Is God omnipresent? What does it mean to be omnipresent?
To say God is omnipresent means He is present everywhere with His whole Being at all times. The prefix omni- comes from the Latin word meaning "all." Many religions believe God is everywhere at one time. However, the Bible specifically teaches that God is both everywhere at once and transcendent (above all) or outside of His creation.
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Psalm 33:13-14 reveals that God exists outside of our created world: "The LORD looks down from heaven; he sees all the children of man; from where he sits enthroned he looks out on all the inhabitants of the earth." Yet God is also everywhere within our world. Psalm 139:7-10 notes, "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, you are there! If I 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."
Some religious systems teach that God is everywhere because He is everything. This belief, called pantheism, says God is diffused throughout the entire universe, making trees, rocks, animals, stars, and people all part of God. This is not the biblical view of omnipresence. God can reveal Himself in one location, yet His presence is simultaneously everywhere else in the universe. This is why it is important to say He is present everywhere with His whole Being at all times. God is present everywhere, but that does not mean we are each part of God.
God is present on His throne (Revelation 4:2), He was present at the Jewish temple (2 Chronicles 7:2), and He is present in the lives of each believer in Christ (Galatians 2:20). Yet God is supernaturally present at all other places at the same time. He may reveal Himself more fully in a particular time and place, but is not limited to a particular time and place.
A greater understanding of God's omnipresence makes the incarnation of Jesus even more significant. The omnipresent God of the universe intentionally chose to limit Himself to a physical human body to live among us. Further, He experienced the pains and joys of humanity, ultimately suffering in our place as a sacrifice for our sins. While Jesus never gave up His divinity, He chose to take the form of a human to show the full extent of His love.
Philippians 2:6-8 expresses it this way: "he [who] was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross."
The omnipresence of God informs us of the greatness of God. It highlights the love of God expressed in Jesus Christ. And it reminds us that we can never hide from God—nor should we desire to do so. The Bible's teaching on God's omnipresence should be a source of comfort for God's children everywhere (Genesis 16:13; Matthew 28:20).
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