Everlasting Doors

Toronto, October 28, 2007

A Sermon by the Rev. James P. Cooper

  1. 24.1 The earth is the LORD's, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.
    1. While this is speaking about the earth, which brings to mind that the Lord is the Creator and Provider of all things in the world of Nature, in the internal sense the Psalm is using the "earth" and the "world" to represent the whole human realm, that is, both people on earth, and the people, now angels, in the spiritual world. He is, as He taught so many times while in the world, a king of HEAVEN, not a worldly king. He is concerned with earthly matters and events only in so far as they support and provide for the spiritual welfare of people – in other words, the church.
    2. AE 741.[7] ...Here, also, the "earth" signifies the church in respect to truth, and "the fullness thereof" signifies all truths in the complex; and the "world" signifies the church in respect to good, and "they that dwell" signify goods in the complex.
  2. 24.2 For he hath founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods.
    1. AC 6297[3] ...That "Jehovah founded the world upon the seas" denotes upon the things that are of memory-knowledge (n. 28); and that "He established it upon the streams" denotes upon the things that are of intelligence (n. 3051). Who cannot see that it is not meant that Jehovah founded the world upon the seas, and established it upon the streams, for the world is not founded and established thereon; and therefore he who reflects can see that by "seas" and by "streams" something else is signified, and that this something else is the spiritual or internal of the Word.
    2. Verse 2 tells us that human life, and especially the path to heaven as established by the Lord Himself, is founded upon the doctrine of genuine truth.
    3. Another way of saying the same thing is the teaching in the doctrine of the sacred scripture that the sense of the letter is the foundation of the Word; and that the Word is the foundation of the heavens.
  3. 24.3 Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? or who shall stand in his holy place?
    1. It has been established that the Lord is the King of heaven, and that it is founded upon the doctrine of genuine truth (the path to heaven is through the Word), we need to ask the question, "How do we prepare ourselves to become eternal citizens of the Lord's heavenly kingdom? How do we become one of those who will climb that hill and be allowed to stand with Him in His holy place?
    2. The answer is elegant in its simplicity:
  4. 24.4-5 He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully. He shall receive the blessing from the LORD, and righteousness from the God of his salvation.
    1. "The clean in hands" signify those that are in truths from faith (AE 340:10)
      1. Deeds that in accord with the teachings of the Word – acts of charity that benefit the Lord because they are done to one another in His name.
    2. "The pure in heart" [signify] those that are in good from love (AE 340:10)
      1. These are the underlying affections, love of the Lord, love of the neighbour, the love of obeying that underlie these deeds, qualifying them.
    3. "Those who have not lifted up his soul unto vanity" = The opposite of the love of the neighbour is the love of self, expressed by vanity.
    4. "And not sworn deceitfully" = deceit is the opposite of the love of the truth of the Lord's Word.
    5. Of such it is said that they "shall receive a blessing from before Jehovah, and righteousness from the God of salvation," and "receiving a blessing" signifies the reception of Divine truth, and "receiving righteousness" the reception of Divine good (AE 340:10)
    6. "Blessing" and "Righteousness" are the qualities of the life of heaven.
  5. 24.6 This is the generation of them that seek him, that seek thy face, O Jacob. Selah.
    1. Those people who live well and shun evils as sins are the generation that seeks Him, and they are those who will see His face.
      1. HH 123. As it is from the Divine love that is in and from Him that the Lord appears in heaven like a sun, so all in the heavens are turned constantly to Him those in the celestial kingdom to Him as a sun and those in the spiritual kingdom to Him as a moon. ...All in the other life look towards what rules in their interiors, thus to their loves; and with angels and spirits the interiors determine the face; and in the spiritual world quarters are not fixed, as in the natural world, but are determined by the face. In respect to his spirit man turns himself in like manner as a spirit does, backwards from the Lord if he is in love of self and the world, and towards the Lord if he is in love to the Lord and the neighbour....
  6. 24.7 Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.
    1. AC 2851. [15] From these passages it is manifest that the "gate of heaven" is where angels are with man, that is, where there is an influx of good and truth from the Lord; and thus that as before said there are two gates. Concerning these two gates the Lord speaks thus in Matthew:
      Enter ye in by the strait gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there be that go in thereat; because strait is the gate and narrow is the way that leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it (Matt. 7:12-14; Luke 13:23-24). ....
    2. AC 10483. [5] But in a good sense "gates" denote an opening into heaven, as in David:
      Lift up your head, O ye gates; and be ye lifted up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in (Ps. 24:7-10).
      Moreover by "gates" in the Word is signified entrance into heaven and into the church by means of truth and good; and also the influx of truth and good with man.
    3. AR 176.[2] Since the Lord alone leads man to heaven, and opens the door, therefore He calls Himself "the way" and also "the door": "the way" in John:
      I am the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6).
      [He calls Himself] "The door" in the same Evangelist:
