The Omnipresence of God

by  Rev. D. H. Kuiper

"Am I a God at hand, saith the Lord, and not a God afar off? Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the Lord. Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the Lord."  Jeremiah 23: 23-24  

The attribute of God called omnipresence is the second attribute which is included in His infinity or measurelessness.  In a previous pamphlet we considered God's eternity, which is also an aspect of His infinity.  When infinity is applied to time, you have eternity.  God is eternal, that is, he is exalted above the limitations of time.  When infinity is applied to space, you have omnipresence.  God is omnipresent in that He is exalted above every limitation of space.  The limitations of space are distance, size and form, and the fact that a body can be in only one place at a given time.  None of the limitations apply to our great God! 

The prophet Jeremiah instructs us that we are not to glory in our wisdom, in our might, or in our riches, but we are to glory in this, "that we understand and know God, that He exercises lovingkindness, judgement, and righteousness in the earth."  Is that really our glorying and our boast, that we have been given to know God?  And is all the knowledge, are the abilities and possessions that we have subservient to this great spiritual knowledge?  Do we have a personal knowledge of God, also that He is omnipresent? What an amazing truth divine omnipresence is!  God is everywhere!  God is not only everywhere with His power, upholding and governing every creature in the universe, but He is everywhere with all of His Being! And because His Being is everywhere p[resent, He is everywhere with all His adorable virtues.  "Know therefore this day, and consider it in thine heart, that the Lord He is God in heaven above, and upon the earth beneath:  there is none else!" Deuteronomy 4:39 

When the child of God hears that His Redeemer-God is everywhere present, he is certainly filled with awe and amazement.  This doctrine aids us in understanding the great difference between God and us, and thus we are filled with reverence and the spirit of worship!  When Solomon dedicated the temple in Jerusalem to the true worship of God, this king would have the people of Israel know what kind of  a God they were to worship there.  According to I Kings 8 he said, "But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, the heaven, and heaven of heavens, cannot contain Thee:  how much less this house that I have builded."  

Space is a creature, just as time is.  And we need space just as we need time.  God does not need space, is not affected by space, and does not think in terms of space.  God's omnipresence is that virtue according to which He is present in every point in space with the whole of His Being.  Now we are apt to think that God fills the entire universe which He created, and then goes a little bit further than the edges of the universe.  But God cannot be contained by space.  You cannot measure the distance between God and some point in the world.  Secondly, we are not to think that God is everywhere present as a gas fills a room. If I remove the cap from a bottle of perfume in one room of my house, soon the molecules of perfume have traveled throughout the house, filling every room.  I can smell the perfume everywhere.  But God is not equally diffused throughout space.  It is true that God is in  my study as I type this, and God is in the room as you read this.  But the key point to remember is that God, being everywhere, fills every point of space with His entire Being.  When the saints worship in their churches, some saints do not have a part or aspect of God, while other saints possess a different part or aspect.  Rather, we all have all of God!  And that's amazing!  Paul sums that up very nicely when he says to the Athenians on Mars Hill, "God be not far from every one of us, for in Him we live and move and have our being." (Acts 17:27)  

God is in all things, but God is not all things.  that's Pantheism.  This old error regarding the presence of God identifies the Being of God with the substance of the creature.  It denies the separate existence of God.  God is all things and all things are God.  Another old error has God present in the universe, but absent as to His Being.  This is Deism.  They say that having created all things, and having infused certain powers and laws in the universe, God absents Himself from creation and observes from a distance the unfolding of history.  But God is not far off!  With all that He is, God is present in heaven, on earth, and in hell;  He is present in the wicked and in the righteous.

