Isaiah 64

1 O THAT Thou wouldst rend the heavens, that Thou wouldst come down, that the mountains might flow down before Thee!
2 As the fire kindleth the stubble; as the fire causeth the waters to boil: so make Thy name known to Thine adversaries, that the nations may tremble before Thee!
3 When Thou didst terrible things which we did not expect; Thou didst come down, and the mountains flowed down before Thee!
4 For from eternity [men] have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, nor hath the eye seen, O God, beside Thee, what He hath done for such as hope in Him,

VERSE 1. To “rend the heavens,” is to descend with power and strength: in this way “the mountains flow down,” namely, those are dispersed who think that they have the victory. (Swedenborg’s Notes on Isaiah, p. 154.)
That Thou wouldst come down.-To “come down” is predicated of Jehovah, because He is called “the Most High,” or because He is said to be “on high;” but this is spoken according to appearance, since He is not in the highest parts, but in the inmost ; wherefore ” highest” and “inmost” have the same signification in the Word. Jehovah, or the Lord, is everywhere present, and knows all things from eternity; wherefore it cannot be said of Him that “He comes down to see,” except in the literal sense only, the language of which is framed according to appearances with man; but in the internal sense it is not so, for in that sense things are exhibited, not as they are according to appearances, but as they are in themselves: wherefore, in the present case, to “come down” signifies judgment. Judgment is spoken of as taking place when evil is brought to its height; or, as it is expressed in the Word, when “it is come to its consummation,” or when “iniquity is consummated.” The case herein is this. All evil has its boundaries or limits as far as which it is permitted to go; but, when it is carried beyond these limits, the guilty party runs into the punishment of evil, and this both in general and in particular cases. The punishment of evil is what is then called “judgment;” and as it appears at first as if the Lord did not see or notice the existence of evil (for when man does evil with impunity, he supposes that the Lord does not regard it, but when he comes to suffer punishment, he then first thinks that the Lord sees him, yea, that the Lord punishes him), therefore it is said, according to such appearances, that “Jehovah came down to see.” Judgment, or the punishment of evil, is exhibited as taking place in the lower and lowest parts, aud therefore Jehovah is said to “come down,” as in David:-“Bow the heavens, O Jehovah, and come down; touch the mountains, and they shall smoke; cast forth Thy lightning, and scatter them;” (Psalm cxliv. 5, 6.) where also is described the punishment of evil, or judgment. So in Isaiah:-“ehovah of Hosts shall come down to fight upon Mount Zion, and upon the hill thereof.” (xxxi. 4.) Again, In the same Prophet:- “O that Thou wouldst rend the heavens, that Thou wouldst come down that the mountains might flow down before Thee;” (lxiv 1) where to “come down,” In ike manner, denotes punishment or judgment upon evil. A. C. 1311.
Verses 1, 3. That the mountains might flow down before Thee, &c. In Nahum we read similar words:-” The mountains tremble before Him, and the hills melt, and the earth is burned up at His presence yea, the world and all that dwell therein.” (i. 5.) ” Mountains,” in a good sense, signify the church where love to the Lord is, and “hills” the church in which love towards the neighbour is. The reason is, because the angels who are in love to the Lord dwell upon mountains and those who are in love to the neighbour upon hills. When, in the place of love to the Lord, there prevails the love of self and in the place of love to the neighbour, there prevails the love of the world then these mountains are said to “tremble,” and the hills to “melt;” for thus it happens in the spiritual world; not, however, with the angels who are in heaven, but with the spirits who had made to themselves [in the world of spirits] a semblance of heaven upon mountains and hills before the Last Judgment. Since the love of self and of the world is here understood, therefore it is said that “they melt,” and also that “the earth is burned up before Him, and the world and all that dwell therein,” and that “His wrath is poured out like fire;” for “fire” signifies those loves, and to “melt” and to be “burned up” signifies to perish by them. A. E. 400.
As to “mountains” and “hills,” in a bad sense, and their destruction at the time of Judgment in the world of spirits, see Chap. ii. 12-17, Exposition; and what they signify, in a good sense, see in the same Chap., verses 1-5, Exposition.

5 Thou meetest him that rejoiceth and worketh justice; [even those] who remember Thee in Thy ways: behold, Thou art wroth, for we have sinned; the world is in sins; but we shall be saved.

Verse 5. [It does not appear that Swedenborg has quoted this verse, but from the internal sense in the margin the meaning may appear to be this -that at the period of Judgment “those who rejoice in doing justice, and who remember the Lord in His ways, will, as the “remnants,” or those who escape or as the “sheep on the right hand,” be saved; whereas those who notwithstanding the semblance of holiness in the external, are discovered, when the Internals are opened, to be in evils and sins will be condemned.]

6 But, we are all of us as an unclean thing, and all our, deeds of righteousness are as a menstruous cloth; and we are all withered away like a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.

