How can God “come down” from heaven when He is already here (and everywhere)? Genesis 11:5

5 And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded.

Clarify Share Report Asked March 26 2019 My picture Jack Gutknecht

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Mini Tim Maas Retired Quality Assurance Specialist with the U.S. Army
Although God is (as stated in the question) omnipresent, I would say that the use of the phrase "came down" in the cited passage pertains to the fact that God specifically manifested His presence and activity in that particular earthly location through the confusion of languages that He produced in order to curtail the building of the tower that the descendants of those who had survived the Flood had undertaken.

March 26 2019 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

My picture Jack Gutknecht ABC/DTS graduate, guitar music ministry Baptist church
I, too, like Mr. Maas, believe in the omnipresence of God.

See Genesis 11 in context for the big picture:

Genesis 11

God Stops a Revolt (Genesis 11:1-9)
Rebellion (Genesis 11:1-4).
God Sustains a Family (Genesis 11:10-26)
God Starts a Nation (Genesis 11:27-32)

In Genesis 11:5 where it says God "CAME DOWN", we note this: The tower was a human attempt to go up to God's realm (Deuteronomy 26:15; Psalm 2:4; 103:19; 115:16). The foolishness of that attempt was exposed by revealed by God's "COMING DOWN" to see their feeble efforts.

"God 'came down' as a theophany, which is a special localized manifestation of the presence of God. These theophanies often appeared in the OT. Once God appeared to Abraham as a man (Gen. 18:2). God also came down to speak to Moses (Ex. 3), Joshua (Joshua 5:13-15), and Gideon (Judges 6) in a similar manner.

"God is omnipresent, that is, everywhere at the same time (Ps. 139:7–10)." 

March 30 2019 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

Mini John Appelt
There is no question that God is all-knowing or “omniscient,” and that He is all-powerful, or “omnipotent.” But there is no Scripture that explicitly says that God is “omnipresent” or “everywhere present at one time.”

Genesis 11:5-8 corroborates this. The Lord literally came down, which means He was in heaven. He said, “Come, let Us go down…” which includes the trinity of the Godhead. Then, the Lord scattered the people. These are specific actions of moving from one place to another, showing God is not everywhere present. Compare Genesis 18:20-21, 33.

Attempts have been made to say that God is omnipresent, “all-pervading presence,” but then appears in specific ways, “manifest presence.” This is contradictory. Either He is in some place, or He is not. In Genesis 3:8, Adam and Eve hid from God’s presence, and in Genesis 4:16, Cain left the presence of the Lord. Jonah fled to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord, Jonah 1:3. If God were omnipresent, no one could be away from Him.

Many passages show God is in Heaven, I Kings 8:30, Job 1:6, Psalm 14:2, 33:13-15, 115:3, Matthew 6:9, Hebrews 8:1, 9:24. Three times God spoke from heaven, Matthew 3:17, 17:5, John 12:28. Heaven is God’s present abode. 

At times God moved about from His abode. In Exodus 24:12-17, God was in Mount Sinai when He called Moses to come up to where He was. Exodus 33:22-23 and I Kings 19:11-12 also tell of God being in certain places. As with any being, God, even as a spirit, John 4:24, cannot be everywhere.

Some passages seem to prove God’s omnipresence. One is Psalm 139:7-12. However, the Psalmist was asking where one could hide from the Lord. Wherever he tried to go God would “find” him. It is not that God is everywhere, but He knows where everyone is, Hebrews 4:13, Proverbs 15:3, Job 34:21-22. God’s all-knowledge and all-power make it seem God is everywhere. 

Another passage is Jeremiah 23:23-24, which emphasizes God’s greatness in contrast to false prophets whose gods are small and local and with whom God has never been near. God fills heaven and earth which means His influence extends to the whole world. This does not indicate that God is omnipresent.

There are places in which God cannot be. He cannot be in the midst of rebels or the wicked, Numbers 14:42-43. God cannot be in hell, the place of the second death which is separation from God, Matthew 25:41, II Thessalonians 1:7-9, Revelation 20:14. And God was not present when Jesus hung on the cross, forsaken by God, while He bore the sins of the world, Matthew 27:46.

When the tabernacle and temple were built, God dwelt in them, Exodus 25:8, I Kings 6:13. God dwells in those who believe in His Son, John 14:23, I Corinthians 3:16, Ephesians 3:17. But, God is not omnipresent.

Despite the universal, prevalent belief that God is omnipresent, He is not. His attributes of omniscience and omnipotence surely make Him seem so.

September 08 2023 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

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