Theology Thursday – Omnipresence

Two weeks ago on Theology Thursday we examined the omnipotence of God in our ongoing series on the nature of God.  Today, we’ll continue by examining the Omnipresence of God.

It is not necessarily illogical to claim that God is not always present.  A creator is not always in the presence of his creation.  For example, a painter remains the creator of his painting when he and the painting are in different places.  So, logically, it isn’t out of line to say that God doesn’t have to be omnipresent.  However, in the case of God it IS incorrect to say this.

Psalm 139 designates there is nowhere we can go to be rid of God.  Not anywhere on earth, in the universe, nor (as it specifically states) in heaven or in hell.  God is in all of these places.

“Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend to heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there.” {Psa 139:7-8 NASB}

 

Putting aside Hell and examining verse 7 of Psalm 139, is there any place that a person can go to escape God’s presence?  The verse makes it clear that the answer is no.  There’s no place on Earth, no place in space, no place at all.  And, as if to drive the point home, the Psalmist writes of Heaven and Sheol.  What if we die?  We only go to one of two places, both mentioned here.  God is in both of them.

Sheol is a Hebrew word for grave.  It is also one of the many names for Hell.  In this Psalm, the contrast with heaven makes that meaning clear.  To some it sounds odd to hear of God being present in Hell.  However, Rev 14:9-11 says Jesus will be present in hell.

Then another angel, a third one, followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, he also will drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is mixed in full strength in the cup of His anger; and he will be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. “And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever; they have no rest day and night, those who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.” {Rev 14:9-11 NASB}

One of the key elements of the doctrine of Omnipresence is not just that God is everywhere, but rather that He’s everywhere at the same time.  While there’s not a specific verse explaining that aspect, it is certainly implied.  People are currently in Hell, suffering in the presence of the Lamb.  But the Lamb is also at the right hand of the Father in heaven.  Even if we take the viewpoint that the Lamb is not in Hell yet (which I do not take), the Psalm makes it clear that God is in heaven and everywhere on Earth.  If God can be in “two” places at once, there’s absolutely no reason why He couldn’t be in EVERY place.

Of course, it is not hard to see why this is possible when we think back to the Omnipotence of God.  As we learned with that attribute:

‘Ah Lord GOD! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for You, {Jer 32:17 NASB}

It may seem impossible for God to be everywhere at the same time, but this is God… NOTHING is too difficult for Him.

There is no formal heresy that opposes this belief, although certainly there are some people who probably don’t believe it.  The closest anyone comes to formalizing an incorrect view is to believe that Hell is the absence of God, rather than a real place where real people suffer eternally in the presence of God.  To say Hell is the absence of God is to imply that finally the sinner who wants nothing to do with God is rid of Him.  This, of course, implies that ultimately the sinner who hates God gets what He wants, and not God who is sovereign.  Moreover, it implies that the sin of the sinner is not punished eternally as God promises and warns against elsewhere in Scripture.  Not so, God is present there exacting His justice on unbelief and sin just as He is present everywhere at all times.


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