Thus says the Lord God concerning Edom (we have heard
a report from the Lord, and a messenger has been sent among the
nations, saying, ‘Arise, and let us rise up against her for battle’):
‘Behold, I will make you small among the nations; you shall be greatly
despised. The pride of your heart has deceived you. You who dwell in
the clefts of the rock, whose habitation is high; you who say in your
heart, ‘Who will bring me down to the ground?’".
"Concerning those who are in self-intelligence, and who pervert the
literal sense of the Word, who are Edom; that they are to be combated,
because they imagine themselves more intelligent than the rest, vers.
"…they who have pretended before the world that they were in the
good of love, and yet were in evil, hide themselves after death in
caves; and they who have pretended that they were in truths of faith,
and yet were in the falsities of evil, hide themselves in the rocks of
the mountains." Obadiah 1:3 is cited along with other passages.
"To dwell in the holes of a rock is [to be] in falsities of faith.
The subject here is those who exalt themselves above others, believing
that they are more learned than the rest of mankind, when yet they are
in falsities and cannot even see truths. Such in the other life dwell in
the holes of rocks, and sometimes thrust themselves forth upon the
rocks…. his is meant by holding the height of the hill, and mounting on
high as an eagle…and yet being brought down." Obadiah 1:3-4 are cited.
Apocalypse Explained (AE) 410 
"In Obadiah (i. 3-4)…Edom, who signifies here the pride of learning
which is from self-intelligence, and falsity therefrom destroying the
church.… ‘the clefts of the rock’ signify the falsities of faith and of
doctrine, because those dwell there who are in such falsities…"
Obadiah’s name means "servant of the Lord," so this helps us
identify which kind of vision we are studying. It is a Divine vision
received in a spirit of willingness to serve the Lord. It is a spiritual
mission that is not limited to time and space but to eternal ends.
AC 4674 helps us answer this question when it explains that a
"report" or "news" signifies that which is from the divine truth. A
report’s purpose is to help us discern the quality of evil and falsity.
"…a messenger has been sent among the nations, saying…"
AR 667 teaches that nations in the positive sense signify those
who are in the good of love and charity from the Lord. Whereas in the
negative sense, nations signify those who trust in their own selfhood.
A messenger, or to send a messenger, signifies to communicate.
(AC 4239) Near the end of AC 4239, it mentions that Jacob
sending messengers to Esau represents bringing conjunction between the
"truth Divine of the natural (which is Jacob) and the good Divine
therein (which is Esau)." The point being illustrated is that the Lord
was forming a coalition of those who had a common spiritual interest.
Uniting the "brothers" would bring an end to the haughty estrangement
that the falsity of self-intelligence felt was invincible.
Let’s not overlook that very last word, "saying." In the internal
sense, "saying" can represent the following things: to reveal; a new
light is to come; to perceive; to think (and to do); and to predict.
The Lord is calling for a battle to be waged against Edom’s
arrogance. Where does arrogance reside and draw its life? The heart or
affections is where it (hides) lives. The affections correspondently are
called she, her, woman, etc.
"Behold, I will make you small among the nations;"
Do we need derived doctrinal quotes to perceive this meaning? Do we
not feel in our hearts what the Lord is predicting? Edom, with its smug
self-assurance, will be brought into a low state. Like a giant balloon,
its conceited air will be expelled in an instant. In the Lord’s
presence, Edom cannot stand tall.
There is a law of the Lord stated in the literal sense of Obadiah.
"As you have done, it shall be done to you." (1:15) The Edomites
despised good and truth and fervently loved falsity. What is loved
becomes one’s life. Therefore, the enlightened, the nations called to do
battle against Edom, will "greatly" despise the falsities of Edom’s way
of life. In effect, the hatred the Lord’s army felt for Edom is not the
ugly face of war but a shining face that reflects a holy fear to protect
the Lord’s Word from those who would profane and mock it.
"The pride of your heart has deceived you…"
Pride is called "the love of self." (AC 1306) Pride comes
about when the external man develops self-confidence bolstered and
inspired by false reasonings. (AC 1585 ) Pride enjoys and
attempts to have a dominating power over others. (AC 8678) Pride
seeks to have its own way and tolerates others to the degree they favor
its self love. (AE 518 )
There is a challenge in these words that cannot be missed or
excused. The Lord faced the most grievous temptations the hells could
bring to bear. They mocked Him from the beginning of His ministry in the
wilderness to the cross. "You saved others, now save yourself." Hell is
full of contempt and rebellion. Here in the literal sense, we see it
clearly stated: Who will bring me down?
1. The passage in P&P pulls all of the above
together beautifully. "…those who are in self-intelligence, and who
pervert the literal sense of the Word…they are to be combated, because
they imagine themselves more intelligent than the rest…" We are called to
be brave soldiers in the Lord’s army. We need to despise the life of evil
because it loves falsity and hates truth: it favors self and hates the
The choice is plain. It’s Edom’s way or the Lord’s way.
The outcome is not debatable. Edom will be made low in spite of its
pretentious bragging. No matter how cleverly Edom lays out its strategy,
it will fall. Edom’s height on the mountain will not save it from the
Lord’s presence. Wherever the Lord brings good and truth, evil and falsity
cannot remain in His presence.
1. Have you ever met, read, or heard someone who imagines
they are more intelligent than the rest of the human race? How does that
person relate to other people? How do other people relate to him or her?
2. Did you try to wage a mental battle against their
thinking? What was the outcome?
3. Hiding up in the mountain gives the person up an
advantage on the one below who is climbing up the mountain. Those on top
can cause an avalanche of stones to advance on the persons below. They can
use poles, javelins, arrows, or hot oil to push people backwards. What
does this tell us about hell’s imagined defense against the truth of the
4. What about the other side of this issue? Is there
confidence in these verses that the up-hill battle can be won with the
Lord’s help? Give examples.
5. The confederation of nations, the brotherhood of the
will and understanding being called by the Lord, is a force to fight with
against hell. What ways can you see this happening in the church? What
about in daily life?
6. If a modern-day prophet were to give us a report on
what we are doing to the literal sense, do you imagine we might hear some
strong words of condemnation? How do we treat the Lord’s Word as an
organization? As individuals? What informs our choices about the Word?
"Though you ascend as high as the eagle, and though
you set your nest among the stars, from there I will bring you down,"
says the Lord.
