Monday, May 11, 2020

What’s In a Name?


I have three grown sons, now all in their thirties. Jeremy was born in 1984. Justin in 1986 and Jared in 1988. Renée and I did not plan on three “J” names. It just worked out that way. Different story for a different day. One day, when he was about eight or nine, Jared told us he thought his name was boring and he would like to change it. Usually, a good deal of time and thought goes into picking out a name, so I was a little disappointed he didn’t like it. Being a big sports fan, and knowing some of the really crazy names one comes across, I was curious what he might choose. He said firmly, “I want to change my name to Bob.” Really? Bob? I love being a dad.

It did make me think, though, as we read the Bible, one of the things that does stick out are the names. Some are pretty unique. There’s Nergal-sharezer of Samgar, one of King Nebuchadnezzar’s (now there’s a name in itself) advisors. How about Meshillemoth, son of Immer, a priest in the tribe of Judah? And my personal favorite, Maher-shalal-hash-baz (the prophet Isaiah’s son). Women don’t get a pass either. There’s Dorcas who died and the apostle Peter raised back to life. How about Peninnah (Pee-nin-nah), Elkanah’s (father of the prophet Samuel’s) first wife. I thought I had heard it all when, last week, Elon Musk (CEO of Tesla Motors and Space X) and his partner, Canadian musician Grimes (no one bothers to get married anymore), announced the name of their new baby boy – “X Æ A-12.” X, she said, stands for the “unknown variable.” The dipthong Æ is her “elven spelling of Ai, which apparently means “love” in elven or could also stand for “artificial intelligence,” she said. A-12 is easier to explain. It is the name of their favorite aircraft known as the Archangel. A precursor to the SR-71. Their kid is so going to hate them, but it’s a free country! 

It’s fun to discover what your name means. I know a couple of Joanna’s, which means, “God is gracious.” I know some Sarah’s, which means, “Princess.” I have a little buddy, Gabriel. His name means, “God is my strength.” Adam means “Red Earth.” However, there is only one name that really matters. When the angel told Joseph that he should wed the pregnant Mary, he said, “…she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus (“The Lord saves”) for he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). The Bible is clear, “…God elevated him (Jesus) to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11). Why is Jesus’ name all that matters? Because, Romans 10:13, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

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