“And whiles I was speaking, and praying, and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my supplication before the LORD my God for the holy mountain of my God; Yea, whiles I was speaking in prayer, even the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly ,touched me about the time of the evening oblation. And he informed me, and talked with me, and said, O Daniel, I am now come forth to give thee skill and understanding. At the beginning of thy supplications the commandment came forth, and I am come to shew thee; for thou art greatly beloved: therefore understand the matter, and consider the vision. (Daniel 9:20-23)
This biblical passage says that Gabriel started out toward Daniel at the moment God commanded him to go. God commanded him as Daniel first began to pray for Israel and himself. So let’s just say Daniel was praying for about an hour. Maybe more. Maybe less.
And that it took the angel about an hour to get to Daniel.
That is a bit surprising. I thought that the travel-time for angels would be instantaneous. I have no real basis for thinking that. I just did.
Angels Incoming !
But that brings up another question. What is the distance he had to cover in that hour?
The answer has to do with the location of Heaven. We will assume that Gabriel was coming from the throne of Heaven. For the sake of this discussion, let’s just run with that. If you will.
So, is Heaven close by or way out beyond the boundaries of the universe? That is no easy question to answer. The verse that comes to my mind is, “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:9). The “heavens” here speak of all the created universe. Not just the space in our own neighborhood, or galaxy; but farther than we can imagine.
Check out also, “For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him.” (Psalm 103:11). Look at Job 22:12 & II Chronicles 2:6 for more ideas.
God is making a comparison point here. A point about the infinite difference between God and man.
Let’s say, again, that Heaven is outside of our physical universe. Or right outside the edge. We have no stinking idea how far that is. But we do have some idea of the distances to the stars based on what the Hubble telescope has revealed in those vast regions of space.
Let’s assume, for a moment, that Gabriel traveled at the speed of light (186,282 miles per second).
So, if Gabriel traveled from the Sun to the earth, at the speed of light, he could reach us in 8.3 minutes. If he came from Alpha Centauri (our closest star beyond the Sun), it would take him 4.4 years. In a year, light travels 5,878,625,373,200 miles. If he came from the nearest edge of the Milky Way Galaxy, he would have to travel for about 30,000 years to reach us.
Again, traveling at the speed of light.
A God Without Limits
So, where am I going with all this? Well, it has to do with our faulty perceptions of the spiritual world. Perceptions that limit our trust and hope in what the Lord can do for us in times of need.
In truth, the Lord is everywhere. He is omnipresent. No other creature has this attribute. This applies to God alone.
Therefore, He can dwell within us and sit on His throne in Heaven at the same time. He knows no limitation. And I think His holy angels, His ministering spirits, have some amazing powers also. More than we may think.
Scientists like to make a big deal about the speed of light. They think that we cannot exceed that. But angels seem to have an ability to travel amazingly faster than that.
But I know, that there are some believers that simply will reject any discussions of this sort on the basis that Heaven is spiritual and we cannot or should not try to place it somewhere within the sphere of the physical universe. So they don’t discuss it to any degree of detail.
When Worlds Collide
But what do we do with the apparent clash of spiritual and physical locations noted in the scriptures? For example, the Bible says that a place called Hell exists under the earth. That this place exists somewhere within the inner structure of the earth.
And what about the “bottomless pit” that will open during the Tribulation period? Or what about the “Lake of Fire”?
Dr. Henry Morris had an interesting thought. That perhaps that Lake of Fire exists on some far flung star in the utter, desolate darkness of space. A star is, in fact, a huge ball of liquid fire. Even as our own Sun is an exploding mass of gasses, liquid and fire.
The answer is, most probably, that the spiritual reality and the physical reality exist in the same “space” simultaneously. One is seen while the other is unseen by human eyes. But the existence of each is just as real and tangible.
I wonder, sometimes, if we do not occasionally see a spillover of these worlds. When God allows humans to catch a glimpse of what is happening in the spiritual world. Amazing things we cannot explain that often become categorized as ghosts, paranormal phenomena and such.
But that is the stuff of many other posts to come.
He is Waiting for Us Down the Road
All of this makes me realize that we really know nothing when it comes to this universe and its secrets. The position that science has in helping us understand, is simply to provide us with “convenient fictions” so we can feel less insecure. So we can accomplish a few things that make life a bit better. But really, we are all like helpless children when faced with the wonders and mysteries that God has placed before us.
But thank God that He hears us before we pray and will answer us before we ask. He knows all things in advance; before the foundations of this world were established. And that He is not limited by time nor distance nor anything else.
And that He is already there, when we reach our moment of crisis, calmly waiting for us with everything we will need.