3900. Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo here is the Christ, or there; believe it not;
signifies an exhortation to beware of their doctrine. "The Christ" is the Lord as to Divine truth, and hence as to the Word and as to doctrine from the Word. That here the contrary is meant, namely, Divine truth falsified, or the doctrine of falsity is evident. (That "Jesus" is Divine good, and "Christ" Divine truth, may be seen above, n. 3004, 3005, 3008, 3009.)
 For there shall arise false Christs and false prophets;
signifies the falsities of that doctrine. That "false Christs" are doctrinal things from the Word falsified, or truths not Divine, is manifest from what has been said just above (see also n. 3010, 3732 at the end); and that "false prophets" are those who teach such falsities (n. 2534). In the Christian world they who teach falsities are especially those who have as their end their own pre-eminence, and the riches of the world; for they pervert the truths of the Word in their own favor; for when the love of self and of the world is the end, nothing else is thought of. These are "false Christs and false prophets."
 And they shall give great signs and wonders;
signifies things that confirm and persuade from external appearances and fallacies, by which the simple suffer themselves to be led astray. That this is "giving signs and wonders," will of the Lord's Divine mercy be shown elsewhere.
 To lead astray if possible even the elect;
signifies those who are in the life of good and truth, and are consequently with the Lord. These are they who in the Word are called the "elect." In the company of those who veil over profane worship with what is holy, such are rarely seen; or if seen, they are not known; for the Lord hides them, and thus protects them. For before they have been confirmed they suffer themselves to be easily led away by external sanctities; but after they have been confirmed they remain steadfast, being kept by the Lord in the company of angels, without knowing it; and it is then impossible for them to be led astray by that wicked crew.
 Behold, I have told you before;
signifies an exhortation to prudence, that is, to beware; for they are among false prophets, who appear in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravening wolves (Matt. 7:15). The "false prophets" are the sons of the age, who are more prudent in their generation (that is, more crafty) than the sons of light (as described in Luke 16:8). For which reason the Lord exhorts them in the words, "Behold I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves; be ye therefore prudent as serpents and simple as doves" (Matt. 10:16).
 If therefore they shall say unto you, Behold He is in the desert, go not forth; Behold He is in the inner chambers, believe it not;
signifies that what they say about truth, and what they say about good, as well as many other things, are not to be believed. That this is what is signified, no one can see except the man who is acquainted with the internal sense. That a mystery is contained in these words may be known from the fact that the Lord spoke them, and that without any other sense more interiorly hidden the words amount to nothing-namely, that if they should say that the Christ was in the desert they were not to go forth; and if they should say that He was in the inner chambers, they were not to believe it. But it is vastated truth that is signified by the "desert;" and vastated good by the "inner chambers," or secret recesses. The reason why vastated truth is signified by the "desert," is that when the church is vastated (that is, when there is no longer any Divine truth in it, because there is no longer any good, or love to the Lord and charity toward the neighbor), it is then said to be a "desert," or to be in a "desert;" for by a "desert" or "wilderness" is meant whatever is not cultivated or inhabited (n. 2708); also whatever has little life (n. 1927), as is then the case with truth in the church. This shows that the "desert" here is a church in which there is no truth.
 But the "inner chambers," or secret recesses, in the internal sense signify the church as to good, and also simply good. The church that is in good is called the "house of God." The "inner chambers," and the things within the house, are goods. (That the "house of God" is Divine good; and a "house" in general, the good of love and charity, may be seen above, n. 2233, 2234, 2559, 3142, 3652, 3720.) The reason why that which men say about truth, and what they say about good, is not to be believed, is that they call falsity truth, and evil good; for they who regard themselves and the world as their end, understand nothing else by truth and good than that they themselves are to be adored, and are to receive benefits; and if they breathe forth piety, it is that they may appear in sheep's clothing.
 Moreover, as the Word spoken by the Lord contains innumerable things within it, and as "desert" or "wilderness" is a word of wide signification, for all that is called a "wilderness" which is not cultivated and inhabited, and all interior things are called "inner chambers," therefore by a "desert" is also signified the Word of the Old Testament, because this is regarded as abrogated; and by "inner chambers" the Word of the New Testament, because this teaches interior things, or those which concern the internal man. So also the whole Word is called a "desert," because it no longer serves for doctrinal things; and human institutions are called "inner chambers," which, because they depart from the precepts and institutes of the Word, make the Word to be a "desert." This is also known in the Christian world; for they who are in holy external and in profane internal worship, for the sake of innovations which look to their pre-eminence over all and their opulence above all as the ends in view, abrogate the Word, and this so far as not even to permit it to be read by others. And although they who are not in such profane worship hold the Word to be holy, and permit it to be among the people, they nevertheless bend and explain all things therein in favor of their doctrinal matters, which causes the rest of what is in the Word, and which is not in accordance with their doctrinal matters, to be a "desert."
This may be sufficiently evident from the case of those who make salvation to consist in faith alone, and hold in contempt the works of charity. All that the Lord Himself has spoken in the New Testament, and so many times in the Old, concerning love and charity, they make as a "desert;" and all the things that belong to faith without works, they make as "inner chambers." It is manifest from this what is signified by the words, "If they say unto you, Behold He is in the desert, go not forth; Behold He is in the inner chambers, believe it not."
 For as the lightning cometh forth from the east, and appeareth even unto the west, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be;
signifies that it was with the internal worship of the Lord as with lightning, which is instantly dissipated. For by the "lightning" is signified that which is of heavenly light, and thus that which is preached about love and faith, because these are of heavenly light. In the supreme sense the "east" is the Lord; and in the internal sense, the good of love, of charity, and of faith from the Lord (see n. 101, 1250, 3249). But the "west" in the internal sense is that which has gone down or has ceased to be; thus it signifies no acknowledgment of the Lord, nor of the good of love, charity, and faith; and so the lightning that cometh out of the east and appeareth even unto the west denotes dissipation. The coming of the Lord is not according to the letter, that He is to appear again in the world; but it is His presence in everyone; and this exists whenever the gospel is preached and what is holy is thought of.
 For wheresoever the carcass is, there will the eagles be gathered together;
signifies that confirmations of falsity by means of reasonings will be multiplied in the vastated church. When the church is without the good and consequently without the truth of faith (that is, when it has been vastated), it is said to be "dead," for its life is from good and truth; and hence when dead it is compared to a "carcass." Reasonings concerning goods and truths that make these out to be nothing except insofar as they are apprehended, and confirmations of evil and falsity thereby, are the "eagles," as is evident from that which now follows. That the "carcass" here is the church devoid of the life of charity and faith, is manifest from the words of the Lord in Luke, where He speaks of the consummation of the age:
The disciples said, Where Lord? (that is, the consummation of the age, or the Last Judgment). And He said unto them, Where the body is, thither will the eagles also be gathered together (Luke 17:37).
"Body" here stands in place of "carcass," for it is a dead body that is meant, and it signifies the church; for that the Judgment was to commence from the house of God or from the church, is evident from various passages in the Word. This is what is signified in the internal sense by the Lord's words now adduced and unfolded. That they are in a most beautiful series, although this does not appear in the sense of the letter, must be evident to anyone who contemplates them in their connection according to the explication.