H. Edward Deluzain writes;
Names are important not only to the people who are named but to society. The name we are given at birth is usually the first of several names we will be known by during our lives.
Despite their universality, there is a great deal of difference from one culture to another in how names are given. Among most preliterate peoples, names are determined according to very definite and specific rules. Generally, in cultures with a keen sense of ancestry, children get their names from the totems and family trees of their parents. In some cultures, names are taken from events which happen during the pregnancy of the mother or shortly after the birth of the child, and in others, names are divined through magic and incantation. In some cases, the name given at birth is only the first of several names a person will bear throughout life. When this happens, the new names are given either to mark important milestones in life or to ward off evil spirits by tricking them into thinking that the person with the old name has disappeared.
Regardless of when, why, or how often it happens, though, the giving and receiving of a name is an event of major importance. Quite frequently the significance of names is emphasized by elaborate rituals that almost always have deep religious meaning.
Parents spend a lot of time trying to decide what name to give their child when born. All names have significance. My name is from the Gaelic name Domhnall which means "ruler of the world".
Our names are very important to us. That's why we get so upset when someone mispronounces or misspells it. When we see a strange, unusual, or even funny name we say “how could they give their child that name, don’t they realize that they will have to go through their entire life with that name?” When the victim of identity theft the thing that bothers us most, even more than any financial damage, is the damage to our name. We will defend our “good name” at all cost.
During Bible times, names were extremely important -- much more so then than now. Generations ago someone's name not only designated who the person was, but suggested the traits of the person. For instance, the name Adam means human or earthling and comes from the Hebrew word that means earth or ground -- suggesting he was made from dust.
Most biblical names carry some meaning.
Genesis 17:17-19 (NLT)17 Then Abraham bowed down to the ground, but he laughed to himself in disbelief. “How could I become a father at the age of 100?” he thought. “And how can Sarah have a baby when she is ninety years old?”18 So Abraham said to God, “May Ishmael live under your special blessing!”19 But God replied, “No—Sarah, your wife, will give birth to a son for you. You will name him Isaac, and I will confirm my covenant with him and his descendants as an everlasting covenant.
Abraham and Sarah’s son was named Isaac which means "to laugh".
Genesis 25:24-26 (NLT)24 And when the time came to give birth, Rebekah discovered that she did indeed have twins!25 The first one was very red at birth and covered with thick hair like a fur coat. So they named him Esau.26 Then the other twin was born with his hand grasping Esau’s heel. So they named him Jacob. Isaac was sixty years old when the twins were born.
Names for children were chosen carefully and without regard for how other children might "tease" them. Some children were even given names to to indicate some tragic event.
Hosea 1:3-9 (NLT)3 So Hosea married Gomer, the daughter of Diblaim, and she became pregnant and gave Hosea a son.4 And the LORD said, “Name the child Jezreel, for I am about to punish King Jehu’s dynasty to avenge the murders he committed at Jezreel. In fact, I will bring an end to Israel’s independence.5 I will break its military power in the Jezreel Valley.”6 Soon Gomer became pregnant again and gave birth to a daughter. And the LORD said to Hosea, “Name your daughter Lo-ruhamah—‘Not loved’—for I will no longer show love to the people of Israel or forgive them.7 But I will show love to the people of Judah. I will free them from their enemies—not with weapons and armies or horses and charioteers, but by my power as the LORD their God.”8 After Gomer had weaned Lo-ruhamah, she again became pregnant and gave birth to a second son.9 And the LORD said, “Name him Lo-ammi—‘Not my people’—for Israel is not my people, and I am not their God.
There was a woman who had two name each describing her demeanor at different times of her life. In the beginning of the book of Ruth there is Naomi which means pleasant. Naomi later takes on the name Mara which means bitterness.
Ruth 1:1-2 (NLT)1 In the days when the judges ruled in Israel, a severe famine came upon the land. So a man from Bethlehem in Judah left his home and went to live in the country of Moab, taking his wife and two sons with him.2 The man’s name was Elimelech, and his wife was Naomi. Their two sons were Mahlon and Kilion. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem in the land of Judah. And when they reached Moab, they settled there.
Ruth 1:19-21 (NLT)19 So the two of them continued on their journey. When they came to Bethlehem, the entire town was excited by their arrival. “Is it really Naomi?” the women asked.20 “Don’t call me Naomi,” she responded. “Instead, call me Mara, for the Almighty has made life very bitter for me.21 I went away full, but the LORD has brought me home empty. Why call me Naomi when the LORD has caused me to suffer and the Almighty has sent such tragedy upon me?”
