“Woe is me! For I am like those who gather summer fruits, like those who glean vintage grapes; there is no cluster to eat of the first-ripe fruit which my soul desires. The ‘faithful’ man has perished from the earth, and there is no upright among men. They all lie in wait for blood; every man hunts his brother with a net. That they may successfully do evil with both hands—the prince asks for gifts, the judge seeks a bribe, and the great man utters his evil desire; so they scheme together. The best of them is like a brier; the most upright is sharper than a thorn hedge; the day of your watchman and your punishment comes; now shall be their perplexity.”
Passages from the Writings
- “There is no longer any truth or good in the church: therefore the last time has come upon it.”
- “…‘the first-fruits’ signified that which is born first, and afterwards grows, as an infant grows up to a man, or as a young plant grows up to a tree, and hence they signified all the subsequent stages even to the completion of the thing, for all that is to follow exists in the first, as the man in the infant, and the tree in the tender shoot: and as this first exists before its successions, in like manner in heaven and in the church, therefore ‘the first-fruits’ were holy unto the Lord, and ‘the feast of the first-fruits’ were celebrated.” Micah 7:1 is cited.
AE 919 
- “In Micah…7:1…‘as the gatherings of the vintage, there is no cluster to eat,’ signifies such devastation of the church that there is no longer any good or truth.”
AC 1071 
- “That ‘grapes’ in the Word signify charity and what is of charity, and that ‘wine’ signifies the faith thence derived and the things that belong to it, is evident from the following passages…In Micah…7:1…‘cluster’ denotes charity, or what is holy; ‘first-ripe fig’ faith, or what is right.”
AC 5117 
- “In Micah…7:1…the ‘cluster to eat’ denotes the good of charity in its beginning; ‘the first-ripe,’ the truth of faith also at that time.”
AC 9223 
- “…‘grain’ denotes the good of faith, and ‘wine’ the truth of faith…that the firstfruits were to be given to Jehovah, signified that it is the first of the church to ascribe all the goods and truths of faith to the Lord, and not to self. To ascribe to the Lord is to know, to acknowledge, and to believe that these things are from the Lord, and nothing of them from self…everything of faith is from the Lord. The ‘firstfruits’ have this signification because they were offerings and gifts, which were thanksgivings for the produce of the earth, and an acknowledgment of blessings from Jehovah…and in the internal sense, an acknowledgment of the goods and truths of faith…” Micah 7:1-2 is given as an example of this teaching.
- “…the Lord’s operation from the good of His love by the Divine truth of His Word…that ‘grapes’ and ‘clusters’ signify the goods and works of charity, may appear from the following passages…” Micah 7:1-2 is cited.
AE 918 
- “In Micah…7:1, 2…grief because of the vastation of good and of truth therefrom in the church is meant and described by ‘Woe is me, I am become as the gatherings of the summer, as the gleanings of the vintage.’ That there is no longer any spiritual good or natural good from which the Lord is worshiped is signified by ‘there is no cluster to eat; my soul desireth the first-ripe fruit;’ that there is no longer any spiritual or natural truth is signified by ‘the holy one has perished, and the upright one among men;’ that the truths and goods of the Word and thus of the church are destroyed by falsities and evils is signified by ‘all lie in wait for bloods.’”
AE 746 
- In Micah 7:2, “…in the spiritual sense ‘man’ signifies any one who is in truths, then also any one who is in falsities; ‘brother’ signifies any one who is in the good of charity, and in an abstract sense that good itself, and ‘companion’ any one who is in truth from that good, and in an abstract sense that truth itself; and in the contrary sense these signify the evil opposite to the good of charity and the falsity opposite to the truth from that good. Both terms, ‘brother’ and ‘companion,’ are used because there are two things, namely, charity and faith, that constitute the church, as there are two things that make up the life of man, will and understanding; so there are two parts that act as one…”
AC 1178 
- “In Micah…7: 2, 3…what is meant by ‘hunting’ is…to lie in wait for the sake of self, or to call the false true, and utter perversity, and distort, and thereby to persuade.”
AC 4843 
- “In Micah 7: 3, 4, 6…the subject treated of is the falsity from evil in which the church is in the last time, when vastated, and in the proximate sense that in which the Jewish Church was.”
AC 2242 
- “In Micah 7:4…it denotes the vastation of charity…”
“Woe is me!”
- AE 918  explains that the words “Woe is me” represent the grief the Lord feels when anyone vastates, empties out, wastes, and depreciates His good and truth. How does that come about? When people inwardly hate and ignore the Lord’s love and wisdom, they invite great spiritual harm to come to them. Those who desire and choose hell are void of infinite and eternal values. They have chosen lesser, self-serving, finite love and wisdom. As a loving and perfect Father, the Lord grieves over that choice. The Lord offers heaven to everyone. He actively strives with us to help us choose the higher pathway leading to salvation. But if we purposely ignore His efforts, He truly feels sorry for us. “Woe is me” represents a chance for everyone to reflect on the Divine grief that exists when anyone chooses to empty out the Lord’s good and truth. “Woe is me” are words of love and sorrow.
“For I am like those who gather summer fruits…”
- AC 679 explains that the meaning of “gather” “…is predicated of the things that are in [a person’s] memory, where they are gathered together. And the expression further implies that both goods and truths should be gathered in [a person] before they are regenerated; for without goods and truths gathered together, through which as means the Lord may operate, a [person] can never be regenerated…”
- “Summer fruits” indicate what the Lord desires from everyone cooperating with His gentle providence. AC 4180  helps us to understand the spiritual meaning of “summer fruits” with these words: “If a [person] is like spring or summer, [they receive] the good of love and charity, and produce fruits; but if [they are] like autumn and winter, [they do not receive nor produce the fruits of] the good of love and charity…” The Lord comes to everyone wanting to find and receive “summer fruits.” I almost used the words “expecting to find the fruits of summer.” Isn’t that what is implied in His Word? Those who keep their souls in a spring and summer state will produce fruits. What we need to watch out for is a prolonged and comfortable stay in an autumn and winter state. In Matthew 24:20, the Lord advises us to “Pray that your flight be not in the winter…” We see the meaning of this, don’t we? Regeneration is to produce succulent and healthy fruits. Fruits thrive best in the spring and summer state of regeneration.
“…like those who glean vintage grapes…”
- Is there a spiritual difference in the meanings of the words “gather” and “glean”? To “gather,” we were taught, represents the gathering of memory-knowledges. It is the gathering of goods and truths in the memory. Gleaning, on the other hand, has an important distinction. Let’s examine the definitions Webster’s 1913 dictionary offers us. First, to “glean” is “to gather grain that was left behind by reapers. Gleaning is to collect the scattered or fragmentary from parcels, as the grain left behind by a reaper, or grapes left after the gathering.” Lastly we are told that “gleaning means to collect with patient and minute labor; to pick out; to obtain.” Gleaning and “remains” seem to go together. Remains are defined in AC 661  as “…all things of innocence, all things of charity, all things of mercy, and all things of the truth of faith, which from his infancy a man has had from the Lord, and has learned.” The Lord alone stores up our remains. Only the Lord knows where scattered remains are hidden. Love hides and protects remains. What we need to picture here is not the gathering of memory-knowledges in the mind but the gleaning by the Lord of remains within the heart of each person. Piece by piece, the Lord conducts a patient and minute labor of gleaning the remains we forgot, overlooked, or missed as being valuable in our spiritual assessment of harvesting. The Lord gathers and gleans the whole spiritual story of what we loved and kept active in our mind and heart.
“…there is no cluster to eat of the first-ripe fruit which my soul desires.”
- “…‘to gather the vintage’ [in the positive sense] signifies to collect for uses those things that will be serviceable to the understanding and which will give intelligence and wisdom.” (AE 919) Our text, however, tells of a sad assessment. “…there is no cluster to eat” because there was a devastation of good and truth in the church. (AE 919 )
- How important is the gathering of the vintage? The Lord wants us to “eat of the first-ripe fruit which my soul desires.” The soul asks not for temporal things. The soul asks for infinite and eternal sustenance.
“The ‘faithful’ man has perished from the earth, and there is no upright among men.”
- TCR 145 teaches that a “faithful man” is one who has “faithful thoughts and intentions…” AE 1068 teaches that “faithful” signifies those “who are in love to the Lord, in love toward the neighbor, and in the faith of charity.”
- The faithful man perishing from the earth signifies, or gives us a picture, of what was going on in the church regarding the Lord, the neighbor, and charity. We are taught that the word “earth” signifies the church. See AE 1047. But AC 625 gives us a fuller story of what was going on spiritually in the church. When the flesh, the sensual natural person, gains control over the life and decisions of a church, there is no doubt about it: corruption will occur. “…the corporeal nature of man” will destroy all the understanding of truth. Decay and death are the end results of a corporeal mind that is out of control and out of touch with truth and love for the church, the Lord, the neighbor, and charity. With the demise of these essentials, no upright people will be found.
“They all lie in wait for blood; every man hunts his brother with a net.”
- Listen to and consider the meaning of lying in wait. To “lie in wait” signifies “to call the false true, and utter perversity and distort, and thereby to persuade.” (AC 1178) To “lie in wait” signifies to slyly seek to prevent any truth from coming forth and being received. See AE 730 . To “lie in wait” signifies intent to suppress and destroy “truths and goods of the Word and thus of the church…” by a presentation of falsities and evils. And, lastly, to “lie in wait” signifies that the evil will “try to worm their way into a person’s inward thoughts and affection.” (AC 1983) This last reference indicates that they put on a front that looks gentle, helpful, and cordial. It is a façade because they intend no such charitable things. They do so to win over a person’s trust and confidence so that they might warp and destroy his or her understanding of the Lord’s Word.
- “Brother” has a wonderful positive meaning. It means feeling conjoined with the Lord in a union of the will and understanding. (AC 1594) But that is not what is being said here in the spiritual sense. Instead, it is a negative meaning, an evil that seeks disunion, discord, and separation. Hell wants the external man “to recede from celestial love…” (AC 1591)
- How will evil bring about this separation and discord of union? A “net” is constructed of a system of interwoven strings. Each string, in the negative sense, is a false thought or idea that is connected with another false thought. It is a whole system of false ideas intended to catch (ensnare) a prey. Of course, a “net” can be a positive thing as well as a negative thing. In our verse, evil intends to hunt, gather, and trap so as to destroy good and truth. “Hunting” signifies the desire to teach and persuade. (AC 3309 ) What kind of hunting is being exposed for our edification and use? Look at the answer given to us in the verse that follows this question. They do evil with both hands!
“That they may successfully do evil with both hands…”
- To get some insight into the meaning of “both hands,” let’s turn to AC 10241. “…that the ‘hands’ denote the interiors is because the higher things of the body extend into the hands, and there terminate, consequently by the ‘hands’ is signified whatever pertains to man, and also his power…” Since we have both hands involved in this text, it seems to imply that the evil have totally committed their inner potential to misuse the power of higher spiritual things. Isn’t this a sad commentary on evil’s deadened interiors?
