Baby Names, Bible Names… Bad Names?

Apr 30, 2018

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Hey Brother,

As my wife and I are getting ready for a new baby, we’ve had several conversations about names. As of now, we’ve yet to finalize a name for our little girl. Don’t worry; she’s still a few months away, and I’m sure my wife will eventually agree that Megatron is the PERFECT name for a little girl.
I digress… thinking about names has gotten me… well, thinking about names. The Bible is filled with unique names. Most of them have very specific meanings. Most of the people in the Bible were given names by their parents, but some of them were given their names by God.

Can you imagine that? Having God personally name you? Talk about pressure to live up to a name! On the other hand, you’d know He had a specific plan for you, and your name would remind you of that every day.

Let’s look at one such example. Jacob was probably the most famous twin in the Bible. His brother Esau was born first, but Jacob came right out “and his hand took hold on Esau’s heel; and his name was called Jacob” (Genesis 25:26). Now, what does Jacob mean? It means “supplanter,” one that takes the place of another usually through scheming. Essentially, the name means “cheater.”

Jacob lived up to his name. He cheated his brother out of his birthright… twice. He also got rich off his employer by rigging his own payment system so he’d get more profit than his employer. It’s funny, growing up, I never thought of this as cheating. I always thought Jacob was just being clever. But my pastor recently pointed out how in reality, cheating was exactly what Jacob was doing. He was taking things that weren’t his through scheming and tricks.

The fact that Jacob was a cheater might lessen our opinion of him, but really, it should make us want to worship God even more! Why? Well, because God used a cheater like Jacob. God doesn’t use perfect people in His plans. Which is good, because there are no perfect people. “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

That should give us comfort. We don’t have to be perfect to come to God. We don’t have to be perfect to be used by God. “God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty” (I Corinthians 1:27).

So, what did God do with Jacob the cheater? He gave him a new name. God named him Israel, which means “prevails with God.” And it wasn’t just a new name, it was a new identity. Jacob now had a new life given to him by God! He was no longer Jacob, the cheater. He was Israel, the man who prevails with God!

When Jesus becomes our Lord, we become a new creation. “Old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (II Corinthians 5:17). We don’t get new names, but we get a new identity. We have a new life in the family of God.

Brother, I don’t know about you, but that gets me excited! It also makes me want to be a little more careful naming my daughter. I’m not God, so the name I give doesn’t really have much power, but I’d like to give her a meaningful name worth living up to.

Do you have a favorite name with a special meaning? Share in the comments below!

Kristopher Galuska
Family Radio Staff

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