I woke up this morning thinking about the idea that all through the Bible--Old Testament through New--names are significant to God. (God had Adam name the animals, God reveals his name "I am" to Moses, God sends an angel to tell Simeon to name his son John.)

But the really intriguing thing to me is when God actually changed people's names. In Genesis 17, God tells Abram, "No longer will you be called Abram; your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations." In verse 15 God continues, "As for Sarai your wife, you are no longer to call her Sarai; her name will be Sarah...I will bless her so that she will be the mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her." (Note that this is when they were childless.)

In the new Testament, Jesus changes Simon to be heard to Peter Rock.

It occurs to me that if you know the stories of Abraham and Peter, you might notice that the change in name has to do with what they most wanted. Abraham and Sarah desperately wanted to be parents. I'm assuming Peter wanted strength because the stories of him reflect a lion's heart but deep, deep fear which prevented him from staying the course. (ref. walking on water in Mt. 14:22 and his denial of Christ in Mt. 26:75).

The God who spoke the universe into being, changed their names and made it so. What is interesting is that the clue to their true identity had to do with what at the core of their hearts they most wanted.

I think that is true of all of us. That clues to our true identity can be found in what we long for. I also love it that God throughout history has worked in the business of transforming men from who they are to who they were always supposed to be. I think this morning was the first time I noticed that "who they are supposed to be" was evidenced all along by the longing in their hearts.

1 comment

ML said...

That's a juicy one. A lot to think about. What would our new names be if God changed them to match our desires?

And more importantly, why would God regard names with such importance? I suspect God uses names differently than we do. Something more pure- more like "identity".

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Maira Gall