EARTH >> The Lord’s Church in the Heavens and the Earth
It is said, “They shall reign on the earth,” because by “earth” here and elsewhere is meant the Lord’s church in the heavens and on the earth. The church, wherever it may be, is the Lord’s kingdom. Lest, therefore, anyone should believe that all who are redeemed by the Lord become kings and priests, and that they will reign on the earth, it is important that it be shown from the Word that the earth signifies the church. This may be seen from the following passages:
Behold, Jehovah maketh the earth void, and maketh the earth empty, and turneth over the face of it; the earth shall be made utterly void; the habitable earth shall mourn and be confounded; the earth shall be profaned under its inhabitants; therefore the curse shall devour the earth, and the inhabitants of the earth shall be burnt up, and few men shall be left; there shall be in the midst of the earth as the plucking of an olive tree. The cataracts from on high are opened, and the foundations of the earth are shaken; the earth is utterly broken in pieces; the earth is altogether burst asunder; the earth is thoroughly shaken; the earth staggereth like a drunkard (Isa. 24:1-23).
 The lion hath come up from the thicket to lay waste thy land; I saw the earth, when, behold, it was void and empty; Jehovah said, The whole earth shall be waste, therefore the earth shall mourn (Jer. 4:7, 23-28).
How long shall the earth mourn; the whole earth is desolate, because there is not a man that layeth it to heart (Jer. 12:4, 11-13).
The earth mourneth and languisheth, Lebanon is ashamed and is withered away (Isa. 33:9).
The earth shall become burning pitch, and be laid waste (Isa. 34:9-10).
I have heard a consummation and decree from the Lord upon the whole earth (Isa. 28:2, 22).
Behold, the day of Jehovah cometh to lay the earth waste, and the earth shall be shaken out of its place (Isa. 13:9, 13).
The earth was shaken and trembled, and the foundations of the mountains quaked (Ps. 18:7).
We will not fear when the earth is changed; when He uttereth his voice, the earth shall melt (Ps. 46:2-3, 6, 8).
Have ye not understood from the foundations of the earth? (Isa. 40:21, 23).
O God, Thou hast deserted us, Thou hast made the earth to tremble; heal its breaches, because it is shaken (Ps. 60:1-2).
 The earth and all its inhabitants shall melt; I will make firm its pillars (Ps. 75:3).
Woe to the land shadowed with wings; go, ye ambassadors, to a nation trodden down, whose land the rivers have spoiled (Isa. 18:1-2).
Through the wrath of Jehovah Zebaoth is the earth darkened (Isa. 9:19).
Ye shall be a land of good pleasure (Mal. 3:12).
I have given thee for a covenant of the people, to restore the earth; sing, O heavens; and exult, O earth (Isa. 49:8, 13).
Thou shalt not see Jah in the land of the living (Isa. 38:11).
Who gave terror in the land of the living (Ezek. 32:23-27).
Unless I believed to see good in the land of life (Ps. 27:13).
Blessed are the meek, for they shall receive the earth as an inheritance (Matt. 5:5).
I am Jehovah that maketh all things, that spreadeth out the heavens alone, that stretcheth out the earth by Myself (Isa. 44:23, 24; Zech. 12:1; Jer. 10:11-13; 51:15; Ps. 136:6).
Let the earth open itself, let it bring forth salvation; thus said Jehovah, that createth the heavens, that formeth the earth (Isa. 45:8, 12, 18, 19).
Behold, I create new heavens and a new earth (Isa. 65:17; 66:22).
Besides many other places, which, if they were adduced, would fill pages.
