Louis Synnestvedt, Pastor | September 4, 2022
Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 18:10).
And all the publicans and sinners were near to Him to hear Him. And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This Man accepts sinners, and eats with them.
And He said to them this parable, saying, What man of you, having a hundred sheep and having lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost until he find it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders rejoicing. And when he comes home he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost.
I say to you that likewise there shall be joy in heaven over one sinner who repents, more than over ninety-nine just who have no need of repentance.
Or what woman, having ten drachmas, if she lose one drachma, does not kindle a lamp, and sweep the house, and seek with care until she find it? And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, Rejoice with me, for I have found the drachma which I had lost.
So I say to you, There is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.
Arcana Coelestia 5854
The Lord provides that spirits should flow into a person’s thoughts and desires, but that angels should flow into the ends he has in view and so through those ends into whatever ensues from them. The angels also flow by means of good spirits into the various good deeds he does in life and the truths he believes, and they use these to lead him away as far as possible from evils and falsities. This inflowing takes place silently, without the person knowing it; but even though it is hidden it works effectively. Above all the angels turn aside ends that are evil and introduce ones that are good. If this is not possible they withdraw; and the less possible it is, the further they withdraw and the more remote the position is from which they inflow, with the result that the evil spirits draw closer. For the angels cannot be present within evil ends, that is, within self-love and love of the world; even so, they remain present, but remotely so.
Heaven and Hell 391
In general, angels from each society are sent to people to watch over them and to lead them away from evil affections and consequent thoughts, and to inspire them with good affections so far as they will receive them in freedom; and by means of these they also control the deeds or works by removing as far as possible evil intentions.
For He [the Lord] will command His angels concerning you to keep you in all your ways. (Psalm 91:11).
There are two worlds; yet there is one creation. There are two worlds, the natural world and the spiritual. The first is the means. The second is the end. Here we are together in this natural world. Yet at the same time there is another world, for the most part hidden, where we dwell in the spirit. We see the effects of this other world in the drama of human emotion and in the creative spark of a mind reaching out to imagine, to build, to manifest.
We are together here in this wonderful stream of Providence living day by day, destined, each in our own time, to pass from this world to a conscious and vibrant living in the next.
There is one creation and yet there are two realms of existence. This is taught in the opening verse of our Bibles, in the book of creation more commonly known at Genesis:
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1).
Each of us enters this world with a heavenly potential. Yet at the beginning we are as it were clay in the hands of our maker. Isaiah wrote:
But now, O Lord, You are our Father; we are the clay, and You are the potter; we are all the work of Your hand (64:8).
The creation story speaks of our state at the beginning, ready to be molded into something wonderful:
And the earth was a void and emptiness, and darkness was on the faces of the abyss. And the spirit of God brooded upon the faces of the waters (Genesis 1:2).
The Lord with His angels do indeed brood over the faces of our deep to move us, to stir us, to guide our steps in the ways of peace.
The Lord in His omnipotence might do all this immediately from Himself; yet, in His grand design, He made the two worlds to act together. He gives charge to the angels that they might guide and keep us in all our ways.
The Psalms explain:
The angel of the LORD encamps round about them that fear him, and delivers them (34:7).
And, as written in the Book of Hebrews:
Are not the angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation? (1:14).
These ministering angels are, for the most part, completely invisible to us just as they were to the servant of Elisha the prophet. Even at the moment of the greatest danger confronting them by a great enemy, Elisha assured the man:
Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.
So Elisha prays:
O Lord, please open his eyes that he may see.
And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw that the hills were full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha (2 Kings 6:16-17).
What a dramatic sight it would be if we could see the powerful and positive forces the Lord assembles on our behalf in our moments of trial, of sadness, despair and temptation, as the Lord’s people in need of repentance!
Here we are, children of our Creator, living in these two worlds at the same time!
Speaking of the heavenly host that accompanies us along our journey of life, the Psalmist relates:
Bless the Lord, all His angels mighty in strength who carry out His word, who hearken to the voice of His command (103:20).
In the New Testament the Lord tells a series of three parables about rescuing that which was lost. The first of the stories was about a lost sheep, the second, a lost coin, and the third, a man who was lost to sin and grief. In the first case, when the sheep was found, the owner of the sheep rejoiced. The same was the case when the woman found her lost coin. And in the case of the man who was lost, we observe the father who embraces his repentant son and proceeds to have a feast for all to celebrate his return.
