HabakkukTable of  Contents

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Minor Prophets: Major Messages

Chapter Two of Habakkuk

Habakkuk 2:1-3

“I will stand my watch and set myself on the rampart, and watch to see what He will say to me, and what I will answer when I am corrected. Then the Lord answered me and said: ‘Write the vision and make it plain on tablets, that he may run who reads it. For the vision is yet for an appointed time; but at the end it will speak, and it will not lie. Though it tarries, wait for it; because it will surely come. It will not tarry.’”

Passages From The Writings


  • “The coming of the Lord: what will then take place.”

AC 9416 [3]

  • “Moreover, ‘writing’ and ‘engraving’ on ‘tables’ signify in the Word those things which must be impressed on the memory and on the life, and which are therefore to be lasting, as in the following passages…Habakkuk 2:2, 3…”

Doctrine of the Lord 4

  • “…I shall in this first chapter merely adduce passages from the Word which contain the expressions…‘in that time,’ in which by…‘time’ is meant the Lord’s advent.” Among the many citations given, Habakkuk 2:2-3 is quoted as an example.

Coronis 60

  • “Now follow some passages concerning the Coming of the Lord, collected from the prophecies of the Old Word; which are these…” Habakkuk 2:3 is cited.

Derived Doctrine

“I will stand my watch and set myself on the rampart…”

  • “Watch therefore…signifies an assiduous application of life in accordance with the precepts of faith, which is ‘to watch.’” (AC 4638 [10])
  • To “‘be watchful’ signifies that they should be in truths and in a life according to them. By ‘watching’ in the Word, nothing else is signified; for he who learns truths and lives according to them, is like one who is awakened out of sleep and becomes watchful. But he who is not in truths…is like one who sleeps and dreams.” (AR 158)
  • To “stand over Moses…signifies to consult truth Divine, to await an answer from it, and to do according to this, that is, to obey.” (AC 8686)
  • “…the expressions ‘to walk,’ ‘to stand,’ and ‘to sit,’…‘to walk’ pertains to the life of thought from intention, ‘to stand’ to the life of the intention from the will, and ‘to sit’ to the life of the will, thus it is life’s being (esse).” (AE 687 [6])
  • “By ‘standing before God’, is signified to hear and do what He commands…” (AR 366)
  • “Ramparts” in the Potts translation of the Arcana is rendered “outworks.” The King James Version calls “ramparts” “towers.” Webster’s Dictionary adds the words “tower,” “bulwark,” and “protective barrier” as possible synonyms. In Elliot’s translation of AC 5149 [3], the word “ramparts” is used: “For falsity attacks the truths which are defenders of good, those truths being so to speak the ramparts behind which good resides.” 
  • AE 278 describes a “tower” as signifying “the Lord’s guard and providence.”
  • AE 922 describes a “tower” as signifying “interior truths from…good which look to heaven.”
  • AC 8581 describes a “bulwark” as “the truth of faith, for combat is waged from this truth both against falsities and against evils.”

“And watch to see what He will say to me…”

  • Can we see what is being said here? Habakkuk is preparing himself to take directions from the Lord.
  • The emphasis is on listening. There is not a dialogue going on at this moment. Habakkuk is showing obedience to the Lord and readiness to follow the precepts of the Lord’s Word.

“…and what I will answer when I am corrected.”

  • AE 471 gives the meaning of “answering and saying” as “being influx and perception, ‘to answer’ meaning influx…”
  • To be “corrected” involves the maintenance of equilibrium. “…no evil can befall anyone without being instantly counterbalanced; and when there is a preponderance of evil, the evil or evil-doer is chastised by the law of equilibrium…for the end that good may come. Heavenly order consists in such a form and the consequent equilibrium; and that order is formed, disposed, and preserved by the Lord alone, to eternity.” (AC 689)
  • “I will answer when I am corrected” illustrates a heart willing to be corrected by the Lord’s law of equilibrium.

“Then the Lord answered me and said: ‘Write the vision and make it plain on tablets…’”

  • AC 8620 teaches that the command to write a memorial in a book “signifies…perpetual remembrance…”
  • To write the words of the Lord signifies “truths Divine impressed on the life by the Lord.” (AC 9386)
  • To “write to teach…signifies for remembrance and for instruction...” (AC 9418)
  • AR 63 teaches that “writing” signifies that the things being revealed are for posterity.
  • AC 1784 teaches that “‘a vision’ denotes inmost revelation, which is that of perception.”
  • AE 684 [21] describes a vision as prophetic arcana concerning the Lord.
  • Why must the writing be “plain” on the tablets? Consider this passage from AC 39: “That man cannot even think what is good, nor will what is good, consequently cannot do what is good, except from the Lord, must be plain to every one from the doctrine of faith…” (Emphasis added.)
  • The meaning of “tablet” was given in AC 9416 [3] above.

“…that he may run who reads it.”

  • AE 558 explains the positive meaning of “running to battle” as being “the ardor in fighting…for which they must fight ardently…from a series of arguments and conclusions…” In other words, when the Word is given and understood, we are to “run” with the Lord and fight ardently using the truths of the internal sense.

“For the vision is yet for an appointed time; but at the end it will speak, and it will not lie.”

  • AC 2620 teaches that “the appointed time” signifies “when the rational was such as to receive…”
  • AC 2625[3] teaches the “appointed time” means “the state when the rational was such that it was receptive…”
  • “…it will speak and it will not lie…” Do we not see what is being taught here? The Lord’s Word is truth, and it never teaches that which is false. The Lord promises us that we shall know the truth and the truth shall set us free.

“Though it tarries, wait for it; because it will surely come. It will not tarry.”

  • As you read these words, did Psalm 27:14 come to mind? “Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and He shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.”
  • “Wait” signifies to long for the Lord’s coming. (AE 514 [11]) “Wait” signifies a sense of expectation that truth will be given. (AE 526 [11])

“Waiting” for the Lord’s knock on the door of our heart “signifies that the Lord is present to every one in the Word, and is there pressing to be received, and teaches how.” (AR 217)


Putting It All Together

P&P’s summary focuses our attention on the message of the Lord’s advent and what will then take place.

What do we note in the content of Habakkuk’s words? There is respect, dignity, an active sense of obedience, quietude, and a readiness to listen and make amends. Habakkuk is called by the Lord to be a faithful scribe. He is to write plainly what is good and true. The words he was to write were for the purpose of running with the Lord’s Word “into battle” with a series of arguments and conclusions to overthrow evil and falsity.

Patience, waiting on the Lord, being of good courage is required. For the advent of the Lord will come about. When it comes at the “appointed time,” the rational mind will be ready and receptive. How do we know this will happen? The Lord says so, and He does not lie. So, be of good courage. Don’t tire or grow weary waiting for the completion of the prophecy. “It will not tarry.” So, too, will be the fulfillment of the promise that the Lord’s New Church will be the crown of all churches.

The summary is “The coming of the Lord: what will then take place.”

Read and Review

Read the selection from P&P.

Read Habakkuk 2:1-3.

Questions To Stimulate Reflection

  1. Did you appreciate the word-image of Habakkuk standing watch on the tower, rampart, and bulwark?

  2. Did his words, “I will watch and see what He will say,” inspire you to adopt the same attitude? How can you do this?

  3. Asking for correction, for equilibrium from the Lord, for balance is a worthy prayer to have in the heart. Have you sensed or experienced the Lord bringing equilibrium to your life?

  4. Getting the plain facts from the Lord requires a sustained effort. We need to read and reflect on the things of the Word regularly. Without this dedication, the “appointed time” of the rational mind becoming receptive will be delayed. Can we inspire ourselves and friends and family to read more often?

  5. “Running with the Lord”: what a concept! Picture doing battle with evil and hell from sound principles and conviction. What example comes to mind that might explain the meaning of running with the Lord’s Word?

  6. Psalm 27:14 contains wonderful words. Have you heard Lori Odhner’s song using these words? “Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait I say, on the Lord!”

  7. Patience carries with it a sense of trust in the Lord’s providence that all things will work toward a good end. “Be patient” is easier said than done in some cases. But when it comes to the Lord, His way is best for us. Like Habakkuk, we are called to obedience and a readiness to comply with what is good and true. We need to pray for patience so we can run with the Lord to fight off evil and hellish ways.



Habakkuk 2:4-5

“Behold the proud, his soul is not upright in him; but the just shall live by his faith. Indeed, because he transgresses by wine, he is a proud man, and he does not stay at home. Because he enlarges his desire as hell, and he is like death, and cannot be satisfied, he gathers to himself all nations and heaps up for himself all peoples.”


Passages From The Writings


  • “The love of self: it grows, and man grows vile therefrom.”

