“Am I a God who is near” declares the Lord, “and not a God far off? Can a man hide himself in hiding places so I do not see him?” declares the Lord. “Do I not fill the heavens and the earth?” declares the Lord. Jeremiah 23:23-24
In Jeremiah 23:23, God is addressing Israel telling them that He is the God who is near and the God who is far away, in other words, He is everywhere and aware of all we are doing. In context, it is a rhetorical question. God is asking Israel if they know the fact that He is every where. In truth, He is so close that He knows their hearts. They think God is not near them and therefore He does not know what they are doing and thinking.
What does it mean?
God is the God who is near. The phrase is “miq-qarob ha elohe” or “Elohei Mikkarov” is translated “the God who is nearby.”
The word “qarob” is an adjective and means near, and carries shades of meanings such as: nearby, drawing near; allied; approachable; and ready at hand. As we search through various lexicons we see it carries the meaning of God being near us; His presence being with us; and His desire for an intimate relationship with us. It also indicates our ability to draw near to God.
In other instances it implies a relationship in which there is an affinity between two people, and an intimacy in their knowing one another.
“Elohei Miq-qarob/Mikkarov” describes a truth about God’s character and the intentions of God towards us. The truth this name emphasizes is that God is always near us ready to draw to Him. He is nearby us, therefore He knows about us and the happenings in our life. The context of this title for God in Jeremiah 23 indicates that God is near and knows the thoughts and intents of our hearts. Such knowledge is not meant to threaten us but to provide security.
Truths that Confirm God Is Near
The truth that God is near; is present; is approachable, and infact, desires to be close to us is attested to in other passages. These other passages describe in detail characteristics of this nearness.
- The nearness of God is akin to the very source of our life, Acts 17:26-28.
“And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their pre-appointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and have our being …”
- The nearness of God is a safe refuge and a help in times of trouble, Psalm 46:1. The word for help in this verse is “ezrah” meaning succor; a suitable help; a strong support.
God’s intent towards us is to help, to support, to provide for us.
“God is our refuge and strength an ever present help in the times of trouble.”(BSB)
- The nearness of God means God is always with us, Psalm 139: 7-12. He guides, he leads. He is with us in the dark times. He is with us even when we want to run away from Him or hide from Him.
“Where can I go from your Spirit?Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, ‘Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,’ even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.”
- In the nearness of God we can see His great wonders, Psalm 75:1. As I move closer to God in vulnerable faith, my eyes are open to see more of Him and His wonders. In the intimacy of my relationship with God He uses His power to help me, and He works wonders within me and my life.
“We give thanks to You, O God; we give thanks, for Your name is near. The people declare Your wondrous works.”
- The nearness of God is directly connected to calling on God with a firm or true faith, Psalm 145:18
“The LORD is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth.”
Truth in this verse is defined as firmness in faith, a faithfulness. In order to be close to God, to have that intimate connection, I have to firmly believe that God will answer me when I call on Him. This truth is echoed in James 1:5-6 and Hebrews 11:6.
Do I truly believe that God is near and will help me? Is my faith such that I am open to His helping me even though His answer may not meet my expectations? In other words do I fully trust the God who is near, who knows my thoughts, feelings and needs? Do I trust Him to do what is right and best for me?
Do I want to be near God?
The truth we learn from some of these passages in the Old Testament is that God is near to us. God desires that intimate connection to us and reaches out to us through time and space to bring about the possibility of our being intimately connected to God.
Immanuel, God in the flesh, has come to make intimacy with God a reality. We see this truth throughout the New Testament. Ephesians 2:13 demonstrates how this intimacy with God can happen.
- “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.”
We are encouraged to draw near to God through Jesus, Hebrews 10:21-22 and James 4:8
- “… and since we have a great priest over the house of God,let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.” Hebrews 10:21-22
- “Come near to God, and God will come near to you. You are sinners. So clean sin out of your lives. You are trying to follow God and the world at the same time. Make your thinking pure.” James 4:8 (ICB)
It challenges me to realize that the God who creates and sustains all life; the God who: divided the Red Sea; walked on water; gave sight to the blind; healed the leper, and raised the dead, wants to be close to me. The question is do I want to be close to God? Am I willing to seek His face, to seek His presence in my life every day?
Prayer Response: Pray that God will teach you how to be close to Him; how to go deeper and have an intimate relationship with Him.