"If thieves had come to you, if robbers by night- Oh,
how you will be cut off! – Would they not have stolen till they had
enough? If grape gatherers had come to you, would they not have left
"The subject here is those who exalt themselves above all others,
believing that they are more learned than the rest of mankind…. This is
meant by holding the height of the hill, and mounting on high as an
eagle, and setting his nest among the stars, and yet being brought
"In Obadiah i. 3, 4…pride of learning which is from
self-intelligence, and falsity…destroying the church…are compared to an
eagle because the eagle from its lofty flights signifies the pride of
self-intelligence; so, too, a ‘nest for habitation’ is mentioned, and
‘to set it among the stars’ signifies in the heights where those dwell
who are in the knowledges of truth, for the knowledges of truth are
signified by ‘stars.’ "
"In Obadiah 1:4 by ‘eagles’ signifies rational things that are not
true…by ‘eagles’…is signified falsity induced by reasonings, which is
induced from the fallacies of the senses and external appearances.
"Hence it is, that (to gather grapes)…by these things the Lord’s
operation from the good of His love by the Divine truth of His Word is
signified." Obadiah 1:4-5 is cited among many other passages.
"In Obadiah 1:5… ‘Grape-gatherers’ signify falsities, and ‘thieves’
evils, which lay waste the truths and goods of the church; but
‘destroyers’ signify both falsities and evils; that ‘they would leave no
clusters’ signifies that there are no goods because there are no truths.
But ‘to gather the vintage’ signifies to gather for uses such things
especially as will be serviceable to (the person’s) understanding …"
" …in Obadiah 1:5… ‘grape–gatherers’ denote falsities which are not
from evil; by these falsities the goods and truths stored up by the Lord
in man’s interior natural (that is, remains) are not consumed, but by
falsities derived from evils, which steal truths and goods and also by
wrong applications employ them to confirm evils and falsities."
"…a thief…is falsity, which will then take possession of the whole
man, both of his will and of his understanding, and thus will take away
all truth and good. The like is signified by a ‘thief’ in Obadiah 1:5."
"…good without its truths is not good, only merit-seeking or
hypocritical; but evils and falsities take it away like a thief. This is
done gradually in the world, and completely after death, and also
without the man knowing when and how…. Since the taking away of good and
truth from them that are in dead worship is done as by a thief in
darkness …in the Word as in the following passages…" Obadiah 1:5 is
among the examples cited.
"Priests who minister only for the sake of gain or attainment of
worldly honor, and who teach such things as they see or may see from the
Word to be not true, are spiritual thieves; since they deprive the
people of the means of salvation, which are the truths of faith. Such
are called thieves in the Word in the following passages…" Obadiah 1:5
"In Obadiah 1:5…falsities and evils are called ‘thieves,’ and are
said to ‘steal’; falsities are ‘thieves,’ and ‘robbers by night’; it is
said ‘by night,’ because ‘night’ signifies a state of no love and
Might these questions serve to show that Edom’s goal was to "steal
till they had enough" but that as much as they wished to take it all,
they couldn’t help but to leave some behind? What was left behind? AC
5135  has what appears to be the answer. The Lord stores up
"remains" in each person’s interior, and they cannot be consumed by
self-love because they are kept in a secret place known only to the
Lord. Hell is a robber and thief, but it cannot spoil what the Lord
"Remains, gleanings" will be left. That must drive the hells to a
degree of distraction and despair. They cannot completely rid themselves
of all connections with the Lord.
1. Building on the last point in the derived doctrine
section might help us pull things together. Edom saw itself as smarter
than anyone else in the world. They polished their external reasoning with
such brilliance that it impressed their sensual nature. They were able to
bend truth with "wrong applications." Was there anything they couldn’t do?
Couldn’t they rob people of the truths if they put their minds to finding
just the right blend of falsity? Edom believed so!
2. Edom did plunder good and truth. They hurt the people
to whom they should have ministered, but the Lord still had their
"remains" in His control. Why? When the insanity in hell is almost totally
out of control, the Lord brings the hells back into order for the briefest
of moments. In that "sane" moment, they return to a degree of clarity and
feel shame for their actions. But then they lapse (leap) back into the
falsities of self-intelligence. What does the Lord touch within them? He
touches their gleanings, their remains, or their soul. He touches what
could have been their greatest individual and unique potential. They could
not rid themselves of the delights of innocence that were impressed on
their memories of childhood. Not the smallest of them is lost. (AC 530
and 561) Edom might have forgotten them, but the Lord does not forget
them. He knows where they are. He protects them to eternity.
3. These verses, like a Divine beacon, tell everyone that
Edom’s natural light and its falsities will perish. Edom cannot extinguish
the light of the Lord. He will not be robbed. Edom is not wiser than the
1. TCR 317 mentions priests preaching and teaching
things they know are wrong and contrary to the Word. I wonder what
contrary things might be taught in our day. I have tried to think how that
might be true today. Can you identify with this portion of the prophecy?
2. If you were asked to share your views about the power
of the soul, or remains, what points would be your favorite to highlight
in your response?
3. Without feeling smug, is it not good to read that evil
will be vanquished? The loud, bragging voice of the "intimidator" will be
silenced. Its imagined strong defense in the caves of the mountains will
be emptied of its arsenal.
4. Most of us have encountered bullies in our lives. How
is hell like a bully? How do you vanquish a bully?
5. Our reading referred to the negative correspondence of
eagles. In this case, eagles represent a pride in learning from
self-intelligence. At the time I read that, I wanted to quote Isaiah
40:31: "…those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they
shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary,
they shall walk and not faint." AR 244 explains that eagles in this
passage from Isaiah signify rising into knowledges of truth and good, and
so into intelligence. This isn’t so much a question as it is a reminder
that "good eagles" study with a purpose to learn and apply the good and
truth we receive from the Lord.
"There is frequent mention in the Word of Esau, and also of Edom;
and by ‘Esau’ is there signified the good of the natural before the
doctrinal things of truth have been thus conjoined with this good, and
also the good of life from influx out of the rational; and by ‘Edom’ is
signified the good of the natural to which have been adjoined the
doctrinal things of truth. But in the opposite sense, ‘Esau’ signifies
the evil of the love of self before falsities have been thus adjoined to
this love; and ‘Edom’ signifies the evil of this love when falsities
have been adjoined to it." (AC 3322)
In this same number (AC 3322 ), we read "…by ‘Esau’ and
‘Edom’ are represented those who turn aside from good through the fact
that they altogether despise truth, and are unwilling that anything of
the truth of faith should be adjoined, which is chiefly owing to the
love of self…"
Treasure signifies divine truth contained in the Word. (AE 840)
"Hidden" means to lose track of because good and truth were
discarded. (AC 222) It also describes being hidden because of the
protection of the Lord. (AC 8764) Hidden can mean a withdrawal of
divine truth from those who are in falsities and evils. (AE 329 )
Hidden can represent a defense against influx from heaven by those
who deny the Lord’s Divinity. (AR 339)
This last reference to "hidden" needs to be seen apart from the list
above. AR 339 offers much to think about when we read that those
who wish to be good "suffer a great deal at first," while those who
confirm and cover up (hide) falsities, "suffer much less."
