the Lord’s Divine Human…” (AC 6942) “…‘a rod’ signifies the power which belongs to truth…” (AC 9028)
- Interpreting “Who has appointed it?” requires some reflection. Is the Lord asking us this question so that we will look back to see who has the authority and right to the “rod”? Does He want us to acclaim and accede to that authority? If so, we can say with confidence and joy that the Lord has the right and authority to hold the rod. Such acknowledgement puts fear and trepidation into the heart of hell. In light of what follows, it makes sense to reflect on this very necessary beginning point.
“Are there yet the treasures of wickedness in the house of the wicked…?”
- The word “treasure,” in a positive sense, “signifies the Divine truth that is in the Word.” See AE 840  and AE 622 . Therefore, in the negative sense, “the treasures of wickedness” represent the twisting and profanation of the Lord’s Word. We all know how easy it is to take several verses out of context to make the Word justify false and wicked concepts.
- AC 3542 explains what it means to “smite the head out of the house of the wicked.” It denotes destroying “the principles of falsity.” So, putting this back in the context of what is said above, the Lord was exposing the church’s practice of abusing and using the Lord’s Word with the principles of falsity.
“…and the short measure that is an abomination? Shall I count pure those with the wicked scales, and with the bag of deceitful weights?”
- This is not the first time the church or the people have been called “short” for using dishonest scales to cheat. Amos 8:5 talked about people making the bushel smaller and cheating others with dishonest scales to make themselves rich. The prophecy of Micah uses stronger words to expose this practice: a short measure that is an abomination, wicked scales presented as being pure, and a bag of deceitful weights.
- To “measure” signifies “to explore the quality of a thing and to designate it…” (AE 629 ) To “measure” signifies “to know and scrutinize the quality of a state…” (AR 486) To “measure” signifies “the quality of a thing in respect to truth and good.” See AE 130  and AC 9603 .
- “…‘…abomination’ signifies to be turned into infernal evil…” (AE 827 )
- Let’s pull the message together. Apparently, the church was not honestly exploring, analyzing, and measuring the quality of states in the light of the Word. They were not interested in deeper truths. They cut corners and satisfied themselves with quick and convenient answers. The people of the church were being cheated. Spiritual things fell into a state of abomination.
- The “abominated” scales of truth and justice were shamelessly being presented as pure, impartial, and honorable. In fact, decisions were handed out to the highest bidder and not according to spiritual laws or the equality of the Word. The Lord asks, “Shall I count pure those with the wicked scales…?”
- The voice of the Lord, accusing the church of using a bag of deceitful weights, carries with it a clear message of what He saw His people doing. But let’s add a couple of quotes from the Writings that will aid and enlarge that understanding. “Forms of good and truth that originate in the self and not the Lord are meant by…‘a bag.’” (AC 9942 ) “…those who despise the Word and worship nature instead of God…fling faith and charity, as it were, into ‘a bag’ on their back…” (TCR 146) The heart and mind that are not with the Lord will pull out of their “bag” deceptive weighted arguments and facts to tip the scale in their favor, cheating the natural mind from seeing and loving spiritual goods.
Putting It All Together
The Lord wants integrity from His church. He requires “pure balances” that will not rob the heart and mind of spiritual goods. His church should be a studying church that explores and scrutinizes the Word respecting truth and good. These things are to be done with affection and application to life. Uses are to be dynamic, alive, and vital as opposed to the repetitive, boring, and tired acting-out tradition of “flinging good and truth in a bag on our back.” P&P explains these verses with this admonition: “The life of truth and good should be loved, and not the life of falsity and evil.”
Read and Review
Read the selection from P&P.
Read Micah 6:9-11.
Questions to Stimulate Reflection
- My first inclination is to think about, and ask whether there are abominable scales that exist in the church today. Can I name any of the fake weights or scales? I am not sure how I can do that. Is there anything that comes to mind that you would like to cite?
- My concern lies in pondering whether we are a careful and faithful studying church. Do we explore the Word, scrutinizing it to find the internal sense in order to enliven our uses to the Lord and the neighbor? Attendance at Friday doctrinal classes is decreasing. How do we read this trend? Is it a sign that the classes are not interestingly prepared and presented? Or is it a sign that other things have increased in importance and we are being pulled away by “lesser things”? The Writings make a case that the Word provides us with doctrine. This doctrine is there from the Lord so that we might know what to think, how to live, and how to use it in service to the Lord and neighbor.
