Nahum Table of Contents

Main Table of Contents

 

Minor Prophets: Major Messages

Chapter One of Nahum
 

Nahum 1:1-2

"The burden against Nineveh. The book of vision of Nahum the Elkoshite.

God is jealous, and the Lord avenges and is furious. The Lord will take vengeance on His adversaries, And He reserves wrath for His enemies…"

Passages From the Writings

Prophets and Psalms (P&P)

  • "Concerning the last judgment upon those who are in evils, vers. 1, 2…"

Derived Doctrine

Oracle

  • The word "burden" is not used in the Revised Standard Version of the Bible. In its place is the word "oracle": "An oracle concerning Nineveh."
  • The word "oracle" has these meanings:
    • The medium by which a god reveals hidden knowledge or makes known the divine purpose.
    • A place of communication from God such as the Holy of Holies of the Jewish temple.
    • A thing or person supposed to give divine or authoritative decisions.
    • An authoritative or wise expression; a wise answer.

Burden

  • "Burden," on the other hand, represents "infestations by falsities and the consequent combats…" (Arcana Coelestia [AC] 7109)
  • So which word (oracle or burden) do you think is more in keeping with the intent of the spiritual sense? Let’s hold judgment on this question for just a little longer.
  • "The burden against ‘Nineveh’...signifies falsities from the fallacies of the senses in the obscurity of an unenlightened understanding, and from ignorance..." (AC 1188 [2]) "And by ‘Nineveh’ is signified external worship in which there are falsities." (AC 1188 [3])

Anger and Zeal

  • "…‘to be kindled with anger’ signifies to be indignant. Real spiritual indignation derives nothing from the anger of the natural…but from the interior essence of zeal; which zeal does indeed appear in the outward form like anger, but in internal form is not anger…but is a certain sadness that is attended with a prayerful wish that it be not so; and in a form still more interior it is merely a certain obscure feeling that breaks in on the celestial delight on account of something not good and true in another." (AC 3909)

Vengeance, Revenge, Avenge

  • The words "vengeance," "revenge," and "avenge" are treated similarly in New Church reference books. Therefore, the following explanations would probably apply to any of the three words.
  • "Vengeance signifies the truths by which the Lord fought with the hells." (Apocalypse Explained [AE] 395[13])
  • "Vengeance signifies the Last Judgment and the condemnation of those who, by falsities and evils, have laid waste all the truths of the church." (AE 850)

"He reserves wrath for His enemies…"

  • God is never angry or wrathful with human beings. "…it appears to man, when he is punished and tormented…as if it were from God, therefore, in the Word, anger and wrath, yea evil, is attributed to God." (Apocalypse Revealed [AR] 658) The truth is that God is not angry with people, but people are angry with God. It is that anger toward God that punishes and torments the evil.

Putting It All Together

1. The key to these opening verses seems best summarized with some of the derived doctrine cited above. Consider again these key words: zeal, sadness, prayerful wish, celestial sorrow, and burden. Think of the Lord’s zeal, sadness, prayerful wish that it be not so, and celestial sorrow that Nineveh was not following what is good and true.

2. The "burden of Nineveh" was its wayward, sinful choices. The people of Nineveh had no interest in repentance. In fact, they systematically excused their cruel and self-centered ways. Nineveh became expert in clearing the conscience of any moral and spiritual obligation to the neighbor. Specious reasoning became the normal way of thinking and motivation for action. In more modern terms, we would call the Nineveh state "users" or, even more critically, "leeches." The people of Nineveh considered other people as superfluous in relation to themselves.

In the end, their "religion" brought them into such unenlightened obscurity that the Lord had to expose, and defeat, such a foreboding darkness and ignorance. His zeal, His sadness, His prayer, and His sorrow had to intercede.

Read and Review

Read Nahum 1:1-2.

Read the selection from P&P.

Questions to Stimulate Reflection

  1. The Writings make an important point about the foundations of correct thinking. Whatever is first in a person’s thoughts or beliefs is like the first link of a chain from which all other "links" hang. What kind of beginning link have we been given in this study of Nahum? Have you seen the shift from history to correspondences?

  2. A person’s view of God is like the first link in a chain. If that link is weak, or wrong, or false, all other doctrine that follows becomes vulnerable. Are there ways we can discipline ourselves to periodically check first links? What applications might this teaching have to parenting?

  3. Nineveh represents falsity, spiritual ignorance, a darkened understanding, and specious reasoning used in excuses. Can you identify these characteristics in the world around you? How do you identify and respond to them?

  4. What affectional response do you have to the quote about the Lord’s zeal, sadness, prayer, and sorrow for those in the Nineveh state?

  5. Why is it that those who hate the Lord project on Him, anger, wrath, and vengeance?

  6. Have you thought any more about the choice between the words "oracle" and "burden" as part of unfolding the spiritual sense? Is one more appropriate than the other? Do you see both contributing to the inner meaning?