There were times that God changed a person’s name to identify their destiny in God’s plan for them.
Genesis 17:5-6 (NLT)5 What’s more, I am changing your name. It will no longer be Abram. Instead, you will be called Abraham, for you will be the father of many nations.
6 I will make you extremely fruitful. Your descendants will become many nations, and kings will be among them!
Genesis 17:15-16 (NLT)15 Then God said to Abraham, “Regarding Sarai, your wife—her name will no longer be Sarai. From now on her name will be Sarah.16 And I will bless her and give you a son from her! Yes, I will bless her richly, and she will become the mother of many nations. Kings of nations will be among her descendants.”
Genesis 32:28 (NLT)28 “Your name will no longer be Jacob,” the man told him. “From now on you will be called Israel, because you have fought with God and with men and have won.”
6 Reasons Why Names are Important in the Bible
- A biblical name could record some aspects of a person’s birth.
- Biblical names sometimes expressed the parents’ reaction to the birth of their child.
- Biblical names were sometimes used to secure the solidarity of family ties.
- Biblical names could be used to communicate God’s message.
- Biblical names were also used to establish an affiliation with God.
- Biblical names are given to establish authority over another, or to indicate a new beginning or new direction in a person’s life. - From Names in the Bible have meaning
The Name(s) His Father Gave Him
The posts that I wrote in the past were about the names and titles that the writers of scripture, under the direction of the Holy Spirit, identified with Jesus, but I’ve never written a post about the name(s) His Father gave Him.
Isaiah 9:6 (NLT) For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Bold mine)
What do these names say about Jesus?
Greg Laurie had a series on his called “What’s in a Name”. One of the devotions from that series is “So Many Names: What Do They All Mean?”. In that devotion, which follows, Greg says that each of these descriptions gives a different aspect of the work of God in our lives.
So Many Names: What Do They All Mean?
By Greg Laurie
For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace . . ." (Isaiah 9:6-7).
Each of these descriptions gives us a different aspect of the work that God wants to do in our lives.
His name is Wonderful. This word comes from the root word "wonder," which means "a sense of awe." Jesus wants to bring a sense of awe and wonder to our lives. No longer do we have to look to the cheap substitutes this world offers to bring fulfillment, because Jesus Christ makes life wonderful.
His name is Counselor. Did you know that God Almighty, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father wants to give you His personal counsel and direction? As Psalm 73:24 says, "You will guide me with Your counsel, and afterward receive me into glory." No longer do you have to be baffled by the problems you face, because with Christ as your Counselor, you can know that God will reveal His will to you.
His name is Mighty God. This means that Jesus has unlimited power for you as you encounter the demands of life. There are times when you probably have thought that it was very hard to live the Christian life. I have thought that as well. In fact, I think it is impossible to be a Christian apart from the help of the Holy Spirit. I am so thankful that the Mighty God is there for me to give me the strength to do what He wants me to.
Next, He is called the Everlasting Father. Because Christ came to die on the cross and pay for your sins and rise again from the dead, you have an Everlasting Father, One who will be with you forever. He will never forget about you. He will always be there to guide and help you through life.
His name is the Prince of Peace. Certainly we live in frightening times. We look at our world and see so many things that have gone wrong. How we need peace in our lives. If you look at the wars and problems we face today, they are, for the most part, the result of people who are breaking God's commandments. But God will bring peace to the person who is well-pleasing to Him.
Taken from "What's in a Name?" (used by permission).
The one name missing from this list is Immanuel, the most important name of all.
Isaiah 7:14 (NLT)14 All right then, the Lord himself will give you the sign. Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God is with us’).
That prophecy was fulfilled by the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem.
Matthew 1:20-25 (NLT)20 As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit.21 And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”22 All of this occurred to fulfill the Lord’s message through his prophet:23 “Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’”24 When Joseph woke up, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded and took Mary as his wife.25 But he did not have sexual relations with her until her son was born. And Joseph named him Jesus.
Immanuel is always with us. There is nowhere we can go from His presence.
Psalm 139:1-10 (NLT) 1 O LORD, you have examined my heart and know everything about me.2 You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.3 You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do.4 You know what I am going to say even before I say it, LORD.5 You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head.6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand!7 I can never escape from your Spirit! I can never get away from your presence!8 If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the grave, you are there.9 If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans,10 even there your hand will guide me, and your strength will support me.
The very last thing that Jesus said to His disciples, before He returned to heaven was that He would always be with them.
Matthew 28:18-20 (NLT) 18 Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth.19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
There is nowhere we can go, no situation, no challenge, no relationship, no conversation where God isn’t present.