1. P&P sets the tone for what is at issue: it is a
haughty and conceited spiritual state that the Lord visits. He comes to
search out the reins and the heart of everyone. He visits the hidden
treasures He gave us without our knowledge. These gifts were hidden for
our protection. They do not remain dormant or passive. Like a vital power
source, they contribute daily in thousands of secret ways. So the Lord
also comes "to see." Have we lost sight of the treasure through neglect or
because we put up a defense against the influx of heaven? Did we lose it
because we denied the Lord’s Divine Human? Did the treasure get layered
over with a hardened heart?
2. In the parable of the talents, the one who buried his
talent in the ground said he did so because he perceived the master as a
hard taskmaster. Fear of his master led him to burying the talent lest it
be lost. What happened to this man and his talent? It was taken from him
and given to those who wisely invested their talent and earned a return
for the Master.
3. There seems to be a bit of this parable in Esau’s
hidden treasure being sought after. The evil perceive the Lord as someone
who wants to plunder the hidden treasure. What they forget is that the
Lord is the owner of the treasure. The hiding place of these gifts is to
be known by Him. They are the ones who want to put the treasure in harm’s
way through their haughty and conceited ways.
1. Please remember that the Writings teach that each truth
has a myriad of avenues to follow. The summary offered above is but one
little side trip. You must find and trace the spiritual sense, too. What
other avenues would you like to pursue? Are you pursuing your own
questions and insights along the way?
2. What do you think about the meaning of those who come
to seek out Esau’s hidden treasure? Do they really represent the Lord’s
good and truth coming in to see our internal state? Do we notice when the
Lord does this? How might we know He is present?
3. The Writings teach us that the angels greet us in the
World of Spirits with a question: What have you loved? That question is so
powerful that it begins the opening process of the 3 steps a newly arrived
spirit passes through. How ready are we to have our hidden treasures
looked at? What might we tell an angel about what we love?
4. "Oh, how Esau shall be searched out!" These words are
filled with reality, forewarning, and certainty. What else comes to mind
when you read them regarding the haughty and the conceited?
"All the men in your confederacy shall force you to
the border; the men at peace with you shall deceive you and prevail
against you. Those who eat your bread shall lay a trap for you. No one
is aware of it."
The word "confederacy" implies that the Lord is forging an alliance,
an allegiance, or confederacy that has a love for the Lord and genuine
faith as its centerpiece. See AE 102 [2&3]. In the opposite
sense, confederacy represents that which hates the Lord and forges an
alliance against good and truth. Which sense is being expressed in this
"In heaven every one has intelligence and wisdom, and has happiness,
according to the sphere of extension…. From all this it can be seen what
is signified in the spiritual sense by ‘in all thy border,’ that in good
there must not be any falsity; for falsities are outside of the
sphere…(falsities) begin where truths leave off…" (AC 8063)
"…the men at peace with you shall deceive you and prevail
It appears that Esau felt at "peace" with his thinking, haughtiness,
and conceit. In order to get into this mode of thinking, Esau needed
"men" or an understanding that gave legitimacy or peacefulness to his
life. That is, until the Lord visited his heart. Then his understanding
and his consequent life were shown to be shallow, false, and
self-centered. His "men" deceived him and in time were used to prevail
Consider what true peace is and what it does for us: "…when evils
and falsities are removed and no longer infest, the Lord flows in with
peace, in which and from which is heaven and that delight that fills
with bliss the interiors of the mind…" (AE 365 )
"…peace signifies…the mind may not be borne hither and thither."
(AE 365 )
"Those who eat your bread shall lay a trap for you."
Eating represents to communicate, to be conjoined, and to
appropriate. See AC 2343.
Bread signifies love. To eat bread represents to communicate,
conjoin and appropriate love.
To lay a trap signifies having a plan or desire to destroy the love
of a spiritual life. See AC 9348 .
"No one is aware of it."
If a conscience is silenced; if a watchman fails to warn the city;
if the heart and mind are deprived of the Lord’s good and truth, then
when the enemy comes, "No one is aware of it."
1. Imagine thinking that you are so right and
everyone else is so wrong. Imagine believing you see things more
clearly than anyone else. And then all of what you believed and did is
exposed as not only empty but SO WRONG! Those who "appeared" to be
your best friends are gone when you turn to them in your moment of need.
They are not there to give approval. Instead, they are now on the other
side providing incidents and intimate details proving what foolishness you
participated in all of your life. No longer are you the trendsetter. On
the contrary, you become the epitome, to eternity, of what not to be and
what not to do.
2. Listen again to the words of P&P: "…they
have no truths…" In effect, the Lord’s revelation of what IS
showed up their what is not. They were spiritually, morally, and
ethically bankrupt. It is a sad commentary on the heritage of Esau. "For
Esau was a skillful hunter, a man of the field …and he sold his birthright
to Jacob." A red stew or mass of pottage was the asking price. Not a good
beginning for those who fell in love with their own wisdom and imagined
they were wiser than all the people of the world.
3. So we have the story of Esau to awaken us, to alert our
minds so we see the approach of the enemy and the traps set to snare us.
More than that, we need to know that we do have someone to help us see and
confront the enemy. The Lord will be with us, and He is aware of all
things that hell wants to confuse us about.
1. Going back to the first quote from P&P, what two
major evils brought Esau to its spiritual demise?
2. How many times have we felt that we were all alone
with, seemingly, no one alert to our plight? Does this have to be the
case? The Writings remind us that we feel alone during temptation, but the
reality is just the opposite. The Lord is near and fighting for us. Will
we believe it is so? What can we do to remind ourselves?
3. Breaking bread with the enemy is something we need to
avoid. Do you remember the story about Peter on the night of the Lord’s
religious interrogation? Where was Peter? He was outside warming his hands
by the fire with those who were curious, neutral, or against the Lord. As
finite beings, we find ourselves eating with those who would set traps for
our spiritual life. How can we be better prepared to not be compromised
with time/space values or antagonism regarding eternal ends?
4. Could this prophecy have another meaning about eating
bread, falling into snares, and being alone? To the haughty and conceited,
the Lord might be perceived as the One deceiving them. He seeks to share
the bread of life with all. But those who reject Him and His Word see the
Word as worthless and empty of help. Do you remember the words of Karl
Marx? "Religion is the opiate of the masses." He saw religion as a means
to dull and confuse the people. It appears that Marx saw religion as a
cruel and heartless trap.
