ROCKS >> The Lord in respect to the Truths of Faith >> Faith from the Lord

rocks1_400_533 What do we mean when we compare a person to a rock? when, for example, we say that a man stands like a rock? We mean that he is firm, immovable. This is the most  marked characteristic of rocks, and the one which makes them useful for building and especially for foundations.

Is this firmness in a man merely a physical quality, or is there something in his mind fixed and unchanging, which makes him like a rock? What mental possessions have we, useful from their very hardness and fixedness? Warm, sensitive, active affections are not like rocks; intelligence, growing and ever reaching out new branches, is not like a rock. But there are things in our minds, fixed and settled and not liable to change. There is a saying that "facts are stubborn things," and of these we have a store. The fact that two times two is four; that the earth attracts bodies to itself, or that the sun gives light and heat; that Columbus discovered America in 1492; the fact that there is a life after death; that there is a God, and that He is good; that God created men, and that He came into the world to save them - these and many more facts lie in our minds sure and unchanging. It is impossible to twist or bend them; we must accommodate ourselves to them. And do they serve a use as foundations? All our industries are based on the settled facts of nature; all our plans of life rest on "fundamental " facts which we accept as sure. All our knowledge rests on established facts; if we construct a line of argument, we must base it on facts; if our facts are faulty, the whole structure is weak; if they Prove false, the whole falls. Settled facts, of which we have a firm conviction, are our mental rocks. These give stability to our character; without them we are vacillating, having no foundation; in the degree that we have them and rest securely on them we have the quality of a rock. (AE 411; AC 8581)

Who knows whether rocks have always been rocks as we now find them, or whether some rocks have been gradually formed, and perhaps still are forming? The deposited or stratified rocks, as they are called, are formed in the course of years by the settling of little particles to the ocean bottom, which after ward become solidified. And are there facts existing today which were not facts yesterday? and this year which were not facts last year? The facts of history gather in this way a new layer with each day and year. But the accumulated facts of history may undergo a change when, by and by, they are looked at as a whole. They then show a plan and order throughout, which could not be known while the facts were gathering. This change is even more complete in regard to facts of nature, where we have long since ceased to record that the earth revolved today and yesterday and the day before, but remember simply the universal facts that the earth revolves, that the sun shines, that grass grows, that cattle eat it, etc. And so with facts of human and Divine life. We do not say this man passed into the spiritual world at death, and this man, and this; but we accept the universal fact that men by death pass to the spiritual world. We do not accumulate instances to Prove the Lord's goodness, but accept the fact that "the LORD is good to all, and his tender mercies are over all his works." The facts have lost the appearance of successive layers, and show themselves a compact structure through which run different clearly-marked elements. The change is like that which rocks undergo, from the stratified to the crystalline structure.

The Bible treats not of worldly, but of spiritual life. When it speaks of rocks it means especially the settled facts in regard to the Lord and heaven and salvation. We are like rocks in the Bible sense when we have a firm grasp of these eternal truths, and found our habits of thought and of life securely upon them. But whose thought grasps, we must rather say, whose thought is, the whole, the absolute and eternal truth? The Lord's, and His alone. "He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he." (Deut. xxxii. 4) "Trust ye in the LORD forever: for in the LORD Jehovah is a rock of ages." (Isa. xxvi. 4) "Lead me to the rock that is higher than I" (Ps. lxi. 2) What quality of the Lord is brought to mind in all such passages, where He is called a Rock? Is it His tender love? No, but His fixed, unchanging truth. (AE 411; AC 8581) You remember that the Lord speaks of a rock on which He will build His church. "He saith unto them, But whom say ye that

I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered . . . Thou art Peter, and upon this rock 1 will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." (Matt. xvi. I5-18) The rock is the truth, established with firm conviction in the hearts of His disciples, that Jesus is the Son of God, which means that He is God in His Humanity. This is the fundamental truth of Christianity on which all else rests. The Lord's words read as if Peter were the rock, yet not Peter personally, but as the embodiment of this firm faith in the Lord. (Read verses 22 and 23 of the same chapter) Because Peter was chosen by the Lord to represent this element in the church, He named him Cephas or Peter, which means a stone. (John i. 42; AR 768, 798; TCR 342, 379; LJ 57; AC Preface to Chapter xxii. of Gen.; AE 411, 820)

