The Tower of Babel :: Making a name

Genesis 11:3-4 states “And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them thoroughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for morter. And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.

What is interesting to note is that, not only did the people settle down in the plains, in the land of Shinar, which was itself contrary to God’s commandment to replenish the earth (Genesis 1:28; Genesis 9:1), but they also planned with one another to build a city and tower that would reach unto heaven, so that they would not be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth, again doing things that was contrary to what God had commanded. They did this with the hope of making a name for themselves. (Genesis 11:3-4).

Points to ponder:
Are we trying to make a name for ourselves? Let us not build a name for ourselves, but instead, let us build the Name of Jesus, the Name above all names; the Name to which every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that he (Jesus) is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:9-11). Whose name are you and I building … our name or the name of Jesus.

Lord Jesus, help me to work for you and for your Name, only yours, which is above all names, so that God the Father would be glorified. 

Genesis 11:3-4 (KJV)
And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them thoroughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for morter.
And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.

Philippians 2:9-11 (KJV)
Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:
10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;
11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

What is your name?

Genesis 5:1-2 states that on the day that God created man (both male and female) in his likeness, he blessed them and called their name Adam. If you notice the sequence of God’s action, God first blessed the man before he gave them a new name. Blessings preceded naming.

In the Bible, there are only three accounts of the phrase ‘new name’. The first instance is in Isaiah 62:2 which reads “And the Gentiles shall see thy righteousness, and all kings thy glory: and thou shalt be called by a new name, which the mouth of the Lord shall name.” Here it is extremely clear that the new name is given by the Lord himself to those whose righteousness is evident before ordinary men and women, who are not part of God’s kingdom (Gentiles) and even before rulers/government (kings). The second instance of the phrase new name is given in Revelation 2:17 which reads “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.” In this instance, the new name is given to the one who overcomes. But what is this new name that is given to the overcoming person whose faith is expressed in action and evident before men? To answer this, we need to go to the third instance in which the phrase “new name” is mentioned and that is in Revelation 3:12 which reads “Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.” Again, to the overcomer, is this new name promised and this is Jesus speaking, since it is his revelation (Revelation 1:1). Jesus says that the new name that will be given is the name of God and the name of his habitation (city) and his own new Name – the Name that is above all names (Philippians 2:9).

Points to ponder:
God blessed man before naming him. God named his new creation in the day of his creation. When we believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, we are made a new creature (2 Corinthians 5:17). This is the real date of our creation. And upon our new creation, we are blessed by God for Ephesians 1:3 avers that the Lord Jesus Christ has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ. Now if we have been born again (made a new creature) and have been blessed because of our belief in the Lord Jesus Christ, we ought to overcome i.e., we ought to let the Lord rule over our lives so that we are holy and blameless in love (Ephesians 1:4). Though, to be holy and blameless is an impossible task by our own human efforts, we can be of good cheer, because when we believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, we are imputed his holiness and blamelessness (righteousness) and we can overcome since he has overcome (John 16:33). So, now the question that begs an answer, is “What is your name?” In other words, is our faith expressed in action for the world to see God’s righteousness imputed on us and are we overcomers, so that Jesus’ own new name can be given to us? What is your name?

Genesis 5:1-2 (KJV)
1 This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him;
2 Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created.

2 Corinthians 5:17 (KJV)
17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

Ephesians 1:3-6 (KJV)
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:
4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:
5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,
6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.

Nahum 1:5 – Quaking mountains and Melting hills

The first part of Nahum 1:5 reads “The mountains quake at him, and the hills melt.” When the Lord declared his fury against the Assyrians, in Nineveh, who were oppressing the people of Judah (God’s people), his power is described as one, to which even the natural elements (mountains and hills) succumb. So great is God’s power in his presence!

When the Lord delivered David from the hands of his enemies and the hand of Saul, David praised God by expressing that “God heard him when he cried out to the Lord and because of the Lord’s anger, the earth shook and trembled” (2 Samuel 22:8). When God went forth before his people and marched through the wilderness, the earth shook. When God visited his people on Mount Sinai during their Exodus, the mount itself was moved at the presence of God (Psalm 68:7-8) and the hills melted like wax at the presence of the Lord of the whole earth (Psalm 97:5; Judges 5:5) when God spoke (Psalm 46:6).

In the day of the Lord of hosts, everyone who is proud and lofty, and lifted up, like high mountains and hills shall be brought low and the Lord alone shall be exalted (Isaiah 2:12-14).

