Yesterday my family and I considered the omnipresence of God, His being present everywhere, in our after breakfast Bible reading time, guided by Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology (Zondervan, 1994).
Because God is omnipresent, there is nowhere where one can escape from Him, as David eloquently observes:
“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 [the abode of the dead], you are there!
If 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.”
(Psalm 139:7-10, ESV; all Bible quotations are from the ESV)
Also because God is omnipresent, there is no place that can hold Him, as Solomon observes in his prayer of dedication of the Temple: “But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot hold you; how much less this house that I have built!” (1 Kings 8:27)
Although God is everywhere at the same time, He may act differently in different places. He may be present to punish, to bless, or merely to sustain. Bible passages that show this are:
– (to punish)
“Not one of them [the sinful Israelites] shall flee away,
Not one of them shall escape.
If they dig into Sheol,
from there my hand shall take them;
if they climb up to heaven,
from there I will bring them down….
And I will fix my eyes upon them
for evil and not for good.”
(Amos 9:1b-2, 4b)
– (to bless) “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11).
– (to sustain) “And he [the Son of God] is before all things, and in him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:17).
However, when the Bible says that God is present, it usually means that He is present to bless. Thus when we pray for God’s presence, what we’re asking for is for Him to be present to bless.