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Aug 11, 2019

Our Omni-God

Passage: Psalm 139:1-18

Preacher: John Repsold

Series: Psalms

Keywords: god, praise, sovereignty, omniscience, omnipresence, majesty, omnipotence, presence, unborn, all-knowing, all-powerful

Detail:

Our Omni-God

Psalm 139

August 11, 2019

 

Google “Omni” and what do you think you’ll get?

  • OmniHotels & Resorts, an American privately held, international luxury hotel company based in Dallas, Texas.
  • Omni Park—a parking software company about 10 blocks west of us o 3rd.
  • Omni-Care: a long-term pharmacy care Co. whose office is about 10 blocks east of us on 3rd 

Omni is usually used as a sort of prefix meaning “all.” (From the Latin “omnis”.)  So, here are a few questions related to this prefix.

  • How many of you own an omnimeter? (Instrument for measuring all angles.)
  • How many of you are omnivorous? (eating everything)
  • No, then how many are an omnist? (believer in all religions)
  • K., do you think heaven will be an Omniumgatherum? (A gathering of all people)

Today we’re looking at a Psalm that presents God as multi-omni-ed (if there is such a term).  Theologians like to throw out big words that make them sound erudite (having great knowledge or learning).  Did that sentence make me a theologian yet?  J

      When we use that prefix omni as applied to God, what sorts of “all” is God?

  • Omnipotent: all-powerful; able to do whatever He wills
  • Omnipresent: present everywhere at one time
  • Omniscient: knows both past, present and future perfectly, realities as well as possibilities.

The Psalmist, David, points to all three of these realities about God in today’s Psalm 139.  The psalm falls into 6 stanzas/sections. The first three deal with different attributes of God as they relate to us as individuals: His omniscience (vv. 1-6); His omnipresence (vv. 7-12); and, His omnipotence as the sovereign Creator (vv. 13-18). The final three (vv. 19-24) leads us to what seems like a rather surprising personal response and application:  a prayer for personal holiness.

  1. Our Father God is all-knowing; vss. 1-6

You have searched me, Lord,
    and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
    you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
    you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
    you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before,
    and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
    too lofty for me to attain.

David’s life was filled to overflowing with “knowledge of God.”  In this instance, it is knowledge of God’s knowledge of him that leads him to a profound and utter awe.  It is God’s all-knowing about David that gave David such deep feelings for God.  It was God’s unmatched and incomparable knowledge of every human being on this earth that left David filled up with song, with amazement, with meaning and with joy.  Both the depth, breadth and personal nature of God’s knowledge of each of us as individuals led David to exclaim in song and with deep emotion just how far God’s all-knowing nature extended TO and TOWARDS him. 

APP:  How do you feel when you know that someone you love and want to love you is thinking of you…actually, actively thinking about YOU?  They don’t have to send flowers or bring chocolate (though that is nice).  Just knowing they know you and still like to think about you draws our hearts to them. 

            What strikes me about the truth of God’s constant and never-interrupted thoughts and knowledge about each of us is that it is all upside down.  What I mean is, why should the greater being think continually about the lesser when the lesser so frequently forgets or rejects the Greater?  It makes sense that a plain person should be drawn to a beautiful or handsome person.  But that the stunningly beautiful God should be drawn to the plain and often “sin-scarred” ME…when I don’t think about Him nearly as often…that is truly amazing. 

 The famous Reformer, John Calvin, once said, "Without knowledge of God there is no knowledge of self."  He could not have been more insightful into the current dilemma the majority of people around us every day are experiencing.  Having written God out of the script of their lives, having chosen not to even think about God or contemplate His greatness as David did, contemporary men, women and young people are finding life to be absurd and their own lives without meaning. 

  • This week I read about a survey done in England of Gen-Z. [found at https://voiceofeurope.com/2019/08/gen-z-crisis-9-in-10-young-brits-think-their-lives-are-meaningless/ on 8.9.19] It might as well have been done in America. I’m pretty sure the results would have been pretty similar.  According to The Voice of Europe, a newly released nationwide poll of Brits (by a Japanese company, Yakult) has revealed that an astonishing 89 percent of Britons between the ages of 16- to 29-years-old think that their lives are meaningless and without purpose.  Are we surprised???  Having spent the last 50 years telling Gen-Z that there is no God, that they are the random product of a cosmic accident of time and chance and that truth is whatever they want it to be, we’re shocked that young people have lost a sense of purpose and meaning???!!!

