Does God travel?
For many years, the (now defunct) Worldwide Church of God (WCG), under its human leader, Herbert W. Armstrong, knew the answer to this question. WCG also knew that God is not a Trinity, but a Family, consisting of two Persons—the Father and the Son. It knew that the Son—Jesus Christ—died and was dead for three days and three nights, and that He was resurrected by God the Father. WCG also knew that even though God is Spirit or a Spirit being, He has spiritual form and shape.
When Mr. Armstrong died, changes were introduced under the new administration, in order to become more like “orthodox” Christianity. At first, it was proclaimed that God is just one Person, but He consists of three “hypostases” or modes of being. The “new” WCG adopted this concept from the Greek Orthodox Church. But not being satisfied with that “explanation,” it moved on to embrace the concept of the Trinity, as taught by the Roman Catholic Church and most Protestant churches—one Person in three Persons. (A long-time Evangelist stated at the time that the transition from the Greek Orthodox Church’s concept to the Roman Catholic Church’s concept was never explained.)
With this change, the idea was promulgated that God, as a Trinity, could never change—meaning that when Jesus Christ died on earth, the Son of God was still alive in heaven. It was further stated that God had no form and shape, but that He was some kind of a “blob”—even though that word was objected to, as it implied a “shape.” God was to be understood similar to what the New Age movement teaches (even though that “label” was also rejected): He is just everywhere, without form and shape. He is in every stone, in every grain of sand, in every human, in every animal, in every angel, in Satan and every demon, in every drop of water…
That idea, of course, was accompanied by the concept that God cannot travel—that He cannot move from one place to another place—as He is everywhere at all times. As words in the Bible relate the opposite, they were just to be viewed as figurative language designed for our limited human understanding, as this would be all that we could comprehend.
We hasten to add that these concepts, in one way or another, ARE the teachings of traditional Christianity. The new leadership of the WCG did not consist of such “bright and intelligent” people who just designed these ideas on their own—they simply embraced what orthodox Christianity had taught for almost two thousand years. They, in turn, had adopted these ideas from pagan concepts taught and believed in by Egyptian, Babylonian and Greek “theologians” and philosophers.
To answer the question from the Bible as to whether God does travel, we need to touch upon the concepts as referred to above.
Let us begin by reviewing who raised Jesus from the dead. Was the Son of God, as part of the unalterable Trinity, still alive when Jesus was in the grave, and did He, as the Son of God, raise Him up? In other words, did the Son of God raise Himself up? Or, as the “new” WCG postulated, did the unalterable “Trinity” (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) raise Jesus up? (The problem with the “new” WCG’s teaching was that no place was found for Jesus. Was He part of the Trinity or not, even after His resurrection? First, two circles were drawn—one designating the Trinity, and one next to it designating the resurrected Jesus. Later, the circle designating Jesus was subsequently placed inside the bigger circle designating the Trinity. And finally, the circle designating Jesus, inside the Trinity, “disappeared”, so that Jesus had somehow “merged” with the Trinity.)
We addressed the question as to who raised Jesus from the dead in a Q&A, titled, “Would you please explain Jesus’ statement in John 2:19, ‘Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up…’?…”:
“Some use this passage to teach that Christ rose Himself up FROM THE DEAD. They claim that Christ, the Son of God, never died, but that only His ‘human mantle’ did. They teach that the Son of God was the second member of an immortal and unalterable Trinity, and that He therefore could not have died. They postulate that Christ–the Son of God–raised up the human mortal Jesus. This ABOMINABLE HERESY is nowhere taught in the Bible! The Bible makes very clear that God is NOT a TRINITY; that Jesus Christ was the Son of God; and that HE DIED… It was God the Father [not the Son or the Trinity] who raised the DEAD Christ FROM THE DEAD.
“For instance, Galatians 1:1 states: ‘Paul, an apostle (not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God THE FATHER, who raised HIM from the dead)…’ When Christ died and was brought back to life shortly thereafter as an immortal spirit being, God the Father CHANGED Christ’s physical body (which had not yet decayed) into a spirit body… After three days and three nights in the grave, God the Father brought the DEAD Christ back to life. Christ got up, and at THAT moment, He fulfilled the prophecy that He had given to the Jews in John 2:19: He raised up His BODY.