 "Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner. . . . And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder. And when the chief priests and Pharisees had heard his parables, they perceived that he spake of them.". (Matt. xxi. 42-45) The priests and Pharisees were the builders of the church for the time; what cornerstone were they rejecting? The Divine truth of the Lord's Word; especially the foundation truth that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. But the Lord's eternal truth will surely prevail, and our opposition to it, in spiritual Matters as in physical, can lead only to our own hurt. (AE 417)

0081a Remember the parable of the house built upon a rock. "And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not for it was founded upon a rock." (Matt. Vii. 24-27) One's spiritual house is the state of mind and life in which he feels safe and at home. The storm which tests its strength is temptation with its tempest of false thoughts. A living conviction of the eternal truths of the Lord's Word, about the Lord Himself, about His Providence, about heaven - a foundation which cannot be shaken, but shows its' strength the more plainly in the time of trial-is gained only in doing what the Lord commands. For doing the Lord's words brings us into living relation with Him who is the Rock, the Cornerstone. (AE 411, 644)

We read of the stones used in building the temple: "And the house, when it was building, was built of stone made ready before it was brought thither: so that there was neither hammer nor ax nor any tool of iron heard in the house, while it was building." (1 Kings vi. 7) And in another place we read: "And if thou wilt make me an altar of stone, thou shalt not build it of hewn stone: for if thou lift up thy tool upon it, thou hast polluted it." (Exod. xx. 25) It means that our religious faith and our worship must be formed from genuine truths as we receive them from the Lord in His Word, and we must not distort and fashion them to suit ourselves. (AR 45 7, 847; AE 585; AC 1298, 8941) Remember how in the desert "Moses lifted up his hand, and with his rod he smote the rock twice: and water came out abundantly." (Numb. xx. 1 I) Again we read: "Oh that my people had hearkened unto me, and Israel had walked in my ways . . . with honey out of the rock should I have satisfied thee." (Ps. lxxxi. 16) The rock is the unchanging truth of the Lord's Word, in appearance stern and severe; the water and the honey are the refreshment and the sweetness which it has in store for us. (AE 411, 619, 374; AC 8581, 8582, 5620)

In the parable of the sower we read that some seed fell on stony ground, and the Lord explains: "He that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended." (Matt. xiii. 20,21) Stones here suggest something less heavenly. A hard, unaffectionate state of mind is pictured, which has only an intellectual interest in the Lord's Word, receives its teachings as mere facts, and has no love for it to give strength in time of temptation. (AE 401, 411; AC 3310; HH 488)

And still again, we find this verse: "Is not my word like a fire? saith the LORD; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?" (Jer. xxiii. 29) Can it be the rock of Divine truth which the Lord's Word breaks in pieces? Surely not. But we may have accepted falsities and supposed them to be truths and built on them as if they were the solid rocks. Before the Lord's Word, they fall to pieces. Rocks in this verse mean such falsities, as is very plain from the verses which precede. (PP; AE 411; INV. 35) This helps us to understand the meaning of the statement in the Revelation, that men "hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; and said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne." (Rev. Vi. 15, 16) They are not the good who wish to hide from the Lord, but the evil; and they are not the rocks of truth but of falsity with which the evil try to screen and justify themselves. (AR 338, 339; AE 410, 411; HH 488)