But the tragic effects of a godless culture aren’t limited to the youth.  That same article went on to cite another study done last year of elderly Brits.  In 2018, the UK government initiated a state-funded program under the Commission on Loneliness designed to help lonely people make connections with people around them and to make friends.  Government research revealed that about 9 million people “always or often felt lonely” with about 200,000 elderly people reporting that they had not had a conversation with a friend or relative in over one month!

APP:  May I make an observation:  The farther our culture moves away from the God we are going to hear David talk about today, the more lonely, more isolated and more despairing our culture will become.  Just as nature abhors a vacuum, so the human soul abhors the absence of God.  We can try stuffing it full of a host of good things—work, money, people, love, freedom, etc.  But ALL those things and people will never take the place of God.  Instead they will become disappointing deities we will eventually end up hating. 

With all the shootings and stabbings in America this week, I only heard one person of the dozens I listened to try to make the point that this murderous anger, hatred and violence is the natural fruit of lives and a culture that has kicked God to the curb and spit in our Creator’s face over and over.  It is high time that we, God’s people, found our voices and lovingly yet firmly reminded everyone we meet and talk with that this is the sad and horrible truth of a nation that rejects God

We can no longer afford to be silent on this issue.  Too soon it will be our children, our neighbor, our spouse or our sister who will be the next victim of the godlessness that is being forced upon our schools, our businesses, our government and our city.  We would do well to heed the words etched in stone on the NW Portico of the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C.  (Thank God they were done in stone…but don’t expect them to stay there much longer.) 

"God who gave us life gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that His justice cannot sleep forever. Commerce between master and slave is despotism. Nothing is more certainly written in the book of fate than that these people are to be free. Establish the law for educating the common people. This it is the business of the state to effect and on a general plan."           

But back to our text and just what it is about God’s all-knowing capacity and thoughts that moved David so deeply.

You have searched me, Lord,
    and you know me.

Here is the general introductory statement about God’s knowledge of him:  It isn’t a passing, “Oh, there’s David” type knowledge of him.  God is constantly “searching” me out, knowing me and knowing everything about me.  The truth of our inability to hide anything from God can do 2 things to us:

1.)  It can terrify us when we are doing things God hates.

2.)  It can bring deep comfort and love when we are walking in fellowship with God. 

The latter is the life Adam and Eve had before the fall. 

The former is the experience they had that first evening after the fall as they hid from God. 
You know when I sit and when I rise;

God knows ALL our activities. 
   … you perceive my thoughts from afar.

God knows all my thoughts.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
    you are familiar with all my ways.

God knows all my plans, my schedule, my calendar.  He knows when things are going as I want them to… and when I’m interrupted and frustrated because I’m not able to do what I had planned to do. 

APP:  How often do we talk over our calendar and plans with God?  How often do you think that Jesus’ day didn’t go as “planned.”  Yet he never seemed to get frustrated about that, did He.  In fact, a huge chunk of the Gospel accounts of what Jesus did seem to be events that defy “planning” or a planned-out day.  People were always coming to him, crying out for something they wanted more than just listening to what Jesus wanted to tell them. 

How different life can be when we simply acknowledge, “God, you know what I’m thinking right now…doing right now… planning to do today/tonight.  Help me live in the knowledge of your knowledge of that.” 
Before a word is on my tongue
    you, Lord, know it completely.

I can’t help but see a little humor in this.  David recognizes that God knows the future…even the future of what he is going to say before he even things about saying it.  Why does David choose his speech/words to think about how much God knows?  Again, what a contrast for people like me who often speak before I think.  God’s knowledge about my speech so far outstrips my thoughts about my own speech that it should probably move me to talk over my words with God before I blurt them out to people, right?  
You hem me in behind and before,
    and you lay your hand upon me.

Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
    too lofty for me to attain.

APP:  In virtually every human relationship, WE can determine the amount of knowledge someone has of us…at least before the days of surveillance cameras, smart phones and Alexa.  Sometimes we limit someone’s knowledge of us because we don’t trust them to use that knowledge well.  Sometimes we let people into our thoughts and lives because we value their friendship and trust their love. 

            But with God, we don’t have a choice.  We can deceive ourselves into thinking that God isn’t “listening in” on us.  Or we can value the reality that he knows us better than we will ever know ourselves…and He has wisdom and guidance for us as a result that will be the absolute best wisdom and advice anyone could ever come up with for us.  God is a great handler of the information He knows about us.  And what He knows about us will never change how much he loves us, pursues us, grows us, trusts us or works with us.  He knows today what I have no inkling of about myself that I may find very disappointing some day…but that knowledge isn’t changing how He treats me or you. 

 

From God’s absolute and complete KNOWLEDGE about each of us individually, David moves to God’s total and constant PRESENCE with each of us.  He phrases it this way:

Where can I go from your Spirit?
    Where can I flee from your presence?

