The Lord is omnipresent, which means everywhere we go, the Lord is there (Psalm 139:7-10). Paul, in Acts 17:27-28, says that the presence of the Lord is all-encompassing. Jonah tried to flee from the presence of the Lord in vain (Jonah 1:3), finding that wherever He went, the Lord was waiting for Him. So everywhere we are, we are always in the presence of God.
The Character of God and the Presence of God
There is another sense in which we can be in and out of the presence of the Lord. The presence of God here refers to the divine blessing and embracing love of God because Christians are promised joy everlasting in the presence of God (Psalm 16:11; 21:6; 46:4).
Those who reject the gospel, “will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut off from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might” (2 Thessalonians 1:9; Matthew 22:13; Revelation 22:15).
The presence of God also refers to the demonstration of the glory and heavenly majesty of God. Isaiah had a vision of the Lord on his throne, where he described the seraphim as being unable to view the glory of God directly (Isaiah 6:2). Isaiah was convinced during this scene of his destruction in the face of such holiness (Isaiah 6:5). The presence of the Lord is fearful for sinful man to approach (1 Samuel 6:20).
The presence of the Lord can also refer to a unique revelation of God to humanity. Moses was told by the Lord to consider the tabernacle and later the temple as the place where He would reveal Himself. The tabernacle was, then, where to find the presence of God (Deuteronomy 19:17). Moses encountered the presence of the Lord at the burning bush (Exodus 3:4-5). David, in Psalm 68:8, spoke of the presence of God at Sinai.
The Omnipresence and the Manifest Presence of God
Theologians make a distinction between omnipresence and the manifest presence of God. The manifest presence of the Lord is the result of the interaction with man. When Israel camped at Sinai, the Lord had been there all along. When they saw the fire and heard the trumpet and experienced the earthquake, they were in the manifest presence of God.
Scripture describes the event as God “descending” to Sinai and “meeting with the people of Israel (Exodus 19:17, 20). The people of Israel, during this time, were in the presence of God mainly, for the Lord used physical means of communication with His people to get them the message that He was there and that they were in His presence.
God has used the manifest presence in the history of His people, but they did not realize He was there. Genesis 28:16 is one example, for Jacob was in the presence of God and didn’t know it. The Lord is everywhere present in His Creation because there is no place one may go to escape His presence (Psalm 139:7-10).
Space itself is a creation of God, for the Lord not only created space but fills it with Himself. Scripture teaches that God fills both heaven and earth (Jeremiah 23:24). Space cannot contain or bind God (1 Kings 8:27). Heaven is the throne of God, and the earth is the footstool of the Lord (Isaiah 66:1). The Lord is immanent and transcendent for He exists both beyond time and space and fills both with His presence.
An Awareness of the Presence of God
The Lord is everywhere present, but you and I are not always aware of His presence, nor experience His presence in the same manner. Before the Fall, Adam and Eve enjoyed the presence of God, but after they disobeyed God, they attempted to hide from the presence of God (Genesis 3:8).
In the story of the Garden, we see that the Lord will always be omnipresent and omniscient. As a result of their sin, guilt, and shame, Adam and Eve were no longer able to enjoy the presence of God in the Garden. Through their disobedience, every person is now a sinner by nature and by choice, hostile and alienated from God apart from Christ (Romans 5:12; 8:7-8; Colossians 1:21).
The Lord never ceased to be omnipresent, but man’s relationship after Adam and Eve’s disobedience changed. Sin divides man from the gracious and loving presence of God but not from His essential presence (Ephesians 2:14). The Lord upholds and sustains all His Creation (Hebrews 1:13), so the Lord is still in charge of everything and everyone (Acts 17:28).
The relationship that was once loving has become hostile since people were created by in His image, but now suppress the knowledge of His eternal nature and power, which includes His omnipresence (Romans 1:18-21). People may convince themselves that the Lord is not omnipresent or think they can hide from the sight of God and escape judgment (John 3:19). No one can hide from the Lord (Psalm 139:12).
Despite the rebellion of man and because of the grace of God, the Lord has chosen to reveal Himself through various means (Ephesians 2:4-5; Hebrews 1:1-2). The Lord reveals Himself through nature (Romans 1:20) and by His Word (Hebrews 4:20).
Through revealing Himself to the Prophets, the Lord has shown His goodness, holiness, justice, and faithfulness (Exodus 33:19; Isaiah 6:1-5; Romans 9:14; 2 Timothy 2:13). In the Incarnation, the Lord revealed Himself through His Son Jesus Christ. It is only now when Christians are glorified in heaven where they will see the Lord face to face, and experience joy in its fullest sense that comes with it being in the presence of God.
In Christ, every Christian experiences something of the presence of God, for the Holy Spirit indwells in them (2 Timothy 1:4). The indwelling of the Holy Spirit aims to help Christians grow in grace (Galatians 5:17).
When the Lord Jesus returns, Christians will be glorified not only from the presence and the penalty of sin but from its presence, for we shall see Christ as He is (1 Corinthians 13:12; Philippians 3:20-21; 1 John 3:2). Christians today can experience a foretaste we will have one day in the presence of God (Psalm 16:11), because the presence of God is something for which we are to yearn after as Christians.
Only those who are in Christ will experience the presence of God. In Jesus Christ, all the fulness of God was pleased to dwell in bodily form (Colossians 1:19). Satan and his demonic horde do not experience the presence of God as angels or Christians do in heaven (Matthew 8:29; Psalm 148:2).
Those who are in Christ experience His love, not condemnation (John 3:16-18; Romans 8:1), while those who reject Him are under His condemnation and await His wrath (John 3:36). The only way to not be cast aside or away from the presence of God is to come to Christ, for He is the only way into forgiving, peaceful, joyful, and loving presence of God the Father (John 14:6).
The Omnipresence of God Is Comforting to Christians
The omnipresence of the Lord is a comforting truth, for Christians, since He is everywhere, He can quickly come to our aid. Since the Lord is everywhere present, the people of God can trust He is in every place working according to His will for the good of His people and to achieve His purposes.
Another word for omnipresence is ubiquity, which means appearing everywhere, and elevates the idea of the presence of God. To say God is ubiquitous means the fullness of His presence is everywhere. The fullness of God is equal at all times and at all times and signifies His love, justice, wrath, and knowledge are always fully present in Creation and beyond.
Christians may not always feel the presence of the Lord, but He is always fully present. The Lord is free to make His proximity known at all times or in particular places (Exodus 3:1-4:17). Though we may not “feel Him,” the Lord is always present (Psalm 23).
Ubiquity or omnipresence of the Lord has several practical benefits for Christians today, the first being the Lord is faithfully with the people of God and sustaining them when they feel far away from Him.
When He seems far off, it is likely because He disciplines those whom He loves (Hebrews 12:6) so we should examine ourselves in light of Christ (2 Corinthians 13:5) and see if we need to repent (1 John 1:9). Please take some time to examine yourself fin light of Christ, repent of sin, knowing the Lord is always present.
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Dave Jenkins is the Executive Director of Servants of Grace Ministries, the Executive Editor of Theology for Life Magazine, and the Host of the Equipping You in Grace Podcast and Warriors of Grace Podcast. He received his MAR and M.Div. through Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary. You can follow him on Twitter at @davejjenkins, find him on Facebook at Dave Jenkins SOG, Instagram, read more of his writing at Servants of Grace, or sign to receive his newsletter. When Dave isn’t busy with ministry, he loves spending time with his wife, Sarah, reading the latest from Christian publishers, the Reformers, and the Puritans, playing golf, watching movies, sports, and spending time with his family.