"…that they will perish in the day of judgment, because they have
oppressed the church, vers. 8, 9…"
AE 448 
"…in the eighth verse of this chapter (Obadiah 1:8) it is said ‘I
will destroy the wise out of Edom, and the intelligent out of the mount
of Esau,’ meaning those who from the letter of the Word have confirmed
themselves in such things as favor their loves."
In this passage, quote after quote from all the prophets are cited
where by "that day", "in that day", and "in that time," refer to the
Coming of the Lord. Obadiah 1:8, 12-15 are used to illustrate this
"Then your mighty men, O Teman, shall be dismayed."
What is the correspondence of Teman?
AE 400  reminds us that when we read of Edom and the
inhabitants of Teman, we are not to think of inhabitants but "the evils
and falsities that are opposed to the goods and truths of the celestial
"Mighty men" signifies those who are strong in faith. (AC 1179)
"Mighty ones" signify those who love good. (AE 922 ) "Mighty"
signifies a power in captivating lower minds. (AC 1179)
1. We need to use a notebook or pad of paper for a moment.
Let’s first put down the direct teachings from the Word about the wise men
"from Edom and understanding from the
mountains of Esau." Then let’s write out the second prophecy about "your
mighty men, O Teman…everyone from the mountains of Esau…."
Before we begin making specific applications, circle every
"from" you see in the two prophecies.
2. How are they being used? I am "from" Bryn Athyn, PA.
The use of "from" in this instance helps to identify my place of
residence. If I say I borrowed this book "from" the library, it helps to
identify where I got the book and where it is to be returned. If someone
runs away "from" home, that "from" indicates what they tried to leave
behind—perhaps parental or jurisdictional control. If someone is tied down
or blocked, we say they were kept "from" playing or completing their task.
If someone changes, for better or worse, we note that they are long way
"from" what they used to be. Again, in what sense is the word "from" being
used in these prophecies?
3. In the positive sense, Edom represents wonderful
things: the Lord’s human essence; His strength; His power or good of the
natural principle. (AC 3322) If Edom operated "from" these
spiritual things, the "from" would be significant and laudable. But that
is not what happens here. There was movement away from their good
beginnings. Shouldn’t we note this to see how far they had come "from"
those principles? Instead of acknowledging the Lord’s essence, power, and
good in the natural, they were using the letter of the Word to get away
"from" the jurisdiction of the Lord to confirm themselves and their loves.
They were not "from the mountain of the Lord," but they were "from" the
mountain of self-love.
3. Esau in the positive sense signifies the Lord’s
infancy; the celestial good in the natural principle. (AC 3599 and AC
4239) These principles can lift a person into the mountains of
celestial splendor. But that is not where Esau’s people stayed. They
traveled from such beginnings, and now "everyone" from
the mountains of Esau rejected and despised the celestial good in the
natural principle. Could this be the reason their movement away from
celestial good caused the words such as "slaughter, perdition, and
damnation" to be used?
1. Did you look up the word "perdition"? If you did, were
you surprised with its meaning and application to our lesson? Where else
have you heard this word used?
2. Loss of one’s innocence, loss of solid foundational
principles, is an issue in this prophecy. Growing up, maturing, moving
from innocence of ignorance to innocence of wisdom is a step-by-step
process. We move "from former states" into "newer states." The Writings
give us a look at the steps of faith: Historical, Persuasive, Blind,
Hypocritical, and Spurious. All of these may be passed through, but an end
must be in view. True Faith is the goal. This faith is FROM the Lord. Can
you identify with any of these?
3. Misuse of the literal sense is a prevalent topic of the
Writings. We are not perfect in our thinking process. Errors in judgment
and application will occur. How might we avoid the extreme of being
fearful to apply the literal sense of the Word and being careless with
applications? How can we guard against and correct any errors?
"For violence against your brother Jacob, shame shall
cover you, and you shall be cut off that you stood on the other side-
in the day that strangers carried captive his forces, when foreigners
entered his gates and cast lots for Jerusalem- even you were as one
But you should not have gazed on the day of your
brother in the day of his captivity; nor should you have rejoiced over
the children of Judah in the day of their destruction; nor should you
have spoken proudly in the day of distress. You should not have
entered the gate of My people in the day of their calamity. Indeed,
you should not have gazed on their affliction in the day of their
calamity, nor laid hands on their substance in the day of their
calamity. You should not have stood at the crossroads to cut off those
among them who escaped; nor should you have delivered up those among
them who remained in the day of distress."
"…that they destroy the church still more, and that this their
delight, vers. 10-14…"
AC 10287 
"Mention is also made of ‘foreigners,’ which is expressed in the
original tongue by another word than ‘strangers,’ and by ‘foreigners’
are signified falsities themselves, as in these passages [Obadiah 1:11
is cited.] …‘to cast a lot upon Jerusalem’ denotes to destroy the
church, and to dissipate its truths."
"By leading into captivity is signified to persuade others and draw
them over so that they may consent and adhere to that heresy…and thus to
lead them away from believing and living well…. By captivity spiritual
captivity is here meant, which is to be seduced, and so led away from
truths and goods, and to be led on into falsities and evils. That this
spiritual captivity is meant by captivity in the Word, may be evident
from the following passages…" Obadiah 1:11 is cited.
AE 811 
"In Obadiah (1:11) ‘In that day aliens led his strength captive, and
strangers entered his gates and cast lots upon Jerusalem’…this is said
of Edom, which signifies the truth of the natural man, but here falsity;
‘the aliens that led his strength captive’ signify the falsities of the
church destroying its truths, ‘strength’ signifying truth, since
spiritual strength rests in truths; ‘the strangers who entered the
gates’ signify falsities of doctrine destroying the truths through which
entrance is given into interior truths; ‘Jerusalem, upon which they cast
lots,’ signifies the doctrine of the church from the Word thus
dispersed, ‘to cast lots’ means to disperse."
Violence signifies filthy lusts to which those of the declining
church had degenerated. (AC 621 )
Violence signifies that there is no longer any good-will. (AC
Violence signifies falsities and evils are against goods and truths.