Notice who is doing the “going” and the “fleeing”?  It’s not God.  Why is it that we who should most want to be with God are so often leaving and fleeing God? 

ILL:  What do you do when you are super frustrated with someone?  How many of us are “flee-ers”?  J  Sometimes it’s a good idea to go take a walk around a block or two rather than continue arguing or being angry with someone.  But eventually most of us have to “come home”…unless we want to spend the night on the street (which may be why we’re seeing so many homeless today—they don’t want to “go home” and face that music…or the person…or the conflict). 

Here again, God is in a class all by Himself!  David asks the general question, “So, if I wanted to ‘get away’ from God, where would I go?”  And the answers start rolling in:
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;

ILL:  I grew up in the era of the dawn of space flight and exploration.  Sputnik was launched 8 months after I was born.  Story of one of the first Russian cosmonauts in space.  John Glen, America’s first person to orbit the earth, did so on my 5th birthday. 

One of the stories that circulated at the time was about one of the first Russian cosmonauts, Yuri Gagarin.  Nikita Khrushchev, Premier of the Soviet Union at the time, in a speech about Communism’s anti-God campaign at the time, declared that “Gagarin flew into space and didn’t see any god there.”  [Found at https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Yuri_Gagarin on 8.10.19.]  To which someone retorted, “Well, if he had stepped outside his spacecraft, he would have seen God pretty quickly!”

The arrogance of man (as well as the ignorance of politicians) apparently knows no bounds.  Even on the physical, materialistic plain, to think that going a few hundred miles up from the earth was any distance at all in a universe estimated to be 93 billion light years in diameter, is as arrogant as it comes. 

At the speed of light, that cosmonaut had spent less than 1/1000th of a second of the 93 billion years it would have taken him to traverse the universe and make sure God wasn’t hiding behind some galaxy somewhere!  Don’t you love the arrogance of people! J 

David, knowing little of what we know of the size of the universe, knew that you can’t hide from God anywhere in our universe…or beyond.
   “… if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.”

The opposite of the vacuum of space is certainly the compressed density of earth, right?  Drill down as far as you want/can go and God will be there too.  As dense and hard as the rock mantle of this earth are, it’s not the most dense place/space we know of in the physical universe.  What is?  (Black holes.  If the earth were swallowed by a black hole, it would be about the size of a dime, .69 inches.  How dense would that pebble be?!)  [BTW, earth is gaining weight every year…like some of us! J  It actually becomes heavier by 40,000 metric tons each year.  But then, since it exists in space, technically, it’s weightless.  Go figure that one out!]

So whether you feel like you are lost in space…or buried under a mountain of rock…guess Who is with you?  And David wrote this before the permanent indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the living, breathing body of every child of God. If God was with David, how much more with us by the Holy Spirit?   

If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
    if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
    your right hand will hold me fast.

David seems to be talking about the relationship of God’s presence with his guidance and protection.  For the child of God, wherever God is, there He is willing and able to guide and protect us. 

APP:  This is a particularly good verse for missionaries.  The safest and best place to be is…where God is…essentially anywhere.  While some places/cities/jungles/deserts of the world are inherently more “dangerous” than others, the fact David held onto was that God was in the “safe” places as well as the “dangerous” places of the world. 

David knew that from experience.  He had hidden in caves while being hunted by Saul and he had lived in his palace in Jerusalem surrounded by soldiers.  In fact, it appears that he was morally and spiritually “safer” in the wilderness running for his life from Saul’s “Secret Service” than he was living the “good life” at the height of his power, heading a nation, and looking down on his neighbor’s wife taking a bath next door!  He would have done well to remember that home is often where we need to know the Lord’s hand is on us as much or perhaps more than when we are in some strange, distant place.

But back to the “guidance factor” of this verse.

APP:  Where do you need the Lord’s very present guidance in your life right now?  Is there some decision you are making, some option you are looking at that needs to know the Lord’s guidance?  If only we would remember that wherever we go, there God is.  And He’s waiting for us to embrace Him there in whatever challenges we have.  
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
    and the light become night around me,”
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
    the night will shine like the day,
    for darkness is as light to you.

This is one of my favorite verses about God. It’s a verse to cling to when life is becoming dark around you. 

  • Maybe that is when someone you love deeply dies…and the light seems to go out of life.
  • Maybe it is when everything around you falls apart financially, and you feel like you will never recover.
  • Maybe it is when you sink into a depression that threatens to swallow you alive and invites you to take your own life.

