By Elizabeth Prata
The question in my title was a discussion on Facebook.
“If God is omnipresent, does that mean he is also in hell?”
First, let’s make sure we understand the word omnipresent. Omni means all. Present means present. It means God is present in all His creation. There is nowhere God isn’t.
Neither the noun “omnipresence” nor adj. “omnipresent” occurs in Scripture, but the idea that God is everywhere present is throughout presupposed and sometimes explicitly formulated. God’s omnipresence is closely related to His omnipotence and omniscience: that He is everywhere enables Him to act everywhere and to know all things, and, conversely, through omnipotent action and omniscient knowledge He has access to all places and all secrets (cf Ps 139). The International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia
These are two verses among many addressing declaring God’s presence everywhere: Jeremiah 23:24, Psalm 139:7.
So yes He is in hell. He is omnipresent. That means everywhere. Even in hell/sheol/the Lake of Fire to come. As for the question asking whether God (or Jesus) is in hell, there is this verse to consider.
Revelation 14:9-10 says “Then another angel, a third one, followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, 10he also will drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is mixed in full strength in the cup of His anger; and he will be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb“.
A women came into the discussion asking:
“Why would a holy God be in hell? Through Christ’s salvation we are made holy so as not to go to hell.”
I replied, “True! But He is also a God of wrath who punishes sin, as is stated in Revelation 14:9-10. He glorifies Himself through his redemption of saints – and also through his punishment of sinners. God is not ONLY love but also justice.
Then I received the “whatabouts”
What about 2 Thessalonians 1:9 verse?…
These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, AWAY FROM THE PRESENCE OF THE LORD AND FROM THE GLORY OF HIS MIGHT,
I replied: Yes the Revelation 14 and 2 Thessalonians verses do seem to say the opposite of each other. In Thessalonians, that the people in hell are out of the presence of the Lord, and Revelation 14 the people in hell endure the wrath in His presence. But we know the Lord is not the author of confusion, and He does not contradict Himself. So what can this mean? Bottom line is, it means we need to study it more, because the scriptures are perspicacious (clear) and the Spirit will illuminate any confused understandings we may have- if we ask. (James 1:5).
As Michael Horton explained, about the apparent contradiction,
“These verses are best reconciled, in my view, by recognizing that judgment consists in being excluded from God’s presence as the source of all blessedness, but not from God’s omnipresent lordship.”
Further, we see that Matthew 10:28 warns of the presence of God in hell, “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”
Jesus is the One who dispenses the wrath. Who else would it be? Horton said hell is torment not just because of the fiery punishment, but BECAUSE of the presence of the Lord.
God is omnipresent. Omni means all. He is everywhere at all times, but not everyone everywhere is experiencing Him in the same way. Saved Christians experience His presence in glory with blessings, unrepentant sinners in hell experiencing the wrath due them for sin.
‘The torments themselves will be universal. It will not be merely one or two torments but all torments united. Hell is the place of torment itself (Luke 16.28). It is the centre of all punishments, sorrow and pain, wrath and vengeance, fire and darkness’. ~Ralph Venning, The Sinfulness of Sin
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