Saturday, March 15, 2008

The Power of a Name. . .

For the last nine months I have been working on writing articles on each of a list of 38 compound names of Jehovah.  These are names given to God both by Himself and by others in the Bible.  Right now I have been stuck, for over a month, on name #33 on my list.  I am waiting for God to reveal the meaning of this name to me.  I just have to be patient.  

It is clear from reading the Bible that both God and people in biblical times placed importance on the meaning of names.  Here are just a few verse references to names and the reason for the giving of it:

Genesis 4:25  And Adam knew his wife again; and she bore a son, and called his name Seth: For God, said she, hath appointed me another seed instead of Abel, whom Cain slew.

Genesis 5:29  And he called his name Noah, saying, This same shall comfort us concerning our work and toil of our hands, because of the ground which the LORD hath cursed.

Genesis 11:9  Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the LORD did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the LORD scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.

Genesis 16:11  And the angel of the LORD said unto her, Behold, thou art with child, and shalt bear a son, and shalt call his name Ishmael; because the LORD hath heard thy affliction.

Exodus 2:10  And the child grew, and she brought him unto Pharaoh's daughter, and he became her son. And she called his name Moses: and she said, Because I drew him out of the water.

Matthew 1:23  Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.

For the most part we no longer name our children for the meaning of their name.  Names are now given for reasons of fashion, they increase and decrease in popularity as celebrities or other famous personalities either give it a good or bad connotation.  So for good or ill we have escaped placing much meaning on our names.

It is very clear that God placed importance on names.  As I mentioned before, we have numbers of names for God, each describing an attribute or role or power that He has.  He is not a simple God to understand.  There are literally hundreds of descriptive names for God and God Himself placed importance on the names of the people that He dealt with in the Bible.

Numbers of times men and women in the Bible had their names changed as their roles changed.  It is somewhat unusual and would be a major undertaking today to change your name.  Think of all the places, all the databases where your name appears.  I am sure that this is familiar ground to women who get married, but for God the name you held was important.  Here are a few examples:

Genesis 17:3-5  And Abram fell on his face: and God talked with him, saying,  (4)  As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations.  (5)  Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee.
Genesis 17:15  And God said unto Abraham, As for Sarai thy wife, thou shalt not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall her name be.

[The change though not explained in the text is from Sarai ~ my princess to Sarah ~ THE PRINCESS mother of a great nation]

Genesis 32:27-28  And he said unto him, What is thy name? And he said, Jacob.  (28)  And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed.

Acts 13:9  Then Saul, (who also is called Paul,) filled with the Holy Ghost, set his eyes on him,

We do not know the details of this last change.  We do not know why or when Saul changed his name from Saul to Paul, but it surely can be imagined that he wanted to distance himself from his dark and bloody past.  What better way than by to take another name.  

"Yes a man named Saul did those things, but my name is Paul.  I am no longer named Saul. That is my past.  That no longer me."   

When we are baptized into the name of Jesus, we are taking His name upon ourselves.  His is a name above every other:

Philippians 2:9  Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:

There is no name that can compare with the name of Jesus, therefore we should be very jealous and protect the name by which we are called.  Names are not meaningless.  The name of Jesus has power for healing and deliverance.  We cannot fail to recognize that other names have power also.

I once had a young person reveal their name to me.  This person was maybe 14 or 15 years old.  The first name that they took for themselves was 'failure'.  I wept. . . I weep for any so young who take that dark name for themselves. . . What a terrible terrible name to be burdened with at any age, but especially for one so young.  

What kind of a failure can you be at 14 years old?  To begin anything new, is to occasionally stumble and fall.  A young toddler is not called a failure at walking merely because they often topple over and bump their noses. . . We have understanding and patience with those first attempting new challenges. . . We surely need to have the same patience with our teenagers trying on adulthood for the first time.  We need to let them know that a few bumps and bruises along the road of life are the mileage markers of increasing wisdom and ability

This one I loved so much, took another name for herself that day. . . a name I will not repeat. . .there is power in a name and unfortunately many remember old names. . . I denied that name.  At fourteen years old, you do not have the wisdom to name yourself.  We try on different things in those years, radical political views. . . sometimes shocking fashions of hair and dress, in an attempt to gage our place in this big big world, but we cannot make the mistake of thinking that we will always be those things that we try on as we first fly our wings.

I cringe at some of the decisions I see youth make that are not easily undone.  What a terrible thing, young girls having eye color tattooed into their eyelids or the young men that when I go to the mall, I see with huge bone-like accessories stuck through their noses or ear lobes, permanently distorting their bodies.  It is one thing to try on purple eye makeup or dyeing your hair blue to shock you mother and father at the dinner table.  It will wash off or grow back as quickly as your tastes change in that period of your life, but to have purple eyelids when you are 60 years old with grandchildren on your knee, as a painful reminder of an impulsive decision 45 years previously. . .I shudder.  Some things cannot be easily undone.

This young beloved of mine revealed her name to me and I denied it.  It is important for us to not be afraid to give our young people the perspective of the wisdom of age.  We cannot be ashamed of our wisdom.  No, they will probably not want to hear what what we have to say, but neither have they wanted to eat their vegetables or to be vaccinated against diseases and yet we have suffered them to do that also to their benefit.  Not over every issue, not on every day, but at strategic times, we must regardless of their desires give them our wisdom and let them know that they are wrong.

I told my beloved, that she was too young to know what her name was.  Maybe at 25 I might believe a little bit more that she could know, but not at 14, or 15, or 16 years old.  I do not know the effect, if any, of my words upon her that day, but coincidently or not, a few weeks before her 25th birthday, she cast off the name she had taken at such a tender age.  I rejoice. . .I thank God!!!

There is power in a name.  Jealously protect your name and if you have taken a name that you do not like, then change it.  If you have made the mistake of taking an undesirable name, then cast it away.  Do not be ruled by your name.  Do not for evermore claim that name.  Put it off.  Replace it with another.  Everything is made new when you take the name of Jesus. . . God showed us time and again that with Him we can have a new name. . . even after trials and falling down a wonderful new name can be given us. . .

I once had a name of men and the world. . .
I did not see its meaning. . .
I learned a new language. . .
I gained a new heart. . .
I have taken a name of righteousness and power. . .above all others. . .

Thank you Lord. . .


1 comment:

Lindz-Lo said...

Your blog just made me reconsider not only what I call myself and what I call others, but also how I view myself. It's one thing to name myself, but it's completely different to view myself as something. I hope that makes sense.
I'm really glad you left a comment on my page-it means a lot to know that someone benefited from my writing!
I hope you have a great rest of the weekend!