Derived Doctrine

“Behold the proud, his soul is not upright in him…”

  • The “proud” and those who have a negative pride are described as “drunkards” or those who are steeped in the “crown of pride.” AE 376 [31] illustrates them as “insane in things spiritual because they believe themselves to be intelligent of themselves, and glory in it…in the other life [they] become like drunkards…and to confirm oneself in falsities is to confirm from oneself and not from the Lord.”
  • “Pride” in the external man rises up “against the goods and truths of the internal [man].” (AC 1585 [5])
  • The “‘waters of the proud’…signify falsities favoring the love of self and confirming it, also the falsities of doctrine from self-intelligence…” (AE 518 [35])
  • “…his soul is not upright…” A soul not being upright reminds us of the “upside down” person. There are many references in the Writings describing such a state. AC 9128 is one that represents that teaching: “…with those who are in evil and thence in falsity, the internal man is closed above and open beneath. From this it is that they see all things upside down; the world as everything, and heaven as nothing. It is also for this reason that before the angels they appear upside down; with the feet upward, and the head downward.”
  • Not being “upright” is another way of saying they were not honest, moral, just, conscientious, straightforward, or fair and honorable with the truths of the Lord.

“…but the just shall live by his faith.”

  • The “just” are also called the “righteous.” AE 458 [6] describes the “righteous,” or the just, as signifying “those who are in good, for by the ‘righteous’ in the Word those who are in the good of love are meant…”
  • To “live” or to have life signifies to have the Lord within one’s spiritual life. (AC 6672, 9124) In AR 1 and 60, we read that the Lord is “He that is living…who alone is life, and from whom alone life is…”

  • There are many passages in the Writings defining “faith.” What one would you pick? I’d like to share my favorite passage from AC 3863 [12]:

“…‘seeing’ signifies having faith, for the Lord is seen only by faith, because faith is the eye of love, and love being the life of faith…” (Emphasis added.)

“Indeed, because he transgresses by wine, he is a proud man…”

  • To understand the meaning of “transgresses by wine,” let’s first look at the meaning of “wine.” In the good sense, “wine” represents a wish to investigate what belongs to faith. (AC 1071) “Transgression,” we are taught, is to be in evils that are contrary to truth. (AC 6563) Combining these teachings, we get a sense of a proud, self-centered person, wishing to twist the things of faith for self-advantage. Pleasing self and ignoring the Lord is a transgression of faith.

“…and he does not stay at home.”

  • AC 9481 speaks of the meaning of “home” or “habitation” as denoting “heaven where the Lord is…”
  • We get a picture of a restless soul who goes on a hunt to find other “gods” to serve. That journey away from the Lord is wayward and impetuously fickle in the choices of life.
  • Now, look at what happens, in the remaining portion of this verse, to the wayward heart moving away from heaven and the Lord.

“Because he enlarges his desire as hell, and he is like death, and cannot be satisfied, he gathers to himself all nations and heaps up for himself all peoples.”

  • This person “enlarges his desire as hell.” Hell wants to take everything from the Lord.
  • Hell is a skeleton, a lifeless form that truly is death.
  • Hell is never satisfied with what is given by the Lord. It desires everything and wants to take from and plunder the Lord.
  • Recall the lot of those in hell who hoarded things. They sit in their dingy quarters counting out their gold. It is “fool’s gold” of no actual value but so very important to them, heaps of worthless nuggets representing the sum total of what they did with their lives.
  • AE 724 [27] speaks of the “nation from afar” as signifying “the falsity of evil, which is the falsity of the sensual man, destroying truths…”
  • The image of heaping up “all peoples” gives us a view of the persuasiveness of sensual people as they wander restlessly from their home—heaven and the Lord.
  • How did P&P sum it up for us? “The love of self: and man grows vile therefrom.”

Putting It All Together

This portion of the prophecy of Habakkuk paints for us a picture of the desires of love of self. Love of self begins with pride; the transgression of wine; the loss of a zeal to study and follow the Lord; the absence of interest in staying at home with the Lord; a deep unhappiness with what is available from the Lord; a restless, wandering quest that has no end in view except the enlarging desire to “heap up” things; an attempt to legitimize personal beliefs with the gathering of other people who share these opinions. Thus, the sensual person pits human prudence against the Divine Prudence.

What does the Lord see within this “proud” person? He sees spiritual death, unhappiness, and the insatiable desire for things that will bring no satisfaction to the “soul.” Habakkuk’s prophecy provides us with a powerful contrast to call our heart and mind to a state of humility and change so we can “stay at home” and be content with the Lord and heaven.

Read and Review

Read the selection from P&P.

Read Habakkuk 2:4-5.

Questions To Stimulate Reflection

  • This portion of our study has the words “the just shall live by his faith…” But these words can be missed or forgotten with the detailed description of the proud man. As with so many things in life, our eye is pulled to the negative. Do you see the importance of taking the affirmative “just faith” with us when we visit and consider the ways of the proud man?
  • Impatience, intolerance, and dissatisfaction with our lot in life can be fodder for the sensual side of our being. A feeling of restless can set in if we allow the “proud” hells to lead our thoughts. Looking for satisfaction elsewhere causes us to “leave home.” Does this description strike a responsive chord? Have we done this kind of mental wandering? Wanting to get out on our own may call us to leave town and home. Jobs might call us from home. On that level, it is necessary to leave home. But our lesson is dealing with the spiritual distancing of heart and mind from the Lord and heaven. Such a decision does not work well for the care and health of our soul. What are your thoughts on this last point?
  • In our lesson, transgressing by wine refers to the loss of that sense of discovery and curiosity about the things of faith. Has that been an experience of yours? How have you dealt with this problem?

  • Justification of action and choices is a daily occurrence with the sensual person. How do sensual people quiet their consciences? They turn to the world and other people to validate their choices. They seek out morose examples that seem to overwhelmingly prove their point. “The just shall live by his faith” is the attitude that keeps us from “heaping up” falsities. Keeping true to the faith of the Lord keeps us “upright” and focused. Can you picture the “upside down” person? Their head is in hell and their feet pointing upward toward earth. The upright have their head in heaven and feet on the earth. This is the way the Lord wants His people to live. Hell wants the opposite. Habakkuk’s message calls us to be “upright.” As we hear Habakkuk’s words, are we motivated, and cheered on, to keep an upright spirit and a “just heart”? 


Habakkuk 2:6-7

“Will not all these take up a proverb against him, and a taunting riddle against him, and say, ‘Woe to him who increases what is not his—how long? And to him who loads himself with many pledges’? Will not your creditors rise up suddenly? Will they not awaken who oppress you? And you will become their booty.”


Passages From The Writings


  • “He is held in contempt by others…”

AC 6669 [2]

  • This passage refers to Habakkuk 2:6-7 and notes that “‘to lade himself with clay’ denotes with evil.”

Derived Doctrine

“Will not all these take up a proverb against him, and a taunting riddle against him…”

  • Who are “all these” who will take up a “proverb and riddle” against the proud? Will there be a turning of popular opinion within the nations against the “proud”? Or is it a teaching regarding the vulnerability of falsity to the corrective nature of the Lord’s infinite truths? The latter appears to be closer to the heart of what the spiritual sense would want us to know and believe. The lies of hell will catch up with the proud. They will be exposed before all people who love the Lord and seek His New Church. The Lord will use a myriad of truths to combat the falsity of the sensual person. The diversity of the Lord’s truth will be within “the just” who live by their faith. It will be a network of truths forged by the Lord to stand up against the enemies of the Lord, an arsenal so well suited for battle that hell will not know how to defend itself. There will be many minds, many truths, and outstanding order within the Church of the Lord.
  • AC 7236 [3] offers us this thought regarding the countless variety of truths. “Seeing then that truths are so countless, it can be seen that by means of the conjunctions so many varieties arise that one thing can never be the same as another…What then may not arise from thousands and myriads of various things such as truths. And this is confirmed by the common maxim, ‘many men many minds,’ that is, there are as many diversities of ideas as there are men.”
  • A “proverb” is a profound maxim. It is truth couched obscurely. But like a medicated time-release capsule, the truths within the epigrammatic saying release their spiritual antidotal remedies to overcome all the diseases of falsity the proud had believed invincible or incurable. One after another of their lies will be exposed in the presence of Divine truth. Spiritual health will be restored within the Lord’s New Church.
  • The unfolding and dismantling of falsity is a simple task in the ways of the Lord. Hell will see the Lord’s truth as a “taunting riddle.” Why a riddle? Webster’s Dictionary sheds some light on the meaning of the word “riddle.” Consider this interesting explanation: A riddle is a “sieve with coarse meshes…to separate, as grain from chaff, with a riddle; to sift…” How could a riddle be like a sieve? What would it separate? To answer our questions, let’s look at how Swedenborg uses this word (chiydah, in the original language) in the Writings. It is translated as “enigma” in many places, and less frequently as “subtle,” “mocking,” and “interpretive” in discussion of verses from several books of the Word. When we consider this word in connection with the internal sense explained to us in the passage from P&P, it seems to mean a way of speaking that is indirect, somewhat like the Lord speaking in parables to the children of Israel so that they would not do harm to truth they were not prepared to receive. This leads us back to the word “riddle,” which we use to refer to words that are indirect, that have a hidden, “enigmatic” meaning. A riddle can separate those who understand its inner meaning from those who are puzzled by it or misinterpret it. Where an angel might see evidence of the Lord’s love, evil spirits will see only a “taunting riddle.”

