the Rev. David Sonmor
March 17, 1991
These are the names of the men which Moses sent to spy out the land. And Moses called Oshea the son of Nun Joshua. And Moses sent them to spy out the land of Canaan, and said unto them, Get you up this way southward, and go up into the mountain: And see the land, what it is; and the people that dwelleth therein, whether they be strong or weak, few or many; And what the land is that they dwell in, whether it be good or bad; and what cities there be that they dwell in, whether in tents, or in strong holds; And what the land is, whether it be fat or lean, whether there be wood therein, or not. And be ye of good courage, and bring of the fruit of the land. Now the time was the time of the first ripe grapes. So they went up, and searched the land from the wilderness of Zin unto Rehob, as men come to Hamath. And they ascended by the south, and came unto Hebron; where Ahiman, Sheshai, and Talmai, the children of Anak, were. (Now Hebron was built seven years before Zoan in Egypt.) And they came unto the brook of Eshcol, and cut down from thence a branch with one cluster of grapes, and they bare it between two upon a staff; and they brought of the pomegranates, and of the figs. The place was called the brook Eshcol, because of the cluster of grapes, which the children of Israel cut down from thence. And they returned from searching of the land after forty days. And they went and came to Moses, and to Aaron, and to all the congregation of the children of Israel, unto the wilderness of Paran, to Kadesh; and brought back word unto them, and unto all the congregation, and shewed them the fruit of the land. And they told him, and said, We came unto the land whither thou sentest us, and surely it floweth with milk and honey; and this is the fruit of it. Nevertheless the people be strong that dwell in the land, and the cities are walled, and very great: and moreover we saw the children of Anak there. The Amalekites dwell in the land of the south: and the Hittites, and the Jebusites, and the Amorites, dwell in the mountains: and the Canaanites dwell by the sea, and by the coast of Jordan. And Caleb stilled the people before Moses, and said, Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it. But the men that went up with him said, We be not able to go up against the people; for they are stronger than we. And they brought up an evil report of the land which they had searched unto the children of Israel, saying, The land, through which we have gone to search it, is a land that eateth up the inhabitants thereof; and all the people that we saw in it are men of a great stature. And there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, which come of the giants: and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight.
At that time Jesus answered and said, "I praise Thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that Thou didst hide these things from the wise and intelligent and didst reveal them to babes. Yes, Father, for thus it was well pleasing in Thy sight. All things have been handed over to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son, except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father, except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him. Come to Me all who are heavy- laden and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you shall find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My load is light."
In the book Heaven and Hell Swedenborg wrote:
Leading a Heaven-bound life is not as hard as people believe it is. Some people believe that it is hard to lead a heaven-bound life (which is called a spiritual life), because they have heard that a person needs to renounce the world, and give up the appetites that are associated with the body and the flesh, and live like spiritual beings. The only way they can take this is that it means rejecting what is worldly - especially wealth and prestige - walking around in constant devout meditation on God, salvation, and eternal life, passing their lives in prayer and in reading the Word and devotional literature. They think that this is renouncing the world and living by the spirit instead of by the flesh.
An abundance of experience and discussion with angels has enabled me to know that the situation is completely different from this. In fact, people who renounce the world and live by the spirit in this fashion build up a mournful life for themselves, and one that is not receptive of heavenly joy; for everyone's life continues the same after death. On the contrary, if a person is to accept heaven's life, he must at all costs live in the world, involved in its functions and dealings. Then through a moral and civil life he receives a spiritual life. This is the only way a spiritual life can be formed in a person, or his spirit can be prepared for heaven.
For living an inward life and not an outward life at the same time, is like living in a house with no foundation, which gradually either settles or develops cracks and gaps, or trembles until it collapses.
If we look at a person's life with rational acuity, we discover that it is threefold: there is a spiritual life, a moral life, and a civic life: and we find these three distinct from each other. For there are people who live a civic life but not a moral or a spiritual one, and people who live a moral life and still not a spiritual one, and there are those who live a civic life and a moral life and a spiritual life at the same time. These last are those who are living the life that leads to heaven, others are leading the worlds life separated from the life of heaven.
(Heaven and Hell #528 &529)
The Israelites who were seeking the heavenly life of their "promised land" stood poised at the edge of their destination, ready to make that one final great step into Canaan. They paused; What lay ahead of them? What dangers might there be? They reasoned, 'Perhaps we had better send out some scouts to determine ahead of time what we might expect to encounter. Better play it safe. And all this in spite of God's assurances that they would be permitted to enter and inhabit the land. So men were sent out and scouted the land for forty days, and brought back samples of the fruits that grew there. They reported on the land and the people who inhabited it. Much of the report was very promising.- "It does flow with milk and honey! and here is its fruit". This is good, this is what we expect to find there as promised by God. "But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large ... All the people we saw there are of a great size. We saw the Nephilim (giants) there. We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them."