In each case we see an earthly blessing and joy it brings. But there is, of course another message. The rejoicing extends to those in heaven who were the guides and hidden keepers of their brothers and sisters in this world. Jesus included these words in the parables:
Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost! I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance (Luke 15:6-7).
And when she has found it, she calls her friends and neighbors together, saying, Rejoice with me, for I have found the drachma which I lost! Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents (Ibid. 9-10).
We find specific outlines of how this relationship between heaven and earth works for the benefit and salvation of mankind. The Writings teach:
In general, angels from each society are sent to men to watch over them and to lead them away from evil affections and consequent thoughts, and to inspire them with good affections so far as they will receive them in freedom; and by means of these they also control the deeds or works of men by removing as far as possible evil intentions. When angels are with men they dwell, as it were, in their affections; and they are near to man just in the degree in which he is in good from truths, and are distant from him just in the degree in which his life is distant from good.
Here is a description of one of the chief occupation of the angels. They work in the spirit-world of our inner selves, where our thoughts and intentions dwell. They draw closer as we allow and cooperate with their hidden hand. Yet, in honoring our freedom, they step back to the extent we resist their kind leading and instead clutch onto our false wishes and wrong desires.
We will attempt an analogy to describe the hidden operation of these angels.
Picture walking along a path leading gradually to the top of a hill where you anticipate being able to enjoy a lovely vista of the surrounding environment.
Step by step you go. Without giving it a thought, you manage, from long experience, to maintain your upright position and your forward movement. Almost as though by a hidden hand you have the capacity to keep your balance and ongoing progress in the direction you seek. Your body is a living organism in the image of God, corresponding to the organization of the heaven of angels. Without needing to know anything about the operation of your muscles, the flow of blood, the fibers that communicate pressures and unconscious sensations, or any of the thousands of hidden activities of your organs and viscera, you manage to climb that hill as you will.
Remember how the Lord said that he feeds the birds of the air and clothes the lilies of the field. Does He not also provide for the development and use of your body in its many activities and uses? Why would He not do the same for your soul?
He gives his angels charge over the things within you. The Lord’s end in view is that you might become an angel of heaven, to live with others in useful service. Even now there are angels engaged in the sacred duty of preserving your soul. You need not be conscious of them to keep to the path. They are there inspiring, leading, cautioning and teaching.
When you were a small child you had people around you to guide you in taking your first steps. As an adult, you have others to help you in your spiritual walk. We call those others the Lord’s church. At some point each of us comes to see that it is the Lord Himself who is our Teacher and Guide. The path we walk is to be discovered in His Word. Our forward direction comes from keeping the Lord Himself in the forefront of our thoughts and intentions. The Lord then sends His angels to help with all the hidden movements of mind and heart so we might move forward with perfect speed and balance .
We are blessed to have Moses and the prophets as a guide for our eternal happiness. We also have the benefit of the New Church which fulfills the “many things” Christ promised to reveal upon His return (see John 16:12).
The work, Heaven and Hell, sets forth the purpose of these Writings in its opening passage:
The arcana now revealed in the following pages treat of heaven and hell, and at the same time of man’s life after death. The man of the Church at this day knows scarcely anything about heaven and hell or about his life after death, although they are all set forth and described in the Word. Indeed, many people born within the Church even deny them, saying in their hearts, “Who has come from that world and told us?” Lest, therefore, such a negative attitude, which prevails especially with those who have much worldly wisdom, should also infect and corrupt the simple in heart and the simple in faith, it has been granted to me to associate with angels and to talk with them as man with man, also to see the things in the heavens as well as in the hells, and this for thirteen years. Now, therefore, from what I have seen and heard I am permitted to describe these things, in the hope that thus, ignorance may be enlightened and unbelief dispelled. Such immediate revelation is now made because that is what is meant by the Coming of the Lord.
These few sentences offer a rather humble view of the Lord’s Second Coming. He is coming again in His own Word to the needy and thoughtful heart. The Bible opens like window into the heavens.
Like His humble birth in a common stable, we have here a picture of Jesus coming again in the stable of our common thoughts and affections which we have fashioned from the many stories of His Word. We have a chance to look more deeply into the Scriptures to see the hidden wonders of creation and the heavenly host of angels who surround us.
Jesus said, “Behold I am making all things new!” (Revelation 21:5).
These are ideas we invite everyone to consider. If they are to be valued, they will be known by their fruits. As Philip said, wanting his friend Nathaniel to meet the Lord:
Come and See! (John 1:46).
So I say to you, There is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents (Luke 15:10).
For He [the Lord] will command His angels concerning you to keep you in all your ways.