“Woe to him who increases what is not his—how long?”

  • The signification of the word “woe” is manifold. In AC 3755, we are taught: “‘Woe’ is a form of expression signifying the danger of eternal damnation…” AR 416 teaches, “By ‘woe’ is signified lamentation over the evil with any one and thence over his unhappy state…” AE 1165 explains that “‘woe, woe, that great city’…signifies lamentation over their doctrine and religious persuasion…”
  • “Increasing,” in the positive sense, means to “ask for nothing but what contributes to the Lord’s kingdom and to himself for salvation…” (AE 815 [10]) In the opposite sense, we can see that the disorderly do not wish for the increase of the Lord and His kingdom. Instead, the self wants everything to serve its worldly ambitions to “increase” in power, wealth, and prestige. Underlying the increase of self is a wish to be “godlike.” There is only one God, and we cannot take from Him that which is rightfully His.
  • “How long?” The Lord is Infinite. We are finite. The Lord “is,” and mankind “is not.” There is no ratio between what is and what is not. Therefore, the question “how long” is easy to answer. A person’s ambitions for self are not something that has any extension into eternity. The sensual person’s choices are like a blink of the eye in comparison to the infinite choices of the Lord.

“…And to him who loads himself with many pledges’? Will not your creditors rise up suddenly? Will they not awaken who oppress you? And you will become their booty.”

  • We have three questions to consider. What does it mean to load self with many pledges? What does it mean to have creditors that rise up suddenly? And who awakens to oppress?
  • To understand the answers to these questions, let’s begin with an understanding of the “conjugial principle.” The “‘conjugial principle’ is present in the tiniest details of each human being, both male and female…The male’s conjugial principle is designed to be linked with the female’s and vice versa, even in the tiniest details…The reason for this duality is that one belongs to the will, and the other to the intellect, and they work together so wonderfully that they act as a one.” (CL 316 [4]) See also AC 3610 [4]. This reference teaches that those who are to be “born again” have this conjugial principle hidden within them, but it is necessary for the endeavor to be vivified and made anew in the process of regeneration.
  • “Pledges” in the positive sense are given as “memorials” to be “suspended in sight” to help remind conjugial love of its promises of everlasting faithfulness; to help the mind to be exhilarated at the sight of the pledges; to remind one that the favors of the conjugial are “dearer and more precious than all other gifts...pledges are stabilizers of conjugial love…” (CL 300 [3], emphasis added) In the negative sense, one can see that the overloading of empty words, memorials, promise of faithfulness, and fake zeal would be a sad weighting down of the heart and mind so that the tiniest hidden conjugial principle would fail to elevate the person into the spiritual process of regeneration. Instead of vivifying the heart and mind, the negative deadens promises and cuts off a person’s spiritual life. In place of a free-will offering of heart and mind to bring about spiritual conjunction, there is an emphasis on external praise and pomposity that leads to the disjunction of heart and mind.
  • A “creditor” is someone who lends. In our world, a creditor is essentially someone who lends money or materials. On a deeper level, a “creditor” is someone who communicates and shares truth. A teacher, preacher, parent, or peer may be a gifted communicator of ideas and may inspire those who listen to or read their words. As individual and unique as the presentation of truth may be, none of us may lay claim to being the originator of a truth. The inspiration and originality of all truth is from but one source. The Lord alone is truth. Our text makes a profound point. Will not the Lord, as our Creditor, rise up suddenly to bring us to accountability? Will not the Lord judge us according to what we have done with what we have known? His judgment is not based on what we have not yet mastered. His demand for accountability will come from what we did with what He loaned us. How often did we come to the source of all truth? Did we hunger and thirst for His Word, or did we satisfy the longing of our souls with the words of temporal and finite things?
  • Hell sees itself as a “creditor.” Hellish spirits remind us often of how indebted we are to their imagined power. If any truth of the Lord comes into our love system, these spirits become uncomfortable. Combats and temptation are inspired by hell. War is declared with the goal to oust any truth of the Lord’s. The goal of hell is to take away our “booty.” What is the meaning of “booty”? Consider these teachings. AC 576 describes “booty” as “remains in the internal man…because they are insinuated as by stealth among so many evils and falsities, and it is by these remains that all blessing comes.” Is it any wonder then that hell wants to do away with our booty? TCR 117 describes hell as an “army of robbers or rebels which invade a kingdom or a city…set fire…plunder…divide the spoil…rejoice and exult…” But redemption “…may be compared to the lawful king who advances against these rebels…recovers the booty, and restores it to his subjects, thereafter establishing order…and [rendering the kingdom or city] secure against like assaults.”
  • The message here is that hell, the sensual person, the unregenerate will be held up in contempt by those who follow, and everyone will see a glimpse of reality through the eyes of the Lord. The contemptuous feeling is not from a state of being uncharitable. Instead, it comes from a clear-sighted view of the attempt of hell to make truth seem like falsity and falsity seem like truth.

Putting It All Together

To grow spiritually, we need the Lord’s parables, proverbs, and riddles. Why? Only those who seek the meaning of the inner sense will find the truth. Insincere efforts to study the Word will offer little help in fighting off falsities. The hidden and profound spiritual sense has a power to find hell’s weak spots. The “riddle” of the Word—the coarse meshes and sieves—separates the sand from the gold. Sand represents the falsities of hell, and gold represents the pure love of the Lord.

  • “Woe” to the person who prefers the unhappy state of hell.
  • “Woe” to the person who wants to replace the Lord with self. Such a choice has little life or extension into heaven.
  • “Woe” to the person who loads empty platitudes in the mouth and follows through with none of the pledges or covenants made with the Lord.
  • “Woe” to those who make the human traditions of greater importance than the words of the Lord. Popular consensus will not sway the ways of the Lord and heaven. The Word of the Lord will rise up “suddenly.” The Lord, as a Creditor, will rise up and make the determination as to who was sincere in the gathering of truths for the use of heaven and the Lord. 
  • “Woe” to the hellish spirits who want to suppress and carry away the “booty” of remains. Remains are hidden and are the source of happiness. The Lord as a “legal king” will rally His truths to advance against hell. He will recover all “booty” and restore it to His subjects. His army will establish order. He will render all remains secure against like assaults. (TCR 117)


The spiritually secure will feel contempt toward hell. They will feel a loathing and distaste for the twisting of truth into falsity and the attempt to make falsity seem like truth.

The Lord says “Woe” to the ways of hell.

Read and Review

Read the selection from P&P.

Read Habakkuk 2:6-7.

Questions To Stimulate Reflection

  • How well are you able to look at the literal sense of these verses and draw out the spiritual sense to apply it to life situations?
  • Are the “woes” powerful as you look at them from the Lord’s perspective?
  • How about the meaning of the word “riddle”? Had you ever heard or thought of a riddle being a coarse sieve to separate the grain from the chaff?
  • How well do you picture the “booty” as remains? Note that the Writings also define our “booty” as the source of all happiness.
  • The description of the Lord as a “legal king” of His subjects and of His return of the “booty” was quite comforting. What was not said, but felt, was that His work is selfless. He returns every one of the stolen goods. He does not claim a “finder’s fee.” In addition, He restores order and confidence, and He guarantees that hell will not return to plunder again.
  • How strong is your contempt for hell’s disorder? The Writings teach us that the “greater the horror that is conceived for evils and falsities…the less do evil spirits dare to approach, for they cannot endure aversion and horror…” (AC 1740 [3]) It is necessary to take a stand for the way of the Lord and disavow the ways of hell.
  • Read once again the explanation of “pledges” in CL 300 [3]:

Pledges are memorials.
Pledges are “suspended in sight” to remind us of and help us to keep our promises of everlasting faithfulness to the Lord.
Pledges are to help exhilarate the mind.
Pledges are to remind us that the conjugial principles are “dearer and more precious than all other gifts.”
Pledges are “stabilizers of conjugial love.”
Don’t these points cause us to look at our pledges more carefully?

When are we loading too many pledges? When we are doing things for show? When we are doing things to fulfill empty tradition? 


Habakkuk 2:8

“Because you have plundered many nations, all the remnant of the people shall plunder you, Because of men’s blood and the violence of the land and the city, and of all who dwell in it.”

Passages From The Writings


  • “…and they pervert the goods and truths of the church.”

Derived Doctrine

“Because you have plundered many nations, all the remnant of the people shall plunder you...”

