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The Importance of a Name

Updated: Jun 15, 2023

Have you ever pondered the value of a name? It is how we are addressed and approached. It is an identifying feature that we use throughout our lives—in school, at work, in relationships. When those we know hear our names, they envision us; our names are connected to our identities.

Did you know that God totally did that on purpose?

In Jewish culture especially, names and their meanings had extreme significance in these individuals’ lives. In Scripture, God would often change people’s names to reflect their purpose or identity in Him. Let’s look at some examples!

1. God changes Abram’s name to Abraham, which means “father of many nations,” reflecting the promise God made to Abraham after his obedience (Genesis 17:3-6).

2. Daniel’s name in Hebrew means “God is my judge.” In this scenario, King Nebuchadnezzar tried to change Daniel’s name to Belteshazzar, which means “Bel protects his life.” Bel was a Babylonian god; therefore, Nebuchadnezzar was trying to rob Daniel of his beliefs in the One True God, Yahweh. Just as the “Bel” prefix in Belteshazzar represents the god Bel, The -el suffix in Daniel’s name stems from Elohim, one of God’s names. By changing his name, Nebuchadnezzar tried to destroy Daniel’s identity in the Lord. In the Book of Daniel, he is consistently referred to as Daniel rather than Belteshazzar, indirectly conveying God’s victory and his devotion to his identity in the Lord.

3. In Acts 4, we learn of Joseph, a Levite, who sold his field and placed the money at the apostles’ feet. Though his name was Joseph, the apostles called him Barnabas, which means “son of encouragement.”

There are so many more examples, but let’s shift our focus specifically to our Lord. God has so many Names, and these Names carry characteristics along with them. If we want to know God and His character, our first step should be to look at His Names. They tell us who He is!

1. El Shaddai (Lord God Almighty)

2. I AM THAT I AM (“I am, I was, I will be”)

3. Yahweh (LORD, Jehovah)—all caps to signify Lord of lords. Many spelled it YHWH out of respect and fear of the Lord.

4. Jehovah Nissi (The Lord My Banner)

5. Jehovah Rapha (The Lord that Heals)

6. Jehovah Shammah (The Lord is There)

7. El Olam (The Everlasting God)

8. Jehovah Jireh (The Lord will Provide)

9. Jehovah Shalom (The Lord is Peace)

10. Jehovah Mekoddishkem (The Lord Who Sanctifies You)

This list only includes 10 of God’s names mentioned in the Old Testament! There are so many more throughout all Scripture. I encourage you to continue studying all His Names because each one reflects who He is!

Now, you may be wondering what God calls you. Revelation 2:17 tells us that God will give us a new name that only we will know one day. How exciting! But today, here are some names God calls you:

1. Friend (John 15:15)

2. A new creation (2 Corin. 5:17)

3. A son or daughter (John 1:12)

4. Sanctified saint (1 Cor. 1:2)

5. An heir (Rom. 8:17)

6. Chosen (Eph. 1:4)

7. Adopted (Eph. 1:5)

8. An ambassador for Christ (2 Corin. 5:20)

9. God’s workmanship (Eph. 2:10)

10. A citizen of Heaven (Phil. 3:20)

These examples hardly scratch the surface! If you want to know who you are, dive into Scripture! God loves to tell us who we are to Him! It’s easy to feel unworthy of such names, but Christ’s death on the cross has made us worthy!

Remember today Whose you are!

~Ally Boland

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