TABERNACLE >> Ark + Habitation + Court >> Three Degrees of Life
>> Celestial Heaven + Spiritual Heaven + Natural Heaven
A house with its furnishings is an expression of the use which is done in it. Is there a special use expressed by a church with its kneeling cushions, its pulpit, its baptismal font, and communion table? Does not the church suggest worship with its humble prayer, its instruction, its repentance, and reception of strength from the Lord? Which, in the Lord's sight, is the church, the material building, or the holy states of worship which it expresses and promotes? "Will God, indeed, dwell on the earth? Behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house that I have builded?" (1 Kings viii. 2 7; AC 9457)
In the spiritual world every house and building much more fully and perfectly. expresses the use that is done in it, than buildings do on earth. Suppose there should be seen in that world an unlovely church, weakly built and vile. Would it not express worship from untrue thoughts and impure affections? (AR 926) And what could be meant by a magnificent temple, with walls of crystal and gates of pearl? Would it not mean a church full of light and resting secure on eternal truths? (TCR 508) We read of angels of the Golden Age, living in heaven in innocent love for the Lord and one another. With them was seen a sacred tent of worship, "without and within altogether according to the description of the tabernacle, which was built for the sons of Israel in the desert, the form whereof was shown to Moses upon Mount Sinai." (CL 75) The heavenly tabernacle was an expression of the innocent worship of those angels. Was not the same represented by the buildings made on earth after the heavenly pattern?
The tabernacle of the desert, the temple afterwards built by Solomon at Jerusalem, and the still later temple of Herod, both on the same general plan as the tabernacle, were all representative of heavenly worship, including in a broad sense all holy states of life, which form a dwelling for the Lord, whether in an individual, or in the church, or in heaven. (Exod. xxv. 8, 9, 40; AC 9457, 9481, 9577; AE 799; AR 585)
What a holy interest attaches to the building of the tabernacle and temple, according to the plan revealed from heaven, when we see in it the history of the formation of holy states of worship! (Exod. xl. 34; 1 Kings viii. 10) What pathos there is in the lament: "Our holy and beautiful house, where our fathers praised thee, is burned up with fire"! (Isa. lxiv. 11) It tells of the loss of the innocent states of worship of the Lord enjoyed by the people of ancient days. (PP; AE 504; AC 6075) And the Lord's sad words: "Seest thou these great buildings? there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down!" (Mark xiii. 2; AR 191; AE 220) Was not the prophecy even then almost fulfilled spiritually in the Jewish Church?
Already, in other lessons, we have learned the meaning of some of the materials of which the sacred buildings were made. The shittim-wood, and the gold and silver and copper of the tabernacle; the gold and copper, the olive, cedar, and fir of the temple, and the stones made ready before they were brought thither. Let us also notice in general the plan of the buildings and its meaning.
There was an inmost chamber, the most holy place within the dividing veil, where in the tabernacle and in Solomon's temple the ark with the commandments stood, covered by the golden lid, the mercy-seat, with its protecting cherubim. The most holy chamber was rarely entered, but from between the cherubim of the mercy-seat came the Divine voice of answer to Moses or the priest standing by the altar of incense without the veil. Here was a larger chamber, the holy place. The golden altar of incense stood before the veil; on the north was the table of show-bread, and on the south was the branching lamp shining with the flame of its beaten olive oil. About the building was a court, in Solomon's temple a double court, where stood the altar of burnt-offering with its perpetual fire, and the brazen laver.
The plan is three-fold: an inmost chamber, most holy with the immediate Divine presence, a second chamber bright with cheerful light, and an open court. Is the temple of a heavenly life correspondingly three-fold? We answer by a quotation.
"The inmost, most holy place - where the Ark of the Covenant dwells, and the golden cherubim, and the voice of the Lord - is in an individual his inmost consciousness, where if he were in the order of heaven the law of God would be written in his heart. There would be the springs of his life from the Lord, rising in the golden forms of love to the Lord and love to the neighbor; and from thence would be heard the voice of conscience, or better, of perception of agreement or disagreement with the love of the Lord in the heart, by which the spiritual life might be instructed and guided.
"The region of the mind without the veil, distinct from this inmost chamber, is the domain of thought, reason, and determination. The golden lamps here, burning always with the warm light of pure oil of olives, are in an orderly mind the light of love in which the mind looks upon human life - seeing its possibilities of good, putting kindly interpretation upon its weaknesses and failures, but seeing clearly and separating every evil. The table of show-bread, or Presence-bread, as it is called - meaning the bread of the Lord's Presence - is the good-will and determination to do good which comes from a sense of the Lord's love in the heart. And the altar burning with sweet incense is the prayer and praise that ascend from the heart and mind to the Giver of heavenly life.
