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).
God’s reaction to their plans 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. 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, became a nation in some part of the world.
This has been the scene for thousands of years! But God has revealed ultimately He will act again in the matter of language. This is in Zephaniah, “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 be the godless! There are many scriptures which picture it. And so instead of man making himself a name, it is God who does!
In scripture the making of a name means making a reputation: in Genesis 12 we saw God’s promise to Abraham, “I will bless you and make your name great” (verse 2). And we read in Isaiah 63:14, where the prophet reviews all that God had done up to that stage, “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. Remember this wondrous promise by Jesus to those who “conquer” this 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 can we “make a name”.