The presence of God is a very big deal.

If you want to develop true and deep intimacy with God, you need to learn how to come into His presence. 

Some people reject that idea because, they think, If God is everywhere, then God is here, too. And if God is already here, we don’t need God to come to us, and He doesn’t need us to come to Him.

Have you heard this kind of reasoning? It’s pretty common in the church. But it’s wrong.

Look, God really is omnipresent. That’s an eternal truth. And yes, He’s here, by virtue of being everywhere. But when the Bible talks about God’s presence, it’s not talking about His omnipresence. It’s talking about a tangible manifestation of His being in a particular time, space, and place. Throughout the Bible, the God who is everywhere shows up somewhere, and when He does, it’s called His presence. There are hundreds of verses throughout the Bible that illustrate this truth. 

God’s presence throughout scripture

Right after Cain killed Abel and received God’s punishment, we read, “Cain went out from the Lord’s presence and lived in the land of Nod” (Genesis 4:16). Please note: We can leave God’s presence, and even live outside His presence. 

When the tabernacle was set up and priests were appointed, the Israelites were instructed to “put the Urim and the Thummim in the breastpiece, so they may be over Aaron’s heart whenever he enters the presence of the Lord” (Exodus 28:30). Take note: We can enter God’s presence.

‘When the LORD was angry with Israel’s rebellion, He told Moses, “Go up to the land flowing with milk and honey. But I will not go with you.” Moses replied, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here” (Exodus 33:3). So God’s presence can be with us, or not with us.

Later in that same chapter, God tells Moses, “the Lord said, “There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by” (Exodus 33:21,22). God’s presence was somewhere so specific that Moses could stand near Him. And then God’s presence passed by. God’s presence can move, and it can come and go. 

We read that “the boy Samuel grew up in the presence of the Lord,” while Eli, who ministered in the Temple, apparently did not (I Samuel 2:21).

God told Elijah, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by” (I Kings 19:11).

All of this is obvious, if we let it be: When God appeared to Moses on Mount Sinai, for example, that He was more present there, than, let’s say, down in the valley where the Israelites were going off the rails. 

God’s transcendence vs. his presence

It’s healthy for us to ponder God’s transcendence, His omnipresence. But no human has ever experienced God’s omnipresence, because we’re finite beings locked into time, space, and place. God doesn’t just want us to be aware that He’s everywhere. He wants us to experience profound manifestations of His glory—more than we’re currently experiencing. I know this because He’s done it all throughout history. Sometimes He comes to us, but He aways wants us to come to Him:

“Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings…” (Hebrews 10:19-22)

We must learn how to approach God by faith, to enter His presence—and He’s waiting for us with open arms. King David’s experience really can be ours: “You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence” (Acts 2:28).

God’s presence, our presence

Moses, one of the heroes of the faith, teaches us something powerful about experiencing more of God’s presence: “The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend” (Exodus 33:11). The Hebrew word for face in this passage is presence. God and Moses met together, presence to presence. Yes, God was present to Moses. But Moses also made himself fully present to God!

Mic drop.

Learning to be fully present to God is about setting time aside to be with Him without distraction. It’s also about being more and more real with Him, until we’re holding nothing back. Stick with this blog over time, and we’ll learn how to do just that together. In my next post, I’ll be exploring how to grow intimacy with God by listening to God’s voice. 

Next post: Growing intimacy with God through hearing His voice.

You can watch a short video summary of this post here:

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