Destiny Is In The Name
by: Lonnie Lane
God often changes people’s names as He changes their
destinies. The names of certain
persons in the Bible seem to define their character or the unfolding of events
in their lives. Some person’s names personally
signify in the unfolding of Israel’s history so much so that we wonder if there
wasn’t some prophetic input from the Almighty Himself in what they were named,
even as babies. As we have discussed before, when we see names in the Hebrew it
opens up a whole new dimension to the character and nature of person, place and
event. We see it repeatedly in Scripture. Let’s look into a few significant
persons to see how this name thing played out and while we’re on our journey,
I’m going to share some entirely unrelated but interesting pieces of info.
Consider this a hodge-podge of Biblical miscellany.
We call the first human whom God created Adam (in Hebrew
pronounced Ah-dahm), but it wasn’t a personal name God gave him, the name meant
human being or person or man in the sense of mankind. God refers to both Adam
and his wife as Adam in the Hebrew and in that name lies a hidden meaning of
how blood will play a part in the unfolding drama of redemption. If you haven’t
read it already, you may want to read, “Why We Don’t Need the Blood Anymore”
for more on the name Adam and its relation to blood.
We will move on somewhat
chronologically to what numerous names mean and how they impact the Biblical
story. Early on we meet the man who instigated the building of the Tower of Babel. He is identified as Nimrod. While
the Bible says about him that “He was a
mighty hunter before the LORD; therefore it is said, “Like Nimrod a mighty hunter before the LORD” (Genesis 10:9), this was a bad dude. Nasty as the day
is long. The name Nimrod comes from the Hebrew verb marad, (Hebrew
root: m-r-d) meaning “rebel.” Adding an “n” before the “m” it becomes n-m-r-d
or “Nimrod.” The meaning then
becomes “The Rebel.” It’s possible that “Nimrod” may not be this
character’s actual name but is rather a derisive term for a rebellious person
or the head of a system or people who acted in rebellion against the only true
God. From his story though, it was seem he’s the instigator. Or then again,
maybe his mother was and she put him up to it. Hmmm. So we see it’s not just
the good guys who get named in the Bible. We can often find hidden information
about someone just by finding out what their names mean which may be quite
apparent in the Hebrew but which our translations don’t allow for.
Now let’s move onto the one who in Hebrew is known as Avrahahm Aveenu, Abraham
our Father. His original name was Avram (Abram), which in
Hebrew is pronounced Avrahm (b’s and v’s
in Hebrew are the same letter differentiated by a dot which isn’t always there,
so unless you’re familiar with the context, its easy to see how one is used
rather than the other by translators.) Avram means “exalted father” with no
explanation for that name, but we do know that God changed his name to Avraham
to comply with his God-given destiny.
A few facts about Avraham just
because it’s interesting, noting also that numbers can also be significant in
the Bible to reveal facts not necessarily made evident in the text itself. According
to Jewish tradition, Avraham was born under the name Avram in the city of Ur in Babylonia in the
year 1948 from Creation, which would make it about 1800 BCE. In case you’re trying to get those numbers to
make sense, the Jews count from creation forward while the Christian (secular)
world would count from Yeshua’s birth backward (B.C.) to Avraham. Add them
together and you find that Yeshua was born approximately 3,748 years after
creation, except that the monk who made those calculations made an error and it
looks like Yeshua was more likely born in 4-6 B.C, making it more like 3,744.
If we add together 3,744 to 2011 we are at about 5,755 according to that math.
We know there are some discrepancies and errors in calculating the years as the
world has gone by several calendars over the millennia. However, as of this
writing in October of 2011, the Jewish year of 5772 from creation has just
begun on Rosh Hashana, the supposed date of the beginning of the world as well
as Adam and Eve’s birthday.
fact Avraham (Abraham) was born in 1948 from the birth of the world, it was that
same number year, 1948 A.D. that marks
the rebirth of Israel
as a modern State. Even if the dates aren’t exact, nevertheless, God knows what
we’re counting and I kind of like the idea that Israel’s rebirth is a mirror date of
Avraham’s birth, if indeed that was when he was born. Lots of suppositions but
fun to speculate.
The names of certain persons in the Bible seem to define their character…
on to the names. Avram means exalted Father, while Avraham means Father of
(many) nations or father of a multitude. But there is a deeper meaning perhaps
in the change. God added the letter hay,
or “h” to Avram’s name to make it Avraham and changed his wife’s name
from Sarai to Sarah, a letter taken from His own name of YHVH. It is interpreted to be a sign that Avraham
and Sarah were to be His children, to obey Him, and as far as they could, to be
like Him. From then on God became an integral part of their very identities,
just as they would be “in God” as they lived out their lives. They and God were now an inextricable a part of one
by changing Avraham’s name to include His own name, God confirmed and sealed
His promise to him. Even though he was still childless when God renamed him,
what God promised him was now a part of his name, which is to say his identity,
to himself and to others as he evidently let himself be known as Avraham from
then on. I would imagine, however, that his very name was often a source of
grief and embarrassment to him, and to Sarah who evidently felt responsible for
their childlessness. But God had promised and for us who are on the
looking-back-and-seeing-it-happened side of the story, we can take into our own
identities God’s promises and stand in faith that despite what it may look
like, and for a long while, God will fulfill His promises!
