What's in a name?
Mine is a whole lot less than stellar. Downright humiliating and shameful in some circles.
I'm grateful for the transformation God has provided and the new life. I was reminded today and recall that I'm not the first.
Numbers 16:1-40 (NASB)
Now Korah the son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, with Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab, and On the son of Peleth, sons of Reuben, took action, 2 and they rose up before Moses, together with some of the sons of Israel, two hundred and fifty leaders of the congregation, chosen in the assembly, men of renown. 3 They assembled together against Moses and Aaron, and said to them, “You have gone far enough, for all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the Lord is in their midst; so why do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the Lord?”
4 When Moses heard this, he fell on his face; 5 and he spoke to Korah and all his company, saying, “Tomorrow morning the Lord will show who is His, and who is holy, and will bring him near to Himself; even the one whom He will choose, He will bring near to Himself. 6 Do this: take censers for yourselves, Korah and all your company, 7 and put fire in them, and lay incense upon them in the presence of the Lord tomorrow; and the man whom the Lord chooses shall be the one who is holy. You have gone far enough, you sons of Levi!”
8 Then Moses said to Korah, “Hear now, you sons of Levi, 9 is it not enough for you that the God of Israel has separated you from the rest of the congregation of Israel, to bring you near to Himself, to do the service of the tabernacle of the Lord, and to stand before the congregation to minister to them; 10 and that He has brought you near, Korah, and all your brothers, sons of Levi, with you? And are you seeking for the priesthood also? 11 Therefore you and all your company are gathered together against the Lord; but as for Aaron, who is he that you grumble against him?”
12 Then Moses sent a summons to Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab; but they said, “We will not come up. 13 Is it not enough that you have brought us up out of a land flowing with milk and honey to have us die in the wilderness, but you would also lord it over us? 14 Indeed, you have not brought us into a land flowing with milk and honey, nor have you given us an inheritance of fields and vineyards. Would you put out the eyes of these men? We will not come up!”
15 Then Moses became very angry and said to the Lord, “Do not regard their offering! I have not taken a single donkey from them, nor have I done harm to any of them.” 16 Moses said to Korah, “You and all your company be present before the Lord tomorrow, both you and they along with Aaron. 17 Each of you take his firepan and put incense on it, and each of you bring his censer before the Lord, two hundred and fifty firepans; also you and Aaron shall each bring his firepan.” 18 So they each took his own censer and put fire on it, and laid incense on it; and they stood at the doorway of the tent of meeting, with Moses and Aaron. 19 Thus Korah assembled all the congregation against them at the doorway of the tent of meeting. And the glory of the Lord appeared to all the congregation.
20 Then the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying, 21 “Separate yourselves from among this congregation, that I may consume them instantly.” 22 But they fell on their faces and said, “O God, God of the spirits of all flesh, when one man sins, will You be angry with the entire congregation?”
23 Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 24 “Speak to the congregation, saying, ‘Get back from around the dwellings of Korah, Dathan and Abiram.’”
25 Then Moses arose and went to Dathan and Abiram, with the elders of Israel following him, 26 and he spoke to the congregation, saying, “Depart now from the tents of these wicked men, and touch nothing that belongs to them, or you will be swept away in all their sin.” 27 So they got back from around the dwellings of Korah, Dathan and Abiram; and Dathan and Abiram came out and stood at the doorway of their tents, along with their wives and their sons and their little ones. 28 Moses said, “By this you shall know that the Lord has sent me to do all these deeds; for this is not my doing. 29 If these men die the death of all men or if they suffer the fate of all men, then the Lord has not sent me. 30 But if the Lord brings about an entirely new thing and the ground opens its mouth and swallows them up with all that is theirs, and they descend alive into Sheol, then you will understand that these men have spurned the Lord.”
