From reading through Genesis and reminding myself of the story of Adam and Eve I was caught thinking about Eden. The story is a a familiar one and it results in Adam and Eve being driven from Eden. Eden is then guarded by a Cherubim and a flaming sword. Eden was a physical reality that is now hidden in the spiritual realm.
As I began thinking of this I was reminded of Jesus’ visit to Caesarea Philippi. You can pick the story in Matthew 16. The area where Jesus took the disciples was known as a seat of demonic power, so much so that there was an entrance in the rocks known as the gates of hell. It was known for detestable sexual practices and a doorway to the underworld. It is in this place that Jesus declares that He will build His church and gates of hell will not overcome it. This place, though used for evil, was a physical location for a spiritual reality.
I then began to think of Jacob, and his dream of the angels ascending and descending. The story can be found in Genesis 28. In Jacob’s dream he saw a stairways with angels ascending and descending. He then encounters God who reiterates His covenant with Jacob, promises of blessing and protection.
Jacob awakes from his sleep and says,
“Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.” He was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven.”
He names the place ‘Bethel’, the house of God.
This is, I believe, is another example of a physical location of a spiritual reality.
So within a few minutes, various examples had come to mind. Now that doesn’t make this a doctrine, but I find it interesting and intriguing. A I continued to scan the scripture a few other example came to mind, Mount Sinai, Tabernacle fo David and the temple, all are physical locations known for being thin.
Not only were there these biblical examples but in history this was also thought to be true.
The Celts used to call these places thin places. These were where they believed the spiritual world and our physical world met: where literally the veil between the two worlds was so thin that a person could powerfully sense the spiritual realm.
Lindisfarne and the Island of Iona are considered to be thin places by the Celts. And we have our modern equivalents, Toronto, Bethel, IHOPKC, Faldo -Y-Brenin, Lourdes to name but a few. The danger is that we elevate these places and somehow make them more sacred than others. I’m not sure they are, though Moses’ encounter at the burning bush would suggest that if the presence of God is there then we need to honour his holiness and therefore act appropriately. Journeying to such places where we know the presence of God to be manifest raises a level of expectation and hope for an encounter with God, as the psalmist says “blessed are those who set their hearts on pilgrimage”. There is a blessing that comes in journeying in expectation to meet with God.
So, it would seem to be that there are physical locations to spiritual connection. Some seem to be divinely initiated, others are in themselves neutral and the spiritual climate is down to mankind as to how he stewards it. Sadly many are used and know for demonic purposes e.g.Caesarea Philippi, Machu Picchu, Byron bay and others.
There is one thin place that I haven’t mentioned.
As New Testament believers we have the indwelling presence of God in the person of the Holy Spirit. Wherever we go, we have the ability to bring His kingdom, His presence. We are His ambassadors, representatives sent out in his name to redeem all which has been lost. Admittedly, when Jesus was in his hometown he was unable to do many miracles because of their unbelief. Yet this shows the power we have as believers to effect the atmosphere.
So as we gather with other like minded believers, we can create a community of heaven, and not only that but an open heaven…our very own thin place.