If your name
was “Carter” and I stepped up to you saying: “I believe in your name, Carter”,
then it would sound a little odd to you, wouldn’t it? In order to show you my
support I would probably rather say: “I believe in you, Carter!”
The name of God is simply of a different caliber. As a general
observation, we don’t use our names the way God is using His. While our human
names won’t necessarily reveal our character, God’s name reflects exactly who
He is. The fun part about God’s name, however, is His vagueness. In the Old
Testament God introduced His name to Moses saying (Exodus 3:14):
“And God said to Moses,I Am Who
I Am and What I Am, and I Will Be What I Will Be;”
God’s name is an open invitation to get to know Him. Receiving Him seals
the deal that we believe in His name. And believing in His name means we
believe in Him. We believe that He indeed is who He is, has been and will be.
God is always on the move. To get to know Him we need to follow Him. What
we’ve learned about Him yesterday is not enough. All of eternity is dedicated
to find out more about our Creator. His name is so big, and it grows bigger
every day because God is great.
His name will start to grow on us as we begin to have our personal
experiences with the Almighty. “I Am” will become a very meaningful name to us,
and we are going to love this Name like no other. The very name we love ends up
being our family name as we are adopted into His family and become children of
God is who He is, and children of God are who they are: a secret and a
mystery to behold – visibly rooted on Earth and invisibly connected forever to
the Kingdom Heaven.
In the book of Genesis we read how a man named Jacob changed the name of a place in the Middle East from “Luz” to “Bethel”. This was based on a personal experience he had with God at this particular place. Before he returned to Bethel God would change his name from “Jacob” to “Israel”. Names have a meaning – names of people, as well as names of places where history is written. When something extraordinary happens on any given day it will have a profound impact on our thinking, on our career, on our relationships, on every area of our lives; and it’s good to remember these crucial moments, because it reminds us where we are going, and it also reminds us who we are.
Life challenges will bring out either the best or the worst of us. Let’s latch onto the best of us: the seed of faith God has planted in our hearts – and we will experience a name change of our own! There will always be a noticeable difference between how the world views us and how God views us. We rather want to embrace God’s viewpoint, because He has great plans for us, as opposed to the world’s viewpoint which at best is holding us back or at worst is holding us down. Take Jacob’s parents for instance who named one of their sons Jacob, which translates to: “Heel-grabber”. – Now compare this to the name God gave him: Israel, which translates to “Strong Man of God” and you will get the picture! It’s so much better to base our self-image on how God views us than allowing people to define us.
There’s a circle of trust we want to be part of: We believe in God, and God believes in us. “In God We Trust” is written on our dollar bills, so we’re familiar with us believing in God; but does God really believe in us? – Well, let’s think about it: Why else would God invest the life of His only Son? If there was nothing else to bank on in this crazy and ever-changing world, there’s still this one thing that will never go away: We can bank on God’s love – today, tomorrow, and forever.
John 3:16: “God loved the people of this world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who has faith in him will have eternal life and never really die.”
The first man, Adam, was the first human being to come up with names, and not just a few, a lot of them! In Genesis, chapter 2 we read how he gave names to all animals of the animal kingdom, from big Elephant to small Fruit Fly, just about anything God presented to him. When the first woman ever came along Adam named her “Mother of Life”, aka: Eve.
Name-giving was very intentional in those days. Names were supposed to reflect the identity of the name-bearer and therefore were descriptive, precise, and meaningful. There is power to a name! We realize that in name-calling, which certainly is a bad experience, but proves a point. Call for instance someone a loser, and that person might end up acting like one.
Typecasting could be a byproduct of naming a person. When Isaac’s twin sons were born, their names were given based on first impression. In Genesis, chapter 25:25-26 we read:
“The first one was very red at birth and covered with thick hair like a
fur coat. So they named him Esau. Then the other twin was born with his
hand grasping Esau’s heel. So they named him Jacob.”
Esau sounds like a Hebrew word that means “hair”. The parents named their firstborn “Hairy Guy” while they named their second son “Heel” – which is what “Jacob” sounds like in Hebrew. And when they named their heel-grabbing little son “Jacob” they really associated him with being a Trickster. They basically called him “Deceiver”. I don’t know about you, but I would not like to be called “Deceiver” for the rest of my life. Thankfully, Jacob did not get stuck in that mold. As we find out later in the story, God changed his name to Israel, which translated means “Strong Man of God”.
Going from “Deceiver” to “Strong Man of God” is a great story; and we can
make this ourstory. Like it or not, our life
experience has a way of molding us, and in God’s hands we will change for the
better. We read in Prophet Isaiah’s book chapter 64:8:
“O Lord, you are our Father. We are the clay, and you are
the potter. We all are formed by your hand.”
Not only are we safe in God’s hands, we also become the best version of
ourselves. I find this truth very encouraging. Ever sighed that sigh:
“Oh, will I ever change?” No reason to despair if we put ourselves in God’s
hands. There is always reason to hope!
Last but not least: God’s name. Does God have a name? If so, who gave
Him that name? This is problematic – since God is eternal, nobody preceded Him
to actually give Him a name. So in this case name-giving does not apply.
Moses ran into this issue when he asked God for His name. Here is a
snippet of the conversation between God and Moses as described in the book of
Exodus, chapter 3:13-14:
“But Moses protested, ‘If I go to the people of Israel and tell them,
‘The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,’ they will ask me, ‘What is his
name?’ then what should I tell them?’ God replied to Moses, ‘I am who I am [Or
I will be what I will be]. Say this to the people of Israel: I am has sent me
When God revealed His name “I Am”, this was the best possible answer Moses could have received. And to this day, God’s answer has given us something to work with. Personally, I view His name as an invitation to get to know Him. Who is this “I Am”? What does He mean with “I Am”? What does “I Am” stand for? These questions are ours to explore and by the way, God loves to be explored! What happens if we keep knocking on Heaven’s door? This, my friend, is for you and me to find out.