Christians have much to learn from Obed-Edom, an enemy turned servant in the presence of God, taught CHC’s executive pastor Bobby Chaw.
In his weekend (29-30 July) message, Bobby Chaw, who is executive pastor at City Harvest Church as well as the dean of the School of Theology, taught a parenthetical lesson on Obed-Edom, a man who became the gatekeeper of the presence of God.
Chaw preached from Numbers, a series that he has been bringing the church through since the first half of the year. Numbers in Hebrew is the word “bemidbar”, which means wilderness.
“In the wilderness of life, when you are faced with challenges, difficulties, and troubles in life, you can come to the tabernacle, to the presence of God,” said Chaw. “You will find life in the midst of death. You will find light in the midst of darkness.”
That was the emphasis of Chaw’s message on the weekend of Jul 29 and 30. At the start of his message, Chaw did a recap of the previous sermon on the importance of the role of priests and Levites and how Nadab and Abihu died because they were careless with the things of God.
“In the Jewish tradition, the story of Nadab and Abihu was always told together with the story of Uzza,” Chaw pointed out.
The story of Uzza started in 1 Chronicles 13 where King David set off to retrieve the ark of God.
“King David recognized that without the Ark of God, there is no voice of God. There is no word of the Lord, no divine leading or guidance. There is no protection over Israel,” said the preacher.
Uzza and Ahio drove the cart that the ark was on and when Uzza put his hand out to prevent the ark from falling when the oxen stumbled, God struck him.
Chaw then posed a question, “Why did God judge Uzza? He merely wanted to keep the ark from falling.”
He then revealed that Uzza was the son of Abinadab, whose name was the combination of two names: Abihu and Nadab.
“Could it be that the Bible is trying to describe to us the nature and the characteristics of Uzza? Uzza carried the same attitude and character of Nadab and Abihu, which was carelessness, sluggishness, (being) languid and insouciant.”
Chaw warned the congregation against the danger of impatience and hastiness, explaining that the Bible equates lust to instant gratification.
“Lust simply means, ‘I must have this at once’,” noted Chaw. “It may be a bodily appetite or spiritual possession.”
The Bible, however, teaches of exercising discipline, self-control, and endurance. Proverbs 21:5 says, “The plans of the diligent lead surely to plenty, but those of everyone who is hasty, surely to poverty.”
“Take the time and trouble to keep yourselves spiritually fit,” Chaw taught. “Because you are called to be Levites—Levites that carry the presence of the living God!”
OBED-EDOM: THE FAITHFUL SERVANT
After Uzza’s death, David was afraid and sent the ark to Obed-Edom’s house. Even though Obed-Edom was originally a Gittite–a tribe of Goliath and an enemy of God—the Bible says in 1 Chronicles 13:14, “…The Lord blessed the house of Obed-Edom and all that he had.”
The name Obed-Edom literally means “servant of the deity of Edom”.
“But God’s presence has the power to transform you and change you around,” Chaw said. He painted the picture of Obed-Edom trying to figure out how to take care of the ark, how to worship God.
“He was risking his life every day; one wrong move and he’d end up dead like Uzza. He was paying the price to take care of the presence of God. Similarly, if you give God time and space, invites His presence to stay in your house’s living room. your life will be transformed!”
Chaw exhorted the congregation to model after Obed-Edom’s faithful behavior and complete devotion to the presence of God. Bringing the members through a study of Obed-Edom’s actions, Chaw highlighted three things that one can learn from Obed-Edom.
Firstly, Obed-Edom did not merely stay at the blessing of God. He became a gatekeeper and a musician, joining the ranks of the Levites who were responsible for taking care of the Ark and worshiping God.
“He was more concerned about God than the blessing,” Chaw emphasized. Obed-Edom was not someone who would forget God. His pursuit was not in the blessing but in the person of God, the relationship and intimacy he could have with God Himself.
Secondly, Obed-Edom took ownership of the Ark. He followed the Ark into the temple and devoted himself to the careful maintenance and protection of the sacred dwelling place of God, guarding the presence of God.
Thirdly, Obed-Edom was no longer known as a Gittite. From 1 Chronicles 5:25 onwards, the author no longer called Obed-Edom a Gittite but referred to him as the gatekeeper and musician of the Ark of the Covenant.
Obed-Edom’s faithfulness and devotion to God left a great legacy. 1 Chronicles 25:23-24 mentioned another Obed-Edom who lived 200 years later. This showed that the descendants of the Levites had named their children Obed-Edom. The name no longer meant the servant of the deity Edom.
In closing, Chaw encouraged the congregation: “If you were to be like Obed-Edom, to host God’s presence in your life, something changes. No matter what kind of past you come from, God can change you!”