What is your name?
Then God said to him, “this is my covenant with you; I will make you the father of a multitude of nations! What’s more, I am changing your name. It will no longer be Abram. Instead, you will be called Abraham, for you will be the father of many nations. I will make you extremely fruitful. Your descendants will become many nations, and kings will be among them.”
Wow. God takes an old, past his expiry date (as Pastor Chris said this morning), 90 year old man and tells him that not only will he be the father of many generations–he will be extremely fruitful. This was God’s covenant with Abraham. God’s promise to him was that he would bear much fruit and that his new name would be a reflection of that fruitfulness. Pretty incredible stuff to tell an old man with no children!
In biblical times names were very important. They had meaning associated with them that often reflected the circumstances of the person’s birth or their family’s life. For example, much later in Genesis, Joseph names his sons Manasseh and Ephraim. Manasseh means “causing to forget”, and Ephraim means, “fruitful”. He chose these names because their births followed a time in his life where he had suffered wrongful imprisonment. He names his children as a sign that he will forget the pain and injustice he suffered in light of his new fruitfulness as he helps many people to survive a devastating famine.
Pastor Chris reminded us today that we have been renamed through our covenant with God just like Abram was. When I am feeling discouraged, I call myself things like useless, inadequate, unworthy. But these names are not my names. And they are not your names either! We have been renamed by God the Father as a sign of His covenant with us and through Jesus we have been “enabled to be ministers of His new covenant.” (2 Cor 3:6). The new covenant changes us by the power of the Holy Spirit. By the Spirit, God marks our hearts forever. We are His, and He is ours. Covenant is a 2-way street. Our new names sound very different from the old names we used to be called. This week I am going to take Pastor Chris’s challenge and write down some of my new names. Will you join me?