Scientific evidence suggests that the universe is immense beyond the comprehension of most humans. So, is there reason to believe that God is – or can be – present everywhere throughout the universe at the same time (i.e., omnipresent)? To answer this question, we will focus on what the Bible says about where God is present.
[Note: When we quote Scripture in this article, we use the wording in the New King James Version of the Bible.]
God Resides in Heaven
The three immediately following scriptures indicate that heaven is God’s dwelling place (i.e., the place where God resides), but there is no indication as to whether or not God can be present both in heaven and elsewhere at the same time (i.e., concurrently).
1 Kings 8:27: But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain You. How much less this temple which I have built!
1 Kings 8:30: [M]ay You hear the supplication of Your servant and of Your people Israel, when they pray toward this place. Hear in heaven Your dwelling place; and when You hear, forgive.
Revelation 4:2, 3, 6, 8: I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne. And He who sat there was like a jasper and a sardius [sic] stone in appearance. . . . Before the throne there was a sea of glass, like crystal. And in the midst of the throne, and around the throne, were four living creatures. . . . The four living creatures . . . do not rest day or night, saying: “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!”
God Has Appeared to Certain People on Earth
The nine scriptures that immediately follow indicate that God appeared in some form (other than a dream or a vision) to several people during Old Testament times, but there is no indication as to whether or not God appeared concurrently as the Father, the Son, and/or the Holy Spirit at multiple locations on Earth. During New Testament times, God appeared in the form of Jesus Christ (i.e., God the Son) to many people during His lifetime on Earth, but again there is no indication as to whether or not Jesus, God the Father, and/or the Holy Spirit appeared concurrently at multiple locations on the earth.
Abram (better known as Abraham, the name God gave to him in Genesis 17:5)
Genesis 12:7: Then the LORD appeared to Abram and said, “To your descendants I will give this land.” And there he built an altar to the LORD, who had appeared to him.
Genesis 17:1: When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am Almighty God; walk before Me and be blameless.
Genesis 18:1a: Then the LORD appeared to him [Abram]. . . .
Jacob (also known as Israel, the name gave to him in Genesis 32:28)
Genesis 35:1, 7: Then God said to Jacob, “Arise, go up to Bethel and dwell there; and make an altar there to God, who appeared to you when you fled from the face of Esau your brother.”. . . And he [Jacob] built an altar there and called the place El Bethel, because there God appeared to him when he fled from the face of his brother.
Genesis 35:9: Then God appeared to Jacob again, when he came from Padan Aram, and blessed him.
Exodus 3:1-6: Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian. And he led the flock to the back of the desert, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. And the Angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire from the midst of a bush. So he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, but the bush was not consumed. Then Moses said, “I will now turn aside and see this great sight, why the bush does not burn.” So when the LORD saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” Then He said, “Do not draw near this place. Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground.” Moreover He said, “I am the God of your father—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look upon God.
Exodus 19:20-21: Then the LORD came down upon Mount Sinai, on the top of the mountain. And the LORD called Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up. And the LORD said to Moses, “Go down and warn the people, lest they break through to gaze at the LORD, and many of them perish.”
Exodus 31:18: And when He [God] had made an end of speaking with him on Mount Sinai, He gave Moses two tablets of the Testimony, tablets of stone, written with the finger of God.
Exodus 33:11a: So the LORD spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. [However, verses 20-23 in the same chapter indicate that the term “face to face” is figurative, not literal.]
God Sees All that Is Happening on Earth
If interpreted literally, both of the following scriptures indicate that God sees all that is happening with regard to matters of evil and good, thus inferring that He is constantly everywhere (i.e., omnipresent) on Earth, as well as in heaven. However, another possibility with regard to these two scriptures is that the “eyes” of God are a metaphorical term that refers to God’s “mental vision,” which alludes to His omniscience. Thus, God may be aware of evil and good because He is omniscient, rather than because He is omnipresent. [For a discussion of God’s omniscience, click on “Is God Really Omnipotent and Omniscient?”]
Proverbs 15:3: The eyes of the LORD [God] are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good.
Hebrews 4:13: [T]here is no creature hidden from His [God’s] sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.
The Holy Spirit Dwells in Every Christian
All five of the following scriptures indicate that God, in the form of the Holy Spirit, dwells in every Christian. This makes it clear that God is not limited to being in just one location at a time. Thus, God, in the form of the Holy Spirit, is constantly present throughout the earth, although not in non-Christians, because only Christians are indwelled by the Holy Spirit.
Acts 2:38: Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
Acts 4:31a: And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, . . .
1 Corinthians 3:16: Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?
1 Corinthians 6:19: [D]o you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?
2 Corinthians 6:16b: [Y]ou are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God and they shall be My people.”
[Note that the last three of these scriptures were not written for the benefit of just one person, but for the benefit of all the Christians in the church at Corinth and, perhaps, elsewhere.]
God Is Even in the Abode of the Dead
At least one Bible commentary argues that the following scripture does not actually pertain to where God can be found and that, instead, it poetically teaches that no place is too remote for God to act in our behalf. In contrast, most Bible commentaries say little or nothing to explain the meaning of this scripture, thereby suggesting that they think the basic message of the verse is either essentially self-explanatory or imponderable. We believe that the first of these two possible reasons is the more probable explanation for the lack of commentary.
Psalm 139:8: [The psalmist declares] “If I ascend into heaven, You [God] are there; If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.” [Note that the Hebrew word translated as hell in this scripture is Sheol, which is the place of the dead (or the grave), in contrast with Gehenna, which is generally regarded as the place (or state) of everlasting punishment.]
Unlike a physical beings, such as humans, spirit beings are not limited by distance. The Bible indicates that spirit beings can be anywhere at any time, but the Bible does not indicate that any spirit being other than God can be at more than one place at the same time. Thus, although Satan and angels are spirit beings who can be present anywhere at any time, they cannot be omnipresent.
In contrast, God is innately a spirit being, as indicated in John 4:24, and He can be present at innumerable locations at the same time (i.e., omnipresent). However, we do not think the Bible is sufficiently definitive as to the extent to which God is omnipresent; i.e., whether He is omnipresent throughout the entire physical universe or just throughout the earth, as well as in heaven.
With regard to why the earth may be the only place in the physical universe where God is omnipresent, a logical reason is that the earth may be the only place in the physical universe that has intelligent life and, therefore, God is omnipresent on the earth because He wants to have a relationship with human beings, as indicated in the Bible. [Click on “Why Did God Create Humans?” for a discussion of God’s desire to have a close relationship with mankind.]
Although many people think there is also intelligent life elsewhere in the universe and that, therefore, it is reasonable to believe that God is likewise present at those locations, there is no conclusive proof that intelligent life exists anywhere in the physical universe other than on the earth. And, if there is not intelligent life in the physical universe other than on the earth, there does not seem to be a logical reason for God to be present elsewhere in the universe, because there would be no intelligent life there with whom He could have a relationship . Nevertheless, because the Bible provides support for the belief that God is omnipresent throughout the earth, there is valid reason to believe that God has the ability to be omnipresent everywhere throughout the entire universe.