Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Rediscovering the Value of Names

Names, especially in the English-speaking world, have taken on a nature unique in the history of the world.

In ages past, names were often descriptors. I learned this after I learned how to look up Bible words in the original Hebrew and Greek. In developing his exhaustive lexicon and numbering every word used in the Bible, Mr. Strong had a habit of giving a word a different number if it was being used as a name, than its normal use in grammar. However, if you look at the lexicon entry for a word just before or just after an entry for a name in his lexicon, sometimes it's the exact same word, explained as its other use.

What this means is that there was not a separate name category of words in those languages. People were simply given everyday words as names, often surrounding the circumstances of their birth or beginning. If someone was given a new name, that new name was similarly related to an event or circumstances in their life.

Adam doesn't just mean Man, it is the Hebrew word for man.
Eve is Hebrew for Lifegiver.
Noah is Hebrew for Rest.
Abram is Hebrew for Exalted Father.
Abraham is Hebrew for Father of a Multitude.
Isaac is Hebrew for He Laughs.
Jacob is Hebrew for Heel Catcher.
Israel is Hebrew for Struggles with God.
Moses is Hebrew or Egyptian for Drawn.
Joshua is Salvation, same as Yeshua, He Will Save.
Jabez is Hebrew for Pain.
Jesus is the transliteration of Yeshua into Greek.

In some cultures even today, names are still taken from general use words, sometimes for aspiring effect. I once worked with a couple Arabic young women named Noor and Aya, and those names are the Arabic words for Light and Miracle. Sometimes in English we use words as names like GraceFaith, Hope, Charity, and others. In English we don't often name people Jesus, but Joshua is not uncommon. Names can be an uplifting way to express hope for our children's future.

One day, God is going to give those of us who know Him a new name. “The Gentiles shall see your righteousness, And all kings your glory. You shall be called by a new name, Which the mouth of the LORD will name” (Isaiah 62:2). If that's a descriptive name, that could be a great statement about our individual purpose that will last for all eternity. Others get a new name, too: “To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it” (Revelation 2:17).

One day Jesus is going to get a new name. “He had a name written that no one knew except Himself” (Revelation 19:12). I'm sure I'm not alone in wondering what that Name is. The more I think about it, though, I'm not sure I would understand it even if I knew it. It may be a Name that describes the relationship of Jesus the Savior within that Godhead the depths of which man could never understand even in all of eternity.

My mom once told me, “A loved child has many names.” If that's the case, then Jesus is very loved. That same very loved Son is the one God gave to the whole world. Have you accepted that gift?

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