What stands in the way of entering the heavenly life? From their description it would appear to be man made constructs and the fruits of the human imagination. Blocks that we build up in our minds-eye. We look like grasshoppers in size compared to those who inhabit that land now! The Nephilim are giants. They are first mentioned in the book of Genesis (Ch.6, verse 4). In the Arcana Coelestia Swedenborg states that they signify those who through a persuasion of their own loftiness and pre-eminence make light of all things holy and true. In other words those who think that their own strength and their own intelligence and the things which they produce are of the greatest importance, and even beyond the understanding of most other people, and even above the things of religion given to mankind by God. They make giants of themselves and the power of their intellect and laugh at the truths of religion saying it is just superstition and fancy.
We may reach such a point in our own lives. We think that we have all the answers from within our own intellect, we can figure things out for ourselves, and do not have to rely on outside sources, especially sources like religion, to give us guidance. Or looking at it from a different viewpoint; if we exclude God, revelation, and the church from our life and thence from our mind we grow mighty big in our own intellectual conceit. We develop a giant ego or concept of self.
The life that leads to heaven is said to be easy because there is an orderliness to the way we are formed. It was said earlier that we have a civil or civic life, a moral life and a spiritual life. These aspects of human life are distinct from one another and yet they are connected. It is easy to live a civic and moral life because we are all born into one kind of society or another and we very quickly learn what the norms and behaviors are in that society and as long as we stay within the accepted norms we will survive well and live harmoniously with others in the community. Even if we disagree with some of the rules of that society we can still obey them or appear to be obeying them. The spiritual life is a bit different. It is a life that includes a belief in the Divine or in God. One acts rightly or honestly as a spiritual person because one believes that it is in accordance with the will of God, not just because it makes life easier or more pleasant or rewarding. The three different forms of human life each have their own set of laws that is civic, moral and spiritual. These laws are all found in the ten commandments. The first three (To have no other gods before Him, To not take His name in vain, and to keep the Sabbath holy) are spiritual laws; the next four (To honor parents, to not kill, to not commit adultery, and to not steal) are civil laws, and the last three (to not bear false witness, to not covet your neighbors house, and to not covet your neighbors wife and belongings) are moral laws.
It is easy to live according to the spiritual laws as they are set out in the first three commandments and when one adheres to those laws then the moral and civic life takes on a spiritual significance which provides the motivation for obeying them because they are based on the Divine will as they are derived from Divine law. Thus leading the heaven-bound life is not nearly so complicated as we like to make it out to be.
Jesus said "My yoke is easy and My burden is light." (Matt.10:30) He is there to help us once we make the decision or the effort to acknowledge that God does exist, even if we do not fully understand what or who God really is. Once the genuine acknowledgement of God is made by a person then the Lord quickens all that is good in them and helps us to see all the wrong things in life that would tend to lead us into evil and falsity. There is a story in Heaven and Hell that describes the way that leads to heaven and the way that leads to hell. It says, briefly, that there was this large wide road going to the north on which there were a lot of people walking together. They all seemed to be quite similar and compatible with one another. At a point along this road there was a very large rock that divided it in two. One small road turned off to the left taking it to the west and then south and the other one was a larger branch that turned to the right and went downward. When the group of people reached the rocks those who had a belief in God turned to the left and walked along the straight and narrow way. The others did not see the rocks and fell into them and were hurt. They got up and ran down the wider way to the right which went towards hell. The stone at the corner represented Divine truth, which is rejected by those who look towards hell; and in the highest sense this stone represents the Lord's Divine Human. But those who acknowledged the Divine truth and also the Divine of the Lord went by the way that led to heaven. This story also shows that outwardly the evil appear to lead the same kind of life as the good, or to go in the same way. Yet those who from the heart acknowledge the Divine, especially those within the church who acknowledge the Divine of the Lord, are led to heaven. The thoughts that proceed from our intention or our will are often represented in the other life by 'ways' or roads and so we can be known by the path we walk or the direction we are heading along. For this reason the character of spirits and their thoughts can be known from their "ways". This is what is meant in the words of the Lord in Matthew: "Enter ye in through the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and many be they that enter thereby; for strait is the way and narrow the gate that leadeth to life, and few be they who find it."
The stone seen at the corner where the two ways divide is what is illustrated by the words of the Lord in Luke: Have ye not read what is written? The stone which the builders rejected was made the head of the corner. Whosoever shall fall upon that stone shall be broken. "Stone" signifies Divine truth, and "the stone of Israel" the Lord in respect to His Divine Human; the "builders" mean those who are of the church; "the head of the corner" is where the two ways are; to "fall" and "to be broken" is to deny and perish.
What giant reasons or mental blocks have you constructed that take away the simple means of getting involved in the life that leads to heaven? Does your ego not permit you to acknowledge that there is a higher power than your own will and intellect. When you come to the stone in the path will you fall on it or will you recognize it as the truth that the Lord God lives and that He is indeed "The way the truth and the light." Amen
© 1999 Bruce DeBoer
David and Goliath Graphic
Courtesy of Broderbund Christian ClickArt Collection