  • Jeremiah 30:16 teaches, “Those who plunder you shall become plundered, and all who prey upon you I will make a prey.”
  • “Nations” represent goods that stem from charity. (AC 1259 [4])
  • “Plunder” or plundering represents “taking away.” (AC 6920) But taking away what? Those who seek to take away the goods that stem from charity are skilled in the art of “mussitation.” (AR 655) Mussitation, or sophistry, is a purposeful blurring of facts. It is turning things this way and that way to prove a point. Loyalty to truth is not a goal of this activity. “Mussitators” want to show how clever they are by proving whatever suits their fancy. This is more important to them than finding the Lord’s truth. When the Lord plunders the perverted, His purpose is to remove, or take away, “from those steeped in falsities and evils arising from them…” (AC 6920)
  • The remnant, or residue of truth stored up by the Lord in the interior person, will be the means by which He will expose and take away the crafty and twisted sophistry of the false and evil. Their tricks and deceptions will no longer hold together. Falsity and evil will be thoroughly taken away.

“…Because of men’s blood and the violence of the land and the city, and all who dwell in it.”

  • “Blood” in the positive sense has reference to charity, or love of the neighbor, and love to the Lord. (AC 1001 [2]) To do violence to the land: “‘Land’ signifies the man of the church…it also signifies that which is essential, namely, love to the Lord and charity toward the neighbor, for on this they all hang.” (AC 2571)
  • Does everyone do violence to the land and the city? These words are directed to the violators who dwell in the land and city. Those dwelling outside of the land and city are not included. Why should we make a point of this? A dwelling represents where one’s heart resides. The Lord is seeking to get us to consider what kind of dwelling place we have. Is our dwelling place a place where spiritual good carefully nurtures the truths of the church? Is the dwelling place of our inmost natural mind a place where memory-knowledges dwell to serve the Lord? (AC 6101) Is our dwelling place full of discordant things, in which Divine good is, that are not in any agreement with the Lord’s truths? (AC 3154 [2]) The dwelling place of the evil is an active love that is dedicated to doing violence to the things of charity (blood) to the Lord and the neighbor.

Putting It All Together

Those who pervert the goods and truths of the church will be “taken away.” Those who sought to plunder and drain the life’s blood of the church and its doctrines of charity shall not prevail.

These words must be stored in the remnant of our dwelling places. Our heart needs to hold fast to the Lord’s promise regarding the ultimate outcome of hellish efforts. How diligently is hell trying to convince us that it is more powerful than the Lord? With its “mussitations”—its bag of tricks and insane reasoning—black is made to look like white, and white is made to look black. Hell brags of its versatility, its ability to prove both with equal zeal. Hellish spirits care little for the propriety of truth, so within their dwelling place, there is a sad and dismal discordant sphere. The Lord and His order have no standing in their value system.

We have been given a vision from the Lord that He will “take them away.” Those who wish to plunder will be plundered. Those who wished to make others their prey will become the prey. The Lord’s remnant will victoriously be the last ones left standing in the day of battle against evil and falsity.

“And all the people shall answer and say, ‘Amen!’” (Deuteronomy 27:15)

Read and Review

Read the selection from P&P.

Read Habakkuk 2:8.

Questions To Stimulate Reflection

  • Have you ever been dazzled by someone’s ability to form “logic” that will allow them to get what they want? It is amazing how quickly we can conjure up “legitimate” reasons why we did what we did. It doesn’t matter that it had overtones of selfishness; we can still find a way to justify it.
  • What hell wishes upon the Lord and the neighbor returns to hell’s self. We have looked at this law of retaliation before. Do you think it is a “fair” law?
  • Having confidence in the Lord is essential in our regeneration process. Can we build up that confidence with the reading of Habakkuk? Do you think you might share some of this story with a friend or family member?


Habakkuk 2:9-10

“Woe to him who covets evil gain for his house, that he may set his nest on high, that he may be delivered from the power of disaster! You give shameful counsel to your house, cutting off many peoples, and sin against your soul.”


Passages From The Writings


  • “They are in their own intelligence, owing to which they are puffed up.”

Derived Doctrine

“Woe to him who covets evil gain for his house, that he may set his nest on high…”

  • To “covet” is to have an inordinate desire for things that belong to someone else. It could be a desire for someone’s wife or husband, or for possession of wealth, reputation, and standing within the community. Instead of feeling joy for the successes of others, as angels would, people who covet feel sadness that they do not have what their neighbors have.
  • AC 7374 describes coveting, noting that “Those are in the love of the world who desire to possess themselves of the goods of others by artful devices, and still more those who do this by cunning and deceit.” (Emphasis added.)
  • AC 8909 warns that “one must beware of the love of self and the world…lest the evils [of coveting]…become of the will…” This same teaching appears in AC 8910 [3], where it is noted that by “‘thou shalt not covet’ is signified that one must beware lest evils become of the will…” (Emphasis added.)
  • “Gain” is described in AC 8711 as “the falsity and evil which persuade and draw away from truth and good. By ‘gain’ in general is signified all the falsity from evil that perverts the judgments of the mind…” (Emphasis added.)
  • A “house” signifies remains in the internal person. (AC 576 [3]) A “house” signifies the things that are of the will, and a “house” signifies the church. (AC 710) A “house” signifies that which has been collected; a “house” is accumulated memory-knowledges. (AC 1486, 1488)

“…that he may set his nest on high, that he may be delivered from the power of disaster!”

  • Setting one’s nest “on high” is explained in AC 10582 as representing “those who exalt themselves above others, believing that they are more learned than all others, when yet they are in falsities, and even cannot see truths…”
  • What could appear more calamitous or disastrous to the proud, who have exalted themselves above others, than to be pulled down from their lofty heights by the Lord? All of their falsities are then exposed and shown for what they “are not,” and the Lord’s truth is shown for “what it is.” We get from the literal sense the sadness of the evil position. They imagined themselves secure from any “pulling down” by the Lord.

“You give shameful counsel to your houses, cutting off many peoples, and sin against your soul.”

  • This verse sums up the spiritual problem of a “puffed-up” self-intelligence. It gives shameful counsel to your houses. Instead of helping people find conjunction with the Lord, it severs this conjunction, and lastly, it brings harm to the soul.
  • Israel’s choices portray the antithesis of the Lord’s wish for His church and the people within His Church. He longs to give good counsel for each and every soul. The self-centered ignore and devaluate the importance of eternal ends. The Lord seeks out souls to be conjoined eternally to Him. “Behold all souls are mine, says the Lord.” (Ezekiel 18:4) Hell doesn’t want the Lord to have any part of its soul; it wants to cut Him out—permanently.

Putting It All Together

P&P summarizes the verse under study with these words: “They are in their own intelligence, owing to which they are puffed up.”

Hell and its legion of falsifications become forms of covetousness and gain. Hellish spirits want everyone to bow down to them. Their greatest desire is to get the Lord to fall before them. They want to dominate others so that they may be served. To accomplish this feat of ultimate self-love, they construct lofty systems of thought that justify their position. They become so enamored with their thoughts that they insanely believe they are “untouchable.” They have no fear about the “day of the Lord.” 

As always, the Lord gets the last word. He will bring down the lofty nests. He will deliver truth from the disastrous path of hell. The Lord, rightfully, points to the shameful counsel a “puffed-up” self-intelligence gave to the internal person, to the church, to the collection of memory-knowledges. The people in the church languished under such leadership. Instead of a church that cared for and loved the souls of the people, there was the presence of hell working to sever the conjunction between the Lord and His people. Falsity and evil perverted “the judgments of the mind.”

The resounding good news from the Lord is that the efforts of hell will not work; hell will not succeed. Such words have to be heard, repeated, and believed so that the Lord can use us in the battle of regeneration. Hell can’t stand such convictions of confidence in the power of the Lord.

Read and Review

Read the selection from P&P.

Read Habakkuk 2:9-10.

Questions To Stimulate Reflection

  • Have you ever confronted someone with a “puffed-up” self-intelligence?
  • If people are wrapped up in the pride of self-intelligence, do their forms of clever reasoning make them skillful at justifying their own ends?
  • Is self-intelligence, in your experience, sure of its safety from disaster?
  • Do you see self-intelligence as a form of covetousness and a desire for gain?
  • What examples might you site of “shameful counsel”?
  • What examples might you use to show how self-intelligence could cut off the relationship of the people with the Lord?
  • How does a person sin against the soul? The soul is indestructible. Only the Lord knows where the soul is. Do we sin against the soul by allowing a hard core of resistance and neglect to be built around the soul to keep the Lord from touching our remains? What do you think?

  • Nests are a series of individual twigs interlaced with great care and patience. What does a nest mean in the positive sense? What does a nest represent in the negative sense? To answer these questions, read DP 317 about thinking analytically and forming conclusions.


Habakkuk 2:11

“For the stone will cry out from the wall, and the beam from the timbers will answer it.”

Passages From The Writings


  • “They judge from externals alone.”

AC 643 [2]

  • “The ‘stone’ denotes the lowest degree of the understanding; and the ‘wood’ the lowest of the will, which ‘answers’ when anything is drawn from sensuous knowledge (scientifico sensuali).”

