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Tuesday, March 21, 2023
Central Park, California City, CA
Photo by Steve Ephraim
"Name Above All Names"
Message summary: Our spiritual challenge today is the ancient peril of trying to make a name for ourselves. Our supreme goal in life is to honor and extol the Name above all names!
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"Cain was then building a city, and he named it after his son Enoch" (Genesis 4:17). "Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth" (Genesis 11:4).
Steve Ephraim is a longtime reader who sent us the above photo of California City, CA a city many of us have probably never heard of, let alone been to.
In 1958, Czech-born Columbia University sociology professor and real estate developer Nathan "Nat" K. Mendelsohn purchased 82,000 acres in the Mojave Desert 100 miles north of Los Angeles with the aim of making California's next great city, rivaling Los Angeles. Perhaps he reasoned that New York had a great city named New York City so California should also have a great city named California City!
It has the third-largest land area of any city in the state of California but it never gained much population, having only 14,973 at the 2020 census, ranking it at only the 409th largest in all of California! California City was a planned city and even has a Central Park, just like in New York City as seen in the photo.
This prompted a study of the city in the Bible. The first mention of a city was the one built by Cain and named after his son Enoch, which was probably the first city established in the world since it was shortly after creation.
The next significant reference to a city in the Bible was a "planned community" on a plain in the land of Shinar. This happened as people settled following the Flood and everyone still spoke the same language. Their stated goal: "Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth" (Genesis 11:4).
Perhaps "a tower that reaches to the heavens" was an ancient representation of man's futile efforts of reaching heaven by their own efforts. That's never been possible! But surely a significant clause is "so that we may make a name for ourselves". Seeking to make a name for ourselves is an ancient human condition.
Their goal was also so they would not be scattered over all the earth. However in the Creation mandate God commissions Adam and his descendants to "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it" (Genesis 1:28).
This did not please the Lord. Of course this was the tower of Babel and God's judgment on their effort would destroy their plans. After his condemnation of their efforts he confounded their speech so that they could no longer understand each other, and scattered them over the face of the earth.
Our spiritual challenge today is the ancient peril of trying to make a name for ourselves. Our supreme goal in life is not to bring undue attention to ourselves, but to honor and extol the Name above all names!
Be encouraged today, (Hebrews 3:13)
Stephen and Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Jesus, You made Yourself nothing, taking the humble position of a slave and appeared in human form. Though innocent You died a criminal’s death on a cross and because of Your sacrificial obedience our Father gave You the name that is above every other name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. We, as believers, do not seek to make a name for ourselves like those at the construction site of the Tower of Babel, for we were designed to exalt the greatest name ever given - the name of Jesus our Lord and Savior, who invites us to be a partaker in His divine nature. I gratefully declare and confess You, Jesus Christ, to be my Lord and Savior right now and forevermore! Amen.
Tomorrow we will consider city ministry by a reluctant prophet.
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
"Your Great Name" Click to listen on YouTube
"Jesus, Name Above All Names" Click to listen on YouTube The Maranatha Singers
"What A Beautiful Name/Agnus Dei" Click to listen on YouTube Travis Cottrell feat. Lily Cottrell
California City is located here on Google maps
Stephen's note: I grew up near Kansas City which many assume to be in Kansas. Although there is a Kansas City, Kansas, the larger, more prominent city and one mostly associated with "Kansas City" such as sports teams is in Missouri. Kansas City, Mo. was incorporated in 1853, eight years before Kansas became the 34th state. The Missouri city took its name from the Kansas River — which was inspired by the Kanza People, Native Americans of the Kaw Nation — and was originally called the City of Kansas. It became Kansas City in 1889.
There is a Missouri City, Missouri which you might assume would be one of the large Missouri cities but it only has a few hundred people! This summer we have a family reunion in Nebraska City, Nebraska.
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Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."
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