There are hundreds of “darknesses” that threaten to swallow us.  No matter how “dark” life gets…if we’re thrown into prison for being Christ-followers or we’re trapped in a body that can hardly breath because of illness…we need this truth that GOD IS THERE…and that “darkness” is as light as midday to Him!

            This is our OMNIPRESENT God!  This is the God who promised, “NEVER will I leave you, NEVER will I forsake you.”  (Heb. 13:5) . 

NOTE:  If God is everywhere at all times, does that mean God is in hell?  The problem with that question is that it confuses our physical universe with eternity’s spiritual universe.  This passage (and others) clearly speaks of our physical universe.  There is nowhere God isn’t present in any part of our 93 billion light-year wide universe…or any other universe, for that matter.

            But apparently, in the “spiritual” (yet very real and tangible) universe of eternity, God is able to absent himself from hell. 

 

So David has reminded us about God’s Omnipresence and His Omniscience.  Now he turns to God’s POWER—His omnipotence

Q:  What would you have pointed to in the creation if you wanted to illustrate or prove the POWER of God?  (Answers.)

            What David points to is rather surprising considering how little he probably knew scientifically in comparison to what we know today.  He points to the HUMAN BEING—body and soul.  Maybe his writing about God being in the “dark places” of life led him to thinking of the darkest 9 months any of us have:  our gestation from a single cell to a breathing baby.  Here’s what he says. 

13 For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.

We could spend weeks, months and years talking about just the amazing power of God in creating every human body.  And that includes the “normal” as well as the “abnormal” ones, the simple and the genius, the deformed and the beautiful.  EVERY human being is a miraculous creation of the Almighty God. 

Augustine observed,

“Men go abroad to wonder at the heights of mountains, at the huge waves of the sea, at the long courses of the rivers, at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motions of the stars; and they pass by themselves without wondering” (in Reader’s Digest [1/92], p. 9).

Every person has in his or her body sufficient proof that God exists. To ignore that kind of evidence renders a person without excuse (Rom. 1:18-23). To say that something as finely balanced and complex as the human body is the result of sheer chance plus time is nothing short of ludicrous! 

            But people have been saying this for centuries.  I was reading this week in Isaiah 29 and came across this in vss. 15-16:

Woe to those who go to great depths
    to hide their plans from the Lord,
who do their work in darkness and think,
    “Who sees us? Who will know?”
16 You turn things upside down,
    as if the potter were thought to be like the clay!
Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it,
    “You did not make me”?
Can the pot say to the potter,
    “You know nothing”?

Yet most of the brightest minds of the past two centuries, our scientists, are saying to the one who formed us, “You know nothing!  You didn’t make us!  Time and random chance did.  Blind physical forces did.  We don’t need you, God!”

Let’s consider for just a few minutes the miracle of the human body:

  • Every second more than 100,000 chemical reactions take place in your brain. It has 10 billion nerve cells to record just what you see and hear.
  • That information comes to your brain through the miracle of the eye, which has 100 million receptor cells (rods and cones) in each eye. Your retina also has four other layers of nerve cells. Altogether the system makes the equivalent of 10 billion calculations a second before an image even gets to the optic nerve.
  • Once it reaches your brain, the cerebral cortex has more than a dozen separate vision centers in which to process it.
  • Your tear ducts supply a bacteria-fighting fluid to protect your eyes from infection. The tears that fight irritants differ from the tears of sadness, which contain 24 percent more proteins.
  • That’s not to mention the miracle of the ear and how it translates sound waves into meaningful speech and sounds; or of touch, taste, and smell.
  • Part of your brain regulates voluntary matters, such as muscle coordination and thought processes. Other parts of the brain control involuntary processes, such as digestion, glandular secretions, the rate at which your heart beats, etc.
  • How did it accidentally happen that your body could speed up your heart rate to the proper speed to meet increased oxygen demand when you exercise and slow it down when that need is met?
  • One square inch of your skin has about 625 sweat glands, 19 feet of blood vessels, and 19,000 sensory cells. Working in coordination with your brain, it maintains your body at a steady 98.6 degrees under all weather conditions.
  • Your stomach has 35 million glands which secrete the right amounts of juices to allow your body to digest food and convert it into stored energy for your muscles. To avoid digesting itself, your stomach produces a new lining every three days.
  • Your body is an efficient machine: to ride a bicycle for an hour at ten miles per hour requires only 350 calories, the energy equivalent of only 3 tablespoons of gasoline.
  • You have more than 200 bones, each shaped for its function, connected intricately to one another through lubricated joints that cannot be perfectly duplicated by modern science.
  • More than 500 muscles connect to these bones. Some obey willful commands; others perform their duty in response to unconscious commands from the brain. They all work together to keep us alive.
  • The heart muscle itself beats over 103,000 times each day, pumping your blood cells a distance of 168 million miles.
  • Coupled with that, your lungs automatically breathe in the right amount of life-giving oxygen (about 438 cubic feet each day), which just happens to be mixed in the right proportions (about 20% oxygen, 80% nitrogen) in our atmosphere.
  • Each of the other vital organs and glands in your body works in complex conjunction with the others to sustain life, which science can’t explain or create.