Violence signifies the purposeful perversion of the truths of the
Word. (AE 734 )
Violence signifies the adulteration of the good of the Word. (AE
"…your brother Jacob…"
Brother signifies the life of faith which is charity. (AE 746
Brotherhood signifies the conjunction of the goods and truths of
heaven and the church. (AE 746 )
Jacob "represents various things…in the beginning the Lord’s natural
as to truth, in progression the Lord’s natural as to good of truth, and
at the end the Lord’s natural as to good. For the Lord’s glorification
proceeded from truth to the good of truth, and finally to good…" (AC
Consider this quote from AR 705: "By walking naked is
signified to live without truths. By the shame of nakedness, or the
secret parts, filthy loves, which are infernal loves…. Ignorance of
truth is signified by nakedness, and infernal love by the shame of
nakedness….A man can indeed live like a Christian without truths; yet
only before men, but not before the angels. The truths which they should
learn are concerning the Lord, and the precepts according to which they
Who is doing the covering? Is it the Lord or is the Lord showing
Esau’s true intentions to mask, cover, or veil over evil with
respectability? AC 4859 describes veiling as truth obscured while
pretending to be from good. Doesn’t this sound like a shameful cover-up
plot being exposed by the Lord?
Is there any difficulty perceiving what is being said here? Standing
represents obedience to the Lord’s truth. It means getting a fix on a
spiritual goal or objective. In this case, Edom (Esau) is fixed on
opposite things. They want to be disobedient and contrary.
"In the day that strangers carried captive his
forces…foreigners entered his gates…"
To help us see what is at stake and involved in this prophecy, let’s
consider these teachings regarding strangers, foreigners, gates, and
Strangers are those within the church who do not acknowledge the
Lord. (AC 10169 )
Strangers signify evils and falsities that will destroy a church.
(AC 10287 )
"Concerning strangers, a law was delivered, that if they would
receive peace and open their gates, they [strangers or foreigners]
should be tributary and serve (Deut. xii.; I Kings ix. 21, 22)." (AC
Gates signify the teachings that introduce a person to the truths of
faith. (AC 2943)
In a work titled The Athanasian Creed, paragraph number 97,
we read the following about forces: "There are three forces inherent in
every thing spiritual; the active, which is the divine love, or living
force; the creative forces which produces causes and effects from
beginning to end through intermediates; and the formative forces which
produce (many things) from the ultimate substances of nature."
The message of the spiritual sense is reasonably clear. Esau enjoyed
seeing Jerusalem seduced by falsity. Edom enjoyed pointing to the
mistakes of Jerusalem but failed to "apply himself, and study [to find
ways] to bend minds." (AC 1949 ) The bending of minds means
finding ways to amend and return to the truth of the Lord. Instead, Edom
enjoyed the seduction and captivity of his brother.
"…the children of Judah and the day of their destruction…"
Judah represents the doctrine from the Word relating to the Lord’s
celestial kingdom—the celestial of the church. (AR 350) More
directly, Judah represents teachings that dealt with Divine Love. Why is
this so significant? Where there is no will (love), there is no
learning, retention, or application. Judah being carried off to
destruction was a serious issue, and yet Esau mocked and did nothing to
Here, they laid hands on their substance. Substance represents
things pertaining to the will. The will is the very substance of a
person. (AC 808)
Hence Esau had no interest in blessing or passing on power. He
wished to rob them of their very "substance," their will.
"…you should not have stood at the crossroads to cut off
[block]…them who escaped…"
We have no correspondences for crossroad. We do for "the way." "Way"
signifies a desire to make a change of state. It means to abstain from
some attitude toward truth and good. (AC 2333) "Way" signifies
some doctrine by which one may be instructed or led into a deeper
understanding of truth. (AC 2231)
These teachings help us to see the gravity of Esau’s transgression.
He offered discouragement when an escape plan came to mind, blocking the
attempt with reasons why this or that doctrine would not work.
"…nor should you have delivered up those among them that
remained in the day of distress."
Those who remained may easily be seen as the "remnant" or "remains."
When a church nears its end, the Lord always preserves a remnant upon
which to establish the new church. Esau wanted or hoped that small core
would fail as well. Because Esau was in the family, we can feel the
betrayal. He must have helped the enemy look for every "brother" so as
to eliminate the church.
1. Read the selection from P&P again. "…they will
destroy the church still more, and that this is their delight." Can we
review our notes and see that clearly? All of our references highlight the
hellish glee Edom (Esau) had in watching and participating in the demise
of Jerusalem and Judah.
2. What is sobering is that we probably found ourselves
thinking of personal examples of similar things happening to us. We all
have had the experience of wanting to make amends, make a change, to
improve. Before we get underway, a voice in our mind throws "cold water"
on the intention. Past efforts to change are paraded before us. With glee
the voice mocks and asks us, "Who are you trying to kid?" It reminds us
many times of past failures. That voice stands in the crossroad of our
intention, blocking our effort to make a change.
Look back and notice how many times the Lord told Edom,
"You should not!" Can we hear hell saying, "That is just like the Lord. He
always expressed things in the negative. Negative phrases cause the mind
to dwell on obsessive themes and ultimately retard our freedom."?
3. The Lord is saying "you should not" specifically to the
hells and not to us. The Lord calls us to His presence. Take My yoke. My
burden, He says, is light. The "you should not" is a phrase we need to
use. We can say to hell, "You should not assume that you can take from me
the power of regeneration." All that we have and receive from the Lord is
freedom. It is hell that brings us the blockage. Hell stands in the way
with its pride and tries to remove from us the light of heaven. Hell’s
pride is the thing that tries to glue all kinds of falsity together.
Prayerfully, we need to say with the Lord to hell, "You should not…"
because the Lord says so. That, with a loving heart, "should" send them
off and out of our way.
1. The Introduction section of this study called your
attention to the cruelty of feet, heart, tongue, eyes, and hands. Do you
think that series (which we just looked at) might be helpful to remember
what kind of delight Esau (Edom) had in the destruction of Jerusalem? How
can knowledge of this delight help us?
2. Do you have any ways to push or fight off the boastful
phrases hell uses to block or discourage us? Do you have a verse or series
of verses that stand the test and trials of hell? If not, do you think any
of what we just studied might become one of your verses?
3. Were you asked to memorize verses from the Word when
you were in school? Have you ever found that you have something memorized
simply because you have read or enjoyed it frequently? What purpose can be
served by memorizing passages?
"For the day of the Lord upon all the nations is near;
as you have done, it shall be done to you; your reprisal shall return
upon your own head. For as you drank on My holy mountain, so shall the
nations drink continually; yes, they shall drink, and swallow, and
they shall be as though they had never been."
"…that ruin will come over them in the day of judgment, vers. 15,
AC 10011 
"That by the ‘head;’ is meant the whole man, is…evident from many
passages in the Word…" Obadiah 1:15 is cited as an example.
"Since it is the consummation of the age, that is, the end of the
church, when the Lord’s coming and the beginning of a new church take
place, in many places therefore the end of the former church also is
signified by the day of the Jehovah…" Obadiah 1:15 is cited among many
"…as you have done, it shall be done to you; your reprisal
shall return upon your own head."
