The consolations of God - Fifth in a series
God is in all places at all times. We learn as children that he is omnipresent and exists eternally, outside of time. So, what does it mean when we say or read that his presence is with a person or nation? Or that the Lord casts people away from his presence?
The Bible has many instances of the word Presence or face of God. Jacob named the place where he wrestled with God, Peniel or presence. (Gen 32:29-30)
Psalm 114:7 instructs us to tremble at the presence of the Lord, and Psalm 100:2 says, …come before his presence with singing. David begs the Lord after his sin with Bathsheba, Cast me not away from your presence and take not thy holy spirit from me. (Ps 51:11) God proclaims to Judah, the nation, I will forsake you, and the city that I gave you and your fathers, and cast you out of my presence… (Jer 23:39b)
These diverse passages teach that God's presence can be terrifying, yet much to be desired, and it is possible for man to be removed from it. The theological truth is that God is omnipresent but our experience or perception of it is fine-tuned by many influences.
There is an expression, "If you feel far from God, who moved?" This implies the person has lost faith and therefore feels far from God. But is this always the case? That person may be in the midst of a great test of faith.
True, we may feel far from the long suffering, good Presence (Ex 34:6-7) because of our own blindness and sins, or try hiding from the Lord, to no avail, of course. (Gen 3:8; Jon 1:3) True repentance is then required for reunion with Him. (2 Cor 7:10)
Fill their faces with shame; that they may seek thy name, O LORD. (Ps 83:16)
And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. (Jer 29:13)
But it is good for me to draw near to God: I have put my trust in the Lord GOD, that I may declare all thy works. (Ps 73:28)
When God's presence is a wonderful consolation, then his omnipresence is, too.