True Christian Religion (Chadwick) n. 691

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691. Moses said to Jehovah:

Show me your glory. Jehovah said to him, You cannot see my face, because no one can see me and live. And he said, Here is a place, where you can stand on the rock, and I will put you in a crevice of the rock and put my hand as a covering upon you, until I have passed by; and when I take my hand away, you will see my back parts, but my face will not be seen. Exod. 33:18-23.

The reason why man cannot see God and live is that God is love itself, and love itself or the Divine love in the spiritual world appears to the sight of angels like the sun, as far distant from them as the sun of our world is from men. If therefore God, who is in the midst of that sun, were to come close to angels, they would perish just as men would if the sun of the world came close to them, for it is equally burning.

[2] For this reason there are constant controls which modify and moderate the burning heat of that love, so that its radiation should not reach heaven undiluted, since this would consume the angels. When therefore the Lord makes His presence more immediately felt in heaven, the irreligious beneath heaven begin to complain, suffering torture and fainting, so that they take refuge in caves and fissures in the mountains, crying:

Fall upon us and hide us from the face of Him that sits upon the throne. Rev. 6:16; Isa. 2:19, 21.

It is not the Lord Himself who comes down, but an angel with the sphere of love from the Lord around him. I have on several occasions seen irreligious people terrified by this coming down, as if they had seen death itself before their eyes; some of them hurled themselves deeper and deeper into hell, and some were driven frenzied.

[3] This was the reason why the Children of Israel prepared themselves for three days before Jehovah the Lord came down on Mount Sinai; and why the mountain was fenced about to prevent anyone approaching and being killed (Exod. chapter 19). It was much the same with the holiness of Jehovah the Lord in the Ten Commandments which were then made public, and written by the finger of God on two tables, and then laid up in the Ark. On top of this in the Tabernacle was placed the Mercy-seat, and cherubs on top of this, to prevent anyone directly coming into contact with it by hand or eye, Not even Aaron was able to approach except once a year, after making expiation for himself by sacrifices and censing.

[4] It was for this reason that the men of Ekron and Bethshemesh were killed to the number of several thousand, solely because they had seen the Ark with their own eyes (1 Sam. 5:11, 12; 6:19); and the same happened to Uzzah, because he touched it (2 Sam. 6:6, 7). These few examples illustrate what a curse and slaughter would have struck down the Jews, if they had not been prepared by John's baptism for the reception of the Messiah, who was Jehovah God in human form; and if He had not assumed the Human and revealed Himself in that form. They were prepared by being enrolled in heaven and counted among those who at heart waited and longed for the Messiah, as the result of which angels were sent to become their protectors.

This page is part of the Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg

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