Realms Of Light
The human eye can detect only a narrow range of the known wavelengths of the electromagnetic radiation we call light, (between 380 and 760 nanometers). We call this range of light the visible spectrum. Beyond this spectrum are lower and higher frequencies wavelengths such as ultraviolet, infrared and x-rays. Although it is believed a number of birds and insects can detect some wavelengths of light not visible to the human eye – we humans cannot detect these without the aid of other technologies or aids.
Moving beyond the realm of our time/space existence – beyond what the human or animal eye can detect, or science prove with material instruments, there exists a realm of light – so incredible, so unimaginable as to defy human comprehension or description. We see only brief glimpses of this realm – but yet what we do see fills us with awe, anticipation and wonder.
This realm, which is rarely seen with physical eyes is yet real and tangible – and does, from time to time, break through the barrier of our space/time existence.
Perhaps one of the most striking examples of this happened on a hilltop in Israel some two thousand years ago. The incident is well documents and attested and is recorded in three of the books in the Christian Bible – Matthew 17, Mark 9 and Luke 9.
Here is one of these records –
“…. Jesus took Peter and the two brothers, James and John, and led them up a high mountain to be alone. As the men watched, Jesus’ appearance was transformed so that his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as light. Suddenly, Moses and Elijah appeared and began talking with Jesus.”
(Matthew 17:1 – 3)
Minutes later in their terror and awe the disciples are enveloped in light – described as a bright cloud –
“But even as he spoke (Peter), a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy. Listen to him.” The disciples were terrified and fell face down on the ground.”
(Matthew 17:5 – 6)
What had happened here?
There appears to have been, in these minutes, a rift in what physicists call the space-time continuum. Another realm, the realm of light, broke through the barrier of our time/space existence.
The reality of who Jesus was – human – yet at the same time divine – an incredible being of light, majesty and glory – broke through the barrier of his humanity and burst in to the experience and present reality of Peter, James and John. No wonder, as we will discover, John was to become obsessed by the whole concept of light!
At the same time from this dimension of light two historical figures step back in to the space time continuum they knew hundreds of years before – Moses and Elijah. According to Luke’s account they – “ appeared in splendor and majesty and brightness.” (The Amplified Bible). Both however are recognizably human – despite the fact that they belong to a different dimension.
Then in this rift between the dimensions we call heaven and that of our time and space, a bright cloud appears – and from the cloud the voice of God is heard.
In fact any time we are faced with the dimension we call heaven we are introduced to a light, white, bright terminology. The dimension we call heaven is in fact a realm that is marked by incredible, unimaginable light.
As further evidence of this fast-forward a very short time as we stand at the tomb of the crucified and physically dead Jesus.
“Suddenly there was a great earthquake! For an angel of the Lord came down from heaven, rolled aside the stone, and sat on it. His face shone like lightning, and his clothing was as white as snow. The guards shook with fear when they saw him, and they fell into a dead faint.”
Then jump back for a moment to the imagery of God we find in the Torah – our Old Testament. Listen to a prayer song written by the prophet Habakkuk –
“I see God moving across the deserts from Edom, the Holy One coming from Mount Paran. His brilliant splendor fills the heavens, and the earth is filled with his praise. His coming is as brilliant as the sunrise. Rays of light flash from his hands, where his awesome power is hidden.”
Travel now to the very last book of the Bible where, in his vision of final things John records –
“Then I saw another mighty angel coming down from heaven, surrounded by a cloud, with a rainbow over his head. His face shone like the sun, and his feet were like pillars of fire.”
It appears that anyone living in or coming from the dimension we call heaven – is marked by incredible brightness and light. In some cases their true identity may be veiled for one purpose or another – but when the veil is lifted the brightness is blinding.
We could go on to think of the conversion experience of Paul who records – “I was blinded by the intense light and had to be led by the hand to Damascus by my companions.” (Acts 22:11) or of Moses who wanted to see the face of God but had to be reminded – “… you may not look directly at my face, for no one may see me and live.” (Exodus 33:20) Or again of Paul who declared of God – “He alone can never die, and he lives in light so brilliant that no human can approach him. No human eye has ever seen him, nor ever will.” (Timothy 6:16) But I think we get the point.
After his experience on the mountain with Jesus, Peter, James, Moses and Elijah – John, as we have indicated, become transfixed by the whole concept and reality of God as The Light.
In fact for John the whole life and message of Jesus can be condensed to this understanding, for he declares –
“This, in essence, is the message we heard from Christ and are passing on to you: God is light, pure light; there’s not a trace of darkness in him.”
(1 John 1:5 – 7 – The Message Bible)
If the incidents we have looked at give us a small clue, from the perspective of time and space, as to something of the realm we call heaven – there are at least two further revelations contained in the Christian Bible as to how it looks up close. Both Daniel from the Torah and John in the book of Revelation, although seeing far in to the future, also give us a unique insight as to what is going on in that realm in our present.
Daniel records –
“I watched as thrones were put in place and the Ancient One sat down to judge. His clothing was as white as snow, his hair like purest wool. He sat on a fiery throne with wheels of blazing fire, and a river of fire was pouring out, flowing from his presence. Millions of angels ministered to him; many millions stood to attend him.
John records similar scenes, too numerous to mention at present – but here is a taste of his testimony –
“Then I looked again, and I heard the voices of thousands and millions of angels around the throne and of the living beings and the elders. And they sang in a mighty chorus: “Worthy is the Lamb who was slaughtered—to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing.”
(Revelation 5:11 & 12)
Again we see indescribable imagery captured in human words such as “blazing fire”, “white”, “pure”, and “snow”.
John goes on to describe the sound, music and singing of this place as –
“… like the roar of mighty ocean waves or the rolling of loud thunder… like the sound of many harpists playing together.”
This heavenly dimension then is a place where the senses are alive in every meaning of that word. There is sight and sound and recognition and interaction. But above everything else this realm is a place of worship – is a place where God is central. He is not only central and the object of adoration and worship, but he personally is the illumination of this realm – he is The Light! This fact is spoken of prophetically by the prophet Isaiah as he pointed forward to a time when –
“Violence will disappear from your land; the desolation and destruction of war will end. Salvation will surround you like city walls, and praise will be on the lips of all who enter there. “No longer will you need the sun to shine by day, nor the moon to give its light by night, for the Lord your God will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory. Your sun will never set; your moon will not go down. For the Lord will be your everlasting light. Your days of mourning will come to an end.”(Isaiah 60:18-20)
And as the book of Revelation draws to a close John sees an eternal city where he –
“…. Saw no temple in the city, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. And the city has no need of sun or moon, for the glory of God illuminates the city, and the Lamb is its light. The nations will walk in its light, and the kings of the world will enter the city in all their glory.”
As we consider our sun, the planet which gives us light and life, and then apply, what must be at best, its pale illumination to the majesty and glory of this God of light – we have a but an inadequate picture of the light that radiates from our awesome God! No wonder Moses was prevented from looking at his face! And yet – at this very moment this realm exists – the Kingdom of Heaven in the ultimate meaning of the term.
To be continued …