“Then Abram fell on his face. And God said to him, “Behold, my covenant is with you, and you shall be the father of a multitude of nations. No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham, for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations.”
– [Genesis 17:3-5 ESV]
Names don’t mean a lot in our society anymore. Many times the only two requirements are that the name rolls off the tongue and it doesn’t get the child’s butt kicked in middle school. Many times the first one isn’t even a requirement that’s how you end up with names like ‘Zulu’, ‘Malik’, ‘Inigo’, ‘Ivo’, and ‘Jago’ (I’m not joking, these are real names.) In light of the value of the names of our poor children, I believe that God’s intention was for names to have a significant meaning. In Proverbs 18:21 we read that life and death are in the power of the tongue. The word ‘power’, in this verse, in the Hebrew, can mean ‘a charging force’. This means that whatever comes out of your mouth has a charging force to affect your destiny. This is why speaking the name of Jesus when we pray carries so much weight because anything we could possibly ever need is found in Him.
With this information in mind, I believe that when you name a child you speak over them a trait of their identity they must live with unless there is another spoken word over them. A prime example of this is found in Genesis 35:16-18:
“Then they journeyed from Bethel. When they were still some distance from Ephrath, Rachel went into labor, and she had hard labor. And when her labor was at its hardest, the midwife said to her, “Do not fear, for you have another son.” And as her soul was departing (for she was dying), she called his name Ben-oni; but his father called him Benjamin.”
– [Genesis 35:16-18 ESV]
As Rachel was dying, in her final fleeting moments, she named her son Ben-oni, meaning ‘son of my sorrow’, and after she died Isaac renamed him Benjamin meaning, ‘son of my right or my blessing’. If Isaac had not renamed Benjamin, then he would have had to live with the sorrow of knowing that his life brought his mother’s death and Isaac did exactly what a father should’ve done in that situation and change his son’s identity so he wouldn’t have to live with that guilt and shame.
When we know that our identity is affected by our name, we’ve got to wonder what exactly happened to Abram when his named was changed to Abraham. The name Abram means ‘high father’. It’s strange enough that he was called a father before he even had children but God knew that that wasn’t good enough. When God showed up, he changed Abram’s name to Abraham, meaning ‘father of a multitude of nations’. In the presence of God Abraham’s identity changed. He could not remain the same in the sight of God. In 1 Corinthians 13 Paul makes an amazing statement:
“For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.”
– [1 Corinthians 13:12 KJV]
I look at this verse and I think, “What are we known by?” We are known by our character. Who knows us better than we know ourselves? Our Creator. As I process all of this I am reminded of the verse in Revelation that says:
“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it.'”
– [Revelation 2:17 ESV]
We know that that new name will indicate an identity. I believe that it will reflect the potential that God saw in us while we here on earth. While we were down here struggling, toiling, and striving over temporal things that shrink in the light of the eternal weight of the glory of God, He saw in the power that He’d given us to overcome any circumstance.
“I can do everything through Christ who strengthens me.”
– [Philippians 4:13 GW]
I hope this has blessed and encouraged you in some way, shape, or form.
“The LORD bless thee, and keep thee: The LORD make his face to shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.”
– [Numbers 6:24-26 RV]