What’s Your Name? by Pastor Carl W. Mann, II
Revelation 2:17 (KJV) “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.”
It is a most familiar sight – you’re in an area where other people are, one person walks up to another and says, “Hello, my name is …, what’s your name?” I’ve not only witnessed such a conversation, but, I’ve had the same one countless times. It’s the beginning of a process of getting to know someone.
Of course, depending on the setting, and the person to whom we are speaking, exactly how much time we are willing to spend in getting to “know” the other person will depend on a lot of factors; but, that is not what I want to discuss in our time together today. I DO want to focus on “What’s Your Name?!”
There was a time when names mattered! Children were named after a favored ancestor, or a meaningful person in the parents’ past, or a celebrated historical figure. Today, however, it appears names are pulled “out of the air” and placed upon children that not only give them nothing to live up to, but they do not even give them a point of reference in their heritage to present them with a firm foundation upon which to build their future.
In Scripture, we find that the names of people mattered…
In Genesis 1:1, our first introduction to the concept, or doctrine, of God is the Hebrew word “’elowahh,” which means “gods” in the ordinary sense, but specifically refers to the “Supreme God” in a plural manner. Thus, the Biblical Doctrine of “Trinity” was introduced with the first mention of His “Name.”
When Moses first encountered the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Exodus 3), Moses asked God to reveal His Name. You will recall that Moses had been raised in Egypt, the land of “many gods,” with Pharaoh being named the “god above all gods.” I assume Moses wanted to know which “god” was speaking to him. His mother must have told him about the God of his people, Israel. The gods of Egypt had names that reflected their power and being; therefore, Moses most probably would think the God is Israel would also.
As if his being called by God to deliver Israel from Egyptian bondage wasn’t enough, when God revealed His Name to Moses, it was all Moses could do to stay upright! God said, “I AM THAT I AM;” therefore, Moses was to tell the Israelites that The God, Whose Name is “I AM” sent him to deliver them.
To adequately appreciate the significance of this experience, we must look to the original language of Scripture. With the assistance of Strong’s Exhaustive Hebrew and Greek Concordance and Dictionary, we discover that God told Moses His Name was, “I AM BECAUSE I AM!” This means that God’s being is that of a real, perfect, unconditional, and independent existence. He is the Creator, existing before anything existed. His Name is Who He IS – no one named Him because there was no one else besides Him!
While Scripture tells us, and remember Moses wrote Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, that Moses told God the people would not believe him when He tells them the Name of God is “I AM.” Moses was really saying, “You expect them to believe there is only One God, and a man like Pharaoh is not a god, just because I tell them?!” Moses would receive great comfort later when he learned that God lived “up to” His Name!
Once again, when God inspired the naming of people in the Bible, their names had meaning…
- Moses = “Rescued,” “Drawn out”
- Abram = “High Father”
- Isaac = “Laughter,” “Mocker”
- Jacob = “Heel catcher,” “Supplanter”
- Daniel = “Judge of God”
- Samuel = “Heard of God
Each of these people, and many more, lived “up to” their names! After they had an encounter with God, their names took on a more eternal meaning; and, for a few, when God manifested His salvific intervention, He changed their names.
- Abram (High Father) responded to God’s calling and abandoned the practice of idolatry. He followed God’s leading and traveled to a faraway land. Because of his obedience, he was renamed by God and granted a Divine Covenant wherein he and his progeny would be exalted. God changed Abram’s name to Abraham, which means “Father of a multitude” (Genesis 17:5).
- Jacob (Heel catcher – Supplanter) undermined his older brother’s right to receive the “Elder Son’s Blessing,” when he stole Esau’s birthright through devious means. After he has his encounter with God’s Angel (Genesis 32:24-32), God gave him a new name, a new walk, and a new destiny. God changed Jacob’s name to Israel, which means “Rules as God.”
In today’s Scripture, Jesus makes a promise to those who overcome false doctrine and seducing spirits by hold on to the Truth that He will give them a “new name.” Jesus promised them a new eternal identity that could only be understood, “knoweth,” by the one who received it. In part, it would be a name that they “earned,” and one that would connect them with God.
Jesus recognized the spiritual potential in Simon Barjona that overshadowed his spiritual powerlessness. When Jesus challenged His Disciples with revealing the level of their faith in Him, Simon was the only one who stated that Jesus was the “Christ, the Son of the Living God” (Matthew 16:16). Simon overcame his doubt and spoke with spiritual authority. Jesus rewarded him immediately by giving him a name to “live up to” (Matthew 16:18).
Jesus promises each one of us that we will receive a “new name” in today’s Scripture. Since we know that the names that God gives, I’m curious – “What’s Your Name?”