“…the prince asks for gifts, the judge seeks a bribe, and the great man utters his evil desire; so they scheme together.”
- Those who were in positions of leadership were intended, in the spiritual sense, to be prudent caregivers to the needy. In this verse, the prince ignored this use to others and sought instead to fatten his own possessions. A “prince” signifies one who was to care for the basics, essentials, and primary truths. (AE 236 ; AC 3448; AE 29) AC 6766 remarks on the signification of “‘a man, a prince,’ as being one who is in primary truths, thus who has been pre-eminently enlightened in the doctrine of truth.”
- Asking for gifts has a manifold meaning. When priests accepted gifts from the people, they were to accept them on behalf of the Lord. In turn, those gifts were to be offered up to the Lord seeking “…expiation from sins…” (AC 9938 ) A gift “consociates, for it produces love, causes friendship…and mutuality.” (AR 508) Spiritual gift-giving must arise from a sound philosophy, as noted in AC 9209 (Elliot’s translation): “…thus with gifts such as are beneficial to spiritual life, and that the outward aspects consist in aiding the external man…But care must nevertheless always be taken to ensure that when aid is given to the external man, it is at the same time beneficial to the internal.” This last point seems so essential in our understanding of what the Lord is teaching. The prince wanted to be honored for himself only. The prince wanted gifts for himself and not the Lord. The prince was not interested in helping the people to receive expiation of sins. The prince was not interested in sharing the gifts of love, friendship, and mutuality between the Lord and the needy. The princes were seeking gifts that ended with themselves and had no bearing on what would be beneficial to the internal of those to whom they were to offer (essential) primary truths.
- Judges are to settle, fairly and equitably, issues of conflict and confusion. But in this case, the judges were neither fair nor equitable. They were swayed by partiality. The Lord, in Psalm 15, describes what it takes to “abide in His tabernacle.” “He who walks uprightly, and works righteousness, and speaks the truth in his heart; he who does not backbite…nor does evil to his neighbor, nor does he take up a reproach against his friend…nor does he take a bribe against the innocent.”
- What makes for a “great man”? Is it political, educational, corporate, or military standing? What makes an intelligent person? Is it based on academic standing or number of degrees? The Writings are consistent in answering this question. A person’s greatness is determined by his or her skill in distinguishing between what is true and false. CL 233  extols what is the mark of an intelligent man. DP 250 reminds all that greatness is within those “who do not set their hearts on [dignities, riches as the highest forms of happiness] but on the uses or the goods in the performance of which dignities and wealth are of service as means.” A great person is someone who loves the Lord and the neighbor with a desire to render them service without thought of recompense.
- So the prince, the judge, and the great man, “scheme” together. What things do they scheme? Spiritual Experiences 1257 reveals what delight schemers have in their hearts and minds constantly: They do “nothing but plan evil plots and devise deceits.”
“The best of them is like a brier; the most upright is shaper than a thorn hedge…”
- Anyone who has done any clearing of a neglected and wild growth area in the hopes of cultivating a garden surely has encountered briers and thorns. They are formidable foes. They cut skin, stick to clothes, and when you try to pull free, they hold fast and tear away at clothing and skin. Briers and thorns compete against other forms of vegetable life. Survival of the fittest is their motto. Is it any wonder, then, that they correspond to falsity and evils in the church? See AE 730 . Briers and thorns stand for “falsity and evil desires.” (AC 2831 ) If a person seeks to regenerate and cultivate a useful spiritual garden, these forms of evil and falsity will not give up without a fight and inflicted pain. They are “sharper than a thorn hedge.” But they must be uprooted and eliminated. They cannot be allowed to define the borders of our regeneration and the field of our spiritual growth.
“…the day of your watchman and your punishment comes; now shall be their perplexity.”
- In Ezekiel 3:17-19, the Lord outlines the duties of a spiritual “watchman.” In brief, if the watchman alertly warns the wicked to amend their iniquitous ways and they do not heed his warning, their “blood” is not on the watchman’s hands. But if the watchman does not sound a warning and the enemy kills those under his care, their “blood” will be required of the watchman. The Lord is telling the watchmen of the church that they failed to lovingly and prudently care for the souls of the people placed in their care. “Your punishment comes” sadly announces the results of their indifference.
- TCR 15  provides an insight into the meaning of “perplexity.” When a church is not in harmony with the Lord and divides Him into three, or the church “declares that each person by himself is God…From this arises a disintegration not only of the unity of God but theology…and still further of human thought…And what can follow from this but perplexity and incoherency in things of the church?” (Emphasis added.) Is this what happened in the Jewish church when they allowed the worship of Baal and other gods to enter the temple dedicated to the worship and love of the Lord?
Putting It All Together
The Lord wants His church to succeed and be like a ripening and succulent summer fruit. But is that the case? “Woe is me!” The Word and P&P sadly report that there was no longer “any truth or good in the church: therefore the last time has come upon it.”
Just as any earthly parent longs for and works to help their children achieve and realize a productive life, so does the Lord, with an even greater longing, work for the good of His people. His Soul desires a union and conjunction with every person. To make this happen would be easy for the Lord, but then we all would pay a price. Our freedom and rationality would have to be laid aside. The Lord permits people and His church to reject and fight against His wishes. On the surface, a facade of compliance gave an appearance of uprightness. But the Lord said the faithful person perished from the earth. There were no upright among humanity. Treachery was lying in wait to snare anyone who wanted to receive and use the things of the Lord. Nets of falsity worked on strengthening the cords to easily catch the innocent and simple. Their plan was not a half-hearted attempt. Both hands worked at perfecting the effectiveness of the net-like snare. The prince, the judge, and the great man longed for gifts, bribes, and manifest chaos. They schemed and plotted to remove the things of the Lord from the hearts and minds of the people. Like briers and thorn hedges, they sought to entangle, snare, cut, hurt, and choke out any rival. Like a thorn hedge, they wanted to drain the life and growth from the vines and trees to ensure that there would be no productivity of summer fruit.
Consequently, the church lost sight of its mission. The church was to be a faithful watchman. From its tower of enlightenment, it was to cry out a warning regarding the approach of spiritual enemies. A call for repentance might have converted the people. But silence, ignorance, and contempt for the things of the Lord stole away the hearts of the vintage, the fruits of summer, and a punishment was well on its way. “Woe is me!” Now the choices of the church plunged them into a great perplexity and incoherency regarding spiritual matters. “Woe is me!” That is not what the Lord desired for His people. So He will rectify it all with His coming and establishment of a new church.
Read and Review
Read the selection from P&P.
Read Micah 7:1-4.
Questions to Stimulate Reflection
- Does this lesson from the Word help you see how great a compassion the Lord has for His people? The message “woe is me” is a cry of (pity) sadness that we need to hear and feel so we can rectify things in our own lives.
- Can you picture the hells stealthily lying in wait for our blood? Can you think of some illustration of the nets they use to try to snare our innocence and simplicity? I used the words to try because if we trust the Lord, they will fail in their scheming plot to snare us.
- How do you see a prince, judge, and great man scheming to mess up things in your own life? To answer this question, we have to recall the correspondences of these entities.
- Is there a watchman in our hearts and minds calling out to us regularly? Does it warn of the approach of a spiritual enemy? If not, what can be done to create an active and alert watchman to give us better reports?
- Perplexity and incoherency regarding spiritual matters are signs of the end of the vastated church. Can you picture any examples of these things happening in the past and in the present?
- If the whole church was spiritually “dead” and in great perplexity, who is left to hear and accept this prophecy? Is it a message that came to fruition with the Lord’s advent?
- How are we to view the message of Micah? Is its message sad and depressing? Or is it the pain that one must feel and experience, like the pain of a surgical operation in a hospital? A diseased, cancerous organ threatens one’s life, and to remove it is necessary but painful. But with rest, rehabilitation, and medication, such a procedure may give us back the activity we thought was lost. What do you think? Is this a sad or hopeful prophecy?
“Do not trust in a friend; do not put your confidence in a companion; guard the doors of your mouth from her who lies in your bosom. For son dishonors father, daughter rises against her mother, daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; a man’s enemies are the men of his own household.”
Passages from the Writings
- “Then falsities and evils will combat amongst themselves, and against truths and goods.”
“Do not trust in a friend; do not put your confidence in a companion…”
- The word “trust” can also mean “confidence.” Consider this teaching in AC 4683 : “…all confidence derives its being from the life’s purpose, and that genuine confidence is impossible except in good.” (Emphasis added.) Add to this the following teaching from Doctrine of Life 45: “…he, who does not shun evils as sins, has not faith because he is in evil, and evil inwardly hates truth. Outwardly indeed he may act as a friend to truth, and suffer [allow] it to be in the understanding, may even love to have it there; but when what is outward is put off, as is done after death, he first casts out truth his friend in this world, then denies that it is truth, and finally feels aversion for it.” (Emphasis added.) Please read also TCR 446-447, where the topic of “friendship of love” is discussed. In essence, these numbers warn us of the detriment of the “friendship of love” that is “contracted with a person without regard to their spiritual character.” (Emphasis added.) Such a friendship is termed “harmful.” What the Lord is telling us in this verse is critically important. 1. We are to shun evils as sins. 2. We are not to hold truth in the external as a friend unless we look at its inner importance and love it because it is a good thing from the Lord. 3. Anything else will fail us and will be cast aside as unimportant in the spiritual world.
“Guard the doors of your mouth from her who lies in your bosom.”
- AC 2356 instructs us that “In the Word a ‘door’ signifies that which introduces or gives admission either to truth, to good, or to the Lord.” In Revelation 3:8-20, the Lord speaks of a door. “See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it…” And in verse 20, He says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.” What a wonderful contrast! The Lord’s door is always open and will not be shut. No one and no thing is strong enough to shut His door. Our door is closed and must be opened to His knock. The literal sense advises us to guard the door. Be careful what is admitted. Why?
- The “mouth” is mentioned as what has to be guarded. Why is the mouth mentioned specifically? In Matthew 15:11, the Lord taught, “Not what goes into the mouth defiles a man; but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man.” A person does not become defiled from the thoughts which pass through the natural mind, but from set intentions, motives, and purposes which form our heart, and which come out in our thought and speech. For more insights into the “power in their mouth,” read AR 454. This passage illustrates what misguided power there is in those who get carried away in zeal to confirm whatever they please.
- The “bosom” signifies “…the appropriation of truth.” (AC 6955) The “…her who lies in your bosom” signifies our affections. Affection (her) looks for truths that can be appropriated and conjoined. I think it is important to note that the Lord is cautioning us to proceed with the appropriation of truth with great reflective prudence. He is telling us to keep our affections from running away with our decision-making. Invite the Lord in. Let Him dine with you and willingly give Him control over that which is to “lie with you” in your bosom. For that which comes forth out of the mouth can either redeem or defile us. Guard the mouth well. Sounds like good advice, especially in these days when we hear scurrilous remarks being made openly and regularly on the political and social scene.