 The reason why the church is signified by “the earth” is because by “earth” the land of Canaan is often meant, in which was the church; “the heavenly Canaan” is no other; as, also, because when “the earth” is named, the angels, who are spiritual, do not think of the earth, but of the human race that is upon it and of its spiritual state, and its spiritual state is the state of the church. “The earth” has also an opposite sense, and in that it signifies damnation, because when there is no church with man, there is damnation; in this sense the earth is mentioned in Isaiah 14:12; 21:9; 26:19, 21; 29:4; 47:1; 63:6; Lamentations 2:10; Ezekiel 26:20; 32:24; Numbers 16:29-33; 26:10; and in other places. [AR 285]
Everything that is in the earth shall expire. This signifies those who were of that church and had become of this quality. It has been shown before that the “earth” does not mean the whole world, but only those who were of the church. Thus no deluge was meant here, still less a universal deluge, but the expiring or suffocation of those who existed there, when they were separated from remains, and thereby from the things of the understanding that are of truth and the things of the will that are of good, and therefore from the heavens. That the “earth” signifies the region where the church is, and therefore those who live there, may be confirmed by the following passages from the Word, in addition to those already cited. In Jeremiah:
Thus hath said Jehovah, The whole earth shall be desolate; yet will I not make a consummation. For this shall the earth mourn, and the heavens above shall be black (Jer. 4:27-28).
Here the “earth” denotes those who dwell where the church is that is vastated. In Isaiah:
I will move the heavens, and the earth shall be shaken out of her place (Isa. 13:13).
The “earth” denotes the man who is to be vastated, where the church is. In Jeremiah:
The slain of Jehovah shall be at that day from the end of the earth even unto the end of the earth (Jer. 25:33).Here the “end of the earth” does not signify the whole world, but only the region where the church was, and consequently the men who were of the church. Again:
I will call for a sword upon all the inhabitants of the earth; a tumult shall come even to the end of the earth; for Jehovah hath a controversy with the nations (Jer. 25:29, 31).
In this passage, in like manner, the whole world is not meant, but only the region where the church is, and therefore the inhabitant or man of the church; the “nations” here denote falsities. In Isaiah:
Behold, Jehovah cometh forth out of His place to visit the iniquity of the inhabitant of the earth (Isa. 26:21).
Here the meaning is the same. Again:
Have ye not heard? hath it not been told you from the beginning? have ye not understood the foundations of the earth (Isa. 40:21)?
Jehovah, that createth the heavens, God Himself that formeth the earth and maketh it, He establisheth it (Isa. 45:18).
The “earth” denotes the man of the church. In Zechariah:
The saying of Jehovah, who stretcheth out the heavens, and layeth the foundation of the earth, and formeth the spirit of man in the midst of him (Zech. 12:1),
where the “earth” manifestly denotes the man of the church. The “earth” is distinguished from the “ground” as are the man of the church and the church itself, or as are love and faith. [AC662]
That in the internal sense an “earthquake” signifies a change in the state of the church, is evident from the signification of “earth,” as being the church (n. 566, 662, 1066, 1067, 1262, 1733, 1850, 2117, 2118, 2928); and from the signification of “quaking,” or movement, as being a change of state; here, as to the things of the church, namely, in respect to good and truth. The same is also evident from other passages in the Word, as in Isaiah:
It shall come to pass that he who fleeth from the voice of the dread shall fall into the pit; and he that cometh up out of the midst of the pit shall be taken in the snare; for the cataracts from on high were opened, and the foundations of the earth were shaken; in breaking the earth is broken; in moving the earth is moved; reeling the earth reeleth like a drunken man, and sways to and fro like a hut; and the transgression thereof is heavy upon it; and it shall fall and not rise again. And it shall come to pass in that day that Jehovah shall visit upon the army of the height on high, and upon the kings of the ground upon the ground (Isa. 24:18-21).
That in this passage the “earth” is the church, is plainly evident; for it is the church that is treated of, whose foundations are said to be “shaken,” and itself to be “broken and moved, and to reel and sway to and fro,” when good and truth are no longer known. The “kings of the ground” are truths; here, falsities, upon which there will be visitation. (That “kings” are truths, and in the opposite sense falsities, see above, n. 1672, 2015; and that “ground,” like “earth,” denotes the church, but with a difference, n. 566, 1068.)
