The Immensity and the Immanence of God
Taken from The Attributes of God, by A.W. Tozer
The great French philosopher and mystic mathematician, Pascal, said this: “We are halfway between immensity and that which is infinitesimally small.” He said you will find worlds beyond worlds out in space. Our solar system moves around another solar system. And that solar system moves around another solar system, and so on into infinite vastness. Then, he said, if you turn the other way, you will find little worlds within little worlds going down—the molecule, the atom, the electron and the proton, down into infinitesimal smallness. He believed that man, made in the image of God, is exactly halfway in between that which is infinitely large and that which is infinitesimally small. There is no way to prove that, but that’s a frightening place to be, half as big as the universe but also half as small. We think that the sun is very large with its planets circling around it. But if you study astronomy—even elementary astronomy—you will learn that there are suns so large that each one could absorb our sun, all of its planets and all of the satellites that revolve around those planets into itself. They say that there are suns that are so large you could put millions of our suns into them. I give up. I don’t even try to understand it. Then there is space. I don’t think space is a thing; I think it is just a way we have of accounting for different positions in the vast universe. We call it distance. We know they don’t measure it. If it’s the moon they say 250,000 miles or if it’s the sun they say 93 million miles. But after that they start talking in light years. They say that there are bodies millions of light years away—say 10 million just to get a start. So if you want to know how far it is from earth to that body I’m talking about, you multiply 5 trillion, 862 billion, 484 million by 10 million. Doesn’t that stun you? It makes my head ache! Seen over against this, you and I are terribly small. Now we’re not the smallest thing there is, because you can dissolve us, melt us down and get at the molecules and atoms and bits of disembodied matter or energy that we call by various manufactured names. You’ll find that we’re, according to Pascal, half as big as the universe.
The Immanence of God
Then there is God. God has the attribute of immanence and immensity. God is immanent, which means you don’t have to go distances to find God. He is in everything. He is right here.
God is above all things, beneath all things, outside of all things and inside of all things. God is above, but He’s not pushed up. He’s beneath, but He’s not pressed down. He’s outside, but He’s not excluded. He’s inside, but He’s not confined. God is above all things presiding, beneath all things sustaining, outside of all things embracing and inside of all things filling. That is the immanence of God.
God doesn’t travel to get anywhere. We may say in prayer, “Oh God, come and help us,” because we mean it in a psychological way. But actually God doesn’t have to “come” to help us because there isn’t any place where God is not.
If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.… If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. (Psalm 139:9-10, 8) So it’s impossible to think of a place where God is not.
The Immensity of God
The Scripture also teaches the immensity of God. It says in Isaiah, “Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance?” (Isaiah 40:12). Imagine going out millions of light years into space and finding a body so vast that you could throw all our solar system into it. Like throwing a shovelful of coal into a furnace, it would simply swallow up our solar system and go on. After you’ve thought of all that, remember that God contains all that. Remember that God is outside of all things and inside of all things and around all things. Remember that our God made it. That is the immensity of God. The Holy Ghost is bigger than all the universe, this little hazelnut that Julian saw. “Behold, the nations are as a drop of a bucket” (40:15). You know, it’s awfully hard to get a Christian scared. It’s hard to get him panicked if he really believes in God. If he’s just a church member, you can get him panicked. But if he really believes in God it’s very difficult to do it. It’s very difficult for a big-mouth like Nikita Khrushchev [leader of the former Soviet Union in the 1950s and 1960s] to scare anybody who really believes in God. Khrushchev is beginning to sound more and more like Adolf Hitler—and where is Hitler? The same God who disposed of Adolf can dispose of Nikita one of these days. “Behold, the nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance: behold, he taketh up the isles as a very little thing” (40:15)—so small He doesn’t even notice them. “All nations before him are as nothing; and they are counted to him less than nothing, and vanity” (40:17). Old Dr. Neighbor used to say that the word vanity in the Hebrew meant “a soap bubble”—something that floats along on an infinitesimally thin skin. You touch it and it’s gone; no one can find it again. That’s what it means: all the nations of the world are to Him as a soap bubble. It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in.… To whom then will ye liken me, or shall I be equal? saith the Holy One. Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things, that bringeth out their host by number: he calleth them all by names by the greatness of his might, for that he is strong in power; not one faileth. (40:22, 25-26) Now this passage is probably the most daring flight of imagination ever made by the human mind. We have here in Isaiah that which is vaster and more awesome than anything that ever came out of the mind of Shakespeare. It is the thought of the great God, the Shepherd of the universe, moving through His universe, with its billions and trillions of light years, with its worlds so big that our whole solar system would look like a grain of sand by comparison. And God stands out yonder and calls all of these millions of worlds as His sheep; He calls them all by name and leads them out across the vast sky. I’d say this is the highest thought I know of, in the Bible or out. And God does this “by the greatness of his might, for that he is strong in power; not one faileth” (40:26). Just as a shepherd keeps all of his sheep and not one is lost, so God keeps all of His universe. Men point their tiny little glasses at the stars and talk learnedly, but they’ve just been counting God’s sheep, nothing more. God is running His universe. And then in the Psalms we read, Bless the LORD, O my soul. O LORD my God, thou art very great; thou art clothed with honour and majesty. Who coverest thyself with light as with a garment: who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain: who layeth the beams of his chambers in the waters: who maketh the clouds his chariot: who walketh upon the wings of the wind. (Psalms 104:1-3) There we have the greatness, the immensity, the imminence of God, set over against the vastness and the littleness of the world. For Julian said, “I saw all of this vastness reduced, and I saw how big it actually was, set over against God Almighty. ‘Twas the size of a hazelnut.” Then she said, “I marveled at one thing”—and I’ve thought of this myself—”I marveled at what could hold it together.”
Tozer, A. W. (2007-02-14). The Attributes of God Volume 1: A Journey into the Father’s Heart (Kindle Locations 295-369). Moody Publishers. Kindle Edition.