However, this does not mean that God is present in the same sense in every creature.  God dwells in every creature, but not equally or in the same sense.  Perhaps an example from human relations will make that clear.  Two persons may be physically near to each other, but they are far apart in faith and spirit.  A believing husband and an unbelieving wife live right next to each other but they are far apart in respect to everything that is lasting and important.  So we must notice that God is not present in the same sense in every one of His creatures.  God does not dwell on earth as He does in heaven.  He doesn't dwell in the animals as He does in man.  And He does not dwell in the wicked as He does in the righteous.  The difference between God's presence in the wicked and righteous is of the utmost significance.  God is present in the wicked, unbelieving, carnal proud men of the world.  He is near to them and He sees them.  But this is a presence or nearness that must be described in terms of anger, wrath, indignation, and curse.  God is totally against the wicked. 

On the other hand, the presence of God in His children is not only that He is in them, but He is also with them and for them!  God is actually far from the wicked, He knoweth them afar off, but as to His chosen people He is present with His love, grace, and mercy, powerfully working all things to their
everlasting advantage.  

The truth that God is omnipresent is a truth that always produces fear:  either a godly fear or a mortal fear, but fear nevertheless.  It is very striking that several of the passages that speak of the omnipresence of God also speak of hiding from God!  See the text quoted at the beginning as well as Rev. 6:16 and Psalm 139.  Man. because his conscience accuses him of sin, is afraid of the holy God.  This was true of Adam and Eve already immediately after the fall (see Genesis 3:8, 10)  But you cannot hide from God, nor ought we to try.

Please turn to Psalm 139 and read the first twelve verses.  In the opening verse David sets forth the truth of the omniscience of God, that God is all knowing.  Finally he says, "Such knowledge is too wonderful for me:  it is high, I cannot attain unto it."  Next, he considers the possibility of fleeing from God. Have you ever thought of doing that very thing?  He asks, "Where shall I go from Thy spirit, or where shall I flee from Thy presence?"  And then David exhausts every possibility.  Heaven?  The grave?  Somewhere far across the seas?  But God is in all those places.  Well, what about the night?  "Surely the darkness shall cover me."  Men still think that today.  Most crimes are committed under the cover of darkness.  But David says, "Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day:  the darkness and the light are both alike to thee." 

We said the omnipresence of God is a truth which produces fear.  But let that not be a fear that causes us to flee in panic and dread, but let that be a fear that humbles us so that we seek the presence of God in the proper way.  consider a person who has made up his mind to commit some sin.  He's ashamed of it, so he does not want anyone to see him or find him out.  He goes home;  he goes into a room all by himself;  he closes the door.  He thinks he is alone.  But "The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding good and evil." (Prov. 15:3)  If we are tempted to flee, then by all means flee to Him, and if we are tempted to hide, then by all means hide in Him!  Make God your refuge and hiding place.  That is spiritually safe. For in order to flee to God and take refuge in Him we must put away our sins.  then we can draw nigh to God and experience that He draws nigh to us! 

What confidence and trust the omnipresence of God inspires in His children.  Such a great God has given Himself to us in Christ!  Consider what it would be like if God were not everywhere present with all His Being, did not surround us with all His matchless virtues, dwelling in us by the Holy Spirit.  Well, then He would be like Baal, no God at all, and we would do well to heed the words of Elijah to the Baal prophets on Mt Carmel.  We would have to cry aloud and cry by the hour, for that kind of a god might be sleeping or perhaps far away on a journey.  And that kind of a god cannot attend or give answer.  

But our God is nigh unto those that are of a broken heart and a contrite spirit.  He is nigh unto them that call upon Him in truth.  Near with His power to defend and preserve.  Near with His bountiful hand to provide.  Near with His Spirit to comfort.  Near with His wisdom to work all things after the counsel of His own will, working all things together for the good of them that love Him.  Doesn't that inspire you to pray to Him?  Doesn't that truth cause you to trust in Him, casting yourself upon Him with body and soul for time and eternity?  Yes, unto the everywhere present God we may safely yield ourselves in all our lives, saying, "Have thine own way, Lord, have thine own way!"  For no matter where our way may take us, "Even there shall His hand lead us, and His right hand shall hold us."

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