The First Commandment
For I, Jehovah, thy God am a zealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the sons, on the thirds and on the fourths of those who hate Me, and doing mercy to thousands of those who love Me and keep My commandments.
AC 8874. For I Jehovah thy God. This means the Divine from the Lord in each and all things...
AC 8875. Am a zealous God. ...In the genuine sense “a zealous God” denotes the Divine truth of the Divine good, for “God” is said of truth... and “zealous” of good... But... they who are in the opposite perceive Divine truth as falsity, and Divine good as evil, because everyone sees these things from his own quality. Hence it is that the zeal of the Lord, which in itself is love and compassion, appears to them as anger. For when the Lord from love and mercy protects His own in heaven, they who are in evil are indignant and angry against the good, and rush into the sphere where the Divine truth and Divine good are, with the effort to destroy those who are there; and then the Divine truth of the Divine good works in them and makes them feel torments such as are in hell. Hence it is that they attribute wrath and anger to the Divine, and also all evil, when yet in the Divine there is absolutely nothing of anger, and absolutely nothing of evil, but pure clemency and mercy.
AC 8876. Visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the sons... In the sense nearest the letter, by “visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the sons” is not meant that the sons suffer the penalty of the iniquity of their fathers, for this is contrary to the Divine (Deut. 24:16). But it means that evil increases with the fathers, and thus by heredity is carried over into the children, and that there is a consequent successive accumulation of evil.... But in the spiritual sense by “fathers” are not meant fathers, but evils; nor are sons meant by “sons,” but falsities. Therefore by the above words is meant the continual proliferation of falsity derived from evil.
AC 8877. On the thirds and on the fourths. That this means [falsities] in a long series and the conjunction of them, is evident from the meaning of “three,” as being what is full from beginning to end... thus what is in a long series, and therefore “the third sons” denote falsities in a long series... and from the meaning of “four,” as being conjunction, just like “two” ....
AC 8878. Of them who hate Me. This signifies [those] who absolutely reject the Divine of the Lord... So far as they are in evil and thence in falsity, so far they not only reject it, but also hold the Lord’s Divine in hatred.... From their sensual, bodily light they cannot possibly see the Human of the Lord otherwise than as [merely] human, for they cannot perceive what the Divine Human is, because they have an idea about the Divine that is utterly empty and worthless. If they are told that the Divine Itself is Divine love, that the Divine love is the being of all life, and that from conception the Lord was this love, which was thus the inmost being of His life, thus was Jehovah, and that He glorified His Human to the likeness of this, that is, made it Divine... still they do not believe it. For when they descend from intellectual light... into their own natural and sensuous light, they fall into mere thick darkness in respect to this truth, and from this into denial.
AC 8879. And doing mercy to thousands. This signifies good and truth to them forever... for the Lord in mercy bestows such things as belong to eternal life and happiness....
AC 8880. Of them who love Me... Those love [Him] who desist from evil, because evil stands in the way and rejects the influx of good from the Lord. Therefore when evil has been removed, good [love] is received, which is continually present from the Lord and trying to enter.
AC 8881. And keep My commandments. This signifies [those] who receive the truths of faith.... When truths of faith are brought forth from the memory, and through... the thought they are slipped into the affection, and from there into act, they then become living, and are truths of faith. This is accomplished by the Lord when the man desists from evils....
Questions and Thoughts for Reflection
- How can we distinguish good zeal from bad anger in ourselves? CL 365 says that zeal: 1) only defends itself rather than attacks; 2) immediately dies down when the attacker desists; 3) is tempered by a love for the other person inside. The more we can be zealous rather than angry, the more we will understand who the Lord is.
- Is it unavoidable that there will be an accumulation of hereditary tendencies to evil in later generations? Can we instead cooperate with the Lord, to let Him ease the burden of hereditary weaknesses?
- Have you seen or read of people who openly hate (the idea of) the Divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ, or the idea of a Divinely Human God? Have you had issues with the Lord? Does it help to remember that the Lord is essentially Divine Love, and that this love is what makes Him Divinely Human?
- AC 8880 & 8881 bring us back to the truth that the most important way we can love the Lord, or receive true love from Him, is by keeping His commandments, especially by ceasing to do evil. Then the clouds are parted and the warmth and light of His spiritual sun shine in upon us. We can search out one evil that we can desist from better, to let the Lord’s love shine in.