I recently became aware of a rather unusual revelation out of Africa, and in celebration of Palm Sunday I thought I would make public what I can of this. This concerns the reality of heaven and hell, and of the Lord and His angels who are hidden among us. This can be found in scripture, often in the form of parables and symbolic correspondences, but recently they have been made more well known through dreams and visions, fulfilling the prophecy of Joel:
And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions (Joel 2:28)In the 18th century, the scientist Emanuel Swedenborg had his internal vision opened up, and in a complete waking state he was allowed to explore the spiritual realities of heaven and hell and the spiritual world in between. He was given doctrines of the New Church, which can be summed up in two simple principles: that the God of heaven and earth became incarnate in Jesus Christ, and that a spiritual life is one of following God's commandments. This revelation is unknown because it has been opposed by churches who falsely divide God into three persons, and put emphasis on salvation from belief alone.
There are very few prophecies given in the visions of Swedenborg, for it was more important that people do things out of their free will to the best of their ability. As a result of a judgment in the spiritual world men would have more spiritual freedom, which historians now call "the Enlightenment." But the angels told Swedenborg they had very little hope for the spiritual destiny of the western Christian world:
"I have had various conversations with angels concerning the state of the church hereafter, and they said that they know not things to come, because to know things to come is of the Lord alone; but they know that the slavery and captivity in which the man of the church has been hitherto, has been taken away, and that now from restored freedom he can better perceive interior truths, if he wishes to perceive them, and so can become interior, if he wishes to become so; yet they have slender hope of the men of the Christian Church, but much of a people quite remote from the Christian world, and hence removed from infesters, which is such as to be able to receive spiritual light, and to become a celestial spiritual man; and they said that at this day interior Divine truths are revealed in that people, and are also received with spiritual faith, that is, in life and heart, and that they adore the Lord." (The Final Judgment Continued, n. 74)The reason they had slender hope for those within the western Christian world, is that most call themselves that from the mouth only, that religion is just an external appearance, that they have selfish pride, love material things, and above all others from the world practice adultery. The spiritual view is not a flattering one. As a result, the new revelation will not be received by them, but given to others, just as what happened to the Jews in the day of Jesus. The question is who?
A HIDDEN REVELATION IN AFRICA
In visions it was shown to Swedenborg that those out of Africa are better prepared to receive a new revelation than those of the western world: they have the ability to receive a singular view of God as Very Man, do not separate religion from life as Protestants do, and recognize the spiritual origin of true marriage love. But Swedenborg was told something further: somewhere in Africa, people were receiving the same revelation that was given to him via angels in heavenly visions:
"The Africans being such, revelation is therefore made among them at this day, which is spreading round about from the place where it began, but has not yet reached the coasts. They despise strangers coming from Europe, who believe that man is saved by faith alone, and thus by mere thinking and speaking, and not at the same time by willing and doing; they say that there is no man with any worship who does not live according to his religion, and that if one does not, he cannot but become stupid and wicked, because he receives nothing from heaven. Ingenious wickedness they also call stupidity, because not life but death is in it. I have several times conversed with Augustine, who was bishop of Hippo in Africa in the third century. He said that he is there at the present day, and is inspiring them with the worship of the Lord, and that there is hope of the propagation of this new gospel to the surrounding regions. I have heard the angels rejoicing over that revelation, because there is opening by it to them communication with the human rational, hitherto closed up by the universal dogma that the understanding is to be under obedience to the faith of the ecclesiastics." (True Christian Religion, n. 840)It was because of this revelation that early Swedenborgians became heavily involved in the abolitionist movement against African slavery. One was Carl Bernhard Wadström (1746-1799), who became involved in the British abolitionist movement after we saw the utter brutality of the slave trade.
Carl Bernhard Wadström and the African prince Peter Panah. Wadström was an active opponent of the slave trade and redeemed Panah from a slave ship in 1789. The portrait was painted by Carl Fredrik von Breda the same year.