AR 774

  • “…that ‘wood’ signifies good…may be in some degree evident from these passages…Habakkuk 2:11…‘wood’ in the opposite sense [signifies] what is evil and cursed…”

AE 746 [16]

  • “That ‘wood’ signifies good, and in the contrary sense evil, may be seen in the Arcana Coelestia, numbers 643, 3720, 4943, 8354, 8740…Moreover, in some passages ‘beam’ is mentioned, and it signifies the falsity of evil (as in…Habakkuk 2:11…)…”

AE 1145 [8]

  • “In Habakkuk…2:11…This means that evil confirms and incites falsity; the ‘wall out of which the stone crieth’ signifies man devoid of truths, and thus wishing to be taught falsity; ‘the beam that answereth from the wood’ signifies man destitute of good, ‘wood’ signifying the evil that confirms falsity and agrees with it.”

Derived Doctrine

“For the stone will cry out from the wall…”

  • “That a ‘cry’ denotes falsity, and ‘sin’ evil, is evident from the signification in the Word of a ‘cry.’ That a ‘cry’ signifies falsity can be evident to no one unless he knows the internal sense of the Word. The word sometimes occurs in the Prophets, and when vastation and desolation are there treated of, it is said that men ‘howl and cry,’ by which is signified that goods and truths have been vastated…by which in the internal sense falsity is described…” (AC 2240)
  • A “wall” in the positive sense signifies “the Word in the sense of the letter from which is the doctrine of the New Church…for that sense protects the spiritual sense…as the wall does a city and its inhabitants…” (AR 898) A “wall” in the negative sense “signifies falsity assumed as a principle, and by application of the Word from the sense of the letter made to appear as truth…” (AE 237 [5])

Putting It All Together

The key to pulling this verse together is found in the combination of teachings from P&P and AE 237 [5].

P&P calls us to notice how the proud and self-centered make decisions: “they judge from externals.” These are quick decisions based on appearances and the expediency of the moment. Such people look to what works for the short term and ignore the decisions that work toward eternity. In a word, they are people who are governed by effects and not ends.

To describe what spiritual effects come from external judgments, a wall is mentioned. Why a wall? A “wall” in the negative sense is described as “falsity assumed as a principle, and by application of the Word from the sense of the letter made to appear as truth…” A “stone” crying out from the “wall” denotes the lowest degree of understanding and the “wood” (timbers) answering denotes the “lowest of the will which ‘answers’ when anything is drawn from sensuous knowledge.” (AC 643 [2])

Can we put some kind of example in place to illustrate how we can understand and use the spiritual meaning of this passage? Each reader will be able to draw an example when they consider how easy it is to pull whatever we want from the Word to prove a point. Jacob skillfully stole, with his mother’s help, Esau’s first-born rights. Jacob got even with his father-in-law, Laban, by subtlety building and enriching his wealth through clever breeding techniques. David stole another man’s wife. Abraham lied about his wife being his sister. Lot had children with his daughters. Using these external examples, one could work up a case for clever deception, lying, adultery, and incest. If Biblical heroes employed these tactics for their own ends, the external wall-builders ask, why can’t we do the same when the immediate moment calls for lying, stealing, deception, and self-preservation?

Or, one could cite all of these examples to question the holiness of the Word. After all, the Word repeatedly describes war, killing, cruelty, and failure in its teachings. The hells try to convince us to devalue the Word with the idea of “Who wants to fill their mind with such depressing topics? Healthy minds must shun depression and failure.”

False principles made to look like truth will build walls between people and the Lord. When the walls are in place, it is only “logical” that there would be a cry from the “wood” or “timbers,” the lowest things of our will (affection), to justify falsified external reasoning.

What does the Lord want us to do with this passage?

  • Tear down all mental and spiritual altars at which we worship and justify falsity.
  • Build spiritual altars with stones not hewn (cut or shaped) with human tools.
  • Use that which is internal, spiritual, and eternal as a positive wall against hell and its insane falsities. 

Read and Review

Read the selection from P&P.

Read Habakkuk 2:11

Questions To Stimulate Reflection

    • Thinking and judging from externals alone happens often in our lives. Without being morose, I’m sure we can recall a time when we made an impetuous and poor decision. With our pride at stake, we probably did our best to tenaciously defend the mistake. Do you recall erecting “walls” to defend decisions? It is a common tendency to build “walls” of excuses to justify ourselves and to erect “timbers” of emotions to support our reasoning. It isn’t easy to admit to others our errors. Is it any easier to admit them to the Lord? Do we take the time to ask the Lord to help us with our choices?
    • Our country just experienced two devastating storms. Hurricanes Katrina and Rita catastrophically leveled homes and businesses and took lives. New Orleans was on its way to recovering from Katrina when Rita hit, tearing open the temporary levee and re-flooding streets and homes. Amid the confusion and contamination, one of the residents was interviewed while standing in his house filled with toxic mud and the chaos of lost personal goods. He remarked to the reporter: “I have tried to live a good life. I have always treated my neighbors with honesty and respect. What did I do wrong to deserve these two floods?” Implied in his question was a belief in God’s anger and punishment directed at him. He seemed to be asking, “Why is God punishing me, a good man, for something I didn’t consciously do wrong?” Many people in hard circumstances experience this feeling. Why do you think this happens? What might be the source of the belief implied in this man’s statement?
    • A false wall is under construction in the interview quoted above. How can we tear this negative wall down in the face of the obvious emotional and personal distress? The loss of life and personal belongings offer apparent evidence to support this man’s view. What will build a positive wall based on eternal ends? Is it a matter of “time heals all wounds”?
    • Lastly, what important message is this portion of the prophecy giving about the building up of the New Church? The Holy City of the New Jerusalem has walls. The walls are adorned with precious jewels. The walls are for the protection of all within. 


Habakkuk 2:12-13

“Woe to him who builds a town with bloodshed, who establishes a city by iniquity! Behold, is it not of the Lord of hosts that the peoples labor to feed the fire, and nations weary themselves in vain?”

Passages From The Writings


  • “A curse rests upon those who hatch doctrine out of falsities.”

Derived Doctrine

In a slight departure from our usual format, let us first consider some derived doctrine concerning the meaning of “curse” and “hatching” (mentioned in P&P, above) so that the verse in Habakkuk 2:12 can come more fully into our understanding.
“A curse…”

  • “A ‘rain’ in general signifies a blessing, and in the opposite sense a curse; when a blessing, it signifies the influx and reception of…truth that is of faith and of the good that is of charity…but when it [rain] signifies a curse, it signifies falsity that is contrary to the truth of faith, and evil that is contrary to the good of charity, for these are a curse.” (AC 7553)
  • “…eminence may be a blessing or may be a curse, and that eminence as a blessing is from the Lord, and eminence as a curse is from the devil.” (AE 1188)

“…rests upon [resting, ideas based on] those who hatch doctrine out of falsities.”

  • “…those who, from their own intelligence, have hatched for themselves dogmas from the Word…[and who] excel in cleverness from natural light (lumen), hatch dogmas for themselves…This is the origin of all heresies and all falsities in the Christian world. Intelligence from man’s proprium is from himself, but the intelligence which is not from his proprium is from the Lord…those…in the love of self who read the Word and collect dogmas [do so] for the sake of fame, glory, and honors. And as they are unable to see any truths, but can see falsities only, they collect and hatch such things from the Word as favor their loves and evils…” (AE 714 [10])

“Woe to him who builds a town with bloodshed…”

  • “Woe signifies lamentation over calamity, danger, hardship, destruction…as the aversion from good and truth becomes successively more grievous in the church.” (AE 531)
  • “Woe signifies grievous lamentation over misfortune, unhappiness and damnation.” (AR 769)
  • “In the spiritual sense of the Word, a city and town signifies doctrine.” (The New Jerusalem and Its Heavenly Doctrine [NJHD] 6)
  • “…those who from the evil of the love of self…confirm…from the sense of the letter of the Word, then whatever evil they do from this false doctrine and others built upon this as a foundation…destroys the internal man, preventing any conscience from ever being formed…These are they spoken of in the Word who are said to be ‘in bloods,’ [bloodshed] for they are in cruel rage against the whole human race…” (AC 4818 [4])

“…who establishes a city by iniquity!”

  • AE 1057 [3] provides us with a possible insight into the meaning of this verse. The Lord establishes a covenant with His church and people. He desires to plant within heaven and earth internal and spiritual things, and to earth He wants to give the stability of external or natural order. His covenant and laws are to “establish” a basis upon which truth can lead and govern the will of His people toward spiritual happiness. The opposite of this would be an endeavor to “disestablish” and destroy the Lord’s covenant and order by “hatching” and by supplanting divine truth with human prudence. 

“Behold, is it not of the Lord of hosts that the peoples labor to feed the fire and nations weary themselves in vain?”

