WHEN GOD IS FAR AWAY

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WHEN GOD IS FAR AWAY

The earth is 7917 miles across, 9.3 mil miles from the sun and that is but a small fraction of the purported width of this galaxy; and we know that there are millions of other galaxies in this universe. Yet God has yet to be spotted by any of our space probes. So where is God?

That thought certainly crosses our minds sometimes, doesn’t it? Whether we are in trouble, facing insurmountable pressures; or just looking up at the sky entertaining an intellectual notion; we wonder where God is. But beloved, our Father has news for us.

“I am a God who is near.
I am also a God who is far away,” declares the Lord.
“No one can hide so that I can’t see him,” declares the Lord.
“I fill heaven and earth!” declares the Lord.” Jeremiah 23:23-24 [GW]

Our Father is a God who transcends time and space. Distance means nothing to Him because He is omnipotent and omniscient. So He is God, He is in control of all things, He is even in control of each and every situation and challenge of yours. He is in control when He is far and He is in control when He is near. Nothing can escape His grasp. He sees all things and He knows all things, especially every single tear you shed.

But let’s be honest. When we talk about distance from God, it’s not really physical distance that we are concerned about, is it? Perhaps when the ancients cried out to God, they were concerned about distance, because technology had not reached the stage where things could be transported across continents in a matter of milliseconds, like it is now. But for us, if God were to be a person in another state, country or even time zone, we know that we could text Him, drop Him an email, give Him a call, and He can receive and answer almost immediately. Geographical distance does not mean as much to us anymore.

But what matters to us is the emotional distance from God, the feeling of being abandoned and left alone. Because with that abandonment, comes feelings of condemnation, guilt, ‘I’m not good enough’, ‘I’m a worthless wretch’, ‘God hates me’; and we don’t like it.

In my neighborhood, there are many stray cats. And we often hear the kittens start calling out to their mother the minute she steps out of their little shoe box home. But once their mother is out of sight, the calling stops. I am obviously not a cat, but I can hazard a pretty good guess that the calling stops because the kittens figure that since their mother is already out of sight, calling out to her is pointless, since she will not hear. And when it comes to God, we can relate to the cats, can’t we; because sometimes we feel that He is just so far away, it is pointless turning to Him, because He is so far away, and we are so wretched anyway, He will never hear us.

Well, beloved, remember,

“I am a God who is near.
I am also a God who is far away,” declares the Lord.
“No one can hide so that I can’t see him,” declares the Lord.
“I fill heaven and earth!” declares the Lord.” Jeremiah 23:23-24 [GW]
He is God, near or far. He is God, no matter how far we think we are. And more than this, we need to remember that our Father has promised,

“Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6

Taken in context, this was told to the people of Israel at the end of their wandering around in the desert for one generation. The generation that had come out of Egypt by our Father’s hand had all but passed on and a new generation was about to take over. Moses was also handing over the reins to Joshua and Israel was about to enter into the promised land and begin their next phase of life. The road ahead was also fraught with danger because the peoples they would have to defeat in order to possess the land were numerous and mighty. Yet, our Father promised,

“The Lord your God Himself crosses over before you; He will destroy these nations from before you, and you shall dispossess them.” Deuteronomy 31:3

So if you have been wandering around in your desert, you see what seems to be insurmountable obstacles in your horizon and you are wondering just where is God and how far away is He, beloved, remember our Father has crossed over before you to destroy your enemies and make straight your paths so that you shall possess all that He has promised and purposed for you.

But you’re sitting there thinking that God only works for a select group of people. Yes, He is God, but He is only looking out for His own elect, the good people, the holy people; well beloved, yes, you are absolutely right. He is. And do you want to get in on it? Do you want to be part of His elect? Because if you already believe in Jesus, in His saving grace, you are already in on it, you are already His elect, you are one of the good people, the holy people, regardless of how good or holy you are. And if you have never put your trust in Jesus, you can right now, because He stands waiting for you.

Yet, you have heard this before. This is just another evangelist trying to ‘chalk up one more sign up’ for Christ. There is just no truth to all this because God is just too far away to matter, right? Well beloved, no.

When Jesus came, He came not only “that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10), He came because our Father “…made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Corinthians 5:21) So when Jesus went to the cross, He took all the bad that was due us and exchanged it for all the good that was His alone so that,

“Surely He has borne our griefs (sicknesses, weaknesses, and distresses) and carried our sorrows and pains [of punishment], yet we [ignorantly] considered Him stricken, smitten, and afflicted by God [as if with leprosy].
But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our guilt and iniquities; the chastisement [needful to obtain] peace and well-being for us was upon Him, and with the stripes [that wounded] Him we are healed and made whole.” Isaiah 53:4-5 [AMPC]

Now, while Jesus was hanging on the cross, God literally abandoned Him, turned His back on Him, God literally went far away from Jesus, so much so that it made Jesus cry out,

“My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” Matthew 27:46

And why would God do that?

“For a mere moment I have forsaken you,
But with great mercies I will gather you.
With a little wrath I hid My face from you for a moment;
But with everlasting kindness I will have mercy on you,”
Says the Lord, your Redeemer.
“For this is like the waters of Noah to Me;
For as I have sworn
That the waters of Noah would no longer cover the earth,
So have I sworn
That I would not be angry with you, nor rebuke you.
For the mountains shall depart
And the hills be removed,
But My kindness shall not depart from you,
Nor shall My covenant of peace be removed,”
Says the Lord, who has mercy on you.” Isaiah 54:7-10

He abandoned Jesus for that one moment, so that all our sins could be punished in the person of Jesus, so that all of God’s wrath for the sins of man could be satisfied for all time; so that with great mercies He can gather us, so that with everlasting kindness He can have mercy on us, so that He can swear to never be angry with us, rebuke us or remove His peace from us, ever again. And this was clearly shown to us in the natural when Jesus died.

“And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split, and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many.” Matthew 27:50-53

The veil separating the Holy of Holies in the temple was torn, allowing the congregation on the outside to look in on the place where, in their minds, God was residing. God literally tore the boundary which had hitherto separated His people from Him so that there will never again be any boundary, any barrier between Him and us who believe. This means that now, our omniscient, omnipresent God, to whom distance and time are never barriers, has removed the only reason why there can be any distance between Him and us, our sin. So now, no matter how far away we feel God is from us,

“Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6

He is always near.

So what happens when God is far away? When He feels far away, know that He has crossed over into your future and is sorting out the problems that are supposed to come your way. The further away He feels, the further He is in your future.

And my friend, if you have never put your faith in Jesus, you have never believed in our Father’s love for you, but you feel His love now and want to respond to Him, He is not far. In fact, He is very near, for Jesus says,

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.” Revelation 3:20

And when you have received Him into your life,

“You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” 1 John 4:4

So then, because you, who have Jesus in you, have overcome the world,

“To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.” Revelation 3:21

And if you want to respond to Him right now and receive Him into your life, say this to Him right now,

“Jesus, thank You for loving me so much that You would be willing to be obedient to our Father for my sake. Indeed, You were obedient to bear the beatings so that by Your blood shed, I may have complete remission of sins. You were even obedient to death on the cross, so that by Your death, I could die to sin and be free of its power and consequences, and by Your rising again, I would rise to a new life in You. Father I know that You are never far, for You have said that wherever I go, You go before me and You go with me. So I step into my future knowing that You will always be here with me for You have overcome all things that are ahead of me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”

Beloved, see if you can get your head around this. When God is far, He is taking care of things in your future. But when He is far, He is also near. So never fear, God is here.

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