Is God everywhere or is he contained to a specific location in space and time? What does the scripture teach on this?
Omnipresent: “Present everywhere at the same time”
A famous Calvinist Pastor, John MacArthur, addresses this topic in his blog.
“God is everywhere at all times. And I want you to hold on to your hat, because this is liable to flip you if you don’t be careful. Some of these thoughts are so far beyond our capacity, you’re going to have to strain a little bit. God is everywhere at the same time. God is infinite. There is no end to God. His being fills all of endless infinity. Wow. Staggering. Jeremiah 23:24, he says: “‘Do not I fill heaven and earth,’ saith the Lord?” First Kings 8:27, “Will God dwell on earth? Behold the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain Thee.” Then Solomon said, “How much less this house that I built?” As God is before all things eternal and after all things eternal, He is within all things and without all things. He is everywhere. No limits. God is infinite. You can’t find the end of God. There is no end. He has no limits.”
I completely agree with his assessment of the doctrine and though he gave some good passages I will include those and others below in my study on this.
Below we see that God himself says that he fills heaven and earth. Can we be sure that he means in a literal sense and not just in his knowledge of all things? I think that we can because the opening of the passage juxtaposes a “God at hand” over and against “not a God afar off”.
“23 Am I a God at hand, saith the Lord, and not a God afar off?; 24 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.” Jer 23:23-24 KJV
“27 But will God indeed dwell on the earth? behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house that I have builded?” 1 Kings 8:27 KJV
Here in the proverbs we see the eyes of God as being “in every place”. The plainest way of understanding this is that he is everywhere.
“3 The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good.” Pro 15:3 KJV
Below we see that he is the sustainer of all things created as well. Earlier in the passage is ascribes creation of all things in heaven and earth to God and states he is before them all and sustains them. The most logical understanding is that God is present in all of his creation.
“17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.” Col 1:17 KJV
This next passage is very comforting for Christians in that we know God is with us when the Church comes together. This is an event that is transpiring all over the world in various times and places, yet we can know that God is with us as his presence cannot be contained.
“20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” Matt 18:20 KJV
I like these next two passages very much due to clarity. In the Psalms we see the comfort of God’s presence in all places, even as we pass from this life. In Isaiah God is said to inhabit eternity itself. Because of this and other verses I think it would be follow to say that God’s presence is limited to any point in time as well as space.
“7 Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? 8 If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. 9 If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; 10 Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.” Psa 139:7-10 KJV
“15 For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.” Isa 57:15 KJV
Due to the clarity of language in the Bible this is something that we need to accept and understand in faith. When it reaches a point that I cannot grasp one end from the other there is a story that I remember and find comforting.
I found a copy of the story HERE if you want to read and learn more about it yourself. Whether or not you believe the story to be true the lesson it conveys is certainly spot on.
“He was walking by the seashore one day contemplating and trying to understand the mystery of the Holy Trinity when he saw a small boy running back and forth from the water to a spot on the seashore. The boy was using a sea shell to carry the water from the ocean and place it into a small hole in the sand.
The Bishop of Hippo approached him and asked, “My boy, what are doing?”
“I am trying to bring all the sea into this hole,” the boy replied with a sweet smile.
“But that is impossible, my dear child, the hole cannot contain all that water” said Augustine.
The boy paused in his work, stood up, looked into the eyes of the Saint, and replied, “It is no more impossible than what you are trying to do – comprehend the immensity of the mystery of the Holy Trinity with your small intelligence.”
The Saint was absorbed by such a keen response from that child, and turned his eyes from him for a short while. When he glanced down to ask him something else, the boy had vanished.
Some say that it was an Angel sent by God to teach Augustine a lesson on pride in learning. Others affirm it was the Christ Child Himself who appeared to the Saint to remind him of the limits of human understanding before the great mysteries of our Faith.
Through this story, the sea shell has become a symbol of St. Augustine and the study of theology.”