Heavenly Rewards

Return to the Lord, your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and relents from punishing.Joel 2:13

Dear members and friends of the Swedenborgian Church,

One expression I’ve heard very often from watching English-based movies is “God damn it!” It expresses a somewhat commonly accepted belief that when things go sideways or when bad things happen to you, it is because God is against you. And, the general interpretation of God being against you means that God condemns you. However, if you check out the Hebrew word for condemnation, rasha, it actually means “to be wicked” or “to be guilty.” Even when rasha is used to mean “to condemn,” its actual meaning is “to condemn as guilty.” In other words, when you read in the Old Testament that one is condemned by God, what it actually means is that the consequences of one’s own guilt has come upon him. Misfortune and suffering is never the intention of God toward humans.

In John we read, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life (3:17)”. In this teaching from Jesus, we can learn two important truths: 1. God loves the world (not just humans); 2. Humans are capable of having eternal life. Emanuel Swedenborg also emphasizes the truth, “God is love in itself.” To Swedenborg, the whole divine operation, which he names Divine Providence, has one ultimate goal: heaven made from humans. In his book Divine Providence, Swedenborg emphasizes, “The very core of divine providence is its focus on what is infinite and eternal in the forming of the angelic heaven (#64).”

Blessigns, Rev. Junchol Lee