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Bearing the Name in Babylon

Bearing the Name in Babylon

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Published by Doug Floyd
The story of Judah's captivity in Babylon reveals righteous Israelites suffering alongside those who turned their back to the God of Israel. Here is a short reflection on the righteous in Babylon but blessed with God's Presence.
The story of Judah's captivity in Babylon reveals righteous Israelites suffering alongside those who turned their back to the God of Israel. Here is a short reflection on the righteous in Babylon but blessed with God's Presence.

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Published by: Doug Floyd on Mar 17, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Bearing the Name in Babylon
by Doug FloydWhen Jerusalem falls, the faithful fall alongside her. Their homes are burned, theirtreasures are lost, their families are taken into captivity. Those who heeded the words ofthe prophets stumble alongside those who ignored the words of the prophets. They bearthe judgment together.They bear the Name of the Lord on the banks in Babylon. They carry the weight of HisGlory even as while stumbling into the wilderness. The Name of the Lord is not a magictalisman to ward off suffering and pain. It is the gift of Covenant with the Most High evenin the midst of the desert waste places. Over 1,000 years earlier, as the Children ofIsrael crossed the wilderness into the Land of Future Promise, the sons of Aaron wereinstructed to put the Name of the Lord upon the people.
The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, Thus you shall bless the people of Israel: you shall say to them,The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.“So shall they put my name upon the people of Israel, and I will bless them.” (Numbers 6:22-27 ESV)
A dark day comes when the faithful few must leave the Land of Future Promise behind.They walk by way of the wilderness into captivity. Jesus also walks by way of thewilderness into captivity. The Spirit leads Him into the wasteland to be tempted. TheSpirit leads Him into the captivity of the tomb.When Jesus invites His disciples to "follow Me," He invites them and us to follow Him tothe cross. He calls us to follow even when the sky darkens, the land trembles and thefuture promise fades.He calls us to follow where we do not want to go. I think back the faithful few walkinginto the jaws of Babylon. They carry the weight of God's three-fold blessing:
The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.
Bearing the Holy Name
The Hebrew word for bless carries the idea of the kneeling. The blessing is much likethe giving of a name. The people kneel and receive a blessing, a naming. The good
parent names their child with the hopes of seeing the child grow into that name. Thename is a word of praise, a word of goodness, a call.In one sense, our names call us forward into the future. My parents called me, Douglas.When I hear the name called, I respond. The name calls me. And in the end of my life,the name will be filled with the content of my life.At the same time, my father also recognized me as his son, and gave me his familyname Floyd. Thus I am part of a family that reaches across time. Douglas Floyd bearsboth the particularity of my own life and the connection to a greater whole, a people whopreceded me and will live after me.In much the same way, the Children of Israel bear a particular name as well as theName of the Lord.In Egypt, the ancient Hebrews are slaves. Nameless ones. Fatherless children. TheLord names them, "Children of Israel." His naming is a blessing. His blessing is acalling. His calling is so effectual that no power can resist, not even the god Pharaohcan stand in the way. In fact, those who try to stop the call or prevent the call (includingPharaoh) are destroyed in the process.This is the power of the Name. The Lord "calls out" His people, Israel. Over thecenturies, they will fill out this Name and give it content.At the same, the Lord gives this people His Covenant Name. They are part of a greaterwhole, the "called out" family of faith across time and space called to bear His Name.They have no image of the Lord. Only the Name. They bear the Name as His children.When Jesus comes, He bears the Name completely. He fulfills the name of Israel andthe Name of the LORD in His life, death and resurrection. This royal name of Israel canfinally be understood in light of Jesus.Jesus also calls out a nameless people. These people are not slaves in Egypt, but theyare slaves to evil and corruption. He calls them out from every tribe and nation. They arethe "ekklesia," the called out ones. He names them as his own, as his friends, as hischosen ones:
You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.(John 15:16 ESV)
His disciples then and now are blessed with every spiritual blessing in Christ. They arenamed as His own and He will keep them--even through the baptism of fire. Those whobear the Name of the Lord bear it into the midst of a world that is out of order, bear intothe heart of struggle and suffering, bear in the face of the enemies of God. But the everfaithful Lord promises to keep them. He will guard them, seal them, protect them andlead them into glory.
Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.(Jude 1:24-25 ESV)
Beholding the Shining Face
The Lord also promises to "
make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you.
"Even as the faithful fall into Babylon, the promise of His Shining Face remains. Ezekielbeholds this Shining Glory on the banks of the Chebar canal. Standing alongside thecaptives, in the midst of the dark land, Ezekiel beholds the glory of the Lord.This is the glory of the holy mountain coming down into the valley of the shadow ofdeath. Moses is called up the mountain to behold the glory. It is from this place ofbeholding the Lord that Moses speaks the Law and proclaims the Word of the Lord tothe Children of Israel.In obedience to the Lord, Israel builds a Tabernacle and later a Temple where the gloryof the Lord will dwell among His people. This glory is His favor, His intimacy, Hispresence. The Tabernacle and later the Temple serve as Mountains of the Lord. In fact,the Temple is built on Mt Zion. For the mountain is the place where man ascendsbetween heaven and earth to behold the glory of the Lord.This is the Aaronic blessing that the LORD "
make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you." 
Long after the Temple burns and the mountain is far, far away, Ezekielbeholds the Shining Face. The blessing of the Name,the burden of the Name is thepromise of God's faithful presence even in the place of judgment. His people may enterinto judgment of captivity, but He will join them in the land of the alien gods.His Ever-Shining Face glorifies His people even as they suffer in the land of darkness.Paul knows the glory of the Shining Face in persecution, in suffering, in prison and evenin despair. In 2 Corinthians, he expounds the depths of his suffering and wasting awaywhile at the same exalting in the glory of the Shining Face that grows ever brighter evenas Paul is growing ever weaker.

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