      I am the door of the sheep, by Me, if any man enter in, he shall be saved (John 10:9).
      Since there are both "ways" and "doors" in the spiritual world, and angelic spirits actually go in those ways, and enter into heaven by doors, therefore "doors," "gates," and "portals" are frequently mentioned in the Word, by which is signified entrance; as in these places:
      Lift up your heads, O ye gates, lift them up, ye doors of the world, and the King of Glory shall come in (Ps. 24:7, 9).
      The five prudent virgins went in to the wedding, and the door was shut; and the five foolish virgins came and knocked, but it was not opened (Matt. 25:10-12).
      Jesus said, Strive to enter in at the straight gate, for many will seek to enter in, and shall not be able (Luke 13:24; besides others).
      Since "a door" signifies entrance, and "the New Jerusalem" signifies the church consisting of those who are in truths from good from the Lord, therefore the New Jerusalem is described also as to "its gates, upon which there were angels," and it is said, They should not be shut (Rev. 21:12-13, 25).
    4. AR 899. Having twelve gates, signifies all the knowledges of truth and good there, by which a man is introduced into the church. By "the gates" are signified the knowledges of truth and good from the Word, because by them a man is introduced into the church; for "the wall," in which the gates were, signifies the Word; as explained just above (n. 898); and it is said in what follows, that "the twelve gates were twelve pearls, each one of the gates was one pearl" (verse 21); and by "pearls" the knowledges of truth and good are signified (n. 727). That a man is introduced into the church by them, as through the gates into a city, is manifest. That "twelve" signifies all, may be seen above (n. 348). Knowledges of truth and good are also signified by "gates" in these passages:
      Lift up your heads, O ye gates, that the King of glory may come in (Ps. 24:7, 9).
      … Since "gates" signify introductory truths, which are knowledges from the Word, therefore the elders of a city sat in the gates, and judged....
    5. The gates and doors are entrances to heaven that are open to those who have clean hands and a pure heart. How the angels in heaven must celebrate when they know that people on earth are bringing themselves into the Lord's order and preparing themselves for heaven; how they are fighting to good fight against hell, and with the Lord's help, winning! Therefore the psalmist says, "lift up your heads" to indicate the celebration of those in heaven that people are living the live that leads to heaven, and entering with thanksgiving at the end of their natural life.
    6. And when people are celebrating a joyous occasion, their thoughts are natural drawn to the One who is responsible for these gifts.
  7. 24.8 Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle.
    1. AC 5922.[15] As in the Word Divine truth is represented by royalty, the Lord as to Divine truth being represented by kings (see the passages cited just above), therefore to it as to a king is attributed "glory."
    2. AC 8273.[3] So far as conflicts with and victories over the hells are concerned, the truth is that anyone who overcomes them once does so for ever more; for through victory he gains power over them, since in the same measure he consolidates within himself, and makes his own, the good of love and the truth of faith against which the hells afterwards do not dare to attempt anything. When He was in the world the Lord allowed Himself to endure conflicts brought by temptations from all the hells, and through those conflicts He made Divine the Human within Him and at the same time reduced the hells to a state of obedience for ever more.
      So it is that the Lord alone has power over the hells for ever, and with Divine power fights on behalf of a person. This now explains why the Lord is called 'a man of war' and also 'a mighty man', as again in Isaiah,
      Jehovah will go forth as a mighty man, as a man of wars He will arouse zeal; He will prevail over His enemies. Isa. 42:13.
      And in David,
      Who is this King of glory? Jehovah strong and a mighty man, Jehovah a mighty man of war. Who is this King of glory? Jehovah Zebaoth (Jehovah of Hosts or Armies). Ps. 24:8,10.
    3. AC 10053.[3] The Lord is here called the "King of glory" from the Divine truth from which He fought, conquered, and subdued the hells; that this was done from His Human when He was in the world.
  8. As we get into November and begin to see Poppies being displayed and we begin thinking about Remembrance Day, it is useful to remember this aspect of the Divine, that He is mighty in battle.
    1. The battles in the Word are there to show His power against hell, and they are meant to draw our attention to His power to save us from our spiritual enemies.
    2. However, in His Divine Providence, He permits that there be wars among people in the world so that we can have a powerful reminder continually before us of what we are as to our own nature when left to ourselves. The purpose, of course, is that once we see what we are in and of ourselves, we will make some effort to approach the Lord for assistance in rising above our base nature, in making some effort to discover the path to heaven as described in the Word.
    3. But it is not just the general horror of war in general that is permitted to frighten us away from hell, but for every horror there are deeds of awe inspiring courage and self-sacrifice. We listen to the stories of the way common men and women left farms, and High Schools, and their safe, ordinary lives, and rose above themselves. We hear about their stories – knowing that they were not supermen – and we believe that we can face the physical, emotional, and spiritual enemies in our lives, too.
  9. There is repetition in the letter of the Word for the same reason that we repeat things, for emphasis and power, to show that this is really certain and that we can have confidence in it.
    1. Close with the repetition:

