Jeremiah 23:23–24

“Am I a God at hand, declares the Lord, and not a God afar off? Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him? declares the Lord. Do I not fill heaven and earth? declares the Lord” (Jer. 23:23–24).

Continuing our contemplation of God’s infinity, we will today try to understand better the omnipresence of God. As revealed in today’s passage, God is at hand in all places, and we can never hide anywhere from His presence. If there is no place that we can hide, then our Creator is necessarily present in every location in existence. He fills every place in creation.

But what does this mean? A problem with conceiving of God’s omnipresence involves the translation of the Hebrew and Greek terms used for “spirit.” Ruach and pneuma, respectively, can also be rendered into English with the words “wind” or “breath.” Even though we cannot see the molecules of breath or air with the naked eye, we do know that wind and breath have physical substance. They are gases, and gas is one of the states of matter.

This fact, plus the tendency of the media to portray a spirit as a gaseous substance, influences how we conceive of God’s omnipresence. If we are not careful we might believe the Lord is like an infinite gas diffused throughout creation. This is not the case. God’s being is altogether different from physical matter. He exists on a plane wholly distinguishable from the one readily available to the five senses.

Another term used for omnipresence is “ubiquity.” Ubiquity means “equal whereness” and escalates the idea of God’s presence. When we say God is ubiquitous, we are saying that the fullness of His presence is located everywhere. It is not as if the Lord’s “head” is located on earth and His “foot” elsewhere in the universe. Instead, the fullness of His being is equal at all times and in all places. This immensity does not refer in any sense to physical size. In part, it signifies that His love, wrath, mercy, justice, knowledge, and so on, are fully present everywhere in creation and beyond.

Even though the Lord is fully present everywhere, this does not mean we always feel His presence equally. He is free to make us feel His proximity more strongly at certain times and in particular places (for example, Ex. 3:1–4:17). Yet, though we may not feel Him strongly at all times, we know that He is always present with us nonetheless (Ps. 23).

Coram Deo

The doctrine of ubiquity or omnipresence has several practical benefits for the Christian. First, we are assured that the Lord is faithful to be with us and sustain us even when we feel like we are far away from Him. Also, if He seems far off from us, it may be that He is disciplining us because of our sin, and so we should examine ourselves to see if we need to repent. Take some time to look at yourself today and repent of any sin, knowing that He is always present.

For Further Study