Today’s readings.. (1 Samuel 20), (Isaiah 64), (Matthew 9)
The word ‘name’ is often used in Scripture in the sense of reputation. We use it that way too: someone has a ‘bad name’ or a ‘good name.’ As we complete reading the prophecies of Isaiah in the next couple of days we see
references to God’s name in this sense; that his ‘reputation’ has been forgotten, his people no longer believe in him. The prophet agonises over a vision of the time coming when “our adversaries have trampled down your sanctuary. We have become like those over whom you have never ruled, like those who are not called by your name” [Ch.63 v.18-19]. The portents were obviously plain in his lifetime; we can relate to this in our own experience.
Israel, is God’s nation, the word ‘Israel’ meaning ‘ruling with God’ (Youngs). They are expected to be an example before other nations to enhance the reputation of the true God they serve – as had happened during the reigns of David and Solomon. Notice how Isaiah states that God “made for himself an everlasting name” [v.12] and “a glorious name” [v.14] as a result of the miraculous deliverance from Egypt. In the prophet’s time that reputation had been badly tarnished, but will not God act again to make his name, his reputation, known! We know him will!
Ch. 64 starts with a prayer, a petition to God, “Oh that you would rend the heavens and come down … to make your name known to your adversaries, and that the nations might tremble at your presence!” [Ch.64 v.1,2] Then he writes of personal relationships with God, words which should specially interest us. “You meet him who joyfully works righteousness, those who remember you and your ways” [v.5]. Think about those words and whether we can say, ‘This is the attitude of mind God can see in me’
Isaiah identifies himself as a member of God’s nation and writes, “Behold you were angry and we sinned; in our sins we have been a long time, and shall we be saved?” [v.5] Should we also ask that today? Isaiah continues, “There is no one who calls upon your name … you have hidden your face from us” [v.7] Then comes the final plea, “Be not so terribly angry, O LORD, and remember not iniquity for ever. Behold please look, we are all your people … Our holy and beautiful house (the Temple) where our fathers praised you has been burned with fire …”[v.9,11] In tomorrow’s chapter we will see God’s wonderful answer!