    24.8,9 Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle. Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. 24.10 Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory. Selah – Amen.

    Hear now the Word of the Lord as it is written in …

    First Lesson: Psalm 24

    The earth is the Lord's, and all its fullness, The world and those who dwell therein. {2} For He has founded it upon the seas, And established it upon the waters. {3} Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD? Or who may stand in His holy place? {4} He who has clean hands and a pure heart, Who has not lifted up his soul to an idol, Nor sworn deceitfully. {5} He shall receive blessing from the LORD, And righteousness from the God of his salvation. {6} This is Jacob, the generation of those who seek Him, Who seek Your face. Selah {7} Lift up your heads, O you gates! And be lifted up, you everlasting doors! And the King of glory shall come in. {8} Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, The LORD mighty in battle. {9} Lift up your heads, O you gates! Lift up, you everlasting doors! And the King of glory shall come in. {10} Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, He is the King of glory. Selah

    Second Lesson: Luke 13:18-30

    Then He said, "What is the kingdom of God like? And to what shall I compare it? {19} "It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and put in his garden; and it grew and became a large tree, and the birds of the air nested in its branches." {20} And again He said, "To what shall I liken the kingdom of God? {21} "It is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till it was all leavened." {22} And He went through the cities and villages, teaching, and journeying toward Jerusalem. {23} Then one said to Him, "Lord, are there few who are saved?" And He said to them, {24} "Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able. {25} "When once the Master of the house has risen up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock at the door, saying, 'Lord, Lord, open for us,' and He will answer and say to you, 'I do not know you, where you are from,' {26} "then you will begin to say, 'We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets.' {27} "But He will say, 'I tell you I do not know you, where you are from. Depart from Me, all you workers of iniquity.' {28} "There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and yourselves thrust out. {29} "They will come from the east and the west, from the north and the south, and sit down in the kingdom of God. {30} "And indeed there are last who will be first, and there are first who will be last." Amen.

    Third Lesson: AC 2851:2-3

    [2] As regards the meaning of 'a gate', there are in general two gates with each individual person. One gate is exposed towards hell and is open to evils and falsities from there. In that gate genii and spirits from hell are present. The other gate is exposed towards heaven and is open to goods and truths from there. In that gate angels are present. Thus there is a gate leading to hell and a gate leading to heaven. The gate to hell is open to those who are immersed in evil and falsity, and only through chinks round about overhead does any light at all from heaven penetrate, which enables them to think and to reason. But the gate to heaven is open to those who are immersed in good and truth from there.

    [3] For there are two paths which lead into a person's rational mind, a higher or internal path along which good and truth from the Lord enter in, and a lower or external path along which evil and falsity enter in surreptitiously from hell. In the middle is the rational mind towards which the two paths converge. From the goods and truths present there the rational mind is compared in the Word to a city and is actually called a city. And because it is compared to and actually called a city it is depicted as having gates, and is described in various places as having enemies, that is, evil genii and spirits, besieging it and assaulting it, while angels from the Lord are defending it, that is, the Lord Himself is doing so. The genii and spirits from hell, with their evils and falsities, can go no further than towards the lower or outer gate, and cannot pass at all into the city. If they were able to pass into the city, which is the rational mind, man would be completely done for. But when they reach the point, as it seems to them, that they have taken the city by storm, it is then closed, so that good and truth no longer flow into it from heaven, apart, as has been stated, from that small amount which comes in through chinks round about. As a consequence such persons no longer possess any charity at all or any faith at all, but make good consist in evil, and truth in falsity. They also as a consequence cease to be truly rational, though they seem to themselves to be so, 1914, 1944, and are called 'dead men', though they themselves believe they are more alive than any others, 81, 290 (end). These things are so because the gate to heaven is closed to them. The fact that it is closed to them is quite apparent and is discerned in the next life, and so conversely that the gate to heaven is open to those in whom good and truth are present. Amen.

    Here end the lessons. Blessed are they who hear the Word of God and keep it. Amen.