  7. Reread question 4 and remember your response. Consider that the Lord is Infinite in all that He is and does. Can we comprehend what His Infinite Zeal, Infinite Sorrow, and Infinite Prayer are like?

  8. Is it fair to characterize Nineveh as a culture of "users" or "leeches"? What’s wrong with being a "user" as it is meant in this context?

Nahum 1:3-6

"The Lord is slow to anger and great in power, and will not at all acquit the wicked.

The Lord has His way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of His feet. He rebukes the sea and makes it dry, and dries up all the rivers. Bashan and Carmel wither, and the flower of Lebanon wilts.

The mountains quake before Him, the hills melt, and the earth heaves at His presence, Yes, the world and all who dwell in it.

Who can stand before His indignation? And who can endure the fierceness of His anger? And the rocks are thrown down by Him."

Passages From the Writings

P&P

  • "…that by the Divine presence all things are revealed, and that those who are of the perverted church will not endure, vers. 3-6…"

AC 2162 [15]

  • "In Nahum: (i.3)…where the ‘dust of the feet’ signifies the natural and corporeal things of man, whence come the ‘clouds.’"

AC 9406 [5]

  • "In Nahum: … (i. 3)…where also ‘the clouds’ denote the Word in the sense of the letter, which also is ‘the storm and tempest in which is the way of Jehovah."

AR 343

  • "…a nearer and stronger Divine influx through the heavens disperses the truths with the evil, therefore ‘wind’ signifies the dispersion of the truth with them; and thence their conjunction with hell, and destruction; as may be seen from these passages…" Nahum 1:3 is cited among the passages.

AE 36 [3&4]

  • "Who cannot see that these things are not to be understood according to the sense of the letter, that is, that Jehovah sits upon a cloud, that He rides upon the clouds, and that He makes the clouds His chariot? He who thinks spiritually may know that Jehovah is present in His Divine truth, for this proceeds from Him, consequently that this is what is meant by ‘clouds there’…." Nahum 1:3 is cited.

AE 69 [3]

  • "In Nahum: … (i.3) ‘Cloud’ is the external of the Word, or the Word in respect to the letter. Because ‘cloud’ is the external of the Word, it is also the external of the church and of worship; for the church and worship are from the Word. ‘Clouds’ are called ‘dust of the feet,’ because those things that are in the sense of the letter of the Word, which is natural, appear scattered."

AE 419 [22]

  • "It has been said…that in the spiritual world, as in the natural world, strong winds and tempests spring up; but the tempests in the spiritual world spring from the influx of the Divine into the parts below, where those are in evils and falsities; as that influx descends from the heavens towards the lands that lie below, it becomes more dense and appears like clouds, and with the evil, dense and dark according to the quantity and quality of the evil. These clouds are appearances of falsity from evil, arising from the spheres of their life; for round about every spirit and angel there is a sphere of life. When from the Lord as a sun the Divine is sent forth powerfully and flows into these dense and dark clouds, a tempest arises which is perceived by spirits there in like manner as tempests on earth….It has at different times been granted me to perceive these tempests and also the east wind by which the evil were dispersed and cast into the hells, when the Last Judgment was in progress. From this it can be seen what ‘tempests,’ ‘storms,’ and ‘violent winds’ signify…." We find Nahum 1:3 cited among the many other passages from the Word.

AE 594 [8]

  • "In Nahum: …(i.3) Truth in ultimates, which is the truth of the sense of the letter of the Word, is called ‘clouds, the dust of the feet of Jehovah,’ because it is the natural and lowest truth, into which Divine truth in heaven, which is spiritual, closes, and upon which it subsists. Divine truth in ultimates, because it is but little understood unless there is enlightenment from heaven, is a subject of discussion and controversy, and this meant by ‘storm and tempest in which Jehovah hath His way,’ spiritual ‘storm and tempest’ meaning discussion concerning the genuine sense, which nevertheless, with those who desire truth the Lord enlightens by means of influx."

Derived Doctrine

"Slow to anger and great in power…"

  • In Genesis 34:14, the Lord said, "I will proceed slowly…" AC 4381 explains that this means the conjunction of good and truth is a gradual process. It is a "successive state of preparation." From infancy to adulthood, there is a movement from generals to particulars, from the simple to the complex. So it is also with judgment. The work (zeal) of the Lord will be slow, thorough, and powerful. Falsity will be "emptied out" so that no connection or thread of connection will remain. Nothing escapes His detection.

