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The meeting left a bad taste in my mouth.” Not like having eaten a bad strawberry, but a “feeling” after the meeting that, in the speaker’s “mind” did not taste good. And, of course, the feeling was not subject to an articulate description, just that something was “not right.” The speaker describes the “mouth” as the metaphorical location of the “feeling,” not the “heart” or, in the case of a Papua New Guinea Tok Pisin (TP) speaker, in the “bel” (the belly). The TP speaker might say “Mi pilim nogut lo bel bilo mi,” which literally might be an upset stomach but in the present context that there was something amiss about the experience.

Think for a moment about a “meeting”: that occasion when several people sit down (usually) to discuss a matter. The “meeting” is in the fourth dimension: we don’t see it; we imagine that we see the people involved and at some location. A secretary may have recorded what was actually said at the meeting, but what was said is gone: we can’t hear it again (unless it was physically recorded).

We might also hear someone say, “The problem took some time to solve.” If it is a “problem” that is physical, such as a grammar or math problem, we have a different concept than if the problem is a discussion which extends over a period of time and takes place in a particular place, even “virtually” where there may be many people and places involved. The “problem” seems to exist in the minds, at least, of the participants and it may make some of them “sick” to talk about it. Nevertheless, like so many things, ideas, and viewpoints, we can best understand them if we realize that they exist in a dimension that does not simply involve our well-known five senses.

Suppose I say, “I dreamed that I was helping someone make a fire.” Dreams are certainly in the fourth dimension: they are often devoid of logic and actual experiences, although the latter influence the dream because our experiences are stored somewhere in our brains. Bits and pieces of experience are joined together, often in a most haphazard manner. Sometimes I dream and speak Kewa or Tok Pisin and sometimes I hear others speaking languages that I cannot understand. This dream story takes place in a dimension that is outside of my “normal” mind and body. I can walk and run in my dream, play golf, and comment out loud, without remembering exactly what I just said.

How does one “make” a fire and how would we “help” them? A dictionary will tell us that fire is “combustion or burning, in which substances combine chemically with oxygen from the air and typically give out bright light, heat, and smoke.” Let us imagine that “the barn was destroyed by fire.” Where is the barn now? Can we see where it once was? Did we see how the oxygen got to the barn to help it burn? No—we can’t see oxygen or the fire as it “goes out.” But we can imagine it all by resorting to the “fourth dimension.”

Imagine a meeting where someone says, “God told me to pray for Emma.” The person did not audibly hear God but imagined that they did. When Jesus spoke to Paul on the Damascus road, no one but Paul heard the voice. When God spoke in the Old Testament, people sometimes thought they heard thunder.

In Genesis 16 and 21 God speaks to Hagar and he also hears Hagar’s son crying. Does God have ears like we do? The concept must be understood metaphorically.

We cannot see heaven, but we are told about it in the Bible, and we form images of what it may be like. But are there literal gold streets, or is that a metaphor for the outstanding beauty of the “place”? And when I say “place,” do I imagine a town, city, country, or something somewhere in the sky? Heaven is obviously not a literal place that I can see. I read about it, and I “believe” that it is there, somewhere, and that God and heaven’s armies are “there” too.

The new Jerusalem will be 1,500 miles each way, that is, in its length, breadth, and upward dimensions. I read, more precisely, in Revelation 21: 16 that an angel measured the city and recorded it as being 12,000 stadia by 12,000 stadia and 12,000 stadia high. The base dimensions are therefore about 1,380 miles by 1,380 miles (one stadia = 607 feet). In other words, the New Jerusalem is laid out like a cube. and it was “coming down out of heaven from God.”

John’s description in Revelation is in the form of a vision—he didn’t actually go to heaven physically, but he was shown a vision of what the new city would entail.

How much do I need to know about heaven? By examining Scriptural accounts, apparently not a whole lot, because I am not told much. But how much do I want to know about heaven? Much, much more, because my wife is now there. I know—there is no marriage in heaven in the same sense as here on earth, but there is recognition, fellowship, and, most of all, deep spiritual love. That, in itself, will be far more wonderful than anything we experienced in our earthly union. What a joy that will be and what hope to look forward to.

Karl Franklin


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