From the moment someone finds out you are pregnant, they generally ask two questions. The first is, “when are you due?” and the second is, “have you thought of a name?” Various people approach the naming of a child differently. Some people go with a favorite character name from a book, family name or even one from the popular baby names list. The name this child is given will stay with them and will become a part of their identity. I thoroughly enjoyed selecting the names of all five of our children. The name was selected early on, so we could call the baby by name as he or she was furiously kicking in the womb.
Names are very important in the Bible as well. There are several instances where God changes a person’s name. The first that comes to mind is in Genesis 17:5, “No longer will you be called Abram; your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations.” The name Abram means “exalted father”, while Abraham means “father of many.” God changed Abram’s name because he was going to become the father of the nation of Israel. His wife, Sarai’s name was also changed in Genesis 17:15, “God also said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you are no longer to call her Sarai; her name will be Sarah.” I couldn’t find what Sarai meant. However, I was delighted to discover that Sarah meant “princess.” I find it so amazing that God can change anyone, even me, no matter what they are called into a princess.
God wasn’t the only one who changed names in the Bible. In Genesis 35:18, “As she [Rachel] breathed her last – for she was dying – she named her son Ben-Oni. But his father [Jacob] named him Benjamin.” Ben-Oni means “son of my sorrow”, while Benjamin means “son of my right hand.” Jacob didn’t want the cloud of sorrow of his mother’s death hanging over his son forever. It is also interesting that Jacob changes his son’s name, because his own name was changed shortly before by God. The name change is recorded in Genesis 32:27-28, “The man asked him, “What is your name?” “Jacob,” he answered. Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome.”
I’m certain several of you are reading this blog and thinking, well that’s all fine and good for the people of the Old Testament or even people in Bible times, but it doesn’t apply to me. Well, I have some great news for you. God has a new name for all believers as well. This is seen in Revelation 2:17, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it.” There is a lot in this verse, but I only want to focus on the name portion. The white stone, which is most likely a diamond, is a personal gift from God. What an awesome promise for those who have not compromised their love for Him. Not only is it going to be a precious stone, but, more significantly, it will have a new name written on it. As we have seen in these few verses, names are very significant and typically define a person. In the same way, the overcoming believer is promised a new name by God. This name will demonstrate characteristics of this person. It will show something that God has accomplished in their individual walk of faith. I am so excited to not only have the promise of a personal gift, but also a new name that is known only to God and personally selected out for me. How awesome is that?
I encourage you to read my blog tomorrow for part 2 of What’s In a Name?