"And all the peoples of the earth shall see that thou art called by the name of Jehovah; and they shall be afraid of thee" (Deut. 28:10).
"And Jehovah said unto him, I have heard thy prayer and thy supplication, that thou hast made before Me: I have hallowed this house, which thou hast built, to put My name there for ever; and Mine eyes and My heart shall be there perpetually" (1 Kings 9:3).
"If My people, who are called by My name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. Now Mine eyes shall be open, and Mine ears attent, unto the prayer that is made in this place" (2 Chron. 7:14-15).
"...every one that is called by My name, and whom I have created for My glory, whom I have formed, yea, whom I have made" (Isa. 43:7).
"Now therefore, what do I here, saith Jehovah, seeing that My people is taken away for nought? They that rule over them do howl, saith Jehovah, and My name continually all the day is blasphemed. Therefore My people shall know My name: therefore they shall know in that day that I am He that doth speak; behold, it is I" (Isa. 52:5-6).
"But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto Me, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings, and the children of Israel: for I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name's sake" (Acts 9:15-16).
"Simeon hath rehearsed how first God visited the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for His name" (Acts 15:14).
"That the residue of men may seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom My name is called" (Acts 15:17).
In connection with this matter of the glory of the Name we will now consider the vessel for the Name.
Israel as a Vessel for the Name
We have already seen that at a certain point when the name of the Lord had lost much of its significance and certainly a great deal of man's respect, God took one of those great crucial steps in the history of this world, and in the words of Stephen: "The God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham" (Acts 7:2). And one of the outstanding things in that sovereign visitation and selection was that God made His name known to Abraham. Abraham was brought into a knowledge of the name of the Lord in a fuller way than had ever been known before.
Abraham was the father of a nation, and through Abraham God sovereignly chose that nation as the vessel in that dispensation in which He would deposit, make known, and demonstrate the meaning of His Name. To Israel were committed the sacred and holy and wonderful secrets of the name of the Lord. It was in the life and history of Israel that all those names included in the one name were revealed progressively. I gave you a list of those names in chapter two, the compounds of Jehovah and many other names, all included in the one name, and it was at certain times, because of certain conditions and circumstances, that the content of the one name was divulged to Israel in its many aspects. In a time of conflict, He became known as 'The Lord my Banner' - that is, the Lord Triumphant. In a time of sickness and suffering He became known as 'Jehovah Rophi, the Lord that healeth thee', and so on. By their history under the hand of God, Israel drew out, so to speak, the compound of His Name. Or shall we put it the other way: God led Israel into a many-sided experience in order to show them the content of His Name. Through Israel, as the vessel of the fulness of the Name, He made the nations know the name of Jehovah so that they were afraid.
We have seen the tragedy of Israel's failure concerning that great trust, that great deposit, and in the words which we have just read from Isaiah's prophecy - "My name continually all the day is blasphemed" - the context says in effect, if not in exact words, 'because of you'. 'Your condition brings blaspheming to My name; your behaviour has that result.' It was because of His name that the Lord had to break with Israel and hand them over to their enemies. They ceased to be, and have never again been in the full sense, the repository of that name. There was a small remnant, a little handful who came back, to whom the Lord could speak about His name or of His name, those "that thought upon His name" (Mal. 3:16). What a lot there is in that when you see the history, the meaning, the comprehensive and inclusive issue bound up with the Name. And these few are said to be those who thought upon His name. You hear them speaking: 'Oh, what a shame, what a tragedy, what an evil, that the Lord's name has been so reproached because of us.' They prayed for the recovery of the glory of His name and the Lord bent down, it says, and hearkened and heard, "and a book of remembrance was written before Him, for them that feared Jehovah, and that thought upon His name". Oh, how precious when the Name is taken to heart! But as a nation, Israel has never again been the repository of the Name in the same way. Men are not looking for the name of God in Israel now, they know it has gone. Whatever Israel was, that is one thing; what Israel is, is another.
The Lord Jesus the Vessel for the Name
But then we saw the next step of God, the mighty step, embracing all ages in the coming of the Lord Jesus who became the repository of that Name in all its glorious fulness, "I am come in My Father's name" (John 5:43), He said. He bore the Name. Christ was the One upon whom that name rested and all the conflicts of ages and of the universe centred in Him because of that name. He fought out the whole question of God's name, God's reputation, God's honour, God's glory and all that is inherent in God's name. He fought it out in a great spiritual fight and vindicated the name of God in hell, in heaven, in earth. "Wherefore... God highly exalted Him, and gave unto Him the name which is above every name." The Man, the Son of God, the Name.
The Church a Vessel for the Name
He took that name back to heaven in glory, but before going, He secured the vessel of the Name here. He called them and led them through a deep place, the way of His Cross. He broke that vessel, He shattered it, He scattered it, and by His death put to death what was of man and only of man and this earth and this world's glory for which they were so strongly reaching out all the time. And then in His resurrection He regathered, not on any man's name, but gathered in the heavenly name. So He secured the vessel known to us as the church as the repository of the Name on this earth. It seems almost a hopeless and despairing thing when we look at what has been and what is now, not only objectively, but at ourselves.