Points to ponder:
When God comes forth to fight for his people, even all the elements which signify stability, such as mountains and hills, shall shake and melt away at his presence. When Jesus died and yielded up the ghost on the Cross, the earth quaked and the rocks rent, and the graves were opened and the saints that slept were resurrected and came out of the graves after his resurrection (Matthew 27:50-53).
When and where God is present, there is nothing else stable except him. Jesus alone is the strong unshakeable foundation and Rock of our Salvation. Jesus is the presence of God with and in us. He is the Emmanuel, which when interpreted means ‘God with us’ (Matthew 1:23). At his presence, all the proud things of the world are brought low and only he is exalted with a name that is above all names (Philippians 2:9). And at the presence of Jesus is life – resurrected life – for the old things are passed away and the new is come to all who believe in his name (2 Corinthians 5:17). Are you alive with a resurrected life?

Nahum 1:5 (KJV)
5 The mountains quake at him, and the hills melt, and the earth is burned at his presence, yea, the world, and all that dwell therein.

Jesus in the NT :: 3rd John

The book of 3rd John gives us a glimpse of who Jesus is in the  New Testament (N.T).

The 3rd book of John is the second shortest book in the New Testament, second only to the 2nd book of John with 14 verses in total.

Two types of Christians are explicitly mentioned. One is Gaius who epitomized Hospitality with Humility and Selflessness and the other is Diotrepheus who epitomized Hostility with Pride and a quest for Preeminence in the Church. The book talks about the pride of Diotrepheus and praises the humility and hospitality of Gaius, who hosted God’s people not out of obligation but out of the overflow of his heart to serve. From the testimonies of the two mentioned, we can draw a parallel:  Gaius, with Humility emulated the character of the Creator God, Jesus Christ, who humbled himself and made himself of no reputation (Philippians 2: 7) while Diotrepheus with pride emulated the character of the creature, Lucifer (or the devil) who sought to elevate himself above God (Ezekiel 28:2,15)

From the 3rd book of John, we learn that Hospitality is godly which implies that God is Hospitable (3rd John 1:5-6). Jesus is Hospitable. He accommodates each one of us into the place that he has gone ahead to prepare for us, as he stated (John 14:3).  3rd John 1:8, establishes that Jesus is also the Helper of those in need. The verse states that we are God’s fellow helpers (co-labourers) meaning he is the other one helping us.

In 3rd John, Jesus Christ is HOSPITABLE, He is the HELPER of those in need and the Model for HUMILITY.

Points to ponder:
Let us choose to follow the example of Jesus Christ, who is HOSPITABLE, the HELPER and the one who is the model of HUMILITY. He humbled himself unto death, even death on the Cross, who made Himself of no reputation and suffered, so that the splendor and the glory that God bestowed on Him was by giving Him a Name that is above all names, and at the Name of Jesus Christ, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that He is Lord.

3 John 1:5-6 (KJV)
Beloved, thou doest faithfully whatsoever thou doest to the brethren, and to strangers;
Which have borne witness of thy charity before the church: whom if thou bring forward on their journey after a godly sort, thou shalt do well:
3 John 1:8 (KJV)
We therefore ought to receive such, that we might be fellowhelpers to the truth.

Christian Verbs :: E is for Exalting

The word ‘Exalt’ means ‘to lift up’ or ‘to lift high’. We often seek to reach the zenith with a selfish self-aggrandizement attitude. We strive hard to be on the top, and our corporate/work culture pushes us to pursue a status quo as one above the rest, sometimes at the cost of our Biblical virtues, principles, ethics and morals.

Interestingly, the Bible uses the word ‘exalt’, explicitly in two contexts. One is to exalt the Lord and the other is to not exalt ourselves. In fact, it is only the Lord that is to be exalted because He is Holy (Psalm 99:5,9); because He is our God (Psalm 118:28, Isaiah 25:1); because He does wondrous thing (Isaiah 25:1) and because He is Faithful and True (Isaiah 25:1). It is solely the Lord God that is to be lifted up (exalted) and not ourselves. In fact, it is quite the contrary that we need to be doing when it comes to exalting ourselves. Instead of trying to lift ourselves up, we are to be humbling our selves. The Bible cautions that whosoever will exalt himself  shall be abased (brought down low) and he that humbles himself shall be exalted (Matthew 23:12). A classic example of these very words of Jesus can be seen demonstrated, even before Jesus spoke of it, during the time of Daniel. King Nebuchadnezzar built a statue ninety feet high and nine feet wide, exalting himself above and was abased to the status of a beast of the field, until he repented and acknowledge that it the Lord of heaven who has the power to raise up or to put down. (Daniel 4).

