In some of the litergical traditions, January 1 is the Feast of the Holy Name, which remembers Jesus’ presentation in the temple (Luke 2:22-39.)
I am intrigued by words, especially names. Even when we don’t know their meanings, what we are called greatly affects us: How we feel about ourselves, whether we like the name we have been given; the images and characteristics a particular name brings to mind.
Then, there are the nicknames that get assigned to us. They can be as powerful as our given ones.
The Bible is full of stories about names and their importance. When Jacob told the angel that he would not let him go until the angel blessed him, his name was changed from “Supplanter” or “Swindler” to “One who wrestled with God.” (Jacob to Israel.)
God says a lot about his own name. He says we are to honor it and not take it in vain.
Jesus has the Name that is above all names.
Of all the plays on words in Scripture, my absolute favorite is this: The Holy Spirit impregnates Miriam (Mary in Greek) which means, “rebellious, disobedient, bitter or strong” and we get Yeshua (Jesus) “God Saves.” Emmanuel, “God With Us.” How wonderful is that!
One application that comes to mind is this: God is not put off or undone by human rebellion or disobedience; instead, He knows exactly what to do about it. I’m so grateful for this: “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5)
God came into our desperate situation and saved us. He delivered us from the hand of our enemy. He knew how helpless we were and rescued us.
He still does that today. Sometimes, I think my name should mean, “helpless Babe.” Apart from God, I can do nothing. I can’t figure things out, see what’s coming or understand deeper meanings, unless God reveals all of that. Even if I have half a clue, I can’t prosper apart from God. I am utterly in need of Him.
God has many names (or descriptions)
Lord, Savior, Redeemer, Healer, Provider, Protector, Shield, Creator, Comforter, Helper, Teacher…
What is your favorite name for God?