"[The Lord] will not acquit the wicked…"

  • To "acquit" means to excuse, clear, absolve, discharge, release, whitewash, pardon, or forgive. It is an "…error of the age…. [to believe] that sins are remitted…by the sacrament of the Supper, although they have not removed them from themselves by repentance. They also are in [error] who believe that they are saved by faith alone; also by papal dispensations.… To every one the Lord remits sins. He does not accuse and impute. And yet He can take them away only in accordance with the laws of His Divine providence…" (Divine Providence [DP] 280)

The Rebuke of Jehovah

  • "The rebuke of Jehovah…" means "…the ruin of the church, which takes place when there is no knowledge of truth and good, that is, no living knowledge, because there is no perception; ‘to dry up the sea’ signifies to deprive the natural man of true knowledges, and thus of natural life from the spiritual…." (AE 513 [3])

The Sea

  • A sea "signifies a collection of spiritual and natural knowledges in the memory." (AC 28 and 991)
  • "…the ‘sea,’ [signifies] knowledges…because these are of the understanding of the Word from God…." (AC 2761 [2])

Drying up Rivers and Pools

  • To "dry up rivers and pools" signifies "to annihilate all the understanding and perception of truth, ‘rivers’ signifying intelligence which is of truth…." (AE 405 [47])

"Bashan and Carmel wither…"

  • Bashen signifies the church in its externals, or in the natural man." (AE 163 [8]) Carmel "means fruitful fields, and signifies the spiritual church and its good." (AC 1971 [4])
  • Wither "signifies to dry up, or lack good and truth." (AE 419) Withering "signifies the failing of truth and good in the natural." (AE 403 [21])

"The flower of Lebanon wilts…"

  • Flowers "signify memory knowledges of truth, for they are growths which precede and seem to produce fruit and seed, as knowledge of truth produce with man the things which are of wisdom." (AC 9553)
  • Lebanon "signifies the spiritual church, or spiritual good and truth." (AC 9406 [2])

"The hills melt…."

  • Hills "signify worship of the Lord from love, and worship from charity, which is love to the neighbor…" (AC 795 [4])
  • Melting "signifies that their capacity for receiving heavenly good vanished with their increasing strong desire for external satisfactions." (AC 8487) Melting "signifies that their ability to receive the goods and truths of heaven and the church was in vain." (AE 721 [24])

Heave

  • "…the earth heaves at His presence…" What does the word "heave" mean?
    • The King James Version (KJV) reads "the earth is burned at His presence."
    • The New King James Version (NKJV) has a footnote saying "heaves" means to "burn before Him."
    • The Revised Standard Version (RSV) has "the earth is laid waste before Him."
    • The Jerusalem Bible has "the earth collapses before Him."

Putting It All Together

1. With so much given to us in direct and derived teachings, it will be a challenge to keep this summary brief. But here goes my attempt to do so. I am trusting that you will try to make a summary of your own. Let’s begin with the summary as given us in P&P. "By Divine presence all things are revealed…" Picture in your mind the Lord revealing the true intent of the corrupted church. His Presence will reveal the true intent of the church. With it comes the Divine statement that He will not allow the falsities of the church to endure any longer. Its unsound and falsely constructed mental system is about to crumble under the weight of its selfish ends.

2. What brought the corrupted church of Nineveh into this state? Two major things are mentioned. The church was natural and corporeal. Love of the world and love of selfish pleasures were the things they worshiped most. Consequently, their spiritual eyes were "clouded," and they were confused and doubtful about the holiness of the Word. Controversy swirled around them. Their debates were not helpful in settling spiritual matters, and they did not connect religion to their lives. Religion was dedicated to loving charity and performing uses to the Lord and neighbor, and such actions were not in keeping with their choices. Most likely, the debates about doctrine were intended to show the cleverness and agility of their human prudence. What’s the "bottom line"? Their choices helped them achieve an unhealthy conjunction with hell and separated them from heaven.

3. The "Lord’s Presence" reviewed every "Nineveh" decision thoroughly, one by one. The corruption of the church could not continue. Sin and evil had to be emptied out. No longer could anyone or any philosophy rationalize or justify its position. Words would no longer hide the real intentions.

As a consequence, the Lord would dry up the "seas" and "rivers." The shallow memory knowledges of their false understanding would be exhausted. The Word is quite descriptive of the action the Lord would take. The people of Nineveh were to be "dried up." Their external "flowers" and "fruit" would be taken away.

4. This portion of the Word ends with varied images: Hills melting; the earth (the mind) burning in His presence; the mind "laid to waste"; and the mind "collapsing before Him." No matter which of these events you picture, it is an image that is easy to hold on to. Nahum was prophesying that the hard ground of the mind was going to experience a Divine upheaval. If new beginnings were to occur in the mind (ground), there had to be upheavals, a turning of the soil so that new seeds of truth could begin to replace the dull and unproductive "old crop."

Nineveh, the representation of obscurity, an unenlightened understanding, superficial worship, and love of self and the world, was about to have its "burden" broken up by the "presence of the Lord." This is a prophecy of the Last Judgment that was to make way for the Crown of all Churches, the descent of the Holy City New Jerusalem.

Let’s question again the divine purpose of the Lord’s presence. Was it a visit or presence of anger? Was it motivated by vengeance? Was it really caused by His terrible wrath? The answer depends on whose side we consider. From the perspective of heaven, it was a necessary and loving presence that would enable the restoration of order. From the perspective of hell, where the spirits hates His presence and wishes to obliterate His Holy Name, it was a horrible visitation. To hear that they would be "dried up" and lose the power of worldly and corporeal delights made it seem like a wrathful, avenging presence.

