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Summary: For the most part, names don’t mean much today; they are chosen because the parents like the way they sound, and many names are picked out of books that list every conceivable name. But that’s not how it was in the Old Testament. Names were significant i

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4-7-03

Title: A Name Change

Text: “Then the man said, ‘Your name will no linger be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with god and with men and have overcome’” (Gen. 32:28, NIV).

Scripture Reading: Genesis 32:22-32

Occasionally, people become dissatisfied with the names their parents have given them.

Many years ago, the country singer Johnny Cash recorded a popular song called, “A Boy Named Sue.”

You could not blame a boy named Sue for wanting to change his name.

I worked in a plant in Iowa where everyone was given a nick name that would be expressive of some physical characteristic.

I was told that I had a nick name, but I never found out what it was.

I am probably better off, not knowing.

But in high school, I was called mouse, because I had a unique talent; I could wiggle my nose.

We named our daughter after her grandmothers; Mary for Sierra’s mom, and Alice for my mom.

That pleased them both.

However, for the most part, names don’t mean much today; they are chosen because the parents like the way they sound, and many names are picked out of books that list every conceivable name.

But that’s not how it was in the Old Testament.

Names were significant in the Old Testament.

Often they describe a person’s character.

The name Jacob, for example, meant “deceiver” or “supplanter.”

He definitely needed a name change!

The story of Jacob is about a person taking on a new nature and then taking on a new name to describe that new nature.

Genesis 32:28 says, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome.”

Let’s examine the insights into Jacob’s story of change, beginning with a wrestling match that he was involved in; it’s recorded in Genesis 32:22-32.

22 And he arose that night and took his two wives, his two female servants, and his eleven sons, and crossed over the ford of Jabbok.

23 He took them, sent them over the brook, and sent over what he had.

24 Then Jacob was left alone; and a Man wrestled with him until the breaking of day.

25 Now when He saw that He did not prevail against him, He touched the socket of his hip; and the socket of Jacob’s hip was out of joint as He wrestled with him.

26 And He said, “Let Me go, for the day breaks.” But he said, “I will not let You go unless You bless me!”

27 So He said to him, “What is your name?” He said, “Jacob.”

28 And He said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel; for you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed.”

29 Then Jacob asked, saying, “Tell me Your name, I pray.” And He said, “Why is it that you ask about My name?” And He blessed him there.

30 So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: “For I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.”

31 Just as he crossed over Penuel the sun rose on him, and he limped on his hip.


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