God knows your name! Have you ever contemplated the significance of that truth?
Really, it’s not surprising that God knows your name. After all, there is a lot about names in the Bible. In fact, names seem quite important to God.
CHOOSING A NAME
We are expecting our fourth grandchild, so, once again, names are a topic of conversation in our family. We all have our opinions on what to name this little boy, who will bless our family in December. The parents think their opinion is the one that matters. Personally, I think Nana should get to pick, but no one seems to agree.
Most of us think long and hard about the handle a child will live with forever. Should we use a family name or make the child a junior? How about sticking with something popular or should we deviate to a unique or trendy label?
Our names identify us, we write them often, it is how we are introduced to others. We appreciate when people remember our names and pronounce them correctly. As we grow older, we protect our names too. We want them to be spoken with respect. After all, our name and reputation go together.
I am sure God knows the name of our yet to be born boy. Wish He would just give us a hint.
GOD KNOWS THE IMPORTANCE OF A NAME
However, as much as we contemplate names in modern times, they were even more important in biblical times—especially their meaning.
Do you know the meaning of your name? I know the meaning of mine, and I kind of like it. Patrice means patrician or noble. I just recently found out that my middle name, Adele, means nobility. Boy, my parents had big dreams for me. I think, perhaps, I’m a bit of a disappointment!
Regardless, I tell my husband constantly that I’m a princess, but he just gives me dubious looks. The truth is, he does spoil me some. But then reality sets in, and I still have to clean the bathrooms and mop the floors. I can’t picture Kate doing that – and she’s only a duchess!
Okay, I know, I digress. Since the meaning was so important in biblical times, God personally chose the names of some people. For instance, God chose the name for John the Baptist.
John’s father, Zechariah, had an encounter with God that left him speechless, literally (Luke 1: 8-20). Zechariah was told to name his only child John.
Zechariah knew the importance of his son’s mission and obeyed God. However, John’s family and friends were appalled at this choice. After all, there was no other John in the family. I guess God didn’t understand proper tradition, but He did chose a name that fit. John means “God is gracious,” and certainly He was gracious to send John to prepare the way of our Messiah and Savior (Luke 1: 57-66).
And, of course, God did not leave the naming of His son to others. He chose Jesus, which means the Lord saves (Matthew 1:21).
WHY IS GOD MORE LIKELY TO CHANGE A NAME THAN CHOOSE ONE AT BIRTH?
While God chose some baby’s names at birth there are more examples in the Bible of God changing a person’s moniker, usually to fit the person’s mission in life. For instance, He changed the names of two of the three patriarchs in the Old Testament and changed the name of one of His disciples!
GOD CHANGED THE NAME OF THE FATHER OF HIS CHOSEN
Abram means exalted father. He was a father figure to his nephew, Lot, and I’m sure others looked up to him because of his wealth, success, and status.
However, God knows the plans He had for Abram – bigger and better plans. So, God changed Abram’s name to Abraham, which means father of many; for he would have a multitude of descendants, which we know today as the Jewish people – God’s chosen (Genesis 12: 1-5, 14: 14-16, and 17: 1-6).
GOD CHANGED THE NAME OF ABRAHAM’S GRANDSON TOO!
Abraham’s grandson, Jacob, was born holding the heel of his twin brother. Jacob sounds like the Hebrew word that means heel or deceiver. Some say the meaning is ‘to follow behind’ or possibly to supplant or circumvent. Whatever the meaning, we do know that Jacob deceived his almost blind father, with his mother’s help, into believing he was his brother Esau. Why? To steal the blessing of the first-born son (Genesis 27: 5-30).
Ironically, this deception was unnecessary. As always, God knows the future and had everything under control. Before the twins were born, God told Jacob’s mother, Rebekah, that the older would serve the younger. God had chosen Jacob as the patriarch that would further God’s chosen people. Of course, like me, Jacob and Rebekah thought God needed some help to accomplish His will – He didn’t.
Despite Jacob’s deceptive nature, God worked in Jacob’s heart (there was even a wrestling match – Genesis 32: 22-32) and he grew in the Lord. God eventually changed Jacob’s name to Israel (Genesis 32: 28-30). And, of course, Jacob is the father of the twelve tribes of Israel.
GOD ENCOURAGED A DISCIPLE WITH A NAME CHANGE
Then there was Simon, which means listening or hearing. Simon put this gift to good use for he was the first to understand that Jesus was the Messiah.
Although Simon was the undisciplined disciple, Jesus saw his potential. To prepare Simon to move from one who simply hears, to a person of strength and action, He called him Peter, which means rock (Matthew 16: 13-18).
Yes, there were mishaps along the way. But eventually, Peter became strong and solid as a rock as he preached to the world about sin and salvation through Jesus Christ.
DID GOD CHOOSE YOUR NAME?
Okay, your name might not have been divinely chosen, but God knows your name and it’s still important to Him. God knows each of us by name. When he walks and talks with us, it’s personal.
Moses is a prime example. In Exodus 3, God uses a burning bush to get Moses’ attention; as Moses investigates this miraculous happening, God speaks to him.
Exodus 33:17b says: “The LORD replied to Moses, ‘I will indeed do what you have asked, for I look favorably on you, and I know you by name‘” (NLT).
I know what you’re thinking, Moses was special. God chose him to free His people from Egypt and to lead them to the Promised Land. So knowing Moses’ name is kind of like a general knowing his colonels by name; private and sergeants – not so much.
Well, maybe. Let’s dig a little deeper.
God gave Moses instructions on building the tabernacle, and Moses told the people: “The Lord has specifically chosen Bezalel son of Uri, grandson of Hur, of the tribe of Judah” (Exodus 35:30).
Gee, do you know who Bezalel was in the Bible? God knew all about this man, including his name, and specifically chose him to lead this important construction job.
Yes, God knows our names, even those of us who aren’t famous or important in the world’s view.
LIKE OUR EARTHLY FATHERS, GOD USES OUR NAMES TO GET OUR ATTENTION!
One of my favorite moments in the Bible is when Jesus talks to Mary Magdalene after His resurrection. Mary is crying because Jesus is missing from the tomb. Jesus is watching her cry. Do you think He shook his head at how obtuse she and the others were on day three? He had told them He would rise!
Jesus is patient with sorrowful Mary, but also messes with her a little bit. Instead of identifying himself, Jesus asks her, “Dear woman why are you crying? Who are you looking for?” (John 20:15).
Mary still doesn’t get it. She thinks Jesus is the gardener! Worse, she suspects him of being partly responsible for the disappearance of the body. Well, if you think about it, He was responsible for the empty tomb.
Anyway, I can almost see Jesus shaking his head and smiling. And then He-says-her-name, “MARY,” and she immediately knows.
GOD KNOWS OUR NAME AND CALLS US BY NAME
Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine (Isaiah 43: 1b).
Although God was speaking to Israel in Isaiah 43: 1, He was speaking as Creator. He is Creator of all, and He wants no one to perish. If we call upon Him and believe in Jesus as Lord and Savior, He will save us. He is calling us by name to come to Him for all eternity.
I believe when Jesus said, Mary, that one loving word encompassed the above Scripture. She knew she was His.
I take great comfort that God knows me by name. How about you?
Sometime during this week, you might want to meditate on Exodus 33:17, Psalm 46:10, Psalm 145:18 and Isaiah 43:1. Thank God for blessing you with such a personal relationship.
As always, comments are welcome. Why not tell us the meaning of your name, or how you chose your children’s names? Or share a time when God called you by name. Other people’s experiences are helpful and uplifting to our readers.
BLESSINGS UNTIL NEXT TIME.