What’s In a Name? The Names of God

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(Part One: Introduction)

John F. Kennedy. Albert Einstein. Adolph Hitler.

Instant recognition. Immediate recall. Images and emotions come to your mind when you read those names.

Frodo Baggins. Luke Skywalker. Hannibal Lecter.

Same thing, right? When you see or hear those names, even though they are imaginary characters, you feel something. You react. You smile. You recoil.

Names mean something to us. They tell a story with the fewest words possible. They inform and reveal. Inspire and warn. Centuries ago, and even today in certain parts of the world, parents carefully selected names that said something about the kind of person they wanted their child to become. In fact, your name has a meaning. Maybe more than one meaning. (Personally, I have never liked the meaning behind my name: “Lover of horses.” Yeah… That is what the name Phillip means. Do you want to know how many times I got made fun of for that? I’m not telling because it hurts too much and you should be ashamed for asking me to relive that pain.)

Names mean something to us because they are important to God. In some ways, the Bible is a book of names. Depending on which source you consult, there are around 2,600 names in the Bible. 2,600. That is a lot of names. There are common, familiar names like David, John, and Mark. There are strange, unique names like Nebuchadnezzar, Jehoshaphat, and Dorcas. (News flash: Do not name your daughter Dorcas. Great lady. Terrible name.)

There are even people in the Bible with more than one name. The Apostle Paul was first known as Saul. Abram became Abraham. Peter was Simon to his friends and family before Jesus rebranded him. (Jesus understood the importance of a name, so much so, that he changed the name of one of his closest followers.)

In addition to all these name changes, God even felt it was important enough to include various sections in His inspired, revealed Word that were simply a list of names. There are genealogies all over the Bible. We even have a great article on Rambling Ever On about one of them found in the Gospel of Matthew.

Clearly, names matter to God. They matter so much to God that He chose to use names as one way to help humanity gain a better understanding of just how awesome and glorious He truly is. Instead of giving us one name, or even two names that would shed light on who God is and what He is about, God chose to give us dozens of names. All of which, give us a small glimpse into His character.

God has a name that shows us His glory. He has a name that reveals a fragment of His sanctifying power. Jesus uses a name which loosely would translate as “Daddy” to help us better understand God the Father’s role as a kind and loving father.

We could spend hundreds of pages and many hours detailing each of God’s names found in Scripture; there is so much about Him we can glean from this one topic. For this series, I have chosen to focus on only three. Come back next week as we take a look at Jehovah-Raah.

Series recap:
Part One: Introduction
Part Two: Jehovah Raah
Part Three: Jehovah Jireh
Part Four: Jehovah Shalom

Phill Lytle

I love: Jesus, my wife, my kids, my church, my family, my friends, Firefly, 80’s rock, Lost, the Tennessee Titans, the St. Louis Cardinals, Brandon Sanderson books, Band of Brothers, Thai food, music, books, movies, TV, writing, Arrested Development, pizza, vacation, etc…

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