In that sense, God changes our own names as He changes us to
believe Him and trust Him. I once took a Hebrew class in which we were to ask
God to give us a new Hebrew name just for us. I asked Him and He indeed gave me
one and told me the meaning and why it was mine (No, I’m not sharing it; it’s
special between me and Him.). He periodically calls me by that name and it is
precious to me and reminds me of how He sees me, especially at time when I need
to hear it. Perhaps you too would like to ask God for His name for you. It may
just give you a whole new sense of yourself in His eyes, because He sees us as
He intends to make us, as in the fulfillment of our destinies in Him. How
encouraging is that? Now that we are His, our destinies are in His wonderful
Hands, as is the fulfillment of His promises.
on to Sarah, her birth name was Sarai which means basically “my princess” and
has the sense of her place in her own family (as in the “my”) which, of course,
was Avraham’s family as she was his half-sister: “She actually is my sister, the daughter of my father, but not the
daughter of my mother, and she became my wife” (Genesis 20:12; also see :2,5). Her
name has a sense of her being cherished, doesn’t it? Maybe she was the only
girl. My grandmother called my first daughter “My little princess.” Perhaps I’m
projecting. In replacing the “i” with
the “h” to make Sarai into Sarah, her name means more of being princess over
the nations of which her husband is to be the father. She is, then, to be the
mother of nations and kings. (See Genesis 17:15, Genesis 17:16). There are some scholars that agree that God
placed upon them both a certain dignity by adding letters from His own name, in
which is carried His eternal power and Sovereign Lordship.
As we know Avraham and Sarah moved on to the Promised Land.
And despite God telling Avraham, “Go
forth from your country, and from your relatives and from your father’s house, to the land which I will show you” (Genesis 12:1 my emphasis), he took his
nephew Lot with him. According to at least one source I found, Lot’s name in Hebrew is related to a “goral” which means a pebble or a small
stone which is used in casting lots. (Numbers 33:54; Jonah 1:7). The choosing of a lot was a method the Hebrews used
to determine God’s will (Proverbs 16:33). Perhaps taking Lot
with them had something to do with choosing a lot as to whether he should go with
them or not. Whatever the reason, we know him as “Lot.”
Lot makes the choice to move to Sodom
when he and Uncle Avraham separate because the Lord has blessed them so much
there’s not enough grazing land for both their flocks. Whether Lot used his ‘lot’ again to choose or just chose by what
looked good to him, he made a bad choice. In time, he was taken captive in a
war between several nations. Avraham finds out and intends to rescue his
Now if you thought of Avraham as a meek, mild mannered shepherd, unable to own
up to his own wife being his so she is taken by Pharaoh, such is not the case.
When Uncle Abe goes after Lot, he is warring
against the armies of several nations. He already has armed and ready his own
army of “318 trained men born in his household” (Genesis 14:14).
“Trained men” is the Hebrew noun hÄnÄ«k meaning “armed retainer.” The
term applied to a servant whose major function is to provide military
assistance. So Avraham has a trained army because evidently he saw the need for
such men and no doubt employed them on a regular basis as needed. These are not just shepherds who grabbed a spear or
a sling in hopes that it would do the trick. These
are men who were very able-bodied men quite capable of trekking north some 125
miles in order to rescue Lot and his family by waging an attack against incredible
opposition and coming out as the victors.
other thought on Avraham, Jewish writings consider that to call Abraham “Abram”
is to reduce him to his prior self and significance. So it would seem, once God
moves you into a new phase of your life, don’t look back. Become the person He
is leading or causing you to become!
While Avraham’s original name
received an alteration from God, when God changes the name of his grandson
Jacob (Hebrew: Ya’akov) to Israel
(Yisra’el), he is called by both which are two different names with two
different meanings. While it is true that Israel
represents a higher calling than Jacob, there are certain qualities as Jacob
that he cannot possess as Israel.
So we still maintain the name of Jacob for both the third Patriarch and for the
Jewish people as a whole. Israel
might represent a higher stage in Jewish development than Ya’akov, but the
greatness of the Jewish people lies in that there are both Jacob and Israel qualities
within each individual person.
that having been said, it remains puzzling as to why even though God tells Ya’akov He’s changing His name
twice in Genesis 32:28 and 35:10, he doesn’t seem to be called Yisra’el but
continues to be known as Ya’akov. Whereas Avram and Sarai took on their new
names immediately, even after the wrestling with God incident, he never fully
takes on the name God gave him and often then both names are used in the same
sentence. For example, “When it was told to Jacob,“Behold, your son Joseph has
come to you,” Israel collected
his strength and sat up in the bed” (Genesis
48:2). In examining the instances such as these, it may be that when he is
acting in his natural self he is Ya’akov, but when called upon to, say, speak
for God or respond prophetically, he acts as Israel.
Do you know the meaning of your name?