Read and Review

Read Nahum 1:3-6.

Read the selection from P&P.

Questions to Stimulate Reflection

  1. What points would you like to add to the summary given above?

  2. Are there current events that seem to fit into the summary? Remember, we don’t want to lock this study in time and space history. 612 BC was a long time ago. Life experiences of today must flow into our applications, with the help of the Lord’s Presence.

  3. Nahum may have been the writer of this book, but do you think he had any idea of the far reaching eternal values of the correspondences contained in these verses? Talk about the timelessness of the Word.

  4. Looking back in your life, what upheavals would you list or identify as "life saving" and helpful? Perhaps you didn’t think of them as helpful at the time, but when you look back and reflect on them, you may see they were of great significance and a necessary part of your spiritual growth.

  5. Is the Divine visitation to Nineveh something that happens repeatedly throughout the generations? Is it a process that occurs in us over and over again during our regeneration?

Nahum 1:7

"The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; and He knows those who trust in Him."

Passages From the Writings

P&P

  • "…that the Lord protects those who trust in Him, vers. 7…"

Derived Doctrine

"The Lord is good…"

  • When we read passages such as this one, many avenues of application must come to mind. The Lord is the End, Cause, and Effect of all things. End represents Love or Good. Cause represents Wisdom or Truth, and Effects represent Uses. There is a correct way and a wrong way to approach the Lord. Thinking from END to CAUSE to EFFECT is the orderly progression. Put another way, thinking must progress from LOVE to WISDOM to USE. Thinking from Effect to Cause to End is the wrong way, and it leads to all falsity. Divine Love and Wisdom (DLW) 187 warns that "to see on the basis of effects alone is to do so on the basis of fallacious appearances, from which spring errors, one after another, which can be so multiplied by inductive reasonings that at last egregious falsities are called truths."
  • "The Lord is good…." This reminds us to begin with the FIRST or END. All that which is not connected to the First cannot have true or eternal existence. So those who want to have His protection must see, feel and believe that the Lord is good. His love endures forever and ever and is our starting point.

"A stronghold…"

  • The A Dictionary of Bible Imagery by Alice Sechrist suggests looking up "fortress" and "citadel" when checking the meaning of "stronghold." A "fortress signifies the defense which divine good gives by divine truth." (AE 316 [10]) "Citadels signify defense against falsities and evils from the literal sense of the Word." (AE 727 [4])

"Trust in Him…"

  • All trust and confidence "…draws its being (esse) from the end or goal of life, and so it is truly found only in what is good." (AC 4683)

"In the day of trouble…"

  • Day represents "states of man’s regeneration." (AC 6) Trouble signifies "labor in temptations." (AC 8670) Regeneration only occurs when we face spiritual temptation, so what may seem like a day of trouble may really be an opportunity from the Lord to start a "new day."

Putting It All Together

1. Having a stronghold, a fortress, a citadel that can protect us from the wiles of hell depends on what is First with us. Love is diligent and protective. The Lord’s watchfulness sees the approach of the enemy. He provides the Divine Protection for the legion of disorders in hell’s bag of wily tricks. The Lord’s protection is ever alert. He will keep us safe even when hell quotes or calls to mind things from the literal sense of the Word that seem hurtful and wrong.

2. Isn’t it wonderful that we can say: The Lord is Omniscient, Omnipotent, and Omnipresent. Nothing is greater or more loving than the Lord! His way is the safe way. The Lord protects those who trust in Him. "So may it ever be" cries out the soul within all of us.

Read and Review

Read Nahum 1:7.

Read the selection from P&P.

Questions to Stimulate Reflection

  1. Is the importance of End, Cause, and Effect clear in your mind? Can you see why thinking from effects leads to all falsity?

  2. Try to pick an example of a time or instance where you used right thinking. Then try thinking of an instance where you used wrong thinking. How were they different? Do you see the importance of right thinking?

  3. Trust in the Lord. That is hard at times. We are so into the "as-of-self" mode of living that it is sometimes hard for us to let go and have confidence in the Lord. Have you found a way to rely more on the Lord than on your as-of-self? How did you find it?

  4. "In the day of trouble…" This refers to a time of temptation, a time when we feel alone and quite vulnerable. We feel startled, perturbed, hurt, troubled, and betrayed. Our life is in turmoil, and we feel like quitting. Doesn’t it seem important to have a prayer for such days? The Lord’s Prayer? The Twenty Third Psalm? Saying in our mind "The Lord protects those who trust Him"? How does prayer help us in temptation? How does it help when we feel alone?

  5. Do you remember an old hymn called "What a friend we have in Jesus…"? Some of the words in that song might not be doctrinally correct, but the idea of having the Lord as our Divine Friend is comforting and powerful. I sing this song to myself. How about you?