- The values of the world are telling us what to think and apply. I’m not sure that is good for us if we don’t have the values of the Word balancing things out. So if we are not studying the Word regularly, we will follow the thoughts of the natural world, “flinging” the good and truth of the Lord in a bag on our back.
- We need to reflect on things: examine, explore, and scrutinize without becoming morose and bitter. Any ideas come to mind of how we can do (or are doing) this?
- Hearing, remembering, the voice of the Lord and considering His corrective and protecting “rod” seems important. “Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.” (Psalm 23:4) Praying is necessary. What kind of prayers should we offer? We need to pray for the church; we need to pray for our priests; we need to pray for our laity. We ought to pray that our treasures will not be of wickedness, that our houses (the church and home) will not be found houses of wickedness. Our prayer needs to be that we will give full measure and purity with our scales, and we need to pray that we will not carry bags of deceitful weights.
“For her rich men are full of violence, her inhabitants have spoken lies, and their tongue is deceitful in their mouth. Therefore I will also make you sick by striking you, by making you desolate because of your sins.”
Passages from the Writings
- “There is falsification of truth with them. They could not be brought back by punishments…”
- “By the ‘rich’…are meant those who were in the possession of the knowledges of truth and good because they had the Word…as in Micah 6:13…”
- “By a ‘lie’ in the Word, is signified falsity and false speaking; by ‘deceit’ is signified both from design; as in the following passages…” Micah 6:12 is cited.
- “In the Word this kind of falsehood [bearing false witness] is called a ‘lie’ and the intent is called ‘deceit,’ as in the following passages…Micah 6:12…”
AE 866 
- “‘…to speak a lie’ signifies to teach falsely from ignorance of truth; but ‘deceit’ signifies falsity that is not from ignorance of truth, but from deliberation, thus from the purpose of deceiving, as is the case with the wicked.” Micah 6:12 is cited.
“For her rich men are full of violence, her inhabitants have spoken lies, and their tongue is deceitful in their mouth.”
- We need to begin this study by paying attention to the choice of words: “her rich men” and “her inhabitants.” A woman (her) signifies “the church as regards the affection of truth, thus the affection of the truth of the church…” (AE 555 ) Further, we read that, in the spiritual sense, males and females signify “truth and good.” (AE 725 ) Hence, the Lord was telling His people about their purposeful (intentional) violence to the good, or love, of His Word. It is one thing to do violence to the Word while in a state of ignorance and another to do violence to the Word from a hateful heart. A hateful heart wishes to extinguish the presence and positive life-giving influence of the Lord.
- What made this such a sad case was the fact that the people and the church had much understanding and wisdom and were “rich” in potential. Why? They had the Word of the Lord. But the people, the inhabitants, were deliberately “lying” and doing “full” violence to the words and order of the Lord’s Word. Instead of loving the ways of the Lord, they preferred the aberrations, or titillation, of their hellish choices. The statement that “their tongue is deceitful in their mouth” indicates that their lies were not accidental. Consider this teaching regarding the meaning of “mouth.” A “mouth signifies thoughts and reasonings that have most power with them.” (AE 565) From this, we see that the words of their mouth arose from the selfish intention and desire to destroy the holiness of Scripture and the “presence” of the Lord in their hearts and minds.
“Therefore I will also make you sick by striking you, by making you desolate because of your sins.”
- Why did the Lord say He would make people sick? Was He announcing that He was going to involve Himself in revenge, payback, or retaliation? The words “by striking you” seem to indicate a form of Divine retaliation. We know better than that, don’t we? The Lord is not driven by anger and retaliation. These words signify a totally different message when the spiritual sense is unfolded. The Lord desires to heal sicknesses. We are taught in AC 10360 that “healing sickness means the purification of a person from evils and the falsities of evil.” AC 9042 explains that “striking” means “the formation of good and truth” to oppose evil and falsity. AC 9081 teaches that “to strike the peoples denotes to destroy falsities by means of truths.” So, really, the Lord was announcing that He would not allow evil to run amok. He would form up His truths to expose the blatant lies and the boastful deceit of the hells.
