The Forgotten Power of the Name
What’s in a name? Traditionally, in most cultures, names symbolized some ideal or action. Most of us, when we found out we were expecting, got a name book or searched the internet for the right name with the right meaning.
After a little time goes by, the name just becomes the distinguishing call between kiddos. (Unless of course your parents add your middle name, then it’s bad. When your parents add your middle and last names, you know you have blown it and better head for the hills.)
Unfortunately, in our culture, our children’s names are not emphasized as much as they should be. Parents don’t choose them to express a character we want our children to have as they “grow into their name.”
So what’s in a name when it comes to your faith?
Faith in What Name?
In a world full of people claiming to be “a person of faith,” the question becomes, “Faith in who?” Does it even matter? Yes! It does matter.
Names obviously matter to God. Many times in the Scriptures He declared the name of a child or even renamed a person based upon a covenant. He renamed Abram to Abraham, Sarai to Sarah, Jacob to Israel, Saul to Paul. You get the point.
Mankind did not name God. He revealed himself to mankind by His names. Each time He revealed a character or quality of himself that is everlasting and does not change. Each revelation has come with promise.
In Exodus 6:2-3, God says to Moses, “I am the Lord. I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob as God Almighty, but by my name the Lord, I did not make myself fully known to them.”
The word Lord is translated from the Hebrew word Yahweh. The English transliteration of it is Jehovah. It means “The Sovereign Self Existent One” or “The One by Whom and through Whom all things exist.”
When God revealed himself to Moses for the first time in the burning bush, he declared to Moses, the Almighty One who is self-existent and from which all things have come from, AM here. The ground you stand on is holy — separate from all other.
The One Who Makes Covenants
Why? Israel had been enslaved for 430 years in a land full of many faiths and many gods. Moses was reared in the courts of Pharaoh, who was believed to be a god in his own right.
In this introduction, God revealed himself to Moses as the Almighty God who made covenant with his ancestors. He declared his name to be The Lord God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob — setting himself apart from all other gods and worshiped things.
God used Moses to record the first five books of the Bible. There he continuously uses His full and proper name. Why? To retrain the people of Israel, after their centuries in Egypt, to know who He is.
They were a people of faith, but not faith in the God of their fathers. They reverted back to the worship of idols in the desert when Moses went up on the mountain. They did it many more times throughout the Old Testament.
God’s Names Tell Us Who He Is
God’s names mean something. His name isn’t just a title, a label. His name is holy. It’s separate from all other names because He is the one above all others.
It is why God declared we should not take his name in vain or profane his name. Satan has tricked humanity into using God’s name in such vulgar ways. Many of the people who use such names don’t even think about it. “Jesus” has become the word said in frustration or anger or worse.
In the past, even non-Christian parents would have gasped and whipped the daylights out of their kids for using God’s name in any way other than reverence. This is not so today, because as a culture, America doesn’t value the name of God. Even if they claim to be a people of faith.
Once we have established the Who of our faith, we can move on to the discussions that lead us to learning more about him, loving him more faithfully and honoring His name that is above all other names.
The names God declares about Himself represent His character and His actions in relationship to His people. As you meditate on His name today, remember His Name means something and you can take comfort in the promises represented each time God describes or reveals himself.
Paul declares in Philippians 2:9-11:
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
Many are people of faith, but they are not a people of Faith in God. They don’t know Him by name. While we live in a land with many gods and many faiths, it is imperative to understand that the God of Christians is the Almighty Self Existent by whom and from whom all things exist.
He is the One who made covenant with the fathers of our faith Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The One who so loved the world that He sent His only begotten son, that whosoever believes in him should not die, but have everlasting life.
John Yeatts is the Campus Pastor of LIFE Outreach International and the National Coordinator of Churches for LIFE. He has served in full time ministry for 30 years, 15 of those years in the role of a pastor to the local church. He is a husband of 29 years and father of three children. John and his family recently planted TEXOMA Bible Fellowship in Whitesboro, Texas.