We are going to look at two attributes of God that are, to me two sides of the same coin – omnipresence and infinity. Omnipresence means that God is present everywhere in space. There is no location where God is not. We see it in Psalm 139:7-12 (NIV) “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, ‘Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,’ even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.” There is nowhere I can go to escape from God’s presence.
We see it rather humourously illustrated in the story of Jonah. God had commanded him to go to Nineveh to preach to its citizens and, not wanting to give even the smallest shred of hope to a people he both feared and hated, Jonah boarded a ship at Joppa to go in exactly the opposite direction – to Tarshish. He discovered, to his chagrin, that God was in that boat with him. He had not succeeded in running away from God. You would think that a prophet of God would have known better.
Infinity means that there is no place in time where God is not present. Time is not relevant to God. He knows the past, not because He has to remember what has happened, rather He knows the past because He is still always there. He doesn’t predict the future, because again, He is already there. God lives in eternal present. When God spoke to Moses from the burning bush, He identified Himself with the name YHWH, which as been translated as “I AM.” In that four letter unpronounceable word we hear the declaration that God is, has been and will always be. He is infinite.
In an argument with the Pharisees over His relationship to Abraham, Jesus said “Before Abraham was I AM.” He didn’t merely say that He preceded Abraham. To have meant that, Jesus could have said “I existed before Abraham.” Instead, He took the divine name and applied it to Himself and said “Before Abraham was I AM.” No wonder the Pharisees picked up stones to execute Jesus – they rightly understood that Jesus was claiming to be God.
There is another dimension to these attributes and that is that God is also present in our thoughts. He knows what we are thinking. A good friend sent me this quotation from John Wesley. “If we believe that God knows all things about us, then we should take care not to do the least thing, not to speak the least word, not to indulge the least thought, which we would have the least reason to think would offend him.” That can be frightening to know that God is fully aware of even the slightest thought we allow to occupy our minds, but it can also be encouraging and comforting. So often people misunderstand us. They can ascribe motives to our actions that we didn’t have. And the more we argue, the more they seem believe their original assessments. It makes me think of the words given to Queen Gertrude by William Shakespeare in Hamlet, “The lady doth protest too much.”
Somehow the divine attributes of omnipresence, infinity and omniscience are woven together into a seamless whole in the God we worship. So, be encouraged – God knows and understands everything we are going through. Remember these words from the letter to the Hebrews. Hebrews 4:15-16 (NIV) “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”
Till the next time we meet, Keep the Son in Your Eyes.