- Making the people “desolate” because of their sins denotes how impotent hell, falsity, and the proprium will be in the presence of His love and wisdom. None of this comes about by anger and retaliation. It is just an eternal fact: Hell is not. The Lord IS. Hell is desolate. The Lord is perpetually creating new beginnings and continually productive lives. So, this lesson is not about the Lord’s anger. It is about His healing zeal. True zeal is about love. True zeal wants to protect and preserve the integrity of truth so that His people might remain free from the bondage of hell. We need to recall the words of the Lord: “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:32)
Putting It All Together
P&P points us to the heart of the problem. The church and the people within the church were involved in the “falsification of the truth.” The falsification was not due to ignorance or a lack of understanding. The Lord said they were “rich.” They had the Word. They had the means to see and find truth. Instead of valuing truth, they pursued the great lie of self-love. Instead of protecting the Lord’s truth, they covered the Word in “deceit.” AR 624 exposes the purpose of deceit. Read this passage again. Deceit comes about by “design.” The “lie” teaches falsity and brings about ignorance of truth. The goal of deceit is to deceive and enslave the hearts and minds of the people. P&P tells us that the people were so caught up in this pursuit that “they could not be brought back by punishment…” So the Lord marshaled His goods and truths to “strike” them. He had to minister to the sickness of the people and the church. In the end, the Lord’s good and truth will win. Evil and falsity cannot bear up under the presentation of His loving good and truth. When Hell purports that it is stronger than the Lord, we need to recall this lesson. Then we can stand tall and believe that the Lord will provide us with His truth and that truth will set us free.
Read and Review
Read the selection from P&P.
Read Micah 6:12-13.
Questions to Stimulate Reflection
- Can you think of a situation in which an individual or a church purposely became involved in “lying” and “deceit” so as to rob and make others poor?
- Can you recall a “rich” person making themselves poor because of their purposeful resistance to the Lord’s Word?
- Can we, or do we, take comfort in the fact that the Lord says He will marshal His truths to overcome the lies and deceit of the enemies of the New Church?
- Are there any instances in your memory wherein you can see the Lord “striking” the lying mouths of the Hells?
- I see a prayer in this lesson. We need to supplicate the Lord often to heal our inclination to lie and practice deceit. We need to be diligent in asking the Lord to heal our “sicknesses.”
- We have abundant riches. The three-fold Word is a precious gift from the Lord. Given its healing potential, we need to share it within and without our life. What keeps us from doing more of this sharing? Our reticence to speak up? Our insecurity about saying the right things? Our fear of being called odd or a cult? Or is it all about the abandonment of our calling because other things have crowded the mission out?
- Hold the answers to some of these questions for our next verses. See what happens when the heart and mind are resistive to, and in hatred toward, the Lord’s Word.
“You shall eat, but not be satisfied; hunger shall be in your midst. You may carry some away, but shall not save them; and what you do rescue I will give over to the sword. You shall sow, but not reap; you shall tread the olives, but not anoint yourselves with oil; and make sweet wine, but not drink wine. For the statutes of Omri are kept; all the works of Ahab’s house are done; and you walk in their counsels, that I may make you a desolation, and your inhabitants a hissing. Therefore you shall bear the reproach of My people.”
Passages from the Writings
- “…therefore it must needs be that this church, having been overthrown, should perish.”
AC 886 
- “That the ‘olive’ signifies the good of charity, is evident from the signification in the Word not only of an ‘olive,’ but also of ‘oil.’ It was with olive oil, together with spices, that the priests and kings were anointed, and it was with olive oil that the lamps were trimmed…The reason olive oil was used for anointing and for lamps was that it represented all that is celestial, and therefore all the good of love and of charity; for the oil is the very essence of the tree, and is as it were its soul, just as the celestial, or the good of love and of charity, is the very essence or the very soul of faith; hence oil has this representation…this may be confirmed from many passages of the Word…” Micah 6:15 is cited.
AC 9272 
- “In Micah…6:13, 15…‘sowing and not reaping’ denotes to be instructed in the truths of faith, but without profit; ‘treading the olive, but not anointing one’s self’ denotes to be instructed about the good of life, but still not to live in it; ‘treading the must, but not drinking the wine’ denotes to be instructed about the truths which are from good, but still not to appropriate them to one’s self. That such things of the church or of heaven are signified by these words is plain from those which precede, namely, that they were to be laid waste in this manner ‘because of their sins;’ for the wicked and sinful man receives instruction, but merely stores it up among memory-knowledges, which he brings forth from his memory in order to get reputation, fame, honors, and wealth, thus to serve an evil use and end. From this the truths and the goods in which he has been instructed lose the life of heaven, and become dead, and finally deadly.”
AC 9277 
- “‘Olive-trees…’ denote the goods of celestial love which are from the Lord through the Word in the whole church…like in Micah 6:15…”
- “‘Oil’ signifies the good of love, and ‘wine’ truth from that good, therefore ‘oil’ signifies holy good, and ‘wine’ holy truth…That ‘oil’ signifies the good of love, will be seen…” Micah 6:15 is cited as an example.
