What’s in a Name?, Part 1

So, what’s in a name?  What’s the big deal about names?  Why do we spend more money to have certain names on our clothing, cars, televisions, cellphones, entertainment devices, etc?

A name is, of course, an identification.  Its the way we make distinctions.  There are two men.  One’s name is Bob and the other is Gary.  Now I can differentiate between the two.  There are many cities in California.  San Fransisco, LA, San Diego, etc.  Now I can differentiate between them, with a name.  I see 50 books on my shelf.  With their names, I can, differentiate between them.

Not only is a name a way to identify something, names also conjure up all sorts of thoughts and emotions.  For instance, the name Adolf Hitler.  What did you think when you read this name?  What pictures were in your mind?  What feelings did you have?  How about the name, George Washington?  What did you think about when you read that name?  How about Apple?  How about Mercedes?  How about Exxon?  How about Polo?  How about Harry Potter?  How about Osama Bin Laden?  How about London?  How about Moscow?

The power of a name to do this conjuring, comes through the reputation that is attached to the name. Reputation (whether good or bad) is the power of the name.  According to dictionary.com, a reputation is,”The estimation in which a person or thing is held, especially by the community or the public generally.”  What is the popular opinion concerning something?  This is the reputation.

In Isaiah 48:9-11, God brings this whole issue up.  He had called Abraham, made a pledge to him and thus set a people apart for himself.  Later, he identified himself to Moses.  He gave Moses his name: Yahweh.  This name was God’s identifying himself among the other gods, so that he would be distinguished from them.  After all, they had not revealed their names to anyone (their names had been given by their creators), and here was Yahweh identifying himself, making himself distinct.

These set apart people were brought out of slavery through mighty signs and wonders through the power of Yahweh.  The name of Yahweh was gaining a reputation.  Yahweh had saved a people that could not save itself.  He had also given them clear revelation on how to live as his set apart people.  This was in order that Yahweh’sreputation might be displayed before the watching nations.  Yahweh was making his name known and his people were to be the display of that reputation: the God who saves the unsaveable and them existing to show his mighty power and glory, mercy and grace.

They did not do a good job of showing God’s true reputation.  The Old Testament is an account of Yahweh’s people failing to faithfully illuminate to the nation’s Yahweh’s mighty power and glory, mercy and grace.  Yahweh’s reputation was being destroyed and defamed.  This is what he is saying through Isaiah, “For my name’s sake I defer my anger, for the sake of my praise I restrain it for you, that I may not cut you off.  Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tried you in the furnace of affliction.  For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it, for how should my NAME BE PROFANED?  My glory I will not give to another.”

When God’s name is mentioned, he wants his reputation to be instantly thought of.  He wants to be known as the mighty God who saves the unsaveable, the One who judges the wicked, the One who is full of grace, truth, mercy, and holiness.  He calls apart a people to accomplish this.  Trophies of grace that testify to this Name.  That increase his reputation.

What is God’s reputation in your life?

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