I know! I know! I just said I will not be posting for maybe another week or two and here I am posting! Sorry, I could not pass this up because it is such a revelation to me, and maybe to you, too! I decided to take a short break from studying some professional materials and started to read the next chapter in Hell Under Fire on Biblical Theology: Three Pictures of Hell. After reading most of the chapter, I came across this thought and it stood me up. My whole Christian life I have believed that God is omnipresent. That means that, just like David says in Psalm 139:7-10, there is no place one can go to flee from God. There is no place where He is not. In Jeremiah 23:23 we read about God saying, “…can anyone hide in secret places so that I cannot see him” declares the Lord. “Do I not fill heaven and earth?” declares the Lord. And how about Hebrews 4::13: “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him whom we must give account.”
Christopher Morgan, one of the two General Editors of this book wrote this chapter and said in it on page 147,
“Hell as banishment is especially prominent in the teachings of Jesus, particularly in Matthew…The contrast is vivid: Believers are welcomed into the kingdom while the wicked are banished outside of it…Whereas punishment stresses the active side of hell, banishment shows the horror of hell by highlighting what a person misses. When average evangelical church members are asked what hell is like, their likely response will be that hell is “separation from God.” While the idea of separation is certainly correct and included in this New Testament concept of banishment, separation alone does not do justice to the force of this picture of hell. Banishment is much stronger than separation. It suggests God’s active judgment while separation could simply imply divine passivity…The wicked never experience unhindered fellowship with God. They are forever banished from His majestic presence and completely miss out on the reason for their existence – to glorify and know their Creator.”
I have always believed this until I read this section and came to several conclusions. First, if hell is separation from God, then God cannot be omnipresent because there is then a place, that exists and is real, and one which God created, where He is not. Hell is the one place where God is not! And since God created it, because He created everything, He was able to create something that would not be in His presence. Wow! Think about that for a moment! Second, if God is in fact omnipresent, one of His supposedly divine attributes that every believer upholds, then He must be present in hell to some degree, which then caused me to think that somehow God relishes being present in a place where there is so much agony, supposedly eternal agony. This either grieves God immensely or HE enjoys it. Since God actively is judging, because banishment suggest it, (see above) then He must be actively present judging those in hell continually forever. This must be why some people have such a hard time believing in God, because they are picturing God relishing His judgment of those in hell.
Or third, God is not omnipresent and we have believed a lie. Or fourth, God is in fact omnipresent, but we have misunderstood not only His word, but also His being. This goes back to what I have said before that God isn’t loving one moment while dealing with His children, and holy and just and giving His wrath to unbelievers, especially those in hell. His holiness demands justice, say many, therefore He must punish unbelievers forever, because He is an eternal God.
Could it be that, as I have said and shown before, that God IS love, and His love is shown through justice and mercy and wrath and blessings and all that He is and does? Essentially, I guess one could say that God has one attribute, love, and all else that we know about God exists as an outworking of that one attribute. I have not worked through that thought fully, but at least on the surface it makes sense to me. And, the more I read about God in the Bible, the more it makes sense and the more of the Bible I can put together into a coherent whole that has no difficulties ro apparent contradictions, in other words, it becomes easy enough for a child to understand.
I do believe God is omnipresent, but I believe, because we have gotten it all wrong concerning the biblical view of hell, that we end up with quandaries such as this. I believe God is actively working in the souls of mankind to change their hearts to ones who will worship Him one day. But first, they must be judged for their sins in this place called hell. And one day, they, like us, will be restored to fellowship with God forever.
What do you say? Is God omnipresent (and why or why not)?