Transcendence and Immanence

November 24, 2008 at 2:12 pm | Posted in Devotional thoughts, Theology | Leave a comment

Psalm 147.  This poem makes a great contrast between God’s transcendence over us and his immanence with us.  He determines the number of stars and calls them each by name; his power is great and his understanding has no limits (4-5).  Think of the billions of stars out there, and God knows them all; think of the billions of people in the world, and God knows them all.  That is an amazing mind!  He brings the clouds and rain and makes the grass grow in the world; he feeds all the creatures he has made (8-9).  That is an amazing power!  Those things describe his transcendence:  He is way above the creation; he is superior to it and separate from it in every way; he is holy.  Yet at the same time, he is not unconcerned or aloof.  He heals the broken hearted and binds up their wounds (3); he sustains the humble (6); he delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love (11).  That describes his immanence:  He is always with us, caring for us.

            I also saw the same comparison in the book of Hebrews today.  Jesus is described as the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his nature (1:3); superior to the angels (1:4); God, who will last forever (1:8); crowned with glory and honor (2:9); holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens (7:26).  That is a description of transcendence.  Yet Jesus is also immanent.  He was made lower than the angels (2:9); he shared in our humanity (2:14); was made like us in every way (2:17); he has been tempted in all ways like we are (4:15); and he has become our mediator and high priest.  He is God over us, yet he is Immanuel – God with us!



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