- “…priests, the kings, and all other things of the church were anointed, and when anointed were called holy; not that they were holy in themselves, but because they thereby represented the Lord as to the Divine Human. Hence it was sacrilege to harm a king, because he was ‘the anointed of Jehovah’…” Micah 6:15 is one passage cited among others from the Word.
AE 375 
- “That it was a commonly received custom to anoint themselves and others with oil, to testify gladness of mind and good will, is evident from the following passages…” Micah 6:15 is cited.
AE 638 
- “In Micah…6:15…‘olive trees’ [signify] the goods of the church…”
“You shall eat, but not be satisfied; hunger shall be in your midst.”
- In the positive sense, to “eat” signifies “…to appropriate, because as natural food when it is eaten is appropriated to the life of the [person’s] body, so spiritual food when it is received is appropriated to the life of [one’s] soul.” (AR 89) In another place, we read that to “eat signifies to be communicated, to be conjoined, and to be appropriated.” (AC 3813 )
- However, our text indicates something was amiss with their “eating.” Words, truths, insights were not satisfying their souls. Was it the fault of the Word? Was the soul rejecting the spiritual food of the Lord? No! The dissatisfaction was within the hearts and minds of those who practiced lying and deceit. They heard and went through the motions of saying things, but they had no wish to appropriate what they heard and be conjoined to the Lord.
- The “hunger” in their midst “signifies that they were expiring from a lack of delight and of good.” (AC 8402)
“You may carry some away, but [you] shall not save them; and what you do rescue I will give over to the sword.”
- In AC 1471, 1472, and 1474, we find an explanation of what is meant by the words “carry away.” Summarizing all three of these numbers is relatively easy. “Carry away” signifies having no interest in celestial things. In place of celestial things, such people choose knowledges and memory-knowledges or cognitions.
- You “shall not save them” supports a well-known teaching of the church. Useless memory-knowledges, not loved or applied, are sloughed away. “Idle” memory-knowledges will not find a permanent grounding in a person’s “remains” and, therefore, are removed.
- The meaning of being given “over to the sword” can best be understood by a full reading of AC 2799. We are taught that a “sword” signifies one, truth combating; two, the “vastation of truth; and, three, in the opposite sense falsity combating, and the punishment of falsity.” AR 52 reminds us that swords are often mentioned in the Word to testify that a “sword” represents “truth fighting against falsities and destroying them…” Also, it is said that a “sharp two-edged sword” goes out from the mouth of the Lord. This signifies that the Word of the Lord will penetrate “the heart and soul” of evil and falsity and thus accomplish “the dispersion of falsities by the Word from the Lord…” NB: please read all of AR 52. It’s worth the read and very helpful in understanding the meaning and use of the word “sword” in the Word.
“You shall sow, but not reap…”
- To “sow” signifies, in the positive sense, the process of the “good of charity and the truth of faith” being spiritually implanted. (AC 6154)
- Sowing and not reaping is explained in the direct teachings section above. AC 9272 has a full explanation of what sowing and not reaping means and how it applies to life.
“You shall tread the olives, but not anoint yourselves with oil…”
- AC 9272 tells us that treading the olive and not anointing oneself represents being “instructed about the good of life, but not living by that instruction.” (Emphasis added.)
“…make sweet wine, but not drink wine.”
- This represents “to be instructed about the truths which are from good, but still not to appropriate them to one’s self.” (AC 9272 , emphasis added.) This is not repetition. Note that the prior verse talked about instruction that led to the good of life and the next teaching talks about instruction about truths from good (love). The sweet wine that comes from a sincere worship of the Lord He finds pleasant and acceptable. Read AC 924 and AC 925.
“For the statutes of Omri are kept; all the works of Ahab’s house are done; and you walk in their counsels…”
- Who was Omri? He was one of the “bad” kings of the Northern Tribe of Israel. Omri came to power by way of a bloody and brutal ascent. He reigned from 885 to 874 BC. Omri was the father of Ahab. Ahab was another “bad” king of the Northern Tribe, and he reigned from 874 to 853 BC. Between the two, that amounts to about 34 years of bad leadership. I Kings 16:25 describes Omri this way: “Omri did evil in the eyes of the Lord, and did worse than all who were before him.” Together, Omri and Ahab did evil in the sight of the Lord for 34 years.