So there is no mistake thinking this is the Lord getting revenge or
retaliation, let’s look at a passage in AC 8223 :
It frequently happens in the other life that when evil spirits
wish to inflict evil on the good…the evil they intend to others
returns upon themselves. At the time this appears as if it were
revenge from the good; but it is not revenge, neither is it from the
good, but from the evil…they who are in heavenly love ought not to
have delight in retaliation or revenge, but in imparting benefits…."
To drink, in the good sense, means to investigate and inquire how a
truth may be conjoined or appropriated into ones life. (AC 1071 and
AC 3089) In the opposite sense, it represents to investigate and
inquire how to abuse the truths of the Lord instead of conjoining and
appropriating them to life.
"All the nations drink continually; yes, they shall drink,
The RSV has the following wording: "all nations round about shall
drink; they shall drink, and stagger…" How are the words "swallow" and
"stagger" similar in meaning? The RSV has a footnote indicating the
Hebrew word for "stagger" comes from their word for "swallow." So we are
left with a temporary dilemma because the Writings teach that to
swallow, or devour, signifies the extermination of useful knowledges by
those (knowledges) which are useless. See AC 5217 and 5258.
"And they shall be as though they had never been."
Does this portion of the text give us a clue that "swallow and
stagger" might be talking about the same thing? Could this be about the
vastation process the church will go through prior to the birth of the
New Church? Before a new church can be built, an emptying-out process
must happen. Some false concepts in the church are swallowed "hook,
line, and sinker." Some ideas of the dead churches were staggering, and
minds became quite unbalanced and "drunken."
1. There is a happy summation coming to Obadiah’s
prophecy. The Lord is rounding up His angels, and the great day of "right
winning out over evil" is at hand. This theme comes back to us often. We
need it. Otherwise the hells will try to convince us that we are alone.
The Psalmist felt the mocking of hell: "…they continually say to me,
‘where is your God?’" (Psalm 42:3) Our answer? "Behold, the Lord’s
hand is not shortened, that it cannot save." (Isaiah 59:1) "With
God all things are possible." (Matthew 19:26) Edom’s end is at
2. What happens to Edom is not the result of anger and
retaliation from the Lord. It is a return of the evil and falsity Edom
planted. It brings meaning to the literal sense when it says that we shall
reap what we sow. For us, there is time to sow a new crop that will yield
"some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty." (Matthew 13:23)
1. What "staggering" drinks or concepts of "faith" does
the world offer us to swallow? What, in hindsight, would have been harmful
in your life if you had swallowed it? Put another way, can you recall
something you wanted (badly) but were not able to get – only to find out
later that not getting your wish was a blessing in disguise?
2. We all have to go through varying degrees of
vastations. Vastation is that great emptying out of concepts formed by
self-intelligence and self-love. Do you think we ought to pray for that
process to come about in our lives? Would it be best to let the Lord show
us the right time to face vastation? What comes to mind is that parable
about the enemy coming to sow seeds of darnel while the owner slept. The
owner of the field told his workers to wait until harvest time. If they
had pulled the tares out too soon, they probably would have pulled out the
good with the bad. Good idea? On the other hand, procrastination seems to
be a common weakness when it comes to doing painful things. I wonder what
little push might get us started on the task of regeneration?
3. P&P reminds us that "ruin" will come to those
who knowingly abuse the letter of the Word. It doesn’t sound like much
fun, does it? Hold on because the next section promises better news. Those
who love the Lord will not lose but gain back all that Edom took away. Do
you find your heart and mind refreshed with another "good" winning out
over the bad story? Why is this comforting? How do we feel about regaining
something precious that was lost? Think of real life examples.
4. The words in Obadiah 1:15, "as you have done, it
shall be done to you," remind us of the Lord’s Prayer. What do you think
of when you reflect on these words? Are we subject to being treated the
way we treat others? What motivations are in play when we act on this
principle in real-life situations?
"But on Mount Zion there shall be deliverance, and
there shall be holiness; the house of Jacob shall possess their
possessions. The house of Jacob shall be a fire, and the house of
Joseph a flame; but the house of Esau shall be stubble; they shall
kindle them and devour them, and no survivor shall remain of the house
of Esau,’ For the Lord has spoken."
"…that a new church will arise, ver. 17, in place of the former
church, which has been condemned, ver. 18…"
AE 448 
"In Obadiah (1: 17, 18) ‘Esau and his house’ mean those who believe
themselves to be intelligent and wise not from the Lord but from self;
for in he eighth verse of this chapter it is said ‘I will destroy the
wise out of Edom, and the intelligent out of the mount of Esau,’ meaning
those who from the letter of the Word have confirmed themselves in such
things as favor their own loves. ‘The house of Jacob and the house of
Joseph’ mean such as are in good of life according to truths of
doctrine, ‘house of Jacob’ meaning those who are in good of life, and
‘house of Joseph’ those who are in truths of doctrine; ‘mount Zion,’
where there will be escape and holiness, signifies love to the Lord, by
which is salvation and from which is Divine truth. ‘The house of Jacob
shall be heir to the inheritances of the house and mountain of Esau,’
and ‘the house of Jacob shall be to him a fire, and the house of Joseph
a flame,’ signifies that in place of those meant by ‘Esau’ there will be
those who are in good of life according to truths of doctrine. In the
spiritual world this so occurs, that those who have been in the pride of
self intelligence, and have confirmed themselves from the Word in such
things as favor the loves of self and the world, occupy certain tracts
and mountains, and make for themselves a semblance of heaven, believing
that heaven belongs to them more than to others; but when the time has
been fulfilled they are cast out of their places, and those succeed to
them who are in good of life according to the truths of doctrine from
the Lord….this makes clear what is signified in the internal sense by
‘the house of Jacob shall be heir to their inheritances, and shall be a
fire, and the house of Joseph a flame, and the house of Esau for
AE 405 
"Since a ‘mountain’ signified the good of love, and in the highest
sense, the Divine good, and from the Divine good Divine truth proceeds,
so ‘Mount Zion’ was built up above Jerusalem, and in the Word ‘Mount
Zion’ signifies the church that is in the good of love to the Lord…."
Obadiah 1:16-17 are among the verses cited.
AC 5899 uses these wonderful words to explain Lot’s "great
escape": "…the significance of ‘escape’ (is) deliverance from damnation,
which deliverance is effected by means of remains, that is, by means of
the goods and truths stored up with man by the Lord."