“For son dishonors father, daughter rises against her mother…”
- This section needs a thoughtful—foundational—doctrinal explanation to help us understand why family members are singled out. As we have come to know from our studies, things mentioned in the Word have a positive and negative representation. Let’s begin with this passage from AC 1424: “…in the Word ‘families’ signify goods and also truths.” These goods and truths are not strangers nor are they unrelated foreigners. There is a “family” relationship between good and truth. There is a vital “family” connection between good (love) and truth (wisdom) that makes up our faith of love and the faith of love of the church. So, as we read the words “father,” “mother,” “son,” “daughter,” “daughter-in-law,” and “mother-in-law,” something of the deeper inner meaning must be seen and drawn into our spiritual application so that it will relate to our life and the life of the church.
- Why does the Word teach that a son should not dishonor or bring shame on his father? What does that mean? A “son” signifies truth and the doctrine of the church. (AE 724 ) A “son” represents love to the Lord and charity towards the neighbor. (AE 724 ) In essence, it would appear that a son honors his father by keeping faithful to the covenants of the Lord. To “dishonor” the father would be to bring shame on the commandments, thus dishonoring the laws of the Lord.
- A “daughter” rising against her “mother” indicates a degree of unloving rebellion and rejection. “Mother,” in the internal sense, signifies the church’s nurturing truths. (AC 6306 ) In another reference, AC 9017, we read that if any child curses “father and mother it means complete rejection of the Lord and of His kingdom by those belonging to the church, and so profanation of the church’s goodness and truth.” AC 3962 offers us another possible insight. A “daughter,” in the positive sense, signifies the affection for the general truths of the Word. All positive learning begins with generals. When generals are loved, a foundation is provided so that we can move on to build with deeper particulars. A “daughter” rising up “against her mother” indicates a challenge and possible rejection of the Word’s general truths so as to prevent a deeper understanding of the particular truths of the Word.
“…daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law…”
- AC 4843 teaches that a “daughter-in-law” against her “mother-in-law” signifies “…that the affection of falsity is opposed to good.” Let’s turn this teaching around so we can state its positive meaning. A loving “daughter-in-law” would be the affection of truth supporting and loving good as represented by the “mother-in-law.”
“…a man’s enemies are the men of his own household.”
- Matthew 10:36 quotes the Lord using this text from Micah. The purpose of the Lord’s lesson is to remind us that we can’t blame someone else for what we love and choose to honor as important for our lives. Our inclinations toward hereditary evil are the enemy of every household. We have a tendency to love ourselves and the world more than the Lord and the neighbor. The love of self and the world is always an enemy of the spiritual life. Shunning evils as sins against the Lord doesn’t come easily to us. Confessing our sins and making ourselves guilty for them is a hard task. We want to make excuses, rationalize, and blame others for our errors in judgment. The Lord says that we are to humbly confess our evils as sins against Him. He reminds us to supplicate Him for help. And, lastly, the Lord charges us with the necessity of beginning a new life. Plucking out the “first root of life,” the proprium, appears to be hard work. But then the Lord reminds us that it is not a hard task if we practice repentance once or twice a week. Living the life of religion is not as hard as one thinks. We need to know who the enemy is and where the enemy lives. It resides in our “own household” (the mind and heart). The name of the household enemy is “our inherited tendencies toward hereditary evils.” Doctrinally, the enemy has another name: “Proprium.” The proprium is a false belief that I am my own authority. It is an “as-of-self feeling” that is spiritually unhealthy and out of control.
Putting It All Together
The summary given to us in P&P says that this lesson from Micah depicts a sad ending of the Jewish church, where “falsities and evils combated among themselves and against truths and goods.” That sounds like total mayhem. I can’t imagine what it would be like to be in a conflict in which everyone around you is out for themselves. No one is a friend. Everyone is an enemy. It is survival of the fittest, a condition that is a hopelessly lost cause for the self-centered spirit. Doesn’t it sound lonely and scary? How did the church get itself into such a predicament?
Let’s review how the prophecy of Micah sums up the spiritual condition of the church:
- “Woe is me” expresses the Lord’s sorrow for the choices the people made.
- Chapter 6 calls the church a house of wickedness that was short-changing the people with wicked measurements. They had “wicked scales, and…a bag of deceitful weights.”
- The inhabitants of the church spoke lies. “…their tongue is deceitful…”
- Those in the church were eating “but were not satisfied. Hunger was in your midst.”
- They sowed, but did not reap; they could not anoint themselves with oil; they made sweet wine, but did not drink the wine.
- There was a horrible (derisive) hissing noise of reproach among the people of the church.
- Chapter 7 of Micah teaches that within the church, there was no summer fruit; there were no grapes to be gleaned; the faithful people had perished—there was no one upright among humanity. Instead, everyone hunted his brother. They lay in wait for their brother’s blood. They used nets to catch up their brothers.
- Trickery and deceit were employed with both hands. Bribery, scheming, sharp briers, and thorn hedges angrily limited and tore away at the flesh of the people.
- Their spiritual watchmen were not attentive; instead, they were in a state of spiritual perplexity.
- They had no trust in their friends, no confidence in companions, and combativeness reigned within the family structure.
AC 8788 gives us a picture of the spiritual demise of the Jewish church thusly:
- There are three basic things that make a church. “…there must be with the man of the church faith in the Lord, and also love to Him, and likewise toward the neighbor. These make the church.”
- “But these were not with the people which was called ‘Jacob,’ for it did not acknowledge the Lord, and thus was not willing to hear about faith in Him, still less about love toward Him, nor even toward the neighbor…”
- “…for it was in the love of self and the love of the world, which loves are utterly opposed to love to the Lord and love toward the neighbor…”
- “The Israelitish people above all others…adored external things, and made holiness, and even what is Divine, consist in [external things]…”
- AC 8788 teaches that when these conditions live within the heart and mind of the church, internal things are veiled over, and although the church thinks it is involved in the holiness of faith, it really is in a chaotic mixture of deadened externals.
With what is given above, can we not see, appreciatively, why the Lord needed to come and make His advent? He, and only He, was ready and prepared for the work of salvation. None of the tricks of the corrupted church will work against Him. He has prevailed and has provided the truth that will set us free from the wicked weights, the deceitful tongue, the nets, and the perplexity of the watchmen. Having said this, we must learn from the mistakes of the prior churches so we will not repeat them. Our faith in the Lord’s New Church depends on our “…faith in the Lord, and also love to Him, and likewise toward the neighbor. These make the church.” (AC 8788)
Read and Review
Read the selection from P&P.
Read Micah 7:5-6.
Questions to Stimulate Reflection
- How well did our study prepare us for the understanding of the spiritual sense?
- Did the description of falsities and evils fighting amongst themselves take a form that you can work with? Is there any comfort to be gained from our knowledge of this teaching?
- The description of the family feud—son against father, daughter against mother, and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law—tells us of the feud of falsity against evil. Now, are we ready to consider the meaning of Luke 12:51-53, where the Lord says that He “has come to give division…” among family members? Is there a difference of meaning and application? The Lord says that He “…came not to give peace on earth…not at all, but rather division.” Doesn’t this teaching of the Lord point to the necessity of us going through the process of vastations? There needs to be an overturning, an emptying out, the desolation of falsity and evil. Once these things are poured out and cleansing occurs, we can fill the vessels of the mind and heart with good and truth. So the Lord doesn’t come to give nice words. He comes to help us get rid of those things that hold and contain the love of self and the world.
- A man’s enemies are of his own household. Any examples of this truth that are worth talking about?
- Did you note and think about the contrast of the “doors” the Lord mentions in the verses from Revelation? The Lord’s doors are always open. No one can close them. Our doors are closed and must be opened for the Lord to come and sup with us.
- The prophecy of Micah urges us to guard the door of our mouth. Is this a worthwhile concept to reflect and speak about? Some people pride themselves on their ability to speak their minds. Is it really a virtue to always say what we think and feel? How many times have we had an outburst and then wished we would have thought more before speaking? Guarding the door of the mouth and watching who sleeps with us in the bosom are two spiritual gems worth considering and reflecting on.
- We read and considered some hard teachings in this section. While reading about falsity and evils fighting against everything, while reading about no just men, bribes, trickery, snares, briers, thorns, etc., my heart and mind longed for some words of encouragement. Ah, don’t despair, dear reader. Just wait for our next section. The beginning of hope, restoration, and redemption are just a few lines away. Isn’t that the way the Lord operates? When we are at the depths (last limits) of despair and we feel inadequate and lost, the Lord comes to our rescue. In a last moment, He swoops in and takes us up in His arms and gives us hope and comfort.
- How did the Psalmist say it? “…weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” (Psalm 30:5) A new state, a new beginning, a new light to remove the hellish nighttime monsters of ignorance.
“Therefore I will look to the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me. Do not rejoice over me, my enemy; when I fall, I will arise; when I sit in darkness, the Lord will be a light to me. I will bear the indignation of the Lord, because I have sinned against Him, until He pleads my case and executes justice for me. He will bring me forth to the light; I will see His righteousness.”
Passages from the Writings
- “Then the church will come, which will be in the light of truth, from the Lord.”
- “That falsities of various kinds are signified by ‘darkness,’ is evident from these passages…” Micah 7:8 is cited.
AE 526 
- “In Micah…7:8…‘darkness’ signifies the falsities of ignorance, such as existed, and as exist at this day among the upright Gentiles. These falsities are altogether distinct from the falsities of evil, which have evil stored up in them because they are from evil, while the former have good stored up in them because they have good as an end. Those, therefore, who are in these falsities, can be instructed in truths, and they also when instructed receive truths in the heart, for the reason that good, which is in their falsities, loves truths, and also conjoins itself to truth when it is heard. It is otherwise with the falsities of evil; these are averse to all truth and cast it off because it is truth, and thus is not in agreement with evil.”
- “…in the Word justice [or righteousness] is predicated of love, and judgment of wisdom, I will cite some passages to show that it is by means of these two that God’s government is carried on in the world…Elsewhere it is said that judgment and righteousness ought to be done, as in…Micah 7:9…”
“Therefore I will look to the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me.”(Emphasis added.)
- What does it mean to say “I will look to the Lord”? We can’t see Him with our physical eyes. AE 585  teaches us that to “look to the Lord” means valuing the Lord’s good and truth so that “…everything of doctrine will be from the Lord and not from man’s self (proprium) which is the case when man is in the spiritual affection of truth, that is, when he loves truth itself because it is truth, and not because it gives him reputation and a name.”
- To “wait” for the Lord does not mean to sit with arms at one’s side. Instead, this waiting is more active and dynamic. AE 514  likens waiting to “a desire to know and understand…” and notes that we wait for “food” that signifies “knowledge and intelligence; for man does not desire these from himself, but from those things that are with him from the Lord…” AE 526  teaches us to wait for truth expectantly.
