What’s in a Name?

Today’s faithful daily read is Gen 10:32-12:3 and 1 Tim 6:17-21

This month we’re selectively reading through some Genesis passages on our way to the cross. Easter makes more sense as we hear of the seriousness of sinthe significance of blood, and the surprise of grace across the unfolding redemption story we call ‘the Bible’.

In the three events so far God has met sin with judgement. God is still God. However, even in judgement God surprises with grace. However, grace doesn’t always look like we might expect.

In Adam’s case judgement was a painful world…but God invested grace in the promise of the seed of the woman who would crush the serpent’s head’ Gen 3:15.

For Cain judgement was exile, however God invested grace in the ‘mark of Cain‘ that the murderer would not be avenged by murder.

For Noah, sin had become universal and so judgement was universal. And yet here too God invested grace, in the shape of an ark that carried hope of salvation through a family, through the waters of judgement.

In each occasion God could have wiped his hands of humanity and yet he holds back his full wrath and invests grace.

And where is grace in the tower of Babel? Well, it seems that after the flood, the new humanity had regrouped and sought to fortify itself against any further interference from God, ‘Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.’

There is so much humanism and defiance woven into this little sentence that God judges their little exercise and foils their project by taking away His precious gift of communication. And grace?—God doesn’t destroy, but simply disperses them through diverse languages.

And so ch’s 1-11 have shown the pattern of sin, judgement, grace …the need for a new Adam …the need for an answer to the call of Abel’s blood …the need for a greater Noah …and the need for someone to restore the nations.

When we do get to Easter we’ll see how all that ambiguous grace makes sense in Jesus. (BTW,what happens on the day of Pentecost? The nations gathered in Jerusalem and hear the gospel in their own language —reverse babel).

But before we leave ch’s 1-11 what’s with all the names?

The answer is that before we get to hear the name ‘Jesus’ God plans to lay some more redemption groundwork …and so the funny old names rattle on til we reach an unlikely name called ‘Abram’. So what’s in this name?

Chapters 1-11 conclude with this name Abram and we expectantly turn the page,’Is this the name that will change everything?’ Suddenly we are standing in ch 12 and all history slows down around this one name. God calls a new people into being around this name and fine-tunes the promise of Gen 3:15. Check out how it works:

‘I will make you into a great nation,
    and I will bless you;
                  I will make your name great,
                  and you will be a blessing.
                              I will bless those who bless you,
                              and whoever curses you I will curse;
                                                  and all peoples on earth
                                                  will be blessed through you

…sounds like God has a plan! A plan called grace.



2 thoughts on “What’s in a Name?

  1. Thanks Geoff.To me, it seems to be in human nature to build babel towers. I guess these days we literally search the heavens or build towers to the heavens (Dubai) or keep discovering more sub atomic particles (up to 300 now I think?) or plot the complete human genome. This science is absolutely amazing as we “discover” what God actually put there in the first place. Unfortunately like the people in Genesis we get completely full of ourselves and almost think we can assume His role as creator. So on one hand I find human intellect and endeavor to discover very impressive but on the other hand human capacity for sin seems to be greater.

  2. And what a plan, nothing that man could devise, only a very loving and faithful God.
    Thank you Geoff

Comments are closed.