Ever wonder where God is in relation to the universe? And where is heaven? It’s important to understand the nature of God and his kingdom because then we can understand how he relates to humanity.
Closer Than You Think
There are many attributes used to describe God: love, holiness, patience, mercy, kindness, wisdom, glory, etc. One of those attributes pertinent to today’s post is his eternity.
Eternity just means that God has no beginning or end. He is not bound to space, time, and matter.
In fact, as one theologian said, God is Lord of space and time. He stands above time, behind time, and ahead of time. He literally, as Dallas Willard says, “fills and overflows” all of space. 1
Furthermore, he is the first cause—the Spiritual Agent that creates, sustains, and governs all of creation.
I’m sure that you, like me, have been baffled by the enormity of empty space. But one thing to note is that space isn’t empty at all. It is filled with the divine reality of God’s kingdom.
God’s kingdom is in the space around us—the very air we breathe.God's kingdom is in the space around us—the very air we breathe. Click To Tweet
We understand this by the Bible’s description of God as omnipresent, or “everywhere all the time.” This means that God isn’t held within the bounds of space and time. He is eternal.
He completely envelopes the universe.
Far and Near
Theologian Wayne Grudem said, “God lives beyond the farthest galaxy, yet closer than our reach of faith.” 2 He is a God “far off” and “nearby,” says Jeremiah (Jer 23:23).
He is transcendent (untraceable), yet eminent (reachable).
This is why the Psalmist could say, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in times of trouble” (Psalm 46:1).
He’s our refuge because he is near. He is our strength because he is tangible. He’s available in times of trouble, because he’s everywhere all the time.
This should deeply encourage us and radically alter our posture toward him.
In this post, I share seven examples of God’s nearness. I hope you will be encouraged that God is with you and wants to intimately interact with you in an ongoing personal relationship.
1. “And God called the expanse heaven.”
In learning about the heavens, there’s no better place to begin than Genesis. In the opening verse of the Bible we read, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”
So the heavens were made in the beginning.
But on the second day, we see he created “the sky.” Interestingly, the literal translation of sky is “heaven.” The text says, “God called the expanse heaven” (v. 8).
Conclusively, the first dimension of heaven is the air we breathe. And it’s here that we experience God.
Picture the reality of this verse, “For the eyes of the Lord search through the whole earth looking to strengthen those who hearts are fully committed to him” (2 Chronicles 16:9).
His eyes are searching and hearts are strengthened because he’s close enough to do so.
2. “Angel called out of heaven.”
This is just one story of many such instances throughout the Scriptures.
Convinced her son was going to die from thirst while stranded in the desert, Hagar left Ishmael under a tree and walked about a “bowshot away.” For she said, “I cannot watch the boy die.”
As any parent would, she sat there and sobbed as the desert’s harsh weather conditions overtook her son (Genesis 21:14-18).
But the text says that God “heard the boy crying” and the angel of God “called to Hagar from heaven.”
What do we see here? Well, God heard the boy, and the angel spoke, simply because they were close enough to do so.
I hope this reality meets you, too, in your deepest need, “The Lord is near the brokenhearted and saves those who are broken in spirit” (Psalm 34:18).
His ability to mend broken hearts speaks of his nearness.
3. “None other than the house of God!”
Taking a break from his journey, Jacob laid his head down to rest.
While sleeping he dreamed of a “stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching into heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it” (Gen 28:12). Standing above the stairway was the Lord, who spoke to him.
When he woke he said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.” He was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God. This is the gate of heaven!” (Gen 28:16-17).
I find this important. It wasn’t a theological understanding of heaven that sparked his awe. It was his personal experience of the real presence of God. And I’m sure it changed his life.
4. “But he… gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God.”
As Stephen was being stoned to death, he began to transition from his earthly life to the next.
This is a Biblical example, as Jesus stated, that those in Christ never die (John 11:26), but simply transition into new dimensions of reality.
As Stephen was dying, it was said of him, “But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. And he said, ‘Behold I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God'” (Acts 7:55-56).
Then Stephen took his last breath and died.
Recently, my grandmother passed away with her family at her side. Before she took her final breath, she noted a baby in the room with her. I believe, no doubt, it was the child she lost as a young mother. And this is very common with people passing today.
This is the reality of death. And Stephen’s death shows us it is biblical. There is no separation between heaven and earth.
5. “You hem me in, behind and before.”
Perhaps David gives the best description of the eminence of God in Psalm 139.
Here are some of his words.
“You hem me in, behind and before, you lay your hand upon me…. Where can I go from your spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? Up from the heavens to the depths you’re there.”
And it’s why he can pray, “Search me God and know my heart. Test me and know my anxious thoughts. Lead me in your everlasting ways” (Psalm 139).
6. “In him we move and live and have our being.”
Paul says, “In him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28).
When a sinner hears the word of truth, the gospel of salvation, and believes the message of the Jesus, he becomes born again with the life of God.
This spiritual regeneration means he becomes “sealed with the Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our eternal destiny” (Ephesians 1:13-14).
Not only does God occupy the air that we breathe, but he is in our hearts as well.
As Philippians 2:12-13 remind us, it is “God who works in us,” that enables us to “fulfill his good purpose.”
7. The Kingdom is “at hand.”
The most important example is that Jesus brought the Kingdom of God to earth in a more perceptible way than humans have ever experienced.
Jesus’ first message was, “Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand” (Matthew 3:17). In one sentence we see both the human problem of sin and the good news of Jesus’ rule.
The term Kingdom just means rule or governance. It’s not a geographical kingdom, but a spiritual kingdom of God’s reign. It’s where he exercises his will.
Another word for repent could be “reconsider.” Reconsider that you have been living apart from God’s rule and come back under the rule of Jesus.
The outcome of obeying this command is that we will live within his rule again where we experience “life and life more abundantly” (John 10:10).
It’s where our house is “built on the rock” of Jesus (Matthew 7:24-27), we become “new creatures” (Colossians 3:10), and our “soul shall abide in well-being” (Psalm 25:13).
These words “at hand” are descriptive of a present reality, that God is here, now, and he wants to intimately interact with us. His kingdom isn’t something to experience someday after we die.
It’s for the here and now. And this is what “eternal life” is all about.
Eternal Life Now
If eternity isn’t time bound, neither is eternal life.
There is life and vitality and renewal now accessible to those who rely on Jesus and follow his ways.
As Dallas Willard encourages us, there is “an eternal kind of life now available to us within the present governance of God.” And it is “the environment for which you were made.” 3
Just this morning I read in my Bible the perfect explanation of this environment,
“O Lord, I love the habitation of your house, the place where your glory dwells” (Psalm 26:8).
Jesus’ loving rule is the perfect habitat for your soul’s health.Jesus' loving rule is the perfect habitat for your soul's health. Click To Tweet
King David’s words are right and worth reflecting,
“I remain confident of this; I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.”
Note the emphasis, “in the land of the living.” The goodness of the Lord is for now.
How might you make Jesus’ rule the “habitat” of your life? Leave your thoughts below.