"The court of this spiritual tabernacle is the domain of practical life. The altar of burnt-offering there is the desire for the love of the Lord in the life; and the laver is purification from worldly thoughts and feelings." (Lectures on Genesis and Exodus, John Worcester, pp. 175, 176; AC 9455-10249) The offerings upon the altar we have seen are innocent, useful affections which receive a new and holier life by consecration to the Lord. (Chapters 12. and 13) The plan of the sacred buildings in all detail is descriptive of an individual life which is in true order. Does it also reveal to us something of the divisions and the arrangement of heaven? There is an inmost, celestial heaven where the Lord's laws are written on angels' hearts, and appear in forms of love for the Lord and for one another. This is the most holy place. There is a middle, spiritual heaven, where the clear light of heavenly intelligence guides the angels in worship and in life. And there is a lower, natural heaven where less loving and less intelligent angels shun evil and do good in obedience to the Lord; and these lowest, most natural planes in heavenly life, are the courts of the Lord's tabernacle and temple. (HH 29-40; AC 9594; AE 630; AR 487) "How amiable are thy tabernacles, O LORD of hosts! My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the LORD. . . . Blessed are they that dwell in thy house. . . . For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness." (Ps. lxxxiv.; AC 9549, 9741; AR 487; AE 630) And again "The righteous shall flourish like the palm-tree; he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Those that be planted in the house of the LORD shall flourish in the courts of our God." (Ps. xcii. 12, 13; AE 458, 630; AR 487)
The meaning of the tabernacle and temple is so nearly the same that we have considered them together, but there is a difference between them which it is interesting to notice and remember. The tabernacle is associated with primitive tent life, the temple with city life. This suggests that the tabernacle represents relatively simple, childlike states; and the temple, states of greater intellectual development. The tabernacle was built of wood with curtains of linen covered with goat's-hair and skins, while the temple's walls were of cedar and stone. It is the difference between the knowledge of a child's intelligence and experience, and truth rationally seen, tested, and confirmed. The tabernacle was moved from place to place, where the presence of the Lord led; the temple stood on its foundation rock. The states represented by the one keep near to the Lord in love, those represented by the other rest on His unchanging truth. The tabernacle therefore becomes a type especially of states of innocent love for the Lord; and the temple, of states of heavenly intelligence; the tabernacle represents the celestial element in the church and heaven; the temple, the spiritual element. (AC 3720; AE 1291; AR 585, 882; TCR 221) We have read of the sacred tent, "altogether according to the description of the tabernacle," seen among loving angels of the Golden Age (CL 75); while with the wise angels of the Silver Age were seen "temples of a precious stone of the color of sapphire and lapis lazuli." (CL 76) We are taught elsewhere that the temples appear as of wood in the celestial kingdom, and are without magnificence, but in the spiritual kingdom they appear as of stone, and of greater or less magnificence. (HH 223) This further illustrates the different shades of meaning of the tabernacle and the temple. While both represent a heavenly mind, the church, heaven, the tabernacle makes prominent in each case the element of love, and the temple the element of wisdom. "I will abide in thy tabernacle forever; I will trust in the covert of thy wings" (Ps. lxi. 4) , is an expression of security in the protecting power of goodness and truth from the Lord. "One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire in his temple. For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock." (Ps. xxvii. 4, 5) To be hid in the secret of His tabernacle, is to be kept in good and protected from evil; and to inquire in His temple, is to learn heavenly truths. (AE 799; AC 414)
The holy states of affection, thought, and life which the tabernacle and temple represent have been perfectly realized, not in any man, nor in the church, nor even in heaven, but only in the Divine human life of our Lord; in their supreme sense the tabernacle and temple represent the Lord's Divine Humanity; the tabernacle especially His Divine love, and the temple His Divine wisdom. (AE 629, 1291; AR 585; AC 414, 3207) The Lord Himself said to the Jews, "In this place is one greater than the temple." (Matt. xii. 6) Greater, because He was what the temple only represented. (TCR 301) Again: "Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days? But he spake of the temple of his body. When, therefore, he was risen from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this unto them." (John ii. 19-22; AE 220; AR 191; TCR 221)
Do you now see new meaning in the familiar words: "The LORD is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before him "? (Hab. ii. 20) They are an acknowledgement of the Lord's presence in His Divine Humanity. (PP; AE 220) Remember how the Lord at twelve years old tarried in the temple, and said, "Wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?" (Luke ii. 46, 49) His action and His words both show that He was advancing into the heavenly and Divine states which the temple represented. (AE 430) Again: "Jesus went up to Jerusalem, and found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting; and when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers' money, and overthrew the tables; and said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father's house an house of merchandise; and his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up." (John ii. 13-17) This and another like cleansing of the temple (Matt. xxi. 12, 13) are object lessons, showing us that the Lord was cleansing His human nature from all selfish desire to make gain of holy things, and that we must do the same if we would become in our degree temples of the Lord. (AE 220, 325, 840)
"Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God Himself shall be with them, their God." (Rev. xxi. 3) The words declare the full presence of the Lord in His Divine Humanity. (AE 1291; AR 882) The holy city was shown to John, and he "saw no temple therein; for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it." (Rev. xxi. 22; AE 1327; AR 918)
Author: WILLIAM WORCESTER 1897
And thou shalt make the Habitation. That this signifies the second or middle heaven, is evident from the signification of "the Habitation," when said of the Divine, as being heaven, in particular the middle or second heaven. It is known that there are three heavens: the inmost, the middle, and the ultimate; or the third, the second, and the first. All these heavens were represented by the tabernacle: by the ark, where the Testimony was, the inmost or third heaven; by the Habitation, where were the table for the breads of faces and the lampstand, the middle or second heaven; and by the court, the ultimate or first heaven. That there are three heavens is because there are three degrees of life in man (for the man who becomes an angel after death constitutes heaven; from no other source are the angels, from no other is heaven). The most degree of the man's life is for the inmost heaven; the middle degree of his life is for the middle heaven; and the ultimate degree is for the ultimate heaven. Man being such, or so formed, and heaven being from the human race, there are therefore three heavens.
