Thursday, July 29, 2010

Naming power

This morning I was reading Jeremiah 46 - the oracle of ancient superpower Egypt's defeat at the hands of the rival Babylonians led by Nebuchadnezzar. In verse 17 there's a mocking reference to Pharaoh Neco: "Call the name of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, 'Noisy one who lets the hour go by.'" (ESV) In modern vernacular, God is declaring that Pharoah is "all talk and no action." In the next verse this impotent name is juxtaposed with the all powerful name of Yahweh "the King, whose name is the LORD of hosts."

This got me thinking about the power of names, and the power to give names. The Old Testament is full of examples. Names meant more back then than they do now. The people of God praised Yahweh and they praised his name. The Psalmist cries "O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!" The very name of God is precious because it's intrinsic to his being. His name reveals his character. God's name is eternal, but that of his enemies will be erased. "You have rebuked the nations; you have made the wicked perish; you have blotted out their name forever and ever." (Psalm 9:5)

As parents we can appreciate the power of giving a name. My wife and I are tossing around boy and girl names for child #2. He or she will have no say in the matter. Jesus asserted his authority in this realm by renaming Simon, and by naming the demons and silencing them when they named him. Yeshua was a common name in first-century Palestine, like Joe or Bob. But once Jesus of Nazareth rose from the dead and ascended to the Father he was given a name "above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come." (Eph. 1:21)

Those who confess that name as Lord have their names written down in the "book of life of the Lamb who was slain" (Rev. 13:8) and they have the promise of a new name themselves. "To the one who conquers . . . I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it.'" (Rev. 2:17)

That's the name I want.

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