“In other words, He was lying on the ground in the tomb (John 19:40-42), but when He received immortal life from God the Father, He got up from the ground. The word for ‘raise up’ (in Greek, ‘egeiro’), as used in John 2:19, is used many times to describe someone who simply STANDS UP. It is used in Mark 1:31; 9:27, and in Acts 3:7, as well as in James 5:15. In all of those cases, sick people stood up from their sick bed. God ‘raises or lifts’ them up by giving them the power or strength to stand or to get up. John 2:18-22 does not teach that Christ raised Himself up FROM THE DEAD. Rather, it teaches that after God the Father resurrected Him from the dead. Christ raised up the temple of His BODY, by getting up.”
In addressing the concept that God has form and shape and that, as a Person, He is not everywhere at the same time, but that He indeed travels, moves and changes locations, we stated the following in our Q&A, “Is God really omnipresent, that is, everywhere at all times? Scriptures like Genesis 3:8-11 seem to suggest the opposite!”:
“The question of God’s omnipresence has puzzled men for centuries and millennia, and diverse and sometimes incredible answers have been proposed. One common idea in Orthodox Christianity is that God, as a Spirit being, is everywhere, as allegedly, Spirit has no form or shape–no limitations–no ‘parts.’ God is understood to be–even though proponents of that idea would oppose such wording–a formless or shapeless ‘blob’–permeating everything.
“This idea is clearly unbiblical. God HAS form and shape. God said that Moses saw the glorified ‘form’ of the LORD (compare Numbers 12:8). God, when creating man, said that man was to be made in accordance with the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:26-27; 9:6). God is described as having a head, arms, a body, feet, eyes and hair, among other aspects. Man is made in the physical form of God–-he is a physical reflection, if you please, of the Spirit Beings, God the Father and Jesus Christ the Son. Please also note that Christ is described as the [Spirit] image of God the Father (2 Corinthians 4:4). He looks like God the Father; that is why He could say, even when He was here on earth in human form, ‘He who has seen Me has seen the Father’ (John 14:9). In that same way–on a physical level–man is made in the image of God.
“Given the fact that God has form and shape, He IS therefore at one given moment in only one place at one specific time. This means, when He is sitting on His throne in heaven, He is therefore not at that very same moment on earth, or on planet Mars, or in another galaxy billions of light-years away. This is why we read that God came down from heaven to walk on earth; that Jesus Christ, after His resurrection to a Spirit Being, ascended to heaven; that He was brought before God the Father in heaven to receive kingship and power; and that He will return to this earth, in power and glory, to rule all nations. Of course, we must also understand that God CAN ‘travel’ from one place to another within a ‘split second’… [W]hen God is at a certain place, at that very same moment, He cannot be–as a Person–at a different place at the same time.”
We then went on to explain that God the Father and Jesus Christ, through the Holy Spirit emanating from both of them, can be “everywhere,” but NOT as Persons. We said:
“David did not conclude that God’s miraculous omnipresence was due to God being everywhere like a form- and shapeless blob; he knew better than that… God the Father and Jesus Christ are both Spirit beings. They both have form and shape, composed of Spirit. But the Holy Spirit is NOT a being–rather, it is the power emanating from God (compare Micah 3:8; Luke 4:14). It is through the POWER of God’s Holy Spirit that things are created. And God’s Holy Spirit does not have form and shape–God’s Holy Spirit does not exist in a bodily form…
“God, a Spirit being, who has form and shape, is everywhere through His Spirit…
“Turning… to Genesis 3:8-11, we find that God–actually in the Person of Jesus Christ, as no man has ever seen the Father (John 1:18; 6:46)–‘walked’ in the Garden of Eden. That must be understood quite literally. At that moment in time, Christ appeared to Adam and Eve in a physical manifestation, but through His Spirit, He was still everywhere. [Later, we find that Christ appeared to Abraham and Sarah, together with two angels, manifesting themselves ‘as’ humans, to eat and to speak with them about their future son and to warn Abraham of the impending destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (compare Genesis 18:1-2, 13, 16-33; 19:1).]…”
Further explanations were given in our Q&A, titled, “Does God observe all the terrible individual and collective sins of mankind?” :
“We read Christ’s words to Abraham in Genesis 18:20-21: ‘Then the LORD said, “The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous that I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me. If not, I will know.”’… Some commentaries tell us that this wording [of God coming down and seeing how bad it was] is ‘anthropomorphic’ (applying human characteristics, traits or attributes to God) or a figurative way of speaking, allegedly ‘proving God’s omniscience or all-embracing knowledge.’
