Sunday, October 21, 2012

Men of Renown: Good Guys or Bad Guys?

What is a “man of renown?” Is it a compliment or an insult to be identified as a man of renown? Who are the men of renown in our culture? They are the sport stars, movie stars, musicians and the rich. To a lesser extent, they may be our national leaders. Some groups might identify a religious leader as a man of renown, but with few exceptions, it is unlikely that his name will be known among the broader population. In the time of Noah, God describes a group of men as men of renown. Is this a good quality to have or a bad?

Genesis 6:4 NKJV 4 There were giants on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown.

The Hebrew words that make up the phrase “men of renown” is msh isna: enoshe ha-shem from two Hebrew words #582 enosh which means mortal from a root word meaning feeble, frail, or sickly and from #8034 meaning name. A man of renown is a mortal whose name is known. In Hebrew, there are two other words that are also translated man. They are adam mda a term for mankind and any man in general, and iysh sia meaning a male person. The choice of the word enosh in this passage emphasizes the weakness of the men of renown and their inevitable death. The context of this verse is that God is describing how evil man has become. The next verse tells us that man’s thoughts were continually evil! So the men of renown in Noah’s time were not the “good guys!”

The next time this phrase is used is in Numbers to describe the leaders of Israel that rose up with Korah, Dathan and Abiram in rebellion against Moses and God.

Numbers 16:1-3 NKJV 1 Now Korah the son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, with Dathan and Abiram the sons of Eliab, and On the son of Peleth, sons of Reuben, took men; 2 and they rose up before Moses with some of the children of Israel, two hundred and fifty leaders of the congregation, representatives of the congregation, men of renown. 3 They gathered together against Moses and Aaron, and said to them, "You take too much upon yourselves, for all the congregation is holy, every one of them, and the LORD is among them. Why then do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the LORD?"

Once again, this phrase “men of renown” is the Hebrew enoshe ha-shem. These men accused Moses and Aaron of exalting themselves above the rest of Israel. In reality, they were the ones who wanted to exalt themselves above the rest of Israel. They wanted to be great before the assembly. In contrast to their actions, Moses bows down before them and puts the decision of who is to be the leader and who are to be the priests up to God. He reminds Korah, the leader of the rebellion, of the exalted position God had actually given him.

Numbers 16:8-10 NKJV 8 Then Moses said to Korah, "Hear now, you sons of Levi: 9 "Is it a small thing to you that the God of Israel has separated you from the congregation of Israel, to bring you near to Himself, to do the work of the tabernacle of the LORD, and to stand before the congregation to serve them; 10 "and that He has brought you near to Himself, you and all your brethren, the sons of Levi, with you? And are you seeking the priesthood also?

We know the end of the story. Korah, Dathan and Abiram are swallowed up by the earth when they attempt to usurp the duties of the priest by offering incense before the LORD. The two hundred fifty men of renown who followed Korah are consumed in the fire of God (Num. 16:34-35). Those known as men of renown were men desiring to be great in the eyes of man.

We jump ahead now to King Saul, the first king of Israel. King Saul, like the two hundred fifty leaders in the rebellion led by Korah, also attempts to take on the duties of the priesthood.

1 Samuel 13:9-11 NKJV 9 So Saul said, "Bring a burnt offering and peace offerings here to me." And he offered the burnt offering. 10 Now it happened, as soon as he had finished presenting the burnt offering, that Samuel came; and Saul went out to meet him, that he might greet him. 11 And Samuel said, "What have you done?"

Later, God instructed King Saul to wipe out the name of Amalek forever. He was to totally destroy all the belongings and even the livestock of Amalek. Most importantly, he was to slay King Agag of the Amalekites. This may sound brutal, but the reasons for this go back to Israel’s first days coming out of Egypt. King Saul, however, spared the best of livestock and King Agag. When questioned by Samuel, Saul stated that it was so they could bring an offering to God. As we read further, we see that that may have been Saul’s outward action, but his motivation was his own exaltation.

1 Samuel 15:26-31 NKJV 26 But Samuel said to Saul, "I will not return with you, for you have rejected the word of the LORD, and the LORD has rejected you from being king over Israel." 27 And as Samuel turned around to go away, Saul seized the edge of his robe, and it tore. … 30 Then he said, "I have sinned; yet honor me now, please, before the elders of my people and before Israel, and return with me, that I may worship the LORD your God." 31 So Samuel turned back after Saul, and Saul worshiped the LORD.

