At this service in May, pastor Bobby Chaw reminded the church not to seek immediate gratification, but the eternal presence of God.
“The greatest privilege of a priest is the presence of God,” said Bobby Chaw, City Harvest Church’s missions pastor and dean of the church’s School of Theology on the weekend of May 28 and 29. “And we, the Church, are called to be His priest in our generation.”
He started his message by reading from 1 Peter 2:9-10, “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.”
“The Bible says that we are chosen by God—it is not we who have chosen God—to be sent out to proclaim His praises, to be a royal priesthood,” Chaw said. In this verse, apostle Paul outlined what Chaw called the “blueprint of Christianity”: to be born again, sanctified, made holy, and to be of service to God.
The concept of priesthood existed since the ancient days of Job and Abraham. The head of the house was the priest–he was to listen to God, carry the word to His family and bring an offering to God on behalf of his family. Through the law of Moses, God took the office of the priest and gave it to a tribe, the Levites. Although the Levites were chosen to perform priestly duties, God still called the entire nation of Israel His priest. However, when Jesus came, He abolished the old system of priesthood. According to the New Testament, the office of the priest now falls upon the Church.
“The purpose of Jesus saving us and washing us clean is so that we can be His kingdom of priests,” Chaw says. “And like how the Levites have no inheritance because God took care of all their needs, God will take care of our needs when we set ourselves apart to be His priests.”
The unique characteristic of a priest is holiness.
“Without holiness, no one can see God,” Chaw reminded the people. “As priests, we are required to live holy unto the Lord.”
The job of a priest is to bring God to the people and people to God. He has the privilege to come before God, to receive a revelation and bring that to the people. That is why it is important for a priest to be holy.
“The greatest privilege of a priest is the presence of God,” Chaw says. “While He could have picked any place in this world to manifest His presence, God chose the Church because the Church is the kingdom of priests unto the Lord.”
“Holiness is to be set apart in your heart and in your life,” Chaw added. “That means you have a different attitude towards life, a different way of living.”
WHAT ESAU DID WRONG
Hebrews 12:15-16 says, “Looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled; lest there should be any fornicator or profane person like Esau, for one morsel of food sold his birthright.”
Esau’s problem was that “for one morsel of food” he sold his birthright. As the firstborn son, Esau was to be head of the house, the priest to the family. This was his birthright, a calling and privilege to lead his family and to hear from God Himself. The problem was that Esau “despised his birthright” (Gen 25:34) when he sold his birthright to Jacob for a bowl of red stew. He sought temporary gratification and failed to see what was eternal.
“The Bible called Esau a profane person,” Chaw says. He explained that profane means godless–Esau did not consider God when he made decisions. He was not willing to give up the values and the way of life in the world.
What was this way of life? As 1 John 2:6 describes, “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life, and is not of the Father but of the world.”
“The world seeks immediate gratification. Does this satisfy the flesh? Does it appeal to your eyes? Does it feed your ego?” Chaw explained. “If the answer is yes, then it’s the right decision. That is the way of the world.”
The pastor reminded the congregation that as Christians, it is important to consider God in all the decisions they make. He shared a personal story of how he asked for God’s leading when he was choosing a junior college to enter, and when he was considering his vocation during national service.
“As if I get to choose,” he said drawing laughter from the crowd. In Singapore, national service is compulsory for all males who are citizens or permanent residents, and enlistees have little or no choice as to what sections of the army they are sent to.
Although Chaw did not get his heart’s desire, which was to enter Temasek Junior College, he was placed in Tampines Junior College, which was where his faith and ministry grew.
Chaw urged the Church to be holy, to change their mindset, set themselves apart and consider God in their decision-making, the purpose and calling God has for their life.
THE PURSUIT OF HOLINESS
In the area of marriage, Esau took foreign wives against the commands of his ancestors. Jacob, on the other hand, understood eternity and always considered God in his decision-making. He obeyed his parents and took Leah and Rachel for his wives.
“His decisions were not led by the lust of the eyes,” explained Chaw, “but Jacob was constantly considering the calling and purpose of God for his life.”
Jacob would build altars in worship of God. Genesis 28:18-19 says, “Then Jacob rose early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put at his head, set it up as a pillar, and poured oil on top of it. And he called the name of that place Bethel (house of God).”
“Jacob was a priest. Worship and building altars were part and parcel of his life,” said Chaw.
The pastor reminded the congregation of Jacob wrestling with God. Genesis 32:26 says, “And He said, “Let Me go, for the day breaks.” But he said, “I will not let You go unless You bless me!” This was the attitude of holiness, said Chaw, not letting God go until He blesses one.
Chaw emphasized that the purpose for attending a church service is to pursue the presence of God, and reminded the people not to lose sight of the value of praying and going to church.
In closing, Chaw drew the connection between Esau’s problems with an ancient problem which began in the Garden of Eden: Adam and Eve consumed what appealed to their natural senses.
God created man two parts–material, which is the physical body and immaterial, which was the breath of God (Gen 2:7). When faced with temptation, Adam and Eve only considered theyr material desires. They defied God’s original intent for them.
“Man became alive only when God breathed His life into us,” Chaw explained. “We do not live by what is material, but what is immaterial, because His presence is living inside of us. He is our bread of life!”
Chaw ended by reminding the Church that she is the chosen generation, called to be a priest and a holy nation because the presence of God is within her.
“We live by the Spirit of the living God,” Chaw said. “The greatest privilege is to live with the presence of God inside of us. Seek first the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added unto you.”