  • “Behold” means keep in sight, look at, watch, survey, discern, consider.
  • It is not the Lord of hosts who feeds the fire of self love. Instead, He desires to keep such fires from raging within our hearts and minds.
  • The “Lord of Hosts” signifies all the goods and truths fighting against falsities and evils. (AE 453 [6])
  • It is not the Lord of hosts who wearies the mind and soul of the disobedient.
  • Who then is to blame? The “hatchers”; those who seek the eminence of self; those who trust human prudence above Divine order. It is the “themselves” who stoke the oven fires of disorder.
  • To take the Lord’s name “in vain” means “to profane and blaspheme…to turn truth into evil…” (AC 8882)

Putting It All Together

AE 714 [10] provides the key to the summation of this verse with this thought: Those who “hatch” dogmas for themselves from their own intelligence are “the origin of all heresies and all falsities in the Christian world.” And how do they hatch dogma for themselves? With “cleverness from natural light,” using passages from the Word, collecting what “favor[s] their loves and evils.”

Innovation, like so many other things in life, can be positive or negative. One’s intentions will determine whether innovation will lift up or pull down, whether it will lead to worship of the Lord or self. Self-examination is a hard process to undergo. We don’t like finding fault with ourselves. If anything, we like self-validation, praise, compliments. Hell knows this. Hellish spirits and people who are allowing themselves to be influenced by hell will quote others and will quote (misquote) Scripture skillfully in order to get what they want. This is what the evil spirits did with the Lord in the wilderness. So, why wouldn’t they do the same with us?

Do you recall a story in II Kings 4:38-41? Elisha returned from a trip to be with the sons of the prophets. There was a famine in the land. Elisha told them to put on the “large pot” and brew some stew. One of the prophets went out into the field and gathered a lapful of “wild” gourds, sliced them up, and put them into the pot of stew. When the stew was served, the sons of the prophets cried out, “Man of God, there is death in the pot!” What brought on the death in the pot? “…an ill-assorted mass of memory-knowledges” hatched in such a way from the wild gourds as to bring death into the pot. Elisha saved the pot of stew. He added a meal to it—truth from good—and nourishment returned to the stew. See AC 3316 [4] for further explanation of this passage.

Did the one son of the prophets go out into the field to purposely “poison” the stew? Didn’t he go out with the goal of adding some flavor to the contents? Didn’t he want to put some “body” into each bowl-full? Although we are not told what his intent was, we do know the results. There was death in the pot. The Lord had to make it right. The contents of the large pot were not thrown away; it was purified with the love of doctrine as drawn from the Lord’s Word. Innovation—hatching—the ill-assorted mass of memory-knowledges, all of these things can be cured and saved by the Lord alone. I think I am getting the message of our text. What ideas has it brought to you?

Read and Review

Read the selection from P&P.

Read Habakkuk 2:12-13.

Questions To Stimulate Reflection

  • Does this lesson cause you to worry about being innovative in your life of worship?
  • What innovative things have you seen come into the life of the church?

  • Are there safeguards one can point to that will keep the “large pot” from becoming a pot of death?

  • Traditional forms of worship can be just as deadly as innovative ones. How can we get the “meal” thrown in the pot to keep it spiritually healthy and nourishing?

  • What are your thoughts about the son of the prophet going out into the field and gathering wild gourds? Do you identify with him, or do you find yourself suspecting his motives?

  • There was a famine. There was a scarcity of foods. Any similarity of this to our day?

  • Woe to him that builds a town with bloodshed.” What does this represent?

  • AC 1408 [3] gives us a principle that must be remembered and applied whenever we study the Word: “...many things in the Word are said according to appearances, and indeed according to the fallacies of the senses, as that the Lord is angry, that He punishes, curses, kills, and many other such things; when yet in the internal sense they mean quite the contrary; namely, that the Lord is in no wise angry, and punishes, still less does He curse and kill...those [who] from simplicity of heart believe the Word...no harm is done...therefore with them the fallacies taken from the sense of the letter are easily dispelled." (Emphasis added.) We need this quote to correct the impression given in our text that the Lord inspired the people to “feed the fire” and to “weary themselves in vain.” Looking at this verse again, were you able to read and then make the proper (contrary) interpretation of the literal sense?

  • We will always need to overcome the “appearances” of the literal sense. Hell loves to seize such quotes from the Word to worry us about the “Lord’s anger and spirit of retribution.” Hell wants us to view the Lord as volatile and unfair in His dealings with people. The simplicity of heart of a believer can be inspired to overcome such false appearances. Therefore, it might help each of us to memorize AC 1408 [3]. Without the spiritual sense, we too might “labor to feed the fire” and “weary ourselves in vain.” What do you think about this important doctrinal point?


Habakkuk 2:14

“For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.”

Passages From The Writings


  • “When the Lord comes…”

Derived Doctrine

“…the earth will be filled…”

  • “The ‘earth’ is a term very often used in the Word; and by it is signified the ‘land’ where the true church of the Lord is…” (AC 620) “Earth” is used to denote the whole human race with respect to their state as a church, or not as a church. (AC 1066)
  • When the earth is spoken of as being “empty and void,” it signifies a person before regeneration. (AC 17) Filling the earth, then, would seem to signify endowing a person with the necessary goods and truths to regenerate. In place of emptiness and darkness, the Lord bestows delight and power to regenerate. It is a “conatus,” a striving, an endeavor to become an earth (church) that values the spiritual realities of the Lord.

“…with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord…”

  • AE 513 defines what a “living” knowledge is: it is “a knowledge that derives life from spiritual affections; for that affection gives life to truths, and gives life to knowledges, for knowledges are containants of spiritual truths…”
  • The “glory of the Lord” represents the Word in its spiritual sense. (AR 24) “Glory” signifies to make the Human Divine known. (AC 10655 [2]; AE 224, 226 [2]) “Glory” signifies the conjunction of good and truth, and it also signifies the expelling of hereditary evils the Lord had received from Mary (the wonderful story of glorification). (AC 1603 [2])

“…as the waters cover the sea.”

  • “It is a very common thing in the Word for ‘waters’ to signify knowledges (cognitions et scientifica), and consequently for ‘seas’ to signify a collection of knowledges.” (AC 28) What this teaching implies is that the collection of spiritual and natural knowledges in the memory will be called into use by the Lord.

Putting It All Together

Our selection from P&P begins a sentence, and we now must finish it within the context of what the literal sense just unfolded. “When the Lord comes…”

    • The church will be filled and enlivened with His presence.
    • The church will be His church because of His revealed knowledge.
    • The church will be given “living” knowledges that will be Dynamic and Powerful tools for its spiritual life.
    • The church will be glorious and happy because its message will make known the story of, and importance of, the glorification of His Divine Human.
    • The Lord will collect and order the “waters” that cover “the sea.” In other words, the goods and truths in the memory-knowledges of the church will be ordered by the Lord so that the implementation of them will bring the elements of worship to a state of honesty and integrity.

Read and Review

Read the selection from P&P.

Read Habakkuk 2:14.

Questions To Stimulate Reflection

  • The above statements somewhat complete the P&P sentence. As you read the explanation, did you wrestle with some “but” questions?

  • “But” when will the Lord institute these things?
  • “But” what will it take to make the news of the Lord’s second coming so interesting that it will be heard and believed by all the churches on earth?

  • “But” we have had the news of these things in the Writings for over 200 years, and it just doesn’t seem to be catching on. What is keeping the news from being accepted?

  • The organized New Church has four major branches, and we have trouble trusting and agreeing with one another. How can we become more cooperative so we can grow into a dynamic and powerful force for the Lord’s New Church?

  • What will it take to unify the waters and seas of our memory-knowledges?

  • Our numbers are not increasing. We are in a downward state of membership. More and more, we are talking about strategic planning to make the church more user-friendly for newcomers. Is this planning part of the Lord’s enlivening the church with His presence? Will He use this as a way to present the world with the story of His Divine Human?

  • Or do we need to do that strategic planning as an aside while we read and study the Word as our main focus?

  • What has kept you loyal to and enthusiastic about New Church doctrines?

  • Has the Lord’s glorification of His Divine Human been one of your interests?


Habakkuk 2:15-17

“Woe to him who gives drink to his neighbor, pressing him to your bottle, even to make him drunk, that you may look on his nakedness! You are filled with shame instead of glory. You also—drink! And be exposed as uncircumcised! The cup of the Lord’s right hand will be turned against you, and utter shame will be on your glory. For the violence done to Lebanon will cover you, and the plunder of beasts which made them afraid, because of men’s blood and the violence of the land and the city, and of all who dwell in it.”

Passages From The Writings


  • “…he who leads others astray, will then be ashamed…”

AC 1073

  • “In this verse, because it is said that he lay uncovered, it is signified that he stripped himself of the truths of faith by desiring to investigate them by means of the things of sense and by reasonings therefrom.” Habakkuk 2:15 is cited.

