Do Names Matter?

Over the next 8 weeks, I would like to take you all along with me as I reflect on my experience in a cross-cultural understanding course. In my first class session, a colleague mentioned how starting a conversation with a parent about their child’s name can reveal their values and help build therapeutic alliance. It got me thinking about how my little ones’ names often presents opportunities for me to share the gospel. When my spouse and I sought God for our youngest child’s name, the name Josiah was given to us. Hence, I get to tell people about a young king who loved God with all his heart. Prior to God revealing Josiah’s name to us, we had not studied the life of Josiah in the Bible. We took the time to study that name and it changed our lives. Several times, the Bible reveals God’s interest in a child’s name. I shared a little bit about it my latest reading plan on YouVersion:

Luke 1:13-17 (NIV): 

But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John. He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born. He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”

God named John before his conception and his parents were instructed on how to raise him. I believe God cares about our children’s names, and names matter. If names do not matter to God, God would not have changed people’s names in the Bible or told them what to name their children. If you are an expectant parent, please take the time to seek God for your child’s name. Seeking God for our children’s name is an act of humility and faith. It is part of acknowledging God in all our ways. You will be amazed by what God would reveal to you about your child.

When the children of Israel were taken into captivity by the Babylonians, the kingdom of Babylon thought it was important to change their names. Slave owners particularly like to change the names of their slaves because names have social, spiritual, and psychological significance. The names of the three Hebrew boys were a threat to the Kingdom. Considering the fact that their new names were in honor of the Babylonian gods, I believe changing their names was an attempt to make them forget their roots or identity in God. Thankfully, the Hebrew youths did not forget their God and their real names.

The chief eunuch assigned these Babylonian names to the three Heb. youths whose original names were Hananiah (חֲנַנְיָה׃֙, “Yah has been gracious”), Mishael (מִֽישָׁאֵ֣ל, “who is what God is”), and Azariah (עֲזַרְיָ֖ה, “Yah has helped”). One cannot be dogmatic, however, on the meaning of these Heb. names and the assigned Babylonian names are even more enigmatic. It may be noted that all three of these pious Heb. youths had names containing the syllable “El” for God, or “Yah” for Jehovah. These names were changed apparently to honor the Babylonian religion. – ENCYCLOPEDIA OF THE BIBLE – SHADRACH, MESHACH, ABEDNEGO

Dear expecting parents, who do you want your child’s name to honor? God, relatives, celebrities, or something else?

Would you like to become a member of God’s family? Please say the prayer below and let me know about it here.

Say this: Heavenly Father,
I acknowledge that I am a sinner. I believe you exist and you sent Jesus to die for me. I receive your love and forgiveness. Reveal yourself to me. I accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior. Amen

Welcome to God’s family!

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