So I am reading in Jeremiah 36 Sunday while preaching. As is so often the case the passage is riddled with hard to pronounce (at least to me) names. And if this weren't enough, many times we also find out that So and So was the son of So and So. Now this is interesting to me because it seems that every time someone is mentioned after that we are told again and again who his father was so while reading this before a church full of people I have to mispronounce them not once but several times.
Now I am not really complaining because I know that it is important for them to be there and repeated or the Lord wouldn't have them there. But as I was struggling through them Sunday and many times before the thought crosses my mind why do I need to know that "Jehudi was the son of Nethaniah who was the son of Shelemiah who was the son of Cushi." Most certainly I don't know all the reasons these names are mentioned along with their relatives but let me offer what I think might be one reason.
It is something we mentioned as we went through all the genealogies while we preached through Genesis. It is an amazing thing that obscure names of people who lived in the first few generations of the history of the earth and humanity are listed for us to begin with. What I am struck with is the fact that God knows the name of everyone and doesn't forget our names. He doesn't see us as a sea of faceless humans or merely as nations but knows each one of us personally, ordained from the beginning that we would be and what we would do and where we would end up. This is great news for some and not so good for others.
In the aforementioned text of Jeremiah 36 we read of a king named Jehoiakim who didn't like what Jeremiah had been saying about Jerusalem's soon to be destruction. He told Jeremiah he was not allowed in the Temple. We might say that he didn't like what this preacher preached so he wouldn't let him preach. The problem was that Jeremiah was simply preaching what God had told him. Today we simply go somewhere else but when you are the king you can get rid of the preacher. He didn't want to hear that God was going to judge them for their sin so instead of repenting he rebels in an interesting way. Jeremiah had sent Baruch to preach in his stead and when some of the king's officials heard these words they took the scroll and brought it to the king.
The king was sitting by a fire during winter time and told them to read from the scroll. When they got finished reading a section Jekoiakim would take his knife and cut off that section and throw it into the fire! For his rejection of the Word of God, God curses his lineage and none of his descendants would sit on the throne of Israel. For Jeremiah's part he is kept safe through the capture of Jerusalem. All this seems to illustrate the fact that no matter when you live God knows you and will never forget any promises he makes to you either for good or a promise of judgment if you don't repent.
In Rev. 20:11ff we read of the final judgment where all of the living and dead are called up to stand before the Lord their Judge. In vs. 13 we have some chilling words, "Rev 20:13 And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done." We won't be able to hide in the crowd because God knows each one of us by name. In fact, vs. 15 says that some have had their names written in a book. Elsewhere we learn that their names have been there since before the world began.
Is it an actual book? I doubt it, but it teaches of the kind of record keeping God keeps. There is no chance of forgetting the names of his elect. I am glad our God is a God who keeps records of names. And I am glad that there is a name by which we don't have to be afraid to stand up and be counted in that day of judgment. "Act 4:12 And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved." We read a lot of names in the Bible but of all those born in the world only one has been give to us for salvation.
Maybe the next time I sing "When the Roll is Called Up Yonder", I will be glad that I was not lost in a sea of humanity but God took mercy on me and called me unto himself and has given me a new name, "Rev 2:17 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it." Just as a wife takes her husband's name so I am part of the bride of Christ and my new name is the name of my Beloved, "Rev 3:12 The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name."