Nahum 1:8-11

"But with an overflowing flood He will make an utter end of its place, and darkness will pursue His enemies. What do you conspire against the Lord? He will make an utter end of it. Affliction will not arise up a second time. For while tangled like thorns, and while drunken like drunkards, they shall be devoured like stubble fully dried. From you comes forth one who plots evil against the Lord, a wicked counselor."

Passages From the Writings

P&P

  • "…but that those who are in falsities will perish, vers. 8-11…."

Coronis 34 [2]

  • "In an overrunning inundation He shall make a consummation of the place thereof, and thick darkness shall pursue His enemies (Nah, i.8)…"
  • "By ‘the inundation’ which shall consummate, is signified the falsification of truth, and by ‘thick darkness,’ truths themselves in the night…"

Coronis 58 [5]

  • "The state of the consummation of the Israelitish Church is described in both the historical and the prophetical parts of the Word….The passages in which the vastation, desolation, and consummation of this church, are further mentioned, shall only be named…" Nahum 1:8-9 is cited.

Derived Doctrine

"…overflowing flood…."

  • The New English Bible (NEB) translation of Daniel 11:40 speaks of a "sweeping over like a flood…" which "signifies to immerse in falsities and evils." (AE 355 [20])
  • Revelation 12:15 says, "And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a river after the woman, that he might cause her to be swallowed up by the river…." This passage describes the efforts of hell to inundate the church with falsities, "which, if confirmed, appear outwardly like truths, but within they conceal falsities in abundance." (AR 563)

To "pursue His enemies…"

  • "To ‘pursue the enemies’ is here to expel the evils and falsities which were with the goods and truths, and that caused them to merely appear to be goods and truths, and thus to liberate and purify them." (AC 1710)

Utter

  • The word "utter" means complete or total. The Lord promises that He will bring an end, a complete and total end, to the "overflowing flood" of falsity His adversaries sought to implement under the protection, and stealth, of darkness. The Lord will pursue such things to liberate and purify the church.

"What do you conspire against the Lord?"

  • In addition to the word "conspire," we need to consider "plot" and "machinations." There is a quote in the Arcana that gives the signification of "conspiring." It seems to go to the heart of our study. "…the signification of ‘conspiring,’ as being to will from a depraved mind, since whatever men will from a depraved mind, they conspire to accomplish…" (AC 4724)

"Afflictions shall not arise the second time…"

  • We will need to keep this passage under some prayerful consideration for enlightenment. There are at least two ways we might apply this teaching. First, could the following number from the Arcana give us a starting point? "…the consummation of the age, or last times of the church, are treated of; ‘affliction’ denotes temptations, both external and internal, the external being persecutions from the world, and the internal being persecutions from the devil." (AC 1846) Remember, we are considering the wording "second time." Could the first affliction represent the "worldly affliction" of the external as it relates to the church? Could the second time represent the effort of hell (the devil) to inflict temptation on the internals of the Lord? Second, is this reference reminding us that hell had its first chance when the Lord assumed the human and defeated their "first" efforts to afflict Him? That attempt failed. The Lord defeated every effort of hell. He Glorified His Human as planned for the salvation of mankind.
  • Does it mean that hell had one chance and will never get a second chance? When the Lord brings about the Last Judgment, He will "utterly" end the "devil’s" efforts to conspire, or plot, against His internal. Thus, this prophetic statement announces to the faithful that the persecution of hell will be over.

"Tangled like thorns…"

  • The word tangled is not given a representation in the Writings. Roget’s Thesaurus offers words like web, trap, snare, mesh, mixture, disorder, or difficulty as synonyms for tangled. The RSV uses the word "entangled." With these suggested words let’s consider how they might fit in with thorns.
  • The Writings teach that thorns represent "…the concupiscences of evil…" (AC 3310 [2]) "The falsities of concupiscences… [which are] confirmatory of the things of the world and its pleasures…" (AC 9144 [9])
  • The point of the phrase "tangled like thorns" seems to be to expose the vast network of confirmations of falsity that evil uses, as a trap and a snare, to justify their pleasures. To the natural mind, the prickly thorns present a hurtful maze. To the Divine mind, they are discernible and therefore easily rendered harmless.

"… and drunken like drunkards…"

  • AR 721 seems to summarize this quote well. "Drunk signifies [to be] infatuated or insane in regard to spiritual things." AC 1072 reminds us that "they are called drunkards in the Word who believe nothing but what they comprehend, and in this spirit inquire into the mysteries of faith, in consequence of which they must needs fall into many errors."

"They shall be devoured like stubble fully dried…."

  • Two references in the Arcana offer us help with this portion of the prophecy. "Stubble, being the grain bearing stalk, denotes scientific truth." (AC 7131) "To be consumed as stubble denotes full vastation." (AC 8285)
  • Note: "Scientific truth" is a term the Writings use to denote truth that appears in the light of the world and is used to confirm one’s beliefs or human prudence. Scientifics are not good or bad until one sees the end they serve. In this passage, it is clear that scientific truths were misused. "Dry stubble" implies a lifeless and useless love that was extinguished and deprived of its "liquid" wholesomeness. It was not deprived by the Lord but by its own evil.

