What’s in a Name?

    In Shakespeare’s famous love story Juliet asks why she and Romeo cannot be friends just because of the name of their families. “What’s in a name,” she asks. “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet…” But the tragedy unfolds simply because, for better or worse a name really is filled with meaning.
In Proverbs 22:1 Solomon advises us that “A good name is to be chosen over great riches.”
    Because names are so important we find that even God gets involved in what someone will be named.

In Genesis we find that Abram (Mighty father) gets his name changed by God to Abraham (Father of nations). Later  God meets with Abraham and tells him he will have a son and his name will be Issac (Laughter)
    One of the most famous name changes happens when Abraham’s grandson, Jacob, meets with an angel who wrestles all night with him. As the dawn begins to break the angel tells him, Genesis 32:26 “Let me go, for the day has broken,” but Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” and he said to him, “What is your name?”…
    How strange that the angel has to know Jacob’s name before he can give him his blessing. All Jacob’s life he had struggled for blessings. Jacob had tricked Esau, his older twin brother into selling him the right of the first born (Quite a significant financial advantage in his day). Later when their father had decided to give Esau the family blessing, Jacob ran in ahead of Esau and fooled his blind father into giving him that blessing instead. When news of Jacob’s deceit got to Esau there was murder in his heart and Jacob fled far away to his mother’s family.Instead of getting his own father’s blessings he spent 20 years working hard trying to get blessings from his uncle Laban. Finally after an entire life struggling to get blessings, God sent someone stronger than Jacob to confront him and wrestle with him until dawn.
    Imagine the scene. Jacob must have been entirely out of physical strength, yet something in him hung on to his attacker and refused to let him go. Jacob had gotten so much along the way. He was already rich, he had married the girl of his dreams and had many sons and daughters. He had only one great obstacle and that was the fact that in the morning his brother Esau was coming to meet him, and Esau had 400 friends with him! Yet in spite of all that was going on in Jacob’s mind and the crisis that he faced, the angel of God was most of all interested in Jacob’s name. …verse 28 … “Your name will no longer be Jacob,” the man told him, ” from now on you will be called Israel, because you have fought with God and with men and have won.”
    Won? What a strange description for what had happened. Yet Jacob’s “victory” changed the course of history. One man met face to face with God and came away with a new name, a new future and a new hope. When we choose a name it can be changed. But when God changes a name it stays changed for ever. There in the very last chapter of the Bible we find again after so many thousands of years, the name of the children of “Israel” written on the foundation stones of God’s city.
    The name God is prepared to give each of us can be our greatest blessing. It is what we will leave behind to our children, both physical and spiritual. The name God wants to give us is the one he has written down in Heaven. Our new name is something only God can give us. It is the name that Jesus will call out to us when we find him and hold on to him in faith and refuse to let go until he blesses us. Listen to God’s question to your heart today, “What is your name?”