- We need to pay attention to a hidden or implied contrast in our text between the statutes of Omri and all the works of Ahab’s house and the statutes of the Lord. The statutes of the Lord were given so that all things of the church would be ordered and the people would willingly and lovingly serve and worship the Lord. The statutes of Omri were given that he might rule over the people and that they might serve him. Israel apparently acquiesced to Omri and Ahab’s (and Jezebel’s) decrees and wants and forgot or ignored what the Lord decreed for the spiritual health of His people.
“…that I may make you a desolation and your inhabitants a hissing…you shall bear the reproach of My people.”
- What is signified by “a reproach”? AE 654  gives us an insight: a “reproach signifies all things belonging to damnation…that nothing of the church shall be in them any longer.”
- What does the Word mean when it says the Lord will make the inhabitants “a hissing”? AC 10409  gives us a possible answer to the meaning of “hissing” that we can reflect on. Those who loved “machinations and cunning devices communicate with hell. Their speech falls between the teeth like a kind of hissing…the light of their understanding is there obscured even to foolishness. I have seen some cast in there who in the world had been accounted very superior in intellect.”
- They, the hissers, will bear the reproach of the Lord’s new church. This is not a mean-spirited reproach but a reproach meant to give an example of what not to do. The choice of the hissers needs to be shunned. Following their machinations and cunning devices will cause an emptying out of the eternal things of the Lord.
Putting It All Together
“…it must be that this church…should perish.” (P&P, emphasis added.)
What kind of “this church” is the Lord telling us must perish? The answer: it’s a church that sows and doesn’t reap; it’s a church that has been instructed in the truths of faith but has made no effort to return a profit from that instruction; it’s a church that has been made aware of its need to seek the good of life but doesn’t care enough to seek it; it’s a church that doesn’t bother to appropriate the goods (love) of the Lord; it’s a church that stores up things in ostentatious memory-knowledges, seeks reputation, honor, and wealth for selfish reasons and pledges these assets to evil uses and ends; and lastly, it’s a church that prefers to follow the statutes of Omri and Ahab instead of following the statutes of the Lord.
In a moment of spiritual reflection, we can understand why the deficiencies of the above churches should cause them to “perish.” They were superficial, artificial, and completely self-centered entities. When these conditions are present within the heart and mind of a church, it will not welcome nor make room for the Lord. Its members make the sound of “hissers,” and where there is a void of the things dedicated to the Lord, there is no extension to eternity. DP 46-69 gives us a valuable “rule of thumb” to consider and adopt: everything in the Lord is Infinite and Eternal. In turn, when the Infinite and Eternal looks to the finite, It looks for uses that are “reflective” of infinite and eternal values thriving within the being of the finite. If a person or church rejects infinite and eternal things, there are no “reflective” qualities in them. In a way, they are transparent, empty and dead. They have not wanted or tried to make life into an act of love for the Lord and the neighbor. CL 160 reminds us that “love must go forth and be efficient or it will perish.” (Emphasis added.)
Read and Review
Read the selection from P&P.
Read Micah 6:14-16.
Questions to Stimulate Reflection
- Whenever we hear the question “why do we have to study the Word and learn doctrine?” maybe this lesson ought to come to mind. This question has a poignant answer. A church, that altar and holy center in all of us, requires study of the Word. We need to sow and reap; we need to be instructed in matters of faith and work toward a state of useful profitability. The need to find the good of life is not theoretical. We need to ask the Lord to show us the way wherein we are to walk in service to Him and the neighbor. Our study and reflection should not be an act of rote memorization. We are to use everything we can to come to love the ways of the Lord. Here’s our first question: can we commit to these things so that the Lord will commend the work of our individual church? How encouraging it would be if, as we struggle to bring relevance to our spirituality, we could hear the Lord say, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.” Wouldn’t that be special?
- Hissers—do we want to be one who talks with a spiritual hiss?
- Omri and Ahab were two evil kings of Israel. Omri traveled a horrible trail of murder and deceit to the throne. He was power-hungry and ruthless. Who would want to follow his statutes? Ahab was a weak “henpecked” husband who turned his back on the way of the Lord and allowed the worship of Baal to flourish. Who would want to follow his statutes? And yet, the Word says that the people and the church followed them to the exclusion of the Lord. Why? Are we as guilty as they? If so, can we see why the Lord says “this church” must perish?
- Love to the Lord and His Word must live. We must seek after infinite and eternal things so that we can reflect them and extend these things into eternity. How did Joshua say it? “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Can we resolutely commit our spiritual intentions to a similar pledge?
- Would you be willing to read DP 46-69 and CL 106 in a weekly devotional study? I believe it will strengthen our resolve to work for the Lord and His New Church.