The importance of a name
NAMES…can tell so much about a person, thing, even an institution. It’s your identity. Many have names with underlying meaning, even directing their life’s destiny. It sets you apart from someone else. My first and middle name is Billy Cleveland. I was named after my maternal grandfather and the twenty-fourth U. S. President.
Our grandson, Luke, and his wife Meagan are expecting a baby girl in late April. Our first great grandchild! They have been researching names with all the family. It will be a joy to know her name.
In scripture, we see firsthand the importance of names and their lineage. The first human was named Adam, and he later names his wife, Woman, and then Eve—‘the mother of all creation’. God gave him the privilege of naming everything. Abram (high father, exalted father) was eventually renamed by God to Abraham, ‘father of many nations’ (Gen. 17.5). He is the father of our faith. Jacob became Israel. What do you think of when you hear the name David in scripture? A few come to mind—shepherd, giant slayer, fugitive, king, adulterer and murderer, repentant, Psalmist, royal line of the Messiah. Finally, ‘a man after God’s own heart’.
I am who I am
Moses asked God this question. “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘the God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” God said to Moses, I AM WHO I AM,” (Ex. 3.13,14b ESV) Past, present and future. No distinction. He is before all time, and now and forever.
As we entered the Advent season, one thing has stood out to me more than all the rest. It is the name of the One we are worshipping and celebrating. After 400 years of silence by God, a young boy was born. Everyone in the village assumed he would be Zechariah Jr. But an angel of the Lord said to Zechariah, his name shall be John. “For he will be great before the Lord… and he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared” (Lk. 1. 15-17 ESV).
And what is the name of this Lord? There are too many to enumerate here. But when Gabriel visited Mary and then Joseph, he made it clear his name would be Jesus. “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end” (Lk. 1. 32, 33 ESV).
Make no mistake; there is no other name close to it. “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4. 12 ESV). That promise is exclusive in every sense. But look at what will take place on That Day. “For God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil 2. 9-11 ESV).
Isaiah prophesies long before Jesus was on earth. And the Spirit, through Isaiah, told them and us all we need to know about the man/God whose name is Jesus. “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and uphold it with justice and righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this” (Isa. 9. 6,7 ESV).
What a promise from this Jesus! “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you” (Jn. 15. 7 ESV). So ask we shall!
‘Dear Heavenly Father, by the power and presence of the Holy Spirit, we ask that we all would grasp the magnificent beauty of the Incarnation. In Jesus’ name, Amen