Lord of Heaven and Earth
by Russell Gehrlein
Published on September 18, 2023
Categories: Spiritual Growth

Lord of Heaven and Earth

By Russell E. Gehrlein

Recently, I listened to the song, God of Wonders by Third Day, I kept hearing “Lord of Heaven and earth.” My mind laid out three implications, although most people would only come up with one.

I would venture to say that when that term is read or heard, the most common understanding would be geographical. Where God is located is certainly implied. Indeed, He is Lord of heaven, and He is Lord of earth. However, I would like to propose two other possibilities for your consideration.

In addition to where God is found, what if the term could also imply a temporal focus, meaning time-based? What if the term could also apply to two opposing attributes that God possesses?

In this article, I will briefly unpack this descriptor of God the Father with the purpose of looking at it from a deeper and broader perspective through reflection on the implications of these words.

Where is this term used in Scripture?

A quick search on BibleGateway gave me over 30 references. However, as I read each verse, I was somewhat disappointed to discover the limitations of an internet search that provided various combinations of each of these words, but not in the order in which I was hoping to see them. Thankfully, I did find the phrase “Lord of Heaven and earth” or something close to it ten times.

The first time we see this term is in Gen. 2:4, as an introduction to Day 6 of creation, which was focused on when God created man in His image. We read, “the Lord God made the earth and the heavens.” From the immediate context of Genesis chapter 1, the heavens and earth that are referenced here would obviously refer to the places and things the Lord had just spoken into existence.

The next time we see it was when Abram spoke to his servant. He made him swear “by the Lord, the God of heaven and the God of earth” that he would find a wife for Isaac (Gen. 24:3). Later, Rahab said, “the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below” (Josh. 2:11).

The exact same phrase is used four times in the Psalms as well, where we read, “the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth” (Ps. 115:15, 121:2, 124:8, and 134:3). The distinction here is that the focus is on the Lord being the creator of all, referred to as “the Maker.” The previous verses were focused more on the sovereignty of God over all He has made, which included both heaven and earth.

Lastly, we see this phrase used twice by Jesus as He prayed, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth” (Matt. 11:25; Luke 10:21). Also, the Apostle Paul used it when he preached the gospel in Athens, proclaiming, “The God who made the world . . . is the Lord of heaven and earth” (Acts 17:24). Since Paul was extremely knowledgeable of the Hebrew Scriptures based on his background as a Pharisee, this should be no surprise that he used this term to describe God here.

The Lord resides in both Heaven and Earth

The idea that God lives in Heaven and is looking down on us is only partially true. Psalm 139:7-12 clearly highlights God’s omnipresence better than any other passage. In this personal psalm written by King David, he wants us to know that Yahweh is always present with us on earth. Knowing this should bring both comfort and fear. When we recall that He is here, it will shape our behavior.

Unlike persons who have one residence where they hang their hat, the triune God can be anywhere. He is not limited to time and space. To say that He is the Lord of heaven and earth acknowledges the fact that He has revealed Himself able to be present in both of these places. I think that all Christians know that God exists in Heaven and that He is here on earth with His chosen people as well.

The fact that God is the Lord (master) of all He has created, both in Heaven and on earth, means something to me, personally. God isn’t just the Lord of Heaven; He is Lord of the earth, too. He is available to me, a sinner saved by grace. By accepting His offer of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ, I have been reconciled to God. I can boldly approach God’s throne for help when I need it.

The Lord is God of both present and future

When we read, “Lord of heaven and earth,” we understand that its simple geographical meaning was what was intended by the original authors. However, if when you read this term, your mind went in a different direction, and you see a shade of distinction that would make biblical, logical, and practical sense, you would not be in error. This might just be a different connotation of those words.

Let me explain further. Quite simply, earth is where I am now. Heaven is where I will be in the future. When I read “Lord of Heaven and earth,” I am reminded that God is sovereign now and also in the future. I should relate to Him on earth today, not just when I get to heaven someday. The whole point of becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ is to get heaven into us, not just get us into heaven.

For me, I think far more about relating to God the Father here and now than about what it is going to be like to relate to Him in the future. I don’t worry about my final destination. That is settled for me. (See 1 John 5:13.) but I do have worries here on earth that I bring to God many times a day.

The Lord is both immanent and transcendent

The last implication connects these two locations with corresponding attributes of God, which are on opposite ends of the spectrum. God’s immanence informs us that He is among us, here and now. Jesus announced in Mark 1:15, the Kingdom of God is in our midst on earth. God’s transcendence is also revealed in Scripture. He is above and separate from His creation. God is on His throne in Heaven.

Isaiah expressed both of these ideas in one verse: “For this is what the high and exalted One says . . . ‘I live in a high and holy place, but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit’” (Isa. 57:15).

Although these theological concepts are much too deep for the average believer to comprehend fully, God’s attribute of immanence has definitely impacted my daily walk with Him. As a new believer in Christ, I was exposed to the writings of Brother Lawrence in his classic book, The Practice of the Presence of God. Over the past 47 years, I have been able to consistently (but not perfectly) live knowing that God is with me. I now have a passion to help others to experience God’s presence, especially at work. I even sense God’s presence as I write these words about God’s presence.

How does this understanding change how I relate to God?

I trust that this exploration of the varied implications of the term “Lord of Heaven and earth” were helpful and clear. I also hope that this might inspire you to allow yourself sufficient time to meditate on the shades of meaning that you stumble on as you read Scripture. It is always worth it.

I also hope that this particular study challenged you to consider in a deeper way the biblical truths that were brought out. God is sovereign on earth. He is in control. You can trust Him here and now with your life. God is always present with you, at home and at work every bit as much as in church or on a mountaintop. Every day, you can use your sanctified imagination to humbly seek God’s face, and choose to walk with the Father, abide in Christ, and be filled with the Holy Spirit.

Russell E. Gehrlein (Master Sergeant, U.S. Army, Retired) is a Christian, husband, father, grandfather, and blogger. He holds a B.S from Colorado State University and an M.A. from Grand Rapids Theological Seminary. God has given him a unique career journey as a junior/high school math and science teacher, youth pastor, and service in the military. Russ continues to work as a Department of the Army civilian at Fort Leonard Wood. He is an ordinary man whose passion is helping other people experience God’s presence and integrate their Christian faith at work. Russ has written for numerous publications as well and Christian blogs and websites. His first book, Immanuel Labor – God’s Presence in our Profession is A Biblical, Theological, and Practical Approach to the Doctrine of Work. His blog, “Reflections on Theological Topics of Interest”, inspires him to write on a continual basis.

Feature Photo by Wallpaper Safari

1 Comment

  1. Bill Herried

    So good, Russ. We were just surveying the titles of Jesus last night in our disciple-making group. Amazing how descriptive these terms can be in understanding the greatness of the King! Thx again.



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