God is both transcendent and immanent, a “High and Lofty One” but yet He lives among man to uplift those with a contrite and humble spirit,” taught Bobby Chaw in his teaching on Numbers 4.
Despite God’s holiness and man’s sinful nature, He desires to dwell amongst his people. Pastor Bobby Chaw’s message was centred on this truth on the weekend of August 12 and 13.
In his next teaching on the Book of Numbers, the executive pastor of City Harvest Church preached from chapter four which shed light on another important role of the Levites: miscellaneous work.
There were three clans in the tribe of Levi: Kohath, Gershon and Merari. Their places in the camp surrounded the perimeter of the Tabernacle and the position of each tribe held great meaning. The prime land was at the East of the Tabernacle where Moses and Aaron, the High Priests lived in. The tribe of Kohath occupied the second place in the south while the tribe of Gershon occupied the third place in the west.
Chaw noted that while Gershon was the firstborn of Levi, it was Kohath the second son that occupied the second best place in the camp. The clan of Kohath also assumed the most important task of carrying the holiest objects in the Tabernacle.
“There were no reasons given, God simply chose those He found favor with,” Chaw stated. “Similarly, God can use you no matter what circumstances you are in right now.”
1 Corinthians 1:27 says, “But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty.”
“God is not impressed by someone’s gifts and talents. God doesn’t see as men see. Men look at the outward appearance but God looks at the heart,” Chaw explained.
TRANSCENDENCE AND IMMANENCE
Numbers 4:4 states that the Kohathites were in charge of carrying the holiest objects: the ark of testimony, the table of showbread, the golden lampstand, and the altar of incense.
Numbers 4:5-15 outlined the preparation work that Aaron and the priests needed to do whenever the camp prepares to journey. There were specific instructions for the Kohathites to undertake and they had to exercise utmost discipline and care.
Numbers 4:15 says, “And when Aaron and his sons have finished covering the sanctuary and all the furnishings of the sanctuary when the camp is set to go, then the sons of Kohath shall come to carry them; but they shall not touch any holy thing, lest they die.”
“Even though the son of Kohath sought to serve God, one wrong move will kill them. That is because only Aaron and his sons are holy enough to touch the holy objects,” Chaw taught. “This shows that the closer we get to God, a greater degree of holiness is required.”
Chaw then explained the two types of gods worshiped by other religions, which are transcendent or immanent. The former means that the god is distant and uninvolved with humanity. The latter means that the god lives amongst humans and is humanlike.
Isaiah 57:15 says “For thus says the High and Lofty One Who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place, With him who has a contrite and humble spirit, To revive the spirit of the humble, And to revive the heart of the contrite ones.”
“Yet our God is both transcendent and immanent,” said Chaw. “He is a ‘High and Lofty One’ but yet He lives amongst man to uplift those with a ‘contrite and humble spirit’.”
To those who find God too transcendent and mysterious, Chaw said that Numbers tells them that God is with His people and they can experience Him. The pastor also spoke to those who do not show God respect because they felt that He is one of them. Numbers tells them that God is to be revered and they must not be careless with Him.
“God’s objective is for us to live,” said Chaw. “That is why He gave us 66 books in the Bible, those are instructions for us to live by but we are imperfect and we fail.”
THE GREATEST DILEMMA
Even though God is holy and cannot withstand any wickedness, He wants to dwell among His people because He loves them.
“This is the greatest dilemma God faces,” said Chaw. “And the solution to this problem is Jesus Christ.”
In the person of Jesus, God came as human flesh. Quoting Galatians 3:13, Chaw shared, “Jesus took the curse that is on you and me and put it upon Himself. Today, you can stay alive because of Him!”
How, then, should Christians live their life?
John 8 tells the story of the adulterous woman. The Pharisees brought her to Jesus, proposing that she be stoned to death according to the law. Jesus told the Pharisees that whoever had not sinned could cast the first stone. The Pharisees, however, left the room one by one without condemning the woman. Jesus then said to the woman, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”
This statement reveals the transcendent and immanent nature of God. “When Jesus said ‘Neither do I condemn you’, He showed that He is immanent; He understands,” explained Chaw. “But He didn’t stop there. He went on to say, ‘Go and sin no more’. This showed that He is also transcendent and cannot withstand evil.”
Concluding his sermon, Chaw reminded the Church of the love of God. God gave His only Son so that man can continuously stand in His presence and worship Him.
“This is the greatest privilege of a human being,” he said.