31 As he finished speaking all these words, the ground that was under them split open; 32 and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up, and their households, and all the men who belonged to Korah with their possessions. 33 So they and all that belonged to them went down alive to Sheol; and the earth closed over them, and they perished from the midst of the assembly. 34 All Israel who were around them fled at their outcry, for they said, “The earth may swallow us up!” 35 Fire also came forth from the Lord and consumed the two hundred and fifty men who were offering the incense.
36 Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 37 “Say to Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, that he shall take up the censers out of the midst of the blaze, for they are holy; and you scatter the burning coals abroad. 38 As for the censers of these men who have sinned at the cost of their lives, let them be made into hammered sheets for a plating of the altar, since they did present them before the Lord and they are holy; and they shall be for a sign to the sons of Israel.” 39 So Eleazar the priest took the bronze censers which the men who were burned had offered, and they hammered them out as a plating for the altar, 40 as a reminder to the sons of Israel that no layman who is not of the descendants of Aaron should come near to burn incense before the Lord; so that he will not become like Korah and his company—just as the Lord had spoken to him through Moses.
Nice move - stand up and face off with God's anointed. This was Moses they were taking on for crying out loud.
Did you notice that the rebels followed the popular and respected men of renown? Often we put our trust in the opinion of others, when there is only one opinion that matters.
Search for the phrase “men of renown” at BibleGateway.com (NASB). What do you find?
Back to the point - our names, our legacy, our review.
1 Corinthians 3:12-15 (NASB)
Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. 14 If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. 15 If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.
C.S. Lewis - The Weight of Glory
In the end that Face which is the delight or the terror of the universe must be turned upon each of us either with one expression or with the other, either conferring glory inexpressible or inflicting shame that can never be cured or disguised. I read in a periodical the other day that the fundamental thing is how we think of God. By God Himself, it is not! How God thinks of us is not only more important, but infinitely more important. Indeed, how we think of Him is of no importance except in so far as it is related to how He thinks of us. It is written that we shall “stand before” Him, shall appear, shall be inspected. The promise of glory is the promise, almost incredible and only possible by the work of Christ, that some of us, that any of us who really chooses, shall actually survive that examination, shall find approval, shall please God. To please God ... to be a real ingredient in the divine happiness ... to be loved by God, not merely pitied, but delighted in as an artist delights in his work or a father in a son—it
seems impossible, a weight or burden of glory which our thoughts can hardly sustain. But so it is.
"His name is mud", is a common phrase in America. Taken from Dr. Samuel Mudd who assisted John Wilkes Booth with his leg, during Booth's flight from justice. This following Booth's assassination of President Abraham Lincoln.
The name Mudd went from one of esteem to contempt in a moment.
Good or bad many names and reputations have undergone rapid transformation, including Nixon, Sandusky, Oswald, Hastert, Cosby, O.J. Simpson. And while I'm not writing to throw stones during this week's bitter heartbreak - Baylor University has some men whose lives, persona, reputation and careers will likely never be the same.
I empathize with these men, for I too am one in need of a fresh start and a new name.
Proverbs 22:1 (NASB)
good name is to be more desired than great wealth,
Favor is better than silver and gold.
Ecclesiastes 7:1 (NASB)
A good name is better than a good ointment,
And the day of one’s death is better than the day of one’s birth.
Patrick Ryan Clark (contemporary christian music writer, singer and worship leader) shared a story and a song from Psalms 84 a few years ago, whose roots are here in Numbers 16, with more detail:
Numbers 26:9-11 (NASB)
The sons of Eliab: Nemuel and Dathan and Abiram. These are the Dathan and Abiram who were called by the congregation, who contended against Moses and against Aaron in the company of Korah, when they contended against the Lord, 10 and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up along with Korah, when that company died, when the fire devoured 250 men, so that they became a warning. 11 The sons of Korah, however, did not die.
1 Chronicles 26:19 (NASB)
These were the divisions of the gatekeepers of the sons of Korah and of the sons of Merari.
