Summary: The Bible records 4 specific places where God changed the names of individuals. We have been given the name "Christian". Like Abraham, Israel,Peter & Paul, our new name bears a responsibility to live up to that name.
“A Changed Name”
INTRODUCTION: Revelation 2:17 – all turn
A name is something to be proud of. I’m proud of the name “Scott”. It was such a great name, that they named a country after us … “Scotland”!
I’ve had some strange sounding names in my congregations … Bebermeyer, Dudenhofer, Simansky, Leinonen. Some famous people even change their names (see Almanac).
Some preachers have good preaching names … Dr. Gordon Cross, Rev. Wayne Jacobs, Dr. David Jeremiah.
I’m not always going to have the same name I have now – Rev. 2:17. Someday I’ll have a new body … and a new name to fit that glorified body. 2 Cor. 5:17 – “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” We will even have a NEW NAME!
I don’t know what my NEW NAME will be … Have you ever wondered? Maybe it will be a name to match our character. How about “Daq” … the Hebrew word for “thin”! OR … “Trichinos” … the Greek word for “hairy”! OR … “Kalos” … the Greek word for “beautiful”!
I think our NEW NAME will reflect our POSITION as a Child of God. When a child gets ADOPTED, they get a new name. When we get to Heaven, our ADOPTION will be complete (Romans 8:23), and we will get a NEW NAME.
MEANWHILE, God has given us a NEW NAME to tide us over. Acts 11:26 – “And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.” When they were first called “Christians”, it wasn’t said in a very nice way. It was meant to CONDEMN and DEGRADE … a name of scorn and ridicule … said with a sneer. It means “a follower of Christ” … the criminal … the executed One … the blasphemer … the imposter! Today, it would be like being called a “Judas” … a “Osama Ben Laden”.
HOWEVER … the followers of Christ were PROUD of that name and title. They later adopted it for themselves. They began to call THEMSELVES “Christians” … with PRIDE. It’s a title, a name, given to US when we’re saved.
On several occasions, God CHANGED the names of certain select people. There was a REASON, and a LESSON for us in doing so. God wants US to see that we need to CLAIM the name that He has given us … “Christian”. Are you PROUD to be called a “Christian”? Do you live up to that name?
It was a CUSTOM to change the name of a person when a great event occurred in their life. The King of Egypt changed Joseph’s name to Zaphnath-Paaneah. Nebuchadnezzar changed Daniel’s name to Belteshazaar. Hananah, Mishael & Azariah’s names were changed to Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Each name had a particular meaning when it was changed.
When GOD changed a name, He had a reason. He wanted them to live up to their new name … just as He wants US to live up to OUR new name … “Christian”.
We see 4 EXAMPLES in the Bible where GOD changed a person’s name:
1.- A CHANGE OF FAITH – Genesis 17:1-5, 15-16 – all turn.
It seems like Abram & Sarai were MISNAMED from the very beginning. ABRAM = ‘exalted father’ (he had no children) … SARAI = ‘my princess’ (she had no heirs). They had no children … he was 99 … she was 89 … there was no human possibility!
THEN … one day God told Abram that He was going to change his name. I can just hear Abram say, “Thank you, Lord … I get kidded so much about my name … ‘exalted father’ … yet, no children!” “Why, just the other day a stranger came in on his camel and he asked my name. Then he asked, ‘How many children do you have?’ I said ‘None!’ He laughed all the way out of sight. Thanks for changing my name!” “What are you changing it to? ‘Aqar’, which means ‘barren’? It would be so much more appropriate.” THEN, God told Abram, “No, instead of Abram, ‘exalted father’, I’m changing it to Abraham, ‘father of a multitude’. I’m changing Sarai’s name from ‘my princess’ to Sarah, ‘Princess of many’.” I can just see Abraham say, “Oh, no, Lord, why don’t you just leave well enough alone!”
Why did God do this to Abram? Why change his name like that? God had a LESSON for him. “Abraham, I have given you a PROMISE of many children … I am Almighty God … trust in Me and I will do the impossible!” “Claim that name, Abraham … live up to your new name … and you will see that I will live up to Mine!” (see 17:1).