- The “God of my salvation” should have some kind of representation that will touch our hearts and minds. Isaiah 61:10 speaks of the Lord clothing us “‘with the garments of salvation; He hath covered me with the robe of righteousness.’” AE 395  explains that “‘to clothe with the garments of salvation’ signifies to instruct and to gift with truths; and to ‘cover with the robe of righteousness’ signifies to fill with every truth from good…” Salvation is the continual operation of the Lord in human beings for the reformation and regeneration of all. It is the work of the Divine Providence. See AR 798.
- “My God will hear me” is a profoundly personal and loving acknowledgement of how much the Lord cares for and wills to save everyone. The Lord knows each one of us personally. “…in the supreme sense ‘to hear’ signifies providence…for the Lord’s foreseeing is the seeing from eternity to eternity…the Lord’s providing is the directing that it be so…” (AC 3869 ) Isn’t this a wonderful promise? He “will hear me.” There is nothing tentative about this Divine statement. Nothing distracts Him from being with us. There is nothing more pressing that would cause Him to forget a one of us. The Writings remind us that if the Lord should forget us for the least of a second, we would cease to be.
“Do not rejoice over me, my enemy; when I fall, I will arise…” (Emphasis added.)
- Is it a surprise that hell, our troublesome enemy, wants to rejoice over us? AE 578  reminds us of hell’s “direful and cruel love of destroying all the truths and goods of the church…” Hell has a “cruel lust for destroying the goods of innocence…” When hellish spirits hear of “one of the truths of the church and perceive its goods, they are inflamed with a frenzy for destroying and extinguishing them.” Mistakes we will make. But mistakes can be overcome. If we are sincere in our quest to be with the Lord, He will pick us up and put us back on our feet. We need this kind of confidence in the Lord. Hell quakes in its boots when we trust in the Lord and have full confidence in His restorative and corrective ways. “When I fall, I will arise…” When I err, I will honestly confess my transgressions to the Lord so that I can be lifted up and grasp a new beginning He lovingly offers me.
“When I sit in darkness, the Lord will be a light to me.” (Emphasis added.)
- “Darkness” signifies ignorance and falsity. My finite darkness is ever present and remindful of my limitations. But if I supplicate the Lord for His help, He will not ignore my sincere request for enlightenment. He “will be a light to me.” Once again, we have a promise from the Lord that is in the active case and not passive/maybe case.
“I will bear the indignation of the Lord, because I have sinned against Him…” (Emphasis added.)
- Does the Lord have indignation? Listen to how AC 5798  answers this question. The Word describes the Lord as having “indignation, anger, and wrath…” But with the Lord, “…it is quite the contrary, namely that the man who is in evil is indignant, angry, and wroth, and sets himself in opposition to good and truth.” This verse is a prayerful confession. “I have sinned against the Lord. I felt indignation, and the Lord mercifully put up with me. In spite of my momentary anger and wrath, He worked to pull me out of the pit I had fallen into.”
“Until He pleads my case and executes justice for me. He will bring me forth to the light; I will see His righteousness.” (Emphasis added.)
- Our life is a confusing and complicated mixture of harmony and discord. Humility favors and fosters our harmony. Self-love favors and fosters discord. Reformation and regeneration are works dedicated to ridding ourselves of discord. The second law of Divine Providence says that if we work to resist and remove evils as sins in our externals, the Lord will go inward and remove internal connecting links of discord while also helping us to disconnect discord in our externals. The Lord is pleading the case of the humble. He does execute justice for those who value humility.
- Please note how many times the word “will” is used in verses 7 to 9. Do you count eight? Why call attention to this word “will”? Well, for one thing, it is a powerfully positive word. Secondly, it is a word of command. More accurately, it is a word of Divine command. The Lord, when we give Him charge over our lives, will put into place certain dynamics that will reshape and rebuild values and doctrinal concepts that had not yet been forged into a practical eternal reality. Prior to the “will,” there were perhaps “airy,” “wispy,” “vague” doctrinal statements we repeated in monotone voices. But when the Lord gets hold of them and activates the “wills” in our hearts and minds, they become “positive commands” to fight against the hells. Let’s say together all eight “wills”:
- “I will look to the Lord”
- “I will wait for the God of my salvation”
- “My God will hear me”
- “I will arise”
- “The Lord will be a light to me”
- “I will bear the indignation of the Lord”
- “He will bring me forth to the light”
- “I will see His righteousness.”
Do you feel the positive assurance of the Lord’s total (will) Divine command? Hell does, and they are in great trepidation that we will believe and follow the Lord and allow Him to form the inner core of our spiritual life.
Putting It All Together
What has been written above is offered as a “putting it all together” summary. But in closing, please note that our P&P lesson also contains the important theme of the word “will.” “Then the church will come, which will be in the light of truth, from the Lord.” With this P&P summation, one is inspired to say, “Amen—so may it ever be, O Lord!”
Read and Review
Read the selection from P&P.
Read Micah 7:7-9.
Questions to Stimulate Reflection
- Were you inspired by the sequence of the eight “command wills” used in the text? If you add our lesson from P&P, we have ten in all to consider.
- How badly do you think the hells are shaken with this positive report in Micah?
- Are we inspired to give up using the words “I can’t”? We know how hard it is to teach ourselves or someone else if they don’t try because they want to say “I can’t do it.”
- Did you ever deal with a child who was convinced they couldn’t do something?
- What technique(s) did you use to swing the child around to a positive learning attitude?
- Did some of those lessons work for you as well?
“Then she who is my enemy will see, and shame will cover her who said to me, ‘Where is the Lord your God?’ My eyes will see her; now she will be trampled down like mud in the streets.”
Passages from the Writings
- “The old church will be destroyed.”
- “That ‘streets’ signify truths or falsities of doctrine, may be seen from the following passages…” Micah 7:10 is cited as one example.
AE 632 
- “…‘to trample down’…signifies to destroy by means of the corporeal-sensual all truths of heaven and the church…” Micah 7:10 is cited as one example.
AE 652 
- “As ‘street’ signifies the truth of doctrine leading, and in the contrary sense falsity, ‘the clay of the streets,’ ‘the mire,’ and ‘dung’ signify the falsity of the love of evil, in the following passages…” Micah 7:10 is cited.
“Then she who is my enemy will see…” (Emphasis added.)
- The “she” here is the spiritually dying Jewish church. “She” was dying, but “she” did not know or believe it. Her streets, the falsity of her doctrines, were mired in the “mud” of love of self, hence the term “my enemy.” The Lord announces that His enemy will see. See what? Does the Jewish church really see that it defiled the covenants of the Lord? In many quarters of the religious world, the Jewish church is still being heralded as the Lord’s favored people. To make their views square up with their beliefs, they render this verse by employing “two women.” One (she) woman is Israel, and the other (she) woman is Israel’s enemy. In the end, they reason, Israel will be redeemed and rewarded with its rightful status as a favored church and nation. The other “she” will feel the wrath of the Lord for oppressing His people.
- Does “she” believe that the Lord has made His advent and thus supplanted her? The question is when will “she” see? A second question is when will the world see that the Israelite church is dead and has been replaced by His New Church?
“And shame will cover her who said to me, ‘Where is the Lord your God?’ My eyes will see her; now she will be trampled down like mud in the street.” (Emphasis added.)
- AE 652  explains “shame” as signifying “that there were as many kinds of worship as there were false doctrines, ‘streets’…signify the falsities of doctrine.” AE 994 explains that “shame” signifies “filthy loves.” Indeed, the Old Testament testifies that Israel played the harlot regarding worship. She adopted and incorporated in her temple of worship the many gods of the surrounding peoples. Baal was one of Israel’s favorite gods, and the Lord challenged them to leave such a shameful worship. How long will you limp between Baal and God? To say that “her” shame was complete is not a stretch. The Israelites transgressed the ways of the Lord and sought out many kinds of worship; hence, they were confused and followed many false doctrines.
- To “cover” has both a positive and negative signification. In the positive sense, to “cover” represents protecting one’s soul with the truths of the Lord. In the negative sense, to “cover” signifies to guard or hide evils with falsity. See AE 283 .
- Psalm 14:1 tells us that “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’” (Emphasis added.) Is this what was in the heart of the people of the dead church? Had they wandered off so far that they knew not nor loved the Lord any more? In many ways, Israel lost a love for Him. And when the light of love goes out, it is almost impossible to love what you can no longer see or understand. Psalm 14 continues, “They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none who does good.”
- “My eyes will see her…” Mark 4:22 and Luke 8:17 remind us that “…nothing is secret that will not be revealed, nor anything hidden that will not be known and come to light.” Isaiah 29:15 says, “Woe to those who seek deep to hide their counsel far from the Lord. And their works are in the dark; they say, ‘Who sees us?’ and ‘Who knows us?’” The Lord answers solidly, “I do.” To the Lord, night and day are alike. He sees all and knows all of our works.
- “Now she will be trampled down…” AE 632  explains that “trampled down” signifies “the destruction of the church in respect to doctrine.”
- “Like mud in the streets…” AE 652  notes that “…in the spiritual world…in the cities there in which falsities from evil reign, the streets appear full of dung, mire and clay.”
Putting It All Together
1. What does it take for a church to become an enemy of the Lord?
2. What brings shame to a church?
3. How is a church “covered”? What kind of coverings will it employ?
4. And lastly, how is a church trampled down like mud in the streets?
- A healthy church is characterized by its sincerity, vitality, and dedication to “the good of love and the truth of faith…” A church is destroyed “…by falsities from self intelligence…” (AE 304 ) The vaunting of “man’s own intelligence” causes a church to “see falsity instead of truth…” (AE 376 ) A church is “a noble church if it is in genuine truths, an ignoble church if it is not in genuine truths, and a church destroyed if it is in falsified truths…” (Doctrine of Sacred Scripture 77) When a church chooses to become an ignoble church, it automatically hates the Lord and sees Him as an enemy.
- When a church turns its back on the Lord, it brings shame into its court of worship. Instead of offering clean things, a self-centered church offers inferior and tainted qualities of the heart and mind.
- AR 421 reminds us that “…the confirmation of falsity is the denial of truth; therefore when they [a church] hear any spiritual truth, which is a truth of the Word serviceable to those who are of the church for doctrine and life, they keep their minds fixed in the falsities” and “they either veil over the truth…or reject them as a mere sound, or yawn at it and avert themselves; and this in the degree in which they are in the pride of their own erudition; for pride glues falsities together…Therefore the Word is hidden from them, as a book sealed with seven seals.” (Emphasis added.)
- The unhealthy church can no longer defiantly stand in the presence of the Lord. An ignoble church with its vaunted doctrines will become like mud. Its falsified truths will end. The Lord’s truth will outlast self-intelligence. Like those of a person who has walked in muddy streets, the shoes, clothes, and health of such a church are soiled by the mire of uselessness. The glue of falsity cannot hold the vaunted self-intelligence together. The reign of a false church is over.
P&P sums up this section with the words: “The old church will be destroyed.”
Read and Review
Read the selection from P&P.
Read Micah 7:10.
