Blessed are you, Israel!
Who is like you, a people saved by the Lord?
He is your shield and helper and your glorious sword.
Your enemies will cower before you, and you will tread on their heights. Deuteronomy 33:29
These are the last words of Moses in the Torah (the five books of Moses). And “the children of Israel” means “the children of Truth.” When we live in Truth and Love, we should not fear anyone nor anything because we are protected by the shield of God and we can fight our enemies with the sword of Truth.
But how can Truth be a shield and a sword?
We do not just live in a physical universe, we live in a higher-dimensional universe which includes spirit, mind and matter. And our enemies are not just physical; they are mental and spiritual. Before we are defeated physically, we are first defeated mentally and spiritually.
The Bible is full of battles and wars and these outer wars correspond to inner wars that are taking place within the collective consciousness of mankind. But the children of Israel (Truth) were led by courageous leaders and warriors such as Moses, Joshua and David; they were always protected, helped and saved by the Truth.
When we live in sin, love of self, love of the world and love of abuses, we lose our spiritual protection and become fearful and suspicious. Then, others can hurt our fragile ego through threat, intimidation and accusation because we lack the sword of Truth to defend ourselves. Inwardly, we are continually assaulted by false thoughts and negative feelings. But when we choose to live by love of God (Good), love of neighbor (Truth) and love of use, the Lord is always with us and fighting for us against the negative forces of hell.
Before he parted the Red sea, Moses said:
Stand still and watch the salvation of the Lord! (Exodus 12:13)
Many people are angry with God because they believe that He has left them in a disastrous state of being and in a cruel world without instruction on how to live and what to do. But, in fact, the Bible is an instruction manual that we may use to solve our real problems. In its internal or spiritual sense, the Bible describes the spiritual states of humanity as it evolves. Instead of blaming God for our present state, we should blame our human ancestors who freely chose to turn away from God’s Love and Truth and instead relied upon their self-intelligence. And we should use the Bible to understand how we can extricate ourselves from such a dark and selfish state of mind and heart. All the physical events that are described in the Bible correspond to psychological and spiritual events that take place within our heart and mind.
The same thing is signified by these words in Zechariah:
“Israel shall pass through the sea of affliction, and shall smite the waves in the sea, and all the depths of the river shall be dried up; and the pride of Assyria shall be cast down, and the staff of Egypt shall depart away” (x. 11).
That those who live in truths from good are defended by the Lord, although falsities from the hells encompass them, is signified by Israel passing through the sea, and smiting the waves in the sea, and all the depths of the river being dried up. For by Israel are meant those who are in truths from good; by the sea is signified hell and all the falsity thence; by the waves of the sea are signified reasonings from falsities against truths; by drying up all the depths of the river is signified to scatter all the falsities of evil, even the more profound. The river Nile denotes the false scientific; wherefore it follows, that “the pride of Assyria shall be cast down, and the staff of Egypt shall depart away.” Assyria signifies reasoning from falsities against truths, and Egypt, the scientific applied to confirm falsities; the pride of Assyria which shall be cast down, signifies [man’s] own intelligence from which reasoning proceeds, and the staff of Egypt, which shall depart away, signifies the power which comes to reasoning through scientifics applied for the purpose of confirmation. Emanuel Swedenborg [AE 538]
God said to Joshua:
No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them. “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:5-9)
The lands that we read about in the Bible correspond to states of mind and heart. And “to inherit the land” means to move permanently into a new state of consciousness. But before we “inherit the land,” we must fight the enemies of false thoughts and selfish lusts by using the sword and shield of Truth. Such enemies have no power against Truth. And we can only possess and use Truth against the enemy if we obey the Law.
David, in Psalm 18, declared:
I will love thee, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock,
and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength,
in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.
I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised:
so shall I be saved from mine enemies.
The more we battle against the negative forces of evil and falsehood by using the shield of God and the sword of Truth, the stronger and more courageous our soul becomes and we develop immunity from all spiritual infections.
That ‘a shield’ means protection against evils and falsities which is able to be trusted is clear without explanation, for repeated usage has made the saying familiar that ‘Jehovah is a shield and buckler’. But what is meant specifically by ‘a shield’ becomes clear from the Word, namely that in reference to the Lord it means protection, and in reference to man trust in the Lord’s protection. As ‘war’ means temptations, so every implement of war means some specific aspect of temptation and of defence against evils and falsities, that is, against the devil’s crew who bring temptation about and do the tempting. Emanuel Swedenborg [AC 1788]
Today, those humans who are depressed, lack self-confidence and feel unloved are advised and misled by so-called psychologists to love their own self. But the very reason they feel powerless, worthless and unloved is because they are self-centered and egotistical. The truth is that our human self is an empty receptacle that was originally designed to receive and reflect Divine Love, Wisdom and Power. Therefore, to love our own self would in essence be to love spiritual darkness or falsity and evil. There is also no reason to despise our own self; we should instead understand its function in the structure of the universe. All Love, Intelligence, and Power belong to the Lord. The only way to gain real confidence, love, courage and power is by understanding Truth, willing what is Good and doing what is useful to others and God. Real Love is reciprocal conjunction; it must first flow from our own self and into others and God before it is reflected.
Most people tend to fear evil persons because they usually threaten to hurt or even kill their body. But it is not the death of our body that we should fear; it is the death of our soul that should terrify us. Those who consistently engage in acts of evil are gradually becoming spiritually dead and creating their own hell. We should only fear God who is Life, Truth and Love.
And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Matthew 10:28
From the passages which have been adduced from the Word it is evident that the “fear of God” is worship, either from fear, or from the good of faith, or from the good of love. But the more there is of fear in the worship, the less there is of faith, and the less still of love; and on the other hand, the more of faith there is in the worship, and especially the more there is of love, the less there is of fear. There is indeed a fear within all worship, but under another appearance and another condition, and this is holy fear. But holy fear is not so much the fear of hell and of damnation, as it is of doing or thinking anything against the Lord and against the neighbor, and thus anything against the good of love and the truth of faith. It is an aversion, which is the boundary of the holy of love and the holy of faith on the one side; and as it is not a fear of hell and damnation, as before said, those have it who are in the good of faith; but those have less of it who are in the good of love, that is, who are in the Lord.
Therefore to “fear” signifies also to distrust, or not to have faith and love, as in Isaiah:
Thus saith thy Creator, O Jacob, and thy Former, O Israel, Fear not, for I have redeemed thee I have called thee by thy name, thou art Mine (Isa. 43:1, 5; 44:8).
The oath which He sware to our father Abraham, that He would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies, might serve Him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before Him (Luke 1:73-74).
In the same:
Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom (Luke 12:32).
Jesus said unto the ruler of the synagogue, Fear not, only believe (Mark 5:36; Luke 8:49-50).
In the same:
Jesus said, Why are ye so fearful? How is it that ye have no faith? (Mark 4:40).
The hairs of your head are all numbered; fear not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows (Luke 12:7).
In these passages to “fear” is to distrust, or not to have faith and love.
Emanuel Swedenborg [AC 2826]