WARS >> Spiritual Wars >> Temptations

wr836_400_509 That the wars here mentioned signify nothing else, in the internal sense, than spiritual wars, or temptations, was said above, at the beginning of this chapter. By the wars  mentioned in the Word, especially in the Prophets, nothing else is signified. The wars of men can have no place in the internals of the Word; for such things are not spiritual and celestial, such as alone belong to the Word. That combats with the devil, or what is the same, with hell, are signified by the wars mentioned in the Word, may be seen from the passages that now follow, besides many others. In John:

They are spirits of demons, doing signs, to go forth to the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them together unto the war of that great day of God Almighty (Rev. 16:14);

where everyone can see that no other war is signified, on the "great day of God Almighty."

[2] Again:

The beast that cometh up out of the abyss shall make war (Rev. 11:7);

where "the abyss" is hell. Again:

The dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, who keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ (Rev. 12:17).


It was given unto him to make war with the saints (Rev. 13:7).

All of these "wars" are combats such as are those of temptations. The wars of the kings of the south and of the north, and the other wars mentioned in Daniel (chapters 10 and 11), also the things said of Michael (Dan. 10:13, 21; 12:1; Rev. 12:7), mean the same.

[3] That "wars" signify nothing else is evident also from the other Prophets. As in Ezekiel:

Ye have not gone up into the breaches, neither have ye built up the fence for the house of Israel, to stand in the war in the day of Jehovah (Ezek. 13:5);

where this is said concerning the Prophets. In Isaiah:

They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more (Isa. 2:4);
where it is plain that no other wars are meant; and consequently that by the weapons of war, as by swords, spears, shields, and others, nothing else is meant in the Word than the things that pertain to such wars.

[4] Again in Isaiah:

Bring ye water to him that is thirsty; ye inhabitants of the land of Tema, meet with his bread him that is wandering; for they shall wander before the swords, before the drawn sword, and before the bent bow, and before the grievousness of war (Isa. 21:14-15).

In Jeremiah:

Shepherds and their flocks shall come unto the daughter of Zion; they shall pitch their tents against her round about; they shall feed down everyone his space; sanctify a war against her; arise, and let us go up at noon (Jer. 6:3-5);

where no other war is meant, for it is against the daughter of Zion, that is, the church.

[5] Again:

How is the city of praise not forsaken, the city of my joy; therefore her young men shall fall in her streets, and all the men of war shall be cut off in that day (Jer. 49:25-26);
"the city of praise and of joy" denotes the things which are of the church; "the men of war," those who combat.

[6] In Hosea:

In that day will I make a covenant for them with the wild beast of the field, and with the fowl of the heavens, and with the creeping thing of the ground; and I will break the bow, and the sword, and war out of the land, and will make them to lie down in confidence (Hos. 2:18);

where in like manner "war" denotes combats, and the various arms of war those things which pertain to spiritual combat; these are "broken" when, yearnings and falsities ceasing, the man comes into the tranquillity of peace.

[7] In David:

Behold the works of Jehovah, who hath made solitudes in the earth, making wars to cease unto the end of the earth; He breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; He burneth the chariots in the fire (Ps. 46:8-9);

where the meaning is similar. Again:

In Salem is the habitation of God, and his dwelling place in Zion. There He brake the fiery shafts of the bow, the shield, and the sword, and the war (Ps. 76:2-3).
As the priests represented the Lord, who alone combats for man, their service is called "warfare" (Num. 4:23, 35, 39, 43, 47).

[8] That Jehovah alone, that is, the Lord, combats and overcomes the devil that is with man when he is in the combats of temptations, although it does not so appear to the man, is a constant truth; for not even the smallest thing can be brought upon a man by evil spirits that is not by permission; and nothing, however small, can be averted by angels, except from the Lord; so that it is the Lord alone who sustains all the combat, and who overcomes; which also is everywhere represented by the wars waged by the sons of Israel against the nations. That it is the Lord alone, is also declared in Moses:

Jehovah your God who walketh before you, He shall fight for you (Deut. 1:30).


Jehovah your God is He that walketh with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you (Deut. 20:4; so too in Joshua, as chapter 23:3, 5).

[9] For the wars there that were carried on against the idolatrous inhabitants of the land of Canaan, all represented the Lord's combats with hell; and consequently those of His church, and those of the men of His church. This also accords with the following words in Isaiah:

As the lion roareth, and the young lion, over his prey, when a multitude of shepherds come running against him, he will not be dismayed at their voice, nor afflicted by their tumult; so Jehovah Zebaoth shall come down to fight upon Mount Zion, and upon the hill thereof (Isa. 31:1).

[10] For this reason, also, Jehovah or the Lord is also called a "Man of War." As in Moses:

Jehovah is a Man of War, Jehovah is His name (Exod. 15:9). And in Isaiah:

Jehovah shall go forth as a Hero, He shall stir up zeal like a Man of wars; He shall cry, yea, He shall shout aloud, He shall prevail against His enemies (Isa. 42:13).

This also is why many things that pertain to war are attributed to the Lord; as here to "cry" and "shout aloud."

[11] Spirits and angels also appear as men of war when a representation is made. As in Joshua:

Joshua lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold there stood a man over against him, and his sword drawn in his hand. And he said unto Joshua, I am the prince of Jehovah's army. And Joshua fell on his face to the earth (Josh. 5:13-14).

These things were so seen because they were representative; and for the same reason the posterity of Jacob called their wars the Wars of Jehovah.
[12] The same also was the case in the Ancient Churches; and among them were books which also were called The Wars of Jehovah; as is evident in Moses:
It is said in the Book of the Wars of Jehovah (Num. 21:14-15).
This was written in a manner not unlike that in which wars are treated of in this chapter; but the wars of the church were signified. Such a mode of writing was familiar in those times; for then there were interior men, and they thought of exalted things. [AC1664]

Author: EMANUEL. SWEDENBORG (1688-1772)

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