I will make a man more rare than fine gold, and a man than the gold of Ophir; therefore I will shake the heaven, and the earth shall be shaken out of her place; in the indignation of Jehovah of Armies, and in the day of the wrath of His anger (Isa. 13:12-13);
speaking of the day of judgment; and in this passage also “earth” clearly denotes the church, which is said to be “shaken out of its place,” when it is changed as to state. (That “place” is state may be seen above, n. 1273-1275, 1377, 2625, 2837.) Again:
Is this the man that shaketh the earth, that shaketh kingdoms, that maketh the world as a wilderness, and destroyeth the cities thereof? (Isa. 14:16-17);
speaking of Lucifer; the “earth” denote the church, which he is said to “shake” when man attributes to himself all things of it. (That “kingdoms” are the truths of the church may be seen above, n. 1672, 2547.)
 In Ezekiel:
It shall come to pass in that day, when Gog cometh upon the land of Israel, that My wrath shall rise in Mine anger; in My zeal and in the fire of My indignation I will speak, Surely in that day there shall be a great earthquake upon the ground of Israel (Ezek. 38:18-20);
“Gog” denotes external worship separate from internal, and thus become idolatrous (n. 1151); the “earth” and the “ground of Israel” denote the spiritual church; the “earthquake,” a change in its state. In Joel:
The earth quaked before Him, the heavens trembled, the sun and the moon became black, and the stars withdrew their brightness (Joel 2:10);
where also the subject is the day of the Last Judgment the “earth quaking” denotes a changed state of the church; the “sun and moon,” the good of love and its truth (n. 1599, 1530, 2441, 2495), which are said to “become black,” when goods and truths are no longer acknowledged; the “stars” denote the knowledges of good and truth (n. 2495, 2849). In David:
The earth was shaken and quaked, and the foundations of the mountains trembled and were shaken, because He was wroth (Ps. 18:7);
the “earth shaken and quaking” denotes the state of the church become perverted.
 In John:
And I beheld when he opened the sixth seal, and lo there was a great earthquake, and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the whole moon became as blood, and the stars of heaven fell unto the earth (Rev. 6:12-13);
where the “earthquake, sun, moon, and stars” have a like signification as above in Joel. Again:
In that hour there was a great earthquake, and the tenth part of the city fell; and there were killed in the earthquake names of men seven thousand (Rev. 11:13).
From all these passages it is evident that an “earthquake” is nothing else than a change in the state of the church; and that in the internal sense the “earth” is nothing else than the church; and as the “earth” is the church, it is evident that by the “new heaven and new earth,” which were to succeed in place of the former (Isa. 65:17; 66:22; Rev. 21:1), there is signified nothing else than a new church internal and external (n. 1733, 1850, 2117, 2118). [AC3355]
And from these was the whole earth overspread. That this signifies that from them were derived all doctrines, both true and false, is evident from the signification of “earth.” “Earth” or “land” in the Word, is used with various meanings. In the universal sense it denotes the place or region where the church is, or where it has been, as the land of Canaan, the land of Judah, the land of Israel. Thus it denotes universally everyone that belongs to the church, since the land is predicated of the man who is in it, as we know in common speech. In ancient times therefore when men spoke of the “whole earth” they did not mean the whole globe, but only the land where the church was, and thus the church itself; as is evident from the following passages in the Word. In Isaiah:
Behold, Jehovah maketh the earth empty; the earth shall be utterly emptied; the earth shall mourn and be confounded; the earth also shall be polluted under the inhabitants thereof; therefore shall the curse devour the earth; therefore the inhabitants of the earth shall be burned, and man shall be left feeble. The cataracts from on high are opened, and the foundations of the earth do shake; the earth is utterly broken; the earth is clean dissolved; the earth is moved exceedingly; the earth reeling shall reel like a drunken man, and shall be moved to and fro like a hut, and the transgression thereof shall be heavy upon it, and it shall fall, and not rise again (Isa. 24:1, 3-6, 18-20).The “earth” here denotes the people who are in it, and in fact the people of the church, thus the church itself, and the vastated things of the church, of which when vastated it is said that they are “emptied” “moved exceedingly” “reel like a drunken man” “move to and fro” and “fall, not to rise again.”