You remember that the Jewish law commanded that for certain crimes persons should be stoned. (Exod. xxi. 28, 29; Lev. xxiv. 16; John viii. 5) Punishments, like all other things in the Jewish Church were representative. They were pictures of the inevitable spiritual consequences of various forms of wrong-doing. Stoning represented the extinction of the spiritual understanding by the indulgence of false thoughts, and the crimes which received this punishment were those which represented the spiritual crime of falsifying truth. (AC 7456, 8799; AE 240, 655) Stoning also suggests the removal of falsity by the stern application of truth. (AC 7456) We find both thoughts involved in the words of the captives' Psalm "Happy shall he be, that rewardeth thee as thou hast served us. Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones." (Ps. cxxxvii. 8, 9) The beginnings of innocent life have been destroyed by falsity; happy is he who destroys the beginnings of evil by the power of the Lord's Word. (AE 411)


 Behold I stand before thee there upon the rock in Horeb. That this signifies the Lord in respect to the truths of faith, is evident from the signification of "a rock," as being faith, here faith from the Lord, or the Lord in respect to faith; for Jehovah, that is, the Lord, says, "Behold I stand upon the rock;" and from the signification of "Horeb," as being the Divine Law; consequently by these words is signified the Lord in respect to the truths of faith which are from His law, or the Word. That "a rock" denotes the Lord as to faith, and relatively to man, the faith which is from the Lord, is evident from many passages in the Word, as in Moses:

Give ye greatness to our God, the Rock whose work is perfect. He made him ride on the high places of the earth, and he did eat the produce of the fields, He made him suck honey out of the rock, and oil out of the stone of the rock. But when Jeshurun became fat, he kicked, he forsook God who made him, and lightly esteemed the Rock of his salvation. The Rock that begat thee thou hast given to forgetfulness, and hast forgotten God thy Former. Their rock hath sold them, and Jehovah hath shut them up, for their rock is not as our Rock. When it is said, Where are their gods, the rock in which they trusted (Deut. 32:3, 4, 13, 15, 18, 30, 31, 37).
From these words it is plain that it is Jehovah, that is, the Lord, who is called "the Rock"; that this is Jehovah or the Lord as to faith, is clear from the details here in the internal sense.

[2] In Daniel:

Thou wast seeing till that a stone was cut out, which was not by hands, and it smote the image upon its feet that were of iron and clay, and brake them in pieces. Then were the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken in pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshing-floors; so that the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them. But the stone that smote the image became a great Rock, and filled the whole earth. The God of the heavens shall make a kingdom arise which shall not be destroyed to the ages; and His kingdom shall not be permitted to another people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms; but itself shall stand to the ages. Forasmuch as thou hast seen that a stone was cut out from the rock, that was not by hands, and that it brake in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold (Dan. 2:34, 35, 44, 45).

This is said of the Lord and His kingdom, and by "a stone" is meant faith, and by "a rock" the Lord as to faith. That these things are signified by "stone" and by "rock," is plain to everyone who reflects. "Stone" too signifies in the Word the truth which is of faith (see n. 643, 1298, 3720, 3769, 3771, 3773, 3789, 3798, 6426); and therefore the Lord as to Divine truth is called "the Stone of Israel" (n. 6426). That "a rock" denotes the Lord as to the truth of faith, is because by "a rock" is also meant a bulwark against falsities; the bulwark itself is the truth of faith, for combat is waged from this truth both against falsities and against evils.

[3] From all this it can also be seen that by "rock" is meant the Lord as to faith, and also the faith which is from the Lord, in the words which the Lord spake to Peter, in Matthew:

I say unto thee, Thou art Peter [Petrus], and upon this rock [Petra] I will build My church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of the heavens; and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in the heavens; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in the heavens (Matt. 16:18, 19).

That "a rock" here denotes the Lord as to faith, and the faith which is from the Lord, and that Peter represents this faith, see the preface to Genesis 22, also n. 3750, 4738, 6000, 6073, 6344. It is also plain to everyone who thinks from sound reason that the power of opening heaven and of shutting hell for the good, and of opening hell and shutting heaven for the evil, belongs to the Lord alone; and that this belongs to faith is because faith is from the Lord, thus also is the Lord's, that is, the Lord Himself is in it. Moreover all sovereign power in the other life comes through the truth of faith from good (see n. 4931, 6344, 6423, 8200, 8304). And he who thinks from reason can conclude that the Lord's church has not been built upon any man, thus not upon Peter, but upon the Lord Himself, thus upon faith in Him.

