Name and Recognition
by Nathaniel T. Jeanson, Ph.D.
"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." (Genesis 11:4)
The Bible has one Author (2 Timothy 3:16), and it is one Book. Therefore, it should be read as one book, from beginning to end, to understand its full meaning. The Tower of Babel incident (Genesis 11:1-9) illustrates how truth can be gleaned by reading the Bible as a unified whole. Why did God include Genesis 11:1-9 as part of Scripture?
First, consider the passage itself and the stated purpose for the Tower: "Let us make us a name" (today's text). Second, consider the surrounding chapters. Chapter 10 ends with the genealogy of Shem (whose name means "name"), and the rest of Chapter 11 (after verses 1-9) traces Shem's genealogy down to Abraham, to whom God promised, "I will . . . make thy name [Hebrew shem] great" (12:2). Clearly, these chapters have a theme--names and their significance. Third, consider the wider context of Scripture. The author of Genesis gives us few clues as to the names of the rebels at Babel. Yet the names of Abraham's physical and spiritual descendants (the 12 tribes of Israel and the 12 apostles, respectively) will be preserved for all eternity (Revelation 21:12, 14)! In the context of the whole of Scripture, Genesis 11:1-9 shows us the utter foolishness of trying to "make a name" for ourselves.
Do names matter to God? Yes, but what matters more is from whom we seek our "name"--our recognition and approval. Only One approval holds sway in the end: "Whosoever shall confess me before men, him shall the Son of man also confess before the angels of God" (Luke 12:8). For those who confess, a great destiny awaits: "his name shall be in their foreheads" (Revelation 22:4). NTJ