 These three degrees of life in man are opened successively; the first degree by a life in accordance with what is equitable and just; the second degree by a life in accordance with the truths of faith from the Word, and in accordance with the consequent goods of charity toward the neighbor; and the third degree by a life in accordance with the good of mutual love and the good of love to the Lord. These are the means whereby are successively opened these three degrees of life in man, thus the three heavens in him. But be it known that in proportion as a man recedes from the good of life, and accedes to the evil of life, these degrees are closed, that is, the heavens are closed in him; for just as the good of life opens them, so the evil of life closes them. It is from this that all who are in evil are outside of heaven, thus are in hell. And because, as before said, the heavens are successively opened in a man according to the good of his life, be it known that for this reason in some the first heaven is opened and not the second; and in some the second heaven is opened and not the third; and that the third heaven is opened in those only who are in the good of life from love to the Lord. That a man is heaven in the least form, and that he was created after the image both of heaven and of the world, (n. 9279).
 Therefore it is the inmost heaven which is represented by the ark of the Testimony, treated of in the preceding chapter; it is the middle heaven which is represented by the Habitation, treated of in this chapter; and it is the ultimate heaven which is represented by the court, treated of in the following chapter. Heaven is called "the Habitation of God" from the fact that the Divine of the Lord dwells there; for it is the Divine truth proceeding from the Lord's Divine good that makes heaven, for this gives the life of an angel who is there. And because the Lord dwells with the angels in that which is from Himself (n. 9338), therefore heaven is called "the Habitation of God," and the Divine truths themselves from the Divine good, of which the angels or the angelic societies are the receptions, are called His "habitations;" as in the following passages:--
O send out Thy light and Thy truth; let these lead me; let them lead me unto the mountain of holiness, and to Thy habitations; that I may go in unto the altar of God, unto God (Ps. 43:3, 4).
There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holiness of the habitations of the Most High (Ps. 46:4).
They have profaned the habitation of Thy name to the earth (Ps. 74:7).
How lovely are Thy habitations, O Jehovah (Ps. 84:1).
 That the Divine things which proceed from the Lord's Divine Human are what are in particular called His "habitations," and that from this, heaven itself is called His "habitation," is also evident in David:--
He sware to Jehovah, he vowed to the Mighty one of Jacob, I will not give sleep to mine eyes until I have found out a place for Jehovah, habitations for the Mighty One of Jacob. Lo, we heard of Him in Ephrathah, we found Him in the fields of the forest; we will go into His habitations (Ps. 132:2, 4-7);
"the Mighty One of Jacob" denotes the Lord as to the Divine Human (n. 6425); "Ephrathah," where He was to be found, is Bethlehem, where He was born (Gen. 35:19; 48:7; Micah 5:2; Matt. 2:4-6); "the fields of the forest" denote the goods of the church among the Gentiles.
 In Ezekiel:--
They shall dwell upon the land that I have given to Jacob My servant; they shall dwell upon it, they and their sons" sons forever; and David My servant shall be prince to them forever. I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them, and I will set My sanctuary in the midst of them forever. So shall My habitation be with them (Ezek. 37:25, 27);
"David," who was to be "prince to them," denotes the Lord (n. 1888); "the sanctuary" denotes the Lord's Divine Human, because from Him is all that is holy (n. 3210, 9229); thus His "habitation" denotes heaven and the church where the Lord is.
 In Jeremiah:--
Thus said Jehovah, Behold I bring back the captivity of Jacob?s tents, and have compassion on his habitations, that the city shall be built upon its heap (Jer. 30:18);
"to bring back the captivity of Jacob's tents" denotes to restore the goods and truths of the external church which had been destroyed; "having compassion on his habitations" denotes to restore the truths of the internal church; "the city which shall be built upon its heap" denotes the doctrine of truth (n. 2449, 2943, 3216, 4492, 4493).
 In what way the Lord dwells in the heavens, can be seen from what has been shown already concerning the Lord; namely, that the Lord as to the Divine Human is the Sun from which are the heat and light in the heavens. The heat from the Lord as the Sun is love, and the light is faith. From this the Lord dwells with those who receive from Him the good of love and the truth of faith, thus the heat and light of life. His presence is according to the degrees of the reception. [AC9594]
Author: EMANUEL SWEDENBORG