Questions to Stimulate Reflection
- How strongly do you (we) want to be a friend of the Lord’s? If we want to be a true friend of the Lord, what care and uses must we take seriously?
- A healthy church is dedicated to the good of love and the truth of faith. What do these words mean? “Good of love” is a phrase used to represent the highest qualities of love, a kind of celestial love that honors and respects the conjugial principles of uniting the Lord’s love and wisdom. The truth of faith honors and respects loving and following truth for truth’s sake. No games. No shams. No twisting of the Word so as to get our own way. Let the Word be the Word with our pledge and loyalty to obey.
- If we do anything that brings shame to our church, do we have a plan or a way to bring about reparations? We need to look at the Lord with a clear conscience and with open, child-like spontaneity and innocence.
- The passage we read from AR 421 urges us to get rid of self pride. The vaunting of our own intelligence is harmful. Pride glues falsities together. Humbleness and honesty unseal the glue of falsity. Could we pray that the Lord will have His way with us? We don’t want to cover up things. The Lord knows everything. Why not say that, instead of pretending that the darkness has covered up our indiscretions?
- A dead church will be destroyed. A dead church will have its falsities trampled down like mud in the streets. Love and wisdom will win out. We need to pledge our allegiance to the ways of the Lord’s New Church. Are we up for such a “noble” commitment?
“In that day when your walls are to be built, in that day the decree shall go far and wide. In that day they shall come to you from Assyria and the fortified cities, from the fortress to the river [Euphrates], from sea to sea, and mountain to mountain.”
Passages from the Writings
- “A new church will be established, gathered from every nation…”
- “As by ‘Egypt,’ so also by ‘Euphrates,’ are signified memory-knowledges, and also the sensuous things from which these knowledges come. This is evident from the Word in the Prophets, as in Micah…7:10-12…So did the prophets speak concerning the coming of the Lord who should regenerate man so that he might become like the celestial man.”
AC 1186 
- “…where Asshur is named, it signifies the rational, either true or false, as in…Micah 7:12…”
AC 9341 
- “…the signification of ‘the Euphrates,’ which is here ‘the river,’ as being the good and truth of the rational…as in…like manner in Micah 7:12…”
- “By ‘Euphrates’ are signified the interiors of man’s mind bordering upon the spiritual things of his church…That the Euphrates was a boundary, see…Micah 7:12…”
- In the Word, “Egypt…is the natural [man], Assyria is the rational, and Israel is the spiritual; these three make the man of the church…Thence, also, the land of Canaan, by which the church is signified, is described as to its extent…” Micah 7:12 is cited.
AE 569 
- “In Micah…7:12…This describes the establishment of the church by the Lord among the Gentiles, ‘this day’ signifying the Lord’s coming; the extension of the church among them from one limit to the other is signified by ‘they shall come from Assyria to the cities of Egypt and from Egypt to the river;’ the extension of truth from one limit to the other is signified by ‘from sea to sea,’ and the extension of good by ‘from mountain to mountain.’” (Emphasis added.)
AE 654 
- “In Micah…7:12…This is said of the establishment of the church by the Lord with the Gentiles, and these words describe the extension of that church from one end to the other. One end of the land of Canaan was the river Euphrates and the other was the river of Egypt. The extension of truth from one end to the other is signified by ‘from sea to sea,’ and the extension of good from one end to the other by ‘from mountain to mountain.’” (Emphasis added.)
“In the day when your walls are to be built…”
- “In the day” or “in this day” is an expression used in the Word to signify “the Lord’s coming.” See AE 569 . Thus, we are learning what will happen following the death of a corrupted church. The Lord will not abandon His people. He will initiate and extend a new beginning with His advent among a faithful remnant. Without His corrective initiatives, it would have been all over, spiritually, for the church and humankind.
- The prophecy about building new walls signifies that the Lord will put into place spiritual “walls.” These new walls denote giving “the truths of faith which defend…‘walls’ denote the truths of faith that protect the church…” (AC 9863, emphasis added.)
- To “build the walls” signifies “to restore the church by leading it into the good of love and by instructing it in the truths of doctrine.” (AE 391 )
“In that day the decree shall go far and wide…”
- With the advent of the Lord, “in that day,” a Divine decree will be sent forth. A “decree,” or statute, signifies the establishment of “a law of order…” See AC 10248. Doesn’t that make sense? With the establishment of a new church, a “law of order” must go forth from the Lord “far and wide” so that all will hear and obey and will be drawn to the laws of the Lord.
“In that day they shall come to you…”
- “In that day” signifies the advent of the Lord. “They,” the Gentiles, shall come inquiringly to the Lord’s new church. Gentiles are those who “are in the good of life and that receive truths and are thus in the conjunction of good and truth, and in combat against evils and falsities…” (AE 447 )
“…from Assyria and the fortified cities, from the fortress to the river…” (Emphasis added.)
- AE 1029  gives an interesting contrast to consider and to use in our effort to understand the meaning of this passage. Assyria signifies the rational mind. What kind of rational? Is it a positive or a negative one? “…in the New Church there shall spring up no reasonings from falsities against truths and goods.” Therefore, it is important to note that “they” shall come from Assyria. Can we assume that this means that the corrupted rational (Assyria) that had used false reasonings must be left behind? Follow this “derived” application one step further with this quote from AE 911 : “…the ‘fortified cities in which they trust’ signify doctrinals from self-intelligence…” When the Lord makes His advent and forms (calls forth) a new church, those who heed the call must not carry with them former “reasonings” from falsities. There will be no doctrinal carry-overs from Assyria based on self-intelligence. They must be left behind. Those called to the new church must come out of the Assyrian state and its fortified falsities.
- In AC 8581 , using John Elliot’s translation, we get an interesting view of the word “fortress.” “The reason why a ‘rock’ means the Lord in respect of the truth of faith is that ‘a rock’ is also used to mean a fortress that withstands falsities. The actual fortress is the truth of faith, for this is what the battle against both falsities and evils is waged from.” (Emphasis added.)
- “…from the fortress to the river…” We have some work to do on identifying what the spiritual sense intends us to understand. Let’s begin with what we are given in the literal sense of our text: “In the day when your walls are to be built…” This is a call to rebuild an effective defense system against falsity. Walls protect. Walls keep out intruders and “withholds falsities on all sides.” See AC 8206. A “fortress” signifies acquiring truths from the Lord that will help us withstand and fight against falsities and evils. The Writings tell us that the river mentioned here has a name: Euphrates. See AC 120. The “Euphrates” signifies memory-knowledges and the good and truth of the rational. See AC 9341 . “The Euphrates…signifies the interiors of man’s mind bordering upon spiritual things of his church...” (AR 444 ) Together, these things, when given to the Lord, are powerful sources of regeneration. They are the means by which our spiritual recovery occurs: the “Lord who should regenerate man so that he might become like the celestial man.” (AC 120)
- In summary, what we have here is a promise—a covenant—offered by the Lord. If we spiritually come out of Assyria (self-intelligence and its false reasoning), He will become our “rock,” and He will work a work that will restore, renew, and revitalize our spiritual priorities and values. “In the day when your walls are to be built…” (Micah 7:11), the Lord will lead us to the Euphrates “river.” What is the meaning of the word “river”? A “river” means a plan of the Lord’s that we might become like celestial people. A celestial person is one who loves, obeys, and intuitively listens to the voice and governance of the Lord’s order. Can you quietly listen to your soul say “Amen” to this promised covenant? “So may it ever be” is a suggested interpretation of the meaning of the word “Amen.”
“…from sea to sea, and mountain to mountain.”
- These words describe the extension of truth from one limit to the other and the extension of good from one limit to the other. In simpler terms, the Lord is promising us the extension of our spiritual borders. We will grow in our knowledge of truth and the extension of our love. As we grow, Hell shrinks. As we grow, our borders are enlarged.
Putting It All Together
Whenever we work on solving a problem, we must always take the time and care to get our facts straight. Jumping to conclusions or listening to distorted “facts” hinders and prevents our resolving issues. Hell offers us information that is totally “bogus.” Hell wants to convince us that we are hopelessly weak and beyond help. Obviously, hellish spirits lie to us to keep us from hearing and accepting the healing truths from the Lord. Hell knows that if we pursue rebuilding the walls of our spiritual church, we will successfully wall out falsities on all sides. Hell doesn’t want to relinquish its grip on and domination of our hearts and minds. Anyone who listens to and obeys the Lord will begin to alter and repair spiritual mistakes. The first significant repair begins with reliance on the Lord and less dependence on the proprium and self-intelligence. Trusting the Lord and His Word will be the rock that will become our fortress. Trusting and relying on the Lord will bring us to the Euphrates River of great potential. When we give ourselves over to the Lord, He is able to enrich the contents that feed our soul. He will endeavor to enliven our innocence. His goal is to raise us progressively to a higher level. How do we know this is so? He reports to us in the prophecy of Micah that He desires to give us the blessings of the celestial level. But we have to invite and desire this to happen; we have to cooperate with Him.
When the Lord walked among us, He taught us, “You have heard it said of old…but I say unto you…” Could He have been any clearer about the errors and falsity of self-intelligence and its misguided traditional ways? He told us, “And you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.” (John 8:32)
We have a blueprint in the prophecy of Micah: build new walls; walk away from Assyria; leave behind Assyrian-like falsity; focus on the rock, the fortress, the river of freedom. Our borders—our potential—will grow and will be fruitful. This doesn’t sound like hopelessness. This is solid information we need to tenaciously hold to so we will allow the Lord to push out of our lives the lies, deceit, and decrepit conditions of Hell.
Read and Review
Read the selection from P&P.
Read Micah 7:11-12.
Questions to Stimulate Reflection
- Did this reflective passage help and encourage you to extend your borders of faith? Did it inspire you to focus on a realistic plan to rebuild the walls of your spiritual church? Let’s start out with a look at the use and meaning of walls.
- Walls are necessary things. They protect and provide us with a sense of security. In the spiritual sense, we are told walls protect us from falsity on all sides. Each truth, each stone, each bonding of the walls of truth is essential. Can you picture the walls being rebuilt as you read and have affection for the Word?
- The Word always intends to give us the facts. It is a source of straight talk if we allow the Lord to open the spiritual sense. More than ever, we need to daily read and reflect on the Word. Can you mention some of the things that are said that frustrate and retard our reading of the Word? In order to see, and meet, the enemy, we have to name them. In doing so, we can mobilize the fighting and supportive truths of the Lord that will help set us free.
- How does a false self-intelligence get started? Does it start out with an experience in which we seemed to work out some apparent and necessary facts? Hell, when it tempted the Lord, tried to defeat Him by quoting scriptures. They actually took the time to find a reference that seemed easy to twist and mold to their end. The Lord saw behind their intent and told “Satan” to get behind Him. Is this a good model for us to follow as we do battle with such mental manipulation of truth? Getting the facts—getting the Divine perspective—is crucial. Is there any other way of doing this apart from reading and loving the Word of the Lord?
