God Is Fully Present Everywhere

Jonathan Griffiths
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As human beings, you and I can struggle to be fully present intellectually and emotionally, even where we are physically present in a particular place. Think of the distracted parent on social media at home, oblivious to the chaos unfolding around; the student daydreaming about the upcoming vacation during science class; the inattentive churchgoer glancing at his phone during the sermon. We all know that we can be physically present but mentally absent. When God is present, however, He is fully present, not limited in any way by distraction or frailty of any kind.

When we imagine God being everywhere and filling the universe, we could imagine that He somehow stretches himself out or dilutes Himself to be in all places at once, but the infinite God is not limited in that kind of a way. In fact, if we find ourselves wondering how God can stretch Himself to fill all things, it may reveal that our view of God is too small. Solomon had it right when he prayed to dedicate the temple, saying, “But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heavens and the highest heaven cannot contain you; how much less this house that I have built!” (1 Kings 8:27). The infinite God cannot be contained. He is immense and unlimited. Where He is, He is fully.

When it comes to the God who governs and upholds the entire universe, He is fully present throughout His vast domain. All the time. In every place.

When it comes to the God who governs and upholds the entire universe, He is fully present throughout His vast domain. All the time. In every place. That is the foundation of this truth we need to understand. At the same time, in order to rightly understand this truth in light of all the relevant biblical teaching, we need to also see that God is present in different ways in different situations. That is, the experience of God’s presence is different for different people at different times.

We see parallels to this, of course. The presence of a police officer is experienced quite differently by a violent criminal being cuffed and put into the back of a patrol car than it is experienced by the officer’s child when he gets home at night. It is the same police officer, the same presence in a way, but a very different experience of that presence. Or, think of a famous performer or politician. Among a great crowd of people, that person is encountered in one way, distantly, from afar, but then the person goes backstage and talks with her close coworkers or friends and the experience is different. It is the same person, but a very different kind of encounter. God is present everywhere. He is fully present in all places, but different people in different situations at different times experience His presence in different ways.

To help us understand this more deeply, we might need to consider the shape of the whole Bible narrative. When God created Adam and Eve, they were able to enjoy His presence in a very intimate way. They enjoyed fellowship with Him right from the start. They lived in a garden that was, in a very real sense, a sanctuary. God came down and walked with Adam in the cool of the day. They had openness, relationship, and access, and with all that came the fullness of the blessings of God. As we can all attest, that happy state of affairs did not last. After Adam and Eve rebelled, they were defiled by their sin and no longer fit for the presence of a holy God. As a result, they were thrown out of the Garden, and cherubim with a flaming sword were put in place to guard the way back. Outside the Garden, God was still present in the world and He still oversaw what His created people were doing, but it was not the same as the intimate experience of fellowship in the Garden.

Nevertheless, God was not done with the idea of enjoying friendship and closeness with His people. This purpose was really at the heart of His design for Israel, which was to be a nation and community with the presence of God at its heart. The tabernacle in the wilderness and the temple in Jerusalem were meant to be places where God’s presence would dwell in a special way—a way that was reminiscent of the Garden. To be sure, access would be limited and would involve sacrifice and ritual, but the intention was there, and promises throughout the Old Testament pointed to a time in the future when God’s presence would spill out beyond the temple building.

For Further Reading:

God Alone

by Jonathan Griffiths

Our constant danger is that we have a view of God that is too small. We are living in a me-focused, treat-yourself world—a world that...

book cover for God Alone