"…‘the house of Jehovah’ is frequently mentioned as signifying the
church wherein love is the principal; the ‘house of Judah’ as signifying
the celestial church; and the ‘house of Israel’ as signifying the
spiritual church. As ‘house’ signifies the church, the mind of the man
of the church (wherein are the things of the will and of the
understanding, or of charity and faith)…" (AC 710)
AC 5550, AC 8770, and AE 710  teach that the
"house of Jacob" represents the external of the church.
"Everyone recognizes that here ‘the house of Jacob’ was not to mean
the Jewish nation or people, for the Lord’s kingdom included not merely
that people but all throughout the world who have faith in Him, and from
faith have charity." (AC 3305 )
The house of Joseph represents "the spiritual kingdom"; "the good of
the church"; "the spiritual man." (AC 3969 [11, 12, 13])
The "house of Joseph" represents the "celestial things of the
spiritual." (AC 6521, 6526, 6554)
"Possess," "inherit," "possession," and "inheritance" are
correspondential indicators of the return to "the first love" of the
church. The inheritance promised by the Lord was never withdrawn; the
people of the church lost sight of it. So this prophecy announces that
their spiritual paradise will be restored and reclaimed. How? The "house
of Esau" will have no survivors. "For the Lord has spoken."
"…the house of Jacob shall be a fire…the house of Joseph a
"…a fire (in the good sense) signifies the good of love. (AC
AR 48 tells us that a flame signifies spiritual love, which
contains charity and love of the neighbor. AC 934  tells us
that a flame signifies the celestial spiritual.
To properly understand this verse, we must recall what the doctrines
taught us about Esau. The "house of Esau" represented those who were in
the pride of self-intelligence. They had confirmed themselves in such
things as favored their own loves. Such spiritual attitudes are now
likened to stubble.
1. Let’s begin with the goal of understanding two terms:
the good of life and the truth of doctrine. Please don’t turn away from
these terms as "doctrinal talk." Look at ways these terms can come alive.
For instance, try reading "love of life" where you see the words "good of
life." Now we have "the love of life." Every love we have follows us to
eternity. When the angels greet us in the spiritual world, they inquire or
seek to find out what we loved most. Was it a love for the Lord and the
neighbor, or was it a love for self and the world? Our loves will have
varying degrees of application. Celestial love holds the Lord in the
highest esteem. Spiritual love holds the Word and its truths in high
esteem as the means for us to regenerate. There is a natural love that is
essential for us to live and work within the world of natural uses. All
three have a unified or common purpose: Eternal life. We want to live in
heaven with the Lord as our source of joy and loving our neighbors more
2. Let’s try some transposing on the "truth of doctrine,"
too. Doctrine is best seen or viewed as "that which points the way." If we
plan to take a trip, we pull out a map and choose what route to take. If
we have plenty of time, we pick a scenic way. If we are in a hurry, we
pick the most direct way. Regardless, we need a map to find the way. The
Lord’s doctrine is a directional help. We need the "truth of doctrine" to
point out our way.
3. On the other hand, the "house of Esau" works to ignore
the good of life. In its place, it offers the "good of self." Me, myself,
and I are the essentials in the "house of Esau." Others are accepted if
and when they serve egocentric purposes. The doctrine of "the house of
Esau" studies ways to take advantage of the neighbor.
Stubble is the way the Word pictures this for us. Stubble
is the part of the stalk that is now void of fruit and is highly flammable
and dangerous. Self-love, highly volatile, sparks when it is ruffled, and
thus we have a kindling and destroying fire.
The Lord in the midst of this "stubble" calls us to
calmness. Esau will have no survivors. Esau will not remain a troublesome
force. How do we know this? The closing words of these verses say it
clearly: "For the Lord has spoken."
1. Did you make note of the "houses" of Jacob, Joseph, and
Esau? Think about the quote from AC 4592  and the issue of
2. How did you do with the "good of life and truth of
doctrine" exercise? Don’t become a literalist with doctrine. The Lord
offers various ways to express "good and truth." Good is called Love. Good
is called Esse. Good is called Substance. Good is called the First. Good
is called Heat. (How many more can you add to this list?)
Truth on the other hand is called Wisdom. Truth is called
Existere. Truth is called Form. Truth is called Middle. Truth is called
Light. (How many more can you add to this list?)
3. What present things in life would you identify as
stubble? Have you ever experienced the volatile nature of self-love? Have
you ever felt that rush to judgment and said things that were hurtful and
vindictive? What is our protection against this?
4. For those who would like to think that hell is not
eternal, how would they explain the words "no survivors shall remain"?
5. "For the Lord has spoken" certainly puts things in
perspective. The Lord is in charge. Esau, with its bragging nature, is not
in charge at its own demise. It is kind of sad in one way, but positive in
another way. What feeling came first, the sad or the happy? This might be
a good time to talk about the expression "fear of the Lord." Talk about
the two sides of this "fear" and how it differs from other fears. Also
think about the phrase, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom."
"The south shall posses the mountains of Esau, and the
lowland shall possess Philistia. They shall possess the fields of
Ephraim and the fields of Samaria. Benjamin shall possess Gilead. And
the captives of this host of the children of Israel shall possess the
land of the Canaanites as far as Zarephath. The captives of Jerusalem
who are in Sepharad shall possess the cities of the south. Then
saviors shall come to Mount Zion to judge the mountains of Esau, and
the kingdom shall be the Lord’s."
"…that the new church will have an understanding of the truth, and
those who are in the church will be saved, vers. 19-21."
AC 4592 
"In Obadiah (1:18, 19)…names signify things (and it) is very evident
here, as in other places, for unless it is known what is signified
by…the ‘Philistines,’ the ‘field of Ephraim,’ the ‘field of Samaria,’
‘Benjamin,’ and Gilead,’ and moreover what by ‘them of the south,’ by a
‘house,’ a ‘plain,’ a ‘mountain,’ and a ‘field,’ nothing here can
possibly be comprehended; nor were the things done that are here
historically related. But the man who knows what each expression
involves, will find heavenly arcana therein. Here also ‘Benjamin’ is the
spiritual from the celestial."
AC 1197 
Philistia "signifies…no love and no faith…" in things that are
spiritual and celestial. Obadiah 1:19 is cited.
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….Obadiah 1:19…."
"In Obadiah (1:19)…the setting up of the church is here treated of;
but real things are unfolded in the names; ‘they of the South’ denote
those who are in the light of truth…‘the mount of Esau’ denotes the good
of love…‘the plain of the Philistines’ denotes the truth of faith; ‘a
plain’ also denotes the doctrine of faith…’ ‘Ephraim’ denotes the
intellectual of the church…‘Benjamin’ the spiritual celestial of the
church…and ‘Gilead,’ the corresponding exterior good…."