- One last thought: how hard is it to get out of the Assyrian state? Get away from it! Look to the rock and the fortress! Find the river! These are the words and advice of the Lord. In effect, your reading and studying of Micah with this study guide could be a beginning as you work toward these goals. The Word first, reflection and application second, will open the deep resources of the scriptures.
“Yet the land shall be desolate because of those who dwell in it, and for the fruit of their deeds.”
Passages from the Writings
- “…when the old has been destroyed.”
- “In Micah…7:13…That such ‘fruit’ is no fruit, or that the ‘work’ is dead, and that both fruit and root perish…”
AC 3934 
- “…he who makes profession of the good of faith, and denies works, and still more if he rejects them, is devoid of faith, and yet more of charity. Such being the nature of the works of charity and faith, and as man is never in charity and faith unless he is in works, for this reason ‘works’ are so frequently mentioned in the Word; as may appear from the following passages…” Micah 7:13 is cited.
- “From all these passages [Micah 7:13 and 7:16 are mentioned among others.] it may be seen what ‘vastation’ and ‘desolation’ are; and that it is not a vastation and desolation of the peoples of a land, and of cities, but of the goods and truths of the church, whence there is nothing but evils and falsities.”
“Yet the land shall be desolate…”
- AE 304  teaches us that “land” signifies all things of the church. So we must think of the state of a church and not a physical place, country, or state. The word “desolate” signifies the lack of spiritual truth and good which are of faith and charity. See AE 650 . Pulling these teachings together, we get a picture of the spiritually dying state of the church of Israel. The church was sadly empty of faith and charity. One gets the picture of a church going through the motions with emptiness and little warmth.
“…because of those who dwell in it…”
- Whose fault was it that faith and charity were desolate in the church? It was not the Lord’s fault. Those who dwell, or live, within the church are to blame for its empty or desolate state.
“…and for the fruit of their deeds.”
- “Fruit” signifies, in the positive sense, the “good of life.” (AE 403 ) In the negative sense, the destruction or devouring of “fruit” “signifies the consumption of good…” (AE 727 ) And what will consume the fruit of a church? The deeds or actions within the person or church.
Putting It All Together
The Lord wants the best for His church. He has every intention and aspiration for a church to succeed. A church is called to have an active faith and life of charity. A church is to enjoy the fruit of accomplishment or success as its reward. But that is not what the people within the church were achieving, nor was it something they longed for. Consequently, their faith, their charity, and their works shriveled up. The Lord had to remind them that it was their actions that caused this desolation. They were spiritually dying on the vine.
This message had to be said. Excuses would not hold up in the light of the Divine Love and Wisdom. Did the church want to hear these words? Would they change their ways? Once again, the word comes back: “…the old has been destroyed.” (P&P)
Read and Review
Read the selection from P&P.
Read Micah 7:13.
Questions to Stimulate Reflection
- Have you ever read I Corinthians 13:1-10? These verses make a poignant statement about the importance of love. Great things might be done, thought, or preached, but without love, they all are for naught. Such is the case regarding the church in our lesson. Their deeds lacked love and sincerity. Death came to them.
- As always, we need to do some spiritual inventory. Do we do the works of faith with charity attached? Do we shun evils as sins against God?
- If we don’t do these things and we fail (die as a church), whose fault is it? Failure and death are certainly not what the Lord wants for His church. They come because we fail to obey His Word.
“Shepherd Your people with Your staff, the flock of your heritage, who dwell solitarily in a woodland, in the midst of Carmel; let them feed in Bashan and Gilead as in days of old. As in the days when you came out of the land of Egypt, I will show them wonders.”
Passages from the Writings
- “It will be taught and led.”
AC 4117 
- “Because Gilead was a boundary, it signified in the spiritual sense the first good, which is that of the senses of the body; for it is the good or the pleasure of these into which the man who is being regenerated is first of all initiated. In this sense is ‘Gilead’ taken in the Prophets, as in…Micah 7:14…”
AC 5201 [4-6]
- “The reason why ‘feeding’ is spoken of in the Word from its signification, is that when instruction or doctrine from the Word is spoken of in heaven, then in the world of spirits, where spiritual things appear naturally, there are represented to the sight meadows green with grass, herbage, and flowers, with flocks therein; and this with all variety, according to what is being said in heaven about instruction and doctrine…” Micah 7:14 is cited in subsection 6.
AC 9011 
- “Who does not see that in these passages by ‘a forest’ is not meant a forest, and by ‘Lebanon’ and ‘Carmel’ which are ‘forests’ are not meant Lebanon and Carmel, but something of the church? Yet what of the church is meant has been hitherto hidden, because the internal sense lies hidden…when yet this knowledge existed among the ancients in Chaldea, in Assyria, in Egypt, in Arabia, and thence in Greece, in whose books, emblems, and hieroglyphics such things are still to be met with. But the reason why such knowledge has perished, is that there is no faith that the spiritual is anything.” Micah 7:14 is one source quoted.
- “‘To feed’ is to teach, because the church, in the Word, is called ‘a flock’ and the men of the church are called ‘sheep’ and ‘lambs,’ hence ‘to feed’ signifies to teach, and ‘the shepherd’ one that teaches; and this in many places, as…Micah 7:14…”
- “‘A staff’ signifies power, because wood, of which staffs were made among the ancient people, signifies good…it is manifest that by ‘a staff’ power is signified…” Micah 7:14 is but one of the many passages cited.
AE 482 
- “…‘to feed’ signifies to instruct, ‘pastures’ instruction, and ‘shepherd’ an instructor, a few passages only in which ‘feeding’ and ‘pasture’ are mentioned shall be quoted…” Micah 7:14 is among those cited.
AE 727 
- “In Micah…7:14…‘Feed Thy people with Thy rod’ signifies the instruction of those who are of the church in Divine truths from the Word; ‘to feed’ signifying to instruct; ‘people’ meaning those who are of the church in truths, and ‘rod’ where the Word is because it is Divine truth. ‘The flock of heritage’ signifies those of the church who are in spiritual things of the Word, which are the truths of its internal sense; ‘they shall feed in Bashan and Gilead’ signifies instruction in the goods of the church and in its truths from the natural sense of the Word.”
“Shepherd Your people with Your staff…”
- These words form a prayerful petition—a request directed to the Lord—to instruct the few but faithful with powerful truth. Can we rightfully sense a degree of urgency in this prayer? A staff is an instrument used by a shepherd to guide, prod, to offer stability, and to defend. Therefore, the request for powerful instruction makes sense in light of the dying Jewish church. Restoration and revitalization of the church were paramount.
“…the flock of Your heritage…”
- Who or what is the “heritage” of the Lord’s flock? AC 5897  gives us a possible answer to this question. It is more than a pocket or remnant of protected people who remained faithful to the Lord and His Word. More importantly, “remains” or “remnant” in the spiritual sense “signify the goods and truths stored up in the interior man by the Lord…” (Emphasis added.) So the prayerful request is to awaken and strengthen the goods and truths in the “heritage” stored up by the Lord in the internal being.
“…who dwell solitarily in woodland…”
- Consider this teaching about the meaning of “dwell alone” (solitarily), found in AC 139: “In ancient times those were said to ‘dwell alone’ who were under the Lord’s guidance as celestial men, because such were no longer infested by evils, or evil spirits. This was represented in the Jewish Church also by their dwelling alone when they had driven out the nations. On this account it is sometimes said of the Lord’s church, in the Word, that she is ‘alone,’…”
- The word “woodland” has a most interesting usage in the Writings. Chadwick’s translation of TCR 259 says that “the Word is like a garden, which may be called the heavenly paradise…and the garden is surroundedby woodland trees. A person who through doctrine has possession of Divine truths is in the middle of this garden, where the trees of life are and in fact he enjoys the…delights. A person whose knowledge of truths is not from doctrine, but only drawn from the literal sense is on the circumference and sees only the woodland. But one who has been taught a false religion, and has convinced himself of that falsity, is not even in the wood, but outside it in a sandy plain, where there is not even grass.” (Emphasis added)
“In the midst of Carmel…”
- It is of great importance that we begin our study by asking the question why Carmel (Mount Carmel) is mentioned in Micah’s prophecy. Mount Carmel is in the Galilean area. It begins on the Mediterranean Sea and runs some 12 miles inland. Mount Carmel’s height is approximately 1800 feet. The mountain splits this section of Israel in half, making parts of Carmel somewhat “solitary” with a lush woodland and vineyards. The name “Carmel” in Hebrew means “vineyard of God.”
- Carmel was subject to many important spiritual events. Perhaps the most dramatic and memorable occurrence was Elijah’s “stand-down” challenge issued to the priests and prophets of Baal. It was on Mount Carmel that the people of the church of Israel were challenged by the Lord when He asked them, “How long will you falter between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.”
- The Lord told Elijah to call the false priests to Mount Carmel. This signifies lifting one’s mind into a state of illumination in which the worship of the Lord might be the source and inspiration of a fruitful life. See AE 601 : “‘The head of Carmel’ signifies the truths of the church, because in Carmel there were vineyards, and ‘wine’ signifies the truth of the church.” AE 730  teaches that “‘Carmel’ signifies the spiritual church, which is in truths from good.” AC 9011  explains for us that “Carmel signifies the church as to the knowledges of good.”
- Are we beginning to get a picture of why Carmel is so significant to our understanding of the spiritual sense? Please go back to the quote from TCR 259 regarding the meaning of “woodland.” Do we, once again, hear the Lord’s challenge on top of Mount Carmel? Do you want to be in the midst of His woodland and vineyard? Do you want to be on the edge, or do you want to be outside? The Lord and His new church are in the midst of His woodland. Will we try to limp between two opinions? No way! The Lord is to be the center. Baal is to be on the outside in a “sandy place where there is not even grass.” (TCR 259)
“Let them feed in Bashan and Gilead, as in the days of old.”
- AE 727  explains that to “…feed in Bashan and Gilead signifies instruction in the goods of the church and in its truths from the natural sense of the Word.”
- AE 163  says that “…by ‘Bashan’ the external of the church, thus the natural, was signified, for Bashan was outside the land of Canaan where the church was.”
- AE 654  explains that “Gilead signifies reasoning from the sense of the letter of the Word…since Gilead was not far from the Euphrates, and wax, balm, and myrrh were from it…” AC 4739 says that “‘…Gilead’ signifies those who are in simple good, such as the Gentiles are in.” AE 434  notes that “Gilead signifies the natural man…”
- Surprisingly, the words “as in the days of old” are used by the Prophets Amos, Isaiah, Malachi, and Micah, and in Matthew’s advent message. AC 2906  explains that “the days of old” stands for the days or state of “the Most Ancient Church.” What is one significant thing about the Most Ancient Church? The people of that Church saw and spoke with the Lord directly. He walked among them. To the Most Ancients, He was in the form of the Divine Human. To them, the Lord was real, and they had full trust and confidence in His guidance and attentiveness. In contrast, the later churches worshipped an “invisible” Lord. They knew Him not, and doubts and confusion over doctrinal things spawned debates and clouded thinking. This invisible concept of God contributed significantly to Israel’s “limping” between the Lord and other gods like Baal. This call for a return to the “days of old” is not a poetical moment of reminiscence about the good old days. This is a call to return to the “now it is permitted to enter understandingly into the mysteries of faith.” (TCR 508 ) The New Church will once again “see” the Lord in His Divine Human. That is a “mission statement” of the New Church. The doctrines of the New Church herald the news that what had become invisible (the Lord) will become visible again.
