Various religions describe God as omnipresent, a term suggesting that God dwells in all places simultaneously. For example, the New Catholic Encyclopedia refers to God as the one “who is actually present in all existing places and things.” Likewise, John Wesley, founder of the Methodist Church, wrote a sermon entitled “On the Omnipresence of God” in which he stated that “there is no point of space, whether within or without the bounds of creation, where God is not.”
What does the Bible teach? Is God omnipresent, existing in all places in heaven, on earth, and even in humankind at the same time?
Actually, the Bible speaks of God as having a specific place of dwelling—the heavens. It records a prayer of King Solomon in which he called upon God: “May you yourself listen from the heavens, your established place of dwelling.” (1 Kings 8:43) When teaching his disciples how to pray, Jesus Christ told them to address their prayers to “Our Father in the heavens.” (Matthew 6:9) After his resurrection, Christ entered “into heaven itself, now to appear before the person of God,” states the Bible.—Hebrews 9:24.
These verses clearly indicate that Jehovah God dwells, not everywhere, but only in heaven. Of course, “the heavens” mentioned in these passages does not refer to the atmosphere surrounding the earth nor to the vast expanse of outer space. The physical heavens cannot contain the Creator of the universe. (1 Kings 8:27) The Bible tells us that “God is a Spirit.” (John 4:24) He resides in the spiritual heavens, a realm independent of the physical universe.—1 Corinthians 15:44.
What, though, of Bible passages that seem to suggest that God is present everywhere? For example, as recorded at Psalm 139:7-10, David said regarding God: “Where can I go from your spirit, and where can I run away from your face? If I should ascend to heaven, there you would be; and if I should spread out my couch in Sheol, look! you would be there. Were I to take the wings of the dawn, that I might reside in the most remote sea, there, also, your own hand would lead me.” Do these verses indicate that God is, in fact, omnipresent, dwelling in each of the places mentioned?
Note that David first asked: “Where can I go from your spirit?”* By means of his holy spirit, God can see anything and exert his power anywhere, without literally going there or dwelling there. To illustrate: In recent years scientists have been able to examine soil on the planet Mars, millions of miles (kilometers) from Earth. How? Not by traveling there personally, but by studying detailed photos and other information transmitted back to Earth by probes sent to Mars’ surface.
Likewise, Jehovah God does not have to be present everywhere, or omnipresent, in order to perceive what is happening at any point in the universe. God’s Word says: “There is not a creation that is not manifest to his sight.” (Hebrews 4:13) Yes, Jehovah’s powerful active force, or holy spirit, can extend anywhere, allowing him to be all-seeing and to accomplish his purpose from a fixed location, his “holy dwelling” in the heavens.—Deuteronomy 26:15.
The Hebrew word here translated “spirit” refers to God’s active force, the power God uses to accomplish his will.