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Series: In His Image
Sun am 23 June 2013 – Kobus Swart
Jer. 23:23-26(MSG); Ps. 139:7-12 (MSG); John 1:1-3, 14; (John 14:9; John 5:19);(Matt. 1:23);
Col. 1:15-17; (1 Cor. 5:4); Heb. 1:3; (Luke 3:38); (Gen. 1:1); (Gen. 38:16); (Heb. 11:3).
Sometimes it takes the questions asked by little children, to challenge us, such as: “Why do you pray to God in heaven? Where is heaven? Where is God now? Where does he live? Where is God’s home?” These questions and similar ones can make us go and do some more research and confront us in your understanding and experience of God. There are statements made from pulpits such as “Let us all come into the presence of God”; “Let us ask the Lord to come near”; “Lord will you please go with us”; “God showed up in a difficult situation”. Where has He been before? It is religious language like this that we have become used to. Questions are raised in tragic circumstances: When an innocent 2-year old child drowns; when a saintly man or woman dies tragically; when someone trusts in God for healing and dies. “Where was God? Why did He allow that to happen? Why did He chose not to act?” No-one can really answer these questions nor explain every situation.
Let us see how the omnipresence of God is described in the Old Testament. Am I not a God near at hand – God’s Decree. – and not a God far off? Can anyone hide out in a corner where I can’t see him? – God’s Decree. Am I not present everywhere, whether seen or unseen? – God’s Decree. I know what they’re saying, all these prophets who preach lies using me as their text, saying ‘I had this dream! I had this dream!’ How long do I have to put up with this? Do these prophets give two cents about me as they preach their lies and spew out their grandiose delusions? (Jer. 23:23-26-MSG) Can you see this is an age-old question? Is there any place I can go to avoid your Spirit? To be out of your sight? If I climb to the sky, you’re there! If I go underground, you’re there! If I flew on morning’s wings to the far western horizon, you’d find me in a minute – you’re already there waiting! Then I said to myself, “Oh, he even sees me in the dark! At night I’m immersed in the light!” It’s a fact: darkness isn’t dark to you; night and day, darkness and light, they’re all the same to you (Ps. 139:7-12-MSG).Theologians have tried to explain the omnipresence of God: “the essential universal generality of divine presence”; they differentiate it from God’s “specialty of presence”. God’s omnipresence means He is filling all space with His entire Being; which includes the universe. If you are not careful with that definition, you can end up with the philosophy of pantheism which says that nature, or the universe is God. Yes, we marvel at the beauty of nature, and of all creation. The life in nature comes from God. Indeed God is everywhere but not as in the pantheistic view. I see all these things simply reflecting a Higher Source (Gen 1).
How did God’s omnipresence change when Jesus was born? What happened when God decided to become visible in His Son? In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.… And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:1-3 & 14). This is beyond our finite mind’s ability to comprehend. He is Immanuel, God with us (Matt.1:23). The fullness of the Godhead dwelt in Jesus bodily (Col 1:19). If this universal omnipresent God has become flesh, what happened to His omnipresence in the rest of creation if it is now all vested in Jesus Christ? He said, “If you have seen me you have seen my Father,” but He also said, “I do nothing unless I see my Father do it” (John 14:9; John 5:19). God has not divested Himself of His omnipresence when He became visible in Jesus.
Something magnificent beyond words happened when Jesus became the face of God. The face of God in the world is called “SON”. God the invisible, first became visible in Adam, who was called the son of God (Luke 3:38). In the plan of redemption God made Himself visible again – this time in His SON Jesus. In it, we find the pattern of God’s final and ultimate intention.
We must have an appreciation of God’s plan in His Son Jesus Christ. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together (Col. 1:15-17). When we begin to split Father, Son and Holy Spirit into three separate entities, we are in deep trouble. In these last days God has spoken to us in SON (Heb. 1:3). God being made visible and yet the omnipresence of God was unchanged.
What we have to see, is that there is the omnipresence and then there is the manifested presence of God. (Cf Gen. 28:16). We all have experiences in life when something happened to us and we became aware that Someone was behind it. Something beyond the experience makes us know there is a Hand, a Presence behind it. We know that there is Someone bigger than us. It is time for us to connect with the Presence beyond the experience itself. It is not by coincidence. Some call it ‘cosmic electricity’; others call it ‘expressed power’, some come closer and say it is ‘divine energy’. The Hebrews called it “ruach”, also translated as wind, breath – the Spirit of God. In Genesis 1:2 when the earth was formless and void, we find this “ruach” of God vibrating upon the waters. The Hebrews understood the “ruach” energy to be as wide as the universe and powerful enough to fuel and animate and sustain even the stars; they also understood it to be as intimate and as personal as the breath you just took or are about to take. The same omnipresent (powerful divine energy) “ruach” which hovered over the waters of the earth, came over Mary – overshadowed her – and she conceived and brought forth the Son of God! Do not limit Him to being out there everywhere because He is also very personal, very close and intimate. In our vagueness we can become evasive, but a personal encounter with Him will change everything. Sometimes it takes a crisis to arrest us in our steps, making us look up, asking these questions and expect answers.
Do we believe with conviction that God is with us? What does it mean? He is present with us every moment. If you do not believe it then you do not believe in the omnipresence of God. What is often missing is the manifest presence of God. A personal encounter with God changes your life. There can be an encounter when the word comes. It is an encounter, a manifested presence which so many Christians lack. Jesus said “I am with you to the end” (John 14:15-16). How is He with us? He is sending the Holy Spirit. When the Holy Spirit is with us,He is with us; when He is with us God is with us. We need new insights about Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
The word “parousia” in the Bible has been translated as ‘coming’. It actually means presence and comes from two words “para” (parallel) and “sia”(being). He is alongside us now. It should change the way we pray. Let us be more aware of the divine presence, more attuned to the “ruach”, the breath, the Spirit of God. By faith we understand these things (Heb.11:3).
Take us deeper Lord!