We are to exalt the Lord God, Jesus Christ alone.  God the Father has exalted Jesus the Son, and given Him a name which is above every other name (Philippians 2:9). So the question that remains is if we are doing the same in exalting (lifting up) Jesus. O magnify the Lord (Jesus) with me, and let us exalt (lift up) His Name together. (Psalm 34:3)

Matthew 23:12 (KJV)
12 And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.

Psalm 34:4 (KJV)
3 O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together.

Famous Jesus

Of all of the pursuits of pleasure, prosperity, power, position and popularity, the one that I am usually driven by is popularity. There are some who live by the principle, eat, drink and be merry pursuing pleasure, while others chase after a prosperous life amassing materialistic wealth and riches. There are then some who seek to be rulers with power while others seek position with short lived titles conferred by men. Another category of people are those who seek to be known and the pursuit of popularity drives their decision. I would categorize myself to be one of those. Most decisions I take in corporate life are those which could result in making a name for myself or my business. There is nothing wrong with this, except if the pursuit of making a name for ourselves compromises our relationship with God and man.

We often seek to make a name by pursuing our personal interests so that fame can follow but this is antithesis to the way Jesus lived on earth. He sought no fame and the Scripture in fact records that He made himself of no reputation (Philippians 2:7). He did not choose to pursue His own personal interests but solely did and finished the will and work of God the Father who had sent Him (John 4:34). Even in the events leading to His death, He chose to  let it be God’s will and not his own (Luke 22:42). Interestingly however, even though Jesus worked to make a name for God, He got noticed. His fame was noticed by kings and king Herod the tetrach heard the fame of Jesus because of the mighty works He did. Not only did men hear of Jesus, but even God gave him a Name that is above all names (Philippians 2:9). From this, we learn that by working toward making a name for God, instead of pursuing a name for ourselves, we will be noticed by men and even more by God, which is far more important than anything else.

Point(s) to ponder:
Seek a name for yourself, and you may have some fame that is ephemeral! Seek a name for God, and you will have fame that is eternal!

Matthew 14:1 (KJV)
1 At that time Herod the tetrarch heard of the fame of Jesus

Philippians 2:5-11 (KJV)
Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:
That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;
And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Bilbical Oxymoron :: Up Down

Many of us aspire to climb to the zenith of the corporate/secular ladder, sometimes at the cost of trampling over our loved ones and other times by leaving our peers behind. Sadly, even Christian leaders have been known to obtain positions made by men within the Church using  hook (punching other fellowmen down) or by crook (by sinful) methods. Fishermen have long known that there is no need to bother putting a lid on the bucket they use to catch crabs. This is because the crabs in the bucket seldom allow their own to climb out of the bucket. Unfortunately, many time we tend to exhibit such crabby behavior ourselves. When it comes to someone else succeeding, in our stead, we work hard at making sure that that becomes an impossible task for our peers. We always want to be on the top because the world glorifies the man/woman on top.

Interestingly the Biblical perspective on being on top is quite contrary to the world model. In fact the Scripture states clearly that those who humble themselves in the sight of the Lord, shall be lifted up by Him (James 4:10). The Bible also counsels using the very words of Jesus that “whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted” (Matthew 23:12). The Lord brings down the proud. He did not spare even Lucifer, his angel, when Lucifer’s heart was lifted up and when iniquity (pride) was found in him (Ezekiel 28:2,15, Jude 1:6). The Biblical adage that pride goeth before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall (Proverbs 16:18), is true. Jesus made himself of no reputation and is now given THE Name that is above all names (Philippians 2:7-11).

When you rise yourself up above, you will fall down and hit the rocks. When you bring yourself down, and you stand on the ROCK the only way is up.

The oxymoronic aspect here is this:
Those who exalt themselves up (rise up) will be brought low (abased, brought down).
Those who humble themselves (go down) will be the ones who are exalted (rise up).

To go up, we must first go down.

Matthew 23:12 (KJV)
12 And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.

James 4:10 (KJV)
10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.