"…‘the south’ signifies a state of light…‘the south’…signifies the
intelligence which is procured by means of knowledges. These knowledges
are celestial and spiritual truths, which in heaven are so many
radiations of light…. In Obadiah (1:20)…‘the cities of the south’ denote
in like manner truths and goods; hence the very truths and goods of
which they are heirs: the Lord’s kingdom is here treated of."
Please note that we have our work cut out for us in this
section. AC 4592  says, "unless it is known what is signified
by [all the names in these verses]…nothing can possibly be
comprehended…the man who knows …will find heavenly arcana…."
The difficulty is that I can only find correspondences for
some of the names, which prevents us from using derived doctrine to
understand them. Here are the names for which I found no explanation:
We can make some derived doctrinal applications for Zarephath when
we read why Elijah was sent to the widow of Zarephath.
Question: What are we to do about this void of
correspondential information? Will it take away our ability to comprehend
these verses? Will we lack the heavenly arcana promised?
Answer: "Let’s roll." We will do the best we can
with what is given and pray for the enlightenment the Lord promises to
sincere and active seekers.
"And the lowland shall possess Philistia…"
AE 449  explains that "lowland" signifies good and truth in
the natural man. "Philistia" signifies those who are in a faith
separated from charity. (DP 326) "Philistia" represents those who
have false ideas and use these ideas to reason about spiritual things.
TCR 247 shares with us the positive and negative meanings of
Ephraim. In the good sense, Ephraim represents "the understanding of the
Word, from which and according to which the church is…. the church is
such as is the understanding of the Word in it; excellent and precious
if the understanding is from genuine truths out of the Word, but
destroyed, yea, filthy if from those that are falsified."
Recall that the word "possess" denotes purifying truths from
falsity. Gilead represents the "first good," "the senses of the body,"
and the "first things initiated." (AC 4117 ) Benjamin
represents the "spiritual from the celestial." Put another way, Benjamin
is the truth one gets from the Lord (love). What a wonderful way for us
to picture the Lord possessing the senses of the body, the first loves
we had as a child. All of the things we were initiated into (remains)
will be taken over by the Lord and made new and clean of falsities.
"…the captives of the host of the children of Israel shall
possess the land of the Canaanites…"
AC 7950 explains that "captive" signifies a mind in darkness
about good and truth. AE 175  describes "captive" as
signifying evils that possess. AE 811  has yet another
interesting description, noting that those who bar others from truth and
good will themselves be captive to falsities. Isn’t that what Esau did
"Canaanite," in AC 1444, signifies the evil heredity from the
mother in the Lord’s external man. AC 1573-4 explains that
Canaanites represent evils and falsities in the externals of the
AC 9198  explains that this story illustrates how the Lord
and Divine Truth were less "well received and loved in people’s hearts
within the church than outside it…." Because He was born a human being,
there was scarcely any acknowledgment of Him as God in the people’s
hearts, and they believed His Humanity to be like their own.
Can we not see why "possession" had to go as far as Zarephath? The
Lord’s possession (purifying) of such spiritual apathy must go as far as
it needs to correct the problem. Otherwise, a new church cannot come to
"The captives of Jerusalem…shall possess the cities of the
AC 1458 describes the "south" as meaning a movement into a clear
state of the interiors that comes about when goods and truths give a
"Then saviors shall come to Mount Zion to judge the
mountains of Esau…"
It is a curious thing that the plural, "saviors," is used here. In
most cases, we would expect Savior. Could this plural term refer to the
trine of Love, Wisdom, and Use? DLW 230 states, "For love and
wisdom without use have no boundary or end, that is, they have no home
of their own…"
If the saviors are to judge the mountains of Esau, it makes sense
that these three would be present. Esau was full of self-intelligence
and a life of self-service. Listen to this quote from AC 503:
"The life of love…[is a life in the performance of uses] from use, by
use, and according to use…there can be no life in what is useless, for
whatever is useless is cast away." So we can picture the perceptive
"saviors" present at mount Esau, judging the merits of Esau’s love,
wisdom, and use (or the absence thereof).
One almost wants to say "Amen" following these words. Do we really
need derived doctrine for this portion of our study? Not really. Our
hearts feel the rightness and necessity of such a truth being stated
before the forces of Esau.
1. "The new church will have an understanding of the
truth, and those who are in the church will be saved." (P&P)
2. We often agonize over the size of our denomination. We
equate size with rightness. The fact that other churches seem to be
growing faster than the New Church bothers us. What really "hurts" is that
some "doomsday cult" has a larger group of followers willing to gather on
top of a mountain waiting for the final judgment day. How can such
nonsense attract so many devoted (fanatical) followers in such a short
time? We look at the Jones massacre in Guyana and the Waco Cult in Texas,
and we wonder where we are missing the boat. How can anyone really believe
what they say is the matrix of their doctrinal beliefs?
3. In matters of doctrine, we can’t seem to agree on much
between ourselves and other New Church organizations and offer a hand of
cordiality to them. Is there a sense of despair as we think of these
things? I hope so. Let us use our knowledge of our church to focus on the
Lord’s promise of resolution.
He says that He will "possess" and purify truths from
falsities. He will return to our "Gilead" state and possess the "first
goods" and the senses of the body and will pull forth remains of
He will visit the "lowlands" to bring good and truth to
the natural man. Next, He will possess and make the fields of the church
productive again. The field of Ephraim will once again have an
understanding of the Word; the fields of Samaria will have a thirst for
the good of truth.
Self-interests will lose their appeal and haughtiness.
Uses that are idle will be judged and removed. The Lord’s people will be
"from use, by use, and according to use." The "new church" will have an
understanding of the truth and will be saved. The kingdom will be the
1. How much could we fill in the void of correspondences
we had for names and places mentioned in the verses? Were we able to open
some of the arcana in these verses? Did you feel a confidence building as
we pushed on? What did you learn?
2. The stubble of Esau is still an issue we have to face
every day. Television and magazine commercials tell us what we need. They
tell us what the good life is, and they boldly tell us that "it doesn’t
get any better than this." Really? How can we take all of this with a
degree of good humor and yet not buy into the "stubble" of it all?
3. To what degree should we become cautious of a "church
family" member’s view of doctrines if it sounds like "doctrinal heresy"?
What is the best or most charitable way to resist falsity? What is the
best way to confirm whether it is indeed false?
4. How do we look for our "saviors"—LOVE, WISDOM AND
USE—and try as hard as possible to keep them as our unified trine?
Idleness will not endure. At the mountains of Esau, the judgment of the
Lord’s saviors will perceptively sort it out. Do we wait for Providence to
5. What is your feeling about this derived doctrinal view
of the mountains of Esau?