AR 721

  • “‘To be made drunk with…wine’ signifies to be insane in spiritual, that is, in theological things…” Habakkuk 2:15 is one of many passages cited.

AC 9960 [15]

  • “Again…[in] Habakkuk 2:15…by ‘being drunken,’ by ‘being made naked,’…and by ‘the foreskin’…these expressions are to be spiritually understood…spiritually, ‘drinking’ denotes to be instructed in truths, and in the opposite sense in falsities…‘being drunken’ denotes to be insane…And ‘being made naked’ denotes to be destitute of truths…‘to uncover the foreskin’ denotes to defile celestial goods by these loves. (…Consequently ‘circumcision’ denotes purification from these loves…)”

AE 235 [6]

  • “In Habakkuk…2:15, 16…‘To drink even making him drunken’…signifies to drink in truths and mix them with falsities; the ‘nakednesses’ upon which they look, signify the deprivation of truth and of intelligence therefrom…The ‘foreskin that shall be uncovered’ signifies the defilement of good…‘glory’ signifies Divine truth, thus the Word…which shows what is meant by ‘disgraceful vomiting upon their glory.’”

AE 240 [9]

  • “In Habakkuk…2:15, 16…‘To make a companion drink, and drunken,’ signifies to so imbue one with falsities that he does not see the truth; ‘to look on nakedness’ means so that falsities which are of the understanding and evils which are of the will are seen; ‘that the foreskin may be uncovered’ means so that filthy loves are seen…That ‘to be made drunken’ means to become insane from falsities, thus to not see truths…‘the foreskin’ signifies corporeal and earthly loves…”

AC 5120 [11]

  • “In these passages [Habakkuk 2:16 is cited.] also a ‘cup’ denotes insanity from falsities and the evils thence derived. It is called…also ‘of the right hand of Jehovah,’ for the reason that the…people, believed evils and the punishment of evils and falsities to come from no other source than Jehovah, when yet they are from the man himself, and from the infernal crew with him.”

AE 960 [5]

  • “In Habakkuk…2:16…‘Cup’ stands for falsified truth, which in itself is falsity, and of this ‘shameful vomiting’ is predicated; therefore it is said ‘upon thy glory,’ signifying the Divine truth in the Word.”

AE 650 [64]

  • “In Habakkuk…2:17…The ‘violence of Lebanon’ signifies the violence done to the truths perceived by the rational man from the Word, for ‘Lebanon’ signifies the church in respect to the perception of truth from the rational man; ‘the devastation of the beasts’ which shall dismay them signifies the destruction of truths by the cupidities of evil; ‘bloods’ signify the violence offered to the truths of the Word by evils; and ‘violence of the land, of the city, and of all that dwell therein’ signifies violence done to the truths and goods of the church and to its doctrine from the Word by falsities.”

Derived Doctrine

“Woe to him who gives drink to his neighbor…”

  • AR 531 teaches us that “woe” signifies “lamentation over calamity, danger, hardship, destruction…as the aversion from good and truth becomes successively more grievous in the church.” AR 769 teaches that “woe” signifies “grievous lamentation over misfortune, unhappiness and damnation.”
  • To “drink” in the positive sense signifies to receive instruction in spiritual things. (AC 2704) To receive a drink in the negative sense means to care nothing for the Word and to be unwilling to know anything about faith; it represents those who think themselves wiser than others and who deny the first principles of faith. (AC 1072 [6])

“…pressing him to your bottle, even to make him drunk…”

  • “Pressing” indicates forcing, being persuasive, using popular opinions apart from the truths of the Word. “Your bottle” signifies the human mind. (AE 376 [34])
  • Pressure to follow human prudence can lead to but one end—drunkenness, spiritual insanity, and the falsity of an evil life.
  • “…that you may look on his nakedness! You are filled with shame instead of glory, you also—drink!”
  • When innocence is gone, “…nakedness is a scandal and disgrace because it is attended with a consciousness of thinking evil.” (AC 213)
  • Looking at another’s nakedness indicates having a delight in seeing others lose their innocence. (AC 5433)
  • Delighting in the ruination of others comes back on the self. “You are filled with shame instead of glory…” A sad commentary on a person’s life and choices.

“And be exposed as uncircumcised!”

  • Exploring the meaning of exposing oneself causes us to revisit the “law of retaliation” as explained in AC 8214: it is the “return upon them of the falsities from evil which they were endeavoring to inflict on those who were in truth and good.”
  • Circumcision signifies purification from filthy loves. (AC 2041) Circumcision signifies the removal of what defiles celestial love. (AC 2039) Thus, we can see and understand what is meant by “exposing” their “uncircumcised” spiritual state.

“…violence done to Lebanon will cover you…”

  • “Violence” has some interesting meanings in the spiritual sense. “Violence” signifies a condition in which there is no longer an interest in good will. (AC 632) “Violence” signifies a coalition of falsity and evil against goods and truths. (AC 4502 [2]) “Violence” signifies the end of disagreement between the natural and spiritual person. (AE 365 [41]) “Violence” signifies those who purposely pervert the truths of the Word. (AE 734 [17])
  • “Lebanon” denotes the spiritual church. (AC 5922 [12]) AE 650 [64] teaches that when violence is done to Lebanon, it represents force being inflicted by the rational person on truths perceived from the Word.
  • “Cover you” is a description of what happens to those who are committed to violence. The negative meaning represents the extinguishing of charity. (AC 795) Covering with a fake adornment signifies the dissipation of interior truths because of pride. (AR 90)

“…the plunder of beasts…”

  • AE 650 has some 80 references to the word “beast.” The correspondence of “beast” is defined as the love or affection of the natural person. The word “plunder” signifies the intent of that natural love, which is to kill and harm all of the remains of good and truth.
  • And how much does the beast intend to plunder? It wants an end to all who dwell in the land and the city.

Putting It All Together

P&P summarizes this section with these words: “…he that leads others astray will be ashamed…” What follows in the passage from Habakkuk we are studying is an expansion of insights (reflection) into the nature of the deeds of deceivers: those who purposely lead others astray enjoy doing it. When they convince someone to abandon the Lord, they sit back and laugh at the duped neighbor’s spiritual nakedness. With a disguised smirk on their faces, they outwardly do and say things in a convincing way to bring harm to others. They picture themselves as being so clever. The truth of the matter is that they are spiritually insane, drunk, destitute of truth, and pathetic. How do we know this? The Lord announces His “Woe.” He reveals to us what their end is: what they wished upon the neighbor will come back on them. Their nakedness and drunken state will be exposed. The Lord will do this so that all may see the folly and futility of hell’s imagined power and cleverness.

As we read this summary, can you picture people who knowingly mislead others? Let’s do so by moving from generals to particulars. News reports tell us of those who use “smooth talking” scams to rob elderly people. There are those predators who use “chat rooms” to meet victims and lure them out of the security of their home and away from the supervision of parents. Popular opinions (trends) have led some people along perilous and treacherous physical and mental paths. That first cigarette, the first drink, and the first use of a chemical substance: deceivers offer some apparently rational or emotional idea to support the beginning of that “recreational” habit. A false idea is submitted to convince or give compelling reasons why it would be OK to do it. An attendant, as-of-self idea bolsters the temptation with the belief that this new experience will not be harmful. People giving into such temptations begin to feel that they are strong enough to control things, so no harm will come to them. Sadly, those who become dependent find that is not the case. Freedom and rationality may become weakened and impaired. Anyone trying to give up a “habit” will attest to the struggle that is involved in breaking a dependency.

Hell, the great promoter of disobedience to the order of heaven, loves to neutralize our remains. Hell uses the ploy that we are only human. “Look around you; everybody is doing what is pleasing in their own eyes. Why not? Have fun! Loosen up.” As the Psalmist wrote, the evil love to say, “How does God know…is there knowledge in the Most High?” (Psalm 73:11)

So the Lord speaks the truth. “Woe to those who love to lead others astray.” They will be shown that they are drunk, insane, naked, and without substance. Their thinking is exposed, and they are unclean in their failure to adhere to conjugial principles.

Read and Review

Read the selection from P&P.

Read Habakkuk 2:15-17.

Questions To Stimulate Reflection

  • Have you met and dealt with someone who loved to deceive others?

  • Was this person a “smooth talker” whose logic seemed overpowering?

  • If we use tobacco, alcohol, or chemical substances, are we doing any spiritual harm to ourselves? This question is not taking issue with prescriptions. Instead, it is taking aim at those things that we choose that are known to harm us, especially those things that harm freedom and rationality. I don’t think there is a smoker or drinker who started out saying to themselves, “I am going to do this so that I can get cancer of the throat or cirrhosis of the liver.” The abuses of these things are what finally catch up with us. So will health abusers rue the day they started a habit?

  • Do you think the Lord will have us face the results of our abuses? How about those who manufacture, distribute, and advertise things that hurt our physical and spiritual capacities?