"From you comes forth one who plots evil against the Lord, a wicked counselor."

  • With the word "counselor," we might find it useful to think of the words "advisor" and "guide" when using derived doctrine.
  • To work toward the internal sense, we need to understand who the "you" is that comes forth to plot evil. Would we be safe to assume that "you" is a reference to a disorderly proprium? Some New Church translators have used the word "own" for proprium. What is "one’s own" certainly connotes something that comes forth from everyone’s "as-of-self" wish. A proprium that wants to follow its own way will resist the Lord’s efforts to lift it to a higher "Proprium" that is from the Lord. It makes sense that the unregenerate proprium would plot and consider all kinds of insubordinate villainies in order to get its "own" way.

Putting It All Together

1. The message to the faithful is positive and direct. The free reign of hell to flood and (inundate) overwhelm the minds of sincere people will be ended. The rebel within the proprium will not be able to plot and take counsel against the Lord.

2. The Lord spoke directly to the offenders: The tangle of thorns will no longer trap and hurt our efforts to make progress with regeneration. The noisy, feisty spiritual drunkards will lose their fascination and stagger with an intoxicated mentality regarding the meaning of the Lord’s Word. The Light of the Lord will expose the squalor and neglect in the shelter and hiding place of darkness. The tasteless and dry stubble will be taken away, and although there is no mention of what will replace it, we can be sure that it will be something that will nourish the soul. We have the promise of such care in these words: "You open Your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing." (Psalm 145:16)

Read and Review

Read Nahum 1:8-11.

Read the selection from P&P.

Questions to Stimulate Reflection

  1. The next time evil brags about its beauty, flexibility, and strength (or whatever foolishness it rants about), how might remembering these verses help you to put hell to flight? Can you think of specific situations in which these verses would be helpful?

  2. Have you ever noticed the various ways drunkenness manifests itself with people? Some sit in the corner, weeping and whining about "poor me." Some are silly or giddy drunks. Everything strikes them funny. Some become obnoxiously loud and talkative. They are annoying and intrusive. The worst drunks are those who want to fight anyone they meet, who act as if they could conquer any and all. What are the differences between drunken people and people who are sober?

  3. Hell’s inebriated states are similar to these drunken states, aren’t they? The hells intend to disarm us. They love to intimidate. They fill our minds with pouting references to how unfair things are. They love to brag about how much stronger they are than the Lord. They laugh off any serious topic and make light of eternal values. How do we cope with these "spiritual drunks"?

  4. The proprium is a difficult foe to unseat or discipline. Have you had a recent battle with yours? Is it possible to put off our proprium so as to take on the Lord’s Proprium? How?

  5. Life has a great number of tangled thorns. Pruning thorns is not a simple task. A few years ago, my yard was filled with them. In the process of getting rid of them, I "got" as good as I "gave." I cut them; they cut and scratched my hands. They clung to my pants (front, back, and on the sides). If I didn’t pull them off my clothes the right way, they snagged tighter. It took years of thorn cutting to rid my lot of their pervasive dominance. Does my experience with tangled thorns match an experience you had? How does this add to our lesson? What about that crown of tangled thorns they put on the Lord’s head? Doesn’t that "crown of thorns" seem powerfully representative of what the Lord came to fight and overcome?

  6. Imagine a town where almost all of the people are insane. Insert a couple of sane people. What would the insane think of the sane? How would the sane ones face the town’s "norms"? In a sense, this proposed scenario is like hell. Hell’s madness tells us we are the weak and crazy ones. It says we fixate on sin and repentance, trying too hard to regenerate. Can we hear their mocking voices? "Lighten up! You are making yourself weak, sickly, uptight, and unhealthy." Then they present themselves as hale and hearty fellows who are able to adjust and change easily to life situations. What do you hear the angels saying in response to them?

Nahum 1:12-14

"Thus says the Lord: Though they are safe, and likewise many, yet in this manner they will be cut down when he passes through. Though I have afflicted you, I will afflict you no more; for now I will break off his yoke from you, and burst your bonds apart.

The Lord has given a command concerning you: Your name shall be perpetuated no longer. Out of the house of your gods I will cut off the carved image and molded image. I will dig a grave, for you are vile."

Passages From the Writings

P&P

  • "…but that those who are not of the above church, and are in falsities from ignorance, will be accepted, and their falsities removed, vers. 12-14."

Derived Doctrine

"Thus says the Lord…"

  • When we read in the Word that "Jehovah said" or the "Lord speaks," these "simple words" take on a huge and important meaning when the doctrines are opened. AC 2619 illustrates this fact with detailed information. We are taught that what really is being said is that the Lord perceives all things from His Divine Celestial (Divine Good) through His Divine Spiritual (Divine Wisdom). So when He speaks or says anything, it comes from His Celestial Love, a love that goes beyond the comprehension of celestial angels. When He speaks from His Wisdom, from a Divine Spiritual Understanding, He unfolds all paradoxes, all motives, all mysteries that humans and angels have caused or wrestled with for ages and ages. His Love and Wisdom are balanced and in perfect harmony. There are no gray areas. There is no "unfairness" in His judgment. He shows no "favorites." His pronouncements carry no misstatements or mistakes. There are no misrepresentations. Everything is clear as day to Him. Darkness can hide nothing from His eyes. Darkness is like the light of day to Him. Hidden motives are laid bare. Knowing this, the words "Thus says the Lord…." will capture our attention and obedience in a deeper way.

