I am one of those children that was gifted with a very uncommon unusual name. It was not a popular name. It was not a family name. It was not in a baby book of names when I was growing up. I couldn’t go find cute little items with my name on it. I had to have a company research my name for the meaning, and I still have the card I received. My name is often mispronounced, and even I could not pronounce my own name when I was little. When I was young, as the story is told by my grandparents, I would call myself BI (bee-eye) and would argue with them that they were not saying my name correctly.
I asked my mother how she came up with my first name when I was thinking about writing this blog post, and she said she came up with it one day in church. I wonder if the preacher was preaching on Berea in Acts that day? My middle name was still up for grabs. When I was growing up I came across a piece of paper where my mother was trying out middle names. On the list was Ruth – one of my favorite books of the Bible and part of my Dad’s mother’s name, Emma Ruth. The story from my Dad was that he wanted to name me Angela. Mother settled on Angelique after she heard the name in a movie. But she didn’t like the spelling. So my given name is Brea (bree-uh meaning – noble, strong, virtuous, hill), Angelic (Ahn-zhay-Leek meaning – of the angels). I am often called Bree or Baria. I finally came to the point I would answer to anything close.
The naming of a child is a very important task for parents. This name is heard by the child their entire life, unless they get it changed in court. Nowadays many parents spend hours/days/months picking out the name their child will carry. Many look in baby books for the meaning. Some chose family names. Some choose popular names. Some take names and spell them differently. Experts believe that the name of a child will play a major role in a child’s life. It will shape their future, character, success in life and personality. Jabez in the Bible went around with a name that meant affliction or pain. Naomi wanted to be called Mara which means bitter. (Ruth 1:20) Asher means happy or blessed. (Genesis 30:13) Esther means star.
In just the same way, the names of God are important. God’s names tell us about his character. This past fall, Pastor Kevin preached a 12-week sermon series on the Names of God. Some of his material came from Tony Evan’s book The Power of God’s Names. He suggested we get a copy to read if we wanted to dig deeper. So I did. And I read right along each week with the name Pastor Kevin was preaching on in the series. There were so many nuggets of insight and revelation about the character of God in the book and through the series, but Pastor Kevin couldn’t cover all the names listed in the book. So I have taken the time to go back and read the ones that he didn’t cover. The book ends with the name Immanuel (God with us).
Elizabeth (“my God is abundance”) and Zechariah (“Yahweh remembers”) and Mary (“sea of bitterness, rebelliousness, wished for child, loved or beloved”) and Joseph (“he will add”) didn’t have to wonder about what to name their new little babies. God, through an angel announcement, gave Zechariah, Mary and Joseph the names to use. When it came time for Zechariah and Elizabeth to name John (“Yahweh is gracious”), their friends and relatives had their own ideas. In Luke 1:57-63 you can read the story.
Mary was told in Luke 1:31-33 “Now listen: You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of his father David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and his kingdom will have no end.”
Joseph was told in Matthew 1:21-23 “She will give birth to a son, and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins. Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: See, the virgin will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and they will name him Immanuel, which is translated ‘God is with us.’”
When Jesus was born that name was very common. Jesus is the equivalent of the Old Testament form of Joshua. The meaning of the name is “Yahweh saves.” The angel gave Mary and Joseph a more detailed description of who Jesus would be: Great, Son of the Most High, He would be seated on a throne, reign over the house of Jacob forever, his kingdom would never end, He will save HIS people from their sins, He would be Immanuel – GOD WITH US. In Acts 4:12 we are told by Peter “There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to people by which we must be saved.”
Jesus is more than just a name. He personifies all of the character of GOD in human form. Do you think that Mary and Joseph remembered the prophet Isaiah foretelling about Jesus in Isaiah 9:6?
“For a child will be born for us, a son will be given to us, and the government will be on his shoulders. He will be named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.”
Tony Evans looks at these descriptive names of Jesus in the last chapter of his book. The names in Isaiah 9:6 give us “insight into His character and mission” and “puts on display everything there is to know about God.” Jesus also has other names – Redeemer, Deliverer, Good Shepherd, King of king and Lord of Lords and more. He fulfills the names of God: Elohim, Jehovah, Adonai, Jehovah Jireh, Jehovah Tsaba, Jehovah Shalom, Jehovah Rohi, Jehovah Nissi, Jehovah Mekoddishekm, Jehovah Rapha, Jehovah Tsidkenu, El Elyon and El Shaddai.
• Wonderful Counselor – Jesus “perspective is infinite. His resources unlimited. His experience includes a lifetime on earth enduring the same trials and temptations we face.” Jesus is the one we should turn to when we need perspective on what we are dealing with in life. He is the counselor that has all the answers. There is nothing we will face that he can’t see us through.
• Mighty God – “Jesus never fails. He is faithful. All the power of creation stands behind His promise to provide and to care for us…Might is more than strength. Might is the ability to use strength strategically for the good of others.” Jesus is all God. He is Immanuel God with us. All the power behind the name of God can be used by Jesus.
• Everlasting Father – “Jesus is Everlasting.” In Revelations 22:13 he says “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” John 1:1 tells us “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” John 1:14 “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. We observed his glory, the glory as the one and only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 17:5 “Now, Father, glorify me in your presence with that glory I had with you before the world existed.” In John 10:30 Jesus tells us “I and the Father are one.” Jesus is eternal and if we are saved and acknowledge Jesus as our Lord and Savior we will live with him for eternity.
• Prince of Peace – We “believe that peace is the absence of conflict. Yet Jesus gives us so much more. He promises peace that transcends our circumstances. It invades the inevitable conflicts that naturally arise in a sinful world. It makes perfect sense to be at peace when all is well. But Jesus, who is the Prince of Peace, promises us a peace that transcends understanding (Philippians 4:7).” We all desperately want the kind of peace Jesus offers.
One of the popular worship songs we sing in church is “What a Beautiful Name.” Listen or read the words and rejoice in what a beautiful, wonderful. and powerful name the name of Jesus truly is. It is more than just a common, popular name. It is the Name above all Names. In Philippians 2:9-11 we read we should have the same mindset and attitude as Jesus
“Who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be exploited. Instead he emptied himself by assuming the form of a servant, taking on the likeness of humanity. And when he had come as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death—even to death on a cross. For this reason God highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow—in heaven and on earth and under the earth— and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
There has never been nor will there ever be a name greater that the name of Jesus – our SAVIOR. His Name is above all Names and everything is under his feet. It is at the name of JESUS every knee will bow. So who do you need Jesus to be for you today: Your Peace, Your Shepherd, Your Messiah, Your Savior, Your Healer. He is waiting to be these and more for you. Just call on HIS NAME!
CD’s of Pastor Kevin Hamm’s sermon series on the Names of God can been found in the GFBC Encouraging Word Book Store.
“What a Beautiful Name” words and music by Ben Fielding and Brooke Ligertwood.