The church has no existence in the mind of God, only as the repository of His name. We love His name and we are devoted to His name, but I wonder how much we glorify it. That is where our hearts are sad and where the despair comes in. We are not speaking in generalities. If we think of ourselves and believe ourselves to be part of the church, the church of God which He purchased with His own blood, the church which Christ loved, for which He gave Himself, if we regard ourselves as being of that church, the very and only reason for our existence as such is to be in trust with the name of the Lord. He has deposited that trust with His church. He has called His name upon this new nation and this new house. He has said, 'My name is there.'
Well, that fact constitutes a very solemn responsibility. Consider Israel and the issue of the name in Israel. On the one side, the tremendous, unspeakable possibilities and glories of being entrusted with the name and what it meant when Israel was in line with the Name. It meant nothing less than the very God Himself, supreme, unique, the Creator of heaven and earth, the Upholder of all things, who by His Word spoke the universe into being, nothing less than that God being committed to them, saying, "I am with you; fear not, I am with you, I...". What tremendous things were possible when the Lord was there, when His name was upon them. On the other hand, see from the end how things worked out, the terrible story, the history of the Jews from then onward and from Christ's day onward. Is it not terrible? It is hardly readable; and that is because of unfaithfulness to the trust. This is God's great object lesson of what the name means when it is placed within a 'trust body'. What a responsibility, what a privilege, what tremendous things are bound up with that name in one way or the other for those people who are called by His name or upon whom His name is called, for it is nothing less than God committing Himself.
All that constitutes the vocation of the vessel. We think of Christian work in many terms, titles and designations. We give many names to the work of the Lord and to the workers themselves. There is only one vocation for the church and for everyone in the church. The vocation of the church is to bring honour to that name. Every soul that is saved from hell and the devil is an added glory and lustre to the crown, the diadem, of His name. It has to be regarded like that. Every bit of spiritual progress made by a child of God is something for the glory of His name, the enhancement of that name in them, bringing in more of His glory. We have to regard all spiritual life and growth in the light of this, that the Lord's name is getting a larger place. We have to view all our sufferings in the light of the Name, "I will show him"; it is his vocation: "I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name's sake" (Acts 9:16). It is a part of the vocation. "To you it hath been granted in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer in His behalf" (Phil. 1:29). It is given; it is a trust. Everything must be viewed in the light of the Name. How much glory has come to His name through suffering patiently and bearing affliction for His sake! It is the vocation of the church. It is a costly vocation, a glorious vocation; and also a great responsibility.
The Responsibility of Sonship
This is the very meaning and essence of sonship. God said to Pharaoh, "Let My son (Israel) go, that he may serve Me" (Ex. 4:23). The son was to bear the Father's name and the Father's reputation. The Lord Jesus bearing the Name is the Son. We in the church are the firstborn sons. "Because ye are sons, God sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, Abba, Father" (Gal. 4:6). And sonship is bearing the Name, carrying the Name, the great trust of the Name. You can test your sonship in that way, by the honouring of His name. What a challenge this is as to how our lives are spent for any time; our behaviour, conduct and our manner of life. What is the result? Failure in our supreme vocation? Failure in the very justification of our existence as a member of His church? Failure in the great trust? Are we betraying His Name? On the other hand, as we move through life, from place to place, here and there, leaving, perhaps never to come back again, what is the impress? What do they say about our having been there? "Very nice person, something strange about them", or different or worse than that "A difficult person to get on with." What do they say? Though they may not be able to put it into words, nevertheless they know that 'something' has been there, someone has been there with that 'something' that is not found among men in the ordinary. If they knew how to put it, would they be able to say, "God was with that man, with that woman. They reminded us of God, they seemed to tell us what God was like. We felt that God was present when they were here and it made us uncomfortable. It made us feel how poor our lives are and there is something more to life than we have." That is what the church is here for.
He called us into His Name, you have had His Name called upon you, you have been baptised into the Name. What does it mean? Do we not have to recover something of the meaning of these things which have become commonplace? You were baptised into the Name. That was something done so many years ago. We can remember it more or less, we know it happened. Is that all? The Name was then called upon us. We were set apart for the Name; we were called into the great vocation of the Name. We had the great responsibility of the Name committed to us and we had the assurance that He whose Name it is was ready to commit Himself to us. What does it all mean? A rite, an ordinance, a ceremony, or what? It means vocation.