The Korahites are grandsons of Levi and the Levites and are to serve in the temple, cannot own property, are to live and work in and around the temple, many were killed, some survived and this priestly remnant was banished from the temple and relegated to greeting at the front door.
What do these Levites tell us? That they long to go into the temple. Even Gentiles and birds can go into the courts, but they cannot.
Have you ever been in a place where your sin was out for everyone to see? These doorkeepers were reminders of the wages of sin (Romans 6:23).
For nearly 1500 years these men stood at the doors to the temple and were reminders of the rebellion. Prohibited from entry. Rejected. Ridiculed?
How would God redeem their story?
The same way He always does, by using it to remind others.
Read Psalms 84, paying careful attention to the heading. This was written from the descendants of Korah.
Psalm 84:1-3 (NASB)
For the choir director; on the Gittith. A Psalm of the sons of Korah.
How lovely are Your dwelling places,
O Lord of hosts!
My soul longed and even yearned for the courts of the Lord;
My heart and my flesh sing for joy to the living God.
The bird also has found a house,
And the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young,
Even Your altars, O Lord of hosts,
My King and my God.
In 1995 Matt Redman took a guitar and Psalms 84 and out came the words to “Better is one Day”. Millions of Christians have come to worship through these familiar words. iTunes lists 160+ versions of this songs by many different artists.
This song has been recorded by the group Kutless and has over 1.1 million YouTube views.
Be encouraged that through the stories in His word and the tapestry of each us, His church, He is remaking us into the image of the Son and these present sufferings are not worth comparing (Romans 8:18) with the glory that will be revealed in us.
Better is one day…
Revelation 2:17 (NASB)
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, to him I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, and a new name written on the stone which no one knows but he who receives it.’
1 John 3:1-3 (NASB)
See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. 2 Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. 3 And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.
2 Corinthians 3:18 (NASB)
But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.
How to fight the fight and run the race
Did you notice the transformation comes when we see clearly. The darkness, the sin, distraction and attention to self, turns or blocks our eyes from Him. When we see Him, sin flees. Darkness hides.
2 Corinthians 6:14 (NASB)
Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness?
John 1:5 (NLT)
The light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness can never extinguish it.
James 4:7 (NLT)
So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
Read these for some more insight (Revelation 6:19, Isaiah 2:19, Revelation 9:6, Luke 23:30).
When we doubt, despair and rebel, we are not seeing clearly. We are declaring that God is not good, sufficient, sovereign or we are declaring we do not wish to participate in His plan, His way.
I think often about the sin that so easily entangles (Heb 12:1) and I am reminded that when Isaiah was thrust into the very throne and presence of God Almighty, he could suddenly see clearly and he was not in heaven struggling with sin, temptation and self.
Isaiah 6:5 (NLT)When temptation, shine some light in there. Truth. The body of Christ (community, authenticity, transparency, honesty). You don't fight sin, by sheer will, determination or by pushing it out, but by replacement.
Then I said, “It’s all over! I am doomed, for I am a sinful man. I have filthy lips, and I live among a people with filthy lips. Yet I have seen the King, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.”
Matthew 12:43-45 (NLT) (also Luke 11:24-26)
“When an evil spirit leaves a person, it goes into the desert, seeking rest but finding none. Then it says, ‘I will return to the person I came from.’ So it returns and finds its former home empty, swept, and in order. Then the spirit finds seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they all enter the person and live there. And so that person is worse off than before. That will be the experience of this evil generation.”
Matthew 14:28-30 (NLT)
Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.”
“Yes, come,” Jesus said.
So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted.
I'm reminded of the 360 times the Bible tells us to remember, not forget, be still, sabbath and "let this be a sign for you".
Reminded of Hebrews 12:1-2 and the great cloud of witnesses around me.
Reminded of Psalms 22:24-25 and the ancestors who have met God and were not disappointed, declaring Him good.
Today has been a good day to sabbath, to remember, to refocus and to look forward to the great and certain hope we have in Christ.