The God who is Present: The Universal presence of God.
Read Jeremiah. 23:16-24
“’Do I not fill the heavens and the earth?’ declares the Lord.”
How do we wrap our minds around the incomprehensible? It is easier to understand the character qualities of God when they correspond to what we see in ourselves. As individuals created in the Image of God, there are many of his qualities imprinted in our being (albeit as a shadow rather than the fullest expression). We have mental capacities that provide a glimpse into the knowledge and intellect of God. We know what it means to express love so we can have some inkling of God’s love. But his omnipresence (literally all-present) is impossible for us to understand. When we try to explain it, we become confronted with the difficulty of explaining what we have no starting point of reference.
In Jeremiah 23:16-24 God confronts the false prophets who presume to speak for God. They reveal their corruption because they dare to preach a message that contradicts the warnings that God had given in his law of the judgment that would come upon those who reject him. While God pronounced the certainty of judgment, they came preaching a message of peace and tranquility even to those who rejected God. Like the modern preachers who denounce any reality of divine justice and judgment, so these were proclaiming that even the most rebellious did not need to fear God. Under the guise of possessing a prophetic mantle, they were proclaiming their “vision of their own imagination” (verse 16). They elevated themselves to the position of God by proclaiming their own message and divine authority. While doing so, they thought God would not notice.
In response God reminds them of his omnipresence. God is not distant, living in some far-off heavenly throne, uncaring of what goes on in this tiny speck in space. Rather he fills the heavens and earth. When we speak of God’s omnipresence, we are affirming two important truths. First, God is wholly present everywhere without being confined to any one location. Second, God does not have size or spatial dimensions or limitations. He is present everywhere in his created universe, but he is not confined to his created universe and he is completely distinct from creation. Thus, there is not one place in the universe where God is more present or less present.
But this is what brings us to the realm of wonder as well as caution. To stand in the presence of an infinite God is to stand in awe. It is not just that God is powerful enough to create the universe we see, but his being completely fills the universe—and beyond. Yet we often elevate ourselves in importance and think that we know more than God. Like the false prophets, we think we can redefine what he has said and tell God what he should do. The audacity of people, to think that we, who fill only in the smallest speck of space, can give counsel to a God who fills the universe.
On the next clear night, go outside and look at the stars. Not only do we see a glimpse of eternity, but we see a glimpse into the magnitude of God’s being. Then bow in humble praise and thanksgiving and submission, for the God who cannot be contained in the universe is a God who is present with us each and every moment of our life and a God who has spoken his word to us for us to believe and follow without hesitation.