Verse 6. [This verse is quoted by Swedenborg only in the Adversaria, or Notes; and it evidently involves, in the spiritual sense, the confession of those who at the period of Judgment in the world of spirits, can be saved, and who acknowledge that, in themselves, they are nothing but uncleanness and iniquity.]
A “menstruous cloth” signifies things unclean; specifically scientifics which do not as yet correspond to interior Truths. A. C. 4161. See also Chap. xxx. 22,..Exposition.
These words, together with what is said at the end of the former verse, prove that in man [prior to regeneration] there is nothing but what is unclean and unjust, so that “all his deeds of justice [or righteousnesses]” are, as it were, a “menstruous cloth;” from which it is abundantly evident of what quality they are who wish to justify themselves, on which account “their sins carry them entirely away.” (Swedenborg’s Notes on Isaiah, p. 154.)

7 And there is none that calleth upon Thy name; that stirreth up himself to take hold of Thee: wherefore Thou hast hidden Thy face from us, and Thou hast melted us away by the hand of our iniquities.8 But now, O Jehovah, Thou art our Father; we are the clay, and Thou our Potter; and we are all the work of Thine hands.

Verse. 7. Wherefore Thou hast hidden Thy face from us, &c.-What is meant by Jehovah “hiding His face,” see Chap. live 8, Exposition.

Verse18. That “clay” signifies the Good of which is formed the mind, or man of the church, appears also from the Word, as in Isaiah:–“But now, O Jehovah, Thou art our Father; we are the clay, and Thou our Potter; and we are all the work of Thine hands;” (lxiv. 8.) where by “clay” is signified the man of the church himself, who is formed by the Lord; consequently, the Good of charity, which is the means of every man’s formation, that is, reformation and regeneration.” So in “Jeremiah:- “As the clay is in the hand of the potter, so are ye in My hand, O house of Israel;” (xviii. 6.) where the signification of “clay” is similar to what it was in the preceding passage. Whether we speak of building by “clay,” or of formation thereby, it amounts to the same. A. C. 1300.
The ground and reason why the “vessel of a potter” or an “earthen vessel,” signifies [in a bad sense] the false, is, because a potter is one who forms, and a vessel is what is formed; when man forms it, it is falsity; but when the Lord forms it with man, it is Truth. Hence it is that the “potter’s vessel,” in the Word, signifies either the false or the True, and a “potter” the former. The Lord Himself is, in the Word, called a “Potter,” from the formation of man by Truths, as in the above words. A. E. 177.

9 Be not, O Jehovah, so grievously angry, and remember not our iniquity for ever: behold! look, we beseech Thee; we are all of us Thy people.

Verse 9. As to “anger,” when it is predicated of Jehovah, see Chap. ix. 12, 17, 21, Exposition.
In the Word it is said of Jehovah that “He remembers,” and that “He doth not remember,” as in Isaiah lxiv. 9, and by it is signified that in such case it is done from Mercy, whether it be preservation or deliverance; in like manner as that “He sees,” “hears,” “knows,” that “He doth not see,” ,”doth not hear,” and “doth not know,” by which expressions also are signified compassions and non-compassions. The reason why it is so expressed is grounded in what passes in a similar way with man, and in appearance; for when man averts himself from the Lord from the Lord, as is the case when he does evil, then, because the Lord is to his back, it appears to him as if the Lord does not see him, does not hear and know him, neither remembers him, when yet this is what appertains to the man, and hence from appearance it is so expressed in the Word. But the case is changed when man turns himself to the Lord, as he does when he acts well; see the passages cited, n. 9306. Everyone may know that “recollection ” or “remembrance” cannot be predicated of the Lord, inasmuch as things past and future in Him are eternal, that is, are present from eternity to eternity. That to “remember,” when predicated concerning the Lord, denotes to have ompassion, and thus to preserve or deliver from a principle of Mercy, is manifest from the following passages:-“He hath remembered His mercy and His truth toward the house of Israel.” (Psalm xcviii.. 3.) “Who remembered us in our low estate: for His mercy endureth for ever. (Psalm cxxxvi. 23.) A.C. 9849.

10 The cities of Thy holiness are a wilderness; Zion is a wilderness; Jerusalem a desolation.

Verse 10. These words imply that the doctrines of the church are reduced to a state in which there is no Truth, because there is no Good. What is meant by a “wilderness,” see above, Chap. xxxv. 6; xl. 3, 4; xli. 19 Exposition.

11 The house of our holiness and of our beauty, in which our fathers praised Thee, is become a burning of fire; and all our desirable things are a devastation.
12 For these things, O Jehovah, wilt Thou restrain Thyself? wilt Thou be silent? and wilt Thou so grievously afflict us?

Verse 11. The “house of holiness and of beauty,” signifies the celestial and the spiritual church,-the “house of holiness” the celestial church, and of “beauty” the spiritual church; “in which our fathers praised Thee,” signifies the worship of the ancient church; to “praise” denoting to worship, and “fathers” those who are of the ancient church. To become the “burning of fire,” signifies that all the Goods of that church were turned into evil, by which the Goods were consumed, and perished; and “all our desirable things are a devastation,” signifies all Truths being consumed in like manner,–“desirable things,” in the Word, denoting the Truths of the church. A.E. 504.

Author: Emanuel Swedenborg [Compiled by J. H. Smithson 1860]