I haven’t even mentioned the complexity of human cells. Listen to this:

  • A single human chromosome (DNA molecule) contains 20 billion bits of information. How much is that? What would be its equivalent, if it were written down in an ordinary printed book in modern human language? Twenty billion bits are the equivalent of about three billion letters. If there are approximately six letters in an average word, the information content of a human chromosome corresponds to about 500 million words. If there are about 300 words on an ordinary page of printed type, this corresponds to about two million pages. If a typical book contains 500 such pages, the information content of a single human chromosome corresponds to some 4,000 volumes. “It is clear, then, that the sequence of rungs on our DNA ladders represents an enormous library of information. It is equally clear that so rich a library is required to specify as exquisitely constructed and intricately functioning an object as a human being.”

This information, incredibly, comes from the astronomer, Carl Sagan, who thinks it all happened by chance (The Dragons of Eden, Speculations on the Evolution of Human Intelligence [Ballentine Books], pp. 23-25)! He points out that the Viking landers that put down on Mars in 1976, each had instructions in their computers amounting to a few million bits, slightly more than a bacterium, but significantly less than an alga. Yet he thinks that life on this planet evolved by chance! Would he say that the Viking spacecraft could evolve, given enough time? Who has more faith--the creationist or the evolutionist?  [Taken from https://bible.org/seriespage/psalm-139-no-escape-god on 8.10.19.]

      One more truth about just the amazing nature of our DNA when it comes to how much information it can store.  It is the most compacted information storage system we know of in the universe.  One gram of DNA can store 700 terabytes of data. That’s 14,000 50-gigabyte Blu-ray discsin a droplet of DNA that would fit on the tip of your pinky. To store the same kind of data on hard drives — the densest mechanical, man-made storage medium in use today — you’d need 233 3TB drives, weighing a total of 332 pounds!  Curiously, it would only take that much DNA (a few hundred pounds) to store the entirety of human knowledge ever published, spoken, videoed or photographed in human history.  [Found at https://www.extremetech.com/extreme/134672-harvard-cracks-dna-storage-crams-700-terabytes-of-data-into-a-single-gram on 8.10.19.]

      See what I mean about going on for months!  And what we now know today compared to what David knew then is probably as little as what we haven’t even discovered yet about our amazing bodies.

      This is why EVERY human body and EVERY human being should be valued and prized.  This is why we cannot allow society to disconnect human life from personhood.  When we kill another human being, be they 10 days past conception or 100 years past birth…be they massively deformed or amazingly athletic…we do inestimable damage to the dignity of every human being.  And we attack the very evidence of the amazing power of God in our But sadly, we live in a day when that is done

      We’re out of time so I’ll end with this:  vss. 16-18.

Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.        

God already has your days numbered.  He has known from before you were conceived just how many days you would have on this earth…or, in the case of many “miscarried” babies, in their mother’s womb.  This makes me wonder if Jesus’ statement about the kingdom of heaven belonging to little children (Mt. 19:14) isn’t far more profound than was known 2,000 years ago.  (First trimester spontaneous miscarriage rates are from 10-20%.)  Could it be that those children we lose through miscarriages and those who are rejected through abortion might be the majority of people inhabiting heaven? 

17 How precious to me are your thoughts, God!
    How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them,
    they would outnumber the grains of sand—
    when I awake, I am still with you.

We’ve contemplated for just a few minutes just a fraction of the WORKS of God in making every one of us.  And those millions upon millions of amazing demonstrations of God’s power unfold every second we are alive…without us realizing it or even knowing it. 

APP: 

  • This is why we must always be a people singing and speaking the praises of our Omni-God.
  • This is why we must always value every human being, young or old, black or white, rich or poor, God-loving or, yes, God-hating.
  • BUT, if you go on in this passage, you will see that all this amazing knowledge of God is something that moved David to express his hatred for the wicked and his recognition of the need for holiness in his own life. Seeing God in all his greatness should make us hate evil all the more and long for holiness every day. 

Omniscient (all-knowing), omnipresent (everywhere at all times) and omnipotent (all-powerful…able to do anything He wills to do)—that is the God who knows us, is with us, created each of us individually and sustains every day of our lives on earth. 

      You ready to praise and worship THAT God???