How does God’s omnipresence actually work? Some people think that He is present in everything, and that everything is in some way a part of Him. This may be called pantheism, which is the claim that everything is divine, or more subtly, panentheism, which is the belief that God infuses everything without its being an extension of His own being. Similar to this is the belief, held by some, that God is like air, or a kind of gas, which permeates the world and whose presence can be felt, even if it cannot be explained or perceived by our senses.
The basic problem with approaches of this kind is that they do not understand or account for the distinction between God’s being and the nature of His creation. God has not made the world as an extension of Himself, and He does not permeate it in some way. The Creator is totally different from anything He has made, and His nature is not like the nature of His creation. Even the spiritual creatures (angels and demons), who resemble God more than the material universe does, are finite, and to that extent are quite different from Him. As human beings, we have contact with God not because of our creation but because we have been made in His image and likeness (Gen. 1:26–27), which sets us apart from the rest of the created order. We are obliged to use finite concepts to talk about Him because our minds are finite, but we know that when we do so we are speaking by analogy. Within the limits of our conceptual framework, we can say that God is like this or that, but in the final analysis, He is quite different from—and infinitely superior to—anything we can imagine.
More problematic are the numerous assertions in the Bible, and particularly in the Old Testament, that state that God has put His name in a certain place, implying that He is somehow present there to a greater degree than elsewhere. We find these claims not only in the Pentateuch (Ex. 20:24; Deut. 12:5) but also in the Historical Books (2 Chron. 6:6) and in the Prophets (Hab. 2:20). Very often, they refer to Jerusalem, the city where God has put His name, and more particularly to the temple. Habakkuk, for example, states quite clearly that the Lord is in His holy temple, and that the whole earth must keep silence before Him.