"Such being the nature of the Africans even in the world, therefore there is at the present day a revelation among them, which from the centre where it began is spreading around, but not as far as to the seas. They acknowledge our Lord as the God of heaven and earth, and laugh at the monks, when visited by them, and at Christians who talk of a three-fold Divinity, and of salvation by thinking only, saying that there is no man who has any worship, that does not live according to his religion; and that if he does not, he cannot but become stupid and evil, because then he does not receive anything from heaven. Ingenious wickedness they also call stupidity, because not life, but death, is in it. I heard the joy of the angels over that revelation, because by it communication is opened to them with the human rational, hitherto closed by the blindness induced by matters of faith. It was told me from heaven, that the things now published in the "Doctrine of the New Jerusalem Concerning the Lord," "Concerning the Word," and in the "Doctrine of Life for the New Jerusalem," are orally dictated to the inhabitants of that country by angelic spirits." (The Final Judgment Continued, n. 76)This is quite an amazing claim. However unlikely, I have shown earlier that some other "far out" revelations given to Swedenborg may actually be correct. If true, it shows that God again prefers to give His revelation to those who are treated in the lowest manner - just as a revelation was given through Moses in Egypt to Hebrews who were in slavery, again a revelation will be made to those in Africa who had been sold into slavery by western colonial powers. This is the way the Divine tends to operate, as revelation cannot be received by those who are in the pride of their own self intelligence, for with the pride of self intelligence comes stubbornness and the refusal to change to recognize the truth.
So there the revelation given to Swedenborg stands. The question now is, is this statement accurate? And if true, where exactly are these African peoples where this revelation was made? It has been over 200 years, where are they? It has been an unconfirmed statement that has not been verified. That is, until the year 2012.
THE TESTIMONY OF SARAH BINAYAMO BOYANGA
In the year 2012, one Sarah Binayamo Boyanga started to receive heavenly visitations from the Lord in the mornings, and she was told to write them down in detail. She would go through periods of fasting and prayer. Her testimony is interesting - just as Emanuel Swedenborg was the son of a Lutheran pastor, in a similar manner Sarah is the daughter of a Christian evangelist who comes from Africa. As of yet, I do not know which country but perhaps someone can recognize the African language her father speaks at the end of the video below. They did not ask for this, and they were told at first to keep it private, then to reveal it to their church. The pastor prayed privately and asked if it was true or not. Soon after, in one heavenly visitation Sarah was greeted in heaven by a young girl, aged about 4-5 years who gave her a hug. She thought nothing of it at first, but later she and her father realized it was elder sister who had died at the age of 4. A similar event happened to one young boy who had a Near Death Experience, who had met an elder sister of his that his mother had miscarried, of which he knew nothing.
Sarah would have these heavenly visitations in the morning - she would describe it as going out of her body while sleeping. Swedenborg had his visions while in a full waking state, but on occasion he was allowed to have this kind of visitation as well. There are two experiences he describes: visions while sleeping, and out of the body experiences (OOBE):
"There are two kinds of visions that are not of the ordinary kind, into which I have been let only that I might know their nature, and what is meant by its being said in the Word that men were withdrawn from the body, and that they were carried by the spirit into another place.This first kind of vision is the kind Sarah Binayamo Boyanga describes. Here is her full testimony, which took a bit of courage as she was once very shy and had trouble saying hi to other people, She took care to write it all down as she was commanded to do so, so often she reads from her own notes. The main message of her testimony: that heaven and hell are real.
"As regards the first, namely, being withdrawn from the body, the case is this. The man is brought into a certain state that is midway between sleep and wakefulness, and when he is in this state he cannot know but that he is wholly awake. All his senses are as fully awake as in the highest wakefulness of the body; the sight, and the hearing, and, what is wonderful, the touch, which is then more exquisite than it can ever be in the wakefulness of the body. In this state, also, spirits and angels have been seen altogether to the life, and also heard, and, what is wonderful, have been touched, and almost nothing of the body then intervened. This is the state of which it is said that they are withdrawn from the body, and that they do not know whether they are in the body or out of it I have been let into this state only three or four times, merely that I might know how it is, and that spirits and angels are in the enjoyment of every sense, and even the touch more delicate and more exquisite than the touch of the body." (Heavenly Arcana, n. 1882-1883)
So, can we independently check the testimony of Sarah Binayamo Boyanga? Indeed, there are several items in her testimony which we can compare with the testimony of Emanuel Swedenborg (for a comparison between the visions of Emanuel Swedenborg and that of a Near Death Experience of a Christian minister, see A Journey to Heaven by Richard Sigmund and Emanuel Swedenborg)
THE ARCHANGEL MICHAEL
There is one part of her testimony that caught my attention (around 59 minutes), where she meets the archangel Michael. Michael is so tall, she comes up to him and had to poke him in the leg to get his attention. Finally archangel Michael looks down at her and smiles.
