I work in a call center. Every week I encounter at least a few unusual names. Not just international names, either. This week a female told me her first name was “Success.” After handling the call professionally, I joked with my fellow co-worker, that’s a hard name to always live up to. But in the Bible, names always meant something, just like “Success” did. Why will we care about this? How does God’s name impact on us? Let’s see.
THE CULTURAL CONTEXT OF THEIR NAMES AND EXTENSIONS
In Scripture a name is often an expression of the nature of the bearer, describing his character, position, function, some circumstance affecting him, or some hope or sorrow concerning him…. In the ancient Semitic world a name had much more religious, personal, family, historical or geographical significance…. Since the name was considered to be descriptive of the essential nature of the person or thing, there was a conception of identity between the name and its bearer…. To cut off one’s name from the earth signified to remove him or his descendants from existence…. To act, speak or write in someone’s name was to act as that person’s representative, with his inspiration, power and authority…. Thus the literal expression “call one’s name over or upon” a people or place indicated a claim to possession or ownership…. The recipient might not use the name, but was made subject to the name’s authority and was provided protection (2 Chronicles 7:14; Proverbs 18:10; Isaiah 4:1; Jeremiah 14:9).Wycliffe Bible Encyclopedia
The above-linked scripture references are excellent examples of how ingrained into their culture even the extension of names are. Read these to get the root of our identity in Christ’s name.
REVELATIONS BY NAMES
Declaring one’s name was a chief means of revealing or manifesting oneself…. The name by paronomasia (a play on words) is what is known of the person; e.g., Naomi (“pleasant”) changing her name to Mara (“bitter”) in her bereavement…. The names prophesied of the coming Messiah depict aspects of his character and ministry (Isaiah 7:14; 9:6)…. man…was specially made for knowledge of his Creator…. The self-revealed God introduces himself by name…. In the progress of the Hebrew religious drama, earlier names for God fade into the background in view of the developing self-disclosure…. The name par excellence for the God of Israel is Yahweh, found 6,823 times in the OT.Wycliffe Bible Encyclopedia
THE HARM OF JEWISH TRADITION
You may be aware the Jews don’t say “God” and write “G-d.” Yahweh is actually a guessed way of pronouncing God’s name. For centuries the Jews wouldn’t say it, and the Hebrew language was always written without vowels. So the pronunciation of the vowels was lost. Even translators wouldn’t write “Yahweh.” They translated it as “Lord,” such as in Exodus 3:13-15; 6:2-3, 6-8; 34:5-7. Read these texts to see if you feel like something is missing by reading “Lord” when you should be reading “Yahweh.”
There are many different reasons why God’s name was removed from the Bible…. It was a tradition of the Jews…. They stopped all mention of him. No longer using God’s Divine Name, they no longer used it in their prayers, even making it a sin to say his name out loud. They considered it “blasphemy” to utter the name of God, Jehovah. Many translators admit to following this “Jewish Tradition” and have thus removed Jehovah’s name and replaced it with Titles such as “LORD” and “GOD” — all in capitals — to show that they have removed God’s name in those places. Jesus condemned the man-made tradition of the Jews.Why Is God’s Name Missing From Many Bibles?
WHAT WAS GOING ON IN AMOS 6?
The Sovereign Lord has sworn by himself… “I abhor the pride of Jacob…I will deliver up the city….”Amos 6:8-10
If ten people are left in one house, they too will die.
And if the relative who comes to carry the bodies out of the house to burn them asks anyone who might be hiding there, “Is anyone else with you?” and he says, “No,” then he will go on to say, “Hush! We must not mention the name of the Lord.”
Does that sound weird?
A grim episode imagined by the prophet…illustrating vividly the terrors of the time: the relative of…deceased…enters…house to perform the last duties…he finds no living person in it except one, secreted in a far corner, who tells him he is the solitary survivor of the household, all the others having perished …so desperate is the outlook that men dread even to mention Jehovah’s name, for fear lest it should call down a fresh judgment upon them.Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
GOD’S NAME AND YOU
Have you ever thought about Judas Iscariot killing himself to relieve his guilt? He preferred to die in self-inflicted punishment than to repent. Jesus showed kindness to Judas right to the end, but Judas needed relief from guilt and chose his own terms. Compare also men who will call for rocks and mountains to fall upon them rather than repent (Revelation 6:15-16). For these people, God doesn’t inspire feelings of love, only fear.
What does God’s name do for you?
The above picture was scanned from ancient Israelite’s home