Attribute n. - a quality or feature regarded as a characteristic or inherent part of someone or something.
Jeremiah 23:23-24 Am I a God at hand, saith the LORD, and not a God afar off? Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the LORD. Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the LORD.
The big fancy word for this is omnipresent, which just means that God is present everywhere at once. So, simply put we may say that “God is present” and that will be as true for you as it is for me regardless of our separate locations. It will also be true of all the other places on earth, the planets, space and heaven.
That stretches our human minds much farther than usual, doesn’t it? We tend to focus more on the “present with me and mine” aspect and tend to forget the bigger picture. Probably this is because it is so much bigger than what we can grasp, but also I suspect that we are just a lot more interested in our own little lives than in all that “out there”. Sometimes I feel like my thinking is rather cramped.
But, the reality of God’s presence is that He is not limited by our finite thinking. He is present everywhere at all times whether or not we think about it or understand it. He is not hindered by our small minds, and that is a very good thing!
Isaiah 55:8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.
Even when We Don’t “Feel” Him
Psalms 46:1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
Our unbelief does not hinder Him being present either. He is present with us regardless of how we feel about it. We may not always sense His presence or nearness, but He is still with us.
Imagine if your mother or friend or spouse were with you and you kept telling them they weren’t there because you didn’t feel like they were there. That would be rather awkward wouldn’t it? Sometimes we do feel like someone is with us in body but their mind is somewhere else – they’re really not with us. God isn’t like that. He is with us and He is present in Spirit and fully aware of everything in the situation, but He is not present in body. So, it is even more awkward for us to insist that He is not present; but there are times we still feel that way.
I think part of the reason for that is that we are not drawing near to Him. There is a sense in which God is present with us and yet we don’t feel close because we have failed to obey the command to draw near to Him.
James 4:8 Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.
The problem here seems to be the sin when we look at the whole verse. It’s like a father keeping his mud-encrusted son at arm’s length. The father is still present, but there can’t be close fellowship because of all the dirt. Once the son is cleaned up (confessing sin, 1 John 1:9), then that closeness can be restored. But the father was there all along.
And, so is God.
He is even present with those who are not His children by faith in Jesus Christ because He is literally, not figuratively, everywhere at once. So, for those who are not born again, He is as near to them but they don’t know it because there is no relationship there. Even so, they are as close to that nearness as simply calling on Him for salvation.
Acts 2:21 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.
And the name that must be called upon is Jesus Christ -
Acts 4:10 & 12 Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole…Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
He is no farther away than the name of His Son to anyone who will believe – anyone who calls upon the name of the Lord. That is an amazingly wonderful thought!
“I Am with You”
Matthew 28:19-20 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
Hebrews 13:5 Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.
If you remember, “you” means “you plural” – “you all”; and “thou” means “you singular” – “you right there, yeah, I’m talking to YOU.”
So, from these two passages we can see that the Lord Jesus has promised to be with us as the church, as His whole body; and He has promised to be with us individually. We might say separately and together.
It is interesting that in Matt. 28 He said “I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” That is in the present tense – I AM – which reminds us of His name, “I AM THAT I AM” (Ex. 3:14), and of the fact that Jesus said that “before Abraham was, I am.” (Jn. 8:58) The Lord is present in all time now. That is something that we cannot comprehend with our human minds. He is not only present in all space, He is present in all of time simultaneously. It kind of makes my head hurt to even think about it.
It is also interesting that in the context of the above verses He is with us as a group as we go and preach the gospel and teach the things He commanded us, but He is with us individually where we meet the needs of this life on a day-to-day basis. This reminds me of a line from a poem by Elizabeth Barret Browning:
“I love thee to the level of every day’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.”
Only, the Lord Jesus loves us far more deeply than a woman could ever love a man, and He truly knows the level of each day’s need for each and every one of us. This is because He is truly present with us in a way that no human can ever be with another human, and He loves us in a way that no two humans ever loved each other.
One way that He is with us is in the person of the Holy Spirit, the Comforter. Though Jesus left physically, He gives us His Spirit to be with us and in us when we are saved.
John 15:26 But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:
John 16:7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.
In fact, this was the very reason that Jesus Christ came – to make it possible for us to have God with us at a level and in a way that had not been before.
Matthew 1:23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.
It is through the birth, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ that we can truly have God with us. Though He was present always, and though He was with some in the Old Testament in a close way, there is a new nearness for the believer after the cross than there was before. We can now have boldness to come before the throne of God at any time in any place because He is as close as….well, the presence of His Son!
Hebrews 4:16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
Hebrews 8:1 Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens;
Near, so very near to God,
Nearer I cannot be;
For in the person of His Son
I am as near as He.
So dear, so very dear to God,
More dear I cannot be;
The love wherewith He loves the Son -
Such is His love to me.
- Catesby Paget
God is so very present in this world that not even a common little bird can die without Him knowing about it.
Matthew 10:29 Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.
How can we doubt His presence with us when He is present with the sparrows? Surely we can believe Him and His infinite interest and presence with all His creation. And, yet it is strange how quickly we forget…
It is strange we go on living our everyday lives
So carelessly, stumbling, dully we plod
Our commonplace paths, and forget that we walk
Every day, every hour, in the presence of God.
- Martha Snell Nicholson