He Has Called Me By A New Name
Have you ever learned the meaning of your name? The meaning of mine is reaper or harvester. I was named after my grandmother. Even though I don't think my parents were aware of the meaning of my name when they chose it, my name took on added significance to me when I learned what the name Theresa meant. In our Western culture, we love the naming process. We love to name our children, our pets, our cars and our toys. We love giving one another nicknames. We even from time to time give nicknames to places that we frequent. The problem is that we also love name calling. We use name calling to label people and box them in to our preconceived sterotypes. We use name calling to insult and hurt people. We use name calling to hurt people that have hurt us. Think for a moment on some of the names you have been called throughout your life. How did they affect the way that you saw yourself? How did those names impact your self-image and your confidence? Names are powerful.
In Biblical times, a name was thought to express a person's character and nature. Some of the names we have been given by those around us may be a reflection of the character that we are exhibiting. If you tend to be rude to others, people may call you a jerk. If you tend to be mean to others, people may call you a bully. Some of our own behavior may result in being viewed by others in a certain light.
I want you to consider with me the nation of Israel. In Isaiah 62:1-4, the prophet says of Israel: "For Zion's sake I will not keep silent, for Jerusalem's sake I will not remain quiet, till her vindication shines out like the dawn, her salvation like a blazing torch. 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. You will be a crown of splendor in the Lord's hand, a royal diadem in the hand of your God. No longer will they call you Deserted, or name your land Desolate. But you will be called Hephzibah, and your land Beulah, for the Lord will take delight in you, and your land will be married."
The people of the nation of Israel were God's chosen people, but all throughout history they turned their backs on God. Even after God delivered them out of the nation of Egypt they mumbled and complained. They eventually turned to worshipping idols. There is a long narrative recorded in the Bible of all the times the people of Israel lived in disobedience towards God. When we take that into consideration, the names Deserted and Desolate may seem appropriate for Israel. Just like some of the names you have been called may seem to fit you.
However, the God we serve is a loving Father. Even in spite of all of Israel's disobedience God says, "If my people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land" (2 Chron. 7:14). Did you catch that? If my people, who were called by My name. You see the name of God, the name of Jesus, carries more weight than any of the names we have been called by others, whether deserved or undeserved. All God requires is for us to make a turn. One turn to seek Him out. One turn to cry out to Him. One turn to ask Him to help us to escape the life of sin we have been living in.
The beautiful thing about it is that when we make the turn from our life of sin, we turn to the God who gives us a new name. He calls us by a name that reflects our identity in Him as a son or daughter of God. In the passage above, God sees ahead into the future, calling forth the destiny of Israel, before it has come to pass. He sees His chosen people in light of who they will become in Him and not for what they currently are.
God does the same thing for us. Despite who you have been in the past or who you are now, He is the God who knows who you really are. He is the God who sees the worth and the value in us before anyone else does. And He is the God who never gives up on His children, continuing His work in us and ensuring that we reach the fullness of all that He has planned for us. Don't pay attention to the names others give you. Don't pay attention to the names you have earned for yourself. Listen to the voice of God in Heaven. Learn His names for you and trust Him to help you in your journey to becoming all that He has planned for you to be. This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! (2 Cor. 5:21)