the baby and the bathwater

September 13, 2007, 4:25 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized


the state or fact of being present, as with others or in a place; attendance or company; immediate vicinity; proximity; the quality or manner of a person’s bearing; personal appearance or bearing; of noteworthy appearance or compelling personality; a divine or supernatural spirit felt to be present:

What does the presence of God look like?

in Genesis 1 it hovered over the waters;
in Exodus 3 it was a burning bush;
in Numbers 9 it was a cloud that moved from place to place
in Isaiah 3 it is described as glorious
in Psalm 89 it is described as light
in Hosea 6 it is described as sweet spring rain
in Naham 1 the earth trembled at it
in Psalm 5 the arrogant couldn’t stand in it
in Acts 10 people listened to the voice of God in it
in Isaiah 26 people in agony cried out in it
in Leviticus 9 and 10 God’s fire came out of it
in Psalm 9 nations were judged in it
in 1 Thesselonians 3 people found joy in it
in Joshua 18 and 19 people made big decisions in it
in Psalm 18 hailstones and thunderbolts flew out from it
in 1 John 3 people found rest in it
in Psalm 41 those with integrity were allowed to remain in it

Samuel grew up in it

in Psalm 90 people were convicted of their sins by it
in Deuteronomy 27 people rejoiced in it
in Jeremiah 23 the disobedient were thrown from it
in Luke 1 the angel Gabriel stood in it and spoke of good news
in Deuteronomy 19 disputes were settled by men standing within it
in 2 Kings 17 those who worshipped false idols were removed from it
in Hosea 6 the injured and wounded were revived in it
in Genesis 27 people blessed other people in it
in Ezekiel 46 people worshipped in it
in Deuteronomy 4 people were led by it
in Deuteronomy 18 people served in it
in 1 Chronicles 29 people ate and drank in it with great joy
in 1 Thessalonians 3 people’s hearts were strengthened in it
in 2 Chronicles 6 people made their requests to God in it
in Psalm 31 people found shelter in it
in Psalm 16 people found pleasure in it

John had the dream to end all dreams in it

in Deuteronomy 12 people brought their gifts into it
in Deuteronomy 16 people made sacrifices in it
in 2 Peter 2 angels watched what they said in it
in 2 Chronicles 20 people cried out in distress in it
in Deuteronomy 29 people made promises in it
in Lamenations 2 people poured out their hearts in it
in 2 Chronicles 34 God listened to the cries of his people in it
in Psalm 139 David found it would be everywhere he went
in 1 Chorinthians the unbelievers fell down and worshipped because of it
in Habakkuck 2 people were silent before it
in 2 Samuel 6 David danced with abandon before it.

In Psalm 84 we learn that a moment in it is better than anything else the world has to offer.

And one day all the saints will worship in it.


How exciting is that?

When we come together to worship, we expect that we will meet with God. And when that happens, we all have our idea of what that looks like. And maybe that is a problem. Maybe we need to relax those ideas. Increase our expectation that he will meet us, but be more open to what things will look like when he does.


4 Comments so far
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i like it

Comment by David Gate

In the OT, “presence” is a translation of the Hebrew “liphne” (pron. lif-NAY) which literally means “to the face of” One connotation that this gives the term on at least some occasions is that presence is not simply being around God, but being in respect to Him. That is, being orientated towards Him. As you well-noted Neil, there are many manifestations of God’s presence. Some show his guidance and provision, others His wrath against sin, and still others His awesome power and majesty. One of the themes through all of them is learning to live with God in our sights, on our scope or our horizon. Where He not only figures in but is the central aim of how we orient our thoughts and ultimately, our lives. We need to live Coram Deo, or “to the face of God.” As R.C. Sproul puts it, “To live Coram Deo is to live one’s entire life in the presence of God, under the authority of God, to the glory of God.” (In the Presence of God, Nashville: Word Publishing, 1999)

Comment by brian howell

It’s funny, but I think I learn so much about you both from the relative nature of these comments!

Comment by Neil


Is the word for presence the same, meaning that we have to consider the context to decide whether it means ‘around God’ or ‘in respect to Him’?

In any case I sort of like the parallel to ‘worship as a lifestyle’ and ‘worship as an activity on Sunday’.

Comment by Neil

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