Gen 4:17 – “And Cain knew his wife; and she conceived, and bare Enoch: and he builded a city, and called the name of the city, after the name of his son, Enoch.“
From the very beginning of man’s departure from paradise into a world without hope and without God, man has been trying to preserve his name somewhere in the world. Man creates statues, signs, pictures, paintings and the like in order to make his mark here on the earth. In this passage we have Cain, the murderer, trying to preserve the name of his seed by naming a city after him. This is the first city builded in Scripture.
When Jacob slept upon stones and saw the ladder rising up to heaven in a place called “Luz”, he gave to that place a name connected with God – “Bethel“, which means the “house of God”. But the heathen had named it Luz before, and when the Israelites came and took it over in Judges chapter 1, the heathen departed to another place and called it “Luz” instead:
Judg 1:23 – “And the house of Joseph sent to descry Bethel. (Now the name of the city before was Luz.)“
Judg 1:26 – “And the man went into the land of the Hittites, and built a city, and called the name thereof Luz: which is the name thereof unto this day.“
Hence we see the preservation of a name in the world without including the Lord.
Consider how vain such an action is! The act of self-preservation! After a man dies and departs to the judgment there is nothing more that he can do in this life, so what good is the preservation of a name? It is a vain show of pride to the rest of the world how great that man was in the eyes of other men, but not in the eyes of God.
Ps 49:11 – “Their inward thought is, that their houses shall continue for ever, and their dwelling places to all generations; they call their lands after their own names.“
A man’s household or name does not continue forever. There are very few people in this life who are known the world over, and even so, it may not be a very good name. It matters not what your name is to the rest of the world, but it does matter what your name is to God; for He is the only hope of mankind. This is why our Lord Jesus Christ corrected His disciples about what they should rejoice over:
Luke 10:20 – “Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.“
That is the most important thing – that through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ the One who loved us and gave Himself for us has given to all mankind the opportunity to have their name written down in the Book of Life. Having your name preserved in the right place is not a vain benefit, for it assures you an eternal, permanent home in heaven. A place where after this vain life spent as a shadow is over, you may rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory!
As a Christian, your names are written in heaven already by faith; but in practice, is your name a good name that heaven will rejoice over when heard? Or is your life still just as vain and unholy as it was before you were born again? Are you still trying to preserve your name amongst the heathen, or is it more important to you this day that God declares your life to be acceptable in His sight?
Eccl 7:1 – “A good name is better than precious ointment; and the day of death than the day of one’s birth.“