“Of course, most commentaries do not believe that God has form and shape, and that man was made, in a physical way, after the spiritual likeness of God. Nor do they believe that God travels, going from one place to another. But the Bible clearly teaches both…
“A similar conclusion can be gleaned from the account about the Tower of Babel. We read in Genesis 11:5-8: ‘But the LORD came down to see the city and the tower the people were building. The LORD said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.” So the LORD scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city.’
“This passage implies that Christ came down, apparently in response to a report by His angels, to see what was really happening at Babel, and after having analyzed the situation, both the Father and Christ determined to go down to confuse the languages…”
Taking the Bible by its word, we can see the following:
- God has spiritual form and shape. As such, He MUST travel from one place to another place to reach His desired destination.
- The Son of God, Jesus Christ, died and was dead and in the tomb for three days and three nights, without any consciousness. He was not in heaven while He was dead in the grave on earth. The Father raised Christ from the dead. Christ (the Son of God) was dead and did not raise Himself up; and Christ left the grave and ascended to the third heaven—all of this showing that God—in the Person of the Son of God—does travel.
- God, in the Person of Jesus Christ, traveled and came down from heaven to see Abraham, and He sent two angels to Sodom to determine whether there would be ten righteous in the city.
- Christ will return to this earth with His holy angels, traveling from heaven to reach the earth.
All these statements show by written biblical verification that God travels—that He “moves” from one place to another place.
Let us focus in more detail on the clear teaching of the Bible in this regard:
After His resurrection, Christ appeared and walked with two disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-31). It would be rather strange to conclude that Christ was at the same time in heaven, sitting next to the Father on His throne, while watching Himself from heaven, walking on earth with the two disciples.
We read in the Book of Revelation that after new heavens and a new earth have been created, the Father will come down from heaven to the new earth to dwell there (Revelation 21:3). Will He at the same time, while dwelling on the new earth, still dwell in the third heaven?
When Christ will come down to the earth to establish the Kingdom or Government of God and rule with the immortal saints on and over the earth during the Millennium and the Great White Throne Judgment, will Christ at the same time still sit on the Father’s throne in the third heaven? And since we will be immortal members of the Family of God, will we also be part of a huge Nirvana-like blob? Are meeting Christ in the air when He returns, and are Christ’s and our ruling on the earth just illusions and hallucinations—a gigantic fraud designed for us poor human beings who could not understand the Truth? Putting the questions this way, we should see how utterly nonsensical and ridiculous the idea is that God has no form and shape, and that He does not travel.
Let us also notice this:
Christ will come back in clouds as He ascended to heaven in clouds (Acts 1:9-11) please see our Q&A on the manner of the return of Jesus Christ (https://www.eternalgod.org/q-a-8412/.) He will come down to fight for Israel (Isaiah 31:4-5). His feet will stand on that day on the Mount of Olives (Zechariah 14:4), and all the saints will be with Him (verse 5). But no, learned theologians tell us, none of that happened and will happen, because God, in the Person of Jesus Christ, does not travel and He has no feet with which He could stand on the Mount of Olives.
We also read that God (Jesus Christ) came down to Mount Sinai to speak the Ten Commandments (Exodus 19:20; 20:1). He later came down in the cloud and the pillar of cloud (Numbers 11:25; 12:5).
We are told that the LORD rides on a swift cloud (Is. 19:1), and that He rides on a cherub or cherubim (Psalm 18:9-10; compare Ezekiel 1:4-28; 9:3; 10:4, 18).
All of this shows, of course, that God travels, moves, walks, rides or flies, and thereby changes locations.
The Bible tells us quite succinctly that God (Jesus Christ) came down from heaven to deliver Israel out of slavery (Exodus 3:8). The Rock that went with and that followed Israel was Christ (1 Corinthians 10:4).
He passed by Moses to show him His glory, which Moses could only view from the back (Exodus 33:18-23). He descended in the cloud and stood with Moses (Exodus 34:5). He talked to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend (Exodus 33:11).
To even suggest that all these statements of fact—and there are many more—are not true and did not really convey what happened (as allegedly, none of that happened) makes a mockery of God and His Holy Word—the Bible. God does not look kindly on those who do this, and He most certainly will not hold them guiltless. Let us make sure that we are not fooled by the trickery, the cunning and deceitful craftiness of man, (compare Ephesians 4:14), but that we continue to believe God and His infallible Word.
Lead Writer: Norbert Link