  • Someone might remark, "Why doesn’t the Lord say such things plainly? Why are things hidden in the spiritual sense? Why use terms like "Divine Celestial through the Divine Spiritual?" It may not be the perfect answer for these questions, but I tend to reflect on the teachings that say the Lord wants to protect us and our freedom and rationality. Only those willing to search for the truth of the spiritual sense will find answers. "Influx is directly proportional to efflux." (AC 5828 [3]) Only those willing to search for deeper truths will find and appreciate His answers, and will treasure and keep the inner meaning. The next time you read the words "Jehovah said" or "The Lord speaks," perhaps you will find yourself picturing a fuller meaning and application to life. Indeed, they are simple words but what powerful and rich truths lie in them, waiting to be found.

"…though they are safe, and likewise many…"

  • So reads the New King James Version (NKJV). "Though they be strong and many…" is the way the Revised Standard Version (RSV) reads. Would you have imagined "safe and strong" as having the same root meaning? Both translations kept the "many" wording. Let’s say it again: Safe… many, and strong… many. Do they mean the same thing?
  • The entry for "safe" in Pott’s Concordance refers the reader to "protect." Then "trust" is suggested, and "confidence" finally emerges as a word that seems to tie all three together. In AC 2982, we read: "…the very faith itself which saves is confidence; but this confidence is quite impossible except in the good of life. Without the good of life there is no reception, and where there is no reception there is no confidence, except at times a certain apparent confidence, in suffering conditions of mind or body, when the cupidities of the love of self and the world are at rest. But with those who are in evil of life, when this crises passes or the condition is changed, such fallacious confidence altogether vanishes; for a confidence is found even with the wicked. But whoever desires to know the quality of his confidence, let him examine in himself the affections and ends, as well as the practices of his life."

  • Strong, in AE 504 [26], "…signifies what is hatched out from self-intelligence; he who trusts in himself and his own intelligence is often called ‘strong’ in the Word, for he regards himself and his work that he brings forth as strong…" So "strong and many" implies the belief that might (numbers) makes right. People who justify their deeds and thoughts by pointing out that a majority of other people support them have no standing with the Lord, especially if their ideas were hatched out of self-intelligence.

"…yet in this manner they will be cut down…."

  • Let’s look at how "cut" is used in the Word.
    • Cut or cutting is used in the spiritual sense to illustrate the shallowness of earning merit. The examples given in the Writings deal with cutters (mowers) of grass and hewers of wood. These "hewers" worked for praise. Another example given is the Lord’s command not to put "hewn stones" in the construction of altars dedicated to worship Him. They were forbidden to chisel or shape the stones so as to not offer anything in worship that was artificially made or fashioned by their hands.
    • To cut off signifies "that divine truth shall be taken from…people, but shall live again in a new church." (AE 315 [23]) To cut off means "to protect and thus to remove…" (AC 9316)
    • To cut asunder represents the dissipation of falsity. (AC 8184)
    • To cut down represents "… that doctrinal things are to be utterly rejected." (AC 10644)
  • It is becomes clear that the Lord was telling those outside of the church that He was going to cut off, cut down, cut asunder, remove, dissipate, and reject all things within their religion that lacked connection with Him and the Word.

"…when he passes through."

  • When it is said that the Lord passes through, it means that He will know and perceive the quality of good and that He will lead and teach them. See AC 3992.

"Though I have afflicted you, I will afflict you no more…"

  • To use derived doctrine, we need to keep our mind focused on the summary from P&P. Those who are not of the Nineveh church, those who were not in it but are in falsities from ignorance, will be accepted and their falsity will be removed. Therefore, our theme draws us to look for, and anticipate, Divine help and hope.
  • AC 1947 [6] seems to come close to shedding light on this passage. "…‘affliction’ denotes the mastering and subjugation of the evils and falsities that rise up from the external man into the rational…. ‘afflictions’ also denote temptation…"

"…for now I will break off his yoke from you…"

  • AE 365 [27] teaches "…‘the bonds of the yoke’ [mean] the delights of evil from the love of self and the world, which keep them bound, and ‘those who make them to serve’ [mean] falsities, since these make them to serve those evils." The words "his yoke" seem to refer to the one who does the bonding. Note well that it could be easy to blame "his" as if it meant hell or the devil. But in reality, are we not the ones who bind ourselves when we choose to accept evils as sins?
  • The Lord promises to burst the yoke apart. Here the spiritual sense seems clear and direct. The Lord promises to rip, rend, break, or burst apart the power or strength of evil and falsity. He offers a chance to make a new start, an opportunity to gain freedom from the servitude of ignorance. The ability to be a "self-starter" by understanding and applying New Church truths is the promise one must look forward to as this portion of our text is read.

