What Does It Mean to Be in the Presence of God? Isn’t He Always with Us?

God’s presence is everywhere. This is sometimes called God’s omnipresence. Isaac was the first patriarch to link the Lord’s presence and blessings. Inversely, the Lord repeatedly equates His judgment as removal from His presence and blessing.
David Sanford
What Does It Mean to Be in the Presence of God? Isn’t He Always with Us?

Have you ever seen a room light up the moment a famous person walks into it? There is something intangible yet very real about their magnetism. Their larger-than-life persona mysteriously charges you, maybe even changes you, and makes you want to capture even a momentary smile from them.

That’s an inadequate picture of what it’s sometimes (not always) like to be in the presence of God.

“The most common Hebrew term for ‘presence’ is panim, which is also translated ‘face,’ implying a close and personal encounter with the Lord,” according to Baker’s Biblical dictionary.  An example of the Hebrew panim is in Genesis 3:8. In the New Testament, the Greek words prosopon and enopion are similar in meaning.

Here are six truths about God’s presence taught in Scripture.

1. God’s presence is everywhere.

This is sometimes called God’s omnipresence. In Psalms 139:7-12, David says God already is everywhere we might go in this life and the next. The prophet Jeremiah (23:23-24) goes on to say that God fills the heavens and earth. This amazing truth is based on the fact that the Lord God created the entire universe and is so much greater than the heavens and earth. The universe is but a small drop of dew, or a tiny white wildflower.

God is both massive and mighty above all creation (Deuteronomy 10:17, Jeremiah 32:17) and is intimately aware of and concerned for His creation (Jeremiah 1:5, Luke 12:7).

2. God’s presence fills heaven

He fills heaven with His infinite and eternal glory, majestic, power, dominion, holiness, and love. The angels of heaven stand in His presence with awe and worship and rejoicing. So do believers from Adam to Eve to dear loved ones who recently have gone to be with the Lord. We never pray to them, but they continue to pray to God (Revelation 5:8, 5:13, 6:9-11, 7:9-10, and 8:3-4). What’s more, God the Father loves to hear the earnest prayers of Jesus Christ (Romans 8:34, Hebrews 7:25, and 1 John 2:1) and the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:26-27).

3. God’s presence also fills the earth.

We hear this from the Lord Himself in Numbers 14:21, from David in Psalm 8:1, from the seraphim in Isaiah 6:3, and from the Lord again in both Isaiah 11:9 and Habakkuk 2:14.

4.God’s presence takes up residence in every Christian.

In fact, Romans 8:9 and other Scriptures teach that if the Spirit of God isn’t in you, you’re not a Christian yet. Why wait? Find out how to become a Christiantoday! Christians have the promise of God’s constant presence, even when we don’t feel it (Matthew 28:20, John 14:16).

5. God can reveal His presence to anyone in any manner He so chooses.

He proved this with Moses (burning bush) and Aaron (budding staff). He proved this with Elijah in a variety of ways (1 Kings 19:9-18). He also proved this by sending an angel to the Roman centurion Cornelius (Acts 10–11). Ultimately, He proved this by sending His own Son, Jesus Christ.

This truth is why there are untold tens of thousands of reports of God appearing to people all over the world today, typically in their dreams. While God commands us to proclaim the Good News Gospel of Jesus Christ to everyone in every nation, God hasn’t tied His own hands. Instead, He’s winning people to Jesus Christ every day in every country on this planet. He’s making sure the wedding feast of the Lamb will be joyous beyond measure.

6. When God reveals His presence to you, you’ll know and feel it.

Remember the electricity that races through you when someone famous walks by you? You can’t miss it. Ditto when God draws near you. When He does, imagine He is looking right at you—smiling. That’s one of the best ways to feel blessed, isn’t it? These experiences are sometimes called moments of transcendence.

You usually can’t predict when God will make His presence known to you. It could be at a huge evangelistic event, citywide prayer gathering, or Christian concert. It could be while you’re walking outside, looking up at the night sky, or watching a magnificent sunrise or sunset. Then again, it could be when you’re working, doing God’s will (Romans 13:14) or spending time with dear Christian friends.

“But I can’t know when it will happen” should encourage you. It should encourage you to think about God, meditate on these truths, and pay attention to what you’re feeling. Never waste moments of transcendence by praising what’s created. Instead, praise the Creator!

Yes, you can experience God’s presence here and there all through your life. It’s not one-and-done. Heaven alone is proof of that!

7 Facts About God’s Presence

1. Adam and Eve’s son Cain was the first man to walk away from the Lord’s presence (Genesis 4:16). Compare #6 below.

2. Isaac was the first patriarch to link the Lord’s presence and blessings (Genesis 27:7). This theme runs throughout the Law (Exodus 33:14 and 33:19 and Deuteronomy 12:7, 12:18, 14:23, 14:26, and 27:7). It also runs throughout the New Testament (Acts 2:28 and 3:19-21 and 1 Thessalonians 3:9).

3. Moses was the first prophet to enter the Lord’s presence to speak with Him (Exodus 18:12, 33:14, and 34:34). This was a picture of divine mission, strength, and courage (Deuteronomy 31:7).

4. Aaron was the first high priest to enter the Lord’s presence in the Tabernacle (Exodus 28:30). This also was a picture of service (Deuteronomy 18:7) and of entering God’s presence in heaven.

5. Kings David and Solomon both linked the Lord’s presence and prayer (1 Kings 8:28, 2 Chronicles 6:19, and Psalm 139:1-18 and 139:23-24). We see this reiterated in Ephesians 3:12 and Hebrews 10:22.

6. The Lord repeatedly equates His judgment as removal from His presence and blessing. We see this in 2 Kings 17:18-23, 23:27, 24:3 and 24:20. We also see this in Psalm 9:19 and 114:7, in Isaiah 2:10, 2:19-21 and 3:8, and in Jeremiah 5:22, 15:1 and 52:3. Jumping to the New Testament, we see this again in Matthew 25:41-46 and 2 Thessalonians 1:9.

7. The apostle Paul linked together the Lord’s presence and His second coming in 1 Thessalonians 2:19 and 3:13 and 2 Timothy 4:1.

David Sanford coaches leaders passionate about demonstrating the relevance of Jesus Christ in every major sphere of life. His book and Bible projects have been published by Zondervan, Tyndale, Thomas Nelson, Doubleday, and Amazon. His speaking engagements have ranged everywhere from UC Berkeley (California) to The Billy Graham Center at the Cove (North Carolina). 

Photo Credit: GettyImages/Marjan Apostolovic


Originally published June 26, 2019.