Ancient religious traditions (including biblical traditions) had ceremonial sacrifice as an important aspect of paying homage to the divine. Today we look at these rituals of worship as being quite barbaric. After all, who in their right mind would sacrifice their firstborn to God these days for some special favor?
But according to the great scientist/theologian Emanuel Swedenborg, this ancient ritual is to be continued even at this day—but it also needs to be carried out more correctly! He challenged us all to elevate our minds in order to understand the deeper spiritual message conveyed by such odd ancient customs.
Swedenborg maintained that what is to really be sacrificed before God is the human ego and its self-importance. (Even if you are a devout atheist, such a practice of humility is quite beneficial for the common good of society.) When this practice became only literally understood—whereby human children were horribly killed—those savage civilizations “mysteriously” disappeared.
In life, we each produce things which are generated from deep inside our hearts and minds. Therefore, on a symbolic or psycho-spiritual level these contributions of our character represent out true inner progeny. With this deeper knowledge and insight of how such things are to be understood, one can then find the proper methodology for practicing human sacrifice even in our enlightened age.
The “Firstborn” of such progeny represents where we place the greatest importance of such activity—in us or in God. Sacrificing one’s firstborn to the God of heaven symbolizes a commitment towards humility by giving up the notion that goodness and wisdom has its origins solely within us, and in our returning all the credit to the Lord God.
True human sacrifice involves sacrificing our false belief system and imaginary notions of self-importance. This humility is a major element of proper spiritual transformation. This is why people are asked to receive the Holy Communion in a humble state or bow down in worship.