God’s presence is perhaps one of the most overlooked weapons for any believer battling fear and anxiety. Believers commonly miss just how significant God’s presence is in our lives. From what the Bible teaches us about the presence of God, we know that His presence is a gift. It provides us peace, hope, strength, freedom, and encouragement. God’s presence sustains us and upholds us. I briefly touched on how God’s love should inform our perspective. Here I want to dive deeper into how God’s presence should influence our perspective.
One way God’s love informs my perspective is the peace that comes from reflecting on and recognizing God’s presence. The Israelites knew just how significant the presence of God was, but I believe that somehow many modern-day Christians overlook the power and importance of God’s presence. In this post, I will dive into the presence of God according to the original design and discuss what God’s presence means to Christians today.
The Original Design
The Garden of Eden, as described in Genesis, sets the tone for how God intended human beings to experience God’s presence. The Garden of Eden was created for man following Adam’s creation. In Genesis 3, after eating the forbidden fruit, we witness our relationship according to the design God had in mind. “…the man and his wife heard the Lord God walking about in the garden.” The description in Genesis 3:8 is not the behavior of a distant God. In Genesis, we see God walking in the garden among his children.
Context Speaks Volumes
While chapters 2 and 3 of Genesis mainly speak to man’s rebellion against God, this story’s other details help us better understand how God intended life to be. Man’s rebellion against God resulted in the banishment of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden. Until this banishment, almost everything had taken place within the garden. The one exception is Adam’s creation outside Eden.
While there are many arguments about the garden, its design, and its purpose, I will address a few I believe are essential. Many might suggest Adam was created outside the Garden of Eden because he did not belong, but I have found no Biblical evidence to support this. Another argument suggests God built Eden for Eve. In the following few paragraphs, I will present what I have discovered concerning these arguments.
The Bible portrays God creating the garden for Adam. The context and sequence of Genesis 2:7-25 depict the garden as a place precisely for Adam. Genesis 2:15 NIV says that God placed Adam in the garden “to work it and take care of it.” Genesis 2 shows Eve as a helper or companion for Adam. Multiple translations of Genesis 2:20 describe Eve as a helper, not the reason for its creation.
I do not pretend to be a Biblical scholar, but this is what I have found based on reading Genesis. God created the garden as a place for Adam, Eve, and God to live together. It was created for Adam and Eve to coexist in an intimate relationship with God. While a lot is unknown regarding the original design of the Garden of Eden, the few details in Genesis provide us with a lot of context regarding God’s presence.
Our Need For God’s Presence
If there is only one thing you learn from this article, I hope you know just how much we need the presence of God. In my previous post titled, 4 Ways God’s Love Could Change Your Life, I emphasized just how important the love of God is for us. God’s presence is one of the best expressions of God’s love we can experience. God’s presence, coupled with God’s love, holds power to change us. As believers, whether you battle with fear and anxiety or not, it is crucial to understand just how significant God’s presence truly is in our lives.
The Lord’s Temple, The Holy Of Holies
If you are ever curious about how much God longed to be present with his children, read the Old Testament account in Exodus of how God traveled with the Israelites through the desert. It is here where you can learn about the tabernacle. The tabernacle paints the perfect picture of God residing with his children. God longed to be with his children, but his flawless nature and our sinful human nature required certain things to make this possible. The presence of God resided upon the Ark of the Covenant in a room inside the tabernacle that no one could enter, called the Holy of Holies.
Outside the Holy of Holies, often called the Most Holy Place, was The Holy Place where the high priests would do their work. Once a year, the High Priest would enter into the Holy of Holies to offer a sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins for all of Israel. This day was known as the day of atonement, also called Yom Kippur.
God Following The Israelites In A Cloud By Day And Fire By Night
“The Lord went ahead of them. He guided them during the day with a pillar of cloud, and he provided light at night with a pillar of fire. This allowed them to travel by day or by night. And the Lord did not remove the pillar of cloud or pillar of fire from its place in front of the people.”
Exodus 13:21-22 NLT
Jesus In The Garden of Gethsemane
In the New Testament, we see two different times when Jesus visibly showed fear. The first was in the garden of Gethsemane before the arrest of Jesus.
In the first example, we find Jesus praying. We can only assume Jesus was doing his best to prepare for what he knew was coming. Jesus was born for this moment, and he was well aware that his father, God, would look away from him while Jesus took the punishment for the sin of humanity.
We do not know the specifics of what Jesus was fearful of, but we know that his emotions drove him to sweat drops of blood. One can only wonder if Jesus was more distressed because of the crucifixion or because God would look away from Jesus, or both. Most would agree that anyone who knows they are about to die a torturous death on a cross by crucifixion would have plenty to fear. The anguish of understanding the physical pain you are about to endure is enough to push anyone to their limit.
While I do not want to skip over the dread from the expectation of such physical pain, I feel that the separation from God while on the cross was much more troublesome for Jesus. Combine the knowledge of physical pain with feelings of loneliness, betrayal, rejection, and separation from God. It is no wonder that the authors of the New Testament saw fear coming from Jesus.
The second most notable time of fear for Jesus was on the cross when Jesus knew God would have to look away from him. I believe separation from God, the Father, is commonly overlooked in the crucifixion story. Jesus spent his entire life as fully man and fully God. Before his time on earth, Jesus spent his time at God’s side. There was never a time when Jesus was separated from God’s presence until the cross.
There are many things we can draw from the story leading up to the crucifixion and the time Jesus was hanging on the cross. What I want to focus on here is just how crucial God’s presence was to Jesus. More importantly, I hope you will realize just how significant God’s presence is for you.
Learning To Embrace God’s Presence
One of the most reassuring realizations I take away from the account of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane is the blessing of the presence of God. Unlike Jesus, we are promised that God will never leave us. Because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, we have the eternal blessing of God’s presence.
“You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever.”
Psalms 16:11 NLT
“Don’t love money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.” So we can say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?”
Hebrews 13:5-6 NLT
“Let your character [your moral essence, your inner nature] be free from the love of money [shun greed—be financially ethical], being content with what you have; for He has said, “I will never [under any circumstances] desert you [nor give you up nor leave you without support, nor will I in any degree leave you helpless], nor will I forsake or let you down or relax My hold on you [assuredly not]!” So we take comfort and are encouraged and confidently say, “The Lord is my Helper [in time of need], I will not be afraid. What will man do to me?”
Hebrews 13:5-6 AMP
Tune In To God’s Presence
As human beings, we often overlook the presence of God in our day-to-day. We do not have the same visual reminder the Israelites had traveling through the desert. We cannot look up and see a cloud by day or even fire by night. Even if we had this same visual, something tells me we would become dulled to the reminder over time.
It is easier for us to blame something outside ourselves for just about anything. We would often rather blame something else than take ownership of our relationship with God. And let’s face it, human beings do not instinctually seek out the presence of God. As believers, we learn to tune into God’s presence through studying the Bible and time spent in prayer. It often takes time and lots of practice to develop an awareness of God’s presence. When we sense the Holy Spirit, we are blown away by the power readily available to God’s children.
I hope that this article will somehow spur you to tune into God’s presence regularly. If it has been a while since you experienced God’s presence, Jeremiah 29:13, says, “If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.” Take a minute to do a personal audit. When was the last time you were keenly aware of God’s presence? Make a point to seek God’s presence today and in the days ahead.