Where Is God?
WAR in Vietnam. There soldiers and civilians die alike. The religious people pray for help. But where is God?
In Iran floods kill forty-two. Epidemics strike densely populated areas of the Congo, and thousands suffer and die. The religious people cry to heaven for mercy and help. Doctors respond in great numbers. Emergency agencies rush in aid. But where is God?
Two world wars have scarred this generation. Jews have been massacred by the millions. Christian witnesses of Jehovah have suffered in concentration camps and died. Crime is on the increase. Morals have broken down. These deplorable conditions prompt many to ask: If God is, then where is he?
Just because some claim that God is nonexistent, that does not make it so. We must look in the right places for things, even for God. Not having found Him does not alter the fact that God lives, that he is! It may be that many people have been looking in the wrong places for him.
People down through the ages have been accustomed to picture their gods as having the same needs as humans. This is because their gods were of their own invention, based solely upon an imaginary foundation. So the Chinese built joss houses in which they housed their gods; the Arabians constructed mosques; the Japanese designed shrines and the people of Christendom built churches. But do they find God in these structures?
The Christian apostle Paul quite frankly told the Athenians that “the God that made the world and all the things in it, being, as this One is, Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in handmade temples.”—Acts 17:24, 25.
Think about those inspired words: We are not going to find God in handmade cathedrals, temples, churches, shrines or in other physical edifices of worship. The Great Creator of the universe is not to be confined to lifeless human structures, no matter how lavish they may be. King Solomon, at the time of the dedication of the temple he had built in Jerusalem, prayed: “Will God truly dwell upon the earth? Look! The heavens, yes, the heaven of the heavens, themselves cannot contain you; how much less, then, this house that I have built!” (1 Ki. 8:27) Solomon wisely recognized the relationship of God to earth and buildings.
Moreover, has it not become apparent that many religious institutions today have turned away from the Bible and have become increasingly worldly, even centers for promoting social or political issues? How can God be found by going to these places?
Some religious leaders today in these institutions deny the very existence of God. A modern Jewish rabbi, a leader of a synagogue, quite boldly admits he is an atheist. Is this man capable of leading his parishioners to the true God? Are those who go to his place of worship going to find God? Hardly.
And many religious leaders, among them Protestants and Catholics, deny the Bible to be the inspired Word of God. Some clergymen, bishops and other prelates make light of the Bible account of Adam and Eve, discredit the Scriptural record of the Flood, scoff at the “virgin birth” of Jesus Christ, his resurrection from the dead, and so on ad infinitum. How can these men inspire faith or even point to God when, by their own admission, they themselves have no faith in God or his Word?—Jas. 3:11, 12.
GOD LIVES AND IS NEAR!
Nevertheless, the apostle Paul refreshingly assures us that God lives, that “he himself gives to all persons life and breath and all things” and that “he is not far off from each one of us.” (Acts 17:25, 27) Yes, God lives, as his prophet stated: “Are you not from long ago, O Jehovah? O my God, my Holy One, you do not die.” (Hab. 1:12) How unreasonable it would be to accept God’s sun, rain and the air we breathe and then say he does not exist or is dead! Instead, we should do as Jesus Christ said: “Prove yourselves sons of your Father who is in the heavens, since he makes his sun rise . . . and makes it rain.” (Matt. 5:45) And not only has the true God given us sun, rain, life and breath, but he has given us all things. Jehovah the Creator lives and is not far off.
But where is he? Jesus Christ said he is “in the heavens.” So God’s dwelling place is in heaven: “The heavens are my throne.” (Matt. 6:9; Isa. 66:1) Solomon stated that God is above the earth, that the heaven of heavens themselves cannot contain Him. How, then, can he be “not far off from each one of us,” as the apostle said?
God is near because knowledge about him can be obtained near at hand, in his Word, the Holy Bible, the Only Book through which we can come to know him, with everlasting life in view. There we learn why the earth is filled with woe, why even God’s servants are persecuted, and when it will end.—John 17:3.
God is near because God dwells with his people on earth. Not that he dwells personally in people. How could he, if the heaven of the heavens cannot contain him? But by means of his holy spirit or invisible active force, God motivates them to a living hope and to a course that is pleasing to him. He sustains them when they undergo trial. The apostle Paul reveals this fact, in these words: “Do you not know that you people are God’s temple, and that the spirit of God dwells in you?” (1 Cor. 3:16) “For we are a temple of a living God; just as God said: ‘I shall reside among them and walk among them, and I shall be their God, and they will be my people.’”—2 Cor. 6:16.
So, it can be said that the dwelling place of God in earth is also with his anointed people, people who have his spirit and bring forth the fruitage of his spirit, which “is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith, mildness, self-control.”—Gal. 5:22, 23.
So if anyone is interested in knowing where God is, the first thing to do is to determine who God’s people are. There, in their lives, in their work, in their conduct, you will find the spirit of God at work. There you will find God.