I lifted up mine eyes, again, and looked, and behold, a man with a measuring-line in his hand. Then said I, Whither goest thou? And he said unto me, To measure Jerusalem, to see what is the breadth thereof, and what is the length thereof. And behold, the angel that talked with me went forth; and another angel went out to meet him ; and said unto him, Run, speak to this young man, saying, Jerusalem shall be inhabited as towns without walls, for the multitude of men and cattle therein: for I, saith Jehovah, will be unto her a wall of fire round about, and win be the glory in the midst of her.-ZACHARIAH ii. 1-5.
THE text representatively reveals the spiritual quality of the New Church; showing that the Church will be greatly multiplied; and that the Lord will be present in it, in both its internal and its external.
A man appeared, having a measuring-line. This man, seen in spiritual vision, was an angel, a regenerated man, in the spiritual world. And, as an angel is a messenger of the Lord, so the work which he was sent to do, was the Lord’s work through the man. And, as the action of the angel was representative, it represented the spiritual action of the Lord, among men.
In natural things, we measure anything to ascertain its size, which is represented by length, breadth, and thickness, or height. But spiritual things relate to qualities rather than to quantities; they regard character rather than dimensions. And so a spiritual measurement is to ascertain qualities of character. Where, in natural measurements, we find length, breadth, and height, these dimensions represent, respectively, the goodness, the truth, and the elevation or level, in men’s minds, which are ascertained by spiritual measurement.
We use these ideas as figures of speech, when we say of a mean man, that he is a narrow man, or a small-minded man; and of a generous and good man, that he is broad-minded and large-hearted. The standard by which things are measured, spiritually, is the truth of the Lord, as revealed in His Divine Word. And, in man, the ability which uses the standard, or measuring line, is our rational faculty, our capacity to perceive the revealed truth, and to recognize it as the truth, in principle. And when our Lord sends an angel to us, to show us the spiritual measurements of different human states of mind and of life, our rational minds must be open and active, in order that we may comprehend what the angel is showing us.
In the case before us, in our text, the angel was to measure Jerusalem. Literally, he was to measure the city of Jerusalem, as to its natural dimensions; perhaps to repair and rebuild it. But this action was symbolic and representative of a spiritual measurement of the conditions of the church, among men; for Jerusalem, which was the head-quarters of the church, in Israel, represented the church; and the relative dimensions and conditions of Jerusalem represented the spiritual qualities and conditions of the church. And the measurement was to determine the quality, or spiritual character, of the life of the church. Changed conditions in the character of the men of the church would be revealed by new spiritual measurements.
The measurements of Jerusalem as it stands, would refer to the revealing of the spiritual character of the existing church. But the measurement of the Jerusalem seen in vision, often applies to the future spiritual conditions of the church, especially after the comng of the Lord.
THE TWO ANGELS.
“And behold, the angel that talked with me went forth; and another angel went out to meet him : and said unto him, Run, speak to this young man,” etc. Both of these angels represent the Lord’s truth, sent to the mind of the regenerating man, We see the Divine Truth in different aspects: in our Will, or heart, we receive an idea of the goodness which must be carried out; and in our intellect we enter into an understanding of the ideas involved in the case.
TOWNS WITHOUT WALLS.
The angel revealed the promise of the Lord that “Jerusalem shall be inhabited as towns without walls, for the multitude of men and cattle therein.” Literally, in ancient days, in Oriental lands, large towns and important places were protected by high walls. But many of the small towns and villages, especially in a farming country, were built on the plains, or on the hill-sides, or in the valleys, and without walls, And, in such times, when robbers and enemies were abundant, the ability of a town to live unmolested, without walls, indicated a state of peace, tranquility, and freedom.
Sometimes it happened that a walled city became overcrowded, so that the surplus population had to encamp outside the walls. And, generally, in connection with all large cities, or towns of importance, there was a foreign element, which resided outside the walls, often temporarily, and lived by trading with the citizens, as well as with travellers coming and going.
In our text, the literal idea is that Jerusalem shall enjoy a season of peace and prosperity, during which the population shall so greatly increase that many persons will have to be accommodated outside the walls, where the foreign element will also be gathered.
THE SPIRITUAL SIDE.
But the spiritual” picture portrays the conditions of the Lord’s Church, in the future, the New Church, in its regenerate states, interiorly receiving the Lord and His truths. And then the citizens within the walls will represent the intelligent persons of the New Church, who attain the higher conditions of heaven; and the dwellers in the suburbs will represent the Gentiles, drawn towards the New Church, from all around, and coming under the influence of the New Church, at least externally, in the natural degree, as good natural men, in the natural heaven. For the New Church, like all other churches, and, in fact, all other things, must have its internal and its external. In the natural heaven there is knowledge of truth, from the Word, and a good life, according to the truth; but there are no interior and spiritual perception and intelligence, which give insight into the principles of truth.
