The Omnipresent God – Is God Everywhere?
Is God omnipresent? How could He be everywhere at once? Stephen explores the nature of God and our relationship with Him.
Can God Be Everywhere?
Can God really be present everywhere, at the same time? That’s what the bible teaches us about God, yet, it can be very difficult, perhaps even impossible to fully understand the how of it. First, let’s look at what the Bible says:
Psalm 139:7-12 reads: “Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol (that is, the place of the dead) you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me and your right hand shall hold me.”
Jeremiah 23:23-24 says “Am I God at hand, declares the Lord, and not a God far away? Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him? declares the Lord. Do I not fill heaven and earth? declares the Lord.”
God is Omnipresent
There are many other verses that speak of God being present everywhere, but these two are perhaps the most direct. Based on these passages, it is safe to confirm that the Bible teaches God is omnipresent. What’s more, is that we see this aspect of God’s nature in Jesus as well. When Jesus first met Nathanael, what convinced Nathanael of Jesus true nature was when Jesus said “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” The context of that encounter is such that Nathanael was alone, the Lord Jesus, bodily anyway, was somewhere else.
Jesus confirms His omnipresent nature at the end of Matthew’s gospel, where he is recorded as saying to his disciples, “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
The Omnipresent God Existed Before the Universe
Now, to begin to understand God’s ability to be everywhere, we have to step back and separate ourselves from our experience. Genesis chapter 1 gives us the story of how God created all things, this creation would include the physical laws of nature, things like space and time. For us humans, the concept of space and time are what limits us to being in only one place at any given moment. Genesis 1:1 however begins “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth”, so we see that before the universe was created, with all its laws and properties, God existed. This means that God is outside of the laws of nature as we know them.
We Must Not Limit God
So if we find things like God’s omnipresence difficult to comprehend, it makes sense. God exists on a level that we can really only enter into in a speculative way, because we have no actual experience of being outside the physical laws of nature. I realize this may not seem too helpful if we’re trying to understand how God can be everywhere, but it is just the first step, and the reason I say this is to help us get away from a natural way of thinking that would limit God to our own understanding of nature.
The Presence of God
When the Bible speaks of the presence of God, there are typically two ideas that it uses. One is His spiritual presence. That is the Spirit of God, which has no form, is everywhere. Colossians 1 talks about how all things were created through him and for him, and that he is before all things and in him all things hold together. This reveals to us God’s hand in making the world and everything in it function, in doing so, the spirit of God is active and involved in everything all at once. Romans 1:19-20 reads “For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For His invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in everything that has been made. Here again, the bible tells us that God’s spiritual presence is evident in all of creation.
God’s Relational Presence
The other idea about the presence of God is His relational presence, this is where God is with us, and interacting with us, perhaps even without us being aware. When God is relationally present, we can experience some of his divine nature, His virtues, such as his love, grace, joy, comfort and so on. His grace especially, can be seen in why Adam and Eve didn’t drop dead the moment they ate the fruit, and by extension, God’s grace is the reason we don’t face the penalty of sin the moment we commit one. God’s relational presence, gives us grace to come to the knowledge and repentance of our sin, so that we can have a true, unbroken relationship with God through Jesus Christ.
Understanding Difficult Verses
Differentiating between these two types of presence, helps us to understand the verses like in Psalm 139 where we read that God is present in the place of the dead, or in Revelation 14:10 where it talks about those who worship the image of the beast being tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and the lamb. If the penalty of sin is death, eternal separation from God, how then can he be said to be present in that place? And again, there is the idea that God is spiritually present wherever His creation is, but in this case not present relationally, which means a person who falls into the eternal judgment will have no way to experience the grace, love, peace and comfort of God, which is offered to all mankind for everlasting life through faith in His son Jesus Christ.
If you would like to know more about the nature of God, and His desire for you to enter into a relationship with Him through Jesus, please contact us. You can do so by email to [email protected] or by phone at 1-800-567-1218.
Stephen March is the President of FBH International and HopeStreamRadio. He graduated from the Broadcasting Program at Niagara College in 2001, and has previously worked in television production and post-production. Stephen lives in St. Catharines, Ontario, with his wife Corinne and their four children. He serves as an elder at Scottlea Gospel Chapel.
Read and hear more from Stephen Marchon his contributor’s page.
Stephen currently has 3 Programs on HopeStreamRadio:
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Images courtesy of:
Night Sky – jameswheeler
Nathanael Under the Fig Tree – Tissot
Kids on Bikes – skitterphoto