“As in the days when you came out of the land of Egypt, I will show them wonders.”
- Israel’s time in the land of Egypt was a long and hard state of bondage. It would be overwhelming to summarize in this section all of the wonders the Lord performed for Israel when they came out of Egypt. Think of just a few wonders, beginning with the dividing of the Red Sea, then the manna and quail for 40 years, the pillar of fire at night and the shade of the clouds during the day, clothes and sandals that did not wear out for 40 years, water out of a rock, the sun standing still so that they could defeat an enemy, the gift of the ten commandments, the Ark of the Covenant, the collapse of the walls of Jericho, etc, etc.
- What wonders can we point to as we, too, come out of our state of bondage to Egypt? If we take some quiet time to reflect, I’m sure we will see the wonders of the Lord.
Putting It All Together
“It [the new church] will be taught and led.” (P&P)
The Lord will shepherd (teach) His flock. He will feed them with His essential and vital good and truth. His shepherd’s staff will guide, prod, and support them in their learning process. There is a “solitary” protected garden place that is a heavenly woodland. The “flock” will be surrounded by the “vineyard of God.” It is a verdant woodland. Hell and its legion of detractors will be kept outside His solitary garden in a sandy, barren place that has no grass or vegetation.
The Lord’s re-education of the church will begin with the basics of the literal sense of the Word, called the Bashan and Gilead state. The goal, however, is to gradually move the education of the flock to “the days of old.” Like the people of the Most Ancient Church, His flock will come to see and lovingly obey the ways of the Lord from an inner perception. In this state of innocence, the Divine Human will walk among the flock. He will speak to them of heavenly things that will make Him visible in everything that is within and surrounding them in His woodland.
The Pharisees asked the Lord to rebuke and silence the enthusiasm of His disciples. He replied to them that should the disciples be silenced, “the stones would immediately cry out” and testify of Him. (Luke 19:40) In other words, the correspondential order of the world has the “days of old” story indelibly imprinted in everything to tell those who have a pure heart, mind, and eyes a true celestial story. For them, the Divine Human will come alive and will be thrillingly visible.
The Lord promises He will show us magnificent wonders. Egypt seeks to keep us in a state of bondage. Our schedules are demanding and restrictive, and we don’t always make time to learn about the Lord. If we allow ourselves to be spiritually rescued from this bind, the wonders will unfold, and they will be as countless as in the “days of old.”
Read and Review
Read the selection from P&P.
Read Micah 7:14-15.
Questions to Stimulate Reflection
- One of the things I love about doing this study is the ongoing process of discovery. In my experience, passages and words that seemed confusing and remote come clear with a sense of awesome enlightenment once the spiritual sense is unfolded. A deep sense of peace comes in and offers me comfort and assurance. Is this happening to you as well? I surely hope so, and I would ask that you share these things with others so that we (together) can grow in our daily reading and meditating on the Word.
- This section reminds me of Psalm 23. “The Lord is my shepherd…thy rod and staff, they comfort me…” “Shepherd your people with Your staff…” Are there any other words in the two lessons that tie together for you?
- Carmel was a significant place for the prophets Elijah and Elisha. Can you recall other miracles that happened in this protected and “solitary” place?
- The TCR 259 passage was significant and picturesque. Seeing the verdant garden, the woodland, and the vineyard as the “Lord’s vineyard” helped me. The three choices of positioning, in, near, and outside, were clear. There also was a call from the “Shepherd” to choose the center. Were there any other points in that quote that you found usable for your reflection time?
- Returning to the days of old—how did that challenge you in your thinking about the return to the Most Ancient Church concepts? Was seeing the Lord in His Divine Human one of the points you picked? When we study the five churches, we notice that one of the notable changes that occurred to each church was “seeing” the visible God. Sadly, for the Jewish church, the Lord became invisible. He became a name, a being to be feared, but not one to be kept as a center of worship. Happily, the New Church will see Him as a Divine Human.
- Coming out of Egypt—how many studies, sermons, and meditations on this topic have you heard and thought about? Can you attest to the many wonders that the Lord has performed for us in providing an escape from this state of spiritual bondage?
“The nations shall see and be ashamed of all their might; they shall put their hand over their mouth; their ears shall be deaf. They shall lick the dust like a serpent; they shall crawl from their holes like snakes of the earth. They shall be afraid of the Lord our God, and shall fear because of You.”
Passages from the Writings
- “Infernal things will be removed from it.”
- “That to ‘eat dust all the days of its life’ signifies that their sensuous part became such that it could not live from anything except that which is of the body and the earth, that is to say, that it became infernal, is evident also from the signification of ‘dust’ in the Word; as in Micah…7:14, 16, 17…The ‘days of eternity,’ means the Most Ancient Church; the ‘nations,’ those who trust in their Own, of whom it is predicated that ‘they shall lick the dust like a serpent.’”
AC 7418 
- “By the ‘dust’…is signified what is damned, of which we read…in the following passages…” Micah 7:14, 16, 17 are cited.
- “Noxious serpents, which are of many kinds, signify the sensual things that depend on the evil affections which constitute the interiors of the mind with those who are insane from the falsities of evil; and harmless serpents signify the sensual things that are dependent on the good affections, which constitute the interiors of the mind with those who are wise from the truths of good. Sensual things dependent on evil affections, are signified by serpents in these passages…” Micah 7:17 is cited.
AE 581 
- “Because the craftiness of the evil is diabolical those who are in it are said ‘to eat the dust.’…And in Micah…7:17…‘dust’ signifying what is damned, and ‘to go upon the belly’ signifying the sensual, which is the ultimate of life in man; and as this is the ultimate of life, it is in no intelligence or wisdom, but in craftiness and cunning, which are contrary to intelligence and wisdom.”
“The nations shall see and be ashamed of all their might…”
- AC 249 teaches that “nations” in Micah 7:16 signifies those who trust in themselves. To “see” signifies to perceive. The Lord will show the conceited and proud the folly of trusting in themselves. Will it be easy for them to see these things? They will be “ashamed.” What is involved in this feeling? AC 165 teaches that shame comes about when integrity and innocence are missing. AE 401  adds that shame is present when there is no longer any reception of Divine good and truth. AE 734  says that “shame” signifies a sense that everything of self-intelligence will succumb. This last passage also sheds light on why they were “ashamed of all their might.” In the Lord’s presence and with His opening of their eyes, they saw all of their imagined power of self-intelligence succumbing before the presence and light of the Lord.
“They shall put their hand over their mouth; their ears shall be deaf.”
- We need to focus on the three body parts mentioned: “hand,” “mouth,” and “ears.” And while we consider their correspondences, we need to hold to a key word: “deaf.” In the positive sense, these three parts of the body represent having the power to put uses into our daily living (hand), the ability to express thoughts and ideas from the intellect of the understanding (mouth), and the sense of obedience to the truths of faith (ears). But this verse offers a sense of the opposite of these things because of the word “deaf.” The hand over the mouth indicates unwillingness to express the intellect of understanding in the uses of one’s daily life; and the deaf ear signifies to be “without the understanding of truth, and thence in no obedience…” (AE 455 )
“They shall lick dust like a serpent…”
- To “lick dust” signifies to love the sensual things which are the “lowest of the understanding and will, being in close contact with the world.” (AR 455 ) Putting this in different words, to say someone is licking dust is a correspondential way of saying a person is so earthly minded they are of no heavenly use.
- The meaning of a “serpent” was well explained in AR 455. Please read that number again.
“They shall crawl from their holes like snakes of the earth.”
- To “walk” signifies to live according to the doctrine of faith, but to “‘walk with Jehovah’ is to live the life of love.” (AC 519) To “crawl” signifies inability to “look upward to the things of heaven, but only downward to those of the body and the earth…” (AC 247)
- The meaning of “crawl from their holes” is not directly explained. However, AE 410  states that those who hide themselves in caves (holes) signify those who prefer to live in the evils of life. When a person sensually lives in the evils of life, “the goods in them” have been destroyed. They prefer not to live in the “light of daytime” but in a “thick darkness” of the falsities of evil. Could this possibly shed some light on the words “crawl from their holes”?
“…like snakes of the earth…”
- From Genesis to Revelation, the snake has been the emblem of a force that is opposed to the Lord. A “snake,” in the negative sense, represents the sensuous self-love that desires to separate a person from conjunction with the Lord. The “snake” wishes to invert a person. Snakes encourage speaking truths with the lips only, with the intent to turn “heavenly wisdom into infernal insanity…” (AR 455)
“They shall be afraid of the Lord our God, and shall fear because of You.”
- Is there any doubt about the meaning of these words? Hell shall tremble at the presence of the Lord. Because He Is and they are not, there is no chance of them winning. The hellish spirits will be embarrassed and ashamed that they even thought they could defeat the Divine Human.
Putting It All Together
Remember that P&P summed up this section with these words: “Infernal things will be removed.” Our text does not leave us wondering what evils must go:
- The evil of trusting in self (one’s self-intelligence out of control).
- The evil that thinks it is invincibly mighty.
- The evil that exerts its power (hand) to cover the mouth so that spiritual uses will be blocked and the understanding suppressed from expressing itself.
- The deafness meant by the desire to keep obedience to the Lord and His Word quiet and unresponsive.
- The evil of licking the dust. The soul does not want to lick the dust of sensual things. The soul does not want to crawl on its belly looking downward. The soul wants to be fed by the Lord by looking up to Him.
- The evil of living in dark holes. The soul does not want to live in a confining hole of darkness. It wants the light of heaven.
- The evil of the serpent. The tricks, cunning, and craftiness of the sensual snake will end. Intelligence, wisdom, and innocence will replace evil and flourish within the Lord’s church.
- The evil that fears the Lord. A healthy fear of the Lord will replace arrogance and deceit.
Read and Review
Read the selection from P&P.
Read Micah 7:16-17.
Questions to Stimulate Reflection
- When we read that “those who trust themselves” will be proud, conceited, and full of folly, does that clarify what the Lord says will be “evicted” from His new church?
- The evil of trusting in oneself seems to be at the root of the problem. Are we in total agreement with this point? It seems to be a “yes, but” kind of statement. For instance, having confidence in our ability, believing in our training and expertise, is important. Without a degree of confidence, doubts would cause our enthusiasm to be siphoned off. Having confidence seems like a good thing. Where does a healthy dose of self-confidence stray off and become full of folly and evil? The state of a whining, scared “rabbit” who is hesitant to try anything seems to be fraught with as many problems as that of the over-confident egotist. How does someone learn to achieve a healthy spiritual balance to build the right kind of confidence?