 That by “earth” or “land” is signified man, consequently the church, which is of man, may be seen in Malachi:
All nations shall call you happy; for ye shall be a delightsome land (Mal. 3:12).
That “earth” denotes the church is seen in Isaiah:
Have ye not understood the foundations of the earth? (Isa. 40:21),
where the “foundations of the earth” denote the foundations of the church. Again:
For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth (Isa. 65:17; 66:22; Rev.21:1).
“New heavens and a new earth” denote the kingdom of the Lord and the church. In Zechariah:
Jehovah, who stretcheth forth the heavens, and layeth the foundation of the earth, and formeth the spirit of man within him (Zech. 12:1),
meaning the church. Also, as before, in Genesis:
In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth (Gen. 1:1).
And the heavens and the earth were finished (Gen. 2:1).
These are the nativities of the heavens and of the earth (Gen. 2:4),
everywhere denoting the church created, formed, and made. In Joel:
The earth quaked before Him, the heavens trembled, the sun and the moon were darkened (Joel 2:10),
meaning the church and the things of the church; when these are vastated, “heaven and earth” are said to quake, and the “sun and moon” to grow dark, that is, love and faith.
 In Jeremiah:
I beheld the earth, and lo a void and emptiness; and the heavens, and they had no light (Jer. 4:23).
Here the “earth” plainly denotes the man in whom there is not anything of the church. Again:
The whole earth shall be desolate; yet will I not make a full consummation; for this shall the earth mourn, and the heavens above be black (Jer. 4:27-28).
Here also the church is meant, whose exteriors are the “earth” and the interiors the “heavens” of which it is said that they shall be black, with no light in them, when there is no longer wisdom of good and intelligence of truth. Then the earth also is empty and void; and in like manner the man of the church who should be a church. That by the “whole earth” is meant in other places also only the church, may be seen in Daniel:
The fourth beast shall be a fourth kingdom upon earth, which shall be diverse from all the kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, and shall tread it down, and break it in pieces (Dan. 7:23);
the “whole earth” denotes the church and what is of the church; for the Word does not treat, like profane writings, of monarchial sovereignties, but of the holy things and states of the church, which are here signified by the “kingdoms of the earth.”
 In Jeremiah:
A great tempest shall be raised up from the uttermost parts of the earth; and the slain of Jehovah shall be at that day from one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth (Jer. 25:32-33);
here “from one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth” means the church and everything that is of the church. In Isaiah:
The whole earth is at rest and is quiet; they break forth into singing (Isa. 14:7),
where the “whole earth” denotes the church. In Ezekiel:
When the whole earth rejoiceth (Ezek. 35:14),
where also the “whole earth” denotes the church. In Isaiah:
I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth (Isa. 54:9),
where the “earth” denotes the church, because the church is there treated of.  Because “land” or “earth” in the Word signifies the church, it signifies also what is not the church, for every such word has contrary or opposite meanings; as for example the various lands of the Gentiles; in general all lands outside the land of Canaan. “Land” is therefore taken also for the people and for the man outside the church, and hence for the external man, for his will, his Own, and so forth. The term is rarely used in the Word for the whole world, except when the whole human race is meant as regards their state, whether of the church or not of the church. And because the earth is the containant of the ground, which also signifies the church, and the ground is the containant of the field, the word “earth” signifies, because it involves, many things; and what it signifies is evident from the subject treated of, which is that of which the term is predicated. From all this it is evident that by the “whole earth” that was overspread by the sons of Noah, is not signified the whole world, or the whole human race, but all the doctrines both true and false that were of the churches. [AC1066]
Author: EMANUEL SWEDENBORG (1688-1772)