Monday, November 5, 2007

What's In a Name? - Part 3 of 3

What's in a name? That was the original question right? To answer I decided to go to the source; to the beginning, to the Word. In the Bible that are so many stories about the significance of a name. None, however more important than the First Son of the Bible. God told the Virgin Mary that she would bear a son and that she would call him Jesus.

In searching the Bible, the word "name" appears 1,017 times. The second time that the word, "name" is found in the Bible it's mentioned in the same verse as the river Gihon found in the land of my children's birth -- a place called Ethiopia. I like that connection.

And the name of the second river is Gihon: the same is it that compasseth the whole land of Ethiopia.

God introduces us to Adam, the first natural father in the Bible. Adam's first responsibility was to give names to those things that God had created.

And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof. Genesis 2:19

God entrusted Adam with the responsibility and accepted the names that Adam chose. Adam next chose a name for his wife and she became the first mother in the Bible.

And Adam called his wife's name Eve; because she was the mother of all living. Genesis 3:20

The union of Adam and Eve produced the first generation of sons Seth, Cain, and Abel (as well as other sons and daughters). Nineteen generations later we find the names Sarai and Abram the son and daughter of Terah. Abram married Sarai and with this introduction we learn that Sarai could not bear children she was the first infertile woman. So, she decided that Abram should impregnate Hagar who was her handmaiden, making Hagar the first surrogate mother on record.

And the angel of the LORD said unto her, Behold, thou art with child and shalt bear a son, and shalt call his name Ishmael; because the LORD hath heard thy affliction. Genesis 16:11

Ishmael becomes the first adopted son; born of Abram and raised by Sarai. If you follow the story, God had been disappointed in much of what had transpired with this couple. Still, in the 17th chapter of Genesis we find God stepping in to redeem them. With that redemption came the first name change. Name changes were later found in the Bible to represent a change in character, relationship or covenant with God, a new position, or introduction to a new life and new purpose.

When Abram was 90 years old, God changed his name to Abraham. The name change represented a new covenant and a new role as the father of many nations.

Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee. Genesis 17: 5

What stands out to me in that passage is that God redefines Abram's purpose and declares him to be the father of many nations before it happens. But God wasn't finished. God then changed Sarai's name and with that change, he changed her condition and her role. From barren and infertile he made her the mother of kings.

And God said unto Abraham, As for Sarai thy wife, thou shalt not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall her name be. And I will bless her, and give thee a son also of her: yea, I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of people shall be of her. Genesis 17:15-16

As always, God kept his word and Sarah indeed gave birth to a son. Could this be that first instance of unexplained or unexpected pregnancy that follows years of infertility and the decision or actual adoption? The first son born to Sarah was named Issac.

And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him. - Genesis 17:19

I could stop right here because I think that I have found the answer. After learning about the first naming ceremony of Adam, meeting the first mother and father, the first infertile couple, the first surrogate, the first adoption, and the first name change, the story gets even more interesting so I hope you will stick with me as I keep going.


Debbie said...

I am waiting!!

Debbie Wankel

graceling said...

Do you know, God "gave" me a name for my new daughter before I even knew I would be adopting! I am keeping the name private until I travel, but as this process unfolds, I see more and more how her name is a promise, just like she is! I will respect her Ethiopian herritage by using at least one of her names as a middle name. But God continually reminds me that while HE NEVER CHANGES, the whole process of following Christ is a process of US CHANGING!

I think God likes a little change:)

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