- Our lesson exposes the plan of the evil to implement their power (hand) over the mouth to stifle any positive expression of faith and obedience to the Lord. Can you identify or cite examples to support this teaching? The second example exposes evil efforts to block our “ears” so deafness occurs. This deafness seems to comprise turning a deaf ear to the Lord, not wanting to hear what the Lord says so that we can get what we want and not be bothered with a nagging (warning) conscience. Has anything like this ever happened to you?
- Did you note the different kinds of snakes (serpents) identified in the reading? Sensual things conjoined with insane falsities of evil are the harmful serpents. Whereas harmless serpents are sensual things conjoined with and dependent on good affections. Reflecting on this, do any examples come to mind that might help to illustrate and clarify this distinction?
- Serpents that lick the dust are identified as sensual things that are in close contact with the world. How might we see this so that we can shun this as a sin against the Lord?
- Serpents in their holes indicate hiding, love of darkness, and self-preservation. Evil prefers darkness. It doesn’t like close supervision in the light of the Lord. Is this “derived doctrine” too harsh an interpretation of the meaning of the serpents in their holes?
“Who is a God like You, pardoning iniquity and passing over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He does not retain His anger forever, because He delights in mercy. He will again have compassion on us, and will subdue our iniquities. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea. You will give truth to Jacob and mercy to Abraham, which You have sworn to our fathers from days of old.”
Passages from the Writings
- “The Divine compassion will be there.”
- “…as soon as [the evil] have been devastated, that is, deprived of truths, it is as if their wings were cut off, and then they sink down like weights, and the deeper in proportion as their falsities from evil are worse. From this it is that by ‘depths,’ equally as by ‘abysses,’ are signified the hells…as in these passages…” Micah 7:19 is cited.
AC 9937 
- “…by bearing iniquities…is signified to cast evils and falsities into hell, from which they are; and they are cast thither when they are removed so as not to appear, which is effected when a man is withheld from them by being kept in good by the Lord…The like...is signified by ‘casting them forth into the depths of the sea,’ as in Micah…7:19.”
AE 538 
- “In Micah…7:19…‘the depths of the sea,’…mean the hells where and from which are evils and falsities, it is said ‘He will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.’”
AC 3122 
- “In Micah…7:20…where ‘Jacob’ denotes the Lord’s external man, and ‘Abraham’ the internal, as to the Human.”
“Who is a God like You…?”
- Do we need to remind ourselves that Micah’s name means “who is like the Lord?” This is a reminding, reflective truth that the Lord has no equal. He alone possesses all love and wisdom. He is our very life. The Lord alone is the Substance and Form out of which all creations draw their being. We need to acknowledge, see, and feel, that only the Lord IS. All else is dependent on Him. If the Lord for the least of a moment were to forget or withdraw from anything, it would cease to exist. “Who is a God like You?” are words that bring everything into a proper and orderly perspective.
“…pardoning iniquity and passing over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage…”
- AC 10629 (Elliot translation) explains the words “pardon our iniquity and our sin” as “…being so in order that things on an interior level in them, which teem with falsities and evils, may be shifted away…a church cannot be established among any people unless their interiors are open, through which contact with heaven is effected; and those interiors are not open except in the case of those who are guided by truths of faith grounded in goodness of life, derived from the Lord.”
- AC 7878 explains what is meant by the Lord “passing over” us. “…this signifies…namely, the damnation which is from the hells will do so…Moreover, the sphere of damnation which flows forth from the hells, flees past those who are in truth and good from the Lord; for damnation flows in with those who are in evil and falsity, because there is a state of reception there; but not with those who are in truth and good, for these are opposites, one of which flees from the other.”
- “In the Word evils are sometimes called sins, sometimes iniquities, and sometimes transgressions; but what the specific meaning of each of them is, is not evident except from the internal sense. The word transgressions is used for deeds contrary to the truths of faith, the word iniquitiesfor deeds contrary to the good of faith, and the word sins for deeds contrary to the good of charity and love. The first two kinds of deeds [transgressions and iniquities] spring from a perverted understanding, the last [sins] from a wicked will…” (AC 9156, Elliot translation; emphasis added.)
- “…the remnant of His heritage” conveys a powerful meaning in the spiritual sense. Let’s look first at the word “remnant.” The Writings use this word in various ways. It can be “remnant” or “remains” or “residue.” Each of these terms signifies “truths stored up by the Lord in the interior man.” See AC 5113 . These truths are stored up by the Lord, protected by the Lord; the whereabouts of the “remnant” is known only by the Lord. He does this so that we, or the Hells, cannot alter them. They are wrapped up in loves and kept in a state of innocence.
- The word “heritage” “signifies those of the church [the remnant] who are in the spiritual things of the Word.” (AE 727 )
“He does not retain His anger forever, because He delights in mercy.”
- The Writings are clear and consistent on the teachings about God’s anger. God is never angry. His zeal, His care for and protection of good and truth, are eternal ends, but these Divine ends are perceived by the evil as anger. Listen to and consider these words from AR 658: “…evil is angry with God, and because it appears to man, when he is punished and tormented for it, as is the case after death in hell, as if it were from God, therefore, in the Word, anger and wrath, yea evil, is attributed to God…” Those who are against God feel and burn with anger because they can’t get away with the full fury of their gross hatreds. In due course of the unfolding of Providence, evil people will come before the Lord, and their evil intentions will be subdued and defeated. The Lord will not remain forever silent. His mercy will bring about order. This will be a moment of “loving” delight for those who have trusted and obeyed the Lord and His Word. It will be perceived by the evil as a moment of anger, fury, and punishment. Hell knows not what delights there are in the Lord’s mercy.
“He will again have compassion on us, and will subdue our iniquities.”
- Does the Lord ever stop having compassion for us? Not for the least of a moment. If He ever ceased offering compassion to us, we would disintegrate into a pile of ashes. No, what really is being taught here is that the faithful remnant will once again see and recognize how loving and powerful the Lord is. As a “man of war,” He has always fought for us. We will see the “millions” of things He has done to give us continually those moments of “new beginnings.” Read AC 3854  slowly and reflectively, and you will see the completeness of His compassion and hear convincingly about subduing our iniquities.
“You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.”
- To “cast” or to sink “into the depths of the sea” signifies, in the negative sense, “to be cast down to hell.” (AE 1182 ) The Lord will remove the nagging, negative, hostile ideas of hell that have plagued us, and He will cast them back to the place of their origin. Hell is where they belong. Hell is where they will be bound so they cannot hinder the birth and growth of the new church.
“You will give truth to Jacob and mercy to Abraham which You have sworn to our fathers…”
- This verse from Micah is going to require some thorough reflection time. OK, let’s return to AC 3122 . This passage from the Writings says that “Jacob” denotes the Lord’s external man. “Abraham” denotes “the internal, as to the Human.” Why do we need to know this? It is all about the Lord’s wonderful glorification. He took on the human form and put off all of the inherited tendencies toward evil from His mother Mary. Hell tempted Him in every one of them. He never gave in to a single inherited tendency toward evil. On the cross, when the Lord uttered the words, “It is finished,” He was announcing that His Human was now going to be united with the Divine from which it was begotten. He now was the Divine Human. Glorification happened as promised in the Word. Through this process, He ordered both the heavens and the hells. His glorification, intended and prophesied, was now completed.
“…from the days of old.”
- AC 2906  explains that the words “the days of old” speak of the days or state of the Most Ancient Church. Why is it so important to spend some time breaking out the meaning of this closing meditation? Why end this book of Micah with these words? Do you remember a teaching of the church that says the last things said in a series from the Word sum up the things that proceeded?
- If you turn to the section of this workbook called Epilogue, you will note how the whole series of messages in Micah follow one another and are summed up in the very last things said in Chapter 7. For now, let’s look at the series as recorded in Chapter 7:
- The last time has come upon the Jewish church. Why? Good and truth were no longer a priority for them.
- Total chaos reigned in the church. Falsities and evils fought amongst themselves and against good and truth. This state caused the spiritual collapse of the church.
- The Lord acted prudently. His light of truth, He told them, would come to the rescue. The Lord would institute a new church with a higher obedience and loyalty to His values and priorities.
- The old church would be destroyed to make way for the new church.
- The new church would not be a “favored” people but would be gathered from every nation.
- When the old church had been destroyed, the new church would be taught and led.
- Infernal (hellish) things would be removed.
- The “days of old,” the state of the Most Ancient Church, will return and the Lord will be seen as a Divine Human. He will no longer be invisible. Instead, He will walk among and talk with the people of His church. Innocence and perception will abound within the new church. The Lord will bring Divine compassion upon all who are within His new church.
Can we follow the spiritual progression of the seventh chapter of Micah? Isn’t the last thing said important as a binding and useful summary of all that preceded it?
Putting It All Together
“Who is a God like You?” These words carry a sense of reverential awe and thanksgiving. Without the Lord, it would have been all over for humankind. We were hopelessly lost and spiritually confused. The Lord assumed our human nature and took on the full fury and hatred of the hells. He vanquished their diabolical purposes. Through His restorative redemption, we will find pardon if we shun evils as sins against the Lord. The Lord took the burden of evil and cast it into a deep sea. He cast evil, falsity, and excessive self-confidence back where they belonged. Hell is a place of misery because its inhabitants don’t want the Lord near them. They refuse His delights and mercy. They project on the Lord anger, retaliation, and indifference, when, in fact, that is really what they have in their own hearts against the Lord.
But be of good cheer. The Lord will subdue all of our iniquities. He will gently lead us out of a cold and unresponsive church into the warmth and clearness of light in His new church.
Read and Review
Read the selection from P&P.
Read Micah 7:18-20.
Questions to Stimulate Reflection
- Do you recall some of the exchanges the Lord had with the Pharisees and Scribes? He told them that He came to save the lost. He told them that there were many other sheep from other folds that would be called to the great feast. But they would not listen. Nor did they adhere to what the prophets said about the call of people from many nations. They would not hear of such teachings. They believed they were and would be the favored nation and church. Isn’t that a sad stance? Why not let the truth be truth and obey the words of the Lord?
- As in many of the Minor Prophets we have studied, the details of self-love are exposed and condemned in Micah. We looked at some pretty hard teachings in this study. But in the case of so many of the Prophets, the last chapter brings hope and restoration as a closing theme. Is it important to look at the “spiritual cancer” that has to be eradicated? Isn’t the light following the darkness so much brighter when we see what kind of rescue the Lord brought about for us?
- Have you ever done a thorough study of the Most Ancient Church? The state of their innocence before the fall of Adam and Eve was wonderful. They trusted and relied on the Lord completely. They all spoke one language. The Lord visited and guided them in all of their ways. Innocence and peace thrived among them. Can we picture that state returning to the church? Do we have it as a prayer request? Are we ready to abandon our own self-intelligence for this to come to fruition?