"The Lord has given a command concerning you…"

  • We have a passage in the Writings that seems to help us with this portion of the prophecy. In AC 783, we read "As God commanded…signifies that he had been prepared to receive…with the Lord, to ‘command’ is to prepare and do."

"…your name shall be perpetuated no longer…"

  • The spiritual meaning of the word "name" signifies the essence or quality of a person’s affections. AC 143-145 explain how the people of the Most Ancient Church knew the essences of others by their names. AC 1308 teaches that "name" may also signify something about those who seek a reputation for power. AC 145 explains what the Word means by "…they shall be called by a new name…" as signifying to become of another character. And lastly, let’s consider this teaching in AE 724 [34] that explains the words of Isaiah 14:22 "Cut off…the name and remnant…" as signifying that all truths, or falsities, from first to last will perish and will be swept away.

"Out of the house of your gods, I will cut off the carved image and molded image…."

  • Could there be a spiritual reason the Lord used "out of the house…" instead of "out of the home…?" The word "house" seems impersonal. "Home" has a warmer and more affectional meaning. Webster’s Dictionary says a home is "the abiding place of the affections."
  • Let’s see if there is some correspondential validity to this question. A house signifies accumulated memory knowledges. (AC 1488) In AC 3036, 3736, and 5253, a house represents that which is of the memory knowledges, with their seeming attractiveness. On the other hand, a home signifies the truths and goods by which people live. (AC 4651) The home or a habitation signifies the perpetual presence of the Lord. See AE 630 [9] or TCR 74 [3]. A house holds things that are of the memory. A home holds things that are of the affections in one’s heart and life.

Images

  • Carved and molded images; graven or molten images; idols and figures signify the falsity of a person’s selfhood (proprium) and its evil. See AC 215.

"I will dig a grave, for you are vile."

  • That which is vile in the eyes of the Lord signifies everything of the church — its doctrines and goods, and truths — being profaned. (AE 827 [5]) Graves can signify spiritual death (AE 659 [7]), damnation by falsities (AC 8165), or hell, for those who are spiritually dead (AE 659 [9]). Whereas, digging has means to search for truths or to look for a way to open truths from good. (AE 918 [4])

Putting It All Together

We had only one reference from the Writings to work with for these three verses. P&P provided us with the summary that told us the Lord will remove the falsities from those "outside" of the Nineveh church. Acceptance for those outside the church of Nineveh is mentioned in the summary. Rejection is directed to the harmful things learned from ignorance and unenlightenment. So as we look over the derived doctrine notes, the quote from P&P must direct our attempt to draw things to a summary.

1. The Lord will open to each person what is true and false. With clarity He will "speak"; He will "say"; He will separate out things that were taught incorrectly. Historical faith will be put aside. No longer will tradition, human prudence, or "hatched" ideas from self-intelligence persuade or determine what people value as standards. The Lord will "cut down" the empty and vain concepts of the proud and pompous doctrine makers.

2. Falsity always hurts the soul. What might have seemed like a "victimless" falsity will be shown for what is: an affliction, a yoke, a burden that needs to be broken by the Lord. From "first to last will be swept away." He will be our emancipator. When He does this, our name, our quality, will be freshened up. He will give each person a "new name."

3. From our "houses," memory knowledges will be cleared of the "idols" made by our hands or mind molds. What seemed attractive as a thought will be shown for what it really is — vile and worthy of being put in the grave. The Lord’s digging within the mind and heart will bring the goods and truth necessary to bury falsity and profanation. The falsity of our proprium will be changed by the Lord. Our "homes" will house the affections of our hearts and will assist us in the application of doctrine to life.

Read and Review

Read Nahum 1:12-14.

Read the selection from P&P.

Questions to Stimulate Reflection

  1. How do you feel about the large amount of derived doctrine we needed to help us understand these verses?

  2. What is one essential point you drew from the summary of the internal sense of these three verses? Why do you think it is essential?

  3. Can you contrast the views of those within the Nineveh church with the view of those outside of it? We must see this because the Lord said He would accept and help those outside of the church.

  4. Were those inside the Nineveh church hopelessly lost in their spiritual insanity? Why or why not?

  5. What do you think of the distinction we noted between "house" and "home"?

  6. Do you believe there is such a thing as a "victimless" act? Some imagine that an act is quite harmless if consenting people are involved and no one gets "hurt." "What’s the harm?" they ask. What kind of response would you offer to this philosophy? Can you think of real-life examples to support your response?

  7. Can you give any examples that would illustrate the meaning of carved and molded images?

  8. Review the teaching about putting vile things into their graves. Habits are not always seen as vile. If "the Lord speaks" of one of our pet habits as vile, do we try to defend its existence and importance or do we bury it as soon as possible?

To next chapter