3898. What these words involve no one can know except from the internal sense-as that false Christs shall arise who shall give signs and wonders; and that if men should say that Christ is in the desert, they should not go out; and that if they should say that He is in the inner chambers, they should not believe it; and that the coming of the Son of man shall be as the lightning which cometh forth from the east and appeareth even unto the west; and also that wheresoever the carcass is, there also will the eagles be gathered together. These things, like those which precede and that follow in this chapter, seem not to stand in any series as to the sense of the letter; but yet in the internal sense they are in a most beautiful series, which first becomes apparent when it is understood what is signified by "false Christs;" what by "signs and wonders;" what by the "desert" and the "inner chambers;" also what by the "coming of the Son of man;" and lastly what by the "carcass" and the "eagles."
 The reason why the Lord spoke in this manner was in order that the people might not understand the Word, lest they should profane it; for when the church has been vastated, as it then was with the Jews, if men understood it they would profane it; wherefore for the same reason the Lord also spoke by parables, as He Himself teaches in Matthew (13:13-15; Mark 4:11, 12; Luke 8:10). For the Word cannot be profaned by those who do not know its mysteries; but by those who do (see n. 301-303, 593, 1008, 1010, 1059, 1327, 1328, 2051, 3398, 3402); and more by those who appear to themselves learned than by those who seem to themselves unlearned.
 But the reason why the interiors of the Word are now being opened, is that the church at this day has been so far vastated (that is, is so devoid of faith and love) that although men know and understand, still they do not acknowledge, and much less believe (see n. 3398, 3399), except a few who are in the life of good and are called the "elect," who can now be instructed, and with whom a New Church is to be instituted. But where these are, the Lord alone knows; there will be few within the church; it has been among the Gentiles that previous new churches have been set up (see n. 2986).