[Jan 20]--What’s In A Name?

Genesis 17:1-8

Names commonly have special, even prophetic meaning in Scripture. We already looked at Methuselah and the meaning behind his name. Here we come to the point where God changed Abram’s name to Abraham. Abram means “exalted father,” while Abraham means “father of nations.” He also changed “Sarai” to “Sarah,” although this doesn’t seem to be quite as drastic a change (both names mean “princess”).

Keep in mind that in that culture (and to a lesser extent this one), naming something or someone meant that you either owned that thing/person or had authority over them. God named all the aspects of creation in the first chapter of Genesis, and this showed his ownership over it. By changing Abram’s name, he shows the same thing.

This a good time to note God’s beautiful pattern of changing names. First he changes someone’s name, then changes that person’s character to reflect the new name. He meets Gideon hiding from the Mideonites inside a well, calls him “mighty warrior” or “hero,” then changes him into what his nickname claimed him to be. When Jesus meets Simon son of Jonah, he immediately nicknames him “Rock” (“Peter”). Of course, throughout Jesus’ ministry, Simon Peter showed himself to be anything but a “rock,” but over time Jesus changed him into what his name represented.

What about us? Do we have a new name? Well, Revelations 2:17 promises us “a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it,” sort of like an intimate pet name between lovers. Colossians 3:12 says that God’s new names for us are “beloved,” and “my chosen one,” and “set apart for me” (that’s what “holy one” means). No matter what hateful or hurtful name someone else might have called you, you have a new name in Christ. Now your job (with his help) is to live up to it.

Lord, I thank you for the new name I have in you. Help me to be “set apart for you,” help me to live like one beloved by you. Thank you for choosing me for a special purpose which no one else in the universe can fulfill.

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