“Let us make a name”
Our readings in Genesis have progressed to the time after the flood. Much time has passed and the descendants of Noah have multiplied and “they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there … Then they said, ‘Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth’” (11:2-4).
We are then told how the Lord reacts to their plans. His action was to “confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another’s speech. So the LORD dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth” (verses 7,8). And so it happened, but we are not told the detail of how this unfolded, but, in the process of many generations, each couple, with their own language, seeking to “make a name” for themselves, developed to become a nation in some part of the world.
This has been the scene for many thousands of years! But God has revealed he ultimately will act again in the matter of language. This is shown in his message through the prophet Zephaniah which we read last month, “‘Therefore wait for me,’ declares the LORD, ‘for the day when I rise up to seize the prey. For my decision is to gather nations, to assemble kingdoms, to pour out upon them my indignation, all my burning anger; for in the fire of my jealousy all the earth shall be consumed’”.
But then God will do a remarkable thing! “For at that time I will change the speech of the peoples to a pure speech, that all of them may call upon the name of the LORD and serve him with one accord” (3:8,9). When God rises up, the “prey” he will seize will surely be the godless! There are many scriptures which picture it! And so instead of man making himself a name, it is God who does!
The making of a name in scripture, means making a reputation: in Genesis 12 which we also read today, we saw God’s promise to Abraham, “I will bless you and make your name great” (verse 2). And we read in Isaiah where the prophet reviews all that God had done, up to that stage, saying to God, “So you led your people, to make for yourself a glorious name” (63:14).
Let us live so that we, ultimately, become part of the “name” that God makes. We read a couple of weeks ago, this wondrous promise by Jesus to those who “conquer” in our increasingly ungodly world. “The one who conquers” said Jesus, “I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God … and I will write on him the name of my God … and my own new name” (Revelation 3:12). Only through our Saviour, day after day can we “make a name” – a name that reflects God’s name!