And I intreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which laboured with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellowlabourers, whose names are in the book of life. (Php 4:3)
Other references to “book” or “book of life:” Exo_32:32; Psa_69:28; Isa_4:3; Eze_13:9; Dan_12:1; Luk_10:20; Rev_3:5; Rev_13:8, Rev_17:8, Rev_20:12, Rev_20:15, Rev_21:27 There are books other than the Book of Life. Read carefully.
Paul is urging the believers in Philippi to practice getting along and helping one another because they are going to spend eternity together. He tells them that their names “are” in the book of life.” “Are: is in italics and was placed there by the translators. It was their opinion that “are” is the proper word for understanding it. In today’s text their names are now, already, in the Book of Life.
This morning I listened to Max McLean read 1Chronicles 1-5. (Read Through the Bible in a Year reading schedule on Morning Minute.) Five chapters of non-stop names. They lived and died. The Lord puts a lot of stock in writing down names and preserving them. I don’t have a clue who these people are. They are complete strangers to me. But they are not strangers to God. (I hope you can find the time to look up the references above to get a feel for what God is doing with names.)
When I was about six years old and was into learning how to read, I was fascinated by the names on tombstones. Still am. The engraved memorial stones are the most tangible proof that those people ever lived. God has a better idea. He remembers us from having made us in the womb and we will never be un-remembered from the mind of God. Your surest route to permanent significance is not the gravestone; it’s your place in the mind of God. (Would you like to read that sentence again?)
As I listened non-stop to this parade of names, three things crossed my mind. 1. This is not the only place in the Bible that lists lots of names. 2. God did not name these people. Their parents named them and their parents were highly intelligent. Repetition of names is low. It’s hard to come up with a brand-new name, so young parents “borrow” a name for their baby from family, friend, or a purchased book of names to select from. 3. The Bible is God’s book, so why does He take up so much space in His book with names?
God records many names in the Bible because He highly values every baby that is conceived and born. He gives every baby the gift of life and individual identity. In short, God Himself is the author of every new baby and He honors the name given the new child by its mother or guardian. God is still at work, creating new people. Notice below: “I formed thee.” That’s the continued work of creation.
Jeremiah said: Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations. (Jer 1:5)
The Psalmist said: My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them. (Psa 139:15-16)
Moses got a little forward with the Lord in pleading his case for his wayward brethren:
And Moses returned unto the LORD, and said, Oh, this people have sinned a great sin, and have made them gods of gold. Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written. And the LORD said unto Moses, Whosoever hath sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book. (Exo 32:31-33)
BKC offers this research and opinion which seems reasonable to me. “Some say this was the book of life (Rev_20:15; Rev_21:27) that lists believers’ names but, more likely, it was the census of the people. Moses’ statement probably indicated he was willing to die a premature death (but not suffer eternal torment in hell). He did not want to be associated with a sinful, unforgiven people. Rejecting Moses’ offer, God promised to punish the sinners (by premature death). Some died of a plague (Exo_32:35) and all fighting men (except Joshua and Caleb) died later in the desert (Deu_1:35-36; Deu_2:14). Yet God said Moses would lead the nation (the younger generation) to the land promised them (Exo_32:34).” (Bible Knowledge Commentary)
Today in a restaurant, I asked the waiter his name. “Isaiah.” “Oh, that’s a good name! Isaiah is one of my favorite Bible characters!” “Who gave you your name?” “My mother.” We had to stop there, but if possible, I go further. Some, like their names. Others do not.
If there is time, I ask them: “Did your mother take you to Sunday School? Did you learn about John 3:16…”You know, the verse that says: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son…” It takes less than a minute to go from their name, to their mother, and into the “Name that is above every name." I have never had anyone to get angry with me for doing this. Not one! You are welcome to try it. You may be pleasantly surprised at what will come out of the conversation. Ω
Read Through the Bible in a Year
MAY 22, 2017 – MONDAY
A.M. 1Chron 6-7 P.M. John 8:21-36
(Bible Gateway will read this to you if you like. Look for the speaker icon.)
Memory Verse This Month:
And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. (Luke 24:44)
Song for Today:
Life’s Railway to Heaven (4:08) (Gaither Group)
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