The Holy Spirit the Custodian of the Name
Go back for a moment to that passage which we read in our previous meditation in Exodus 23:20: "Behold, I send an angel before thee, to keep thee by the way, and to bring thee into the place which I have prepared. Take ye heed before him". It does not say, 'Take ye heed unto him' firstly. "Take ye heed before him, and hearken unto his voice; provoke him not; for he will not pardon your transgression: for My name is in him." Whether that so-called angel was the third Person of the Trinity or not, we cannot prove. We do know that the guidance of Israel was personal. We do know that in the New Testament, that guidance, pillar, cloud, and fire in which the Lord was, is used in the New Testament as a type of the Lord Himself. We do know that when they crossed the Jordan and entered upon the land there stood a man with a drawn sword who said that he was the captain of the host of the Lord. This is all the same. Is this the Holy Spirit? We cannot prove it. In Exodus 23 he is called "an angel" and I do not know anywhere where the Holy Spirit is directly called an angel. But in the New Testament there is no doubt about it that the Holy Spirit takes the place of that angel for the church. All that the angel in the wilderness meant is taken up by the Holy Spirit in the New Testament, and the Holy Spirit does all that in relation to the church which was done by the angel in the wilderness. If they are two different persons, they have in common that which makes them one person: they both have the name of the Lord with them. The factor which gave them their real Divine authority and power and everything else was the Name: "My name is in him."
What I am getting at is that the Holy Spirit is the custodian of the Name. He always was, whether angels separately are or not. What this one called an angel did, the Holy Spirit does on the same ground, by the same means - the Name. That is tremendously helpful. Take up the book of the Acts now and see the Holy Spirit getting to work by means of the Name, taking up the Name. The Holy Spirit came in the very first instance in this dispensation upon the vessel which was chosen for the Name, upon that nucleus of the church on the day of Pentecost, and you notice that the one thing which sprang up was the Name. They started preaching the Name, working in the Name. One thing which emerged from the coming of the Spirit was the Name. The first thing that the Holy Spirit did was to reveal that Jesus of Nazareth bore the Name which is above every name, and coming upon the vessel of the Name, the church, He made the Name the one supreme and exclusive issue.
At every point all along the way of that book of the Acts the Name is the issue, who this One is. Whether this is, after all, only the man called Jesus or whether this is very God, the name of Jehovah is in Him. That is the issue all the way in their preaching, in their working, in their defence, in their sufferings, their afflictions; it is all the issue of the Name. The Holy Spirit has taken up the Name in a very practical way in the vessel and has sovereignly acted for the honouring and the glorifying of the Name. This all amounts to the building up of that vessel which, in its fulness, is to show forth in the effulgent glory the meaning of that Name through all the coming ages.
The Holy Spirit is committed to build that vessel for the Name. Get to the New Jerusalem and you have the place of the Name. His Name is there; the glory of God is in it. That New Jerusalem is the church and the Holy Spirit Himself is committed to the Name and this demands the building up of an adequate vessel for the everlasting display of the glories of that Name.
This is tremendously encouraging because we do feel our helplessness in this matter. We almost feel, in the face of this responsibility, that we would like to drop out, to be relieved of any more responsibility. We know the hundreds of times in which we have failed, broken down, let the Name down, failed to bring glory to His Name, to register the excellence of His Name and to bring Him in so that others could recognise the Lord. But our deliverance is that the Holy Spirit is the custodian of the Name. If only we will let the Holy Spirit have His way, if only we will be truly in league with the Holy Spirit, if only we will be in heart concerned for this Name, we shall find that we are linked with the Infinite One whose concern is sufficient to make good our defectiveness, to glorify the Name of the Lord in and by such as we are. Has not the Lord's Name been glorified in very puny creatures? He chose deliberately the weak and the foolish and "the things that are not" that no flesh should glory in His presence, but that the Lord should get all the glory (1 Cor. 1:27-29). The Holy Spirit does it. If we think we can do it we shall very soon find that it cannot be; we had better give it up. But in league with the Holy Spirit the Name can be glorified.
There was no man who was more conscious of his frailty and his utter dependence upon the Lord for life and ministry than Paul, who said with absolute honesty: "Our sufficiency is of God" (2 Cor. 3:5). That man could say without boasting, in all that humility and dependence, "They glorified God in me" (Gal. 1:24). To him it was the most wonderful thing that could have happened, that they glorified God in him. What he meant was that they said, 'Oh, praise God for Paul; praise God for His grace in Paul; praise God for what has come to us through Paul; oh, glory be to God for Paul!' "They glorified God in me." You say you are not a great Paul the apostle, but if you were alongside of Paul, you would find that Paul in his own estimation was the meekest of men, all the time speaking of how much the Lord was and how utterly he depended upon the Lord. You would not find he was Paul the great apostle if you were with him. He is just a man needing the Lord as much as we do. "And they glorified God in me." Do you not covet that? It would be a grand thing for this to be written on our graves if it could be true. If only that would be the summing up of our lives!
"My name is in him." I did not go on reading those verses in Exodus 23, I read only the dark side: "Take ye heed... He will not pardon...". There is a sin against the Holy Spirit. There is the other side which I did not read. If you do honour him, what is going to happen? 'I will bring you into the land and all your enemies shall go down before you.' That is what the Holy Spirit can do when we are one with Him in His one inclusive business - the honouring, the glorifying of the Name.
Let us ask the Lord in our hearts to bring home to us above and beyond what we shall remember in words spoken, the mighty impress of the greatness and the implications of that Name and of our having that Name on us. The Name of the Lord rests upon you; if you are His, it rests on you. What are we going to do about it? The Lord help us!