What's In a Name?
Whats in a name? Does your name have a meaning? Biblical names often did have a significance. Following, is a guest article by Paul Harnett. Paul, with his knowledge of Hebrew, is able to understand and explain the meanings of original Hebrew words and how they relate to the Biblical names. In this article, he describers the significance of the name changes from Abram and Sari to Abraham and Sarah.
What's In a Name?
by Paul Harnett
What's in a name and why change it? To discover the reason for God changing the names of Abraham and Sarah, we must first discover the nature and purpose of a name. A name reveals the "authority" of an object or person. The purpose is to bring about or reveal God's will. This is why we are called co-creators with the Divine One.
When God changes a name, He is pointing out a new destiny. It is also called a "status change." You might call it a "spiritual promotion." Through Abraham, that is - by the authority in his name, all the families of the earth will be blessed.
"And I will bless them that bless you, and curse him that curses you: and in you shall all families of the earth be blessed." (Gen 12:3)
What's in a Name? - the Glory of His Name
God does all for the glory of His name. As He is the author of creation, let's begin with His name. God is Elohim. His name is Yahweh:
The word is spelled, reading from right to left: yod, hey, vah, hey. The letter we are interested in here is the "hey" - This letter represents the "spirit." We see this expressed twice in His name. It is the "spirit" of God that fulfills two things here; the "what" and the "how."
It is not the "what" that we want to discover, but the "how." God will reveal His purpose. The "what" or purpose of the name change is in His promise:
"Of whom it was said, that in Isaac shall thy seed be called." (Heb 11:18)
"Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, in Isaac shall your seed be called." (Rom 9:7)
How is it that God will accomplish His promise?
"Then he answered and spoke to me, saying, This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, says the LORD of hosts." (Zech 4:6)
So we see that it is by His Spirit that He will both reveal, and accomplish His will.
Abram + = Abram or Abraham
Sari + = Sar or Sarah
Now we see the "Spirit" of God in the mother and in the father of God's people. As the Torah says, "God is your mother and your father."
We see the greater purpose of the name change. It was to "establish" God's covenant which would later be revealed in Yeshua.
"Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee." (Gen 17:5)
"And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee." (Gen 17:7)
There is yet another concept revealed here. When God says something once, it is prophetic. It is sowing the seed of His word. When God repeats a thing, he is saying that it is already established; but yet to be revealed!
The "Seed" is the Word of God
"Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God." (Luke 8:11)
The Word, the Spirit, and the Seed are one and the same.
"God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth." (John 4:24)
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." (John 1:1)
"That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life." (1 John 1:1)
"Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see him, neither does it know him: but you know him; for he dwells with you, and shall be in you." (John 14:17)
"That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith." (Gal 3:14)
"There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise." (Gal 3:28-29)
This is one perspective of the countless witnesses of God's desire and purpose for changing the names of Abraham and Sarah.
Thank you, Paul, for that interesting article, What's in a Name? Watch for more guest articles by Paul Harnett.
I have a page in the "All Eyes on Israel" (Dispensationalism - Is Israel Special?) series that also looks at what's in a name from the perspective of the names in English. The name changes for Abraham and Sarai has another interesting feature you'll want to look at.
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