She says: "You are Michael, the one whom God ordered to throw Satan out of heaven."
Michael replied, "Yes I am. I did it with the power the Lord gave me, not by my own strength."
When Michael said this, Sarah says she was shocked, as she thought it he would have said it was by his own power. She reflected on this, and as angels glorify God in heaven, so should we when we ar given the ability or freedom to do anything. This shows she has received information adapted to her understanding from an external source, for it was not according to what she expected. And it just so happens this is exactly what Swedenborg said concerning the angels he encountered, as shown from the following passages:
"...angels have not the least power of themselves — as indeed they confess — but from the Lord only, " (Heavenly Arcana, n. 300)
"That there were angels with the Lord when He fought against the hells, is evident from the Word; as also from the consideration that when He was in combats of temptations, it could not be otherwise than that angels should be present; to whom the Lord from His own power gave strength, and as it were power, to fight with Him; for all the power that the angels have is from the Lord." (Heavenly Arcana, n. 1752)
"It is to be known, however, that angels have no power at all from themselves, but that all their power is from the Lord; and that they are only so far powers as they acknowledge this. Whoever of them believes that he has power from himself, becomes instantly so weak that he cannot even resist one evil spirit; which is the cause that angels attribute nothing at all of merit to themselves, that they are averse to all praise and glory on account of anything done, and that they ascribe the praise and glory to the Lord. (Heaven and Hell, n. 230)
"God has all power, and men and angels have none at all, because God alone is life, and men and angels are only recipients of life, and life is that which acts, and the recipient of life that which is acted upon." (Apocalypse Explained, n. 1134.2)
All power, Swedenborg was shown, originates from the Divine truth which flows throughout heaven, and angels have this power inasmuch as they can receive it. One point of difference, however, is that Swedenborg was shown that the archangel Michael does not in fact refer to an individual angel, but to a society of angels that perform a certain function or role, for all names in heaven are given according to function:
"In no case does an angel in heaven have a certain name; but it is good and truth from which names are given. Michael and the other angels in the Word, are not angels with such names; but they bear these names from the office that they fill, whatever it may be." (Heavenly Arcana, n. 1752)
"In the Word also angels are mentioned by name, as Michael, Raphael, and others. They who do not know the internal sense of the Word believe that Michael or Raphael is an individual angel who is supreme among his associates; but by those names in the Word is not signified an individual angel, but the angelic function itself, thus also the Divine of the Lord as to what is of the function." (Heavenly Arcana, n. 8192.3)So although Sarah has in her mind the conception of a single individual angel who is called Michael, one point should be mentioned here: she sees the archangel Michael as a giant, standing in front of a whole army of angels. She may in essence have seen the society of angels of Michael, represented as one giant angel, as Swedenborg himself saw:
"...the Lord leads all who are in the whole heaven as if they were one angel, and in like manner those who are in each society. Hence an entire angelic society sometimes appears as a one, in the form of an angel, as I have been given by the Lord to see. ...From this it is that the Lord in the Word is called an angel, and that an entire society is so called. Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael are no other than angelic societies, so named from their functions." (Heaven and Hell, n. 52)
CHANGE OF CLOTHING
At the beginning of each visitation Sarah is asked to change from her earthly garments and put on heavenly garments. Swedenborg also saw angels in a variety of clothing, each according to the state. But why change her clothing each time? Swedenborg explains the spiritual significance of this:
"And purify yourselves, and change your garments. That this signifies that holiness was to be put on, is evident from the signification of being purified or cleansed, as being sanctified — to be explained in what follows; and from the signification of changing the garments, as putting on, here putting on holy truths; for in the internal sense of the Word by garments are signified truths. That changing garments was a representative received in the church, is plainly manifest; but what it represented no one can know, unless he knows what garments signify in the internal sense (see n. 2576)." (Heavenly Arcana, n. 4545)This is the reason why she is asked to put on heavenly garments: she was being instructed in heavenly truths. The removal of earthly garments means to be withdrawn from the senses, and could also represent withdrawing from material things thus she was asked to fast during this time.
