Proverbs 18:10 “The name of the Lord is a strong tower, the righteous run to it and are safe.”
No matter how you view the coronavirus, it is difficult not to be affected by the media hype these days. You see people fighting over toilet paper in Australia, Italians being threatened with jail time if they escape the red zone, and now an entire country under quarantine. It is all starting to sound more and more like the script from a Hollywood movie than reality. But the truth is, this is reality.
The Bible says, in Prov 18:10, the name of the Lord is a strong tower, the righteous run to it and are safe.
We Christians would usually assume this means Jesus because He is Lord. But when this was written, in Proverbs, Jesus was not born yet. So we know, from the Bible, this promise is about His Father Yehovah, and the text in Hebrew reads like this “the name of Yehovah is a strong tower, the righteous run to it and are safe.”
Most Christians would argue, “that was then, before the cross, but now after the cross, this promise is all about Jesus. and the proof is in Phil 2:10.”
We, as Christians, believe Jesus was sinless. This is, in fact, the most central belief of all of Christianity, how Jesus never sinned so He could atone for our sins. The Bible says, in Ex 20:2-3, I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt; you shall have no other gods before me.
We all understand God is not God’s personal name; it is a title as President is not Mr.Trumps name, it is a title, and the prime minister is not Mr.Johnsons name; it is a title.
When we read Ex 20:2-3 in Hebrew, it reads, “I am Yehovah, your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, you shall have no other gods before me.” Anyone who breaks this commandment or who worships any other than Yehovah will be sinning. If Jesus was sinless, it stands to reason He had to obey Ex 20:2-3. He had to tell others to worship Yehovah, to trust in Yehovah, to look to Yehovah. If He did not do this, He would no longer be sinless.
Paul, who wrote Philippians, understood this principle from the Bible. So if we are to understand Phil 2:10 as in the name of Jesus replacing the name of Yehovah, then it would be in violation with Ex 20:2-3. There is, therefore, no way for us to read Phil 2:10 as in now Prov 18:10 now applies to the name of Jesus.
So how are we to understand Phil 2:10?
Even though Philippians, and most of the New Testament, except the Gospels, were all written in Greek, they were all written by Jews who spoke Greek.
Think of it this way, if an American were fluent in German, they would be able to write a letter in German but as an American. So even though they used German words, they would still think as an American when writing the letter and their cultural background would shine through. So to properly understand it, we would have to think as an American.
Even though Philippians 2:10 is written in Greek, it is written by the Hebrew Jewish Paul, who was able to speak Greek. So to understand what he means in Phil 2:10, we have to understand what “a name” means in Hebrew.
A name can refer to the given name, but it can also refer to reputation and how a person lived their life. We know it cant, in this case, refer to the given name because that would go against Ex 20:2-3. So it has to refer to the reputation of a person and how that person lived their life.
This is confirmed in 1. John 2:6, Rev 12:11, 14:12, where it says our authority is not in saying “in Jesus name.” Our authority and the way we can overcome even the devil himself is in us imitating the life of Christ. We see this exemplified in the story of the seven sons of Sceva in the book of Acts. They believed they would have authority over demons by saying “in Jesus name,” but they did not live right. Because they did not live as they should, saying the words “in Jesus name” did not help them one bit, and they got beat up by the demon who was in that man.
This is why Paul ways, in 1. Cor 11, we are to as he and imitate the life of Christ in everything we do. If we, as Christians, believe He kept the law for us, then we have to follow the law of Moses if we are to imitate His life.
Our obedience, to the law of Moses, makes us disciples and imitators of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and gives us authority over the devil himself. This is how Paul lived his life (1.Cor 11), and this why he had authority, and the demon in the man, who the seven sons tried to cast out, knew who Paul was, but he did not know who they were.
This is how we are to understand Phil 2:10 when we who believe Jesus died for us obey Moses, we become one with Jesus. When we are one with Him, we confess Jesus as Lord and Savior to the world, and we bring glory to the Father Yehovah. Our obedience and our oneness with Jesus makes every knee bow under heaven and on earth and under the earth as we saw in the story of the seven sons of Sceva and the book of Revelation.
Now we know Prov 18:10 is still referring to Yehovah as the name we can run to and be safe. But as we can see from the verse, there is a condition to this promise. We have to be righteous. So how do we become righteous?
1. John 3:7 shows us what we have just been talking about, the one who does righteousness is righteous. This is what Rev 12:11, 14:12, and Paul says in 1. Cor 11, when we are righteous in obedience to Moses, just as Christ did, we will have a righteousness that will overcome the devil himself.
So for Prov 18:10 to affect your life, it will not be enough to just “believe in Jesus.” You are required to do something, and that something is to obey Moses. But if you follow Moses and you are reconciled to Yehovah by faith in the cross, the Bible says you can call upon the name of Yehovah, and He will see to you and keep you safe.
For so many of us, it feels as if we have been unwillingly cast into a remake of the movie “Outbreak” from 1995. Even though we might be healthy and have no one we know and love who might die from the coronavirus, the media hype is stressful and scary at times. And if you are in Italy right now, or in a red zone in a world somewhere under quarantine, it must seem as if the world is about to end sometimes.
If you are righteous, by your obedience to Moses as Jesus is righteous (1.John 3:7), you have the right to call upon the name of Yehovah right now (Prov 18:10) and take shelter in it.
The coronavirus will still be there, the media hype will increase, but you will walk in safety, peace, and trust sheltered under the name of Yehovah. You will see Psalm 91 come alive because you have chosen Yehovah as your protection.