Christianity 201

June 15, 2021

The Renamed Version of You

Filed under: Christianity - Devotions — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:33 pm
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In today’s high tech world many of us have user names, social media handles and avatars which are different from the name we were borh with, and possibly don’t resemble the real us. None of those options existed in Bible times. You had one given name, and that was always your name. Unless…

We return to the site Discovering the Bible, written by Deborah, a retired doctor in Wales. There’s also a short bonus article at the end from a series she’s doing on the armor of God. Click the headers to read these at her site.

A New Name

The naming of a new baby can be a desperately difficult task. You have to pick something not too old-fashioned, not too common (there were five Catherines in my senior school class of 30, which caused a lot of confusion until we sorted them out into Kate, Katy, Kath, Cathy, and Kathryn), but not too outlandish either. Something that fits with the surname and doesn’t create an awkward or embarrassing combination of initials. Something that will please (or at least won’t upset) the grandparents. And then both parents have to agree!

But in ancient times, all names had meaning. A child’s name might commemorate an event (e.g. Moses – Exodus 2:10), an experience (e.g. Jabez – I Chronicles 4:9), or answered prayer (e.g. Samuel – I Samuel 1:20). Jesus, of course, was given a name that summarized His mission (Matthew 1:21). And the name was generally believed to reflect on its owner’s character as well. Jacob’s name was a constant reminder that he was born “grasping the heel” of his twin brother (Genesis 25:26) – but it also carried the idiomatic meaning of “deceiver”. And deception duly became his chosen strategy for getting where he wanted to go in life…

If you don’t like the name that your parents have saddled you with, you can change it by deed poll (or simply ask your friends to call you by a different one). Sometimes nicknames stick more firmly than a person’s official name – my mother had a cousin who had only ever been called “Bunny” for so long that she couldn’t remember what his ‘real’ name was!

God is in the business of renaming people. He began with Abram and Sarai – who became Abraham and Sarah (Genesis 17:5,15). Their new names were prophetic – names that would be a witness to everyone they met of God’s promise to make them the founders of a nation. And their grandson Jacob was given a new name after his encounter with God beside the River Jabbok – a name that put his character into a new light. Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.” (Genesis 32:28) In the New Testament, Simon became Peter (John 1:42) and Saul became known as Paul (Acts 13:9). And since we become (in a very real sense) “new people” in Christ, what could be more appropriate than to have a new name?

"The nations will see your vindication,
and all kings your glory.
You will be called by a new name
that the mouth of the LORD will bestow." (Isaiah 62:2)

In the letter to the church at Pergamum, Jesus promises that this will indeed happen to all those who, like Jacob, have “overcome”. “I will give that person a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it.” (Revelation 2:17) Because of the touch of God, both my character and my life story have been changed – in ways that only He and I are aware of. My Father will therefore bestow on His child a new name – but it will, nevertheless, be one that I recognize as being truly my own.


The Shield of Faith

In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. – Eph.6.16.NLT

The Roman shield was large enough for its owner to crouch behind, thus protecting his whole body from spears and arrows. Modern soldiers don’t carry shields; instead, they move around the battlefield in tanks and armoured cars, similarly protected against bullets and bombs.

Our ‘shield’ is our faith in God’s promises, power and love. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.” (I John 5:4) Whether we picture ourselves as carrying it or travelling around in it, we need to keep it with us wherever we go – ready to defend ourselves against sudden attack. Without it, we shall be vulnerable to the devil’s missiles of doubt, fear and temptation. Of course, Satan will try to persuade us to drop our shields, by lulling us into a false sense of security. As soon as we think that we can manage on our own, without God’s help, we are laying ourselves wide open to spiritual attack!

This is one reason why God allows believers to go through so many difficulties and problems. These situations are like military exercises, by which our faith is stimulated and we get practice in deploying it.