Understanding the Presence of God

And he said, My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest. (Exodus 33:14, KJV)

There’s one thing that makes your walk with God distinct from mere religion—the tangible experience and expression of God’s presence. The difference between God as a religious concept, God as a philosophical debate, and God as a Person we relate with is His presence interacting with His people. If you want Christianity to be meaningful, you must understand God’s presence and how to cooperate with it.

Discussing the presence of God is challenging because of Who He is. I once heard a preacher say there is nothing like the presence of God! Yet, in Exodus 33:14, God Himself said His presence will go with Moses. Understanding the presence of God can be complicated for two reasons. First, God is spirit, and spirits are not defined by space and time as we are. Second, though God is spirit like the angels, He is not in the same class as other spirit beings. He is the Creator, and every other spirit was created. For example, though angels and demons are spirits, they are not everywhere as God is at the same time—God is in His own class!

The term “presence” in Exodus 33:14 is the Hebrew word for “Face.” It captures the idea of seeing the face of someone, being “in their presence,” in such close proximity (idea of space) so that you can see their face. This metaphor, applied to Almighty God, communicates the meaning of His presence. Here are four crucial expressions of the presence of God in the scriptures. For a more detailed description, I encourage you to watch the Live Bible study. The labels chosen are not “perfect,” but they encapsulate the concepts.

  1. Omnipresence of God: The totality of God’s being and person present everywhere at the same time (e.g., Psalms 139:7).
  2. Manifest Presence of God: When God takes on a form that we can perceive (see, hear, touch, feel, etc.) and directly interacts with us. The most dramatic example is the pillar of fire in the Old Testament (Exodus 13:21) or the “sweet presence” during a service.
  3. Abiding Presence of God: When God is “with us” but NOT perceived, although He works supernaturally to direct the affairs of our lives. An example is God with David. God was “with him” (Psalm 23:4) but was never seen, though the results in David’s life spoke for themselves!
  4. The Ultimate Presence of God: God actually present with people as a Human Being—Jesus (John 1:14). This is the climax of His presence with humanity.

As a Christian, the Holy Spirit in you is the Omnipresence of God, His manifest presence, abiding presence, and ultimately Christ Jesus in You! You have it all!


Ponder the different expressions of the presence of God discussed above. What is your experience with each of them?

Apply the Word

One of the most impactful practical things you can do as a Christian is to understand and believe that God is indeed with you—even though you might never see Him in any form. It will make you talk and act like David!


Ask the Spirit to help you understand and believe His presence with you.

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