For the week of July 23, 2005 / 16 Tammuz 5765
Torah: Bemidbar / Numbers 25:10 - 30:1
Haftarah: 1 Melachim / 1 Kings 18:46 - 19:21
The Other Dimension
The LORD said [to Elijah], "Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by." (1 Melachim / 1 Kings 19:11)
The other day I heard a radio interview with Lawrence Krauss, the author of The Physics of Star Trek. Krauss was discussing the probability of certain concepts found in science fiction, such as worm holes, teleportation, and time travel. Krause doesn't believe that most of these could ever exist. When asked if he thought any common science fiction type concept was possible, he referred to only one: other dimensions. He thinks that it is possible there exists other dimensions beyond our commonly accepted four (he includes time along with height, width, and depth). If I understood him correctly, Krauss said that there just might be other dimensions in existence all around us. These other realms may be more vast than anything we are currently aware of, while at the same time taking up little to no space in our own realm.
Is this not what the Torah teaches? Is there not at least one other realm of existence that co-exists alongside the physical realm in which we live? Does not that other realm from time to time break into our realm, whether it be through encounters with God, angels, or demons? Does not that other realm - the spiritual realm as we call it – regularly leave clues of its existence in our realm through so-called coincidences, healings, and other miraculous occurrences?
I don't know what an accurate scientific analysis of the spiritual dimension or realm would be or even if such an analysis could ever be possible. Would we speak of parallel realms, other dimensions, or of a greater reality? I don't know. But what I do know - based on the testimony of the Scriptures, the witness of countless individuals throughout history and the current day, as well as my own experiences - is that there is more to life that what our five senses normally perceive.
Once we accept the existence of the spiritual dimension (or whatever you want to call it), we need to decide what our relationship to that dimension should be. Some acknowledge it, but choose to ignore it, thinking it has no relevance to us or effect upon our lives. Others think that we are helpless against the spiritual realm and live in fear of it. Still others see the spiritual realm as a power resource. They try to use it to manipulate the physical realm to their advantage. Biblically, the spiritual realm is real, but no more real than the physical one. As human beings we are as much a part of one as the other. The tragedy of human history is that our relationship with the spiritual realm was broken, thus not only negatively affecting us spiritually, but also severely damaging our physical existence as well.
Elijah was a prophet, highly sensitive to this other dimension. His prophecies, miracles, and even the way he lived, acted like a door to the spiritual realm. Yet there was a period when his awareness of that other realm grew very dim.
Elijah confronted the evil of his day as no one else had. This climaxed in an encounter between himself and the priests of one of the false gods most of the Israelites of his day served. After making a mockery of the false god, Elijah called down fire from heaven, resulting in a most dramatic display of God's power.
Yet it wasn't long afterwards that Elijah was running for his life. In his exhaustion and depression, he gave up all hope. He wanted to die. He had lost sight of the reality of the spiritual realm and its workings. The only reality to him at that moment were that of his circumstances, and they were crushing him.
But God met him. God refreshed him. God spoke to him. Elijah regained perspective. And as Elijah opened his heart to the spiritual reality God provided, he was ready to face life and its challenges again.
Elijah was someone who was usually aware of the spiritual dimension. It was as he lost sight of its reality, he could no longer cope. I may be correct to say that most of us live life completely unaware of this other dimension. God's vast resources of truth, grace, forgiveness, healing, and so on, are available to us if only we would stop and take notice. Sadly most of us think that we are getting along fine without the other dimension, but are we really?
The good news is that the other dimension is not far from us at any time. Whenever we lose sight of it, like Elijah did, we too, like Elijah, can enter its reality again.
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