  • Will the casual use of profanity be exposed for its insidious effects within the mind? A passage in the Spiritual Experiences (Spiritual Diary), number 2307, indicates that in the spiritual world, profanity will slip out at inappropriate times and will cause embarrassment for the “habitual” user. Is that scary?

  • What other applications of these verses can we bring into the discussion?


Habakkuk 2:18-20

“What profit is the image, that its maker should carve it, the molded image, a teacher of lies, that the maker of its mold should trust in it, to make mute idols? Woe to him who says to wood, ‘awake!’ To silent stone, ‘Arise! It shall teach!’ Behold, it is overlaid with gold and silver, yet in it there is no breath at all. But the Lord is in His holy temple. Let all the earth keep silence before Him.”

Passages From The Writings


  • “…falsities will then profit him nothing. This, when the Lord is in His Human.”

AC 586

  • “…in Habakkuk…2:18…a ‘graven image’ signifies false persuasions originating in principles conceived and hatched out by one’s self; the ‘fashioner’ is one who is thus self-persuaded, of whom this ‘imagination’ is predicated.”

AC 9424 [8]

  • “…‘graven image’ and ‘molten image’ denote doctrinal things from man’s own intelligence, which in the external form, because from the external sense of the Word, appear like truths, but in their internal form are falsities; therefore such a man is said to be ‘foolish from knowledge, and his molten image a lie,’ and that ‘there is no breath in them;’ they are also called ‘vanity,’ and ‘a work of delusions.’” Habakkuk 2:18 is cited.

AC 10406 [8]

  • “In Habakkuk…2:18…it is evident that by a ‘graven image’ and a ‘molten image’ are not meant a graven and molten image; but falsity which is invented, and evil which falsity defends; for it is said ‘the maker of his invention,’ and ‘the teacher of a lie.’”

AC 8869 [3]

  • “In Habakkuk…2:18, 19…the ‘graven image’ denotes those things which are hatched from self-intelligence, wherein there is nothing of life from the Lord.”

AR 459

  • “By ‘idols’ in the Word, are signified the falsities of worship, and therefore to adore them signifies worship from falsities…All these falsities exist in those who do not do the work of repentance, that is, shun evils as sins against God. These things are signified in the spiritual sense by idols which were graven images and molten images, in the following passages…” Habakkuk 2:18-19 is cited as an example of this in AR 459 [2].

AE 587 [8]

  • “In Habakkuk…2:18-20…As a ‘graven image’ means the falsity of doctrine, of religion, and of worship, in which there is nothing of spiritual life because it is from self-intelligence, it is said ‘What profiteth the graven image? For the maker thereof hath graven it; the molten image and the instructor of a lie? In which the former of the lie trusteth;’ a ‘lie’ signifying falsity, and ‘the instructor and former of a lie’ signifying him who frames it; that there is no intelligence or life in it or from it is signified by ‘he maketh dumb gods, and there is no breath in the midst of it;’ that every truth of doctrine, of the church, and of worship, is from the Lord alone is signified by ‘Jehovah is in the temple of His holiness;’ ‘temple of holiness’ meaning heaven, where and from which is Divine truth.”

Derived Doctrine

“Woe to him who says to wood, ‘awake!’”

  • Reminder: AE 531 teaches “That ‘woe’ signifies lamentation over calamity, danger, hardship, destruction…as the aversion from good and truth becomes successively more grievous in the church.” (Emphasis added)
  • “Woe to him who says” as opposed to “Him who says.” The “woe” then draws our attention to the problem: human self-intelligence or prudence is and was falsely hatching finite spiritual concepts.
  • “Wood” signifies “good conjoined to truth in the natural man.” (AE 1145 [2]) “Awake” signifies enlightenment in the natural person. (AC 5208) A man saying “awake” to the wood clearly implies that the natural person is trying to direct the Word to say what the sensual person wants it to say over and above what the Lord requires for spiritual enlightenment.

“…a teacher of lies…mute idols…”

  • When we allow the Lord to be our “teacher,” He intends to liberate us by removing ignorance. He works toward enlightenment through the Word, so that good and truth can bring us freedom. A “teacher of lies” does not care about infinite things, nor does the “teacher of lies” want to help us experience liberty or freedom.
  • A pupil who confirms the things learned from the “teacher of lies” seems to be captured in this quote from CL 233: “When they are alone [they] are not able to think anything nor thence to speak, but that they stand dumb as machines and as if in profound sleep…Heavenly light cannot flow into them from above, but only a somewhat spiritual through the world…”

“…to a stone, ‘Arise! It shall teach!’”

  • In the positive sense, a “stone” signifies truth. (AE 655) In the positive sense, “arise” signifies the elevation of the mind to more interior things. (AC 3050)
  • Now we must ask ourselves, are these the goals of the “teacher of lies”? Not really. Instead, like the builders of the Tower of Babel, a “teacher of lies” lives in a world of fantasy and illusions. Such people truly believe they can construct a tower whose top “is in the heavens; [to make]…a name for ourselves…” (Genesis 11:4)
  • The “teacher of lies” imagines that it is possible to be god-like through one’s own efforts and prudence. Such an idea is contrary to the doctrine of continuous and discrete degrees. The Writings emphasize clearly that all growth into a higher degree (a discrete degree above the original state) is a gift from the Lord to those who sincerely love Him and seek truth and good from Him alone. Human prudence and human educational systems cannot force the elevation of heart and mind into the realm of heavenly light. It is a gift from the Lord alone.

“…overlaid with gold and silver, yet in it there is no breath at all.”

  • “Gold” signifies that which is founded on good. (AC 9484)
  • “Silver” signifies the truth of good. (AC 5731, 5950) Overlaying something with gold and silver therefore represents that all aspects of worship will be founded on good and truth. Is that the case with those who are “teachers of lies”? Our answer is given in the Word. With the idol-makers, it is all a facade. There is “no breath [life] at all” underneath the overlay. This describes something that is bright and gaudy in external ways but with no substance, no eternal values.

But the Lord is in His holy temple. Let all the earth keep silence before Him.” (Emphasis added.)

  • AE 587 [8] brings meaning to the word “But.” In spite of the work of those who love to deceive; in spite of those who want to make people naked and then mock them; in spite of those who deceive themselves and make idols of stone and wood; in spite of all of the spiritual insanity and spiritual drunkenness—the Lord is in His holy temple. He will fill every truth of doctrine of the church and of worship with life and vitality. There is stability amid the chaos caused by hell. Those who trust and believe in the Lord’s promises will stand in awe of His order and majesty. His care and protection of His church and His people are magnificent. Sensing this, His church will feel no need to worry. Confidently, His flock of believers will stand—radiantly silent—in His presence.

Putting It All Together

P&P summarizes these verses with the words “…falsities will profit…nothing.” (Emphasis added.) The “teacher of lies” will build idols of wood and stone. Such idol-makers will cover their idols with an overlay of gold and silver. They will cry out to them “awake” and “arise.” But their idols will remain mute and lifeless in the presence of the Lord. Why? The idols represent the inventions of falsity in their mind. Their idols were wood and stone without a will and understanding to participate in uses. These forms will profit a person nothing.

But the Lord is alive. He will sit in His holy temple, directing infinite uses toward His church and people. His actions will not be mute and lifeless. There is no need to cry out to Him “awake” and “arise.” He knows and sees everything even before it happens. Everything He does is profitable to the whole of His universe. The least of the least things He does has an impact on all facets of the universe. There are no wasted motions, no gaudy things without value, no actions just for showing off. His Love and Wisdom bring vital returns.

Recall the words of Isaiah 55:11:

“So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”

Those who believe this with all of their heart stand in awe before Him. They don’t feel the threat of hell nor the need to defend the ways of the Lord. In respectful and assured silence (calm), we, as a church, will honor our Heavenly Father and praise His name continuously.

Read and Review

Read the selection from P&P.

Read Habakkuk 2:18-20.

Questions To Stimulate Reflection

  • Please note that in this portion of the prophecy, there is a shift in the “woes.” The first sets of woes were directed to those who enjoy deceiving others. In this section, the woes are directed to those who deceive themselves. Which form of deception do you think we are vulnerable to the most?

  • Can we put a modern face on the idols that are called to awake and arise? What might it be?

  • Recall for a moment a story in I Kings 18. Elijah and the prophets of Baal had a show-down. The call went out from the prophets to Baal to consume the altar with fire. They cried, wailed, leapt, cut themselves, but no response came from Baal. Elijah called for 12 water pots to be poured on the wood and sacrifice dedicated to the God of the Israelites. A fire from heaven fell and consumed everything on and near the altar. Elijah said, “Choose you this day whom you shall serve…” Wouldn’t you love to have a clear-cut shown-down today with hell and its lying teachers? How do you imagine that happening?

  • Having studied this section, do you feel that you will have a new reaction to the words “The Lord is in His holy temple. Let all the earth keep silence before Him.”?

  • I can picture hell quaking before the person who believes that the Lord is in His temple and speaks such words in holy worship. Can you?

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