Saul’s first words are an acknowledgement of sin, but his next words indicate that he is only thinking of himself. He pleads with Samuel to honor him in front of the people!

In the time of Noah, God repented that he created man.

Genesis 6:6 KJV 6 And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.

Here in the account of King Saul, we read that God repented that He made Saul king.

1 Samuel 15:35 KJV 35 And Samuel came no more to see Saul until the day of his death: nevertheless Samuel mourned for Saul: and the LORD repented that he had made Saul king over Israel.

In both verses, the Hebrew word for repented is nacham which means to sigh or breathe strongly. Other translations of Genesis 6:6 use the word grieve. We have an image of God grieving, breathing strongly, about man’s actions at the time of Noah and about King Saul elevating himself before the people.

King Saul was not the only king who sinned against God. In fact, the very next king, King David sinned in a much more spectacular manner, at least in our eyes. King David lusted after another man’s wife, got her pregnant, tried to fool the husband that the child was the husband’s child, and when that failed, he conspired to kill the man. In our minds Saul’s sin was a “white collar” crime; he stole a few goods and manipulated public opinion… just a typical politician. We would slap him on the wrist, fine him a few dollars and let him go. David’s sin on the other hand was murder by hire. We would send him away for life. Why didn’t God view these sins in the same way we would? It is all in the heart. Even after being confronted by his sin, Saul never truly repented. He didn’t understand that his sin was against God and he was only concerned with his image before the people. David on the other hand truly repented.

2 Samuel 12:13-16 NKJV 13 So David said to Nathan, "I have sinned against the LORD." And Nathan said to David, "The LORD also has put away your sin; you shall not die. 14 "However, because by this deed you have given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child also who is born to you shall surely die." 15 Then Nathan departed to his house. And the LORD struck the child that Uriah's wife bore to David, and it became ill. 16 David therefore pleaded with God for the child, and David fasted and went in and lay all night on the ground.

David humbled himself before God acknowledging that his sin was ultimately against God and didn’t try to excuse his actions. He didn’t care what the people saw, he only sought God. (In case we think God didn’t punish David, read the rest of this account in 2 Samuel 12.)

The antichrist is like Saul. To outward appearances, he is not bad. But he exalts himself over all men even to the point of declaring that he is God.

2 Thessalonians 2:3-4 NKJV 3 Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, 4 who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.

We need to look at one more example of a person of renown, that is, a person whose name is known. In the story of Ruth and Boaz, God blesses Ruth with a son who is the kinsman redeemer for Naomi.

Ruth 4:14-16 MKJV 14 And the women said to Naomi, Blessed be the LORD, who has not left you this day without a redeemer, so that his name may be famous in Israel. 15 And he shall be to you as a restorer of life, and one who cheers your old age. For your daughter-in-law who loves you has borne him, she who is better to you than seven sons. 16 And Naomi took the child and laid it in her bosom, and became nurse to it.

This son is described as Naomi’s kinsman redeemer not Boaz. Further, this son’s name will be famous not just in Bethlehem, but in Israel. The word famous is the Hebrew word “kara”, (Strong’s #7121) which means to call out.

The name of this son, this kinsman redeemer which will be called out in all Israel, is Obed. Obed means to serve (Strong’s #5744). Obed will not be famous for exalting himself above others, but for serving others.

Obed foreshadows another kinsman redeemer who comes to be a servant.

Philippians 2:5-11 NKJV 5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. 9 Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

There is only one name that God exalts and that is the name of Yeshua who brings glory to God the Father. This name will be called out throughout the heavens and the earth.

We are to be like Yeshua, servants of God. On the night that Yeshua was betrayed, He washed His disciples’ feet.

John 13:12-17 NKJV 12 So when He had washed their feet, taken His garments, and sat down again, He said to them, "Do you know what I have done to you? 13 "You call me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. 14 "If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. 15 "For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. 16 "Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. 17 "If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.

Don’t seek to be a man or woman of renown in this life, enosh ha-shem. Instead seek to be a person of renown in the world to come, adam HaShem, a person of His name.

יבורך שלום
Shalom and be blessed
Dan and Brenda Cathcart

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