And it is so with men of the church on earth: some are distinctively spiritual-minded, while others see truths on the natural plane of thought, only, but live a regenerate life. But all such are in the church, each on his own plane, and in his own degree.
These external men are meant by the cattle named in our text, as distinguished from the men, in the phrase,” for the multitude of men and cattle therein.” For, in comparison, and spiritually, the interior difference between spiritual men and good natural men, is represented by the difference between good men and good cattle. One class is open to natural life, and the other to life distinctively spiritual in quality.
A similar idea is shown in the arrangement of the inhabitants of each heaven, where the wisest and best of the angels dwell in the centre, and others outwardly from the centre, decreasing in intelligence towards the circumference.
WALL OF FIRE.
The Lord declares that, although Jerusalem may become overcrowded, and may overrun into the suburbs, outside the walls, yet her people shall be safe, for He ” will be unto her a wall of fire, round about.” A wall is for the protection of the things within the enclosure. And an adequate wall of fire would be a very great protection, for it could not be scaled, nor broken through. Such an impenetrable wall of fire” is the Lord’s love of His people, which always surrounds them, and, by His Divine Providence, always protects them from all outward enemies, in the measure and degree in which they love the Lord, and, in their dealings with each other, live according to the laws of spiritual love.
This wall of fire is one which no evil spirit can scale, or break through. And it is a perpetual fire; which can never die out. “The angel of Jehovah encampeth round about them that fear Him, and delivereth them.”(Psalm xxxiv. 7.)
A wall, protecting men, represents a doctrine, or the system of doctrine, in the church, protecting a regenerating mind from the prowling enemies of the natural suggestions of his own senses, as well as the infestation of other evil influences. And the doctrine of love is the most perfect wall, because “the self-evidencing reason of love” makes all things clear to the mind which lives in the sphere and action of such love.
Fire represents love, especially, and in the highest sense, the Divine Love. And this never-failing Divine Love was represented by the perpetual fire which was kept burning on the altars, in the tabernacle of Israel, and in the temple, and never allowed to go out. And this perpetual fire was also intended to represent the constant love which men should have towards the Lord. When Jehovah appeared to Moses, He appeared “in a flame of fire, in the midst of a bush.” (Exodus iii. 2.) The fire represented the Divine Love, the Father, as seen in the letter of His Word, which was represented by the bush, which also, in another sense, represented the external humanity of the Lord.
Our text ends with the Divine promise to Jerusalem, “I will be the glory in the midst of her.” As Jerusalem represents the church, especially as to its general system of doctrine, built up in the mind, as a city is built upon the earth, the “glory” in the midst of, Jerusalem is the Divine Truth, interiorly within the doctrine of the church, and shining brightly from, the Divine Love, which is the inmost of the church, as light shines from fire.
In another aspect, this “glory in the midst” is the inward and spiritual meaning of the Divine Word, which shines through the outward letter of the Sacred Scriptures. And, in the profoundest sense, the “glory” is the inmost-Divine life shining in the Divine Humanity in Jesus Christ, the one God of heaven and of earth.
This Divine character, shining through the Humanity of Jesus Christ, is represented in many paintings by the halo, or surrounding brightness, about the head of Jesus.
When we see and understand the Divine character of Jesus, and comprehend the presence of God in man, this great revelation of spiritual truth calls us to elevate our minds even to greater degrees, that we may see the truth in even higher aspects. Thus the voice of our Lord says to us, “Arise, shine, for thy light is come, and the glory of Jehovah is risen upon thee.” (Isaiah lx, 1.) “And then shall appear the sign of the Son of Man, in heaven; . . . and they shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory” (Matthew xxiv. 30) ; i.e., the Lord’s Divine Truth shall shine forth through the letter of the Word.
The interior church could not be established with the Israelites, because they were in low and natural-minded conditions, in which they could not perceive interior things. And so a new church, the First Christian Church, was established, to provide conditions in which men could begin to elevate their minds into spiritual states, at least in simplicity, as spiritual-natural men. But the First Christian Church could not understand interior spiritual things; and so, in the Second Coming of the Lord, a new church, the New Jerusalem, was established, to receive the Lord in His Divine Humanity, in clear spiritual light, and without mystery: and to receive the Divine Word in its inward and spiritual meaning, as the glory of the Lord shining within the literal Scriptures, upon those who have ears to hear “what the Spirit saith unto the churches.”
Author: Edward Craig Mitchell 1903