THE DWELLINGS OF ANGELS
Much of Sarah's testimony concerns the magnificent golden palaces, with rooms prepared for each person in heaven. Jesus showed her that each place was prepared for each individual, that they could have everything they ever wanted, so that their happiness would be a thousand-fold of anything experienced here on earth. Like Swedenborg, Sarah experienced incredible happiness and joy during these visitations, for the Lord is in fact the origin of all true happiness which is based in love. Like Sarah, Swedenborg was allowed to see the incredible dwellings of the angels in heaven:
"Dwellings were shown me of those who were of the second and third posterity of this Most Ancient Church. They are magnificent, extending to a great length, and diversified with beautiful colors of purple and blue. For angels have most magnificent dwellings, such as cannot be described, which I have often seen." (Heavenly Arcana, n. 1116)
"All the angels have their own dwellings, where they are, which are magnificent. I have been there, and have sometimes seen and admired them, and have there spoken with the angels. They are so distinct and clearly seen, that nothing can be more so. The habitations on earth are scarce any thing in comparison. They also call those which are on the earth dead, and not real; but their own, living and true, because from the Lord. The architecture is such that art itself is from it, with variety that knows no limit. They said that if all the palaces in the whole world should be given to them, they would not change their own for them. What is made of stone, clay, and wood is dead to them; but what is from the Lord, and from life itself and light itself, is living; and this the more, because they enjoy them by every sense." (Heavenly Arcana, n. 1628)The main point that Jesus wanted to get across is that His desire was for each individual to be as happy as possible to eternity, and Sarah saw how it pained and saddened Jesus when people turn away from Him, by following what they thought was right and turning away from His commandments.
JESUS AS THE LORD GOD OF HEAVEN AND EARTH
In Doctrine of the Lord, Swedenborg proves from scripture that God is one being and thus one person, who became incarnate in human form. Jesus is thus the Lord God of the universe, and the doctrine of a trinity of three persons is a falsehood. He was told in vision that this was one of the teachings being given to those in Africa in his day. And this indeed is what Sarah sees in her vision: Jesus on the throne of heaven, being worshiped by all the angels of heaven. Moreover she was shown how the earth was created - Jesus would just simply point His finger at something and say "let it be" and it would come forth.
THE REALITY OF HEAVEN AND OF HELL
Another main point of the testimony: sin leads to eternal death. The reality of heaven and hell are as real as good and evil, for good and evil originate from heaven and hell in the spiritual world which flows into us via angels or evil spirits. During our life we walk a road in between the two. Anyone who goes to hell does so of their own will, for all know what they are doing is right or wrong - it is innate in us. Swedenborg makes a simple point of how one can determine, right now, whether one is on the path to heaven or on the path to hell - this is what he said to those who thought they were justified by faith alone:
"Is not God good itself, and the devil evil itself? Who in the whole world that has any religion does not know this? And is not acknowledging and loving God this—to do good, because it is God's and is from Him? And is not shunning and hating the devil this — not to do evil, because this is of the devil and is from him? Or what is the same, does your faith in act, which you call faith fully justifying and saving, or what is again the same, your act of justification by faith alone, teach the doing of any good which is of God and is from Him? And does it teach the shunning of any evil which is of the devil and from him? Not in the least; because you maintain that there is nothing of salvation in either." (True Christian Religion, n. 389)One thing I observed in the testimony of Sarah, and later he father, is that they emphasized repentance after examining one's conscience, turning away from evil as sin, confession, and recognizing temptations. All of these are related to turning away from evil in one's life, and this is the way to heaven. This is perhaps one of the reasons why they were given these heavenly visitations: they were teaching the right message. With the promise of heaven, there is a stark warning of the reality of hell. Like Swedenborg, some of the scenes that Sarah was allowed to see were quite horrifying. At one point she saw those who rejected the Lord were wearing dark cloaks, in chains, headed on their way towards a pit leading downward to hell. And yet they had no idea of the danger they were in. Again, even in this matter, Swedenborg explains the significance of chains in thee spiritual world:
..."to be bound with chains" signifies to be tied by falsities so that truth cannot come forth. (Apocalypse Explained, n. 652.26)I haven't gone through all the testimony of Sarah, but wanted to mention just the main points here. For anyone who has these kinds of experiences, it is very hard to come forward and publicize them. But I am glad she did, it shows also how God can do great things with the small and humble. Its not the best marketing presentation perhaps, but the testimony seems honest. I have been keeping an eye out for something like this out of Africa for a long time: