The 4th Day”

A Sermon by the Rev. James P. Cooper

Toronto - February 23, 2014

AC (Elliott) n. 30 Verses 14-17 And God said, Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens, to make a distinction between the day and the night; and they will be for signs, and for set times, and for days and years. And they will be for lights in the expanse of the heavens, to give light upon the earth; and it was so. And God made the two great lights, the greater light to have dominion over the day, and the lesser light to have dominion over the night; and the stars. And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.

  1. As has been pointed out before in this series, the story of Creation as told in the book of Genesis is not intended to be a scientific explanation of how the universe came into existence.

    1. That’s something that the Lord left to us to discover for ourselves.

    2. The Word, while based in stories about people and events in the world, is really about our spiritual lives. The 7 days are 7 states of creation of the human mind - or they could also be seen as 7 states of the recreation or regeneration of the human mind.

    3. Actually, this should be pretty obvious, even to the casual reader of Scripture, with or without the Writings to help.

      1. For example, there’s not one story of creation, but two. The 7 days that we’re studying now, and the story of the garden of Eden that follows immediately after it. So if there are two completely different versions of creation, one following the other, they are probably not meant to be taken literally.

      2. Then there’s the problem presented by the events of the 4th day. If you’ll recall, light was created on the first day, but the sun moon and stars are not created until the 4th day.

    4. So then, what do the sun, moon, and stars mean in the context of our spiritual life and our preparation for the life of heaven?

  2. Arcana Coelestia 30 says, “No one can have an adequate understanding of what ‘the great lights’ are unless he knows what the underlying essence of faith is and how it develops in people who are being created anew. The very essence and life of faith is the Lord alone. In fact it is impossible for anyone who does not believe in the Lord to have life, as He Himself has said in John, He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not believe in the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God will rest upon him. John 3:36.”

    1. We can’t understand the meaning of the “great lights” unless we first understand the underlying essence of faith and how it develops in people who are being regenerated, or being created anew.

    2. So, what we’re really talking about here is our own mental and spiritual states as they develop and change during the course of our lives in the world.

    3. And it’s important that we see and understand the fundamental truth that faith is not something that arises within us, that has its origin with us. Faith is a gift from the Lord, and we need to recognize that in order to have true faith there first needs to be a recognition that there is a power outside of us that gives us life, and that creative power is the Lord.

      1. We can’t have a true, living faith in ourselves, so it has to be in someone or something outside of ourselves, and that someone is the Lord. As we read in AC 30, “The very essence and life of faith is the Lord alone.”

    4. AC (Elliott) n. 31 That ‘the great lights’ mean love and faith, and are also mentioned as the sun, the moon, and the stars, is clear....

    5. An interesting thing about the New Church is that although we have a huge amount of doctrine to draw on, sometimes so much that people think that’s all we have, most of that doctrine actually talks about the love that underlies it all.

    6. The 4th day is a case in point.

      1. It’s all about the creation of objects that are related to light - which is most cases in the Word corresponds to some form of truth.

      2. However, in this case, we find that the “great light”, or the sun, actually corresponds to love because of its warmth and inherent life-giving characteristics.

      3. It’s also interesting to think about from the point of view of natural science. The sun, representing love, is a source of both heat and light. The moon, representing faith, does not produce any light of it’s own. When the moon is full, we are seeing the light of the sun reflected from it’s surface. When the moon is new and we can see it’s shape only faintly, what we are seeing is light from the sun reflecting off the earth, hitting the moon, and reflecting back to us.

      4. The sun is the active, living force, while the moon is only passive, reflecting back what comes from another.

    7. So we see that although the two great lights are so closely related that they are given a singular noun in scripture to show that they are as one, still they are distinctly different.

      1. So with love and faith. Love is living and warm. Our faith is then a reflection of our love.

      2. However, this is not something that happens right away, it comes on the 4th day, that is, the 4 step of our progress through the states of regeneration.

    8. As we read in the lessons in AC 6 - 10

      1. The first state is called a void or emptiness because it represents that time in our lives from infancy until such time as we begin making rational choices and taking control of our spiritual lives.

      2. The second state is when, for the first time, a person begins to run into issues, temptations, sorrows, and misfortunes.

        1. This is the time of life that we sometimes call the “Ishmael rational.” There’s a lot of truth, but not much wisdom, so there are conflicts with other people, poor decisions and their consequences, and a great deal of important lessons being learned.

        2. At this point, since there is not yet any real wisdom to draw on, the Lord provides “remnants” or affections based on happy experiences in childhood to provide guidance and support.

      3. In the third state, the turmoil and conflict of the second state comes to an end when the person begins to acquire internal truths and to live from their internal man. Because the person begin to think and act from wisdom, and seeks to do things that are genuinely useful, the deeds are called in the Word the tender plant, the seed bearing plant, and finally a fruit tree.

        1. But even though these deeds are genuinely good deeds, the person in the third state hasn’t yet come to see that the Lord is the source of all love and faith, and while the person thinks that these good deeds originate in themselves, that they are the cause of them, they remain “inanimate” rather than truly living. But the person is heading in the right direction.

      4. There’s been light since the first day. Every person, from childhood through early adulthood, is gifted with the knowledge of the difference between right and wrong, and with feelings of contentment and happiness when they do the right thing. They come without effort, and are part of the package, so to speak. But as we navigate the shoals of adult life we are faced with temptations and challenges. If, during the course of these, we turn to the Lord through prayer and study of the Word, all the while trying to do the right thing, the fourth state will come. The light will dawn. We’ll have that “aha” moment when it starts to come together for us. We’ll feel that love from the Lord in ourselves, and we’ll see situations anew, from the light in our internal mind that comes from heaven.

        1. It doesn’t come without work, but it is the goal that the Lord has been leading us to all along.

        2. And with it comes the promise of even greater enlightenment and even greater usefulness in the states to follow. Amen.

First Lesson: Matthew 17:1-13

Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, led them up on a high mountain by themselves; and He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him. Then Peter answered and said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, let us make here three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!” And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their faces and were greatly afraid. But Jesus came and touched them and said, “Arise, and do not be afraid.” When they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only. Now as they came down from the mountain, Jesus commanded them, saying, “Tell the vision to no one until the Son of Man is risen from the dead.” And His disciples asked Him, saying, “Why then do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?” Jesus answered and said to them, “Indeed, Elijah is coming first and will restore all things. But I say to you that Elijah has come already, and they did not know him but did to him whatever they wished. Likewise the Son of Man is also about to suffer at their hands.”
Then the disciples understood that He spoke to them of John the Baptist.

Second Lesson: AC 6 - 10

AC (Elliott) n. 6 CONTENTS

The six days or periods of time, which are so many consecutive states in man’s regeneration, are in general as follows:

AC (Elliott) n. 7 The first state is the state which precedes, both the state existing from earliest childhood onwards and that existing immediately before regeneration; and it is called a void, emptiness, and thick darkness. And the first movement, which is the Lord’s mercy, is ‘the Spirit of God hovering over the face* of the waters’.

* lit. The faces

AC (Elliott) n. 8 The second state is when a distinction is made between the things that are the Lord’s and those that are man’s own. Those which are the Lord’s are called in the Word ‘remnants’, and here they are chiefly the cognitions of faith which a person has learned since he was a small child. These are stored away and do not come out into the open until he reaches this state. Nowadays this state rarely occurs without temptation, misfortune, and sorrow, which lead to the inactivity and so to speak the death of bodily and worldly concerns - the things which are man’s own. In this way what belongs to the external man is segregated from what belongs to the internal. Within the internal are the remnants, stored away by the Lord until this time and for this purpose.

AC (Elliott) n. 9 The third state is one of repentance, a state in which he speaks piously and devoutly from the internal man and brings forth goods, like charitable acts which are nevertheless inanimate since he imagines that they originate in himself. They are called a tender plant, then a seed-bearing plant, and finally a fruit tree.

AC (Elliott) n. 10 The fourth state is when he is moved by love and enlightened by faith. Previous to this he did indeed utter pious words and bring forth good deeds, but he did so from a state of temptation and anguish, and not from faith and charity. Therefore the latter are now kindled in his internal man, and are called the two great lights.