What’s in a Name?

Introduction: What’s in a name?

  • Was Shakespeare right? “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” Romeo and Juliet (II, ii, 1-2)
    Does our name define us?
  • Or was it Arthur C Clarke in “The Nine Billion Names of God”?
    Will the universe really end when we have recorded all the possible names of God?
  • Or the holographic doctor on Star Trek Voyager?
    Is it impossible to find a meaningful name without bringing along the baggage of all who have borne that name before?

What’s in YOUR name?

  • Ackerman: Origins are either German, Dutch, or Anglo-Saxon, means field man, plow man, bond tenant, from “acre”

What’s in Biblical names?

In ancient Israel, it was not unusual for a name to express personal characteristics of the bearer of the name, and sometimes the hope, wish or prayers of the parents. Often the child, when grown, would consciously embody the significance of the name into his life.

  • Abram: High father
  • Abraham: father of a great multitude (Genesis 17:5)
  • Ishmael: God that hears (Genesis 16:11)
  • Isaac: Laughter (Genesis 21:6)
  • Jacob (and James): takes by the heel, cheats, supplanter, to take the place of another through force, scheming or strategy (Genesis 25:26)
  • David: well-beloved, dear
  • Jesus (and Joshua): savior, deliverer (Matthew 1:21)

Names of God

Occasionally a name was used to signify the collective qualities of the one bearing the name. This is particularly true with regard to the biblical names for God.

When the name of God attests His power to accomplish his word, He swears by His great name to carry out His purposes (Jeremiah 44:26). When the name of God expresses His being that is exhibited in creation and redemption, it is the name of God that is excellent in all the earth (Psalm 8:1). When the name of God announces His mighty presence, it is said, ” … Thy name is near … ” (Psalm 75: 1). When the name of God promises divine protection, it is announced, ” … the name of the God of Jacob set you securely on high” (Psalm 20:1).

To believe that God is something other than what He truly is is to take His name in vain

To deny His existence is to take His name in vain

To deny His creative power is to take His name in vain

To deny His holy standards for life is to take His name in vain

To deny His love and mercy amid the adversities of life is to take His name in vain

To deny His redemptive work on Calvary is to take His name in vain

To deny that He is coming again is to take His name in vain

The primary names of God

  • Elohim: translated God, Genesis 1
  • Yahweh: translated Lord, Exodus 3
  • Adonai: translated Lord, Genesis 15

Next: Elohim 

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