My son and daughter-in-law have the unenvious task of choosing a name for their soon-to-be daughter. My son’s already saying she must be called Chelsea after his favourite football team, but I think we can bin that idea. Some parents name their daughters after months (April, May, June), seasons (Summer), even the weather (Breeze, Storm, and yes, Stormy Weather). If we’re going down that road I’m suggesting Mild Precipitation. It’s also considered cool to name your daughter after a pop artist (Kylie, Shaqira, Rihanna, Taylor). Soon it will be Ariana, Dua, Bebe, Sigrid, Lana and Lorde.
Does it matter what you’re called? In the music world it does. Ask Harry Webb (Cliff Richard) or Reg Dwight (Elton John). Does it matter how your name is spelt? Speak to Clare or Claire, Steven or Stephen, Eloise or Elouise? They’ll tell you it does. Stephen is spelt with a ph by the way, the alternative is just wrong.
In the Bible names matter a lot. We have to be careful not to push the point too far, but some people had names full of significance, some had names changed by God, two people had names that were chosen for them by God, before their birth.
Achan means trouble, and if you read your Bible you’ll see that he was trouble. The Israelites lost a battle because of him. David means beloved, and he was certainly beloved of God. Hannah means favour, and God showed her favour by enabling her to have a child. I could go on.
Abram had his name changed to Abraham, which means father of many. It’s a small change but significant, because in the Bible Abraham became the father of many nations. In fact God told him, “I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore.” (1) His wife Sarai had her name changed to Sarah, which means lady, noblewoman or princess, a name befitting the mother of nations. She laughed when she heard what God had said, because she was childless, but at the age of 90 she gave birth to a son Isaac. That’s not a typing error, she was 90 when she first gave birth. “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (2)
Whose names were chosen by God before they were born? The first was John the Baptist. John means God is gracious, and this John was graciously chosen by God to be a messenger, to make the Jewish people aware of their sin and to prepare them for a Saviour. The second man was the Saviour himself. The name Jesus was given to him, although Jesus is in fact a Greek word. To Jews he is Yeshua, a contracted form of Joshua. To the whole world he is their Saviour, the one chosen by God to deal with sin once and for all. Sadly, not all believe that and many have rejected the Saviour to their own eternal loss, but those who believe in him know that Yeshua is the perfect name for him. What does it mean? It means God saves. To his earthly father Joseph, an angel said of Mary, “She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” (3) Jesus is the Saviour. Make sure he’s your Saviour.
- Genesis 22:17
- Matthew 19:26
- Matthew 1:21