Genesis 16-18: What is in a name?

Names.  We’ve all got them.  Some of them mean some pretty impressive things.  Some of them mean some pretty silly things.  Some of them mean nothing at all.  Some of them match our personalities perfectly, and others may have been just the best option at the time of our birth.  In any case, our names are very important, and all through history names have been very important.  In fact, many cultures throughout history have given someone a name at birth only to change that name at adulthood to better represent the character and personality of the individual.  Our names embody who we are, they are the anchor around which the rest of our identity centres.

Our names are important to God too.  This struck me as I was reading through the rest of the book of Genesis.  Keep track, if you are interested in that sort of thing, of the number of times God dictates someone’s name before their birth and/or the name given to someone has some specific meaning attached to how they were born or some promise God gave to their parents.  You will find that both things happen a lot.  In Genesis 17 God changes Abram and Sarai’s names and he gives Abram the name of his son, Isaac.  How may other instances can you think of where God gives parents the name of their unborn child?

Here is where else my mind has wandered to.  God has name for each of us.  A name that only he knows and a name that he will one day reveal to us.  We’re told about this in Revelation 2:17 “Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give that person a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it.”

A new name.  A name given to us specifically by God and shared only between God and the individual.  So if you dislike your current name, perhaps it will comfort you to know that God has a new name for you to go with your resurrected body.  The name that he ordained for you to have since he first conceived of your existence.  I think that’s kind of cool.

Happy reading.

  • What was familiar from this passage of scripture?  What was something I already knew?
  •  What was new from this piece of scripture?  What was something that really stood out for me that I have never paid attention to before?
  • Does Jesus appear in this passage of scripture?
  •  How does this passage apply to my life, here and now?  Do I need to do anything about it?
  •  What prayer would I offer up to God after reading this piece of scripture?

Tomorrow’s Reading: Genesis 19-21

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