Faith: What’s In a Name?
Every parent has faced the challenge of finding the “right” name for a soon to be born child. Finding a defining name is an ancient concept. The Bible is full of people who were given names that described them in some way. For example:
Abram: “exalted father.” God changed his name to Abraham – “father of a multitude”
Sarai: “woman of nobility.” God changed her name to Sarah – “mother of nations”
Isaac: “he laughs.” God gave him this name because Abraham laughed when God told him he would have a son. Abraham was 100, Sarah was 90.
Moses: “to draw out.” The name Pharoah’s daughter gave him because she “drew him out of” the water of the Nile River. He went on to “draw out” the nation of Israel from their bondage in Egypt.
God has many names in the Bible. All but two are given to Him by people based on how He revealed Himself to them. Here are a few:
Jehovah/Yahweh: “I am Who I am,”Exodus 3:14. The name He gave Himself when He talked to Moses from the burning bush.
Jehovah-Shalom: “Our Peace,” Micah 5:1-5. Micah’s prophetic description of Jesus – the One from Bethlehem who will “be the peace.”
Jehovah-Jireh: “My Provider,” Genesis 22:14. God provided a ram so Abraham did not have to sacrifice his son Isaac.
Jehovah-Rapha: “Healer,” Exodus 15:26. God name for Himself “The Lord who heals you” given to Israel when they were at Marah (bitter water) in the desert.
Jehovah-Raah: “My Shepherd,” Psalm 23. David’s beautiful description of God’s love and care. Jesus called Himself “the good shepherd.” (John 10:11 & 14)
El-Roi: “God who sees,” Genesis 16:13 Hagar’s name for God because He saw her in the desert with her son Ishmael.
El-Elyon: “God Most High,” Genesis 14:18-22. Melchizedek and Abraham’s name for the God they both worshipped: “God Most High, possessor of heaven and earth.”
El-Gibbor: “Mighty God (Champion),” used many places in the Old Testament. Jeremiah gives a detailed description of this Mighty God in Jeremiah 32:18
Immanuel: “God With Us,” Matthew 1:23. The name the angel used when talking to Joseph in a dream referring to the child Mary was carrying.
We are living in an age that challenges our faith and trust in our God. Events and decisions threaten our way of life from inside and outside our country. Peace is hard to hang on to. No matter what the future brings, our God wants us to know He is Peace, Provider, Healer, Shepherd; the One who sees everything – God Most High, possessor of heaven and earth, our Champion. He is God with US in our day and our time. He is for us, not against us. He has plans to give us a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11).
King Jehoshaphat (“the Lord judges”) ruled over Judah for 25 years and faced challenges just like ours. His story is in 2 Chronicles chapters 17-20. He made alliances with other kings that weren’t wise, but his heart was “sold out” to Jehovah, because he knew Him from the stories of his ancestors, and the names they used when speaking of or to Him … the same stories and names we have in our Bible.
When faced with possibly the worst challenge of his reign, Jehoshaphat called a public gathering of all the people and prayed: “O Lord God (Jehovah)… You are the God who lives in heaven and rules over all the kingdoms of the nations. You possess strength and power; no one can stand against You … If disaster comes on us in the form of military attack, judgment, plague, or famine, we will … cry out to You for help in our distress, so that You will hear and deliver us.” (2 Chronicles 20: 6-9)
No matter what happened, Jehoshaphat knew God would take care of him and his people. If God be for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31)
So, what’s in a name? If it’s one of God’s names, something important and wonderful He wants us to know about Himself.
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