[4] From all this it can be seen into what and how great errors they fall, who press so closely the sense of the letter of the Word; and with what eagerness the leaders of the church catch at the idea that such power was given to Peter, and consequently to those who call themselves his successors, because it favors their love; and with what difficulty they suffer themselves to be persuaded that anything else is meant, for everyone desires to procure for himself the height of power. From the above it is also plain how necessary it is to know what is signified in the internal sense by "a rock," what by "keys," what by "the gates of hell," and many other things.

[5] That Jehovah is called "the Rock," and that then is meant the Lord as to faith, is also evident from many other passages in the Word, as from the following, which may be cited without further explication:

Send ye the lamb of the Ruler of the land from the Rock toward the wilderness unto the mount of Zion (Isa. 16:1).
Thou hast forgotten the God of thy salvation, and hast not remembered the Rock of thy refuge (Isa.
Asshur shall fall with the sword not of a man, also his rock shall pass away through dread thereof (Isa. 31:8, 9).
Let the inhabitants of the rock sing, let them cry from the top of the mountains (Isa. 42:11).
Attend to Me, ye that follow after righteousness, that seek Jehovah, look back unto the Rock from which ye were hewn (Isa. 51:1).
Forsake the cities, and dwell in the rock, ye inhabitants of Moab (Jer. 48:28).
I am against thee, O destroying mountain, destroying the universal earth; and I will stretch out My hand against thee, and roll thee down from the rocks, and will make thee a mountain of burning; neither shall they take from thee a stone for a corner, nor a stone for foundations (Jer. 51:25, 26);
speaking of Babel. And in David:
He made me come up out of a pit of devastation, out of the mire of clay, and He set my feet upon a rock (Ps. 40:2).
From the extremity of the earth do I cry unto Thee when my heart faileth, Thou leadest me to the Rock that is high from Me (Ps. 61:2).
He fed them with the fat of wheat; and with honey out of the rock I sated them (Ps. 81:16).

[6] As "a rock" signified the Lord as to faith, and faith from the Lord, therefore also wonderful things were done upon a rock, of which it is thus written in the book of Judges:

The angel of Jehovah said unto Gideon that he should take the flesh and the unleavened things, and put them upon the rock, and pour out the broth, and there went up fire out of the rock, and devoured the flesh and the unleavened things (Judg. 6:20, 21).

Manoah the father of Samson took a kid of the goats, and offered it upon the rock. Then the angel did wondrously, and went up in the flame (Judg. 13:19, 20).

What these things signified can be seen if from the internal sense there is unfolded what Gideon represented, and what Manoah the father of Samson; also what was signified by "the flesh" and "the unleavened things," and by "the broth," as also by "the kid of the goats," and by "the for all and each of these things were representative and significative.

[7] From the signification of "a rock," as being faith, it can also be known what is meant by Moses being put in an opening of the rock when he was to see Jehovah (Exod. 33:20-23); for by "an opening of a rock" is signified obscurity of faith. That the rock in Horeb from which came the waters signified the Lord, is known in the churches; but that it signifies the Lord as to faith, and also that it signifies faith from the Lord, has now been shown. The like to what is signified by "the rock in Horeb" is also signified by these words in Isaiah:

Say ye, Jehovah hath redeemed His servant Jacob, then shall he not thirst, He shall lead them in the wastes, He shall make the waters flow out of the rock for them, while He shall cleave the rock that the waters may flow out (Isa. 48:20, 21).

That water was not given to the people from any other rock than that in Horeb, is because by "Horeb" is signified the Divine Law; that the Divine Law is signified by "Horeb," is because the Law was there promulgated; and faith which is from the Lord is from the Divine Law, that is, from the Word; for through this the Lord teaches what faith is, and also gives faith. [AC8581]

Author: EMANUEL SWEDENBORG (1688-1772)

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